The Person and Work of Jesus Christ

Pastor Mark Perkins
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Historical Introduction

John 1:1-5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

Know from the beginning that Jesus was and is and forever will be the Son of God.

Luke 1:14, “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.

Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught."

Know from the beginning that this is the factual account of the Son of God, that this is the most widely documented life and times in history.

1 John 1:14, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

We write this to make our joy complete."

Know from the beginning that this factual account changes lives. It has changed mine, and it will change yours if you will listen and believe.

Gal 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”

Know from the beginning that God’s timing is always right, and that He sent His Son at just the right moment in human history.

READ Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Know from the beginning that the life of the Son of God was predicted for many hundreds of years, and know that He had a destiny of sorrow and a destiny of glory.

Dramatis Personae for the Opening Act

Mary: a young virgin, who is betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter. They are residents of Nazareth, a small town in the hill country of Galilee;

Elizabeth: an older woman of the hill country of Judah, not far from Jerusalem, and Mary’s cousin; her husband Zechariah, a priest in the division of Abijah;

Wise men from the East;

Shepherds near Bethlehem;

Gabriel, an angel;

An anonymous angel;

Simeon, a righteous man who waits for the consolation of Israel;

Anna, a prophetess more than a hundred years of age, and a widow for eighty four of those years a very pious woman;

Herod, the king over the Roman province of Judea an evil man full of ambition.


Herod in many ways personifies the trouble in Israel at the time of Christ. For a long time, hundreds of years, the Jews had lived under the control of one nation or another, and they longed to be truly autonomous. It seemed like whatever empire had the upper hand in history would rule them.

If it wasn’t the Babylonians, then it was the Persians, when the Persians took over. If it wasn’t the Persians, it was the Greeks, when Alexander came rumbling through the ancient near east. If it wasn’t Alexander, it was the Romans, after the death of Alexander and the disintegration of his empire.

The Jews still understood that they were a holy people, set apart for God. They always remembered that, if nothing else. They rankled under the rule of Rome, and it especially rubbed them wrong that Herod, the so-called Herod the Great had power over them.

Herod was worse than a Gentile; he was a half Jewish Idumean, a descendant of Esau, a wild desert dwelling type. The Jews considered them with no small amount of prejudice.

To make matters worse, Herod was hardly a model human being. He has been called a monster one who was crafty and cruel, jealous and vain and always quick to seek revenge when wronged.

He came to the throne over the Roman province of Judea through cunning and manipulation of Marc Antony.

He had nine or ten wives. Even the historians lost count after a while.

On the smallest of suspicion he had even his favorite wife, Mariamne, put to death, along with her sons Alexander and Aristobulus.

Even while on his own deathbed, just days before he died he had his own son, his flesh and blood Antipater put to death.

Caesar Augustus was heard to say, “It is better to be Herod’s hog than his own son!”

Again at his deathbed he ordered all the principle men in Israel to be rounded up and placed in the local stadium, where they could be surrounded by his soldiers and then slain when he died. The reason: so that there would be great mourning at his death.

It must have been difficult for the Jews to read the Scriptures, and to know that their destiny was so great, and yet have the reality so different.

Understand, however, that this was Divine Judgment on the nation of Israel; that they had neglected their relationship with God, and that the situation was appropriate to their spiritual state. In this case the outward circumstances reflected accurately the inward condition: slavery.

It is no wonder, then, there was a great fascination in the nation of Israel with the prophecies about the Messiah, The one who would come and reestablish the greatness of their kingdom and their people.

A man who would rise up and smite their enemies and make them a free people once again.

From time to time a fairly great and famous man would rise up, and there would be some excitement about the possibility of his being the Messiah.

Of course, things would quiet down when he turned out to be quite human, and the slavery of Israel droned on and on.

After a time there was even a certain amount of cynicism about the whole deal.

The same phenomenon exists today with the fascination about the end times and the return of Christ.

Herod tried bribing the Jews, so that they would like him, and he could view himself as a successful ruler.

Julius Caesar had given Herod a fantastic and truly royal inaugural celebration back in 37 B.C., when Herod took the throne. He always longed for that past glory, when in fact the traditional Roman warning of “sic transit gloria mundi” applied to him more than any other. The bribes came in the form of a building program that was the very rival of Solomon’s.

He built monuments and buildings in the Holy Land, and even rebuilt their temple in magnificent fashion, topping it with a golden dome.

– The rebuilding of the Temple was much like the building of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.

– More was added every year. A higher roof here, an annex there all very magnificent.

– When Herod died, his relatives took over the folly and the never ending program continued until it was finally finished in 66 AD, some 87 years after it was begun.

– It is one of the great ironies of history that it was burned down just four years later when Jerusalem was destroyed.

Other buildings and monuments were undertaken.

– A temple, a forum, and a theatre at Samaria.

– A great Greco-Roman capital, a temple, and port at Caesarea.

– The port was an engineering marvel that even today is remarked upon by the archaeologists who work at the site.

– Luxurious palaces and fortified retreats were built at Masada, Jerusalem, Jericho, and Herodium, which was near Bethlehem.

– In Jerusalem he had baths, a theatre, and a Hippodrome constructed.

– He also promoted Greek and Roman games so that the people might be entertained.

All of these things struck a sour note as any bribe to a slave will. The people really did not want these things. They wanted to be autonomous and free. But in order to be truly free, any people must know God, and that was exactly the problem in Israel.

Herod was the king. The people were unhappy. Their response to his despotism is worthwhile to note.

Jewish Responses To Herod’s Rule; The Maccabaean Revolt

Syria had one incredibly evil ruler by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes. This man was so evil that he made Herod the Great look like a great humanitarian by comparison. Antiochus was the prototype for the Antichrist of the Tribulation.

In 168 B.C. he desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem by setting up an altar to Jupiter Olympus, where he dedicated the use of the Temple to this false God by offering up the flesh of a swine. This was the ‘abomination of desolation’ of Daniel 11:31, “”His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation."

Antiochus made a furious effort, with the help of the corrupt high priesthood (who helped because of a bribe), to Hellenize the Jews.

The high priest himself, a man by the name of Jason, was power mad, and attempted a coup in Jerusalem when Antiochus was mistakenly reported dead during a military campaign in Egypt.

His brief reign was characterized by violence, but the real violence would begin when Antiochus heard of the coup. He returned to Jerusalem with his army, besieged it, and killed 40,000 Jews upon its capture, and sold at least as many into slavery. Then he went back to Egypt.

Eventually, Antiochus awoke the ire of Rome, and he was arrested and ordered to back off from Egypt or die. He did so, but he made another stop at Jerusalem, where he took out his frustration on the Jews. He entered the city on the Sabbath, and murdered thousands of men in the synagogues, while enslaving the women and children. He defiled the Temple in every way imaginable, and caused the daily ritual system to cease entirely. This meant war.

During this time of great persecution there was a priest by the name of Mattathias. He was an old man of noble blood, and he had retired to a little town west of Jerusalem. There he was commanded to sacrifice on the Pagan altar, and he refused. In fact, he became enraged when a Judean came forward to sacrifice, and he struck the man, overthrew the altar, called upon the faithful to follow him, and fled with his sons into the wilderness.

This was the Maccabaean family. The example of Mattathias was followed by many in various parts of the country. His story was well known, and the idolatrous altars were being overthrown, and Jewish worship and culture was being reestablished. The rigorous life of a rebel took its toll on Mattathias, and he died just a year later, in 166 A.D.

The third son of Mattathias, Judas, took over for him in directing the war for independence. He was a man full of energy and clever in the running of the war. He was an expert at guerrilla warfare, attacking at night, and at the most surprising times and places. Encouraged by early success, he became even more bold, and defeated Antiochus’ head general, Apollonius, at Bethhoron.

It was only a little while later that Antiochus left Jerusalem and left the government to a man name Lysias. Lysias was a military dunce, and Judas defeated his larger army at Emmaus, and later at Bethsura. Judas was then able to occupy Jerusalem, where he purified the Temple.

Judas continued his triumphs on the military field, and after the battle of Adasa, the Jews had almost won their independence. Almost. Bacchides led another invading army, and this time the Jews were caught unaware. Able to only muster a small group of men, and losing many of those on the night before the battle, Judas was defeated, and died.

All that was gained seemed lost. The patriots were in a state of total disorder, and it was only renewed persecution that brought them together again.

The Jews again looked to the Maccabees, this time Jonathan, the youngest son of Mattathias would be their champion. Jonathan would fight a skillful defensive campaign in the Jordan Valley, and when a new king took the throne in Syria, he gained support, and Israel a fair amount of freedom.

Jonathan was made high priest, and there was peace in the land for some 20 years. Sadly, in 144 B.C. Jonathan fell victim to the treachery of a man by the name of Tryphon, and was imprisoned in Ptolemais, in Galilee. This act left just one Maccabee, Simon.

Simon had all along been a steady military leader, but had left the national leadership to his brothers. Now it was his turn, and he placed himself at the head of the patriot party. After a short while, Tryphon put Jonathan to death, and seized the throne of Syria.

Simon had the wits to make an appeal for the freedom of the Jews to Demetrius, a well known general with connections to Rome.

This appeal was accepted, and once again it seemed as though the Jews would be free.

Although Mattathias had begun the rebellion over the issue of the Jewish religion, after 32 years, the war, and political freedom became the thing. Relationship with God had taken a back seat to military strategy and tactics, and politics. And remember, that no nation can remain free without a relationship with God.

At the time of Simon, in 143 B.C., Israel had apparently won their freedom through military skill and political maneuvering. They had won almost every battle that they had fought for 25 years. They had successfully manipulated the political machines of their foreign occupants.

They had done everything just right, but they had failed in the most important regard: the spiritual life.

Just eight years after the apparent victory of Israel, Simon and two of his sons was murdered by Ptolemaeus, and in 135 B.C. the nation of Israel once again found itself on the brink of slavery.

John Hyrcanus was one of the two living sons of Simon. When he heard of the death of his father, he marched with the army against Jericho. Unfortunately, Ptolemaeus held a trump card: he had Simon’s widow, John’s mother, captive, and the sabbatical year of the year of Jubilee was just around the corner, so the siege of Jericho failed.

Seeing no further use for the woman, Ptolemaeus had her killed, and then he fled to Philadelphia. Antiochus the sixth (not Epiphanes) then invaded Judea, and besieged Jerusalem, and Hyrcanus and the army was trapped there and placed into a desperate situation.

The Jews caught a break when a truce was granted for the passover feast, and Hyrcanus took the opportunity to bargain with Ptolemaeus. Hyrcanus compromised like crazy in order to gain the freedom of Israel, even going to the extreme of opening David’s tomb to pay the tribute demanded by the Syrian General.

He then went to Parthia to bargain further for the freedom of Israel, and through compromise and manipulation was able to establish a treaty that lasted for more than fifty years.

By 30 B.C., the line of the Maccabees had died out with the death of Hyrcanus II, the grandson of Hyrcanus. His granddaughter was Mariamne, who went on to marry Herod the Great.

Now, where were the Pharisees during all this time? Well, they had begun to grasp for political power, so that they might more effectively carry out their mission. At first they were on the side of the Maccabees, but the more the rebels concentrated on the war, the further they got away from strict observance of the Law, and so they earned the wrath of the Pharisees.

Because of the gross compromises of Hyrcanus, and looting of David’s tomb, more and more Jews went to the side of the Pharisees. After the death of Hyrcanus I, his daughter became queen, and seeing the handwriting on the wall, she abandoned her political power to Pharisees.

At the time of the birth of Christ, the Romans through Herod held the outward political power, while the Pharisees held it internally. The people found themselves under a double tyranny, and it was a difficult time indeed.

Concluding principles:

– Freedom without a relationship with God is in reality slavery.

– War without a relationship with God is a waste.

– Both slavery and freedom begin in the soul.

John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”"

Gal 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.


The word “Pharisee” is the Greek translation from the Aramaic, and it means to be separated. To the Pharisee, this meant a separation from the influences of the Gentiles on their religion and culture.

We have a very similar thing occurring in our nation today. The Pagan influences in our society are waging war against the marvelous culture and vital relationship with God that our forefathers enjoyed. It is a natural and good response to do what you can to protect what is good; to defend it from those who so zealously attempt to destroy it.

Every time that the nation of Israel fell under the rule of another nation whether Babylon or Persia or Greece or Rome, they felt like they were losing a little bit more of themselves. The foreign nationals would come in with their foreign Gods and foreign customs and foreign games, and away would go just a little bit more of what was truly Jewish.

The emphasis of the Pharisees was in the area of the Mosaic Law. It was their aim to protect and uphold the Law of Moses, so that the pollution of foreigners and their foreign Gods would not destroy what made the nation of Israel so distinct, and so great in their time. This is why they came to hate Herod so very much.

For some four hundred years before the birth of Christ they strove to fulfill their mission as they saw it. Such an aim was not so bad, but in carrying out that aim they became so extreme as to be parody of the Law.

Their undue attention to detail, and especially their imagination in creating details which did not exist resulted in their missing the point of the Law entirely.

The Law was designed to bring the people of Israel to a relationship with the living God through the provision of knowledge essential to the maintenance of that relationship. It was not designed to be carried out just for the sake of accomplishment and preservation.

The very best way for the Pharisees to have accomplished their aim would have been to perpetuate the Law through having a relationship with God by it.

Their teachings about religious matters are quite a revelation of their character.

They tried ardently to avoid all physical contact with the Pagan Gentiles. Even touching one would make them ceremonially unclean. This is why the Pharisees took such great offense at Christ’s close association with the tax collectors and sinners.

They always stuck to the letter of the Law, without a hint of flexibility. They defined exactly many things that were not set forth in the Law. They were obsessed with the Sabbath, and were constantly specifying and clarifying what could and could not be done; how far one could travel; exactly how much could be lifted; what the precise exceptions were. Of course, the point that the Sabbath was designed for concentration on God was lost on them.

The Pharisees were consumed with the idea of appearance. They would pray long and loud in public. They would contrive special hats to cover their eyes, so that they might not see a woman (these were called the bloody Pharisees, because they were always running into things).

Their motivation is equally revealing. They did what they did at the time of Christ for two reasons: to gain power, and to avoid judgment. The latter is especially interesting in the light of 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

They were fervent in their legalism lest they offend God, and thus come under His judgement in the eternal state. But you cannot have a true relationship with one you fear. You must have confidence before God, and that was one thing the Pharisee did not have.

Another motivation, the lust for power, had been hanging around the Pharisees for quite some time. Their mission, though warped in its execution, was quite a noble one. They looked at their mission, and decided that they needed power, political power in order to carry it out. Much like their association with the Law, their attempts to gain power led to their addiction to it, and its rule over them.

Perhaps the best characterization of their addiction to power was their success in the Maccabaean Revolt, which occurred a couple of centuries before the birth of Christ.

In the intermediate period between the death of Alexander in 323 B.C. and the establishment of Roman control from 63 B.C. onward, Israel remained under the nominal control of Greece and even Syria.


This religious group known as Sadducees came into being about 300 years before Christ. They are characterized by their aristocracy, their cultural surrender to the Greeks and others, and their opposition to everything the Pharisees stood for.

Their name comes from the Aramaic Sadduqim, which meant ‘righteousness’. However, those who were in opposition to them called them saddiqim, which meant ‘destruction’.

They came from the ranks of the priests and high priests of Israel, during the time of the Greek occupation. Their desire was to give in to the Hellenizing influences of the Greeks, and thus retain their favor.

The Sadducees had a lot to lose to the occupation forces of the Greeks, because they were mostly prosperous, aristocratic people. In order to maintain their lifestyles and possessions, they placated the Greeks, giving in to their cultural and even religious influences.

During the Maccabaean revolt, they stayed in the background. They were in fact very unpopular. When Jonathan Maccabee was appointed high priest by popular demand, it looked like the Sadducees would be gone forever. At the time, almost all of the people in the land were willing to sacrifice anything for their freedom. The strong oppression of the Syrians drove them to this sacrificial attitude.

After about 40 years of on and off civil war, the Jews became tired of the bloodshed, and popular opinion tended toward peace. In this case, peace meant compromise, and compromise was the game of the Sadducees. John Hyrcanus, of the Maccabees, was really very close to the Sadducee way of thinking.

However, the compromising policy of Hyrcanus became unpopular in a few years, and so the Pharisees came into power. Due to the double tyranny of the Pharisees and king Herod, the Sadducees had made a great comeback not long before the birth of Christ. Let’s face it: the Pharisees were no fun at all.

The religious beliefs of the Sadducees can be summed up in a single thought: they were always opposed to what the Pharisees believed. They believed that only the written Law is binding, whereas the Pharisees believed that the body of tradition and written interpretation were just as important as the Law itself.

The Sadducees punished breaches of the Law severely, but the Pharisees often interpreted their way around the written Law, and thus got out of the proscribed punishment.

They had a strong belief in human free will, while the Pharisees believed in predestination to the point of being fatalistic.

They denied the resurrection, and any kind of continued existence of the soul after physical death. This led to their inordinate value of private property and possessions. The Pharisees, however, believed that the soul continued after death, and that there would be a severe judgement in eternity.

The Sadducees did not believe in angelic beings, or demons, and any reference to such in Scripture was converted to a manifestation of God Himself. The Pharisees did believe in angels.

The Sadducees always reserved the right of private opinion about Scripture and the Law, while the Pharisees rejected that right, tyrannically imposing their opinions on all.

The Sadducees were a mixture of both the conservative and the liberal from today’s American society. The pressures of history and their religious beliefs worked together to make them what they were. Although they had some good elements to their philosophy, they were just as spiritually and morally bankrupt as the Pharisees. They are a good example of wrong reaction for the right reason. It was a good thing to be opposed to the religious tyranny of the Pharisees, but the motives of the Sadducees were wrong, and thus their beliefs went in the wrong direction. Although religion was important to them, relationship with God was not, and so they destroyed themselves. They left the pages of history forever after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.


The Essenes were a widespread movement in the ancient world. They appeared on the scene not long before the Maccabaean revolt, about 175 B.C.

Their decision was to withdraw from the evils of the world around them, and they were the prototype of the monastic movement of the dark and middle ages. Because of the destruction of the Jewish nation, and their deportation to points all over the ancient world, this movement was widespread.

These are the people who produced the Dead Sea Scrolls, and who lived in the caves of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. In a sense, these were the ostriches of the time, sticking their heads in the sand, and hoping that others would leave them alone.

They were widely admired, especially by the intelligentsia of the day. Both Josephus and Philo are full of praise for them (but notice that neither wanted to be one).

Their group was strictly organized, and enforced strict obedience to their leadership. They had a system of double initiation. First, they had to undergo a probation period of one year, and after this time they would undergo an initiation ceremony of ritual purification.

After two more years of probation they gained their full membership in the community. At this time an oath was taken in which the new member would swear himself to complete truthfulness to other members of the community, and complete secrecy on the doctrines of the community to those outside (this is one reason why Christ forbade swearing).

Only adults were admitted into the Essene order, but they did have a children’s’ recruiting and introduction program.

The Essene community was dedicated to total communism. They had a common purse. They had common clothes. They had common food at a common table.

Trading of any kind was prohibited. They had a strictly regulated daily labor plan.

They were total pacifists. They were not even allowed to make weapons or anything that might hurt someone.

They observed the sabbath with strict adherence. The read and explained Scripture in their daily worship schedule.

They were extremely ascetic in many ways. They abstained from sex and marriage; their ranks were only increased through outside recruiting. It is a testimony to their popularity that they have continued in one form or another until even today.

They were prohibited from profanity, makeup (or anything that might enhance their physical appearance), bathed only in cold water, wore only white, and were greatly modest about all bodily functions.

They substituted their own ritual system for God’s, and they thought their own to be superior. They did not sacrifice any animals.

The Essene movement was a reaction to the incursions of the evil outside world. They were not much different from the other utopian movements of history. They depended very much on strong and virtuous leadership, and when their leadership failed them, they disappeared from the pages of history.

Unlike their Pharisee and Sadducee counterparts, they seemed to have a more vital, daily relationship with God. However, distortions were inevitable due to their rejection of God’s ritual system, and some of them even went so far as to engage in sun worship. They were most like the Pharisees, and could even be considered a radical Pharisee sect.

They were the pattern which the early church (mistakenly) patterned themselves. Since they lived such sequestered lives, Christ would have little to say about them, because He never ran across them.

John the Baptist was considered to be like the Essenes because of his ascetic life in the desert, but he really wasn’t.


The Zealots were almost purely a political party. They called for the violent overthrow of the Roman rule. They carried on the tradition of the Maccabees they were militant, and full of zeal and purpose. They were the cause of the Jewish wars and the destruction of Jerusalem.

They fought with complete fanaticism to the very end. They were extremely patriotic, but not many were Godly. They took their patriotism to great excess, and vowed to strike down all the enemies of Israel. Although they were politically correct (not in the modern sense), they were morally wrong, and in this they were most similar to the southern U.S. in the early 1800’s.


The nation of Israel at the time of the birth of Christ was an unhappy nation. For hundreds of years, they had battled for their freedom and lost. They had been under the crushing rule of foreign nations.

For hundreds of years, a great destiny had been before them, taunting them. Because of this, they chafed under the yoke of Roman rule through Herod.

Without a national relationship with God, the nation could not be free. Without a national relationship with God, the nation could not enjoy the blessings of the unconditional covenants.

Without a national relationship with God, they would reject the greatest of all world leaders of all time: Jesus Christ. One and all, they would reject Him.

Introduction to the Spiritual Perspective

The past history of any people has an impact on their present culture the way they think, solve problems, react to pressure or prosperity. Israel at the time of Christ was no different. The people stood at the crossroads of their own national history. They had a past, and they could make choices which decided their future.

History is made up of many elements: geography, culture, philosophy & religion, economics, technology, politics, and many others.

The greatest of all the elements is the principle that Jesus Christ controls history. The attitude of a nation toward Christ has a great impact on its place in history. The attitude of the nation toward establishment truth has a great impact on that nation’s status before God. The attitude of the individual believer toward Bible Truth has a great impact on all other people in the nation.

The Cosmic System

The term “cosmic system” refers to Satan’s plan and process for controlling the world, and his attempt, using his organization of fallen angels, to counteract the plan of God in all respects. In his plans and programs, Satan will ultimately and certainly fail. Jesus Christ is the victor in the spiritual warfare, the “angelic conflict”. The Lord Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven, where all His enemies shall be made his footstool.

The cosmic system has a great impact on the history of a nation. History has certain downward trends which signify the cosmic influence on a nation. For example, Israel at the time of the birth of Christ had been on the downward side of history for quite some time. It is important to take a look at the principles of the cosmic system related to history in order to fully understand the period in question.

General Principles of the Cosmic System

Human history is the resolution of the prehistoric angelic conflict. In order to vindicate himself and His judgment of the fallen angels, God conceived a plan by which sinful human beings could glorify Him.

In order to justify his rejection of the prehistoric grace offer from God, Satan conceived a system designed to counteract the plan of God.

Therefore, the purpose of the Satan’s cosmic system is as follows:

– To keep unbelievers from believing in Jesus Christ.

– To destroy the believer’s relationship with God.

– To bring in his own millennium through internationalism and a centralized world government.

– To prevent God’s millennium from arriving.

There are three plans in Satan’s cosmic system.

– The World Plan

– The Individual Plan

– The Propaganda Plan

The World Plan of Satan

The world plan is Satan’s plan to bring in His own millennium, and to prevent God from bringing in the Divine Millennium. The world plan is a highly organized international conspiracy of demons.

Eph 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Although the world plan is highly organized through the genius of Satan Himself, the human side is not so. Demons do control human beings through demon possession and demon influence, but the humans themselves are rarely well informed. Often a world conspiracy theory will arise, but these are due to the demonic side and not the human side. There is no Biblical documentation for a human world conspiracy. Humans are simply pawns in Satan’s world plan.

The Individual Plan of Satan

The individual plan is an integral part of the world plan, since human participation in the demonic organization is absolutely essential. The means to the end of the cosmic system is power.

The world branch is constantly grasping for power over the human race and its organizations. Power in the form of human government is of the utmost importance in the world branch of the cosmic system. The more power that the enemy has, the greater he thinks he can be. The more power the enemy has, the more effectively he can carry out his plan.

In every human life and human organization, Satan is grasping for more power, so he can wield it to carry out his plan. Every time that someone or some organization depends on a human viewpoint solution, Satan gains power over their lives. Every time that someone or some organization comes to believe a cosmic counterfeit or lie, Satan gains power over their lives.

The Satanic “Millennium”

As a part of the angelic appeal trial of human history, Satan has developed his idea of a millennium, which is designed to prove his point. In order to bring in his millennium, Satan must have total control of international human authority. This is why there is so much influence towards internationalism in the world.

God ordained nationalism after Satan’s first attempt at internationalism at the tower of Babel, Gen. 11:19.

Satan will bring in his “millennium”, known as the Period of Great Tribulation, which will only come after the rapture of the church. The Satanic millennium can only be put into place when there are no believers on planet earth.

This ‘millennium’ will be the most chaotic, disastrous, and miserable 7 years in world history. It is the tribulation of the book of revelation.

The intent of the Satanic millennium.

– To prove that the prehistoric sentence of God which condemned the fallen angels to eternity in the lake of fire was unfair.

– To prove that Satan is God’s equal, Isa 14:14, “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”"

The characteristics of the Satanic millennium.

– Counterfeit righteousness and injustice under the veil of justice.

– Constant change and lack of dependability

– Treacherous motives and cruel slavery behind the mask of mercy.

– Wrong approaches to problem solving and false solutions which always make the problem worse.

– Chaos and confusion.

– Bad decisions from a position of weakness and a society saturated with evil.

– Dishonesty, obfuscation, evasiveness, and a lack of veracity. (All this sounds like U.S. politics today).

The Fight Against the Divine Millennium

Satan is constantly fighting against the Divine plan for human history. Satan thinks that if he can destroy or delay the Divine millennium, he will somehow gain an advantage in the angelic conflict. He is wrong. He does not have the power to do either.

The Divine Millennium will come at the second advent of Christ, and it therefore immediately follows the tribulation. There have been two attacks in history against the Divine Millennium: the attack against Christ, and the attack against the Jews. These attacks are tantamount to murdering the witnesses of a trial, so that they cannot testify.

The Attacks against Christ

Jesus Christ will be the world ruler during the Divine Millennium, and His rulership will be fantastic.

There was an attempt to destroy the mediatorship of Christ.

– In Genesis 6 there is a record of an attempt to destroy the human genetic purity of the line of Christ.

– In order to be the perfect mediator between God and man, Christ had to be both fully God and fully man in the hypostatic union.

– Satan attempted to destroy the human side of this equation.

– Demons seduced human women and impregnated them. Their children were angelic-human half breeds, and no longer genetically pure.

– Only Noah and his family resisted this demonic conspiracy. This is why the rest of the earth had to be destroyed.

– God considered this attack so great, that he imprisoned the angels who participated under the surface of the earth, where they still reside, waiting for their release in the tribulation.

There were attempts to kill Christ before He could fulfill the purpose of His life.

Satan knew that if he could kill Christ before His time, the plan of God would be stymied. Therefore, there were several attempts on His life.

– The attempt of Herod, Mat 2:13,16, “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.”Get up," he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”

– The attempts of the Pharisees, Mat 12:14, “But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.”

– The attempts of the chief priest and elders, Mat 26:3,4, “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.”

Of course, all of these attempts failed completely.

The Attacks against the Jews

The Jews are God’s chosen people, and they are going to be Christ’s subjects in the Divine Millennium. Therefore, Satan is constantly plotting against the Jews in his attempt to exterminate them as a race of people. There is a tremendous amount of Satanic propaganda against the Jews. The Jewish world conspiracies, etc.

In every generation, there is an attempt through the Satanic world conspiracy to eliminate the Jews as a race. In the 20th century, there have been at least three attempts at genocide against the Jews.

– In Soviet Russia, from 1917 to the present.

– In Nazi Germany, from 19331945.

– By various Arab nations, today.

During the tribulation, the genocidal attacks against the Jews will reach their crescendo.

We are to judge the present nation of Israel by the standards of Divine establishment.

We are to judge individual Jews only when they come under our authority or they break the law.

In all other instances, we are to give Jews maximum respect and reservation of judgment.

As a national entity, we are to provide a haven for the Jews, so that they might be free from racial prejudice.


Although these demonically inspired attacks are terrible in their intensity and genius, they have no chance of succeeding. God will protect the Jews until the return of Jesus Christ. He will succeed, easily.

The Propaganda Plan of Satan

The purpose of the propaganda plan is to promote the cosmic counterfeits and lies, and to attack the word of God. The propaganda plan integrates and cooperates with both the individual and the world branches of the cosmic system. The propaganda branch is an expression of Satanic genius and the demonic organization. Human beings are an important element in the propaganda branch.

The Promotion of the Cosmic Counterfeits and Lies

The cosmic system has an elaborate scheme of counterfeits and lies. These counterfeits and lies are designed to supplant the truth. The counterfeits and lies match up with every category of truth possible, including:

– The Gospel.

– The plan of God.

– The power of God.

– The person and work of God the Father

– The person and work of Christ.

– The person and work of the Holy Spirit.

These counterfeits and lies are promoted by every means possible. There is a great emphasis today on the media, and especially television. Those who are heavily involved in the cosmic system inevitably become cosmic propagandists.

The Attack Against the Word of God

In order to make the promotion of the cosmic counterfeits and lies fully effective, the cosmic system attacks the Word. The attacks against the Word come in two basic categories.

Attacks to destroy the Word outright. There have been many attempts throughout history to destroy the manuscripts of the Bible.

Attacks to undermine the credibility of the Word. These are usually attacks on the supernatural nature of the Divine inspiration of the Word. Liberal theologians are mainly responsible for this branch of the attack on the Word.

Rome at the Time of Christ

The Roman Environment During the Life of Christ

The Pax Romanus.

After many wars, the Roman Empire was established. After the death of Julius Caesar, there was a civil war, and then Augustus Caesar (Octavian) was given absolute power over the senate and people of Rome. Augustus was a good man who desired peace and prosperity for Rome. After many long years of warfare, external and internal, the people were tired of it, and longed for peace. Augustus was sensitive and thoughtful, a good ruler. Through his long rule many great things were provided.

Because of the state of peace, there was a great emphasis on trade and commerce. Many Romans made their fortunes because of the advantages of freedom through military victory and peace through military strength. There were great building programs in every city, financed by donations from the private sector. Theatres and temples and viaducts all sprouted as if there were a spring season for buildings.

There was a fantastic system of roads and trade routes on the sea, all protected by the police and the Roman equivalent of the coast guard. Piracy and highway robbery remained at a minimum through capital punishment.

Augustus also preached the virtues of morality and discipline and justice and courage. He realized that the Roman empire was centered on the family, and that its stability depended on it. There was a rigidly pro-family bank of legislation, which encouraged marriage and children inside the marriage relationship. Some of this was circumvented, while much of it was taken to heart.

Augustus was Caesar at the time of the birth of Christ. Although Augustus died in 14 A.D., Tiberius continued the Augustan tradition of the Pax Romanum. Tiberius was the emperor for the remainder of the life of Christ.

The Jews (and especially the Pharisees and Zealots) had absolutely nothing to complain about. The peace of Rome was very pro-establishment.

Koine’ Greek, the Language of the Roman Empire

Koine’ Greek was the language of Alexander’s conquest. Attic Greek was a difficult language to master. When Alexander expanded the Greek empire as far as Afghanistan and India, the people had to assimilate in order to be a part of that empire. Without Greek the foreigners could not trade or prosper. However, since Attic Greek was so difficult, the people of the empire commonized it, so that it could be easily used.

This commonization was a great simplification which retained the subtle and detailed nature of its predecessor.

Koine’ Greek was the greatest language in history for written communication. Through it many complex and subtle concepts could be communicated with clarity. Koine’ Greek was retained in the Roman Empire as the language of the common man. Nearly everyone knew it and used it throughout their lives.

Roman Culture

The Romans borrowed much of their culture from their Greeks. Greek literature, drama, and games were all retained by the Romans. The Romans admired almost all aspects of Greek culture, even the most debauched things.

The Romans had spent much of their developing years in war and in a very disciplined and workaholic environment, and so they lacked cultural self esteem. The Greeks had much to offer in the way of culture although much of theirs was corrupt. The Greeks had died from their cultural debauchery it was the ruin of their empire.

No nation has ever survived the corruption of their morals. The homosexuality of the Greeks was rampant; it destroyed them. The Romans adopted even this even to the point of pederasty. It would also destroyed them.

Analogous to this is the popularity of all things American to the Japanese. Whether its baseball or disco or Madonna, the Japanese people love it, as long as it is American. The contrast is that while Japan was conquered by the U.S. and it adopted much of U.S. culture, the Greeks were conquered by the Romans, and yet the Romans adopted the Greek culture.

However, at the time of Christ, the Romans remained for the most part moral and family oriented. It was the most stable time in the history of the world.

The Roman postal service was for government use only a great idea. Imagine the reduction in garbage from the elimination of junk mail. Personal mail went with travelers and traders.

The Romans had no public schools. The education of their children was a two-tiered system. The first tier was that of the disciplinary training. This was usually administered by a well educated and trusted household slave. He would teach manners and self-discipline to the children of the household.

The second tier was that of the educational training. Science, math, astronomy, medicine, botany, zoology, linguistics, literature, music, and sports were all common subjects in the education of the child. There was also a great emphasis on logic and rhetoric. 6. Next, there was the institution of slavery.

It is important to note that the Romans could never imagine a state of total abolition, so ingrained was the institution of slavery in their nation and their culture and even their thinking. The moral question of slavery was never raised.

Slaves became slaves because of the conquests of the Roman Empire. Whenever a new territory was conquered, much of the population was deported back to population centers elsewhere in the empire.

– This served a twofold purpose: it provided cheap labor, and the insurance against guerrilla warfare in the conquered territory.

– The people who were deported received a low form of welfare: they would have the basic logistics provided in exchange for their labor. Slavery did much to provide for those who would otherwise be charity cases.

The slaves of the Roman Empire took on what was considered the menial tasks of the day much of the manual labor was done by them. As the Empire grew and prospered, the more educated and presentable slaves become household helpers and educators.

Slaves were always dependent on their masters, and as long as the Empire stayed on the virtuous side.

– Manumission was often granted to faithful slaves.

– Emancipated slaves had great opportunities for upward mobility.

– There was not an extreme prejudice against slaves often they were respected for who they were.

Although slaves were considered property, they were allowed to have their own lives, marrying and producing families. The New Testament is written from this frame of reference.

– Masters are considered legitimate authority, as long as they stayed within the laws of Divine established. Therefore, slaves are called upon to obey their masters.

– Masters are called upon to emancipate their slaves.

The Four Gospels

General Introduction

In the middle of the 6th decade of the first century, Christianity had reached a crisis. Nero had begun his persecutions, and the Romans had begun to suppress the open rebellion of the zealot Jews in Palestine.

The church had been well established throughout the Roman Empire, and many doctrinal epistles had been written in support of the church.

Paul was in prison; many of the great believers of the eyewitness generation had died from natural causes and violent persecution.

It appeared as though the prophecy of Christ about the destruction of the Temple was about to come to pass due to the hopeless war in the Holy Land.

It was because of these intense adversities that God the Holy Spirit inspired three men in three different cities to write gospels records of the life of Christ.

The three locations of writing were widely and evenly distributed.

Mark recorded Peter’s gospel in Rome.

Luke wrote his gospel somewhere in Greece, probably in Achaia.

Matthew wrote from Antioch in Syria.

These three gospels were written for various reasons.

Matthew wrote to Jews, in order to convince them of the Messiahship of Jesus.

He hoped to convert them before the folly of the Zealot movement resulted in their persecution and destruction.

Already war was begun in Palestine.

Luke wrote to Greeks in order to provide an accurate history of the events of the incarnation. His second work, the book of Acts, is the accurate history of the early church.

Mark wrote to record the life of Christ as told by Peter. It is likely that Peter was in prison and close to martyrdom when he dictated the story of Christ’s life. Peter no doubt thought it imperative that the story get out. The abbreviated nature of the narrative reveals both Peter’s nature and that he was in a hurry.

These three gospels, although very similar in their record of events, arose from independent sources.

Peter told the story to Mark as he remembered it.

Luke had apparently interviewed a number of people over the years and put these materials together to form his gospel.

Matthew had already written quite a lot of material in Aramaic, which had to do with the prophecies concerning the life of Christ. He used this material to form the basis for a number of his passages, and filled in the rest from memory.

There was no written source on which these three are all based. The Q hypothesis is pure bunk, thought up by arrogant German scholars who had nothing better to do because they had rejected the inspired nature of the Word.

These three gospels are often called the synoptic gospels, because they have roughly the same record of events. Synoptic means to ‘see together’.

These synoptic gospels were all written within a year or two from one another. It is therefore doubtful that they could have relied on one another. The times of writing are as follows (all dates approximate).

Mark 65 A.D.

Matthew and Luke 66 A.D.

Notice that in the time of crisis it was important from the Spirit’s point of view to provide knowledge of the life of Christ! Remember, the Spirit chose when to inspire these works. The gospel of John is very similar in that it is inspired during a time of great adversity for the church. John wrote his gospel in the eighties, most likely the late eighties.

The problems of harmonizing the gospels

Critics of the gospels have been very skeptical about the accuracy of the gospel accounts because even the synoptic gospels do not appear (at least on the surface) to harmonize well.

However when the gospels are analyzed and then harmonized by those whose work goes beyond just a surface appraisal, things work out quite well. One such harmony is Dr. Thomas’ A Harmony of the Gospels, which was written together with Dr. Gundry.

Dr. Thomas lists the following as problems with harmonization on page 302 of his book.

Accounts of Christ’s words sometimes differ. One evangelist’s report of the same conversation, saying, or discourse may be more less complete than another’s. Differences may occur in grammatical construction. Synonyms may be substituted, verb voice or tense changed, or nouns replaced by pronouns. There may be differences in the order of discussion.

Sometimes the differences in details reported even involve what appear to be contradictions.

Occasionally, the same or similar statements will be found in contexts which appear to reflect different situations.

Somewhat similar events occur in different situations.

Sometimes what really appears to be the same event will be reported in a different order in another gospel.

Sometimes diverse descriptive details are given for what appears to be the same event; sometimes these details may have the appearance of discrepancy.

The gospel writers do not always report the same events.

The big issue is this: Do these problems undermine the historical integrity of the gospels? If they do, then they undermine the inspired nature of the word.

In the last century, the German scholars saw these problems and failed to account for them. Instead, they arrogantly denied the inspired nature of the Word, and the ministers and the people followed. The result was two world wars, both started by a nation full of people who called themselves Christians. We stand on the brink of the same possibility in our own nation.

Do not fear, however, for responsible scholarship more than accounts for these problems without compromising the historical integrity and inspired nature of these documents.

The general solutions are as follows:

Jesus spoke three languages: Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. The gospels were all written in Greek. Therefore, by necessity many of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ words are translations. In translation, there is plenty of room of variance without losing meaning.

Sometimes the words are translated quite literally, but even so the use of synonyms is quite acceptable. Sometimes the words are translated more loosely in order to emphasize the impact of the words. This is also perfectly acceptable.

In modern language we have many punctuation marks to indicate what is a direct quote and what is not; what is a clarification by the author, and what is a clarification by the original speaker; even footnotes are employed to refer to source materials. None of these things were available to the ancient writer.

Because of this it is difficult to tell when the writer is doing one of these things in his translation of Jesus’ words (even if he is translating). Suffice it to say that God the Holy Spirit is the supernatural director of all translations of Jesus’ words, and He ensured their accuracy.

When there are differences in translation, we can use them to amplify all the translations.

Dr. Thomas summarizes this principle in this way:

What one does expect to be reproduced in ordinary discussion are the striking or important statements, the leading thoughts, the major divisions or topics, and the general drift of discussion including transitions from one topic to another. While different reports are expected to agree on these matters, it is also expected that there will be differences on details such as changes of person, substitution of pronouns for nouns or vice versa, changes in tense, voice, or mood of the verbs, and substitution of synonyms are too trivial to be taken as serious objections to a reporter’s accuracy in ordinary discussion.

While wording is important, meaning can be conveyed in a variety of ways. Verbal inspiration does not imply that truth can be accurately communicated in only one way. Rather, it means that the manner in which the Holy Spirit did speak through the human agents is inspired and hence accurate, word for word.

The people of the ancient world, especially the Jewish people, had highly trained memories. They were often required to memorize long passages of the Old Testament, and even in a language that was not their native tongue.

This, together with the ministry of the Holy Spirit led to tremendous accuracy with reference to the meaning of the translation.

When a translation is direct from the Greek, we can expect greater accuracy in the quotation of Jesus’ words, but even so, one writer for his own reason may add or subtract from the quotation without a violation of the principle of inspiration.

Also, Christ no doubt repeated many of His words over the course of His ministry; this does not mean that He said the exact same thing every time. Even during the same sermon it is likely that He repeated Himself. One gospel writer may have recorded one part, while another different parts with slightly different wording.

Differences in the details of what appear to be the same event may in fact be a record of two quite different occurrences.

Sometimes, a writer will arrange his material according to subject and therefore take things out of chronological order. This too is acceptable, and does not corrupt the inspired nature of the text.

The conclusion is this: that harmonizing the gospels presents no major problems with reference to inspiration. The accounts do harmonize well, and the problems that go with a harmony are easily and rationally accounted for.

The Gospel of Matthew

For each gospel, we will follow this order:


Circumstances of writing

Target readership

Purpose of writing, and

Characteristics of the gospel.

The Author

Matthew God used an outcast. His name is a transliteration of the Aramaic word which means “gift of God.”

In his own Gospel, Matthew uses his regular name. In other gospels, the name Levi is used. It is likely that Matthew became his name after his conversion.

Matthew was a Jewish tax collector. It is likely that he was fairly well off financially because of his profession. This makes his decision to follow Christ all the more remarkable, because he left it all behind Luke 5:28. It is likely that he worked at the toll house in Capernaum.

When he decided to follow our Lord, he threw a big party, and invited all his friends. His decision to follow Christ was immediate.

As a tax collector, Matthew was an outcast in Jewish society. He apparently had no friends who were devout in the Jewish faith for at his party there were only other tax collectors and sinners.

The Roman tax collectors were hated by the Jews because the Roman taxes were in addition to the Jewish taxes.

They were also hated because they represented the occupying forces of the Roman Empire.

The tax collectors made their living by inflating the Roman taxes. They essentially worked on commission.

Tax collectors were wealthy, but hated by their own society. They had to live with a tremendous amount of prejudice.

Because of this prejudice their social options were severely limited. They could only socialize with others who were outcasts.

It was easy for Matthew to follow Christ, considering his personal circumstances. Social isolation does not make it easy to enjoy personal wealth. No doubt he knew of the supernatural essence of Christ’s ministry, and he may have even heard Him speak. It is often the outcast that finds it easiest to follow Christ.

The Circumstances Surrounding the Writing of the Matthew

Of the circumstances of the writing of this gospel we know very little. What little we can draw comes from inside the book.

The Target Readership for Matthew

The target readership for Matthew’s gospel was most likely Jewish believers in Palestine. A secondary audience may be found in Jewish audiences everywhere. His was the most read of all the gospels in the first century. This popularity is a good testimony to its arrangement.

The Purpose of the Gospel of Matthew

The purpose of this gospel was generally to awaken and establish faith in Jesus Christ.

That this gospel was written primarily with a Jewish audience in mind brings a more specific purpose: To establish Christ as the Messiah and to answer the attacks of Jewish critics on the issue of the person of Christ.

It was also intended as a tool for use in evangelism for other believers.

Finally, it was probably intended as a last ditch effort to stem the tide of destruction which was descending upon the Jews in Palestine.

The Jews were their own worst enemies. They were extremely self-destructive, and especially so since their rejection of Christ as Messiah.

Their self-destructive tendencies culminated in a great number of them choosing the way of the zealot armed resistance without virtue.

The way of the zealot could only result in the destruction of the Jews in the land, and of Jerusalem. The Romans’ method of warfare was far superior to that of the zealots. Anyone with common sense could see the inevitable destruction of the Jewish armies.

Therefore, Matthew wrote his gospel as a last ditch effort to stem the tide of destruction that had welled up among the Jews in Palestine.

Matthew wrote just as the zealots began their armed revolt in 66 A.D.

General Characteristics of Matthew

The most striking of the characteristics of this gospel is its emphasis on Christ as the Messianic King promised by the Old Testament prophets. Time and again Matthew points out some event in Christ’s life, or one of His characteristics as being a fulfillment of a prophecy. He especially concentrates on Christ as the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant.

Matthew also concentrates on the kingdom of the Messianic king. He uses the term, “the kingdom of heaven” 32 times, but it is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. He stresses both the spiritual and political aspects of the kingdom. Matthew records ten parables about the kingdom which are found in none of the other gospels. His is the gospel of the New Covenant for Israel.

Matthew’s gospel has a very Jewish flavor, yet at the same time he often takes the opportunity to denounce the Pharisees and their incorrect practices and perceptions of the Messiah. The latter is probably due to Matthew’s social isolation. No doubt he was often victimized by the Pharisees for being a tax collector. Like so many who are the victims of prejudice, Matthew has special insight into those who perpetuate such sins.

However, Matthew does not exclude the Gentiles. Matthew was emotionally a Gentile because of his social isolation. He makes sure his readers understand that once the Jews have completely rejected Christ, the kingdom would be transferred to the Gentiles.

Matthew is the one who arranges his material by subject, and aside from the passion week he does not follow the chronological order of events. Matthew, more than any other gospel writer, has an ax to grind. It is a righteous ax, and so he arranges his material to suit the grinding.

In spite of Matthew’s choice of arrangement, his gospel retains a great unity and order. This reveals the mind of a tax collector. The order of numbers and accounts lead naturally to literary order. There is great continuity in the order of the subjects, and excellent literary transition.

The Gospel of Mark

The Author(s) Mark and Peter

There are really two persons behind the writing of this gospel. The one who gave dictation, Peter, and the one who received it, Mark.

The following is an extraordinary statement: Mark was there when both Paul and Peter died. It is extraordinary because Mark began life as a coward, and was for while in great disfavor among the other disciples. This is a testimony to the grace of God.

Mark was Jewish, and grew up in Jerusalem. No doubt he was aware of the person of Christ and the events of His life. There is even some speculation that he was the young man of Mark 14:5152. The actions of that young man are certainly commensurate with his character flaw of cowardice which he expressed about 20 years later.

His mother’s name was Mary, and he was a relative of Barnabas. When Paul and Barnabas took Mark along on the first journey, he left for home before their ascent of the Taurus mountain range on their way to the interior of Asia Minor, Acts 13:5.

This desertion set Paul’s heart against Mark. When Barnabas and Paul decided on a later missionary journey, Paul refused to take Mark along on the basis of his former desertion, Acts 15:3639. In fact, Paul and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement over the issue, and they parted ways at that point. Barnabas believed in Mark.

Whatever transpired in the next 10 or 15 years (AD 49 to AD 62), Mark had won himself over to Paul. During Paul’s first imprisonment, Mark was there with him, Col. 4:10; Philem 24. In Philemon (62 AD) Paul calls Mark a fellow worker. In Colossians, Paul reminds the Colossians to welcome Mark if he comes that way. Paul is restoring Mark’s reputation to others.

Mark was with Peter in Rome (called Babylon by Peter) 1 Pet. 5:13, and sent his greeting along with Peter’s letter. Peter affectionately calls Mark his son.

Mark apparently left Rome shortly after Peter’s first epistle (@65 AD), because when Paul is imprisoned a second time at Rome, he calls for Mark, who is with Timothy at Ephesus, 2 Tim. 4:11. Paul calls Mark ‘well useful for service’. He considers Mark the deacon type, and finds great favor with him in this role. The word for well useful is euchrestos, a very positive and complimentary word.

If Mark obeyed Paul’s command, and it is likely he did, then he was present when Paul was executed.

If Mark was there for Paul’s execution, then it is equally likely that he was there for Peter’s, because they were both martyred at about the same time, and both in Rome.

Mark watched the deaths of these two great believers. He faced death with courage this time, a changed man because of the truth residing in his soul. This is the man who ran at the arrest of Jesus, and who ran in the face of the unknown at the base of the Taurus mountains. Mark was a man who feared, and yet by the grace of God who grew, and then endured. It is extraordinary that he is the one chosen by God the Holy Spirit to put down in writing the gospel as told by Peter, probably just before or just after Peter’s death.

Remember Mark next time that you fail! And remember him the next time that you are ready to write someone off!

Peter Peter’s name was also Simon. The testimony of Peter always stands behind the writing of Mark in this epistle.

If there is one character trait of Peter which rises above all others, it is his emotionalism. Peter often let his emotions rule his thinking, much to his detriment and regret.

Peter is enthusiastic, emotional, swift to speak without thinking, full of love and anger, sometimes legalistic and snobbish, and Jewish in a prejudicial way. He is one of the independent, rebellious Galileans. He loves Christ so much, yet he cannot muster the spiritual resources to remain with Him in His arrest, trial, and death.

He is the second to the tomb on the third day, and enters first. He is the first of the disciples to see Christ after the resurrection. He is unsure of his standing with Christ immediately after the resurrection. Peter is a leader and very much a preacher, though not careful about what he says. He makes mistakes, he broods, and then he seeks and needs forgiveness in a desperate emotional way. In the end, he writes two epistles about suffering, and speaks his remembrances of Christ in a brief, but humble manner.

The gospel includes those incidents which place Peter in an unflattering light. In these he is brutally honest about his mistakes.

It excludes those incidents which place Peter in a flattering light.

Peter is an early leader in the church, but fades from the limelight in about 50 AD Nothing is heard from him until he writes his epistles in the early 60’s, and then dictates his gospel story to Mark in the mid60’s.

Probably the best analogy to Peter’s early character is a politician on the campaign trail. Always promising, always in the limelight, but never following through.

Circumstances Surrounding the Writing of Mark

The place is Rome, the situation the persecutions of Nero. Paul and Peter are in prison, soon to die at the command of Nero himself.

Mark is there with them. Peter is anxious to tell the story of Christ before he dies, and he does so, dictating to Mark.

It is not clear whether Mark actually composed this gospel before or after Peter’s death. It is not important. This was a really hard time for believers in Jesus Christ, and especially so in Rome.

The Intended Readers of Mark’s Gospel

It is most likely that Peter (and Mark) had a Gentile audience in mind. This is especially interesting since Peter began with a prejudice against the Gentiles, and one which was difficult for him to leave behind. It apparently took him more than 20 years to do so. His gospel is devoid of anything that would be offensive to a Gentile, and it does not presuppose an extensive knowledge of the Old Testament.

Also, the Roman audience would have taken priority, since it was the closest.

The purpose of the Gospel of Mark

Mark was written to win converts to Christianity. Mark portrays Christ as a suffering servant. This image fits well the Christians in Rome, and so the Romans would have been well acquainted with it.

To encourage those in Rome who were enduring persecution. Peter always had a heart for those who were suffering. He mentions the persecution of Christ often to encourage those who endured similar sufferings.

The greatest testimony and greatest encouragement for those who suffer is that of Christ.

The greatest testimony for those who are in unbelief is the suffering of Christ.

Remember, this gospel goes out to the very hotbed of the Neronian persecution. It is a voice that rises above the cacophony of persecution and says, “but it is true”.

Characteristics of Mark’s Gospel

Brevity it is easily the shortest of the gospels, and conspicuous among the missing are the nativity, the genealogy, and most of Christ’s longer discourses.

Action Peter tells the story as he lived his own life. The story moves at a very fast pace, and its transitions force the narrative into a bangup story. The crowds are always pressing, the demons always attacking, miracles constantly being performed. Peter includes action and excludes doctrine. Mark has been called the camera man of the gospel writers for his vivid portrayal of the life of Christ.

Believability the story is told in simple and even rough language. Peter’s Greek lacks perfection, but it gives the gospel a nice ‘I was there’ touch that makes it quite vivid and easy to believe. Many minor details are included about Christ and His person. Even the bad things are left in the story.

Centered on Christ as the Son of God and as the servant of man. This would have been a good combination for his Gentile audience. The distinction of servanthood would have been especially appropriate since their Gods were ones who demanded service instead of those who would give it. The contrast would be striking.

Chronological Apparently, Mark’s gospel follows closely the actual chronological order of events in the life of Christ.

The Gospel of Luke

The Author Luke

God used a Gentile doctor. Luke is mentioned only three times in all of the New Testament, yet he is responsible for 28% of it, for he wrote both his gospel and the book of Acts.

Luke is the only Gentile writer of the New Testament, and probably the only second generation Christian writer. He was not present at the incarnation.

Luke is most likely Greek. He is an excellent writer and historian. In fact, he is the greatest of the historians of antiquity. He is objective, detailed, and well informed. He writes clearly and keeps things very well ordered.

Paul calls Luke the beloved physician in Colossians 4:14.

Although there were many charlatans in the ancient world, there were also a number of good and skilled physicians.

Medicine did not go much beyond advanced first aid in the ancient world, but such a service was very valuable.

Luke was probably behind Paul’s advice for Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach.

At one point, Luke was the only one with Paul during his imprisonment, 2 Tim 4:11.

Luke would have been a valuable addition to a missionary team, considering the hazards of travel in the ancient world. Considering the number of times that Christians were beaten, stoned, or otherwise injured because of their faith, Luke got to practice his profession often.

Luke was not only the team physician, but he was often active in the evangelistic efforts, Acts 16:13. That Luke was a Gentile meant that he would have been valuable in ministering to other Gentiles. Remember, most of the missionary teams were Jewish, and Paul’s ministry at first concentrated on teaching at synagogues.

Circumstances and Target Readership

Luke wrote in about 6667 AD He wrote his gospel, and later the Acts of the Apostles, to a man by the name of Theophilus. He probably wrote from somewhere in Greece, maybe even Athens. Little else is known about the circumstances of writing.

Luke addresses Theophilus as “most excellent”. This title was often used of those who were in prominent social or political positions. Theophilus was likely such a man. By accepting a book dedicated to him, Theophilus would have followed the ancient tradition of taking responsibility for its publication. We owe our thanks to Theophilus for the preservation of this great gospel.

Luke wanted to produce a gospel for Gentile readers, and it is easy on the Hebraisms and explains Jewish customs and localities. He usually quotes the Old Testament when it is contained in a saying of Christ, but not otherwise. There is little emphasis on the fulfillment of prophecy.

Purpose of the Gospel of Luke

Luke comes right out and says it in chapter 1:4: “so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”

It is Luke’s intent to be precise, and to more fully explain the subjects of which he has already spoken.

Verses 13 in the first chapter reveal Luke’s motive and method: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it our for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus,”

Luke wrote for Theophilus, but with the intent that Theophilus would publish this work, and pass it along to many others. Luke’s purpose is broad in its scope.

It is apparent that there were many falsehoods and distortions going around about the person and life of Christ. Luke wants to set the record strait with an exact narrative of the events.

Of course, by getting the record straight, Luke’s desire is for evangelism. He wants people to know the truth, and to identify Christ as their savior. Luke has a great emphasis on the cross, and the end of the life of Christ. This reveals his designs for evangelism.

Characteristics of Luke’s Gospel

Luke’s gospel is much more comprehensive than the others. It begins many months before the other synoptic gospels, and it ends after the ascension. Many details are included here which are not in the others. Luke is a diligent and thorough historian.

Luke concentrates on praise and worship more so than the other gospels. He records the four great nativity songs Mary’s, Zacharias’, that of the angels, and Simeon’s.

Luke emphasizes the humanity of Christ, and the perfection of that humanity.

Luke stresses that Christ makes salvation available to all men, and not just to Jews. He clearly shows the impact of Christ on the lives of many men, women, and children. Both the rich and poor, the Jew, the Samaritan, and the Gentile are included. Luke often shows this impact as occurring right inside people’s homes.

Luke records seven prayers of Jesus Christ which are not mentioned elsewhere.

Luke is literary. He has a remarkably large vocabulary, and uses many different writing styles to fit the situation at hand. His is the best written of the gospels from a literary standpoint. There are 800 words in Luke and Acts which do not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.

Luke is detailed, but not to the point of boring his readers to death. He has a knack for including what is pertinent to the narrative, and leaving behind what is extraneous. Perhaps the powers of observation and diagnosis he developed as a doctor come into play in this regard.

Luke concentrates on the death of Christ. From chapter 9 forward he keeps the thread of Christ’s death in the fabric of his narrative.

The Gospel of John

The Author John

God used a zealot. He was a cousin “according to the flesh” of Jesus Christ. Brother of James (not the epistle writer). A native of Galilee. John’s mother Salome was a follower of Jesus, and ministered to Him of her own means.

John was a fisherman of the Sea of Galilee, his life was hard work, but apparently it had paid off for his family, because they had servants, and were able to support the ministry of Jesus Christ. Galilee was a region somewhat analogous to the U.S. South not too long ago. It is conservative to a fault, and more than a little rebellious in character. The fires of rebellion flamed openly in this region. In reality a lot of senseless violence took place in the name of the zealot movement, but there was very little virtue. This time was somewhat analogous to that of Northern Ireland today.

John had great humility. When John the Baptist points out Jesus as the Messiah, John follows without delay. He never mentions own name in own Gospel.

He was nicknamed, with brother James as the “Sons of Thunder”, a reference to their manner in Word and Deed, Mk 3:17. It is likely that they had a fair amount of Zealot ideals in their heads.

He was outspoken about his faith from the start. He was “The disciple whom Jesus loved” was the closest to Jesus of the inner circle of Peter, James, and John.

He was the only eyewitness to the cross among the disciples, and he was eyewitness to the resurrection, Jn 20.

He was one of the “Pillars of the Church”, Gal 2:9. Paul had a high regard for him. He took over as chief of Apostles some time in the late 70’s.

His writing reflects the 50+ years of careful thought about the life of Christ and the Christian life.

Under his ministry, Ephesus became the center of the pivot which gave the Roman Empire its greatest time of prosperity under the Antonine Caesars, 98180 AD

He used very basic Greek grammar to express incredibly deep theological ideas.

He was the key figure in the transition from the pre-canon period to the post canon period.

Circumstances of Writing the Gospel

John wrote about 20 years after the completion of the synoptic gospels.

The synoptic gospels were written during the Neronian persecutions; John’s gospel is written in the aftermath. The Neronian persecution set the attitude in the Roman Empire. The average Roman at least publicly viewed Christianity and Christians with disdain.

This unpopularity was worse for Christianity than the original persecution. Peer pressure was more effective in weakening Christianity than capital punishment. Martyrs make good PR figures.

At the time of writing, Christianity was much weaker than it had been some twenty years before.

John probably wrote from Ephesus, the place of his later ministry. He had formerly ministered in Jerusalem, but was apparently driven out by Jewish persecution.

John was the last eyewitness to the life of Christ, and he has a desire to retell the story in his own words.

John wrote in a time of transition to the post-canon era of the church age. The temporary spiritual gifts, with all their fantastic abilities, are being left behind.

The Target Audience

If John’s Epistles are any indication of the readers of his gospel, he wrote to a crowd that needed to understand the basics of Christianity.

The Christian church had fallen into great disrepair in just twenty years’ time. The average Christian did not understand even how to confess his or her sins.

The suffering of the Neronian persecution, and the relentless peer pressure of the pagan Roman citizens had led many believers to seek alternate philosophies which bore the name of Christianity, but which were anything but.

John has an very tough uphill battle to fight with regard to heresy and the truth. The situation was not unlike what we encounter in our nation today.

The Purpose of the Gospel

In John 20:3031, John communicates his purpose: “Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name.”

John wants his readers to believe if they are unbelievers, and to grow to maturity if they are believers.

In order to do so, he attempts to establish Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah (Christ), and reestablish the Word of God as the authority and the Truth.

The Characteristics of the Gospel

The gospel is very simple in the use of the Greek language and writing style.

John writes about some extremely profound concepts, and he uses many symbols to do so.

John records at least six miracles which are recorded nowhere else in the gospels. He always designates these as signs.

John’s gospel concentrates on events which are not recorded elsewhere. He records Christ’s early Galilean ministry, and his upper room discourse.

John concentrates on the words of Christ Himself.

John develops in a fair amount of detail the relationship between the Father and the Son.

John’s gospel is like a commentary he inserts his comments on the narrative many times interpreting and illuminating the events as they occur.

Jesus Christ in Eternity Past

Christ in Eternity Past

John 1:15, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

In eternity past, the Father, Son, and Spirit were together trinity in the perfection of love.

Then God decided to create man, and allow man to have free will. As He looked down through history, He knew that man would use his free will to sin to speak and think and do against the perfect character of God.

God decided to permit this sin, even though it would separate Him from His creatures. He decided to do so because He had given His creatures free will, and He desired to honor that free will, and take responsibility for what He had created.

However, God could not compromise the perfection of His character in order to continue His relationship with His creatures. Therefore, God conceived a Plan whereby He could have a relationship with His creatures without compromising His own Holy character, and that plan meant the sacrifice of that which was most precious to Him of all: His unique and only Son.

Therefore, God would become God-man, in order to save mankind. The God man, Jesus Christ was unique in that He was fully man and fully God.

The Genealogy of Christ


Matthew and Luke have taken the time to record the genealogies of our Lord. Since they wrote under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, we can assume that this information is important.

Thanks to the Pharisees’ fascination with genealogies, at the time that these men wrote there was a great archive of information on the subject, and so they were able to accurately trace the line of Christ.

Luke traces the line of Christ through his mother, Mary. That is why 3:23 reads (or should read if it does not) “Jesus… being the son (as was supposed of Joseph) of Eli…”

Women were seldom included in Jewish genealogies, and so Luke only had the information about the patrilinear progenitors of Mary. He does start with her, however, even though he does not mention her name.

Luke did take the time to write the complete story of Mary and the immaculate conception, so he also took the time to write up her lineage.

Matthew traces of the line of Christ through Joseph, and thus back to Abraham. Luke takes Mary’s line back to Adam.

Though Joseph was not Christ’s biological Father, our Lord traced his legal heritage through him. That is why Matthew’s line stops at Abraham. His line had to do with Israel, and Israel began with Abraham.

Since the line of Mary is Christ’s biological line, the line is traced clear back to Adam.

Both of the genealogies skip generations.

This was a common practice in the Jewish handling of these things.

The reasons varied. It could be that the information was no longer available, or that the genealogist considered a certain generation unimportant. The reason does not matter. Just keep this fact in mind.

Luke’s Genealogy

Luke’s genealogy is unique in that it traces its line in the opposite direction from the norm. However, we will start with Adam and go forward, in spite of Luke’s deviant behavior.


It is fitting that we start with Adam, because Adam was the first head of the human race. By looking at Adam’s life we can discover the beginnings of our problems… and solutions. Adam is perhaps the one man in these genealogies with the greatest connection to Christ.

Rom 5:1221, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”

When God created Adam, He gave him the legitimate authority to rule planet earth When God created Adam, He created him body, mind, and spirit.

Adam’s human spirit formed the basis for his relationship with God in the Garden.

Adam’s body gave him the basis for logistical provision in time and space.

Adam’s mind gave him the basis for volitional decision and true worship of God.

When Adam sinned, the following things happened.

He surrendered his authority to rule planet earth to Satan.

His human spirit was removed from his body, causing spiritual death. He could not pass on this human spirit to future generations.

His body received an old sin nature, which would be genetically transmitted to all future generations.

His mind became corrupted by the old sin nature, but still remained functional. He still had a conscience, which contained a frame of reference for right and wrong.

Therefore, all of Adam’s progeny would suffer the following consequences:

They would be born spiritually dead, sharing the condemnation for Adam’s sin.

They would be born with the indwelling presence of the old sin nature in the cell structure of their bodies (and yes, genetics confirms this).

They would be born with a soul, and thus would be able to choose for themselves the courses of their lives (and so genetics means very little).

They would be born with a human conscience, and thus be able to discern right from wrong,

Romans 2:1415, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them…”

Romans 5:13,14, “for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed though [concessive use of the present participle] there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

The first part of this statement communicates the utter degeneracy of the post sin, pre flood era, and their great hope in the last Adam.

The Law of Moses provided very much in the way of Divine Establishment restraint on the old sin nature.

Without that restraint, the human race became extremely involved in the cosmic system, even to the point of sexual relations with angels.

And yet even at that time, their personal sins were not imputed to them. They were instead reserved for imputation to Jesus Christ

The second part of the statement has to do with the continued effects of spiritual death.

Although their personal sins were not imputed to them, spiritual death still continued unrestrained.

This shows the heart of the matter. Real spiritual death has to do with the imputation of Adam’s sin. Salvation has to do with the imputation of our personal sin into Adam.

We did not commit Adam’s sin Adam did. We do receive the imputation of that sin at the moment of human birth.

Romans 5:15,16 contrasts the two Adams:

“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.”

Adam’s original sin resulted in the spiritual death of the entire human race, except for the second Adam, Jesus Christ.

The work of Christ on the cross in receiving the imputation of the personal sins of the human race resulted in the opportunity for the human race to regain spiritual life in God.

Salvation is a free gift, but it must be taken accepted. It is offered to the entire human race without exception.

Salvation arose from the sins of all being imputed to the one.

Spiritual death arose from the sins of one being imputed to the all.

Romans 5:17 tells us about realms of power and authority related to sin.

“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

Adam’s sin put Satan into authority in the world and in the human body. As a result the entire world was enslaved to Satan through the world branch of the cosmic system.

The individuals of the world were enslaved to him through the individual branch of the cosmic system; But Christ’s substitutionary spiritual death gave the human race the authority to take their lives back.

The abundance of grace is a brief description of post salvation spiritual assets.

The gift of righteousness is the imputation of the work of Christ into the new believer at salvation.

Therefore even in the devil’s world we can rule our own lives through God’s control.

Romans 5:18 provides a further explanation of the principle.

“So then just as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness [a judicial sentence, handed down by a judge] there resulted justification of life to all men.”

The Greek word indicates a judicial sentence passed down from a judge.

In this case, it is the death sentence passed down from God the Father to Jesus Christ. Christ died under the sentence of death for us.

The judicial decision is permanent and thus lasts for all eternity. God will never rescind His judgment of our sins in Jesus Christ. We are secure forever because of this.

This judicial sentence is also an act of righteousness for the perfect Christ chose to die for sinful mankind.

Because of God’s judicial sentence and Christ’s righteous act provide the basis for our justification.

The righteousness of Christ is then imputed to everyone who believes in Christ.

This righteousness is used by God in order to justify our salvation. We are qualified to live forever with Him.

Romans 5:19 begins the summary,

“For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”

Adam’s sin was imputed to all, and therefore all were made sinners.

Christ’s work of righteousness on the cross will provide righteousness to all who believe on Him.

The final two verses of the chapter:

Romans 5:19,20, “Now the Law came in the side door [pareiserchomai] so that the transgression [unbelief the unforgivable sin] might increase [grow in importance as an issue]; but where the sin increased [as an issue], grace abounded all the more [salvation provision] that, as the sin reigned through [spiritual] death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The purpose of the Law is not to increase personal sin. Actually it limits it.

The unforgivable sin, unbelief, is in view here. The unforgivable sin is the rejection of Christ’s work on the cross.

Because of spiritual death, the imputation of Adam’s sin, the unforgivable sin ruled and does rule over all those who refuse to believe in Christ.

The Law increases the unforgivable sin as an issue, because the Law defines both sin and the grace provision of God.

As sin increased as an issue, so also did grace, and the grace provision of God.

Eternal life is the sum total of life after salvation for both time and eternity.

We live eternal life if we take hold of our portfolio of post salvation provision, and if we live eternal life, then we rule over all aspects of the cosmic system.

Therefore, in Adam we all died. In Christ, we can all live. This is the essence of the baptism of the Spirit.

I Cor. 15:20-22 introduce the matter.

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.”

This passage points out there is more to human life than life, and more to physical death than death.

Physical death is only a tragedy if it occurs while one is also spiritually dead. Human life is only meaningful insofar as it is spiritual.

Adam’s sin resulted in the spiritual and physical death of all mankind. Christ’s death resulted in the provision of salvation for all mankind.

Christ’s resurrection resulted in the provision of a resurrection body for all believers. Christ was the first to be resurrected, but there will be many more.

1 Cor. 15:23 and 24 set forth the order of resurrections.

“But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when he has abolished all rule and all authority and power.

The word for order in this passage has to do with human organizations of various kinds. Primarily, it is a word used of military formations. In a military formation, things always happen in a certain order, and that is what is in view here.

First, Christ is resurrected.

Second, all believers from the church age receive their resurrection bodies.

Third, all believers from all other periods of history are resurrected.

It is at the end of history that all rule is abolished.

arche. is the word for rule, and it serves as the general category.

exousia and dunamis define the two types of rulership; exousia for legitimate authority, and dunamis for illegitimate.

It is all abolished because the kingdom of heaven is put into place, where Christ rules all.

The kingdom which Christ delivers is His millennial kingdom.

I Cor. 15:25 and 26 explain the reason for the extension of Christ’s millennial rule,

“For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”

Christ will reign in His kingdom until the job is completely finished. He reigns from the right hand of the Father even now. He will reign on planet Earth in the millennium.

In this case, reigning or ruling means more than just sitting on a throne. It means an active and benevolent rule towards all who are His rightful subjects. All who believe in Him remain just that His rightful subjects.

There are many enemies of Jesus Christ: humans and angels and even death.

Death will be the last of these enemies to fall to the power and authority of Jesus Christ.

Death was brought into the world by Adam, though Satan was Christ’s first real enemy.

1 Cor. 15:27 and 28 comment on the victory that has already been won.

“For he has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when he says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.”

God the Father has placed all things under the rulership of Christ positionally. The cross and the resurrection were the dual strategic victories that absolutely assured the overall victory of God in the angelic conflict, and completely reversed the adverse effects of Adam’s sin.

The cross was the strategic victory over sin; all the sins of man were imputed to Christ on the cross, and judged in Him.

The resurrection was the strategic victory over physical and spiritual death. Physical death because of the resurrection body; spiritual death because of the resurrection mind.

The conflict will continue, even though the handwriting is really on the wall at this point. Evil fights on though completely beaten.

God the Father is the exception to the rule. All is under Christ’s subjection because of the cross, resurrection and ascension. God the Father is the exception to that. He will remain in authority over the Son forever.

The purpose of this subjection is so that from beginning to end, God might remain in authority and it is fitting that He is.

He was in authority over Christ in eternity past.

He remained in authority throughout human history, and even until now.

And therefore it is right that he remains forever.

(Verses 2934 form a parenthetical statement that is not pertinent to our study, so we will skip them

1 Cor. 15:35 picks up the subject of the actual resurrection.

“But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?’”

We know how death came into the world through Adam’s original sin came both spiritual and physical death. We should also come to understand how life will come again.

Paul begins his explanation of the mystery with an analogy from the world of agriculture. “That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.”

The seed is planted in the shell of the human body, and the human body must die in order for the seed to grow.

An entire corn stalk is not sown in order to grow another; just a seed, and that is it.

An entire resurrection body is not placed inside of our own; just the kernel, the seed of one is placed.

1 Cor. 15:38,39 are an explanation of the individuality of the resurrection bodies of all creatures.

“But God gives it a body just as He willed, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.”

God made a sovereign decision to make our resurrection bodies in a certain way. Since it is God’s decision, it is going to be a wonderful body.

The flesh of each order of creatures is different, and so are the resurrection bodies of all humans.

Heaven means inequality among resurrection bodies.

It is impossible to tell from a seed what it will grow into. So it is with the resurrection body. You cannot tell from looking at someone how they will turn out in heaven. Only God can tell.

The resurrection body is the result of what you do on earth with your human spirit, which is the seed.

If you cultivate it and nourish it, it will grow into something fantastic. If you neglect it, it will be not much.

1 Cor. 15:40,41 continue the explanation.

“There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.”

The heavenly bodies are used to analogize the difference in the glory of the earthly categories. The sun is great and glorious the moon just its reflection. Stars are far off and dim. All are different according to the will of God.

1 Cor. 15:42,43 tell us the about the soil into which the seed of the resurrection body is sown.

“It is sown in a perishable body, it is raised in an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonorable, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a soulish body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”

The soil into which the seed is planted is the human body. The body is the perishable, the dishonorable, the weak, the soulish.

The soulish is from the Greek word psuchikos. Soulish is used elsewhere in Scripture (1 Cor 2:14; James 3:15; Jude 1:19) to connote a person without a human spirit.

The weakness is from the Greek word astheneia, which emphasizes the inability of the human to make the conversion.

The perishable is obvious.

The dishonorable points the old sin nature in the cell structure of the human flesh.

And now a comparison is made between the earthly body of Adam and his race, and Christ and His followers.

1 Cor. 15:45,46, “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam [Christ] became a life making spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.

Adam’s bad decision resulted in the spiritual death of the entire human race. This is summed up in the phrase psuche zosan “living soul.”

A living soul is one that has human life, but not spiritual.

Human life is the sum of biological and soul life, or psuche zosan.

The second man’s, Christ’s, good decision resulted in the spiritual life of all who would believe in Him.

All who believe are given spiritual life in the form of the human spirit. All who receive the human spirit have human life, and eternal life.

The order of things was for Adam to come first, and then Christ. The problem must appear before the solution.

The conclusion is in 1 Cor. 15:4749.

“The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”


Seth was Adam’s third son, and after the death of Abel and the banishment of Cain, Seth would renew Adam’s line.

Seth represents a new hope and new beginning. He was the appointed replacement for Abel, and that is the meaning of his name (Gen. 4:2526).

Seth would father Enos at the age of one hundred and five, and he would die when he was nine hundred and twelve years of age.

During this time in human history, people lived to ages which seem impossible today.

The line of Christ had been cut off when Cain murdered Abel. Seth is the renewal of that line. In a sense, he is Abel’s substitute; his designated hitter.


Enos is the Greek rendering of this name, which is more correctly pronounced Enosh. The Greeks were indiscriminate in their rendering of the Hebrew sin and shin, and that is why the difference.

There is one significant fact about this man: his life marks the beginning of the great apostasy of the antediluvian civilization.

Gen. 4:26, “to Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time men began to cry out against the name of Yahweh.”

The word for ‘begin’ in this verse is, and it means to pierce or penetrate something for the first time. It had a universally negative connotation. It referred to rape, and other horrible crimes that included penetration. It referred to the abuse of land, and even pollution. In the context of Gen. 4:26, it means to begin something that should never begin. It is, in essence, a rape of something that was innocent.

The verb ‘to call’ also can be used in the negative sense. qArA’ means in its basic form to call or summon someone. However, in its more severe connotation, it has the sense of crying out, or screaming against someone, and that is how it is used here.

The inseparable preposition ‘bh’ is attached to shEm Yahweh in the final part of the verse. This preposition can have many meanings, but the one that fits best here is ‘against’.

The word shEm is translated ‘the name of’. The ancient Hebrews believed that a person’s name represented his very essence.

Therefore, during Enosh’s lifetime, there was a great bitter outcry against the name of the Lord. This was the beginning of the great period of apostasy and idolatry that would characterize the antediluvian civilization.

Enosh himself is not associated with the bitter outcry it is likely that he remained faithful to God in spite of public opinion about Him.


Although spelled Cainan in Luke’s translation, this is the Hellenization of Qinan of the Hebrew.

We have no other information on this man, other than his place in the line of Christ.


He is the son of Cainan (Kenan). There is no other reference to this man in the Bible.

His name literally means, “to the praise of God”.


Now we have someone we can talk about.

Genesis 5:2224 tells his story:

“Enoch lived with God for three hundred years after the birth of Methuselah (his son). Thus all the days of Enoch came to three hundred and sixty five years. Enoch lived with God, and he was not, for God took him.”

Hebrews 11:5 provides us with further interpretation:

“By faith Enoch was transferred [to heaven] so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.”

Jude verses 14 and 15 quotes from the apocryphal book of Enoch, and it says,

“And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying,”Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

When he was sixty five years of age, Enoch was transferred body, soul, and spirit to the presence of God in heaven. There he stayed for three hundred years, at which time his soul and spirit were painlessly removed from his body, and he was transferred to paradise.

Enoch also was a prophet while he remained on planet earth, and he talked about his own generation, as evidenced by his prophecy recorded in Jude’s epistle.

Enoch lived in a time of great apostasy. This time began during the life of Enosh, and was fully developed by the time Enoch came around.

The apostasy of that time was unbridled, since the Mosaic law had not yet been written.

Rom. 5:20, “And the Law came in the side door, so that the sin might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

The time included a tremendous amount of demonism, even to the point of sexual relations with them. The demons were attacking the genetic line of Christ, hoping to pollute His human genetic purity and thus destroy His role as mediator.

Therefore, they seduced human women (and only women), and impregnated them. By the time of Noah’s life, all but Noah’s family had succumbed.

The human women were weakened by their hatred of God (see Enosh), and easily enticed by the attractiveness of these demons.

There was great violence, and the human race was in a constant state of war. The half angelic humans had great superhuman powers (see Hermes, Aphrodite, Apollo, Neptune, etc and they were superintelligent and superattractive (see Helen of Troy and Aphrodite) as well.

Many strange and terrible creatures roamed the earth, the brood of demons. Their fossil record remains thanks to the great fossilizing powers of the flood.

It was in this time that Enoch lived, moved to maturity following the plan of God, and was transferred to heaven by the omnipotence of God. Enoch did not see physical death because of his maturity, and he stands as a precursor to resurrection.

Although Enoch was not truly resurrected, his transfer to heaven was very much like a resurrection.

