Luke 3 – John the Baptists & Empires of the Middle Ages: The Byzantine Empire: The Creation of the Roman Empire

We viewed the Mongol Empire with the book of Zechariah.  We’re going to look more into the Roman Empire, it was so huge, and of course the Islams. 

But tomorrow we’ll look at…

Luke 3
John the Baptists

A small alabaster box contains what are believed to be relics of John the Baptist, one of the most significant early Christian saints.

1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

3:1-2 – historians frequently dated an event by giving the year of the ruler’s reign in which the event happened.

“Fifteen year’ – several possible dates could be indicated by this description, but the date 25-26 A.D. (Tiberius had authority in the provinces beginning in 11 A.D.) best fits the chronology of the life of Christ. 

The other rulers named do not help pinpoint the beginning of John’s ministry, but only serve to indicate the general historical period.

2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

“Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests” – Annas was high priest from 6 A.D. until he was deposed by the Roman official Gratus in 15.  He was followed by his son Eleazar, his son-in-law Caiaphas and then four more sons.

Even though Rome had replaced Annas, the Jews continued to recognize his authority; so Luke included his name as well as that of the Roman appointee, Caiaphas.

3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;

Tiberius was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Born Tiberius Claudius Nero, a Claudian, Tiberius was the son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian.

“Baptism of repentance” – see note on Matt 3:11.  John’s baptism represented a change of heart, which includes sorrow for sin and a determination to lead a holy life. 

We all sin, even us that are saved.  That’s okay though because due to the fact we live in an evil world we can’t always help ourselves.  Paul explains this in Rom 7:15-25 and 8:1. 

If you are wondering if you saved or not then ask yourself how you feel afterwards?  If it doesn’t bother you then you are not saved and if you don’t change your ways, i.e., ask Jesus to come into your heart, then you will find yourself in hell when Jesus returns.

Now if you are saved that doesn’t mean you can freely sin, you can lose your salvation, see Heb 6:4-6 and 10:25-26.   Don’t let that scare you though because God is a merciful God and will help not sin.

Today, as I am writing this page, is December 19, 2013.  I have not actually been out and about in over 6 years.  July 29th of 2007, as an unsaved person, I went to prison on a bogus charge, due to crimes I committed in the 80s that weren’t bogus.

I was released on July 28th of 2010.  The three years I did in prison I did nothing but study my Bible, do Bible Studies and talk to God.  When I got out, those  3+ years I did nothing but work on this block (started somewhere around October of 2010) and hung out with God. 

Next month I’m going to get me a vehicle and join the human race.  That scares me half to death because that is where the temptations are and I would be devastated if I sinned against God.

4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Statue of Pontius Pilate Washes His Hands Of Jesus Christ .
Pontius Pilatus, known in the English-speaking world as Pontius Pilate was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from AD 26–36. He is best known as the judge at the trial of Jesus and the man who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus. As prefect, he served under Emperor Tiberius.

5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

“All flesh” – God’s salvation was to be made known to both Jews and Gentiles – a major theme of Luke’s Gospel.

7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

“The wrath to come” – a reference to both the destruction of Jerusalem (21:20-23), which occurred in 70 A.D., and the final judgment (Jn 3:36), aslo see 1 Thess 1:10, 5:9.

8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin 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.

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

“Axe…unto the root” – a symbolic way of saying that judgment is near for those who give no evidence of repentance.

10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

Herod, 73/74 BCE – 4 BCE, also known as Herod the Great and Herod I, was a Roman client king of Judea. He has been described as “a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis”, “the evil genius of the Judean nation”, “prepared to commit any crime in order to gratify his unbounded ambition” and “the greatest builder in Jewish history”.

He is known for his colossal building projects throughout Judea, including his expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (Herod’s Temple), the construction of the port at Caesarea Maritima, the fortress at Masada and Herodium. Vital details of his life are recorded in the works of the 1st century CE Roman–Jewish historian Josephus.

Upon Herod’s death, the Romans divided his kingdom among three of his sons—Archelaus became ethnarch of the tetrarchy of Judea, Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, and Philip became tetrarch of territories east of the Jordan.

13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;

16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

“Baptize you with the Holy Ghost” – fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 1:5, 2:4, 38).

