18.01 Risen From The Grave

18.01 Risen From The Grave

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 19, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01 Risen From The Grave

Chapter 01

                         Risen From The Grave                

 

18.01.00.A. JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF TO MARY MAGDALENE. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876. (2)

18.01.00.A. JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF TO MARY MAGDALENE. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876.   After His resurrection, Jesus presented Himself only to those who had previously placed their faith in Him. See John 20:11-18.



18.01.01 Introduction

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 19, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.01 Introduction

18.01.01 Introduction

Early on Sunday morning Caiaphas woke up believing that he was relieved of his biggest fear: Jesus was dead and His ministry was destroyed.  But he was about to receive the surprise of his life.  He put on his priestly robes, went to the temple, and performed the wave offering before the altar of the Lord, just as Moses commanded:

10 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land I am giving you and reap its harvest, you are to bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest. 11 He will waive the sheaf before the Lord so that you may be accepted; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.

Leviticus 23:10-11

 

In compliance with the Law, Caiaphas went in all manner of pomp and circumstance, was given a sheaf of freshly harvested barley, because the harvest always ended just prior to Passover.  Precisely at sunrise he was in the temple and stood before the altar of the Lord, waved the sheaf offering and prayed,

            Blessed is He who brings forth bread from the earth. 

Priestly Temple Blessing[1]

 

When he recited the blessed prayer there was an incredible earthquake, the stone was rolled away from the tomb, and the Bread of Life walked out of the grave.  Life eternal had come to humanity while the biggest nightmare of Caiaphas had just begun.

18.01.01a

Upon coming out of the tomb, Jesus then began to minister to those who placed their faith in Him; who accepted Him as the true Messiah.  He then appeared to many as follows.[2]

  1. To Mary Magdalene (Jn. 20:11-17)
  1. To the other Mary and Salome (Mt. 28:9-10)
  1. To Peter (Lk. 24:34)
  1. To the two disciples on the way to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-32)
  1. To the 10 apostles (Lk. 24:33-49)
  1. To Thomas and the other 10 apostles (Jn. 20:26-30)
  1. To the 7 apostles (Jn. 21:1-25)
  1. To all the apostles in Galilee (Mt. 28:16-20)
  1. To 500 brethren (1 Cor. 15:6)
  1. To James (1 Cor. 15:7)
  1. To the 11 apostles before His ascension (Acts 1:4-9)
  1. To the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 15:8)

 

18.01.01.Q1 What is the significance of His resurrection?

The significance is so dynamic, that the brief description below clearly does not provide justice. However, this theological question is briefly answered in outline form to focus on the main points.

  1. It means the forgiveness of the believer’s sins and eternal life for him (1 Cor 15:7).
  1. It guarantees the judgment of all unbelievers (Acts 10:40-42; 17:30-31).
  1. It assures the resurrection of all men, both believers and unbelievers (1 Cor. 15:20-23)[3]
  1. It proves our justification (Rom. 4:24-25)
  1. It guarantees power for believer’s service (Ephesians 1:17-20)
  1. It designates Jesus as the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:20-22)
  1. It means that Jesus has the keys of death as far as believers are concerned (Heb. 2:9-18; 1 Thess. 4:13-15).
  1. The sin-nature of the believer is rendered inoperative. It is not removed when one believes, but it is judged and condemned (Rom. 6:1-10).
  1. It means that there is now a sympathetic High Priest in Heaven (Heb. 4:14-16)

 

These nine points, and there could be more, point to the fact that the Kingdom of God is within the believer. These underscore the close relationship Jesus desires with every believer and the incredible price He paid for that to occur.

 

[1]. Acording to Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, 215-17, 241, about the time that the Jerusalem Talmud was written (300 — 400 A.D.), the blessing was changed to what is commonly used in synagogues today: “Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”

 

[2]. Adapted from Geisler. “The Significance of Christ’s Physical Resurrection.” 157 n33.

 

[3]. For believers,  it guarantees individual resurrection (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; 2 Cor. 4:14).

 



18.01.02 STONE WAS ROLLED AWAY

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 19, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.02 STONE WAS ROLLED AWAY

18.01.02 Mt. 28:2-4 Sunday morning

 

STONE WAS ROLLED AWAY  

2 Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it.   3 His appearance was like lightning, and his robe was as white as snow. 4 The guards were so shaken from fear of him that they became like dead men.

Just as the world was recovering from the physical and social earthquake of the crucifixion, on Sunday, the 16th of Nisan, A.D. 30, there was another earthquake – a supernatural one that rolled the stone from the tomb entrance. Everyone had some kind of response to the events of the Day of Preparation, but what happened on Sunday morning surpassed all that.

The reason the stone was rolled away was not to permit Jesus out of the grave, but to permit His disciples to enter and see that He had risen and was gone.  Without the resurrection, the life and death of Jesus would have been absolutely meaningless (Rom. 4:25).  Man’s only hope is in the resurrection of Christ.  Because He arose, people have eternal life promised to them.  Furthermore, believers can look forward to the time they will be with Him.  This blessed hope in Christ has been a doctrine of the church since His resurrection, and was underscored at Pentecost.[1] The name of Jesus, which originally was Joshua, had fulfilled its meaning, “Yahweh (God) is salvation.”[2]

18.01.02a

An important feature that makes the work of Jesus significant is that He provided what the saints of the Hebrew Bible yearned for: victory over sin.  This was a radical departure from the Sadducean and Pharisaic ritual laws. Note these choice words said about Jesus:

O mystic wonder!  The Lord was laid low, and man rose up!

Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks[3]

 

The same one is Priest and Sacrifice, the same one is God and Temple: the Priest, thorough whom we are reconciled; the Sacrifice, by which we are reconciled; the Temple, in which we are reconciled; and God, to whom we are reconciled.

Fulgence of Ruspe, The Rule of Faith[4]

 

For those who question if Jesus died and rose from the grave, below are two thoughts to consider:

If Christ died and did not rise, how is it that those (his disciples) in the account who fled from impending danger while He was yet alive, surrounded themselves with a thousand dangers for His sake when He was dead?

John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Beginning of the Acts of the Apostles[5]

 

It is unbelievable that the world should have believed so unbelievable a thing.

Augustine, City of God[6] 

 

[1]. For other references that pertain to the blessed hope and when Christ will return for His church, see 1 Thess. 4:13-17; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; Heb. 9:28; 2 Thess. 2:1; 1 Jn. 3:2.

[2]. Grant, “Jesus Christ.” 2:869

[3]. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations: From 50 – 750 A.D. 42.

[4]. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations: From 50 – 750 A.D. 43.

[5]. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations: From 50 – 750 A.D. 228; Parenthesis mine.

[6]. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations: From 50 – 750 A.D. 233.



18.01.03 WOMEN CAME TO THE TOMB

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 19, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.03 WOMEN CAME TO THE TOMB

18.01.03 Mk. 16:1-4 (See also Mt. 28:1; Lk. 24:1-3; Jn. 20:1)  At the Tomb

 

WOMEN CAME TO THE TOMB 

 

1  When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so they could go and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb at sunrise. 3 They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?”                4 Looking up, they observed that the stone — which was very large — had been rolled away.

