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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Background for Saul of Tarsus

We aren’t certain why Paul came to be born in the capital city of Cilicia, but it may have been that his ancestors were among those that Antiochus IV resettled from Galilee cir. 171 BCE with the promise of immediate citizenship there. The Syrian rulers often colonized recently conquered territories with their own citizens in order to solidify their authority there. Jewish citizens were often seen as a preferred group for colonization, perhaps because they also had such strong religious allegiance to the Seleucid province of Judea as well. Paul’s father was a Pharisee and probably a master tentmaker living in Tarsus. “The black tents of Tarsus were used by caravans, nomads, and armies all over Asia Minor and Syria.”[1] Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2011 in New Testament History, Paul, Religion

 

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The End of Apostolic Authority in Jerusalem

Most folks think of the Apostolic Age as a period between Pentecost, cir. 31 CE, and the death of the last of the original twelve Apostles. To some degree this is true, but as far as the New Testament is concerned, the centrality of apostolic authority is a dwindling one and ended much earlier—at least as far as the Jerusalem church was concerned. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2011 in Apostles, New Testament History, Religion

 

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Who Were the Men From James?

At first when Paul tells us that men from James arrived in Antioch and drew Peter and Barnabas away from the table fellowship of Jewish and Gentile believers (Galatians 2:11-13), one thinks that James actually sent these men, but it is something he specifically denied in Acts 15. I think we should probably understand the phrase as being equal to “…men from the Jerusalem church.” James seems to have been the acknowledged leader of the Jerusalem community of believers by this time, which was after the expulsion of the Apostles under the Agrippa persecution of the early 40s CE (Acts 12). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2011 in false brethren, New Testament History, Religion

 

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God’s Love Fleshed out in Jesus

Did you ever wonder why John refers to Jesus before his birth as the Word? Many folks think that John was borrowing from Philo the Jew who was a philosopher living in Alexandria, Egypt, about the time of Jesus’ public ministry. However, there is probably a more appropriate explanation that comes out of the Jewish writings called the Aramaic Targums. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2011 in Gospel, Jesus, Religion

 

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The Persecution Under Agrippa I

Luke tells us in Acts 12:3 that Herod (Agrippa I) executed James, the son of Zebedee, with a sword. The problem is Luke never tells us why. He simply records the event. So, what prompted Herod to lift up his hand against certain disciples? Can we know? I don’t think it is possible to know with certainty, but I do believe we can come close to the truth by interpreting wisely some of what we find in Luke’s record. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in Christianity, New Testament History, Religion

 

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Do We Know Jesus?

I cannot help but wonder what Nicodemus thought as he listened to Jesus so long ago. Jesus as much as told him that he was the Messiah; certainly John the Baptist was telling others Jesus was the Messiah. It was no secret that this is what Jesus was claiming to others, and many in Israel looked for the coming of the one of whom Daniel spoke and counted the days that pointed to his arrival (Daniel 9). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2011 in Gospel, Religion, salvation

 

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The Apostles Were Persecuted for Treason

King Agrippa I was king over Judea for at least 3 years from January or February of 41 CE to 44 CE. It is possible that he reigned 3 ½ years, depending upon whether he died immediately after the summer games (Acts 12:19-23; see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews: 19.8.2), or approximately 6 months later. We know he died in 44 CE, but did he die in January (approximately 6 months after the summer games of 43 CE honoring Caesar) or immediately after the summer games of 44 CE? If his death was quick, then he reigned 3 ½ years. On the other hand, if his death followed a six month illness, he reigned only three years over Judea. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2011 in Apostles, New Testament History, Religion

 

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Jesus Must Be Lifted Up

I need to revisit Nicodemus’ conversation with Christ once more. Nicodemus couldn’t understand what Jesus was saying mainly because he and all the other teachers of Israel had only investigated a portion of what God had said concerning the coming Messiah through his servants, the Prophets. When Jesus spoke of his death in John 2:19 the rulers of the Jews didn’t understand (John 2:20) and therefore couldn’t believe. When Jesus spoke of man’s need to be reborn spiritually (John 3:3), even Nicodemus, who had come to seek answers, couldn’t understand and therefore couldn’t believe, because the teachers had not considered their need (Ezekiel 11:19: Jeremiah 4:4; 17:9; 31:30-34). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2011 in Gospel, Religion, salvation

 

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A Judas Contradiction?