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

18 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.

19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,

“Herod…being reproved…for Herodias” – Herod Antipas had married the daughter of Aretas IV of Arabia, but divorced her to marry his own niece, Herodias, who was already his brother’s (Herod Philip’s) wife.  Aretas is mentioned in 2 Cor 11:32.

20 Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.

“Shut up John in prison” – according to Josephus, John was imprisoned in Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea (Antiquities, 18.5.2).  This did not occur until sometime after the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

Yet, Luke mentions it here in order to conclude his section on John’s ministry before beginning his account of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  He later briefly alludes to John’s death.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

“And praying” – only Luke notes Jesus’ praying at the time of His baptism.  Jesus in prayer is one of the special themes of Luke.

Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the Trachonitus country

22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

3:23-38 – there are several differences between Luke’s genealogy and Matthew’s (1:2-16).  Matthew begins with Abraham (the father of the Jewish people), while Luke traces the line in the reverse order and goes all the way back to Adam, showing Jesus’ relationship to the whole human race.

From Abraham to David, the genealogies of Matthew and Luke are almost the same, but from David on they are different. 

Some scholars suggest that this is because Matthew traces the legal descent of the house of David using only heirs to the throne, while Luke trace s the complete line of Joseph to David.

A more likely explanation, however, is that Mathew follows the line of Joseph (Jesus’ legal father), while Luke emphasizes that of Mary (Jesus’ blood relative).  Although tracing a genealogy through the mother’s side was usually, so was the virgin birth.

Luke’s explanation here that Jesus was the son of Joseph, “as was supposed” (v. 23), brings to mind his explicit virgin birth statement (1:34-35) and suggests the importance of the role of Mary in Jesus’ genealogy.

Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene

“About thirty years of age” – Luke, a historical, relates the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry both to world history and to the rest of Jesus’s life.  Thirty was the age when a Levite undertook his service (Num 4:47) and when a man was considered mature.

“As was supposed” – Luke had already affirmed the virgin birth (1:34-35), and here makes clear again that Joseph was not Jesus’ physical father.

24 Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph,

25 Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge,

26 Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda,

27 Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri,

28 Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er,

Machaerus is a fortified hilltop palace located in Jordan fifteen miles southeast of the mouth of the Jordan river on the eastern side of the Dead Sea.

According to Flavius Josephus, it is the location of the imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist. According to the chronology of the Bible, this infamous execution took place in 32 AD shortly before the Passover, following an imprisonment of two years.

29 Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi,

30 Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim,

31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,

32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson,

33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda,

Theories About Cainan
Theory 1: Cainan is Shelah’s surname
The simplest expalanation is that Cainan was Shelah’s surname4.

Theory 2: Cainan is related by marriage. Perhaps Cainan married a daughter of Arphaxad and they gave birth to Shelah, or Shelah was Arphaxad’s daughter and she married Cainan.

Theory 3: Cainan was accidentally added to the LXX. A more complicated theory suggests that Cainan never existed, and that sources naming him today are copyist errors or corrections.

34 Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor,

35 Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala,

36 Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech,

“Cainan” – the mention of Cainan here, and not in Gen 10:24, demonstrates that the earlier genealogy was not meant to be complete.  Thus, not too much should be made of adding up all the years given in the earlier genealogies.

37 Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan,

38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

Empires of the Middle Ages

Not even the grandest empire lasts forever. In decay and conflict, new cultures took hold in the Middle Ages. Seemingly eternal Rome was displaced by Byzantium, the New Rome.

When the Roman Empire split into two separate empires, the Eastern Roman Empire became known as the Byzantine Empire.
The Byzantine Empire continued on for 1000 years after the Western Roman Empire, including Rome, collapsed in 476 CE.

The Byzantine Empire ruled most of Eastern and Southern Europe throughout the Middle Ages. Its capital city, Constantinople, was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe during the time.

Emperor Constantine I came to power as emperor in 306 CE. He made the Greek city of Byzantium the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The city was renamed to Constantinople. Constantine ruled as emperor for 30 years. Under Constantine, the Empire would thrive and become powerful.

Constantine also embraced Christianity which would become a large part of the Roman Empire for the next 1000 years.

