11.02 More Miracles And Discipleship Training


Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 02, 2016  -  Comments Off on 11.02.10 PARABLE OF SERVANTS IN DEBT

11.02.10 Mt. 18:23-35




23 For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began to settle accounts, one who owed 10,000 talents was brought before him. 25 Since he had no way to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had to be sold to pay the debt.

26 “At this, the slave fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything!’ 27 Then the master of that slave had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan.

28 “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100 denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’

29 “At this, his fellow slave fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 But he wasn’t willing. On the contrary, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed. 31 When the other  slaves saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. 35 So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.”


In this society, slaves could own property and become a debtor (Gk. opheiletes 3781) [1] to his owner/master. If the agreed payments were not made, the property could be seized. This was a real-life issue concerning business affairs for the Jewish people.

They also had to pay a huge amount of taxes to corrupt tax collectors.  They frequently had to mortgage their land to pay taxes and hoped they would not be tossed in prison or sold as slaves.[2] Most likely it was for this reason, Jesus alluded to the debtor, creditor and the prison in his teachings.[3]  The classic example was the steward who owed the king and the servant who owed the steward.

The key point is that the forgiveness received from the heavenly Father should be the basis to forgive others. Ancient laws could, at times, become rather complicated concerning loans, mortgages, and the consequences for the failure of payment.[4]  This was true not only in Israel with its Oral Law,[5]  but in all countries. The one overriding principle that Jesus taught more than anything else was the principle to forgive.


“10,000 talents.”  The talent (Gk. talanton 5007) was the largest unit of currency in the ancient Near East, and was the equivalent to 114 pounds of silver[6]  or about fifteen years of labor of a single man.[7] Obviously ten thousand talents was a debt that he could never repay – obviously far beyond human comprehension, and that is foundational to this parable.[8] Clearly it was an exaggerated figure, a hyperbole, but it was to emphasize the principle and importance of forgiveness.[9] While it is easy to forgive a small debt or offense, Jesus was focused on major events of life that needed serious forgiveness. To put that into perspective, Josephus said that the entire province of Judea had to pay an annual tax of 600 talents to the Romans,[10] meaning, that debt of 10,000 talents was the equivalent of more than 16 years of taxes.

On the other hand, some individuals in ancient times had huge personal debts. During to the days of the Roman Empire, a small silver coin was minted, known as the sesterius (or sesterce; plural: sestertii). It was equal to one-fourth of a denarius.  Mark Anthony, at age 24, owed 6,000,000 sestertii and fourteen years later, he owed 40,000,000 sestertii.  Milo owed 70,000,000 sestertii and Curio owed 60,000,000 sestertii.[11] So the illustration by Jesus was hyperbole for the Jews but realistic concerning the rich and famous of Rome.


“He, his wife, his children, and everything he had to be sold to pay the debt.”  When a man could not pay his financial obligations, all of his property was sold to pay his creditors. This could potentially include the sale of his family into slavery although Hebrew law had restrictions on families that went into slavery.[12]  All cultures in the ancient Middle East had provisions in civil law for the sale of family for the payment of debt (cf. 2 Kg. 4:1).  However, only the Mosaic Law limited such slavery to seven years.  In fact, since Jewish laws forbade the sale of one’s wife because it would destroy a family and create a divorce, this suggests the individuals in the parable may have been Gentiles.[13]  The point of the parable, however, is that one must be ready to forgive.

Modern readers tend to read this narrative without the clear reality that slavery was practiced, and becoming a slave was a real possibility.  Both heathen and Jewish slaves were sold in Jerusalem.[14] Various sources indicate that there were few, if any, slaves in the rural countryside, but most were domestic urban slaves or government slaves.  Since the Holy City had a significant Gentile population, much to the chagrin of Jewish leaders, heathen slaves were bought and sold at the slave market. Ancient writings indicate the existence of a stone upon which slaves of both sexes stood while bidders examined them and bid on them. The historian Josephus made frequent references to slaves, especially during the days of Herod the Great.

Jerusalem was, in fact, a very cosmopolitan community with people from many different countries and with different belief systems living there.  Male and female slaves were bought and sold on the market block. Several accounts of slavery in the day of Jesus are as follows:


  1. At one time, Tobiah, a physician in Jerusalem, had a freed slave who was to testify in a court of law, but the priests and Sanhedrin disagreed on whether the freed slave could testify.[15]


  1. During the reign of Herod the Great, Karkemith, a freed slave woman, was suspected of adultery and given the “water of bitterness” or “bitter waters”[16] to drink.[17]
  2. In another case, an ossuary was discovered about two miles north of Jerusalem in the town of Sha’fat. On it was inscribed the name of a slave, Epictetus.[18]


  1. In the Book of Acts (12:13), Rhoda was a domestic slave in the home of John Mark’s mother.


  1. Jewish writings report that once an Athenian purchased a male slave in Jerusalem.[19]


When Herod the Great became ruler over his domain, he was determined to end particular acts of injustice practiced by corrupt individuals in the cities and countryside. One of the laws he changed pertained to slavery, making the practice more in line with the Roman and Greek practice of perpetual slavery rather than the limits of the Mosaic code. Furthermore, it is believed that a tax collector called a gabbai collected the taxes on the slaves sold there.[20] Josephus briefly recited the Mosaic code before giving the new decree by Herod.


The thief shall restore fourfold,[21] and that if he have not so much, he shall be sold indeed, but not to foreigners, not so that he be under perpetual slavery, for he must have been released after six years. But this [new] law [by Herod], thus enacted in order to introduce a severe and illegal punishment seemed to be a piece of insolence in Herod, when he did not act as a king but as a tyrant.

Josephus, Antiquities 16.1.1 (3-4)[22]


The purpose of the decree may have been to eliminate what Herod perceived to be injustice, but in effect, it contributed to the Jewish hatred for him. Therefore, when Jesus spoke of the potential of becoming a slave,[23] it was a serious issue.  Jews purchased slaves under Jewish law, but if the buyer was non-Jewish, the slave might never become free.


Finally, this parable concerning the forgiveness of debts has an allusion of the forgiveness of sins as well. The English words sins and debts are both translated from the Aramaic word hoba. Therefore, when Jesus speaks of sinners, He is also speaks of debtors.[24]  The Jews understood that the word debts had a spiritual significance, which needed divine intervention in the form of forgiveness.[25] This account reflects upon the incredible forgiveness and freedom found in Christ Jesus. There were three ways a Jew could become a slave at the time of Jesus.


  1. A thief who could not make restitution for what he had stolen could have been sold into slavery and the proceeds went to those who suffered loss as the result of his thievery. This applied only to male thieves (Ex. 22:2; Deut. 13:12).


  1. A voluntary sale of one’s self. This too was for men only, and was only in the case of extreme poverty (Lev. 25:39-43).


  1. The sale of an entire family, either by court action or voluntary decision. Families could not be broken up, but a Jewish father had to right to sell an underage girl to another Jew. If she was under the age of twelve, the custom meant that she would either marry the owner or his son at a later time.


“He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’ ”  When a debtor failed to make the required payment on a loan, the law permitted the creditors to drag their debtors by the throat to a judge, who then might sentence the debtor to prison until the debt was paid.  An example of this was written 66 B.C. by the Roman philosopher and lawyer Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.) in his work Pro Cluentio,[26] said “Lead him to the judgment seat with twisted neck.”[27] Since the Romans occupied the Holy Land, they were subject to Roman laws and overlords and, therefore, this narrative was very realistic to His listeners.

Under Roman law, if a debtor could not pay his debt, he was given 60 days to make payment and a public announcement was made three times in the marketplace. If the debt was still not paid, Roman investment creditors were known to have private dungeons or prisons where debtors were placed until someone pitied him enough to pay the debt and free him. Torture and death were common in the Roman prison system.[28] Those were the days when knowing who one was borrowing from was as important as how much one was borrowing.


[1]. Opheiletes – “One who owes anything to another.” Vine, “Debtor.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:150.


[2]. Sanders. “Jesus in Historical Context.” 430.


[3]. See 02.03.03 “Economy” for a brief description of the condition of the economy during the ministry years of Jesus.


[4]. For further study of loans, debts, and how first century Jewish courts ruled, see the Mishnah and the chapter titled Baba Bathra.


[5]. See 02.02.18 Mishnah, 02.02.16, and Oral Tradition 02.02.20.


[6]. The weight of 114 pounds is based upon Exodus 30:13, which may have changed by the first century. Vine, “Talent.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:617.


[7]. Appendix 20.


[8]. Gilbrant, “Matthew.” 389.


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


[10]. Josephus, Antiquities 17.11.4 (320)


[11]. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 1:353-54; 2:629-38.


