11.02 More Miracles And Discipleship Training

11.02 More Miracles And Discipleship Training

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02 More Miracles And Discipleship Training

Unit 11

The Transfiguration, Miracles, And Disciple Training


Chapter 02

More Miracles And Discipleship Training


 11.02.00.A. JESUS AND THE ADULTEROUS WOMAN. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876. (2)

11.02.00.A. JESUS AND THE ADULTEROUS WOMAN. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876. Who is without sin among you? Jesus forgave the woman accused of adultery and confronted her accusers, one of whom was probably as guilty as she and, with the others, “set up” this event to challenge Jesus.  See John 7:14-16.


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02.01 THE “EPILEPTIC” BOY HEALED

11.02.01 Lk. 9:37; Mk. 9:14-28; Mt. 17:20-21 (See also Lk. 9:38-43a; 17:5-6) Near Mount Hermon




Lk. 37 The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met Him.

Mk. 14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes disputing with them. 15 All of a sudden, when the whole crowd saw Him, they were amazed and ran to greet Him. 16 Then He asked them, “What are you arguing with them about?”

17 Out of the crowd, one man answered Him, “Teacher, I brought my son to You. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak. 18 Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I asked Your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.”

19 He replied to them, You unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to Me.” 20 So they brought him to Him. When the spirit saw Him, it immediately convulsed the boy. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening to him?” Jesus asked his father.

“From childhood,” he said. 22 “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

23 Then Jesus said to him, “‘If You can’? Everything is possible to the one who believes.”

24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly coming together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!”

26 Then it came out, shrieking and convulsing him violently. The boy became like a corpse, so that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus, taking him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.

28 After He went into a house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

Mt. 20 “Because of your little faith,” He told them. “For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. [21 However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.]”

“The next day, when they came down from the mountain.” Jesus and the disciples stayed on the mountain overnight – probably because climbing to the high summit was exhausting. The foot trails are winding and near the summit are huge rocks.  Climbing up or down is not for the light hearted.

 “My son … has a spirit.” Matthew used the word seleniazesthai, a verb that means to be moonstruck.[1] This term offers two suggestions:

  1. That the illness was of demonic origin or
  2. That the people believed it was of demonic origin when it could have been a physical illness.

Some scholars have attributed the symptoms to be descriptive of epileptic seizures because demons take on the appearance of various diseases.  Others say that in a superstitious culture, illnesses that cause strange body movements were attributed to demons due to the ignorance of the common people. However, for them to declare that the boy simply had the disease of epilepsy is to say that Jesus did not know the difference between a disease and demonic oppression.  This was hardly the case.

As previously stated, demons are synonymous with unclean spirits,[2] who are connected with Satan,[3] and are in total opposition to God and the work of God [4] and as such, promote all forms of idolatry.[5]  They oppose the faith of believers,[6] and attempt to influence and disturb the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people.[7] However, while certain ailments may be connected with demonic powers, the laws of Moses that pertain to sanitation clearly indicate that good health is also a matter of cleanliness – meaning that many diseases are not related to demonic influences but can be prevented.

Many in the ancient world believed that epilepsy was caused by demonic activity.  For example, Aretaeus of Cappadocia (c 130-200 A.D.) was a Greek physician who practiced in Alexandria and Rome. He is noted for having written eight medical books in which he detailed symptoms and diagnostic characteristics of various diseases.[8] His most noted work is the identification of a disease well known today, that he named diabetes.[9] Concerning epilepsy, he said it was known as “the sacred disease” and believed a possible cause was demonic activity.[10]

“He foams at the mouth.” The term foam  (Gk. aphrizo 875) denotes to foam at the mouth,[11] and was considered a confirmation of demonic possession.

“You unbelieving generation!” These stinging words were not directed toward the leading Pharisees, but to His own disciples!  Clearly, Jesus was frustrated with them!  Previously they had been given the power to cast our demons and perform healings, (Mt. 10:1) but here they failed. These words were also reminiscent of the critical comments Moses made in Deuteronomy 32:5 and 20 to the Israelite forefathers. Unbelief was the reason the disciples failed to cast out the demons they encountered even though they had been successful previously. The boy’s father recognized his difficulty and said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” With this, Jesus freed the son from the demonic oppression.  Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and asked why they had been unsuccessful.  Jesus gave them two reasons:

  1. It was the matter of faith, and
  1. They needed to pray.

You will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.’”  Mountains were symbolic of kings and kingdoms, as indicated in the book of Revelation that has many references to mountains being kingdoms. In this case, Jesus spoke of the power that was available to His disciples to move demonic kingdoms (“mountains”).  But telling a mountain to move was also a proverbial statement for accomplishing a difficult task.[12]

Everyone knew that these words had the imagery of the famous Herodian, the summer palace-fortress built by Herod the Great.  To build it, his slaves and servants relocated the top of a small mountain and had it placed on the top of another nearby mountain, thus making it higher and in the shape of a volcano.  Hence, Jesus essentially said that by faith His disciples would be able to perform greater feats than Herod.