During all his time in heaven, Enoch stayed in his human body, yet face to face with God. It is probably a comment on his maturity that he was able to stand it, though in his sinful body.

After three hundred years of life with God, he was then transferred to paradise, under the earth.

At the resurrection of Christ he was transferred to heaven along with all the Old Testament Saints.


Methuselah is Enoch’s son, and Lamech’s father. His name means “man of the dart”. It is an intriguing name, but we do not have the foggiest idea why.

Methuselah has the distinction of being the oldest man in Biblical history, and perhaps of all time.

Long life was a sign of blessing during Biblical times, and was synonymous with quality of life. This being true, then Methuselah represents the quality of eternal life within Christ’s line.


Lamech forms the link between Methuselah and Noah. He lived to the age of 777.

Nothing else is known of Lamech, but if he raised Noah, it is likely he raised him right.


Gen. 6:12, “Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them. The sons of God [fallen angels] saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.”

This is the period of history which we have studied so closely the last few sections. Again, it was exceptionally degenerate, with little in the way of checks and balances.

Gen. 6:3, “Then the Lord said,”My Spirit shall not contend in man forever, because he is flesh in his going astray; but his days will be one hundred and twenty years."

God the Holy Spirit was working nonstop during that time. He was contending with the souls of the human race, convicting them, judging their acts, so that they might turn to God through Jesus Christ.

From this moment on, there would be one hundred and twenty years and no more.

Gen. 6:4, “The Mephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those [children] were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”

This verse makes the origin of the Nephilim quite clear. They are the offspring of fallen angels and human women.

It also identifies the Nephilim with the age of heroes, made famous by the oral tradition that came through Noah and his sons.

Gen. 6:57 gives us God’s evaluation of this period of time:

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.. An the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. And the Lord said, ’I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”

The revelations of Divine emotion in this passage are really anthropopathisms. These are the assignment of human emotions to God in order to explain some aspect of Divine policy. It is an easy way to explain the doctrine of dispensations to the uninitiated.

God did not grieve, and He was not sorry. It only appeared so because of the dispensational change of policy. It was time to judge the present civilization and move on to the next.

It was all a part of the Divine outline of history, and it did not mean that God did not know about this apostasy in eternity past.

It is true that this was not God’s direct will for the people of this time, and that he was saddened by their negative volition.

Gen. 6:8,9 tells us God’s evaluation of Noah,

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord… Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.”

The “eyes” of God represent his evaluative abilities, measuring Noah to His standards of righteousness.

The only way that Noah could have done so is through God’s grace plan, including belief in the future savior, Jesus Christ.

That Noah walked with God is a sure indication of his fulfillment of God’s post salvation plan.

Gen. 6:10-22 records God’s plan for the destruction of life on planet earth, and Noah’s salvation. A flood will come, so Noah will need a boat. The waters will come from above and below the earth Gen. 7:11.

Noah will save many of the earth’s animal species Gen. 7:13-16. Many others will be destroyed Gen. 7:2123.

Due to the intermingling of salt and fresh water, and the amount of silt in the water, all but the hardiest of the fish would be killed as well.

Thus Noah and his family were preserved; while the others died to await their future judgment.

Noah’s three sons and their wives repopulated the earth, and began the postdiluvian civilization.


Shem was a voyager on the ark, and the firstborn son of Noah. He cared for his nephew Canaan after it was discovered that he had been abused by his father Ham, Genesis 9:2027.

In that account, He is called blessed by Noah a recognition of his spiritual maturity.

Christ’s Genealogy from Shem to Abraham


When Noah began the building of the ark, God made a covenant with him.

Gen. 6:18, “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark you and your sons and your wife, and your sons wives with you.”

Entering the ark was equivalent to entering in to the covenant with God. The covenant was continued when Noah made his sacrifice at the landfall of the ark when he left the ark (this was really the first ark of the covenant).

Gen. 8:20, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”

God spells out the details of the covenant:

Gen. 8:21, “And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said in His heart, ’I shall not again personally cause the cursing of the earth because of man. There is evil in the imagination of man from his infanthood. And I shall not again personally cause the destroying of every living creature as I have done.”

So, God makes a promise to Noah, and to the entire human race, even to you and I in this passage. He will never again flood the earth with water.

This is the background to the verb which is translated ‘cursing’.

qalal means to diminish something. When it is used of water, it means to drain it.

It is this same verb which is used to describe the draining of the water after the flood.

The word used for ‘earth’ is Adamah. Adamah in the feminine means earth and all its inhabitants, and so it is here.

The final part place the blame squarely where it belongs: on man.

Therefore, this is a promise, specifically, to never flood the earth for what man has done.

The second part has to do with the destruction of all life. God will not destroy all life on the earth.

Notice the comment in between: There is evil in the imagination of man from his infanthood."

In spite of man’s evil imagination, God will not again destroy the earth and its inhabitants. Man’s imagination is evil from infanthood, and note not from his youth.

In Gen. 8:22, the future conditions of the planet are defined:

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

With the tilting of the earth’s axis, all of the named conditions will exist. This is in contrast to the previous stable conditions of the planet. The environment is going to be rougher from here on out.

Man’s relationship to the animal kingdom is changed by the new covenant, as described in Gen. 9:2-4.

“And the respect of you and the terror of you shall be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I did the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, its blood.”

The change means that the beasts will respect good human beings, and be terrified of the bad. In all cases their subordination is required. It is because of fear that animals are violent.

All animals are now O.K. to eat. The lifeblood of that creature must be drained before it is eaten, but that is the only requirement.

The third part of the covenant had to do with capital punishment.

Gen. 9:5,6, “And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.”

This is crucial, for before the flood there was no capital punishment, which is the major restraint on criminal activity. Capital punishment is ordained from this moment forward. If man or beast kills a man, he will be killed by man.

This would be a major difference from before the flood. Man is now responsible for policing himself, which provides a restraint on the function of the old sin nature.

The fourth part of the covenant is the sign of the promise.

Read Gen. 9:8-17

So the covenant is made and the transfer is made to postdiluvian civilization. Let’s pick up the line of Christ again with Shem.


Shem was the son of Noah. He was about 98 years old when he entered the ark with the rest of his family. He fathered many children, including Arphaxad, who would carry the line of Christ.

The land occupied by the descendants of Shem (Gen. 10:2131) encompasses all of what would become the Jews under the covenant of Abraham. It includes Syria, Chaldea, parts of Assyria, Persia, and the Arabian peninsula.

Noah predicts that the people of Canaan would serve under the Semites.

Arphaxad, or Arphachshad

He was born two years after the flood, conceived not long after the ark hit dry land.

He apparently settled in the mountainous country in the Northeast, and we really do not know much else about this man.


Cainan was the son of Arphaxad. He is not mentioned in the original table of nations in Gen., but for some reason Moses skipped him and went to his son, Shelah. Nothing else is known about this man.


The son of Cainan; the father of Heber.


This man’s name means ‘fellowship’. In the Hebrew, it is really Eber.

The son of Shelah, the father of Peleg.

He is the founder of the Hebrew race, and he gave his name to it, Gen. 10:21.


His name means division, and it was during his lifetime that the nations were divided.

The first crisis of the postdiluvian civilization was due to the tower of Babel. When God put down that attempt, the nations of the earth were formed, and the earth divided into geographical national boundaries for the very first time.


He is the son of Peleg and the father of Serug. His name means, ‘friend’. Nothing else is known.


He is the son of Reu. His name means ‘shoot, or tendril’ in the Hebrew. There is an ancient city by this name, and it may have something to do with this man.


Do not confuse this man with the brother of Abraham. This Nahor lived in the 23rd century B.C., and is the grandfather of Abraham. His name means snorting or snoring.


He was born in Ur of the Chaldees. His name means ‘antelope’. Joshua 24:2 tells us that this man was involved in idolatry. He did take place in the big move to Canaan, with the rest of the family. He died about 2100 B.C.

The Abraham Connection

From Abraham to David, there are fourteen generations. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Perez, Hezron, Ram, Admin, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David.

Between the genealogies in Luke and Matthew there is only one difference, and that is the Luke’s insertion of Admin between Ram and Amminadab. This points out the reality of skipped generations in genealogy lists.

It was a common practice to skip a generation and go from grandfather to grandson. Sometimes that generation was skipped due to a spiritual failure in the person in question; more often, there is no reason given.

We will concentrate on Abraham, Nahshon, and Boaz in this line.

This line covers the age of the patriarchs, from God’s covenant with Abraham to the next covenant with David. Its chronology runs from Abraham’s birth in 2160 B.C. to Israel under king Saul in 1004 B.C.


Gen. 12:13 records Abram’s first call:

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’”

Abraham had to leave his own country because God had a wonderful place reserved for him and his progeny. He also had to leave because his first home and his family and relatives would have been a fatal distraction to him.

The covenants to Israel

God provided the nation of Israel a fantastic portfolio of grace blessings in the form of covenants. A covenant is based on the attributes of God.

– It finds its motive in the love of God. There is nothing treacherous or deceitful about a covenant.

– It finds its modus operandi in grace. God gives based on his thinking, power, and merit.

– It finds its dependability in faithfulness. The blessings always wait for Israel to take them.

– It finds its timing and organization in order. Everything is arranged by the capabilities of God in eternity past.

– It finds its enactment in the sovereignty of God. God chooses to bless Israel.

– It finds its revelation in the truth of God. God is forthright and clear and honest in His communication of the details of His covenants. He always keeps His Word.

The only thing that Israel is to provide is their acceptance of the very first covenant, which is the spiritual one. The spiritual covenant is the relationship with God provision. In it, God provides Israel with everything that they need to have a national relationship with Him.

They have the information that they need in order to have a relationship with Him.

They have the power that they need in order to have a relationship with Him.

They have the righteousness that they need in order to have a relationship with Him.

This relationship with God is the greatest of all the covenants, and it provides the best of the blessings.

Abraham is an example: until he got his relationship with God on track, he would not receive the remainder of his covenant blessings.

During the age of Israel, only racial Jews receive the blessings of the covenants to Israel.

Individual Gentiles may still fulfill the plan of God for individuals, and they may share in the covenants to Israel by way of blessing by association.

The covenant to Abraham includes the promised land, a new and unique race, blessing by association to all who bless his race, a curse on the anti-Semitic, and a messianic clause.

The land is defined in Gen. 15:18-21.

The Jews must fulfill the spiritual covenant, and accept Christ as Messiah in order to fully inherit this land. This will not occur until the second advent of Christ. This is the messianic clause.

The new and unique race is formed at the conception of Abraham’s first son by Sarah, providing a brand new genetic race through the seed of Abraham.

All who bless the Jews are in turn blessed by God. Throughout history the Jews encounter a massive amount of murderous persecution. Whenever a person or a nation provides protection, or aides them in some way, or just has a virtuous mental attitude about their race, that person or nation is blessed by God.

All who curse the Jews are in turn cursed by God. anti-Semitism is a death wish.

Abram did as the Lord commanded, and went out from Ur when he was 75 years of age.

Abram means, “top father (as in rank), or exalted father (as in respect)”.

Sarai means, “contentious woman”.

When he arrived in the new land at Shechem, he worshipped God. Soon after Abram arrived in the new land, a terrible famine hit, and he went down to Egypt to eat. This caused a complication.

Abram feared that he would be killed by the Egyptians if they knew that Sarai was his wife, because she was very beautiful.

He was an oaf, and cared more about his safety than what would happen to Sarai in the Egyptian harem.

Therefore, he lied to the Egyptians, and told them that Sarai was his sister.

Pharaoh took Sarai for his own, but by stealing her (unwittingly) from Abram he was the first to invoke the cursing clause of the Abrahamic covenant.

When the cursing hit, Sarai blabbed the whole deal to Pharaoh, and so Pharaoh was upset with Abram, but he did not kill him! He was honorable and gave Sarai back and sent the whole entourage back to Canaan.

When he arrived, Abram held a worship service in honor of the Lord. Apparently he had recovered from his devious ways.

When Abram returned to the land, he and his nephew Lot were so prosperous that their herds were always getting tangled together, and their shepherds were at the point of engaging in a range war. Therefore, Lot decided to go down into the Jordan valley with his bunch in order to avoid further confrontations.

After a time, Lot became entangled in a local war. Genesis 14 tells the story.

When Lot was living down in the Jordan valley, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fought a big battle, where they were defeated.

Lot got himself tangled up in it all somehow, and he was captured by the victors. They took their spoil and Lot as well and left for points North.

Abram heard about this and did the honorable thing: he took the men of his household, 318 all told, and formed them into a fighting force.

They must have been well trained, because they pulled off the most difficult of all military maneuvers, a coordinated night action.

They rescued Lot and all his goods, and returned to their homes.

It is here that Abram has another worship service.

Next is the story of Abraham’s offspring.

Abraham’s Offspring

The story of Sarai’s treachery begins in Genesis 16.

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to may maid; perhaps I shall be built up through her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. And after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. And Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms; but when she saw she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the Lord judge between you and me.’”

This was not a good marriage. We have already seen the treachery of Abraham, and now it is Sarai’s turn.

Sarai is barren, and no doubt she had quite a complex about it. So Sarai conceives a plan. Maybe Abram was bugging her all the time about children. Maybe the incident with Pharaoh had turned her off to him in some way.

Because of all this, Sarai just wanted to get it over with. However, she did not realize, that God’s plan included her as well.

And Abraham was dumb enough to go along with the plan.

Of course, Hagar conceived right away, and after living for so long with Sarai, the contentious woman and no doubt the contentious master, she could not help but exult over her.

Poor Sarai. Her plan had failed miserably. What was worse, she had this daily reminder of her failure to give Abram an heir. Every time that Hagar craved new and unusual food combinations she probably winked in Sarai’s direction.

The first thing that Sarai did was to try to take it out on her husband. “I may have suggested it, but you didn’t have to go through with it. This is all your fault!” She had become quite irrational.

The second thing that Sarai did was to try to take it out on Hagar. She verbally and mentally and physically abused this poor pregnant woman. Hagar had to leave.

But the Lord would deal justly with Hagar, and she believed in him, and returned to the authority of Sarai, and things were better from then.

Now this plan had backfired terribly, and both Abram and Sarai suffered for it.

There is no Biblical record of the next fifteen years. But we know from the next part of their lives, Abram and Sarai have improved their relationship with God tremendously.

In Genesis 17, the story picks up again.

“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.’ And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer will your name be called Abram, but your name will be Abraham; for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.’

God renews the covenant with Abram because Abram has grown spiritually to the point where he has capacity for all the great covenant blessing that God has prepared for him.

Abram falls on his face because he now has true humility. This is a humility that can only come from an intimate knowledge of God. Abram developed that knowledge over the fifteen years since the Hagar disaster.

Now Abram is Abraham, the father of a multitude. Now he is ready for the next test.

Gen. 16:9, “God said further to Abraham, ‘Now as for you, you will keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you will keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.’”

Had Abraham not been a mature believer, he probably would have said something along the lines of, “You want me to do what to my what?!” Instead, he humbly complies.

And, he must have been a great leader, because his entire household was under the requirement as well. “You want us to do what to our whats?!”

But this was the beginning of the miraculous birth of Isaac.

The Birth of Isaac

Gen. 17:1-5, “Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you will not call her name Sarai, but Sarah will be her name. And I will bless her, and she will be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’ Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before thee!’ But God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you will call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.’”

The birth of Isaac would mean the creation of a new race on the planet the race of the Jew.

The new race had these assets:

Client nation status. They were a nation that had a special relationship with God, and they were used as a witness to the entire world.

A special code, in the Mosaic Law.

A great land in which to live.

Fantastic leadership, in the Davidic dynasty.

A wonderful future, under the leadership of Jesus Christ in the Millennium.

Unique mental prosperity, which provides the basis for success in any endeavor.

The purpose for the new race was to represent God as a witness to the entire world during the last half of the Old Testament dispensation; to stand as the sole witness to the world during the tribulation; to serve as the basis for the people of the millennium.

The new race was being propagated for their leader, who would come more than two thousand years later.

The impact of the new race in history. Prosemitism would always receive blessing by association. anti-Semitism would always receive cursing by association.

In this passage, Abraham listens to what God has to say, and comes to an erroneous conclusion.

He thinks it through, laughing all the while.

Sarah cannot have children.

I cannot give her what she needs to have children.

Then the Lord must want to use Ishmael as my seed, and must have all along!

Wrong, says God.

Isaac to Jesse

Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah. He would marry Rebekhah, and father the twins, Jacob and Esau. It is worthwhile to note that Rebekhah, too, was barren. She was the second in the line to find healing in God. Another miracle to continue the line of Christ.

Jacob. This man was no prince, at least at first. He took advantage of his older brother, Esau, and took his birthright from him. Later he would wrestle with God, and in that match he would win God’s respect. God changed his name to Israel, ‘wrestler with God’.

Judah was one of the twelve sons of Israel. Tamar, the widow of both his first and second sons, tricked him into sexual relations by disguising herself has a prostitute. Tamar did this as revenge, because Judah had wronged her by not giving her to his third son. She became pregnant by this liaison, and bore him twin sons. Judah would go on to spiritual maturity, in spite of his early handicaps.

Perez was the second born son of Judah, the second of twins. However, he was the one through which the line of Christ would run. Not much is know about this man, except his birth.

Hezron forms a link in the genealogy, but not much else is known about him.

Ram forms another link.


We know only one thing about this man: his daughter was the wife of Aaron the High Priest under Moses. He was a man of the Exodus, and he died in the desert.


Now we can tell something of this man. His sister Elisheba was married to Aaron. He was also a man of the Exodus generation, the captain of the tribe of Judah. He must have been a talented military leader, but he died in the desert with the rest of his generation.


Salmon married Rahab, the famous prostitute of Jericho. Although little is mentioned of Salmon, Rahab deserves mention.

She was a prostitute in the town of Jericho, and when two spies from the army of Israel come to scout the town they are going to destroy, they happen upon Rahab’s house of ill repute (O.K., even 3500 years ago military men had an instinct for this sort of thing).

She saved these two spies from certain death by hiding them.

Rahab speaks to the two spies, and here is what she said, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihan and Og, who you totally destroyed. And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord you God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

Then the spies promise her that she and her family will be spared, and they are.

Rahab and her extended family were the only survivors of the town of Jericho. All the others were killed. Rahab lived out her years with the nation of Israel, and she married Salmon.

Boaz was the son of Salmon and Rahab the prostitute. It was his destiny to marry a foreign woman named Ruth.

Elimelech lived in Bethlehem with his wife Naomi and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.

A famine came upon the land, and so Elimelech took his wife and sons to the land of Moab.

Elimelech died in Moab, and after his death, his sons took Moabite women for wives. Their names were Ruth and Orpah (not Oprah).

Sadly, both the sons also died before they could give sons to their wives.

After some quibbling, Ruth determined to return to Bethlehem with her mother in law, while the other daughter in law stayed in Moab.

Ruth believed in God, and she wanted to be in the land of promise.

By her hard work in the fields she earned the respect of Boaz, a man of Bethlehem, and eventually he would marry her.

Through Ruth and Boaz, the line of Christ was continued.


…was the son of Ruth and Boaz, and he was the grandfather of David.


…Obed’s son, was David’s father.

Up to this point, we have studied some of the covenants of God with Israel.

The Noahic Covenant, where God promised never again to destroy the world by flood, and where God established man’s responsibility to capital punishment.

The Abrahamic Covenant, where God established a new racial species.

The Mosaic Covenant, which was the national policy covenant for the nation of Israel.

Next God established the Davidic, or Messianic, Covenant. This was the leadership covenant for the nation of Israel.

The leadership covenant for Israel described a man who would be their great leader, and who would combine the three offices of prophet, priest, and king.

Christ fulfilled all three covenants.

As prophet, He spoke of His kingdom, and offered it to the Jews, but they rejected Him.

As priest, he died for the sins of the world, but the Jews would not receive Him.

Because the Jews rejected Christ as prophet and priest, He could not be their king, which was their only desire. Because of the Jew’s rejection of Christ, His earthly kingdom was delayed, and the church age was inserted into history.

The Jews were not unlike many other people in history. They desired an outside solution to their problems, a panacea that would remove their troubles quickly and permanently.

They did not see that their humility was required, and the circumcision of their hearts needed to precede the rescue of their nation.

They were too proud to back down from their arrogant legalism, and love of the cosmic system.

From their pride they desired a king that would solve their problems, so that they could go on with their arrogance.

From their pride they rejected the man who was also a prophet and a priest.

There are many passages in the Old Testament which refer to the Messiah, the king after the pattern of David.

Gen. 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

This is the first prediction of the Messiah. It communicates to Satan that the future Messiah will come from the seed of the woman.

Because of the process of meiosis, each month the woman produces an ovum which is without the genetic pollution of the old sin nature. This made it possible for Mary to conceive by the Holy Spirit, and bring forth a child that did not have the old sin nature, and thus would not receive the condemnation of Adam’s original sin.

The last part of the prophecy concerns the ultimate victory of Christ. Christ will wound the head of Satan. This is a metaphor, and can refer to many things. It is probably a reference to the death, resurrection, ascension, and session of Christ.

Satan will wound the heel of Christ. Although this is often interpreted as referring to the cross, the meaning of `Aqibh does not lend itself well to this. More likely it refers to the followers of Jesus Christ, who are subject to persecution throughout the ages. This is likely especially in light of its position opposite of rO’sh, head.

Gen. 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.”

Of course, this is the Abrahamic covenant. Through the seed of Abraham came Christ, and through the death of Christ all nations and all people were blessed.

Gen. 22:18, “and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

This is a reaffirmation of the Abrahamic covenant.

The reflexive pronoun ‘themselves’ denotes the function of volition related to salvation and post salvation spiritual growth.

Christ the Messiah is the source of these blessings.

Gen. 49:8,10, “Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

These verse confirm that the Messianic line runs through Judah.

It also emphasizes the royalty of the Messiah that he would be a king.

Deut 18:18, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”

This is a preview of the prophetic office and function of Christ. Christ will speak only what God commands.

It is worthwhile to note that the Jews had this verse available to them, and yet they still rejected Christ.

2 Sam 7:11-16, “from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men;

but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.

And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.’"

This is a prediction of the coming of king David. Furthermore, it predicts that the house of David will last forever. It also describes the relationship of God to the Messiah: Father to Son.

It hints at the death of the Messiah that He will take the stripes (the whipping) of men.

2 Sam 23:5, “Yea, does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?”

Here is communicated the everlasting nature of the Davidic covenant. It exists in the Divine decree. It is secure, regardless of what Israel will do, and they will do a lot. Also it is the communication of the prosperity which comes from the Messiah.

Psalm 2, “Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying,

“Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision.

Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,

“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel."

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling

kiss his feet, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him."

This is the first reference to the Messiah as the anointed one. The word ‘Christ’ means ‘anointed one’.

Anointing with oil was a metaphor for the ministry of the Spirit.

People in ancient times used oil for light. The Spirit sheds His light on the Word, so that we might understand it.

People in ancient times used oil for a medicinal ointment. The ministry of the Spirit with the Word heals our souls.

People in ancient times used oil as a cosmetic. The ministry of the Spirit leads to true beauty the beauty of the soul full of Truth.

People in ancient times used oil to anoint the bodies of the dead. The Spirit is the member of the Godhead who resurrects the dead.

People in ancient times used oil to cook and flavor their food. The ministry of the Spirit in the Word flavors our lives, making them not only palatable, but enjoyable.

Christ was the Messiah, the anointed one. He is the keystone of our faith, and without Him and all that He has done our faith has no meaning. The Spirit ministered to our Lord from his birth. In Jesus Christ was manifest the fullness of the Holy Spirit all of the things that anointing represents.

Psalm 16, “Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.

I say to the LORD, “Thou art my Lord; I have no good apart from thee.” As for the saints in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight. Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their libations of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; thou holdest my lot.

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure.

For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let thy godly one see the Pit.

Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore."

The key phrase in this passage is “in thy right hand”. Jesus Christ would sit down at the right hand of God after the ascension. This is called His Session.

The session of Christ represents the finished state of all His work, and the accomplishment of the strategic victory of the angelic conflict.

Read Psalm 22.

This is a long passage that records with perfect accuracy the first person narrative of Christ on the cross.

The gospels have very little information on what Christ thought while He was dying for our sins just a few short verbal expressions. However, the thoughts were recorded one thousand years before the event in this Psalm.

The physical details given in this Psalm hit the experience of crucifixion right on the head. In fact, there is no other explanation.

Read Psalm 110

In this passage there is a repetition of the session of Christ. Furthermore, it emphasizes the royalty of the Messiah, and his priesthood.

Melchizedek was a priest and a king during the age of the patriarchs. He once had a brief association with Abraham. Melchizedek was the king of Salem, which was the city of Jerusalem at that time. Christ will be the king of Jerusalem in the millennium and in the eternal state.

Finally, there is mention of His sovereignty, which He will reveal to the entire world for the first time at the second advent.

Read Isaiah 2.

Isaiah chapter two concentrates on the millennial rule of Christ. Christ will rule over a magnificent kingdom, in which peace and prosperity are the rule.

All the arrogance of man and the fallen angels is brought down, because of the greatness of the day of the Lord. An end will come to all idolatry. An utter and final end.

You should note that this passage hints at the idea of idolatry as being the source of the earth’s many ills, including poverty and war.

Isaiah 7:14 records two details concerning the Messiah. That His mother will conceive Him while a virgin, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:1-7, “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. Thou shalt multiply the nation, thou shalt increase their gladness; they will be glad in Thy presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For Thou shalt break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”

Here again is the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.

Also, this passage establishes the location of the hometown of Christ, and the place where much of His ministry will take place.

Zebulun and Naphtali are two tribes of Israel. Their tribal boundaries form the area to the West and Southwest of the Sea of Galilee.

Included in these territories is the town of Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus Christ.

They are made glorious because of the ministry of Christ around them.

Isaiah 11:1-5, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His limbs, and faithfulness the belt about His waist.”

This passage concentrates on the prophetic character of Christ.

Through the Spirit and the Word, Christ will be the greatest prophet of all time.

Isaiah 40 proclaims the coming of the Messiah to the people of Israel.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

This passage predicts the ministry of John the Baptist. This passage hearkens back to the wilderness journey of Israel.

It emphasizes the need for faith perception of the truth. For us, it looks forward to the coming of Christ, or our joining with him.

Read Isaiah 42. It establishes the purpose of the Messiah. "

These verses spell out the purpose of the life of Christ.

He will bring justice to the nations.

He will open the eyes that are blind.

He will set free the prisoners from the dungeon of the cosmic system.

The passage also confirms that these things are a part of the Divine Decree in eternity past.

Read Isaiah 49, which records the call of the Messiah.

This call will result in the salvation of Israel, and of all mankind. It will solve all problems, no matter how great. It will bring about the millennium.

Isaiah 53 records the substitionary spiritual death of Christ, a priestly function.

This is really important, because it records the purpose of the death of the Messiah. He is to die a substitutionary spiritual death, one that will pay for the sins of all mankind. It is a great sacrifice, and so God gives Him a great destiny.

Jer 23:5-6, “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely ; and this is His name by which He will be called, the Lord our righteousness.”

Daniel 7:27, “Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.”

This is a passage which describes the eternal kingdom of God under the rulership of Jesus Christ.

It tells of the gathering of all nations, human and angelic, and their subordination to Christ at the Great White Throne.

Micah 5:2, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”

The eternal nature of Jesus Christ is set forth here. He is truly God. Micah also identifies His birthplace Bethlehem.

Zech 12:10, “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first born.”

This is a little different. It records the crucifixion of Christ as it relates to the Jews who demand His crucifixion. The Jews turned against Christ, and demanded his death over that of Barabbas, a common criminal who had participated in an insurrection against the Roman rule.

Malachi 3:1, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.

There are two predictions here. First, the prophet predicts the ministry of John the Baptist. Second, there is a prediction concerning the scouring of the Temple, which actually occurred on two occasions.

David, the Forerunner of Christ

King David was the forerunner of Christ in at least three ways:

In his selection by Samuel the prophet.

In the establishment and administration of his kingdom.

In his relationship with God. The words of a man on his deathbed reveal a lot about him. David, for all of his sin and tragedy was a man of God.

Read 1 Samuel 16

David to the Exile

Joseph’s Line, the Legal Line of Christ (Matthew).


Solomon was a true genius, and he exploited that genius by having a great relationship with God. “Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. And Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men, than Ethan the Ezrahite, Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of mahol; and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. And he spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows on the wall; he spoke also of animals and birds and creeping things and fish. And men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.”

Yet, Solomon became involved with the queen of Sheba, and his lust for her nearly destroyed him. Toward the end of his life he wrote a testimony to the folly of his lust. We have that testimony recorded in the Bible it is the book of Ecclesiastes.

“Futility of futilities! All is futility!” Is the tone of the book.

Solomon then proceeds to record all of his accomplishments, and all of his doings, he says, added up to nothing.

His final conclusion was this: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God, and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. for God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”


The son of Solomon, he was a weak king, and although he wanted the right things, he lacked the leadership to bring them about.

He wanted a unified kingdom, but the Northern kingdom of Israel split from him.

He wanted the pure worship of God, but the entire nation rebelled and conducted even the most depraved forms of idol worship.

He was an immoral man, and he had a knack for making bad decisions from a position of weakness.


Abijah saw the split of the two nations in a very black and white way. The Northern kingdom had rebelled, and must be forcibly brought back under the reign of one. That one, of course, was him.

He fought a great battle with Jeroboam, and though he won, he was unable to bring the rebels under his rule. The kingdom remained divided.

Abijah was also an immoral man, and he too was a failure as a king.


Asa returned to the pure worship of God. Although he allowed idolatry to exist, he emphasized what was true and right: the ritual plan of God.

Prosperity also returned to the southern kingdom. Many came down from the north because in him they saw a renewal of David’s glory.

However, he did make a great mistake towards the end of his life. Zealous to make the northern kingdom return to the rule of God, he allied with a pagan nation, Syria.

Asa became ill and did not seek God’s help. Depending on his household physicians, he died.


This man, a king, was a winner. He sought the Lord with all his heart, and he made his nation a good place. When his nation was threatened, he turned the entire nation to God.

Read 2 Chron. 20.

Jehoshaphat was benevolent and wise, and both his foreign and domestic policies were effective. He lived out his life peacefully, satisfied because of his great relationship with God.


Not much is known about this man, other than his father.


Uzziah was another great man, who followed the Lord for most of his life. He grew to have a great relationship with God under the ministry of the prophet Zechariah.

He had a great career as king, but he became proud, and in his pride he overstepped the bounds of his authority and tried to perform a priestly function. For that sin, God gave him leprosy, and he remained a leper until the day of his death.


Jotham was also a great king, and he turned out to be great even than his father, for he did not become arrogant because of his success.

He died a contented man, confident before God of his eternal future.

The people were not completely responsive to his leadership, but Judah still became much stronger through him.


This man was a loser. He refused to depend on God refused to believe in Him. He was instead an idolater, and as king he did many evil things.

He allied Judah with Assyria, and paid tribute to Tiglath-Pileser their king, even sending him the Temple treasures.

When he died, no one missed him, and the people did not think him worthy to be buried with the other kings of Israel.


Hezekiah was a good and Godly king, who from his relationship with God desired to repair the damage that his father had done.

The Assyrian menace was great during this time, and he did everything he could to strengthen his own nation so that they might withstand the enemy.

The first priority was spiritual and moral.

After that he saw to it that the economy and the army were greatly improved.

The Northern kingdom of Israel went out under the fifth cycle of discipline during his reign, and their destruction together with the Sunday school ministry of Isaiah served to bring the southern kingdom under the Divine standards once again.

Under his rule a great building program took place.

Hezekiah became deathly ill, and it looked like the end was near. However, he had no heir at the time, and of course the line of Christ was through him. He prayed for his own life, and trusted in God, and God extended his life for another 15 years. It was during that time that he fathered a son, Manasseh.


Manasseh ruled for fifty five years. His was the longest rule of any of the kings of Judah. He was an extremely evil man, who hated God and his Word.

The prophets prophesied against him, but he only persecuted them all the more.

Because he was so evil, God sent the Assyrians against him, who captured him and carted him off to Babylon.

This Divine discipline worked, because Manasseh repented, and removed all the idols and idolatrous altars that he could.

Though he had been very evil, he died in peace, knowing the forgiveness of his savior.


Unfortunately, Amon imitated all of the evil of his own father, and failed to repent. He died the victim of a conspiracy, and his eight year old son took the throne in his place.


When Josiah had reigned for 12 years he began a great purge of all the idol worship in the land. A few years later, he oversaw the cleansing and repairing of the Temple. While the priests were doing this, they discovered the book of the Law, and drew great conviction from it.

However, it was too late for the southern kingdom, and the wrath of God was already unleashed.

Josiah died in peace before the destruction of the nation, and did not have to witness the terrible invasion of the Babylonians.


Jehoiakim was an evil, idolatrous man who ruled as king during the destruction of the nation of Judah.

He is not mentioned Matthew skips over him because of his evil and the terrible destruction that occurred during his reign

His son Jeconiah, or Jehoiachin is mentioned by Matthew.

Mary’s Line, the Biological Line of Christ (Luke).

Note: We are taking this one all the way to Christ.


Nathan was a son of David and Bathsheba. He is the quiet son, for nothing much is said about him in Scripture. Even so, he was a link in the biological line of Christ.


Nothing much is known about this man.

Menna, Melea, Eliakim, Jonam, Joseph, Judah, Simeon, Levi, Matthat, Jorim, Eliezer, Joshua, Er, Elmadam, Cosam, Addi, Melchi, Neri

Nothing is said about any of these men in the Bible.


This is where a crossover point occurs. Both genealogies stop here. This is where the nation went into exile. Shealtiel was not the true son of Jeconiah, but instead, the line of David continued in this man because Jeconiah failed to produce an heir. This is why Matthew’s genealogy claims Jeconiah as this man’s father.


He is the head of Israel at the time of the return from exile. Zerubabel is the result of the marriage between Pedaiah and the wife of Shealtiel. Shealtiel died without leaving an heir, and so it was his brother’s responsibility to step in for him.

1 Chron. 3:19 identifies Pedaiah as the true father, while Shealtiel was only his wife’s first husband. The line continued.

According to the book of Ezra, this man was a key figure in the rebuilding of the Temple He was a good man who did much for the worship of the true God of Israel.

Rhesa, Joanan, Joda, Josech, Semein, Mattathias, MaathNaggai, Hesli, Nahum, Amos, Mattathias, Joseph, Jannai, Melchi, Levi, Matthat

The biological line of Christ continued in these men. Nothing else is known of them.


Father of Mary.


From the Exile to Joseph Joseph’s Line, the Legal Line of Christ, as Expounded in Matthew

Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob

Joseph, the husband of Mary and stepfather of Christ

Chronology of the Life of Christ

6 B.C. The Magi from the East see the star and begin their journey to Jerusalem.

Autumn, 6 B.C. Zacharias and Elizabeth conceive John the Baptist.

Spring, 5 B.C. Mary conceives by the Holy Spirit, and visits Elizabeth.

Summer, 5 B.C. Mary leaves Elizabeth; Joseph has a dream.

Late Summer, 5 B.C. Elizabeth gives birth to John the Baptist.

Late Autumn, 5 B.C. Mary is near term; she and Joseph are uprooted by the census and must travel the 70+ miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

December, 5 B.C. Mary gives birth to Christ; the Magi arrive in Jerusalem.

Late January Early February, 4 B.C. The presentation of Christ in the temple.

February, 4 B.C. The Magi visit the Christ child in Bethlehem; Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt after the warning in the dream. It is about a three week journey 200 miles or so.

February, 4 B.C. The children of Bethlehem are killed, calculating from the time the Magi saw the star and began their journey.

March 14, 4 B.C. Herod dies the sin unto death.

Late March, 4 B.C. Jesus, Joseph, and Mary make the trip back to Nazareth, probably arriving in late April or early March.

April, 4 B.C. Joseph and Mary and Jesus return to Israel, settling in Nazareth.

***Note: the year zero does not exist!

Spring, 9 A.D. Christ’s first Passover in Jerusalem.

Spring, 26 A.D. John begins his ministry of baptism and repentance.

Autumn, 26 A.D. Christ is baptized by John, and begins His ministry.

Late Autumn Early Winter, 2627 A.D. Christ’s wilderness temptation.

December, 26 A.D. Christ’s 30th birthday.

Late Winter Early Spring, 27 A.D. Christ’s early Galilean ministry: Cana and Capernaum.

Spring, 27 A.D. Christ’s first Passover during His ministry; first cleansing of the temple, Nicodemus.

Mid 27 A.D. to early 28 A.D, John’s accession, Christ’s training of the disciples, return to Galilee through Samaria, the Samaritan woman, the continuation of the Galilean ministry.

Galilean ministry:

Child at Capernaum healed, John 4:4654.

Rejection at Nazareth, Luke 4:1631.

Recall of the four disciples, Matt 4:1822; Mark 1:1620.

The demonaic healed at the Capernaum synagogue, Mark 1:2128; Luke 4:3137.

Peter’s mother in law and others healed, Matt 8:1417; Mark 1:2934; Luke 4:3841.

Tour of Galilee with Simon and others, Matt 4:2324; Mark 1:3539; Luke 4:4244.

Final recall of the four disciples, Luke 5:111.

Cleansing of a leper and resultant publicity, Matt 8:24; Mark 1:4045; Luke 5:1216.

Paralytic healed and forgiven, Mat 9:18; Mark 2:112; Luke 5:1726.

Matthew’s calling and banquet at his home, Matt 9:913; Mark 2:1317; Luke 5:2732.

Dispensational teaching, Mat 9:1417; Mark 2:1822; Luke 5:3339.

Spring, 28 A.D. Second Passover of Christ’s ministry.

Spring, 29 A.D. Third Passover of Christ’s ministry.

Spring, 30 A.D. Crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Summer, 30 A.D. Ascension and Session of Christ.

The Birth of John the Baptist

This begins our study on the people who waited in the right way for their Messiah.

We know the situation in Israel at this time; we know the history; and we know that the Messiah is going to come. It is a great thing to look at the lives of those who waited. In a sense we all wait for the coming of the Lord for the Lord’s righteous activities in our own lives. It is a fine thing to look at those who waited in the right way, and to find out how we might wait.

Read Luke Chapter 1

There is a stylistic change in the Greek of this passage and the one which follows. Luke changes from the strongly idiomatic classical Greek to one that is quite Hebraistic. Since Luke was a Greek by birth, and his language is very Greek, the speculation is this: that Luke records here the memories of Mary, the mother of Jesus.


Luke 1:5-7, “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, living without blame in all the commandments and righteous requirements of the Lord. And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in their days.”

Luke goes out of his way in his usual way to put forth the background of these two people; their general lineage, and of more importance their spiritual status.

They were both of the priestly tribe of Levi. This was a tribe of prestige and prosperity and also the tribe of the Sadducees. This religious group came into being about 300 years before Christ. They are characterized by their aristocracy, their cultural surrender to the Greeks and others, and their opposition to everything Pharasaic.

The name “sadducee” comes from the Aramaic Sadduqim, which meant ‘righteousness’. However, those who were in opposition to them called them saddiqim, which meant ‘destruction’.

They came from the ranks of the priests and high priests of Israel, during the time of the Greek occupation. Their desire was to give in to the Hellenizing influences of the Greeks, and thus retain their favor.

The Sadducees had a lot to lose to the occupation forces of the Greeks, because they were mostly prosperous, aristocratic people. In order to maintain their lifestyles and possessions, they placated the Greeks, giving in to their cultural and even religious influences.

Due to the double tyranny of the Pharisees and king Herod, the Sadducees had made a great comeback not long before the birth of Christ. Let’s face it: the Pharisees were no fun at all.

Zacharias and Elizabeth had resisted the temptation to become Sadducees, and neither did they become Pharisees by reaction. They found a true relationship with God through the ritual system.

They lived in all the righteous requirements and commandments of God. The commandments included much more than the ten commandments. The commandments definitely included the greatest commandment to love the Lord with all their heart and soul and might.

They did so without blame. Without blame does not mean that they were perfect. It does mean that when they sinned they took care of it with the proper sacrifice and the mental attitude that went along with it. Without blame does not mean that their execution of the ritual plan was perfect they were after all human. They did their best and maintained a good relationship with God.

Elizabeth was barren. Whenever a woman of God is barren it means that God has something special in mind for her. The Greek word for “barren” is STEIRA, and it definitely indicates that she was physically incapable of bearing children.

In Elizabeth’s case, this condition was in addition to her being past menopause. She was quite old, but this was not the reason for her barren condition. The two are separate in the original language.

Complicating the situation was Zacharias’ advanced age. He could not have gotten Elizabeth pregnant even if she were able.

This situation was identical to that of Abraham and Sarah, some two thousand years before. It is worthwhile to note! The covenants to Adam, Abraham, and David are about to be fulfilled, and this birth will bring the messenger to prepare the way.

Luke 1:8-10, “Now it came about, while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.”

There was a great number of priests. Because of this, it is likely that each priest would get to render his service once in a lifetime. The priests were chosen by lot to do so, and with God there are no accidents.

As a righteous man, no doubt Zacharias had big expectations for this day, and in some ways he may have looked at the event as the culmination of a good life. It was Zacharias’ turn to burn incense at the incense altar in the Holy Place.

The incense altar represented the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the righteousness produced by His perfect life.

The incense burned twenty four hours a day a tribute to the uninterrupted righteousness of Christ’s life. Zacharias merely went in to put on new incense, so that the burning might be perpetuated.

The aroma that the incense gave off was designed to be a pleasing one representative of the pleasure that Christ would give to God.

The position of the altar in that holy place showed the source of that righteousness the Spirit and the Word. The golden lampstand was a symbol of the ministry of the Spirit it illuminated the table of showbread. The table of showbread represented the Word of God. When illuminated by the Spirit it produces righteousness.

Thus the Holy place taught even the doctrine of kenosis.

The great multitude of people may indicate that there was a feast or that this was a holy day but we can only guess at that.

Zacharias encounters a surprise…

Luke 1:11,12 “And an angel of the Lord was seen by him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. And when he saw this, Zacharias was troubled and fear fell upon him.”

There is little doubt left in Zacharias’ mind that this is an angel of the Lord. He did not think it was a practical joke; he did not wonder if this happened to all the priests. He had an immediate reaction.

Zacharias knew that this did not happen every day. Furthermore, this angelic being had an imposing appearance, because fear is a universal reaction to the visible manifestation of angels. They are awesome indeed!

The angel stood at the right hand of the altar. This is the place reserved for Jesus Christ Luke records it because it is significant this angel stood as a direct representative of Christ Himself.

Zacharias knows that this is a grave moment something great, and perhaps terrible is about to happen. But he does not suspect in the least what it is all about.

The angel speaks …

Luke 1:13-17, “But the angel said to him,”Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you son, and you will give him the name John. And he will be joy and gladness to you, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great before the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb (birth). And he will turn around many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And he himself will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to prepare a people who have been built for the Lord."

The angel has good news for Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth they are going to have a son. The story also reveals that Zacharias had been praying for a son he had petitioned God. Not only will they have a child, but that child will also be joy and gladness to them. Such is not always the case, so this must have been welcome news.

Even greater news is that even at his birth many will rejoice, and that he will be great before the Lord. He will be different in that he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

The first part of the verse makes it clear that he will be great in his relationship with the Lord. ENO.PION is a preposition which denotes face to face relationship. John will have that kind of relationship.

Second, there is the matter of John’s abstinence from alcoholic beverages. This also probably indicated that he would refrain from social life.

Finally, John is filled with the Spirit from birth. The preposition EKindicates separation, and this case, separation from the womb. This preposition may indicate source the origin of something from someplace, but even so, the separation is now effective. It is no longer there at the place of its origin. EK does not indicate the existence of one thing inside another.

There is no precedence for interpreting this preposition to mean ‘from inside’, as is often done.

The adverb ETI is the key here. This together with EK translates “ever since.” The Liddell-Scott lexicon makes this very clear on p.703. ETI does have some flexibility it can be taken in the ascensive meaning, which shows surprise on the part of the writer. It strengthens the phrase in which it takes part.

It was surprising that an infant would be filled with the Spirit from birth. Often this is interpreted as being in the womb because of verse 41 in this same chapter. Verse 41 in no way indicates that the fetus was filled with the Spirit in the womb. In fact, it is quite clear that it is Elizabeth who is filled, as we shall see.

With the ministry of the Spirit upon him, John will turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to prepare a people built for the Lord.

It had been quite some time since a prophet had ministered in the nation of Israel. There had been many false prophets, but not a single true one. The gift had gone out from the people. Now the fullness of time had come, and with it a prophet to proclaim the coming of the Messiah. The people must be humble; they must be obedient; they must be built inside their own souls.

Humility precedes obedience.

Knowledge precedes obedience.

Zacharias’ failure and his discipline

Luke 1:18-23, “And Zacharias said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’ And the angel answered and said to him, ‘I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their proper time.’ And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute. And it came about, when the days of his priestly service were ended, that he went back home.”

Zacharias in the Holy Place in front of the archangel Gabriel, the very messenger of God wants proof!

All this time he has prayed for an heir. All this time he has done the right thing. But when push comes to shove, Zacharias fails to believe. He and his wife are too old, he thinks, for God to work a miracle.

The angel Gabriel is mentioned in three other passages in the Bible.

– When he appears to Mary, to announce her role in the Messiah’s birth.

– And twice in Daniel, 8:16 and 9:21, to interpret the Word of God.

– Not only does this angelic being have an awesome presence, but he is also one of the highest ranking of all angels, if not the highest.

The angel refers to his duty, his rank, and his mission. His regular duty station is in the presence of God. He is an angelic attendant in God’s throne room, and he is often sent as God’s personal messenger.

Now, all elect angels were and are trustworthy, but Gabriel is likely the most trusted of all. The wise king always uses his best men as his messengers; the wise general his best as couriers. So it is with Gabriel. His mission was as a messenger, sent personally by God to communicate the good news of the birth of the one who would follow.

Because of Zacharias’ unbelief, he is disciplined to be silent. As Gabriel was a messenger to him, so also he could have been a messenger to the great crowd of people who were outside. He could have had the honor of the first announcement of the coming Messiah. Instead, he is silenced. Silenced until the day of the birth of his son. We will contrast this with the response of Mary.

Zacharias comes out of the Holy Place; and there arrayed before him is a great crowd, all of whom were wondering why it took so long for him to do his duties.

Now comes the charades routine. Zacharias makes signs he tries to make them understand the message, but they just cannot understand him. They come to the conclusion that he has seen some kind of vision and they most likely wrote it off as another kook.

Zacharias goes home when his duties are over. We know from a later passage that he uses the time to become childlike in his humility, and to turn his heart to a righteous attitude. He builds himself up in the Lord, until he develops a proper response. When he finally opens his mouth good things come forth.

Elizabeth conceives …

Luke 1:24,25, “And after these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant; and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, ‘So this is what the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked to remove my disgrace among men.’”

Elizabeth makes an expression of disgust here not of praise. She is living in seclusion, not excited to be a part of God’s plan for the Messiah, but ashamed to even go out. It is going to take a visit from Mary to get her out of her funk.

Elizabeth Gives Birth to the Forerunner

Luke 1:57-66

Remember, Mary had gone back home, leaving Elizabeth to fend for herself. Elizabeth had fully recovered from her funk over conceiving at such an advanced age. She gave birth to a son, and many of her neighbors and relatives heard about it, and so they rejoiced over the birth of this child, fulfilling the prophecy of Gabriel.

It is funny to note that people make signs to him when he is not deaf, only unable to talk. Zacharias names the boy John, and immediately his tongue is freed, and immediately he speaks praise to God. He had had nine months in which to contemplate his earlier failure. He recovered and now says the most wonderful things. The local population is astonished at these events, and they wonder what the child will grow up to be. A prophet? The Messiah himself? There was a lot of serious thinking going on the subject.

Zacharias’ Prophecy

Luke 1:67-69. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: ’Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His way; to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.;"

Zacharias concentrates on the cross first. Zacharias realized the need for salvation, and that it had to come before any national independence or prosperity.

Then he talks of national freedom from oppression. He calls to mind the covenant of God, the Abrahamic covenant. He brings up the fact that peace gives one the opportunity to concentrate on God all the more.

John is the one who will prepare the way for the savior, to make smooth the path for him. He is to get people to the point where they can handle the ministry of our Lord.

Christ’s ministry will be hard to swallow, because it is about a personal redemption that requires humility. The people of Israel wanted national redemption without the sacrifice of individual pride. John will preach the message of salvation and forgiveness of sins.

Zacharias concentrates on the mercy of God, because Christ is the visible manifestation of mercy to all mankind. The Sunrise from on high is a term that is used to denote the resurrected status of Jesus Christ.

– anatole means sunrise in the sense of the rising again of the sun in the east. ana is a preposition which means both up and again.

– When you add the term from on high, it is obvious that this is God.

– So, Zacharias looks forward to the manifest mercy of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ, especially concentrating on the resurrection.

– The sunrise shines upon those who are in darkness and the shadow of death.

– Darkness refers to the cosmic system of Satan his design to prevent us from believing in Christ, and to destroy our relationship with God.

– The shadow of death refers to physical death.

The light guides us into the way of peace (prosperity).

John the Baptist’s Childhood

Luke 1:80, “And the child continued to grow, and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.”

The Song of Mary


Luke’s narrative now turns to the story of Mary, the mother of our Lord.

Note: there is no Biblical support for the practice of Mariolatry. Mary is clearly portrayed as the biological mother of Jesus Christ. There was nothing special about her makeup that she was the mother of our Lord nothing that made her unique from all other women. She was a woman who loved God, and she too waited for the Messiah. In fact she waited faithfully, unlike so many of her contemporaries, both women and men.

However, to make Mary someone to worship is completely wrong. Mary was born into sin, like every other female child before and after her. She does not have special access to God just because she conceived and gave birth to Christ. She is no different as far as we are concerned than any other mature believer. Christ Himself warns against Mariolatry in Luke 11:2728.

The Arrival of an Angel

Luke 1:26-28, “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was went from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Hail, woman who has been graced out. (kecharitomene) The Lord is with you.’”

Again, here is the angel Gabriel, the messenger of God, one of the highest ranking of all the angels. He is sent to announce to Mary the imminent arrival of the Messiah. Of the genealogies of these two, we already know much. Repetition is not necessary.

As the angel “beams in”, he issues a greeting to her. The greeting means literally, “woman who has been graced out”. God is the only subject ever used by CHARITOO.

A Conversation with an Angel, Luke 1:29-38

Notice that Mary is not fazed at all by Gabriel’s angelic appearance. She is unique in this regard. Daniel trembles, Zacharias fears, the shepherds are terribly frightened, and Mary is troubled by the greeting of this angel! She begins to DIALOGEI in her own mind. She is thinking it through, having a dialogue with herself “What did this angel mean by his greeting?” She was troubled by it.

The angel alleviates her troubled mind and tells her the exact meaning of the greeting.

“You have found grace from the side of God.” Let me quote from Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich: “…denotes a person, and indicates that something proceeds from this person.” Mary has found it because she looked for it. She is a wonderful believer from the age of Israel. In her great humility she cannot think that she has found grace, for she has already prospered in knowing God.

“You will conceive in your womb and bear a child.”

This certainly would have come as a surprise, since Mary was a virgin. She certainly understood the consequences of what the angel was saying. She would be subject to disgrace, and maybe the risk of capital punishment. There are great and terrible implications to this.

“And you will name Him Jesus.” His name means salvation.

“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and kingdom will have no end.”

There could be no mistaking it now. She was to be the mother of the Messiah. He is the Son of God he will sit on David’s throne his kingdom will last forever his kingdom will know no boundaries. These are all very clear. She is to bear the Messiah.

Mary’s response is simple “How will this come about, since I am a virgin?” Mary’s response is not arrogant, unlike that of Zacharias. She is just curious. She did know the basics of reproduction. In fact, it is my impression that the Hebrew society was much more open about such things than our own. She was more than willing to believe.

Gabriel tells her as best he can the specifics on how she will conceive. “The Holy Spirit will appear over you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you; and therefore the holy one who is born will be called the Son of God.”

This is the essence of the virgin birth. It is really quite clinical in nature. God the Holy Spirit performs the operation by his omnipotence, and adds the unpolluted chromosomes to Mary’s ovum.

The Two Mothers are United

Luke 1:39-45, “Now at this time Mary arose and went with haste to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the fetus leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice, and said, ‘Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the fetus leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.’”

We are not sure why Mary got up and went ‘with haste’ to visit Elizabeth at least the text does not come right out and tell us. However, we do know that Elizabeth is in a funk over the timing of her pregnancy. She does not want to be a circus sideshow act she wanted children while she was still young.

We also know that Mary and Elizabeth were cousins, so it was likely that Mary knew both of Elizabeth’s pregnancy and her mental state. Finally, we know that as soon as she know about her own immaculate conception, she left to be with Elizabeth.

Therefore, it is likely that the combination of the above conditions led Mary to visit Elizabeth. Just as soon as Mary enters the house and speaks her greeting, just as soon as that greeting enters the ears of Elizabeth, the fetus leaps in her womb. This leaping was reflex motility in response to the excitement of Elizabeth on hearing the voice of her cousin.

Immediately Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. This is for the purpose of prophecy what she says next is inspired by God the Holy Spirit. Luke always does us the courtesy of telling us when one is under the filling of the Spirit. Elizabeth literally “sounds off with a great cry” ANEPHO.NE.SEN KRAUGE. MEGALE. and she says, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

This first part of what she says confirms that when she wants to talk about a human being she uses one expression. Mary is blessed because she is chosen to bear and nourish and raise the Son of God. The fruit of her womb (not yet ripe nor picked) will also be blessed, because of His life and death.

The word for blessing here is EULOGEO, which means to speak well of someone. EULOGEO is blessing with reference to reputation.

Furthermore, Elizabeth says, “and why does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth employs a rhetorical question here. She does not expect an answer she knows it. Elizabeth knows that the child she will bear will prepare the way for Christ. She answers her own question in the next verse.

Elizabeth now gives an explanation of her previous words, “for behold, as the sound of your greeting came into may ears, the fetus in my womb leaped for joy.”

Elizabeth explains to Mary her rhetorical question, and her statement about blessing. She is telling Mary that at the moment she heard her greeting (and at the moment she was filled with the Spirit) the child leaped in her womb. It all came together at that moment Elizabeth understood everything Mary the greeting her own pregnancy God’s plan for the ages.

Finally, Elizabeth summarizes the entire experience the lifetime of that moment, “and blessed is she who believed that the things that were spoken will be fulfilled in her by the Lord.”

Elizabeth is telling us that she finally understands it all, and she is complementing Mary on her immediate belief in the word of God. The word for blessing here is different from the one above. This is macharia, or mental attitude contentedness. Elizabeth is saying in a roundabout way that she missed the boat that she did not immediately respond as she should have, and so she missed the blessing.

The important thing is that Elizabeth now understands everything with clarity. This verse also answers the previous question why Mary came to visit Elizabeth. It was so that Elizabeth could recognize her own error, and turn around.

Mary’s Song, Luke 1:46-56

This is the great prayer of worship from Mary. It is a prayer that is based on the utter confidence of one who has known and relied on the capabilities of God.

Let’s look at what Mary knows about God from learning in the ritual plan of God. She knows the architecture of her own soul that she has emotion, mentality, and a human spirit. She knows that God is the source of her salvation. She calls Him her savior. She understands the omnipresence and omniscience of God when she says that “He considered” her humble state.

EPIBLEPO is the verb here, and it means to look down upon something, and to understand it. God looked down upon Mary and He fully understood her humble state. God also knew exactly what to do about it. That is the expression of his omniscience.

Mary understands the omnipotence of God she calls Him the Mighty One, and she knows exactly what God has accomplished.

She understands the perfection, or holiness of God. When she says, “Holy is His name”, she says, perfect is his essence.

She understands the implications of the birth of the Messiah. She praises God for the strategic victory of the angelic conflict, and here is her reasoning. If God can accomplish the virgin conception and birth of the Messiah, He can accomplish anything else. What is the problem to go from one impossibility to the next.

Mary was a patriot, and she understood the implications of the Messiah on her nation. She related the Messiah to the kingdom of God, and indeed she already understood some of the kingdom concepts even before Christ ever explained them.

She understood the difference between being rich and poor. This metaphor has nothing to do with food or hunger in the literal sense. It has everything to do with a desire for a relationship with God. It is all about true humility.

Those who are humble and hungry for a relationship with God will receive the intrinsically good. Those who are rich in their own minds will go away empty handed.

Mary understood the mercy of God, and its implications. She knew the history of her nation and its heroes.

The Birth of Christ

Joseph Has a Dream

Matt 1:18-25, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before their union, she was found holding in her womb from the Holy Spirit. Now Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to publicly expose her, desired to divorce her in secret. But when he had considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him during a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take along Mary as your wife; for that which was conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you will call His name Jesus, for He Himself will save His people from their sins.’ Now this whole thing came about that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ‘Behold, the virgin will hold in her womb, and will bear a Son, and they will call His name Immanuel’, which having been translated is, ‘God with us’. And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and he did not know her until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”

Matthew is a Jew, and he writes his gospel to Jews. He is very careful in how he says things, for he does not want his readers to stumble over his words. His hypersensitive Jewish readership would have stumbled often and missed the message with a Gentile author writing in the style and words of the unclean.

Matthew is the one who emphasizes the kingdom offer more so than the other Gospel writers. He desires for the Jews to know their error in rejecting the Messiah and His kingdom.

I have provided a very literal translation, because it is important to understand the exact words of Matthew, and of the angel.

It was the Jewish custom to become engaged, and then have the marriage and its consummation one year later. It was during this one year period that Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit. Remember that she had gone away and visited with Elizabeth immediately after the immaculate conception. Since she stayed with Elizabeth for several months, Mary’s pregnant state would have been quite obvious when she returned.

The Greek says, “EURETHE EN GASTRI ECHOUSA EK PNEUMATOS HAGIOU.” This is translated, “she was found holding in her womb from the Holy Spirit”.

Joseph either did not know or did not believe the last part that about the Holy Spirit. If Mary did tell him this, it probably seemed too far fetched for him to buy. The literal translation is correct the word for child does not appear in Matthew’s text.

He could have used BREPHOS or PAIDEIA or TEKNON, but he did not. Instead he uses a term which is quite clinical. The aorist participle ECHOUSA is quite clear it simply communicates that her state came about previously, and that she was holding something, not a baby, not a child, but something in her womb. ek plus the ablative of source of PNEUMATOS HAGIOU shows very clearly that although she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit, no sexual relations were involved.

Joseph was a righteous man, and he did not want Mary to suffer public disgrace because of her pregnant state.

The aorist infinitive of DEIGMATIZO paints the picture of one pointing out another. Usually the context is one of disgrace. The public disgrace may have been deadly for Mary, because the Mosaic Law demanded capital punishment for adultery, Deut 22:2327.

Joseph considered these things and came to a decision. This is all described by the verb ENTHUMEOMAI. ENTHUMEOMAI had the idea of smoldering incense, and it often portrayed the angry thoughts of an individual. Joseph does a slow burn over this, and manages no small amount of self control when he decides to put her away privately.

An angel of the Lord (unidentified) appears to Joseph during a dream. The word for dream here is ONAR. In another time and another place a very similar thing happened, and this becomes a marvelous play on words. ONAR is a very ancient Greek Word, and remained uncorrupted even to Matthew’s day.

ONARION, a word with virtually the same spelling is the word for “little donkey’. When Balaam went out to betray the nation of Israel, an angel of the Lord stood in his way with a drawn sword. Balaam’s donkey, on which he was riding, saw the angel and stopped. Balaam did not see the angel. So the donkey talked to Balaam because of Divine inspiration. Balaam then saw the angel, and his effort to betray the nation was thwarted.

In same way, Joseph is out to betray the nation, and the entire world, when he desires to divorce Mary. His divorce of her would confirm to the world that she did have sexual relations with a man, and conceived from that liaison. So an angel is sent to stop Joseph in a dream.

The angel tells Joseph that he should not be afraid to take Mary along as a wife. The word PARALAMBANO is a terrific picture of marriage. It means to take someone or something along with you. When the man takes his wife, he takes her along with her on a lifelong journey.

The angel also makes a clear communication on the contents of Mary’s womb. The angel uses the neuter singular definite article as a relative pronoun to describe what is in her. It is translated “that which”, or “the thing”. It is clear to the angel, a superior and righteous being, that what is in Mary’s womb is not yet human life.

In the next sentence the angel says TEXETAI HUION, “she will give birth to a son”. Notice that it is at the time of birth that the contents of her womb is identified as a son.

Look at the message of the angel “and you will call his name Jesus (savior), because He Himself will save His people from their sins”. The angel did not emphasize the Messiah political savior aspect of Christ’s life, but His role as the Savior from sin.

This was a part of Matthew’s mission to show that Christ did succeed.

This whole thing took place so that Isaiah 7:14 might be fulfilled. “Behold, a virgin is pregnant, and brings forth a child.” The Hebrew does not say that she is ‘with child’. It says pregnant, and there is a difference.

They will call His name Emmanuel, which having been translated is ‘God is with us.’ The Greek preposition for with is META, which means ‘with’ in the sense of relationship. It denotes a close relationship between two persons. So Joseph rises from his sleep and does as the angel commanded. He took Mary along as his wife.

An important detail is included at the end of this passage. Joseph did not know Mary until after she gave birth. Knowing her is a polite way of saying that he refrained from having sexual relations with her. She was definitely a virgin when she gave birth, and Matthew confirms it.

Footnote: He does “know” her afterwards, and they produced several children together. Mary is not a perpetual virgin.

The Night Before Christmas

On the night before Christmas, God gave Christ the authority to establish His kingdom on earth.

Daniel 7:13,14, “I did behold in the night visions, and look! There came with the clouds of heaven one like the Son of Man; and he came to the Ancient of days, and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and honor and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

The setting of this verse is before the incarnation of Jesus Christ. It cannot occur at any time during the incarnation, because such would violate the tenet of kenosis as spelled out in Phil 2:58.

It could not have occurred during the three days before the resurrection, because John 3:35 indicates that Christ had already received the authority from God, and this was some three years before.

Daniel also gives the purpose of the kingdom as a universal service of Christ. Therefore this giving must have taken place before Christ even offered His kingdom to the Jews. With kenosis, that leaves only a time before the incarnation.

Although the timing of the passage in the chapter seems to be after the judgment of the Great White Throne, which Daniel’s vision reveals in verses ten and eleven, verse twelve is the decisive verse.

Verses ten and eleven clearly stand at the Great White Throne and beyond into the eternal state, as confirmed by Daniel 12:1 and Revelation 20:1115. Verse twelve, however, jumps back to the first three beasts of Daniel 7:46. There are four beasts in the chapter. The fourth one is the beast of the tribulation, destroyed by the return of Christ.

In each case the beasts are metaphors that illustrate nations or groups of nations, Daniel 7:17, “These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth.”

The first three are nations after Daniel, yet before the incarnation. They are somewhat parallel with the parts of the statue in chapter two.

“The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it.” This is Persia.

“And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’” This is Greece.

“After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given it.” This is Rome.

Since these are just before the incarnation, and the fourth beast is tribulational, and since the giving of authority took place before the incarnation, we can place the time of verse 13 and 14 at the night before Christmas with confidence.

Daniel’s curiosity concentrates on the fourth beast, the one of the tribulation, v.19. Also, notice that the passage skips over the intercalation of the church age. The four beasts are consecutive in the passage.

What happened on that night before Christmas?

Christ came with the clouds. These clouds are elect angels, attending Jesus Christ.

Christ came to heaven from earth, where He functioned as the angel of Yahweh.

He approached the throne of God, and was presented to Him. The presenting official or officials are not mentioned by name. For this occasion we can place Michael, the archangel here. Perhaps also Gabriel, the kings’ herald is also involved.

God, the Ancient of days (a reference to His eternal nature), gives Christ dominion, honor, and a kingdom. Dominion is authority to rule. This is specific authority to rule over planet earth.

– The first Adam surrendered that authority with his sin of abrogation of responsibility. He gave up the earth to be like the woman in sin.

– The last Adam, Jesus Christ, came to earth to retake that authority.

– However, in order to exert His authority, Christ must have the assent of the ruled. This He has yet to get.

– The dominion is everlasting Christ will never relinquish it.

– Honor is the respect that makes one fit to rule.

– Authority without respect is ineffective. Whereas authority is nominative, honor must be earned.

– There is a difference between authority and moral authority. Moral authority is the true right to rule. The Greek word exousia describes moral authority.

– This is given to Christ by God through the Word and the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. On two occasions, God would express His pleasure with the moral authority of Christ: at His baptism, and at the transfiguration.

Then there is the kingdom itself.

– The purpose of the kingdom is for the unification of all peoples of the earth in service to Him.

– This is the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ. It was given at this moment, and stands waiting for His people.

– This kingdom is everlasting, and cannot be destroyed.

And in a moment’s time, Christ left.

Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

The motive was love God wanted the very best for sinful and unattractive mankind.

John 3:16, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His uniquely born Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish, but have eternal life.”

At the next moment, Christ was born, the perfect God-man.

Luke 2:8-14

At Christ’s baptism, God expressed His pleasure in Christ and told all those present of Christ’s moral authority.

Luke 3:22, “And the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, ‘Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased.’”

A few weeks later, John the Baptist reflected on the great presentation on the night before Christmas.

John 3:35, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.”

Another stamp of approval came before the inner circle of the disciples.

Matthew 17:1-5, “And six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and john his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and his face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tabernacles here, on for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!’”

No matter the response of Israel, Christ had to die for sin, and He knew it.

Luke 22:41,42, “And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, ‘Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but thine be done.’”

The climax of the Divine sacrifice came at the end of the ordeal on the cross.

Matthew 27:46,49, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why did you forsake me?’ And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.”

Paul introduced his epistle to the Romans in this way:

Romans 1:1-3, “Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

After the resurrection Christ reminded His disciples of His authority.

Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus arrived and spoke to them, saying,”All authority was given to me in heaven and on earth. Therefore, as you go, disciple [teach with authority] all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep everything I have commanded you. And behold, I myself am with you all days until the conclusion of the age."

But He also reminded them that the time for His kingdom had not yet arrived.

Acts 1:6,7, “And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.’”

But that time is set in the decree, and will surely occur.

Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.”

The beginning of Christ’s kingdom will be dramatic, and we will be there to see it all.

Revelation 19:11-16, “And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and he has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. And he is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called the Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ’KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Christ and the Shepherds

Luke 2:8-20, “And some shepherds in the same region there were bivouacking and diligently keeping guard over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were afraid with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I am announcing to you good news of a great joy which will be for all the people; because there was born for you today in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And all of a sudden there was together with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among respectable men.’ And it came about after the angels had gone from them into heaven, that the shepherds were saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and let us see this event that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph and the baby laying in the manger. Now seeing this, they made known the statement which had been spoken them concerning this Child. And all who heard wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. And Mary treasured all these matters, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God over all that they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.”

Greek notes.

The shepherds were “AGRAULOUNTES” bivouacking, or staying outside overnight. It is from the noun AGORA, which means outside, and the noun AULAZOMAI, which means to lodge, or stay away from home.

While they were there, they PHULASSONTES PHULAKAS, which is a very strong way to say that they kept guard.

It was in this same region that David watched over his flocks. It was in this same region that the temple flocks were kept. We cannot confirm it, but it may be that these shepherds watched the temple flocks.

The angel of the Lord EPESTE., which literally means to stand over someone. The glory of the Lord shone around them. This is described by the verb PERILAMPO.

Angels are apparently beings manufactured from light, and thus they produce the glory of the Lord. This is the awe inspiring thing that so often causes great fear.

The shepherds were EPHOBE.THE.SAN PHOBON MEGAN. Afraid with great fear.

The angel EUAGGELIZOMAI the word from which we get the English evangelize. The herald of the king is announcing His arrival. First the angel makes it very clear that this is great news a great joy for all the people. Then he describes the news in detail. It is important to note that the angel concentrates on Christ as the savior. The herald of the king of kings and Lord of Lords directs his listeners to the mission of the first advent, which is redemption of the soul.

The sign which will reveal the truth of the matter to the shepherds is unique. A baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. This is why Christ had to be born in a stable, and why there was no room at the inn. Because it would provide a unique setting which could be used as a sign of the veracity of God. If one is true, the sign, then the other is true as well, the savior.

The verb EXAIPHNE.S means literally out of a sudden. Our English ‘all of a sudden’ works also.

The multitude of the heavenly army is PLE.THOS STRATIAS OURANIOU, and it is literally an army. They appeared to angels, praising God and saying specific things. These things were recorded by Luke in the form of verse, so they may indeed have been singing a song.

They praise God first, worshipping Him for what He has accomplished in the birth of Christ. Second, they give a message of good will to men on earth. They wish peace [eirene] to respectable men. The word for respectable is eudokias, which means to think well of someone. It is literally “well thought of men”.

The angels leave, and so the shepherds have a brief discussion among themselves as to what they should do. It is a decisive and quick meeting They say, “let us go through immediately to Bethlehem” DIELTHO.MEN DE. HEO.S. In the English, Let’s go straight to Bethlehem. The syntax suggests that this is an urgent and repetitive meeting. They recognize clearly that the Lord made known to them this event, and so they take off in haste [SPEUDO] and search and find [ANEURISKO] the stable where the Christ child lies.

The first thing that the shepherds do when they arrive is recount the events of the evening to Joseph and Mary, and everyone there (apparently there were others) wondered at the things which were told them. Mary treasured [SUNTEREO] these things in her heart, putting them together [SUMBALLO] in her heart.

Mary was thinking about these things, and throwing them together so that she had a full understanding of the events of the last few months. She treasured these things they were precious to her, because she knew that her savior was born.

The shepherds had to get back to their flocks, but they left glorifying and praising God over everything which they heard and seen, just as it was spoken to them. Their worship is directed toward the veracity of God, and there is two levels to this veracity, one of which is not mentioned. The first level is the immediate, obvious one. The events of the night fulfilled what had been spoken to them by the angel. The second level is that everything spoken by the prophets of old, everything in the Mosaic Law, was now coming to pass on this night.

These shepherds no doubt had a great sense of destiny before the angel ever came that night. They watched over flocks near the city of David’s birth, and near where David himself shepherded. Therefore, when the chief shepherd arrived, they knew the implications. They were shepherds in the region of the temple flocks.

We cannot be completely sure if their flock was the flock, but even if they were only near, they would have known much about the temple flock, and they would have been acquainted with the temple flock shepherds.

The lamb of God was born that night, and everything in the ritual system was fulfilled in that baby in the manger. Everything that they knew of the ritual system would have come to mind as the angels appeared, and as they rushed to the stable, and as they saw the fulfillment of the sign.

It was what the shepherds knew beforehand that gave meaning to the events of that night. It was especially appropriate that the shepherds should come to see the chief shepherd and the lamb of God in that baby that night. And they went away glorifying God, because what they knew before went together with what they knew now.

The Davidic, Mosaic, and Abrahamic covenants were all fulfilled in Christ, and the shepherds knew it.

Lessons from the Passage

The quality of our worship is directly related to the amount of Bible Truth that we understand in our hearts. This was true for both Mary and the Shepherds. It is very clear that Mary understands the significance of the birth of her child. Because of this, she treasures those significant things in her heart.

The shepherds worshipped, not because they were neophytes to the faith, but because they had waited faithfully for the Messiah, and knew God already. This is the interpretation which best explains their actions. The shepherds were quite willing to go check out the sign which the angel had provided. They glorify God even as the angels had done just a little while before when the army of heaven was visible to them.

Therefore, the more you know of Bible Truth, the greater your worship and praise of God will be, for God is the author, and the Bible is the mind of Christ. The more you know of Bible Truth, the greater appreciation you will have of the grace of God as it is revealed in the events of your life.

You cannot interpret the events of your life in the right way without the truth. When you do have the truth, the events of your life have meaning.

There is more to this life than the visible there is an invisible realm which is far more important, and which adds meaning and importance to our own visible lives.

The angels rejoiced on that night for what God had accomplished in the birth of Christ. That the elect angels rejoiced gives us an indication of the mood in the enemies’ camp on that very same night. It must have been gloomy indeed. Insofar as we take part in the invisible realm of conflict, we add meaning and importance to our lives in the same measure.

God reveals Himself in the first advent His grace and power are revealed in the birth of Christ.

– Through the virgin pregnancy and birth.

– Through the birth of John the Baptist.

– Through the child in the manger.

– Through the minds and hearts of those who were prepared for the first advent of Jesus Christ.

This advent had to do with the redemption of sins.

The Circumcision and Presentation of Christ

Luke 2:21-38

Christ was circumcised according to the decree of the Law. Circumcision was the ritual performed on male babies on the eighth day of their life. It included the cutting away of the foreskin of a child, and a few words spoken in remembrance.

The ritual recalled the first circumcision, which was Abraham. It was a ritual which represented the cutting away of the scar tissue on Abraham’s soul, and his advance to maturity. So every Jewish male child was circumcised after the pattern of their forbear, to remind them of the importance of spiritual growth.

Romans 2:25-29, “For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”

Christ fulfilled the Law to represent that He too as a man would have to grow up spiritually. Indeed he would.

Luke 2:22-24, “And when the days were fulfilled for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought Him up into Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, just as it has been written the Law of the Lord, ‘Every first born male that opens the womb will be called holy to the Lord.’ and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the law of the Lord, ‘A Pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.’”

The reference for the purification of the woman is:

Leviticus 12:2-8, “When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of here menstruation she shall be unclean. On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days. When the days of here purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. Then he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.”

The woman’s purification had a practical function related to health and hygiene; but there is also a representation here related to original sin.

The purification of the male child begins with a Sabbath period, and commemorates the original creation of man. That purification then continues for thirty-three more days, for a total of forty. Forty was the number of purification from sin by means of doctrine forty days and forty nights of the flood; forty years in the wilderness. So there is circumcision for spiritual growth and forty days for purification by it.

The female child required fourteen days for the first period of purification, representing her place as second in creation or perhaps it took two Sabbaths to adore the woman. Then sixty six more days for a total of eighty, a double wilderness experience for her.

That Joseph and Mary gave the two turtledoves or pigeons in place of the lamb tells of their financial station in life: they were quite poor.

The burnt offering and the sin offering were related to the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and Adam’s sin respectively. They commemorated the first born in such a way as to call to mind the Passover, and thus the work of Christ. Exodus 13:1.

The Passover is recorded in Exodus chapter 12.

The firstborn’s holiness comes directly from the firstborn of God, Jesus Christ. Everything was done properly with regard to Jesus Christ, even though He did not require it. The propriety of these acts was quite poignant, and even ironic.

Luke 2:25-35

So they came to the temple for Christ’s dedication and Mary’s purification. Simeon and Anna and others were there in the temple. Apparently they were part of a regular crowd that was faithful to God and waited for the true Messiah. Both of these people were old, and yet they remained faithful to God even in their old age.

Simeon was righteous, DIKAIOS, and well receiving, EULABES. The latter means that he had true humility, a predisposition to obey. PROSDECHOMAI means to wait for some event. It could as easily describe waiting for the bus as for the Messiah. But Simeon is waiting for the encouragement of Israel. PARAKLESIS is a word which means to call someone alongside, as in getting a lawyer, or other kinds of help. It was used for the role of the Messiah. So Simeon is waiting unconcernedly for the Messiah, because he has received word from God.

The pluperfect periphrastic construction is EN and the perfect participle of CHREMATIZO. The latter verb describes the naming of an heir in a Roman adoption ceremony. CHREMA means money, so there is a kind of Christmas connection here.

There is great emphasis on the perfect aspect of this construction, so it concentrates on the irrevocability of this action by God.

So Simeon has been irrevocably told that he will not die before he sees the Messiah, and so in spite of his advanced age he is waiting for Him just as though he was waiting for the bus.

This is certainly the way to wait for Christ’s return, which is the rapture. Not by checking your watch every five minutes. The rapture will occur it has been promised. But we know neither the day nor the hour; it is hidden even from Christ.

Simeon is deeply moved by the event, and utters a prayer of thanksgiving, knowing that his life was complete with this event. He asks God to die, a remarkable request indeed. He has done his duty and he has seen what was promised. He calls God a DESPOTA, a lord or master of property. The DESPOTA is a ship’s captain. He sees God as the owner of the earth.

The reason for this unusual request is that he has seen the salvation of God. This distinction is made because many were calling themselves God’s salvation, but only one was it.

Many call themselves God’s salvation even today Buddha, Mohammed, and so on. But there is only one true God man, and that is Jesus Christ. And this provision of salvation is distributed to each individual face to all humanity. The distributive use of KATA with the noun PROSOPON indicates all this. It portrays both the whole of humanity and every individual face in it.

Simeon furthers this idea by saying that the child is a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. The Gentiles are the unbelievers of Simeon’s world; Christ reveals God. Christ is the glory of Israel He is their crown and greatest child, the fulfillment of all the promise of Abraham, Moses, and David.

And to Mary alone Simeon says something pretty hard…

The child is appointed for the fall and rise of many. PTOSIN means fall, and it describes the violent fall of a person in their death, or the violent destruction of a house or building. The Christ child is appointed for the violent end of many He will judge all of humanity. ANASTASIN means rise from the prone position, or even resurrection. Christ is appointed for the resurrection of many.

All of humanity falls into these two categories. You will either fall because of your unbelief and meet the final violent end of eternity in the Lake of Fire, or you will rise because of your belief and receive a resurrection unto eternity in Heaven.

Simeon continues giving the reason for the appointment of Christ with a statement even about Mary herself.