 

18.01.03.Q1 Is there an explanation concerning the conflicting accounts of who was at the tomb on Sunday morning (Mt. 28:1; Mk. 16:1; Lk. 24:10; Jn. 20:1-2)?

 

Critics have had a field day with the gospel accounts concerning the names of the women who were at the tomb.  Obviously the number of Marys adds to the confusion, but that does not mean error.

  1. Matthew said in 28:1 that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (mother of Jesus?) were there.
  1. Mark said in 16:1 that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices to the tomb.
  1. Luke said in 24:10 that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several “others” were there, and then told the disciples of the resurrection.
  1. John said in 20:1 that Mary Magdalene was present, and whoever was included in the “we” statement of 20:2.

 

Granted, this is somewhat perplexing, but as previously stated, that does not mean the event was untrue. Most importantly, is the fact that all four gospel writers said that women were the first to discover the missing body – and concluded that Jesus had indeed been raisen. This is significant, because women were not deemed to be legal witnesses.  Men’s opinions of women were not always very good. For example, the two historians Josephus and Nicholaus (Nicholas) of Damascus seldom mention the names of any women.[1]  If the gospels were fabricated stories, then the writers made two huge errors.

  1. They should have written that men discovered that the tomb was empty, because only a man’s testimony was considered valid in Jewish law. This was clarified by Josephus:

Let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex.

Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.15 (219b)

  1. They should have written or edited all four gospels to agree perfectly with each other as to who was there and who was not.

 

To believe that the gospel accounts were fabricated is a greater leap of faith than to believe that Jesus arose from the grave. Therefore, to account for the variations of names, the following must be considered.

  1. No gospel writer refutes another.
  1. While some of the names are different, both Luke and John mention unnamed individuals. There is no reason to believe that those individuals were women only.
  1. Not a single gospel writer claimed to have written all the names of the attending group.

 

So why are there variations?  It is because each writer simply mentioned some of the women he thought were important to his audience. However, even though the testimony of women was not considered valid, each account is of two or more witness – a requirement for validation according to God’s law in Deuteronomy 17:6. This code of law became a defining rule for all situations, even counting the stars to determine when the Sabbath began.

The one condemned to die is to be executed on the testimony of two or three witnesses. No one is to be executed on the testimony of a single witness.

Deuteronomy 17:6

 

Finally, since the crucifixion and burial occurred so quickly, there was no time for the formalities of mourners and flute players.[2] The Jewish custom was for women to visit the tomb up to seven days after the burial.[3] Obviously, in this case, a lot changed within that time period.[4]

“At sunrise.”   The first day of the week Jesus arose from death and the women found the tomb empty. It is for this reason that the first Christians, who were nearly all Jews, gathered for worship on Sunday instead of the traditional Sabbath.

 

18.01.03.Q2 How could the Jews, who honored the Sabbath Day (i.e., Ex. 16:23-30) move it to the first day (Acts 20:7)?

 

The Sabbath

The day of rest on the first day of the week is an interesting study.  It should be noted that in the Jewish calendar the days of the week did not have names, but were numbered.  Today, the names of both the days of the week and the months of the modern calendar are based on the Roman calendar system.  “To rest” on the seventh day is what one did in ancient times and, hence, the seventh day became known as the “day of rest,” or “Shabbat” because it was a sacred designation.  The word “Sabbath” is a noun, but it was originally a verb meaning “to cease, to abstain,” or “to put an end to.” A secondary similar meaning is “to be inactive, to rest.”[5] To the Jews, who followed Jesus, they felt that God told them “to rest,” and what better way to honor God than “to rest” on the day when He arose from the tomb.  Since they were still “resting,” they felt they were in complete compliance with the Mosaic Law.[6] Jesus “rested” on the seventh day, meaning that He did no creative work.  However, Jesus sustained His Creation on the seventh day and every day of rest since the Creation.  “Working” is defined not only in terms of holding the universe together and doing good works, but also protecting it from the evil one.

Jewish Christians observed the evening of the seventh day of the week as their day of worship. Sunday worship is also reflected in 1 Corinthians 16:2, where believers collected funds for God’s people on the first day of the week, which was their day of worship.  Some scholars believe that when the early church met on the first day, it was not on a Sunday morning, but rather, on a Saturday evening. Sunset was considered the beginning of a new day, and meeting in the evening would not conflict with normal work activities of the first day.

In Colossians 2:16 Paul told the church in Colosse not to let any one judge them.  Why? It was because they did not worship on the traditional Sabbath, but on the first day.  The Epistle of Barnabas referred to worship on the first day of the week as the “eighth day.”

This, by the way, is the reason why we joyfully celebrate the eighth day – the same day on which Jesus rose from the dead; after which He manifested Himself and went up to heaven. 

The Epistle of Barnabas 15:9

 

Ignatius in his work Magnesians (Ch. 8-10) agreed with the early church fathers who said in their own instructional book that the,

Assembling on every Sunday of the Lord, break bread and give thanks, confessing your faults beforehand, so that your sacrifice may be pure.

Didache 14:1[7]

                           

The believers moved their day of rest from the last day of the week to the first day because it was on the first day of Creation that God created light (Gen.1:3-5). It was also on the first day of the week that Jesus, the Light of the World, arose from death and brought light and resurrected life to humanity.[8] Evidently, Jewish believers, who remained faithful to their Mosaic Law, had no problem worshiping on a day that honored the resurrection of Jesus.  They did not discard their Jewishness. Justin Martyr and Pliny the Younger, the nephew and adopted son of Pliny the Elder, (c. 112) made these comments concerning worship on the first day of the week.

The Day of the Sun is the day on which we gather in a common meeting, because it is the first day, the day on which God, changing darkness and matter, created the world; and it is the day on which Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead… and the memoirs or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits.

Justin Martyr, First Apology 67[9]

 

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God, and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to commit any wicked deed, but to abstain from all fraud, theft and adultery, never to break their word, or deny a trust when called upon to honor it; after which it was their custom to separate and then to meet again to partake of food, but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.

Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96-97[10]  

 

“Before it was light.”  Historians believe early Christians went to the synagogue Saturday morning, and met again for church after sunset the same day, which was the beginning of Sunday.

Justin Martyr wrote in chapter 47 of his Dialog against Trypho,[11] that Jewish believers should be considered as “brethren” provided that they do not require Gentile Christians to be circumcised, observe the Sabbath, or other Jewish ceremonies.  However, Martyr also said that not all church fathers agree with him.  It should be noted that the change from observing the Sabbath to the Day of Resurrection has nothing to do with Constantine (early 4th century) or the Hellenism of the Church.

Another witness to the change of Sabbath to Sunday was Ignatius Theophorus (A.D. 35 or 50-98 to 117) a/k/a Ignatius. He was a disciple of the Apostle John, became the third bishop of Antioch, and said this:[12]

If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day, on which our life also rose through Him and through His death which some men deny – a mystery whereby we attained unto belief, and for this cause we endure patiently, that we may be found disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher. 

Ignatius, Letter to the Magnesians 9:1

 

Pliny (c. 112) wrote his comments which are significant for several reasons.