11.02.01.A. THE MOUNTAIN MOVED BY HEROD THE GREAT 11.02.01.A. THE MOUNTAIN MOVED BY HEROD THE GREAT.  The volcano-shaped Herodian Fortress-palace was created when Herod relocated one mountaintop and placed it upon another, and then built his palace-fortress upon it. Located only about two miles south of Bethlehem, this architectural achievement was built with slave laborers and was the backdrop to the words of faith spoken by Jesus. Photograph by the author.


[1]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:166.


[2]. Mk. 5:12, 15; 3:22, 30; Lk. 4:33.


[3]. Lk. 10:17-18; 11:19-20.


[4]. 1 Cor. 10:20-21.


[5]. Rev. 9:20; 16:13-14.


[6]. 1 Tim. 4:1.


[7]. Lk. 13:11, 16; Mk. 5:2-5; 7:25; Mt. 12:45.


[8]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aretaeus_of_Cappadocia Retrieved December 7, 2013.


[9] . http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/33531/Aretaeus-Of-Cappadocia Retrieved December 7, 2013.


[10]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:346.


[11]. Vine, “Foam.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:244.


[12]. See. Isa. 41:15; 54:10; Hab. 3:10; Zech. 4:7; Babylonian Talmud, Berakot 63b.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02.02 DEATH PREDICTED AGAIN

11.02.02 Mk. 9:30-32 (See also Mt. 17:22-23; Lk. 9:43b-45) Galilee



30 Then they left that place and made their way through Galilee, but He did not want anyone to know it. 31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after He is killed, He will rise three days later.” 32 But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.

Jesus again spoke of His coming death and resurrection. [1]  Even though He was very clear about this issue, the disciples still failed to understand. They must have questioned how it could be possible that the Messiah would die, especially Jesus, the One who healed the sick and raised the dead. The thought of His death was completely illogical.

Yet, it was not until after His resurrection that the purpose of the crucifixion began to make sense. The Apostle Paul’s most distinctive doctrines are expositions of the meaning of two great facts – the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus and the mission of the Spirit by the glorified Redeemer.  It is obvious that these incredible details could not be fully explained by Jesus personally, as they had not yet taken place.  However, to suppress the inspired explanation of them would be to extinguish the light of the gospel and rob Christ Jesus of His crowning glory.



[1].  The first time Jesus predicted His death was in Mt. 16:21-28; Mk. 8:31-35, and Lk. 9:21-27.  The second time was in Mt. 17:22-23; Mk. 9:30-32 and Lk. 9:44-45. And the third time was in Mt. 20:17-19; Mk. 10:32-34 and Lk. 18:31-34.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02.03 COIN FROM THE MOUTH OF A FISH

11.02.03 Mt. 17:24-27 Capernaum, March, 29.




24 When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the double-drachma tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your Teacher pay the double-drachma tax?”

25 “Yes,” he said.

When he went into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, “What do you think, Simon? Who do earthly kings collect tariffs or taxes from? From their sons or from strangers?”

26 “From strangers,” he said.

“Then the sons are free,” Jesus told him. 27 “But, so we won’t offend them, go to the sea, cast in a fishhook, and take the first fish that you catch. When you open its mouth you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to them for Me and you.”   

This event refers to the half-shekel temple tax that was instituted by Moses[1] and, according to the Oral Law, it had to be paid by the 15th day of Adar (March).[2] Only men who were aged twenty or older were required to pay the tax. This tax supported the tabernacle in ancient times. Later it supported Solomon’s temple followed by the second temple. Those who did not pay in Jerusalem could do so at a city such as Capernaum.[3]

The required coinage for payment of the temple tax (Mt. 17:24-27) is an excellent example to highlight the depraved and decadent nature of the Sadducees. In the days of Jesus, Caiaphas had a small army of tax collectors who secured funds to defray the expenses of the temple. Messengers, known as shelihim,[4] were sent out from Jerusalem to collect the required taxes. The collection in the Holy Land began on the first day of Adar, which is in the modern February and March calendar. The collection continued until Passover in Nisan. Money exchangers also went to the various towns and exchanged foreign currency for shekels that were minted previously by Simon the Maccabee. In foreign countries, every city where there was a Jewish population, a central collection point was established were the taxes could be paid. These funds were later shipped to Jerusalem and used for temple maintenance. Whether one gave a drachma or other coin, the Sadducees always demanded the Tyrian silver shekel.[5]  Neither Jewish nor Roman coins were acceptable, but only the Tyrian silver half-shekel because of its silver purity and consistent weight.[6]  It did not matter that the coin had the image of the Phoenician deity Melkhart (or Melqarth-Herakles) on the obverse side and on the reverse side, appeared an eagle on the bow of a ship with the legend: “Tyre the Holy and City of Refuge,” and the date of issue.  This greatly offended righteous Jews as well as a great many Pharisees. They had to pay two taxes.

  1. A tax was due to the Roman Empire, and included the funding for Herod the Great and/or his sons.
  1. A temple support tax of a half-shekel (Ex. 30:11-16).