He calls it a corresponding sign, a SEMEION ANTILEGOMENON. Christ is appointed for something corresponding with regard to Mary; corresponding to what has just been said. ANTI mean ‘face to face’ when in compound verbs, so this is ‘speak face to face.’ The idea is that this sign speaks face to face with what has already been said. It does not necessarily contradict it though, and it does not here.

The ROMPHAIA was the heavy broadsword of the Thracians. They used it from horseback with devastating results to the human body. Simeon says a ROMPHAIA will pass through the very soul of Mary. The verb DIERCHOMAI means to ‘pass completely through’ something. The idea is that wielding the heavy sword from horseback causes it to pass completely through the body of the enemy.

Well, this is the sword of the Spirit passing completely through the soul of Mary, and exiting. It is the sword of inspiration.

Hebrews 4:12,“For the word of God is living and operational and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing between the soul and the spirit, joints and marrow, and is the critic of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Several other verses shed light on this statement:

Ephesians 6:17, “And take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

But especially Revelation, which has the ROMPHAIA in a prominent place.

Revelation 1:16, “In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.”

Revelation 2:12, “And to the angel of the church of Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this…”

Revelation 2:16, “Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the word of My mouth.

Revelation 19:15, “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.”

Revelation 19:21, “And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”

So the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, the sharp two-edged sword of the mouth of Jesus Christ will pass through Mary. This will result in the revelation of the reasoning of many hearts. The word of God reveals the reasoning of your heart. It is the critic of the thoughts and intents of the heart. This is portrayed as an event yet future, so that it is not a reference to the virgin pregnancy.

This must be a function of inspiration through her. God the Holy Spirit will inspire her so that she says or writes something that is the measure of thought for many hearts. Since the famous magnificat is already passed, it is not likely just that, although Simeon could indicate that what she has said will be employed to reveal the thoughts of many.

To this end, Mary did say “He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.” However this is not a very exact fit for what Simeon says.

Although Mary makes an occasional appearance in the gospel narratives, nothing comes close to fit the bill of this great announcement.

Acts 1:14 is the last official mention of Mary in the Bible: “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”

John 19:27 reports that after the crucifixion she lived in the home of John, and yet he mentions her not at all. Mary was likely in her mid to late forties at the time of the death of her son; she may have lived quite long after that.

From Luke’s narrative of the nativity of Christ there is some evidence that he has access to Mary. This may well be her legacy that was prophesied by Simeon.

There is no possibility that this statement could lead one to believe in Mariolatry. Participation in inspiration, yes. But we do not worship the writers of the New Testament.

An intriguing possibility exists with Mary as the author of the letter to the Hebrews. Unfortunately, there is just not enough evidence to make a definitive assertion at this time.

Luke 2:36-38

Anna had been a widow for some fifty or sixty years. She lived a life dedicated to service in the temple with fastings and prayers. Just as Simeon is speaking with Mary, Anna walks up and begins to thank God, and preaches to everyone there on that day.

Notice that she preaches to an exclusive group those who are looking for the redemption of Israel. This was a very mature woman, and there is little doubt that these faithful, Simeon and Anna knew one another. You can envision Anna glancing over at Simeon as he performs this ritual, and then she sees the light of his face and she knows. She knows!

The nativity story teaches a couple of important lessons.

That God is immanent; that is, He intervenes in the lives of men. This is perhaps the greatest lesson of our lives.

Immanence on the part of God requires responsibility on our part. If God is not responsible for His creation, which is the assertion of deist belief, then man is not responsible to God. But God’s intervention puts responsibility squarely in our laps. God therefore requires of us certain things:

– He requires us to depend on His grace for salvation.

– If He did not intervene in our lives, then we would have to produce our own salvation.

– He requires us to depend on Him for our post salvation glorification of Him. It is His grace which accomplishes our achievements in the post salvation plan.

– Grace, and not works is the general rule because of the interventionist attitude of God.

This is why the birth of the Messiah was so very meaningful to men like Simeon and women like Anna. They were relieved to see a visible manifestation of grace and know that they were not responsible for providing their own salvation. You see Simeon say that it is the Lord’s salvation, and not his.

Apart from spiritual responsibility, there is a logistical responsibility to provide for ourselves. This is one of the implications of the fall. It is grace and not works. So that with immanence there is an implicit trust in God. This has a profound effect on personal belief and even political philosophy.

The second lesson is imminence, and that is a philosophy of waiting.

Simeon and others had an understanding that the first advent was imminent. Not that it would occur right away, but that it would occur because God had promised it.

Although God has made no such promise with regard to the rapture, that is, that it will occur in our lifetimes, it is an event promised by God, and we are to wait as graciously as Simeon did.

And even if we are not fortunate enough to see the rapture, the ends of our lives are imminent; they may happen at any time.

Living in that imminent state of mind has its impact as well. You can take no vacation from the plan of God. You can make no assumption that you will have plenty of time to grow later. God has already set the date for your end, and you may die at forty.

Therefore do not say to yourself that you will really concentrate on spiritual growth after you raise your children or establish financial security or some other distraction in life. That can be a truly crucial mistake in the arrangement of your priorities.

The Visit of the Magi

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

Matt. 2:1-12

This passage records the doings of the magi from the east. There are some things that we do not know about them. We do not know their country of origin. We do not know how many there were. The number three comes from the number of different gifts given to Christ. We are not aware of their royal status they are never called kings.

What is significant is their humility, especially as compared to that of the spiritual leaders of Israel. The spiritual leaders of Israel knew where the child would be born, but they did not go. The Gentile magi did not know where he was to be born, but they found out and went.

Also significant in this passage is the beginning of Herod’s scheme to kill the child. Herod wants to know the exact time at which the star of the Magi appeared. He instructs the Magi to search thoroughly for the child. He gives as his reason his desire to worship the child as well. Herod is an evil man, jealous of any who would take his throne.

He was worse than a Gentile; he was a half Jewish Idumaean, a descendant of Esau, a wild desert dwelling type. The Jews considered them with no small amount of prejudice. To make matters worse, Herod was hardly a model human being. He has been called a monster one who was crafty and cruel, jealous and vain and always quick to seek revenge when wronged.

He came to the throne over the Roman province of Judea through cunning and manipulation of Marc Antony.

He had nine or ten wives. Even the historians lost count after a while.

On the smallest of suspicion he had even his favorite wife, Mariamne, put to death, along with her sons Alexander and Aristobulus.

Even while on his own deathbed, just days before he died he had his own son, his flesh and blood Antipater put to death. Caesar Augustus was heard to say, “It is better to be Herod’s hog than his own son!”

Again at his deathbed he ordered all the principle men in Israel to be rounded up and placed in the local stadium, where they could be surrounded by his soldiers and then slain when he died. The reason: so that there would be great mourning at his death.

Herod tried bribing the Jews, so that they would like him, and he could view himself as a successful ruler.

Julius Caesar had given Herod a fantastic and truly royal inaugural celebration back in 37 BC, when Herod took the throne. He always longed for that past glory, when in fact the traditional Roman warning of “sic transit gloria mundi” applied to him more than any other.

The bribes came in the form of a building program that was the very rival of Solomon’s. He built monuments and buildings in the Holy Land, and even rebuilt their temple in magnificent fashion, topping it with a golden dome. Other buildings and monuments were undertaken: a temple, a forum, and a theater at Samaria, a great Greco-Roman capital, a temple, and port at Caesarea.

The port was an engineering marvel that even today is remarked upon by the archaeologists who work at the site. Luxurious palaces and fortified retreats were built at Masada, Jerusalem, Jericho, and Herodium, which was near Bethlehem.

In Jerusalem he had baths, a theater, and a Hippodrome constructed. He also promoted Greek and Roman games so that the people might be entertained.

All of these things struck a sour note as any bribe to a slave will. The people really did not want these things. They wanted to be autonomous and free. But in order to be truly free, any people must know God, and that was exactly the problem in Israel.

But what is really significant about this passage is the gifts of the Magi.

Gold was appropriate, since it represented royalty. It did so even in the ritual system of Israel it represented exactly that. It also represented deity.

Frankincense was burned on the incense altar in the Temple. It represented the righteousness of Christ.

Myrrh was used to scent the oil that burned in the golden lampstand of Israel. It was also used to embalm the dead.

These Magi brought the gifts which perfectly portrayed Jesus Christ from the viewpoint of the ritual system, and they were not even Jews! You can see why God led them to Bethlehem. It was entirely appropriate that they should do so, since the Jews would reject Him. This hearkens forward to the church age.

The Flight To Egypt and Return to Israel

Matt 2:13-23

The magi had been in Jerusalem to ask about the location of the Messiah. They figured they could find the information at the capital city.

Since Bethlehem was just five miles from Jerusalem, it was just a couple of hours by foot. Herod had instructed the magi to find the Christ child, so that he could worship him, too. Of course this was a lie. Herod was jealous, irrational, and probably demon possessed. Herod wanted to kill Christ. Because of the short distance between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Herod would have expected an answer the next day or evening at the latest.

The magi came and worshipped the child, and then returned to their country by a different route. This would have given Joseph and Mary no time at all to prepare for the long journey to Egypt. It was more than 200 miles, and with a child just a few weeks old.

Joseph and Mary knew that their child was the Messiah, and they were experienced by now with angelic communication. This was no time to quibble they left that very same night.

Joseph and Mary and their child stayed in Egypt until the end of Herod, probably not more than a month.

Matthew is a great recorder of prophecy. Since he wrote his gospel to the Jews, he was always on the lookout for ways in which he could prove that Christ truly was the Messiah.

For this event, Matthew draws on Hosea 11:1, which records the call of Israel from Egypt. The historical event was the Exodus of Israel under the guidance of Moses. The wilderness journey was an event which was celebrated in the three annual feasts. The Jews were constantly reminded of the events of that journey, because it was a great analogy for their spiritual lives and their national heritage.

The passover and the feast of unleavened bread reminded them of the beginning of their journey and salvation.

The Pentecost reminded them of the law giving at Mt. Sinai, and the importance of the Word in their spiritual lives.

The feast of tabernacles reminded them of their failure in the desert.

The historical event of the Exodus also stood as a prophecy pertaining to the life of Christ. The call is facilitated by an angel, and through Christ’s parents. It is interesting to note that Hosea substitutes ‘son’ for ‘Israel’, the king for his subjects. Just as Israel would have its beginning in Egypt, so also would their king, Jesus Christ. This was another great reason to believe in Christ as the Messiah.

Herod understood [IDO.N] that he had been tricked by the magi. They never came back, and so he assumed that they were making fun of him, ridiculing him [EMPAIZO]. In reality, the magi simply obeyed the word of the angel which guided them, but Herod took the thing as a dirty trick. The word emphasizes Herod’s perception of the event.

Because of his perception of the event, Herod was very enraged.

The word for rage here is ETHUMO.THE., which is similar to Joseph’s anger at hearing about the pregnancy of marriage. There, the word was enthumeomai, or inward anger. Joseph did a slow burn.

Here, the word is modified by the adverb LIAN, which strongly magnifies the emotion. Herod does a fast and violent burn.

Herod’s anger, together with his jealousy for the Messiah, made him a virtual humanization of the devil himself.

This would motivate him to murder all the male children, two years old and under, in and around Bethlehem.

The number of children was not all that many by holocaust standards. There probably were not much more than twenty or so.

The word for murder is ANAIREO, which means to snatch away violently. It is a Greek word for illegitimate killing.

Herod had little information on the child Messiah, and that is why he calculated [E.KRIBO.SEN] the age of the child as 2 years or less.

The magi had seen the star some two years before, and so he assumed that the child may have been born then. Of course, we understand that Christ was only six or eight weeks old at the time, but Herod did not know that. That is why he was so liberal in his murderous decree.

Herod sent [APOSTELLO] to have the children killed. He was a powerful man, and he had others do the dirty work for him.

Again, a prophecy is fulfilled here, and Matthew is kind enough to record it. Jeremiah 31:15 finds its fulfillment here.

The prophecy there has to do with the exile of the southern kingdom of Judah.

Ramah was just to the north of Jerusalem, and on the exile route to Babylon. It was a high place, and it was here that it was likely that the children and the aged who would not be able to make the journey would be killed.

There was great weeping that day by the women of Judah.

Rachel was the wife of Jacob (Israel), and so she came to represent the women of God’s chosen nation.

And now Bethlehem is another Ramah. Bethlehem also was a city on a hill, just like Ramah to the north. Ramah meant ‘height’ or ‘high place’. And Bethlehem is a place where children are murdered. The women are crying out loud, and mourning for their children. This is the kind of hard grief, where you do not want someone around you, because it is so very painful.

This is the record of the return of Joseph and Mary and Christ to Israel.

Joseph was guided in two ways: first, to return to Israel, and second to avoid the region of Judea and to go north to Nazareth. The immediate reason to go to Nazareth was to avoid Herod’s son, Archelaus. The act of avoidance fulfilled another prophecy concerning the Messiah.

Herod did not last much more than a few weeks after his murder of the children in and around Bethlehem.

His death went like this: (ugly people die ugly deaths)

When it was apparent that he was going to die, and even Herod understood that he was on his own deathbed, he ordered that his own son, Antipater to be slain for no good reason.

Just a day or two later, he ordered that all the principle men of the nation be gathered in the hippodrome (horse racetrack) and surrounded by soldiers.

These soldiers were ordered to kill these men when he died, so that there would be much mourning in the land at the time of his death. The order was never carried out.

Archelaus was also anti-Semitic, and during his reign he would slaughter thousands of Jews, until he was deposed and exiled to Vienna, where he died.

The death of the children around Bethlehem caused an uproar, and since Jesus, Joseph, and Mary left at night and in a hurry, it was probably assumed that Jesus died there as well, since they never returned to Bethlehem.

Up until this point, there had been a lot of hoopla over the birth of Christ and John the Baptist. They were already mini-celebrities.

The assumed death of Christ allowed Him to grow up in Nazareth in a quiet way, without the bother of the masses, and without other satanically inspired attempts on His life.

The Early Life of Christ

Luke 2:40 “Now the child was growing and being made strong being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.”

The noun PAIDION describes Christ. It depicts a child from the viewpoint of trainability. This stage began when the child was eight days old, and continued until adulthood (which was the early teens at the time).

The first two verbs describe the early life of Christ:

– EUXANEN is from AUXANO, which means to grow. It is in the imperfect tense, which portrays a past action occurring over a duration of time. This is in the active voice, which portrays the child as the source of the action. It is a reference to the physical growth of Christ’s body. Since this verb is often used to describe the growth of plant life, you could loosely translate this “He grew like a weed.”

– EKRATAIOUTO is from KRATAIOO., which means to strengthen, or empower. It is in the passive voice showing that the child did not produce this action. This verb is in the imperfect tense, showing the past action over a duration of time. This is a reference to the spiritual growth of Christ.

The idea of Christ’s spiritual growth is further strengthened by the modal participle PLE.ROUMENON.

– A modal participle reveals the manner in which the action of the main verb occurs.

– This participle shows that the strengthening of Christ occurred through His filling with wisdom.

– The participle is in the present tense, so its action occurs at the same time as the action of the strengthening.

– The basic meaning of PLEROO is “to fill to the point of overflowing”. It leaves no part of the vessel unfilled.

The substance of the filling is SOPHIA, or wisdom. SOPHIA is applied truth; truth that has become a real part of the person’s life not just a theory but much more an application. Christ was made strong, being filled with wisdom.

A final note is made about Christ’s childhood: “and the grace of God was upon Him.”

– The preposition EPI plus the accusative of the personal pronoun AUTO portrays a motion that reaches its goal completely. It shows that the grace of God completely reached its goal in Jesus Christ.

– During the childhood of Christ, the grace of God fully attained its goal in Him. It reached its maximum potential through His appropriation of it. Even as a child, Christ was perfect.

General principles of Jewish child raising during the time of Christ.

Since a child was renamed a PAIDIA at eight days of age, it revealed their attitude that children were to be trained from the youngest stage of infancy.

The religious education of children began as soon as they could speak. The child’s earliest vocabulary included doctrinal terms. This early religious education was done by the mother more often than not. Of course, our Lord could not have found a greater teacher than his own mother she was a great believer. Instruction in the Law fell to the father of the house it was his duty to instruct the children in the keeping of the Law.

The schooling of children was almost exclusively religious by nature. General education and vocational training came later. This religious training took place in the local synagogue under the tutelage of a Rabbi. The purpose of these schools was as follows (Edersheim, pp. 231232):

– to keep children from all contact with vice;

– to train them in humility, even when the bitterest wrong had been received;

– to show sin in its repulsiveness, rather than to terrify by its consequences;

– to train to strict truthfulness;

– to avoid all that might lead to disagreeable or indelicate thoughts;

– to do all this without showing partiality, without either undue severity, or laxity of discipline, and with judicious increase of study and work with careful attention to thoroughness in acquiring knowledge.

Until age ten the Bible was exclusively the textbook, from ten to fifteen the Mishnah, which was the traditional oral teachings of the Jews. It was largely philosophical by nature. Its equivalent would be systematic theology.

After age fifteen the young man could divert his studies to vocation or continue with his higher religious education. This determination was made on the basis of the aptitude of the individual.

Perhaps because of the strong Pharasaic influence, the first book studied by children was Leviticus, the laws and ordinances for Israel’s spiritual and national life.

The home was the seat of the ritual.

– Many times each day the child was reminded of the importance of God’s Word through the mezuzah, which was attached to the door frame of every Jewish home. This device held a small parchment the outside of which was inscribed with the name of God. On the inside was written Deut 6:49 and 11:1321. The Jews would touch the mezuzah every time they passed the threshold, and then kiss the fingers that touched it as a reminder of the importance of application.

– Every sabbath there were preparations made by the family to remind them of their responsibility in relationship with God.

The yearly schedule of feasts was a great aide in teaching the character and plan of God. Since it was on a yearly schedule the level of inculcation was high. Think about our holiday schedule.

It is clear from Christ’s ministry that He knew the Old Testament far better than any of His peers.

Remember from our dispensational constants two things:

– That spiritual growth is always through faith perception and testing through adversity and prosperity. This is exactly how Christ grew strong. That he was being filled with wisdom meant that the perception and inculcation had to take place beforehand.

– That the character and sufficiency of God are always the issue. And so they were for Christ during His childhood. Imitation of God’s character and reliance on Him are the very essence of SOPHIA.

The Event at the Temple

Luke 2:41-50

[Translations the author’s from the Greek]

Luke 2:41, “And every year His parents used to go into Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.”

This verse sets the stage for the story to follow. It shows the custom of Joseph’s family with reference to the Passover feast.

The preposition KATA plus the accusative of HETOS means “every year”.

The customary imperfect of the verb POREUOMAI is translated, “used to go”

The dative case of the noun HEORTE.S shows the reason for their annual trip to Jerusalem the passover feast.

As a matter of fact, it was the custom for all Jewish men over the age of twelve to do so. That Mary went when she was not required revealed her devout nature. The child Jesus was apparently left behind with friends or relatives until he was old enough to go.

Luke 2:42,43, “And when he became twelve, they went up according to the custom of the feast, and upon their return after the full number of days, Jesus the boy stayed in Jerusalem but His parents did not know it.”

More attendant circumstances to the main story are related in these two verses. They actually form one sentence in the Greek. The style of the sentence is quite dramatic. The crucial details are withheld until the very end.

The first phrase determines the time of this episode: the culminative aorist of GINOMAI shows that twelve years in the life of Christ had already past. He was actually twelve and a few months. This was to be the first passover of the child.

– Remember, Herod is dead, and the events of the nativity are now twelve years past.

– The excitement of the nativity is long past, obscured by the present sufferings of the nation.

The next phrase tells us that this year was no different than the others. They went up according to the custom of the feast. the verb ANABAINO is put into participle form, and this is a genitive absolute. It makes a parenthetical statement that gives necessary details, but the genitive absolute communicates that the details are not vital to the story. Luke is simply telling us an extra detail that is not really vital. “when they were returning from the feast (they went up first)” would be a good way to communicate this.

Next Luke says that Christ’s parents were returning after the full number of days.

It was allowable for many to leave the feast before its completion if they had a ways to travel. The most important parts of the celebration were early in the week, so many families took advantage of the ‘getaway’ days. (Easter vacation at school). Joseph’s family did not do this.

The full number of days is TELEIO.SANTO.N TAS HE.MERAS in the Greek. The participle is used in the temporal sense to show that they left long after many others. They stayed for the full feast regardless of the inconvenience, ostensibly to gain its full benefit. The aorist participle shows that they stayed the full number of days before they returned.

Luke next tells the real story: that Christ remained in Jerusalem while his parents left for Nazareth, and they did not know about it.

The articular infinitive HUPOSTREPHEIN with the preposition EN shows that it is during their return that they did not know that their son was with them.

The constantive aorist tense of the verb HUPOMENO describes Christ’s decision to remain. It summarizes his entire stay into one whole.

Luke also makes it clear that Jesus is still just a boy by adding the word PAIS. He desires to remind us of this to show how extraordinary this boy was.

Under normal circumstances good parents would keep a close eye on their twelve year old son when they were on a trip.

Verse 44 heightens the drama, revealing the mistake of Jesus’ parents and their action to rectify it.

Luke 2:44, “Now assuming him to be in the caravan they went for a day’s journey they were seeking him among relatives and acquaintances.”

The aorist participle nomisantes shows their wrong assumption, which preceded their wrong action. The action of an aorist participle precedes that of the main verb, which shows them looking for Him in the caravan as it went along. nomizo is a verb which reveals thinking that is still in the theory stage. Joseph and Mary’s theory is that Jesus is in the caravan, en to sunodia.

– As many as two hundred thousand people would go up to Jerusalem for the feast. Great caravans with thousands of people would leave together for mutual protection since the roads were relatively unsafe.

– With so many people, it would be easy for one to get lost or not be seen for a while.

– Joseph and Mary trusted their son implicitly. Besides, he had just come of age by going to his first passover. He was now considered a man, wasn’t he?

It was their decision to go along for a day’s journey and seek for their son in the caravan. It would take at least a day to search thoroughly among so many people.

The word used for seek is the imperfect tense of ANAZE.TEO, which means to search for a fugitive or an escaped slave. The addition of the preposition ana onto the regular verb shows a great intensity of action.

They look among their relatives, and “known ones”, or more properly, “acquaintances.” They figure that the boy will be with someone they know are related to. Maybe he is with John, the son of Elizabeth and Zacharias, who would also have been at his first passover that year. Maybe with James and John the sons of Zebedee or Simon who would be called the Zealot. All of those families were most likely there, being devout and from the North.

Luke 2:45, “and not finding they returned to Jerusalem seeking him.”

So far, one day of searching has passed, and still no Jesus.

The subjective negative adverb ME. is used to denote their failure. It allows the element of doubt in the matter. They did not find him, but neither were they sure that he was not with the caravan. Nevertheless, the percentages now lie with Jerusalem, and so they return.

The aorist tense of the participle HEURONTES confirms that their failure to find Jesus preceded their decision to return to Jerusalem.

Again the verb ANAZE.TEO is used to describe their desperate search for their son. Israel at this time was not the safest of places, and they had already come so close to losing their son right after he was born. These things no doubt heightened their fears.

In verse 46, Luke narrates the reunion of the child and his parents.

Luke 2:46, “and it came about after three days they found him in the temple sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and questioning them.”

The three day period is significant, very significant. The exact Greek phrase is META HE.MERAS TREIS it shows the completion of three full days. This is used elsewhere in Scripture as a prediction of the amount of time that Christ’s body would spend in the tomb.

Mat 12:40, “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Mk 8:31, “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”

John 2:19, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’”

Mary, after Christ’s death some twenty two years later, would recall this event. How clear it must have been to her that while Christ was gone He was about the things of the Father.

At the passover, 30 A.D. Christ would die and His body would lie in the tomb for three days and nights. During that time His soul would be attending to the Father’s business, making the great proclamation TETELESTAI to the fallen angels in prison under the earth, 1 Pet 3:19.

It is clear that Luke interviewed Mary or someone close to her in order to learn of this episode in the life of Christ. The information could not have come from any other source.

The days lay out as follows:

– Day one: Joseph and Mary stay in the caravan and search for Him as they travel north.

– Day two: travel back to Jerusalem.

– Day three: search in Jerusalem.

– Day four: find Christ in the temple.

The circumstantial participle KATHEZOMENON shows the circumstances in which they found their Son sitting EN MESO TO.N DIDASKALO.N ‘in the midst of the teachers’. didaskalon denotes a teacher with authority, an expert in the study of the Mosaic Law. This and the following two participles are in the present tense, indicating that all this was going on at the moment that his parents found him.

Two other circumstantial participles spell out what Jesus was doing while he sat.

– AKOUONTA AUTO.N listening to them. The genitive case of auto.n indicates that He listened with humility.

– EPERO.TO.NTA AUTOUS questioning them. EPERO.TO.NTA portrays a very intense questioning. Here not in the sense of aggressiveness, but in the depth and detail of the questions themselves. That the student should interrogate the teachers is a remarkable thing in itself!

In His humanity our Lord still had much to learn. Up to this point he had learned all that he possibly could, but there was more to go with each passing moment. Remember that in the incarnation the deity and thus the omnipresence and omniscience of Christ is completely restricted.

Christ in his humanity was finite and limited in what he could know and apply. The creature is always finite.

Verse 47 reveals the response of the teachers to the knowledge of Christ.

Luke 2:47, “Now everyone who heard him was astonished by his perspicacity and his answers.”

This comment seems to be an aside to the drama of Christ being lost and then found by his parents, but in a way it is the real story. This is a mile marker in Christ’s young life it gives us a brief check on his ability to perceive and apply the truth.

First is the response of the hearers: they EXISTANTO “were astounded.”

– Usually amazement is short-lived; a surprise hits, the amazement comes, and then it is gone as quickly as it came. Not so here. The imperfect tense of EXISTE.ME shows that the boy’s listeners were in a constant state of amazement.

– EXISTE.MI means to stand outside of oneself. It shows that you are beside yourself with surprise, amazement, etc. It is even used to show a state of befuddlement or even psychosis. Luke makes a joke here: Christ’s listeners are stunned to the point of unthinking about His thinking!

The object of the teachers’ amazement is twofold.

– The SUNESIS of Christ. This summarizes His perceptive ability with reference to spiritual matters. In essence it reveals the function of Jesus’ human spirit. It is definitely a function of the heart the kind of thinking that immediately precedes application. Naturally this includes belief. This understanding only comes from the grace of God, and not the power of man, Eph. 3:4 and 2 Tim 2:7.

– His answers, described by the word APOKRISESIN. Interestingly enough, this word comes from a compound which literally means ‘from the source of judgment’.

– Of course, the teachers cannot see our Lord’s thought processes, but they can listen to His answers. From his answers they deduce His fantastic thought processes.

Luke 2:48, “and seeing him they were thunderstruck and his mother said to him,”Child [TEKNON] why have treated [done] us in this manner? Behold your father and I searched for you in torment."

To begin with, the astonishment of Joseph and Mary is not due to the spiritual discussion which is going on as they arrive. They are amazed that they have found him at all they were at the point of giving up. If they were amazed in the same manner as the teachers, their response would have been in that category. There is a certain agony in finding that which is lost, even when it is found intact. Joseph and Mary experience just such an emotion.

Mary is the one who speaks. Joseph may have spoken but it is not recorded here. She definitely rebukes her son, but that rebuke is definitely wrong.

She calls him TEKNON this is not a term of respect it is the neutral child appellation, but it has no reference to authority. Mary assumes that her child is wrong because of the way that she suffered.

Mary adds an adverb to describe their mental attitude during the search ODUNO.MENOI. This is the present passive participle of ODUNO.MAO., which functions as an adverb to describe their mental attitude. The search was full of doubt and mental agony. The verb literally describes the agony that comes from burning. They were out of fellowship while they were searching.

Parents: there will be times when you agonize over your children. Your attitude is your responsibility, regardless of what your children do. Whatever your children do, right or wrong, your bad attitude is your fault, and never, ever theirs.

Verse 49 gives Christ’s reply to the accusation of his mother.

Luke 2:49, “and he said to them,”Why were you seeking me? Did you not know that it is necessary for me to be about the things of my Father?"

First there is a legitimate question. ‘Why were you seeking me?’ It is wonderful to notice that he does not judge his parents. He does not use the compound verb for the desperate search, nor does he use the adverbial participle for mental torment. He asks why they searched for him at all, when they should have known all along where he was. Christ uses the objective negative adverb OUK to indicate that there is no doubt that they should have looked at the temple first.

Although they assumed [NOMIZO] him to be in the caravan, they should have assumed him to be in the things of the father.

EN TOIS TOU PATROS MOU should be translated ‘about the things of my father.’ Not ‘in my father’s house’. The word OIKOS [house] is not in the text.

The word DEI describes the higher calling of the boy. It shows a moral necessity for him to be about the things of his father. The things of the father have to do with faith perception of the truth also consistent with verse 40 and its record of Christ’s childhood of wisdom.

This is the first indication of Christ’s self-awareness of His essence and mission in life. It is likely that He knew it long before this, but this is our indicator of its existence at age 12.

From at least age 12 Christ was aware that he was the son of God. It is also apparent that it was necessary for Him to upgrade his education by speaking with the teachers at the temple.

Joseph and Mary’s response to Christ’s truthful statement is recorded in verse 50.

Luke 2:50, “and they themselves did not understand the statement which he spoke to them.”

The verb SUNIE.MI is used to denote that the statement [RHE.MA] had to be understood on a spiritual level. Joseph and Mary are not using their spiritual frame of reference for this incident.

The negative adverb OUK shows that their misunderstanding was complete they missed the boat they didn’t even find the dock in fact, they were not even near the water.

Joseph and Mary are so wrapped up in their own pain that they cannot see that not only did they mistakenly assume that Christ was in the caravan, but also there was absolutely nothing wrong with what the boy did in staying at the temple. Their rationale is irrational: because they suffered, they assumed him wrong.

It is not that they did not understand Christ’s statement in an academic sense; it is just that they are so out of fellowship with God that they will not accept the conclusion of their son. To accept his conclusion is to admit their wrong, and that is just something that they will not do. One or the other of them had to be wrong; it was not Christ.

One of the greatest surrenders of pride is to admit that you have caused your own pain; that is what Joseph and Mary are struggling with. Make no mistake the accusation of Joseph and Mary is completely unfair. The next statement is all the more remarkable because of this.

Verse 51 reveals Christ’s obedience in this unfair situation.

Luke 2:51, “And he went down with them and came unto Nazareth and he remained subordinate to them. And his mother was maintaining all these events in her heart.”

It was His parents original wish to go back home to Nazareth; it was Christ’s righteous desire to remain in Jerusalem. Since the boy was under the authority of his parents, he went back down to Nazareth. Nazareth is down for two reasons: because it is down with respect to elevation it is downhill; and because it is down with respect to importance Jerusalem is the most important city of all.

Luke uses a very strong idiom the periphrastic participle to show Christ’s utter and complete subordination to his parents. It immediately became DEI a moral necessity to obey his parents’ wishes. It was God’s direct will in spite of his parents out of fellowship state and the importance of his interchange with the temple teachers.

Mary was maintaining these things in her heart. This is why we know that this is Mary’s narration to Luke. Only Mary could know her own heart. She would have had to tell someone about the thoughts of her heart.

– The word for maintain is DIETEREI the imperfect tense of DIATEREO. The imperfect shows that she did this constantly, not just at one moment of time.

– DIATERO here is contrasted with SUNTEREO of 2:19, when Mary heard the words of the wise men from the east. This is not the same as treasure. It is closer to remember without reference to an emotional appreciation. It literally means to ‘keep through’. This concentrates on the duration of the events. Verse 19 concentrates on Mary’s understanding; this verse concentrates on her memory without reference to understanding.

– PANTA TA RE.MATA is a phrase which indicates that not only this event but many others remained in Mary’s memory.

Jesus’ Young Adulthood

The young adulthood of Christ is recorded in verse 52. Translation, “And Jesus kept on progressing in wisdom and years and blessing before God and men.”

The verb prokopto applies to all three statements which follow; all three are equivalent with reference to the progression which occurs.

The verb means to advance or progress. There is a hint that hard work or toil that is involved in this advancement, from the stem kopos.

In reality, there is a double advancement that is commensurate with his advance in age. The age advancement goes on without volition it is the natural thing.

The other two advances have to do with the good decisions of our Lord in His young manhood.

prokopto is in the imperfect tense, showing this progression over a duration of time.

The first way in which Christ grew (as he grew in years) is in wisdom; sophia. His increase in wisdom goes on unabated through the perception and application of the Word of Truth. Note this in spite of the fact that his parents made the wrong decision for him.

The second way in which Christ grew (as he grew in years) is in charis.

charis can be translated as grace, or the result of the appropriation of grace, which is blessing.

Since the appropriation of God’s grace is portrayed in the word sophia, this second thing must concentrate on the blessing side. The word favor is not a good translation, since it limits the realm of blessing to opinion. It encompasses much more than respect or opinion.

There are two realms of blessing which are mentioned: human and divine.

The preposition para plus the dative case of the two nouns shows that the blessing is in the sight of each category described by those nouns.

In the sight of is another way of saying viewpoint. The two categories of blessing are human and divine; anthropoids and theo.

No matter which viewpoint you take, Christ was blessed in his life as a young man.

There is no doubt whatsoever that this blessing was due to sophia, and commensurate with its growth. To: Appropriate Prosperity; Essence of God Note: this passage and the next take place during the ministry of Christ, but they reveal details that have to do with his early years.

Mark 6:3 gives reference to Christ’s family life and profession as an adult. Translation: “‘Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not his sisters here with us?’ And they were constantly stumbling at him.”

Christ is speaking in His hometown in his home synagogue. The home crowd identifies him as one of their own, and they use this against him.

He grew up there, and when they see him teaching they use his family and his profession against him, as if to destroy his credibility by them.

In the parallel passage of Matt 13:55, Christ is called the son of the carpenter, a reference to his father.

In these passages, two facts come out: That Christ had at least four brothers and two sisters (if not more).

This indicates that Joseph and Mary had several children other than Christ, and as a result Mary did not remain a virgin.

Christ is about 30 years old at this time, and he was the first child in his family. All of these others were younger, but we know no other details.

It is apparent that Joseph died at some time after Christ was 12 years old. If this is so, then no doubt Christ had to take some responsibility for the younger siblings, especially in the area of logistical provision. Providing for a family of seven would have been no easy trick. In addition, he continued his spiritual growth, Lk 2:52.

From Christ’s statement at the cross, it is also apparent that Mary did not have sufficient means to live on her own, John 19:27.

That Christ was a carpenter and the son of a carpenter. Mat 13:55 identifies that some of the Nazarenes identified Jesus as the son of the carpenter. Mark 6:3 identifies that some called him a carpenter in his own right.

There were carpenter guilds at the time which were very similar to the modern labor unions. Often they provided workers’ benefits such as unemployment insurance or burial plots. These guilds were also formed for collective bargaining, and fought for the improvement of working conditions and workers’ wages.

Because of the antiestablishment nature of these organizations, it is very unlikely that Jesus was a part of one. Away from population centers the guilds were less powerful and also less frequently present at all. Such was the case in Nazareth.

From Today’s Handbook of Bible Times & Customs, p. 123, “This occupation takes on special significance because both Jesus and Joseph worked at it. Carpenters were not usually house builders because homes were not made of wood, but they did have wooden trim and fixtures. Jesus likely spent His time fashioning ox yokes, stools, plows, cabinets, carts and lattice windows. On occasion carpenters also made artificial teeth! The tools Jesus handled were the axe, hatchet, saw, knives, plane and square. Hammers and bronze nails were in use at the time. It was also possible that He worked with a bow drill.”

The carpenter was much more of a fringe profession than it is in our country today. There was not that much good building wood in Israel, and the homes were made of stone. There would not have been that much work for a carpenter in a small town like Nazareth. Christ’s hometown crowd speaks of his profession in a derisive manner.

Although Christ was a carpenter as a young man, he did not use his experience to illustrate any of his teachings. Perhaps this is a testimony

Christ’s family and his profession and father’s profession are used as ad hominem arguments against his ministry.

The phrase which follows their description of him explains their tone of voice: ‘and they were constantly being stumbled at him.’

An ad hominem argument is one which uses extraneous human arguments as an attack against credibility. A person’s profession or other family members are not the issue in credibility, but the Nazarenes use this against Jesus, because they cannot accept his message, because it hits too close to home it requires the sacrifice of their pride.

A carpenter in a small town would likely be poor, especially a fatherless family of seven or more. They are making fun of his family because they were poor.

Luke 4:16 testifies about Christ’s custom of going to worship in the synagogue. Translation: “And he went unto Nazareth, where he had been raised, and he entered according to his custom on the Sabbath day into the synagogue and he stood up to read.”

Christ’s usual custom was to worship on the Sabbath day in the synagogue. From the position of the phrase ‘according to his custom’, it is apparent that his custom of entering the synagogue is restricted to the sabbath day. Because this occurs in Nazareth, it is likely that it was his custom to do this in previous years.

It was likely that is was also Christ’s custom to stand up and read the law. Any male Jew could read and give a sermon in the synagogue. Arrangements for the sermon were made beforehand, so Christ was definitely invited to speak here. Since this event occurs after the first year of Christ’s ministry, he is already very well known throughout the land.

Although the reading of the Law and the sermon were restricted to the Sabbath day, it was possible to worship and learn the truth at the synagogue any day of the week.

Nazareth was a country town, definitely off the beaten path. It had some military significance because both the Mediterranean and the Sea of Galilee could be seen from there. It was on a hill which looked both ways. Jesus could grow and develop his spiritual genius here without being noticed.

This custom extends back to his days of growing up in Nazareth. This crowd has heard him speak before, although he had never revealed his true nature or mission before this time, John 2:4 (my time has not yet come). They may have liked him before, but now they do not. This is most likely due to his Messianic claim.

The real reason for the rejection is his teaching, even though the Nazarenes reject him on another basis. This is typical of those who are negative to the truth.

Preparing the Way of the Lord (Isaiah 40)

The Jews received the call to leave Egypt. They were to proceed to the promised land under the leadership of Moses. Between them and the promised land was a few hundred miles of wilderness. Of course, they had to cross it.

Leading them was the cloud by day and the fire by night; visible manifestations of Divine presence. Furthermore, there was the tabernacle, the tent of meeting with God.

Not long after they left Egypt, God provided a covenant at Mt. Sinai. A Law which defined individual liberty in ten commandments. That Law also defined sin.

Because of their involvement in sin and idolatry, the Jews were delayed in the desert some forty years. Their journey through the wilderness was anything but straight.

When Isaiah preached the message preserved in Isaiah 40, the southern kingdom of Judah was in a state of apostasy and their destruction by the Assyrians was near.

Isaiah preached a message which would remind the Jews of their crooked path in the desert, and of the reason for their failure: a bankrupt relationship with God. He would inspire them to build the highway in the heart, so that there would be a highway in the wilderness.

Isaiah’s message also stood as a prophecy of the ministry of John the Baptist. It was John’s mission to prepare the hearts of the Jews for their king and for their new covenant. Malachi 3:1 also predicted the ministry of the Baptist

The text of Isaiah’s message. “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the Lord of Armies.”

Isaiah 40:35 contains an excerpt from one of Isaiah’s sermons. It has a command, and an explanation of that command.

The command comes from verses 35, while the explanation from verses 68.

Verses 35 read like this: “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’”

The Jews would have responded to this message immediately, for the wilderness journey was a vital part of their national heritage.

Isaiah’s message is about the wilderness of the souls of the people of Judah, for because of their rejection of God, and their love affairs with the idols of the Gentiles, they had created an imposing wilderness indeed.

It is up to them to smooth out the rough places through confession of sin, and a humble orientation to God’s plan for their lives.

It is only when the hearts of wilderness are smoothed out that the glory of the Lord is revealed.

This revelation is the millennial rule of the king of kings and lord of lords, the bright morning star, Jesus Christ. But first the people must humble themselves to the king and his plan for their lives.

To illustrate the clever nature of Satanic propaganda, observe:

The Jews rejected the millennial king and His kingdom from their distrust of the Gentile world.

The Gentiles now futilely attempt to bring in that kingdom when it cannot come without the king bidding.

Verses 68 explain: “a voice says, ‘Call out.’ Then he answered, ‘What shall I call out?’ All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah makes the issue of soul leveling clear in these verses.

Isaiah communicates the mortal and fading nature of the human body, as contrasted with the word of God.

This is really a ‘you can take it with you’ verse. Everything in this life will be left behind except the word of God in your soul.

On the basis of this truth, make your priorities straight. Once they are on the level, your life will become straight as well.

Bible truth is the bulldozer in the soul. Sin and death and Satanic propaganda are the great mountains and gullies.

Jesus and John the Baptist

John the Baptist had a ministry from God to prepare Israel for the millennial kingdom and its king.

The ministry of John the Baptist had nothing to do whatsoever with the church. In essence it is in its own watertight compartment apart from the church. It drew its precedence from the dispensation of Israel.

John drew his sense of destiny from an Old Testament prophecy concerning his ministry. Isa

40; Mal 3:1.

Since John and Jesus were cousins, it is likely that they knew one another as children and young men. John knew exactly who the Messiah was, and probably long before he ever preached his message.

John began his ministry of repentance and baptism in the Spring of 26 A.D.

So far, we have eliminated confusion concerning the relation of John’s baptism and the baptism which occurs in the church age.

Now, let us contrast John and Christ.

You must understand that John was the greatest prophet of the age of Israel. His person and message were greater even than Isaiah or Jeremiah or any other. Our Lord testified to this in Matthew 11:11.

John had a great following; he was wildly popular among the people of Israel and even among some Romans.

His mission was to point the way to one even greater. From the seeming greatest to the even greater.

Long after John was gone, people still gravitated towards his ministry, even to the exclusion of Christ. In some ways, people still do, whenever they are legalistic and place great value on outward acts of piety.

Therefore, John 1:1-18 will serve well to teach us some general truths about Christ and the contrast between he and John the Baptist. In no small part it was what John the apostle was trying to accomplish in this passage.

John 1:1-18 picks up the issue from the beginning and also describes John’s relationship to Christ.

Verse 1 translation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and God was the Word.”

This verse is divided into three clauses, each of which make a statement concerning Jesus Christ.

John (the writer of this gospel) uses the term ‘the Word’ to describe Christ. This term has quite a history in Greek and Hebrew thought (to doctrine of logos).

The first clause places the existence of the Word in eternity past.

The phrase en arche. emphasizes the qualitative aspect of the beginning. This is the beginning of Gen. 1:1; the beginning before the heavens and the earth were created.

The imperfect tense of the verb eimi reveals the eternity of the Word in the beginning. The existence of the Word went on and on.

The term ho logos shows the personification of order and wisdom existing on and on before the creation of the heavens and the earth. This is a person, and not just a principle.

Thus from the beginning of John’s gospel you know that we are talking about God.

The second clause indicates the coexistence of the Word with the God. The proper noun Theos is preceded by the definite article ho. It points out that this is the one and only God; not just one God among many. Thus we know of at least two persons in the Godhead. The preposition pros shows the face to face presence of one with the other.

The third clause is one which clarifies the divine nature of the Word. There is no doubt from this clause that the Word was always God. Again the imperfect tense testifies to the timeless nature of the Word.

So the first contrast: with Christ we have God; John is man, created by God.

The second verse offers even more clarification on the trinity and the preexistence of the Word: “This one was in the beginning with the God.”

The demonstrative pronoun houtos points back to the logos. It is translated ‘this one’.

The imperfect tense of the verb to be makes the action timeless, eternal in nature.

The phrase en arche is used again to point to the time before the creation, eternity past.

The phrase pros Theos again shows the face to face presence of the logos and the theos.

Verse three turns to the creation. Up to this point all activity has been in precreation eternity past. “All things came into being through him, and outside of Him not one thing that came into being came into being.”

This verse describes the logos as the agent of the creation.

All things is from the Greek panta. It refers to both creatures and the material universe apart from living creatures.

Whether the material universe or living creatures, all were created by God the agency of Jesus Christ.

Along with this creation is the responsibility of maintenance, which is also handled by the deity of Jesus Christ, Col. 1:16-17.

Notice that God is apart from the material universe; he created it, but it is not Him.

The inchoative aorist tense of ginomai reveals that the creatures and material universe had a definite beginning. ginomai itself describe the ‘becoming’ of something its beginning. This is contrasted strongly with the being of the Godhead in the previous verses.

Again, John is very thorough by his repetition of the idea. He wants his readers to make no mistake about what he is saying, so he clarifies the original statement by stating the absolute in the negative. ’and outside of Him not one thing that came into being came into being."

The second contrast to John the Baptist is the creator contrast the Word created; John could not.

Verse 4 turns back to eternity past and then marches forward into the time of men. “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

There was always life in Jesus Christ: this is indicated by the imperfect tense of the Greek verb to be, eimi.

This life, zoe, is much more than the principle of biological life it was soul life. zoe rises above animal instinct and behavior to the independence of the soul. And not just the function of volition, but the soul as it was designed to enjoy God and His provision.

From eternity past Christ had this life, and this life was given to Adam and the woman.

That same life was surrendered to the slavery of Satan at the fall, but it was never lost by Christ.

Christ is life, real life, personified. The life of Christ was the light of men.

At last the Word and the Life enter into time.

Although it always existed and always will exist, the Word of Life entered into time and was the light of men.

Light is the opposite of darkness. Light always destroys darkness, but darkness cannot overcome the light. Darkness is the result of obscuring the light, but the light always exists. Light and darkness are incompatible mutually exclusive. The Sun always shines, but there are times when we do not see it.

God the Holy Spirit provides the light so that we can comprehend the Word. In order to see the Word we must have light.

This life was the light of men in the past. It kept on shining. This sums up the first incarnation.

Verse five gives the final description of Christ, bringing Him into present times (for John and for us). “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it.”

There is a nice little double entendre here with the katalambano. It has the dual meaning of overcome and comprehend. Had the forces of darkness truly comprehended the intrinsic good of the light, then it would not have tried to put it out.

John uses the present tense of the verb phaino to portray Christ’s present shining. Even though he died on the cross he still shines now.

Christ is the Sun (1 Cor 15:41), and the Morning Star (Rev 22:16). The Morning Star shines just before sunup. It shines as the darkness is about to end.

The darkness is the darkness of the devil’s world.

Verse six turns to our man, John the Baptist. “There came a man, the side of God, his name, John;” Even the style of this verse differs from that of the previous five. It is very spare and understated, as if to downplay the nature of this man, especially when compared to Christ. Although John’s writing style is almost always simple, here it become hyper-simple, and less elegant than John’s brief discourse on Christ.

The verb egeneto is used here to describe the arrival of John. Again it is the inchoative aorist that John uses to describe the beginning of an action. John had a definite beginning. It is also the same verb that John has used previously to describe the creation by the Word. John was one created by the creator. But this verb more describes the arrival of John’s public ministry than the creation of his soul.

The noun anthropos leaves no doubt about the true nature of John. He is a man of the human race.

The participle apestalmenos portrays the action of God in sending John the Baptist. It is from the verb apostello, ‘to send forth’. It is the perfect participle, so it shows that before John arrived someone sent him. It is the passive participle, so it shows that it was not John who was the ultimate source of arrival, but someone else.

The preposition para points to the source of the sending it is God. This shows that John came from the side of God. A figure of speech that reveals how very close John the Baptist was to God. Before John began his ministry he was close to God he prepared himself in a very thorough manner by laying aside the distractions of everyday life.

The final phrase of the verse is to the point of being laconic. Three nouns lay alongside one another to identify the name of the man sent from the side of God.

Verse seven continues John’s description of John. “He himself came as a witness that he might testify concerning the light, that all might believe through him.”

The aorist verb elthen describes again the arrival of John on the scene. It is translated, ‘he came’.

The subject of the verb is houtos, the demonstrative pronoun used to intensify the source of the action in the verb. It points strongly to John in contrast to Jesus Christ.

The preposition eis plus the accusative case of the noun marturian is translated, “as a witness.” John was a witness, a man who pointed to the truth of the matter.

John then goes on to give the twofold purpose of the Baptist’s ministry, using the particle hina twice to introduce two purpose clause.

The first clause is hina marturese. peri tou photos. “that he might testify concerning the light.”

The potential subjunctive mood of the verb indicates that John had a responsibility to fulfill in his ministry. This mood lays the emphasis on human volition, or choice.

John’s responsibility was in area of testimony he was to give his testimony about the light. The light, of course is Jesus Christ.

Notice that this passage does not say it was John’s responsibility to convert people. That is addressed in the next clause.

The second clause is hina pantes pisteuso.sin di’autou. “that all might believe through him.”

The subject of the clause is all those who were alive at the time of John’s ministry.

The responsibility of the potential subjunctive lies squarely on the shoulders of John’s audience. Their responsibility is to believe in what John has to say. This responsibility is not John’s. They believe through him, but John does not do the believing.

This summarizes very well the issue in personal evangelism. It is our responsibility to testify concerning the light; it is their responsibility to believe. You have completely and totally succeeded in your mission if you get the word out, regardless of how your audience responds.

If this is true, then do not fear rejection does not matter to the messenger. You should always be glad when someone believes on account of your testimony. However, you should be objective about your duty no matter what the response. The accomplishment of your mission should never depend on whether you are getting positive results.

Verse eight makes a clarification for the sake of being thorough: “He himself was not the light, but came that he might testify concerning the light.”

The far demonstrative is used to point to John the Baptist. Used in conjunction with the verb to be, an emphatic contrast is set up between the light and the witness to the light.

John’s purpose in life is reiterated in the second clause. There he quickly goes over what he has already communicated.

All of this adds up to a very thorough and even redundant statement about John’s role in relation to Christ.

Since John has gone so far out of his way to put the Baptist into his place, it is fair to assume that there was a problem with Baptist worship at the time.

Verse nine turns back to Christ, and begins to add some details about Him, “He was the true light, who illuminates every man, coming into the world.” This is very poorly translated into your English Bible, and so we must make some corrections.

There is first an addition of one adjective to the idea of light: ale.thinon, true. There were many false messiahs at the time of Christ, and even the Baptist was thought to be the Messiah himself, he was so magnificent. Therefore the light is qualified as the true light.

The next statement reveals a function of the light related to creation. It begins with the definite article used as the relative pronoun ho, which simply picks up the true light from the previous clause and makes it the subject of the verb of this sentence.

The verb pho.tizei describes the action of illumination. This is a transitive verb, so the translation shining does not work as well as illumination. This is the light shining on someone or something giving its light.

This is a figure of speech which refers to the availability of Divine illumination from birth.

The idea of illumination, when used as a figure of speech, always describes the process of understanding.

The object of the verb is panta anthro.pon. This is translated “every man”. John chooses to emphasize the individual by using the singular of anthro.pon. The illuminated truth is available to every man from the moment that he enters the world.

The third clause of the verse indicates the moment of illumination.

This clause begins with the accusative participle erchomenon. This participle can only be connected with anthro.pon, since anthro.pon is the only noun in the previous sentence that is in the accusative case. ale.thinon, which appears to be in the accusative is actually in the nominative neuter as the predicate of the first clause.

Grammatically, the participle can only describe the coming of every human being into the world. The phrase eis ton kosmondescribes a transition from one place to another.

Verse ten reveals the relationship between Christ and the world. “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, but the world did not know him.” There are three parts to this verse: The incarnation; eternity past; and a comment on the two.

He was in the world. This testifies to the incarnation that God came into the world. That he came as a human is revealed in a later verse. For right now it is enough to know that God came into the world.

The world here is planet earth, the habitation for humanity.

And the world came into being through him. This is a repetition of an idea already introduced, but now there is more of a context for it.

Because God created the world, He is truly outside of it. He exists completely independent of space and time. Now the world is planet earth and all its inhabitants.

But this is significant on the basis of the first clause of the verse he was in the world, the same world that he created. God is responsible towards his creation.

The conjunction kai sets up a mild contrast to that which has come previously in the verse. The contrast has to do with the difference between what God has done for man and how man responded.

God came into the world the greatest sacrifice and expression of love in history.

God created that same world.

But the world did not know him. This is a description of the response of humanity to the incarnation. They did not know him describes both recognition and acceptance. Although Christ presented himself as the Son of God, the world did not accept Him as such.

Here ho kosmos is identified with the human race at the time of the incarnation.

Verse 11 tells of the coming of the Word to a chosen people, “He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

This of course is a reference to the Jews and their rejection of Him.

The Jews were the chosen people of the Messiah, and they did have a long association with Him, going back to the very beginnings of their history.

He came to them; He was the Messiah; and yet they did not receive Him. The objective negative adverb ou makes it clear that this was a complete rejection. Of course what rejection is more complete than death?

Verse 12 identifies the shift in Christ’s ministry: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe unto His name.”

The correlative pronoun hosoi describes a direct correlation between those who receive Christ and what they receive as a result. The number is an exact correlation, so that no one is short changed.

The aorist tense of the verb lambano describes the action. It is past action, summed up in one moment of time. It is translated “received”, and it is a synonym for trust or belief in Christ.

The accusative direct object auton identifies the object of belief, who is Christ: Him.

The second clause of the verse puts down what those who receive Christ receive in return.

The dative indirect object of the personal pronoun autois identifies the receivers as those who receive Christ. “to them”.

The aorist tense of the verb didomi identifies a past action that is seen in one moment of time. It is translated “He gave.” The ‘He’ here is Jesus Christ, the living Word.

What is given is a right, exousia. This word describes legitimate authority, and individual rights. Since this is given to individuals, it is better to call this a right given by God.

The right is related to a potential. The right implies responsibility. The infinitive verb genesthai is from the verb ginomai ‘to become’. It is the aorist infinitive, which is the complement of exousia. A right always has a direction. It may take the direction of free speech or bearing arms. Rights are divided into realms. Here the realm is related to a potential: the potential to become children of God.

Becoming a child of God is not something which occurs at salvation; it is there only in the form of potential. At salvation God gives you the right to become a child of God; whether you do so is entirely up to the free expression of your volition.

Therefore, being a child of God is not synonymous with salvation. It is identified here as the goal of post salvation life. In this case, being a child of God is equal to being a mature believer in Christ.

As a child imitates the parents, so the adopted child of God is to become an imitator of Him.

Verse thirteen is the follow up to the twelfth: “who have been born not from bloodshed nor from the will of flesh nor from the will of man but from God.”

This verse comments on how one becomes a child of God. You must be born first.

The aorist passive verb egennethesan makes it clear that the birth is outside of the choice of the one being born. The objective negative adverb ouk shows that the three things listed before God are definitely not the way.

John sets up this verse in anticipation of the guesses of his readership.

When he says ‘who have been born’, he anticipates them thinking of a change in life, as illustrated by birth.

There are three types of changes cited by John: change by violence; change by self; and change by someone else’s’ will.

Remember that the context of verse twelve is not salvation, but post salvation spiritual growth. The context is change, not salvation. John uses the figure of birth to portray post salvation spiritual growth in his epistle.

The word haimaton is translated, ‘bloodshed’. It is in the plural here, and the plural of this noun always depicts the shedding of innocent blood. It could easily be translated ‘violence’. This is emphatically not a portrayal of the physical birth of a child, but instead of attempting to bring change about through violence. The threat of physical violence to a person does not bring about true change.

The next possibility of the means of change is from the Greek phrase ek thelematos sarkos. This is change from the will of the flesh. sarkos is the Greek word for flesh, and it often describes the activity of the Old Sin Nature. It certainly does here.

What comes from the sin nature may be change in the sense of ‘different’, but never in the sense of ‘better’.

Changing the trend of your sin nature from self-righteous moral degeneracy to immoral overt degeneracy or vice versa is definitely not a change for the better. In fact, sometimes it is a change for the worse.

The noun thelematos outlines the function of volition. Here it is the human volition as controlled by the Old Sin Nature.

You cannot do it is impossible to bring about change in your life by your own efforts.

No campaign of self-improvement apart from the grace of God can accomplish intrinsic and lasting good.

The appearance of good may be achieved by self, but underneath the appearance remains a wicked heart.

Do not allow yourself to fall prey to anti-grace sentiment about self.

The third possibility for change is ek thelematosandros ‘from the will of man’.

This phrase contrast the previous one by emphasizing dependence on others as a viable means for personal change.

Again, this may bring about a change in the sin nature trend; a change of outward appearance, but underneath remains the wicked heart.

Welding your own will to that of another may effectively stop a pattern of overt behavior, but it is not in any way the means to true change.

This phrase includes counseling and discipling in the bad sense of the word. Those things do not bring about true change any more than the sin nature can.

The only real catalyst for change is God, as explained by the Greek phrase alla ek Theou.

The conjunction alla indicates a very strong contrast with what has gone previously. What is to follow is the right and true way to the change of heart. It is the true post salvation change.

ek Theou tells us that true change only comes from God, and this is the set up for what is to follow in verse 14.

Get it through your heads that you can only bring about true change through the change of heart that is brought on by faith perception of the truth.

Faith perception is what makes Christianity distinct from all religions.

Faith perception is what makes Christianity distinct from all worldly means of false change.

Faith perception is what makes Christianity work, period.

Verse 14 now defines how the change was brought about: “And the Word became flesh and camped among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as a unique and only born one from the side of the Father, full of Grace and Truth.”

The verse begins with the conjunction kai which continues the train of thought from the previous verse.

The noun logos is next, and with the definite article ho it is translated “the word”. It is the subject of the sentence, and of course it is describing Christ.

The verb of the sentence is egeneto, which describes the beginning of the hypostatic union at the virgin birth. It is in the aorist tense, so it portrays one moment of time in the past. It is translated, “became”.

sarx is the Greek word for flesh, and in this case it describes the physical human body, with no sin nature.

The conjunction kai shifts the thought to another fact about the incarnation. It is translated “and”.

The aorist verb skenosen depicts an action from the past as occurring in one moment of time. It describes the temporary dwelling in a tent. “Camped” is a good way to translate this.

The preposition en plus the locative of place is translated here “among us”.

Again the conjunction kai is used by John to shift to another fact about the incarnation, this time a more personal one.

The verb etheasametha is in the first person plural and so it reveals that John was an eyewitness to these events. It is in the aorist tense, and so it sums up the past action into one moment of time. The verb itself describes the act of witnessing an event with your own eyes. It is translated “we beheld” or “we eyewitnessed”.

The object witnessed was te.n doxan auton.*, which is translated “His glory”.

This may be taken in the narrow sense of the transfiguration, or in the wider sense of His entire life, but we will go with the latter, as it seems to fit the context a little better.

Glory is a synonym for the essence, capabilities and attributes of God, as well as His actions toward mankind.

Glory here represents the reflection of the glory of the Father in the life of the Son.

This glory is further described with the phrase doxan hos monogenous para patros.

The comparative conjunction hos makes an exact comparison between the status described and the glory itself. This is translated “as”.

The status is monogenes, which contains the idea of “unique and only born”.

Completing the idea is the preposition para and the noun patros. The preposition indicates that the action proceeds from the very side of the person named, which in this instance is the Father.

The final description of the incarnation charitos kai ale.theias. a state of being completely full, and it is translated “full”.

The genitive of description of the noun charitos is translated “grace”.

The connective conjunctionkai is translated “and”.

The noun ale.theias is in the genitive case, and translated “truth”.

This is the full explanation of our birth from God.

This verse progressively explains the statement in the previous verse about being born from God.

Verse 13 gave three ways in which the salvation birth is not accomplished, and then goes on to state that it instead comes from God.

The salvation birth is based on the following:

That the word became flesh. This defines the person through whom our salvation was accomplished.

That the word camped, or temporarily lived among us. Our salvation was accomplished while Christ was living on planet earth.

That the word was observed by other human beings, even the writer of this gospel.

That the life of the word was glory and this glory was related to the Father as the only born Son. Our salvation was accomplished by the Son of God.

The Son of God was full of grace and truth. Grace and truth are the opposites of the three things on the list in verse thirteen: violence, self reliance, and reliance on others.

If an unbeliever can use it or do it, it is not a part of God’s plan for salvation or the post salvation life.

Christ represents both our salvation and the secret to the post salvation life.

It all depends on Divine provision, and the key to that provision is the truth. You cannot possibly access divine provision without knowing the truth, and therefore the truth must be the first priority in the Christian life.

Just as you cannot become a believer without the gospel, so also you cannot reach maturity without the Bible.

Just as you cannot perceive the gospel without the ministry of the Spirit, so also you cannot perceive the truth without.

Just as you must believe in the gospel in order to be saved, so also you must believe the truth in order to reach maturity.

Verse 15 turns back to the testimony of John: “John testified concerning him and cried out saying,”This was he about whom I said ‘The one coming after me has attained rank above me, because He was (always) first with reference to me.’“”

This is John’s statement of humility. It confirms from his own mouth what John the apostle has already stated in verses 6 through 8. At the time of his ministry John the Baptist knew exactly where he stood with reference to his second cousin, the Messiah.

This verse forms a link between verses 14 and 16, so that Christ’s rank is confirmed before turning back to the subject of grace.

Most of the difficulty in translating this verse comes in John the Baptist’s statement itself, and we will concentrate our efforts in exegesis there. The rest of the verse is well translated and needs no tweaking.

John’s statement begins with the definite article ho, which is attached to the participle erchomenos at the end of the verse. Together they are translated “the one coming”. The participle is in the present tense and so portrays its action at the same time as the main verb.

The adverb opiso is translated “after”. It is a temporal adverb showing Christ’s appearance as following that of John. John is identifying the Messiah, and those who followed John would have known that, since it was the force of his ministry.

The second phrase is emprosthen mou gegonen. We have translated this “has attained rank above me.”

The preposition emprosthen here describes the status of rank. Although it is normally translated ‘before’ with reference to face to face presence, it takes up the idea of one being before another in a line. But we will not forsake the personal nature of this preposition. John and Jesus are second cousins according to the flesh. They at least knew one another as acquaintances growing up.

The perfect tense of the verb gegonen shows that the attainment of rank happened in one moment of time, and that moment is portrayed as having an impact forever.

With the preposition mou John the Baptist identifies himself as the lower ranked one of the two.

The explanation comes in the third phrase, which is translated, “because He was always first with reference to me”.

The explanatory use of the conjunction hoti points to the last few words of the verse as the explanation of what has just been said.

The imperfect tense of the verb to be describes the eternal existence of the rank of Jesus Christ.

The built in third person singular ‘he’ identifies Jesus Christ as the one who produces the action of the verb.

The adverb protos indicates the highest rank of all: first.

The personal pronoun in the genitive case takes the adverbial genitive of reference, and so is translated, ‘with reference to me.’ This is not a statement of the priorities of the Baptist, but of comparison.

The comparison is valid with reference to every human being.

John’s statement of the supreme rank of Christ fits into the overall narrative.

Christ is God.

The Word became flesh.

Jesus Christ was always first, relative to John and to the whole world.

Only God could become flesh; flesh could never become God. Only the first could become last, the highest ranking die for all those of lower rank.

John’s testimony confirms Christ’s preeminent rank. John 1:7; John 1:27.

Christ’s self testimony doesthe same thing. Rev 1:17; Rev 22:13.

Verse 16 makes the grace of God a personal thing. It too is an explanation of verse 14, and it is translated “For of His fullness we have all received, even (superior) grace in exchange for grace.” This is also the setup for verse 17 which explains this one in even fuller detail.

The fullness referred to here is the fullness of Jesus Christ presented in verse 14. It is the fullness with reference to grace and truth.

That same fullness was received (aorist tense) by John and others, and of course is available to us.

The ascensive use of the conjunction kai leads up to a literary climax, charin anti charitos. It is translated, “even grace in exchange for grace”. Note that the ascensive use points to a further description of the same thing, and does not add a new thing to another. It is not “and grace…”

The final three words describe a trade up; one thing for another, but the thing received is far superior to the thing exchanged. It is one grace for a superior grace.

This is a description of the tradeout of dispensations brought about by the first advent.

It is very important to realize that the dispensation of Moses was also a dispensation of grace and that the Law was a grace provision of God.

The plan of God for the church is very superior to the ritual plan for Israel, but it is not a complete change of policy on God’s part. Grace always has and always will be the policy of God toward mankind. It must be that way.

Verse 17 continues the thought: “For the Law was given through Moses, the grace and the truth came through Jesus Christ.”

The real comparison in this verse is between Moses and Christ. Of the two, Christ is far superior.

The two dispensations find their distinctions for that very reason: their human leaders and administrators.

God was the one who gave the law; Moses was the human agent.

Now let us turn to a comparison between the Law and Christ.

Christ is the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, Matt 5:17.

Belief in Moses’ Law led to a belief in Christ, John 5:4547.

Verse 18 finishes the discourse, “No one has ever seen God; the only born God who is unto the bosom of the Father He explains.”

The nominative case of the pronoun oudeis forms the subject of the first phrase of this verse. It is translated, “no one”.

The verb heo.raken is in the perfect tense, describing a past action that has lasting results into the present and even future. It is the verb which describes the faculty of sight, and so is translated, “has seen”

Inserted between the subject and verb is the adverb po.pote, which is translated “ever”.

The object of the sentence is the proper noun theon, which is in the accusative case. It receives the action of heo.raken, and is translated “God”.

No one has ever seen God. This is a complaint that so many unbelievers have. They do not see God, and therefore they do not see a relationship with Him as important or relevant.

Up to the moment in history when John wrote, there had been theophanies of various kinds, but never a direct revelation of the person of God.

But then the word became flesh and dwelt among us.

The subject of the next phrase of the clause is monogene.s theos. These two, the adjective and noun, are both in the nominative case, and produce the action of the sentence. monogene.s denotes a unique birth. Only one man was ever born a virgin, as only one has received the resurrection. The proper noun theos concentrates on the hypostatic union. This is translated, “the only born God”. Jesus Christ is the unique person of the universe, the God man.

Next there is the definite article ho and participle o.n. These are translated together “the one who is” There is an eternal nature to these words conveyed by the combination of the present tense of the participle and the nature of its subject, God the Son. Furthermore, the prepositional phrase eis ton kolpn tou patros follows. The preposition eis describes the Son as being in a constant state of motion. This motion is directed toward the bosom of the Father.

kolpon is the Greek word for bosom and it portrays fellowship of the closest nature. “like a child at rest on its mother’s breast”, or John resting on our Lord’s chest at the last supper. Complete trust is required.

The Son is always in the closest of fellowship with the Father. This describes their coequal and coeternal status, and the reliance of the Son on the Father throughout the incarnation.

The verb of this final clause is This is the aorist tense, which portrays a past action and sums that action up into one moment of time. It means to draw out or explain something, and it is the Greek word on which is based our English exegesis. We will translate it “explained”

The demonstrative pronoun ekeinos is inserted as a duplication of the subject. There is no object.

The Word became flesh and explained the Father. In just what way the Son explains the Father we are about to study.

The Wilderness Temptation of Christ

The introductory verses, or how Christ got to the wilderness. The three gospel accounts of the event differ substantially so as to shed as much light as possible on it. Since Divine Guidance is in view here, we will exegete each passage in turn in order to get the details.

Matthew 4:1, “Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil”

The adverb of time pote is translated ‘then’. It reveals the sequence of events in Christ’s life. Mark uses the adverb euthus to communicate the immediate aspect of this transition.

ie.sousis the proper noun used as the subject of the sentence. This is ‘Jesus’.

The verb is ane.chthe. It is in the passive voice, which indicates that our Lord did not produce the action of the verb but instead received it. The constantive aorist tense summarizes the past action into one moment of time. The verb itself means to lead from a lower to a higher point. This point can be figurative, as in the case of spiritual maturity, or literal, as in this instance.

Christ was going from the low point of the Jordan River (just a few miles from the lowest land elevation on the planet) to the rough wilderness above. This emphatically does not mean snatched away, as some have tried to make the point that the Spirit picked our Lord up and bodily moved Him to the desert. This is translated, ‘was led up’ The Spirit did the leading and Christ did the following. Exactly how this occurred will be the subject of our study of the doctrine of divine guidance.

The prepositional phrase eis te.n ere.mon describes the geographical transition from the Jordan to the Wilderness. It is translated “into the desert”.

A second prepositional phrase puts forth the leadership of the Spirit, who was the direct agent of the leading. It is hupo tou pneumatos, and translated “by the Spirit.

The last clause of the verse is a purpose clause which is peirasthe.nai hupo tou diabolou. The verb is the aorist passive of peirazo, which means to put someone to the test. Depending on the one doing the test, the purpose may be good or bad. This is translated, ’to be tempted by the devil"

Notice that hupo tou diabolou is identical to hupo tou pneumatou. In the battle to come, it will be the ministry of God the Holy Spirit verses the temptation of the devil.

This is the first evidence testing done under the conditions of the church age. Christ is our prototype for the fulfillment of God’s plan for the church age dispensation. An entirely new and never before tried set of grace assets will be put through its paces over the next forty plus days.

Mark 1:12, “And immediately the Spirit cast Him out into the desert”

The major difference here is in the verb that is used to describe the action of the Spirit in getting Christ to the desert.

In this verse, to pneuma, the Spirit, is the subject, and auton the personal pronoun describing Christ is the object. This reveals that once under the leadership of the Spirit there was no doubt whatsoever as to what would happen.

The verb ekballei is in the present tense, which reveals an action as it happens. It is the dramatic way to present the action typical of Mark’s gospel. The verb literally means to cast out. The Spirit ‘cast out’ Christ into the wilderness eis te.n ere.mon. Again we do not yet know how this occurred, only that it did.

Luke 4:1, “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordan and was being led by means of the Spirit in the desert.” The main change here is the revelation that Christ was led by the Spirit for the duration of His stay in the desert, and that it was from a state of being full from the Spirit that gave the leadership.

The verse begins with the post positive conjunction de which serves as a transition from the genealogy in the last part of chapter 3. Its force is, “now let’s turn to another subject.

Four words work together to form the foundational statement of the verse: Ie.sous pneumatos hagiou. They are translated “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit.”

The nominative case of forms the key part of the description it denotes a state of complete fullness. It can denote thought or emotion, negative or positive, but the idea here refers to the control of the soul.

The verse does not say how, but it does make it clear that Ie.sous is under the control of pneumatos hagiou.

The first thing that Jesus does under the control of the Spirit is return from the Jordan, where he had just been baptized. The word for returned is hupestrepsen, which is in the aorist tense. This describes a past action occurring in one moment of time, and thus the translation “He returned”.

The second thing is that “He was being led by means of the Spirit.”

The verb e.geto is from ago, which is the simple verb for the act of leading. It is in the passive voice and so reveals that the subject receives the action of leadership. The imperfect tense indicates that the action took place over a duration of time in the past, and not just at one moment. It is translated, “He was being led.”

The preposition en plus the instrumental case of means shows that the Spirit was the means of the leading.

en te. eremo. portrays both location in the desert and the amount of time spent there. It is translated, “in the desert” This tells us that the Spirit not only led Christ to the desert, but also the entire time that He was there.

Analysis of the three.

Although in all three cases Christ got to the wilderness under the leadership of the Spirit, nowhere are there specific mechanics mentioned. This does not indicate however that there were no mechanics at work.

If no mechanics are mentioned, then we must fall back on what we do know about the ministry of the Spirit in relation to Divine Guidance.

The guidance of the Spirit for Christ in the desert must therefore fall within what the New Testament teaches about the guidance of the Spirit in the church age.

Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith. As he goes we should follow.


The Old Testament had plenty of guidance for Christ with reference to His destiny in the desert. Israel experienced several notable failures while wandering in the Wilderness. All three of these failures include both a failure in leadership and a failure in the people to follow. All of the events in the history of Israel are recorded for the benefit of Christian believers of all time.

Read 1 Cor. 10:1-15

Jesus Christ himself was certainly aware of the will of God with respect to these events.

Some of the events during which Israel failed are:

The Provision of Manna

The Golden Calf Episode

Aaron’s Rod that Budded

The Waters of Meribah


Num 11:6; Josh 5:12; Psa 105:40; Ex 16.

Name. Manna means “What is it?” in the Hebrew. This is after the response of the Jews when they saw it for the first time.

Physical Description:

Ex 16:13,14,21 “and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake like thing, fine as the frost on the ground… but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.”

Ex 16:20, “But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them.”

Ex 16:31, “And the house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like wafers with honey.”

Num 11:7, “Now the Manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bedellium.”

Num 11:8, “The people would go about and gather it and grind it between two millstones or beat it in the mortar, and boil it in the pot and make cakes with it; and its taste was as the taste of cakes baked with oil.”

It was eaten for the duration of the wilderness experience of the children of Israel.

Its cessation after 40 years was significant enough to be recorded by Joshua, Josh 5:12.

Manna was a miraculous grace provision from God, Ex 16:32, “Then Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded, ’Let an omer full of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”

After a while the children of Israel became dissatisfied with the monotony of manna, Num 11:46, “And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, ‘Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.’”

Note that this was a rejection of the grace of God, and therefore called into question His Holy character.

Note the desire to return to Egypt. The Old Testament records the expression of this desire no less than eight times it was probably muttered on many other occasions.

It was the Lord’s original plan to give the people meat for a month. So much so that it would come out of their nostrils. Moses failed to believe the Lord, and thus a plague was sent.

The lust of the rabble was met with quail by the millions Num 11:31, “Now there went forth a wind from the Lord, and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp.”

Those who went t o gather quail would have had to go through the manna fall in order to reach the dead birds.

After a day in the desert sun the quail was well past its prime. In fact, the plague struck those who were foolish enough to eat it. v.33, “While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague.”

This punitive discipline was designed to wake up the Israelites and renew their dependence on logistical grace.

Christ used manna to illustrate the grace assets related to salvation and eternal life, John 6:3133, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’ Jesus therefore said to them, ’Truly truly I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of Heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

The grumbling of Israel is analogous to any time that we call into question the grace provision of God, whether in spiritual or physical form.

[10] This failure was memorialized by the placement of a pot of manna inside of the ark of the covenant. In spite of the failure, the covenant continued, covered by the ark of the covenant.


Exo. 32; 1 Kings 12:28; 2 Kings 10:29.

The Golden calf represents the failure of the children of Israel at the Holy Mountain of God.

It was there that they made an idol because of their impatience with Moses, who had been on the mountain with God for what they considered as too long.

Ex 32:14, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And Aaron said to them, ‘Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it into a molten calf; and they said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’”

Notice that the people have yet to receive the tablets, but they have already received the commandment against idolatry, and so they are sinning in cognizance against God, Ex 20:23.

Notice also Aaron’s direct involvement in this caper. He fashioned it with his own hands.

The people recognize that without Moses they would have died in the desert, and they fear being without him.

It is their desire to replace Moses because they had made him into a god. Their idolatry was directed toward a man, and not the one true god at all.

It is ludicrous for them to think that a calf was the God who brought them up from Egypt. Their reversionism has taken them to irrationality.

In Ex 32, verses 714, Moses beseeches God to withhold from destroying the nation of Israel for their idolatry, and the Lord assents.

Moses then descended from the mountain with the tablets of the Law in his arms, he first hears and then sees the idolatrous feast. He is so angry that he dashes the tablets on the rocks at the foot of the mountain. They are utterly shattered. Next he melted down the golden calf, ground it into powder, and scattered the powder over the surface of the water. He made the people drink that water. All this from verses 1520.

Moses then turns to Aaron, whom he left in command before he went up on the mountain. Aaron’s reply is one for the books. Verses 2124, “Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?’ And Aaron said, ‘Do not let the anger of my lord burn you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil. For they said to me, ’Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.’”

Aaron first attempts the blame the people for his failure in leadership.

Second, he fabricates the story of the manufacture of the calf. He implies that the calf is from God Himself by telling of its miraculous production.

As a memorial, the broken tablets of the law were placed inside of the ark of the covenant. In spite of this failure, the covenant would continue, covered by the mercy seat of God.


Numbers 17.

In Numbers chapter 16, the rebellion of Korah is recorded. It resulted in the death of 14,700 Israelites by plague.

At the conclusion of the rebellion, there was a great need to reaffirm the authority of Aaron.

Therefore, God conceived a test which the Israelites could perform, so that His choice of Aaron could be made clear to them.

Num 17:17, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and get from them a rod for each father’s household: twelve rods, from all their leaders according to their father’s households. You shall write each name on his rod, and write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi; for there is one rod for the head of each of their father’s households. You shall then deposit them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony, where I meet with you. And it will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout. Thus I shall lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you.’ Moses therefore spoke to the sons of Israel and all their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ households, twelve rods, with the rod of Aaron among their rods. So Moses deposited the rods before the Lord in the tent of the testimony.”

Of course, Aaron’s rod budded, and thus was his authority established, verses 811.

Aaron’s rod that budded was placed into the ark of the covenant to remind the people of the rebellion of Korah, and the importance of following their divinely appointed rulers.

The covenant continued in spite of the failure, because the sin was covered by the mercy seat.


Exodus 17:17; Numbers 20:213.

This is the real third test which Christ received in the wilderness. It was the reason that the people were not allowed to enter the promised land.

At Meribah, the people became thirsty, and demanded that God bring them water.

They had been without water for one day. They were uncomfortable, but not dying.

Because of this thirst, they put the Lord to the test. They demanded that He prove His deity by giving them water. This was the last straw, and so the punishment came.

THE TESTS OF CHRIST: two fast balls and a curve.

Test one: the logistics test.

Matt 4:24, “And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He finally became hungry. And the tempter said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ’Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’’”

ne.steusas is the verb that is translated fasting. It describes complete abstinence from food. The culminative aorist tense concentrates on the end of the fasting.

husteron is used as an adverb to emphasize that Christ was not ordinary man. It is translated ‘finally’.