Christianity pushed out local gods and goddesses throughout Europe and then faced holy conflict with a new creed— Islam—in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

To the east, trade cross-pollinated cultures in India, Southeast Asia, and China, while Europe lingered in what used to be called the Dark Ages.

Eventually, the Mongols, seen as uncivilized by their enemies, pushed established powers such as the Khmer into insignificance. For their own time, those proud hordes held sway over vast Asia, but their grasp inevitably weakened, and new powers triumphed.

Perhaps the only constant was that all these kings ruled over many generations of poor peasants. Great technological advances—firearms, printing presses, and ships that could cross the oceans—would soon bring more upheaval.

Meanwhile, in the Americas, other empires built cities, traded, and fought, still unbeknownst to the Old World.

…the top 10 Greatest Empires.

Mark 1 – John the Baptist & The Life of Jesus

Many scholars say Jesus was born in 6-4 B.C.  No one knows for certain since, even though they probably had some type of hospital, they probably didn’t keep hospital records in regard to births.

The Roman or “pre-Julian” calendar was created during the founding of Rome and is believed to have been a lunar calendar. The calendar originally consisted of hollow months that were 29 days long or full months that had 30 days.

Yet, if Jesus began His ministry at the age of 30 and He started it between 27-29 A.D., that would mean He was born in 3-1 B.C.  But nothing is for certain.

Ancient Man kept track of day and night by the sun and moon.  They probably had no way of keeping track of the days and year until they came up with the calendar.

It is believed that the first calendar was invented by Romulus, the first king of Rome, at around 753 B.C. The calendar started the year in March (Martius) and consisted of 10 months, with 6 months of 30 days and 4 months of 31 days.

The winter season was not assigned to any month, so the calendar year only lasted 304 days with 61 days unaccounted for in the winter.

People probably didn’t keep track of their birth date until the Julian Calendar was invented, which was introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C. and replaced the Roman calendar.

The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months with a leap day added to the month of February every four years (leap year). This made the Julian year 365.25 days long on average, and needless to say, this extra .25 day caused several issues.

I can’t find any information on when cities or countries began recording the peoples birth dates (different then Census Reports because King David had done that in regard to the number of people he had in his kingdom).

Stone tablet detailing the original Roman calendar

I’m guessing and saying it probably began sometime after Jesus’ crucifixion, but it could have begun with the Julian calendar.

The calendar used today, the Gregorian calendar (also known as the “Western calendar” or “Christian calendar,” was introduced it in February 1582, by Pope Gregory XIII.

The Gregorian calendar was first adopted in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The Gregorian reform consisted of the following changes:

– 10 days were dropped in October 1582.

– New rules were set to determine the date of Easter.

– The rule for calculating Leap Years was changed to include that a year is a Leap Year if:

– The year is evenly divisible by 4;

– If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;

– The year is also evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.

When the celebration of birthdays began is also unknown, and the reason isn’t absolute, but there is a good idea of why:

Birthday celebrations began as a form of protection. It was a common belief that evil spirits were more dangerous to a person when he or she experienced a change in their daily life, such as turning a year older.

To protect them from harm, friends and family would gather around the birthday person and bring good cheers, thoughts and wishes. Giving gifts brought even more good cheer to ward off the evil spirits.

The idea of birthday greetings and wishes for happiness was originally rooted in magic. One was especially susceptible to evil spells on his birthday, as his/her personal spirits are about at that time. Good wishes fetch good fortune, but the revers is also true, hence one should be surrounded only by well-wishers and avoid enemies on one’s birthday.

Noisemakers are thought to be used at parties as a way of scaring away the evil spirits.

The birthday history custom of lighting candles originated with people believing that the gods lived in the sky and by lighting candles and torches they were sending a signal or prayer to the gods so they could be answered.

When you blow out the candles and make a wish this is another way of sending a signal and a message.

This all makes since because people were so superstitious and idolatrous, plus it is much similar to how Halloween came about.  But I’m getting off track here so I’ll leave there.

Tomorrow we’ll continue to look at the life of Jesus and look more into the city of…

Mark 1
John the Baptist

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

John the Baptist was the forerunner for Jesus Christ. He baptized with water and spread the word that the Messiah was coming.
Many, many so called scholars and Jews tell many lies about who John was. Some even say that Jesus was a disciple of John. John was a sinner like all of us, a human being. Jesus was God in the flesh.

