18.01 Risen From The Grave


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.10 WOMEN TELL OF SEEING JESUS

18.01.10 Lk. 24:9-11 (See also Mk. 16:10-11; Jn. 20:18)




9 Returning from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. 10 Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them were telling the apostles these things. 11 But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women.


As stated elsewhere, possibly the most important point of this narrative pertains to the women reporting “these things” to the disciples. This affirms the historical accuracy of the event because, ironically, women were not permitted to be witnesses according to Jewish law. Anyone who would have fabricated the resurrection story would never have identified women as witnesses – especially if he wanted to persuade a Jewish audience. However, the fact that women were the first to see Jesus and report of His resurrection emphasizes two unique features:


  1. The importance of women in the plan of God. It underscores the point that in Christ there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, Greek nor Jew as stated in Galatians 3:28.


  1. Only a report of a true historical event would have included women as witnesses.



18.01.10.Q1 If the body of Jesus was stolen, who would have taken it? 


There are two possible answers:


  1. His enemies and critics might have stolen it. If they had the body, they would have produced it when confronting the apostles in the Book of Acts. There were numerous confrontations between the Jewish leaders and the apostles, but no one had the body.


  1. His friends might have stolen it. If they, in fact, had the body they would not have suffered painful martyrdoms for a fairytale. Of the eleven disciples, ten were martyred. They often had the opportunity to recant their story, but they constantly refused.  Why?  They knew the body was neither in the tomb nor stolen. It was transformed and had ascended.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.11 JESUS APPEARED TO CLEOPAS

18.01.11 Lk. 24:13-27 (See also Mk. 16:12) The Road to Emmaus



13 Now that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 Together they were discussing everything that had taken place. 15 And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus Himself came near and began to walk along with them. 16 But they were prevented from recognizing Him. 17 Then He asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped walking and looked discouraged.

18 The one named Cleopas answered Him, “Are You the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?

19 “What things?” He asked them.

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a Prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that He was the One who was about to redeem Israel. Besides all this, it’s the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women from our group astounded us. They arrived early at the tomb, 23 and when they didn’t find His body, they came and reported that they had seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see Him.”

25 He said to them, “How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.


Jesus walked on the road to Emmaus with two disciples. While the identity of one remains unknown, church history reports the other was Cleopas.  He became a leading figure after the martyrdom of James, the half-brother of Jesus. Cleopas also organized the mass evacuation of Messianic believers out of Jerusalem in the early days of the Roman siege in A.D. 66.[1]

Within a few years the primitive church adopted this liturgy in Hebraic poetic style:

Christ died for our sins

according to the Scripture

           He was buried

He was raised on the third day

according to Scripture

          He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.


Early Church Confession[2]


Are You the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?”  What an interesting statement, because Jesus was the only one who really understood what happened on that day.  This conversation also shows that Jesus appears to have had a dry sense of humor.

“Our chief priests and leaders handed Him over to be sentenced to death.” This is the earliest and most explicit statement which places the responsibility for the execution of Jesus directly upon the Jewish leadership.  The Apostle Paul later said that the Jews were responsible for His death (1 Thess. 2:14-15), but did not identify which group of Jews.[3]

But we were hoping that He was the One who was about to redeem Israel.”   Their dream that Jesus would be the one who would redeem Israel from Roman tyranny died with His crucifixion.  The focus and vision of the Jewish people for such a military-messiah were so strong that, when Jesus was among them, everything they saw Him do and heard Him say was filtered through their image of a military-messiah. The word “redeem” did not have the meaning that Christians associate with it today; rather, it referred to political freedom for Israel and the Jewish people. The crucifixion of Jesus was the crucifixion of that dream.  Only in His resurrection did these disciples begin to realize who Jesus really was, as He explained to them all that was written in the Scriptures concerning Himself.


To meet Jesus in Galilee

Three times Jesus told His disciples to meet Him in Galilee and three times they failed to understand and comply with His instructions. Therefore, He came to meet them in Jerusalem.

18.01.11.A. JEWISH COIN OF THE FIRST REVOLT. This is the first silver Jewish coin minted in A.D. 67-68.  LEFT: Chalice/Omer cup with pearled rim. Paleo-Hebrew legends read “Shekel of Israel” and “Year Two.” RIGHT: Stem with three pomegranates. Legend reads “Jerusalem the Holy.”