[12]. Ex. 22:3; Lev. 25:39, 47; 2 Kg. 4:1; Neh. 5:5; Isa. 50:1.


[13]. Gilbrant, “Matthew.” 389.


[14].  God hates slavery, but it was part of the human predicament, which is why He permitted slavery for a limited duration of seven years (Ex. 21:2 ff.; Deut. 15:12). In Amos 2:6 He brought judgment upon Israel for the enslavement of its own people. The way the Apostle Paul dealt with Philemon, demonstrates how God changed the slavery-based economy by changing the hearts of men.

[15]. Mishnah, Rosh ha-Shanah 1.7.


[16]. See “Bitter Waters” in Appendix 26.


[17]. Mishnah, Eduyoth 5.6.


[18]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 346.    


[19]. Lam. R. 1.13 on 1.1, Son. 1.12, 78;  Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 313-15.    


[20]. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 119; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 249.


[21]. In Luke 19:1-10, Zacchaeus told Jesus he would repay anyone he cheated four times. See. 12.04.06 as this was the observed biblical standard in the days of Jesus.


[22]. The punishment was “illegal” from a Jewish perspective since it did not follow the Mosaic code.


[23]. Because the Jews experienced slavery and thankfulness was one (# 10) of their Eighteen Benedictions, for a Jew to unjustly call another Jews “a slave,” could subject him to excommunication from the synagogue. See Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 2:304.


[24]. Bailey, Jesus through Eastern Eyes. 252.


[25]. Taylor, “Debt, Debtor.” 61-62.


[26]. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Cluentio (In Defense of Aulus Cluentius), 21. The writings of Cicero (107-44 B.C.) pertain to the records of the Roman province of Syria, of which Israel was a part.


[27]. The phrase “twisted neck” refers to holding one by the throat in some manner and forcing him to stand before a judge. A similar statement was made by Cicero in his work In C. Verrem, 4:10 (In Defence of Gaius Verres) written in 70 B.C.


[28]. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 2:637.


11.02.11 Capernaum September 10-17, A.D. 29: Feast of Tabernacles, About Five Months Before His Crucifixion.

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 31, 2015  -  Comments Off on 11.02.11 Capernaum September 10-17, A.D. 29: Feast of Tabernacles, About Five Months Before His Crucifixion.

11.02.11 Jn. 7:2-10 Capernaum September 10-17, A.D. 29: Feast of Tabernacles, About Five Months Before His Crucifixion.



2 The Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 so His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go to Judea so Your disciples can see Your works that You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 (For not even His brothers believed in Him.)

6 Jesus told them, “My time has not yet arrived, but your time is always at hand. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it does hate Me because I testify about it – that its deeds are evil. 8 Go up to the festival yourselves. I’m not going up to the festival yet, because My time has not yet fully come.” 9 After He had said these things, He stayed in Galilee.       10 After His brothers had gone up to the festival, then He also went up, not openly but secretly.

When it was time to observe the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, Jesus knew that potential hostilities could be waiting for Him.[1]  It was a time of religious tension even in good times – and those were few and far between. The reason was that the Pharisaic rituals included some activities that were ridiculed by the Sadducees. These included:[2]

  1. The pouring of libation of water upon the altar during the Feast and
  1. The lighting of the giant menorahs
  1. The procession of dancing and singing when water from the Pool of Siloam was carried to the temple altar.

Since none of these activities are mentioned in the Torah the Sadducees were strictly against them.  Therefore, there was always tension in the air during these holy days.


“The Jewish Feast of Tabernacles.”[3] This festival commemorated two important events:

  1. The tent-life of the Israelites in the wilderness
  1. Thankfulness for the yearly harvest of grain, vineyards, gardens, and orchards.


The feast, also known as the Feast of Ingathering or the Feast of Harvest, was celebrated on the 15th of Tisri (the 7th month; Lev. 23:34) to the 22nd.[4] The first and last days of this festive week were honored as Sabbaths, or “Second Sabbaths.” When reconciled to the modern calendar, this would have been in the second week of October.  It began five days after Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and lasted seven days (Lev. 23:33-36; Deut. 16:13-17) followed by a day of spiritual insight and reflection (Neh. 8:14-16).  This feast was to commemorate the Hebrews’ wandering through the wilderness for forty years and how God provided for their needs during that historic journey.  During the Feast, each family constructed a temporary shelter of palm branches in which they lived during this eight-day celebration.  By the first century, this feast was considered to be of supreme importance as libation waters taken from the Pool of Siloam followed whole-offerings.[5]  Here they feasted for seven days, followed by an eighth day of spiritual observance.


11.02.11.A. THE TRADITIONAL SITE OF THE POOL OF SILOAM.  The so-called Pool of Siloam that has been visited by thousands of Christian pilgrims, but has now been identified as a Byzantine site of the 4th or 5th century A.D. Since the Byzantines did not know where the actual location of the pool was, they created this one for visiting pilgrims. Internet photograph.


11.02.11.Q1 Concerning the wording of John 7:6, 8 and 10, did Jesus lie?

Critics have used this passage as evidential proof that Jesus either lied or was unsure of Himself and, consequently, had to change His mind – implying that He was susceptible to making errors.   In this passage, there was a discussion between Jesus and His disciples about walking to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.  Critics point out that in v.6 Jesus said, “My time is not yet here” and shortly thereafter in verse 8 the same thought was rephrased as, “you go to the festival.  I am not going up to the festival because my time has not yet fully come.” The apparent conflict lies in verse 10 where John recorded that, “after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.”

The key to understanding this passage is that the religious leaders were determined to kill Him at any cost, and probably were waiting to capture Him in one of the many festival caravans that was coming to the Holy City. If they could not capture Him along a country road, they would try to do so at the festival (Jn. 7:11). So the disciples went to the temple as pilgrims, probably joined by others on their way to the temple. No doubt they were aware of some kind of danger that threatened Jesus, although they certainly did not understand the full extent. Jesus, on the other hand, was not about to let Himself be killed until the right time.  Therefore, He did not go with them, but waited briefly and left in secret.  The Greek phrase right time was not a matter of weeks or months, but of hours or, at the very most, days. It has a meaning that is related more to the right season or the right opportunity, rather than to a clock or calendar measurement.[6]  The word Greek kairos does not mean hour but at the appropriate time.[7] Jesus may even have taken a different route.  The point is Jesus had to enter into the city unnoticed and remained secluded until the right time came for Him to speak publicly. Jesus did not lie, but simply avoided an early capture so Bible prophecy would be fulfilled.


11.02.11.B. THE AUTHENTIC POOL OF SILOAM. The authentic Pool of Siloam was accidently discovered in the summer of 2004 when construction crews were replacing a damaged sewer line.  The pool had three sets of steps of stairs, each with five steps. Four coins found embedded in plaster dated from the rule of Alexander Jannaeus (reigned 103 – 76 B.C.), one of the Hasmonean kings and this discovery secures the date of the site to the time of Jesus. It was somewhere along these steps that Jesus healed the blind man of John 9:1-11. Photograph by the author.

“For not even His brothers believed in Him.”  It is amazing that after performing so many miracles, and after hearing the testimonies of Mary and Joseph, His half-siblings still had no faith in Him. This is clear evidence that at times winning those in one’s family is a monumental task. In this case, they did not come to faith until after His resurrection.

[1]. It is interesting that the synoptic gospels never mention Jesus in Jerusalem until the Passion week, yet John’s gospel concentrates on His ministry in the Holy City.


[2]. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 135.


[3]. See Appendix 5: “The Levitical Feasts As Prophetic Reflections Of Jesus.”


[4]. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 2:285.


[5]. Wilkinson, Jerusalem as Jesus Knew It. 94; Josephus, Antiquities 8.4.1; Chumney, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah. 155-66.

[6]. Beasley-Murray, “John.” 36:107.


[7]. Pixner, With Jesus through Galilee. 63.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 31, 2015  -  Comments Off on 11.02.12 JESUS TEACHES IN THE TEMPLE

11.02.12 Jn. 7:11-24 Jerusalem




11 The Jews were looking for Him at the festival and saying, “Where is He?” 12 And there was a lot of discussion about Him among the crowds. Some were saying, “He’s a good man.” Others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He’s deceiving the people.”        13 Still, nobody was talking publicly about Him because they feared the Jews.

14 When the festival was already half over, Jesus went up into the temple complex and began to teach. 15 Then the Jews were amazed and said, “How does He know the Scriptures, since He hasn’t been trained?”

