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Theophilus and the Herod Family

High Priest - 2

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Luke’s preface to his Gospel shows that he intended his Gospel narrative to be an apologetic (Luke 1:4) for Most Excellent Theophilus (Luke 1:3). Thus, Luke identifies him as an official of some rank, for he quotes several people addressing the Roman governors, Felix and Festus, in very same manner (see Acts 23:26; 24:3; 26:25). While most scholars conclude that Theophilus must have been an official of some kind, they conclude he was a new gentile convert to Christianity, but this doesn’t seem plausible when one considers the context of Luke’s uncluttered narrative. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2016 in Gospel of Luke

 

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Paul’s Post Council Journeys

Paul's Missionary JourneysBelow is a chart of Paul’s journeys from the time of the Jerusalem Council and afterward until the close of Luke’s thesis. I have noted every year based upon what seems to be Paul’s overall plan of spending three years doing the work of God in any given area. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2013 in Gospel, Kingdom of God

 

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Festus’ Consultation with Agrippa

We can probably date King Agrippa’s visit with Festus just after one of the Jewish annual feast days, either Pentecost or Tabernacles, cir 59 CE. No doubt the king and his sister, Bernice, celebrated the Jewish holy day(s) at Jerusalem and afterward came to Caesarea to pay their respects to the new Roman governor of Judea (Acts 25:13). Since the royal couple’s visit lasted for some time, Paul’s house arrest would have no doubt been noted, and whoever initiated the discussion of Paul’s state, Festus took the opportunity to seek Agrippa’s advice on how to accuse Paul in his letter to the emperor (cp. Acts 25:26). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Gospel, Paul in bonds

 

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Festus and Paul’s Accusers

Luke doesn’t come right out and say so, but Festus seems to be two different people in this narrative. The first Festus seems to have been aware of the previous plot of the Jewish authorities to have Paul killed (Acts 25:2-3; cp. Acts 23:12-15, 20-21, 28-30) and resists the repeated supplications of the Jewish authorities[1] to have Paul brought to Jerusalem for trial. However, the second Festus seems very willing to use Paul as a political pawn to secure for himself a stable alliance between Rome and the local Jewish ruling class. What are we to make of this? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Christianity, Paul in bonds

 

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Why Didn’t Felix Release Paul?

Luke leaves us at the end of Acts 24 with Paul still in bonds. Usually, when a procurator left his office he either executed the prisoners he had taken captive for crimes worthy of death or released others. Yet, Paul’s fate was left for the next Roman governor to decide, while Felix returned to Rome to answer to Caesar for how he handled certain a certain insurrection that developed in Caesarea. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Gospel, Paul in bonds

 

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Paul’s Trial Before Felix

Governors of Roman provinces were recruited from the equestrian order (Roman knights) and assumed the official title of prefect or procurator. Felix was the procurator of the province of Judea cir. 52-58 CE, but had been a slave of Claudius Caesar’s mother, Antonia. When he was freed, he took the name Antonius to honor his former master, and, probably through the influence of his brother, Pallas, who was a favored official in Claudius’ court, was sent to the eastern frontier Province of Judea to assist Cumanus, whom he later replaced in 52 CE in governing the troublesome eastern frontier. Josephus claims it was at the request of Jonathan, the Jewish high priest, that Claudius named Felix to replace Cumanus as the governor of Judea. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Kingdom of God

 

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Paul and Roman Benevolence

I believe it would be a mistake to presume that, because Luke shows in the next few chapters that Rome believes Paul was innocent of the charges brought against him, he means to show Rome as a benevolent or just Empire. It was not, and it certainly was not so toward Christianity during the next few centuries. Nor was it true of Felix, who not only wouldn’t release Paul without receiving a bribe (Acts 24:26), but left Paul’s case unresolved after he was replaced by Festus and sent to Rome to answer charges leveled against him by the Jewish authorities (Acts 24:27).[1] Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Kingdom of God, Paul in bonds

 

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The Plot on Paul’s Life

It would be a mistake to believe that life in the Middle East was less complex in the first century than it is today. Today, it is oil that turns the wheels of political and commercial intrigue, but back then it was food. The eastern provinces of the Roman Empire, especially Egypt, provided the necessary food supplies to keep Rome living in abundance and luxury, while the rest of the world struggled to get by. The province of Syria, which included Galilee and Judea, provided the needed buffer for Rome between its control over the rich provisions of Egypt and any threat from the Parthian Empire, further east (largely Iran today), who would also have liked to control the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Paul in bonds, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Who Was the High Priest in 56 AD?