Luke 4:2-4, “And He ate absolutely nothing during those days; and at the concluding of them, He hungered. And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, speak to this stone that it might become bread.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ’Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The combination of ouk and ouden places an absolute negation on the verb ephagen.

The preposition en plus the phrase tais heme.rais ekeinais shows that the negation lasts for the entire forty days.

The aorist participle suntelestheiso.n indicates that it was only at the very conclusion of the forty days that He became hungry. The verb peinao describes an obsessive hunger, where all that is thought of is food. It is not just the growling of the stomach. After forty days, even the healthiest human being is at the limits of his endurance. So was Christ.

The imperative mood of the aorist verb eipe shows a command to the stone.

The subjunctive mood of ginomai reveals that it all depends on Christ’s volition. The devil knows that the Divine Power is available, but that its use would invalidate the purpose of the incarnation.

Matthew says stones plural instead of stone singular from Luke. This difficulty is resolved by applying the principle of plurality. Each recital is correct; there was more than one instance of temptation. Matthew records one of these, while Luke the other. It is likely that Luke records the latter of the two, because of Christ’s abbreviated reply. This could not be resolved by applying the principle of translation.

When you put these two together, they form an interesting narrative that describes an ongoing temptation. In the later temptation His Scriptural reply is abbreviated, as though He is at the very end of His endurance, or because it is not necessary to repeat the whole thing.

This test relates to the logistical test of Israel:

The Israelites had something to eat every day. Manna was the world’s greatest health food. It was the same thing, but it was something.

Christ had nothing to eat for forty days and forty nights. Therefore, His test was far greater than what they endured. He ate the same thing every day: Nothing.

Placing the manna inside the ark of the covenant foreshadowed this test of our Lord. It commemorated Christ’s victory in the desert, and it looked forward to the redemption of this failure at the cross, as represented by the mercy seat.

The essence of the temptation had to do with the temptation to use His divine attributes or rely on what God provided His humanity.

To use His divine capability of omnipotence to turn the stones to bread would violate the principle of kenosis; to do so would destroy divine character.

The very reason for the incarnation would have been undermined and destroyed had Christ given in here. The cross and the Christian way of life would have instantly become meaningless.

Christ used only what God provided His humanity to resist this temptation. Three grace assets are pertinent:

The human spirit, or spiritual conscience, which was Christ’s frame of reference for spiritual matters.

The power of God the Holy Spirit related to the perception and recall of the word.

The Word itself, at the time only the Old Testament canon.

Note that Christ quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3.

The context of this verse is Moses’ final exhortation to the children of Israel before their occupation of the promised land.

All three of Christ’s replies will come from this speech.

These three things denote readiness for the blessings of the land of milk and honey:

First, there is worship of the one true God and abstinence from idolatry. This is personal love for God.

Second, there is humble acceptance of the circumstances of your life, good or bad, and acceptance of delegated human authority, good or bad.

Third, there is a devotion to the word of Truth, and acceptance of God’s logistical grace.

This scripture was originally learned and inculcated by Christ, probably at a very young age.

At this appropriate time, the Spirit recalled this passage into Christ’s spiritual frame of reference, His human spirit. Christ instantly understood the issue.

Now the issue remained: Would He apply what had been recalled? The answer is of course. He even quotes the passage directly to the devil.

Deut 8:1-10

Test two: the idolatry test.

Matthew 4:8-10, “Again, the devil is taking Him alongside to an exceptionally high mountain, and showing Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and He said to Him, ‘All these things will I give you, if falling down you might worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone, Satan! For it is written, ’You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”

paralambano means to take alongside. This verb has a wide connotation which seems to harmonize well with the situation. It means to take someone into your home as a guest; to take someone aside for the purpose of private instruction or reproof; to take someone alongside for purpose of helping them; and in the legal context to take someone into custody. This is the perfect word for this situation, because you can see the enemy taking Christ alongside as a used car salesman does. The historical present is used to emphasize the drama of the moment.

lian emphasizes the great height of this mountain; perhaps it was even Mt. Everest or Mt. Ararat…

deiknumi means to show or demonstrate something to someone. This too is in the historical present.

The aorist participle peso.n demonstrates that the falling down must precede the distribution of the kingdoms and their glory.

The subjunctive mood of the verb indicates that it is up to Christ; He must exercise His will freely in this matter. The verb depicts the kissing of another’s feet, and comes with the idea of sycophantic flourish before a deified king.

Luke 4:5-8, “And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It is written, ’You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”

Luke uses the word oikoumene.s for world. It bears closer to the meaning of ‘establishment’, or ‘corporation’. This contrasts with the straightforward kosmos of Matthew.

Luke adds that the show occurred in one moment of time. Ahem, he did not want Christ to look too closely. This from stigme. chronou, a point of chronological time.

exousia denotes that Christ would be given delegated authority from Satan over all these kingdoms, along with the glory of them. Let me point out that the glory of the devil’s world is only a veneer.

The enemy did not receive the kingdoms of the world because of meritorious service. He deceived Adam, and received the authority because of Adam’s irresponsible sin.

This temptation is recorded by both Matthew and Luke, who write and cover it thoroughly between them. There is only one instance of temptation here.

We will accept Luke’s order of events here, because they are more logical, and Luke tends to be very chronological in his narrative, while Matthew is topical.

All of the kingdoms of the world would belong to Christ at the right time, and only when His chosen people would accept Him as the Messiah.

This particular condition was not yet fulfilled, and in fact the early indicators were not looking good.

In other words, this was attacking Christ at a potential weak spot. The greatness of the world made the temptation all the more agonizing.

That Christ would continue in poverty for the rest of his life is a testimony to his fantastic resolve.

Part of this test had to do with timing, and part of with idolatry. It harkens back to the failure of the golden calf.

Christ’s solution to this problem comes from Deut 6:13. Note that the blessings of the Promised Land are neither earned nor deserved. Yet they are given freely by God.

The offer from Satan is something similar, but infinitely less because of the object of worship. The satisfaction that comes from a relationship with God is so great as to add to one’s appreciation and enjoyment of the attendant blessings. In the worship of idols, all the things turn to dust.

Christ applies the perfect passage for this specific temptation, another great testimony to the work of the Spirit and the level of inculcation that Christ has reached.

Again Christ solves the problem through the Holy Spirit, the Word, and His human spirit. These same three grace assets are available to us as church age believers.

In this case kenosis is not as much an issue, because Christ is not directly tempted to use His capabilities to solve the problem.

The authority/putting God to the test.

Matthew 4:5-7, “Then the devil took Him alongside into the holy city; and he stood Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, ’He will give His angels charge concerning You.’ And, ‘On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, ‘On the other hand, it is written, ’You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’’”

paralambano is used again by Matthew to describe the sleazy operation of the enemy. This polite word is used to outline an insidious temptation.

entello is the word used to indicate the giving of responsibility to the angels. It is in the future tense because it depends on a past condition in the context of Psalm 91.

palin is used by Christ to express His contradiction of the assertion of Satan. palin means back; again; it is an adverb. Here it takes on the meaning of contradiction. It returns to Scripture, where Satan has just taken the conversation, and contradicts what has just been said.

Luke 4:9-12, “And he led Him to Jerusalem and stood Him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, ’He will give His angels charge concerning You to guard You,’ and, ‘On their hands they will bear You up, Lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’‘And Jesus answered and said to hi, ’It is said, ’You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’’”

This test has many levels:

There is a temptation to verify His own Messiahship by jumping down from the temple; from this it appears to be about Aaron’s rod that budded.

There is a necessity for Christ to see if the verse quoted by Satan is right and if it applies here.

If it does not apply, then Christ must rely on the Spirit to provide Him with the right Scripture.

This is also a temptation to use the privileges of His own deity ‘If you are the Son of God.’ kenosis comes back into play here.

Note that in this test the enemy is using Scripture against Christ. It is an oft used ploy, and it seldom fails. This points out the necessity for a prepared pastor.

The enemy quotes Psalm 91 in the temptation. Verses 11 and 12 are quoted but taken out of context.

This Psalm is about trust in God, and how God responds to those who love Him.

Especially pertinent is the conditional clause of verse 9: “If you make the most high your dwelling” This means that the following verses depend on the fulfillment of this condition.

Christ could not demand that God send his angels to cushion up his fall… that would be putting God to the test, as what happened in the wilderness at the waters of Meribah.

This test appears to be about the establishment of Christ’s earthly authority. A good miracle in front of thousands of temple worshippers including the most important men in Israel would well establish Christ’s authority among the Jews.

How soon they forget. Christ was only forty days before the object of the triple miracle of His baptism. The heavens split open; the voice of God spoke; the Spirit descended in the form of a dove. Yet this miracle, probably in front of those same leaders who were now below in the temple court, did not convince the people to follow Christ.

The spiritual gift of miracles would establish Christ’s authority at the proper time. This was not that time. The gift of miracles functions under the sovereignty of the Spirit so that He chooses the time the place and the miracle to be performed.

The devil is trying to promote Christ before God. The devil is attempting to foist onto Christ an Aaron’s rod that budded scenario. He is attempting to do so by quoting Scripture that sounds right.

Christ rightfully sorts this one out, and quotes Deuteronomy 6:16. The full passage through verse 19 goes like this: “Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah. Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers, thrusting out all your enemies before you as the Lord said.”

Again this is a quote from Moses final speech in preparation for the second generation to enter the promised land.

This time it was done right by Christ. He passed the tests that Israel failed.

In a completely appropriate way, the three items in the ark of the covenant represent both the failure of Israel and the triumph of Christ.

Christ not only paid for our sins, but He also produced the righteousness which would be imputed to us at salvation.

In producing that righteousness Christ established a way of solving problems which He would leave as a heritage for all church age believers.

That way was total dependence on the grace assets of God.

Christ’s testing in the desert was intense, subtle, and could only be passed through dependence on the grace assets.

These three tests fall into three general categories: Provision, prosperity, and promotion.

These three tests were temptations to Christ in three categories:

The temptation to use divine power and violate the principle of kenosis.

The temptation to forsake a great relationship with God for direct worship of Satan.

The temptation to put God to the test.

Putting God to the test.

You put God to the test when you demand Him to reveal Himself in some way that benefits you.

The issue is motive. The issue is self promotion.

You are not promoted until God promotes you.

You are not a success until you succeed according to the standards of the Word of God.

Real promotion and success depend on your fulfillment of the plan of God.

You can only fulfill the plan of God through the implementation of the victorious ideology.

The conclusion of the tests.

Matt 4:11, “Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.”

Mark 1:13, “and the angels were ministering to Him.”

Luke 4:13, “And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”

Jesus’ First Followers

John 1:35-51 (translation), “Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples,

“and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and said, ’Behold, the Lamb of God!”

“And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

“And Jesus turned, and beheld them following, and said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ And they said to Him, ‘Rabbi [which translated means Teacher], where are you staying?’

“He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ They came therefore and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.

“One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

“He found first his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ [which translated means Christ].

“He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas’ [which translated means Peter].

“The next day He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me’.

“Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.

“Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’

“And Nathaniel said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’

“Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!’

“Nathaniel said to Him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’

“Nathaniel answered Him, ‘Rabbi You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.’

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.’

“And He said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’”

John the Baptist knows Jesus already; they are cousins according to the flesh. So when he sees the Messiah, he points Him out to the two disciples he is with. He calls Jesus the “Lamb of God.” This is a reference to the Passover feast.

The Passover and Unleavened Bread

The Documentation. Ex 12:320; Lev 23:6; Deut 16:18; Num 28:1625.

The Procedure

A lamb without spot or blemish is slain by the head of each family.

The blood from the lamb is sprinkled with hyssop on the top of the doorframe.

The lamb is roasted and then consumed with bitter herbs by the father and his family.

After Jerusalem was established, the Passover was to be celebrated only there.

For the week following the Passover feast only unleavened bread would be eaten.

On each of the seven days the Levitical priest would sacrifice 2 bullocks, 1 ram, 7 lambs, and 1 goat.

On the second day an offering of barley was made. This was the first harvest fruits of the year.

The Sabbath was observed on the first and last days of the feast, but the entire week was treated as a Sabbath with reference to work. Only work for food preparation was allowed.

The interpretation

The wilderness journey.

This feast represented the Exodus from Egypt.

The Passover represents the night before the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, Exo 12.

The blood on the doorframe was a sign to God to pass over that house. All other houses would have the firstborn of all men and animals killed by God.

  1. The eating of the lamb would be the last meat eaten before the journey to the promised land.

  2. The bitter herbs represented the bitterness of the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt.

The unleavened bread represented the hurry in which the Jews had to leave. They did not have time for the yeast to rise.

The observation of the Sabbath was a reminder to set apart time for the Lord, so that one would be spiritually prepared for the wilderness journey.

All together, these things represent the beginning of every believer’s relationship with God: the moment of belief in Christ.

The believer leaves behind all that he has in the way of pride and human good in order to take hold of salvation in Christ.

The promised land still lies ahead. This is the hope of spiritual maturity and its blessings.

The rituals.

The sacrifice of the lamb was a preview of the saving work of Christ on the cross. The lamb was without spot or blemish, which was the status of Christ at the virgin birth. This called to mind the righteousness, justice, love, mercy, grace, and flexible proficiency of God.

The eating of the whole lamb represented the necessity of total belief in Jesus Christ for salvation.

The priests sacrificing the animals provide a backdrop for the truth of the feast. These were burnt offerings.

The sacrifice of 7 lambs per day displayed the perfect work of God.

  1. The sacrifice of the ram each day was a reminder that this was the sacrifice of God’s Son. It harkened back to Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac.

  2. The sacrifice of the goat each day was a reminder that Jesus Christ was the scapegoat for the entire human race.

  3. The sacrifice of the two bullocks per day represented the prosperity which comes from a relationship with God. The bullock was a sign of prosperity and the means to prosperity, for it was a beast of burden. Ownership of two bullocks was considered prosperity in ancient Israel.

The sacrifice of the barley was a giving of the first-fruits of the harvest, and it was given in thanksgiving for logistical grace. It called to mind the faithfulness of God.

The unleavened bread represents the status of Christ on the cross. There is no sin whatsoever in Christ, just as unleavened bread has no yeast.

The daily sacrifices were to remind the Jews of the importance of their relationship with God. They put an exclamation point onto the other activities of the feast.

The Temple.

The daily sacrifices were made by the priests at the brazen altar in the outer court of the Temple or tabernacle.

This represents the righteousness of Christ ascending up to God the Father in the smoke of the burnt offering.

The copper of the altar represented judgment, and specifically the judgment of Christ in our place on the cross.

New Testament.

Christ spoke of his relationship to the Passover at the last supper. Mat 26:26-30, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying,”Take and eat; this is my body." {27} Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. {28} This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. {29} I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” {30} When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."

Paul used the unleavened bread to illustrated the church without the bad influence of those in the cosmic system. 1 Cor 5:7, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.”

In other words, Christ was the fulfillment of the Passover. John knew that Christ was about the redemption of sins; that was the nature of his own baptizing ministry.

The two disciples follow Jesus, because He is the Messiah, and greater than John. This is not too difficult a decision to make.

They use a respectful form of address, Rabbi.’ They recognize that Jesus has the authority of a teacher of the Law, and therefore a Jewish authority. This would certainly miff the Pharisees and Scribes in the days and years to come.

These two disciples want to know where Jesus is staying. This is tantamount to proclaiming that they are with Him now; they want to follow Him wherever He will go. They are through with John.

Andrew went and found Peter; there is not much more that Scripture has to say about Andrew, but this of course was something very good. A lot has been said about this kind of ministry; deservedly so. Even the timid can have great impact simply by repeating the act of Andrew in their own way. It is a simple kind of thing: “I have found the Messiah; come see for yourself.”

Jesus calls Simon CEPHAS, which is translated PETROS. They mean rock.’ He would be the foundation rock of the early church.

Bartholomew is the name mentioned in the synoptic gospels. This means ‘Son of Ptolemies" Since this is only a last name it is not specific as to the actual person behind it. It also may be interpreted ’Son of Ptolemais’, a city on the North Coast of Palestine, not too far from Galilee. In modern parlance, ‘the guy from Ptolemais’.

John uses Nathaniel, the man’s first name. The Ptolemies were the royal family in Egypt, and major players in the events following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. and the building of the Roman Empire. The most famous of all the Ptolemies was none other than Cleopatra of Egypt.

Bartholomew/Nathaniel exhibits an elitist attitude toward Nazareth that could come from being part of a royal family, or simply from a neighboring town.

It is interesting to note that Christ says of Nathaniel, “a real Israelite”. The word ‘real’ is translated from the adverb ale.thino.s. This adverb is one of emphasis on true nature. But Nathaniel Bartholomew is of Egyptian heritage he could not be a genetic Jew. But Christ talks about his spiritual heritage as Paul would… that the true Jew is the one who believes in Him regardless of his genetic make up.

Christ also comments that Nathaniel is without guile, or cunning deceit. Another way to put it is that Nathaniel is very forthright; he says what he thinks. Nathaniel is a straight shooter with his words, as he has just demonstrated with his comment on Nazareth.

Nathaniel’s response to Christ’s statement is surprise and disbelief. “How do you know me?” Christ responds, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” We do not know what Nathaniel was doing under the fig tree, but it was certainly related to his forthright nature.

On the basis of Christ’s simple statement, Nathaniel believes. It is now Christ’s turn to register surprise.

On account of Nathaniel’s belief, Christ prophesies: ‘You will see the heavens opened , and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’ This is a reference to behind the scenes of prayer. Taking the prayers to God, and returning the answers to man. However, this is a literal vision, and so Nathaniel will have the gift of seeing behind the scenes of prayer.

The Wedding at Cana of Galilee

Cana was a town in Galilee, due west of the Sea of Galilee and north of Nazareth, about halfway between the two.

The ancient Jewish wedding ceremony would go like this:

There were typically many attendants to the bride and groom. The groom would select a friend to be his best man.

The weddings were often held in the fall, after the harvest, so that the maximum number of people could attend. Relatives would travel relatively far to attend.

The bride was transferred to the house of the bridegroom’s father in a wonderful, boisterous, fun parade. Flowers were scattered, songs were sung. A procession of virgins accompanied the bridegroom.

A feast took place, which could last as long as a week. This traditionally began in the evening.

Riddles were told.

Love songs were sung, usually the words of the Song of Solomon were set to music for this.

A cloak or skirt was spread over the bride which represented the marital commitment. This was the high point of the feast.

The ceremony would seldom have the presence of a government official or priest.

Friends and relatives recited Biblical passages or quoted historical wisdom as the couple stood before them.

After this the couple was left alone to consummate their marriage in a room specially prepared by friends and relatives. While the consummation took place the party outside continued.

Later the couple would emerge from the consummation room with evidence of the woman’s virginity on a piece of cloth.

The Text, John 2:1-11

John 2:1, “And a wedding began on the third day in Kana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.”

This third day is really one week’s time since Christ returned from the wilderness.

Day one has the testimony of John the Baptist to the Levites, John 1:1928. This occurs at Bethany beyond the Jordan.

The next day Christ comes back from the desert, and arrives at Bethany where John remains with his disciples, John 1:2934.

The day after that Christ calls His first disciples, Andrew, an unnamed disciple, and Simon Peter, Andrew’s brother, John 1:3542.

On the fourth day, Philip and Nathaniel Bartholomew are called, John 1:4351.

Three days later, Christ is in Kana, about three days walk from Bethany beyond the Jordan.

Christ’s mother, Mary was present at this feast.

Now if Mary was very young when she gave birth to Christ, then she would be middle aged by now somewhere in her forties.

Since the birth of Christ and her tremendous display of maturity during that period we have seen her but once. That time was the time that Joseph and Mary took Christ to the Passover in Jerusalem. At that event, Mary displayed a fair amount of immaturity.

Since that event, Mary has given birth to other children through Joseph, and raised them.

She has apparently also been widowed, since the Passover event is the last time that Joseph appears on the radar screen.

John 2:2. “Now indeed Jesus was called into the wedding, and His disciples.”

The ascensive use of the conjunction kai is translated indeed. This betrays some surprise on the part of the writer. Although Mary was already present at this feast, it was unusual for others to be invited while the festivities were in full swing.

The passive voice of the verb ekle.the. reveals that Christ was polite. He did not barge in, but he was called. The passive voice shows us that Christ did not produce the action of the calling, someone else did.

The use of the conjunction eis indicates that he was outside of the wedding, an uninvited guest.

The third person singular of the verb ekle.the. shows us that only Christ at first is called in; His disciples are left outside. This further indicates that Christ was called in because Mary was His mother not because of His celebrityship. The fact that John mentions Mary’s presence supports this.

The conjunction kai plus the phrase hoi mathetai autou reveals that the extension of the invitation to the disciples was more of an afterthought.

Although this was a large Jewish wedding the addition of five or six more people would have placed a pretty serious burden on the wedding logistics. The Bride’s father would have to pay for the consumption of food and drink by the disciples. Furthermore, these things were planned carefully according to how many guests were attending. Six more would have strained the limits of that plan.

John 2:3. “And the wine having failed, Jesus’ mother says to him,”They have no wine“.

So Mary has a firm grasp of the obvious. There is more to this verse than that.

John dramatized this moment, and not because Mary was speaking. The failure of the wine would have been a serious impediment to the celebration. If this was only midweek in the celebration, it would have been a social disaster.

This moment is dramatized by the use of the dramatic or historical present tense of the verb legei to speak.

The focus of the disaster is revealed by the position of the participle husteresantos.

This participle is in the genitive absolute. This shows a grammatical disconnection with the rest of the statement in the verse. It shows that although Mary made the statement, she really had no idea why this had happened.

It is extremely likely that the wine failed due to the presence of six additional guests Jesus and His disciples. It also means that Jesus and His disciples were helping the wine shortage along by drinking along with the other guests. It does not imply drunkenness on their part. They did the polite thing.

Mary’s statement is one which is pregnant with meaning. She is verbally elbowing her son. Hey, this was a bad situation.

Mary’s verbal elbowing has to do with the deity of her Son. She more than anyone else knows that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She wants Him to use His deity to solve this problem.

There is no record of any miracle occurring from the hand of Jesus before this one. Christ has only just received the filling ministry of the Spirit at His baptism, which would have included the gift of miracles.

Therefore, Mary is not working from precedent here. She has not seen Christ do this before. Her concentration is not on the spiritual gift of miracles, which has yet to function; it is on the deity of Jesus Christ.

Though Mary does not have a clue as to why the wine has failed, it was most likely very obvious to Christ.

Though Mary only sees a quick solution to a social disaster, Christ sees much more. His responsibility in the doctrine of kenosis. Mary misses the point badly.

John 2:4. “And Jesus says to her,”What is to me and you, ma’am? My hour has not come."

Again John uses the dramatic or historic present to make the scene vivid. Again this is done with the verb legei, ‘to speak’.

Our Lord uses a Hebrew idiom to make it clear to His mother that He now has His own realm of authority.

The idiom is literally from the Greek phrase Ti emoi kai soi. “What is to me and you?.”

Christ very clearly says in this idiom, “Mind your own business.”

What is amazing here is that Christ has just finished with the severe tests in the wilderness, and two of the three at least attempt to get Him to do the same thing that His mother is attempting here.

So Christ has to set the boundaries of His own authority with His mother. This is His affair, and not hers.

Christ uses a formal term for woman in the vocative case to gain the attention of His mother. gune. translates best as ‘ma’am’, or ‘lady’. It can be a term of affection, and is almost always a term of respect, but it is formal, and it shows the objective way that Christ is addressing His mother. He is reproving her, after all.

Christ used this same term as He was dying on the cross. John 19:26 says, “Ma’am, behold your Son.” There, it is definitely a term of respect and affection.

Christ then makes the issue clear: His hour has not yet come.

This hour does not refer to the hour of His kingdom ministry, for that ministry was most certainly in action even at that time.

The baptism of John was the official beginning of the kingdom ministry; from that time Christ had the filling ministry of the Spirit, and the spoken authority from God.

Christ has gathered the first of His disciples, who will be instrumental to His kingdom pronouncement.

The kingdom ministry was designed to introduce the millennial kingdom and its king to the people of Israel.

The kingdom ministry is not synonymous with the reign of the king. The reign of the king will include the full revelation and implementation of His Godly powers and character.

The hour when He can reveal and use His deity has not come, and He must make that clear to His own mother.

The hour of Christ’s glorification can only come when He is accepted by the chosen nation, Israel. So far, that acceptance has not come.

Alva J. McClain has suggested six reasons for the Israelite rejection of Christ in his fine theological work, The Greatness of the Kingdom. They are just as valid today as they ever were.

The high spiritual requirements our Lord laid down as essential for entrance into the kingdom (Mk 1:15; Lk 18:1517; John 3:35).

His refusal to establish a kingdom merely social and political in character (Lk 12:1330; John 6:515).

His denunciation of the current religion with its traditionalism, legalism, and ritualism (Lk 11:3754).

His scathing arraignment of the ruling classes (Matt 23).

His association with and compassion for the outcasts of Israel (Matt 9:1013; Lk 15:1,2).

His exalted claims for Himself (John 5:1618; 10:2433; 18:37).

John 2:5. “His mother says to the servants, ‘Do whatever this one says to you.’”

Now it appears that Christ’s mother keeps steaming straight ahead in spite of the rebuke of her Son. But this is not the case.

She says, poisate the imperative second person plural of the verb poieo., ‘to do’. This is a command, but the direct object of the command is ti an ‘whatever’. The indefinite particle an leaves the command wide open to the authority of Jesus Christ.

The whatever can mean that Christ tells them nothing.

The whatever can mean that Christ will give money and tell them to head to the nearest liquor store.

Or the whatever can mean that Christ will rely on the Father and the Spirit to solve the problem.

Although the possibility exists for the presence of some contempt in this statement, it is much more likely that it is a straightforward statement of complete humility.

Mary takes the rebuke of her Son with great self esteem, and recovers in a matter of moments so that she is completely humble when it is her turn to speak next.

John 2:6. “Now there were six stone water jars according to the custom of the Jews for purification, each containing two or three metretai.”

This verse is purely explanatory by nature. It sets the stage for the narrative to follow.

A metretai was about ten gallons. This gives us an idea of the great size of this wedding and just how much wine was being consumed. 20 or 30 gallons times six makes it 120 to 180 gallons of wine that Christ was going to make.

These stone water jars were there to hold water for dishwashing and handwashing. In other words, they were there for common, sanitary usage. The water, though sanitary and no doubt potable, was a grade below that which is drinking water.

It was the Jewish custom to wash hands and dishes both before and after meals. A large volume of water would be needed for such a task.

If Christ was going to turn all of this water into wine, it would provide enough for perhaps a hundred guests over the course of several days. Perhaps this wedding was still in its early stages, but it is more likely that the wine was intended to be too much; not to tempt everyone to over drink to a state of inebriation, but instead to symbolize the overflowing nature of the plan of God and the millennial kingdom.

David had said some thousand years before this event, “My cup runneth over.” This is certainly evidence of that very thing.

Joel 2:24 contains a messianic and millennial prophecy that catches this same symbology, “And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil.”

How appropriate that this first miracle should be so very millennial.

The wine offering of the feast of first-fruits represented the prosperity that would come from the appropriation of grace provision for spiritual life. The feast itself celebrated the law giving at Mt. Sinai.

John 2:7. “Jesus says to them, ‘Fill the water pots with water.’ And they filled them to the top.”

Now Christ gives a direct command it is the imperative mood of the verb gemizo to fill.

The verb itself always takes the negative connotation ‘Full of wickedness’; ‘Full of smoke’. It is even used of the seven plague and the abominations of Revelation.

This negative connotation is related to the usual base purpose of the water jars.

The jars are to be full of dishwater, not pure, clear drinking water.

This dishwater is a good symbol for the world, and the Christian’s involvement in it. You really do not want to partake of it, but it is used by God to make us clean such is the role of the undeserved suffering that is so often a part of living in the devil’s world.

So Christ wrinkles His nose when he orders the servants to fill the jars with water. He is setting up a really striking contrast by using a verb of distaste.

The forthcoming miracle is really going to be a strong contrast and wonderful surprise.

John 2:8. “And He says to them, ‘Draw it now and take [it] to the headwaiter.’ And they took [it].”

This reveals that Christ knew beforehand just what had happened to the dishwater.

The previous verse shows Christ’s premeditation; this one shows its execution.

Now Christ was doing this by the spiritual gift of miracles.

A spiritual gift is a part of the human spirit, the spiritual frame of reference in the soul.

A spiritual gift is given by the sovereignty God the Holy Spirit. It only operates under His initiative.

This passage tells us much about that gift.

That the one doing the miracle has full knowledge of the intent of the Spirit.

That the one doing the miracle participates fully in the execution of the miracle itself.

That it takes a lot of doctrine to appreciate what the Spirit is doing in the substance of the miracle.

That miracles contained great symbolism and drew their meaning from the substance of the miracle accomplished. They are thus a reflection of the order of God.

Christ could not have done this miracle on the initiative of His own deity; such would violate the principle of kenosis, and such a violation would invalidate the entire incarnation.

Christ voluntarily restricted the independent use of His own divine attributes during the incarnation.

John 2:9. “Now as the chief steward tasted the water which had become wine and had not known where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water had known) the chief steward loudly summoned the bridegroom.”

This is a very convoluted verse that is an explanation that must explain itself.

John is revealing the miracle here, but he deems it appropriate to explain the reaction to it from the viewpoint of the chief wine steward. The scene is intended to be comic.

The chief steward is like a maitre d’hotel at a fancy restaurant. He knows all the protocol, all of the details concerning a wedding feast. The perfect timing, the perfect food, etc. The bridegroom would leave the details to this man so that he could concentrate on his bride. You can imagine that these men were quite stuffy, persnickety to the extreme, and very demanding. You can also imagine this man fretting as the wine ran out “What shall we do?” Yet here comes the servants with a 20 gallon stone jar full of wine. They are saved from disgrace! They need not hear the dreaded words… “You’ll never work in this town again.” But the steward has standards, and he must taste the wine. In this pinch anything but pure vinegar will do…

Now this chief steward ‘tasted’ the wine. This verb is geuomai, which fits well into the picture of winetasting. It means to savor, or relish something by taste. To really enjoy any experience.

John goes out of his way to make it clear that the steward did not know the source of the wine, although the servants did. It is the secret that the servants hold; you can see their hidden, silly smiles, and their mental giggling. The fretting, ruined chief steward is saved from certain social death, and he does not yet know.

Now the chief steward tastes the wine, and he immediately reverts to that unique form of snob degeneracy that only chief stewards and maitre d’hotels can express. Without delay he calls the bridegroom. He is so amazed with what he considers a blunder on the part of the bridegroom that he violates one of his own rules.

The verb phoneo is used to denote that the chief steward uses a loud call in order to summon. The verb is used of the trumpet blast, the rolling thunder, the voice of John the Baptist in the wilderness, the shout of the archangel at the second coming, and even the voice of God. This guy is not whispering.

He is calling to reprove the bridegroom because this great wine had remained hidden until now.

John 2:10. “Every man first puts forth the good wine and whenever they [the guests] have become drunk the inferior [younger]. You have kept the good wine until now.”

The chief steward reveals a custom that makes a fair amount of sense. Serve the good wine first.

Drunk people cannot appreciate good wine. Their senses are dulled.

Drunk people cannot tell when inferior wine is served their palates are corrupt.

You can hear the stuffy way in which this man communicates. He is instructing the bridegroom with a very imperious tone of voice “Every man…”

Of course, the poor man has no way of knowing that this wine has only become so minutes ago. He makes a fool of himself before his knowing servants.

The Greek adjective elasso. is translated inferior. It really means younger, which translates well as inferior when a wine frame of reference is in view.

John 2:11. “This beginning of the signs Jesus did in Kana of Galilee and manifested His glory and His disciples believed in Him.”

The word arche. indicates that this is the very first miracle that Christ performed. It is translated beginning.

It is for this reason that we know that Christ the child never did miracles. It is also for this reason that we know that even as an adult Christ never did miracles until this time.

This is what tells us that Mary had no frame of reference for the spiritual gift of miracles: the same gift that Christ used to perform this one.

John appropriately calls this miracle a se.meio.n asign. The miracles and healings that Christ performed were all designed as signs things which would point to His messiahship.

All of these things originate outside of Christ Himself due to the doctrine of kenosis.

This sign manifested His glory. It is an attestation of His messiahship. In none of these signs is Christ’s full glory revealed; they only point to what is there.

Glory here is a reference to the character of God revealed in Christ. As such, these signs do not point to Christ’s deity, but to the character of God revealed in His humanity. That is the primary focus of the signs.

The character of God was produced through the humanity of Christ by His appropriation of Divine grace in the ministry of the Spirit and the study of the Word.

The signs also point to Christ as the Messiah, the one who is fit to rule Israel and all the world in the millennial reign.

John also mentions that His disciples believed in Him at this point.

John 1:49 reveals that Nathanael Bartholomew was certainly a believer. The mental attitudes of the other disciples are not revealed.

Philip, Andrew, Simon Peter, Nathanael Bartholomew, and perhaps one unnamed disciple were the others present at this feast.

This was the clincher. Other signs had attended Christ in His life. The miracles surrounding His birth were more than a few trivial things. The triple miracle of His baptism was really fantastic, but it had happened to and not by Jesus.

Now Jesus does a miracle, and because of it, His disciples believed.

There is more meaning than what meets the eye in this miracle. It is not just a miracle; it is a symbol miracle.

The symbol miracle is one which reveals something about the kingdom.

Christ refers to wine in the kingdom context in Matt 9:17. There, the new wine represents the plan of God for the millennium, while the wineskins represent the subjects of the kingdom.

Here Christ turns common dishwater into superb wine; it was probably the best vintage in history.

The common dishwater represents the ritual plan of God for Israel. It is serviceable, and even potable as water, but not what you would always want to drink if you did not have to (This makes the desire to return to the ritual plan even more amazing).

The new wine represents the millennial rule of Christ, and the policy of God for that rule.

This is finest of times under the greatest of rulers. Christ is the essence of justice, love, grace, and order, and His reign will be characterized by fantastic peace and prosperity.

This miracle therefore points to the greatness of the rule of Christ, and the change from the plain to the immaculate.

The Divine Guidance of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ functioned under a system of divine guidance that was both similar to and unique from that used by church age believers.

Some believers in history have attempted to use the unique way in which Christ was led, and therefore ended up with disaster. If you stay with what is just for us as church age believers you will go the right way.

The unique part of divine guidance for Christ was that the Messianic prophecies related to the first advent. Christ knew these prophecies quite well as a part of His expertise on the Old Testament canon of Scripture. When He determined from His store of wisdom that it was time to fulfill a certain prophecy, then He did so with full confidence.

The wise decisions that Christ made in prophecy fulfillment were always kept within the constraint of His perfect character. Christ knew that He would fulfill prophecy; He did not manipulate events so that He would and thus look good. He let the opportunities present themselves within the integrity of the way that He conducted His life, and then He fulfilled them.

We do not have ‘personal’ prophecies about our lives as Christ did, and therefore we must avoid the Messiah syndrome with reference to divine guidance. Events in the Bible are not types for our lives; Bible verses do not provide direct guidance concerning where we should go or what we should do; there is no kind of ‘twilight zone’ guidance from the pages of Scripture.

One of the best illustrations of the Messianic guidance which Christ received from Old Testament prophecy is His wilderness temptation. The question is this: How did Christ know to go to the desert at that time? Here is what we do know:

Matthew 4:1, “Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil”

The verb is in the passive voice, which indicates that our Lord did not produce the action of the verb but instead received it. The constantive aorist tense summarizes the past action into one moment of time. The verb itself means to lead from a lower to a higher point. This point can be figurative, as in the case of spiritual maturity, or literal, as in this instance. Christ was going from the low point of the Jordan River (just a few miles from the lowest land elevation on the planet) to the rough wilderness above. This emphatically does not mean snatched away, as some have tried to make the point that the Spirit picked our Lord up and bodily moved Him to the desert. This is translated, ‘was led up’ The Spirit did the leading and Christ did the following.

A second prepositional phrase puts forth the leadership of the Spirit, who was the direct agent of the leading. It is HUPO TOU PNEUMATOS, and translated “by the Spirit.

The last clause of the verse is a purpose clause. The verb is the aorist passive of PEIRAZO, which means to put someone to the test. Depending on the one doing the test, the purpose may be good or bad. This is translated, ’to be tempted by the devil"

In the battle to come, it will be the ministry of God the Holy Spirit versus the temptation of the devil.

This is the first evidence testing done under the conditions of the church age. Christ is our prototype for the fulfillment of God’s plan for the church age dispensation. An entirely new and never before tried set of grace assets will be put through its paces over the next forty plus days.

Mark 1:12, “And immediately the Spirit cast Him out into the desert”

The major difference here is in the verb that is used to describe the action of the Spirit in getting Christ to the desert.

The verb EKBALLEI is in the present tense, which reveals an action as it happens. It is the dramatic way to present the action typical of Mark’s gospel. The verb literally means to cast out. The Spirit ‘cast out’ Christ into the wilderness. Again we do not yet know how this occurred, only that it did.

Luke 4:1, “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordan and was being led by means of the Spirit in the desert.” The main change here is the revelation that Christ was led by the Spirit for the duration of His stay in the desert, and that it was from a state of being full from the Spirit that gave the leadership.

Four words work together to form the foundational statement of the verse. They are translated “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit.”

The nominative case of PLEIREIS forms the key part of the description it denotes a state of complete fullness. It can denote thought or emotion, negative or positive, but the idea here refers to the control of the soul.

The verse does not say how, but it does make it clear that Christ is under the control of PNEUMATOS HAGIOU, the Holy Spirit.

The first thing that Jesus does under the control of the Spirit is return from the Jordan, where he had just been baptized. The word for returned is HUPESTREPSEN, which is in the aorist tense. This describes a past action occurring in one moment of time, and thus the translation “He returned”.

The second thing is that “He was being led by means of the Spirit.”

The verb is the simple verb for the act of leading. It is in the passive voice and so reveals that the subject receives the action of leadership. The imperfect tense indicates that the action took place over a duration of time in the past, and not just at one moment. It is translated, “He was being led.”

The preposition EN plus the instrumental case of means shows that the Spirit was the means of the leading.

en te. eremo. EN TEI EREMO portrays both location in the desert and the amount of time spent there. It is translated, “in the desert” This tells us that the Spirit not only led Christ to the desert, but also the entire time that He was there.

Analysis of the three.

God the Holy Spirit exerted leadership in getting Christ to the desert to be tested.

Christ is our prototype, and therefore the way in which the Spirit leads Him is the way in which we are led.

The way in which the Spirit leads is fully revealed in the New Testament canon.

Just because all the mechanics are not revealed in these passages about the wilderness temptation does not mean that they are not there. In fact, it is implicit that they are from the mention of the Spirit’s leadership.

The Spirit guides through the recall of Bible Truth.

The Spirit guided Christ through the recall of both the principles of Divine character and Messianic prophecy.

In this case, the Spirit recalled Isaiah 40:35, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’”

Christ understood this passage as we do it reveals the ministry of John the Baptist. Malachi 3:1 corroborates this fact.

And the ministry of John the Baptist was to prepare the way for the Messiah in the desert. From this it would seem obvious the direction that Christ would take upon the completion of His baptism straight to the desert.

And so Christ obeyed the leadership of the Spirit and entered the desert not by hocus pocus but by the recall of Messianic prophecy and application.

Divine Guidance and the Essence of God

In order to remain in the direct will of God you must begin with humility based on the essence of God proper.

In order to remain in the direct will of God you must have spiritual self esteem based on the capabilities of God.

In order to remain in the direct will of God you must make decisions from the nike the victorious ideology of the Christian way of life. 1 John 5:4: “And this is the victorious ideology that has overcome the cosmic system our doctrine.”

The victorious ideology includes the right mental attitude of Divine Character.

The overall principle of righteousness and justice.

The motivation of personal love for God and virtue love for mankind.

The grace approach to problem solving and flexible proficiency.

The forethought of organization.

The principle of willpower in self control.

The extension of willpower over time in the temperament of faithfulness and dependability.

The communication with integrity.

The victorious ideology includes an understanding of the true goal.

The victorious ideology includes a thorough understanding the field of endeavor.

The victorious ideology includes an understanding of the mechanics which lead to the attainment of the true goal.

Implementation of the victorious ideology in any field of endeavor or matter of guidance will result in your ending up where God wants you in His direct will.

In other words, make the decision from the best available information.

Recognize the function of the Divine Decree in the presentation of opportunity, but sift opportunity through the filter of Divine Character.

Do not seek to make things happen because of your unhappiness with your life circumstances.

If things are bad and the opportunity arises to move on, then do so. If things are bad and Divine character demands that you move on, then by all means do so.

Do not let circumstances dictate your decisions. Difficult circumstances are a test of your willpower and faithfulness, but not necessarily messages from God. Christ ran into endless difficulty in the execution of His ministry, but He did not use them as an excuse to stop teaching the Word. This is one of the primary reasons that I am still in the ministry.

On the other hand, if circumstances are overwhelming they may prompt you to reconsider your present position through the lens of divine character. You may find violations which force you in another direction. The divine discipline of Paul illustrates this.

Sometimes even when you have all of your ducks in a row with a decision God still overrules. You can bet that He has a greater purpose in mind for you if He does. 1 Thess 2:18 is the perfect illustration.

The First Cleansing of the Temple

A distinction must be made between the two times that Christ cleansed the temple. Christ cleansed the temple at the beginning and end of His ministry. The second occurrence came during the last week of His life, and is recorded in Matt 21:1213; Mark 11:1518; Luke 19:4548; John 2:1325

Before Christ went to Jerusalem and the Temple, and after he changed the water into wine, He stayed a few days in Capernaum (John 2:12).

His mother and His brothers (according to the flesh), and His disciples were all there with Him.

Capernaum was the headquarters of Christ’s Galilean ministry, and that ministry comprised the majority of His overall effort.

Matthew 9:1 calls Capernaum Christ’s ‘own city’.

Christ chose Capernaum because it was the most important city in the region. The Romans had a sizeable military contingent there, and there were many government officials about. It was an important trade center, and much commerce came there because of the fishing industry.

Here, Christ could teach the kingdom to Jews and Gentiles alike. He could have an impact that would be talked about throughout the region.

This points out that Christ had a plan for His ministry; that He was organized and wise in the spreading of the word; He imitates His father in this area of foresight and planning.

John 2:13, “And the passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up into Jerusalem”

Now, it does not indicate in this verse that His disciples were with Him, but verse 17 says that His action here prompted their recall of an Old Testament passage. That verse does not absolutely require the disciples’ presence. One of three things: Christ went up alone, and His disciples joined Him at the temple; Christ went up alone, and His disciples heard about the cleansing after the fact; Christ went up with His disciples, but John failed to mention it here. The second option is the most probable.

We do not know if Christ had been to Jerusalem in the 15 or so years since His first passover. It is unlikely that He did, because He is not remembered or identified in any real way by the officials in the temple. When He does His deed, they ask Him for a sign. This reveals their ignorance.

The passover had to be a rather poignant time for Christ.

On His mind would rest the burden of the sins of the world, for He knew that He would have to pay for them in the not too distant future.

As He enters the temple, that grand representative structure of all that He is and will do, His mind is full of doctrine.

Through this structure, and the doings of the priests, the people are to come to know the Father through Him.

John 2:14, “And He found in the temple the ones who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the ones who were seated, the money changers.”

The temple had become the very center of an extremely corrupt system. It was the ultimate monopoly, and the evil priests manipulated that monopoly into a moneymaking machine.

The Law prescribed that only sacrifices without spot or blemish were worthy for sacrifice in the temple.

The chief priests manipulated this by making sure that no one had a worthy animal. They sent their inspectors to school for months so that they could identify the defects of any given animal. Actually this just became an excuse for disqualifying the animals brought by the heads of households. They also came to charge the people for the inspection of their animals. This evil led many to just give up and buy the animals that the temple provided, without even trying to bring their own. This was wrong, wrong, wrong. The whole point of the sacrifice was that it would come from the family; that the man would know the animal personally; that he would see the cost of sin, and greatness of God’s sacrifice in sending His own Son. The reason for all this rigmarole was so that the people would have to buy an animal from the temple. Of course the prices on these animals was greatly inflated, and the chiefs priests made a great profit from them.

Furthermore, the chief priests and officials made it so that the animals could only be bought with the official temple currency, and the exchange rates were quite exorbitant. Thus, the moneychangers.

With the clinking of coins and the mutter of exchange and the baaahing of sheep and the cooing of pigeons and the mooing of cattle you could hardly hear yourself think in the house of worship. There was record of more than three thousand head of sheep in the temple at one time. What cacophony! What corruption!

So, Christ walks into His Father’s house, the house designed for learning about His sacrifice, and He finds the worst kind of corruption. What follows is not an act of anger, but justice.

John 2:15, “And He made a scourge from ropes and He cast all of them out from the temple and the sheep and the oxen, and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers and He overturned the tables.”

Physical wreckage is much preferred over spiritual corruption.

There were a bunch of moneychangers, and only one Christ, but they did not attempt to stop Him.

Was Christ an imposing figure, or were they so shocked by this action that they did not respond?

The scourge of ropes could have been a fearful weapon, when wielded by one with skill.

The tables used by money changers were really just small stools, behind which the clerk sat on the ground. They were laden with coins, but would not have taken any great strength to overturn. It is more likely that Christ kicked them over than turned them over by hand.

Christ had a human body unpolluted by the influence of the sin nature. He could have been an imposing figure indeed.

Christ had been a carpenter by trade. It is likely that He had great strength in His hands and arms, because the profession was even more rigorous then than it is now.

John rather humorously adds the driving out of the sheep and oxen; he makes a funny because you already expected them to be driven out. Christ drives out the wimpy bankers and moneychangers and inspectors, and even the oxen and sheep.

By pouring out the coins and overturning the tables, Christ made it impossible for them to determine whose money was whose. He effectively destroyed their profits.

John 2:16, “And to those who were selling doves, He said, ‘Remove these things from here [in any direction], do not make the house of My Father a house of merchandise.’”

This is the final part of the cleansing phase.

The verb airo [arate] is in the aorist imperative. The aorist tells us that Christ intended for the command to be carried out immediately.

The first words of Christ in this incident contain a command. He has legitimate authority in this place.

Christ calls the temple ‘the house of His Father’. This is the legitimizing factor.

Christ is the rightful heir to the throne of Israel.

Christ is the rightful chief priest of Israel.

Christ is the Son of God.

Therefore, what He does here is an expression of natural law.

The Greek word EXOUSIA summarizes natural law in the concept of legitimate authority. It includes in its definition both rights and legitimate authority. The question arises: did Christ have the right to exert authority in the temple? The answer is a very emphatic yes!

The word EMPORIOU is the source of our English emporium. It really does describe well a Wal-Mart kind of store. There was so much stuff in the temple it more resembled an emporium than a place of worship.

This principle applies directly to the church.

The church is to never become a business or a house of merchandise for the purpose of profit.

The policy for giving and distribution of the Word of God must always remain grace. The ancient temple was the center for the distribution of truth. The chief priests had put a price on the Word, and such a thing was evil. The same thing is true today.

The Word of God should never come with a price tag. Instead, through the grace giving of believers, a budget is set for the dissemination of the Word. The contributions received through grace giving are to be considered the direct will of God for the budget of that local assembly.

Attempts to augment the church budget through merchandising step outside of God’s direct will, and illegitimatize the ministry of the church that does so.

If the Jews there at the temple were flabbergasted by Christ’s actions, then they were certainly just as flabbergasted at his words.

John 2:17, “His disciples remembered that it was utterly written, ‘Zeal for Thy house will devour Me.’”

This quotation comes from Psalm 69:9. John cites it in order to remind his readers that Christ is the Messiah about whom the Old Testament prophesied.

Christ’s supernatural fulfillment of more than three hundred Old Testament prophecies is one of the most stunning testimonies to the veracity of the Word of God.

The periphrastic construction of the verb EIMI with the participle GEGRAMMENON really emphasizes the writing of the Word. ‘It stands written’ is not a bad translation; what should be stressed in the translation is the unchangeable nature of the Word, once written.

Psalm 69 itself is one which describes undeserved suffering.

In the first several verses David relates a desperate situation: he is up to his neck in water… he is sinking in a bottomless pit of quicksand, vv.23.

David takes some of the blame on himself and his sin against God, v.6.

However, since he confessed his sins whatever deserved suffering he had was immediately converted to undeserved.

Verse 10 makes it clear that David’s zeal for the plan of God is the single most contributing factor for his undeserved suffering.

qin’ath is the Hebrew word for zeal, and it denotes emotional action. There are two kinds: crusader arrogance emotional revolt, and emotionally charged legitimate action. The zeal here is legitimate. It is governed completely by thought.

The phrase ‘for my father’s house’ is a reference to the temple. The temple stood for the plan of God for Israel. It was a standing metaphor for Bible Truth and spiritual growth, and ultimately of relationship with God.

Here is undeserved suffering for blessing. Here is undeserved suffering for being a believer in Jesus Christ and fulfilling God’s plan for your life.

The final part of the Psalm makes it very clear that the zeal is not the direct source of the suffering, but the people who do not like the zeal for God’s plan, “And the insults of those who insult thee have fallen on me.”

Christ acted with zeal, but it was good zeal. He is not acting in anger, but in love for God. Christ is not consumed by zeal itself, but the zeal causes others to pursue Him and hate him.

This event signals the beginning of organized resistance to Jesus Christ, and foreshadows His death and resurrection.

John 2:18, “The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, ‘What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?’”

The Jews were no doubt flabbergasted by Christ’s assumption of authority in the temple, and his reference to it as ‘His Father’s house’.

They desired of Him a sign, some outward miracle that would prove His position of authority.

This is fascinating, because it is not more than two weeks since the temptation of Jesus Christ, when the devil took Christ to the top of this same temple and tempted Him to jump down as a sign to these same men. Christ rejected the method proposed by Satan, but more than that, He knew that all the greatest signs in the world mean nothing to people who stand negative to the Truth.

Such were these men. They demanded a sign, because they assumed they would not receive one. They assumed that Christ’s authority was not legitimate. This is the same leadership that went to John the Baptist just a few weeks before. They got a pretty good explanation from John at that time about the person of Christ, the Messiah.

Negative volition rejects God, regardless of how easy it is to believe.

Positive volition accepts God, regardless of the obstacles to belief.

John 2:19, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’”

This is Jesus’ supply of a sign. Of course, the Jews would have to wait three years for this sign. It is the resurrection sign, the greatest sign of all time.

Note that Christ concentrates on the greatest sign even though He will do many other things, such as miracles and healings.

Christ had ample reason to know of His resurrection. The correct interpretation of the story of Jonah and the big fish would render the information of His death and resurrection. Christ did not pull this idea out of thin air, He pulled it out of the Old Testament through the recall ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 12:38-40 gives the full explanation of this, “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the Sea Monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’”

This is a simple simile, and nothing else.

Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the Sea Monster;

Christ would descend to Sheol, under the abyss after His death and before His resurrection.

This prediction of a sign so scared the Jews that they insisted a guard be put on His tomb after His death. Matthew 27:62-66.

Notice that Christ implicates the Jews in His death. Already He is seeing the sign of their murderous negative volition.

But the Pharisees didn’t get Christ’s statement, not yet, except for one.

John 2:20, “The Jews therefore said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’”

They did not get the point.

The temple had been building for forty six years to date. It would hardly be finished for another forty.

It is singular that the Pharisees who were there were stricken by the ludicrous nature of Christ’s claim as they perceived it. Yet had they perceived it as Christ proclaimed it, they would have thought it much more so.

According to their perception, they would have to tear down the temple around them.

This was the temple of bribery. Herod, the half-breed Jew gave it to the Jews so that they would love him as ruler.

The Jews hated Herod, but took the bribe anyway.

The temple itself was a perfect symbol of Jewish hypocrisy, and yet they were quite blind to that hypocrisy.

They were not about to tear down Herod’s temple, their pride was inextricably wound together with this building.

Christ gives the Jews an interesting test by remaining vague about to which temple He refers.

Christ has legitimate authority to order this temple of Herod’s destroyed, but He does not do that.

John 2:21, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”

Christ was deliberately vague, but He was definitely communicating about His body as this verse reveals.

Since Christ always communicated clearly, the Jews misunderstood Him from their own blind arrogance.

John 2:22, “When therefore He was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.”

An interesting point, but there were others who heard this and believed it.

Nicodemus certainly heard these words, and they were likely to have prompted his curiosity to come to Christ.

Nicodemus provided for Christ’s burial along with Joseph of Arimathea.

Joseph of Arimathea was also among the Jewish rulers at this event, and heard this statement as well.

The passive voice of ege.rthe. reveals that Christ did not raise Himself, but that He would be raised, specifically by the power of God the Holy Spirit. Rom 1:4.

When Christ says that He will raise the temple Himself in verse 19, He must be speaking from the Godhead. Christ did not raise Himself. He could say this in a Trinitarian sense. The Positive Response at the Passover

John 2:23, “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing.”

Remember, Christ came down to Jerusalem from Cana in order to participate in this Passover.

In this verse John reveals a positive response to Christ’s ministry. Remember, John is likely an eyewitness to these events.

The positive response was belief. This belief is total trust in a person or institution for what they offer.

The belief was directed toward the name of Christ. Parents designed the names of their children so that they would reveal the essence of the child. Christ’s name was Jesus, which meant salvation in the Hebrew. The essence of Christ was truly salvation. And He would die as a substitute for the sins of mankind, and satisfy the justice of God regarding the issue of human sin.

The positive response has a cause: they beheld the signs which He was doing.

Christ was performing miracles. Christ was healing the sick and lame.

John 2:24, “But Jesus Himself was not trusting Himself to them, because He knew all men.”

This is truly a great verse, revealing God’s wisdom incarnate in Jesus Christ.

Although man must believe in Christ, Christ does not have to believe in man.

God understands perfectly the nature of human degeneracy and the total depravity of man.

God never has to trust man, and in fact is wise not to trust him.

This applies to believers. We are never required to entrust ourselves to man unless it is legitimate authority.

We must be wise in choosing whom we will trust.

Do not take ‘knowing all men’ as the equivalent of omnipresence or omniscience. During the incarnation Christ voluntarily restricted the independent use of His Divine capabilities and the independent expression of Divine character. Instead, He knew all man because He knew the principles related to the nature of man. If you know these principles, then you truly know man.

John 2:25, “And because He did not have need for anyone to testify concerning man; for He Himself knew what was in man.”

This reveals the background for verse 24.

The word for need is chreian. It comes from the ‘grace’ word group.

charis is the approach to problem solving. This is grace.

chrestos is the ability to solve problems within the parameters of the grace approach. This is proficiency.

chreian is the absolute necessity of doing things according to approach of grace and the ability of proficiency.

But this verse says that Christ did not have a need for anyone to testify concerning the untrustable nature of man that He knew Himself what was in man.

First how did Christ know this Himself? The only answer is that He had combined experience with the Word of God. He did not know the nature of sinful man from His divine nature.

Christ derived the principles of human nature from Scripture, and confirmed them through the observation of man in His life.

Second, the phrase ‘what was in man’ refers directly to the principles of human nature. The human soul, the human body, the old sin nature, the imputation of Adam’s Original Sin, all of these things are ‘what are in man.’

Since this verse concentrates on the negative in man, it is the combination of the sin nature and original sin that Christ used to conclude that He should not trust Himself to man.

Nicodemus and Christ

Nicodemus is a Greek name that means ‘Victor of the People’. Indeed he would be.

He is found only in John’s Gospel, in John 3:1-10; 7:37-52; and 19:38-42.

John 3:1 names him as a man of the Pharisees and a ruler of the Jews. The latter places him as a member of the Sanhedrin. A glimpse at this ruling body will reveal much about the man.

The word “Sanhedrin” comes from the Greek SUNEDRION, ‘a sitting place together’. It describes many people sitting together in the same place.

In the second and third centuries, the Persians, then the Greeks began to grant the Jews some privileges of self rule. The ruling counsel of the Sanhedrin finds its roots there, but the actual organization did not come into being until the time of the Maccabees, about 190 B.C.

They patterned themselves after the 70 elders of Moses’ appointment in Numbers 11:16, and claimed to exist continually since that time (about 1400 B.C.).

The Sanhedrin consisted of 70 members, presided over by the High Priest of the Jews. After the High Priest, the leadership fell to the Chief Priests, and then to the rank and file of the elders.

The powers and religious alignment of the Sanhedrin rose and fell throughout the time from its inception to Christ’s era. Sometimes it was dominated by Hellenists, sometimes by nationalists. Sometimes it had a great amount of influence over the lives of the Jews, sometimes hardly any. Sometimes it ruled much land, others only a small sliver.

At this time, 27 A.D. the Sanhedrin was dominated by a conciliatory branch of Jews known as the Sadducees, although there was a strong branch of Pharisees as well. They had a lot of power over both spiritual and secular matter, although only in Judea. However, all of Israel felt the influence of their power, and no place was truly free from their tyranny.

The Sanhedrin was a court much akin to the supreme court of the United States. When a lower court could not come to a decision, then the higher court would have to intervene. During Christ’s time, the Sanhedrin was trusted with most of the civil as well as religious cases. They had a tremendous influence on internal affairs, and apparently no small influence even in cases of capital crimes.

The Sanhedrin had its own police force, and no doubt had a constant temptation to abuse the powers of arrest. Otherwise, they would follow simple rules of jurisprudence.

Nicodemus was a rank and file member of the Sanhedrin minority party. He was just an elder.

He was one of the legalistic Pharisees. He would have an influence on policy, even though in the minority. The greater Sanhedrin could not rule effectively without the input and cooperation of men like Nicodemus.

The Sadducees were the aristocratic and Romantic branch of the Jewish Leadership. They were very antisupernatural in their world view, even denying the afterlife. They remained very materialistic, and were sycophantic toward the Roman rulership in order to retain their wealth.

The Pharisees were scholars, although extremely legalistic in their outlook, fanatics for making laws that did not exist. The Pharisees fashioned themselves as the champions of the people and yet were very oppressive in their rule.

Both considered themselves the best. Both were wrong. Nicodemus, however, was an honest man with positive volition.

READ John 3:19

Nicodemus was apparently a famous man, a member of the ruling council of the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin. In other words, he was a super Pharisee.

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. The original language shows a little surprise at this appearance. Perhaps because the Pharisees were already more than a little leery of Christ. The night time appearance reveals his desire to keep the visit a secret Nicodemus did not want the other Pharisees to know about this. It also shows his positive volition to Jesus Christ.

Nicodemus’ first words reveal his positive volition further. He has put two and two together in his own mind about Christ, and makes a statement to this effect. ‘Rabbi, we know that you have come as a teacher from God; for no one is able to do these signs which you do, unless God is with him.’ This statement does not go all the way; but it is true.

Jesus’ reply is a compliment. It assumes the best of Nicodemus that he is a believer. What he is saying is this: that Nicodemus’ statement reveals that he has seen the kingdom of God. Born from above is a reference to salvation. The notion of born again is not in the adverb ANOTHEN. ANOTHEN is never used in classical Greek to denote the idea of ‘again’. In fact, the use of this adverb in that way is drawn from this passage. Christ did not intend to use it that way, and neither did Nicodemus mistake it in that way.

Nicodemus mistook ANOTHEN for a word which sounds almost like it ANTHROPON. Nicodemus says ANTHROPOS in his next sentence.

Nicodemus’ question in reply to his misunderstanding of Jesus’ statement is relevant “How can a man (anthropos) being old be born?” Someone who is already a man cannot be born. You are born and then you become a man. He makes his point really clear by his example: ’He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?" Jesus was speaking on a spiritual level and Nicodemus on an earthly one.

Jesus reply in verse 5 is a clarification for Nicodemus. “Unless anyone is born of water and the Spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Notice that this is a parallel of His previous statement except that he substitutes EX HUDATOS KAI PNEUMATOS for ANOTHEN, and ‘enter into the kingdom of God’ instead of ‘see the kingdom of God’.

Our Lord is responding to the mistake of Nicodemus, and also changing his assessment. Instead of assuming that Nicodemus is a believer, Christ now assumes that he has yet to enter the kingdom.

‘Born of water and the Spirit’ is especially pertinent because it reveals two births.

Born of water is not a reference to baptism. Instead it is a reference to human birth. Before every birth, the woman’s water breaks (actually it is the fluid from the amniotic sac). Born of water is reference to this. It appears that every person is born of water, and this is a good way to make it clear that you are talking about human birth.

Born of the spirit is of course a reference to salvation, where God the Holy Spirit makes the new believer a new creature in Christ through His baptizing ministry.

Our Lord’s implication is this: that you must be both a man and believe in order to enter the kingdom of God. In a roundabout way he also tells Nicodemus that he is right about the first birth, but wrong about the second.

In verse 6, Jesus gives even further clarification on the matter. “That which is born from the flesh is flesh, and that which is born from the Spirit is Spirit.”

This simply divides birth into two categories: fleshly birth and spiritual birth.

It takes the point of view of origin in the matter of birth. The kind of birth which you have is a matter of the origin of that birth.

In verse 7 Christ deals with Nicodemus’ mistake. “Do not take surprise that I said to you, ‘It is necessary for you to be born from above.’ In the next verse, our Lord draws an analogy to explain this statement. These two verses, 7 and 8, are Christ’s final explanation of His first statement. Essentially He says, ‘do not misunderstand.’ Nicodemus was not amazed, he misunderstood.

The analogy that Christ uses is this: “The wind blows where it wills and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes or where it is going; so is everyone who is born from the Spirit.”

Christ is emphasizing that this is an invisible birth.

The birth from above is one which we know exists. We can see the results of it in believers (the sound).

Unlike the birth from flesh, we cannot perceive with our senses the origin or destination of the birth from above.

In other words, Christ is just showing a further distinction between the two kinds of birth, so that Nicodemus will clearly know in his own mind that there is a spiritual birth.

In Nicodemus’ final words he reiterates his positive volition. He says, “How can these things come to pass?”

Nicodemus uses the demonstrative adverb TAUTA to form the subject of his reply. It is a word that must be defined by a previous reference. It is translated, ‘these things’, and it goes back to these things:

The birth from above that gives insight into the kingdom of God.

The birth from above that enables one to enter the kingdom of God.

The birth from above that comes from the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

The ministry of the Spirit that is invisible yet very real, and with a will of its own.

By using the verb GINOMAI instead of the verb ESTIN, he shows his desire for the second birth. Nicodemus wants to know how to get the second birth for himself. GINOMAI is the verb of becoming, not of being. GINOMAI always indicates a change, an entrance into a new status.

Furthermore, Nicodemus uses DUNATAI, the verb of ability. By using DUNATAI, Nicodemus reveals his desire to know mechanics; to know what is to be done to gain entrance into God’s kingdom.

Nicodemus asks this question in such a way as to reveal a personal desire for this information he wants to become a believer.

Later passages reveal that at some point Nicodemus did accept Christ. His words in chapter 7 and his deeds in chapter 19 reveal it.

Verse 10, “Jesus answered and said to him,”You are the teacher of Israel and do not know these things?"

This verse is more of an exclamation than anything. Nicodemus as a member of the Sanhedrin should be an expert on salvation. He is a leader of his nation, and one who holds grave judicial responsibilities.

This also serves as a reminder of the kind of leadership that Israel had at the time. It was weak spiritually, and so the rank and file in the country would be exceedingly weak. This is why Christ would not trust the new believers. They had very little inherent restraint on the sin nature.

Verse 11, “Truly, truly I say to you that we speak that which we have known, and we testify what we have seen, and you do not receive our testimony.”

The formula amen stands as a pre-certification for what is to follow. Christ uses it to convince His hearers of the verity of His statement before they even listen to His words.

The two second verbs, oidamen and heorakamen are both in the perfect tense. In this case, they show something that is a life changing event the intervention of God. Christ uses the first person plural because He speaks for his followers and disciples as well. So, His disciples speak because God has intervened, and they know it. They testify because God has intervened and they have seen it. The knowing has to do with the doctrines, especially kingdom doctrines that Christ teaches. The seeing has to do with the miracles and healings that are done by Christ.

All of this earnest testimony and speech, and yet the Sanhedrin does not receive it. Christ employs the second person singular [you all], so He speaks to more than just Nicodemus.

Christ chides Nicodemus and his Pharisee and Sanhedrin mates so that Nicodemus might understand that this is not his first opportunity to receive the gospel. Perhaps Nicodemus was a part of the Sanhedrin task force sent to John the Baptist to find out whether Christ was fit to be their Messiah.

But Christ is getting at something more…

Verse 12, “If I spoke to you [all] earthly things and you [all] do not believe, how will you believe if I were to speak heavenly things?”

Christ uses a really fascinating conditional sentence. He begins in reality, by citing in the protasis what has already occurred. Then He postulates from the protasis what should logically occur as a result.

‘If I spoke to you earthly things…’ This has really happened. The aorist indicative of lego reveals this as an actual past event. Christ has spoken to Nicodemus and others about earthly things.

Their response was unbelief, one and all. Nicodemus, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Sanhedrin, they have all rejected Christ on the earthly level.

Now Christ postulates with the aorist subjunctive. This applies a likely outcome to a circumstance. The circumstance is Christ telling the Jewish leadership about heavenly things. The likely outcome is unbelief. The kind of reasoning here is simple: if the Jewish leadership is unable to believe an easy thing, then how will they ever believe the more difficult? It is like saying, ‘Because you could not lift 100 lbs., it is fair to assume that you cannot lift 200 lbs.’

Christ uses the second person plural to impersonalize this principle. He does not want Nicodemus to believe that He applies it to him.

This discourse on the negative volition of the Jewish leadership precedes the giving of the gospel, and for a reason. Jesus helps to identify for Nicodemus a sense of destiny about his unique position in the Sanhedrin as a believer. Remember, this reproof of Christ’s is directed at a body of men, not Nicodemus directly.

You, too, can have this kind of unique destiny by being a believer in a time when belief is not so popular. For Nicodemus, there was some of the greatest peer pressure against belief in God of all time, and yet He wanted to believe. This reproof and brief discourse is all about helping Nicodemus to identify himself, and separate himself from his peers.

Verse 13, “And no one has ascended into heaven, except the one who first descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”

The Son of Man is a prophetic term, a reference to Christ’s relationship with Adam.

It occurs 107 times in the Old Testament, but only fourteen times outside of Ezekiel. In those cases outside of Ezekiel, it is almost universally an idiom for ‘human being’. But in one instance in Daniel, it most certainly refers to Adam himself. The one time that it is used in the singular in Daniel is 7:13, and this is the reference for the popular term in New Testament times.

Daniel 7:1314, “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Adam was coming. And He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.”

The ’Ancient of Days is an Aramaic title that refers to God the Father as judge of Jesus Christ. Daniel 7:722 is the only instance of this title for God the Father. It concentrates on his eternal nature, and His authority over the other two members of the Godhead.

God would judge the sins of mankind in the Son of Adam on the cross.

God gave two evaluations of His Son during the incarnation ‘This is my Son, whom I love, in whom I am well pleased.’ Once at His baptism, and once at the transfiguration.

The picture presented in Daniel’s vision is the transfer of authority from God the Father to Jesus Christ the Son. This transfer of authority occurred in heaven most likely immediately before the incarnation. This is something of a Christmas story from Daniel. It is a revelation of the moments before the incarnation of Christ, the sad/glad going away ceremony for the Son. From that moment forward God the Son would never be the same. He would become the God man, and though His deity did not change, His status did. This is the moment when Christ voluntarily restricted the independent use of His divine attributes, and the independent expression of His divine character. This moment was somewhat akin to taking a military oath.

The earthly transfer of authority took place at Christ’s baptism.

The term ‘the Son of Man’ describes here Christ’s relationship to the first man, Adam.

READ Romans 5:12-21.

Naturally, this verse would be a popular one with an oppressed nation such as Israel.

In Ezekiel the prophet himself is addressed as the son of Adam, an identification of him as one belonging to the human race.

By the time that Christ came on the scene, the Son of Man was a popular term, and needed no explanation whatsoever. Never once in the New Testament does the use of the term require an explanation to the readers or listeners. It is simply used. Christ employed the direct Greek translation of the term, which used the noun anthropos as a translation for the Hebrew Adam.

Now the verse serves to communicate that Christ is indeed the Son of Man. This is one for Nicodemus to remember a few years from this time, when Christ does ascend.

This is not the first time that Christ uses His own future as evidence for His deity. Remember the cleansing, when he used His own resurrection as future evidence. Well, here we go again.

So, Christ will ascend, and it will mean this: that He descended from heaven at some time before. At this moment when Christ speaks to Nicodemus, He has already descended. Nicodemus alluded to it, but believed that Christ was just a man sent from God. Christ identifies Himself as the Son of Adam, who is the Son of God, and offers His future ascension as evidence for His present status.

Verse 14, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”

Verse 15 will deal with the purpose for this statement, but let’s see what this says first.

A comparison is drawn between a past event for Israel, and the necessity of a future event in the life of Christ.

Again this is the use of a future event for evidence of present status.

This event that Christ refers to is in Numbers 21: 9. The setting is that of yet another rebellion by the children of Israel against Moses and against God. Specifically, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”

The discipline for this complaining attitude was a plague of fiery serpents, which bit the Jews, many of whom died. The fiery term is most likely due to a specific effect of the venom on the nervous system.

Well, with this kind of discipline, many of the Jews repented, and went before Moses to seek forgiveness, asking him to intercede on their behalf.

Moses went before God for his people, and so God forgave them. As a sign, God required Moses to make a fiery serpent of bronze and lift it up before the people so that if they looked at it they would live.

When people received a bite by a serpent they would look at the bronze serpent and be cured of the effects of the venom.

Moses’ serpent was made of bronze to represent the judgment of God concerning this sin.

By looking at the serpent, an expression of belief was made. The kind of seeing here is the Hebrew word RA’AH, the equivalent of the Greek THEOREO, ‘to behold’. The idea is looking with a desire to know. The pure motive is taken into account in the looking, and not everyone who glanced the way of the serpent would be healed of their sin and the discipline that accompanied it.

Now Christ would be lifted up on the cross.

Verse 15, “that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life.”

This verse sets the standard for salvation unto eternal life.

Note the third class conditional sentence: salvation is a direct result of the expression of human will.

The work is done; the son of man has been lifted up; we need only trust in that work. Not in what we do, or thing, or any kind of merit inherent in ourselves. Just Him, and more specifically the work done on the cross.

This is a purpose clause; the Son of man was lifted up on the cross so that we might believe, and no other reason. hina.

Notice that the adjective pas describes the universal condition for salvation, ‘everyone who believes.’ There is no exception, no amount or severity placed on sin, so that some of the worst who believe are excluded. Every one who believes, without exception, without reference to what has gone in the past.

Next, is the Divine motive. Why has God chosen to forgive mankind, even the most sinful of men?

Verse 16, “For God so loved the world, so that He gave his only born Son, in order that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

The verse has three parts: the motivation of God, the resultant action, and the purpose of the action. Here begins a commentary by the writer of this gospel, and not the words of Christ Himself.

The ‘might’ here is dependent absolutely on human volition. The might is not,’ believe, and you might not perish’, but you will not perish if you do believe. It is not, ‘Believe and you might have eternal life’, but believe and you definitely will have it. The might is that the verse looks at the possibility from the viewpoint of human free will, not what God might do after the free will is expressed. This is a Greek third class condition, and it shows that if the condition is fulfilled, then always, always, the results will come to pass. Here, the condition is belief in Christ, and here, everyone who believes does not perish, but comes to have eternal life.

The conjunction houto.s indicates a stronger degree of God’s love. He so loved…

The verb e.gape.sen is from agapao. Virtue love is in view here. The verb is in the aorist tense, and so reveals one moment of time in eternity past. That moment when God conceived His perfect idea on how to provide for the redemption of mankind.

So first, the love of God.

Love is a word that describes purity of motive.

Motivation is a thought or system of thought that leads one to act. In order to move, you must first think.

Given the conditions of fallen mankind and the perfection of God, what was the thought or system of thought that moved God to act in the provision of salvation?

The Bible reveals that it was the purest motive of all, love. The very verse we study confirms this.

The motive was not anything that we might consider from human viewpoint: it was not attraction to the human race, for they were in total depravity; not personality or physical attractiveness or success or clothing or anything else. God looks at the heart, and before Christ, the heart is wicked, with nothing that might attract the love of God.

The motive was a desire for the human race to have the same thing that the three members of the Godhead had, a virtue love relationship.

From eternity past, God has perfect personal love among the members of the Godhead.

The Father has perfect love for the Son and the Spirit.

The Son has perfect love for the Father and the Spirit.

The Spirit has perfect love for the Father and Son.

This love is based on the virtue of both the subject and the object of love. It is perfect love expressed toward perfection, and infinite by nature.

This perfect love is an appreciation and admiration for the other persons of the Godhead. This directed toward who they are and what they do.

This perfect love is infinitely fantastic, and the greatest treasure of all time and out of time.

When God observed mankind in total depravity, He moved to save them in order to provide for them the greatest treasure of all time and out of time, a love relationship with Him.

But the love of God had to overcome the sinfulness of man without compromising His own holiness. He could not give the greatest treasure to the those who were unfit because of the ravages of sin.

Therefore, Christ, the God-man. The unique person of the universe.

God gave His only born Son.

The aorist tense of didomi again takes us back to a moment of time in eternity past, when God made the decision to give His Son.

Giving is a real lightweight idea for what God did. It was sacrifice, plain and simple. From His foreknowledge, God knew exactly what the sending of His Son entailed.

The sacrifice included at the least a change in status. By limiting His capabilities and character, Christ limited His old relationship with the Father and the Spirit, Phil 2:58.

The sacrifice included the utter separation of the cross. The physical pain, was something, but the spiritual was far more. Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?

The adjective monogenes reveals a couple of things about Christ.

Christ is the only born Son of God. Not the first born, with others to follow, but the only born.

Christ is the God-man in hypostatic union, and is therefore unique in all the universe. He was truly one of a kind. And yet God was willing to sacrifice Him.

This was an incredibly painful sacrifice! And from it we gain an idea of the virtue of God: of how very much He values His own love, and what He would do to bring it to His own creatures who stand without it.

The sacrifice of Christ was a universal one He died for all the sins of all mankind, it was unlimited atonement. 1 John 2:1.

God’s intent is to save the human race from perishing. This perishing is eternity in the Lake of Fire.

People choose to go to hell. It is an option in life, and those who reject God and the Gospel choose the Lake of Fire. Unlimited atonement makes eternal punishment just.

The Lake of Fire is the final destination for both fallen angels and unbelieving mankind. It was prepared in angelic prehistory at the judgment of the fallen angels, Matt. 25:41, “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’”

The first occupants of the Lake of Fire will be the beast and the false prophet of the Tribulation, Rev 19:20, “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.”

Next will be Satan himself, Rev 20:20, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

After the judgment of Satan, all unbelievers are judged and cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the judgment of the Great White Throne, Rev 20:1415, “And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Specific mention is made of sinners who are especially heinous, Rev 21:8, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part [fate] is in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” This mention is made so that we believers might gain a greater appreciation of divine justice related to unbelievers.

There is no way out.

John 3:18,36“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Heb 9:27, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”

The lake of fire is modeled after an old place of sacrifice just South of Jerusalem. It was called Gehenna. Gehenna is synonymous with the valley of the sons of Hinnom, or BenHinnom.

The valley of Gehenna was a place of child sacrifice, where babies were thrown into a fire, 2 Kings 16:3; 21:6.

Jeremiah 7:32; and 19:6 set this place as a place of discipline for Judah.

Christ often uses Gehenna to describe eternal punishment, Matt 10:28; 13:40,42,50; 25:41,46; Mark 9:43, 45, 4749.

The alternative to the Lake of Fire is Eternal Life. What is the difference? The sacrifice of human pride. This is why so many choose the Lake of Fire. It seems such an incredible thing that people would do this, but they do!

Note that we begin in judgment, and can choose to get out from under it by believing in Jesus Christ, but we cannot escape that judgment if we reject Him.

This is a literal lake of fire… Christ and all the other writers of Scripture portray it as such. This is not a metaphor, not simply an illustration, not something used to scare us, but does not really exist [if you don’t clean your room, the boogie man is going to get you!], not anything other than what it is, a place of eternal punishment.

Hell is not just eternal separation from God; it is much, much more. It is eternal, burning pain, for the fires of hell do not consume the resurrection bodies of the damned. This form of punishment is appropriate for those arrogant enough to reject the Grace Offer of God. It is the arrogance of those who equate themselves with God; of those who deny their need for God.

From the perspective of the eternal state we will observe the justice of God, and understand fully His action in carrying out the sentencings to Hell. If it seems harsh now, then learn more about God, and you will know.

The alternative to perishing is eternal life (really brief review).

Verse 17, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.”

This is a crucial verse on divine motivation and character.

It reveals God in the best possible light; that His motive in sending His Son was the highest and purest form of love.

Have you ever encountered an unbeliever who was offended at the idea of hell? That a loving God could never send anyone to eternal damnation? Well, this verse is certainly for them.

There are two things that a loving God would never do:

The first would be to leave anyone in condemnation without the possibility of redemption;

The second would be to force anyone to accept that offer of redemption.

So God sent His Son to die for the sins of mankind, and you should certainly consider the grave nature of this sacrifice as a vital symbol of God’s earnest desire to save mankind. He gave His unique and only Son on our behalf.

For “God is not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Therefore, God does not gleefully rub together His hands in anticipation of the final judgment; every lost soul grieves Him.

Yet, Christ will judge believers and unbelievers alike. (see doctrine of judgments).