16 Jesus answered them, “My teaching isn’t Mine but is from the One who sent Me. 17 If anyone wants to do His will, he will understand whether the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on My own. 18 The one who speaks for himself seeks his own glory. But He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. 19 Didn’t Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law! Why do you want to kill Me?”

20 You have a demon!” the crowd responded. “Who wants to kill You?”

21 “I did one work, and you are all amazed,” Jesus answered. 22 “Consider this: Moses has given you circumcision — not that it comes from Moses but from the fathers — and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses won’t be broken, are you angry at Me because I made a man entirely well on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgment.”

When Jesus began to teach (Jn. 7:14), it was probably along the along the eastern side of the temple. It was known as “Solomon’s Porch,” since some of the building materials were said to be from the original temple. The porch provided shelter from the hot summer sun and the cold winter rain. Here, rabbis and sages brought their students and disciples to teach them “in the shadow” of Solomon’s wisdom. Jesus, in the same tradition, taught His disciples here; but His wisdom was beyond that of Solomon and had caused many confrontations with the religious elite.[1]

As stated previously, Jesus was profoundly confrontational with the Pharisees on the issues of Sabbath regulations, divorce and ritual cleanliness. He desired man to have a degree of freedom while at the same time to understand that some covenants (i.e., marriage) are simply not to be broken with certain exceptions.[2]

“The crowds . . . the Jews.”  John carefully made the distinction between the two groups.  “The crowds” in the temple area were faithful Jews who had come to worship God. Many of them were honestly debating the identity of Jesus and the new insight they received concerning their Bible.  Some became believers; some were skeptical and indecisive, while others did not believe. “The Jews,” however, were the leading Pharisees who had the authority to retaliate upon the synagogue rabbis (also Pharisees) and the common people.

“You have a demon!”  To accuse Jesus of being demon possessed was, without question, the greatest insult, and a verbal proclamation of rejection. That would be surpassed only by the physical rejection of crucifixion.



How does He know the Scriptures, since He hasn’t been trained?” The leading Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes were wise enough to ask the question, but sufficiently ignorant not to answer it. They graduated from the best theological schools in Jerusalem, either from the School of Hillel, the School of Shammai, or one of the other seminaries, and had become academic snobs.  They were the brightest and the best scholars, having committed to memory volumes of Scripture and oral laws.  Consequently, they could not understand how anyone would have more knowledge than they did.  It was deeply humiliating when confronted by someone who had never attended an academy or been a disciple of a leading rabbi. The leading Pharisees realized that Jesus knew the Scriptures better than they did, even to the verb tenses.  Evidently, they had forgotten the discussion Jesus had with them on the temple steps decades earlier when He was only a twelve-year-old boy.[3]

“If anyone wants to do His (God’s) will.” The phrase does not refer to an occasional decision, but rather a commitment to a life in which there is a continual desire to do the will of God. It is not a happenstance but a commitment.[4]

Jesus was so popular among the common people that they could not believe that anyone would try to kill Him. So when someone said, “You have a demon!”  They thought He must have been imagining this or be demon-possessed. The question was certainly not asked in the same manner as had been done previously by His accusers. This was followed by another question, “Who wants to kill you?”  The fact that a Jew would kill another Jew was repulsive and unthinkable; hence, they thought He was demon-possessed.   This remarkable phrase clearly points to the fact that many did not realize their leaders were plotting to kill Jesus.

If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath.”   The word “man,” refers to a male child, but is not limited because at times Gentile men, who converted to Judaism, were also circumcised. The Law of Moses required that a boy child was circumcised on the eighth day of life.  However, this was a surgical procedure that violated the Oral Law of cutting on the Sabbath,[5]  so the Jews correctly broke their Oral Law and permitted the circumcision to take place on the Sabbath.[6]  Here Jesus used their life illustration that He broke their Oral Law to heal a man.  The issue was not the healing, but the legalistic attitude of breaking the Oral Law the Pharisees created to encumber the people.

On a side note, circumcision is the sign of the Covenant of Abraham and, therefore, is primarily for the Jewish people. Note the following examples that are of particular interest.

  1. When the Apostle Paul discussed the subject with Titus, the apostle refused to have him circumcised because he was a Greek, not a Jew (Gal. 2:3).
  1. However, Timothy, who was a disciple of Paul, was never circumcised as a child. Therefore, the apostle had him circumcised because his mother was Jewish (Acts 16:3).


Rather judge according to righteous judgment.”  The use of “judgment” in this case has the meaning of discernment needed to make correct decisions.  It is a totally different context than judgment upon condemnation, which was consistently forbidden because that alone is the prerogative of God.


11.02.12.A. MODEL OF THE TEMPLE.  The temple was constructed of white limestone with gold appointments. It was considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the ancient world. Photograph by the author.


[1]. Macartney, Great Interviews of Jesus. 57.


[2]. See three reasons for a biblical divorce in 08.02.02.

[3]. For more information on first century Jewish education, see 02.03.04.

[4]. Tenney, The Gospel of John. 84.


[5]. Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 85b and parallels.


[6]. An excellent resource for further Sabbath study is Hagner, “Jesus and the Synoptic Sabbath Controversies.” 270-88.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 31, 2015  -  Comments Off on 11.02.13 THE JEWS DISCUSS ARRESTING JESUS

11.02.13 Jn. 7:25-36




25 Some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Isn’t this the man they want to kill?    26 Yet, look! He’s speaking publicly and they’re saying nothing to Him. Can it be true that the authorities know He is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from. When the Messiah comes, nobody will know where He is from.”

28 As He was teaching in the temple complex, Jesus cried out, “You know Me and you know where I am from. Yet I have not come on My own, but the One who sent Me is true. You don’t know Him; 29 I know Him because I am from Him, and He sent Me.”

30 Then they tried to seize Him. Yet no one laid a hand on Him because His hour had not yet come. 31 However, many from the crowd believed in Him and said, “When the Messiah comes, He won’t perform more signs than this man has done, will He?”

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, so the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple police to arrest Him.

33 Then Jesus said, “I am only with you for a short time. Then I’m going to the One who sent Me. 34 You will look for Me, but you will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

35 Then the Jews said to one another, “Where does He intend to go so we won’t find Him? He doesn’t intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, does He? 36 What is this remark He made:

‘You will look for Me,                                                                                                                      and you will not find Me;                                                                                         and where I am,                                                                                                                               you cannot come’”?

The public was becoming increasingly aware of rumors that a plot existed to kill Jesus and, consequently, tension was developing.  They asked, Isn’t this the man they want to kill?”  Some probably believed that since Jesus was so immensely popular, His would-be murderers could not possibly succeed.  Others no doubt wondered what kind of miracle Jesus would perform to prevent His arrest or assassination. Verse 35 clearly states that some thought He would escape to the Decapolis and teach there. That would make sense since He already had traveled to Tyre, and Sidon. Jesus, of course, fully realized He was on His way to Jerusalem to die – a concept that was beyond the imagination of anyone, especially the disciples.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 31, 2015  -  Comments Off on 11.02.14 SPIRITUAL DRINK

11.02.14 Jn. 7:37-39




37 On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! 38 The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”     39 He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been received because Jesus had not yet been glorified.                                                                                                                                              

The Feast of Tabernacles has always been a fall festival celebrated when the long, hot, dry summer season ends and the first rain clouds appear as the winter rainy season begins.[1]  On every day of the festival there was processional march once around the altar, but on the last day the processional march encircled the altar seven times and the priests prayed for rain.[2] There were no less than 446 priests and just as many or more Levites[3] active in the sacrificial worship.[4]  That final day was known as the Day of the Great Hosanna or Hosanna Rabba.  It was a day of great celebration and considered a “Second Sabbath” of that week (Lev. 23:36).   On each of the previous seven days a bull was sacrificed for the nations of the world, but on the last day, one was sacrificed for Israel. The events of procession on the final and glorious eighth day are as follows: [5]

  1. After the sacrifice of the bull, the priest led the people down the hill to the Fountain of Siloam.
  1. There the priest filled a golden pitcher with water and the procession marched back up the hill and into the temple.
  1. The priest carried the golden pitcher and led the crowd to the 15 steps that led from the outter court to the inner court.
  1. At the first step they all sang the first Psalm of Ascent – Psalm 120. At the second step everyone sang Psalm 121 and so forth to Psalm 134. Hence, the name “Psalms of Ascent.”[6]
  1. The priest carried the pitcher and led the crowd back to the temple amid shouts of joy and music.
  1. When he approached the altar of burnt-offering, the people shouted “Lift up your hand!”
  1. He poured out the water toward the west.
  1. Then toward the east he poured out a cup of wine while the people shouted “With joy you shall draw water out of the wells of salvation.”