“The beginning” – see Jn 1:1.

2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

“River of Jordan” – even though the Jordan is the principal river in the Holy Land, it is located in the rift valley away from the population centers.  It begins form the snows of Mount Hermon and ends at the Dead Sea.  Its closest point to Jerusalem is about 20 miles.

6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;

“Camel’s hair” – also worn by Elijah and possibly other prophets.

7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

“Baptize you with the Holy Ghost” – see Matt 3:11.

Mount Hermon is a mountain cluster in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. Its summit straddles the border between Syria and Lebanon and, at 2,814 m above sea level, is the highest point in Syria.

9 And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

“In those days” – Jesus probably began His public ministry in or around 27 A.D. when he was approximately 30 years old (Lk 3:23).  As far as we know He had spent most of His previous life in Nazareth.

10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

1:10-11 – All three persons of the Trinity are involved: (1) the Father speaks, (2) the Son is baptized and (3) the Holy Spirit/Ghost descends on the Son.

“The Spirit…descending upon him” – Jesus’ anointing for ministry – an anointing He claimed in the synagogue at Nazareth (Lk 4:18).

“Like a dove” – symbolizing the gentleness, purity and guilelessness of the Holy Spirit (see Matt 10:16).  Yet, the Holy Ghost is not quite as meek as Jesus is.  They are all the God and God is love (1 Jn 4:8), but they are also their own person.

The Father and the Holy Ghost are not as gentle or as meek as Jesus is (Matt11:29).  If you have a personal relationship with Jesus and you cling to Him then you will see the difference between the three and of course how fantastic they all are.

11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

An allusion to Ps 2:7 and Is 42:1.

12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

Dead Sea
Between Israel and Jordan lies the Dead Sea, a salt lake located on the lowest point of Earth’s surface. Its basin lies some 1,300 feet below sea level, making it the lowest body of water in the world. The lake is about 50 miles long and 11 miles wide.

13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

“Wild beasts” – in Jesus’ day there were many more wild animals – including lions – in Isaiah than today.  Only Mark reports their presence in this connection; he emphasizes that  God kept Jesus safe in the wilderness.

“Angels ministered unto him” – as they had attended Isaiah in the wilderness (see Ex 23:20, 23, 32:34), and if you walk with Jesus they will attend to your needs as well.

14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

“The kingdom of God is at hand” – the coming of Jesus (the King) brings the kingdom near to the people and He’s still here.

16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

“Sea of Galilee” – a beautiful lake, almost 700 feet below sea level, 14 miles long and 6 miles wide, fed by the waters of the upper Jordan River.  It was called the lake of Gennesaret  and the sea of Tiberias.

In Old Testament times it was known as the sea of Chinnereth.

17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise 972 texts, which include what is now known as the Hebrew Bible, found in the Qumran valley on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between 1946 and 1956. Of these, 220 comprise the earliest known surviving Biblical documents. Written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, mostly on parchment, and of great religious and historical significance, the manuscripts generally date between 150 BC and 70 AD.

19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

“Capernaum Synagogue” – a very important religious institution among the Jews of that day.  Originating during the exile, it provided a place where Jews could study the scriptures and worship God. 

A synagogue could be established in any town where there were at least ten married Jewish men.

“Taught” – Jesus, like Paul, took advantage of the custom that allowed visiting teachers to participate in the worship service by invitation of the synagogue leaders.

22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.

“Astonished” – Mark frequently reported the amazement that Jesus’ teaching and actions produced.  It was Christ’s inherent authority that amazed.  He did not quote human authorities, as did the teachers of the law, because his authority was directly from God.

23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

“A man…cried out” – actually it was the demon who cried out.

“With an unclean spirit” – demonic possession intended to torment and destroy those who are created in God’s image, but the demon recognized Jesus, the one who could and was going to destroy the forces of Satan.

24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

We assume that houses were simply constructed with roughly hewn fieldstones, which were stacked atop each other, held together by smaller stones packed into the spaces, and smeared with clay, mud, or even dung mixed with straw for insulation.

