In Acts 19 Luke related a strange story about a Jewish high priest and his sons—seven in all (Acts 19:13-20). At first glance this strange story seems to place the power of God over against the power of magic, because the result of it all was many who became believers of the Gospel at Ephesus brought their own books of the curious arts, which they had used before they came to the faith, and burned everything as a testimony to their friends and family, who didn’t believe (Acts 19:18-19). However, is this really all about magic not being as powerful as the Gospel? Read the rest of this entry »
Tag Archives: Theophilus
The Jews who opposed the Gospel (Acts 17:5) were probably the synagogue rulers, for Paul says that he preached the Gospel there through much contention (1Thessalonians 2:2). Since the opposition he endured came from the Jews (Acts 17:5) and not from gentiles, as was the case in Philippi (1Thessalonians 2:2), no doubt he was opposed from the very beginning when he shared Christ with the Thessalonians on three Sabbath days (Acts 17:3-4). Moreover, in view of the fact that the majority of the Jews did not receive the Gospel, it becomes even more persuasive that the synagogue rulers or leaders openly opposed Paul’s arguments (Acts 17:5) in the synagogue. Had the leaders received the Gospel, most Jews in Thessalonica would no doubt have gone along with their leaders. Read the rest of this entry »
Herod Agrippa, the father of King Agrippa of Acts 25 and 26, is mentioned by Luke as beginning the second phase of the official Jerusalem persecution against believing Jews. Claudius Caesar had made him king over all the lands of his grandfather, Herod the Great, in order to calm the unrest in Rome’s eastern frontier province of Syria, which included Judea. Caligula had recently brought Rome and Jerusalem to the brink of war, so the new emperor wanted to smooth over Rome’s relations with the Jews and did so by making Agrippa king of the Jews. Read the rest of this entry »
In Acts 9:36-43 we have Luke’s recording of the miracle of Peter raising Tabitha or Dorcas from the dead. This is the first account of anyone after Christ raising anyone from the dead, which causes me to wonder why the believers at Joppa would believe Peter should be called to raise up this woman who did so many good works. What would cause them to believe that Peter could raise up Tabitha? I am not alone in believing that they had sent for Peter before Tabitha died. Otherwise, why tell Peter to hurry. Jesus didn’t hurry to raise up Lazarus, so, if Tabitha had already died, why would it be necessary for Peter to hurry? In any case what Jesus did through Peter here, he also did through Paul at Acts 20:9-12; but what does all this mean—what is Luke telling us, or more immediately his addressee, Theophilus? Read the rest of this entry »
We are discussing the identity of the Man of Sin (see part 1 HERE), of whom Paul wrote in 2Thessalonians 2:3. We have also discussed the coming of Jesus being at first unobservable, as indicated by the request of a “sign” by the Apostles, which “sign” Jesus revealed in the Olivet Prophecy. In previous blogposts I had shown that Stephen’s death in Acts 7 represents the setting up of the abomination that makes desolate. In other words whatever was done to shed the blood of Stephen, the first martyr of Jesus, indicates that the abomination had been set up. Read the rest of this entry »
It has been argued, and rightfully so, that there existed a strong oral tradition in first century Judaism. But, what should that mean to us in the 21st century? Should we believe that no one wrote anything down concerning Christian literature prior to 70 CE except for Paul during this period of oral tradition? Certainly Josephus didn’t let his Jewish history to oral tradition and he drew upon the writings of others who recorded what Jewish officials were doing at the time the events transpired. So, other Jews, who also held to a strong oral tradition, were recording events of importance in written form. Read the rest of this entry »
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. Read the rest of this entry »
I was reading The Life of Flavius Josephus recently, and I came across the statement: “…it is prohibited by our laws even to spoil our enemies;” [The Life of Flavius Josephus; sect. 26]. At this point it was noted by the editor: “I take it that Josephus, having been now for many years an Ebionite Christian, had learned this interpretation of the law of Moses from Christ, whom he owned for the true Messiah…”
I thought about this and wondered, if true, how differently Josephus’ works might be understood, especially concerning the “Testimonium Flavium” that has more recently been criticized. Would any serious scholar reject even the whole of it, if it were known of certainty that Josephus was an Ebionite? Read the rest of this entry »
Most scholarship, I believe, puts the stoning of Stephen in 34 or 35 CE. Is there reason within the Scriptures to substantiate this claim? Yes, I believe there is! However, such substantiation comes from prophecy in both Old and New Testaments, but the understanding of these very prophecies is clouded by the interpretation of most scholarship, which puts the fulfillment of them at the second coming of Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »
The Messiah was promised long ago, from Eden in fact (Genesis 3:15), and Moses also foretold of the coming of one like him (Deuteronomy 18:15), and to whom Israel must listen or judgment would follow. It seems to me that, if the Jewish elite were really interested in worshiping and obeying God, they would have taken these things seriously, but they didn’t. And, this is what I believe Luke was showing Theophilus in the birth account of Jesus. Notice in Luke 2:1-20 that the great and powerful were caught by God completely unawares! But did this hinder God? Does God need the power of great men to move the world for his purposes? No, indeed, God’s own power is seen better and appears more glorious when it is expressed through weakness (2Corinthains 12:9). The powers of this world do not impress God, and I believe Luke is showing Theophilus that the Gospel, being a “grass roots” movement, so to speak, has become more powerful than is possible for him to eradicate. Moreover, since it is evident that it moves through the power of God and not of man, he needs to reconsider the action he has taken concerning persecuting the followers of Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »
If Luke is writing to the then current High Priest of the Jews, the stories he tells of Jesus would have to be important to his overall theme, which is to convict Theophilus of the sins of the priesthood, repent and accept the Gospel of the Kingdom, which offers Jesus as Savior through his crucifixion and resurrection. Read the rest of this entry »
In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that the Theophilus priesthood was persecuting believers in Jesus and especially Hellenistic or Grecian Jewish believers. Scholars seem to be divided as to when this peace was experienced. Moreover, most scholars believe the persecution of Jewish believers in Jesus was a general persecution and not directed at a particular group among the believers. So, I thought I would explain the reasons for my stand, and I apologize in advance for the length of my blog.
In Acts 9:30 the brethren sent Paul back to Tarsus, apparently to save his life. He had been preaching in Jerusalem, and the Hellenistic Jews there wanted to kill him. Just after this the Scripture says, “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria experienced peace… (Acts 9:31 NET). What does Luke mean, and can we know at what time the churches experienced this peace. Is it, as is implied in Acts, that, because Paul stopped persecuting the church, so then they began to have peace? Read the rest of this entry »
In the first chapter of Luke and angel visits the priest Zechariah while he was praying at the altar of incense in the Holy Place of the Temple. In yesterday’s offering, I submitted that Zechariah was praying for the Messiah. The angel told Zechariah that his prayer is answered—the Messiah was coming. To prove to Zechariah that the Messiah was indeed coming in that very generation, the angel promised Zechariah that he and Elizabeth would have a son!
The angel said Zechariah was to name him John, and that the babe would grow to be great and powerful in the Spirit. He would turn many in Israel to God and would prepare the way for the Lord (the Messiah) in the spirit and power of Elijah! Read the rest of this entry »
The other Gospel accounts go right into John’s ministry, never mentioning his parents or the circumstances of his birth. What did Luke want to express to Theophilus by speaking of Zechariah’s experience as a righteous priest?
Luke begins and ends his Gospel narrative in the Temple. This would direct Theophilus’ attention to the priesthood, its duties to their brethren and to its service to God in the Temple ceremonies. Zechariah was a priest belonging to the course of Abijah, the 8th division of the 24 division priesthood (Luke 1:5). This means his time of service came close to the time of Pentecost. Each division served for one week and all divisions served during the Holy Days—like Passover and Pentecost (Feast of Weeks). Every 6 months the courses would begin again. Read the rest of this entry »
The “Bosom of Abraham” is found in Scripture only in Luke 16 in the “parable” of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Rabbi Abraham Geiger suggests that Luke 16 preserves Jewish legend [Jüdische Zeitschrift für Wissenschaft und Leben Vol.VII 200. 1869]. If, indeed, this is the case the legend would certainly not be of priestly origin, that is, not from the Sadducees, for they did not believe in life after death. The Pharisees, on the other hand, did believe in the resurrection and had many “stories” about what occurred after death. In fact, Josephus mentions their understanding thus:
“Now as to Hades, wherein the souls of the righteous and unrighteous are detained… the just are guided to the right hand… by the angels appointed over that place… The countenance of the fathers and of the just, which they see, always smiles upon them, while they wait for that rest and eternal new life in heaven, which is to succeed this region. This place we call The Bosom of Abraham… But as to the unjust, they are dragged by force to the left hand by the angels allotted for punishment. [JOSEPHUS: Discourse to the Greeks Concerning Hades; chapter 1, paragraps 1, 3, 4] Read the rest of this entry »