In New Jerusalem believers will see the face of God, Jesus, who is seated upon the throne (Revelation 22:3-4), but not so the wicked. Those who were judged to be criminals were not permitted to look at the face of the king (Esther 7:8), and such a custom permeated the worldview of the ancients (cp. Exodus 33:20; Judges 6:22-23; 13:22; Isaiah 6:5) Therefore, the wicked are afraid and want to hide from the Lord, who sits upon the throne (Revelation 6:16; cp Genesis 3:8). As was done at the inauguration of the Old Covenant (Exodus 20:18-19), so it was done at the inauguration of the New Covenant (Revelation 20:11). Nevertheless, the elect do see the Lord (Matthew 5:8). We behold him with our unveiled faces and are changed into his image (2Corinthians 3:18; cp. 1John 3:1-2), which, after all, has been the purpose of the Lord from the very beginning (Genesis 1:26-27). Read the rest of this entry »
Tag Archives: Mark
The fourteenth chapter of the Apocalypse opens with the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him are the 144,000. The scene almost immediately goes on to include the fall of Babylon, which we have discovered in earlier studies means the fall of Jerusalem. The chapter then concludes with the harvest of the world. So, this part of the Apocalypse has all the marks of the Second Coming of Jesus, the resurrection, the judgment and all that pertains to those events. Moreover, the Apocalypse seems to say that these events transpire at the fall of Jerusalem, which fell in 70 AD! Is this really true? How should we understand these things? Read the rest of this entry »
When the women came to the sepulcher where Jesus was laid, they found the stone that sealed the tomb (Matthew 27:66) was rolled away (Luke 24:2-3). Luke tells us that the women were perplexed (G1280). That is, didn’t know why the tomb was empty (Luke 24:4-5). In other words, the thought that Jesus had arisen from the dead, hadn’t even occurred to any of them. The Greek word (G1280) is used of Herod being in doubt of who Jesus was in Luke 9:7. It is also used for the confusion of the chief priests and the captain of the Temple when they found out the Apostles had escaped their prison cell and were teaching in the Temple (Acts 5:34). Read the rest of this entry »
When the time had come, that is, the particular day had arrived in which his final meal with his disciples was to be eaten, Jesus came with the Twelve and told them that he longed for this hour or day to arrive. However, we may need to ask what did he mean? Was he referring to that particular meal that he longed to share with his disciples? Or, did he long for a particular day to arrive and share his final meal with them (Luke 22:15)? It seems to me that Jesus referred to a particular day, as is seen in Luke 12:50. Jesus often spoke of his coming sufferings and death (cf. Matthew 20:17-22; Mark 10: 31-38), and the Gospels point to a specific hour or day that Jesus was destined to face (John 4:34, John 7:6-8, 10, John 10:39-41, John 12:27-28, John 18:11, John 19:30). It was this day that he longed to share with his disciples, those closest to him. Read the rest of this entry »
It was only a matter of time before Barnabas and Paul would have split with each heading up his own evangelistic effort, thus training other brethren to labor in the glorious work of Christ, and bringing his Name to places where he was not known. Nevertheless, Luke makes a point of showing that this separation took place earlier than it would have under natural circumstances, and he uses Mark as the impetus in that division. Read the rest of this entry »
Something occurred on Cyprus that left Mark disenchanted with being a part of the missionary efforts that Paul seemed to embrace. What was it? Moreover, why would Paul later be so adamantly against receiving Mark back as a team-member that both he and Barnabas had to separate in order to resolve the issue (Acts 15:37-39). Was this simply a petty matter that Paul just wouldn’t forgive, or is there something here beneath the surface that Luke doesn’t explicitly expose, but, nevertheless, reveals through his choice of words and placement of certain events in Acts? Read the rest of this entry »
Many scholars (but not all) claim the New Testament manuscripts (Synoptic Gospels) were copied from one another and were probably written late in the 1st century AD—after the destruction of Jerusalem, or even early in the 2nd century AD. If we assume as reasonably true the tradition of the Christians of the 2nd century, that Mark is actually Peter’s Gospel, written by Mark who traveled with Peter, then we can see how both Matthew and Luke could be very similar to Mark in many places without actually having a copy of Mark before them. How so?