  1. It demonstrates, from a secular source, how quickly the Christian faith spread throughout the Roman Empire.
  1. He preserved a segment of their worship service and reverence for Jesus.
  1. He mentioned their “solemn oath” was their steadfast refusal to worship another god.
  1. Their refusal to be a part of any crime was unbelievable to Pliny, who later described it as part of their “superstition.”
  1. This writing by the Roman governor and historian is the oldest record of the agape meal or communion, outside of Scripture.

 

Finally, it is believed by some that the modern name “Saturday” came from the Hebrew “Shabbat”.  Such a conclusion is understandable, because both names sound similar.  The name “Saturday” honors the Roman god Saturnius, for which the heavenly light “Saturn” was also named.  The Romans had their greatest seven-day pagan holiday, “Saturnalia,” in mid-December to honor their god.[13]

The Romans, however, had a passionate hatred for the Jews, and they certainly did not respect Jewish customs, traditions, or laws.  After many revolts between the years 63 B.C. and A.D. 70, two major revolts (A.D. 70 and 135), thousands of Jews were either massacred, sold as slaves, or driven from their homes and land.[14] The Jewish people were the proverbial “thorn in the flesh” for the Romans. The Jews no longer had any rights to life, much less to their ancient religion.  Obviously the Romans would never honor them by assigning a Hebrew name to any day of the week.

One of the major difficulties emperors had with Jews and Christians was their insistence not to work one day in every week. For nearly three centuries the believers gathered to worship our Lord on a day when they were expected to be active in employment.  Hence, it would have been much easier for them to not gather on the first day of the week and not violate any laws or be stigmatized as being lazy. For this reason, in the early fourth century, Emperor Constantine declared the first day a holiday, which relieved the social pressure on fellow believers. Many today believe that Sunday worship originated with Emperor Constantine. It didn’t, but he did make it a legal holiday (meaning holy day) for a practice that was already well established.

 

[1].  For further study on the various opinions concerning the status and influence of women in the Second Temple Period, see the excellent work by Tal Ilan, Integrating Women into Second Temple History, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999. Take note of Chapter 3 on the discussions of two first century historians, Josephus and Nicholaus of Damascus, and their comments about women. See also Stemberger. Jewish Contemporaries of Jesus: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes. 15.

 

[2]. Mishnah, Ketuboth 4.4; Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 168.

 

[3]. Osborne. “Jesus’ Empty Tomb and His Appearance in Jerusalem.” 786.

 

[4]. Some critics have looked to the Gospel of Peter as evidence that refutes the biblical narratives.  However, that account records people eating a meal and sleeping overnight in the cemetery, both of which reflect the writer’s ignorance of Jewish customs, and this is evidence that the Gospel of Peter is a fabricated story of little historical value.

 

[5]. Ex. 21:19; Lev. 26:34-35; 2 Chr. 36:21.

 

[6]. Funderburk, “Calendar.” 3:322-24.

[7]. The Didache is a book on church order that was written within a century of the life of Jesus. For more information, see 02.02.08.

 

[8]. The Epistle of Barnabus 13:9-10.

 

[9]. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations: From 50 – 750 A.D. 266.

[10]. Pliny the Younger was a Roman governor and friend of Tacitus. Pliny said that Christians recognized the deity of Christ.

 

[11]. Cited by Flusser. “Who is it that Struck You?” 47.

[12]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignatius_of_Antioch. Retrieved September 6, 2014.

 

[13]. Lloyd, “Saturn.” 19:1088; Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 45-47.

[14]. See Appendix 25 for a listing of false prophets who had messianic expectations and for a partial listing of revolts and social disturbances from 63 B.C. to A.D. 70.

 



18.01.04 RESURRECTION ANNOUNCED

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 19, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.04 RESURRECTION ANNOUNCED

18.01.04 Mk. 16:5-7 (See also Mt. 28:5-7)

 

RESURRECTION ANNOUNCED  

 

5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; they were amazed and alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he told them. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been resurrected! He is not here! See the place where they put Him.    7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there just as He told you.’”

 

“A young man dressed in a long white robe.”  Angels sang praises to God when Jesus was born and now another angel announced His resurrection.  Then the heavenly messenger gave instructions to the women to tell the good news to the disciples.  It is interesting that our Lord chose women to be the ones to have this honor.  There was an escalation of dynamics – a display of supernatural power during His life. As if His miraculous birth was not enough to stun everyone, when He came of age for the ministry He captured everyone’s attention.

  1. Jesus impressed everyone with His insightful teaching. His kind words of love impressed thousands who lived in the constant tension of political and economic strife.
  1. Then He began to perform miracles. First, at Cana where He turned water into wine, and later He healed people everywhere as He continued to teach the principles of the Kingdom of God.
  1. From “ordinary” miracles He moved on to perform the three messianic miracles – those miracles that for centuries the rabbis said that only the messiah would be able to perform, whenever He comes.
  1. As if raising someone from death to life wasn’t profound enough, Jesus raised Lazarus to life on the fourth day of death – the day when everyone believed that his soul had already departed. They believed that this was a miracle that only God could perform.
  1. No one could believe that a person who could do all these things, would so quietly permit others to mock, accuse, and then crucify him. Yet this was precisely what Jesus did. Thousands were stunned; not only at His death, but also at the earthquake and darkness that transpired! Yet only a short time later on Sunday morning, Jesus would walk out of the tomb – the greatest miracle of all! The world would never be the same again.

 

Scholars universally agree that within two to five years of His ascension, the four-line formula found in 1 Corinthians 15:3b-5 was popular in the early church.  Years later the Apostle Paul included it in his letter to the Corinthian church.

3a For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:

3b That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

            4 that He was buried,

            that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

            5 And that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

1 Corinthians 15:3-5

 

18.01.04.Q1 How does the name “Easter” relate to the resurrection of Jesus?

It doesn’t. Courtesy of Emperor Constantine, the resurrection day of Jesus was renamed “Easter” in honor of the goddess Ishtar of Babylon. Yet this name is one that the Church continues to use without a thought given as to how it might insult the holy name of Jesus.  The Church needs to return to its pre-Constantine days and honor our Lord by praising Him for His Resurrection Day and call it that. Does anyone seriously think that, when Christ returns and reigns during the millennium, He and His Church will celebrate “Easter?” Would it not be better to call it “Resurrection Day.”

 

18.01.04.Q2 When did the Church Age begin?

Before addressing this question, these thoughts are presented:

  1. The sacrificial death of Jesus on Passover (Good Friday), was the culmination of the Old Testament and, therefore, is the beginning of the Church Age.
  1. Resurrection Morning was the evidence that the Church Age had begun, a New Covenant was now in effect.
  1. The Day of Pentecost was the empowerment of the true believers for the life and calling that is upon them.

