Luke 9 – The Mission of the Twelve & Emperor Irene

After reading about what a lady Emperor Irene hand been two names came to mind: Hilary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.

We have two more subjects to look at that involve the Byzantine Empire.  Tomorrow we’ll look at…

Luke 9
The Mission of the Twelve

1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

Engraved portrait of Byzantine emperor Constantine VI (c. 770 – 797) and his mother empress Irene (c. 752- 803).

“Power and authority” – power to heal and defeat Satan and his demons only comes from God, not from crystals or voodoo or anything else.  Satan’s the manufacturer of crystals, voodoo and the like.  And as Jesus had told the Pharisees:

“And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

And if Satan rise up against himself and be divide, he cannot stand, but hath an end” (Mk 3:24-26).

That is why Satan has already lost, he stood against God.  As Jesus had also said:

“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matt 12:30).

2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.

The Sacred Rock of the Acropolis is the highlight of the ancient Athenian architectural style, and has become the trademark of the city of Athens since the 5th century BC.

When visiting the Acropolis and its Parthenon you will see the Propylaea and the Erectheum with the Caryatids, and you will find yourself up the Sacred Hill, where you can also admire the city of Athens at its whole. The Rock of the Acropolis offers you a panoramic view of the city that stretches from the north mountains to the south shores of the sea and the port of Piraeus.

4 And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.

5 And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.

6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;

8 And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.

9 And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.

10 And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.

11 And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.

12 And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.

13 But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people.

Athens Skyscrapers from the Acropolis Hill to the north.

14 For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples; Make them sit down by fifties in a company.

15 And they did so, and made them all sit down.

16 Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.

17 And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.

18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?

19 They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.

20 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.

21 And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;

22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

“Take up his cross daily” – to follow Jesus requires self-denial, complete dedication and willing obedience.  Luke emphasizes continued action.  Disciples from Galilee knew what the cross meant, for hundreds of men had been executed by this means in their region.

Constantine IV Pogonatus, with Heraclius and Tiberius. 668-685. AV Solidus (18mm, 4.41 g, 6h).

Constantinople mint, 4th officina. Struck 668-673. Helmeted and cuirassed bust facing slightly right, holding spear and shield / Cross potent set on three steps; at sides, Heraclius and Tiberius standing facing, each holding globus cruciger.

Luke doesn’t say that we have to follow Jesus daily, but Paul more-or-less did in more than one occasion (see 1 Cor 23-26; Eph 6:12-17). 

Yet, you don’t have to walk with Him daily to be saved, only if you want His assistance in your daily life here on earth.

24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.

29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.

30 And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:

Icon Worship is Satanic!
“Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?

Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;

That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.

Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations (Eze 14:2-6).

31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.

33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.

34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.

35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

37 And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.

38 And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child.

39 And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him.

“A spirit taketh him” – this evil spirit was causing seizures And a speechless condition.

Evil spirits are responsible for many different kinds of affliction and behavior.  Remember the Son of Sam/The .44 Caliber Killer from the 70s? 

He had testified that God had told him to kill the people.  I believe  him, but it wasn’t “God,” but one of Satan’s puny demons that David Berkowitz thought was a god.

Berkowitz is still in prison, but has repented and therefore saved.  God gives us free will to do as we wish and Berkowitz got caught up into something that let the door wide open for the devil and he got him.  But once Berkowitz cried to Jesus the devil was shunned, AGAIN!

The Emperor Constantine IV grants t ax immunity to the archbishop of Ravenn.

It’s likely that the same thing happened to the Bush’s and Obama, but we can’t blame all bad things on the devil – I wonder what happened to Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi.

40 And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.

41 And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.

42 And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.

43 And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered everyone at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,

44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.

The name “Franci” was originally socio-political. To the Romans, Celts, and Suebi, the Franks must have seemed alike: they looked the same and spoke the same language, so that Franci became the name by which the people were known.

Within a few centuries it had eclipsed the names of the original tribes, though the older names have survived in some place-names such as Hesse, which originates from the Chatti tribe.

45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.

47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,

48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.

49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

“A village of the Samaritans” – Samaritans were particularly hostile to Jews who were on their way to observe religious festivals in Jerusalem.  It was at a three-day journey from Galilee to Jerusalem through Samaria, and Samaritan refused overnight shelter for the pilgrims.

A 6th-7th century necklace of glass and ceramic beads with a central amethyst bead. Similar necklaces have been found in the graves of Frankish women in the Rhineland.

Because of this antipathy, Jews traveling between Galilee and Jerusalem frequently went on the east side of the Jordan River.

