Matthew 3 – John the Baptist & Baptism in the Ancient World

The Roman’s were not Jesus’ main enemies; they were Pharisees and the Sadducees.  I had mentioned them both Thursday, but tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at…

Matthew 3
John the Baptist

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

Many famous artists have depicted John. This is by Leonardo da Vinci.
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure in Christianity.
He was the forerunner for Jesus.

“John the Baptist” – Jesus cousin and His forerunner.

“Wilderness of Judea” – an area that stretched some 20 miles from the Jerusalem-Bethlehem plateau down to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, perhaps the same region where John lived.  The people of Qumran (often associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls) lived in this area too.

2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias [Elijah], saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

“A man living in the wilderness didn’t hesitate to eat insects, and locusts were among the clean foods (Lev 11:21-22).  John’s simple food, clothing and life-style were a visual protest against self-indulgence.  Elijah dressed and ate just like John the Baptist.

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

The Jordan River Today

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees [i.e., Catholic Pope/Priests] come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

“Pharisees and Sadducees” – the Pharisees were a legalist and separatistic group who strictly, but often hypocritically, kept the law of Moses and the unwritten “tradition of the elders” (15:2).

The Sadducees were more worldly and politically minded, and were theologically unorthodox – among other things denying the resurrection, angels and spirits (Acts 23:8).

For an example, the Catholic church is like the Pharisees and Congress is like the Sadducees.

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

“We have Abraham to our father” – Salvation doesn’t come as a birthright (even for the Jews) but through faith in Jesus (Rom 2:28-29; Gal 3:7, 9, 29).

“Children unto Abraham” – the true people of God are not limited to the physical descendants of Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (Jn 14:15-17).

“The axe is laid unto the root of the trees” – judgment is near.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

“With the Holy Ghost and…fire” – demonstrated in a dramatic way at Pentecost (Acts 1:5, 8, 2:1-13, 11:16), though here “fire” may refer to judgment to come.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all God’s people was promised in Joel 2:28-29.  But you can get to know Him better.

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

“Fan” – or “winnowing fork” for the process of winnowing.  Here it is figurative for the day of judgment at Christ’s second coming.

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

Tomb of St. John the Baptist at a Coptic monastery in Lower Egypt. The bones of St. John the Baptist were said to have been found here.

14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

3:16-17 – all three persons of the Trinity are clearly seen here.  This alone is not a proof of the Trinity, but an intimation of it.  We prove the Trinity by showing there are three eternal Persons, each of whom has the attributes of deity, yet there is only one God (1 Jn 5:7)

“Spirit of God” – the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, not to overcome sin because He was sinless, but to equip Him for His work as the divine-human Messiah.

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Baptism in the Ancient World

People have turned baptism into a pagan event.  When a person is baptized with water all he or she is doing is professing their faith in Jesus Christ.  It does not forgive you of your sins, only God can do that.

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one (Job 14:4).

“And behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cher; thy sins be forgiven thee.

And behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

For whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins…” (Matt 9:2-6).

Just like a wedding ring, wearing one does not make you married, it only symbolizes the marriage.  

When Jesus was here he either told us what we needed to do, for example, confess out sins to God.  Or He gave us an example, such as being immersed in water during baptism.

Modern Baptism in a Catholic Church

If a piece of clothing is filthy you are unable to dab the filth away, you wash it thoroughly to make it clean.  When we are baptized and immerse ourselves in water we are saying, “Jesus, I believe in You, please take away my filthy sins.”

The Catholics have truly abused the meaning of baptism.  For example, baptizing a child means nothing because that child is not old enough to even know Jesus, let alone claim their faith in Him.

 Ritual immersion in water, or baptism, represented a powerful and frequently used religious symbol in ancient Judaism. This sacramental ceremony was enacted to symbolize purification and the removal of sin or was sometimes used as an initiation rite to consecrate a change of status or a conversion.

In the Old Testament, rites of immersion were associated with maintaining ritual purity, especially for priests (Lev 15; 16:4, 24).

Known as “The Devil’s Door”
Many church buildings in England have these doors, they are normally located on the north side and has a 12th century tympanum carved with a wingless griffin and a lion facing at the top.

In the early Catholic Church, those adults bringing children to baptism would face the rear of the church, away from the Sun, the sponsors renounced the Devil, then they turned, facing the rising Sun in the East, made their covenant with Christ and the priest then held the baptismal ceremony and exorcism of the child.