 

Now for some additional details: The answer is somewhat theological, but ever since the days of the apostles there has been anticipation as to when the Church Age will close by the return of Jesus. It appears that seldom has anyone seriously considered the beginning of this Age; the accepted traditional beginning seems never to have been seriously questioned. Therefore, some basic facts will be examined that may lead the reader to reconsider the Day of Pentecost as the first day of this period. Let’s look at some basic facts regarding the beginning of the Church Age.[1]

  1. It has been commonly said that the Church Age began on the Day of Pentecost in the crucifixion year thought to be either 30 or 33.
  1. The modern calendar is linked to the birth of Jesus, not to Pentecost. However, the birth of Jesus was inaccurately calculated. It is well known that Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. To be true to the calendar would mean Jesus was born between the years 7 and 5 B.C. This is probably the most accurate conclusion.[2]
  1. Some say He will return at the end of the two-thousand year period, which began at the time of Christ’s death and resurrection. Considering an adjusted calendar, that would place it anywhere between the years 2029 and 2030, depending on the crucifixion date. The beginning of the Christian era, known as the “Church Age,” or “New Covenant Period,”[3] is generally believed to have begun on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1).[4]  A majority of scholars from varied theological positions, Pentecostal, evangelical, or liberal, argue that this is the beginning day of a new dispensational period.[5]  This author does not hold to that view, but rather, that the New Covenant Period was birthed the moment Jesus walked out of the tomb. Anything else equates the sacrifice of Jesus equal with the sacrifice of lambs, oxen, etc., of the Old Testament Period.

 

The essence of the New Covenant was predicted when the prophet Jeremiah spoke of a time when God would make a New Covenant (31:31-34). Also, the writer of Hebrews stated (10:15-17) that the death and resurrection of Jesus is that New Covenant. The essence of the gospel has always been that one must confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, confess their sins, and believe that Jesus was raised from death to life (Rom. 10:9). The work of salvation was completed when Jesus walked out of the tomb.[6] The moment Jesus died, all heaven understood the significance of His death, but humanity would not understand it until He arose.  Fifty days later the Holy Spirit came to the believers to teach them the truths of the gospel of Jesus (Jn. 14:25-26), not to complete it or to enhance it. Nowhere did Paul state that one had to receive the Holy Spirit or speak in other tongues to be saved. Romans 10:9 is the central thrust of the apostolic teaching in Acts 2:31-32; 3:15; 4:10; and 10:40. The apostles believed that Jesus not only lived in eternity past, but that He also was still alive and will continue to live through eternity future – as will His believers.  These are key points on which the foundation is built to argue that the Resurrection Day was the beginning of the New Covenant Period.

If salvation was available from the moment Jesus walked out of the tomb, then what is the significance of Pentecost?  It was the beginning of a new relationship between the Holy Spirit and humanity. Just as Jesus received the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove after His baptism to enable Him in His ministry, so the church received that same Holy Spirit to be empowered to ministry, as per Acts 1:8.  That Spirit came first upon His inner circle of disciples in Jn. 20:22.  By this time Matthias had been selected to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:23-26), indicating that the 120 had indeed functioned as a corporate body to continue the work of Jesus before the Pentecost experience of Acts 2. This shows that some type of religious governmental structure was already in place.[7]  Thereafter, the Holy Spirit continued to fall upon others, as well.  Pentecost was an empowerment and confirmation of what God was doing among His believers.  The church had been coming to birth in the previous years during the ministry of Jesus.[8]

The Greek phrase anothen means born again [9] or born from above as the new birth is described in terms of its origin, God[10] (Jn. 3:6) and of the water and the Spirit (Jn. 3:5).[11] In Ephesians 3:17-19 and 4:17-24 is the doctrine that new life or regeneration is found in Christ whereas darkened understanding and ignorance of the natural man leads to the corruption of deceitful desires and eventually death (Rom. 3:9-20).[12] This concept was not so far from Jewish thinking – when a person came out of the waters of the mikvah, which was considered to be “the womb of the world” (as an unborn child is in the waters of his mother’s womb), he was considered born again and rendered a new creation.[13]

18.01.04a

The church is seen as the beginning of a new creation; a new humanity as the result of the work of Christ.[14]  Jesus died for the sake of all who became subject to Adam’s sin, and thus, have been condemned to die (Rom. 5:6-11).  Because of His resurrection and life-giving Spirit, humanity now has the opportunity to receive eternal life and freedom from the curse of sin (1 Cor.15:20, 45).  Clearly, the hope of life given to mankind exists because Jesus walked out of the grave. Some theologians will correctly go to great lengths and proclaim the work of Jesus, yet at the same time proclaim the church “did not begin until Pentecost (Acts 2).”[15]

A minority of scholars consider the Church Age as beginning on the evening of His resurrection, when Jesus appeared to some of His disciples and breathed upon them (Jn. 20:22).[16]  However, if Romans 10:9 is the “born again” test for the New Covenant, then John 20:22 could not be the beginning of this new era, any more than is the Day of Pentecost.

Other scholars state the event of John 20:22 was only a “down payment” or “deposit”[17] for the event that occurred about fifty days later.  However, there is no suggestion of this in the Greek text.  Clearly, the disciples received the Holy Spirit (Jn. 20:22) in a significant manner and did so again on the Day of Pentecost.

John connected the life of Creation with the renewed life of mankind (Jn. 1:1).  This was the first of many events in which the Holy Spirit moved in a manner to fulfill the prophecies of Joel and Jesus.  The breathing of the Spirit in John 20:22 is related to the breathing in the prolog in which John referred to breathing life into man in the Creation narrative (Gen 2:7).  There was a new birth on the day of creation and there was a new birth (in the New Testament sense of the word) the day Jesus arose from the grave.  By their faith in the risen Lord they became born again; by divine breathing they became the empowered church.

The resurrection was the day of the birth of the church, but Pentecost was the day of Holy Spirit baptism and confirmation of the church and New Covenant era. For the purpose of this discussion, it is limited to the application of Romans 10:9 to one’s life as the covenant to be drawn close to God.[18]

There is an interesting cultural-religious implication for the Jews. Passover was marked by the barley harvest and the Festival of Weeks ended with the wheat harvest at the Feast of Weeks and the beginning of the offering of first fruits.[19]  To the first believers who were Jewish, the significance of the second feast, known as Pentecost, is that on that date the law was written on tablets of stone and was an incomplete and partial revelation of God.[20] However, on Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to write the perfect law of liberty on men’s hearts, which is the law of the Spirit of Life.[21]  The significance of the imagery is found in Romans 8:53, where Paul referred to the Pentecostal gift as the “First Fruits of the Spirit.” To fully understand the full significance of this passage, one must note that Paul’s reference to the “first fruits of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:23) contains a direct reference to the Jewish festival of Pentecost – the festival of the “first fruits” of the summer harvest.

During the times of the Old Covenant the Holy Spirit came upon a chosen few prophets as a transitory visitation. That has changed. In the New Testament the Spirit comes upon all believers.  Formerly the Spirit stayed for a season and then departed, but in the New Covenant Period the Spirit remains in the believer to transform him into the image of God. The promise of Jesus is a permanent, inward, and abiding Spirit.[22]

It has been suggested that the New Covenant began at the Last Supper.  The wording would certainly suggest this.  However, this was only anticipatory, as it could not have had any effect upon anyone unless Jesus died and arose from the grave.  Jesus said “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out” (Jn. 26:28).  Obviously His blood was not poured out then, but it would be when He died on the cross.[23]

There are several arguments for the Resurrection Day vs. Pentecost as being the beginning of the New Covenant Period / Church Age / New Testament Period.  The disciples were born again one by one as they witnessed the incredible event of the resurrection. Most certainly Mary Magdalene was “born again” the moment she realized the gardener she was talking to was Jesus, even though she may never have learned that He was also the Gardener of Eden. Peter and John most certainly believed when they came to the empty tomb (Jn. 20:3) and discovered Jesus was not in it.  However, if there was any doubt, it was clearly removed that same evening when all gathered in the Upper Room and Jesus appeared before them.  If the New Covenant Period or Church Age really did begin on the Day of Pentecost, there are some difficult questions that need to be addressed.