Water from the Spring of Gihon flowed through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Kg. 20:20), into a reservoir known as the Pool of Siloam, and continues into the Kidron Valley.  Priests and pilgrims would march to the Pool of Siloam to fill a golden pitcher with fresh living water flowing from the spring to be used for temple libations throughout the festival of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth).[7] When the processional returned to the altar the priest offered the water and the people chanted a passage from Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you shall draw water out of wells of salvation.”[8]  It was when the people shouted “salvation,” that Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink.” He is the living water and the well of salvation.  Historically, libations of water during the Feast of Tabernacles symbolized the water given to their fathers in the wilderness (Ex. 17:6).  At this time, they also prayed for abundant water for the next harvest season.

“Streams of living water.”  Previously Jesus had spoken often of Himself as the source of living water.  Now He had the opportunity to speak of it again and use the ceremonial events to illustrate His point.

Early every morning during the festival, many people gathered at the temple.  A priest would then lead the entire entourage in ceremonial pomp and circumstance to the Pool of Siloam.  There, in great reverence, He drew fresh spring water known as “living water” to fill His vessel. The triumphant procession then carried the water back through the Water Gate of the city wall as trumpets announced the arrival of the precious symbol of life at the temple courtyard. The priest then marched to the western side of the altar where the living water was about to be poured into a silver basin, while another priest went to the eastern side of the same basin and held a vessel of wine.  Then the Hallel (Ps. 114-118) was sung; a hymn that, ironically, celebrated Jesus.[9] When the choir got to the verse that reads, “O give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endures forever,” the water and wine were poured upon the altar. The choir then sang the great Hallel (Psalm 114-118) antiphonally.[10] The priests would sing a line to which the people responded with Hallelujah (praise the Lord).[11]

An interpretation of the Feast is that the water represented the Holy Spirit upon humanity (Jn. 7:39), and the empty jar represented the emptiness of people without the living water that only Jesus can give. The altar of course was the Lamb of God, Jesus.  As Jesus and His disciples saw the priest and procession go by, Jesus said that He was that living water needed and desired by the priest and the people he represented.[12]  Jesus is the water of joy and gladness that gives meaning to life, yet could not be attained by anyone until He poured Himself upon the “altar” and sacrificed His life on the cross that we might live.  The pouring out of the water was an acknowledgment that man had sinned and needed cleansing by the Holy Spirit. The phrase, streams of living water, is the promise of the Holy Spirit that was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost[13] that appears several times in the Hebrew Bible[14] and New Testament.[15]  Note the parallelism of ideas in the following example,

For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants and My blessing on your offspring.

Isaiah 44:3


In the Old Covenant era God sent His Holy Spirit upon certain people at certain times for specific reasons to perform His divine reason.  But since the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit functions on behalf of every believer as a Counselor, a term translated from the Greek word parakletos, meaning one who comes along beside.[16]

“He said this about the Spirit.” Where was this said? And when? This is a reference to a broad concept rather than a specific written quotation as is the previous reference (verse 38) of the Scriptures stating that “streams of living water will flow from within him.”[17]


[1]. The four climate seasons of Israel are unique in that winter is the rainy season with numerous rain showers and summer is a five month dry season with absolutely no rain whatsoever. The exception is of course the southern desert area which receives only a few centimeters of rain annually.


[2]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 16, page 10.


[3]. According to the Torah, all the sons of Levi were to be workers in the temple but only the sons of Aaron were to function as priests, ministering in the Levitical rituals.


[4]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 582.


[5]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:163; Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:311-12; 319-25.


[6]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 15, page 8. Some scholars believe that the Psalms of Ascent were also sung by pilgrims as they marched up the long and tedious mountain from Jericho to Jerusalem.


[7]. Josephus, Antiquities 18.1.1; Elwell and Yarbrough, Readings from the First-Century World. 64; Mackowski, Jerusalem City of Jesus. 75.

[8]. Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus. 790; Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 15, page 8.


[9]. For the identifying connections of Jesus with the Hallel, see 04.06.01.


[10]. To sing antiphonally is to have two groups or choirs sing or recite in alternation. In this case, one group sang one part of Scripture and the other group responded by singing another part of Scripture.


[11]. Farrar, Life of Christ. 257-59; Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 278-79; Mishnah, Sukkot 4:9.


[12]. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 279-80.


[13]. Henry, “John.” 3:172-73.


[14]. See also Isa. 32:15; Ezek. 39:29; Zech. 12:10 and Joel 2:28-29.


[15]. Acts 2, 10:34; Jn. 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 20:22, and Rom. 5:5.


[16]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:243-44; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 135; see “Counselor” 12.01.01.


[17]. A partial list of other problematic passages is listed in Appendix 13.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 31, 2015  -  Comments Off on 11.02.15 NICODEMUS COUNSELS CAUTION

11.02.15 Jn. 7:40-53; 8:1 In the Temple




40 When some from the crowd heard these words, they said, “This really is the Prophet!” 41 Others said, “This is the Messiah!” But some said, “Surely the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does He? 42 Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David once lived?” 43 So a division occurred among the crowd because of Him. 44 Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

45 Then the temple police came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why haven’t you brought Him?”

46 The police answered, “No man ever spoke like this!”

47 Then the Pharisees responded to them: “Are you fooled too? 48 Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in Him? 49 But this crowd, which doesn’t know the law, is accursed!”

50 Nicodemus — the one who came to Him previously, being one of them — said to them, 51 Our law doesn’t judge a man before it hears from him and knows what he’s doing, does it?”

52 “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you?” they replied. “Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.

[53 So each one went to his house…

 1 …but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.][1]

The common people continued to be divided on the identity of Jesus. The leading Pharisees did everything they could to discredit Him, including the charge that He healed with the use of demonic powers (Jn. 7:20). Unfortunately, many believed the lie (Jn. 7:31). It is an irony that the Roman soldiers and temple police, though hardened by their training and occupation, were touched by His words and kindness.  They acknowledged that they had never heard a man speak as He did.  Yet in comparison, the Sadducees and leading Pharisees were unaffected and they soon planned their next attack (Jn. 7:32).

In the meantime, Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin who refused to be under their manipulative control attempted to be a righteous and independent thinker. The difficulty was that his own popularity was so great that the only time he could see Jesus privately was to steal a few moments alone with Him at night. Some have judged Nicodemus for his lack of faith, when in fact, he was simply cautious.  He recognized a biased court and by the time Jesus was crucified, his perception had changed. He was not only a representative for justice and fairness, but a follower of Jesus as well.

Others were convinced that Jesus was sent by God and said, “This really is the Prophet.” Some translations read, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”  The title “prophet” was the highest honor anyone could bestow upon a Jew; an opinion held by many concerning Jesus. Yet from the early days of His ministry, some were still were debating who this He was.  Some said he was “the prophet” (Jn. 7:40; Deut. 18:15) while others said, “He is the Christ” (Jn. 7:41). And other said He was demonic.

“The temple police.”  Literally, the “temple guards.” They functioned as do modern police and were under direct command of the Sadducees. They were a para-military unit separate from the Roman soldiers stationed in the adjacent Antonio Fortress.

Our law doesn’t judge a man before it hears from him and knows what he’s doing, does it?” Nicodemus had previously met Jesus at night and now came forth in public with a bold legitimate legal objection. He did not defend Jesus, but rather, he raised a principle of law suggesting that he was aware of the illegality of the procedure that was in process.  This objection would be normal for a teacher to do. He was faithful to the Scripture to the point that he failed to recognize who Jesus was until after the resurrection.  The Mosaic Law required impartial judges (Duet. 1:16) and this issue was required to be thoroughly investigated (Ex. 23:1).   A person was considered innocent until the accused was heard, witnesses testified, and judgment was announced concerning his or her guilt (Deut. 17:8-9; 19:15-19). Most certainly, Nicodemus heard the rumors that some Pharisees were planning to kill Jesus. And he probably felt that in a legal court Jesus would be found to be completely innocent. His feelings remain unknown, but the final decision was not what he expected – he was a man of higher integrity and expected the court to be likewise, in spite of its shortcomings.  The reason he did not participate in the trial was probably because Caiaphas handpicked only “judges” who would endorse his plan for the crucifixion.

The Sadducees and leading Pharisees were so highly irritated with Jesus, that they said, “Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”  It was ethnic sarcasm because Jerusalem was considered the center of Jewish culture and religion. Galilee, in their minds, was a backwater town where the people were ignorant and socially depraved. However, much of this sarcasm was based upon the fact that the Sanhedrin had its legal authority removed from this district previously by Herod the Great, so they nurtured hostile feelings against all Galileans.