Henry VIII of England had just one legitimate son, Prince Edward, born 1537. Edward was brought up as a protestant. He became king in 1547. During his reign, he used the baptismal formula taken from Bishop Burnet. The formula whilst borrowed from the Catholics, which was taken from the pagan system

Roman Catholicism, far from being founded upon Biblical truth, is deeply rooted in and derived from heathen practices instigated by the Babylonian religion. Almost every part of Roman Catholic practice, worship (of Mary, saints), ritual, teachings and leadership finds its counterpart in the mystery religions of Babylon or heathenism. Such as from there found itself in the denominations.

During the New Testament period, water itself and immersion in water functioned as the primary means by which ritual impurity was removed within Pharisaic Judaism (Mt 15:2; Jn 2:6).

Baptism was practiced by the Essene community at Qumran as a symbolic act by which one was “made holy by the waters of repentance.” 

During the 1st century A.D. certain groups within Judaism began to practice proselyte baptism, a rite that required converts, in addition to male circumcision, to undergo immersion in a ritual bath prior to their full reception into the community.

Purification through immersion in ritual baths was required for all Jews in order to preserve that state of purity without which they could neither enter the temple nor participate in its services during major festivals (Num 9:10; Jn 11:55; Acts 21:24—27; Josephus, Wars, 1.11.6).

A number of Jewish ritual baths, or miqvaot (singular miqveh), have been excavated in Jerusalem, Jericho and elsewhere. By rabbinical law these had to hold at least 60 gallons of water and be deep enough to complete immersehe body.

Within emerging Christianity the rite of baptism acquired fundamental importance.  Baptism in water defined the central symbolic act required by John the Baptist in the course of his preparatory preaching in the wilderness (Matt 3; Mk 1:4).

It is precisely this act for which he was divinely commissioned and later received the epithet “the Baptist” (Matt 3:1; Josephus, Antiquities, 18.5.2).  John summoned his hearers to be baptized in light of the imminent advent of God’s judgment upon the earth (Matt 3:5-6; Lk 3:17).

His baptism thus evoked prophetic images of cleansing with water for forgiveness, purification and the repentance that would characterize the Messianic age (Jer 31; Eze 36:25; Zec 13:1).

This is how and why the Catholics tell their tale that their priests can forgive sin, when everyone knows that only God can forgive sin.

“Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mk 2:7).

The Gospels present the baptism of John as a necessary precursor to the public ministry of Jesus, who would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt 3:11).  The risen Jesus sanctioned this sacramental act as a sign showing others that they love Jesus.

…the Pharisees.

Matthew 2 – The Coming of the Wise Men & Un-Authored Disciples

I know I don’t know you completely and I certainly understand you.  Yet, I know that You see everything, You know everything, and You control everything.  You give us freewill to do as we please, but You won’t allow anything to interfere in Your plans because Your plans are the best.

You spoke and did many things in the Old Testament, but You didn’t do that in the New Testament. 

Many people ask, “Who are You?”  I know who You are:

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one (1 Jn 5:7).

Tomorrow you will meet the Holy Ghost and John the Baptist so we will take a look at…

Matthew 2
The Coming of the Wise Men

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Bethlehem Today
A Palestinian city located in the central West Bank, neighboring south Jerusalem, with a population of about 25,000 people.
It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of Palestinian Authority. The economy is primarily tourist-driven.
The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, although the size of the community has shrunk due to emigration.
Bethlehem was sacked by the Samaritans in 529, but rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It was conquered by the Arab Caliphate of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb in 637, who guaranteed safety for the city’s religious shrines.
In 1099, Crusaders captured and fortified Bethlehem and replaced its Greek Orthodox clergy with a Latin one. The Latin clergy were expelled after the city was captured by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria. With the coming of the Mamluks in 1250, the city’s walls were demolished, and were subsequently rebuilt during the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
The British wrested control of the city from the Ottomans during World War I and it was to be included in an international zone under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. Jordan annexed the city in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
It was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Since 1995, Bethlehem has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority.
Bethlehem has a Muslim majority, but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. Bethlehem’s chief economic sector is tourism which peaks during the Christmas season when Christian pilgrims throng to the Church of the Nativity.
Bethlehem has over thirty hotels and three hundred handicraft work shops.
Rachel’s Tomb, an important Jewish holy site, is located at the northern entrance of Bethlehem.

