The book of John is a Gospel that contains Narrative History, Sermons, Parables, and a few Prophetic Oracles.
It was written by the Disciple/Apostle John around 85-95 A.D.
The key personalities of this book are Jesus Christ, His Twelve Disciples, Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist, Lazarus, his sisters Mary and Martha, Jewish religious leaders, and Pilate.
It was written so that all may believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God who gives eternal life.
John’s gospel uses the word “Believe” 98 times and the word “Life” 36 times, in an effort to embed the importance that one must believe in order to live eternally.
John is not one of the three synoptic (common view) gospels, but instead was written with a more theological substance, yet equally as inspired and important as the first three gospels.
Chapter 1 – is the preamble of the Messiah’s coming ministry. John gives clear evidence that Jesus is more than just a man,
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1).“John then describes that the “Word” is Jesus who became a man to “live among us” (1:14).
The beginning verses in the first chapter teaches us that Jesus is more than just a man who came into existence but rather, He is infinite God.
Chapters 2-12 – consist of Jesus’ ministry. He meets with a religious leader named Nicodemus and teaches him that no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless they have are personally “Born-Again” (3:3).
Several times throughout the book, Jesus claims that He Himself is God:
“I and the Father are one” (10:30).
Jesus also repeats and applies to Himself, the Jehovah statement:
“I AM (Ex 3:14), for example, when Jesus declares:I am the resurrection and the life (11:25),I am the way the truth and the life (14:6),“I am the door (10:9), andI am the bread of life” (6:35).
Chapters 13-17 – occurs less than 24 hours before Jesus’ death. They describe the details of the Last Supper with Jesus and His disciples. Jesus taught many important topics to the Disciples during this time.
Some of these were topics about the Kingdom, and about the work of the Holy Spirit that would be sent to them. He also prays for Himself, His disciples, and for all the future believers (chp 17).
Chapters 18-21 – portrays the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In these final chapters, He is on trial and then convicted illegally. After which He is appallingly beaten, humiliated, and then crucified.
Jesus resurrected and arose from the tomb and appeared to Mary Magdalene and to His disciples.
When John finishes his gospel he writes one of the most amazing truths about Jesus Christ,
“And there are many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (21:25).
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.
We viewed the Mongol Empirewith 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
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;
“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.
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?
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.
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.
“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,
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,
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.
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.
From Matthew and Mark we know Jesus was born in Bethlehem so tomorrow we’ll look at…
Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
1:1-4 – using language similar to classical Greek, Luke begins with a formal preface, common to historical works of that time, in which he states his purpose of writing and identifies the recipient.
He acknowledges other reports on the subject, shows the need for this new work and states his method of approach and sources of information.
“Things which are most surely believed among us” – things prophesied in the Old Testament and now fully accomplished.
2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
“Eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word” – Luke, though not an eyewitness himself, received testimony from those who were eyewitnesses and were dedicated to spreading the gospel.
Apostolic preaching and interviews with other individuals associated with Jesus’ ministry were available to him.
3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
“Having had perfect understanding of all things” – Luke’s account was exact in historical detail, having been checked in every way. Inspiration of the Holy Ghost didn’t rule out human effort. The account is complete, extending back to the very beginning of Jesus’ earthly life.
It has an orderly, meaningful arrangement that is generally chronological.
4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
“Herod, the king of Judea” – Herod the Great reigned 37-4 B.C., and his kingdom included Samaria, Galilee, much of Perea and Coele-Syria.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
“Righteous…blameless” – they weren’t sinless, but were faithful and sincere in keeping God’s commandments. Nobody is sinless (Rom 3:23), but can be blameless, which Paul explains in Rom 7:15-25 and 8:1. Also see Ps 103.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,
9 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
It was one of the priest’s duties to keep the incense burning on the altar in front of the most Holy Place. He supplied it with fresh incense before the morning sacrifice and again after the evening sacrifices (Ex 30:6-8).
10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying without at the time of incense.
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
“Elias” – John the Baptists was not Elijah returning in the flesh (Jn 1:21), but he functioned like that Old Testament preacher of repentance and was therefore a contingent fulfillment of Mal 4:5-6 (see Matt 1:14, 17:10-13).
18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee and to shew thee these glad tidings.
“Gabriel” – the name can mean “God is my hero” or “mighty man of God.” Only two angles are identified by name in scripture: Gabriel (Dan 8:16, 9:21) and Michael (Dan 10:13, 21; Jude 9; Rev 12:7).
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
“The days of his ministration” – each priest was responsible for a week’s service at the temple once every six months.
24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
“The Lord…looked on me, to take away my reproach” – those without children were seen as being disfavored by God and it often brought social reproach.
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
1:26-35 – this section speaks clearly of the virginal conception of Jesus. The conception was the work of the Holy Ghost; the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, while remaining God, also “was made flesh” (Jn 1:14; 1 Tim 3:16).
From conception He was fully God and fully man. Nobody but Jesus Christ could do that.
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
“Holy thing” – Jesus never sinned (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15, 7:26; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 Jn 3:5).
Jesus was born sinless because the supernatural overshadowing of the Holy Ghost prevented sin from being passed to Him from His mother. There are three prominent reasons why the virgin birth was necessary”
1. To fulfill prophecy (Is 7:14),
2. To be a “sign,” and
3. To avoid the curse on Coniah (Jer 22:30).
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
“Thy cousin Elisabeth” – it is not known whether she was a cousin, aunt or other relation to Jesus mother Mary. The Greek word has a breadth of meaning, suggesting simply a “relative.”
