Unit 11 – The Transfiguration, Miracles, And Disciple Training


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.



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.

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