Source: http://www.mefacts.com/cached.asp?x_id=10080


 18.01.11.Q1 Where is the biblical Emmaus?

Modern tourists, like those of the Crusader days, visit the so-called Emmaus, located in the Shoreck Valley near the Arab village of Kiriath-Yearim (modern Abu Ghosh).  Since traveling during the Crusader era was extremely difficult, they created “historical sites” such as Emmaus and Mount Tabor, the so-called Mount of Transfiguration. These created sites were placed along main travel routes for the convenience of pilgrims. Therefore, the pursuit of truth requires a fresh look at Scripture and the facts.

The most important clue of the location of Emmaus is the definition of the name. It was originally named Amwas (pronounced A-mouse), meaning warm waters or warm wells.[4] In Hebrew, the word hamat or chammat means hot springs or warm water springs.[5] However, the Greeks and Romans could not pronounce it so they changed the name to Emmaus. They added the typical aus on the end of the name as was done with many place names.[6]

Of the four villages that today claim that biblical heritage, the only one that ever had hot springs is located about eighteen miles west of Jerusalem. It is the site of the Maccabean battleground as recorded in 1 Maccabees 3:40, 57 and 4:3. Early pilgrims such as Bordeaux Pilgrim (ca. 333) and the Holy Paula (ca. 386), accepted this site as authentic.  Possibly most important, however, is that a Byzantine Church was built there to commemorate the narrative of Luke 24:13.[7]

Critics claimed that this Emmaus (shown below) could not possibly be the biblical site because its distance of 160 Roman stadia, or 18.4 miles, which supposedly is more than a day’s walk. In response, some scholars claim that the ancients were accustomed to walking at a much faster pace than their modern counterparts.  Evidently, Josephus would agree with the latter group, for he recorded the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem could be walked in three days, definitely a strenuous walk for anyone today. Whether he made reference from the province of Galilee, approximately sixty miles away, or the Sea of Galilee, some eighty miles away, is unclear.  But, clearly, Josephus provided enough data to conclude that the Emmaus of the hot springs is the authentic site. When he was speaking to the five hundred men under his command as the captain of the Galilee army (about A.D. 65), he said,

I wrote to my friends in Samaria to take care that they might safely pass through their country, for Samaria was already under the Romans and it was absolutely necessary for those that go quickly (to Jerusalem)[8] to pass through that country; for on that road you may, in three days’ time go from Galilee to Jerusalem.

Josephus, Life 52 (269)  

Obviously, the eighteen or twenty-mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus was not considered impossible by the historian.  People in ancient times walked briskly, as did the disciples, who hastily walked the road from Emmaus in their excitement of the news of Jesus.[9]


18.01.11.B. ROMAN BATH HOUSE RUINS IN EMMAUS. This bathhouse ruins is the only evidence visible of the hot water that once came forth at this spring. This was a vibrant community and after the Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638, they wanted to make Emmaus their capital because of the warm waters.  However, as a result of a devastating plague in the year 669, thousands died and the community was abandoned. Photograph by the author.

[1]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 26, page 14.

[2]. Martin, Worship in the Early Church. 59 quoting from E. Meyer, Ursprung und Anfange des Christentums III. Berlin, 1923. 210.

[3]. Please note that the Pharisees are no long mentioned in the biblical narrative after this point. As stated previously, since they were not permitted to vote on capital cases, they were not among the voting members of the Sanhedrin or before Pilate.

[4]. Clark, “Emmaus,” 2:98.

[5]. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:94.

[6]. Interview with Arie bar David, tour guide and lecturer. August 1999.

[7]. Clark, “Emmaus,” 2:97-98.

[8]. Parenthesis by Whiston, ed.

[9]. Zondervan’s New International Version Archaeological Study Bible. (2005 ed.). 1716.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.12 JESUS IS REVEALED

18.01.12 Lk. 24:28-32 Emmaus, Sunday morning




28 They came near the village where they were going, and He gave the impression that He was going farther. 29 But they urged Him: “Stay with us, because it’s almost evening, and now the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.