Well, if, as is presumed by many, the Gospel accounts were an oral tradition for a number of years, then both Matthew and Luke could be very similar to Mark without their having a copy before them as they wrote their accounts. After all, would any American Christian really need a copy of the hymn, Silent Night, before him or her if one wished to write it out for a friend? Once something is memorized one doesn’t need to have the text before him to copy. The Gospel of Mark was written when Peter was in Rome just before he died in the Nero persecution. However, Peter’s Gospel (Gospel of Mark), if it was an ‘oral tradition’ would have been memorized by many for decades, if, indeed, it was Peter’s evangelistic narrative. So, both Matthew and Luke could have been written long before Mark actually wrote down Peter’s Gospel.
In other words, if the presumption of oral tradition during the first century AD is true, all of the Gospel narratives could have been written independently of each other, and any one of them could have been written first, although even Christian tradition puts John last. Each writer, if he were not an Apostle, would certainly have had to interview the eyewitnesses and construct his account accordingly. Luke tells us in the first four verses of his account that he was diligent in tracing out his records to their sources. This would have to have included Peter (traditional source of Mark), whom all the Gospel accounts claim was a chief Apostle. Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe any Gospel narrative bearing the name and written by an Apostle wouldn’t have been corroborated by several other Apostles before copied for distribution.
Personally, I don’t hold to the oral tradition assumption, at least not in the manner that is presently assumed by many of its advocates. That is, oral tradition was a fact of the culture during the first century AD, but this does not mean, as is erroneously assumed by many critics, that nothing was written down very early. So, I want to be upfront about that. Nevertheless, even if the oral tradition is assumed to be exactly like many of its advocates perceive (i.e. without Peter’s Gospel being a written record in Aramaic before Mark wrote it down in Greek) why couldn’t things have occurred just as I have argued above? Is there something in the accounts themselves that would contradict my reasoning and prove it wrong? If so, do you care to discuss it?
When Paul and Barnabas first set out on their missionary journey from Antioch, Mark, Barnabas’ nephew, was with them, but something occurred that caused him to turn around and leave the team. Nevertheless, instead of returning to Antioch from which he had come, he returned to Jerusalem. I believe this is important to know, because it pertains to the reason for Paul’s letter to these churches. When Mark returned to Jerusalem, whether by design through a misunderstanding of Paul’s methods, or by innocent remarks made to high ranking Jews at Jerusalem concerning his experiences with Paul, Mark caused a great deal of trouble for the Gentile churches wherever they were. This did not become evident, until Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch from Galatia. It was at this time that men from James had come to Antioch to check out the Gentile churches there, and it seems that circumcision became a very big issue. Read the rest of this entry »
Paul left Thessalonica mostly to maintain safety for those who spoke for him before the local authorities. It is possible that Timothy and others in Paul’s company stayed behind to help establish the new church there, but Paul and Silas left for Berea. Later, the rest of the team would have joined Paul there. The Jews in Berea received the word of God and searched the Scriptures to make sure Paul was correct. However, when the Jews in Thessalonica heard about Paul’s work there, they sent representatives to Berea and stirred up the city, so Paul had to make an escape by sea.
The thing that wonders me is, why were Timothy, Silas and others of Paul’s company able to stay behind? Why weren’t they in danger? It may be that Paul kept adjusting his manner of preaching to accommodate the possibility of the most fruitful harvest from each city in light of spiritual opposition and how it works against the Gospel. During his first missionary journey Paul confronted the sorcerer on the island of Cyprus (Acts 13:8-11) and the result was Mark had left the team for Jerusalem (Acts 13:13) and many brethren there misunderstood Paul’s work in the Gospel and sent out teams to undo the work Paul had done in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15: 23-24). Spiritual warfare needs to be planned. Otherwise, one has to spend a lot of time cleaning up in terms of unnecessary misunderstanding. If left alone, the backlash of spiritual warfare could separate brethren.