“Bethlehem of Judea” – a village about five miles south of Jerusalem.  It is called “Bethlehem of Judea,” not to distinguish it from the town of the same name about seven miles northwest of Nazareth, but to emphasize that Jesus came from the tribe and territory that produced the line of Davidic kings.  

That Jews expected the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem and to be from David’s family is clear from Jn 7:42.  Jesus is a Jew.

“Herod the king” – Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.), to be distinguished from the other Herods in the Bible.  Herod was a non-Jew, an Idumean, who was appointed king of Judea by the Roman Senate in 40 B.C. and gained control only by military conquest by 37 B.C.

Like many other rulers of the day, eh was ruthless.  Herod murdered one of his wives, three of his sons, a mother-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle and many others – not to mention the babies in Bethlehem.

His reign was also noted for splendor, as seen in the many theaters, amphitheaters, monuments, pagan altars, fortresses and other buildings he erected or refurbished – including the greatest work of all, the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, begun in 19 B.C. and finished 68 years after his death.

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

“King of the Jews” – indicated the wise men were Gentiles.  Matthew shows that people of all nations acknowledged Jesus as “King of the Jews” and came to worship Him as Lord.

“Star” – probably not an ordinary star, planet or comet, though some scholars have identified it with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.  It must have been a supernatural object that looked like a star, but which could actually move along and lead the wise men.  It eventually led them to the proper house.

3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

“Chief priests” – Sadducees who were in charge of worship at the temple in Jerusalem.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Israel.

King Herod the Great

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

“The young child with Mary his mother” – every time the child Jesus and His mother are mentioned together, He is mentioned first.

“Gold, and Frankincense, and myrrh” – the three gifts perhaps gave rise to the legend that there were three wise men.  But the Bible does not show the number of the magi, and they were almost certainly not kings.

Star of Bethlehem, also called the Christmas Star.
1614, German astronomer Johannes Kepler determined that a series of three conjunctions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn occurred in the year 7 B.C.
Although conjunctions were important in astrology, Kepler was not thinking in astrological terms. He argued (incorrectly) that a planetary conjunction could create a nova, which he linked to the Star of Bethlehem.
Modern calculations show that there was a gap of nearly a degree between the planets, so these conjunctions were not visually impressive.
An ancient almanac has been found in Babylon which covers the events of this period, but does not indicate that the conjunctions were of any special interest.
In the 20th century, Prof. Karlis Kaufmanis, an astronomer, argued that this was an astronomical event where Jupiter and Saturn were in a triple conjunction in the constellation Pisces.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

“The death of Herod” – in 4 B.C.

“Out of Egypt have I called my son” – this quotation from Hos 11:1 originally referred to God’s calling the nation of Israel out of Egypt in the time of Moses.  But Matthew, under the inspiration of the Spirit, applies it also to Jesus.

He sees the history of Israel (God’s children) recapitulated int eh life of Jesus (God’s unique Son).  Just as Israel as an infant nation went down into Egypt, so the child Jesus went there.  And as Israel was led by God out of Egypt, so also was Jesus.  How long Jesus and His parents were in Egypt is not known.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh were rare, precious and expensive.
These gifts were common to their culture and only could be found in the east, not in Israel.
The three gifts represented the future roles of Jesus.
Gold was the usual offering presented to kings by their subjects.
Frankincense represents Jesus’ divinity. It is a very costly and fragrant gum distilled from a tree. It was used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God.
While frankincense represents sweetness, myrrh represents bitterness.
Myrrh is an aromatic gum and is obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. It is used chiefly in embalming the dead. (Jn 19:39).
Myrrh was brought as a gift to acknowledge the human suffering Jesus would experience as a man.

20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.

21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

“Archelaus” – this son of Herod the Great ruled over Judea and Samaria for only 10 years (4 B.C.-6 A.D.).  He was usually cruel and tyrannical and so was deposed by Rome.  Judea then became part of the Roman province of Syria, administered by prefects appointed by the emperor.

“Galilee” – the northern part of the Holy Land in Jesus’ day.

23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

“Nazareth” – a rather obscure town, nowhere mentioned in the Old Testament.  It was Jesus’ hometown.

“He shall be called a Nazarene” – these exact words are not found in the Old Testament and probably refer to several Old Testament configurations and/or predictions that the Messiah would be despised (e.g., Ps 22:6; Is 53:3), for in Jesus’ day “Nazarene.”