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
1:46-55 – this hymn of praise is known as the Magnificat because in the Latin Vulgate translation the opening word is Magnificat which means “magnify.” This song is like a psalm, and should also be compared with the song of Hannah (1 Sam 2:1-10).
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
“Them that fear Him” – those who revere God and live in harmony with His will, not meaning that we agree, understand or even appreciate what God does, but that we appreciate Him.
51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.
56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
57 Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
58 And her neighbors and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.
61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marveled all.
64 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.
65 And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.
66 And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
“Filled with the Holy Ghost…prophesied” – prophecy not only predicts but also proclaims God’s word. Both Zacharias and Elisabeth were enabled by the Holy Ghost to express what otherwise they could not have formulated.
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
1:68-79 – this hymn is called Benedictus (“Blessed be”) because the opening word in the Latin Vulgate translation is Benedictus. Whereas the Magnificat is similar to a psalm, the Benedictus is more like a prophecy.
69 And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
Caesar Augustus, Emperor of Rome
Caesar Augustus was ruler of the Roman Empire when Jesus was born. He ruled for 45 years, from 31 B.C. to A.D. 14. Born Gaius Octavius, he was adopted by his maternal uncle, Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.), and, as was common, assumed the name of his adoptive father.
Thus, he was known as Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian. The name Augustus, “revered one,” was bestowed upon him by the Roman Senate in 27 B.C.
Augustus put an end to the civil wars to that raged since the dictatorship of Julius Caesar and established the Pax Romana (“Roman peace”) throughout the empire.
For this, he received lavish honors in Rome and around the Roman world. Herod the Great built the city of Caesarea Maritima and rebuilt Samaria (the former capital of the northern kingdom) in Augustus’s honor. The Greek name of Samaria, Sebastos, means “Augustus.”
The peace that characterized Augustus’s reign was marred only by the disaster of the loss of three Roman legions in a battle with German tribes at the Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D.
Otherwise, Augustus used the stability of the times to carry out extensive building projects in Rome. Some of his structures have been excavated and can be seen today, such as the Forum of Augustus, the beautiful Altar of Peace and the Mausoleum of Augustus, where his ashes were placed.
Quirinius and the Census
At the time of Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem to be counted for a census. Luke recorded that the census taken when Jesus was born “was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.”
Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was a well-known Roman military and political figure who was appointed to serve as governor of Syria in 6 A.D. At this time he carried out a census in Syria and Judea.
This census is documented in the writings of the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities, 18) and is mentioned in Acts 5:37.
An obvious problem is that this census is too late to be related to the birth of Jesus, since Jesus was born prior to the death of Herod the Great in 4 B.C. How might one resolve this difficulty?
– It may be that Luke was aware of Quirinius’s 6 A.D. census and that Lk 2:2 means that there had been an earlier census during the reign of Herod, which was also supervised by Quirinius.
Some scholars believe that a fragmentary inscription called the Lapis Tiburtinus implies that Quirinius was twice governor of Syria, so that the 6 A.D. census was in fact his second census.
This interpretation of the Lapis Tiburtinus is open to question, however; we do not know with certainty that this inscription actually dealt with Quirinius at all.
– It may be that this verse should be translated as, “This census was before the one made when Quirinius was governor.” This would be a somewhat peculiar translation of the Greek, but a number of New Testament scholars nonetheless support it.
– The church father Tertullian believed that the census of Lk 2:2 took place during the governorship of Sentius Saturninus (8-6 B.C.) rather than that of Quirinius.
It may be that the text of 2:2 has suffered some kind of corruption, although, except for Tertullian, there is no evidence for this.
The book of Luke is a Gospel that contains Narrative History, Genealogy, Sermons, Parables, and some Prophetic Oracles.
The emphasis of Luke is Parables and contains more of them than any other Gospel (19 total).
It is the third of the synoptic gospels. Luke, a doctor and a Greek Christian, wrote it circa 59-61 A.D. He accompanied Paul on mission journeys, as described in the book of Acts, which Luke also wrote.
The key word in Luke is “Son of Man” which is used 80 times.
The key personalities of the book include Jesus Christ, His parents Mary and Joseph, the Twelve Disciples, John the Baptist, Herod the Great, Jewish religious leaders, and Pilate.
This book was written to record an accurate account “so that you may know the exact truth” (1:4), of the life of Jesus Christ as the perfect Savior of the world.
He wrote to the Greeks to present Jesus in His perfect manhood as the “Son of Man,” the Savir of all men.
Chapters 1-4– Luke writes a very detailed account of the birth of Jesus, a common Christmas story, yet always fascinating. He then explains John the Baptist’s preparation of the coming Messiah, then Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, which transitions into Jesus’ beginning ministry in Galilee.
Chapters 5-21 – consist of the ministry of Jesus. As Jesus travels, He teaches, preaches, heals the sick, and brings hope to the desperate and discouraged.
He was also seeking those who were obedient and faithful, such as the Roman Centurion who sincerely pleads with Jesus to heal his servant from a far distance, “just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (7:7).
Jesus met many religious leaders who relentlessly opposed Him and constantly tried to trick and kill Him.
Chapters 22-24 – one of His own (Judas) betrays Jesus. He was unlawfully convicted by a dishonest and hateful court, and sentenced to an excruciating death.
However, death could not hold Him and after three days He resurrected and arose from the grave, just as He had miraculously raised others during His ministry.
Luke was a physician and traveling companion of Paul. Luke is mentioned in 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.
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.
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).
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.
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…
John the Baptist
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.