30 It was as He reclined at the table with them that He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him, but He disappeared from their sight. 32 So they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?”


Once the disciples had seen Jesus open the eyes of the blind; now He opened the eyes of their understanding.  They had spent several years traveling with Him, listening to His teaching, and observing His many miracles. The crucifixion had destroyed their hopes, their dreams, and was a monumental disappointment which left a heavy cloud of depression over them. Now, suddenly, they saw that He truly was alive!  Their depression exploded into overwhelming joy and excitement. The unbelievable became reality. Jesus is alive!


“He gave the impression that He was going farther.”  Jesus did not imply or pretend anything false, as this obviously does not reflect upon His proven character. Rather, Jesus was walking on, and would have continued if it had not been for their intervention.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.13 CLEOPAS TELLS OF APPEARANCE OF JESUS

18.01.13 Lk. 24:22a; Jn. 20:19a; Lk. 24:33b-35





Lk. 33a That very hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem.


Jn. 19a In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews.


Lk. 33b They found the Eleven and those with them gathered together, 34 who said, “The Lord has certainly been raised, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they began to describe what had happened on the road and how He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.14 JESUS APPEARS TO DISCIPLES

18.01.14 Mk. 16:14; Lk. 24:36-43; Jn. 20:20; Lk. 24:44 (cf. 1 Cor. 15:7) Sunday night




Mk. 14 Later, He appeared to the Eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table. He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who saw Him after He had been resurrected.


Lk. 36 And as they were saying these things, He Himself stood among them. He said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 “Why are you troubled?” He asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 Having said this, He showed them His hands and feet. 41 But while they still were amazed and unbelieving because of their joy, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, 43 and He took it and ate in their presence.


Jn. 20 Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.


Lk. 44 Then He told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you — that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”


In Mark 16:14 Jesus scolded the disciples for three reasons.


  1. They failed to go to Galilee as previously directed.


  1. They failed to believe the witnesses and


  1. They believed they were looking at a ghost, not at Jesus.

The reason Jesus ate with them was to demonstrate that He was not a ghost or spirit, but real flesh and blood. He also affirmed the three divisions of the Hebrew Bible (“Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms”).


Where they gathered is unknown.  Some have said they returned to the Upper Room to reminisce about the holy hour they had at Passover. They were speaking of bygone times and conversations, when mysteriously Jesus stepped into the room! He entered without opening a door, yet stood before them in a body of living flesh. In a moment, in less than the twinkling of an eye, their deep sorrow had turned into overwhelming joy. To say that “the disciples rejoiced” is without question a phenomenal understatement.  The vivid Hebrew imagery is lost in translation.  Literally, they were ecstatic, jubilant and extremely overjoyed. They were overjoyed beyond the ability of English to capture the intense emotion. The early church father Jerome wrote commentary concerning this gathering in his book of Hebrews, which he called a gospel,


The gospel that is called “According to the Hebrews” and which I recently translated into Greek and Latin….


…When the lord had handed over the linen cloth to the priest’s servants, he went to James and appeared to him.  For James had made an oath to eat no bread after he had drunk the cup of the Lord until he saw him risen from those who sleep.


Shortly thereafter the Lord spoke to him: bring a table here with bread…. He took the bread, spoke the blessing and gave it to James the just and said to him “My brother, eat your bread, for the Son of Man is risen from those who are asleep.”


Jerome, De Viris Illustribus 23


Most certainly, the gospels give us only a glimpse of the conversation that followed.  Perhaps this moment was too precious and personal to be shared in writing.  Regardless, Jesus then proceeded to send them to go out and tell others of the good news of the Kingdom of God.



18.01.14.Q1 Does Luke 24:41 oppose John 20:19?


In Luke’s narrative the disciples would not believe whereas in John’s narrative they could not believe for the joy they had.  Luke 24:36 and John 20:19 both agreed that the disciples were talking when Jesus suddenly stood among them.  Furthermore, in Luke 24:37-39 and John 20:19-21 Jesus revealed Himself to his disciples.  Luke 24:41 is not unbelief of faith or doctrine, but the disciples were awestruck at what had happened and they had difficulty perceiving the reality of the moment: the resurrection of Jesus.  The gospel writer used the same terminology as would be common today, if an event would seem unbelievable.  The two passages agree.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.15 APOSTLES RECEIVE AUTHORITY

18.01.15 Jn. 20:21-23


21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

23 If you forgive the sins of any,

they are forgiven them;

If you retain the sins of any,

they are retained.”

