Apostle John – PB

John (2)John the Apostle was one of the original 12 apostles. He is the author of this book and four other in the New Testament.

John, his brother James and their father Zebedee were Galilean fisherman. Jesus called John and James to leave their careers as fishermen and to become His apostles. Soon after, John and James became part of an inner circle around Jesus with Peter and sometimes Andrew.

John and his brother James were called the “Sons of thunder” by Jesus (Mk 3:17).

John along with Andrew had been disciples of John the Baptist and became followers of Jesus after He was baptized by John the Baptist.

John was the “beloved disciple” who:

– leaned on Jesus during the Last Supper (John 13:23), – was “known to the high priest (John 18:15), – was entrusted by Jesus with the care of His mother Mary (John 19:26), and – outran Peter to the empty tomb (John 20:2-4).

After the resurrection, John appears as one of the leaders of the early church.

According to Papias, one of John ‘s disciples, John later went to the city of Ephesus. He was exiled under Emperor Domitian to the island Patmos.

It was there at Patmos he wrote the Book of Revelation, which is the last book of the New Testament.

Under Nerva, John returned to Ephesus, and there composed the Gospel of John, the 4th book of the New Testament, and three Epistles, called John 1, John 2, John 3.

John reportedly died at a very old age and he is the only disciples that was not executed.

Luke – PB

Luke was a physician and traveling companion of Paul. Luke is mentioned Lukein three of Paul’s books as “Luke the beloved physician.” Luke wrote the third Gospel, which is often called the Gospel of Luke or the book of Luke.

He also wrote the book of Acts (3rd and 5th books of the New Testament).

Luke joined Paul on his second missionary journey in Troas. During Paul’s third journey, Luke joined him in Philippi (Acts 20:6) and went with him to Jerusalem (Acts 20:16).

Luke had a good education and was skillful at writing. He was well-traveled and well-versed in navigation (Acts 27).

Whereas Matthew shows Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah, and Mark shows Jesus to be the Servant of God, Luke depicts Jesus as the perfect God-Man whose genealogy can be traced back to Adam (3:23-38).

Jesus is the greatest man in history, because of what He taught, what He did, why He died, and because He rose again from the dead. For this reason we ought to accept Him as our Lord.

Luke’s book of Acts is a continuation of the Gospel where Luke intends to show what Jesus began on earth and what He continues to do in the life of the church.

The book focuses on the Apostle Peter and the early persecution of the believers, and then shifts to the Apostle Paul and his missionary activity. It ends with Paul’s trip to Rome.

Mark – PB

Mark’s Gospel is the second book of the New Testament and is often called Markthe Gospel of Mark or the book of Mark.

Mark was a Jew from Jerusalem. His full name was John Mark. His mother’s name was Mary and her house served as a meeting place for the first Christians (Acts 12:12).

Mark was a cousin to Barnabas (Col 4:10) and he accompanied Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:5). Mark later went to Cypress with Barnabas, and later joined Paul again.

Through 1 Pet 5:13 it is suggested Mark and Peter were in Rome. Rome was referred to as “Babylon” by the early Christians.

Peter calls Mark “my son,” which shows the kind of relationship between Peter and Mark, and further suggests that the Gospel of Mark had its origin in Rome.

If the account of Papias (bishop of Hierapolis, 140 A.D.) and other early traditions are accepted, then the Gospel of Mark is based on Peter’s words, and written shortly after Peter’s death in about 64-65 A.D.

Mark’s book is fast-paced, starting with the beginning of the ministry of Jesus and ending with the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Mark depicts Jesus as a Servant of God who came to do God’s will.

The miracles and healings and power show that Jesus was no ordinary servant, but was truly the Son of God (15:39), or in other words, God Himself in the flesh (Jn 1:14; 1 Tim 3:16).

John the Baptist – PB

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He was born to the John the Baptistelderly Zechariah and his barren wife Elizabeth (similar to Abraham and Sarah). Elizabeth was a relative of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and both became pregnant a six months apart. (Lk 1:41-42). Both were visited by the angel, Gabriel.

John grew up in the wilderness and preached in the wilderness. His message was for people to repent because the Kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt 3:2).