Verse 18, “the one who believes in Him is not judged; but the one who does not believe has already been judged, because he has not believed in the name of the only born Son of God.”

This verse is best seen in the light of the doctrine of imputations (reference).

At its simplest foundation, this verse says that people are brought into this life in a state of condemnation, and brought out of that state by belief in Christ.

Believers are still evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ; but the salvation issue is certainly no longer a question.

Verse 19, “and this is the judgment: that the light shone in the world and men loved the darkness more than the light; for their works were evil.”

John now goes back to the big picture. In a wistful manner he summarizes the life of Christ.

The light shone in the world; this is a one-sentence review of John 1:15.

Men loved the darkness more than the light; this sounds a little like John 1:5, but there is a distinction. In the earlier verse there is a concentration on the efforts of the darkness to destroy the light; in the later verse, an explanation of why the men of darkness rejected the light.

The explanation is that their works were evil.

Perhaps a quote from one of John’s epistles will explain it best: 1 John 2:1517.

Do not love the cosmic system nor the things in the cosmic system. If anyone loves the cosmic system, the love of the Father is not in him.

The first part of this verse is command and warning to abstain from having high esteem for the cosmic system.

If you have high esteem for the cosmic system, that is, if you like being involved in it, then you are not in spiritual adulthood.

You cannot enjoy being in the cosmic system and be a spiritual adult at the same time.

The cosmic system is the enemy and opposite of God the Father’s plan for your life.

If you are in the cosmic system, then you are an enemy of God, even though you may be a believer.

Because everything that is in the cosmic system, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the arrogance of life, is not a part of the Father but is a part of the cosmic system.

John divides the cosmic system into three categories: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the arrogance of life. See the genius in this.

There is a kind of lust that comes from within the body sexual lust.

The lust of the eyes is materialism what things in life that you desire.

And then there is a generic arrogance of life.

And yet the world and its lust is deceiving itself, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

Again, the cosmic system and its components cause self-deception and self-destruction in the cycle of lust and unhappiness.

Those believers who get involved in the cosmic system lose their rewards for eternity even though they still have eternal life.

By contrast, those believers who stick it out in the plan of God have not only eternal life, but a fantastic system of rewards as well.

Tragically, those who refuse to believe in Christ do not have eternal life, but instead are cast into the lake of fire.

A conclusion: people remain in darkness because somehow they love what is there and what they do there. Some people loathe the darkness and so come into the light.

Verse 20, “For each one who practices worthlessness hates the light and does not come to the light, so that his works might not be exposed.”

Worthlessness is PHAULOS, the word which means even in the Greek out of bounds.’

Some things are obviously out of bounds, like many evil sins and acts. Murder would be a good example for this.

Other things are not so obvious, such as the right thing done for the wrong reason. God looks on the heart, and probes our motives for doing good things.

We can do good things because we love Him and are responding to His love; or, we can do good things because we are trying to impress God with our own brand of righteousness. The latter is certainly PHAULOS.

Let me emphasize the practice. This shows a consistent pattern of behavior that is uncaring about sin.

Someone who cares about resisting temptation will not only fight and scratch and bleed in the war against sin, but they will also acquire all the defenses that they possibly can through their study of Bible truth.

And not only this, but someone who cares about sin will confess that sin as soon as they possibly can.

And this person who practices worthlessness does not come into the light; that is, he does not regularly expose his soul to the truth. This is because that exposure will cause him to leave behind what he loves so much.

Verse 21, “And the one who practices the truth comes to the light, in order that his works by be shown that have been made in God.”

But the one who practices the truth must get the truth on a regular basis, even every day to do so.

Coming to the light is that very thing exposure to the truth.

Coming to the light gives you the opportunity to practice the truth, and once you practice the truth you have every reason to return to that exposure of light, because it places you in a very excellent standing you are fulfilling the plan of God!


Romans 3:19-20, “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may be accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified in His sight; for by the Law is the knowledge of sin.”

1 Timothy 1:9-10, “Realizing this fact that the Law was not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who murder their fathers and mothers, for murderers in general, for fornicators and homosexuals, for kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”

The Mosaic Law defines sin for both unbelievers and believers.

Galatians 3:2426, “Therefore what is the purpose of the Law? It has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under the tutor. For you are all the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

The purpose of the Law to the unbeliever is:

– To reveal sin, but not to remove it.

– To reveal sin, but not to prevent it.

– To prove all human beings as sinners, but it was not a standard by which one might prove himself holy.

The Law was added because of transgressions.

Galatians 3:19, “Therefore why the Law? It was added to grace because of the transgressions, until from whom came the seed in what form it had been promised, having been ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator.”

The Law was added to the Old Testament portfolio of grace because of the transgressions, or personal sins of those in that time.

The Law bridged the gap between Moses and Christ. Christ is the seed, who came in the form of a man.

He was ordained through angels by their great pronouncement on the night He was born.

Though the Law was ordained to life, it is a sentence to death, Romans 7:10, “and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;”

Therefore, the Law is a minister of condemnation, and not of spirituality.

2 Cor 3:68, “…who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?”

A Study of Romans 5:12-21:

Rom. 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, so also death went to all men, on the basis of which all sinned”

Sin entered the world through Adam. Note, however, that this is for the human race. Sin originally entered the world through Satan.

Spiritual death entered the world through sin. Spiritual death is separation from God due to His holiness and your sinful state; it is total helplessness to remedy the situation.

Spiritual death went to all men by the imputation of Adam’s original sin to the genetically formed old sin nature.

The result of this is that all men are considered to have sinned. EPI HO should be translated ‘on the basis of which’ not ‘because’

This is not a raw deal! It is the best deal that mankind ever received!

Rom. 5:13 " now before the Law, sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed while there is no Law."

The first half of this verse relates something so obvious it is almost embarrassing: that sin was in the world before the time of the Mosaic Law.

The preposition ACHRI with the genitive case can show time until, or also time before; here it is the latter.

The contrasting statement is in the second half of the verse. That sin is not imputed while there is no Law. Ultimately, God is fair.

All the personal sins of the world were imputed to Christ while He was on the cross.

1 John 2:1-2, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you might not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

1 Timothy 2:6, “who gave himself as a ransom for all men the testimony given in its proper time.”

Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”

Even before the cross this was considered as true, because of the veracity of God. He is always faithful to His word.

Condemnation comes not because of personal sin, but because of Adam’s original sin (see later reference). The imputation of Adam’s original sin causes a condemnation that can only be abrogated by belief in Christ.

The last half of this verse does not refer to personal sin, which is all imputed to Christ while He is on the cross.

The last half of this verse does not refer to the sin nature, which is transmitted genetically and thus not a part of the imputation plan.

Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was born in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Therefore this imputation can only be Adam’s original sin. And isn’t that the subject of this passage anyway?

This applies to all who have not reached the age of God-consciousness.

The Law brought God consciousness and a whole lot more; it brought a knowledge of sin; of imputations; of the perfect character of God; of the future work of Christ.

In other words, the Law made an issue out of the gospel for all who encountered it.

Children before a certain age do not have God consciousness; the mentally retarded may never gain it.

Before the Law came it was much more difficult to come to God consciousness. There was no written code or ritual which taught sin and the work of Christ.

This does not, however, mean that there was no condemnation or imputation of Adam’s original sin. Far from it. For both spiritual death and salvation by faith are dispensational constants since Adam.

The two statements of verse thirteen do not say that there was no gospel before the Law came!

There was spiritual death in the time between Adam and Moses. It is just that the Law made it so much easier to come to God-consciousness that it increased spiritual death.

There is a verse which should make this passage a little clearer.

2 Peter 2:21, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred commandment that was passed on to them.”

Rom. 5:14, “Nonetheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

Spiritual death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam.

This does not mean, however, that spiritual death then ceased to reign after the introduction of the Mosaic Law. In fact, spiritual death still reigns today, even after the accomplishments of the cross and the resurrection.

Adam was a type of Christ. He was born into a state of perfection no sin nature, and no condemnation.

He was a crucial part of the imputation plan of God. The sin of Adam was imputed to all mankind, as the sin of all mankind was imputed to Christ.

It is on the basis of our persistent rejection of the gospel that we are in the end condemned to the Lake of Fire.

John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

You are judged already because of the imputation of Adam’s original sin.

If you never came to God consciousness, Adam’s sin was never imputed to you, and so you were never condemned.

John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

The wrath of God abides on you because you previously received the imputation of Adam’s original sin, which caused your condemnation.

If you never came to God consciousness you never received the sin of Adam and resultant condemnation.

It did not matter how those in the time between Adam and Moses sinned, but whether they believed in Jesus Christ.

Spiritual death continued to reign because there are other ways to come to God consciousness than through the Mosaic Law. Although the Mosaic Law was quite effective in this regard, there are other ways.

Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

The Religious Argument. The religious argument contends that God exists because mankind universally believe in His existence. Creatures do not crave what does not exist, and men seek after God. Even religious instincts indicate the reality of a Supreme Being. The concept of man seeking God is found in Jeremiah 29:13, and Acts 17:27.

The Moral or Anthropological Argument. This argument says that to a greater or lesser degree man’s soul possesses both volition and conscience with an urge to choose right over wrong. This phenomena has no explanation apart from the existence and influence of a Supreme Being with perfect and eternal holiness or integrity. A material, ungoverned universe can know nothing of moral values apart from the absolute righteousness of a Supreme Being. Acknowledging the existence of virtue and truth eventuates in becoming aware of the source of virtue and truth. Jesus said, “I am the truth…no man comes unto the Father but by Me.”

The Ontological Argument. Ontological reasoning says that since the human mind possesses the idea of a perfect and absolute being, such a being must exist. Apart from the religious and moral tendencies, the existence of God is a necessary idea to the human intellect, and beyond the relative which mankind measures there is the absolute which gives value and character to the relative.

The Teleological Argument. This argument is the fact that the universe, by its telescopic and microscopic wonders, always form arrangement, purpose, and adaptation, which connotes a designer. Structure in the universe demands a designer. The more we discover about the perfect structure of the universe in science, the more we recognize the need for a designer. Romans 1:20. The order of the universe can no more be accidental than the shuffling of twenty-six letters of the alphabet into a beautiful poem. The chemical contents of the human body are never accidentally combined to form man.

The Cosmological Argument. This reasoning states that the intuitive law of cause and effect demands the existence of God as the initial cause. Order in the universe demands both a creator and a preserver. The universe presents an overwhelming demand for belief in the existence of God.

John 1:3, speaking of Jesus Christ as eternal God, says, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

Colossians 1:16-17teaches that Jesus Christ is not only the creator of the universe, but that He also holds it together for the perpetuation of human history until the end of the Millennium, “For by Him were all things created both in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or empires or rulers or authorities. All things have been created through Him and for Him. He has existed prior to all things and by Him all things hold together.”

Hebrews 1:10, “In the beginning, O Lord [Jesus Christ], You laid the foundations of the earth and the heavens are the workmanship of Your hands.”

Hebrews 1:3, “He upholds all things by the word of His power.”

Rom. 5:15, “But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”

This contains the simple and just formula of imputation.

Many, but not all died in Adam. Some who never reached God consciousness did not.

Christ died for the sins of all.

As a result, those who never reach God consciousness are automatically saved, while those who believe in Christ are saved by the work of Christ. This is the many.

While Christ died for all in unlimited atonement, not all are saved. Only many.

Rom. 5:16, “And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift from the many transgressions resulting in justification.”

A contrast between Adam’s original sin and the atoning sacrifice of Christ.

The judgment is the imputation of Adam’s original sin; it is synonymous with the imputation in verse thirteen. An imputation is a divine judgment.

The result of the imputation of Adam’s sin is condemnation.

The free gift came from the imputation of all the sins of mankind being imputed to the body of Christ on the cross. The imputation of the free gift to the one who believes results in justification.

The true nature of the free gift is the righteousness of Christ that same righteousness that He produced by dying for the sins of man.

John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Rom. 5:17, “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”

Death reigned through the imputation of the original sin of Adam.

We should reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. There two good explanations of the reign of life in this verse:

Our reign over the sin nature, which is spiritual adulthood to spiritual maturity.

Our reign with Christ in the millennium.

If we do the first, we will have the second.

Christ is the prince-ruler of the church, and will be the king of kings and Lord of lords starting at the second advent.

We can share in Christ’s victory in operation footstool through our advance in the protocol plan for the church age.

Rom. 5:18, “Therefore a conclusion: as through one transgression all men tend to condemnation, so also through one act of righteousness all men tend to justification of life.”

This is an exact parallelism. In order for God to be perfectly just in His imputations, there must be perfect balance present. The exact parallelism is denoted by the use of HOS in the first clause and HOUTOS KAI in the second. They are translated, ‘as… so also’.

The second one first: not all men are saved, and that is not what this verse says. Salvation is hardly automatic.

Instead, the double use of the preposition EIS in this clause functions to show a tendency toward something, which is justification through the righteousness of Christ. This double EIS without the verb is unique to Greek literature.

So our translation: ‘through one act of righteousness all men tend to justification of life.’

Not all men fulfill this purpose of God, because God gave all men free will.

The first one second: If not all men are saved by the atoning sacrifice of Christ, then certainly not all men are condemned through Adam’s original sin.

Remember, this is an exact parallel. Therefore, if you believe that unlimited atonement leads not all to salvation, you must also believe that Adam’s original sin cannot be imputed to all.

Adam’s original sin may only fairly be imputed to those who have God consciousness; anything less would violate the integrity of God. God never arbitrarily condemns anyone!

This is the true volitional view!

Rom. 5:19, “For just as through the one man’s disobedience the many were appointed sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be appointed righteous.”

Notice the word HOI POLLOI. It is the Greek word ‘many’.

Again there is an exact parallel between the two clauses of this verse. This time that parallel is formed by HOSPER… HOUTOS. The translation is ‘just as… even so’.

Again we will take the second clause first: through the obedience of the One many will be appointed righteous.

‘Many’ is perfectly accurate! Not all are saved through the work of Christ. Many are saved, and in fact many are not!

The obedience of Christ resulted in unlimited atonement. However, God still honors volitional decisions!

Although through the work of Christ all men tend toward justification, not all receive it.

And the first clause last: through one man’s disobedience the many were appointed sinners.

Many, but not all are appointed sinners.

Although all men tend to condemnation, not all receive it.

Adam’s original sin is only imputed at God consciousness!

Rom. 5:20,21, “And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where the sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The purpose of the Law was so that God consciousness might increase. The Law is superb at that function.

Romans 3:19-20, “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may be accountable [HUPODIKOS] to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified in His sight; for by the Law is the knowledge [EPIGNOSIS] of sin.”

Galatians 3:24-26, “Therefore what is the purpose of the Law? It has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under the tutor. For you are all the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

This is because wherever Adam’s original sin is imputed, there is an amplification of grace.

God is glorified each time someone believes in Christ.

The imputation of Adam’s original sin makes that a possibility.

The reign of grace is again the process of spiritual growth to maturity. Salvation makes the reign of grace possible!

When someone goes to heaven by default, there is some glorification of God because it is a display of the work of Christ through unlimited atonement.

When someone chooses Christ from the status of condemnation, there is greater grace. This is the subject of Paul’s conclusion.

Romans 6:5-6, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…”

The old sin nature was crucified with Christ on the cross.

As a result, it cannot be a basis for condemnation.

The Old Sin Nature is transmitted genetically through the seed of Adam. It provides temptation to the soul, James 1:1415.

This context concerns the post salvation effect of Christ’s payment for the old sin nature.

Romans 4:15, “For the Law produces wrath; but where there is no Law, neither is there transgression (original sin).

Naturally, this can lead to no small amount of confusion.

Pay attention to the word PARABASIS. Paul employs it to denote original sin!

Romans 5:14

1 Timothy 2:14 (the woman’s original sin).

The Law (as the gospel) brings wrath from God because of the imputation of Adam’s original sin and subsequent condemnation.

But if there is no Law yet on the heart, there is no Adam’s original sin.

This does not mean that if you sin in ignorance of the Law, there is no sin! That notion would offend any Jew who knew of the Law of burnt offerings in Leviticus chapter four. The first half of that chapter is about the sacrifices which must be made for sins done in ignorance.

This is a distinct reinforcement of Romans 5:13b, ’but sin is not imputed while there is no Law."

Romans 7:9-11, “but I was then continuously alive apart from the Law, but after the commandment came, sin sprang to life, and I died, and the commandment resulting in life was found in me, this resulting in death. For the sin, after taking the opportunity through the commandment deceived me and through it killed me.

The previous two verses form the immediate context: “Therefore what will we say? The Law is sin? Definitely not! But I would not have known sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting unless the Law was saying”You will not covet." But sin, after taking an opportunity through the commandment produced in me every kind of lust. For apart from the Law sin is dead"

The Law is not sin, but it brings knowledge of sin. With the knowledge of sin comes the ability to sin knowingly.

Therefore without the Law sin is powerless. Because knowledge of sin brings power to sin.

Therefore the Law gives voice to the sin nature. The sin nature develops a vocabulary and broader frame of reference through the Law’s defining of sin.

Paul says he was continuously alive apart from the Law that is, that before he knew of the Law he was spiritually alive. The imperfect tense of ZAO portrays past continuous action.

At some time in the past Paul was continuously alive.

This was the time before he knew the Law, as indicated by the second clause.

Human life is not an issue in this passage. The subject is neither human life nor death.

If the subject is figurative life, there is only one figurative life that it could be; spiritual life.

Now again, Paul is saying that he was spiritually alive before the Law came into his life.

After the commandment came, sin sprang to life. Just which commandment is defined by the end of verse ten; it is the commandment which results in life which could only be the gospel.

So the commandment which results in life causes sin to spring to life, which in turn brings about spiritual death.

Therefore each human life is a miniature copy of the history of sin. Each one is born into innocence.

The category of sin in view here is however the sin nature. The sin nature lies dormant in the flesh until such time as it develops a vocabulary and frame of reference.

The vocabulary and frame of reference of the sin nature can only come through the Law of God, whether through natural means or through the Pentateuch.

– Natural means number one: the conscience.

– Natural means number two: parents.

– Natural means number three: other institutions of authority.

The amplification of the Pentateuch in the New Testament may also be a source of the Law for this purpose.

The knowledge which comes by these means may be knowledge of God, direct prohibitions against sin, or the Gospel itself.

The sin nature does not act ignorantly or blindly; it acts through cognizance.

Therefore knowledge of the Law of God activates the sin nature.

The activation of the sin nature brings the imputation of Adam’s Original Sin, and thus condemnation: spiritual death.

The final clause of verse ten explain this with clarity: HE ENTOLE HE EIS ZOEN, HAUTE EIS THANATON.

A very literal translation would say, “the commandment which is unto life, this is unto death.

There are many uses of the preposition EIS in the Koine’ Greek of the New Testament; the obvious use here is as something which points to the result of an action or incident.

Therefore, there is a commandment which results in life.

And, this same commandment results in death.

The demonstrative pronoun HAUTE points back to the antecedent ENTOLE. It is worthwhile to note that the same commandment which results in life also results in death.

There is only one commandment that can result in life. It is the commandment to believe in Jesus Christ.

So listen again to Paul’s order:

He was continuously alive apart from the Law.

The commandment came and sin [the sin nature] sprang to life.

Then came spiritual death.

This possibility sees Paul’s continuous spiritual life as post salvation.

The death in the verse would then be temporary spiritual death, or loss of fellowship.

The hearing of the commandment would be anytime that you add a new ‘nono’ to the categories of your soul.

The failure of this interpretation is threefold: the sin nature is alive and well long before salvation, so it does not spring to life each time something new is learned; the death is very obviously the imputation of Adam’s Sin; and the continuous life is not an accurate representation of the spiritual dynamics of the Christian life.

The continuous life is life in the womb interpretation.

This possibility sees the continuous life as the biological life in the womb, with the imputation of Adam’s sin at birth.

However, this immediately falls apart when you realize that there is no God consciousness for many months after birth, and that the crux of this passage has to with the knowledge of God, sin, and the gospel.

This view completely fails to account for the gap between human birth and God, and so must be discounted.

The only option remaining is the one we have discussed.

The Essence of Adam’s Sin:

Adam’s Original Sin is imputed at God consciousness, but before any personal sin is committed.

On the basis of Adam’s Sin, each one receives condemnation which is tantamount to spiritual death. This is the point at which separation from God is initiated.

Only because Adam’s Sin is imputed before any personal sin is committed is there the allowance of a just imputation of personal sin to Jesus Christ.

Whether the child believes in the gospel at this time is not an issue; the sin is always imputed before any personal sin is committed, and before there is a chance to express belief in Jesus Christ.

In other words, there is no chance of continue perfection. The sin of Adam is imputed before anything else can occur.

The results of the imputation.

Therefore, each human being is a model in miniature of the life of Adam, and even before Adam, of Satan.

There is creature innocence, knowledge, and then sin.

But unlike Adam and Satan, there is condemnation before the commitment of personal sins.

This early condemnation is what allows God to impute our personal sins to Christ, and thus it also makes volition the issue.

This also allows for the perfection of Jesus Christ, because He had no sin nature and no sin before His God consciousness.

With no sin nature, God could not impute Adam’s Sin to His Son.

Therefore, Christ had to remain perfect throughout His life, or suffer eternal separation from the Father. The stakes were indeed high.

The imputation of Adam’s sin at God-consciousness means that there is no condemnation or spiritual death before that time. In fact, there is spiritual life until that time.

Since there is no condemnation or spiritual death before that time, it is clear that God is able to save those individuals without the compromise of His justice.

There is no need for the imputation of the personal sins to Christ of those who do not reach God consciousness, because there is no sine without God consciousness. Therefore, there are no sins that need to be imputed!

At God consciousness, if the knowledge of God and sin are rejected, then certain things occur immediately. Remember, condemnation from Adam’s sin occurs before there is a chance to consider the gospel.

Romans 1:21, “Therefore, though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became vacuous in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Remember the two preceding verses are specifically about God consciousness.

This sounds remarkably like an entrance into the very first stage of the cosmic system, and so it is.

Ephesians 4:1719, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the unbelievers also walk, in the vacuum of their mind, being continually darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance, the being in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”

Distinctions of early life.

In the womb, there is biological life but no soul life. Though there is a sin nature, it is dormant.

The soul and spirit are imputed at birth; there is human life and spiritual life but no consciousness of God (see Psalm 8:2). There is a sin nature, but it is still dormant.

Between birth and God consciousness there are three basic needs of every infant:

There are physical needs, including food, clothing, shelter, and even comfort.

There is the need to explore and accumulate knowledge.

There is a need for love and affection.

If the basic needs of an infant are consistently met, then it will be a happy child.

The means for God consciousness vary, and Paul even indicates that the state may be achieved by learning one of the ten commandments.

Those responsible for an infant are responsible to meet his or her needs consistently and personally.

The expression of displeasure by an infant who has not reached God consciousness is simply related to its needs, and not a rejection of the authority of his or her parents or guardians.

This expression of displeasure is definitely not sin. It is absolutely necessary that the an infant at this time communicate to his caretakers about his needs.

The expression of displeasure is the way an infant does this, and this cannot be classified as sin.

At the moment of God consciousness, the sin of Adam is imputed, spiritual death ensues (loss of the human spirit) the sin nature activates, and the child enters the cosmic system.

Three Psalms:

Psalm 51:5, see David’s Bastardship.

Psalm 58:3, “The wicked go astray from the womb; they err from their birth, continually speaking lies.”

This Psalm has been quoted as support for the imputation of Adam’s sin at birth.

But observe: this Psalm is an imprecation against the wicked of the world. The sixth verse says, “O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth; break out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord.”

It is a Psalm exclusive about the wicked of the world and their behavior; in no way is it intended to describe the entire human race.

Therefore, when the third verse makes its axioms, those axioms apply exclusively to the wicked, and definitely not to the entire human race.

And therefore, the verse does not have the imputation of Adam’s Sin as its subject.

This point becomes clear from a study of the original Hebrew:

The first verb is the qal perfect ZORU, which is translated ‘go astray’.

The perfect tense communicates an axiom that is always true about the wicked of this world.

The verb itself usually denotes the literal separation of a blood relationship, and is the same verb employed in Psalm 69:8 to describe David’s blood separation from his own brothers. Here however it illustrates the spiritual separation between the wicked and God.

The wicked produce the action of this verb; that is, they go astray under their own power, and not because of their sin nature or because of the imputation of Adam’s Sin.

They go astray from the womb; the phrase is MERAHEM, and it is a synonym for birth.

Now of course this is a hyperbole. David is trying to communicate a point by exaggeration.

The hyperbole is a common figure of speech in the Bible, and has persisted throughout history and almost all languages and cultures. It draws attention to the degree of something by overstating the case.

“They go astray from birth” is another way of saying that they are sinning at the earliest age possible.

The second verb is TA`U, and it also is a qal perfect verb.

Again the perfect tense is axiomatic; it describes something that is always true about the wicked.

The verb itself depicts someone who wanders about aimlessly; it is the perfect picture of the drunk, and Isaiah employs it that way in Isaiah 28:7.

It also depicts someone who wanders away from the Law of God.

The subject of this verb is the wicked, and it produces the action of the verb. It is an accurate portrayal of volition producing personal sin, and nothing else.

The combination of preposition and noun MIBETEN also describes that the action takes place immediately after birth, but note that this also is a hyperbole.

Example of hyperbole: “Christ paid for the trillions of sins that I have produced in my lifetime.”

I have committed a lot of sins in my lifetime.

I have not committed a trillion sins.

In order to illustrate the great number of my sins, I used an outrageously large figure.

Biblical examples of hyperbole:

Deuteronomy 1:28, “The cities are great, and walled up to heaven,” to express their great height.

Judges 20:16, “Every one could sling stones at a hair and not miss” to describe the wonderful proficiency which the Benjamites had attained in slinging stones."

1 Kings 1:40, “So that the earth rent with the sound of them.” A hyperbolical description of their jumping and leaping for joy.

John 3:26, “All men come to him” Thus his disciples said to John, to show their sense of the many people who followed the Lord.

Now think this through:

This is about the wicked only, and applies to the wicked only.

The wicked their lives of personal sin at the earliest possible time; the double hyperbole does not communicate that the wicked are sinning at the moment they are born; nor do the two parallel verbs explain the sin nature or the imputation of Adam’s Sin, but only the production of personal sin.

If David had wanted to convey the idea of the old sin nature, then the wicked could not have been the subject of the two parallel statements. He could have employed the term ‘lust’ or ‘temptation’ to do so, but certainly no human being produces his own temptation through his own volition.

If David had wanted to convey the idea of the imputation of Adam’s Sin, he would have had God as his subject, or made the wicked the recipients of the action of the verb.

The final conclusion? That this verse is a hyperbole about the activation of the sin nature in the wicked at the youngest age possible.

Psalm 8:2, “You have built a fortress from the mouth of children and infants because of your foes, to stop your enemies and adversaries.”

God builds a fortress from the mouth of babes and infants.

The word for ‘children’ is `OLELIM. It denotes a child of any age, but one who is definitely a child.

The word for ‘infants’ is YONQIM, which is literally a ‘sucking one’. This is the infant who is still at the breast.

The fortress is defined well from Matthew, where we find that it is a fortress of praise.

Matthew 21:12-16, “And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a robbers den.’ And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they became indignant, and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have prepared praise for Yourself?’”

The reference to infants is of course a hyperbole again; infants are incapable of speech. The hyperbole means again that the praise comes at the youngest possible age.

Children also build a fortress of praise to God. The children in the temple on that day were perceptive enough to realize that Christ was truly the king of the Jews after the pattern of David.

Children do this because they are young, inexperienced, and uneducated, yet they are fully capable of giving praise to God. Now that confounds the enemies of God!

It confounds the enemies of God, because it illustrates the concept of spiritual I.Q.

Spiritual I.Q. has its foundation in the wisdom of God and the power of the Spirit. It has no foundation in education or experience outside of the necessary vocabulary.

Children can praise God as well as anyone; they are enabled by God the Holy Spirit to do so.

This does not rule out the necessary doctrinal content of praise. Children must have doctrine to bring praise to God.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29,“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but god has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and God has chosen the lowborn things of the world and the despised, the things that are not, that He might render powerless the things that are, that no man should boast before God.”

There are three categories of human division in this passage:

The category of human wisdom to have or to have not.

The category of human power to have or have not.

The category of worldly environment to have or have not.

God chooses many from the lesser category in order demonstrate His power.

He chooses the fools (here the frame of reference is human wisdom, so uneducated would work well here) to shame the wise.

He chooses the weak to shame the powerful. This is weak according to human standards. It may be poor with reference to money; it may that you are the low man on the totem pole in your company; it may be that you are not empowered politically. It may be that you are weak physically or in the current subjective standards of beauty.

He chooses the lowborn and the despised, the “are nots” of this world to render powerless the “ares”, that no man should boast before God.

You cannot bring your human intelligence, human power, or human birth standing to the Great White Throne; you cannot bring these things to the judgment seat of Christ.

This is why the praise of children glorifies God.

Implications of this point of doctrine concerning child rearing:

That there is no sin until God consciousness; therefore, there can be no sin-related discipline until then.

There is still plenty of room for a learning routine within the limits of the infant’s attention span.

Whatever negative emotions and expressions come from an infant are related to his basic needs.

That the infant communicates these things instinctively, and that it is the parents responsibility to understand and meet these needs are they are communicated.

That without an active sin nature, there is no guile in the communication of needs. They can always be accepted as they are.

That the sin nature activates when the child reaches God-consciousness, and that this causes no small amount of consternation in a child; so an authoritative yet loving approach to discipline is the best way to go, especially early on.

The parents must form an alliance with the child against the sin nature.

That the child must be made to understand the forces within him, so that he can begin to help himself.

The sooner the child can understand what impels him to be bad, the sooner he can begin to stand against temptation on his own.

Gentleness and communication are the watchwords of correction in the early days.

Two proverbs:

“Spare the rod and spoil the child”

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” 3. That evangelization is an absolute necessity at the moment of God consciousness.

As soon as you know that your child has reached God consciousness (and it should be obvious), you have a heavy and personal responsibility to evangelize your child.

You are never to scare your child or abuse your authority in any way to accomplish this end. You are to present the issue clearly to him or her, and to ask him if he would like to tell God that he believes in Christ.

Of course it is best to place the gospel within your child’s frame of reference!

The evangelization of your child will ease your burden of child raising one hundred fold.

The Accession of John the Baptist


Note the distinction: to this point John has pointed the way to Christ, and noted Christ’s superiority; here he completely accedes to Jesus, more than hinting to his disciples to give way and follow Christ.

For a few weeks after Christ’s return from the wilderness, John has continued to point the way to Christ. Since Christ returned, here is what happened:

– The priests and Levites came to John to inquire about Christ ( John 1:1928).

– John identified Christ as the Son of God (John 1:2934).

– Christ called His first disciples (John 1:3551).

– Christ performed His first miracle, at Cana, in Galilee (John 2:111).

– Christ stayed a few days at Capernaum with His family and His disciples (John 2:12).

– Christ cleansed the temple at the Passover (John 2:1322).

– The people in Jerusalem responded positively to Christ’s miracles at the Passover (John 2:2325).

– Nicodemus came to Christ at night and inquired about His person (John 3:121).

This places the time at around late Spring to early Summer of 27 AD. Christ is thirty years old.

Now Christ’s ministry has begun in earnest, and it is time for John to completely step aside. Christ’s appearance in the region provides a golden opportunity to do so.

By this time John has been on the scene for about a year and his ministry has gained great fame and popularity. In fact his message continued to have a following even decades after, and spread to far distant places even after his death.

Imagine the humility of this man. To find such popularity, and then give it all to Christ.

Discussion of John 3:22-36

John 3:22: “After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the Judean land and there He spent time and baptized with them.”

So Christ moves from Jerusalem to the Judean countryside, apparently somewhere near the river Jordan. The phrase meta tauta summarizes everything that had happened in Jerusalem at that first Passover.

John uses the Roman term Judea, so this includes not only the old Judah, but also a good deal of the old Northern kingdom, now called Samaria. The location of this verse can be anywhere from halfway between Galilee and the Dead Sea south along the Jordan River to the Dead Sea itself. They may have been only a few miles from John and his disciples at the time. At any rate, not more than forty miles, and probably much less than that.

In the Greek, when there are two verbs and only one object in a sentence, the object takes both verbs. That is the case with DIATRIBO and BAPTIZO. They each describe different actions taken by Christ, but they both take the same object, the disciples.

This object, the personal pronoun auton ‘them’, is modified by the preposition META.

META defines the relationship of subject and object, and modifies the action of the verb accordingly.

Christ did these actions in the company of the disciples; He ‘does’ these things with them. They do these things together, but since the verb is in the third person singular, it portrays Christ as the initiator of the action.

Christ ‘spent time’ with the disciples.

Since Christ produces the action of the verb, He is the initiator, while the disciples are the co-participants.

DIATRIBO means to ‘wear away’ or ‘rub away’. It describes the wearing of a path by foot traffic, or the wearing away of clothes from use. Since the preposition DIA compounds this verb, the picture is of complete use or wear. Not just worn, but worn through.

After a while, the Greeks applied the concept of this verb to time. ‘While away the hours’, ‘spend time’. It also applied to money ‘spend’, and others things that get spent, like physical energy.

It even came to exemplify academic effort. Our English word ‘diatribe’ is the direct descendant of this concept. The noun form of this verb could mean both ‘pastime’ and ‘study’. The adjective always meant ‘pedantic’ as in teaching in such a way that wears on the student.

John 2:12 describes Christ and others staying at Capernaum. John employs the usual verb for such activity, meno.

John 3:22 is quite far enough away where the use of a synonym would not be required. In this verse John wanted to describe exactly how Christ spent the time with His disciples.

The time spent was a wearing time, a time of study.

Christ took this time to inculcate His disciples in the essentials of His kingdom. He baptized with His disciples.

Now we have a puzzle. Christ initiated this action; the Pharisees perceived that He was baptizing; but John makes it clear that it was not Christ Himself that was doing the actual baptism. And there is little doubt that this is baptism by water.

We know that Christ initiated this action because BAPTIZO is third person singular, and Christ is the subject. His disciples did this with Him, META AUTON.

We know the Pharisees’ impression from John 4:1, “Jesus knew that the Pharisees heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John.”

We know that part of this impression was mistaken from John 4:2, “Although Jesus Himself was not baptizing but His disciples were.”

The conclusion is that the baptizing was Christ’s idea, but the disciples carried it out.

This idea bore fruit in two areas:

The introduction to Christ’s kingdom ministry continues. People are baptized, and from it are identified with the millennial kingdom. (doctrine of the Millennium, intercalation of the church age)

The disciples get a more intense form of training. Teaching always requires a more thorough understanding of the subject matter.

You must anticipate what your pupils want to know, and distinguish what they need to know. You must filter your subject matter accordingly, and thus you think about it.

You must sort out what is true and false concerning the subject matter.

You must put the subject matter into a teachable form, and be able to explain it in a manner that will satisfy the curiosity of your pupils.

You must fit the subject matter into the overall system, to give your pupils the broader picture.

So by instructing the disciples on how to introduce others to the kingdom, Christ better inculcates them into its precepts.

None the less, after this accession by John, water baptism never again enters the scene in Christ’s ministry.

John 3:23, “Now also John was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there, and they were appearing and being baptized.”

So in the time since Christ returned from the wilderness John has continued his ministry, pointing the way to Christ.

Aenon near Salim was a little north of halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.

The phrase ‘John was also baptizing’ tells us that the baptism of Christ’s disciples was water baptism.

An interesting verb is PARAGINOMAI ‘they were appearing’. It paints this picture: one moment they are nowhere to be seen, and the next they appear right at John’s side. It tells us that John’s ministry was going like hotcakes.

John 3:24: “For John had not yet been thrown into prison.”

This event is not too far off, but we do not have the exact time. A little over a year later John the Baptist is in jail, Luke 7:1117. It does occur before Christ goes back to Galilee, according to Mark 1:14. This return is apparently just a few days off.

John’s readers knew that the Baptist would go to prison and die there, and this verse explains that those events are still in the future.

Just as John preceded our Lord in ministry, so also in imprisonment and death.

Herod Antipas feared that John’s ministry would bring about an armed revolt in Judea and Galilee. This, and John’s rebuke of Herod for marrying his brother’s wife were the human viewpoint reasons. But perhaps there is something more than meets the eye here… It is obvious that it was God’s plan for John’s ministry to end.

John 3:25: “Then there arose an inquiry from the disciples of John with a Jew about purification.”

So the disciples of John and a Jew got into an inquiry about purification. The word for inquiry portrays two or more people investigating a matter, all seeking the truth. It is literally, ‘a seeking’, or ‘a quest’. It is interesting that these natural adversaries have joined together on a topic that would pit them as adversaries purifications. The preposition META reveals that these two have allied on this matter.

Purification would be an interesting subject, but it does not seem to line up well with their question, which is given in the next verse. What they actually ask about is Christ. Let’s try to connect the two.

Purification fits well into the topic of baptism, for baptism could easily be perceived as a ritual of purification.

John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance in preparation for the Messiah and His kingdom. Just like the other rituals of the Jewish system, it was a real act that taught Bible doctrine.

However, it was the Jewish trend to distort the teaching rituals into legalism. It was their contention that just doing the rituals themselves pleased God, regardless of what was in their hearts.

At some point the conversation must have shifted to a comparison of Christ and John.

It must have been interesting indeed for John and his disciples when Christ began to baptize.

Remember, John brought in this new ritual of baptism after the Jews had been doing the same things for 1400 years.

Remember also that John was the first true prophet of Israel in a few hundred years. He had a spectacular following because of his gift.

But John made it clear from the start that he was just showing the way to Christ, and that his baptism was intended for that same purpose.

Now Christ, the superior has set His disciples to baptizing, and not too far from where John’s ministry was located.

They are in a quandary: what change does this bring to John’s ministry?

John 3:26: “And they came to John and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, about whom you yourself have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.’”

Hey, these guys are out of fellowship about losing their ministry to Christ and His disciples.

Their concentration and focus is entirely on John, in the first part. “He who was with you…” “About whom you have testified…”

But then they notice that this ministry is tapering off and they do not like it. “He is baptizing [sneering tone], and all are coming to Him.”

This is the wrong focus! Wrong attitude!

But something else. Christ has now begun His own ministry. Why is John still at work? Why has John not ceased now that Christ has begun? Perhaps this is John’s one flaw. He did not know when to hang it up.

John 3:27: “John answered and said, ‘No man can receive a single thing unless it has been given to him from heaven.’”

This is a hard line grace answer. The real man in question is Jesus Christ.

It reveals the unasked question of the disciple-Jew alliance: Why Christ and not John?

John tells them: All are going to Christ because it comes from heaven.

John uses two very strong grammatical constructions in order to make clear the absolute nature of grace.

The first is OUDE HEN, which I have translated ‘a single thing’. OUDE is nothing, and HEN is the numeral one. Together with the phrase ‘no man’, they make a double negative, which is fine in the Greek, but confusing in the English. In the Greek one negative strengthens the other. In the English, one negative cancels the other. This construction is very strong and makes an absolute statement. John is hammering on this alliance.

The second is the perfect periphrastic participle of DIDOMI. This one shows that heaven is the ultimate source of all things. You receive not a single thing, unless it comes from heaven. It is one of the strongest ways to state a principle of doctrine.

Additionally John makes clear the subjects to whom this rule applies: mankind. He uses ANTHROPOS. Christ is a member of the human race, and so this principle certainly applies to Him.

Therefore, what Christ has in the people who are flocking to Him comes straight from heaven.

Remember, in verse 23, people were appearing out of nowhere to be baptized by John. Now they are all going to Jesus, according to verse 26. Insert millennium comment: Christ is here to found the millennial kingdom; John is in the way. Beware yourself in getting in the way of the kingdom of Christ. You should be a window on the kingdom of heaven, an open doorway.

John 3:28: “You yourselves witnessed me saying,”I myself am not the Christ, but that I have been sent ahead of Him."

Again, John draws attention to Christ, and his relationship to Christ. Here he reprises his role as the waypaver, even for some of his disciples.

The emphasis here is interesting:

In claiming that he is not the Christ, John emphasizes himself with the intensive use of the personal PRONOUN EGO.

In claiming that he has been sent, John uses the perfect periphrastic construction. This again concentrates on John’s person.

John uses the preposition EMPROSTHEN to describe his relationship with Christ. He sees himself as going ahead of Christ to prepare the way.

The conclusion is that John says the right things, but that he has appearance of being self-centered. If John was doing the right thing at this time, this would be a marvelous statement; but since he is not, we may call it somewhat self-centered.

John has applied his mission in this way: he sees himself as the one who must prepare the way for every individual in Israel. That before anyone goes to Christ, they must go through him.

He sees a continuing role for himself in Christ’s kingdom. He is the screener, the waypaver, the man who prepares the hearts of all for Christ, even as Christ is on the scene.

But Christ, by setting His disciples to baptize, has communicated a very hard message to John that with the beginning of the Kingdom ministry, he is no longer needed.

Christ is there to be seen face to face; His ministry is in the open. Why should Israel go through a human being to see Him?

John 3:29: “The who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, the one who stands and hears him rejoices with joy through the sound of bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine has been made full.”

The bride at this point is Israel; the groom is Christ; the friend is John.

The friend is what we would call the best man. In the Jewish wedding, the friend would stand next to the bridegroom and hear his vows. At this he would rejoice, as any best man would.

John says:

That he does not have the prize at this wedding of all weddings: Christ does.

But that he still rejoices for Christ, and that the joy of hearing Christ’s voice has been made full at this time.

Again, though, there is hint of bitterness. John perhaps has indulged in self-pity here. Oh, he is not the bridegroom, and he does not get the bride, but at least he vicariously experiences the bridegroom’s joy. “Even though I do not get Christ’s joy, I am happy for him. My limited joy has been made complete.”

Why the negative assessment of John’s statement? Because of his actions. If John had ceased his ministry at the beginning of Christ’s ministry, then these statements could have been taken in the most positive light possible. Now because of John’s action, they have the appearance of tarnish and rust. There is a dark side to them.

John 3:30, “It is necessary for that one to increase, but for me to diminish.”

Note the two verbs that reflect the necessity.

The first is AUXANO, to grow. This verb described the growth of living things, of plants and trees, of children. It shows a gradual growth over a period of time.

The second is ELATTOO, to shrink. This too is a verb of gradual change. It describes the action of shrinking over time, of growth in reverse.

What John has done here is nothing less than put a spin on the events of the past few days. But let’s look again at the facts!

In verse 23, people are coming out of nowhere to be baptized by John.

In verse 26, they are all going to Christ.

This is not a gradual growth and diminishment! This is an all at once radical change.

But why does John put his spin on these events? It can only be because he wants to hold on to the following and the ministry that he thinks he has.

John sees his accession as gradual; what has already happened was immediate and absolute.

John uses a rather impersonal mode of reference to Jesus Christ. It is the far demonstrative pronoun, ekeinon.

In fact, in this entire discourse, John uses the word Christ only once, and never the word Jesus.

In verse 27, John says, “a man cannot receive a single thing”. The application is Jesus.

In verse 28, John says, “I myself am not the Christ.” But the real focus of the sentence is John, through his use of the intensive pronoun.

In verse 29, John employs a short parable, where Christ is the bridegroom, but Christ is never mentioned by name.

In verse 30, John uses the far demonstrative.

Jesus was John’s own cousin. They were family, and yet John the Baptist uses only titles and roundabout ways to describe our Lord.

John uses emphatic, intensive, and self-centered modes of expression to describe himself.

Apparently, all the popularity and approbation had gone to John’s head. He would lose that same head about a year later.

What follows now is an injection of John the Apostle’s. He inserts his own discourse, and in a way it concentrates on what the Baptist has just said. In opposition to John’s self-centered words, the Apostle concentrates very much on the person and character of Christ.

John 3:31: “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.”

Now for John the Apostle’s editorial comment. He tells us in this verse that what the Baptist has just said it cosmic propaganda, and entirely wrong.

First is Christ. Christ comes from above, and is above all. He is above the selfishness and pettiness of the Baptist. He is above all human flaws.

Second is the Baptist. He is from the earth and he speaks the worldly point of view. Make no mistake. John paints the Baptist here as he is: worldly and trapped in the cosmic system. Spouting forth to his last few followers the propaganda that he hopes will keep them.

Third is Christ again, and you can see immediately John the Apostle’s desire to keep his gospel centered on Christ, and above all in its own right. John needed to get out the truth on the last days of the Baptist’s ministry, but did so in such a way that was objective and did not linger on the sad details of the demise of this great prophet of Israel.

Knowing what we now know now will make it easier to understand why in a few more days John will be thrown into prison, and his enigmatic message to Christ once there.

From here, the Apostle sticks to Christ.

John 3:32: “What He sees and hears this He testifies, and His testimony no one receives.”

Now this is Christ. The nearest antecedent to the third person masculine pronoun is the last sentence of verse 31, which is about Christ.

Nice. A description of the human faculties of sight and hearing, attributed to the one from above. Now we have the hypostatic union.

This verse tells us that from Christ we get just the facts. That Christ tells us like it truly is. It also describes the general response to this ministry of truth.

No one receives the truth. It is the old aphorism, the truth hurts. The truth often demands that we surrender our pride, and that is the most painful thing. Only true humility will respond to the truth in the right way. But truth is the kind of ministry that Christ has undertaken.

Christ testifies what He sees and hears. This also refers to His method of faith perception. He only has available for application what He has gained through faith perception. That very same thing is what we have. This is a great testimony to kenosis.

John 3:33, “The one who receives His testimony sealed that God is Truth.”

Positive believers receive another kind of sealing. This one they produce by themselves. It is the sealing of the notion that God is truth.

God is the very personification of the truth, and when someone believes in Christ, they confirm that notion in their hearts.

The sealing is a confirmation that what has been said by Christ is true.

Verse 34 will explain this idea a bit more.

John 3:34, “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He did not give the Spirit from measure.”

This jumps back to Christ in order to explain this new believer produced sealing in the previous verse.

Christ speaks the words of God.

God gave the Spirit without measure to Christ, so that Christ could speak God’s Words.

The term John uses for words is remata. This can mean the actual words that come out of a person’s mouth, or it can mean the principles of a person’s life. Here I think it covers both. Christ spoke the very words of God (albeit in translation), and communicated the important principles that come from Him.

This Christ did from the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, in perception and application of the truth.

(faith perception of the truth)

John 3:35, “The Father loves the Son and has given Him all things into His hand.”

This a direct reference to Daniel 7:1314.

John 3:36, “The one who believes unto the Son has eternal life; the one who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Again this has to do with imputations, and is a restatement of verse 17.

For the sake of clarity understand that obeying the Son means believing in Him, and does not make reference to post salvation obedience.

This verse does not undermine eternal security.

The Samaritan Woman

An Exposition of John 4:1-42

John 4:1, Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees heard that Jesus was making and baptizing a great many more disciples than John "

Christ finds out that the Pharisees are looking into things, and that they are aware that He is making and baptizing many more disciples than John.

The word PLEINOAS is “more” (disciples), but it describes a great many more. Not just a one vote majority, but a landslide. The Pharisees now would identify Christ as the threat here. They were quite worried about two things.

First, that nobody was paying attention to them.

Second, that as a result they were losing their grip of power over the people.

Christ knew it would be very much in their interest if he were eliminated. He knew that they hated Him from the Temple incident, and that though there were many coming to Him, their faith was still very weak.

John 4:2: “Although Jesus Himself was not baptizing but His disciples”

This is a parenthetical statement attached to verse 1. It explains that Christ was not the one doing the baptizing in this operation, but His disciples.

It clarifies the issue so that there is no confusion on the matter of baptism.

John 4:3,He left Judea and departed again into Galilee."

The word “left” is translated from APHIEMI, which means “to quit, cancel, forgive, or leave.”

Christ left the region because of the real threat of the Pharisees. His destination is again Galilee, and He will have to travel through the ancient region of Samaria to do so.

Mark 1:14: “And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of God.”

Mark 6:17: “For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her.”

Luke 3:19-20: “But when Herod the tetrarch was reproved by him on account of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and on account of all the wicked things which Herod had done, he added this also to them all, that he locked John up in prison.”

From Josephus… Herod feared open rebellion from John’s disciples.

The Lord moves in strange ways. Christ evaluates that the Pharisees are a threat to Him and the kingdom ministry, and decides that it is wise to move to Galilee and continue His ministry there. It is His aim to gain a following and bring in the kingdom through positive volition.

John clings tenaciously to his perceived but nonexistent niche in the kingdom ministry, and in the course of forth-telling manages to upset Herod Antipas.

Herod fears open rebellion from the followers of John, and is upset about John’s calling into question his morals in marrying his sister in law. Herod has the Baptist arrested and placed in prison. John has been taken off the scene, and is no longer an impediment to Christ’s kingdom ministry.

But fortunately Christ is out of the way and safe up in Galilee. Through intermediate means and wise behavior, Christ avoids disaster.

Note: the Pharisees had a tremendous amount of power in Judea, and only less so in Galilee. Things are becoming hazardous for Christ already.

Now Christ heads through Samaria, and there He will settle the issue of racial prejudice once and for all.

John 4:4,“And He had to pass through Samaria.”

Christ had to pass through Samaria because of the threat from Herod. Herod’s headquarters was to the northeast of where Jesus and His disciples had been. They could not go around Samaria, so they had to go through.

Samaria was not the usual route from Judea to Galilee. Because of racial prejudice, the more devout Jews found other ways to go. The Samaritans had intermarried with the occupying Assyrian forces back in the eighth and seventh centuries, B.C. Of course, many of those Assyrians were believers in Jesus Christ, and true Jews, but no matter. The Samaritans themselves had a king-sized inferiority complex, due to the Jewish prejudice.

So it is providential that Christ go this route. There is a woman, really, an entire town that is on positive signals toward God. Christ had to go through Samaria because of Herod, and because of the woman and the town of Sychar.

This providence is a kind of Divine guidance to watch out for. It involves a change of your plans, and perhaps even suffering. But it takes you to people who want God.

John 4:5,6, “So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.”

Sychar is in central Samaria. It is in a hilly region, a region full of Jewish history. Jacob stopped near here, and set up camp for the first time in the promised land. It was here that his daughter was raped by the men of Shechem (about a mile from Sychar), and where his sons killed the Shechemites. When the Shechemites were dead, Jacob took their land for his own.

Later, he willed this parcel of land to Joseph. Gen. 33:18ff; 48:22. Joseph’s portion of this land was an extra one, due to his spiritual maturity. There is a significance here. The people of this land were Joseph’s people, long lost, now about to be redeemed. Christ here gives a region and a people an opportunity which has not been theirs for 2,400 years.

The country is hilly, and so naturally Christ would want a drink. It is late afternoon “the sixth hour”, and summer. The hiking was exhausting work. Christ is sitting by the well, when along came the Samaritan woman.

John 4:7,8, “There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her,”Give me a drink“, for His disciples had gone into the city to buy food.”

Now there was another well on the other side of Sychar that was much nearer the town. Why the woman came here is a part of Christ’s insight.

There is no one at this well but Christ, and at a time when there would be much drawing of water.

In the summer, water would for the most part be drawn at sunrise and sunset, for water carrying is much hard work. Furthermore, this well is up on the side of a hill, making it that much more difficult. But Christ sees this woman coming his way, and rightly perceives that she is a social outcast. Women have a way of sticking together. This one is apart from the other ladies. Now what would be the reason for that?

Christ must ask her for a drink because He is at the point of exhaustion, and He has nothing to draw with. Here also is a reflection of Christ’s true humanity: He really needed that drink.

John has His request in the imperative of entreaty, showing Christ’s legitimate need for water. The imperative of entreaty is what a Greek used when he really needed something badly, and quickly.

Our Lord was in a state of dehydration. Christ’s physical state paralleled the woman’s spiritual state.

John 4:9, “The Samaritan woman therefore said to Him,”How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (for the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)"

This woman exhibits also bitterness. One, social outcast; two, bitterness. You can see Christ tallying the score.

Here is a man weak from thirst who asks the woman to help Him, and puts a tone of urgency on the matter; and she responds his request with a remark that is bitter and sarcastic.

Her tone is like this: “Oh, so now, when you really need a drink you ask for one, but not when your prejudice is in the way?” She criticizes harshly, and has prejudice back toward the Jews. She assumes that Christ is a racist because He is a Jew.

The woman knows Christ is a Jew maybe from his robe, which probably had a Jewish fringe on it, but certainly from His Jewish accent. John’s explanatory statement makes the Jewish prejudice clear. But we know this from many other sources.

There is a little bit of sexist suspicion here as well. She makes an issue out of her sex. The Jewish men did not exactly have a good record on sexism either.

This is the third clue to Christ about this woman’s character: she is suspicious of men, and makes an issue out of her sex. Social outcast. Bitter. Sensitive about her sex. Hmmmm.

John 4:10, “Jesus answered and said to her,”If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you “Give me a drink” you would have asked Him, and He would have given to you living water.“”

Now comes the hook. I want you to notice first the innovation of our Lord. In this instance He skillfully turns the conversation to the gospel.

This part of the discourse has no small similarity to the conversation with Nicodemus.

In both, Christ sets out the bait with a statement that would be obvious to a believer, but an enigma to an unbeliever. Here He knows the spiritual status of the woman. With Nicodemus, He did not.

In both, the hearers of Christ come back with an earthly interpretation of His spiritual statement, thus identifying themselves as unbelievers. In both, Christ then goes on to explain the gospel.

Christ has identified this woman as a social outcast who is bitter and hypersensitive about her sex; now we see further that He knows she is an unbeliever. Christ’s words form a complex conditional sentence. It is a contrary to fact condition. He sets up a condition that is not true.

“If you knew the gift of God (but you do not) and who it is who says to you”give me a drink" (but you do not), you would have asked Him (but you did not), and He would have given to you living water (but I did not).

It is based on a premise that is obviously not true. She is not a believer.

The gift of God must be His grace offer of salvation. It is the Greek word DOREAN, which describes a gift of any kind. But this gift is further described as being from God. The descriptive genitive case of TOU THEOU makes it clear. Of course, Jesus is the Messiah, standing right before her eyes. Yet she does not know Him.

But what is the living water?

From this verse alone we see that it is some form of sustenance that it is a metaphor for real H2O. But we will delay our analysis until verses thirteen and fourteen, where Christ gives a full description of this very special water.

John 4:11,12 “She says to Him,”Sir, you do not have the drawing apparatus and the well is deep; therefore where do you have the living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are you, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons and his cattle?"

The woman now speaks as one on the defensive. Being a social outcast, she is likely to be an expert at repartee. Her fellow townsfolk probably hurl insults at her every day, and she is used to giving as good as she gets.

Now she is thinking: who is this guy? He makes noises like I should know him, and he alludes to some gift of God, and living water.

So she sticks with what is tangible. She looks around her. How could he have any water at all. She does not mention it, but this man has no drinking skin. Neither does he have the apparatus with which to draw the water. He cannot reach down into the well and get the water (it is reported to be about 75 feet deep). Her conclusion from the tangible is that he has no water on him, nor the ability to draw water here.

So then she goes to the intangible. The local legend is Jacob. Since it has been some 2400 years since Jacob, his life and person may very well have reached folkloric proportions in Sychar. She alludes to Jacob as if he is capable of miracles, because she has ruled out the tangible. The local legendary figure fits nicely here.

With her question, the woman implies that Christ is definitely not greater than Jacob. It is quite likely that she believes no more in Jacob than she would in Santa Claus. But she assumes the truth of Jacob’s legend for the sake of putting down Christ.

But she does go on to establish the historical validity of Jacob’s person. He gave us the well… drank from it himself, so did his sons, and his cattle.

The cows she threw in. It stretches the imagination that Jacob watered his herd from a well that was 75 feet deep. If you have ever seen how much water a cow drinks, then you know that to water a herd from a well is pure fiction! Perhaps Jacob lowered the cattle into the well, let them drink, and then hauled them back up!

Our Lord may have had to bite His lip to keep from laughing at this point.

So in summary:

She goes over the possible, and finds nothing. She goes over the miraculous, and rejects Christ in favor of Jacob.

John 4:13,14 “Jesus answered and said to her,”Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water which I myself will give to him will certainly not thirst for eternity, but the water which I will give to him will become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life.“”

Now we have the full description of the living water metaphor. Let’s put together all the aspects of it.

You must know the gift of God and the Messiah to ask for it.

It is something you ask for.

It is called “living water”. The participle zo.n reveals an eternally existing state.

If you drink from it you will never thirst again, not for all eternity.

It is a well of water that springs up unto eternal life.

The process of elimination.

Is the water the Word of God?

The Word could accurately be called the “living” word.

But, you do have a need to stay in the word throughout your life. This living water is more of a one shot deal.

Therefore, it is not the Word of God.

Is the water God the Holy Spirit?

Again, the Spirit could accurately be called “the living water”.

But fellowship with the Spirit can be sporadic, and is an option to the believer. The portrayal of the living water leaves this in question. It is a once for all proposition, and the ministry of the Spirit is definitely not that.

Is the water the Gospel?

You must be positive to God consciousness to receive the Gospel concerning His Son.

You must be positive to the Son of God, who is the living gospel, the mediator between God and man.

You must ask for the gospel. That is, you must truly desire a relationship with God through His Son.

Christ is certainly the living water.

You must drink the living water in order to enjoy its benefits you must believe in the gospel.

If you drink from the gospel you will never need salvation again. It is the free gift of God and lasts for all eternity.

The result of belief in the gospel is eternal life, for time and eternity.

So yes, the water is the Gospel.

Some points of exegesis:

The adjective PAS plus the articular participle pino.n makes a universal statement. “Everyone who drinks”

This universal statement is applied to the water from Jacob’s well.

The conclusion of the statement is DIPSE.SEI PALIN “will thirst again” The verb reveals the need of the human body for water replenishment. The declarative indicative mood makes this a dogmatic statement of reality the need for water is definite. The adverb of repetition is PALIN “again”.

The conjunction DE is adversative, showing that verse fourteen is going contrast the statement in verse thirteen.

Another universal statement is made, this time with HOS AN PIE. This is a potential subjunctive verb, showing that a function of volition will take place here. That whatever God does depends on a free will decision of God.

HOS AN is translated “whoever” this opens the field to all, and the results are applied equally across the board.

The universal statement is applied to the living water, given by Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ really did give us the living water, through His death on the cross.

Then the kicker, a statement that is so strong that it cannot be mistaken. OU ME DIPSE.SEI EIS TON AIO.NA “will absolutely not thirst for eternity.” The idiom OU ME. is the most decisive way of negating something in the future.

EIS TO.N AIO.NA is an idiom for eternity. This phrase makes it clear that if you drink of the living water, you will never thirst again, in time or eternity. This is a clear statement of eternal security.

The living water has a function it becomes in the believer a well of water that springs up to eternal life. The metaphor is clear: you drink the water, and it springs up inside of you, resulting in eternal life.

The drinking is again belief in the gospel, which is the living water.

The new well of water is the human spirit, which springs up resulting in eternal life.

This is a nice double entendre here. The human spirit is the first component of the resurrection body, and an irrefutable appeal to God for a resurrection body in eternity.

But the human spirit is also a spiritual frame of reference for learning Bible Truth in time. So it too springs up to eternal life.

The springing up is the verb hallomenou, from hallomai. It is truly a word that belongs in the laboratory of Dr. Frankenstein. It describes the twitching, leaping, quick movements of a living being. It is used in a special way only to describe movement that proves the existence of life. In Acts 3:8 it describes the leaping of the lame man who had been healed. There, it proved the new life in his legs. Same for the healing that took place in Acts 14. The human spirit is the very source of the spiritual life. John chose this word carefully!

John 4:15“The woman said to Him,”Sir, give me this water, so that I will not thirst, nor come through here to draw."

Our woman is not all the way there yet. Her eyes are still firmly locked on terra firma.

She sees a way that she will not have to face the public again. If she never has to drink water again, then she will never have to come all the way out to Jacob’s well to drink, and never have to walk through town to get here. Never have to walk under the disapproving glares of her townspeople. Never have to be ashamed of her own sinful activities again.

You must be careful with this woman’s form of address to Jesus Christ. Kurie can be the equivalent of the English “Sir”. She does not yet recognize Him as the Messiah.

So she goes from disrespect to respect. From disbelief to belief. From desiring Him to solve her earthly problems to the next stage.

And now she is ready for that next stage.

John 4:16“He said to her,”Go call your husband and come back here."

This is the next hook. Now Christ does this from deductive reasoning, and from the gift of God the Holy Spirit, as we will see.

So far, Christ knows that this woman is a social outcast, that she loathes public appearances, that she is hypersensitive about her sex, bitter, suspicious of men. Plenty to get us to this point. Christ could very well work off a hunch at this point. But, He will also function under the spiritual gift of prophecy.

Christ brings out this woman’s fatal distraction. The one thing that is between her and belief in Christ.

John 4:17,18“The woman answered and said,”I have no husband." Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”

The woman’s answer is firm and clear. She uses the negative particle OUK to tell Jesus of her marital status. The statement covers the truth however.

At the very least this is where Christ’s spiritual gift of prophecy kicks in. He could deduce a lot from His own human genius, but not this. This divinely inspired information came to Christ from His spiritual gift of prophecy.

This woman is:

Immoral she is living with a man who is not her husband.

A failure at the marriage thing.

Disreputable, and the target of much public outcry.

She is not, however, a criminal she is not participating in adultery.

Adultery is a sexual relationship with someone other than your marriage partner, or a sexual relationship with someone else’s marriage partner. Or both. Just because the woman is living with a man does not make her a criminal.

Not only would this woman have come under the Law of Israel for her adultery, but also the more stringent law of Christ’s kingdom, Matt 5:2728. But He does not get after her for it, so she is not in that state.

After Christ lays out the truth through the spiritual gift of prophecy (and definitely not through His Deity), He goes on to say to the woman that she has spoken truly. He uses the perfect tense of the verb to speak to emphasize the clinical truth of her statement, but also to make it clear that she understands that her statement was a white lie.

Give her credit for something: she stuck with the institution of marriage for five times before she gave up. That is much more than in our culture.

John 4:19,20“The woman said to Him,”Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship"

When the woman says that she perceives Christ is a prophet, it is a little stronger than it comes out in the English translation. She uses the word THEOREO, which means to be an eyewitness to a significant event, and no kidding this event is quite significant.

But she says something controversial here, actually anything controversial would do. The reason is that she tries to distract Christ from her sordid personal life.

The issue which she brings up is one of the great controversies of the day. When the Samaritans were cut off from the rest of the Jews they decided to make their own temple, and worship there.

But it is just a smokescreen. Look, a flock of turtles!

John 4:21 24“Jesus said to her,”Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

The first statement of our Lord brings attention back on the true issue for the woman. He does answer her question, but in doing so rivets the conversation back to what the woman truly needs.

He makes it very clear that the place of worship does not matter, and in fact will become a non-issue. By use of the word HORA Christ indicates the nearness of that very time.

But the absence of worship in either Samaria or Jerusalem is not a direct reference to the fifth cycle of discipline for Israel, but rather the coming of the church age, and its grace assets.

The Shekinah glory, the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ between the cherubs of the ark, was in the temple in Jerusalem. When the church age would come, the Shekinah as a center of worship would cease. Therefore, neither count.

The contrast between the Samaritans and the Jews serves to point out God’s plan for the Jews and the exclusion of the Gentiles.

The statement, “salvation is from the Jews” communicates their historic ambassadorship. God used the nation of Israel as His ambassadors before all the nations of the world.

But note though salvation is from the Jews, it does not belong exclusively to the Jews. The Gentiles may believe and thence become true Jews.

True worshipers worship in Spirit and in truth. This refers to the ministry of God the Holy Spirit during the church age. It does not matter that the temple is here or there, but only one’s positive volition to God.

The hour now is because the advent of Christ’s ministry concentrated worship through Him as a visible witness to God. You could wherever because of the second advent.

The final statement makes it an absolute. If you desire to worship God, you must do so in Spirit and truth.

Christ speaks quite dogmatically here; He does so to establish His spiritual authority before this woman.

So also must we, whenever we witness to unbelievers. Notice that Christ satisfies the woman’s question, and takes advantage of the question to establish His authority.

John 4:25“The woman said to Him,”I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us."

Perhaps the woman knows because of John the Baptist’s ministry. She rejects Jesus’ authority, and deflects it to the Messiah. This is her final effort to get away.

The issue is Christ, as the Messiah. The Son of God and King of kings.

Now finally the woman says that she places her trust in the Messiah, and it is put up or shut up time.

John 4:26 “Jesus said to her,”I who speak to you am He."

Jesus is the Messiah, and He answers her question.

Her response is interrupted by the arrival of the disciples from town.

John 4:27“And at this moment His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman; though no one said, ‘What do You seek?’ or, ‘Why do You speak with her?’”

Second miracle of the day. The disciple did not blow it by opening their big mouths. They at least had enough respect for Christ to do so.

On the one hand, the disciples marveled (Thaumazon) that Christ spoke to this woman, because of her race, and because of her sex. They had the prejudice that Christ did not.

The particle MENTOI is adversative. It introduces a concessive clause and should be translated, “Though”.

The first possible question of the disciples would have been “What do you seek?” This is the equivalent of “What do you want with her?” A rude question, but typical of the prejudicial, sexist Jews.

The second question, “Why do you speak with her”, is more to the point. They witnessed, as they drew near, His conversation with her. But they did not hear the words, for John, among the disciples on that day, indicates the possibility of these questions based on their marvel.

Notice the disciples are tempted to ask the same question as the woman, but they do not. The woman had more bitterness to drive her.

John 4:28,29“Therefore the woman left her water pot and went forth into the city and said to the men, ’Come, see the man who told me all the terrible things I did, He is not the Christ, is He?”

She first leaves her water pot for Christ to drink; she has changed her mind about His prejudice and thirst; she now sees Christ as devoid of impure motive.

The record is incomplete as to when Christ got His drink. From what He says in a moment to His disciples, count on it being unimportant.

The woman went forth into the city. She has lost her public shame. This indicates that she has overcome her fatal distraction.

The woman said to the men. Now here is something interesting. Which men? All the men of Sychar, or just her men her five and a half husbands. The text just has it as generic men, plural. The definite article TOIS assumes that the readers would know to what men John referred.

It would seem natural for her to go to her men first, for they were the source of her fatal distraction before. All of her former husbands would think her weird, or nasty in some way. That she goes to them makes sense.

That she would just go to the men of the town does not make good sense. Hypersensitive about her public image, she would want to absolve herself before the women first. Also, this way does not fit because it would reveal a prejudicial act on her part, and perhaps spite toward the woman who had so maltreated her.

First, she uses the imperative of entreaty to urge the men to come and see Christ. It is the same imperative of entreaty which Christ used to indicate His need for water. She uses it here with DEUTE to reveal another, greater necessity. That for the gospel.

She makes her case for their need by telling them about Christ’s revelation of her personal failures.

Now, this woman lives in a small town, and has been a spectacular moral failure. Her going to the victims of her failure, and saying these things would cause quite a ruckus.

Although about everyone in town would know of her personal failures, an outsider would not. Therefore, the supernatural aspect of it.

She uses the correlative pronoun HOSA to indicate the degree of her sin. “Hey, that was pretty bad” is the indication. The correlative indexes the degree of a thing, usually to show an extreme. That is definitely the case here.

By the use of the aorist tense of POIEO, the woman keeps her sin in the past. They are not the terrible things which she is doing. She does not consider that she is even living with husband number five and a half.

Her last statement seems strange at first. The negative adverb ME in a direct question expects a ‘no’ answer, and so under normal circumstances her question would be, “He is not the Christ, is He?” This would of course express doubt, and that would be uncharacteristic of someone who has just become a believer and is in the process of telling all of her former husbands about it.

Those of you with Greek Bibles will notice that it is not ME alone, but the compound adverb METI. This throws a little more light on the problem.

METI works to indicate the woman’s manners. It proposes an element of doubt for her hearers, but not for her. So she is saying “come and see Him, He miraculously knew all sins that you know, perhaps He is the Messiah for you too.”

It is a difficult idiom, but note that the woman addresses the men, and so she communicates what is not an issue for her, but for them. That issue is whether Jesus is the Messiah.

The woman is doubtful, not about the identity of the Messiah, but whether her five and a half husbands will accept that.

This is not a particularly effective way to witness. “I doubt whether you will accept Jesus as Messiah, but I want to tell you about Him anyway.”

But even in her weakness, God the Holy Spirit picked up the slack. It is a fine thing to note. Your weakness is compensated by the Spirit’s common grace ministry.

The strength of her words is in the evidence of her transformation. She is no longer afraid of publicity how could this come about?

I would suggest that this woman expressed the gospel in such doubtful terms because of the horrified look on the faces of her hearers.

John 4:30 “They went out from the city and were coming to Him.”

The portrayal is interesting it confirms something we already know that Christ is up on the hillside, and the well is in a difficult location to reach by foot.

The aorist tense of the verb EXERCHOMAI makes it clear that they all left the city at the same time. This reveals that the action all occurred at one point in time. They left the city at the same time, but…

The imperfect tense of the verb ERCHOMAI shows them arriving over a duration of time. They all got spread out due to the rigors of the climb. Now, we are not talking about Mt. Everest here, but at least a hill and enough distance where there is a stream of people coming to Christ, even though they all started together.

John 4:31-33“Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying,”Rabbi, eat." But he said, “I have food to eat of which you do not know” At this the disciples said to one another, “Can someone have brought him food?”

The disciples are urging Christ to eat, because he must look pretty rough. The verb EROTAO means to “ask”, or when the words are in the imperative, “urge”. The note of urgency must come from the disciple’s visual analysis of Christ’s condition.

Again, we are reminded that Christ has a human body, and no matter how great his conditioning, it is susceptible to exhaustion. This has probably occurred a couple of months after His ordeal in the wilderness, and the extreme starvation of that experience may still have an effect on him now.

Regardless, food is not the way to treat a heat injury or dehydration. Food requires water for metabolization, and can hasten the demise of someone in the severe stages of dehydration. Not only is their advice spiritually incorrect, but it is medically incorrect as well.

Christ’s reply is on the spiritual level alone. But it sounds like he may have his own stash. The statement of Christ in verse thirty two is intentionally unclear, so as to stimulate curiosity in his disciples.

So the disciples talk among themselves, mystified that Christ has food. But he still does not look well.

John 4:34-38“But Jesus said,”It is food for me that I might do the will of him who sent me and that I might finish his work. Do you say, “Four months more and then comes harvest”? But I say to you, look, lift up your eyes and behold the fields that are already white for the harvest. The reaper receives pay and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. That is how the saying comes true: ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap a crop for which you have not toiled. Others toiled an you have come in for the harvest of their toil."

Christ puts his spiritual responsibilities ahead of logistics. This is the height of unselfishness.

He describes the realm of spiritual responsibility by using the term, ‘the will of him who sent me’

The time frame for the execution of this responsibility is until he has finished God’s work. This is another way to say, ‘until I am dead’. Our lives model Christ’s in this regard.

Christ employs two aorist subjunctive verbs, POIESO and TELEISO, to communicate the contingent nature of His execution of God’s work.

It will depend on Him whether He accomplishes what God has prepared for Him, Eph 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good deeds which God has prepared beforehand.”

This works much like unlimited atonement and salvation. God prepared the salvation, we must accept.

Christ then points out that it is a relatively long time to the harvest apparently four months to the grain harvest (that would, incidentally, place this incident in June).

And there below them, spread out in a panorama, comes the town of Sychar streaming to Jacob’s well, and to once again seek the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The woman who was hardly noticed by the disciples has opened her mouth in a weak and human way; and that plus the common grace ministry of God the Holy Spirit is more than enough to impel the people.

As they come, Christ has more instructions for His disciples in the matter of ambassadorship.

The pay of the reaper is logistical grace. It is there to keep him alive so that he can gather the fruit of the harvest.

The harvest itself is the ambassadorial responsibility of every believer. This responsibility must come second to spiritual growth, but it is necessary nonetheless.

The harvest is for eternal life because those whom you harvest now have that life. They now wait along with us for the final harvest of the Great White Throne, where all of our names will be found in the book of life.

The purpose is so that the reaper and the sower may rejoice together.

Sowing the seed is tantamount to giving the gospel. Christ sowed the seed and reaped the harvest with the woman.

The woman has now sown seed among the people of her town, and they come to the harvest of their own accord.

Funny thing, but the reapers are the disciples, and the sower is the Samaritan woman. Christ is getting the disciples ready for a big shock: they are going to rejoice with one whom they would normally consider racially and sexually inferior.

The disciples have not toiled for this crop, but they will reap. The woman has toiled, and she will have the pleasure of watching the harvest.

John 4:39-42“Many Samaritans of that town came to believe in him because of the woman’s testimony: ‘He told me everything I which did.’ So when these Samaritans had come to him they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more became believers because of his word. They told the woman, ’It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard him ourselves; and we know that this is in truth the Savior of the world.”

A genuine revival welled up in Sychar on account of this woman who believed and was willing to give the gospel, no matter how weak the presentation.

Her testimony was simple: “EIPEN MOI PANTA HA EPOIESA” He told me everything which I did.

Again, this testimony is powerful, because everyone in this little town knew of this woman’s affairs.

This woman may be someone that we know by name from other gospel accounts, but her identity is closely guarded by John, because her past life is really not an issue.

John makes this abundantly clear when he goes on to say that her testimony faded into oblivion when Christ began to speak. Therefore, this harvest divides into two: those harvested by the words of the woman, and those harvested by the words of Christ.

Who witnessed to whom is not an issue. But for John, this woman’s privacy is. What does it matter how spectacularly you have failed in your life before God? What does it matter if you were the very pinnacle of average? None. You are a new creature in Christ.

It is with respect that the townspeople make their comment. They admit the validity of the woman’s judgment when they concentrate on the words of Christ. Let us not forget that this woman’s witness was particularly weak, while the words of Christ were no doubt quite dynamic. And this does not matter either, for the common grace ministry of the Spirit covered both.

Notice their salvation orientation: Christ is the savior of the world.

Christ is the savior not just of the Jews, but of the Samaritans, and the entire world.

Is it not significant that the first real harvest of Jesus Christ is of Gentiles? And now these Gentiles are true Jews.

Jesus’ Galilean Ministry

Arrival in Galilee, John 4:43-45.

“And after the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. But when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast.”

Christ is headed to Cana, a day or two’s journey from Sychar. Galilee was His original destination.

Let’s get this right: Christ went to Galilee, but He knew beforehand that a prophet has no honor in his own country.

He is not stupid or naive. He does have a sense of duty concerning the gospel, and willingly goes where He is quite sure of a negative response.

Christ’s exact words were PROPHETES EN TE IDIA PATRIDI TIMEN OUK ECHEI - “A prophet has no honor in his own fatherland.”

Christ uses PATRIDI for ‘country’. It is a word that describes the land of one’s forebears. Galilee was the land of Christ’s fathers - it was where He grew up.

The word for honor is TIMEN, and here it describes something close to our idea of respect.

There are valid reason for this, which we will address fully when Christ goes before the synagogue in Nazareth. For now the simple: they watched Him grow up, and even though Christ was a perfect child it was difficult for them to perceive that He was the messiah all along. They are so arrogant, they think they would have noticed or something.

John concludes by noting that the Galileans actually did receive Christ. He uses the particle OUN in an adversative sense. This John also does in 9:18 of his gospel.

Christ was not wrong, here. Though the Galileans saw what Christ had done at the feast (many miracles), that is not the equivalent of following Him.

An interest in the spectacles of healing and miracles does not indicate a desire to accept Christ and His kingdom.

Miracles and healings are easy things to like. The kingdom requires sacrifice of self, and so is quite difficult to accept.

The reason for the Galilean acceptance is clear: the miracles at the Passover feast. There is therefore an exception to the rule. This incident serves to point out that you must never assume negative volition about any group - not Samaritans, and not even the people of your home town or nation.

Note also that Christ was not wrong in making His generalization. Christ did make that testimony, but He still went, trusting the Lord that people are truly free to make their own decisions about Him.

The Nature of the Galilean Ministry

Matthew 4:17: “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

Mark 1:14b-15: “preaching the gospel of God, and saying,”The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Luke 4:14b-15: “and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He Himself taught in their synagogues, being praised by all.”

This synoptic passage divides into three parts: the message, the time, and the method.

The message is one of repentance and belief in the gospel. Again, the concept of repentance. It means to change your mind, and does not refer to how you feel about a thing.

The time is the fullness of time - just the right time according to God’s sense of order for Christ to appear on the scene and begin His kingdom ministry.

This is the true beginning of the kingdom ministry. Whereas before Christ baptized, or witnessed to the people of Samaria, now He offers His kingdom.

The method of Christ was to go to the synagogues in the region, and teach there. There He would have a gathering of at least religious people, if not a few who were faithfully waiting for the Him. Christ’s ministry was naturally characterized by sound strategy.

An interesting thing at the end of Luke’s statement: He was praised by all.

In Luke 4:14b and 15, the present participle DOXAZOMENOS shows simultaneous action with the main verb.

The main verb is the aorist verb EDIDASKEN, which summarizes the action of teaching in Galilee. It is in the past. So while Christ was teaching, all the people He taught praised Him.

This is more than just a fascination with miracles. God designed the miracles to validate Christ’s teaching. All the people who saw Him in the synagogues responded positively to the message as well as the miracles.

Again, Christ’s trust in free will is well justified. There is genuine positive volition in this region.

One more thing: at some time along in here, Christ must have released His disciples to return to their homes and jobs, for only a little while later He is going to place them on recall.