11.02.03.A. THE TYRIAN SILVER HALF-SHEKEL. The Tyrian Silver shekels were minted in the Phoenician cities of Acco and Tyre between 126 B.C. and A.D.  66 and replaced the Greek coins of Alexander the Great. Tyrian shekels had a minimum of 92 percent silver content, had images of pagan kings (deified), an aggressive eagle, and Marduk, a/k/a Melqarth-Herakles, the Tyrian god, and were the coins of choice by the Sadducees. Some scholars believe that only after the Romans shut down the Phoenician mint in 18 B.C. did the Jews mint their own silver shekels near or in Jerusalem.

However, there was a problem: To circumvent the first and second commandments (Ex 20:3-4; Deut. 4:16-18, 5:8), that Sadducees was said that the pagan stigma was removed if the coin was placed in a box rather than conveyed personally to a priest or other temple official. Those who had other currencies, including Jewish coins from the Maccabean Period, had to exchange currencies with money changers who charged a set 8% fee.[7]  Ironically, it was this conflict of Jewish vs. Greek values that had previously sparked the Maccabean Revolt. Now the Jewish leaders required coins with the image of a pagan deity and statement that Tyre was the holy city, not Jerusalem.

The disrespect for the biblical commandments goes beyond merely accepting the pagan shekel of a foreign nation. Nonetheless, the Sadducees wanted their silver shekels, probably so they could charge high conversion rates to the thousands of Jews who did not have them.  To compensate for the loss, a new mint suddenly appeared. Some scholars believe that a Jewish mint opened near Jerusalem where Tyrian shekels were produced between the years 18 B.C. and A.D. 69/70.[8] Not only did the Sadducees demand Tyrian shekels, but it appears that they had their hands in the production of them as well.  How extensive their participation was is unknown, but the level of corruption is beyond imagination.

Jesus again demonstrated a lesson in humility. He was King of kings and Lord of lords and yet recognized those who held religious power and authority.  Because priests and prominent rabbis were exempted from the tax, neither He nor His disciples were required to pay the tax either. However, for the purpose of preventing a conflict with the temple tax collectors, the tax was paid anyway to a religious system that had become corrupt and spiritually dead.


“Double-drachma.” A Greek drachma was the wage paid for two days of labor. In terms of monetary exchange, a half shekel equaled two drachma and a drachma was equal to the Roman Denarius.[9]

 Video Insert    >

11.02.03.V The Fishing Miracle of Humility. Professor Gordon Franz discusses Matthew 17:24-27 where Jesus demonstrated humility when paying the temple tax (5:23).



[1]. Exodus 30:11-16.  See also 2 Kings 12:4; 22:3-7 and Nehemiah 33-34.


[2]. Mishnah, Shekalim 1:1; Smith, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew. 212-14.   


[3]. Franz, http://www.lifeandland.org/2009/02/the-tyrian-shekel-and-the-temple-of-jerusalem/  Retrieved October 10, 2014; Franz, “Does Your Teacher not Pay the Temple Tax?” 81-82.


[4]. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 2:264.


[5]. Franz, “Jesus Celebrates Hanukkah.” 116-19.


[6]. Kadman, “Temple Dues and Currency.” 1:9-10.

[7]. Hendin, Guide to Biblical Coins. 114-16.


[8]. Franz, http://www.lifeandland.org/2009/02/the-tyrian-shekel-and-the-temple-of-jerusalem/  Retrieved Oct. 20, 2014. Not all scholars agree on the date of minting coins near the Holy City in this time frame, as others believe it was during the First Revolt (A.D. 66-70), and possibly in the city at that time.


[9]. Gilbrant, “Matthew.” 369; Appendix 20.


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02.04 APOSTLES DISPUTE ABOUT RANK

11.02.04 Mk. 9:33-35; Lk. 47-48; Mt. 18:5 Capernaum




Mk. 33 Then they came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, He asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

 Lk. 47 But Jesus, knowing the thoughts of their hearts, took a little child and had him stand next to Him.

48 He told them,

“Whoever welcomes this little child in My name

welcomes Me.

And whoever welcomes Me

welcomes Him who sent Me.

For whoever is least among you—

this one is great.”

            Mt. 5 And whoever welcomes one child like this in My name welcomes Me.

This discussion occurred shortly after the transfiguration. Peter, James, and John witnessed the event while the other nine disciples were some distance away and felt left out.  Their feelings of disconnect were heightened after the three returned and told what they saw.  Naturally the feeling that certain individuals had become the favorite disciples of Jesus intensified.

Jesus makes the comparison of a child to a believer who has his faith in Him. The common opinion or interpretation is that children are innocent – which is incorrect.  The correct interpretation is that children have absolute faith in their parents and so likewise believers are to have absolute child-like faith in God. Furthermore, a child understands that he is under the authority of his parents, so likewise, believers are under the authority of God.  In Luke’s version the children come to Jesus while in Matthew’s rendering the children have faith in Jesus.  While there is a difference in the English between the two gospels, to the Jews reading these two gospels there was no difference – both gospels report the same concept.