  1. Since Pentecost is fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus, does this interpretation not place His entire ministry, death, and resurrection into the Old Covenant Period? If the Old Covenant was still in effect until Pentecost, then the blood of Jesus was equal to the blood of bulls, lambs, and goats of the Old Covenant sacrificial system. Is Jesus not the defining personality of the New Covenant? Then how could Jesus possibly have come to fulfill the Old Covenant promises and remain totally within that era?  His resurrection of life is the resurrection into the New Covenant/New Testament Period/Church Age.
  1. If the Old Covenant ended with the death and resurrection of Jesus, then, under what covenant did the people of God live during those fifty days until the Day of Pentecost? It should be noted that there is no way to God without a covenant. There was no “transitional covenant” between the Old and New Testament Periods and, therefore, there was no transitional period.[24]
  1. If Pentecost was the date the church was to be birthed, then Luke, John, and Paul are strangely silent on the subject, while focusing their attention only on the Holy Spirit. No mention is made until Acts 5:11, where the “church” appears as an existing institution in connection with the story of the dishonesty and death of Ananias and of Sapphira. Thereafter, the church is not mentioned until the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 8:1) and the persecution of the church that followed.
  1. If Romans 10:9 would be ignored so that Pentecost could be considered the beginning of the New Covenant, then all that would be needed to receive salvation would be the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. The point is that the resurrection is the essence of the New Covenant and without the work of the Holy Spirit, there is no renewal or regeneration. Many early theologians, such as St. Athanasius (296-298) and St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), argued that the center of the Christian faith was His death and resurrection and the justification of humanity by the blood of Christ.[25]
  1. If the ten disciples (Thomas and Judas were excluded, of course) were born again on the day of resurrection, when Jesus breathed the Holy spirit upon them (Jn. 20:22) and if the Day of Pentecost was the beginning of the Church Age, then were they born again on Pentecost? Or were they simply born again on the Day of Resurrection and filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost? Furthermore, if the position is held that this was a one-time event, unique to the disciples, then the question must be asked as to what the biblical basis is for this and what other biblical blessings have been so limited.
  1. After the ascension there was a meeting during which the saints prayed to our Lord (1:14). Could they have prayed to God without a covenant? Hardly! Again, one can only come to God if there is a covenant.  Were these praying saints Jews or Christians, or were they disciples waiting for the promise of the Comforter spoken of by Jesus?
  1. If it is assumed that the Old Covenant ceased to be effective on Good Friday, and the New Covenant did not begin until the Day of Pentecost, then there is a short time period between the Covenants when God had no Covenant with His people. That is hardly acceptable in any theological interpretation.
  1. Every evangelist who has ever given an invitation to a sinner to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior, has done so because Jesus died and arose from the grave, not because the Holy Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus is the essence of the New Covenant, not the Holy Spirit.

 

The real significance of Pentecost is that the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit for the task of evangelizing the world, as instructed in Acts 1:8.[26]  As if seeing Jesus alive was not already exhilarating, now they were ready to conquer the world with transformed bold conviction.[27] The indwelling Holy Spirit was the new essence of Jesus embodied in every believer. Furthermore, the promise of Joel 2:28-29 was not limited to Pentecost, as it was given to ten disciples previously in John 20:22 and later to many others. Pentecost was a defining moment; however, the once cowardly Peter was now preaching with boldness before the Spirit fell on that day. This is a tribute to the “breath” of God he received (Jn 20:22) on the first coming of the Spirit on the evening of Resurrection Day.  The disciples had an experience parallel to that of the baptism of Jesus.[28]  Clearly, the intent of Jesus was to bring Himself into the lives of His believers prior to them going to fulfill the Great Commission.

Therefore, the New Covenant Period sets forth a new relationship with God that is possible only because Jesus sacrificed Himself and rose from the grave.  The Holy Spirit functions as the purifying agent that also empowers and comforts the believer in his quest to be conformed into the image of God, as Adam was before the fall.[29]

Why is the Day of Pentecost not the first day of the New Covenant?  The primary reason is that nowhere is there an indication that the work of the Holy Spirit would be the New Covenant.  Regeneration is possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is followed by the work of the Holy Spirit to empower the saints.  In chronological history, the work of Jesus came first and, hence, the date of the Church Age needs to be adjusted to its proper setting, the morning of Resurrection day.

The dispensation of the Spirit could not begin until the work of Jesus, as Redeemer, was finished.  There could not have been a Pentecost until there was a Calvary.  Only after Jesus was exalted in heaven did the Spirit celebrate the coronation.  Only after the Rock (Jesus) was smitten could the rivers of water (Holy Spirit) flow.   The extent to which the Holy Spirit flows is dependent to a large extent on how much the Church desires the living water of God and believes in the glorified Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “If any man thirst” (Jn. 7:37), and Jesus continued to speak of the Holy Spirit.  Nothing could stop Resurrection Day and nothing could stop Pentecost that would be the living water of Jesus.

Just as a sinner’s reaction to Jesus is a test of his faith in God, so a saint’s reaction to the control of the Spirit is a test of his love and devotion to Jesus. The New Covenant / Church Age / New Testament Period began when Jesus walked out of the tomb.  The promised Holy Spirit appeared afterwards, most significantly on the Day of Pentecost, to empower and energize the believers to do the work of the Great Commission and build the Kingdom of God.[30]

 

[1]. One of the incredible features of the Bible, that elevates it far above other books deemed to be holy, is the number of prophecies that have been literally fulfilled and so verified by extra-biblical sources.

 

[2]. See 04.03.10.Q2, “When was Jesus born (Lk. 2:1-7).”

 

[3]. The term appears 33 times in the New Testament, half of them in the book of Hebrews.  The noun is translated as “covenant” twenty times and “Testament” thirteen times.  Payne, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. 1:995.

[4]. Rylaarsdam, “Pentecost.” 4:727.

[5]. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit. 51; Dusing, “The New Testament Church.” 528.

[6]. 1 Cor. 15:3-4, 17, 20-34; Heb. 7:27.

[7]. Fowler, The History and Literature of the New Testament. 50-51; Kostlin, “The Christian Church.” 3:78.

[8]. Clemens, “Pentecost.” 2:160-64.

[9]. See also Jn. 3:31; 19:11, 23.

 

[10]. Jn. 1:13; 1 Jn. 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:18.

 

[11]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 203-04.

 

[12]. Bromiley, “Regeneration.” 4:69.

[13]. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 127.

 

[14]. Minear, “Church, Idea of.” 1:615.

[15]. The opinion of Lewis, “Feasts.” 860.  Also, C.L. Feinberg mentions near universal agreement of theologians on this matter. “Pentecost.” 4:694.

[16]. Ervin, Conversion Initiation and the Baptism. 133-37.