This ethnic sarcasm revealed Jewish anti-Semitism that was common not only between geographical areas but also among the twenty-five to thirty sects that comprised first century Judaism.  At times unkind words became physical.  For example, the Babylonian Talmud recorded that the wife of a rabbi called an elderly rabbi a “Galilean fool,” which was both insulting and highly disrespectful to an older teacher.  She also kicked a student whom she believed was not giving full attention to his or her studies.[2]  With strong ethnic and regional feelings commonplace, the critical words spoken to Jesus were, in fact, relatively mild.

As to the accuracy of the phrase concerning no prophet coming from Galilee, the Pharisees were wrong because the prophets Elisha, Hosea, Jonah, and possibly Nahum were all from the Galilee area.[3] Barak the deliverer, Elon the judge, and Anna the prophetess, also came from Galilee. During the days of Jesus, a large number of rabbis likewise came from this district. However, their reference probably was not relative to these prophets, but for the fact that there were no rabbinic schools in Galilee.

Since Capernaum was the principal Jewish town of Galilee although Sepphoris, and later Tiberias was the capital. The fishing village had grown to a significant size due to the caravans that traveled along the Via Maris.  It became the center of commerce, education, and religious activity, which is probably why Jesus spent a considerable amount of time there.


[1]. John 7:53 – 8:11 is not found in some of the oldest manuscripts. For further information on the authenticity of this debated passage, see Hodges, “The Angel at Bethesda – John 5:4.” 25-39.


[2]. Babylonian Talmud, Erubin 53b.


[3]. Tenney, The Gospel of John. 88.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 31, 2015  -  Comments Off on 11.02.16 WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY

11.02.16 Jn. 8:2-11 At the Temple



2 At dawn He went to the temple complex again, and all the people were coming to Him. He sat down and began to teach them.

3 Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” 6 They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him.

Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. 7 When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

8 Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, Lord,” she answered.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”


The Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman they claimed was an adulteress. The narrative implies that she probably spent the night with one of them as part of a premeditated plan of entrapment.  While it was the woman who was brought before Jesus, there is no mention of the man she was with – a situation that underscores to an attempt of entrapment.  Scholars believe those who brought her before Jesus most certainly were from the School of Hillel as Hillel and his disciples were extremely legalistic and conservative about marriage, adultery, and divorce issues. The School of Shammai, on the other hand, was considerably more liberal in this matter and effectively endorsed an ancient form of “no-fault divorce” (divorce for any reason).[2]

Ironically, the leading Pharisees never attempted to lure Jesus into breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Rather, they focused on their Oral Laws. In that legal context, this seemed to be the perfect trap.  If Jesus held to the Law of Moses, there would be two sets of negative consequences.

  1. Jesus would lose His reputation for compassion the public had seen for the past three years.
  1. Since the authority to impose capital punishment had been removed from the Sanhedrin, except for unauthorized entry into the inner temple, only Rome could condemn the woman to death. Jesus would therefore, be in collision with the Roman authorities.


Concerning the consequences of whatever Jesus would say, these were the possibilities,

  1. If Jesus had said that the Mosaic Law needed to be observed and, therefore, the woman had to be condemned to death by stoning, He would be going against the Emperor as only he or his agent could condemn one to capital punishment.
  1. If Jesus did not condemn her to death, He would be breaking the Law of Moses, and thereby, could not possibly be a righteous man.


It seemed like the perfect trap. So they came to Jesus “at dawn.” This was hardly the time to catch anyone in adultery and enhances the appearance of trickery.  They came to Him because they found “a woman caught in adultery.”  The word adultery, Greek moicheia, is defined as one having sexual relations with another person who is married, for which the Mosaic Law clearly states that both are partners are to be put to death (Num. 5:11-31). Obviously this is a serious matter in the eyes of God. Yet according to Jewish tradition, adultery was far more serious than prostitution or fornication (Gk. porneia).[3]  See Professor Gary Byer’s comments on the video titled The Nicanor Gate of the Temple, at 04.04.04.V where he refers to this event.

In the first century Jewish rabbis differentiated between two types of adulterous women – the married woman and engaged virgin. According to the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 50a, the punishments were as follows:

  1. The adulterous married woman was sentenced to death by hanging
  1. The adulterous betrothed virgin was sentenced to death by stoning


Since the woman who was brought before Jesus was to be stoned, she evidently was a betrothed virgin and not a married woman.[4]  It should be noted that the betrothed virgin was considered to be a “married woman” and, therefore, her act was not technically considered to be fornication.  Furthermore, divorce had become the popular solution for an unfaithful spouse rather than death by stoning. The Pharisees had presented Jesus with a theoretical argument which they themselves did not even follow. No wonder they did not stone her! This entire hypothetical situation was therefore, on their part, illegal and a most unconventional practice.  Their best schemes challenged Jesus because they were convinced there was no possibility that they could lose this argument.


However, this is another case where history shows that the religious leaders did not always follow their own laws.  The Mishnah records that at one time the daughter of a priest was burned for being suspected of adultery and, again, there was no evidence of a trial.

It happened once that a priest’s daughter committed adultery and they encompassed her with bundles of branches and burnt her.

Mishnah, Sanhedrin 7:2


Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger.”  One of the mysteries is the question of what He wrote.  This is the only instance in Scripture where there is any mention of Him writing, and it is in a situation of accusations.  The Greek word meaning “to write” is not found anywhere else in the New Testament. However, in Job 13:26 there is a powerful clue. The Greek word that is frequently used to write the phrase to write is graphein. However, Jesus was more explicit than that, He used the word katagraphein which includes the definition to write a record against someone. That is the same word used in the Septuagint translation of Job 13:26.[5]

  For You record (katagraphein) bitter accusations against me
and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth.

Job 13:26


Therefore, this writer believes that when the Pharisees came to Jesus to accuse the woman of adultery, Jesus kneeled down in the road dust.  He identified the sins of her accusers in a manner similar to that which the Old Testament accusers had done to Job.  Then Jesus stood up and said that anyone without sin should throw the first stone.  However, the Pharisees saw their sins written on the ground in public view, an embarrassment for all of them.

This interpretation would agree with the fact that the finger of Jesus, in essence the finger of God – that inscribed the Ten Commandments (Deut. 9:10), and cast out demons (Lk. 11:20) left a dynamic impact upon the accusers.  While the emphasis is often on the written statement, it should be on the finger of God. It was the divine finger that wrote the Law.[6]  Of the 613 laws Moses wrote and presented to his people, ten of them were written by the finger of God (Jesus) and confirmed by Him.[7]  However, there is another aspect to this passage.  The fact that Jesus referred to the finger of God also is reflective of the hardness of heart the Pharaoh had at the time of the Exodus.  In this passage, the Jewish leaders would have understood that Jesus was connecting the Pharaoh’s attitude with theirs.[8] Little wonder then, that they grew increasingly angry at Him.

One scholar suggested a Jewish tradition that, if a woman was suspected of being an adulteress, she had to be brought before a priest.  He would take some dust from the floor of the sanctuary and mix it with a little water and she had to drink some of it.  He also wrote in a book the curses that were placed upon her (see Num. 5:17, 23). After writing them, he tried to blot out the curses with the “bitter waters.” If the curses disappeared, meaning “blotted out,” she was free.  If not, she was guilty.[9]  However, how often these directives were implemented is unknown.[10]

Finally, writing in the dust of the temple floor was perfectly legal, because it leaves no lasting mark.[11]  The slightest breeze blows the dust away.  But in this case, the sins of the legalistic Pharisees remained.

The one without sin among you.” In the eyes of the Pharisees, a “sin” was an infraction of the ritual commands and the Oral Laws which required obedience and immersion in a mikvah.  To Jesus and John the Baptist, “sin” was broken faith with God which required repentance followed by obedience.[12]  This phrase is not relative to sin in general, as all have sinned.  If Jesus meant this to be a general comment, then it would be impossible for any human to judge when judgment is necessary.  Rather, it was obvious that this woman was not alone in her situation of adultery; somewhere in the crowd was the man she was with. The Greek phrase “the one without sin” is in reference to this same particular sin.  Furthermore, there were two or three witnesses present who were also involved in the set-up, so no legal charges could be brought against her.

These men certainly had the proverbial beam in their own eyes while they judged a woman who had a speck in her eye. Jesus was the only One who had the right to condemn her, and He gave her His compassion and told her to change her lifestyle. The statement of Jesus becomes more interesting and condemning when considering that the Greek word for without sin. which is anamartetos, could also mean without sinful desire.[13]  But when He wrote her sin in the dust, her sin of adultery disappeared because she had no charge held against her.