“Receive the Holy Spirit.”  Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon His disciples, just as He had breathed life into the first Adam in the Garden of Eden.  This was the promised Holy Spirit, which would come in a more dynamic manner on the Day of Pentecost.  Some scholars have suggested that this Johanine Pentecost was just a “deposit” of a greater outpouring of the Spirit that was to come fifty days later.

To understand the breathing of Jesus in John 20, it is important to refer to the breathing in John 1 where the gospel writer referred to the creation narrative (Gen 2:7).  There was a new birth of man on the day of Creation and now there was a new birth for all men (in the New Testament sense of the word) the day Jesus arose from the grave.  No longer would they be limited to the old way of understanding the work of the Holy Spirit. It was believed the Spirit had two primary functions.[1]

  1. To reveal divine truth to men, and
  2. To enable men to recognize and accept that truth.

Now their understanding increased dramatically, and would be enhanced even more on the Day of Pentecost.

There is no access to God in either the Old or New Testament except in a covenant relationship. The covenant is the relationship in which God welcomes those created in His image.  The Old Covenant ceased to be in effect when the thousands of lambs of sacrifice were replaced with the Lamb of God and His shedding of His blood.  In essence, the Old Covenant ceased to be in effect when the earthly ministry of Jesus was complete and He spoke those final and famous words on the cross “It is finished.”

Just as John indicated that life was conferred in the first creation, likewise it was conferred in the “re-creation” in Christ Jesus.  Just as Jesus breathed into a clay body in Genesis, He willingly gave up His own breath as He died of asphyxiation upon the cross.[2]  When He willingly gave up His last breath, He willingly closed out the Old Covenant and ushered in the New.

Believers are baptized in the Holy Spirit, not with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is the medium, not the agent. Was the day of Pentecost the day the disciples were “born again?”  The disciples who had witnessed the profound miracles of Jesus, heard His teachings, and lived with Him anywhere from three and one-half years to possibly five or six, still did not believe He was the Messiah until after the resurrection, and especially when they gathered in the Upper Room.

Wind, the symbol of God’s presence

Wind is often symbolic of Divine presence.  Words such as “breath,” and “wind” found in John 20:22; Acts 2:2; 2 Samuel 5:24 and Josephus[3] attest to this interpretation.  In Genesis 2:7 God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath (or wind) of life. In Job 33:4 God gave His faithful servant the breath of life and in Ezekiel (37:5, 10, 14) God breathed life into old bones. Now Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon His closest disciples.  Yet it is interesting that after this “Pentecost” experience, they did not show any of the profound signs, such as speaking in tongues, as occurred on the evening of Pentecost.

[1]. Barclay, “Mark.” 79-81.

[2]. Mellowes and Cran, Producers. From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians. (DVD). Part 1.

[3]. Josephus,  Antiquities 3.5.2


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.16 THE DOUBTING THOMAS

18.01.16 Jn. 20:24-29




24 But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!”

26 After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”

27 Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”

28 Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said,

            “Because you have seen Me,

                        you have believed.

            Those who believe without seeing

                        are blessed.”


“The doors were locked.”  The question that is often missed is, “Why was the door locked?”  From the time the Romans arrived in 63 B.C. until the so-called “First Revolt” in which the temple was destroyed there were thirteen revolts and many riots. Whenever a messianic pretender was captured by the Romans, he and his men were all crucified. While the disciples knew they did not belong to any revolutionary group, they also knew that since Jesus was just martyred, they could be next. Little wonder then, that in this entire discourse, Jesus mentioned three times “peace to you.”