David Ewert

from Google Images

How did Judas die, and who actually purchased the “field of blood” with the thirty pieces of silver that was paid to Judas for delivering Jesus into the hands of the Jewish authorities at Jerusalem? I have spoken with several people who believe there is a contradiction between Matthew’s account of Judas’ activities and Luke’s account of the same in the book of Acts. Notice how the Scriptures describe the account: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2011 in Apostles, New Testament History, Religion

 

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The Importance of the Whole Truth

Nicodemus talked with Jesus from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry at Jerusalem. Nicodemus believed Jesus was sent by God, but he had great difficulty understanding what Jesus was saying. Why is that? We are presented with a paradox right here in chapter three of John’s Gospel. John presents Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night. He was an important man in Jerusalem, and he came to Jesus saying they, that is, he and the other important people or rulers of the Jews at Jerusalem, realized that God had sent Jesus to them (John 3:2). In other words, Nicodemus believed at the very least that Jesus is a prophet from God. Just admitting this was a controversy, because some Jewish writings of that day speak of the Jews no longer hearing from God through a prophet—the prophets of God have stopped coming back around the time of Ezra. Yet, here is Jesus, whom Nicodemus claimed he believed was sent by God. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in Born Again, Gospel, Religion

 

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“Life Is Queer with its Twists and Turns”

That’s a line from probably my favorite poem “Don’t Quit” written by one of my favorite authors—anonymous! It sort’a, kind’a fits Paul’s life in many ways at various times in his walk with Christ. However, through it all Paul didn’t quit, rather he committed his way to the Lord, and God made all things work together for his, that is, Paul’s own good as he, himself, testifies (Romans 8:28). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2011 in New Testament History, Paul, Religion

 

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We were Called Christians First in Antioch!

Did you ever wonder how we got our name Christian? I have several nicknames and I know how I received each one. Some of the reasons are quite funny, while others are a bit embarrassing. Some were used for a short period of time, and others I am known by to this day. Nevertheless, all of them are mine, and I know the reason why and by whom I had been called by each name that was used to identify me. So, since we had begun to be known as followers of the Way or Nazarenes, how is it we finally became known as Christian? Who gave us this name and why, and can we know? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2011 in Christianity, New Testament History, Religion

 

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Who Was Paul of Tarsus, Really?

It is difficult to gauge the importance of Paul to Christianity, but, without doubt, his conversion is the most important event to occur in the early Jesus’ movement after the Pentecost blessing of 31 CE. Paul is personally responsible for at least ten epistles and fourteen if one counts Timothy, Titus and Hebrews as Paul’s work. Try to imagine what our New Testament Scriptures would look like had God not intervened in Paul’s life and called him for the work of Christ. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2011 in New Testament History, Paul, Religion

 

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You Must Be Born Again!

When Nicodemus came to speak with Jesus about the Kingdom of God, he was astonished to understand that as a Jew and son of Abraham, he had no right to the Kingdom of God. Even as a disciplined Pharisee, devoted to the Law, he had no right to the Kingdom of God. He couldn’t inherit this right; he couldn’t earn this right and the right could not be bestowed upon him by any man, no matter how lofty his position! This thought utterly astonished Nicodemus, and it ought to give us pause as well. How can I come into God’s Kingdom, if I cannot enter through my Christian parents, if I cannot enter through righteous discipline, or it cannot be bestowed upon me by a religious or legal authority or ceremonial act? How can I become a child of God? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Gospel, Religion, salvation

 

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When Did Paul Confront Peter in Antioch?

Often, when reading about the events that Paul mentions in his letter to the Galatians I am told that Paul’s confrontation in Antioch with Peter occurred after the Jerusalem council. The reasoning behind this is that Paul addresses Peter’s own words that salvation rests not in works but in faith alone. Notice: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Gospel, New Testament History, Religion

 

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