John baptized his followers in the Jordan River, to signify the drowning of their old life and their emergence from the water into a new life. John, as did Jesus later on, ran into conflict with the Pharisees and Sadducees for whom he had sharp words (Matt 3:7-12).

John baptized Jesus, and proclaimed Him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus Himself appraised John in Matt 11:7-15.

John was much more than a prophet, surpassing his predecessors in greatness, and comparable to Elijah. But John’s generation did not accept him, alleging instead that he was demon possessed (Matt 11:17-18).

John’s role as forerunner to Jesus was alluded to in a prophecy from Isa 40:3:

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

There is another prophecy, in Mal 3:1, that also alludes to John the Baptist’s role in preparing the way for Jesus Christ.

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

John was beheaded 29 A.D. by Herod Antipas who imprisoned him in revenge for John’s condemnation of his incestuous marriage to his brother’s wife (Lk 3:19-20).

Herodias’ daughter, danced for Herod, who rewarded her by offering her whatever she wished. On the advice of her mother, she requested the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod was grieved at being requested to execute him, but having given his oath before witnesses, he commanded that it be done (Matt 14:1-11, Mk 6:14-28).

Matthew – PB

Matthew was a tax collector before he was called by Jesus to be an apostle Matthew(Matt 9:9).  Known formally as Levi, son of Alphaeus (Mk 2:14).

He wrote the first book of the New Testament.  It is sometimes called the Gospel of Matthew or the book of Matthew.

He gives a detailed account of the ancestors of Jesus, and about His birth through the Virgin Mary, and about the beginning of His public ministry in Chapters 1-4. 

Matthew’s gospel includes a series of Jesus’ speeches, including:

Chapter 5-7 – the Sermon on the Mount.

Chapter 10 – the mission discourse.

Chapter 13 – the parables of the Kingdom.

Chapter 18 – the discourse on Christian living.

Chapter 23-25 – the final end time warnings.

Ten miracles by Jesus are recorded in Chapters 8 and 9.

Matthew’s work has been described as a textbook for Christian leaders.  It is Gospel to announce the good news, a presentation of the virgin birth, ministry of teaching and healing, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Malachi – PB

Malachi, which means “My messenger,” focuses largly on the corruption of Malachithe priests, the neglect of God’s Temple, and the personal sins of the people.

He was sent as a prophet sometime between 450 – 425 BC to Jerusalem at a time when the spiritual zeal of the people was at a low.

The Book of Malachi is the last book of the twelve Minor Prophets, and the last book in the Old Testament.

Malachi ends his book with a prophecy concerning the coming Messiah and his forerunner, John the Baptist (called Elijah).

In this way, the Old Testament ends looking toward what God would do in the New Testament.

The theme of his book is that the people had not learned the lessons that they should have learned from the Babylonian Captivity that had taken place shortly before the time of Malachi.

The people were sent into captivity as punishment for their sins, and now they were doing the same things all over again.

But Malachi finds hope in the coming Messiah who will make all things right because He comes with the power of God.

Haggai – PB

Haggai was sent by God to preach to the restored community of Jews in HaggaiJerusalem after the Babylonian captivity had ended. He encouraged his fellow Jews to finish rebuilding the Temple, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians in about 586 B.C.

Haggai’s messages were addressed to Zerubbabel the governor, and to Joshua the high priest.

He began to preach in 520 B.C. after the work to rebuild the Temple had ceased. The work began anew and the Temple was completed during the next four years (520 BC – 516 B.C.).

Haggai, along with the prophet Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Joshua, played an important role in getting the Temple rebuilt. The rebuilt Temple (also known as the second Temple) lasted five centuries until it was rebuilt by Herod the Great in 20 B.C.

Before the Temple had been rebuilt, Haggai drew a link between Judah’s poverty and depressed state of affairs and the sinful indifference in regards to rebuilding the Temple.

Haggai means “a festival” and Book of Haggai is the tenth of the books of the twelve Minor Prophets.

Habakkuk – PB

Habakkuk lived in Judah and was a contemporary of the prophets Nahum Habakkukand Jeremiah. He preached during the last days of Judah before its fall in 586 B.C.