Christ Heals the Official’s Child - John 4:46-54

John 4:46,47 “He came therefore again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain royal official, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him, and was requesting Him to come down and heal his son; for he was about to die.”

This was apparently a part of Christ’s course of travel from synagogue to synagogue. There was one in Cana, so he came there. It would be natural for Christ to come to Cana, because of His former miracle there. That miracle would be the perfect groundwork for a few days of ministry.

The royal official was a BASILIKOS. Since his son is in Capernaum, he must be from there. He is not from Cana, because he comes to Cana; presumably from Capernaum.

BASILIKOS was a somewhat generic term, which encompassed both members of the royal family, and those who were officials in the king’s household. We can only speculate here. There is some significance here, even though the exact identity of this man remains hidden. Social status means nothing in the kingdom of God. You may be from the highest or lowest social class, but it does not matter to God. His grace offer extends to all.

This event is especially pertinent coming right after the narrative of the redemption of a complete social outcast, the Samaritan woman. So in just a few verses we go from the lowest class to one of the highest, and both are redeemed by the grace of God. If grace is extended to all, then there is no excuse for anyone. Race, social class, sex, etc.

This royal man is at the point of desperation - his son is sick, and really about to die.

The verb ESTHENEI describes the boy’s illness. It describes the spectrum of bodily ailments, from weakness or minor illness to a fatal disease.

The phrase EMELLEN APOTHNESKEIN makes the grave nature of his condition quite lucid. It is literally, ‘about to die’.

The boy is in Capernaum, the city of Nahum, while his royal father is in Cana with Christ.

The father has come to Cana because he had heard that Christ had come up from Judea. At the very least, this man knew of Christ. He may have even seen Christ at the feast in Jerusalem. But he knows Christ, and believes that He can heal his son.

The man goes to Christ. His son may be so ill that he cannot be moved. Such is likely.

He asks politely for Christ to come down to Capernaum (Cana was in the hills and Capernaum at the seaside). He certainly does have respect. It is unclear as yet whether this royal man believes in Christ.

John 4:48, “Jesus therefore said to him,”Unless you all see signs and wonders, you absolutely will not believe."

This is a statement about the general mental attitude in Galilee at this time. Although Christ addresses the man (HOUTOS), the statement is plural (IDETE), and thus impersonal.

SEMEIA is the word for signs. It is something miraculous done for a specific purpose. At this time to point the way to the Messiah.

TERATA is the word for wonders. But there is a terrifying side to this. At the least it is something so powerful that it would cause the witness to be stricken with awe. Terror is not out of the picture. Perhaps a good example is the baptism of Christ, where the heavens tore open, and the voice of God came out of the sky, and the Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove. Another example has yet to happen in our narrative - it is the transfiguration of Christ. An awesome display of power is a good way to describe this.

EAN ME is the Greek idiom for ‘unless’. An equally good way to translate is “If you all do not see signs and wonders.”

IDETE is the simple verb for seeing, in the aorist subjunctive. So, the people of Galilee must see signs and wonders in order for the event to come to pass.

This is the strongest possible negative in the Greek language. It is the watertight, absolute negative, OU ME.

The verb is the aorist subjunctive PISTEUSETE. It reveals something about belief. The aorist shows that belief in Christ occurs in one moment of time.

The fulfillment is negative, the second half of a double negative. Turn this around, and it is “You all must absolutely see signs and wonders before you will believe.”

It is not that the Galileans refuse to believe, but that they will not believe unless Christ proves it to them by the use of signs and wonders.

What would these people have done in the post-canon church age?

Notice that this is not a personal slam of this man. He is different from the class that Christ outlines because he is not there to believe in Christ, but to preserve the life of his son.

It is apparent that the man believes in the supernatural powers of Christ, and that he has followed somewhat the career of the Messiah.

John 4:49 “The royal man said to Him,”Sir, come down before my child dies."

The royal man addresses Christ respectfully, saying, KURIE. As we saw with the Samaritan woman, this title does necessarily mean belief in Christ.

The man assumes that Christ must be face to face with his son in order to perform the miracle; this is a mistaken assumption.

The aorist imperative of KATABAINO shows the man’s sense of urgency. Again it is the imperative of entreaty. No man has the right to command the Messiah as though God were under the authority of man. The imperative of entreaty commands out of necessity.

The son of this man is young - just a PAIDION. This indicates that the boy is physically just a boy.

The royal man depicts the time crunch with the phrase PRIN APOTHANEIN TO PAIDION MOU.

PRIN is the adverb of time ‘before’. It is before an undetermined time, which is the time of the death of his son.

The verb is APOTHANEIN, the aorist infinitive of the verb ‘to die’. The aorist tense concentrates on the exact time of death. The royal man assumes that if Christ can get there at any time before death it will be in time, and the boy will be saved.

Again, there is an implied belief in the healing power of Christ. Whether this belief extends to Christ’s future work on the cross is still to be seen.

John 4:50, “Jesus said to him,”Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he started off."

Christ decided to heal this man on the basis of the man’s belief in His power to heal. That was enough for the healing to take place. It is clear that there is perfect confidence on the part of Christ in the matter. He says, POREUOU, HO HUIOS SOU ZE.

The present imperative of POREUOMAI is the command of Christ. It is simply, ‘Go’. The presumption is that the man is to return to Capernaum and the side of his son.

The present active indicative of ZAO is a simple statement of fact. The present tense reveals durative action. The man’s son continues to live. The declarative indicative mood makes a dogmatic statement of reality about the son’s life. He truly continues to live.

The man’s response is belief in the word of Christ, but still not in Christ for eternal salvation. The man’s action in returning to Capernaum without Christ reveals his steadfast belief in Christ’s ability to heal. There is no question in his mind that he will find his son well.

John 4:51-53, “And as he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. They said therefore to him,”Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed, and his whole household."

The slaves of this man left the side of the boy, because he could obviously be safely left. There were probably nurses in attendance. They were on their way to Cana, when they met one another. Their message was of course one of joy. The son was living, and clearly out of danger for his life.

The very hour at which the son began to get better was the very hour that Christ spoke the words to the royal man. There was no coincidence here. The words of Christ healed the son.

The result is that this man and his household finally put their whole belief into the Messiah, and His future redemptive work.

The important principle from this story is that faith in miracles and healing does not mean faith in Christ unto salvation. It is an important theme in the context.

John 4:54, “This is again a second sign that Jesus performed, after coming out of Judea into Galilee.”

The aorist participle ELTHON indicates that the signs were performed after coming out of Judea, but, and this is tricky, before He is completely into Galilee. The aorist participle shows action that occurs before that of the main verb. So the ‘coming out’ occurred before this, while the implied arrival was technically not complete. Compare this verse with John 4:43 to see it in the right light.

The first sign was the revelation of the Samaritan woman’s personal life. The second the healing of the royal man’s son.

Ministry and Rejection at Nazareth

Luke 4:16, “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.”

This verse reveals again the strategy of Christ in going to the synagogues - but it also refers to a custom of His from youth, and the foundation of His strategy.

The participle TETHRAMMENOS vividly portrays the bringing up of Christ.

The basis meaning of TREPHO has to do with the care of animals. It really indicates just feeding and watering them. In fact, it is probable that our English word trough comes from this very verb.

This participle is in the perfect periphrastic construction, which is the most intense and vivid way to portray action with the Greek language.

The passive voice shows that Christ did not grow up by himself, but that He had been brought up by His parents.

Going into the synagogue on the Sabbath was the EIOTHOS of Christ. This word comes from ETHOS, which means custom, or even law. From this same word we draw the English ‘Ethics’. Not only was this a custom, but it was a rigid habit.

From the context itself, it appears that this was His habit from youth. That He would go into the synagogue on the Sabbath and read.

The synagogue was a place for local gatherings of Jews, outside of Jerusalem.

Here, the local rabbi would read Scripture and instruct upon it. This usually occurred on the Sabbath, and during the feasts.

Here, the local children and young men would receive religious instruction.

The interior of the synagogue had seating arrangements, and, a platform. This platform was called the BEMA. It was situated either in the center of the room, or at one end. On the BEMA was an ark, which carried the scrolls of Scripture.

Often the synagogues that were far from Jerusalem would also add the entire ritual system, so that their members could understand the truth.

Since this was Christ, and it was His hometown, it is likely that on this day the synagogue would have been especially full.

John 4:17-20, “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written,”The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him."

The quoted passage is Isaiah 61:1-2. But, Christ paraphrases part of it, leaves some of it out, and adds a little something on His own initiative.

Here is the quote from the NASB: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.”

Christ substitutes gospel for good news, a paraphrase.

He substitutes ‘poor’ for ‘afflicted’, but this distinction can be blurred by translation.

Then Christ sets up parallel statements:

– Release to the captives;

– Recovery of sight to the blind;

– Set free those who are downtrodden;

– Proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.

Isaiah’s parallel of these things is:

– Bind up the brokenhearted;

– Proclaim liberty to the captives;

– Freedom to the prisoners;

– Proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.

But note - Christ’s addition comes from another place in

Isaiah 6:9,10, “Go, and tell this people:”Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, lest they see with their eyes, hear with their ears understand with their hearts, and return and be healed."

As for leaving out certain things, well that is perfectly alright. He had a specific reason for doing so.

Another reason for their rapt attention was that the Isaiah 61 passage is messianic. It speaks of the anointed one of the Lord, who is the Messiah. Here the man who is reputedly the Messiah, and He chooses to read a Messianic passage. And this passage, when read, is in the first person… “The Spirit of the Lord is upon ME… The Lord has anointed ME… He has sent ME…”

The favorable year of the Lord is the year of Jubilee. And Christ is saying here that the Jubilee is upon them.

A loud trumpet would proclaim liberty throughout Israel on the tenth day of the seventh month (the day of atonement), after a lapse of seven Sabbaths of years. So every fiftieth year was a jubilee year.

On this year, the following things would occur - Lev 25:8-17.

– It was considered a normal sabbatical year, so the land would lie fallow for the second consecutive year. cf. Lev 25:2-7.

– The trumpet would sound on the day of atonement.

– They specifically remembered their time of slavery in Egypt, and their release from captivity.

– All of the slaves in the land were released, although this was often applied only to those of Abrahamic descent (Leviticus does not say that).

– All of the real property reverted to its hereditary owners. This signified that God was the owner of Israel’s land - v.23.

Interestingly enough, this struck a course that was anti socialist, but not truly capitalist. It was anti-monopolistic.

It definitely reaffirmed the right to own property, and rejected the redistribution of wealth based on need.

However, reversion to hereditary landholdings every fifty years assured that there would be no long-lasting monopolies.

Property values were adjusted according to how many years it was to Jubilee.

The Jubilee was not practiced or mentioned after the Babylonian exile. This is the third reason why Christ had their rapt attention. Surely such a proclamation would surely take their breath away.

From the aorist passive verb EPEDOTHE, we understand that someone handed to Christ the scroll of Isaiah. In other words, Christ did not get to choose the scroll of reading. Whoever it was may have known the Messianic character of this book, for it is full of Messianic prophecies. From verse 20, it is understood that the synagogue attendant was the one who handed Christ the scroll.

The verb ATENIZO describes the riveted eyes of the congregation. The verb means to stretch muscles or ligaments, and came to denote a staring countenance, almost with the eyes bulging out of the head.

John 4:21,22, “And He began to say to them,”Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." But all were speaking well of him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

Now Christ began to tell them something about this reading, in other words, what was important about it. The aorist tense of ARCHOMAI concentrates on the very moment of the beginning, and so these words barely got out of Christ’s mouth, and he may not have finished the complete sentence reproduced here.

What he was about to say, and was interrupted during, was that He Himself was the anointed one, the preacher, the atoning sacrifice that gave freedom. But…

But Christ is interrupted by an uproar of voices in the synagogue - and they are all talking of Christ. Now, the KAI at the beginning of verse twenty two is adversative, and should be translated “but”.

This conversation goes on simultaneously with Christ speaking. Does this bother you? It bothers me.

The imperfect tense of MARTUROO makes it clear that this was an ongoing roar of voices.

The verb THAUMAZO is also in the imperfect. They are all - PANTES - all testifying out loud, and marveling in their souls.

But there is a right time for everything, and this is not the right time for talking and marveling.

They testified and marveled at the gracious words which went forth from His lips. But this observation is about the scroll reading, and not Christ’s sermon which was to follow, for we know from the Greek that they interrupted Him before He could really talk.

The verb EKPOREUOMAI describes the words going forth from the lips of our Lord. And, it concentrates on their enunciation. What they were saying was this: “When He reads that scroll He is so eloquent.” But nowhere in this description is there a description of the words getting into their hearts and lives.

The crowd also notes that Christ is the home town boy made good. “Is this not Joseph’s son?” is a question that expects a positive answer. They are marveling at this kid who is now a man, and whom they know.

It is a weird and ironic scene - a crowd bubbling with conversation over the eloquence of their home town boy, when at the same time this man, no, the Messiah is beginning to speak more words.

As we will see, Christ immediately identifies their character, and their terrible flaw. Instead of talking about Christ, they should have been listening to Christ.

John 4:23,24, “And He said to them,”No doubt you will quote this parable to Me, “Physician, heal yourself!” We heard certain things were happening at Capernaum, do them here in your fatherland as well." And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his home town.”

Now Christ replies, and He begins with the adverb PANTOS, “by all means” or “certainly”. Christ is positive as to the character of His audience. The spirit of this is sanctified cynicism… “Next you are going to do this.” PANTOS means that Christ is rolling his eyes at his audience.

The proverb or parable is one that even exists today in many forms.

Here is a simple enigma: There are two barbers in a one horse town… to whom do you go for the best haircut? The one with the worst haircut, for they must cut each other’s hair.

It is often the fatal flaw of the physician that he cannot heal himself.

But Christ places these words in the mouths of His audience, that He should heal those people in His hometown, the same as what He did in Capernaum.

But Christ will not do it. He is not going to give them the satisfaction, because he knows that they have only a prurient interest in His miracles and healings.

Christ knows the character of His audience from their disrespectful bantering just when He was beginning to preach.

The way Christ quotes the fruit of their character is less than flattering. He sees them as narrow eyed people yearning for the satisfaction of their stimulation lust. The correlative pronoun HOSA gathers the healing at Capernaum to their desire to see the same in Nazareth.

But also the aorist imperative of POIEO means something. These people, Christ knows, are into the demand syndrome. “Do for us what you did in Capernaum” is the gist.

Now Christ has a message or moral based on His analysis of their character, and it is this: “No prophet is welcome in His hometown.”

And it is true here, for this audience has been so rude to Christ that He could not even get His message out.

Christ was less than welcome, for while His audience was full of praise for how He read the scroll, they were less than interested in what He had to say about it.

In fact, if their true desire was to see a healing or a miracle, then these words of theirs are nothing more than flattery. They no doubt interrupted His message so that He would get on with the healing.

So, the people of Nazareth had no interest in God or the truth, but instead went to that synagogue only to satisfy their stimulation lust.

Now, some principles.

– The church is not about stimulation lust, but teaching, and inculcation in doctrine.

– Stimulation lust is a sign of the cosmic system. It reveals a bitterness toward God, a deep seated rejection of the truth, spiritual blindness, and a frantic search for happiness.

– As long as your soul is dominated by any form of lust, you cannot please God. You may attempt, in your state of deception, to flatter God into giving Him what you want, but you will not receive it

– First, you must repent, and leave behind your love for the cosmic system, and turn to God, and His grace plan.

– Then He will guide your life, into a life of balance, and give you what He thinks you will like. What God thinks you will like is best for you.

John 4:25,26, “But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.”

This narrative goes back to 1 Kings 17 and 18…

In chapter seventeen, God gives Elijah power over the rain clouds of the sky. They will rain only by the word of Elijah. Ahab is king, and he is an evil, idol-worshipping hypocrite.

So, the drought is discipline, brought on by the Lord, who delegated the power of drought to Elijah.

Now something interesting… God commands Elijah to live outside of the land during this time. First, He is assigned to the brook Cherith. This is one of the tributary streams that run from the Jordanian highlands in the East down to the Jordan River to the West. It is difficult to know exactly which one, but know this: it was in a wild and remote part of the country, near the same wilderness where Christ received His evidence testing.

The brook Cherith dried up, the Lord told Elijah to go to Zarephath, in Sidon. This is also outside the boundaries of the land.

Zarephath was an old, old city on the Mediterranean seacoast. It had been around more than seven hundred years at the time when Elijah came.

Although there was no positive volition at all in the land - and listen to this - no positive volition in the land, there was one woman there who wanted to hear the gospel.

Lesson: during the dispensation of Israel the gospel was still quite available to the Gentiles. The woman in Zarephath was a Gentile, and positive to the teaching of the Word.

The widow and her son were exceedingly poor, and when Elijah met her, she was gathering sticks or twigs so that they could have a meal.

But God worked a miracle through Elijah. When Elijah arrived at the widow’s place, there was a little bit of flour in her bowl, and a little oil in her jar. But that never ran out as long as the drought continued.

Then also, the widow’s son became sick, and almost to death, but Elijah healed him through the Lord’s power.

The result of these two miracles was that the woman believed in Christ: “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” The miracles were validation for Elijah’s God.

But meanwhile, back in the promised land, God has done no more miracles, and the drought marched on.

That time is brought forward by Christ, and applied not to the nation, nor to the region, but just to His home town. There will be no miracles here, because the people are full of unbelief.

This statement would have really chapped a crowd like this. Not only because they could care less about God’s word, but also because their stimulation lust had gone unappeased.

Just a mention of it here: when one category of lust is thwarted, then the truly unhappy will often shift their trend to another. It would happen here.

So Christ goes from being on the verge of announcing His Messiahship to telling these people that they will not get their Messiah. Hard stuff.

This is also a precursor to the age of the Gentiles. For the gospel went to the Jews in the land first. But when the Jews reject the Gospel, the primary focus of evangelism turns to the Gentiles.

John 4:27, “And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

This one originates in 2 Kings 5:1-14. It has very much the same theme as the first illustration.

The description of Naaman, the gentile Assyrian, is in the very first verse, “Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man before his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper.”

A little servant girl, who attended Naaman’s wife, suggested that Naaman go to Elisha, in Samaria to be healed. This little girl was a Jew.

So Naaman went to Israel, to the city of Samaria, and pleaded with the king to be healed, but the king mourned that he could not do it.

Elisha heard of this Syrian, and so went to him, and told him to dip himself in the River Jordan seven times, and he would be healed.

After some bickering, Naaman did just that, and was healed by God. His skin came out of that water just the same as a child’s.

And Naaman said this: Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel; so please take a present from your servant now.

And, as Christ said, there were plenty of lepers in Israel at this time, but God cleansed only a Gentile.

This would have had much the same effect on the Jews in the synagogue at Nazareth as the preceding statement. And they became mad as hornet.

With their stimulation lust unabated, they switch over to killer lust.

John 4:28-30, “And all in the synagogue were filled with rage when they heard these things; and they rose up and cast Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way.”

The adverbial participle AKOUONTES reveals the time of their rage - it is simultaneous with their hearing Christ’s two illustrations. Because this is a present participle, there is simultaneous action.

The adjective TAUTA tells us that they were filled with rage upon hearing both illustrations, because TAUTA is plural - ‘these things’.

The substantive adjective PANTES communicates that every single person in that synagogue was filled with rage.

THUMOU is the noun for rage. It is the kind of rage that is ecstatic and unthinking. It describes the total control of emotion over the soul. Since the same word is often used of human passion, you could say that they were in an orgy of rage.

Furthermore, the aorist passive verb EPLESTHESAN reinforces the idea of ecstasy in rage. This comes from PIMPLEMI, a different verb than the usual PLEROO. This was a special verb when used with words of emotion. It was used with fear, enthusiasm, even the Old Testament kind of ecstatic filling of the Spirit.

This is a crowd of people. It is difficult to get an exact figure, but it is likely to be more than a hundred, even much more. And they are more than a crowd, for they have turned into a mob.

At the time that this was written, the city of Nazareth sat upon a hill. The present city is a little more down in the valley. This is a pretty small town, so the entire crown of the hill was not covered by the town. The crowd of the synagogue stood up, and took Jesus outside of the city limits.

There is no record of Christ’s response, verbal or physical, during this crisis. It is unlikely that any of His disciples were present, though, so there were no other eyewitnesses than a mob and Himself.

You can be sure that Christ remained poised, even in the crisis, and did not fear or panic in any way. Such would be sinful, and that was something that He did not do.

It seems probable that in order to escape the synagogue Christ would have had to go through the crowd to the exit. There is a good chance that their synagogues had but one entrance.

So a procession of sorts goes through the streets, with a number of people leading Christ along to the brow of the Nazareth hill, and kill Him by throwing Him off the cliff there.

The verb KATAKREMNIZO is quite graphic, and means only one thing: to chuck someone off a cliff, so as to kill them. It may be like our English defenestrate, which means to throw someone out a window to kill them.

But it was not Christ’s time yet. Note this same rage at the death of Christ more than two years later. There, the people and the Jewish leadership have constructed an insidious rationale. Here, they really have nothing but unrequited lust.

The Greek is interesting and yet ambiguous about Christ’s escape. It says - AUTOS DE DIELTHON DIA MESOU AUTON EPOREUETO. Literally, ’but He Himself, going through their middle, was on His way."

The intensive use of the personal pronoun AUTOS puts the success of this maneuver entirely upon the shoulders of Christ.

Poised for the right moment, Christ just turns and slips through their midst. The leaders may have turned to look down the cliff, while the rest of the people were still coming up, and could not see who it was.

It is significant to note that the people are full of rage, and in their ecstasy could be easily duped.

There is no mention at all of Divine intervention here, and Luke, the meticulous historian, gives full credit to Christ.

The verb POREUETO describes Christ’s egress from the scene of peril. He did not run, but the imperfect tense portrays a steady pace, and one that was probably unhurried so as to keep unwanted attention at bay.

So the leaders turn to do their final deed, and Christ is gone! And they cannot see him for the mob. And the mob comes up to see the end of this mean man, only to find that He is no longer there! Matthew 4:13-16: “and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying,”The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles - the people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and to those who were sitting in the land shadow of death, upon them a light dawned."

Isaiah chapter nine has a larger context of the Messiah. It is not just this, but also several more verses that are Messianic. Later in the chapter, Isaiah tells of the wonderful counselor, and great ruler, who is the Messiah. In the first two verses things are more simple: it is the Messiah, a region, and a condition.

The region includes two areas, Zebulun and Naphtali.

The southern border of Naphtali runs west from the southernmost tip of the sea of Galilee, where it intersects with the river Jordan, until it gets to Mt. Tabor. From there it runs North for ten or fifteen miles, then West for another ten, then North again for forty or fifty miles, until it gets just past the Leontes river. From there it runs due East until it again intersects the Northern Jordan river, and then runs back down to the Sea of Galilee, and around it on the West side until it hits the southern tip again.

Zebulun occupies an area about twenty miles across, to the Southwest of Naphtali. It runs southwest until it intersects with the Kishon River.

The condition is really twofold. It has an initial condition, and a changed condition.

The initial condition is that of darkness. In fact, Christ modifies this quotation to include something from the Twenty Third Psalm.

The Twenty Third Psalm has that great line… “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”

So they are the people who are sitting in darkness, and those who are sitting in the land of the shadow of death.

It means that in this region there is little, if any truth. Truth is the light that shines, and chases the darkness away.

It is the land of the shadow of death, because it is the land of the enemy, and his shadow lurks over them all, tempting them to reject the love and light of God.

The final condition is that of great light, and the great light is the embodiment of truth, Jesus Christ, the Messiah Himself.

The great light is the Messiah.

The dawning of the light is the dawning of the new era of the Messiah and His kingdom.

The Official Calling of the Disciples

Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20

Christ has now moved to Capernaum, which will become His headquarters. Matthew would later call this city Jesus’ own.

Now Christ has already had an impact on these four disciples; they have come to believe through John the Baptist’s ministry, and through Christ’s word.

But it is time for Christ to put His disciples to the work of the Lord, so he put them on recall.

Matthew 4:18-22: “And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fisherman. And He said to them, ‘Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ And immediately leaving the nets, and followed Him. And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him.”

Mark 1:16-20: “And as He was passing through by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them,”Come after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately leaving the nets, they followed Him . And going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat [with others] mending the nets. And immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him."

Both writers agree completely with the details of the calling of Simon and Andrew.

Christ was walking, passing through by the shore of the sea of Galilee, just as we left Him in Luke 4. It is the adverbial present participle, PARAGON, which reveals the circumstantial background to the moment He saw Simon and Andrew. Apparently He was on His way somewhere else, perhaps from Nazareth to Capernaum.

He saw the two brothers, as they were casting a net in the sea, for the purpose of fishing.

So Christ gave them a command - DEUTE OPISO MOU - literally translated, ’come after me." Both accounts agree to the exact wording.

Principle: This is the inspired retelling of this event. It is more probable that Christ spoke this command in Aramaic, the language of the day for the region. But, when two gospel writers agree on the exact Greek translation, you can rest assured that the spirit of the Aramaic has been captured, without any loss of meaning.

When two or more gospel writers disagree on the exact Greek translation, then the multiple accounts must harmonize to bring full meaning. The differences are the work of God the Holy Spirit as well, and they make the narrative better, not worse.

The second half of Christ’s words of recall to His disciples has to do with their mission. They are going to be fishers of men.

Mark adds one note to the account of Matthew, and that is the word GENESTHAI. This is the aorist middle infinite of the deponent verb GINOMAI, ‘to become.’

Mark’s meaning is a little more graphic as to the nature of their transformation. It concentrates on function, and not quality.

The aorist tense tells us that the transformation from fishermen to fishers of men will be immediate. In other words, they will make the switch immediately. Second, there is no mention of quality here; they may have been crummy at first.

But remember, Christ had given them intensive training just a few months before, when they down by the river Jordan. They would have had some frame of reference for what they were about to do.

The disciples’ response is immediate and sure - leaving their nets they followed Him. The adverb of time EUTHUS leaves no question as to their obedience.

These men already had built up a certain amount of trust in Christ. They were believers in Him, and had begun to know Him.

Their nets were left right where they lay, and their boats, and their families.

The calling of the second pair of disciples runs very much the same as the first.

This time, Christ just ‘calls’ them. The implication is that His words are the same as those that went out to Andrew and Peter.

They too follow immediately.

These four are the only ones mentioned in the narrative, and so are likely the only ones with Him during this time. It would be only a short while until the call of Matthew, and a little more time until the twelve are officially appointed.

The Twelve Disciples


God used an outcast. His name is a transliteration of the Aramaic word which means gift of God.

In his own Gospel, Matthew uses his regular name. In other gospels, the name Levi is used. It is likely that Matthew became his name after his conversion.

Matthew was a Jewish tax collector. It is likely that he was fairly well off financially because of his profession. This makes his decision to follow Christ all the more remarkable, because he left it all behind - Lk 5:28. It is likely that he worked at the toll house in Capernaum.

When he decided to follow our Lord, he threw a big party, and invited all his friends. His decision to follow Christ was immediate.

As a tax collector, Matthew was an outcast in Jewish society. He apparently had no friends who were devout in the Jewish faith for at his party there were only other tax collectors and sinners.

The Roman tax collectors were hated by the Jews because the Roman taxes were in addition to the Jewish taxes.

They were also hated because they represented the occupying forces of the Roman Empire.

The tax collectors made their living by inflating the Roman taxes. They essentially worked on commission.

Tax collectors were wealthy, but hated by their own society. They had to live with a tremendous amount of prejudice.

Because of this prejudice their social options were severely limited. They could only socialize with others who were outcasts.

It was easy for Matthew to follow Christ, considering his personal circumstances. Social isolation does not make it easy to enjoy personal wealth. No doubt he knew of the supernatural essence of Christ’s ministry, and he may have even heard Him speak. It is often the outcast that finds it easiest to follow Christ.

Matthew is a rich man who defied the odds.

Remember Matthew if you are an outcast.

John Boanerges

Cousin “according to the flesh” of Jesus Christ. Brother of James (not the epistle writer). A native of Galilee. John’s mother Salome was a follower of Jesus, and ministered to Him of her own means.

John was a fisherman of the Sea of Galilee, his life was hard work, but apparently it had paid off for his family, because they had servants, and were able to support the ministry of Jesus Christ. Galilee was a region somewhat analogous to the U.S. South not too long ago. It is conservative to a fault, and more than a little rebellious in character. The fires of rebellion flamed openly in this region. In reality a lot of senseless violence took place in the name of the zealot movement, but there was very little virtue. This time was somewhat analogous to that of Northern Ireland today.

Great humility -

When John the Baptist points out Jesus as the Messiah, John follows without delay.

Never mentions own name in own Gospel.

Nicknamed, with brother James as the “Sons of Thunder”, a reference to their manner in Word and Deed, Mk 3:17. It is likely that they had a fair amount of Zealot ideals in their heads.

Outspoken about his faith from the start.

“The disciple whom Jesus loved” - was the closest to Jesus of the inner circle of Peter, James, and John.

Was the only eyewitness to the cross among the disciples, and he was eyewitness to the resurrection, Jn 20.

One of the “Pillars of the Church”, Gal 2:9. Paul had a high regard for him.

Took over as chief of Apostles some time in the late 70’s.

Did not start writing until late in life.

His writing reflects the 50+ years of careful thought about the life of Christ and the Christian life.

Under his ministry, Ephesus became the center of the pivot which gave the Roman Empire its greatest time of prosperity under the Antonine Caesars, 98-180 A.D.

He used very basic Greek grammar to express incredibly deep theological ideas.

He was the key figure in the transition from the pre-canon period to the post canon period.


Peter’s name was also Simon. The testimony of Peter always stands behind the writing of Mark in this epistle.

Overview: Peter is enthusiastic, emotional, swift to speak without thinking, full of love and anger, sometimes legalistic and snobbish, and Jewish in a prejudicial way. He is one of the independent, rebellious Galileans. He loves Christ so much, yet he cannot muster the spiritual resources to remain with Him in His arrest, trial, and death. He is the second to the tomb on the third day, and enters first, but did not believe what he saw.

He is the first of the disciples to see Christ after the resurrection. He is unsure of his standing with Christ immediately after the resurrection. Peter is a leader and very much a preacher, though not careful about what he says. He makes mistakes, he broods, and then he seeks and needs forgiveness in a desperate emotional way. In the end, he writes two epistles about suffering, and speaks his remembrances of Christ in a brief, but humble manner.

If there is one character trait of Peter which rises above all others, it is his emotionalism. Peter often let his emotions rule his thinking, much to his detriment and regret.

At the transfiguration of Christ, Peter emotionally desires to build tabernacles for Christ, Moses, and Elijah. He was not thinking. Mat 17:4.

Such a project would have placed the Messiah on equal footing with the two prophets.

Such a project hinted at the necessity for these three to grow spiritually when all three were in a completed state.

In other words, Peter fails to think rationally before he speaks.

At Christ’s prediction of Peter’s denial, Matt 26:35. Peter replies, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny you.” (All the disciples said the same thing too).

Peter is the instigator here. All the disciples follow his heroic statement.

All the disciples follow in Peter’s denial, as well.

John 21:15-17records Peter’s recovery before Christ, after the resurrection, “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’

Peter is still feeling guilt over his denial of Christ at this time, several days after Christ’s resurrection.

Note that Peter does not blame himself for his failure, but Christ. He is projecting his failure onto God.

Christ asks Peter if he has agape love for him, and the answer is no. Only phileo love - friendship. Peter does not feel worthy enough, and so he describes his love as friendship.

Though Christ commands Peter to feed his sheep, Peter does not feel qualified to do so, because he is only a friend of Christ.

The second round is identical to the first.

The third round is significant: it is Peter’s second threefold denial of Christ.

Peter’s grief is founded on Christ’s use of the word phileo the third time. In essence Christ says, “Do you even like me?’ This because of the silence after the second command to tend His sheep.

Again, the command of Christ to feed his sheep.

Christ then predicts the kind of death Peter will die, and it is not what one would consider pleasant. He concludes the prediction with a command - ’Follow me!"

Peter is momentarily distracted by John, who was following them down the beach.

Christ cuts to the chase. ‘Follow Me’ is repeated, and that is the end of the story.

In your life, cut to the chase. Follow Christ. No excuses. No distractions. Get your eyes off of others, and follow Christ.

Peter is an early leader in the church, but fades from the limelight in about 50 A.D. Nothing is heard from him until he writes his epistles in the early 60’s, and then dictates his gospel story to Mark in the mid-60’s.

Peter wavered on the question of Gentiles and the church. In Acts 10, he receives direct guidance from the Lord on the subject of whether Gentiles should be allowed in the church. He responds positively, but just a few years later, he has to be rebuked by Paul on the very same subject.

Gal 2:11-14 contains that rebuke. “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, ’If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Probably the best analogy to Peter’s early character is a politician on the campaign trail. Always promising, always in the limelight, but never following through.

But Peter recovers, and not long before his death he writes the most marvelous gospel and two Epistles.

James Boanerges

What we know about James is mostly related to his much more famous brother, John. Matt 4:21 communicates that they left the business and their father behind to follow Christ.

However, before John ever became famous, there was James, who was always mentioned first among the two brothers, the sons of Zebedee. This can be because he was older, or because he was the more prominent of the two at the time.

James was one of the inner circle of three along with Peter and John. Only they were present at the following events.

The raising of Jairus’ daughter, Mk 8:51; Luke 5:37.

The transfiguration, Mat 17:1; Mk 9:2; Luk 9:28.

The garden of Gethsamene, Mt. 26:37; Mk 14:33.

The Olivet discourse, Mk 13:3.

Strangely, he is missing at the tomb on resurrection morning. This will always remain a mystery.

James was the first of the true twelve to die for his faith (Judas Iscariot does not count for obvious reasons). Acts 12:2 records that Herod Agrippa had him put to death with the sword.

This martyrdom may have been part of the impetus for John’s late ministry, because it is only after this that John begins to rev up his engines.

Andrew, Simon’s brother

Andrew is properly the first disciple of Christ. This is perhaps the most significant fact of his life. His brother Simon and business partners James and John followed his lead.

This places him as a leader, though quiet, because he really is not prominent like Peter, James, and John.

Andrew goes to lead his brother Simon Peter to the Messiah after hearing John the Baptist point the way. John 1:40-42

After his original call to discipleship, Andrew returned to fishing. When John the Baptist was placed into prison, Christ came back to Galilee, where He once again called Simon Peter and Andrew. Mk 1:14-18.

People ask him for advice at the feeding of the five thousand, John 6:8. He is included in the inner circle at the Mt. of Olives during the last week of Christ’s life.


Philip is from the hometown of Andrew and Peter, Bethsaida. He is another of those conservative, rebellious Galileans.

There is one character trait that comes out again and again with Philip; he is practical. By this I mean that he is analytical, naturally a skeptic, and keeps his feet firmly grounded on planet earth.

This turns out to be an advantage in evangelism. He naturally senses the protests that unbelievers might make, and so simply says, ‘come and see’. John 1:46. He describes Christ as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, the distinction of a careful man. John 1:45.

This turns out to be a handicap in every day life with Christ.

At the feeding of the five thousand, Philip can only see the practical side of things, and so he leaves out the possibility of a miracle, John 6:4-7. Christ asks a rhetorical question and Philip gives Christ a non-rhetorical, practical reply. He is more concerned with money than miracles.

At the last supper, Christ tells his disciples that He is God incarnate, and that a relationship with the Father comes through Him. Philip then expresses his desire to see the Father. Christ rebukes him by telling him again that He is the embodiment of the father, John 14:6-11.

Philip is a good disciple to study for all the skeptics. He probably out-doubts Thomas.

James Alphaeus

He is the cousin of Christ. His mother Mary is the sister in law of Mary the mother of Christ.

He is the father of Jude, the one who wrote the epistle of Jude.

His father is Cleopas, one of the men on the road to Emmaus.

Apart from this we know little, but it appears that he wielded much influence in his family, for they seemed to all follow Christ.

Nathanael Bartholomew

This man may be a celebrity, or at least from a famous family.

Bartholomew is the name mentioned in the synoptic gospels. This means ‘Son of Ptolemies" Since this is only a last name it is not specific as to the actual person behind it. It also may be interpreted ’Son of Ptolemais’, a city on the North Coast of Palestine, not too far from Galilee. In modern parlance, ‘the guy from Ptolemais’.

John uses Nathanael, the man’s first name. The difference can be for the following reasons.

John knew the man’s real name, and the synoptic authors did not. This may be true if he was just the guy from Ptolemais, but it seems unlikely, considering that he was with the disciples at the resurrection and probably for the years in between, unless ‘guy from Ptolemais’ was just a nickname.

There was a legitimate reason for the synoptic writers to keep the man’s real name hidden, but this reason was diminished or eradicated by the time that John wrote some ten or fifteen years later.

The Ptolemies were the royal family in Egypt, and major players in the events following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. and the building of the Roman Empire.

The most famous of all the Ptolemies was none other than Cleopatra of Egypt.

Ptolemy the 15th was the son of Cleopatra, and it is possible that this Bartholomew was in this line of descent.

Bartholomew/Nathaniel exhibits an elitist attitude toward Nazareth that could come from being part of a royal family, or simply from a neighboring town.

It is interesting to note that Christ says of Nathanael, “a real Israelite”. The word ‘real’ is translated from the adverb ale.thino.s. This adverb is one of emphasis on true nature. There is cold and really cold the kind of cold that penetrates to the bones. There is American, and there is really American. Not just someone who is born here, but one who is a John Wayne or George Washington kind of American to the very core of his being.

But Nathanael Bartholomew is of Egyptian heritage - he could not be a genetic Jew. But Christ talks about his spiritual heritage as Paul would… that the true Jew is the one who believes in Him regardless of his genetic make up.

Christ also comments that Nathanael is without guile, or cunning deceit. Another way to put it is that Nathaniel is very forthright; he says what he thinks. Nathanael is a straight-shooter with his words, as he has just demonstrated with his comment on Nazareth.

Nathanael is possibly from a royal family. His comment is one that a king would make about a backward country town. But his opinion is honest and forthright. “Can any good thing come out of Arkansas?”

Nathaniel’s response to Christ’s statement is surprise and disbelief. “How do you know me?”

Christ responds, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

We do not know what Nathanael was doing under the fig tree, but it was certainly related to his forthright nature. There is not much that is especially supernatural here.

On the basis of Christ’s simple statement, Nathanael believes. It is now Christ’s turn to register surprise.

On account of Nathaniel’s belief, Christ prophesies: ‘You will see the heavens opened , and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’ This is a reference to behind the scenes of prayer. Taking the prayers to God, and returning the answers to man. However, this is a literal vision, and so Nathanael will have the gift of seeing behind the scenes of prayer.


This is the second of the doubters (see Phillip) among the disciples, although all seem to fail, and doubt is the seed of all failure.

He was a twin, although his sibling is not mentioned at all in the Bible. Thomas is the Aramaic word for ‘twin’, and the Greek equivalent didymus was placed alongside it three times in John’s gospel.

John 11:14-16, “Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.’ Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.’”

Thomas here displays a rather caustic sense of humor.

Christ is present, yet Thomas says this to his fellow disciples; it was spoken under his breath.

Verse 8 says that there was imminent danger in Bethany, Lazarus’ home town - that the disciples and Christ would be stoned if they went there.

Verse 16 reveals that Thomas was the kind of guy that would follow Christ unto to death, but not without getting his two cents in.

The disciples are not mentioned in the event surrounding Lazarus’ resuscitation, so they actually may have been scared away by Thomas’ remark.

John 14:1-5. “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way?”

Thomas here shows a remarkable blindness to Jesus’ discourse.

He misses the point that Christ is making; that He is going to die. Thomas’ feet are still on terra firma, when they should be in heaven.

He does not know where Christ goes, and therefore he cannot know the way. At least he is honest.

Christ’s reply is simple: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

John 20:24-29. “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore were saying to him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.’”

Judas the unknown, or Thaddeus, or Lebbaeus

John 14:21-23 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.‘Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ’Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.’”

This Judas is pretty astute. Here he wants to know the change. Why the disclosure? Why the ministry shift?

I found myself immediately wanting to hear more from this man, and yet he remains silent.

Thaddeus or Lebbaeus means ‘breast’. This may be a clue to this man’s affectionate or endearing nature, but such is only speculation.

Simon the Zealot

More often called the Canaanite, which means zealot. We know nothing more about him.

The Zealots were almost purely a political party. They called for the violent overthrow of the Roman rule.

They carried on the tradition of the Maccabees - they were militant, and full of zeal and purpose.

They were the cause of the Jewish wars and the destruction of Jerusalem.

They fought with complete fanaticism to the very end. They were extremely patriotic, but not many were Godly.

They took their patriotism to great excess, and vowed to strike down all the enemies of Israel.

Although they were politically correct (not in the modern sense), they were morally wrong, and in this they were most similar to the southern U.S. in the early 1800’s.

Judas Iscariot, the Traitor

All four of the gospels reveal before the fact that Judas will betray Jesus Christ, Matt 10:4; Mk 8:19; Luk 6:15; John 6:71.

Luke and John portray him as under the immediate direction of Satan Himself, Luke 22:3; John 13:27. There is little question from the latter verse that this man became demon possessed by Satan.

He was the group treasurer, a position that would have been given to a trustworthy person. John 12:4-7, But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Jesus therefore said, “let her alone, in order that she may keep it for the day of My Burial.”

It was for this same money-grubbing motivation that Judas betrayed our Lord, and yet 30 pieces of silver was not very much money. His greed must have been great indeed.

Judas was so trustworthy that even when our Lord implicated Him before the betrayal, many of the disciples did not believe Him, John 13:28-29.

And yet at the last the scales fall from Judas’ eyes and he realizes what he has done. Matt 27:3-5, “Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ’What is that to us? See to that yourself! And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed and he went away and hanged himself.”

Judas identifies Christ as honorable blood - one not worthy of betrayal.

Judas has a change of feeling - metamelomai. He now cares about what he has done. Before he was callused and uncaring. Now he does, but it is too late.

Judas still views his betrayal as permanent, and kills himself before the resurrection.

It is difficult to discern from this whether Judas was a believer.

Judas makes a really weak attempt at reparation by attempting to give the money back. Perhaps he had hoped to have Christ set free on account of this, but it utterly failed.

Luke puts the right end to the story in Acts 1:15-18. “And at this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together) and said, ’Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us, and received his portion in this ministry.” Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood).

Judas’ body split open because it had been dead. This was the perfect contrast to Christ’s death.

The betrayal of Judas is very well documented by Old Testament prophecy.

Many women followed Jesus Christ. The reason is simple: In a society where women were treated as unimportant, unclean, and generally inferior, Christ treated them with respect, and placed them on equal spiritual footing as men. As a result, Christ gained many women followers who were in many ways more valuable than even His closest disciples.

Salome. Mk 15:40; 16:1

She is the mother of James and John, the husband of Zebedee; she is Mary, Jesus’ mother’s sister, and so the aunt of Jesus Christ.

Do not mistake Salome with the woman of the same name who demanded John the Baptist’s head on a platter.

Mk 15:40-41, “And there were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less [Alphaeus] and Joses, and Salome. And when He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who had come up with Him to Jerusalem.”

These women followed Christ - e.kolouthoun, the same verb that is used of the disciples’ following of Christ. These women are never identified as disciples proper, and yet they follow just as the disciples do.

These women served Christ - die.konoun, the verb which is the basis for the spiritual gift of deacon.

Read Mark 16:1-8

This occurs after the initial visit by Mary Magdalene, before sunrise.

They used the excuse of anointing Christ’s body (which they intended to do anyway) for going to the tomb to investigate Mary’s claim.

The women reported to the eleven disciples and the other followers of Jesus, but they did not tell any outsiders. This is the explanation for the final verse.

Mary from Magdala

Luke 8:1-3, “And it came about soon afterwards, that He began going about from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses; Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”

Here is the introduction to the Ladies’ auxiliary.

Many women were supporting Christ’s ministry from their own means - making sure that the word was getting out.

Mk 15:47, “And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was laid.”

This is particularly astute, a key to everything that would follow.

As we know from the next verse, 16:1, they found out this piece of information so that they could care for the body of Christ. Their motivation was pure, and these two ladies were doing the right thing for the right reason.

If they had not found out the location of the tomb, then who knows how long it would have taken for them to locate it.

She is the first witness to the evidence for the resurrection, John 20:1-2, “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. And so she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’”

Now, Mary saw the empty and the angels and heard their declaration, but she misunderstood. She still assumed the death of Christ.

The ‘they’ here is a reference to the angels.

She goes and finds one of the disciples, and they treat her like Christ never did. They do not believe her words, and so they decide that they better check things out for themselves.

Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus

Luke 10:38-42tells us that Mary had her priorities straight: “now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’”

This woman had her priorities right.

This was her great opportunity to listen to the gospel from the Lord’s lips and she was not going to miss it.

She chooses to set aside her responsibilities for the moment, and Christ vindicates her reasoning.

We choose our lifestyles.

With lifestyle comes obligation and responsibility.

We choose our responsibilities.

Mary could have gotten the information about what Christ said from her brother Lazarus, after her hostess responsibilities were complete.

Mary recognized that getting the information first hand and face to face was a priority.

Face to face is always better. Any other medium is inferior and diluted.

Matthew 26:6-13 tells us of Mary’s anointing of Christ. “Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it upon His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, ‘Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.’ but Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For the poor you have with you always; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume upon My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done shall also be spoken of in memory of her.’”

John 12:1-9 adds some important details to this story. 1. That it was Judas Iscariot who led the protest against the use of the perfume, and for seriously wrong motivation. The other disciples were fooled by his protest. 2. That Lazarus was present at this event, the resuscitated man who was a perfect backgrounder. 3. That the expensive perfume was spikenard, from India. Very expensive indeed. 4. That the perfume’s scent filled the entire house.

This was just two days before the cross. The scent would have still remained when Christ went to His ordeal. People bathed much less often than we do in the era of modern plumbing.

The sweet fragrance of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God was literal, as well as spiritual, thanks to Mary.

Mary, the mother of James Alphaeus. She does not say anything, but Scripture records her as present at the cross and resurrection. Her husband is one of those who talked to the resurrected Christ one the road to Emmaus.

Mary, the mother of Our Lord. She is the greatest of them all, faithful to her son to the very end.

Acts 1:14 makes it clear that the women were present after the ascension. No doubt they played an important role in the early church as well.

Teaching in the Synagogue of Capernaum

Mark 1:21-22: “And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. And they were lightning struck at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

Luke 4:31b-32: “And He was teaching them on the Sabbath; and they were lightning struck at His teaching, for His message was with authority.”

These parallel passages introduce the circumstances surrounding a more spectacular event. But, they are quite significant in themselves, since they reveal a striking weakness in the scribes of the day.

Now Christ has gone into this synagogue following the same strategic initiative as before; to go where the Jews commonly gather. This is a fulfillment of Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, and Luke 4:14-15.

He does this on the sabbath, so naturally there would be a crowd there. It is likely that word of His escape from the angry, murderous mob in Nazareth has come down here. Since this is on the sabbath, it was at least a week later; plenty of time for the tale to travel fifteen miles.

Again, Christ begins to teach.

This we draw from Mark 1:21, which has the verb DIDASKEN. This is the aorist active indicative form of the verb, and it is the inceptive aorist, which emphasizes the beginning moment of an action.

Furthermore, Christ is again interrupted, much like the last time He spoke in a synagogue. It is ‘begin’ because He did not finish. Otherwise we would interpret this as a constantive aorist, which summarizes the whole of a completed action into one moment of time.

Now as Christ teaches, and before He is interrupted, the audience falls into a state of amazement.

Both gospel writers describe this amazement with the verb EKPLESSO. This is a compound verb, composed of a preposition and a regular verb.

The regular verb is PLESSO, which describes a lightning strike, or one thing striking another with startling quickness. John employs it in Rev 8:12 to describe the striking of the heavenly bodies so that their light is reduced to one third of their former glory. An asteroid or comet strike?

The preposition EK adds on to this in order to shows that they are struck by the authority of Christ, and knocked out of their regular way of thinking.

“knocked out” is another way to translate this verb, but in reality it is much stronger than the English idiom implies. “lightning struck” is much better.

Both verbs are in the passive voice, to show that Christ’s teaching style produced the strike, and nothing else.

The amazement is brought about by contrast. They are used to the teaching style of the Scribes, which was apparently much wimpier.

Lack of moral and spiritual resolve results in a lack of authority when teaching. Maturity means authority.

Christ’s method of authority finds its description in the word EXOUSIA. We know this one quite well.

It means legitimate authority, and Christ certainly had this.

All who have legitimate authority may teach in their realm with authority! Whether pastors or businessmen or math teachers or coaches or drill sergeants.

Mark 1:23-28: “And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying,”What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!" And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice, and came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” And immediately the news about Him went out everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee."

Luke 4:33-37, “And there was a man in the synagogue possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice,”Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!" And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him without doing him any harm. And amazement came upon them all, and they began discussing with one another saying, “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And the report about Him was getting out into every locality in the surrounding district."

Luke is the one who gives us the detail that we need for establishing the existence of disembodied spirits. He says PNEUMA DAIMONIOU AKATHARTOU - the spirit [soul] of an unclean demon.

Sometimes demons are called spirits, and sometimes demons. But when this construction occurs, it reveals beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man had only the spirit, or soul, of a fallen angel.

It definitely stands to reason that a demon cannot enter the body of a human being with his own body. Instead, his own body must be left behind. Thus, two possibilities.

One, the demon sets aside his own body for the purpose of possession, and then returns to it when the possession is through.

Two, the demon has lost his own body as a penalty for past crimes, and is in fact permanently disembodied.

If this is so, then the disembodied spirit must lust for the sensuality that a physical body can bring.

This would be so even if the physical body is only human, so much less than their former angelic bodies.

This would also explain the willingness of many demons on another occasion to enter the bodies of pigs - Matthew 8:28f.


Christ began to teach, and as He got out His first few words, the audience was amazed, and then immediately the demon interrupts.

This demon possessed man is a plant. Satan has directed him there, to interrupt and distract, so that the audience in that synagogue will not have much of a chance to respond.

The fact that this audience is thunderstruck by Christ’s authoritative style is a good indicator of their positive disposition to Christ’s ministry. The demon’s interruption at this moment reinforces that, for if they were thunderstruck in a negative way, the demon would have remained quiet.

Luke adds one interjection to the words of the demon, otherwise the two accounts are identical. Therefore we take Luke’s narrative: “Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!”

The interjection is “EA!” Its only design is to draw attention away from what Christ is about to say.

The first phrase is interesting - it is identical to what Christ said to His mother at the wedding at Cana. That phrase really means, “mind your own business”.

The demon actually has the nerve to tell the king of kings that He has no authority in that place, or over him.

Remember, the crowd is amazed by Christ’s authoritative manner, and in a positive way. The demon not only interrupts, but he also all but tells the audience that Christ has no business teaching in this way.

The appellation “Jesus of Nazareth” is a jibe at what happened just the week before. This is a demon, and one way or another he would have the ability to know about that heinous event at Jesus’ hometown. The demon designed this statement to anger Jesus, to tempt Him to sin.

Then comes a second statement: “Have you come to destroy us?”

The demon uses the plural pronoun when he refers to himself. Since there is only one demon (from the preceding verse), this can refer to one of two things:

The combination of demon soul and human body.

That the demon speaks for all who are present.

Since the issue is authority, and the taunt about Nazareth has occurred just recently, it is best to take this as everyone there on that day. You see, the demon questions whether Christ has the authority to destroy them, since He teaches with so much authority.

There is something more here. The demon attempts to strike fear into the hearts of those who listen. Can this man destroy them.

And even more… another sarcastic taunt. Christ was the one who was almost destroyed, just a week before. “You have authority, and yet you can barely save yourself from destruction.”

Perhaps that demon, and the man he possessed were there in Nazareth. Perhaps that demon was the mob manipulator on that day.

Completing the mockery is the statement, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God”.

This mocks the authority and title of Christ.

The demon uses few words, but uses them to extreme effect.

The demon does not testify here to Christ as the messiah, but questions that existence with sarcasm.

Now the initiative returns to Christ; He must establish His authority beyond just the way He teaches.

So Christ had to act, and act fast.

He rebuked the demon, saying, “Be quiet and come out from him.”

The verb for rebuke is actually EPITIMAO, and it means to dishonor, or disrespect someone. In modern parlance, “diss”.

Then come two commands - PHIMOTHETI and EXELTHE.

PHIMOTHETI is the aorist imperative of PHIMOO. This is a command that you give to your dog - Christ literally says, ‘be muzzled’ or ‘muzzle yourself’. This is the imperative of command, given from Christ’s legitimate authority.

EXELTHE is also the aorist imperative, but this time of EXERCHOMAI, “come out”.

These aorist tenses make it clear that the actions commanded are to occur immediately, if not sooner.

Since the demon called into question the authority of Christ, Christ had to establish His authority with everyone present.

And the demon had no choice to obey - the penalty for disobedience would have been immediate and severe, probably Tartarus.

One last act of violence and defiance - the demon threw the man down into the middle of the audience in the synagogue. The participle is HRIPSAN, which means to throw someone or something. Sometimes in anger.

The body was thrown into the midst of the crowd… the man may have been picked up to some height in order to do so.

However, there was no harm done to the man - even the tossing was all show.

After this astounding event the crowd became thunderstruck once again - this time it is THAMBOS, and all at once they are speaking to one another about the authority of Jesus Christ to command demons, and exorcise them from a human body.

This then resulted in much publicity for Christ. Adversity had been turned to advantage.

The Healing of Peter’s Mother in Law

Matthew 8:14-17: “And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and waited on Him. And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying,”He Himself took our infirmities, and carried away our diseases.“”

Mark 1:29-34: “And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. And when evening had come, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

Luke 4:38-41: “And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother in law was suffering from a high fever; and they made request of Him on her behalf. And standing over her, he rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately arose and waited on them. And while the sun was setting, all who had any sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on every one of them, He was healing them. And demons also were coming out of many, crying out and saying, ‘You are the Son of God!’ And rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.”

They go right from the synagogue to Simon Peter’s home, where his mother in law lay sick in bed with a high fever. Notice Luke’s greater attention to detail - he is the doctor, and so he says it is not only a fever, PURETO, but a MEGA-PURETO. This is like saying she had a very bad fever, very dangerous to her life. “Raging fever” would be a good translation.

They (being Simon and Andrew, James and John) all request that she be healed. Since she is a loved one, known very well at least by Simon and Andrew, they make the request from compassion and not lurid interest in spectacular events.

Christ raises her up, taking her hand in His. This effects the healing, and it is done.

You will notice in subsequent healings that Christ touches those whom He heals. Contrast this with demon exorcism, which includes only terse commands to the demon in question.

Simon’s mother in law then gets up, and waits on Christ, and then all of them. Mark (Peter) makes it quite clear that her particular attention was on Christ.

When evening had come, after the sun had set, they (again being the four present disciples) brought many who will ill and demon possessed.

Although the miracles and healings and exorcisms were validation signs for the kingdom ministry of Christ, in no way should you construe that they were only for publicity’s sake. In fact, they were done, every one, as acts of compassion, and motivated from virtue love.

He cast out the demons with a word, at the same time not permitting them to speak because they knew who He was. But some of the demons were coming out, saying “you are the Son of God”.

This is the old reverse psychology tactic. If a demon says to you that a certain man is the Messiah, you would have a tendency to disagree and disbelieve such a thing.

Since these demons were doing this, Christ commanded them to silence.

During this period of many healings, Christ did lay His hands on every one of the ill. From this we get the idea of the laying on of hands, which of course has been distorted into some pretty silly notions. (see laying on of hands)

Matthew quotes Isa 53:4, saying that this incident and others like it were the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy.

This is exciting! This is fantastic! Isa 53:4 is the Old Testament prediction of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. The entire chapter reads like this: “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground;

Christ grew up a tender shoot; a perfect young boy in every respect. He also grew up perfectly in a spiritually bankrupt environment. He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

This stands as the only report of the physical countenance of Christ. His form was not stately or majestic; his appearance was at best neutral and at worst just downright unattractive. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

His life, although He was perfect in every way, was filled with grief and rejection. People treated Him as though He had some deforming disease or handicap. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.

This here is the atonement. In spite of His atoning sacrifice, Christ is often considered the recipient of Divine discipline. In a way He was, but it was our discipline, eternal discipline that He took. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet he did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.

The image of the lamb to the slaughter is quite poignant. The lamb is silent out of ignorance of what lies ahead. How much greater is our Lord, who was silent, full-knowing the future ordeal? Would we as deserving recipients of slaughter keep as silent? By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?

Few in His generation realized the import of His atonement and death. His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, he will see His offspring, he will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors."

This makes a clear association between the healings done by Christ and His atonement on the cross. The healings of physical ailments foreshadowed the healing of sin on the cross.

The exorcisms foreshadowed the final subduement of demons.

The miracles foreshadowed the fantastic nature of the eternal kingdom.

These things are validations because they are supernatural, and no one else could do them. But they are also full of meaning.

From this passage we know that Simon Peter was married. This same wife appears again only once in Scripture, in 1 Cor 9:5, where Paul mentions that it was Peter’s custom to take her on his missionary journeys.

Because of this very active sabbath night, the whole city had gathered at the door.

Notice also that no one is worried about Christ doing these things on the sabbath.

The Second Recall of the Four Disciples

Luke 5:1-11: “Now it came about that while the multitudes were pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them, and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat. And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon,”Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets began to break; and they signaled to their partners in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came, and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him."

This account is significantly different from the one in Matt 4:18-22, and Mark 1:16-20. Let me show you how this cannot be harmonized, and so must be a different, and later event.

In Matthew and Mark, Simon and Andrew were not fishing from a boat, and yet here they are.

In Matthew and Mark, Christ does not enter a boat, and yet here He does.

Matthew and Mark say nothing of the great catch of fish, and yet Luke does here.

This event in Luke is later because of the parallel sequence followed up to this point.

Somehow, some way, the disciples went back home again, and took up their trade. The most probable reason is that they perceived a need for money or trade - that the logistics seemed weak. But it is clear that this was not what they should have been doing - that they should have been with Christ all the time, fishing for men. This becomes clear in the passage.

There is no coincidence here. God led Christ to be here at this exact hour; see the events unfold from the disciples’ viewpoint: they are fishing along near the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and there before them a crowd develops, following and pressing in on one man. Naturally, it is Jesus, the one that they have left behind. But what do they do? Do they go to listen to the teaching of the Word? No. Instead they just go about their business.

It is interesting to note that this is a very positive crowd, and that they press in to hear the word, and not to receive healings or exorcisms or witness miracles. But in their zeal to hear Him, they are pushing Him into the sea.

Christ spies them as they are washing their nets. He goes over and gets into Simon’s boat and asks him to put out a little way from the land. Far enough to keep the crowds off, but near enough so that they can still hear Him. And Simon does so.

So Christ teaches the crowd for a while, and then concludes His message. Then comes an order. There is a contrast here. Before, Christ asked Simon for the use of his boat. Now, He orders him out to deeper water, and to let out his nets for a catch.

Simon’s reply is weak. He is likely exhausted from a night’s fruitless work. But he is also curiously unbelieving in Christ. He simply goes through the motion. Now Andrew must have been on board, for at least two participate in the lowering of the nets.

And straightaway they caught a great quantity of fish, the net was completely full, so many fish that the nets began to break, and so they had to call for their partners, and when both boats were working the full nets, the boats became so overloaded with fish that they began to sink. And that was enough.

Simon just then drops to his knees before our Lord, and says a curious thing: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.”

Simon is using the exorcism formula - a formula that he had heard many times before from the lips of Christ.

Yet his meaning is not that Christ is demon possessed, but that he is. He tells Christ that he cannot stand to be in His presence any longer on account of his sin. This rings a bell from our Hosea study. 10. Chapter Seven, Verse Thirteen: “Woe to them, for they have fled from Me! Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me! I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me.”

Verse thirteen is another discipline summary. It is a summary of the case of God vs. Israel.

Israel has strayed from God. So, woe to them.

God, through Hosea, employs the interjection ’OY. This is an impassioned expression of grief and despair. It is even onomatopoetic, evincing the sound that comes forth involuntarily from one’s mouth at the moment that the bad news is heard.

God says that they will have this experience because they have strayed, ’KNEADED. This verb holds the connotation of panicked flight. Israel flees from God because they fear a face to face confrontation. Yet, this confrontation is in reality the only thing that will save them. Lesson: never fear what is best for you. If it is best for you to go to God and confess your sins in humble repentance, then do so, and without fear.

Israel has rebelled against God. So, destruction is theirs.

The word for rebel is PHAS`U. It can describe personal or national rebellion. An interesting note: it too holds the connotation of fear. It reveals that fear always stands as the motivation for rebellion, in the negative sense of the word.

The rebellion of Israel from God has brought on SOR, ‘devastation’. Always, always, this word contains the idea of violence. A violent destruction waits for this fearful, rebellious nation.

Israel speaks lies against God. So, they do not receive redemption.

This nation has gone so far in the cosmic system that they have begun to speak Satanic propaganda against God. They are now the propaganda ministers of the devil.

PADAH is the Hebrew word for redemption. In the age of Israel, this redemption would have been both spiritual and national. The nation would have been renewed, were they not now the friends of the enemy. 11. This would not be the last time that Peter would do this very thing.

John 21:15-17 records Peter’s recovery before Christ, after the resurrection, “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’

Peter is still feeling guilt over his denial of Christ at this time, several days after Christ’s resurrection.

Note that Peter does not blame himself for his failure, but Christ. He is projecting his failure onto God.

Christ asks Peter if he has agape love for him, and the answer is no. Only phileo love - friendship. Peter does not feel worthy enough, and so he describes his love as friendship.

Though Christ commands Peter to feed his sheep, Peter does not feel qualified to do so, because he is only a friend of Christ.

The second round is identical to the first.

The third round is significant: it is Peter’s second threefold denial of Christ.

Peter’s grief is founded on Christ’s use of the word phileo the third time. In essence Christ says, “Do you even like me?’ This because of the silence after the second command to tend His sheep.

Again, the command of Christ to feed his sheep.

Christ then predicts the kind of death Peter will die, and it is not what one would consider pleasant. He concludes the prediction with a command - ’Follow me!"

Peter is momentarily distracted by John, who was following them down the beach. l. Christ cuts to the chase. ‘Follow Me’ is repeated, and that is the end of the story.

In your life, cut to the chase. Follow Christ. No excuses. No distractions. Get your eyes off of others, and follow Christ. 12. James and John were also seized with amazement and humility. Interesting, but Andrew is not mentioned at all with regard to response. Two possibilities. He was already positive, or he remained negative. I choose the former. 13. Christ now reiterates His former command: “From now on you will be catching men.” This was probably spoken in a firmer tone than before. Nonetheless, they obey. 14. Also, there was a miracle performed here. A once in a lifetime gathering of fish… See how the miracle is just done, with no reference to hands or touching or anything. It is still done by the spiritual gift and the power of God the Holy Spirit.

Miracles were most properly signs of the valid ministry of Christ.

The laying on of hands was a symbol of the Messiah.

The first healing, of the royal man’s son in Capernaum, was more properly a miracle, and is identified as such within the passage, John 4:46-54. It had to do with the time of the recovery, and not the healing itself. That healing may have occurred on its own, since nowhere does it say that Christ performed it.

Cleansing of a Leper

Matthew 8:2-4: “And behold, a leper came to Him, and bowed down to Him, saying,”Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and present the offering that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.”

Mark 1:40-45: “And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him,”If you are willing, You can make me clean." And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, " I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, and He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for you cleansing what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news about, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere."

Luke 5:12-16: “And it came about that while He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying,”Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." And He stretched out His hand, and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And He ordered him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.” But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and great multitudes were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray."

This occurs in one of the cities in the region of Galilee.

The account follows the usual formula for healing; the man asks; Christ touches; the healing comes to pass.

The man’s ailment is significant: it is leprosy, and when one recovered from this disease he was required by the law to make a ritual sacrifice.

Leprosy originated in Egypt, and probably at some time during the slavery of Israel there, 1800-1400 B.C. It is definitely an Egyptian disease.

Since the children of Abraham were living in Egypt, and under somewhat trying conditions, it would have been very difficult for them to avoid it, and apparently they did not.

The book of Leviticus has a very detailed symptomology of the disease, and is quite strict on the necessity of quarantine. See Lev 13 and 14.

The disease itself was considered completely incurable until 1960, A.D. Because of this, when someone did recover, it was an outright miracle. Thus the offerings.

Leprosy is caused by a bacterial organism very similar to the one that causes tuberculosis. Indeed, the two may have a common ancestor. In all of its forms it is a very hideous disease, and can at some points be quite infectious. Hence the Scriptural caution of quarantine.

In some instances, Leprosy resulted from sinfulness. Miriam’s judgment of Moses for his genetically (Egyptian) Gentile wife resulted in the disease. She had it for seven days only. Moses had the disease for a moment, as a sign of God’s power to him (Ex 4:6). Naaman the Syrian had it, and became healed. He was commanded to undergo seven cleansings in the river Jordan.

The man’s faith is remarkable: he says, “if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Notice how very grace oriented this is - it all depends on Christ. Christ’s response is apropos - “I am willing…”

This sacrifice would be one attended by a priest, and so Christ sent the man in that direction, so that the priests would have a testimony of Christ’s messianic powers. At the same time, Christ makes it clear that he is to tell no one else. The ex-leper blew it.

In light of what we know about healings, and how they pointed to the atonement, there is additional symbolism here. The sacrifices for a healed leper were sacrifices based on the atonement of the Messiah.

These sacrifices were all but forgotten in Israel. The last recorded one to be healed from the disease was a Syrian, Naaman.

That a priest would be asked to make this ritual would have been completely unheard of, and therefore a real attention getter.

The ritual went like this:

The priest collected two clean live birds, cedar wood, a scarlet string, and hyssop.

The first part of the ritual involved killing one bird over an earthenware vessel and under running water. Interestingly enough, the word for running is actually ‘living’. This etymological observation may explain the initial confusion with the woman at the well.

Then the wood, the string, the hyssop, and the still living bird, and dip them all together into the blood of the already sacrificed bird.

The bird, the branch, the string, and the hyssop are then shaken toward the newly healed individual, sprinkling him or her with the blood and water from the first bird.

Immediately after the sprinkling, the still living bird is set free.

What this all adds up to is a symbolization of the miraculous recovery.

The killing of one bird and the freeing of another has obvious symbolism. The healed leper should by all rights be doomed to a horrible life and death. Only the intervention of God has saved him. He should be the dead bird, but instead he is the living one, free from a terrible disease. It also symbolizes the killing of Christ so that we might have freedom from sin.

The cedar wood was one of exceptionally fine quality, and it represents the body of the now healed leper. Because of its hardness and also its fragrance add it to a tree that is extremely resistant to disease. This is also the new state of the leper. It also points to the perfect body of Christ on the cross.

The hyssop was well known as a fragrant herb, similar to Thyme and Marjoram. Due to the feathery spines on its stalk, it was ideal for use as a sprinkling device. Therefore it came to be a symbol for the purification from sin, Psalm 51:7. Someone used it at the cross to extend a sponge full of wine to Christ. It also represents the saving of Israel in the Exodus and the Passover feast.

The scarlet thread is a little more difficult. The scarlet dye was manufactured through the crushing of a certain species female worm. Christ called himself a worm,

TOLAH refers to the coccus iliacus, a very unusual worm which was harvested, crushed, put into a very large vat. In this manner, its blood was used for the purpose of making a crimson dye used to color king’s robes in the ancient world.

On the cross, the perfect and impeccable humanity of Christ was crushed with the judgment of our sins. Therefore, He calls Himself TOLAH, for the weight of those sins crushed Him as He was being judged for them.

So the imputation and judgment of our sins in Christ on the cross by God the Father is analogous to the worm being crushed in a vat, so that its blood can be used for the manufacture of royal robes.

Because our Lord was judged for our sins on the cross, we now wear the royal robes of His imputed righteousness. We were imputed with the righteousness of God the Father, and we share the righteousness of Christ through the baptism of the Spirit.

Summary: the healing of a leper was also a celebration of the atonement of the Messiah on the cross. When Christ ordered the leper to present himself to the priests, it would have been a testimony that He was that atoning Messiah.

Naturally, this would have resulted in a great deal of publicity, and because that information pointed to Christ as Messiah, some of that would have been negative publicity.

From this point, Christ could no longer publicly enter a city. Instead, He generally stayed out in the countryside, and pray.

The Forgiving and Healing of a Paralytic

Matthew 9:1-8: “And getting into a boat, he crossed over, and came to His own city. And behold, they were bringing to Him a paralytic, lying on a bed; and Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic,”Take courage, My son, your sins are forgiven." And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.” And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” - then He said to the paralytic - “Rise, take up your bed, and go home.” And he rose, and went home. But when the multitudes saw this, they were filled with awe, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men."

Mark 2:1-12: “And when He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic,”My son, your sins are forgiven." But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your pallet and walk’? But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” - He said to the paralytic - I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." And he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out in the sight of all; so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

Luke 5:17-26: “And it came about one day that He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. And behold, some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in, and to set him down in front of Him. And not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, right in the center, in front of Jesus. And seeing their faith, he said,”Friend, your sins are forgiven you." And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise, and walk’? But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” - He said to the paralytic - “I say to you, rise, and take up your stretcher and go home.” And at once he rose up before them, and took up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. And they were all seized with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

Jesus returns from the city where he had healed the leper and once again pointed to his atonement. In the mean time, He had become ever more popular, and could hardly enter a city without a great uproar, and the formation of a crowd. This is the reason for the sea-borne transport - He could swiftly cross over with the fear of the assembly of a bothersome crowd. Matthew calls Capernaum Jesus’ own city - it was where he had received the most positive volition, and where He was living for the time being. His headquarters as it were.

When He had enjoyed several days of rest and anonymity, the people found Him at home, and so a great crowd gathered. This crowd was composed of Pharisees and Scribes from all over Galilee and Judea, and even from Jerusalem. They had put together an investigative committee to see what the big deal with Jesus was all about. There was no room - standing room only. He took the opportunity to begin teaching.

The power of the Lord was unto him for healing. Luke says it in 5:17: KAI DUNAMIS KURIOU EN EIS TO IASTHAI AUTON. A. This is important. Here it says clearly, explicitly, that Christ heals by the power of the Lord, and not by the power of His own deity as the second person of the Godhead. This is the exact representation of the doctrine of kenosis.

Also, there is an implication that there were times when the power was not available. So this was a God given and directed power, and God chose the timing. It includes self awareness of that power. In some way, Christ could detect what was going on, and be prepared to heal.

There was a paralytic who desired to be healed. However, he could not get through the crowd to Christ, even with help from four others, who bore him on a bed or pallet. It was their intent to lay the paralyzed man in front of Jesus (they may have known the thing about touching).

Thwarted by the crowd (and can’t you just see the Pharisees and Scribes refusing to budge), the four men then manage to get their charge up onto the roof, and then to dig and remove tiles immediately over the head of Christ. They are persistent, and this is enough for Christ. They let him down right in front of Christ. And by the way, another great sermon was interrupted, but our Lord is quite skillful at turning these kinds of interruptions into opportunity. Besides, He recognized in them a great faith.

Christ’s words are a shock to the Scribes and Pharisees. He says, “My child, your sins are forgiven you.” Luke has a difference here with the other synoptic writers.

The reason for Luke’s difference is one of tone verses literal wording.

Christ’s tone in speaking these words was gentle and compassionate. Even though He spoke literally the word ANTHROPE, He said it so gently and compassionately that Matthew and Mark were compelled to translate it from the Aramaic as TEKNON.

When Christ tells the paralytic that his sins are forgiven, this should be nothing new to the Scribes and Pharisees. They should know better.

Christ does not actually say, “I forgive you by my authority”. He uses the passive voice, and so only indicates that the source of the paralytic’s forgiveness is outside of his power.

Furthermore, in the Old Testament, others are given the authority to communicate the forgiveness of God to His people.

Through a priest in the ritual sin offering, Lev 4:20.

Through an angel in Isaiah 6:7.

The thought process does not match what Christ said, the Scriptures, nor is it even honest with their own practice.

Christ, by saying these words, did not necessarily imply that He was the atonement, or that He had the authority to forgive.

The Old Testament has a prescription for forgiveness which could include the pronouncement by man or angel of the thing which God had done.

The priesthood held it to their own right that they should conduct the sacrifices and rituals, and thus by them forgive the sins of the people. This was a gross perversion of their office, but nonetheless they did become this presumptuous.

Really, the indignation of the Scribes and Pharisees comes from their feeling that Christ is impinging on their territory. Territory that they had obtained illicitly. The hypocrisy of the Pharisees on this occasion is quite evident. When they said to Christ that He was a blasphemer and that forgiveness was the realm of God, what they meant that was they did not want Christ to take over their position as the forgiver of the people.

So Christ must demonstrate to the Pharisees that He really does have the authority to tell this paralytic that he is forgiven.

He first reasons with the Pharisees, in order to point out their hypocrisy.

Which is easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Rise up and walk’? It was easy for the Scribes and Pharisees to tell their charges that their sins were forgiven. They would just say the words, and the people would feel good.

But could the scribes speak with authority, and tell the man to rise and walk? They were completely and totally helpless in this regard.

So Christ points out to the Jewish leadership that there is a vital difference between He and them: He has the power of God, and they do not. He has the authorizing, validating gifts of the Spirit and they are impotent beside Him.

And then He says the words (no mention of touch is here, but it was present - Luke 4:40 is still in effect at this time) SOI LEGO, EGEIRE KAI ARAS TO KLINIDION SOU POREUOU EIS TON OIKON SOU. “I say to you, rise and take up your pallet, go to your home”.

But notice something else - that Christ refers to Himself as the Son of Man. This was a Messianic term. (Son of Man)

And so the paralytic did exactly as Jesus commanded.

The Call of Matthew

Matthew 9:9: “And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he rose, and followed Him.

Mark 2:13-14: “And he went out again by the seashore; and all the multitude were coming to Him, and He was teaching them. And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he rose and followed Him.”

Luke 5:27-28: “And after that He went out, and noticed a tax-gatherer named Levi, sitting in the tax office, and he said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ And he left everything behind, and rose and began to follow Him.”

Christ passes on from his headquarters at Capernaum to a place by the seashore. Since Capernaum was a seaside town, this was probably not very far at all.

Again Christ was mobbed by the crowds - this time the crowds of commoners, and not Pharisees and Scribes.

Christ and the crowd are moving from one place to another, and just then He noticed a tax-collector sitting in his office.

Matthew and Mark portray this event as a slam bang affair - as though it just happened so quickly that you would hardly know what hit you.

Luke is much more matter of fact, but his account allows for the spirit of Matthew and Mark.

Christ orders Matthew to follow Him. It is the present active imperative of AKOLOUTHEO. Since the verb is in the present tense, it indicates that the act of following should be durative.

And Matthew left everything and rose and followed Christ! Instant obedience, and this from one the religious types of Israel would have nothing to do with.

Matthew - God used an outcast. His name is a transliteration of the Aramaic word which means gift of God.

In his own Gospel, Matthew uses his regular name. In other gospels, the name Levi is used. It is likely that Matthew became his name after his conversion.

Matthew was a Jewish tax collector. It is likely that he was fairly well off financially because of his profession. This makes his decision to follow Christ all the more remarkable, because he left it all behind - Lk 5:28. It is likely that he worked at the toll house in Capernaum.

As a tax collector, Matthew was an outcast in Jewish society. He apparently had no friends who were devout in the Jewish faith for at his party there were only other tax collectors and sinners.

The Roman tax collectors were hated by the Jews because the Roman taxes were in addition to the Jewish taxes.

They were also hated because they represented the occupying forces of the Roman Empire.

The tax collectors made their living by inflating the Roman taxes. They essentially worked on commission.

Tax collectors were wealthy, but hated by their own society. They had to live with a tremendous amount of prejudice.

Because of this prejudice their social options were severely limited. They could only socialize with others who were outcasts.

It was easy for Matthew to follow Christ, considering his personal circumstances. Social isolation does not make it easy to enjoy personal wealth. No doubt he knew of the supernatural essence of Christ’s ministry, and he may have even heard Him speak. It is often the outcast that finds it easiest to follow Christ.

Matthew is a rich man who defied the odds.

Remember Matthew if you are an outcast.

Matthew’s Banquet for Christ

Matthew 9:10-13: “And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?’ But when He heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, ’I desire compassion, and not sacrifice’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:15-17: “And it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. And when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers, they began saying to His disciples, ‘Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?’ And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”

Luke 5:29-32: “And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax-gatherers and other people who were reclining at the table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with the tax-gatherers and sinners?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’”

Matthew’s reminiscence is the best, and he adds one thing that Mark and Luke overlook. It is a most important detail, especially for Jews, and we will get to it.

Matthew held a big reception at his own home for Christ, and invited his tax-collector buddies, and also many sinners were there as well. None of the accounts define just what kind of sinners they were, but in order to gain this appellation they would have been those who were public outcasts. This was truly the outcast’s ball.

And Christ is reclining right at the table with them, eating and drinking. No doubt he was also making good of the time to communicate truth.

The Scribes of the Pharisees and the Pharisees participate in a coy and solicitous conspiracy against Christ.

They target Christ’s disciples, thinking that they may be susceptible to their conspiratorial lies.

They are attempting to make Christ look bad in front of His disciples. Public opinion was extremely strong against the category of people who were at this banquet. They wanted to manipulate that public opinion in order to destroy Christ. But it was not the proper time yet.

