Category Archives: New Testament History

Who Are These People?

Luke records for us in Acts 13:1 the names of five church leaders at Antioch, saying: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.” Who are these people? Luke simply mentions their names. We know a little about Barnabas, but I’ll deal with him at length in another blog. We know who Saul is, and I have already written about Lucius of Cyrene HERE, but who are Simeon, called Niger, and Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch? Can we know? Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Gospel, New Testament History


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The Imprisonment of John

James Tissot's John and the Pharisees

Image via Wikipedia

Before we leave Jesus baptizing along the Jordan River near Judea, I think I would like to address John’s imprisonment. Notice that The Gospel of John specifically says that just after the first Passover in Jesus’ public ministry, both John and Jesus were baptizing around Judea, because (the text says) “John had not yet been cast into prison” (John 3:24). The Synoptic Gospels tell us that Herod put John the Baptist in prison and later beheaded him (Matthew 14:3-12; Mark 6:17-29; Luke 3:20, 9:9), but can we know when Herod had done this and the circumstances surrounding his arrest? The Scriptures are not very clear on this subject, but they do reveal some very interesting information upon close consideration. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Gospel, New Testament History, Religion


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The Beginning of Messianic Persecution

from Google Images

from Google Images

The persecution of the Jesus Movement began only months after that first Pentecost when Peter preached his sermon accusing the people and their leaders of killing the Elect One—Jesus. Some accuse Luke of great exaggeration in his claims of the thousands of new believers repenting and coming to Jesus after each of Peter’s sermons. In a matter of days the only unbelievers in Jerusalem would have been the ruling class. But, this is a gross misunderstanding of the text. Luke highlights the history of the growth of the body following the Way. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Apostles, New Testament History, Religion


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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 »


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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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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