“My Lord and my God!”   This was a most profound statement for any Jew to make, since Jews had always been taught that God could not be a man, nor could a man be a god.  To Jews this did, and continues, to violate the first two commandments concerning idols and gods (Ex. 20:3-4). However, Thomas realized Deity had truly come to earth. This phrase has been memorialized by the “doubting Thomas,” but in fact, all the disciples were having serious second thoughts at this time. Throughout the centuries, he has been criticized for his lack of faith.  However, since he did lack faith but was bold enough to request evidence, we benefit from that discourse. While he is seldom complimented for his expressed honesty, he may not have been the skeptic or doubter that has been his label, but rather, one with an inquisitive mind, an analytical thinker, one who today might be considered a careful critic who became a dynamic apostle.[1]


Jesus appeared to many people, other than those recorded in the gospels. The Apostle Paul reveals that Jesus met with more than five hundred people, and again with the twelve disciples.


5b  He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. 6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. 7 Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.


1 Corinthians 15:5b-8

[1]. A brief description of the lives of the apostles in found in Appendix 27.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.17 JESUS APPEARS TO DISCIPLES

18.01.17 Jn. 21:1-14 Later at the Sea of Galilee




1 After this, Jesus revealed Himself again to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed Himself in this way:

2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of His disciples were together.

3 “I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them.

“We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 When daybreak came, Jesus stood on the shore. However, the disciples did not know it was Jesus.

5 “Men,” Jesus called to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?”

“No,” they answered.

6 “Cast the net on the right side of the boat,” He told them, “and you’ll find some.” So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish.             

7 Therefore the disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer garment around him (for he was stripped) and plunged into the sea. 8 But since they were not far from land (about 100 yards away), the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish. 9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread.

10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus told them. 11 So Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish153 of them. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.

12 “Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. None of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish.

14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.


It appears that at this point there are only seven disciples in the boat. The location of the others is unknown although they could have been nearby.  They had no idea what their future would hold; no idea that Jesus had dynamic plans for every one of them.  So they naturally returned to their former professions.  Here they were fishing just as they were doing when Jesus first met them.


“On the right side of the boat.” The fact that Jesus told Simon Peter to cast his net on the right side of the boat is significant. By stating the right side, Jesus implied that those fish would be good because the “right side,” in Scripture frequently refers to that which is good whereas the left side acquires those things that will be cast away.  For example, In Matthew 25:33-34 Jesus said that His sheep will be on His right side while the goats will be on His left. The sheep will inherit eternal life with Him while those on His left side will be cast into outer darkness.


He tied his outer garment around him.”   The outer garment is literally the fisher’s coat.[1]   This term is found nowhere else in the New Testament. The original Greek text also reads that Peter was naked.  Modern readers would interpret this phrase to mean that Peter was fishing completely nude, which was not the case. He only threw off his outer garment.[2]  The Jewish culture was a very modest one and constantly opposed to the immodesty of the Greeks, yet fishing with daily clothing was quite cumbersome. In fact, the term “nude” was also used to denote the lack of socially acceptable dress.  Even though fishing was done at night, modesty was still a high social value.[3]  An explanation of the word “nude” is found in this rabbinic writing concerning the capital punishment of stoning:


When he (the condemned man)[4] was four cubits from the place of stoning, they stripped off his clothes.  A man is kept covered in the front and a woman both in front and behind….The sages say: “A man is stoned naked but a woman is not stoned naked.”

Mishnah, Sanhedrin 6.3-4


In essence, when the Jews exercised capital punishment, they stripped a person of his or her outer garments leaving only essential undergarments on. As such, the condemned was said to be “naked.” This practice was significantly different from a Roman crucifixion that deprived the condemned criminal of any modesty to add shame to punishment. Hence, when Jesus was on the cross, He was not given a “modesty cloth,” but was completely nude, which was the shame He bore for the sins of humanity.


They saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it.”  When the disciples came to the shore, Jesus had an ordinary breakfast waiting for them.  But was it really ordinary?  Where did the hot coals, the fish and the bread come from? Was this another miracle? Mysteries, such as these, remain hidden with the Savior. Furthermore, these were not ordinary fish, but freshwater sardenes – among the smallest fish in the Sea of Galilee.[5]  And why charcoal?  The only other place charcoal is mentioned in the New Testament is when Peter warmed himself by a charcoal fire during the trials at which time he denied knowing Jesus (Jn. 18:18). This time the odor of the charcoal fire most certainly reminded him of his shameful experience. There can be no question that when Peter saw the charcoal fire on the shore, he immediately thought of the charcoal fire by the palace of Caiaphas. He must have pondered who was there.