“What were you arguing about on the way?…who was the greatest.” They were too embarrassed to reveal the truth, but since Jesus already knew it, He spoke on the issue they were thinking: “Who would be the greatest in His kingdom?”  This was a point of contention because the disciples still thought that in some manner Jesus would destroy the Roman Empire and establish His Kingdom of God as a political entity. This was an on-going issue and obviously, they were far from understanding who Jesus was. He responded by giving them a lesson on servant-hood. In the ancient Middle East culture, as today, social position and dignity were highly important.  An example is found in the Messianic Rule of the Dead Sea Scroll:

And the (Mess)iah of Israel shall come,

And the chiefs of the (clans of Israel) shall sit before him,

Each in the order of his dignity

According to (his place) in their camps and marches.  


Dead Sea Scroll, Messianic Rule 1QSa 2:11[1]


It is easy for modern readers to conclude this was simply a matter of greed and position.  That is not to say these issues were not present, but the issue of rank was important in their hierarchical culture of honor.[2]  Even today, persons of advanced age and visitors are honored to a much higher degree there than in Western countries.


[1]. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English. 121; Bailey, Poet and Peasant. Part II, 90.  Words/letters in parentheses were added since these are missing in the damaged manuscript.


[2]. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 240.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02.05 STERN WARNING ABOUT CAUSING OTHERS TO SIN

11.02.05 Mt. 18:6-9; Mk. 9:43-50 (See also Mk. 9:36-37, 42; Lk. 17:1-3a) Capernaum




Mt. 6 But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me – it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea!


7 Woe to the world because of offenses. For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes.


Mk. 43 And if your hand causes your downfall,

cut it off.

It is better for you to enter life maimed

than to have two hands

and go to hell – the unquenchable fire,

[44 where Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] (Isaiah 66:24).[1] 

45 And if your foot causes your downfall,

cut it off.

It is better for you to enter life lame

than to have two feet

and be thrown into hell –

[the unquenchable fire, 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] (Isaiah 66:24).[2]    

47 And if your eye causes your downfall,

gouge it out.

It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye

than to have two eyes

and be thrown into hell,

48 where

Their worm does not die,                                                                                                  and the fire is not quenched. (Isaiah 66:24).[3] 

49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt should lose its flavor, how can you make it salty? Have salt among yourselves and be at peace with one another.”


While Scripture is adamant about not causing others to fall into sin, Jesus is profoundly strong on those who cause children and others who are young in the faith to fall. To emphasize this, He uses repeating concepts, ideas, and phrases as a learning tool.  Note that verses 44, 46, and 48 in Mark are identical. The triple repeat was a literary device to express maximum concern and impact to the reader and listeners.


But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones.The consequence of causing emotional, spiritual, or physical injury to children is immense. Jesus said it would be better for a millstone to be around their neck and to be thrown into the sea. (The bottom of the Sea of Galilee was also known as the Abyss, where legend said the demons lived.)  In effect, Jesus said that if anyone caused a little child to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the lake of demons than to receive judgment on Judgment Day.


The passaged continues to say that it would be better if that person had a “heavy millstone” around his neck and tossed into the sea.  At this time there were two kinds of millstones:[4]


  1. A small pair of millstones (Gk. mulos 3458) for household use to grind wheat or barley into flour (see 06.03.02.C)


  1. A large heavy millstone (Gk. onikos) that was turned by a donkey or person and its primary use was to crush olives (see 11.02.05.A)


Jesus used the term of the larger millstone as He emphasized anger and judgment on those who would willfully cause injury others. It was a common phrase in the ancient world.  For example, when Emperor Augustus punished some slaves, he could have had them crucified or fed to the lions.  But rather, he had heavy stones (not mill stones) tied to their necks and tossed in the river.  The ancient writer Suidas quoted Aristophanes[5] as having said,


Lifting him up, I’ll plunge him to the deep

                        A stone around his neck.


                   Suidas, Equites of Aristophanes 1361[6]


As stated previously, the Master Teacher used the common language and ideas of the people to convey His message.


“Woe to the world.”  Dire judgment is coming not only to these “false shepherds,” but also to those who follow them. The phrase woe, which in Greek is ouai, refers to both anger and sorrow.[7] It is a funeral dirge; a lament for the dead.[8] Scholars have two interpretations to this statement:


  1. Because of the sins of these “false shepherds,” they are leading their people into a destiny of destruction which is why Jesus is both angry and sorrowful.


  1. This warning was focused directly at the religious leaders who had absolutely no desire to serve their synagogues or God in any capacity, but held their positions for personal financial gain and power.[9] They were concerned only about their social status, power, and wealth. However, not all Pharisees had this arrogant attitude. Clearly, Jesus was extremely sorrowful with the leading Pharisees and with a single word He promised a coming judgment which will be followed by eternal damnation.[10] Such a warning should put any pastor, teacher, or other leader of the church today in humility and prayer.



11.02.05.A. A MILLSTONE

11.02.05.A. A MILLSTONE.  A millstone was a large circular stone, a rotary crusher that was used for crushing olives that would then be placed in an olive press. The stone was about four or five feet in diameter with a beam through its center. At the other end of the beam a slave, mule, or donkey was tied in order to turn the stone in a circular motion, thereby crushing the olives. After the olives were crushed, they were squeezed under immense pressure in a beam olive press (15.02.01.B) Photograph by the author.