[17]. Kay, Pentecost: Its Significance in the Life of the Church. 31.

[18]. Scott, C. “What Happened at Pentecost?” 129.

[19]. Ex. 34:22; Num. 28:17; Deut. 16:10; 2 Ch.. 8:13; Feinberg, “Pentecost.” 4:692.

[20]. Scott, E. The Spirit in the New Testament. 96.

[21]. Kay, Pentecost: Its Significance in the Life of the Church. 28.

[22]. Kay, Pentecost: Its Significance in the Life of the Church. 63-64.

[23]. Mendenhall, “Covenant.” 1:722.

 

[24]. Kay, Pentecost: Its Significance in the Life of the Church. 31.

[25]. Charry, By the Renewing of Your Minds. 93, 143; See Appendix 20.

[26]. Andrews, “The Acts of the Apostles.” 46.

[27]. Foakes-Jackson, “The Acts of the Apostles.” 9.

[28]. Decker, The First Christian Pentecost. 62.

[29]. Erickson, Christian Theology. 943.

[30]. For further study, see John F. Walvoord. Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come. Chicago: Moody, 1974.

 



18.01.05 WOMEN REMINDED OF PROPHECY

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 19, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.05 WOMEN REMINDED OF PROPHECY

18.01.05 Lk. 24:4-8

 

WOMEN REMINDED OF PROPHECY

 

4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. 5 So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground.

“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. 6 “He is not here, but He has been resurrected! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” 8 And they remembered His words.

 

Concerning the events that occurred at this time,[1] these were recorded by the gospel writers:

 

  1. They recorded that the resurrection occurred on or about the dawn of the day. Whether there was sunshine is hardly the point of argument since this is obviously an opinion of the writer, especially if there were springtime clouds in the sky.

 

  1. Mary, from the village of Magdala, was one of several persons who discovered that the body of Jesus was missing. She was His close friend and an important witness, obviously more important than the other women to the gospel writers.

 

A Lesson in First Century Hermeneutics:

18.01.05.X An Idea vs. A Quotation

In modern thinking, nothing can be more accurate than a precise quotation.  However, first century Jewish people did not always think that way. Sometimes the idea was of over-riding significance. Usually the issue is that one writer indicated that there were either two angels, two demoniacs, or two of something else, and another writer referred only to one of those two beings. Obviously this creates a sense of error to modern readers.  However, the ancients did not think that the important issue was the number of beings present, but what happened. The case of how many angels were at the tomb is this – an essential difference between western and Eastern Oriental (Jewish) thinking.

 

18.01.05.Q1 How many angels were at the tomb of Jesus: one or two (Lk. 24:4; Jn. 20:12 vs. Mt. 28:2; Mk. 16:4)?

Luke mentioned two angels, while the other writers made reference to only one.  Furthermore, the words spoken by the angels differ in the narratives. Considering the gospels were written some thirty years after these events occurred, it should not be surprising that only the idea of what happened was recorded, rather than actual quotations.  In Jewish thinking, conveying the idea was far more important than actual quotations. Even in modern courts today, an exact quotation from memory is not expected thirty years after the event.  If precision is claimed, the witness becomes suspect.  Likewise, all of the gospel writers present the same idea, even though the words are somewhat different.[2] It is a classic example of ipsissima verba and ipsissima vox that was previously described.[3] Another example is the Roman titulus, the sign on the cross that identified Jesus, where each of the four gospel writers wrote the same theme but used different wording.

18.01.05a

Critics argue that this clearly indicates that Scripture has error, yet they fail to admit that the Holy Writ is far superior to all other historical documents.[4]  For example, the earliest sources that detail the burning of Rome have far greater discrepancies concerning the cause of the fire and how it spread.  Some writers said the entire city was burned, while others claim only three districts were destroyed. No one questions the historicity of the fire and the related details, yet the same critics will question the entire gospel narrative on a minor issue.[5] In a similar case, Apion, a Greek intellectual who wrote the History of Egypt, an anti-Semitic work that circulated in the first century (A.D.) Roman world. In response to this antagonist, Josephus defended his faith and the inspiration of Jewish Scripture, which included the following:

 

For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have], but only twenty-two books,[6] which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death.

Josephus, Against Apion 1.8 (38-39a)

 

[1]. Mt. 28:1-8; Mk. 16:1-8; Lk. 24:1-10; Jn. 20:1-8.

 

[2]. Kaiser, Davids, Bruce, and Brauch, Hard Sayings of the Bible. 506.

[3]. See 08.03.04.Q4, “What is the significance of verbal statements, “Ipsissima Verba” and “Ipsissima Vox?’ ”

 

[4]. Barclay, Jesus. 243.

 

[5]. Maier, The First Easter. 94.

[6]. Some Books in the Hebrew Bible, such as First and Second Kings, are a single text. Josephus later mentioned the minor prophets.



18.01.06 WOMEN LEAVE IN FEAR WHILE PETER AND JOHN VISIT THE TOMB

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.06 WOMEN LEAVE IN FEAR WHILE PETER AND JOHN VISIT THE TOMB

18.01.06 Mk. 16:8; Jn. 20:2-10

 

WOMEN LEAVE IN FEAR WHILE PETER AND JOHN VISIT THE TOMB

 

Mk. 8 So they went out and started running from the tomb, because trembling and astonishment overwhelmed them. And they said nothing to anyone, since they were afraid.

 

Jn. 2 So she (Mary, of Magdala) ran to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!”

 

3 At that, Peter and the other disciple went out, heading for the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and got to the tomb first.                5 Stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not go in. 6 Then, following him, Simon Peter came also. He entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. 7 The wrapping that had been on His head was not lying with the linen cloths but was folded up in a separate place by itself. 8 The other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, then entered the tomb, saw, and believed. 9 For they still did not understand the Scripture that He must rise from the dead.

10 Then the disciples went home again.

 

 

18.01.06.Q1 Why did John hesitate when he came to the tomb? 

 

John, the disciple, was a kinsman of the high priest Caiaphas (Acts 4:6). Many scholars have said that to enter a tomb that contained a body would have defiled him because he was an orthodox Jew.  Some have argued that the John of Acts 4:6 may not have been this disciple, but the fact that he did not enter the tomb until he realized it was empty, strongly suggests that he was a member of the priesthood family, which was required to observe the laws of defilement. But the question remains as to whether entering any tomb would have defiled him, even if did not have a body.

 

Amazingly, the burial cloth “was folded up in a separate place by itself.”  Bodies were generally wrapped in two burial cloths. There was the shroud that was tightly wrapped around the body and a smaller cloth, known in Greek as a soudarion (4676), that covered the head (see Jn. 11:44).[1]  The cloth, meaning the large shroud, was neatly and miraculously folded. This statement was placed in the gospel record for a reason, as this action clearly states that the body was not stolen. No one would have stolen a naked body; no thief would have taken the time to fold a worthless grave cloth while trying to avoid detection by Roman soldiers.[2]  Jesus died, but His body did not decay.

 

Commentators throughout the history of the church reflect upon Psalm 16:10 as a Messianic prophecy that pointed to the resurrection.  It reads:

 

                For You will not abandon me to Sheol;
You will not allow Your Faithful One to see decay.