 Should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Punishment by stoning originated with Moses who said that there had to be two or three witnesses for a capital case (Deut. 17:6).  Furthermore, those witnesses were to be the first to throw the stones upon the condemned person (Deut. 13, 17).  There were three issues that complicated matters for the accusing Pharisees:

  1. Only the Sanhedrin could pass judgment in cases of capital punishment, although its authority to exercise that verdict was removed by the Romans.
  1. The Pharisees were barred from capital judgments. So the accusers could not have participated in the judicial system anyway.
  1. Moses also said that the witnesses could not be guilty of the same sin. Therefore, the leading Pharisees who intended to entrap Jesus were themselves trapped and found guilty. In cases of adultery, both the man and woman were to be executed (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22-24). They confessed their guilt when they walked away. They were so grossly humiliated that they never attempted to entrap Jesus again. This statement created one of the most amplified and dramatic moments of silence in Scripture.
  1. However, there is no record of a woman being stoned to death for committing adultery in this era.[14]


All civil and criminal punishments described in the Old Testament were administered by a court. The Torah provides for three modes of capital punishment:

  1. Stoning,[15]
  1. Burning at the stake (Lev. 20:14), and the most merciful,
  1. Death by the sword.[16]


The reference to a hanging in Deuteronomy 21:22 is worded in a manner that suggests that the person was deceased and the corpse was hung as a warning to the community.[17] This was a common practice in many ancient cultures and continues today in some Islamic nations. By the Inter-Testament Period, the Jewish leaders also used crucifixion. However, by the time of Jesus, the Romans forbade the Jews to exercise capital punishment except if a Gentile entered the sacred courts of the temple.

Does this response mean that there ought not to be a judicial system in society? Does it mean that every one of the Jews present was guilty of sin?  Hardly! There most certainly were reputable men in the audience who were His followers.  His focus was not on the abolition of justice but on the sin that is within all humanity, even in the hearts of reputable men.  One of the oldest manuscripts of this text has an addendum indicating that Jesus wrote in the dirt all the sins of those who were immediately close to Him. The manuscript reads that Jesus wrote the sin of each one of them. [18]  It is unknown if this was in fact the case.  However, it is what the early church believed to be true.

A key word in the statement by Jesus is the word “first.”  In the first century Jewish court system, when someone was accused of a capital crime punishable by stoning, the first witness threw the first stone to kill the criminal.  This made for very few false witnesses since they themselves were subject to capital punishment.[19] However, this was in theory only, as the practice of stoning by a judicial action had been abandoned. The Mishnah recorded the applicable Oral Law as follows:

When sentence (of stoning) has been passed they take him forth to stone him …. A herald goes before him (calling), “Such-a-one, the son of such-a-one, is going forth to be stoned for that he committed such or such an offence.  Such-a-one and such-a-one are witnesses against him.  If any man knowest aught in favor of his acquittal, let him come and plead it.” 

When he was about ten cubits (18 feet) from the place of stoning they used to say to him, “Make your confession,” for such is the way of them that have been condemned to death to make confession, for every one that makes his confession has a share in the world to come.

When he was four cubits from the place of stoning they stripped off his clothes.  A man is kept covered in the front and a woman both in front and back.

The place of stoning was twice the height of a man.  One of the witnesses knocked him down on his loins (by throwing a stone on him); if he turned over on his heart the witness turned him over again on his loins. If he straightway died that sufficed; but if not, the second (witness) took the stone and dropped it on his heart.  If he straightway died, that sufficed; but if not, he was stoned by all Israel….

Mishnah, Sanhedrin 6.1-4[20]


Jesus did not condemn those who desired to stone the woman, but presented the truth to them and the truth judged their sins.  Jesus did not condone sin but gave them opportunity to be repentant.  The truth rebuked the lies of the Pharisees.  Therefore, the Jews could not have legally stoned her under any circumstances. What an incredible hypocrisy on the part of the Pharisees!

“Women, where are they?”  These words appear harsh to modern ears, but in ancient times, these were words of endearment.[21]  Jesus called His mother “woman” as He was dying on the cross when He obviously demonstrated a great deal of compassion and forgiveness to those who crucified Him. He did not excuse her sin, but he did not condemn her either.  He simply told her not to sin in the future.


 11.02.16.Q1  Did Jesus forgive the woman caught in adultery (Jn. 8:2-11)?

It has been said that Jesus forgave her. But did He? Scripture reads, “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” But the text does not say that He forgave her, nor did she come to ask for forgiveness. That is why He just told her to change her lifestyle and not sin any more.  The implication obviously is that if she continues in her adulterous lifestyle, she will be held accountable for her past activities.  It has been said that in Jesus there is the gospel of the second chance. Throughout the Bible, forgiveness is conditional upon repentance which involves a change of mind and lifestyle. This is proof.


11.02.16.Q2 Why isn’t John 8:2-11 in some ancient manuscripts?

 That is a good question and, while the exact reason is unknown, there is a good answer.  Scholars believe the oldest manuscripts are considered to be the most valuable and date them between the fourth and sixth centuries.  They are known as Uncial Manuscripts because they were written with Greek capital letters. It is believed that this passage was removed from the biblical text because some church fathers believed it might excuse or even encourage some individuals to commit adultery. Augustine said that it was removed to “avoid scandal” and because some people in his church were of “slight faith.”[22]

Among the early church fathers, it appears that the Greek fathers did not know of the removed passage, but the Latin fathers did. Among those who did not comment on it are Origen, John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Cyril of Alexandria. The John 8:2-11 narrative is not found in the Syriac or Egyptian Coptic Bibles. However, Jerome did include it in his Latin Vulgate Bible in the fourth century. Furthermore, Augustine and Ambrose both wrote of it and possibly the oldest tradition is found in a book known as The Apostolic Constitution. In this third century literary work, Eusebius referred to Papias who spoke of a woman who was accused of many sins before our Lord.[23] Papias lived near the end of the first century. Therefore, many scholars today believe the passage is an authentic segment of the gospel of John.

As with a number of other stories in the gospels, the ending to this event is missing.  The reader is not told of her name or the situation of the trickery that entrapped her. A thousand years later, in one of Europe’s monasteries, a so-called historical account appeared in which she is said to have been related to a priestly family.  Such fanciful and factious accounts draw the reader away from the basic truth revealed by Jesus who cautioned believers of deceptions in Mathew 24.[24]    



[1].  John 7:53 – 8:11 is not found in some of the oldest manuscripts, but is found in an old edition of Luke. Textual Critics say that this passage does not fit John’s writing style. But, it seems to portray an authentic event in the life of Jesus. Early church fathers such as Augustine and Ambrose verified the passage, thereby presenting the obvious answer to the question. According to Burgon, this section was deliberately omitted from some texts because some church leaders feared the passage might promote immorality. See Burgon, The Causes of Corruption in the Traditional Text. 251-52, 259;and Trites, “The Woman Taken in Adultery.” 137-46. See also Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 9, Session 2.


[2]. For related opinion on divorce issues, see Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.23.

[3]. Graystone, “Adultery.” 16-17.


[4]. See also Sadan, “Neither do I Condemn You; Go and Sin no More.” 14.


[5]. Barclay, “John.” 2:3; Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. 229.


[6]. Ex. 31:18; 32:15-16; Deut. 4:13; 9:10.


[7]. Appendix 4.


[8]. Evans, “Exorcisms and the Kingdom.” 171-73.


[9]. There is no record of a woman being stoned to death by court action for committing adultery in this era. Source: Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 9, Session 2.


[10]. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:327-31.


[11]. Mishnah, Sabbath. 12:5; Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath, 104b.


[12]. Smith, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew. 51.   


[13]. Barclay, “John.” 2:4.

[14]. Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 9, Session 2.


[15]. Deut. 17:7; 17:2-7; 13:1-5; 21:18-21; 22:22-23; Lev. 20:2-5; 20:27; 24:15-16; Num. 15:32-36. Capital punishment was always directed by a court and not by individuals. The death of Stephen in Acts 7:57-58 was by a rioting mob and not an act of judicial action.


[16]. Num. 35:19, 21; Deut. 13:15; Ex. 32:27.


[17]. Archer, “Crimes and Punishment.” 1:1035.

[18]. Macartney, Great Interviews of Jesus. 60-61.


[19]. Mishnah, Makkoth 1.5.


[20]. Parenthesis by Danby, ed., Mishnah.


[21]. Barclay, “John.” 1:98; Vine, “Woman.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:681.


[22]. Barclay, “John.” 2:290-91.


[23]. Barclay, “John.” 2:291.