“Gouge it out.” This statement is not a teaching of self-mutilation, but is a figure of speech known as hyperbole;[11] a deliberate exaggeration to emphasize the point that drastic measures need to be taken to remove sin. Jesus said that nothing is to tempt the believer and have him fall into the eternal lake of fire.


“Salt is good.”  The followers of Jesus are to be like salt, a preservative in society.[12] However, critics have said that salt is a chemical compound and, therefore, cannot lose its saltiness.  While this is true of ocean salt, it is not true of salt derived from the Dead Sea, which is ten times saltier than the ocean or Mediterranean Sea. Dead Sea salt was used in the temple and for the salting of dried fish along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  Dead Sea salt can lose its concentration and, therefore, lose its savory quality.  Pliny the Elder noted that Dead Sea salt could quickly become worthless.[13]  Jesus was obviously not speaking of ocean salt, but of Dead Sea salt.


Furthermore, Dead Sea salt did not come from the sea itself, but was removed from the salt mountain (that is 98% pure) located at the southwestern side of the sea.  At times as it was being shipped in or near Samaria, the Samaritans contaminated it by throwing dirt on it.  This changed the taste of the precious commodity and rendered it useless.

[1]. A reference to eternal punishment for rebellion against God.


[2]. A reference to eternal punishment for rebellion against God.


[3]. A reference to eternal punishment for rebellion against God.


[4]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:103; Vine, “Millstone.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:408.


[5]. Aristophanes (446 – 386 B.C.) was a Greek dramatist some literary historians say was one of the greatest Greek comedy writers. Most of his 40 writings are lost, but a certain Suidas quoted him in Equites of Aristophanes.


[6]. http://biblehub.com/tsk/matthew/18-6.htm Retrieved February 22, 2014; Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:177.


[7]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 182.


[8]. Smith, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew. 157, 274; See also 09.02.02.


[9]. See also 08.01.02, 09.02.02, and 13.05.02-05.


[10]. Carson, “Matthew.” 8:398.


[11]. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible. 423.


[12]. See discussion on “You are the salt of the earth” in 08.01.03.


[13]. Pliny the Elder, History Natural. 3.31.34.


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02.06 WORKS DONE IN THE NAME OF JESUS

11.02.06 Mk. 9:38-41 (See also Lk. 9:49-50)




38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.”

39 “Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name who can soon afterward speak evil of Me. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us. 41 And whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of My name, since you belong to the Messiah – I assure you: He will never lose his reward.

No one who will perform a miracle in My name.”  A miracle can be understood only in light of the message that accompanies it.  A miracle can originate from God through Jesus only by the message that is spoken by the one praying for the miracle.  The pagan priests in Pharaoh’s court performed miracles when they threw their rod to the ground and it became a snake.  These miracles were not of God, but of Satan.  To determine if a miracle is of God or Satan the accompanying message must be discerned.   The message authenticates the miracles and the miracles authenticate the message of the Almighty God, but the message generally comes before the miracle (Acts 2:22).

Anyone who performs a miracle in the name of Jesus and then speaks evil of Him or against His teachings is one who does a false miracle.  The word “false” is defined as a miracle that has the appearance of being from God, when in fact, it is from satanic power.  If any miracle was truly of Jesus, then the messenger through whom Jesus performed the miracle will also preach the truth of Scripture.  Hence, the warning is obvious: be aware of those who perform miracles but do not preach the full truth of the gospel.



The phrase “perform a miracle” literally reads a work of power. There are three primary words in the New Testament that have been translated to miracle.


  1. The word dunameis (meaning mighty works, powers or acts of power)


  1. The word semeia that is translated as signs – especially by John, and


  1. Terata meaning wonders.[1]


All three terms were used by the gospel writers for their audiences with the understanding that belief in God (according to the biblical definition of “belief”) as the source of all power. For that reason, Jesus is the dunamis of God. Throughout the New Testament, the mighty works of Jesus are denoted by five different words that reflect different situations and viewpoints of the writers. A miracle may be as follows:[2]


  1. An act of extraordinary wonders as in Acts 7:36 as well as the incredible wonders performed by Moses in Egypt.


  1. A sign pointing to something beyond itself such as a mark of grace or power by the miracle worker that reveals his connection with God; as in Matthew 7:38.


  1. As a demonstration of the glory of God as recorded in Luke 13:17.


  1. As a strange or wonderful event that makes people ponder. See Luke 5:26 and Matthew 21:15.


  1. A demonstration of divine power as in Matthew 11:20


On the other hand, disbelief in miracles performed by Jesus is a disbelief in God as described in the Bible and that was the problem in Nazareth, and even more so in the villages of Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorizim.


[1]. Richardson, “Miracle, Wonder, Sign, Powers.” 152-54.


[2]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:66.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02.07 DISCIPLINE OF A BROTHER

11.02.07 Mt. 18:15-17




15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. 17 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you.