Un-Authored Disciples

Below are the disciples of Jesus that have nothing in the Bible that they may have written.  This does not mean they are of any less value than the authored disciples.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or Gentile, black or white, fat or skinny, Jesus loves everyone the same.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).

It doesn’t matter if someone can write, draw, sing, sculpt, talk, or whatever.  All talents are given from God, they do not come from ourselves and Jesus doesn’t see anyone better than another.

“For there is no respect of persons with God” (Rom 2:11).

Andrew – He was the son of a man named Jonah (sometimes the name is rendered as John), and brother of Simon Peter.  He lived in Bethsaida on the north side of the Sea of Galilee.  The two brothers had a fishing business in partnership with James and John.

Before Andrew had met Jesus, he had been a disciple of John the Baptist.  He became convinced that Jesus was the Messiah and brought his brother Peter to see Jesus. 

The two brothers returned to their fishing, but later, after John the Baptist had been arrested, Jesus saw Peter and Andrew by the Sea of Galilee and said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt 4:18).  Peter and Andrew, at that point in time, lived in Capernaum (Mk 1:21, 29).

Jesus always named Andrew among the first four apostles.  He was one of the four apostles who were with Jesus on the Mount of Olives.  It was Andrew who inquired about the signs that would mark the end times (Mk 13:3-4). 

Andrew also was the one who called attention to the boy who had loaves and fish when Jesus fed the 5,000 men, besides women and children, in Jn 6:5-9.

James – He was the son of a man named of Zebedee and the older brother of John the Apostle.  James was a fisherman, as was his father and brother.  He was one of the first apostles to be called by Jesus. 

Jesus gave John and James the surname of Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder.”  Together with Peter and John, James was a close confidant of Jesus, being present at many important events, including the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus, Jesus’ transfiguration, and the agony in Gethsemane. 

James was killed by King Herod Agrippa (Act 12:1-2).

Philip – He came from Bethsaida in Galilee.  Jesus invited Philip to become His disciple (Jn 1:43).  Philip became the sixth disciple of Jesus, and introduced his friend Nathanael (Bartholomew) to Jesus, who also became an apostle.

When Jesus was about to do a miracle and feed a multitude of people with a small amount of food, Jesus asked Philip where they should buy the bread to feed the people.  But Jesus was testing Philip, for Jesus already knew that He would do a miracle (Jn 6:5-6). 

A group of Greek Jews who were in Jerusalem for Passover asked Philip to have him introduce them to Jesus (Jn 12:20-22).  During the Last Supper, Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father (Jn 14:8-11).  Philip was present during the prayer meeting in the upper room with the 120 (Act 1:13-15) after the ascension of Jesus.

Bartholomew – (perhaps also known as Nathanael) appears in the lists of the twelve apostles given in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts.  Usually, his name is paired off with Philip.  Bartholomew is a patronymic and thus not a person’s familiar name. 

He does not seem in John’s Gospel and the association of Philip with the otherwise unknown Nathanael (Jn 1:45-51, 21:2) leads to the possibility that Nathanael was Bartholomew’s personal name.

“Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

And Nathanael said unto him, can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!  Nathanael said unto him, Whence knowest thou me? 

Jesus answered and said unto him, Before Philip called thee, when you was under the fig tree, I saw thee.  

Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou?  Thou shalt see greater things than these” (Jn 1:45-50).

It is believed that Bartholomew/Nathanael was a missionary with Philip and Thomas.  He is said to have preached the gospel in Armenia, India, Lycaonia, Mesopotamia, Persia and Phrygia.

Thomas – In Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts, he is called Thomas.  In Jn 11:16, he is given a further name, Didymus.  On the evening of the day of the resurrection, Thomas declined to believe that Jesus had         appeared to the other disciples (Jn 20:24), hence the term “doubting Thomas.”

When Jesus appeared again after eight days, Thomas was there also and on seeing Him confessed his faith that Jesus is God (Jn 20:28).



Thaddeus – It is believed that he was also known as Judas, son of James (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot).  In some New Testament passages, the name Thaddeus appears among the list of 12 Apostles. 

But in other New Testament passages, the name Judas, son of James, appears instead.  In ancient times, a person could have two or three different names, such as a Greek-language name and a Hebrew name.  And, sometimes people were known primarily by their occupational title.