 

            Psalm 16:10

 

There can be no doubt that the understanding of this psalm was not clear until after Jesus arose.  Jewish scholars of the first century naturally read this to mean the Messiah would never see physical death.  Such an interpretation is easy to understand.  Hence, it is evident again that the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the Messiah was far different than anyone would have ever expected.

 

The resurrection appearances of Jesus were limited to those friends with whom He had established a rapport and fellowship.  His critics did not have the privilege of seeing Him in His resurrected body. So it will be someday for all of humanity, only those who know Him will see Him. Hence, Jesus said, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (Jn. 20:17).

[1]. The small cloth that covered the head is sometimes referred to as a “napkin” and was used to uphold the jaw so the mouth remained closed. See Farrar, The Life of Christ. 360; Vine, “Handkerchief.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:289 and “Napkin.” 2:426.

 

[2]. One of the mythical legends concerning the resurrection of Jesus pertains to the folded burial cloth, which it incorrectly calls a “napkin.”  The legends states that the fact that it was found folded, is symbolic of His return. There is nothing in Jewish literature that suggests this symbolism.  The life of Jesus was so dynamic that any fabricated story merely detracts from the historical reality.

 



18.01.07 JESUS WITH MARY MAGDALENE

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.07 JESUS WITH MARY MAGDALENE

18.01.07 Mk. 16:9; Jn. 20:11-17

 

JESUS WITH MARY MAGDALENE

 

Mk. 9 Early on the first day of the week, after He had risen, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons.

Jn. 11 But Mary stood outside facing the tomb, crying. As she was crying, she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet, where Jesus’ body had been lying. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“Because they’ve taken away my Lord,” she told them, “and I don’t know where they’ve put Him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not know it was Jesus.

15 “Woman,” Jesus said to her, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Supposing He was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you’ve removed Him, tell me where you’ve put Him, and I will take Him away.”

16 Jesus said, “Mary.”

Turning around, she said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” — which means “Teacher.”[1]

17 Don’t cling to Me,” Jesus told her, “for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and tell them that I am ascending                                                      

to My Father                                                                                                             and your Father —                                                                          to My God                                                                                                                 and your God.”

 

In the closing comments of this narrative Jesus told Mary to go and tell the disciples what she had just witnessed.  As previously stated, women were not considered viable witnesses and their ideas were generally considered meaningless.  So by this action, Jesus underscored the importance of women and, thereby, their status was elevated.

 

“Supposing He was the gardener.” Mary had mistakenly believed that Jesus was the gardener.  However, theologically, He was precisely that.  In the book of Genesis Adam lived in the Garden of Eden and now Jesus was the “Second Adam,” and hence, “The Gardener.”

 

The phrase “Don’t cling to Me,” emphasizes “clinging” onto Jesus, as opposed to Thomas, who touched Jesus to feel His wounds.  Some translations read, “Don’t touch me.”

18.01.07.Q1 Is Mark 16:9-20 authentic?

 

Some modern translations have a notation stating, “These verses do not appear in the most trusted manuscripts of the New Testament.”  The implication is that these were added by scribes and were not part of the original gospel.  This notice is based upon the fact that these verses do not appear in the Codex Vaticanus or the Codex Sinaiticus. However, what these scholars do not reveal is that these manuscripts agree with each other slightly more than 3,000 times.[2] No other ancient records have such a high consistency of accuracy in transmission. Therefore, the notice is unwarranted as it can be assured the passage in question was in the original text.

 

Only later manuscripts have Mark 16:9-20 and these are considered inferior to the older ones. Textual critics say that the style of Greek is so dramatically different that the latter portion could not have been written by the author of the first portion. However, that does not mean that that the gospel was intended to end at Mark 16:8. Furthermore, Mark could have had a different scribe write that portion of Scripture. The reason for the change is unknown and the answer lies only with God.

[1]. “Rabbouni” is an affectionate and endearing term also found in Mark 10:51.

[2]. Burgon, The Causes of Corruption in the Traditional Text. 251-52, 259.



18.01.08 JESUS APPEARS TO THE WOMEN

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.08 JESUS APPEARS TO THE WOMEN

18.01.08 Mt. 28:8-10

 

JESUS APPEARS TO THE WOMEN 

 

8 So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell His disciples the news. 9 Just then Jesus met them and said, “Good morning!” They came up, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see Me there.”

 

Again Scripture elevates the status of women.[1] And Jesus again demonstrated that He had no respect for the religious traditions of men and silently underscored the social and legal value of women.  They would be the first witnesses to testify to the resurrection – a sharp contrast to the prevailing opinions of their testimony as noted in the following two documents:

 

But let not the testimony of women be admitted on account of the levity and boldness of their sex, nor let servants be admitted to give testimony on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment.

 

Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.15

 

Any evidence which a woman gives is not valid (to offer) … This is equivalent to saying that one who is Rabbinically accounted a robber is qualified to give the same evidence as a woman.

 

Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 1.8[2]

 

Critics have long said that the resurrection account was a creation of the disciples or early church fathers. If that were true, they certainly would not have recorded women as witnesses, but would have chosen honorable and respected disciples, such as Peter, James or John.  No self-respecting Jew would have fabricated a story of this nature. Furthermore, among Gentiles the status of women was even lower, so therefore, no Gentile church leader would have created this account either.

[1]. For example, their testimony was excluded from legal court proceedings. Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 3.9

 

[2]. Quoted in Gary Habermas and Mike Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. 72.

 



18.01.09 CHIEF PRIESTS TRY TO EXPLAIN THE MISSING BODY

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.09 CHIEF PRIESTS TRY TO EXPLAIN THE MISSING BODY

18.01.09 Mt. 28:11-15

 

CHIEF PRIESTS TRY TO EXPLAIN THE MISSING BODY 

11 As they were on their way, some of the guards came into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priests had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money  13 and told them, “Say this, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole Him while we were sleeping.’ 14 If this reaches the governor’s ears, we will deal with him and keep you out of trouble.15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day.

The unanswered question of this account is – if the guards were asleep, how would they have known if the disciples had stolen the body?  Origen, an early enemy of the faith who later converted, wrote an interesting account in his apologetic writing titled Against Celsus concerning the soldiers who guarded the tomb of Christ.

 

But after our Lord’s coming, those who busied themselves with overthrowing the belief that the place of His birth had been the subject of prophecy from the beginning, withheld such teaching from the people; acting in a similar manner to those individuals who won over those soldiers of the guard stationed around the tomb who had seen him arise from the dead, and [those same guards] who instructed these eye-witnesses to report as follows: “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.”

Origen, Against Celsus 1:51[1]

 

The emperor had some simple rules for his soldiers:  If they lost a prisoner, they were sentenced to death.  If they lost a military battle, they became slaves. Obviously they were not prone to take their assignments lightly.  They guarded the tomb with the utmost diligence to insure no one would steal the body or they would lose their lives.  The last thing they expected was for the stone to roll aside and Jesus to walk out.  Evidently the experience of guarding a deceased body that suddenly came to life had a chilling effect on them.

 

18.01.09.Q1 What is an “Admission of Interest?”