If he pays no attention.”  Here Jesus spoke to his disciples about a sinful brother who refuses to correct his life. The brother obviously had been warned repeatedly and then it was time for a final three-step solution:


  1. To show him his fault privately.


  1. If he refuses to listen and accept this counsel, repeat the conversation with two or three witnesses (Deut. 17:6).


  1. Finally, if he still refuses to obey commands of our Lord, he is to be presented to the corporate body and, hopefully, he will correct his ways. However, if he remains steadfast in his pagan lifestyle, he is to be removed from the fellowship. At this point, he has crossed the line for compassionate love and moved toward a more hardened attitude that will be required from the church as a disciplinary measure (cf. Rom. 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:14). This was the directive for appropriate judgment and discipline in the church.[1]


A similar warning of discipline to a sinful brother was given twice by Ezekiel (3:16-21; 33:1-9) and the Essenes had already incorporated the same three-step procedure recorded by Matthew.[2]


“An unbeliever and a tax collector.” In essence, Jesus said that a defiant brother is to be treated as a social outcast, as one of the untouchable unbelievers and tax collector. For a more serious violation, there was excommunication (explained in 1 Cor. 5:1-7).

[1]. Wisdom always needs to be applied to situations as this.  In today’s world of law suits, the three-step process is still essential although the latter part of the third step may need to be private for legal reasons.


[2]. See the Dead Sea Scrolls 1QS 5:25-6:1; CD 9:23.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02.08 APOSTLES GIVEN AUTHORITY

11.02.08 Mt. 18:18-20




18 I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven. 19 Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”


“Bound in heaven . . . loosed in heaven.”  There are two interpretations of this subject of loosening and binding and what Jesus intended for His disciples and His church. [1]


  1. Binding and loosening as understood in punishing or absolving men in the synagogue relative to religious law[2]


  1. Binding and loosening is understood in a spiritual context, that is, to bind and loose the spirits that motivate, manipulate, or control people.[3] But what it does not mean is that either the disciples or the church have the authority to forgive sins or to send anyone to heaven or hell – that is reserved for God alone.


The interpretations of the phrase vary among biblical references as well as among church denominations today and certainly will not be resolved here.[4]  However, understanding this phrase has a direct implication of how the disciples would deal with those who were possessed or controlled by demonic forces. It has been said that Jesus clearly gave limited authority to His disciples to control the spiritual dynamics in their environment.


One interpretation is that this Hebraic idiom was used to express the rabbinical authority to either forbid or permit various activities in the synagogue.  The rabbis functioned as if they were entrusted with a limited degree of divine authority concerning the affairs of the people under their ministry.  This concept was continued in the early church and demonstrated in Acts 15:1-11 where Peter gave a stinging rebuke to Ananias and Sapphira for their deceitfulness.  Paul functioned with this authority in I Corinthians 5:3 when he stated, “And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this.”  Finally, when the Jerusalem Counsel met to consider issues related to Gentile believers (Acts 15:1-29), they invoked this rabbinic tradition that was endorsed and extended by Jesus when they decided that their decision was based on what, “seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us …”


Finally, during the Inter-Testamental Period, some Jews believed that the phrase “binding and loosening” has spiritual implications concerning the control of Satan and his demons.  In one of the most significant Inter-Testamental books is a reference to a “New Priest” or the “Righteous One,”

note the following from the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.


And he shall open the gates of paradise,

And he shall overcome the threatening sword against Adam.

And he shall give to the saints to eat from the tree of life,

And the Holy Spirit shall be on him

And Beliar shall be bound by him

And he shall give power to his children to tread upon the evil spirits.


Testament of Levi 18:10-12[5]


Writing in the second century B.C., the author of the Testament of Levi made obvious references to Genesis 2:9 and what would later become Revelation 22:2, 4, and 19. And from another book within the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is the following quotation:


Then Shem shall be glorified; because God the Lord, the Great One in Israel, will be manifest upon the earth [as a man].[6] By himself will he save Adam. Then all the spirits of error shall be given over to being trampled underfoot. And men will have mastery over the evil spirits.


Testament of Simeon 6:5-6[7]


The final example from a third book of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is the following quotation which has a reflection upon Malachi 4:2.


And thereafter the Lord himself will arise upon you, the light of righteousness with healing and compassion in his wings.  He will liberate every captive from the sons of men from Beliar, and every spirit of error will be trampled down.  He will turn all nations to being zealous of him.  And you shall see [God in a human form],[8]  he whom the Lord will choose: Jerusalem is his name.


Testament of Zebulon 9:8[9]


Some rabbis, as early as the second century B.C., had various opinions of what the messiah would be like. The exorcisms performed by Jesus did not surprise them.  However, Jesus went a step further – He authorized His disciples to perform the same acts of healing and setting people free from demonic oppression as He did.


The subject of binding and loosening was not restricted to Jewish and early Christian communities. Such curses, blessings, and charms have been found by archaeologists in the ruins of many pagan communities.  An interesting one was written on an ostracon from the Egyptian city of Ashmunen in the second century A.D. Notice that the individual who places a “binding” restriction does so by the power of God and pagan deities.