In Philippi Paul separated his small group before attacking the territorial spirit that possessed they young woman (Acts 16:16-17), but both Silas and he were attacked by the offended townsfolk (Acts 16:19-20), the puppets of spiritual warfare taking place behind the scenes. Paul may have felt the beating and imprisonment of both he and Silas was inflicted upon one more than necessary. Apparently, Paul’s stay in Thessalonica may have been a little different, because it seems the offended Jews sought only Paul (Acts 17:13-14). Paul may have kept Silas and Timothy in the background supporting those who had already begun trusting in Christ. This understanding is further substantiated in that those from Thessalonica who had come to Berea still sought only Paul, so Paul was able to escape there by sea, while both Silas and Timothy were left behind to support the young church and establish it by laying hands upon its leadership, before rejoining Paul in Athens.
Of course these are merely my own thoughts, and some other explanation could be the truth, but this does fit the context. My only question is: so why isn’t there a letter to the Bereans? I would have loved to know how the church got along there. What problems did they have, and how would Paul have addressed them. Well, I suppose such things will have to wait for when I meet Paul after this life, and perhaps he will have time to sit and explain thing over a cup of coffee or tea or whatever they may drink in heaven.
After the Jerusalem council there were things Paul and Barnabas had to straighten out in Antioch which took some time. The Jerusalem prophets, Judas and Silas, were sent along with Paul and Barnabas to assure the gentiles that the message Paul brought back from Jerusalem was indeed the decision of the apostles there (Acts 15:22). In this way misunderstanding and any possible mistrust was rendered moot.
From the time of Paul’s first missionary journey to the point of his second must have been about two years. Paul had to have spent several months with the churches from Cyprus in the Mediterranean to Derbe in Galatia and then back again, retracing their steps and confirming the churches as they went. When he finally returned to Antioch in Syria he was there awhile before “those from James” arrived. triggering the debate which ended in the Jerusalem council convened in Acts 15. If Paul and Barnabas began their first missionary journey in spring or early summer he would not have returned to Antioch before fall, but certainly by winter, because sailing during the winter months was hazardous and would have been avoided. If the foregoing is reasonably accurate, those from James, may not have arrived in Antioch until winter or early spring the following year. The Jerusalem council would not have convened until sometime in the summer, and Paul and Barnabas would not have returned to Antioch for a few weeks later, possibly mid to late summer, depending upon when the council took place. Read the rest of this entry »
Before I say good-bye to Barnabas, I’d like to magnify his clash with Paul a bit more, because their differences are more about personality than they are about wrong-doing, and should not be viewed as weaknesses in the faith. It is simply a matter where the spiritual gifts of both leaders clashed as their human hearts expressed those gifts.
Barnabas was more of a “people-person” than Paul, and Paul was more of a goal or task oriented person than Barnabas. Paul was interested in the best way to get the job done. He wrote of pressing on for the prize and the upward call of God in Philippians 3:13-14), and later summed up his own ministry as “finishing the race” that God had set before him, saying he fought a “good fight” (2Timothy 4:7). On the other hand, Barnabas was more interested in peace and harmony. He was a very generous person, selling his land to support the poorer brethren at Jerusalem, being called the “son of encouragement” by the disciples (Acts 4:36-37). It was Barnabas who believed in Paul’s conversion and won over the disciples at Jerusalem who didn’t trust him (Acts 9:26-27), and when the new gentile churches in Antioch needed to be established in the faith, it was Barnabas that was sent by the church in Jerusalem to encourage them in Christ. In fact, his so-called “faults” arise out of his eagerness to encourage others. Read the rest of this entry »
The separation of Paul and Barnabas had always troubled me whenever I read it in Acts 15:39. This seemed to have been a serious matter, and it probably was for both Barnabas and Paul. I do think reconciliation eventually occurred, because Paul asks Timothy to bring Mark with him to assist Paul when it seemed Paul was near the end of his life (2Timothy 4:11). We are not told when the reconciliation occurred, but there is little doubt that it did happen.
So, what did take place way back in Acts 15 (cir. 49-50 CE)? I think we have to return to Acts 13 to figure this out, because the reason for the separation was Paul’s unwillingness to take Mark with Barnabas and himself to visit and encourage the churches in Galatia, where they went on their first missionary journey (Acts 15:38). Read the rest of this entry »