Habakkuk foresaw the doom that awaited Jerusalem and was troubled by two questions:

1. Why would God allow evil to exist in the nation of Judah?

2. How could God use a sinful nation like Babylon to punish Judah for its sins?

God answered Habakkuk and gave him far more than what he had asked – a vision of God Himself. This gave Habakkuk the courage to live through those dark days with a sense of focus and determination.

The theme of the Book of Habakkuk involves the sovereignty of God and the need for people to trust in Him.

Habakkuk also prophesized about the fall of the Babylonian Empire.

His book is the eighth among the Minor Prophets. The exact dates during which he wrote his book are uncertain, but it might have been during the reigns of King Josiah and King Jehoiakim.

Zephaniah – PB

Zephaniah lived about 2600 years ago. He might have been a great Zephaniahgrandson of King Hezekiah. If so, then Zephaniah would have been a cousin of King Josiah, during whose reign he prophesied.

Zephaniah was a prophet to Judah (the southern part of the Jewish homeland, which includes Jerusalem), during the year before its destruction by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Zephaniah was stern and austere, much like the prophet Amos.

He announces the doom of idol worshipers, greedy people, treacherous merchants, faithless prophets, and some of the surrounding nations. The message of Zephaniah was a strong affirmation of the first commandment:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Ex 20:3).

The Book of Zephaniah deals mainly with the Day of Judgment.  He also predicted Nineveh, the capitol of Assyria, would become a deserted ruin (which it is, today, despite the fact that it was in Zephaniah’s time the capital of the Assyrian Empire).

Zephaniah’s ministry followed Isaiah’s ministry by about 75 years.

Zephaniah means “The Lord has hidden away.” His book is the ninth book of the Minor Prophets.

Diodorus Siculus – PB

Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian, who wrote works of history Diodorus Siculusbetween 60 and 30 B.C. He is known for the monumental universal history Bibliotheca.

According to Diodorus’ own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily (now called Agira). With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus’ life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work.

Only Jerome, in his Chronicon under the “year of Abraham 1968” (i.e., 49 B.C.), writes, “Diodorus of Sicily, a writer of Greek history, became illustrious”.

His English translator, Charles Henry Oldfather, remarks on the “striking coincidence” that one of only two known Greek inscriptions from Agyrium (I.G. XIV, 588) is the tombstone of one “Diodorus, the son of Apollonius”.

Diodorus lived in the time of Julius Caesar and Augustus, and his own statements make it clear that he traveled in Egypt during 60–57 B.C. and spent several years in Rome. The latest event mentioned by him belongs to the year 21 B.C.

Diodorus’ universal history, which he named Bibliotheca Historica (“Historical Library”), was immense and consisted of 40 books, of which 1–5 and 11–20 survive: fragments of the lost books are preserved in Photius and the excerpts of Constantine Porphyrogenitus.

It was divided into three sections. The first six books treated the mythic history of the non-Hellenic and Hellenic tribes to the destruction of Troy and are geographical in theme, and describe the history and culture of Ancient Egypt (book I), of Mesopotamia, India, Scythia, and Arabia (II), of North Africa (III), and of Greece and Europe (IV–VI).

In the next section (books VII–XVII), he recounts the history of the world from the Trojan War down to the death of Alexander the Great. The last section (books XVII to the end) concerns the historical events from the successors of Alexander down to either 60 B.C. or the beginning of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

The end has been lost, so it is unclear whether Diodorus reached the beginning of the Gallic War as he promised at the beginning of his work or, as evidence suggests, old and tired from his labors he stopped short at 60 B.C.

He selected the name Bibliotheca in acknowledgment that he was assembling a composite work from many sources. Identified authors on whose works he drew include Hecataeus of Abdera, Ctesias of Cnidus, Ephorus, Theopompus, Hieronymus of Cardia, Duris of Samos, Diyllus, Philistus, Timaeus, Polybius, and Posidonius.

His account of gold mining in Nubia in eastern Egypt is one of the earliest extant texts on the topic, and describes in vivid detail the use of slave labor in terrible working conditions.