Cronos, thou who restrainest the wrath of all men, restrain the wrath of Hor, whom Mary bore, and suffer him not to speak with Hatros(?), whom Taisis bore.  I adjure … by the finger of God[10] that he open not his mouth to him, because he is subject to Crinupelis(?) and Cronos. Suffer him not to speak with him, neither for a night nor a day, nor for one hour.


An Egyptian Charm for Binding[11]


This Egyptian ostraca is one of many that clearly suggest that the term binding and loosening was used in a spiritual sense.[12] Since this artifact was first published in 1927, many others have been found that reveal spiritual warfare. Therefore, on that evidence alone it is highly unlikely that Jesus meant it only in a legalistic or legislative sense. Two examples are:


  1. In the gospels, those who could not speak were said to have been “bound” by a non-human force. Zechariah, when in doubt, had his tongue bound by an angel. It was not a physical illness that caused the loss of speech, but a spiritual binding.


  1. Another example is found in Luke 13:16 where Jesus said that Satan had “bound” a daughter for eighteen years. He meant that the crooked woman who was “bound” by a “spirit of infirmity” was later “loosened” on the Sabbath.


Therefore, Jesus clearly meant that the phrase “bound in heaven . . . loosed in heaven” refers to limited binding and loosening of demonic spirits by people with the use of His power.[13]


“If two of you on earth agree.”  What Jesus repeated to His disciples was not a new revelation but a fulfillment of what they had learned in their youth.  This discussion had a major emphasis on how someone was to be removed from the fellowship of the early Church. Clearly, if the Church followed divine principles, God would honor their final decision.  It reads as follows:


Rabbi Halafta ben Dosa of Kefar Hanania said: “If ten men sit together and occupy themselves with the Law, the Divine Presence rests among them, for it is written, ‘God standeth in the congregation of God’ (Ps. 82:1). And whence do we learn this even of five?  Because it is written, ‘And hath founded his group upon the earth’ (Am. 9:6).  And whence even of three? Because it is written, ‘He judgeth among the judges’ (Ps. 82:1).  And whence even of two?  Because it is written, ‘Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with another: and the Lord hearkened and heard’ (Mal. 3:16).  And whence even of one?  Because it is written, ‘In every place where I record my name I will come unto thee and I will bless thee’” (Ex. 20:24).


Mishnah, Aboth 3.6 


This passage suggests that ten men were needed to establish a new synagogue.  Why were ten men required?  It has been suggested that if ten men tithed, they could afford to employ a scribe who would teach the Torah.  However, the rabbinic rules that only men could form a synagogue apparently is in Jewish writings after the 500s. Prior to that time, in some areas both men and women could establish a synagogue.[14]  Women were included in the quorum that made up ten persons in the Galilee area,[15] but this was not the case in Jerusalem. Nonetheless, since most scribes were men who belonged to the Pharisees, they were the ones who had the greatest influence in the local synagogues.[16]

[1]. For further study on binding and loosening see 08.04.07.Q1 “What verbal formulas did exorcists use when casting out demons?” the account of the demoniac whom Jesus cleansed in  08.06.03; the phrase “Bound in heaven . . . loosed in heaven,” in 11.02.08; the phrase “Bind on earth … loose on earth” in 10.01.29; and the phrase “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name,” in 12.01.03. An excellent resource for further study was written by Foster and King, Binding and Loosening: Exercising Authority over Dark Powers. See also Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:254-55, and Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 236.


[2]. For students who examine the policies of the two leading rabbis and their schools in Jerusalem at this time, Rabbi Hillel would have been the looser and Rabbi Shammai, the binder. See Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 1:226-27.


[3]. See “to loose” and “to bind” in 10.01.29 for additional information.


[4]. A wide range of meanings to the term “binding and loosing” are found in Judg. 16:6, 13; Job 38:31; Isa. 22:21, 66:1; Ezek. 20:37; Tobit 3:13, 7:11; 1 Enoch 6:4; Mt. 22:23, 23:4; Lk. 8:29; Acts 20:22; 22:4 Rom. 7:1; and 1 Cor. 7:39.


[5]. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 1:795. Hiers, “’Binding’ and ‘Loosing’: The Matthean Authorizations.” 236-37.


[6]. Bracketed insert by Charlesworth.


[7]. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 1:787.


[8]. Bracketed insert by Charlesworth.


[9]. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 1:807.


[10]. The “finger of God” expression suggests a Jewish writer or a pagan author who calls upon the God of the Jews to work in this situation.


[11]. Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East. 306. The (?) suggests that the translators are not certain of the word.


[12]. For other examples, see Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East. 135-40; 301-09.


[13]. While this subject is clearly of a theological nature, Adolf Deissmann has clearly presented this position of spiritual dynamics to the phrase ‘Bound in heaven . . . loosed in heaven” in Light from the Ancient East, 302-11, esp. 307.


[14]. Cited by Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 7, Session 1. Furthermore, the September – October, 2000 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review reports that no archaeological evidence has been found in numerous synagogue ruins to suggest a separate section for women, as has been a common opinion.


[15]. This is a minority view among scholars, but it is well known that Galilee promoted education for girls and the rabbis were not as restrictive there as those in Jerusalem.