A Lesson in First Century Hermeneutics:

Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish — 153 of them.”  In the preceding paragraph a number of fishermen attempted to haul in a net full of fish but failed in the task. It was only after Simon Peter became involved that he, as a leader, accomplished what had been an impossible task. He did not do this single-handedly, for he certainly was not a first-century Samson.  Here he is shown to be a leader of fishermen, who did the impossible, and later he would be a fisher of men in the Roman Empire, who would do the impossible.


The number “153” has been the subject of numerous discussions.  Since the meaning of numbers has played a significant role in the gospels, it is only natural that church fathers have attempted to discover the meaning of the 153 fish. All attempts at discovery involved mathematics, which was not needed in other Hebraic interpretations.  Several examples are as follows:


  1. It was suggested by some early church leaders that 153 represents the number of nations who would receive the gospel. However, the Greek word for nations is ethnos, from which the English word ethnic is derived. Since there are more than 6,000 ethnic people groups today, this interpretation is hardly accurate.  Furthermore, since this was written to a Jewish audience, they believed there were 70 nations or ethnic groups.[6] If the fish represented nations, the number caught should have been 70, not 153.[7]


  1. Origen thought the number might represent the Trinity (for example: 3×50+3=153).


  1. Another church father said it was the number of the disciples squared (144) plus the trinity squared (9).


  1. Jerome, however, was not about to be caught in such foolishness; he said the number represented the various kinds of fish in the sea. Maybe he would have been better at mathematics.[8]


  1. The number of people who were healed or touched in some way in the gospels is 153. However, this opinion seems highly improbable since the gospels clearly imply that those to whom Jesus ministered were in the thousands.


The true meaning of the number 153 is hidden in the Hebraic and numeral system. As has been stated previously, letters were assigned numerical values in a manner similar to Roman numerals (i.e. V=5, X=10, etc.).  All mathematical calculations, census registrations, and business accounting was done with letters by the Greeks, Romans, Jews, and numerous other cultures. The Hebrew term for this alpha-numeric system is “gemetria.”[9] The number 153 could only have been written with Hebrew letters which form the phrase b’nai haElohim, meaning “sons of God.”[10] Below is the phrase written in English, below that it is written twice in Hebrew, below that are the corresponding numeric values, followed by the names of the letters.[11]

Sons of God”

b’nai haElohim

בני   האלהים

                                           40 + 10+ 5 + 30 + 1  +  5+ (space) 10+50+2 = 153

Mem + yodh + heh + lah-med + ah-leph + heh + (space) yod + nun + beth = 153





Equally important is that previously Jesus told Peter in Luke 5:10b, “From now on you will be catching people.” Since the time Jesus made that statement, Peter denied Him three times and three times Jesus reinstated Peter. The miraculous catching of 153 fish was a confirmation of the calling in Luke 5:10b. Not only would be Peter catching “good fish,” but those fish/people, would become “sons of God.” This is a powerful message of encouragement for those whom God has called, who for some reason, strayed from their faith, but was restored. Jesus said that His calling remains.


It is nearly impossible to find this interpretation in any Gentile-Christian commentary.  This demonstrates that some of today’s biblical interpretations are clearly based on Christian tradition and assumptions and not on a study of Jewish roots and culture. This alpha-numeric style was also used by the Apostle John in Revelation 13:17-18, where he revealed the “number” that identified the coming beast, a/k/a the Antichrist. That number in the Greek alphabet is 666. However, various letter combinations can be used to compose the number.


Finally and most important, this passage reveals the incredible love and willingness God has for His children who made wrong decisions or committed a sin that resulted in horrific consequences. This narrative was, no doubt, placed in the Bible for people like this author, and others, who have questioned if God could really forgive and restore them. On the other hand, not to accept God’s forgiveness is to declare that God’s forgiveness is not sufficient, and therefore, the individual places himself above God.

[1]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:297.


[2]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:297.


[3]. Gilbrant, “John.” 549.

[4]. Parenthesis mine.