[24]. One ancient legend is the story that the man with the withered right hand went on to build a palace for Emperor Nero that had a secret room for Christians. Still, another ancient “Christian myth” claims Pilate and his wife Procula became believers. Little wonder then, that Jesus and the Apostle Paul both cautioned believers to be aware of false teachers. Two modern writers who promote a variety of creative stories are: 1) Ron Charles, who has gathered scores of fanciful legends and myths, mostly written between the sixth and sixteenth centuries, that pertain to the life of Christ in his book titled, The Search: A Historian’s Search for Historical Jesus. (Self-Published, 2007); and 2) Nicholas Notovich, whose book,  The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ. Trans. (Virchand R. Gandhi, Dover Pub.) is a so-called historical account of when Jesus went to Asia to study between the ages 13 and 29.




Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 31, 2015  -  Comments Off on 11.02.17 LIGHT OF THE WORLD

11.02.17 Jn. 8:12-20 Jerusalem




12 Then Jesus spoke to them again: I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”

13 So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself. Your testimony is not valid.”

14 Even if I testify about Myself,” Jesus replied,

My testimony is valid,

because I know where I came from

and where I’m going.

But you don’t know where I come from or

where I’m going.

15 You judge by human standards.

I judge no one.

16 And if I do judge,

My judgment is true,

because I am not alone,

but I and the Father who sent Me judge together.

17 Even in your law it is written that the witness of two men is valid. 18 I am the One who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.”

19 Then they asked Him, “Where is Your Father?”

“You know neither Me nor My Father,” Jesus answered. “If you knew Me, you would also know My Father.” 20 He spoke these words by the treasury, while teaching in the temple complex. But no one seized Him, because His hour had not come.


As mentioned previously, in the temple were four huge golden menorahs that shone brightly.[1] The rabbis said that these lamps lit up the city of Jerusalem[2]  and represented the Shekinah Glory of God — God’s visible presence to Israel.[3]  It was there when Jesus and His disciples were in the temple courts that He said that He was the light of the world – a comment with profound meaning in that He said He was the Shekinah Glory of God.

“I am the light of the world.”[4]  This was a statement Jesus made about Himself, as it represents the following meanings:

  1. Jesus claimed that He is the Shekinah Glory – the visible presence to Israel. It was therefore, a claim to His deity. Previously, three disciples experienced the Transfiguration in which they saw the Shekinah Glory, and now Jesus confirmed it again, but within the cultural context.
  1. The phrase is a reference to the numerous Old Testament comments about God being “the Light.”[5] Jesus is that light, meaning that He brings understanding concerning God. The simple formula concerning light and darkness is this:

Light equals understanding,

which results in life

Darkness equals ignorance,

which results in death.[6]


The words of Jesus were specifically suited to the Feast of Tabernacles.  Note the recorded history in the Mishnah.

There were four golden menorahs with four golden bowls at the top of each, and four ladders each leading to a bowl.  Four strong young cohanim (priests) would climb up with pitchers each holding nine liters of oil which they would pour into the bowls. From worn-out drawers and girdles of the cohanim they made wicks, and with them lit the menorahs; and there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that was not lit up by the light of the Beit-HaSho’evah [festivals]. Pious men and men of good deeds would dance around [the menorahs] with lit torches in their hands, singing songs and praises, while the Levites played harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets, and innumerable other musical instruments.

 Mishnah, Sukkah 5:2-4


Every evening of the festival, as the sun was setting four gigantic menorahs in the Court of the Women were lit.[7]  These gilded candelabra were fifty cubits (75 ft.) high and their soft light shone throughout the temple courtyards and nearby Jerusalem. These were reminiscent of the pillar of fire that led the Israelites through the desert centuries earlier and were symbolic of the Shekinah Glory of God.  Now around these lighted monuments the people danced and sang for joy for what God had done in their lives.  The sounds of flutes and stringed instruments were everywhere.  The Levites led everyone in singing Psalms as even the priests and Pharisees joined the joyful procession that danced throughout the courtyards and encircled the menorahs.[8] But the Sadducees, the faithful antagonists of the Pharisees, mocked the celebrations.

Throughout Jewish and Christian history, darkness has always been associated with the ignorance of God, which leads to sin and death.  Light always referred to the knowledge of God and eternal life, and God is the only true source of light and understanding.  The light was in the temple, which at that time was considered the presence or dwelling place of God.  One of those menorahs was known as the Servant Lamp. Some scholars believe that Jesus referred to Himself as the light of the world when He stood by the Servant Lamp, meaning that He would not only bring knowledge of God but also salvation, joy, and happiness.

Ironically, one of the four menorahs known as the Servant Lamp refused to light after the crucifixion. For the next forty years, until the temple was destroyed, priests and Levites must have wondered why this menorah would not light or, if it was lit, why it didn’t remain lit. Many years later the Jews wrote in the Jerusalem Talmud an observation that, to them was a mystery.

Forty years before the destruction of the temple, the Servant Lamp refused to light.

            Jerusalem Talmud, Yoma 43:3


It was a continuing silent message of Jesus that He is the light of the world.  However, the worst was yet to come.  Because the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus, the Romans would bring utter destruction upon their beloved temple.  Josephus recorded the account in which a menorah was taken to Rome.[9] Whether this was the Servant Lamp is unknown, but it clearly was the ancient symbol of God’s people being led into captivity once again (see 17.01.01.Q1).


You are testifying about Yourself.” The Mosaic Law required two or three witnesses to validate truth (Deut. 17:6).  This was written for civil matters and the civil court (See Jn. 8:21-30 below). The same principle was applied to biblical interpretation.  So by the first century, the leading Pharisees had created their own rules and regulations, which they touted as truth because they created their own witnesses.

“My testimony is valid.”  When the New Testament writers used terms such as “testimony,”  “bore witness,” or “I have seen and testify,” these were statements of legal terminology.  Such legal statements were also common in both the Roman and Greek cultures whereby the author placed himself under an oath concerning the truthfulness of his conversation.[10]

Even if I testify about Myself.”  To exceed the compliance of Deuteronomy 17:6, Jesus offered several witnesses beginning with Himself.

  1. He knew who He was,
  1. His divine origin,
  1. His destination, and
  1. The purpose of His human life.
  1. His miracles were confirmed by His message to be from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

But His accusers were ignorant on all four points.



11.02.17.A. THE TEMPLE MENORAH ON THE ARCH OF TITUS.  The victorious scene depicted on the Arch of Titus in Rome shows the temple menorah being carried to Rome. Some historians believe these artifacts are now in the Vatican. Obviously the artists who carved the menorah took artistic license, as the menorahs were much larger than could be depicted on the Arch. The Romans were so proud of their victory that the arch was built to commemorate it.  Also shown on the arch is a titulus.[11]


11.02.17.Q1 Why did Jesus present two witnesses (Jn. 8:12-20)?

Two witnesses was the legal standard to prove a matter in a court of law. And Jesus provided more than two witnesses, beginning with the prophets and John the Baptist. Hence the statement, “the witness of two men is valid.” The judicial system is based upon Deuteronomy 17:15 and 19:15, and was also a principle of law in neighboring cultures as well.[12] Furthermore, the Oral Law stated that a man was not to be believed if he was speaking about himself. Even the Greeks said that a person could not present evidence that would support self-interest.[13]

While this Mosaic Law pertained to civil matters, by the first century, the same principle was also applied to theological studies.  John recorded that Jesus was first qualified to bear witness to God’s plan (Jn. 8:14) and second, that the Father was with Him. Furthermore, Jesus knew from where He came and of His eternal future.

“By the treasury.” In the temple courtyard were thirteen chests, each with a trumpet-shaped opening called a Shopheroth.[14] Into these chests, people placed their offerings and it was where the leading Pharisees were known to announce their giving of gifts.[15] This treasury was in the Court of the Women, not because it was exclusively for them, but that was the limit to which they could go unless they came to offer a sacrifice.[16] The Court of the Women and the Court of the Gentiles were the two most public courts of the temple complex.


[1]. This menorah lamp has seven lamps. However, the menorah honoring the victory of the Maccabean revolt and rededication of the temple has nine lamps.


[2]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 15, page 16.


[3]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 15, page 16.


[4]. See related comments by Rabbi John Fischer in 10.01.28.V where he discusses two unique healing methods of blind men.


[5]. Ps. 27:1; Isa. 60:19; Job 29:3; Micah 7:8.


[6]. Barclay, Jesus. 265.


[7]. Barclay, Jesus. 266; There appears to be a difference among scholars as to whether there were two menorahs or four, and the height of them.


[8]. Farrar, Life of Christ. 267.


[9]. Josephus, Wars 7.5.5.


[10]. Bookman, When God Wore Sandals. CD Trac 5.

[11]. See 11.02.17 and 16.01.11A for additional information.