[16]. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 6 & 7.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02.09 PETER ASKS ABOUT FORGIVENESS

11.02.09 Mt. 18:21-22; Lk. 17:3-4




Mt. 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

22 “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.


Lk. 3 Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”


Concerning forgiveness, one Jewish tradition stated that it had to be given only three times; [1] but another stated forgiveness should be granted seven times.[2] The conflict of opinions led Peter to ask Jesus the obvious question. Yet the counting of the number of times one has been forgiven is indicative that forgiveness may never have been granted originally.

“70 times seven.” The subject of forgiveness was an essential element in the ministry of Jesus, and was represented by an interesting figure of speech. The number seven represents wholeness, completeness, and perfection, not only in the Jewish culture but in surrounding cultural groups as well.  Some scholars believe the number 70 represents the number of nations based on Genesis 10.  However, that would not have had any relationship to the issues of the Jewish people.  Therefore, the greater probability is that the number 70 represented the highest human judicial court, the Sanhedrin, since it has seventy members. It was based upon the Law of Moses in the book of Numbers,


16 The Lord answered Moses, “Bring Me 70 men from Israel known to you as elders and officers of the people. Take them to the tent of meeting and have them stand there with you. 17a Then I will come down and speak with you there.

Numbers 11:16-17a                                                                                      


Therefore, not only was the number considered to be ordained by God, but it was believed that a Sanhedrin decision was a decision also affirmed by God as noted in verse 17a.  To the Jewish mind, this not only meant times without number but also without the highest legal judgment.

From the perspective of Jesus, the term “seventy times seven”[3] is an emphasis on perfect forgiveness. The implication is obvious: perfect forgiveness decreed by every justice seated in the highest court in the land. This figure of speech has little to do with the number 490. Rather, it is focused on the spirit of quality, not legalistic quantity.

Some scholars have reflected upon Genesis 4:24 concerning the account of Lamech, a descendant of Cain.  He was the Old Testament icon for revengeful killings. Concerning him, Moses wrote, “If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” (But 77 is not 70×7.) Jesus may have thought of him in this discourse. If so, then forgiveness by mere human strength is impossible; such forgiving strength can come only from divine intervention.

Peter and the disciples were challenged with an incomprehensible thought that full forgiveness was being offered to tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners who were struggling to get out of a sinful lifestyle. Note that previously the discussion was on an unrepentant brother, whereas the instruction here is given to one who is repentant and is struggling to live a pure and holy lifestyle.

There is an interesting reflection of this figure of speech in Genesis 4:24 and in a collection of writings known as the Pseudepigrapha in which is the Testament of Benjamin 7:4.[4]  As is typical of Pseudepigrapha writers, authors at times referred to Moses or Abraham to give their work authoritative clout. Moses wrote that, “If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech (is to be avenged) seventy-seven times.”  However, the author of the Testament emphasized the ultimate condemnation of Lamech by stating that Lamech “was condemned seventy times seven.” This phrase was a powerful phrase in the second century B.C. when the Testament was written. Therefore, it was used in this imagery, but Jesus used it for forgiveness instead of condemnation.  This is an example of how an extra-biblical book can give insight to the cultural emphasis the author felt were significant.

Another interesting reference was provided by Josephus who recorded a slaughter of seventy judges during the First Revolt.  By the year A.D. 69, the Revolt was into its third year and the Zealot freedom fighters were not only fighting the Romans, but also reigned with terror against the religious upper classes (i.e. Sadducees, leading Pharisees, and scribes) in Jerusalem.  Since the corruption of the priesthood was well established and known for more than a century, the Zealots took it upon themselves cleanse the temple. At this same time, there was Zacharias, the son of Baruch, whom the Zealots accused of being in conspiracy with the Romans.  In an attempt to imitate the Sanhedrin, the Zealots then gathered seventy citizens and established a mock trial. Josephus again provided the riveting details:


And so they intended to have Zacharias, the son of Baruch, one of the most eminent of the citizens, slain … he was also a rich man, so that by taking him off, they did not only hope to seize his effects but also to get rid of a man that had great power to destroy them.  So they called together, by public proclamation, seventy of the principal men of the populace, for a show as if they were real judges, while they had no proper authority.

Josephus, Wars 4.5.4 (335-336)


In this narrative Josephus provided additional evidence that the number seventy was associated with judgment. The Zealots, in an attempt to appear legitimate, replicated an artificial Sanhedrin to condemn an innocent man.  As to the story, the seventy citizens found Zacharias innocent.  The Zealots were so indignant that they immediately killed Zacharias and in great turmoil, the seventy barely escaped from the temple with their lives.[5] 



[1]. Amos 1:3; Job 33:29; Babylonian Talmud Aboth de Rabbi Nathan 40a and Yoma 86b-87a.


[2]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:105-06; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 146.

[3]. It should be noted that some scholars claim there is a variation in some texts concerning this phrase.  However, the difference in wording does not change the meaning nor the spirit of what Jesus taught.


[4]. The Testament of Benjamin is part of a larger work titled The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. See Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 1:827.


[5]. Josephus, Wars 4.5.4.


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