[5]. Fresh water sardines are found only is the Sea of Galilee. See video by Gordon Franz concerning the fish identification.

[6]. The myth of 70 nations may have originated from the account of the 70 souls who went into Egypt with Jacob, that they might restore the 70 families dispersed by the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel. It was believed that the number of souls was equal to the number of families of the whole world. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:59.


[7]. In Jewish literature, 70 nations are equal to 70 languages, as in the Babylonian Talmud, Sabbath 88b, where there is a comment that God divided humanity into 70 languages. A similar statement is found in the Midrash Tehilim 92:3 by another rabbi. Other Jewish references are found in the Jerusalem Talmud, Shekalim 5:1; 48d and the Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 17a and Menahoth 65a. For further study, see Weinfeld. “Pentecost as Festival of the Giving of the Law.” 8-18.

[8]. Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus. 944.

[9]. See Appendix 14 for more information.


[10]. Jeffrey. Unveiling Mysteries of the Bible. 207-16.


[11]. This writer is grateful for the messianic friends who assisted in solving various biblical riddles such as this one. One of the suggestions presented was that the number 153 is based upon the phrase “For I am the LORD your God” found in Isaiah 43:3a. However, when numeric values were applied to the Hebrew letters, the total was only 148. This obviously discounted the interpretation. To make the interpretation more challenging, since any letter combination can total to 153, it is impossible to work backwards to arrive at the correct phrase.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.18 PETER REINSTATED AND HIS DEATH FORETOLD

18.01.18 Jn. 21:15-19




15 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

Feed My lambs,” He told him.

16 A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.

17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.”

“Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. 18 “I assure you: When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.”   19 He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!”


In a private meeting with Peter, Jesus reassured him of his forgiveness. The three-fold denial was cancelled by the three-fold affirmation.  At the end of his ministry, Peter’s martyrdom demonstrated his agape love for Jesus.


“Feed my lambs.” Three times Jesus gave Peter instruction to be a shepherd. At first when Jesus specifically told Peter to feed “my lambs,” He used a word in verse 15 to mean little lambs.[1]   This was because when Peter denied Jesus three times, the first was to a young girl. Peter was to feed the young believers. When Jesus asked Peter a second time, Jesus used the word in verse 16 to mean young sheep.[2] Jesus always had a special place in His heart for children and youth. The third time Jesus referred to adult sheep.  Peter now confirmed his love for Jesus three times.


For more than three years that Peter traveled with Jesus, he was always one who seemed to speak first and think last.  He was eager to help and not always in tune with what God had planned for him to do. Yet, after experiencing the Passion Week and Pentecost, his life was radically changed. By the time John wrote this gospel, Peter had already died the martyr’s death. The third century father Tertullian said Peter died in Rome. Origin recorded that Peter did not consider himself worthy to be crucified in the same manner as was Jesus. Therefore, at his request, he was crucified upside down to have the kind of death that would glorify God (Jn 21:19).  This passage implies the gospel writer was aware of his death.

[1]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:300.


[2]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 2:300.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 18, 2015  -  Comments Off on 18.01.19 JOHN’S DEATH QUESTIONED

18.01.19 Jn. 21:20-24




20 So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them. That disciple was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is the one that’s going to betray You?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord — what about him?”

22 “If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.”

23 So this report spread to the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not tell him that he would not die, but, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”

24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.


“Until I come.”  One of the greatest promises of Jesus is that He will return for His Church (Acts 3:20ff; 10:42; 27:31). Even though the specific date of His return is unknown, many speculators have made foolish predictions.


John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, presented the second conclusion to his gospel.  He stated that he was the witness of these events that he described, and attests to the truthfulness of them.  He then said there were so many more miracles that Jesus performed, that there are not enough books to record them all.  These comments were made to underscore his basic theme: “that you might believe and have eternal life.”


“The disciple Jesus loved.” John used the phrase, “the disciple He loved” four times when referring to Himself as the disciple of Jesus.[1] It was an indirect way of identifying himself.  In the Middle Eastern culture one does not directly speak of himself. Bragging is clearly out of order.

[1]. Jn. 13:23-25; 19:25-27; 20:2; and 21:20.

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