The name Thaddeus appears in the list of Apostles given in Matt 10:3, between James, son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot.  In Mk 3:18, the name Thaddeus appears, again, in the same placement. 

In Acts 1:13, however, a man named Judas, son of James, is listed below Simon.  And in Lk 6:16, Judas (son of James), is listed again among the 12 Apostles, between Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. 

In Jhn 14:22, there is a reference to Judas (not Iscariot) who spoke to Jesus.  The two names, however, never seem in the same book, lending credence to the belief that they both refer to the same person.

Simon the Zealous – This Simon appears in all the lists of the twelve. He is called “kananaios(Matt. 10:4, Mark 3:18), and “Zelotes” (Lk 6:15; Act 1:13)

Kananaios is from the Hebrew word qana (the zealous), and has no connection with the village of Cana or the land of Canaan.  The Greek “Zelotes” is a translation.  It is widely agreed that Simon’s second name was given to him in adult life and signifies his zeal.





Judas Iscariot – “man of Kerioth,” the son of Simon, was the treasurer of the twelve.  He considered it a waste of money when Mary anointed Jesus with expensive oil.  And, John states that Judas had often dipped into the funds for his own personal use (Jn 12:3-6), and that Judas cared little about using the money to help the poor.

After Jesus and His disciples went to Jerusalem,  Satan entered into Judas (Lk 22:3) and Judas approached local community leaders, offering to deliver Jesus into their hands for 30 pieces of silver (Matt 26:14-15). 

During the Last Supper, Jesus foretold of Judas’ betrayal (Matt 26:25).  Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  After Jesus’ arrest, Judas was seized with remorse.

He returned the betrayal money and hanged himself (Matt 27:3-5).  The money was later used to buy a piece of land, which became known as the “Field of Blood.”

When we willfully sin we open the door for Satan to walk in.  Greed and Pride are probably the two most popular sins.  Out of greed Judas not only lost is finances and his life, but his soul as well.  That is why Paul says:

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim 6:10).

Matthias – Matthias was chosen to become the 12th Apostle after the death of Judas.  In Acts, chapter 1, Peter explains to about 120 followers the need to replace Judas, as he recites a Psalm, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take (Act 1:20).

Two men are nominated by the assembly, Joseph Justus, who was also called Barsabbas, and Matthias.  The assembly prayed to God to make the right choice, and Matthias was chosen.  Nothing more is written of him in the Bible. 

…Baptism in the Ancient World.

Matthew 1 – The Genealogy of Jesus & Genealogies in Ancient Israel

Jesus had 13 disciples in all, but only 12 when He was alive: Peter, Andrew, James (probably Jesus’ brother), John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the Less, Thaddeus, Simon the Zealous, Judas Iscariot, and Matthias. 

South dome of inner narthex at Chora Church, Istanbul, depicting the ancestors of Christ from Adam onwards.

Matthias, after Jesus’ crucifixion, became the 13th disciple, replacing Judas Iscariot.

But only five of them wrote books in the New Testament, Matthew (the book of Matthew); Mark (the book of Mark); John (the book of John, 1st,2nd, 3rd John and Revelation); Peter (1st and 2nd Peter); and James (James).

The book of Luke and the book of Acts were written by a doctor who also went with Paul on at least two of his journeys.

The remainder of the books of the New Testament that are not mentioned above were all written by Paul, accept it is uncertain who wrote the book of Hebrews.

Each author will be featured on the book (only once) they wrote.  The other disciples will be introduced throughout the Gospels.

King David
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. (Is 9:7)

The definition of “disciple” is: a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another.  Therefore, even though Matthias never met Jesus, he was disciple.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, but not an apostle.

An apostle is also a disciple, but not vice-versa.  To the best of my understanding, to be an apostle one has to have direct communication with the person you are a disciple of.

Paul was not a disciple, and actually he was an enemy of Jesus and his disciples/apostles, but after His crucifixion Jesus spoke to Paul, converting him and therefore making him an apostle.  And Paul was probably the most powerful apostle of them all.

I do talk to God and He does talk back.  He answers questions that I have, He informs me things, He explains things to me, but I am unable to call myself an apostle like Paul was, we’re just friends.

Michelangelo’s Jesse-David-Solomon. David is generally seen as the man on the left with Solomon the child behind him.