53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Statue on the Alte Mainbrücke in Würzburg, Germany.

59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Emperor Irene

Byzantine ruler Irene (circa 752-803) left a distinct stamp on history during her 22-year reign. Born in Athens, she married Byzantine emperor Leo IV in 769. Upon his death, she became guardian of and co-emperor with their ten-year-old son, Constantine IV.

Irene sits in council with her son and one-time co-emperor, Constantine IV.

From the start, her rule was beset by enemies within and without. Known to be a supporter of the use of icons (banned since 730 by Emperor Leo III), she fought off an effort by iconoclasts to depose her in her first year.

By 787, she restored the worship of icons, earning the support of church traditionalists. In the meantime, she struggled with incursions by the Franks in one direction, and the Abba-sid caliphs in another.

Young Constantine, as he grew, attempted to seize control. In 790, his supporters proclaimed him sole ruler, but in 792 his mother engineered a conspiracy to arrest and blinds her son. He died soon thereafter.

Irene then reigned as sole emperor for five years, reportedly contemplating a marriage with Charlemagne that would have dramatically reunited the two halves of the former Roman Empire (supposedly this arrangement was foiled by someone close to the throne).

A gold coin depicts Irene as “empress” (basilissa); some coins also named her “emperor: (braisles).

In 802, Byzantine courtiers conspired against her and removed her from the throne, naming her finance minister, Nikephoros, as emperor. Irene was exiled to the island of Lesbos, where she died the following year.

…the Varangian Guard.

Matthew 10 – The Mission of the Twelve & The Zealots and the Essenes

Some of the more radical Essenes who followed the so-called Teacher of Righteousness eventually gave up hope of renewal through normal channels and withdrew to the Judean wilderness to live together near the Dead Sea.

Life had to have been tough back in that time.  You would have to deal with the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Sanhedrin, the Zealots, the Essenes, and aside from that…

Matthew 10
The Mission of the Twelve

The Primary mission of the 12 was not to heal the sick and raise the dead. The primary mission was to spread the word of Jesus Christ, as we are to do so even today.

1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;

4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

“Go not” – the good news about the kingdom of God was to be proclaimed first to Jews only.  After His death and resurrection, Jesus commanded the message to be taken to all nations.

“Samaritans” – a mixed-blood race resulting from the intermarriage of Israelites left behind when the people of the northern kingdom were exiled and Gentiles brought into the land by the Assyrians (2 Kgs 17:24).  Bitter hostility existed between Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’ day (see Jn 4:9).

6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The Samaritans were a pagan sect that grew out of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim after their deportation in 722 B.C. into Assyria by Shalmaneser.
Above is the 3000 year old altar that Jeroboam set up in Dan. It is the little square of blocks inside the larger replica steel altar. The area has been rebuilt and enlarged during the Hellenistic period (400 B.C.).

The Jeroboam’s original altar area was expanded and enlarged and included cut stones with stairs rather than uncut stones with ramps. But Jeroboam’s original altar was found below the newer and larger Hellenistic altar.

8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

“Lepers” – the Greek word for leprosy was used for various diseases affecting the skin – not necessarily leprosy.  (see Lev 13:2).

9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,

10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.

12 And when ye come into a house, salute it.

“Salute it” – the Jews’ greeting then, even as now, was shalom, “peace.”

13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

“Shake off the dust of your feet” – a symbolic act practiced by the Pharisees when they left an “unclean’ Gentile area.  Here it represented an act of solemn warning to those who rejecte4d God’s message (cf. Acts 18:6).

15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.

16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Cf. Paul’s statement in Rom 16:19: “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.”

17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

“Councils” – the lower courts/municipal/misdemeanors, connected with local synagogues that tried less serious cases and flogged those found guilty.

Leprosy has tormented humans throughout recorded history. The earliest possible account of a disease that many scholars believe is leprosy appears in an Egyptian Papyrus document written around 1550 B.C.

Around 600 B.C. Indian writings describe a disease that resembles leprosy. In Europe, leprosy first appeared in the records of ancient Greece after the army of Alexander the Great came back from India and then in Rome in 62 B.C. coinciding with the return of Pompeii’s troops from Asia Minor.

Throughout its history, leprosy has been feared and misunderstood. For a long time leprosy was thought to be a hereditary disease, a curse, or a punishment from God. And their fear is not unfounded – 2 Kgs 5:27

The above picture is a side-by-side comparison of ancient and modern DNA from Mycobacterium leprae—the pathogen responsible for leprosy—shows that the bacterium’s genome and virulence has changed very little over the past 1000 years. The genetic findings suggest that the disease, which was once highly prevalent in Europe, declined primarily because of improved social conditions in the region.