Josephus offers us a list of the Jewish high priests extending from the Hasmonians to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Dating them for the most part is not very difficult, if one follows along in his history of the Jewish people, and if one compares his work with the works of others that concern common personalities such as Roman emperors, and the presidents of Syria and governors of Judea etc. There are, however, difficult places in the list that are a bit confusing, where a strict reading leads to contradictions. One of those places in the list occurs when Paul was taken captive by the Romans cir. 56 AD. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Paul in bonds, Paul in Jerusalem

 

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Who is Luke’s Theophilus

Barack Hussein Obama takes the oath of office ...
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The identity of Luke’s Theophilus (Acts 1:1; Luke 1:3) could be a very important matter. For example, if I were to address a letter to “Mr. President,” the weight of its content and some of its meaning would be determined by who my addressee happens to be. If it were the president of the Elks Club or the CEO of a large business or the President of the United States, knowing his identity would determine how the letter should be read. Similarly, the identification of Luke’s addressee could determine some of the meaning of the content of his works, especially matters of his Gospel that are peculiar only to Luke. Nevertheless, it seems that knowledge of who Theophilus is has been forgotten, and no one throughout the centuries (to my knowledge) has considered it important enough to engage in a real study to reclaim his identity until recently.[1] Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2010 in New Testament History, Religion

 

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Jonathan the High Priest—Twice?

Jonathan was the high priest over Jerusalem for only one year or less in 36 AD Josephus says he was offered to serve again under King Agrippa I, but declined asking the king to consider his brother Matthias, which the king did and appointed Matthias high priest. He was the brother of Jonathan and fourth son of Annas, the Jews’ first high priest appointed by Rome when Judea became a Roman province. The question is, however, did Jonathan ever reign again as high priest. I didn’t think so, but after rereading Josephus’ account of Jewish history around the time of Paul’s imprisonment, I’ve had to change my point of view. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2010 in New Testament History, Religion

 

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Paul Before Felix

A few days after Paul was taken to Caesarea, Ananias, the high priest, and the other chief Jews arrived to accuse Paul in Felix’s court (Acts 24:1). However, nothing they claimed could be proved and, moreover, hadn’t even brought the men from Asia who claimed Paul had brought gentiles into the Temple complex in order to pollute the Sanctuary (Acts 24:12-13, 18-19). The most that could be said was: Paul had caused some commotion in the Sanhedrin by claiming he believed in a resurrection, but the chief priests allow for this (Acts 24:20-21), for the Pharisees among them believe such, though they, the Sadducees, do not. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2010 in New Testament History, Religion

 

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Paul Taken to Felix

In my previous post I wrote of Paul taken by the Jews from the Temple, wherein they believed he had taken gentiles in order to pollute their Holy Place. They would have killed him, but the chief captain of the Roman guard at the Antonia sent a centurion with his men to take Paul by force (Acts 21:28-32).

The Roman captain allowed Paul to speak to the Jews and at first he was able to make a defense before the multitude, until he witnessed to them that the Lord, Jesus, sent him to the gentiles (Acts 22:21-22). When he told the Jews of this, the Romans again had to rescue him, and the captain would have beaten him to tell why the Jews wanted to kill him, but after he found out Paul was a Roman citizen he decided to tell the high priest to call the full Sanhedrin together the next day to examine Paul (Acts 22:24-30). However, when Paul began to testify before the Jewish court and recognizing both that the high priest was against him and that the court was divided among Pharisees and Sadducees (the party of the high priest), he announced he was a Pharisee, himself, and brought into question over his belief in the resurrection. This divided the court—the one part wanting to kill him, but the other wanting to save him, and again the chief captain of the Antonia had to send men among the Jewish crowd to rescue Paul, for he feared the two parties would have pulled him apart (Acts 23:1-10). Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2010 in New Testament History, Religion

 

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