[12]. The Greeks and Romans and several ancient civilizations has similar laws as proven by the Code of Hammurabi and other ancient codes. See http://courses.cvcc.vccs.edu/history_mcgee/courses/his101/Source%20Documents/wc1d01.htm Retrieved January 28, 2015.


[13]. Barclay, “John.” 1:195.


[14]. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:222-24.


[15]. Farrar, Life of Christ. 267.


[16]. An example of a woman’s sacrifice was when Mary and Joseph offered two doves to be sacrificed after Jesus was born.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 31, 2015  -  Comments Off on 11.02.18 WARNING AGAINST UNBELIEF

11.02.18 Jn. 8:21-30 Jerusalem




21 Then He said to them again, “I’m going away; you will look for Me, and you will die in your sin. Where I’m going, you cannot come.”

22 So the Jews said again, “He won’t kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I’m going, you cannot come’ ?”

23 “You are from below,” He told them, “I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

25 Who are You?” they questioned.

“Precisely what I’ve been telling you from the very beginning,” Jesus told them. 26 “I have many things to say and to judge about you, but the One who sent Me is true, and what I have heard from Him — these things I tell the world.”

27 They did not know He was speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own. But just as the Father taught Me, I say these things. 29 The One who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, because I always do what pleases Him.”

30 As He was saying these things, many believed in Him.


He won’t kill Himself, will He?”  Clearly, they did not understand Jesus. They believed that those who committed suicide were destined to the darkest place in Hell. The only exceptions were those who committed suicide to escape the Roman sword in conflicts such as Gamala and Masada.[1]

“Who are you?”  This question had nothing to do with the personal identity of Jesus or His genealogy; those records were available for study in the temple.  Rather, the exasperated critics questioned the authority, status, and claim of Jesus to be the leader in the religious life of Israel.  The last thing they wanted to hear were the opinions of the crowds who referred to Jesus as the prophet (Jn. 7:40) or “the Christ” (Jn. 7:16, 18, 26, 29).



[1]. Gilbrant, “John.” 233.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 31, 2015  -  Comments Off on 11.02.19 JESUS CONFRONTS THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS WITH SEVERE SARCASM

11.02.19 Jn. 8:31-47




31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 We are descendants of Abraham,” they answered Him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 A slave  does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. 36 Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. 37 I know you are descendants of Abraham, but you are trying to kill Me because My word is not welcome among you.   38 I speak what I have seen in the presence of the Father; therefore, you do what you have heard from your father.”

39 “Our father is Abraham!” they replied.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus told them, “you would do what Abraham did. 40 But now you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this! 41 You’re doing what your father does.”

We weren’t born of sexual immorality,” they said. “We have one Father — God.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Who among you can convict Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe Me?  47 The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.”

Jesus not only had a heated discussion about their relationship to the patriarch Abraham, but they saw Jesus placing Himself above Abraham (Jn. 8:53-54, 58).  To them this was an abomination. They believed that since they were descendants of Abraham, they were “God’s Chosen People” and, therefore, did not need the salvation that Jesus taught. Furthermore, Jesus identified their true characteristics and pointed out the following:

  1. Their spiritual father is the devil that has not only has blinded them, but they also chose to remain blind. For example, they believed that exorcism was possible only through the Spirit of God, yet they claimed Jesus performed exorcisms by the power of Satan – an obvious contradiction of their own belief system.[1]
  1. If they were true sons of God, they would have recognized Him as did John the Baptist (Jn. 8:41-44), but they didn’t recognize John either.
  1. He did not break a single law of Moses, so why were they trying to kill Him (Jn. 8:36)? Obviously their motives had nothing to do with the Mosaic Law.
  1. In John 8:58 Jesus finally revealed Himself with an “I am” statement, which caused an instant outrage.


“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  If there was anything the Jewish people cherished, it was freedom.  They had experienced slavery in the past and now were under political bondage. With the term freedom, came the thoughts of slavery[2] and how to avoid it in the future.

The large number of Hebraisms found in the gospels is clearly indicative that the gospel writers thought like typical Jews. Therefore, it becomes incumbent to examine the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek words.  For example, the word “truth” (Heb. emet; Gk. aletheia) has a broad band of meanings but the Hebrew includes the definition to have an understanding of the justice of God.  To know and live in truth would render one free from the wrath of God.  This is illustrated in many Old Testament references, such as Isaiah 42 and 61, but most prominently in Hosea 4:6 that reads, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”[3]  There the word “knowledge” means revelation knowledge that encompasses an understanding of the justice of God.  Truly, there is freedom in divine truth, as it places one in right relationship with God.

“We are descendants of Abraham … and we have never been enslaved to anyone.”  The leading Pharisees were so emotionally caught up in the heat of discussions that they forgot their history of slavery under the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Syrians, the torment of the Greek dictator Antiochus Epiphanes IV, and the economic slavery of the Romans.  In fact, their only good leader of recent centuries was Alexandra Salome, queen of Judea (reigned 76-67 B.C.). Their prideful arrogance led them to selective recollections or denials of their past. When Jesus responded, He did not mean any particular act of sin, but the definite article the refers to a life of sin.[4]

We weren’t born of sexual immorality.” Now the leading Pharisees were on the offensive, implying that Jesus was an illegitimate child.  This phrase was the severest sarcasm one could make. It meant not only that was Jesus born out of wedlock, but He also had no right to the Abrahamic Covenant.  Therefore, in their reasoning, how could any son born of sin live a righteous life and preach of righteousness?

This phrase is also a classic example of a Hebraic play on words.  It implied that the Jews were legitimate children of Abraham.  Because God had said that the Israelites were “His Chosen People,” they felt they had no need for repentance and they were exempt from any spiritual danger.[5] Only absolutely “pure” Israelites were assured of the messianic salvation – no “impure” blood from heathen nations would be accepted – they thought.[6] Obviously this was not the opinion of John the Baptist or Jesus.

You are of your father the Devil.”  Jesus never applied terms such as “children of the devil” to sinners and tax collectors, but He did apply them to the leading Pharisees and Sadducees.  They were so evil that Jesus referred to them as sons of Satan (and so did John the Baptist in Matthew 3:7).  The reason Jesus said this was that they had become hardened against the will of God. The reason the church skewed the passage may have been for anti-Semitic reasons.[7]

During the time of Christ, on the other hand, the School of Shammai was influential in the Jerusalem synagogues and the Sanhedrin.  The two schools of biblical interpretation (Hillel and Shammai) had become immensely polarized and the Talmud essentially said that the “Torah had become two Torahs.”[8]  Some sages said that, “Whoever observed the teachings of the School of Shammai deserved death.”[9]  For example, the first century sage Dosa ben Harkinas highly criticized his brother Jonathan for a decision he made with this school concerning a levirate marriage, and for this called him “the first-born of Satan.”[10]  Essentially, the followers and disciples of the School of Shammai were accused of being the descendants or “followers of the devil.”[11]  These powerful words of Jesus appear to be out of character, but in cultural context, they were properly placed and understood in public opinion.


Jesus had His greatest opposition with the School of Shammai, although the School of Hillel also came under His scrutiny.  In later years, it was from a descendant of Hillel, that his grandson Gamaliel who was the teacher of the Apostle Paul.

Who among you can convict Me of sin?”  This simple question left His critics without an answer. How they wished they could prove Him guilty of anything in the Mosaic Law, but they could not.  Had their search for any evidence have been successful, they would most certainly have broadcasted it far and wide.  For more than three years the religious scribes, leading Pharisees, and Sadducees had been watching His every move in great dismay.


[1]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 16, page 16.


[2]. Because the Jews experienced slavery, thankfulness was one the tenth of their Eighteen Benedictions.  Since Jesus lived in a Jewish “honor culture,” for a Jew to unjustly call another Jew “a slave,” could subject him to excommunication from the synagogue. See Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 2:304.


[3]. Blizzard III, “Be Free” Yavo Digest 1:4, 15-17.


[4]. See 1 Jn. 2:29; 3:4-8; Jn. 3:21.


[5]. See Gen. 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-14, 19; 22:15-18.


[6]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 301-02.


[7]. It is a shameful history, but so-called Christians took this passage, as well as those in Revelation 2:9, 13 and 3:19, where synagogues are referred to as Synagogues of Satan, and church leaders called all Jews, “sons of Satan.” These passages were taken grossly out of context and used for a wide variety of anti-Semitic activities for which the corporate body of the church needs to repent.


[8]. Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 88b; Falk, Jesus the Pharisee. 48, 114.


[9]. Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 11a; Falk, Jesus the Pharisee. 117.


[10]. Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 16a.


[11]. Falk, Jesus the Pharisee. 118-19.

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