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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 »

 
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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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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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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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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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“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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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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Paul Moves to Antioch!

In an earlier blog I had suggested that Paul’s move to Tarsus had a prophetic implication. It is suggested in a book I have read: “Paul: Between Damascus and Antioch” by Martin Hengle and Anna Maria Schwemer, that Paul deliberately placed himself in the position to fulfill prophecy which he saw in Genesis in Noah’s prayer: “God enlarge Japhet, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem” (Genesis 9:27). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Gospel, New Testament History, Religion

 

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The Gospel Goes to the Gentiles

Jesus told the apostles that they would be his witnesses to all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), but he never told them how this would be done—only that they would be witnesses to all. Yet, years after his crucifixion and resurrection the apostles are still in Jerusalem. Why? Oh, tradition has it that they were each assigned regions of the world and went out to evangelize the world, but the Scriptures imply, at least for a large part of the first fifteen or so years of church history, the apostles remained at Jerusalem. Didn’t they take the Lord’s word seriously? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2011 in Gospel, New Testament History, Religion

 

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