Christ overhears their coy solicitations, and so He speaks to them a principle: ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’

This can be posted on the doorframe of every local church. Every ambassador for Christ must remember this principle.

The local church is never to be some kind of social club for the self-righteous, or a place where only people with nice and friendly personalities are allowed to be

There is a time for the sinner to grow up, but there is also a place for the sinner-beginner to learn the Word of God and learn how to apply it.

Luke, the physician would have loved this statement. It may have been one of the most important things that he had ever heard, even if it was told to him many years after it took place.

Matthew recalls that Christ quoted Hosea 6:6 as a reproof to the Pharisees. It was the perfect verse for them to hear.

In fact, Matthew would recall when Christ quoted this verse on another occasion, in chapter 12 verse 7 of his gospel.

Verse Six: “For I delight in virtue love, and not sacrifice; and knowledge of God instead of whole burnt offerings.”

The first verb is haphets, and its meaning reveals a sensual and emotional response to stimuli.

It is used of sexual delight for both men and women, and for matters and things that are fun to do. It is pleasure of any kind, and is the basis for many systems of motivation.

It is in the qal perfect, which here reveals a principle of God’s nature. This verse reveals God’s very soul.

The object of God’s delight is hesed - virtue love and the sum of human virtue in every expression of character. hesed is the revelation of motivation as it extends from the complex of thought in the soul. And God delights in this.

The converse of hesed is zabhah, the actual slaughter of the sacrificial animals. The picture here is the actual act of sacrifice. God does not delight in the acts of sacrifice. He created the animals, too. They, too are the objects (thought lesser) of His pleasure, and in sacrifice they are destroyed. God does not take pleasure in that, nor does he delight in just the act.

The Jews had gotten to the point where the ritual system meant absolutely nothing to them; where they just went through the motions, without the slightest thought of the representation.

And yet the sacrifices of the ritual system were magnificent representations of Bible doctrine. The rituals taught many aspects of Divine character and interaction with sinful mankind.

The ritual system was an ingenious way to teach Bible truth, and it was never designed for just going through the motions in order to please God.

Going through the motions was a part of idolatry, but it was not any part of the plan of God. The idolaters perceived going through the motions as a way to please the idol and soothe his wrath, and bring his blessing.

Going through the motions is anti-relationship, and is a philosophy that keeps its adherents ignorant of the person of God.

The second half of the parallel statement is similar, but brings its own distinctions.

yadha is the intimate kind of relationship knowledge that God earnestly desires. He wants His people to have a knowledge of Him.

the converse of yadha is again a part of the ritual system: it is the whole burnt offering, the me`oloth. But the idea again is relationship, and so it has been since the beginning of time.

Genesis 1:26-27, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’” a. Why are we made in His image? So that we might have a relationship with Him, and bring praise to His name. b. The image is the soul image, not the physical one. God is not just a really big human being.

In the garden, there was a spiritual time of day, a time when the man and the woman would meet with God. It was relationship from the very beginning. Gen. 3:8, “And they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the spiritual time of the day.”

All of the patriarchs and great believers of old were such because of their quality relationship with God. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Esther, Rahab - all are great because they know Him and reflect His greatness in their own lives.

The ten commandments are based on relationship with God, Ex 20:1-3, “Then God spoke all these words, saying, ’I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no others gods before Me.”

All of the covenants to Israel were based on the precept that they must function in the framework of relationship with God.

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 says it best, “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, also that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlet bands on your forehead. And you shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.”

The content of this verse is quite valid in the church age. Never get means mixed up with substance. a. The means is the ritual system, or in our dispensation the study of the word. b. The substance is a dispensational constant, that is, it is valid at all times in human history. The substance is relationship with God.

We must never ritualize relationship with God. To ritualize that is to trivialize it. God never intended for something so personal to be institutionalized or monopolized in any way.

The means are there for a reason, and are to be employed to maximum advantage. But the means are never going to be the substance, and God is never, ever pleased just by your ‘doing’ the means.

The Dispensational Change

Matthew 9:14-17: “Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying,”Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the Bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for its fullness pulls up from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do men put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst and the wine pours out, and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Mark 2:18-22: “And John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him,”Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom do not fast, do they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

Luke 5:33-39: “And they said to Him,”The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers; the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same; but Yours eat and drink." And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And on one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he say, ‘The old is good enough.’”


Our Lord receives an opportunity here to give the disciples a basic understanding of a very complex subject: dispensation.

Here also is more evidence that John’s disciples are not exactly on the cutting edge of theology, and in fact quite out of touch with Christ’s kingdom ministry.

This passage forms the reply for John’s statement then, and Christ definitely criticizes John’s disciples for taking his viewpoint of the ministry transfer.

After the introductory details, the passage divides into three: the bridegroom analogy; the patch analogy; and the wineskin analogy.

The introductory details: “Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying,”Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" “And John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him,”Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" “And they said to Him,”The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers; the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same; but Yours eat and drink."

Matthew has just the disciples of John approaching Jesus with the question of fasting; Mark has both John’s disciples and the Pharisees asking; Luke has Christ’s disciples making the same inquiry.

Obviously, the reconciliation of the passage takes some work. Two possibilities resolve the existence of contradictions.

The sequential explanation: Mark, Matthew, then Luke. In other words, there was a fast that both Pharisees and John’s disciples had - and they noticed that Christ and His disciples were not participating. First John’s disciples, then the Pharisees came to Christ and asked their question.

The separate incidents explanation. The three gospels writers remember separate incidents, and record each as they some them.

Regardless, the Bible is inerrant, and so there is no contradiction here. Pick the incident of your choice.

The ‘they’ of Luke’s gospel refers to the Pharisees and scribes only - John’s disciples are not in view at all there. Luke also places this at the banquet at Matthew’s house, where there was a big party with lots of food and little fasting.

These individuals are both fasting. Fasting was a legitimate, non-compulsory exercise in Israel. It is not forbidden, and it is not mentioned in a negative light.

Moses fasted at Sinai while receiving the Law from God, Ex 34:28; Deut. 9:9. He did so again in mourning when he saw the golden calf, Deut. 9:17f.

At many times during the history of Israel, fasts were proclaimed at times of national emergency or distress.

Judges 20:26, during the Gibeah disaster.

1 Sam 7:6, during the Mizpah disaster.

2 Chron 20:3, during the disaster that Jehoshaphat had with Moab.

Ezra 8:21-23, during the journey home from the exile.

Neh 1:4, at the discovery of the destroyed Jerusalem.

Esther 4:16, at the attempt of genocide against the Jews. g. Jer 36:9, at a time of the destruction of Jerusalem.

A few times, Israel employed the fast as an act of penitence.

1 Kings 21:27, Ahab, when his evil and idolatry is exposed.

Neh 9:1, at ceremony of commemoration for the destruction of Judah.

They also implemented it as an accompaniment to earnest prayer, public or private. 2 Sam 12:16, David, at the sickness of he and Bathsheba’s child.

Fasting also often went alongside mourning.

2 Sam 1:12, David and his men at the death of Saul.

2 Sam 12:21, David, while his child was alive.

Fasting came to be on the annual schedule of religious events during and after the exile, and all of these were related to the fall of the Jewish client nation. They were a sort of remembrance of suffering kind of fast.

But never, never in the history of Israel did God command His people to fast. Lev 23:27-29: “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. Neither shall you do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from the people.”

There have been many who equate the humbling of the soul with a literal fast, but there is no reason whatsoever to take the passage this way.

The command to humble your souls is entirely self-sufficient, and is another way of saying ‘believe the doctrine’.

Fasts were supposed to be a sort of Sabbath from food, wherein greater concentration could be placed on God Himself, and especially during a time of mourning or Divine discipline.

John the Baptist required his followers to observe the annual fasts of the Jews.

Christ condemned hypocritical fasting, but did not condemn the practice outright, Matt 6:16-18, “And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

Although Christ is hard the Pharisees for their approbation lust, He does not come down on fasting.

Instead, He assumes that people will continue to fast, and pushes them all to do it in the right way.

There is a good reason why the Pharisees and disciples of John should not fast at the present time: Christ is on the planet.

The first analogy, aimed at John the Baptist and his disciples. “And Jesus said to them,”The attendants of the Bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast."

The attendants of the bridegroom are the disciples of John; the groom is Christ Himself; and the bride is Israel.

Notice that Christ equates fasting and mourning. Here we have the legitimate reason for fasting, which is a state of mourning.

Christ’s question to them is “Why are you mourning?” The truth which lies under the question is, “This should be a time of celebration for all of you”.

Christ has arrived, and He is offering to the kingdom to the bride - this is a time for rejoicing. The millennium is upon them, why fast?

The use of the word fast in the last sentence shows an equivalency to mourning. In fact, since Christ uses the two terms interchangeably we can assume that He considered them as synonymous. Therefore, the subject in the last sentence is about mourning.

This is the reason that Matthew’s gospel is so valuable - because he remembered the force of Christ’s discourse and translated so that we could have insight into the meaning.

Here also is another foreshadowing of Christ’s death. The disciples would mourn then.

The bridegroom will be taken away from them through the ascension - Acts 1:9 records this event, and there Luke uses the same verb, APAIRO, to describe the event. Under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, Luke interpreted the ascension as the fulfillment of Christ’s prediction. Acts 1:9 is the only other place in the New Testament where this verb is used, other than our three synoptic accounts of this event.

The verb APARTHE. points out some interesting things.

It is in the passive voice, revealing the nature of Christ’s passing. It will be not of His choosing, but from the action of God.. The subject receives the action of the verb.

The verb means to be taken away, not in any violent way, but just taken away.

The verb is in the subjunctive mood, revealing that from the human viewpoint, this event is only a potential event. Remember that the church age is no set thing yet from the viewpoint of the Jewish client nation. They may still choose Christ for their king. From the viewpoint of the divine decree and divine foreknowledge, their rejection is set in stone.

The second analogy, that of the patch. “But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results.” “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results.” “And He was also telling them a parable:”No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old."

Introduction to dispensations

Dispensation is a theological term which describes the Divine outline of human history.

“A dispensation is a period of human history defined in terms of divine revelation. According to the Bible, history is a sequence of divine administrations. These consecutive eras reflect the unfolding of God’s plan for mankind. They constitute the divine viewpoint of history and the theological interpretation of history. The doctrine of dispensations if the vehicles by which believers living at a specific time can orient to God’s will, plan, and purpose form their lives.” (Thieme, p.3).

In human history, God gradually and progressively reveals His eternal purpose for mankind. Although the revelation is gradual and progressive, every generation has all that it needs to glorify God.

Dispensational constants:

Since the creation of man, spiritual growth has come through faith perception, and tested through adversity. This will always be the case, Gen. 3:8, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the spiritual part of the day.” There was a spiritual part of every day in the garden.

The truth has always been provided, although the form and mode of communication of the truth is a variable.

The human spirit has always been provided as the frame of reference for spiritual matters. It was there in the garden, and lost through the fall.

In the church age, additional power is provided in the filling ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

Since the creation of man, the character and sufficiency of God has always been the issue for mankind. This will always be the case.

Since the creation of man, spiritual opportunity is always equal. So it always will be.

Since the fall of man, salvation has always been by grace through belief in Christ. So will it always be. Since Adam and Eve were in a state of perfection, they had no need for salvation.

Dispensational variables:

The form and agents of communication of the truth.

The form of communication varies widely, from direct communication from God in the garden to oral tradition to written communication and ritual communication.

The agent of communication is closely associated with the form, yet it is distinct. Agents have varied from God to priests to prophets to apostles to pastors.

The amount of truth, due to progressive revelation. Because the revelation of the truth is progressive, and always builds on the body of truth from preceding ages, each successive age has greater amount of the truth than the preceding one. Sometimes the increases are dramatic, sometimes they are less so.

The availability of Divine Power

The ministry of God the Holy Spirit in the church age marks a fantastic increase in the availability of divine power. In future ages, there will be even more. In preceding ages, less so. This may be related to two things: (1) The progressive degeneracy of man; (2) The progressive amount of truth.

Corporate vs. Individual emphasis. In some dispensations, there is a greater emphasis on the corporate than the individual. The age of Israel is such an age. There is no dispensation that fails to recognize the importance of the individual.

The individual emphasis harkens back to the individual decisions of fallen angels to follow Satan and to reject the grace offer of God. The corporate emphasis stresses the effect of individual decisions on the whole.

Time and space relationship to Jesus Christ. The relationship in time of a dispensation to the first and second advents has a direct effect on the conditions of that dispensation, especially what is revealed in the Word.

The pre-baptism era

The presentation of the Word.

The total information and complexity of the Word remains the same as in the last era. The means of communication also remains the same. Although the living Word was now in His human body, his time of teaching had not yet come. Although John the Baptist had a special ministry in preparing the way for Christ, he is a prophet, and no more, Jn 1:6-8, “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.”

The current phase of the angelic conflict

The Pre-baptism era of the life of Christ marked the beginning of the rebuttal phase of the angelic conflict. The intensity of the conflict became much greater. The scope of the conflict was focused on the person of Jesus Christ.

There was a great deal of angelic protection for the person of Jesus Christ, especially in His early years, Mt 2:13-18 (read). The conflict continued in the lives of other human beings, but the great focus was on Christ Himself.

This era had several purposes within the conflict.

The continuation of the age of Israel, and the era of Divine Discipline, which overlapped the present dispensation (explain).

Jesus Christ lived the perfect life of a believer under the ritual system of the age of Israel, Mt 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

He proved that it could be done as the last one to take the witness stand under the ritual plan of God.

He began the transition to the church age and the rebuttal phase of the trial.

He was therefore the perfect cornerstone between the two dispensations, Mt 21:42; Mk 12:10; Lk 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph 2:20; 1 Pet 2:6,7.

The post-baptism era

Note: At His baptism, Our Lord received the filling ministry of the Holy Spirit, and thus began His earthly ministry, and the prototype Christian life.

The presentation of the Word

The total information revealed took a large step forward at the revelation of the living Word in the baptism of Christ. The complexity of the information stayed relatively low. The means of communication took some new turns as well.

The Word was for the very first time communication in a person, that is, Jesus Christ. Our Lord Himself communicated through Word and deed. He taught individuals, small groups, and large crowds. He also taught by the example of His own life. The availability of Divine power.

The general populace had the same power as the preceding eras. Jesus Christ received the full-time filling of the Spirit for the first time in History.

Through it He received all of the spiritual gifts that He needed to establish the Christian way of life. Included were at least miracles, healing, knowledge, prophecy, pastor-teacher, and faith. Through it He was empowered to execute perfectly the prototype Christian life in the protocol plan of God. Because of it He could remain impeccable and accomplish what He needed to without using His own omnipotence. The current phase of the angelic conflict.

Although the scope of the angelic conflict remained the same, this was perhaps the most intense time in history, Mt 4:1-12; Lk 4:1-12 (read).

The level of chaos, violence, and suffering isn’t always an accurate measuring device for the intensity of the spiritual conflict.

In this era, Satan and Jesus Christ underwent an incredibly intense spiritual contest, and our Lord was the winner. The purpose of this era was to establish the new way of spiritual life for Church age believers, and to accomplish the salvation of mankind.

In His life, Our Lord became the first witness of the rebuttal phase of the trial, and underwent a severe cross examination by the devil. It was also necessary for Him to die a substitutionary spiritual death on the cross, so that our salvation might be made available. In the rebuttal phase, every mature believer is an example of what Satan and the fallen angels could have had if they would have accepted the grace offer of God. In Christ, Satan had an example of what He could have had if he had never sinned in the first place. Whereas Adam became an example of the fall of Satan, Our Lord was an example of Satan without the fall, 1Cor 15:45-49. The life of Christ after His baptism begins a string of witnesses which bring individual recrimination against the fallen angels.

Jesus Christ is the patch of new cloth; the dispensation of Israel is the old garment. The one central truth that is communicated by this parable and the next is that of unsuitability.

The new cloth does not fit with the old garment.

The old garment is unsuitable for the new patch; so the conditions of the dispensation of Israel are unsuited for the coming of Christ.

The Pharisees were fasting as a part of their ritual system. John’s disciples were fasting as a part of his ministry. Both are unsuited for the dispensation of the incarnation. We have seen that fasting was related to mourning. However, mourning was particularly unsuited to the celebratory nature of Christ’s appearance and ministry.

Both Matthew and Mark use the word PLEROMA for what we have as ‘new’. Actually PLEROMA is a word which means fullness. The new patch is full, like a sponge, but later it will be empty and smaller. Thus, the tearing. Christ certainly was the fullness of God in a human being, and could not be coupled with a dispensation that is all about compensation for sin.

The second parable is much the same as the first: it has as its one central truth the idea of unsuitability.

This time, Christ is the new wine, and the old wineskin is the dispensation of Israel, and more specifically, the idea of fasting.

The difference here is that the unsuitability lies in the idea of expansion instead of shrinking. The new wine expands, whereas the new patch of cloth shrinks.

In both cases, Christ and the dispensation of the incarnation are the new things, and the dispensation of Israel and fasting are the old things. In both cases, the old is unsuitable to the new, and Christ urges them to bring new to the new. The new is a new dispensation.

In essence, Christ is telling them that their dispensation, with its ritual form of teaching, is outdated, and in fact they should be letting it pass.

The way to let that dispensation to pass is to take hold of the new one, and its distinctions, or dispensational variables.

The followers of John the Baptist should be the first ones on the case, because they were supposed to “be prepared” for the coming of the Lord. How could they be prepared through legalism? How through clinging to the former dispensation, now obviously past?

Nor do the Pharisees have an excuse.

John Chapter 5


John 5:1, “After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem”


This is the spring of 27 A.D., the second Passover during Christ’s ministry. This feast is not tabernacles, although many assert it to be.

The great day of atonement was the day of fasting mentioned by the disciples of John and the Pharisees.

Jerusalem was a few days’ journey from Galilee, and so it would have been difficult to make it while the feast was still going.

The phrase META TAUTA - “after these things” is an allusion to what has just gone previously in his gospel, but was some time before if this is the feast of Tabernacles.

The previous event at the end of John chapter four is the healing of the royal man’s son. This in turn was only a few days after the incident with the Samaritan woman at the well. And that event just when Christ was entering Galilee and starting up His ministry there.

In a nutshell, META TAUTA would encompass about one year in time! This stretches the meaning of the phrase a little too far.

The apostles made the connection between the feast of tabernacles and the transfiguration of Jesus Christ.

Read Mark 9:1-8.

The transfiguration was a preview of the glorification of Jesus Christ at the second advent.

Read Rev. 19:11-16.

Our Lord testified to this very thing.

Read John 7:2-8.

If Christ would not go up to this feast the next year, then why the year previous.

Conclusion: this cannot be the feast of tabernacles.

The handicapped in ancient Israel were cared for, but it was just about a guarantee that one would live in poverty for all his life.

John 5:2-5, “Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is nicknamed in Hebrew Bethzatha, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered. And a certain man was there, who had been thirty-eight years in his sickness.”

The sheep gate is a gate that opens to the North side of the temple area, but not the temple itself.

About two hundred yards to the North from this gate there are two man-made pools, standing next to each other in north-south orientation.

John’s account mentions only one pool, that one by the name of Bethzatha.

The other name possibilities(Bethesda, Belzetha, etc.) exist because of some confusing place names in the area, but must be discounted on the basis of the weakness of their manuscripts.

This confusion exists because Herod the great, the man who had the pools built a few years before Christ’s birth, called the complex the ‘house of mercy’, or, Bethesda. And, nearby, there was a suburb called Bezatha. The two place names collided and over the years they became one - ‘Beth-zatha’.

The two pools issue from the same underground spring, and so were often lumped together. Beth-zatha was the name for the complex. Even we say we are going down to the neighborhood pool, when there may be a baby pool or a lap pool in addition to the main one.

The word for ‘called’ is EPILEGOMENE, which means to place one word on top of another, or to assign a nickname. Thus we know that Bethzatha is a nickname and not its proper name.

This pool complex had five porticoes. A portico is a porch that has a roof supported by columns. This was really a magnificent looking area, typical of Solomon’s building program.

The story about the angel stirring up the waters is certainly not included in the original manuscript of John’s writing.

The earliest manuscript that contains the angel story is from the fifth century; the earliest that omits it from around 200. Case settled.

What the inclusion of the angel story does is attempt to provide a rationale for why so many of the sick, blind, lame, and withered went there, and why they wanted so much to go into the waters.

This place was a sort of Lourdes of the ancient world. A local legend, totally untrue, had an angel stirring up the waters and giving healing to any who could get there while the water roiled. What a terrible false hope these people had! Many of them would have come just for the feast, and gone to this place as a special pilgrimage. Perhaps the rumor that Christ was near stirred up the frenzy of interest even more.

The roiling of the waters was a pretty bad tease. All of the scrambling to get into the pools must have been a horrifying spectacle.

Thirty eight years is a really long time to be ill! There is hope and hopeless hope. How he must have rationalized his presence there. How he must have hoped a hopeless hope to be healed. The man’s illness left him in an incapacitated state - he did not have the physical capability to reached the roiling of the pool.

John 5:6-9,“When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him,”Do you wish to get well?" The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to cast me into the pool whenever the water is stirred up. But while I myself am coming, another goes down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day."

John reveals Christ’s motivation through the statement, “[Christ] knew that he had already been a long time in that condition.”

Christ’s offer comes from His compassion. Christ had seen thousands and thousands of the sick and lame, and even many of them were present at this scene, but this man is among the worst.

Christ did not come to heal every sick or lame person in the world. It is a point of fact that He did not.

He did choose this man out of compassion. He was the most pitiful of the bunch at the pool.

Christ uses the word HUGIE.S to define the man’s desire. It denotes physical soundness or wholeness. It portrays the absence of disease or defect. Paul uses this for sound doctrine in Titus 2:8.

Also remarkable is that the poor man had no one to help him. There is no compassion in Israel.

Healing this man will be a sign that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and especially the suffering Messiah. How appropriate then that this healing occurs at the Passover feast, which is a ritual that teaches the same principle.

A typical misunderstanding occurs. Christ asks the man if he wishes to get well, and the man assumes that Christ speaks of the healing powers of the waters.

The sick man has no idea whatsoever as to the identity of Christ. If he had, then he would have been on to what Christ was offering.

Remember also that Christ has been away in Galilee for a year or so, and that he did not announce His return to Jerusalem. And this: if this man had no one to put him in this pool, then who would have carried him to Galilee and Christ.

But Christ had to come here, because this man was positive, and had no way to physically come to Christ.

The man says, “Sir, I have no man to cast me into the pool whenever the water is stirred up. But while I myself am coming, another goes down before me.”

The man addresses Christ respectfully with the appellation KURIE. This is the ‘sir’ of the koine Greek. It does not indicate that he knew Christ’s true nature. Remember this from the woman at the well? She used the same form of address.

The use of HOTAN, ‘whenever’ indicates that the water is stirred up on random occasions.

TARASSO describes the stirring up of the waters. The sick man uses the passive voice, which most likely indicates his belief that the stirring up does not come from a natural source. Note the difference: “The water stirred…” “The water was stirred by the angel…”

The man also emphasizes that he is alone in this endeavor by the intensive use of the personal pronoun EGO combined with the verb ERCHOMAI. Together, these are translated, “I myself.”

This is a most pitiful plea.

“Jesus said to him,”Arise, take up your pallet, and walk around." And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk around. Now it was the Sabbath on that day."

Not only does Christ command the sick man to get up and walk, but also to take up his pallet.

The KRABATTOS was a small portable bed, perhaps in the form of a mattress-stretcher combination. The same word was employed by the synoptic writers for the man who was lowered through the roof to Jesus. That mattress was obviously on some kind of frame, and rigid.

While the pallet used to carry him, now he carries the pallet. Christ’s command is very appropriate, and designed to bring a great demonstration of the power of God.

The verb for walk is PERIPATEO, and it means literally to ‘walk around’.

The idea is definitely that of demonstration.

Imagine the scene: all those scrambling madly to get into the waters whenever they stir, a pitiful, wild, weird freak show. Does the cure work immediately, or does it take time? Do I have to be where the water stirs, or just in the pool anywhere when it does stir? How can you tell the difference between the stirring of the angel, and the wind. Or worse yet, the stirring of the angel and all the splashing and confusion as the scramble occurs.

And then, of all things, one of their number, clearly outside of the pool, arises and begins to walk around with his pallet in hand.


John puts a shadow on this happy moment by mentioning that it was the Sabbath. Surely this man knew it was the Sabbath, but how could he disobey the one who had healed his illness of thirty eight years?

John 5:10-13, “Therefore the Jews were saying to him who was cured,”It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet." But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me,”Take up your pallet and walk." They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you,”Take up your pallet and walk?" But he who was healed did not know who it was; for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place."

The Jews are angry because of this Sabbath violation - notice how little true compassion they have - they could care less about the man’s medical history, and the hopelessness that he experienced during that thirty eight year illness.

The Jews have forgotten the true meaning of the Sabbath, which is concentration on God and His work. Surely they should understand this magnificent healing as a work of God, and worship Him for it.

Not only have they forgotten the true meaning of the Sabbath, but they have also distorted it, replacing it with cheap legalism and a multitude of rules. Let’s look at the Mosaic rule concerning the Sabbath…

Sabbath Review

Gen. 1:31-2:3, “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and he rested on the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He”sabbathed" from all His work which God had created and made."

God does not tire.

God can do an infinite amount of work and still concentrate and appreciate what He has done.

But God stopped on this occasion to demonstrate to man his need for concentration on God.

It is true that man needs physical rest; but the rest for the soul comes from a relationship with God, and that is the nature of the Sabbath.

Rhetorical question: if you only needed rest once a week, then why do you sleep every day? Isn’t sleep rest?

One day a week of rest has no magical effect on the body, nor is this indicated anywhere in the Bible. There is no verse that says if you fail to rest one day a week you will die young!

Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Deut 5:15: “And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath.”

Also significant is the placement of this commandment. It follows after three relationship commandments:

You shall have no other Gods before Me.

You shall no make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

The interpretation of the Sabbath as a period of concentration on God is the only interpretation compatible with the greatest commandment, Deut 6:5.

Read Joshua 21:43-22:6.

The Jews occupied the promised land, and immediately entered into the rest of God. Here for the first time the Sabbath is equated with spiritual maturity, and the feast of tabernacles.

Observe that Joshua tells his people that they have kept all that the Lord commanded, and that this was the prerequisite for their entrance to the blessing of the promised land. God kept every promise about it.

He also warns them to continue in this direction - “to love the Lord your God”

Notice that in the commandment it is called the Sabbath of God. This is the possessive sense here - the Sabbath that belongs to God; the one you should give to Him.

Exodus 23:12, “Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor in order that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves.”

Here is the more practical side of the Sabbath - but see that the Sabbath is for the animals and slaves and visitors at your house.

The refreshment seems to be of a physical nature here.

This physical command is repeated in Exodus 34:21, “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.”

A Sabbath could be a whole week, Lev 23:39, the feast of Tabernacles. Here the connection with concentration on God is made the more strong.

A Sabbath could be a whole year, Lev 25:2,4,6.

Exodus 16:22-30 is a reminder that the Lord provides logistics so that you can concentrate on Him.

If you are striving to get ahead, and make logistics a priority above God, then you are under the mistaken assumption that God cannot provide for you.

If you make recreation a priority above God, then you are under the mistaken impression that God cannot refresh you in the allotted time.

Ezekiel 20:12,20 place a seal on the meaning of the Sabbath: “And also I gave them My Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.”

The purpose of the Sabbath is to know God, the God who sanctifies them.

Interestingly enough, we are sanctified by knowing God.

There is one day a week when the people know God, and that is what sanctifies them.

Aside from the prohibition of work, there is very little specific about the commandment. The real question about this commandment is whether you concentrate on God during this period.

Perhaps Isaiah 40:27-31 summarizes the benefit of the true Sabbath best: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,”My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God“? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

Read Hebrews 3:7-4:13.

This long passage is about the Sabbath rest of Joshua, which is spiritual maturity.

You can only enter the Sabbath rest of God through belief in Jesus Christ.

Unbelief prevents you from ever knowing this wonderful rest.

The writer of Hebrews makes a big point out of the present time. Again and again he makes the assertion that there is no day like today to enter into the Sabbath rest of God (although you cannot reach maturity in a day, you can get on the trail that leads to it).

The word of God is the means of entering the Sabbath rest - it is the way to maturity.

When the Pharisees accuse the sick man of violating the Sabbath, he says that he was just following orders from the one who made him well, HUGIE.S, physically well. He is not spiritually well just yet.

But the sick man only knows that he is well. He does not know who made him that way.

John 5:14-16, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him,”Behold, you have become well; sin no longer, so that nothing worse may befall you." The man went away, and reported to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. And for this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath."

Christ was in the temple, for His observation of the Passover proceedings. What thoughts He must have had.

The man is physically well, but there is in him a persistence of sin. There is little or no evidence of his conversion to this point, and our Lord makes it clear that he is at this moment not right with God.

Handicaps are neither spiritual liabilities nor spiritual assets. Volition runs the same in the handicapped as in all others.

The prohibition against sinning is quite interesting:

Christ says, “ME.KETI HAMARTANE”. The verb HAMARTANE is in the imperative mood, so this is a command. ME.KETI is a temporal adverb which denotes the cessation of an action. This really does mean “sin no longer”, as in never again.

But how can Christ tell this to someone whom He knows will sin? Christ has to be aware of the realities of the sin nature. C. Really, this would be a legitimate command to a believer - all of us are commanded to restrain from sin.

However, there is a very similar turn of the phrase in Jeremiah 31:34, and it would be a good idea to go there and examine its context.

The formerly sick man reported, ANAGGELO to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. This Greek word holds only a negative connotation here. It may be taken as “tattled”, or just “reported”, but either way it is the voluntary nature of the act that really stinks. This man chose to report to the Jews what could only turn out wrong.

The Jews employed this information in persecution - DIOKO means to doggedly pursue someone for the purpose of doing them harm.

The stated reason for the persecution is Christ’s violation of the Pharasaic rules of the Sabbath. He definitely broke their Sabbath, but not the real one. Remember, Christ was the fulfillment of the Law; He could never have broken the real Sabbath.

John 5:17-18, “But He answered them,”My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."

The two verbs translated “working” are both the same, ERGAZOMAI. They are the present middle indicatives, indicating ongoing, non-stop work to the indefinite future.

The purpose of these verbs is to answer the assertion that we rest because God rested. The essence of the Sabbath is not the cessation of work, but concentration on God.

But Christ’s works and God’s works should be the objects of concentration, and they certainly are not a violation of the Moses’ Sabbath.

Christ uses the personal pronoun EGO in order to emphasize His own work - not in contrast to that of the Father’s, but in concert.

So two things here would get the attention of the Pharisees:

That Christ called God His Father.

That Christ considered His work equivalent with that of the Father’s.

As a result, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him.

The more bold Christ became, the more the Jews wanted to kill Him; the more that Christ revealed about the plan of God in Him, the more the Jews wanted to kill Him; the more that Christ set Himself up as a substituted for them, the more the Jews wanted to kill Him.

So this was not only persecution, but deadly persecution.

Even two years before the death of Christ, the conspiracy to kill Him gained great strength.

Christ spoke the truth - He is a part of the trinity. God is three persons in one Godhead.

The first person of the Trinity is God the Father. The second person of the Trinity is God the Son. The third person of the Trinity is God the Holy Spirit.

The three persons of the trinity possess identical essence in one being.

This divine being is tripersonal, having three distinct persons which are autonomous from one another in soul function.

This distinction in persons is more than just one God showing different facets or modes of His one person.

Christ is a part of the trinity even though His is in the flesh.

Definition: “In the person of the incarnate Christ are two natures, inseparably united without mixture or loss of separate identity, without loss or transfer of properties or attributes, the union being both personal and eternal from the moment of the virgin birth.”

The standard operating procedure for the hypostatic union was to be something called Kenosis, Phil 2:5-8, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!”

During the incarnation our Lord voluntarily restricted the independent use of the divine capabilities. Furthermore, the expression of His character was restricted to what He had developed in His humanity, and not what He inherently had as deity.

He did this in compliance with the Father’s plan for His time on planet earth.

Christ voluntarily became man, and with that restricted His deity to His humanity.

During the incarnation Jesus Christ never once exercised the independent use of His own Divine capabilities, either to benefit Himself, to provide for Himself, or to glorify Himself, Mt 4:1-12; Lk 4:1-12.

Voluntary restriction does not mean that those things went away, but that they were simply not used. He was still omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, love, etc.

Christ’s divine capabilities and character traits were ready and available for His use at all times, but He chose not to use them.

John 5:19-47 Outline

The Humility of the Son, vv.19-21

His humility in earthly doings, “19 Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them,”Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing from Himself, unless it is something he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also likewise does."

Now here is the definition of Christ’s humility to the Father, and from Christ’s own lips.

Christ does exactly what the Father does. He is the exact imitation of the integrity of God.

This statement, during the incarnation, is restricted to the character of God, and it stands as a great example for all of us.

Also in this statement is a strong reinforcement of the doctrine of kenosis.

The Son observes the Father through His study of the Old Testament. Christ definitely does not “go visit” the Father when no one is looking. Christ’s observations are limited to what anyone else has during that time.

God does what He does from His perfection. Christ does what He does from God’s perfection. For what Christ does, He does as a man.

What Christ says here to the Pharisees is really stunning: that he is both equal to the Father, and to them. Christ is limited by kenosis to the human condition.

His humility in future doings,“20 For the Father loves the Son and shows to Him all things which He Himself does and He will show Him greater works than these, so that you yourselves might marvel.”

The Father loves the Son

There is equal love in the Godhead among all members. The Father loves the Son’s humanity as well.

This is my Son, whom I love; in whom I am well-pleased. The Son had lived the perfect life up to this time, and He is the one human being who deserves the true personal love of the Father.

The Father shows the Son all things which He himself does.

The showing depends on the power of the Holy Spirit, but neither is this outside of the access of the rest of the human race. In order to be truly effective as savior and prototype, Christ had to have only what was available to other believers of His time. Therefore, this revelation of God is what was already revealed to everyone, and something that was in plain sight. It also eliminates excuses, and removes anti-grace thinking.

The greater works, those which would cause even the Pharisees to marvel, are future, and things which have yet to be done.

Christ had already done healings and miracles - and such things had been done in the Old Testament.

But there had been no resurrection, nor yet the second coming and millennial rule. These are the works to which Christ refers.

The greater works does not refer to church age mystery doctrine, because Christ did not reveal the church, or even hint at the church until the last week of His life.

Therefore, these things must be those already associated with Israel.

His humility in life making,“21 For just as the Father raises the dead and makes them alive, even so the Son also makes alive whom He wishes.”

God the Father gave life in a limited sense in the dispensations before Christ. He placed their souls into interim bodies, and transferred them either to torments or paradise. And also he creates the soul in the first place and puts it into the human body.

This function is portrayed as occurring just then, as Christ spoke. God still held this role.

Jesus Christ had apparently already resuscitated a number of people as a kingdom sign. Christ would continue to do this, in order to point to His own resurrection, and the future resurrections of mankind.

Christ specifically points out that His willpower is involved. This works in conjunction with His spiritual gift. Our willpower works the same way with our gifts.

The Equality and Superiority of the Son, vv.22-30

His authority to judge, “22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.”

The Son will judge on several different occasions.

Judgement of our sins on the cross.

The self-judgement of our sins in time through confession.

The Judgment Seat of Christ, the evaluation of all Church Age believers.

The baptism of fire, which is the judgment of all unbelievers of the tribulation, both Jew and Gentile, Mt 25:31-46; Ezek 20:33-48.

The evaluation of all tribulational believers, both Jew and Gentile, Mt 25:31-46; Dan 12:2-3.

At the great white throne, there are three categories of judgments.

The judgment of believers.

All believers who lived before the incarnation, both Jew and Gentile, are judged at this time.

All Millennial believers are judged at this time.

The judgment of unbelievers. All unbelievers in history, except those of the tribulation, are judged at this time. Mt 25:31-46, Ezek 20:32-38, Rev 20:7-10.

The judgment of all fallen angels at the end of the Millennium. Their sentence was passed before time began, but its execution is not carried out until the end of human history.

The purpose of His authority, “23 So that all might honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father Who sent Him.”

The purpose particle introduces the purpose for the authority of Christ in judgment.

God gave Christ the authority to judge so that the human race would give Him equal honor.

The honor that Christ should receive comes from the dual sacrifice of His kenosis, Phil 2:5-8.

This honor is a mental attitude of appreciation for the sacrifice and integrity of another.

There is honor for the Father from the Old Testament dispensations.

The honor is an option, for it is in the potential subjunctive mood.

The application of man related to Christ’s authority, “24 Truly truly I say to you that the one who listens to My word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

Since Christ has authority to judge and to give life, it behooves all men to listen to the word of Christ and believe in the one who sent Him.

Belief in Christ negates the judgment which rightfully should come to one in total depravity.

Every human being is born into a state of total depravity, characterized by total separation from God due to Adam’s original sin, and total helplessness to do anything about it. This is a state of judgment!

If you refuse to believe in Christ, you are left in that state of judgment; if you believe in Christ you are removed from that state of judgment and placed into union with Christ.

The resurrection related to Christ, “25 Truly truly I say to you that the hour is coming and now is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God - and the ones who hear will live.”

This event is in the present - it is really a double entendre. First, is when someone listens to the voice of the Son of God, and believes what he has to say. This person, who begins in a status of spiritual death, that is, total depravity, will live.

The future life is when that person will be resurrected unto life. Thus, resurrection is in view here as well.

The explanation of the power to resurrect, “26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He gave to the Son to have life in Himself.”

This is a restatement of the previous statement about the ability to give life. But it does have its own twist.

Notice here that the attribute of life itself is applied to Christ.

The life here is eternal life, and it implies quality as well as infinity.

For us, the meaning is vitality.

Vitality in the gospel of John.

Vitality is expressive Christianity.

The format for vitality is prayer.

The contents of vitality are worship, observation, supplication, confession, dependence, and character.

The explanation of the authority to judge, “27 And He gave authority to Him to make judgment, because He is the Son of Man.”

Hand in hand with the authority to give life is the authority to judge.

The two represent the only possibilities for your eternal fate.

A narration of the resurrection and judgment, " 28 Do not marvel at this; because the hour is coming in which everyone who is in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and they will come out, the ones who did [divine] good unto a resurrection of life, but those who practiced human good unto a resurrection of judgment."

The hour is coming - this represents the eminence of divine judgment. The word denotes a short span of time between the present and the future.

When the time is past, it will seem only a short time.

Everyone who is in the tombs - obviously, those who are dead. This does not seem a reference to the incident at the death of Christ, Matt 27:52-53, “and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.”

Those in the tombs at Christ’s death are resuscitated - their old nasty decayed human bodies are raised.

However, verse 29 clearly states this passage as a resurrection at the end of time.

Furthermore, here it is PANTES , everyone who is in the tombs; in Matthew it is POLLA, “many”.

Will hear His voice - now this is the change from verse 25, and is really the completion of it. If you hear His voice now, you will hear it later, and that’s good.

HOI TA AGAPA POIESANTES, “the ones who did the intrinsic good”.

The participle is in the aorist tense, and so it reveals action that occurs before the main verb. It describes the action of those who believed in Christ during the span of their lives on earth.

The aorist participle also denotes that the action occurred in one moment of time - this is a single act of good.

The definite article and noun portray a single act of intrinsic good, and one which is known by the listeners. It is only belief in Christ.

The result is a resurrection unto life, eternal life, that is.

HOI TA PHAULA PRAXANTES “The ones who practiced the human good.”

This is really descriptive! The aorist participle describes past time, but here the meaning of the verb overrules the tense of the participle in the kind of action. The verb pra/ssw is “practice”, and therefore indicates action over a lifetime.

The noun reveals anything worthless or out of bounds. It summarizes all the acts of human good which an unbeliever accumulates over a lifetime.

This person is also resurrected, but unto judgment - the harsh judgment into the lake of fire, which occurs at the great white throne.

The equity of Christ’s judgment, “30 I am not able to do anything from Myself; I judge just as I hear, and My judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the One who sent Me.”

Christ follows the will of the Father in judgment.

Christ desires to please God in all of His judgments.

None of the judgments of Christ attempt to please man; they only attempt to please God. This is what makes all of His judgments perfectly fair.

To please man is to fall into the morass of relativity. There is no fairness in relativity.

The Testimony about the Son, vv.31-37

The invalidity of self-testimony, “31 If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not true;”

Christ is speaking to the Pharisees here. Remember that! He therefore switches over to a very objective mode in testimony about Himself.

When Christ says, “not true”. What He means is not true to the Pharisees. Of course His testimony is true! It is just that He knows that the Pharisees will not trust His self-testimony.

The validity of outside testimony & the first outside witness to Christ, “32 There is another who testifies about me, and I know that the testimony which He testifies about Me is true.”

Outside testimony is more valid for the Pharisees. He would have their attention by now.

Although some manuscripts have the more logical “you know”, they are late and unreliable.

So, there is an outside witness, and his testimony is true. The Pharisees would be asking themselves who this might be.

The first witness: John the Baptist, “33 You have sent to John, and he has testified the truth.”

Remember, the Pharisees sent a fact finding team to John, John 1:19-28. At that time, John told them about Christ. He made the issue very clear.

Christ uses the intensive form of the personal pronoun “you”. He wants to really emphasize that the Pharisees were concerned enough about John ministry to find out more about Him.

When John made the issue so clear, it was the truth.

Christ’s purpose in citing these witnesses, “34 But I did not receive the testimony from man, but I speak these things so that you might be saved.”

Christ here reveals His pure motive in providing testimony. He wants the very best for the Pharisees, which is for them to be saved through belief in Him.

Christ did not receive the testimony from man. This means that Christ is pointing out that He received a greater testimonial than just human. He received one from God the Father Himself at His baptism.

Although I have not included it in my outline, this is really the second witness to Christ.

John’s testimony and the Pharisees’ former acceptance of it, “35 He [John the Baptist] was the lamp that was burning and shining and you wanted to rejoice for a short time in his light.”

Notice the past tense HEN. Although John was the lamp that was burning and shining, Christ makes it clear that this is no longer the case.

In fact, John has allied with the Pharisees now, and has become the enemy of Christ.

John was the lamp… the lamp that the Pharisees would remember would be the lampstand in the holy place of the tabernacle and temple. It is the lamp which represents the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

John in his ministry shed light on the Old Testament. He was like the Spirit in that regard. In fact, the Spirit worked alongside the ministry of John.

For a short time the Pharisees wanted to rejoice in the light of John’s ministry. At first they had a few shreds of positive volition. That time is clearly past.

Summary: we now have two witnesses - John the Baptist and God the Father.

The second witness: the works of Christ, “36 But I have a greater witness than John; for the works which the Father gave Me so that I might finish them, the very works which I do, testify about Me that the Father sent Me.”

So the works of Christ also testify about Him - that He is the Son of God.

Christ did the following works through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.



Demon Exorcisms.

Remember, these great things are done through the spiritual gifts and the power of the Spirit, and certainly not through his own deity.

These same works are given by the Father, so that they might be fulfilled or finished by Christ.

Step by step Christ fulfills Old Testament prophecy.

Through Old Testament wisdom Christ does the works which are given by the Father.

By the guidance of the Spirit Christ knows when to do what. The Spirit even guides when we are not sure or flat out do not know.

Eph 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Christ does miracles, healings, and exorcisms, and nobody else does. Doesn’t that point to His being the messiah?

The third witness: the Father, “37 And the Father who sent Me, has testified about Me. You have neither heard His voice, nor seen His form,”

Christ has already alluded to this witness.

The Father testified about Christ at His baptism.

But the Old Testament is chock-full of testimony about Christ. Christ fulfilled dozens and dozens of prophecies.

The Pharisees did not hear the voice of the Father, because they did not want to, not because they did not hear with their ears. Many Pharisees would have been present at the baptism of Christ.

The Pharisees have not seen the form of God. This time the verb is o)ra/w, and it does not mean to see with the organs of sight, but with the organ of the heart.

The part of God that the Pharisees do not see is EIDOS. This is actually a cognate of HORAO, and speakers of Greek employed it to describe the outward form of an idol.

God did reveal Himself in theophanies during Old Testament dispensations, but those days are past by the time this passage rolls around.

Irony: they are right in front of the Son of God, and yet they do not see God in Him.

The Pharisees’ Rejection of the Witnesses and Their Negative Volition, vv.38-47

The Pharisees’ response to the word,“38 and you do not have His word living in you, because you do not believe the one whom He sent.”

The participle me/nonta describes the wordless state of the Pharisees. It is not that the Pharisees are without a knowledge of the Scripture, for they could compete with the best in the world in this regard.

But, they do not have the word living in them. The present tense combines with the meaning of the word so that it places a strong emphasis on the indwelling and durative nature of the word.

Christ makes a point: you can know a tremendous amount about the word, and still there is an issue about whether it dwells in you.

Whether the word dwells in you is entirely up to you. In order to make the word dwell in yourself, you must make it a vital part of your life and relationship with God.

The Pharisees never did do this, and so they rejected the witnesses.

Remember, there is negative volition at hearing the word, and negative volition at using the word. The Pharisees fell into the latter category.

Their blind and failed search of the Scriptures, “39 You search the Scriptures, because You assume to have eternal life in them; and they are those who testify about Me!”

Something amazing: the Pharisees search the Scriptures, because they assume to have eternal life in them. This sounds good, and yet the Pharisees missed something, for sure.

ERAUNTE describes a search only when you do not know what you seek. It describes the exploratory operation in surgery, or the endless and fruitless quest of philosophy.

Searching the Scriptures would normally be a good thing; but when you search and do not know why, then you are in trouble. You will not find the object for which you search if you do not know what it is.

The verb DOKEITE means to assume something. It describes presumptive thinking. Christ inserts the personal pronoun HUMEIS in order to show His surprise that the Pharisees do this. It could be translated, “even you”.

The Pharisees assume that they have eternal life in the Scriptures, and this is a good assumption.

With this good assumption they go on to search aimlessly through the Scriptures, paying a great deal of attention to detail which did not exist, and failing to discover eternal life.

Christ is eternal life, and the Old Testament is full of testimony about Him.

What the Pharisees desire is a quality of life, but they assume that the quality is legalism, and living Scripture to the letter, and even their letter.

The eternal life of Christ comes by dwelling in God through Scripture.

Their current response to Christ in spite of the witnesses, “40 And you do not want to come to Me in order that you might have life!”

Now Christ registers His indignant surprise at the negative volition of the Pharisees.

They search the Scriptures, but do not see Him there. How ridiculous! How stupid.

They have John the Baptist; God the Father; the Old Testament; the works of Christ. What more could they possibly want? Why don’t they see Christ?

The policy of Christ related to approbation from men “41 I do not receive glory from men,”

The do/can of man is any extraneous or illegitimate approbation which He might receive. 1 Pet 1:24 [Isa 40:6], “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord abides forever.”

Christ here sets up a contrast with the Pharisees, who loved the approbation directed toward their illegitimate activities, and given for ulterior motives.

Christ includes the preposition PARA: This portrays on or more persons and that something proceeds from this person or persons.

The noun ANTHROPON is plural, and it gathers all of mankind into one generic class; it could just as well be translated “mankind,” or, “people.”

The Pharisees’ lack of virtue love, “42 but I have known you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.”

The conjunction ALLA is not adversative, so much as it is transitional. It changes gears to the next clause, which has to do with what the Pharisees lack.

The Pharisees lack true love - the virtue love of God. The virtue love of God is certainly something that would be acceptable to Christ in His judgments.

Christ uses the perfect tense of the verb “to know”. Christ has already had experiences with the Pharisees, so that He knows of their lack of virtue.

Again, they have a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures without the love of God. What a spectacular failure.

If Christ has the authority to judge mankind, and He knows the Pharisees do not have what it takes, well, this should chill them to the bone.

The Pharisees’ willingness to receive false messiahs, “43 I have come in the name of My Father, and you do not receive Me; If another shall come in his own name you will receive him!”

Christ came in the name of the Father, and with many testimonies about His true nature.

Christ uses the personal pronoun EGO to form a contrast between Himself and the false messiahs of the day.

Christ forms a hypothetical future case with something called the future more vivid construction. It creates a likely scenario, and then adds a definite outcome.

The likely scenario is the coming of another false messiah. In fact, many false messiahs have come since that day, and many even in the lifetimes of the Pharisees who listened then to the words of Christ.

The definite outcome is that the Pharisees will receive this false one. There is no question left in the construction.

It is a prediction base on the current state of the souls of these Pharisees. Their legalism and unhappiness has left them quite vulnerable to false doctrine and false messiahs.

The impossibility of the Pharisees’ belief, and the reason, “44 How can you believe, while receiving glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory which is from the only God?”

You cannot believe in Christ and at the same time seek the approbation from men. Christ knows the fatal distraction of the Pharisees quite well!

The Pharisees searched the Scriptures for nothing, but for their work they hoped to receive glory from one another and from man.

The glory which is from the only God is Christ Himself, and the relationship with God which He brings to man.

ZETEITE denotes the search for what is known. It contrasts strongly against the preceding verb of searching.

It is really a rhetorical question.

The Pharisees present judge, “45 Do not assume that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, in whom you have hoped.”

The indictment against the Pharisees comes from the Law of Moses.

They have place their hope in Moses - that is, in their fulfillment of the letter and ritual of the Law of Moses.

Yet the law of Moses exists in order to lead the way to God, and to provide the basis for a continuing relationship with Him. Of course, the Pharisees utterly failed to see this.

So this same Law of Moses forms their indictment.

The first part goes to the future, to the Great White Throne, where both believer and unbeliever Pharisees will be judged. In both cases, Christ will not accuse them.

The second part indicates that the judgment from the Law already exists - it is in the present tense.

Again, there should be a chilling effect on the legalists who listened to Christ on this occasion and others like it. Will the Law of Moses be read at their judgment? It is entirely possible! How about Deuteronomy 6?

Their rejection of Moses, “46 For if you believed Moses [and you did not], you believed in Me; for he wrote about Me.”

Christ now makes a very clear and pointed comment: that they do not believe in Moses!

He does this with a present unreal conditional sentence. In this construction, the protasis is considered untrue, and the apodosis simply hypothetical.

So it goes like this. If you believed (but you didn’t) then you would have believed in Moses (but of course you do not).

The rejection applied to belief in Christ, “47 But if you do not believe in his writings, how can you believe in My word?”

The Pharisees do not believe in the writings of Moses - they do not believe in them at least as God intended.

The Pharisees do believe in the writings of Moses as they interpret them, but that does not count before God.

It is impossible to reject Moses and at the same time receive Christ. If you miss Moses, you will most certainly miss Christ.

Another Sabbath Controversy

Matt. 12:1-8: 1“At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath through the grain fields, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him,”Look, Your disciples do what is not right to do on a Sabbath." 3 But he said to them, “Have you not read what David did, when he became hungry, he and his companions; 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not ‘right’ for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? 5 Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath, and are innocent? 6 But I say to you, that something greater than the temple is here. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:23-28 “And He happened to be passing through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to Him,”Look, why are they doing what is not right on the Sabbath?" 25 And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and became hungry, he and his companions: 26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not ‘right’ for anyone to eat except the priests, and he gave it also to those who were with him?” 27 And He was saying to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Consequently, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.

Luke 6:1-5 “Now He happened on a certain Sabbath to be passing through some grain fields; and His disciples were picking and eating the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. 2 But some of the Pharisees said,”Why do you do what is not right on the Sabbath?" 3 And Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him, 4 how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which is not ‘right’ for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?” 5 And He was saying to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”


The incident (Matthew, Mark, Luke).

The Pharisees’ reaction and accusation (Matthew, Mark, Luke)

Christ’s defense and counter-indictment.

The precedent of David and His companions (Matthew, Mark, Luke).

The support from the Law (Matthew).

The present day existence of a superior principle (Matthew).

The principle of relationship with God (Matthew).

The principle of priority in creation (Mark).

The principle of priority in rank (Matthew, Mark, Luke)

Harmonic Conversion

At that time Jesus and His disciples were going through a grainfield, and the disciples had just begun to pick and eat the heads of grain by rubbing them in their hands.

All three gospels contain the necessary information, but Luke is more explicit that the disciples had actually consumed some of the grain when the Pharisees issued their complaint.

Matthew and Mark make it clear that they had only just begun to pick and eat, but they are unclear as to whether the food had passed their lips.

The difference is somewhat important - they had indeed done the deed, and not just begun it.

The grain fields are not specifically located - nor is this detail important. But there is a clue here as to the timing of this event - it is late summer, near the harvest, for the grain was edible.

Rubbing a head of grain with the hands removes the chaff. That the disciples could accomplish this with an easy motion points to the ripeness of the grain.

And the Pharisees saw this, and said to Christ, “Look, why are they doing what is not right on the Sabbath?”

The Pharisees were lurking nearby. If this is near Jerusalem, their presence next to the grainfield would be understandable; if not, then they are simply hounding Christ and the disciples in order to ‘get’ something on them.

They think they might have it here, but they are sorely mistaken.

All three of the gospels use the Greek e)/cestin to denote their idea of morality. This word is closely related to e)cousi/a. Where the latter denotes a human right, the former moves to the more abstract realm of what is right. It is not exactly the written Law, so much as it is natural law. It concentrates on the principle behind what may be written.

They relate the activity of the disciples to their understanding of the Sabbath, and conclude that the activity is not right.

Their idea comes from the fourth commandment, recorded in Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”

You will immediately notice the absence of a prohibition against picking grain. In fact, it is clear that there are no specifics at all pertaining to the stoppage of work on this day. Therefore the complaint of the Pharisees has to do with their interpretation of work on the Sabbath.

What is left unsaid is why the disciples must eat this grain - why they have not eaten an so must use this unconventional method of provisioning. The answer to this question in turn answers the query of the Pharisees.

But He said to them…

“Have you not read what David did, when he was in need, and became hungry, he and his companions; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not ‘right’ for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?”

The event to which Jesus refers is from 1 Samuel 21:1-6, but the background comes from the chapters before.

David kills Goliath, and becomes a great hero for the nation of Israel (1 Sam 17).

David and Jonathan the son of Saul become fast friends; the women of Israel greet David as a greater hero than Saul; Saul is jealous of David; Saul twice attempts David’s life; David prospers greatly; David and Michal, the daughter of Saul are to be married; Saul attempts to trick David by the great Philistine foreskin caper, and thus the hand of Michal was won; David has much success against the Philistines in battle (1 Sam 18).

Saul issues a general order to put David to death; Jonathan talks his father out of this plot; time passes and war with the Philistines resumes - David is again a great military hero; Saul resumes his jealousy and makes another personal attempt on the life of David; Saul renews the general decree against David’s life; Michal assists David in his escape from the royal palace (Psalm 59); David flees to Samuel at Ramah; they flee together to Naioth; Saul sends his henchmen to capture David at Naiaoth, but they are thrice thwarted by the Spirit of God through Samuel; Saul goes there personally, and the Spirit thwarts him as well; the chapter ends with Saul naked and humiliated, prophesying for twenty four straight hours under the control of the Spirit (1 Sam 19).

David flees back to Ramah, and meets there with Jonathan; they conspire together to save David’s life; David hides in a field near Jerusalem to await the word of Jonathan; Saul learns of this conspiracy from Jonathan himself, and attempts to kill his own son; Jonathan warns David of his danger, and David flees again (1 Sam 20).

Read 1 Sam 21:1-6

David in his desperation takes the sword of Goliath from Ahimelech, and then flees to Gath, the hometown of Goliath (Psalm 34); Achish the king of Gath turns against David, and David must act insane (Psalm 56) before him in order to escape (1 Sam 21).

David arrives at the cave of Adullam (Psalm 57, 142), and there he becomes captain of a band of outcasts, ala Robin Hood; He takes his aged parents to the king of Moab in order to safeguard them there; David then sorties to the forest of Hereth (AKA Sherwood); Saul discovers that Ahimelech has aided David, and through Doeg the Edomite massacres eighty five priests along with many other men, women, children, and even animals; Ahimelech himself escapes to David; David accepts responsibility for the slaughter (1 Sam 22).

John 5:16-18, “And for this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them,”My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."

Now: Christ and His disciples are David and his men; and, the Pharisees are Saul and his men.

Christ’s point is that an emergency situation may warrant the breaking of the Sabbath. David’s flight illustrates the principle perfectly.

Although this was not a situation in which Christ was in danger of losing His life, the Pharisees are certainly after His skin.

“Or have you not read the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath, and are innocent?”

There is no specific verse attached to this principle, but it is certainly true.

Think about it: the priests have to work on the Sabbath; they carry out many duties every Sabbath that would constitute the prohibition against work.

Christ points out this issue, but does not make reference to the Pharisees’ strict interpretation of the Law. The work of the priests on the Sabbath would comprise work in anyone’s book.

This second point differs from the first, in that it points out an exception to the work prohibition that is not an emergency. This applies just as readily as the first, and even more so, because Christ has not yet finished this element of His discourse.

“But I say to you, that something greater than the temple is here.”

The greater thing is the body and person of Christ.

The temple only foreshadows what would be fulfilled in every way in Him.

The work of the priests in the temple all represented aspects of Christ’s life and work.

Now which is greater, the fulfillment or the shadow?

So if the priests could break the Sabbath in the foreshadowing of Christ, the mere presence of Christ would create a Sabbath negation zone.

The presence of Christ provided the opportunity to Sabbath whenever He taught doctrine, and that could be any day of the week, and any time.

With Christ present the need for the regimented weekly Sabbath was entirely negated. An hour with Him would have been far superior to any Sabbath day during the dispensation of Israel.

“But if you had know what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”

In this third principle, Christ quotes Hosea 6:6.

There are means to the substance of the Christian life, and there is the substance itself.

The substance is always relationship with God through the Word of Truth.

During the dispensation of Israel, the means of the spiritual life were the rituals given by God through Moses. God designed these rituals to teach the Israelites about Himself, and relationship with Him. At no time did God intend the rituals to become the substance of the spiritual life.

The Pharisees were the masters of making the means into the substance - the very thing which Hosea 6:6 refutes.

The test which the Pharisees should apply to Christ’s disciples is whether their activity violates the substance. With Christ present in the world, there is the unique opportunity to enjoy the substance of the spiritual life at any time!

“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

Look again at the first chapter of Genesis… which came first, man or the Sabbath?

If man came first, then how could man be made for the Sabbath? It is entirely the other way around!

And why was the Sabbath made for man? So that man would take time to know God.

Believing that God made man for the Sabbath places a very wrong emphasis on the means to the substance.

The substance is not ritual for the sake of ritual. God did not make man so that he would worship the Sabbath; the Sabbath was never a god to be worshipped, and yet that is exactly what the Pharisees desired for those under their authority.

The Pharisees had manufactured an idol from the rituals which God provided. They worshipped the means, and threw away the substance of Old Testament spiritual life.

And He was saying to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

The final argument of Christ concentrates on His own authority.

If God made the Sabbath for man, then the Lord of all men should rule the Sabbath indeed.

Christ is the Lord of all men, and thus the Lord of the Sabbath as well. It is therefore His prerogative to do what He desires on the Sabbath, and to direct His disciples to do as He wishes, regardless of the day of the week.

And all this over such a little thing as eating grain on the fly!

Healing on the Sabbath

Matthew 12:9-14: “9 And departing there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, a man has a withered hand. 10 And they questioned Him, saying,”Is it right to heal on the Sabbath?" - in order that they might bring charges against Him. 11 But He said to them, “What man will there be among you, who will have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not grab it and raise it out? 12 How greatly a man differs from a sheep! So then, it is right to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He says to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” And he stretched it out, and it was restored to full health, like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out, and plotted together against Him, that they might destroy Him."

Mark 3:1-6: “1 And He entered again into the synagogue; and a man was there with a badly withered hand. 2 And they were scrutinizing Him to see whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, in order that they might bring charges against Him. 3 And he says to the man with the withered hand,”Rise into the middle!" 4 And He says to them, “Is it right on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save a soul or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 And after looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He says to the man, “Stretch out the hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 And the Pharisees went out and immediately were plotting together with the Herodians against Him, that they might destroy Him."

Luke 6:6-11 “6 And it came about on a different Sabbath, that He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there and his right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees were scrutinizing Him, to see whether He would heal on the Sabbath, in order that they might find grounds to bring charges against Him. 8 But He knew their plans, and He said to the man with the withered hand,”Rise and stand in the middle!" 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it right on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil, to save a soul, or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all, He said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” And he did, and his hand was restored. 11 But they themselves were filled with [irrational] rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus."


The Setting.

Christ is teaching in the synagogue of the persecuting Jews. “And He departed there. And it came about on a different Sabbath, that He entered their synagogue, and was teaching;”

Christ leaves from the vicinity of the grainfield, where He had just concluded a controversy with the Pharisees over the issue of the Sabbath.

On a different Sabbath, not long after the grainfield Sabbath, Christ entered their synagogue, and was teaching. Of course this was Christ’s modus operandi - to teach in the synagogues, where the Jews had gathered to listen to the Word.

So the Pharisees had the home synagogue advantage.

Now this is a synagogue, and it appears that Christ has gone back to Galilee, for there were no synagogues in Jerusalem proper - there would be no need.

The opportunity - the man with the badly withered hand. “And there was a man there whose right hand was badly withered.”

Luke is the doctor who notices details. Although he was not there, he would naturally inquire as to which hand was withered. It is the right hand, which would have had a profound impact on the life of the man. Luke would only say this if it mattered - the man was likely right-handed, and truly crippled by this event.

Mark records the impression of the impressionable Peter, who describes the condition with the perfect participle. This shows both severity and permanence.

The verb XERAINO and the noun CHEIROS describe the hand. These words indicate a parched, dried, and even diseased state. The problem with the hand therefore may have come from a disease, and maybe from a terrible burn. The source does not matter - the condition does. It was a terrible, irreversible condition that was a considerable handicap.

The opposition - the Pharisees who conspire against Him. “And the scribes and the Pharisees were scrutinizing Him, to see whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, in order that they might find grounds to bring charges against Him.”

The scribes and the Pharisees watch Christ like a hawk. They want Him, and they want Him badly. The verb for ‘scrutinize’ is PARATEREO, which means literally, ‘to keep beside’. In other words, they stayed close to Him, in order to catch Him.

They were looking for grounds for a legal accusation, and they felt they could get it if Christ healed this man on the Sabbath. KATEGOREO is a Greek verb which meant to bring formal charges against a person. Our own English verb categorize does not quite have this meaning, but if you employ it in the personal judgment of a person it comes close.

The scribes and the Pharisees had quite a dilemma. They could not kill Christ outright, for that would be murder. They did not want Him assassinated, for that would create a martyr. Their only other option was religious vilification combined with capital punishment. They initiated that policy here, even though they would not succeed for another two years.

The charge: healing on the Sabbath. “And they questioned Him, saying,”Is it right to heal on the Sabbath?“”

The Pharisees were never ones to let manners interfere with their regulation of events. They interrupted Christ’s teaching in order to bring up the subject of healing on the Sabbath.

Again they use the verb EXESTIN to define the issue. In their minds, is it right to heal on the Sabbath. The verb goes all the way back to natural law.

The Reply. “But He had known their plans, and He said to the man with the withered hand,”Rise and stand in the middle!“” Christ knew their plans - the pluperfect tense of OIDA. In fact He had known them (John 5:16,18), and from this knowledge knew exactly what to do. The command to stand in the middle MESON has in mind the common synagogue layout of the day, which kept a platform in the middle, and seating in the round.

The illustration of the endangered sheep. “And He said to them,”What man will there be among you, who will have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not grab it and raise it out? How greatly a man differs from a sheep!“”

I have retained the future tense, although smoother translation would be in the present, “What man is there among you…”

Christ confronts the Pharisees here - and tells them of their own practice of breaking the Sabbath. This makes it clear that the Pharisees must arrest themselves if they are to arrest Jesus.

A fundamental point to Christ’s argument is that the man in the illustration has only one sheep. If a man has only one sheep, then that sheep is of paramount importance. The livestock of the ancient world was rather like the modern automobile - it was both a sign of wealth and a means to wealth.

If the sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath, it may well die in the next twenty four hours, who would allow such a torturous death on his own animal? Wouldn’t it be merciful and God-like to rescue it?

The grabbing and lifting would certainly be considered work by any objective standard, and not just by the stringent definition of the Pharisees.

But the grabbing and lifting would be an act of mercy, and so would fit within the frame of reference of healing as well.

A contrast arises: when Christ heals, it is by the power of God, and not by His own effort; yet when the Pharisees would rescue their one sheep, it would be by human effort alone.

Then Christ turns their attention to the man, standing on the platform with Him. His argument is truly flawless.

And recall that Christ does this for the benefit of the Pharisees and scribes, so that they would see that He is correct, and find the true nature of compassion.

The principle: a good work is not ‘Sabbath’ work. “And then He said to them,”I ask you, is it right on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil, to save a soul, or to destroy it? So then, it is right to do good on the Sabbath." But they kept silent."

A good work or a bad deed does not come into play in the Sabbath frame of reference.

The question that Christ brings to the fore is an excellent one: does one refrain from the application of the truth on the Sabbath? Of course not!

Saving a sheep is an application of truth; so also healing a man.

Good deeds and saving a soul PSUCHEN are in the same category. Saving a soul actually refers to saving a life - that is, keeping the soul in the human body. It is not really saving a soul in the context of eternal salvation. Here, it connects with the soul of the endangered sheep, while the good deed would be the healing of the man with the withered hand.

Bad deeds and destroying souls are in another category. If you left the sheep, you would be doing a bad deed - it would be sinful to let it die in agony. In the same way, it would be sinful not to heal the man before them on the Sabbath.

Christ come to a conclusion for all who are present: it is right to do good on the Sabbath!

But the scribes and Pharisees kept silent. What a strong expression of negative volition. Christ presents a brilliant argument - one that is extremely convincing. And yet, they keep silent. Now this is arrogance of the first degree.

The Healing. “And after looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man,”Stretch out your hand!" And he stretched it out, and it was restored to full health, like the other."

Hardness of heart is the same as spiritual blindness. It is a characteristic of those who have repeatedly rejected the truth of God, and accepted the cosmic counterfeits and lies. Their motive is most likely power lust.

Christ is grieved, sullupe/omai is a compound verb, composed of the preposition sun and the verb lupe/omai. The addition of the preposition only adds strength to the basic meaning of the verb, which is “to receive offense”. It is not grief in the sense of mourning, but offense in the sense that someone has done something to hurt you.

Christ looks around at them in anger, ORGES. Having taken offense at their spiritual blindness.

Christ is not out of fellowship over this. His anger is not irrational, nor is it unfounded. What this verse conveys is that the Pharisees do wrong to Christ by rejecting His perfect rationale for healing the man before them, and that Christ knows that they have done this to spite Him.

Christ does what is right then, and at the same time demonstrates that their hardness of heart has no effect on His doing what is right. Christ must do what is right, even if others think it wrong.

The Response of the Pharisees. “But they themselves were filled with [irrational] rage, and they were plotting together with the Herodians against Him, that they might destroy Him.”

It is so important to see the contrast between the ORGES of Christ and the irrational rage of the Pharisees.

The Pharisees were filled EPLESTHESAN with irrational rage ANOIAS.

The verb is in the passive voice, showing that the subject receives its action. Here the subjects are the scribes and Pharisees. This portrays the out of control nature of their emotion.

The noun is really a compound word which literally means “unthinking”.

The Herodians were men of influence and partisans of the Herodian house. They were much the same as the Sadducees with regard to their religious beliefs. They would have been strange bedfellows, but for their common hatred of Christ.

This does not bring anything new from the viewpoint of the Pharisees, but Mark mentions the plot in order to bring in the Herodians. The Sadducees.

This religious group came into being about 300 years before Christ. They are characterized by their aristocracy, their cultural surrender to the Greeks and others, and their opposition to everything Pharasaic.

Their name comes from the Aramaic Sadduqim, which meant ‘righteousness’. However, those who were in opposition to them called them saddiqim, which meant ‘destruction’.

They came from the ranks of the priests and high priests of Israel, during the time of the Greek occupation. Their desire was to give in to the Hellenizing influences of the Greeks, and thus retain their favor.

The Sadducees had a lot to lose to the occupation forces of the Greeks, because they were mostly prosperous, aristocratic people. In order to maintain their lifestyles and possessions, they placated the Greeks, giving in to their cultural and even religious influences.

During the Maccabaean revolt, they stayed in the background. They were in fact very unpopular. When Jonathan Maccabee was appointed high priest by popular demand, it looked like the Sadducees would be gone forever. At the time, almost all of the people in the land were willing to sacrifice anything for their freedom. The strong oppression of the Syrians drove them to this sacrificial attitude.

After about 40 years of on and off civil war, the Jews became tired of the bloodshed, and popular opinion tended toward peace. In this case, peace meant compromise, and compromise was the game of the Sadducees. John Hyrcanus, of the Maccabees, was really very close to the Sadducee way of thinking.

However, the compromising policy of Hyrcanus became unpopular in a few years, and so the Pharisees came into power.

Due to the double tyranny of the Pharisees and king Herod, the Sadducees had made a great comeback not long before the birth of Christ. Let’s face it: the Pharisees were no fun at all.

The religious beliefs of the Sadducees can be summed up in a single thought: they were always opposed to what the Pharisees believed.

They believed that only the written Law is binding, whereas the Pharisees believed that the body of tradition and written interpretation were just as important as the Law itself.

The Sadducees punished breaches of the Law severely, but the Pharisees often interpreted their way around the written Law, and thus got out of the proscribed punishment.

They had a strong belief in human free will, while the Pharisees believed in predestination to the point of being fatalistic.

They denied the resurrection, and any kind of continued existence of the soul after physical death. This led to their inordinate value of private property and possessions. The Pharisees, however, believed that the soul continued after death, and that there would be a severe judgement in eternity.

The Sadducees did not believe in angelic beings, or demons, and any reference to such in Scripture was converted to a manifestation of God Himself. The Pharisees did believe in angels.

The Sadducees always reserved the right of private opinion about Scripture and the Law, while the Pharisees rejected that right, tyrannically imposing their opinions on all.

The Sadducees were a mixture of both the conservative and the liberal from today’s American society. The pressures of history and their religious beliefs worked together to make them what they were. Although they had some good elements to their philosophy, they were just as spiritually and morally bankrupt as the Pharisees. They are a good example of wrong reaction for the right reason. It was a good thing to be opposed to the religious tyranny of the Pharisees, but the motives of the Sadducees were wrong, and thus their beliefs went in the wrong direction. Although religion was important to them, relationship with God was not, and so they destroyed themselves. They left the pages of history forever after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Transition to the Sermon on the Mount

Read Matthew 12:15-21

Read Mark 3:7-12


The geographical movement of Christ and His disciples.

The reason. “But Jesus, knowing [this],”

Jesus knew that the Pharisees and Herodians were trying to kill Him.

In fact, He knew this even before the grain field incident, as we have seen.

The movement. " withdrew from there to the sea with His disciples."

“There” is again undefined. We do not know the location of the grain field, nor do we know the position of the synagogue where the withered hand incident took place.

But we do know that Christ went with His disciples down the sea, and of course the sea is the Sea of Galilee. So, they are somewhere on the coast of the Sea of Galilee.

The attendant movement of His followers.

The following. “And a great multitude from Galilee followed;”

First, we have the fact of the following. They followed Him from Galilee and beyond Galilee.

And second, the reason, which was the usual reason - because He healed people.

Their places of origin. “and also from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumai, and [from] beyond the Jordan, and [from] the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon,”

Judea is the southern region of Israel. It was 50-75 miles from Judea to the Sea of Galilee. Our modern equivalent: two or three days’ drive… 1500 miles.

Jerusalem is about sixty miles from the Sea of Galilee.

Idumai, or Idumaea was about 100 miles to the south, south even of Judea, or a good four days journey.

Beyond the Jordan is 30 to 60 miles to the southeast from the Sea of Galilee.

Tyre and Sidon lie about 30 and 40 miles to the northwest from the Sea of Galilee.

Conclusion: the people of the surrounding regions were coming from all over to see Christ and to receive His healing touch.

The desperation of the multitude.

The healings. “a great multitude hearing what great things that He was doing came to Him…” “…for He had healed them all,”

Although these two parts of the narrative are out of order, they are in the outline here to explain the motivation of the crowd.

Christ had healed some of them, and the word got out, and so they were coming from all over.

Mark says that “Christ healed them all.” In other words, it was His current policy to heal every last one who came to Him. Christ did not heal every sick person in the region - only those who came to Him, and only those who came to Him at this time.

It was never the policy or intent to heal every human being of their physical ailments.

The chaotic reaction of the multitude. “in order that they might not press upon Him; for He had healed them all, so that as many as had afflictions fell upon him to cling to Him.

This is a very chaotic scene.

The people press in against Christ, the sick and afflicted falling upon Him and clinging to Him; hundreds and thousands of people falling and flailing and touching and grabbing and clinging.

In fact, it would not only be chaotic, but dangerous.

The necessity of physical separation. “And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him”

What a clever, Satanic plot. The people are so anxious to touch Him and cling to Him that they would kill Him in their frenzy.

So Christ very wisely told His disciples to keep a boat ready for Him, so that He can escape their clutches.

Technicality: it does not say that Christ actually got into the boat. Perhaps its presence was enough to settle down the crowd.

The testimony of the unclean spirits. “And the unclean spirits, whenever they beheld Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying,”You are the Son of God!"

“unclean spirits” is a synonym for demon possessed people. The spirits were not falling down before Him on their own, but instead they were causing the bodies that they occupied to do so.

The spirits were causing their hosts to cry out “You are the Son of God!” Now why would they do this?

The first possibility is that they feared a penalty which Christ could bring against them - namely, imprisonment in the abyss. And so their public declaration and movement could have been an attempt at avoiding this terrible imprisonment.

But, it is much more likely that they were trying to whip the crowd into a frenzy, and thus have Christ die by accident before He could properly introduce His kingdom.

Think: Christ has done many miraculous things, and His life has been full of wonder, but what word has He spoken of His kingdom?

The truth is, He is about to talk about His kingdom for the very first time, and it would be just the right time from Satan’s point of view for Him to die.

Christ had no chance of anonymity here. The demons would draw attention to Him wherever He went… and at all times whipping up crowds to throng against Him and even endanger Him.

The exhortation for silence

“And He strongly exhorted them not to make Him known,”

This exhortation went out not only to the demons, but also to all that He healed.

The Greek verb is EPETIMESEN, which means to give strong honor or respect, and in a negative connotation to warn.

Here we may have a dual connotation: a warning against the fallen angels who were attempting to have Him killed by frenzy, and an exhortation against the people who pressed against Him.

The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. in order that the word [which came] through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ‘Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone in the streets hear His voice. A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff, until He casts out judgment for victory. And in His name the Gentiles will hope.’"

This quote is from Isaiah 42:1-4. You should note that Matthew paraphrases a good deal of it without compromising its essence.

Here is the quote from the New American Standard: “1 Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; my chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not be disheartened or crushed, until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”

The Septuagint translates this way: “1 I will come to the aid of Jacob Israel my servant. My chosen one - my soul delights in him. I have given my Spirit upon Him; He will lead out judgment to the Gentiles. 2 He will not cry out nor yell; nor will His voice be heard outside. 3 He will not crush a reed that has been crushed and he will not snuff a dimly burning wick - but - He will lead justice into truth. 4 He will take up and He will not be broken until He has established justice upon the earth. And the Gentiles will hope in His name.”

First observation: this looks really tangled!

First simplification: Matthew did not take his quote from the Septuagint! Throw it out!

Second simplification: Matthew is simply paraphrasing the Hebrew text - there is no great need for an exact translation.

When you paraphrase a passage, you paint with broad strokes of the brush. You capture essence, and not letter. Paraphrasing is the impressionism of translation.

Now, the impression that Matthew was attempting to give.

The impression has to do with the whole passage in Isaiah, else Matthew would have quoted it only in part.

This passage has been fulfilled in part at the baptism of Jesus Christ.

The voice from heaven said some of these things, and the Spirit descended in bodily form as a dove.

But the impression that Matthew attempts to give here does not have to do with the events at Christ’s baptism.

The impression does not have to do with the Gentiles, for Matthew does not include them in his narrative.

The impression has to do with the silence that Christ requires of the crowds (but not necessarily of the demons).

Here it is: Christ will make no ripple or wave on the face of the earth until He casts out judgment for victory.

The picture in the Greek is that of an exchange of judgment for victory. This can only be the cross.

So, Isaiah 42:1-4 predicts that the Messiah will make no violent moves until He has paid for the sins of man.

You will notice that anything within the integrity of God will be allowed after the atonement.

Christ does not want the approbation, and He really cannot truly have it anyway until after the atonement.

Remember what Christ will do at the second advent. With a shout, with the voice of the archangel! 10. This was a common critique of the Jews - that Christ did not make a big splash when He came.

Distinctions on the policy of non-violence.

This policy applies to every aspect of Christ’s life.

This policy is restricted to the incarnation only.

This policy is a dispensational constant for evangelization.

This policy does not apply in matters of divine establishment for the church age.

The United States is a Gentile client nation, and the Laws of Divine Establishment should apply.

Luke 21:24: “…and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

The context is the Olivet discourse, where Christ told His disciples of the things to come.

If you remember from the fig tree special, this discourse makes some generalizations about the church age before it gets to the specific predictions of the tribulation.

A part of the discourse not contained in Matthew 24 is that part which deals with the destruction of Jerusalem and the rule of the Gentiles.

Luke covers this in chapter 21, verses 20-24 of his gospel.

