Many modern Christians believe that Christ will return one day, perhaps in our lifetime, and initiate a thousand years of peace, and this thousand years of peace is referred to as the millennium. Still other Christians would tell us that Jesus won’t return until after the millennium, and the thousand year period is figurative and represents the present Christian Age. Once this age is over, Jesus will return! Finally, a much smaller group of Christians believe the thousand year period is a much shorter block of time and has already occurred in the first century AD. Which point of view is correct, and can we know? Read the rest of this entry »
Tag Archives: Jews
In Luke 12:54-56 Jesus criticizes the Jewish people of his generation for not knowing the time in which they lived. That is they didn’t discern the gravity of the moment. They simply let it go by without consideration. They knew when to expect rain or a hot day, but they simply didn’t reflect upon what had already occurred in their presence, in terms of interpreting John the Baptist’s coming and teaching, as well as Jesus own teaching and miracles. They should have known they were living in the last days of the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 31:29) and the beginning of the times of the Messiah (Deuteronomy 18:15), which would be the time of the New Covenant as predicted by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-33). Read the rest of this entry »
It has been claimed that Peter wasn’t writing specifically to believing Jews, because he mentions in 1Peter 2:10 that his readers were in the past “not a people (of God), but now are the people of God.” Paul even uses these words to denote gentiles who were never the people of God (cf. Romans 9:24-25). Paul claims God called the gentiles his people in order to provoke the Jews to jealousy (Romans 10:19; cf. Deuteronomy 32:21). The problem with comparing Peter with Paul and forcing Peter to say what Paul says is: that Paul was sent to the gentiles, but Peter to the Jews. There would, therefore, be obvious differences in their preaching of the Gospel. Read the rest of this entry »
What does Peter mean by saying: “through him you believe in God” (1Peter 1:21)? If his intended readers were believing Jews of the Diaspora (1Peter 1:1), didn’t they already believe in God prior to the coming of Christ and their submission to him? I don’t think Peter meant for us to view his statement quite like that. For example, Jesus claimed in John 12:44 and 14:6 that believing in him is the same as believing in God. Moreover, no one (Jew or gentile) is able to come to the Father (God) except through Jesus. I believe this is what is behind Peter’s statement “through him you believe in God” (1Peter 1:21). It was Jesus who fully expressed the God whom no one had seen (John 1:18) or known (Luke 10:22), so Peter is correct in saying the Jews of the Diaspora believe in God through Jesus, because, prior to Jesus’ coming, the Jews had a poor understanding of God who is love. Read the rest of this entry »
As Paul sends greetings to the church at Rome from the prominent brethren with him at Chenchrea, Corinth’s eastern harbor in Achaia (Romans 16:1), he mentions Timothy, his fellow worker, and three kinsmen: Lucius, Jason and Sosipater (Romans 16:21). Does Paul mean that these men are simply Jews, or is he referring to his extended family, i.e. blood relatives? In other words, is Lucius related to Paul? If so, then Luke, as shown in previous blog-posts, the writer of the third Gospel is not only a Jew, but one of Paul’s extended family. Can this be logically deduced from the Scriptures? Read the rest of this entry »
Some would have us believe that God is actually seeking to enslave all mankind. The modern critic often abuses Scripture by force fitting ancient language attributed to a monarchy / theocracy into modern more democratic terminology. The servant of the king becomes the king’s slave, because under a democracy all citizens should be equal. Therefore, the word servant must be synonymous with slave. This is hardly true, because any holder of public office in a democracy is a public servant, but the Biblical critic hardly desires to let something like this spoil his point of view. Read the rest of this entry »
Who were the men of reputation, and why were they so called (Galatians 2:2; cp. verse-9 where they are called pillars)? Those named were James (the Lord’s brother), Peter and John, but there could have been others, but these three were specifically called ‘pillars’ in the Church community. They were called men of reputation, because they were the leaders of the Jerusalem Church. They were called pillars by Paul because they were the supporters and the guardians of the truth of the Gospel (cp. 1Timothy 3:15). Read the rest of this entry »
“I don’t think an all-powerful God would have a Chosen People. That idea shows the cultural influences and marketing techniques of religion.” ~ David G. McAfee
Comment by an admirer:
“In other words, whoever invented the god and whoever believes and follows the words of it has inherent racial superiority and bias.
“‘The Jews are the chosen people, and Israel is the holy land,’ say the Jews, who live in Israel.
“This has been my go to argument when asked to refute or disprove the god of Abraham. The super intelligent being that a creator deity would have to be in order to create the universe, would not resort to such unintelligent ideas such as a chosen people, or creating a place of infinite torment for the finite “crime” of simply not believing it exists, especially when it leaves no evidence in support of its existence, and all evidence points to the contrary. Can I help it if the bible paints god as a disgruntled 2 year old, prone to throwing extreme temper tantrums?”