“Synagogues” –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 to0wn where there were at least ten married Jewish men.

18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

“Take no thought how or what you shall speak” – not to be used by preachers as an excuse for lack of sermon preparation, see Lk 21:14-15.

20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

“He that endureth to the end shall be saved” – such perseverance is a sure indication of salvation (see Rev 22:14-15; cf. Heb 3:14, 6:11-12, 10:36).

23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man become.

The five cities of the plain have been located and the evidence is staggering. For the first time in modern history we have found round balls of brimstone, or nearly pure sulfur, embedded in an ashen area near the Dead Sea, which show clear signs of having once been ancient building structures!

Each of the cities of the plain contain evidence of brimstone which God rained down upon the cities to destroy them. The brimstone is composed of 96-98 percent sulfur, with trace amounts of magnesium which create an extremely high temperature burn. This is the only place on earth where you can find 96 percent pure monoclinic sulfur in a round ball. This brimstone is NOT from any type of geo-thermal activity as there is no evidence of such in the area, and geo-thermal sulfur nodules are only 40 percent pure sulfur and are of the rhombic type.

Jesus’ saying here is probably best understood as referring to His coming in judgment on the Jews when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 A.D.

24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.

25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

“Beelzebub” – Satan, the ruler of demons.

26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.

27 What I tell you in darkness that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

“Soul” – the true self.  Body and soul are closely related in this life but are separated at death and then reunited as the resurrection (cf. 2 Cor 5:1-10; Phil 1:23-24).

“Fear him” – God.  He alone determines the final destiny of us all.

“Hell” – see 5:22.

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness, prosperity, and welfare and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye. As it does in English, it can refer to either peace between two entities (especially between man and God or between two countries), or to the well-being, welfare or safety of an individual or a group of individuals.

31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

At first glance this saying sounds like a contradiction of Is 9:6 (”Prince of Peace”), Lk 2:14 (“on earth peace among men”) and Jn 14:27 (“Peace I leave with you”).

It is true that Christ came to bring peace – peace between the believer and God, and peace among men.  Yet the inevitable result of Christ’s coming is conflict – between Christ and the antichrist, between light and darkness, between Christ’s children and the Devil’s children.  This conflict can occur even between members of the same family.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

“His cross” – the first mention of the cross is Matthew’s Gospel.  The cross was an instrument of death and here symbolizes the necessity of total commitment – even unto death – on the part of Jesus’ disciples.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

10:40-42 – during times of persecution, hospitality was especially important and could be dangerous.  So Jesus indicates that those who provide it and show kindness to God’s people will receive a reward.

41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.

42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

The Zealots and the Essenes

The Zealots

Zealotry was originally a political movement in 1st century Second Temple Judaism which sought to incite the people of Judaea Province to rebel against the Roman Empire and expel it from the Holy Land by force of arms, most notably during the Great Jewish Revolt (66-70). Zealotry was the term used by Josephus for a “fourth sect” during this period.

The Zealots were radical Jews who sought the violent overthrow of the Roman regime in Judea under the rallying cry “No king but God!” They came to prominence during the Jewish revolt against Rome in 66-73 A.D., but the roots of violent rebellion stretch back much further.

While scholars debate whether there was a continuous, organized movement of insurrection throughout the 1st century A.D., it is at least interesting to note that some of the leaders of the uprising in 66 A.D. were direct descendants of men who had fought against Rome during the 1st century B.C.

When Jesus advocated nonviolent resistance to enemies, he may have been directly opposing this kind of armed revolution.

The Essenes

The “therapists” that lived in the Nazareth region, especially around the Quram area, were known as the Essaioi, from the Aramaic Ysssyn meaning therapists or doctors. The corresponding Greek word is Therapeutae, and they are known by us as the Essenes.

The Essenes brought to their region all the initiatic teachings from the ancient Pythagoras School, in addition to the sacred practices of various schools of wisdom of the ancient world. In early times, they were known as the primary school of prophets.

The Essenes were another protest group in early Judaism. This faction most likely grew out of mid-2nd century B.C. reform movements that arose during the Maccabean revolt. By the 1st century A.D. the Essenes were a significant force for renewal in Judaism.

Like the Pharisees, they were concerned with purity and called for a strict adherence to the Law, although the two groups agreed with the Pharisees on particular points of interpretation and practice. 

The Essenes were noted for their ascetic tendencies, their nonparticipation in temple worship and their desire to isolate themselves in tight-knit communities.

…the Roman Empire.