In regard to pictures in the Bible chapters.  The chapters of the Old Testament told a story, how life was back then.  Only the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and the book of Acts tell a story in the New Testament, and the Gospels tell almost the exact same story (especially the first three).

Therefore, finding pictures to match the chapter will be difficult, if not impossible.  Yet, I will do my best to find pictures that somehow fit, if not then I will still provide pictures of some sort, like I had done with Zechariah 8, and actually I will complete the pictures of the “International  Mosaiculture Exhibition” I had shown there.

Tomorrow I will show…

Matthew 1
The Genealogy of Jesus

1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

1:1-16 – the types of people mentioned in this genealogy reveal the broad scope of those who make up the people of God as well as the genealogy of Jesus.

“The son of Abraham” – because Matthew was writing to Jews, it was important to identify Jesus in this way.

2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

“Thamar” – in Matthew’s genealogy five women are named.  At least three of these were Gentiles (Thama, Rachab and Ruth).  Bathsheba was probably an Israelite but was closely associated with the Hittites because of Uriah, her Hittite husband that King David had killed.

By including these women (contrary to custom) in his genealogy, Matthew may be indicating at the very outset of his Gospel that God’s activity is not limited to men or the people of Israel.

4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;

Michelangelo’s Jesse-David-Solomon. David is generally seen as the man on the left with Solomon the child behind him.

8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;

10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;

11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;

13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;

14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;

15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;

16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

1500 year old mosaics of Jesus and his disciples

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

“Emmanuel” – means “God with us,” and is used as a title of Jesus’ divinity.

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

“And knew her not till” – both Matthew and Luke (1:26-35) make it clear that Jesus was born first and of a virgin, plus the couple didn’t have sex again until Jesus was born.  Although this doctrine is often ridiculed by the non-believers/heathens/pagans, but it’s an important part of the evangelical faith.


Genealogies in Ancient Israel

In societies organized around kinship, genealogies (lists of names tracing the ancestry of a given individual or group) serve as public records that document history, establish identity and/or legitimate office.

The opening of the Gospel of Matthew in the Liesborn Gospels. Germany, 10th century A.D.

The key to legitimacy and identity is a direct, irrefutable familiar tie with the past. Such lists may ascend from the individual, using the formula “x the son of y, the son of z…” (1 Chr 6:33-43; Ezra 7:1-5; Lk 3:23-38) or descend from a common ancestor, using the pattern “x was the father of y, ye the father of z…” (Gen 5:1-32; Ruth 4:18-23; Matt 1:1-17).

These two basic types of genealogies can be combined.  In addition, genealogical rolls may either contain a simple succession of names or may be supplemented with expansive content pertaining to the deeds of certain prominent individuals on the list.

Genealogies feature prominently in both the early and later history of Israel.  There are ten principal genealogical lists in Genesis alone (e.g., the written account of Adam’s line” in Gen 5).

These records served to establish and protect identify in that they regulated a variety of social interactions, including marriage and land inheritance (Deut 25:5-10: Ezra 10:18-43).  Thus the registration of families who had returned from exile was a profound concern during the postexilic period (1 Chr 1-9; Ezra 8:2-14; Neh 7:7-63).

Genealogies were especially important in ancient Israel because the right to hold important offices was a hereditary privilege. For example, the priesthood was assured to the sons of Levi (Ex 6:16-26; Num 3:10; 1Chr 6:1 -53), while kingship was reserved for the descendants of Judah (Gen 49:10) and more specifically for the son of David (2 Sam 7:12-16; Ps 89:29; Isa 9:7; 11:1-3).

In the New Testament era certain genealogical records were stored in a public archive in the temple mount, while others were maintained by private families.

Rose window in Basilica of St Denis, France, depicting the ancestors of Christ from Jesse onwards.

Early Christian preaching radically redefined genealogical descent by considering all who identified with Jesus as true, legal descendants of Abraham, “heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29; cf. Matt 3:9; Jn 8:33,39; Rom 4:16).

The New Testament preserves two pertinent genealogical lists, both of which present the human ancestry of Jesus as the son of David (Matt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38).

The two listings are different, and the reasons for this variation have been extensively debated. It may be that the register in Luke preserves the biological family tree of Joseph, while that in Matthew records the legal line of descent that authenticated Joseph’s (and Jesus’) claim to David’s throne.

Others suggest that the genealogy in Matthew is Joseph’s, while the one in Luke is Mary’s.

…all of the disciples that have not written anything.