Floors were of packed dirt or beaten earth.
The absence of arches, girders, and roof tiles implies that the roofs were thatched, with wooden ceiling beams supporting a thick bed of straw or reeds, which protected the beams from dampness and was itself covered with packed mud for insulation.

Many of the houses had subterranean cavities. There were bell-shaped cisterns for storing water, and other plastered cisterns would have been used to store grain. Many dwellings were built around caves that were used for living space – which underscores the humble status of the little village.

25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.

26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.

27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.

28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.

31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.

33 And all the city was gathered together at the door.

34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.

37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.

38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.

39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.

40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.

Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Nazareth is known as “the Arab capital of Israel”; the population is made up predominantly of Arab citizens of Israel, almost all of whom are either Muslim or Christian.

43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;

44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.

“No more openly enter  into the city” – Jesus’ growing popularity with the people and the increasing opposition from Jewish leaders finally made it necessary for Him to withdraw from Galilee into surrounding territories.

The Life of Jesus

In what year was Jesus born, and when was he crucified? These are longstanding historical questions. The seemingly obvious answer to the first—that he was born in 1 A.D.  (there is no year 0)—is incorrect, however, since the calculations on which our modern calendar is based were faulty.

The True Story of Jesus Christ!

The basic data of Jesus’ life are well known. After his birth in Bethlehem, he spent most of his youth and early years of ministry in Galilee.

Like many Jews, Jesus would have made trips to Jerusalem and Judea (noted especially in John’s Gospel), but he is also reported to have journeyed at various times into the regions surrounding Galilee, such as Phoenicia (Matt 15:21)  and Caesarea Philippi (Matt 16:13).

But most of his life was spent in his hometown of Nazareth and in the fishing villages around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus’ final period of ministry centered on Judea, with the crucifixion and resurrection events occurring in and about Jerusalem.

The chronology of Jesus’ life, though clear in outline, cannot be fixed with absolute precision.

Matthew and Luke both inform us that Jesus was born before the death of Herod (4 B.C.), though it would appear that his birth occurred toward the final years of Herod’s reign, suggesting an approximate date of 6-4 B.C.

The next chronological marker comes from Lk 3:1, where we learn that John the Baptist’s ministry began during the fifteenth year of the reign of the emperor Tiberius.

Nativity scene in Bethlehem, early 1900s
“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk 2:4-7).

Since 14 A.D. is the generally accepted date for Tiberius’s accession to the throne, John’s ministry would have commenced between August of 28 and December of 29 A.D.

Jesus began his own ministry shortly after John had embarked on his, at some point in 28 or 29 A.D., making Jesus about 32 or 33 years old at the time.  This fits well with Luke’s statement that Jesus was “about thirty years old” (Lk 3:23).

The duration of Jesus’ public ministry was approximately three years.  While the exact chronology of this period is difficult to ascertain, the final phase of his ministry allows for closer scrutiny.

It is clear that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, who governed Judea from 26-36 A.D.

Moreover, it is likely that he was put to death on a Friday on the fourteenth day of the Jewish month Nisan, as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in preparation for the Passover that Friday night; this is the clear Implication of John’s narrative (Jn 18:28; 19:31).

While it is true that in the Synoptic Gospels Jesus referred to the Last Supper, which took place on a Thursday, as a “Passover” meal (e.g., Mk 14:12-16), this may be accounted for in a few different ways.

It has been suggested, with some historical support, that some Jews (in this case Jesus and his Galilean companions) may have reckoned the feast days from sunrise to sunrise rather than from sunset to sunset.

This explanation would accommodate the material both in John and in the Synoptics. It is also possible that Jesus deliberately held his meal on a different day from the Passover because of his intention to radically transform the meaning of the Passover.

Taking Friday, Nisan 14, as the day of the crucifixion, astronomical data informs us that the only years from 29-30 A.D. that could have seen Nisan 14 on a Friday are 30, 33 and 36 A.D.

Ruins Of The Crusader Fortress Belvoir In Lower Galilee, Israel.

Thirty-six is easily dismissed as too late, while 30 A.D. seems too early (although some who begin Jesus’ ministry in 28 A.D. and shorten his public ministry find it acceptable). This leaves 33 A.D. as the most likely date for the year of Jesus’ death and resurrection.


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.