In a court of law, there is an interesting phrase called an, “Admission of interest” but it is better understood as an “Admission against interest.” It essentially states that false testimonies against a certain person or event indirectly proves the point or position of the accused and, in reality, is a testimony against the accuser. In other words, the accusations that Jesus did not rise from the grave is a good argument for, but not “proof” that, He did rise from the grave.[2]

18.01.09a

The false accounts concerning the resurrection began with the chief priests and have continued to this day.  Members of the Sanhedrin could hardly believe what they were hearing.  They had enough problems with the earthquake and the darkness, both of which were understood to be symbolic of God’s wrath.  Furthermore, people who had recently died walked around Jerusalem, symbolic of a coming divine resurrection and God’s love.  If the disciples were astonished at these events, those who condemned Him must have been panic-stricken!

 

Yet the major problem continued to be how a messiah could have been cursed on a Roman cross.  How could a man, who had healed the sick and raised the dead, die the worst kind of death? How could Roman soldiers kill God’s appointed messiah?  This event made no sense whatsoever. The full meaning of the divinity of Jesus was not comprehended until after His resurrection.  Generations later, the descendants of the Pharisees made several references to Jesus.[3] But of interest here is the observation made by the historian Josephus.

 

Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such as men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.  He was Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Josephus, Antiquities 18.3.3 (63-64)

 

Recent critics have claimed that this statement is not original with Josephus, but is a later addition by Christian editors.  They present a good point in saying that such complimentary words would hardly have come from non-Christian Jews. Furthermore, if Josephus praised Jesus, why did he not do likewise for James, the brother of Jesus, when James was being stoned to death by Jewish rioters?[4]

While they present valid arguments, history however, appears to support the authenticity of the comment.  The writings of Josephus were quickly translated into Arabic and Slavonic [Russian], before the original manuscript reached the Christian community, and his comments on Jesus appear in those translations as stated in English. At some point in history the Antiquities of the Jews was translated into Arabic with the same comment.[5] Another witness of this original work was Eusebius who mentioned it in his Ecclesiastical History (1.1.7-8) and in Demonstration of the Gospel (3.5.105-06), but then added the following:

 

When such testimony as this was transmitted to us by an historian who sprung from the Hebrews themselves, both respecting John the Baptist and our Savior, what subterfuge can be left to prevent those from being convicted destitute of all shame, who have forged the acts against them?  This, however, may suffice on this subject.

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1.11.9

 

The obvious difficulty for critics is how to explain how an editor could have added these comments after the original manuscript had been translated and distributed widely throughout the Roman Empire.  There are four notable reasons as to why this statement (Antiquities 18.3.3) is considered to be original with Josephus and not a later insert by a copyist or editor.

 

  1. There are obvious Christian words missing. These are sometimes referred to as “Christian-eze;” those words commonly used by believers, even early believers, to express their thoughts and ideas, and these are missing.

 

  1. There four obvious expressions that were not used by the early church fathers, not anyone else who was a follower of Jesus. These expressions were Jesus as a

 

  1. “A wise man”

 

  1. “Doer of wonderful works”

 

  1. “Receive the truth with pleasure” and,

 

  1. “The tribe of Christians”

 

  1. Josephus also made a reference to James, the brother of Jesus, in Antiquities 20. This is important because Josephus made reference to James, based upon his previous description of Jesus in Antiquities 18. Therefore, the latter reference confirms the authenticity of the former.[6]

 

  1. Not a single copy of Josephus has been uncovered that does not have this comment about Jesus. In other words, what ancient copy is there that supports the claims of the critics? None!

Of particular note is the fact that followers of Jesus spoke often of His “miracles,” not His “works.” In addition, the word “tribe” would have some derogatory connotations to it. No Christian would have used it.  Josephus, who was a well-respected Pharisee (like the Apostle Paul), but not a believer, carefully used words that in his Jewish thinking best described Jesus, without showing any loyalty to Him.  Since he enjoyed a lavish retirement, granted by the emperor, he had to choose his words wisely.

 

“If this reaches the governor’s ears, we will deal with him and keep you out of trouble.” The lives of the guards were now in the hands of the Jews.  It was common knowledge that Roman soldiers who failed to perform their duties were severely punished – usually by death. So this was an extremely important matter, one that would even make the emperor question as to what really happened.

 

An example of a soldier who failed to perform his duty as required was recorded by Gaius Petronius Arbiter (A.D. 27 – 66). He was a courtier for Emperor Nero and is credited with writing the satirical novel Satyricon. One of his characters is a true-life individual named Eumolpus, who reflected upon one of his life experiences – that of an Ephesian woman who was in the tomb of her husband where she mourned continuously of her loss. As the story goes, it was fortunate for the Roman soldier as his life was spared with the help of this grieving widow. As she mourns, some thieves were crucified nearby and Petronius continues the story –

 

Now at that moment the governor of the province gave orders that some robbers should be crucified near the small structure in which the lady was lamenting her loss.  So, the next day, the soldier was on guard by the crosses to stop anyone from taking down the body for burial.  He noticed a light glimmering quite distinctly among the tombs and heard the moans of a mourner.  

 

At this point the soldier leaves his post and comforts the mourning widow, eventually seducing her. He returns to her night after night but his actions being noticed by the family of the crucified robber. Petronius continues –

So the parents of one of the crucified men, noting how careless the guard was, took the body down one night and performed the last rites over it.  In his absence from duty the soldier was thus circumvented; and next day, finding one of the crosses without its corpse, he was scared at the prospect of punishment. He contemplated suicide, but the widow said, “I’d rather see a dead man crucified than a living man dead.  She then asked him to remove her husband’s corpse from its coffin and secure it up on the empty cross … and the people wondered next day by what means the dead man had ascended the cross.

Petronius, Satyricon 111-112[7] 

 

Without question, at times elements of humor enter life’s most horrific events. But the point is that guards who failed to perform their assigned duties often chose suicide rather than punishment. Therefore, the missing body of Jesus was truly a matter of life and death for the guards, who depended upon the wicked priests to save them.

“His disciples came during the night and stole Him.” This statement has been repeated by critics for centuries.  The only problem is that the disciples clearly did not expect Jesus to rise from the grave. This has its own value, as it clears them of any suspicion of creating a report of a resurrection.

 

[1]. Bracketed notation by author for clarification. See also Justin Martyr, Dialog with Trypho. 1:253.

[2]http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=2341. Retrieved October 2, 2013.

 

[3]. Jewish writers later made three references to Jesus in the two Talmuds: (1) He had immoral parents, namely his mother: Jerusalem Talmud, Tebamot 4:13, Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 104b, and Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 106a; (2) He was a magician and idolater: Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 107b; and (3) Jesus was a heretic and blasphemer: Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 103a and Babylonian Talmud, Taanit 65a. Another reference written later and, therefore, not a part of the Talmuds known as the Toidat Yeshu, is considerably friendlier to Jesus.

[4]. Josephus, Antiquities 20.9.1

 

[5]. Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament. 28-29.

[6]. For further study on this, see Charlesworth, Jesus within Judaism,  Chapter 4 “Jesus, the Nag Hammadi Codices, and Josephus.” (New York: Doubleday 1988). 77-102.

[7]. Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? 161-62; http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/5/2/2/5225/5225-h/5225-h.htm. Retrieved October 8, 2012.

 



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