After Paul returned to Damascus from Arabia, he began to preach in the synagogues there. At that time there were thousands of Jews and Jewish proselytes among the Damascenes for Josephus tells us that 10, 000 Jews were slain there during the Jewish revolt [Wars 2.20.2], and this appears to be men only, for in another place he says there were 18,000 slain and there included women and children [Wars 7.8.7], but this does not include Jewish sympathizers or God-fearers who worshiped among the Jews every Sabbath. So, evidently Paul had a great mission field here, near where he first came to know Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »
Did you ever wonder how Paul first began to understand the circumcision doctrine that so identified Pauline theology? Well, immediately following his heavenly vision, Paul went into Arabia. More than likely he spent some time in the synagogues in various cities he visited there. Paul already knew the Nabataeans were near relatives to the Jews, descending from Ishmael, the son of Abraham by Hagar, Sarah’s slave. He would have found, if he didn’t know already, Nabataeans were more easily won over as proselytes to Judaism there than in other Gentile countries in the empire. Why was this so? No doubt it was because of the Nabataean’s disposition toward the Jewish practice of circumcision. Being descended from Abraham, circumcision was not rejected, as it was in other Gentile countries. It was already practiced, but not under compulsory conditions as in Judea and Galilee. Nabataeans were more or less indifferent toward the practice.
Paul must have reflected upon this while he was in Arabia. Certainly in the 2 to 2 ½ years he spent there, he had time to familiarize himself with the local customs. Meeting Nabataean proselytes and speaking to Jewish brethren there, circumcision would have been discussed and its ease of acceptance among the Gentiles living there as opposed to the Jew’s western neighbors throughout the Roman Empire. What would Paul have thought about this? Here were people who sporadically practiced the act of circumcision—the sign of righteousness—but were they righteous? By Jewish standards, of course they weren’t. For the Nabataeans, circumcision had lost all its significance. Many had the “sign” of righteousness in their bodies, but that is as far as it had gone. If circumcision was merely an outward sign, meant to indicate a spiritual reality, would the physical act be necessary at all? Thus with further reflection, Paul would remember that Abraham was **declared** righteous before the act of circumcision was performed (Romans 4:9-10)! No doubt it was not a giant leap in understanding for Paul, the rabbi, to see Abraham could then be seen as the father of those who believe—Jews or Gentiles, circumcised or not—because the act of circumcision was merely the “sign” of a deeper spiritual reality.
Paul must have grappled with understanding things like circumcision while he was in Arabia, because from the very beginning of his Gospel—it is there; not so, for the other apostles. Paul had to formulate a foundation for what he would preach to the Gentiles to whom he was sent by the Lord, which we see in Paul’s heavenly vision. Paul may have had some memory of Jesus in Jerusalem and even some idea of the Jesus traditions through disciples he interrogated, but all this was second hand. He had to formulate a clarified foundation for his own mission to the Jews and Gentile sympathizers. This is where his scholarship training at the feet of Gamaliel came into play. It would be only natural for Paul, the rabbi, but under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to question the practice of circumcision as a godly command, while he was yet in Arabia. There he dwelled among those who often practiced the sign of righteousness without it having any spiritual significance in their lives.
Paul’s Gospel is rooted here. His visit to Nabataea was not so much a mission to the Gentiles as it was a mission for the Gentiles. Paul’s visit to Arabia was in reality a mission to Gentiles, yes, but for himself. And, because of what Jesus taught him through the Gentiles there, he could later conclude he was a debtor to them (Romans 1:14).
In Romans, one of Paul’s final letters, we would find him still preaching the very things he considered in these three years between his heavenly vision and his first visit to Jerusalem. His theology wasn’t gradually understood. It was known, accepted and preached by him from the time he first preached it in Damascus and had to run for his life. It is taught from his first letter to the Galatians to his final letter while in prison at Rome. This was “his” Gospel which he learned of the Lord while visiting Arabia immediately after his heavenly vision.
Thousands of years ago Euripides wrote a play called The Bacchae. In it he portrays worlds in conflict. In his world two distinct and opposing points of view were being played out in real history. The rational (philosophers), represented by a group of men in his play, depicted their dry, rather insensitive understanding of the world. On the opposite end of the pendulum was the more irrational and popular point of view held by the polytheistic culture of the time and represented in Euripides’ play by a group of women. In the end the polytheistic culture (the irrational) wins over the logical premise of the philosophers (the rational), and the women kill the men and cut them in pieces. Gory, yes, but it is a fair representation of history. Read the rest of this entry »
I have had several discussions on different internet forums where I’ve been told that the illiteracy rate was very high in the first century AD all over the Roman Empire. The point, of course, is that if the Jews were generally illiterate, how could Jews who were nothing more than fishermen, zealots or tax collectors have written the New Testament. If Peter, Matthew, Luke, John, James, Jude and Paul didn’t write the New Testament, how could it be an eye witness record to what Jesus said and did or what occurred in the early church? Is this possible, and what criteria is used to determine the literacy rate among the Jews during the 1st century AD? Another point to consider is, shouldn’t the Jews be regarded as a counter culture people group? That is, can we judge the Jewish culture of the first century AD by what we think we know about the cultural condition of the rest of the Roman Empire? Read the rest of this entry »