Christ indicates that the church age will be characterized by Gentile dominance.

The laws of Divine Establishment are outlined in codices 1 and 3 of the Mosaic Law.

Codex 1 is the freedom code, or the 10 commandments.

Codex 3 is the establishment code, and is set forth in Lev 11-20 and Exodus 21:1-23:9.

The spiritual code, which is codex 2 of the Mosaic Law, is not a requirement for the client nation. It is set forth in Lev 1-8, 21-25, and Exodus 25-40.

Summary: because Christ does not rule the planet during the church age, the Laws of Divine Establishment apply to Gentile nations. The nation which heeds these laws is a ‘client’ nation.

And, there are many indications from the epistles that the LDE are brought forward into the church age. Romans 1; 1 Tim 1:8-10.

The Beatitudes

Beatitudes Quick Review

The first blessing: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs is the Kingdom of God.”

And, there is something quite significant here: even though you may be a believer, you are still poor in spirit! Many believers have a terrible time with this concept, because they fail to understand that this sermon assumes residence in the kingdom.

Now, this is truly a remarkable statement! You have no power, and yet the kingdom of heaven belongs to you! But you can see that this is a fantastic introductory statement. This is the wisest thing that you can say to a new believer - just the simple fact that they are poor in spirit - whether they like it or not, whether they acknowledge it or not.

And, this is a blessing from God regardless of whether it is enjoyed.

This is not something you obtain by being humble; it is your estate regardless of your attitude.

Furthermore, this is a remarkable statement because it holds in view the doctrine of eternal security. You have the kingdom of heaven in spite of your lack of merit!

Therefore the first blessing to the one in the kingdom is eternal security.

The second blessing: “Blessed are they who mourn, because they will be comforted.”

There are two ways to take the mourning: in the literal sense of mourning for some loved one that is lost; in the figurative sense of mourning over lost fellowship with God.

Now let’s turn to mourning. Mourning due to the loss of fellowship is a fairly common Biblical theme.

Psalm 30: 1 I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. 2 O Lord my god, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. 3 O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. 4 Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. 5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning… 10 Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me; O lord, be my helper. 11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. 12 That my soul may sing praise to You, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 38:1-8: “1 O Lord rebuke me not in Your wrath; and chasten me not in Your burning anger. 2 For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, and Your hand has pressed down on me. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities are gone over my head; as a heavy burden the weigh too much for me. 5 My wounds grow foul and fester because of my folly. 6 I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long. 7 For my loins are filled with burning; and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart.”

Isaiah 61:1-3 connects mourning and the atonement, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; 2 to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, 3 to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the lord, that he may be glorified.”

2 Corinthians 7:9-13 makes a very direct connection between sin and grief. This passage seems almost as if Paul intended to clarify our beatitude. “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you it was not for the sake of the offender, nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God. For this reason we have been comforted.”


Emotion is NEVER to be a criteria for thought or action.

Emotion should ALWAYS remain subordinate to thought.

Motivation is a system of thought which leads to action.

Sin puts you out of fellowship with God, and God the Holy Spirit.

While you are out of fellowship, God inflicts varying degrees and categories of suffering on your person.

These sufferings cause mental dissonance, and God designs them to get you to wake up.

Once you understand that you are out of fellowship, and that you are receiving divine discipline, your period of mourning begins.

Mourning over sin is a complex of thought about the sin that includes:

The perception of pain over the loss of fellowship.

The perception of pain because of the divine discipline.

The mental mourning over sin then should naturally invoke emotional response in the form of sadness, or mourning.

This complex of thought and subordinate emotion naturally moves the believer toward confession, and this is the intent of God.

Therefore, mourning is a blessing from God, for it brings comfort in the restoration of fellowship. The comfort comes from the comforter, who is God the Holy Spirit.

There is woe to those who laugh, because if they laugh at divine discipline, and while they are out of fellowship they will have little motive to confess. Hebrews 12:5, “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him;’”

Mourning and feelings of guilt after the restoration of fellowship are illegitimate, and should be all left behind.

The third blessing: “Blessed are the humble, because they will inherit the earth.”

This really denotes the ability to solve problems without violence or angry reaction - but to solve the problems really and truly through the use of Bible Doctrine in the Soul.

Therefore this meekness really brings the idea of doctrinal problem solving, and reliance on the truth vs. reliance on human viewpoint solutions.

And therefore, there really is the connotation of doctrinal orientation vs. human viewpoint orientation.

It brings the inheritance of the earth.

Inheriting the earth while Satan rules it is no prize. It is not about that.

Neither does being meek bring in the millennium - there is nothing that we can do to accomplish what only Christ can.

Therefore, this is about the inheritance of the earth during the millennium, an inheritance based on the death of Christ.

The fourth blessing, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled.”

The words for hunger and thirst are pretty standard here - exactly what we understand them to be in the English, with little or no extra emphasis.

This blessing works as a companion to the “poor in spirit”. It is the realization of that very state.

No person in this world has righteousness in an of him or her self. That is the essence of being spiritually helpless. The one who hungers and thirsts after righteousness has realized this, and thus seeks righteousness in God.

This is about positive volition, and even quite a bit about doctrinal dependence.

There are two righteousnesses related to Jesus Christ.

The first is the righteousness which He produced on the cross, and which is imputed to us at the moment that we believe in Him. Rom 5:18, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of [eternal] life to all men.”

The second righteousness is that which comes through the study of the word of God.

2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

1 Corinthians 2:16, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

This beatitude concentrates on the second righteousness. This is a righteousness which can only come through faith perception.

Hunger and thirst are very excellent metaphors for positive volition, because they convey need, as opposed to simple desire.

Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is a simple honesty with self about a spiritual need. It is the need for Divine viewpoint thinking.

Hungering and thirsting for righteousness leads to fulfillment. God is 100% faithful to positive volition.

[10] The fulfilling that comes from knowing the word of God is a great blessing in itself. To be filled to the point of overflowing is truly great.

[11] Being filled with the Word of God means:

Knowing God - the greatest person you will ever know.

Being able to resist temptation more effectively.

Being able to reduce the impact of sin in your life.

Understanding your destiny in Christ for this life and the next.

Tapping into a great portfolio of blessing for this life and the next.

Adding meaning to every blessing and understanding to every category of suffering.

The development of an invincible Spiritual self esteem.

Becoming the recipient of Divine personal love.

Being able to solve life’s problems through doctrine, and not reaction.

[15] Therefore, this is a fantastic blessing indeed.

The fifth blessing: “Blessed are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy.”

All of the actions of God are done without conditions.

Unlimited atonement is an expression of Divine mercy, 1 John 2:2, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Eternal security is an expression of Divine mercy, 1 John 3:1a, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

The life and death of Jesus Christ are the ultimate testimony of the love of God.

An extension of your life is often an expression of mercy, so that you may have another chance to use your volition responsibly.

The merciful of the tribulation will be shown mercy in the preservation of their human lives in the tribulation. In fact, human mercy as expressed in charity is very much a measure of Christian maturity during the millennium.

The sixth blessing: “Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God.”

Almost anyone can appear to be pure. This is not a great accomplishment. But those who are privately and mentally pure are another category entirely.

Why is anyone pure in heart? It only because they are in fellowship with God. No one is righteous - no one at all. We can only be pure in heart because of the ability of God to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Pure in heart does not refer to spiritual maturity, but rather the state of being in fellowship and cleansed from all sins.

Putting the word in your heart causes personal purity related to spiritual maturity.

Purity of heart is a requirement for prayer, 2 Tim 2:22, “Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

Summary of Biblical references to maturity.

Purity may refer to the status of spiritual maturity.

Purity may also refer to the temporal state of being in fellowship with God.

The only extra context we have is the blessing which attends the state. And the blessing is that the pure in heart will see God. “will see God” is the future indicative of OPSONTAI with the simple accusative case of THEON .

So, those who are pure in heart now will see God in the future.

Observation: this future may be in one minute or it may extend to the tribulation, the millennium, or even into eternity.

OPSONTAI however, is from the verb HORAO, and this verb designates a category of sight that goes beyond on the literal to the figurative. It is seeing God in the figurative sense, and thus what can only be seen through the Word of God.

Question: do you have to be pure in heart before you can become pure in heart? In other words, it is very important to separate the idea of fellowship from the idea of maturity. Both derive from purity, but they are quite distinct from one another.

Conclusion: this purity of heart is the fellowship which comes from the confession of sin. Thus a connection exists between this and the second beatitude, that to “they who mourn”.

Blessed are they who mourn, because they will be comforted [and thus become pure in heart]; blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God. There is a definite string of blessings here, one balanced on the other.

Purity of heart is the status of being in fellowship with God. It is only while you are in fellowship that you can learn and apply most doctrines.

The seventh blessing: “Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God.”

The interpretation of the term is somewhat more difficult. We will begin with the meaning of the word itself.

This is the only place in the Bible where this noun occurs. Its corresponding verb appears in Colossians 1:20.

“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

Christ is the peacemaker through the blood of His cross. Therefore, Paul connects the word to the doctrine of reconciliation.

Christ was the peacemaker through His fantastic victory on the cross. He founded that victory on His non-violent policy for the incarnation.

However, at the second advent, Christ will make peace through His great military victory at the battle of Armageddon. That will be peace through violent means.

If Christ is the peacemaker through the reconciliation, then certainly we are whenever we introduce others to that same reconciliation.

So, peacemakers are purveyors of the gospel.

The peacemakers will be called the sons of God.

And so it comes to this: that this is a special reward for those who lived or will live in any of the dispensations related to Israel.

[12] A person’s name held great significance in Biblical times - probably more so than it does today.

[13] And to gain a new title, given by God Himself, would be significant indeed.

[14] To hold the same title as God the Son is truly a fantastic complement. Peacemakers having the same title as THE peacemaker has a certain poetic symmetry to it.

The eighth blessing and its explanation: " Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. You are blessed whenever they insult you and persecute you, and whenever they ostracize you and they insult you and cast down your name as evil falsely for my sake. Rejoice and exult and leap wildly, because your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Conclusion: you may be persecuted for two reasons: because you are a Christian, and because you are a mature Christian.

The blessing for this is the kingdom of heaven. This seems curious at first, because the same is awarded the poor in spirit no matter what they might do.

However, there is a contrast. In the first beatitude the emphasis lay on eternal security. In this last one it is on eternity, period.

Next comes the explanation. It begins with the phrase “you are blessed”.

Then comes a command that is predicated on the persecution. “Rejoice and exult and leap wildly, because your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The second pairing of verbs has to do with wild rejoicing. Matthew’s verb concentrates more on verbal expression, while Luke’s on physical expression. They both describe an ecstatic kind of rejoicing - the kind that you see when you win the world series.

The reason for the rejoicing is the reward in heaven that waits for those who endure undeserved suffering.

Undeserved suffering leads to great reward in heaven.

And, therefore Christ commands His hearers to rejoice when they encounter it.

Waiting for the Kingdom

The Present Responsibility of Those Who Wait for the Kingdom

Matthew 5:13-16

Translation: “13 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt becomes foolish, how will it be salty? It is useful for nothing further except when cast outside to be trampled by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city is not able to hide while laying on a hill; 15 nor do they light a lamp and put it under the peck-measure, but they put it on the lampstand, and it illuminates all that is in the house. 16 So let your light shine before men, so that they might behold your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.”


The principle of salt, v.13.

The identification of the hearers with salt.

The application of salt to witnessing.

The loss of saltiness due to foolishness.

The uselessness of saltless salt.

The principle of light, vv.14-16.

The identification of the hearers with light, v.14a.

The unhideability principle, v.14b.

The foolishness of lighting and hiding, v.15a.

The usefulness of the fully exposed light, v.15b.

The application to the hearers, v.16.


This passage is not all what you might think, for it poses a dispensational variable exclusive to the dispensation of the hypostatic union.

Although there is a lot of application into the church age believer’s life, you should know from the top that the church age believer has more.


The Dispensation of Israel concentrated on corporate witnessing. The nation itself was the prime element of light to the world. There are only a couple of notable exceptions like Jonah.

The Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union required individual participation in the internal mission of witnessing to unbelieving Israel. But the followers of Christ also had an ambassadorial function to the whole world of unbelievers.

The Dispensation of the Church requires individual participation in the external mission of witnessing to the unbelieving world. Since this is an external mission, the Bible calls the church age believer an ambassador, 2 Corinthians 5:20.

During the church age, any organization or nation built on strong establishment principles and with a strong missionary movement will have an excellent corporate witness without even trying.

However, the responsibility of personal evangelism lies heavily on the individual, and functions entirely apart from the corporate witness.

Therefore the techniques of personal evangelism set forth in this passage apply equally to church age believers.

This was a difficult time for personal evangelism.

Evangelism of the Jews was very difficult because of the stranglehold of the legalistic Pharisees.

Evangelism of the Gentiles was very difficult because of the national pride of Rome and the insidious idolatry of the time.

It is important to observe that Christ does not introduce the subject of personal evangelism until after He has fully covered the plan of God.

Witnessing is not the plan of God for any believer.

Witnessing has its proper place as the natural outgrowth of the fulfillment of the plan of God, and the believer’s love for God.

Witnessing becomes more effective because of spiritual growth.

Witnessing can be a roundabout motivation for spiritual growth.

The principle of salt, v.13.

Christ first identifies His hearers with salt. “You are the salt of the earth.” Remember that His hearers are the inner circle of His disciples, and therefore this comparison is restricted to members of the kingdom of God alone.

They are identified with salt, and also their comparison with it is extended to the earth.

The word GEN translates ‘earth’. Although it may denote ‘Israel’ at times, it does not in this context. The other times that Christ employs GEN in this sermon, it is always in the sense of the entire planet.

They are the salt which belongs to the whole earth, and more specifically the people on it.

Now salt has some natural connotations, and some Biblical connotations. We will combine the two before we go on with the passage.

Salt had three useful purposes in the ancient near east.

It preserved food. Since they lived before the age of refrigeration, and far from any usable ice, they had to preserve their foods by other means. Salt was the answer to this need.

It seasoned food. Salt adds a great deal of seasoning to almost any food. Even many dessert recipes contain significant amount of salt.

It served as a fertilizer. Many fertilizers contain salt as a major ingredient.

We find a fourth purpose in the modern world: traction for roads. It was not needed in ice-free Israel.

Salt was a part of the ritual plan for Israel, Leviticus 2:13, “Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.”

Numbers 18:19 provides the interpretation for the inclusion of salt in the Levitical offerings, “All the offerings of the holy gifts, which the sons of Israel offer to the Lord, I have given to you and your sons and your daughters with you, as a perpetual allotment. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord to you and your descendants with you.”

Obviously, the preservative power of salt is emphasized in this covenant.

Salt therefore represents the faithfulness and integrity of God in standing behind His covenants with Israel.

[2] 2 Chronicles 13:5 confirms this very thing, “Do you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the rule over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?”

Christ uses the term twice in Mark 9:49-50, “For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Salted with fire is a reference to salt as a seasoning. Salted with fire refers to undeserved suffering for blessing. Undeserved suffering seasons the believer - i.e., makes him better.

The second use is a reference to doctrine as a seasoning in the heart of the believer. Only doctrine can cause unity among Christians.

Paul also uses it in Colossians 4:6 as a symbol for seasoning, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”

Salt represents the tailoring of the words of the personal evangelist, so that each time the gospel is given it is unique.

This method is far superior to the dissemination of gospel tracts, because the message is personalized, and accounts for whatever the individual may need to hear as a part of the presentation.

Now when Christ told His hearers that they were the salt of the earth, He meant that they were the seasoning for it. Their spreading of the Gospel would bring good to their country, and to the whole world.

Now Christ continues: “but if the salt becomes foolish, how will it be salty? It is useful for nothing further except when cast outside to be trampled by men.”

That’s right. Christ said foolish. This is the only reference in all of ancient Greek literature up to that time where the verb MORAINO describes a loss of flavor.

There is a reason. Christ wanted to make a connection between cosmic involvement for the believer and his loss of seasoning power.

Therefore Christ depicts the loss of seasoning power with the verb which means ‘foolish’.

Your involvement in the cosmic system (Satan’s domain) destroys your effectiveness in personal evangelism.

The translation is very precise on that point: “if the believer becomes foolish, how will he be effective in personal evangelism?”

It is noteworthy to point out that the word ‘again’ does not appear in the original Greek. Although it is often included in English translations, it skews the meaning of the passage.

Christ is saying precisely this: that your residence in the cosmic system temporarily destroys your Christian witness. You do not have the ability to recall doctrine for the purpose of evangelization.

Christ is not saying anything at all about recovery from the cosmic system, or the lasting effects of cosmic involvement on personal evangelism.

Note this: when you recover from sin through confession, your ability to give the gospel is completely restored.

If you have gone a long time in the cosmic system, your arsenal of doctrines may be well depleted or quite stale, and that also lends itself to weakness; but! God the Holy Spirit is the power factor in evangelism through His common grace ministry, and therefore there is no lack of power in your evangelization.

You are therefore useless to God in the realm of personal evangelism when you are out of fellowship.

The principle of light, vv.14-16.

Christ begins this passage in the same way as He did the preceding: He identifies His hearers with the inanimate object of His illustration.

So, His listeners are light. The direct association of the two technically makes this a metaphor.

Furthermore, they are the light of the world. He employs the noun KOSMOU as a synonym for GES. This noun still depicts the entire world, and is definitely not restricted to just Israel.

There is one significant reference to light in the Mosaic Law: it is the golden lampstand.

Materials: It was made of pure gold.


It was on the South side of the Holy place.

It was identical to the modern menorah. It had a main shaft which had on each side three projecting branches.

It had a system of oil-holding cups, which were under each of the lamps. These cups were shaped like almond blossoms and buds.

Even the wick trimmers and trays were made of pure gold.


The lampstand was used to light the Holy place.

The incense altar, and the table of showbread were lit by this lampstand.


Note that this is made of pure gold only. It represented God the Holy Spirit. There was no wood, and therefore, no humanity.

God the Holy Spirit provides the light for our daily lives. With light, we have true understanding. Human beings depend very much on sight for understanding. Light is very necessary for sight.

The light is shed on the table of showbread, and thus the Spirit provides light for understanding the Word.

The light is shed on the incense altar, and thus the Spirit provides light for the production of righteousness through the Word.

Note that the Spirit provides light for the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Next, Christ relates the unhideability principle. A city is unable to hide while laying on a hill. The picture comes to mind of the modern city with all of its lights lit up at night. As long as that city is on the hill it cannot be hidden in any way.

This relates to the personal witness of the believer in Jesus Christ. You are on the hill when you are in fellowship and under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

The city on the hill is fellowship, because this metaphor contrasts the preceding one with regard to content. Since the preceding one is about being out of fellowship, and talks about the weakness of the witness of the one out of fellowship, so this one must be referring to fellowship, and the strength of the witness of the one in fellowship.

There is also a second illustration with light at its core. The lamp is a metaphor for the ministry of the Spirit related to personal evangelism.

Lighting a light is analogous to the moment of salvation for the believer. It is at that moment that the believer receives the ministry of the Spirit. The lamp is re-lit each time the believer confesses his sins.

It is quite foolish to light a lamp and then put it under a cover. To do so would not only eliminate its true effectiveness, but would shortly extinguish the lamp through suffocation.

However, if you put a lamp on a lampstand, you make it effective enough to light everything that is in the house.

This is analogous to the believer who is under the ministry of the Spirit through fellowship.

Again, your personal witness is nothing without the ministry of the Spirit, and you must be in fellowship to tap that.

Without the ministry of the Spirit you are completely helpless to use the doctrines in your soul in the course of a personal evangelism encounter.

“all that is in the house” Is not a reference to people; this is a dative plural adjective and definite article combination - PASIN TOIS. It is instead a reference to things, and so it connects with the doctrine in the soul of the believer.

The lamp is the Holy Spirit; you light it by maintaining and re-establishing fellowship.

The Holy Spirit gives light to all that is in the house of your soul. He uses everything that is there in a witnessing encounter.

The final statement that Christ makes on the subject is in verse 16: “So let your light shine before men, so that they might behold your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.”

A very important part of this translation is the meaning of HOUTO.

It denotes that Christ is about to apply his illustration to His listeners.

It takes the metaphor of the preceding verses and makes it real.

“your light” is of course the ministry of God the Holy Spirit specifically related to your ‘good works’.

Christ employs the imperative of entreaty to politely communicate a command. In other words, this is not really an option in the Christian life.

The ministry of the Spirit in your soul is to shine before men. This means that you do not stifle that ministry by getting out and staying out of fellowship.

If you remain in fellowship, the ministry of the Spirit is going to shine; and good works are going to result.

KALA ERGA is translated ‘good works’. KALA is really a weaker word for good. AGATHOS is the usual word for good manufactured from spirituality.

However, it is the right word for describing outward beauty, so it is appropriate here.

Works of outward beauty or good can be many: anything that you do under the power of the Spirit can be a part of this classification.

Works of Christian service, including the function of your spiritual gift; charity; service related to citizenship.

Anything you do that imitates the character of God.

The point is that these works of outward good are visible before men.

This is not something that you must try to do! This is simply what happens when you are under the doctrinal guidance of God the Holy Spirit.

You must not be shy when given the opportunity to let your light shine. To do so is to reject the authority of God the Holy Spirit, and that means sin.

Lighting your light and displaying it for all to see has a purpose: it is so that men might glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

Men glorify God by believing in Jesus Christ.

Men glorify God by fulfilling His plan.

Christ and the Law of Moses

The General Policy of Law in the Kingdom; Christ and the Law of Moses

Matthew 5:17-20


“17 Do not assume that I came to destroy the law or the prophets; I came not to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you until heaven and earth pass away certainly not one jot nor one tittle will pass away from the Law, not until everything happens. 19 Therefore whoever might destroy the least one of these commandments and so teach men, he will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever might do and teach, this one will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you that if your righteousness does not greatly exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will definitely not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”


Christ’s relationship with the Law of Moses: the general principle, v.17.

The lasting endurance of the Law, v.18.

Man’s responsibility to the Law, v.19.

The status of the destroyers of the Law.

The status of the keepers of the Law.

The value of the Law related to salvation, v.20.


“17 Do not assume that I came to destroy the law or the prophets; I came not to destroy but to fulfill.”

Christ had already been the target of opposition from the Pharisees; some of the things He had said were revolutionary. Many began to assume that He was going to destroy the Law.

Because of this, He had to make clear the relationship of His ministry to the Law.

Christ did not come to destroy the law or the prophets.

The freedom code, or the ten commandments was retained entirely.

The spiritual, or the rituals, was retained in content, although the outward form of the ritual was dropped.

The establishment code remained intact, although it would be expanded to include mental attitude sins.

Christ fulfilled the Law and the prophets.

There are hundreds of Messianic prophecies which have been fulfilled by Christ.

Christ fulfilled the prophetic elements of the Law, i.e., the Passover ritual.

Christ also fulfilled the ten commandments by keeping them perfectly throughout His life. He was the one human being with the greatest personal liberty of all time.

And He did it under great personal persecution.

The ten commandments work regardless of personal circumstance. The truth will make you free.

Christ was the greatest citizen of all time, and fulfilled His citizenship to His home nation, which was Rome.

“18 For truly I say to you until heaven and earth pass away certainly not one jot nor one tittle will pass away from the Law, not until everything happens.”

There are two clues in this verse as to the durability of the Law:

First, it will outlast heaven and earth - the physical universe plus heaven itself. Heaven and earth pass away at the end of the millennium and the final judgment of unbelievers at the great white throne. Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”

Second it will not pass away until everything happens, that is, every event of human history must come to pass before the Law passes away.

The jot is from the Greek IOTA, the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. The Hebrew equivalent would have been the YODH.

A tittle is from KERAIA, which is literally horn. It represents any little mark of the Hebrew writing system, including punctuation marks and vowel points.

This is a hyperbole used to communicate that not the smallest part of the Law will be eliminated.

The truth of the Law will never pass away:

God will always be as He is revealed through the Law, for He never changes.

In the same way, sin will always be sin. If God never changes, then neither does the nature of sin.

Likewise, the gospel never changes - Christ is the savior for all dispensations.

The Law communicates many dispensational constants; however, the form of the teaching may change without changing the actual truth that is taught.

Although the truth that is communicated in the Law will never pass away, the ritual system which teaches that truth already has.

“19 Therefore whoever might destroy the least one of these commandments and so teach men, he will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever might do and teach, this one will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

This verse contains two simple principles related to the application of the durability of the Mosaic Law.

If you destroy the least one of these commandments, and so teach men, you will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.

The Greek word LUO is translated here ‘destroy’. The original word means to loose or untie something.

You personally destroy one of the commandments of the Law when you consider it as not binding to you; or when you no longer accept it as an authority over your life.

Personal destruction means that you do not mold your life to Scripture but rather mold Scripture to your life. That is, you begin to change Scripture as a rationalization for your failures.

This is for believers; unbelievers never enter the kingdom of heaven. To be the least in the kingdom of heaven is to be completely without reward at the judgment seat of Christ.

It is one thing to destroy a commandment in your soul; it is a much more severe thing to become the devil’s ambassador. If you teach the destruction of the truth of the Law, then you are the devil’s ambassador.

However, if you are one to do and teach the Law, then you will be called great.

If you do it, it means that you believe it.

If you believe it enough to do it, then you may go on to teach it. If you go on to teach, it means you are an ambassador for it.

If you are an ambassador for the Law, then you will be called great in the kingdom, that is you will receive your full reward.

“20 For I say to you that if your righteousness does not greatly exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will definitely not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

The explanatory conjunction GAR points to what has gone previously in the passage. In other words, Christ now explains what He has just said.

Christ injects this here so that He can cover a point that He has yet to cover: it is the case of entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Up to this point Christ has only considered the case of the believer, that is, the one who is already in the kingdom of heaven. Now He has to go back and tell His audience how to get in the kingdom in the first place.

Christ illustrates the need for grace by means of the negative illustration.

You can only enter the kingdom of heaven if your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees.

From the human viewpoint, the Scribes and Pharisees had the all time record for righteousness produced by human power and intellect.

Only if your righteousness exceeds that of the all time record will you enter into the kingdom of heaven.

What better way to communicate the necessity for grace in salvation than a backhand compliment toward the enemies of Christ?

Christ employs the double negative OU ME. This leaves absolutely no room for doubt concerning the matter. This is a dogmatic and absolute negation.

The Law in the Kingdom of Christ

Matthew 5:21-48


The bulk of this passage has to do with laws of divine establishment. Christ’s spiritual code is the beatitudes; He now announces His establishment code.

The foundation for this entire passage lies with the four preceding verses.

In other words, whatever Christ says about the Law in verses 21-48, it is not about breaking a jot or tittle of it. This discourse is not about changes to the substantial truth of the Law.

There will be no change to the definitions of sin. Not in any way. There could not be if God is immutable.

There will be no change to the punishment for violations of establishment laws. The punishment for murder is still a life for a life, with no exception.

Therefore, Christ’s discourse here does not introduce a new morality. He does not invent a new category of sin which is the mental attitude sin. He does not!

2 Samuel 11:1-5, “Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, ‘is this not Bathsheba, the daughter Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite:’ And David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, and said, ‘I am pregnant’.”

The time is one year after the death of David’s father, Nahash, king of the Ammonites. David became incensed at the rejection of his consolation by the recognized sons of Nahash, and so he made war against them (2 Samuel 10).

Remember that Joab is David’s nephew, and actually a grandson of Nahash by Zeruiah, David’s sister by birth.

“Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle…” Although David had commanded his army to many victories, and was still a relatively young man, he refused to personally lead his army against the Ammonites. The reason is simple: he knew his revenge motivation against this nation was wrong, and that to destroy them from a personal vendetta was even worse.

David lacked the courage of his convictions, and worse, he sent a man to make war against his own grandfather.

This in itself points to the appropriate nature of Absalom’s revolt.

God’s discipline is always perfectly appropriate: because of David’s sin here, Absalom his own son revolted against him.

Having sent to destroy by warfare his own biological family, and having done so from illicit motives, David paces his roof nervously and there sees a beautiful woman in the act of bathing.

What better way to pass the time than a conquest of his own?

When David discovers that this woman is the Jewish wife of a Gentile warrior, his revenge motivation becomes greater and greater. David does not want this woman because of her beauty, but because she represents everything that David ever hated, including his own mother.

So David chooses to sin the identical sin of his biological father so as to satisfy the lust for revenge in his soul. While his troops fight the war at the front, David fights the war at home, exacting something appropriate in his mind.

The woman conceives, and tells David of the problem.

David has the perfect solution: he plans to hide his sin by bringing her husband back home. Any soldier knows that this will result in an amorous reunion (vv.6-8)!

But Uriah is a true leader of men, and will not take time with his wife while his men are still fighting in the field (vv.9-13).

So David has to silence the man, so that he can perpetrate his lie and cover his adulterous affair.

David arranges for Uriah’s death in battle, and Uriah is indeed killed by the Ammonites (vv.14-25).

David has a visit by Nathan the prophet, who predicts the death of his child, and the coming revolt from his own royal family.

David then produces the fifty first Psalm, a Psalm of confession he confession his sin with Bathsheba, and worships God.

However, 2 Samuel 12:21-23 reveals David’s disingenuous nature at this time, “Then his servants said to him, ‘What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.’ And he said, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live. But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.’”

This is wrong. First, David disbelieved the prophet Nathan, who revealed the unchanging Word of God to him. That David should hope against the divine decree and reject the authority of God’s appointed prophet shows that he has yet to recover.

Second, David puts on the outward form of repentance in order to get something from God, and when it does not work, he abandons it. This is utter hypocrisy, and reveals that David still remains in the cosmic system.

David then marries Bathsheba after her period of morning, and the child is born and then dies. David’s discipline has only begun.

Joab finally wins victory in the siege of Rabbah, the capital of Ammon, and holds off until David can arrive to apply the coup de grace and thus take credit for the victory. David brings with him all the people of Israel. All the people.

David dashes to Rabbah and does the deed like the evil man he has become. 2 Samuel 12:29-30 is worth our time, “So David gathered all the people and went to Rabbah, fought against it, and captured it. Then he took the crown of their king from his head; and its weight was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone; and it was place on David’s head. And he brought out the spoil of the city in great amounts.”

David ends his revenge by enslaving the captives of Rabbah, which is recorded in verse 31, “He also brought out the people who were in it, and set them to labor at saws, iron picks, and iron axes, and made them pass by the brick mold. And thus he did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.”

Note: the NASB version tries to indicate that David had the Ammonites tortured and killed; this is incorrect by the original Hebrew, which can be confusing.

The key to the original Hebrew is the word MALBEN, which is erroneously translated ‘brick kilns’. It should be brick mold…

Now if this does not illustrate the existence of mental attitude sin before the Sermon on the Mount, then nothing does. However, there are many other passages that function in this way.

Genesis 6:5, “…his heart was evil continually.”

Psalm 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart ‘There is no God’.”

Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”

The first section, verses 21-26, “21 You heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘You will not commit murder’: and, ‘whoever murders, will be guilty before the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raka’ will be guilty before the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, ‘Fool’ will be guilty unto the Gehenna of the Fire. 23 Therefore if you are presenting your gift upon the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go first to be reconciled with your brother, and then after coming back present your gift. 25 Come to be like-minded with your adversary at law quickly, during what time you are with him on the way, so that the adversary might never give you over to the judge, and the judge to the bailiff, and you might be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I say to you, you will definitely not come out of there, until you have paid the last penny.”

The outline:

The ancient Law of Moses concerning murder and its penalty, v.21.

The extension of the penalty of murder for mental and verbal sins, v.22.

The application to the realm of priorities, vv.23-24.

The hopelessness of fighting the court of Christ, vv.25-26.

The ancient Law of Moses concerning murder and its penalty, v.21, “You heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘You will not commit murder’: and, ‘whoever murders, will be guilty before the court.’”

Christ quotes from one passage, and then compiles a couple of concepts from several sources.

Christ quotes from the ten commandments, out of Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17.

Then He puts together some other things:

The Lex Talionis, Leviticus 24:17-20, “And if a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death. And the one who takes the life of an animal shall make it good, life for life. And if a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him.”

The need for jurisprudence through the courts, Deuteronomy 16:18, “You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.”

Christ has a point. First that not one jot nor one tittle will not pass from the Law; and second, that the Law has certain provisions concerning the act of murder, namely, the provision of capital punishment after the conduct of proper jurisprudence.

The extension of the penalty for murder to mental and verbal sins, verse 22, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raka’ will be guilty before the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, ‘Fool’ will be guilty unto the Gehenna of the Fire.”

The key word of the entire verse is ENOCHOS, which means liable to a penalty of the Law, or guilty.

There are three tiers to the verse with regard to the courts:

The court is the regular court of law, or the local court, from the Greek word KRISIS; the equivalent would be the city or county court.

The SANHEDRIN is equal to the supreme court of any nation. It was the most powerful court of the Jews, and Christ’s hearers would identify it as the highest legal authority in Judaea.

There is of course the highest court of all, and that is the court of the Gehenna of the Fire.

The locality of Gehenna was in Jerusalem, and Jeremiah 19:5-6 identifies this place as the final place for the administration of the fifth cycle of discipline on the nation, “They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal - something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.”

It was the place of child sacrifice, and the fire is the identification with the burning fires of sacrifice to Baal.

It would become the place where the Jews were slaughtered for their sins by the final attack of the Babylonian armies.

Therefore this represents the administration of the fifth cycle of discipline when the supreme court of heaven steps in and rules because of the failure of the nation to take hold of the delegated authority through the laws of divine establishment and punish their own criminal offenders.

At each tier, there is a crime that is liable for the penalty for murder.

At the local court level, there will be trials for those who are angry with their brothers. 1. The Greek present participle is ORGIZOMENOS, which denotes a present state of judgmental wrath.

Mental attitude judgmental wrath is the seed from which all murder grows. When one man murders another it is the ultimate and final expression of judgment.

In the millennium, with the world under the rule of Jesus Christ, and the devil incarcerated in Hades, the mental attitude sin of ultimate judgment will result in capital punishment!

The reason for this is simple: there is no overt sin of murder that is not preceded by the mental attitude sin of murder.

Capital punishment is truly a preventative for any sin for which it is a penalty.

Therefore, if capital punishment is extended back to the mental attitude sin part of murder, many more, in fact the vast, vast majority of murders will be prevented. All overt sins start in the soul. If they are stopped there, then far fewer will come to fruit.

This is one of the conditions for the fantastic, ideal conditions of the millennium.

In the millennium, there will be thought police.

The reason that there can be no establishment punishment for mental attitude and verbal sins before the millennium is the inevitable distortion and abuse of jurisprudence that would come about due to the cosmic deceptions of the devil’s world.

[10] With a ruler who knows the thoughts and intents of the heart perfectly, with a perfect judge, there is no distortion of jurisprudence.

[11] John the apostle understood this clearly (see 1 John 3:11-15 addenda).

At the human supreme court level, the one who says ‘Raka’ to his brother will be guilty unto capital punishment; guilty as for murder.

RAKA comes from an Aramaic word, REQA, which means ‘empty-headed fool’. This is a pretty vindictive and vitriolic version of verbal sin.

This is a verbalization of judgment from one person to another; it is the verbal expression of the mental attitude judgment. It leads to a murder conviction in a higher court.

This verbalization of judgment is construed to the crime of murder; it is the verbal equivalent of ORGIZOMENOS.

The verbalization of any mental attitude sin is quite an advance in severity. It is a sin which will be liable to the appeal courts, and of course the courts of Christ’s kingdom are perfectly efficient. If you are guilty, you will be found guilty.

At the level of the supreme court of heaven, whoever says ‘fool’ will be guilty unto the Gehenna of the Fire.

The first thing to notice is the exclusion of a target for the epithet. Christ leaves it out for the sake of brevity, but it is intended to be ‘brother’.

The word MORE easily translates into the English ‘moron’. It is the Greek equivalent of RAKA.

The preposition EIS controls the phrase ‘the Gehenna of the Fire’. This simply shows that this is the limit for all judgment; that the Gehenna of the Fire is the final court.

Summary of this verse.

See SLANDER addendum.

Mental attitude or verbal judgment, especially blanket judgment, will be liable to the harshest of penalties in the millennium.

This harsh penalty of capital punishment will be one of the primary reasons for the ideal conditions of the millennium. With a strict limit on mental attitude and verbal sin, that vast majority of strife that characterizes planet earth under Satan will be gone.

Fear not! With Satan and the fallen angels bound, there will be very little temptation from the world. Perfect environment reduces temptation! There will be no such thing as peer pressure at this time!

The combination of the rule of Christ and the incarceration of the devil will keep temptation to an absolute minimum; there will be few instances of capital punishment.

The application to the realm of priorities, vv.23-24, “Therefore if you are presenting your gift upon the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go first to be reconciled with your brother, and then after coming back present your gift.”

Now this verse does not regard the subject as sinful; on the contrary, the brother is the one who is sinful, and the subject is the one who has a responsibility to save him.

When you have a wrathful mental attitude, you have something against someone; when you say RAKA to someone, you have something against that person; even when you just say MORON, there is judgment against another.

Now if you are worshipping God, and you remember not that you have mentally or verbally judged someone else, but rather that someone else might have a reason to mentally or verbally judge you, it is time to temporarily interrupt your worship.

Being reconciled with your brother means that you must resolve the case he might have against you. If you have done something wrong to your brother, if he might be tempted to judge you, you must resolve the matter.

The grave consequences of such things in the millennium is enough so that you would want to interrupt your worship to take care of things.

The application during the church age is less so than during the millennium, but James 5:16 still applies: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

The hopelessness of fighting the court, vv.25-26: “25 Come to be like-minded with your adversary at law quickly, during what time you are with him on the way, so that the adversary might never give you over to the judge, and the judge to the bailiff, and you might be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I say to you, you will definitely not come out of there, until you have paid the last penny.”

These verses remain specific to the subject. That is, they are not general statements about the conduct of lawsuits, but specific to inevitability of justice in the millennium.

In other words, they are spoken by Christ with a gleam in His eye.

The adversary is none other than Christ Himself, and the time you are with Him on the way is the time that you have while you are on planet earth.

Since the context takes the process of the court all the way to the Supreme Court of Heaven, the ultimate judge and lawgiver is present in this passage.

Since the subject of the passage is the crowd, and Christ has made the crowd into suspects, the adversary is Christ Himself.

Christ urges his listeners to get to know their adversary at Law on the way to the courts.

The courts here are the courts of eternity.

The Judgment Seat of Christ, the evaluation of all Church Age believers.

The baptism of fire, which is the judgment of all unbelievers of the tribulation, both Jew and Gentile, Mt 25:31-46; Ezek 20:33-48.

The evaluation of all tribulational believers, both Jew and Gentile, Mt 25:31-46; Dan 12:2-3.

At the great white throne, there are three categories of judgments.

The judgment of believers.

All believers who lived before the incarnation, both Jew and Gentile, are judged at this time.

All Millennial believers are judged at this time.

The judgment of unbelievers. All unbelievers in history, except those of the tribulation, are judged at this time. Mt 25:3146, Ezek 20:3238, Rev 20:7-10.

The judgment of all fallen angels at the end of the Millennium. Their sentence was passed before time began, but its execution is not carried out until the end of human history.

Christ commands us to become like minded with Him on the way to our eternal judgment. The Greek participle is EUNOON, which describes mental compatibility, comradeship, and even friendship.

Coming to a like-minded state with Christ can only be accomplished through the faith perception of the truth.

The Bible is the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). It is through our study of God’s word that we become like-minded with the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

It is easy to see the wisdom in the fulfillment of this command.

Since Christ is our final judge, the final judge of all mankind, it is imperative to become like-minded with Him on the way to our final judgment.

If you are like-minded with your final judge, your final judgment is certain to go well.

The command to become like-minded with the adversary at Law is especially pertinent because judgment from the Supreme Court of Heaven will be characterized by perfect justice, and by its finality.

Being thrown into jail is the equivalent of eternal condemnation, and no one will escape there until they have paid the last penny. Unfortunately, there is no money in hell, and no way to obtain any.

Christ finishes the discourse with the principle of the inescapability of hell.

The second section, verses 27-30: “27 You heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery’. 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 Now if your right eye causes you to stumble, snatch it out and throw it from you. For it is better for you that one of your members be destroyed and not your whole body be cast unto Gehenna. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you. For it is better for you that one of your members be destroyed and not your whole body be thrown out into Gehenna.”

Again Christ begins with a statement from the ten commandments, this one from Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18.

And again, His intent is not to destroy the Law, for nothing is to pass from the Law until the very end of human history.

But once again, Christ is going to extend the penalty into the realm of the mental attitude. He does so with some harsh standards.

He uses the phrase, ‘everyone who looks at a woman to desire her.’

The use of PROS plus the infinitive mood indicates purpose. Here it is PROS plus the infinitive mood of EPITHUMEO, which means ‘to desire’ something.

EPITHUMEO goes beyond a simple acknowledgement of attractiveness.

It describes a legitimate desire to enjoy the charms of the thing or person admired.

So in Christ’s kingdom, you can look at another woman, but you cannot do so with the intent of desire.

If the purpose in you heart is desire, then you have already committed adultery in your heart.

It is easy and appropriate to apply some of the principles from the preceding passage.

If mental attitude murder caused one to be guilty before the courts, and incurred the appropriate penalty, then so also would mental attitude adultery.

So it does. And the penalty for adultery from the establishment code is clear:

Leviticus 20:10, “If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

Deuteronomy 22:23-24, “If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife.”

So what Christ does here is extend the penalty for adultery into the mental attitude realm. It is important to note that although Christ does not mention guilt before the courts, it is clear that He intends it so.

Also the principle of the stumbling block applies to adultery.

No man or woman should do what might encourage adulterous thoughts in the other.

This includes what is spoken, or what is worn (or what is not worn).

Of course, exercise common sense; it is not necessary for women to wear a beer barrel or a tent, and our society is now so degenerate that even moderate prudence in clothing is enough.

Christ also adds something here that is appropriate to the battle against mental attitude sin during the millennium: “29 Now if your right eye causes you to stumble, snatch it out and throw it from you. For it is better for you that one of your members be destroyed and not your whole body be cast unto Gehenna. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you. For it is better for you that one of your members be destroyed and not your whole body be thrown out into Gehenna.”

Christ depicts a swift and violent act in the snatching out of the eye and throwing it from you; He preaches immediate action.

This is not recommended action for the church age; there is some application here, but not the same kind of violence is required.

The casting of the body unto Gehenna is the casting of the human body, not the resurrection body. The use of the word SOMA here restricts the interpretation of GEHENNA to a receptacle for the human body.

See the doctrine of burial and cremation.

When a body was cast into Gehenna, it was a clear indication that capital punishment had taken place.

Therefore, during Christ’s millennial rule, capital punishment will extend to the mental realm for the sin of adultery.

Although there is no straight application to the plucking out of an eye or the cutting off of a hand, there is a common sense application to life in the church age.

If there is something that is a source of temptation to sin of any kind, especially if your willpower has been weakened by cosmic involvement, then you must be separated from that thing.

The epistles confirm this principle.

1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”

1 Corinthians 10:14, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”

2 Timothy 2:22, “Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

Titus 3:3, “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.”

1 Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.”

1 Peter 4:1-3, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.”

Furthermore, there is the principle of degenerating susceptibility: the more you give in to sin, the more susceptible to sin that you become.

The greater sins breed the lesser sins.

The lesser sins increase the chance that a greater sin might be committed. And a greater sin may include something that is truly a capital crime even in our society!

Romans 1:18-32 contains the doctrine of degeneracy and the principle of degenerating susceptibility. Three times in this passage Paul employs the phrase “God gave them over”.

Rom 1:18-19, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, {19} since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

This is the statement of the subject matter of the following passage.

The wrath of God is the expression of His justice in Divine discipline.

The revelation of God’s wrath is not mentioned - perhaps it could be the AIDS virus in ancient times.

The reason for the wrath of God is plain - people have suppressed the truth of God in their own souls through their involvement in the cosmic system.

{20} For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

{21} For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became a vacuum and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This is a clear reference to bitterness, rejection of the truth, the acceptance of the cosmic counterfeits and lies, and spiritual blindness.

These people are believers.

{22} Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools {23} and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. {24} Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

These verses clearly refer to the lust pattern and addiction cycle, with emphasis on the category of stimulation lust.

In verse 24, the word paradidomi indicates that God gives these people over for the purpose of discipline.

The discipline is built in to their acts: atimazo indicates that people in this category of lust mistreat and degrade the bodies of those with whom they engage in their activities. This becomes mutual and inescapable.

“{25}They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. {26} Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. {27} In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

These verses serve as a summary for what has gone before, except with regard to homosexual activity.

Again, there is built-in Divine discipline for this kind of activity.

However, homosexuality brings on another category of degeneracy altogether.

{28} Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done, {29} having become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit malice, are gossips, {30} slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; {31} they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

A depraved mind is a built-in category of Divine discipline. It is called adokimon, and it means that the mind no longer has an conscience related to establishment truth.

A mind without an establishment conscience is a very dangerous thing - look again at all of the anti-establishment activities.

This long list of sins - all destructive to society, are seen as the result of the homosexual lust pattern.

Homosexuality is certainly a very strong sin against what is most obviously natural. It is one of the highest ways to elevate self above society and family and worst of all God.

The verb paradidomi describes the giving over of these homosexuals to every kind of sin. a. God produces the action of the verb; the homosexuals receive it.

This verb means literally ‘to hand over a criminal to the custody of the law’.

Here, God hands them over to the custody of their flunked-out minds. adokimon means to fail the grade, or to be so stupid as to be untestable.

So this is a picture of God leaving homosexual lust pattern idiots to their own conscience, which is just about gone.

The result of the list is varied:

Some things are worse than homosexuality, like murder. In this case homosexuality is a step that makes it easier to murder.

Some things are not worse, but still sins, like envy, strife, etc. Once a really bad thing is done, it is then quite easy to do the less bad. Homosexuality makes it easier to sin the lesser sins.

Verse 32: “who, full-knowing beforehand the righteous decree of God that they who currently practice things like this are deserving of capital punishment, they not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them.”

These homosexuals fully know the righteous decree of God. Righteous decree comes from the Greek word for a commandment that is intrinsically righteous - that stands on its own merit, and is just in the eyes of all.

This verse refers back to the homosexuals last named in verse 28.

The relative pronoun hoitines always seeks the nearest antecedent for its identification, and this would be lust-pattern homosexuals who produce the long list of sins.

This is because it must either refer to just the last sin in the list, or the producer of all the sins of 29-31. It is the latter.

It is the aorist participle of epiginosko, to fully know something. The aorist participle denotes that the knowledge was acquired before the action - that they knew what the penalty was before they did what they did.

This applies to those who currently practice such things.

This comes from the present participle of prasson. It means that the overt act of homosexuality is currently practiced.

‘Such things’ is the articular pronoun toiauta. It should be translated, ‘things like this’. What things? This whole long list? Some of the things on the list? Or the sin which makes one susceptible to them?

Let’s put this on hold for a moment…

They who practice things like this are deserving of capital punishment. Now here is something that is clear: axioi thanatou always means deserving of capital punishment.

Many secular writers of ancient Greek employed this phrase, and always it was capital punishment.

In Matthew 26:66 and Mark 14:64, the crowd calls for the capital punishment of Christ, by saying that he deserves death.

In Luke 23:15,22 Pontius Pilate claims that Christ does not deserve capital punishment.

In Matthew 15:4 and Mark 7:10, Christ brings forward an Old Testament death penalty, and treats it as valid for the time. That penalty was death for recalcitrant children, Exodus 21:17.

Matthew 10:21 and Mark 13:12 Christ uses another phrase to show capital punishment when it is undeserved.

In Acts 23:29, Claudius Lysias says that Paul is not axios thanatou.

In 25:11,25 Paul himself claims the same thing.


Matthew 5:33-37, “33 Again you heard that it was said by the ancients, You will not make false oaths, and, You will make your oaths to the Lord. 34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, neither by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 35 nor by earth, because it is the footstool of His feet, nor into Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Great King, 36 nor will you make an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. 37 But let your word be yes, yes, no, no; and what is beyond these is from the evil one.”


The old Mosaic Establishment Code principles.

The principle of making false oaths.

The principle of making oaths to the Lord.

The new Millennial Establishment Code principles.

The prohibition against any oath.

The list of the most common oaths, and the reason for each prohibition.



Into Jerusalem.

Your head.

The new command: just say it.

The Explanation.

The context for this passage comes from several Mosaic passages:

Numbers 30:2, “If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

This verse includes two concepts: making a vow to the Lord, and making an oath on a binding contract with another human being.

This is an issue where the character of man must imitate the character of God. God always keeps His word, and for normal function between men, there must also be the keeping of one’s word.

Making an oath in a human contract, includes making that oath to God, in imitation of His character. It was rather like taking the oath on the witness stand in our own culture.

This was the consumer protection clause of the Mosaic Law, and as long as the people of Israel loved God, they took this seriously.

Deuteronomy 21:21-23, “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the Lord your God will surely require it of you. However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord you God, what you have promised.”

Taking a vow to the Lord was a practice whereby someone would swear by some popular formula to do something for God.

Genesis 28:20-22 contains the oath of Jacob: “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God. And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house; and of all that Thou dost give me I will surely give a tenth to Thee.’”

The vow gave an individual an opportunity to imitate God by keeping his own word.

Leviticus 19:12, “And you shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.”

This context has a number of miscellaneous commands. This one is in the midst of them.

It is a simple repetition of the others, but gives a little bit more in the way of explanation.

Breaking a vow profanes the name of God. It makes God seem common to unbelievers, because it gives the appearance of a powerless God.

You swear by God’s name and do not keep the oath. So you swear and God does not give you the power to keep the oath? Such a weak God.

Bible Oaths Include:

Those of judicial procedure, i.e., the oath in the function of law to determine what is hearsay versus what is evidence.

The oath of allegiance to a sovereign or a superior.

An agreement or stipulation for the performance of an act, Gen 14:22, 24:2.

A vow made in the form of an oath.

A form of oath used frequently in the Bible is “as the Lord lives,” found in 1 Sam 14:39, 19:6; 2 Sam 15:21; 1 Kg 18:10.

God’s Oath.

Heb 6:16, “For men take an oath by the greater, and to them the oath is given for a confirmation, and that is the end of all dispute.”

In other words, in resolving anything, from allegiance to jurisprudence, an oath was used.

To the Jews in Jerusalem in A.D. 67, taking an oath in the name of God was a well known custom for settling a dispute, to confirm a promise, or to resolve some problem in court.

Heb 6:17, “By which solemn oath, God, even more willing to demonstrate to the heirs of the promise the immutability of His decrees, pledged Himself as a guarantee by an oath.”

God took an oath as a confirmation or guarantee of His promises, of the validity of Abraham’s escrow blessing. He took an oath that the blessings were there on deposit. But being God, He couldn’t take an oath by anyone greater; therefore, He took the oath by Himself.

The first immutable thing is God Himself. The second immutable thing is God’s promise.

So when God gives a promise, the fact that HE gives it means that promise carries its own immutability.

The second immutable thing, God’s promise in time, is the revelation of what God did for you in eternity past.

Again, there are only two immutable things: what God is, and what God says. God and doctrine are the two immutable things.

God demonstrates to us through doctrine what He did for us in eternity past. There is no way in our minds and in our thinking that we could ever come close to penetrating eternity past. Only God knows what He did, because only He was there. Yet He is willing to demonstrate this to us with something else that is immutable: He reveals it in His Word.

The person of God the Father as the grantor designed our escrow blessings. The revelation about God in the Bible is the means of conveying our escrow blessings to us in time. Why must we have this information? Because without doctrine, we’re like a ship without a rudder. We have no true motivation nor any real understanding of how we glorify God.

God is not only immutable, but He is fair. Therefore, He has revealed to us these things pertaining to His plan.

God has a perfect, immutable plan for you. To harness your life to the Immutable is where the blessing and meaning of life begins.

The removal of all oaths for the millennium.

The millennium is a perfect environment, including consumer protection. There is no need for any oath during the millennium.

Christ names all of the popular oaths: heaven, earth, ‘into Jerusalem’, and ‘by my head’.

In each case, He notes why the oath does nothing.

Heaven is the throne of God - there is no oath needed there!

Earth is the footstool for Christ’s feet, a clear reference to the millennium. There is no need for oaths during the millennium!

To Jerusalem was an oath sworn during the festal ascent to the Holy City. Jerusalem is the city of the Great King… no need for an oath there.

By my head was another popular oath, but Christ really comes down hard on this one. He makes a statement of grace orientation: swearing by your own head has no power at all!

In the millennium, there will be only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in every dealing.

Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

ADDENDUM: James 5:12, “But before all these, my brothers, do not swear, neither by heaven nor the earth nor any other oath; but let your yes be yes and no, no, in order that you might not fall under judgment.”

James considers this very important, because he places it at the top of his list, even though it is much later in his letter. He says pro pantwn de, or ‘before all these things’.

He then goes on to paraphrase the sermon on the mount, but he gives a different conclusion.

This different conclusion means that there is a different reason for restraining from oaths during the church age.

The reason for the absence of oaths during the millennium has to do with the ideal conditions of that dispensation. What reason could there be for one if there is no cosmic system? No active demons?

James’ conclusion is this: i(/na mh( u(po kri/sin pe/shte.

The i(/na is there to denote that this is a purpose clause. The reason for the prohibition against oaths is about to follow. It is translated ‘in order that’.

pe/shte communicates the idea of a figurative fall; a fall from grace if you will.

u(po kri/sin denotes judgment. Let’s think this one through. It can be one of two categories of judgments: either God’s judgment, or man’s.

If this is God’s judgment, then swearing an oath during the church age could cause you to lose your reward. Very unlikely.

However, if this is man’s judgment, then it certainly makes sense. The judgment of the state can be harsh indeed, especially in the area of real estate (boundary agreements) and business contracts.

Since the church age emphasizes the separation of church and state, any oath that combines church and state is a dangerous one indeed.

If you swear an oath before God to keep a business contract, and then the devil’s world happens, you are bound to that oath regardless, and it could wind you up in some very hot water with the state.

James’ prohibition extends to any matter of the state; any matter where the state could cause you come under its judgment.

Because of this u(po kri/sin, there is a limit to the prohibition. If you want to swear an oath in another matter, then do not worry about it.

This prohibition does not extend to oaths about telling the truth in the courtroom, or to the military oath. Neither one of those can cause you to go to jail if you are an honest person.

Judicial Punishment


The Establishment Code of the Mosaic Law contains a system of judicial punishment for crimes and misdemeanors.

This system is God’s prescription for degenerate man. Perfect God took into account the shortcomings of man under the sin nature and in the cosmic system.

God decided to delegate the system to man. That is, to make man responsible for policing himself.

Whenever God delegates responsibility to man, it is so that man might gain an appreciation of God.

God does not feel sorry for himself; he does not need our empathy.

However, our empathy helps us to know God, and we are the infinite gainers.

Furthermore, God allowed Satan control of this world, so that God cannot adjudicate the troubles of man by Himself. He must wait until the millennium to do so.

Although God does not administrate justice Himself, He has given man the responsibility, so that human freedom might be maintained.

Human freedom is the highest priority in the angelic conflict. God provides for its preservation by means of delegated authority.

When delegated authority fails to punish, God is authorized to step in and do the job.

God is just to every human being on an individual basis.

God also punishes nations which fail to be responsible in their appointment to justice.

There is a direct correlation between the nation’s pivot of mature believers and how well the nation administrates justice.

As the pivot shrinks, so does the administration of justice. Therefore, God steps in to administrate justice, and preserve freedom through the cycles of discipline.

The cycles of discipline are designed to wake the nation up to its failure to please God.

The cycles of discipline also serve in part to administrate justice in place of the failed justice of the nation.

There are two parts to the Establishment Code related to the administration of justice:

The corporate administration of justice.

The personal administration of justice.

The Law includes provisions for Israel as a client nation unto God. Any matter of punishment for spiritual impropriety was specifically because of Israel’s corporate testimony during that dispensation.

Since there is now separation of church and state, the punishments for spiritual impropriety are no longer a part of the establishment code.

These punishments are included in this doctrine only for the sake of completeness and historical heritage. Their inclusion is not to imply their implementation for this dispensation.

In conclusion, the Mosaic Law provides the model for the administration of justice in the devil’s world. Any nation may employ it with confidence that it will bear the fruits of domestic peace and prosperity. Leviticus 26:3-6, “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land.”

The acceptability of the Mosaic Establishment Code correlates directly to the pivot.

The greater the pivot, the more acceptable this code will be, and vice versa.

Relationship with God makes this covenant of laws a good thing to the people.

Employment of this set of laws causes a national testimony, Leviticus 26:11-12, “[If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out…] …I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”

Obedience does not bring relationship with God, but relationship with God brings obedience.

Obedience does result in testimony, and obedience on a national scale does bring international impact.

However, this is not the dispensation of corporate testimony, so that this function is limited.

The Corporate Administration of Justice.

The rules of jurisprudence.

For ANY sin to be considered true, there must be at least two eyewitnesses to the act, and usually the Bible prefers three - Deuteronomy 17:6: “On the oral testimony of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the oral testimony of one witness.”

If you are the only eyewitness to an act, you cannot come to the conclusion that what you saw is true; the requirement for two witnesses testifies to the untrustable nature of your senses, and to the sin nature in man.

Again, you are not allowed to conclude that a sin has transpired.

The Bible does not make much room for the use of physical or circumstantial evidence; eyewitnesses are required. This is the key to a speedy trial.

Therefore, if there is insufficient evidence, you must leave the matter to the supreme court of heaven.

Guilty pleas require no eyewitnesses.

False witness is the submission of evidence or testimony in a court of law, which is known by the witness to be false at the time that he gives it.

The evidence or testimony may be of any make-up - oral, written, or even physical. Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 5:20: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

The penalty for false witness is commensurate with the accusation; it goes all the way to capital punishment - Deuteronomy 19:15-21: “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the oral testimony of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed. If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. And the judges shall investigate thoroughly; and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. And the rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you. Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

Similar to false witness is the refusal to testify.

The refusal to testify is a serious matter in the legal context of Israel. If a witness knows the truth, but refuses to speak under oath, he has done something tantamount to false witness.

The one who refused to testify was considered an accessory to the crime, and was punishable as such.

Prov 29:24: “He who is a partner with a thief hates his own life; He hears the oath but tells nothing.”

Lev 5:1: “Now if a person sins, after he hears a public adjuration to testify, when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt.”

The punishments.

Offenses requiring capital punishment:

Striking or cursing a parent, Exodus 21:15,17. The strike must be with intent to cause violent harm, which is the meaning of NAKAH. The curse is a severe verbal reviling.

Blasphemy, which is cursing the name of God - the verbal expression of extreme bitterness, Leviticus 24:14,16,23; 1 Kings 21:13. This is not simply taking the Lord’s name in vain. Interestingly, this was the charge brought against Christ for which He was crucified.

Profaning the Sabbath, Exodus 31:14f; 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36.

‘Profane’ comes from the Hebrew verb HALAL.

HALAL means to violate in a sexual sense. It is also employed to denote someone who is impure because they have touched the dead.

The Sabbath was Holy because it was the appointed time to spend with God. All concentration on the Sabbath day was to be directed toward Him.

Doing something on the Sabbath that was a distraction from learning about and worshipping God was tantamount to blasphemy, and considered a capital offense.

Witchcraft and False Prophecy, Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:20; 1 Samuel 28:3,9.

Adultery, Leviticus 20:10-12; Deuteronomy 22:22.

Unchastity. This is the area of sexual intercourse apart from the involvement of a married person.

Pre-marital sex, Deuteronomy 22:13-21. If a woman is proved to not be a virgin on her wedding night, then her husband may prove the charge, and have her put to death. Pre-marital sex is still intercourse with someone else’s partner in life, even though that has not been revealed by God.

Sex with a betrothed, or engaged person, Deuteronomy 22:23-24.

[3] Pre-marital sex with a priest’s daughter, Leviticus 21:9.

Rape, Deuteronomy 22:25.

Incest, homosexuality, and bestiality, Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 20:11-17.

Abducting people for slavery, Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7.

Idolatry, Leviticus 20:1-5; Deuteronomy 13:2-19; 17:2-7.

False witnessing in capital cases, Deuteronomy 19:16,19.

Murder, Exodus 21:12; Leviticus 24:17; Numbers 35:16-21.

The penalty of being ‘cut off from the people’.

This is a simple synonym for capital punishment.

The crimes listed under this synonym are as follows:

Defiance of authority, Numbers 15:30-31.

Incest, Leviticus 18:6-23,29.

Uncircumcision, Genesis 17:14.

Neglect of the Passover, Numbers 19:13; eating leavened bread on the Passover, Exodus 12:15,19.

Sabbath breaking, Exodus 31:14.

Improper observance of the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 23:26-30.

The practice of child sacrifice, Leviticus 20:3.

Witchcraft, Leviticus 20:6.

Violating the sacrifices by eating the fat, Leviticus 7:25, or eating the blood, Leviticus 7:27; 17:14, eating when the eater is unclean, Leviticus 7:20, 22:3-6, eating a sacrifice late, Leviticus 19:5-8.

[10] General neglect of purification, Numbers 19:13,20 and other improper procedures, Leviticus 17:3f; 17:8f.

Methods of capital punishment.

Stoning was the most common mode of execution. By including many people in the execution, there was a strong impression of corporate culpability in the crime. God designed this to be a tool for the creation of positive peer pressure.

In some cases, the bodies of the victims were incinerated, so as to obliterate their memory from the people, Leviticus 20:4; Leviticus 21:9.

In later times, execution was done by means of beheading, 2 Samuel 16:9; 2 Kings 6:31f.

Other penalties, not requiring death.

Flogging, for the loser in a civil dispute, Deuteronomy 25:1-3.

Monetary restitution for any breaking of a Holy thing, Leviticus 5:15-16. But no other fines are a part of the Mosaic Law.

Imprisonment was never a part of the Law, except for detention before and during a trial. Although it is mentioned often in the Bible, it is never commanded!

Imprisonment does not reform criminals; it makes them better at what they do.

Imprisonment does not make restitution; it gives security to those who are imprisoned.

Imprisonment is a paradox. It is not required in a society that is virtuous enough to execute true menaces to society. It only seems a necessity when virtue is breached.

Imprisonment is one of the greatest wastes of money in our country.

Mutilation was authorized for one crime only, Deuteronomy 25:11, “If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is tricking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.”

Restitution for theft, Exodus 22:1-4,9.

The Mosaic Law reaches a pinnacle of common sense genius here.

When a theft occurs, there is a system whereby the convicted thief must pay his victim more than what was originally stolen.

The system:

If the thief has not sold or slaughtered or destroyed what was stolen, he is to pay double.

If the thief has sold or slaughtered or destroyed what was stolen, then:

For an ox, he must pay five oxen.

For a sheep, he must pay four sheep.

If anyone is caught with stolen property, he will pay double.

Furthermore, killing a thief while he is in the process of his crimes is completely authorized.

Restitution for carelessness, Exodus 22:5-6.

Payment in kind is required when carelessness causes someone’s property to be destroyed.

Payment in kind is a fair method for liability.

The Law Regarding Self-Defense. Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19-22; Deuteronomy 19:21; Matthew 5:38-42.

It is natural that law enforcement officials cannot be on the scene of every crime.

The Mosaic Law fairly delegates authority to citizens regarding self-defense, so that criminals might be caught and stopped in the act of their crimes.

The three citations of the lex talionis have to do with personal restitution. It is clear from each that this is so.

The lex talionis is set up this way so as to provide satisfaction in the case of personal injury.

The satisfaction keeps the Hatfields and McCoys from occurring. If there is justice and satisfaction, then there is no need for an ongoing feud.

But Christ puts a new twist on the Lex Talionis when He interprets it.

“38 You heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and, a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I myself say to you do not stand against evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him also the left; 40 And while someone wishes to sue you and to take your shirt, give to him also your coat; 41 and whoever presses you into service for one mile, go with him two; 42 give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away the one who wishes to borrow from you.”

This interpretation concentrates not on restitution, but self-defense.

First comes the quotation of the Lex Talionis, usually taken on the corporate side of defense against crime.

The corporate side is the side where proper jurisprudence must take place; where the rules for evidence must be obeyed; and where properly convicted criminals are given their just due.

But the personal side of the Lex Talionis has to do with the exigencies of the situation.

The general rule is that you are allowed to defend yourself with force equal to the threat against you.

This general rule applies only if the threat cannot be stopped in a timely manner by corporate measures, i.e., the police officer, or others from the general populace.

Both of these systems of protection against crime are sides to the same coin. The citizen is authorized to act for the state when the state cannot act in time.

The state is considered to be preferred for the prevention of crime.

Although the Roman Law was good, and although there was much restraint on crime in Israel during the time of Christ, there were still times when the criminal element took advantage of innocent victims.

Because of this, it would be natural for Christ’s audience to balk at what He was suggesting: that they refrain even from self-defense.

However, since the system of justice will be so swift and sure during His millennial reign, there will be no need for the self-defense provisions of the Mosaic Law.

Now the first crime mentioned is violence. If someone strikes you, you are not to reply in kind. In fact, Christ will handle things.

The second has to do with a frivolous lawsuit. If someone tries to redistribute your wealth, you would normally fight them tooth and nail in the courtroom.

But, in the millennium, there is no need for that. Christ is the perfect judge, and in His kingdom He judges with perfect fairness and immediacy. You money and property is safe in the millennium.

Being pressed into service was a problem with Rome. aggareu/sei is literally press into service.

It is well-documented that the Romans took advantage of their occupation of Jewish land.

They had much power because of their military domination of the region, and the Roman soldier was not above abusing that power.

Therefore, it was common for Jewish citizens to be pressed into service, both when the Roman military had a legitimate need, and when it did not.

In the millennium, being pressed into service will always come about because of legitimate need, and therefore Christ calls for enthusiastic volunteer service.

Finally, there is the idea of legitimate need. In the millennium, when your neighbor needs something, he legitimately needs it.

There will be no lending business during the millennium. What is legitimately needed will be freely given.

And, the lender need have no worry about the payback, because Christ is on the throne.

Today, we have a system whereby interest is charged on loans, so that the borrower will be encouraged to pay back the money. No need for that when Christ rules.

Let me be clear: there is no compulsion for you to lend money to anyone during the church age. It is a choice that you make based on your wisdom.

Our twisted system: a review.

We fail in the area of jurisprudence.

Trials are much too long.

There is way to much poor evidence allowed in the courtroom.

Too many criminals are released on technicalities.

We fail in the area of judicial punishment.

The prison system is an utter failure. The Bible points out that the only need for prison is to hold suspected criminals for a very short time, until they are tried.

The failure to apply capital punishment where it is deserved is an utter disgrace.

Church Age Distinctions.

The nation is independent from the church during this dispensation.

As such, what the nation chooses for its establishment doctrines is not a function of the church. The system of judicial punishment, military draft and training, taxation, and anything else that comes under the umbrella of divine establishment is left to the nation to decide.

In no way is the church to function as the nation, or usurp national function, during this dispensation.

The church has a limited function in the area of banishment for the protection of its flock.

Both pastors and laymen alike may be banished if it is in the best interest of the local assembly to do so.

In any area where a member or associate of the church has committed a crime that comes under the function of the state, the church is to cooperate in any way possible.

The Mosaic Law defines the best way for any state in any time to be run. Any nation may confidently incorporate any part of the establishment code expecting the best possible results.

Believers in Jesus Christ who are given a say in how their government will be formed or run should always support the side of the establishment code.

Believers in Jesus Christ are always morally responsible in spite of the looseness of their national laws.

Love Your Enemies

Matthew 5:43-48: “43 You heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and, ‘Hate your enemy’. 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you might become sons of your Father who is in heaven, because He rises His sun on the evil and the good and rains on the righteous and unrighteous. 46 For if you love the ones who love you, what reward do you have? Do not also the taxgatherers do the same? 47 And if you greet your brothers only, what greater thing do you do? Do not also the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore, you be mature as your Heavenly Father is mature.”

Luke 6:27-30, 32-36: “27 But I say to you who hear, ‘Love your enemies, do well to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 to those who strike you on the cheek, offer also the other, and from the one who takes away your shirt, do not withhold also your tunic. 30 To everyone who asks of you give, and from the one who takes what is yours do not ask for it back. 32 And if you love the one who loves you, what kind of grace is to you? For the sinners also love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what kind of grace is to you? The sinners also do the same thing. 34 And if you lend to the ones from whom you hope to receive, what kind of grace? Sinners also lend to sinners to receive their share. 35 Yet love your enemies and do good and lend expecting nothing in return and your reward will be much, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is gracious to the kind and ungrateful. 36 Become merciful just as also your Father is merciful.”


The Luke passage paraphrases and intermingles some of the things that have already been mentioned by Matthew.

This is important: we now come to some personal applications of the Establishment Code for the Kingdom. Luke connects them back to some other things we have covered.

The principle to love your enemies is intertwined with the previous comments about self-defense.

Not only are you to leave your defense with the Lord, but you are also to offer aid and comfort to your enemy.

This is a part of the Establishment Code for the Kingdom, and is not meant for the church age; let me tell you why:

The command to love everyone with virtue love is a dispensational constant. To desire the best for all men is obviously true whenever and wherever you live.

The command to love your neighbor comes from Leviticus 19:17-18, “You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”

A neighbor would be anyone who is in one of your peripheries: at church, at home, at work, among friends.

The concept of neighbor does not extend far beyond the immediate periphery.

In reality, the English word ‘neighbor’ does not communicate the idea very well. The Hebrew word is RE’A, which is actually better translated as friend.

The command verb in the Hebrew is from AHAB, which denotes personal love. The virtue connotation is weaker than in HESED, but there may be something still there.

So you are to personally love your friends as you do yourself.

There is no doubt that this command from Leviticus has limits.

There is no specific command to hate your enemy. However, the Old Testament is full of passages that allow believers to “hate” their enemies.

David’s imprecatory prayers in the Psalms clearly show that he desires for God to wipe out his enemies!

Psalm 54: “Save me, O God, by Thy name, and vindicate me by Thy power. Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen against me, and violent men have sought my life; they have no set God before them. Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul. He will recompense the evil to my foes; destroy them in Thy faithfulness. Willingly I will sacrifice to Thee; I will give thanks to Thy name, O Lord, for it is good. For he has delivered me from all trouble; and my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies.”

In this Psalm, David wishes the worst upon his enemies.

Christ is not quoting when says ‘hate your enemies’, He is simply citing something that was a well-know Old Testament doctrine.

The Hebrew word is SANE’, which means to hate. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. II, p.880, SANE’ “…expresses an emotional attitude toward persons and things which are opposed, detested, despised and with which one wishes to have no contact or relationship. It is therefore the opposite of love. Whereas love draws and unites, hate separates and keeps distant. The hated and hating persons are considered foes or enemies and are considered odious, utterly unappealing.”

The Greek translation is misoj, which has exactly the same connotation.

In fact, there is an Old Testament verse which is a command to provide logistics to your enemy, Proverbs 25:21-22, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

However, at the same time, on the battlefield you are authorized to take the life of your enemy. In that situation, you must go all the way in order to prevent your own demise.

The fact is, when you encounter your enemy on the battlefield, you wish the worse for him; you wish him to death.

When your enemy is in the field against you, you wish the worst for him - that he dies of disease before you ever face him; that his army retreats; that his nation surrenders.

In summary, ‘hate your enemies’ is the opposite of love, and is sometimes a necessity in the devil’s world.

The content of this passage is for the millennium; anyone who declares himself an enemy of another during that time will be handled by the Lord. There is no reason for hatred when perfect and timely justice exists.

Hatred is an expression of self-defense. Not that you should ever hate anyone, or seek to make anyone your enemy. But what if someone decides to be your enemy in spite of your application of Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”?

An enemy is someone who hates you; even someone who wants to destroy you. Listen again to Paul in Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.” and verse seventeen, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.” And again in verse nineteen, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay’, says the Lord.”

In fact let’s take a longer look at this passage, since it is the only one in the New Testament with a command about our enemies: “9 Love is unhypocritical. While abhoring what is evil, clinging to the good, 10 in brotherly love, being devoted to one another, in honor, leading the way for one another, 11 in diligence, not lagging behind, being fervent in spirit, serving in the lord, 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, busily engaging in prayer; 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, pursuing hospitality [while doing all these things] 14 bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with the rejoicing; cry with the crying. 16 While thinking the same about one another, not thinking haughtily but associating with the humble, do not become wise from yourselves. 17 While not repaying evil for evil, thinking what is good before all men, 18 if able from yourself, having peace with all men, 19 never taking your own revenge, beloved, but give a place for [divine] wrath, for it has been written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. 20 But If your enemy is hungry feed him; if thirsty, water him; for doing this you will heap burning coals of fire upon his head. 21 I do not conquer by means of evil, but you conquer evil by means of the good.

The title of this discourse is ‘Love is unhypocritical’. H) a)ga/ph anupo/kritoj.) It contains eight commands, and all are related to the theme of spiritual maturity.

The outline is as follows:

While doing the things of the Christian life, bless those who persecute you.

The Two Commands Related to Appropriate Emotion.

While having good relationships, grow spiritually.

While not taking your own revenge, give a place for divine wrath.

The Two Commands Related to Logistics for Your Enemy.

Conquer evil by means of the good.

This entire passage is about balancing your Christian life.

There is an internal aspect to your Christian life in the intake of doctrine.

There is an external aspect in the application of doctrine.

There is an internal aspect in your activities within the local and universal church; your friends and Christian fellowship.

There is an external aspect in your interaction with people who reside in the cosmic system.

Five of the commands have to do with the Christian’s relationship with those who reside in the cosmic system.

Bless and do not curse those who persecute you. In other words, ask the Lord’s blessings upon them; keep on desiring the best for them even though they are your enemy.

Give a place for divine wrath. Let the Lord do the discipline and never take matters into your own hands. This does not eradicate your Biblical right to self-defense.

Feed and water your enemies; in other words, if it is up to you, do not let your enemy die. Keeping your enemy alive means giving him a chance for repentance.

Conquer evil by means of the good. The good is Bible doctrine, and it is the means to conquering evil in your life.

Although revenge belongs to the Lord, self-defense belongs to you, and self-defense is the immediate context of this Sermon on the Mount passage.

In conclusion, if it is on the battlefield, you may be sure that you can do your duty with a clear conscience. If you or someone else is the victim of crime, and you can intervene so that the criminal is stopped with the appropriate amount of force, even lethal force, then you can do so with confidence that it is your civic duty.

Christ is clearly asking His listeners to leave self-defense behind anywhere.

The list of applications.

Love your enemies.

Do well to those who hate you.

So, if you have someone who hates you, do well to them. The Greek is quite simple: kalwj poieite. kalwj simply indicates something of passing value; something that belongs only to this world. In essence it is the fulfillment of the Old Testament command from Proverbs 25:21-22.

Doing well to your enemies means helping them when their life circumstances (usually through divine discipline) become difficult.

Bless those who curse you (see above).

Pray for those who persecute you.

This is an extension of the command to bless those who hate you.

This is one of the great gimmicks of the Bible. You cannot simultaneously pray for and hate your enemy. You must be in fellowship to pray for him, and if you hate him you are not in fellowship. So if you are to fulfill this command, then you must do so from a position of impersonal love.

The principle of divine provision. “so that you might become sons of your Father who is in heaven, because He rises His sun on the evil and the good and rains on the righteous and unrighteous.”

We are called to love our enemies so that we might become sons of our Father who is in heaven.

The sonship occurs because of imitation. Christ is calling us to imitate the character of God.

Imitation of God’s character is a pretty good definition of spiritual maturity. In fact, it is the highest expression of love that any believer can make. Imitation of Divine character is the fulfillment of the greatest commandment.

The specific way in which we are to imitate divine character is in the category of impersonal love toward our enemies.

God rises His sun on the evil and the good and rains on the righteous and unrighteous. Sun and rain are both necessary for the growth of crops; they cause the crop to grow which allows all people to live.

The application of Proverbs 25:21-22 comes directly into view here. Providing logistics to your enemy in his time of legitimate need is a godly act.

This shows that you want your enemy to live; that you want him to have the chance to repent before God and follow you to maturity.

God is not willing for any to perish. He is not willing for any to be cast into the Lake of Fire. He is not willing for any believer to fall short of maturity.

But He honors free will! And when people are negative to His plan, it is a good thing to prolong their lives, unless those people are such a menace that His justice must act.

This applies within the laws of divine establishment. If the Mosaic Law demands the justice of capital punishment, then capital punishment it must be.

However, if someone is your enemy, and they have not committed a capital crime, then it is right to provide for their legitimate needs.

The issue of eternal reward, “And if you love the one who loves you, what kind of grace reward is to you? For the sinners and taxgatherers also love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what kind of grace reward is to you? The sinners also do the same thing. And if you lend to the ones from whom you hope to receive, what kind of grace reward? Sinners also lend to sinners to receive their share. And if you greet your brothers only, what greater thing do you do? Do not also the Gentiles do the same?”

Christ now turns to the issue of heavenly reward - the portfolio of reward for the mature believer.

He says that if you only love those who love you, and do good to those who do good to you, and lend to the ones from whom you hope to receive, and greet your brothers only, then you have no grace reward.

The grace reward comes from a combination of Matthew and Luke. Matthew says misqon, which is the Greek word for reward, or even profit or wages, while Luke says xarij, which is a grace gift.

The combination of these two is good. It tells us that the reward comes from the grace of God, and that without the grace of God, the reward would not be ours.

Think about it. It is His salvation, we only choose it; it is His word and Spirit, we only choose to learn and apply it.

Without His initiative and