If Jesus was the Son of God, why did He call Himself the Son of Man?
This sounds like some kind of contradiction at first glance, but in fact
there is no contradiction. An examination of Scripture reveals that the phrase
"Son of Man" carries broad significance.
First of all, even if the phrase "Son of
Man" is a reference to Jesus' humanity, it is not a denial of His deity. By
becoming a man, Jesus did not cease being God. The incarnation of Christ did not
involve the subtraction of deity, but the addition of humanity. Jesus clearly
claimed to be God on many occasions (Matthew 16:16,17; John 8:58; 10:30). But in
addition to being divine, He was also human (see Philippians 2:6-8). He had two
natures (divine and human) conjoined in one person.
Further, Scripture indicates that Jesus was
not denying His deity by referring to Himself as the Son of Man. In fact, it is
highly revealing that the term "Son of Man" is used in Scripture in
contexts of Christ's deity. For example, the Bible says that only God can
forgive sins (Isaiah 43:25; Mark 2:7). But as the "Son of Man," Jesus
had the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:10). Likewise, Christ will return to earth
as the "Son of Man" in clouds of glory to reign on earth (Matthew
26:63-64). In this passage, Jesus is citing Daniel 7:13 where the Messiah is
described as the "Ancient of Days," a phrase used to indicate His
deity (cf. Daniel 7:9).
Further, when Jesus was asked by the high
priest whether He was the "Son of God" (Matthew 26:63), He responded
affirmatively, declaring that He was the "Son of Man" who would come
in power and great glory (verse 64). This indicated that Jesus Himself used the
phrase "Son of Man" to indicate His deity as the Son of God.
Finally, the phrase "Son of Man"
also emphasizes who Jesus is in relation to His incarnation and His work of
salvation. In the Old Testament (Leviticus 25:25-26, 48-49; Ruth 2:20), the next
of kin (one related by blood) always functioned as the
"kinsman-redeemer" of a family member who needed redemption from jail.
Jesus became related to us "by blood" (that is, He became a man) so He
could function as our Kinsman-Redeemer and rescue us from sin.
What was the Star of Bethlehem?
2:1-9 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the
king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is
He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East
and have come to worship Him." When Herod the king heard this, he was
troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief
priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ
was to be born. So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is
written by the prophet: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the
least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler who will
shepherd my people Israel.'" Then Herod, when he had secretly called the
wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent
them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child,
and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship
Him also." When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star
which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over
where the young Child was. (New King James Version)
There have been many attempts to explain the Christmas Star scientifically, and three ideas will be mentioned here.
All three explanations for
the Star of Bethlehem fall short of the nativity story as predicted in Numbers
24:17 and recorded in Matthew 2:1-12
Two details in Matthew are of special
the text implies that only the Magi saw the star. However comets, conjunctions,
and exploding stars would be visible to everyone on earth.
Second, the star
went before the Magi and led them directly from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. This is
a distance of about six miles, in a direction from north to south. However,
every natural object in the sky moves from east to west due to the
earth's rotation. It also is difficult to imagine how a natural light could lead
the way to a particular house.
The conclusion is that
the Star of Bethlehem cannot be naturally explained by science! It was a
temporary and supernatural light.
After all, the first Christmas was a time of miracles.
God has often used special,
heavenly lights to guide his people, such as the glory that filled the
tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) and the temple (1 Kings 8:10) and that shone upon
the apostle Paul (Acts 9:3). Such visible signs of God's presence are known as
the Shekinah Glory, or dwelling place of God. This special light is a visible
manifestation of divine majesty.
great mystery of the first Christmas is not the origin of its special star. It
is the question of why the Magi were chosen to follow the light to the Messiah
and why we are given the same invitation today.
What has archaeology shown about the town of Capernaum where Jesus spent much of his life and ministry?
Capernaum was a
large Galilean fishing village and busy trading center. This place is of special
interest to Christians because of its frequent mention in the history of Jesus
Christ. Peter, Andrew, James and John also lived here. It played a unique and
important part in Christ's life and ministry, and in his outreach to the people
of Israel. The inhabitants of Capernaum, including various high ranking
citizens, were given unique and abundant opportunities to hear Jesus Christ's
message firsthand and witness His awesome power and love.
2.5 miles (4 km) from the Jordan River,
Capernaum stood on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee (modern Lake
Kinneret, which the Bible also called the lake of Gennesaret, Sea of Chinnereth
and the Sea of Tiberias). The ancient city of Capernaum was abandoned about a
thousand years ago or more, and was rediscovered by archaeologists beginning in
the 1800s. In modern times, it is called Kefar Nahum (Hebrew) and Talhum
The Gennesaret area was one of the most
prosperous and crowded districts of Palestine. Capernaum lay on the great Via
Maris highway between Damascus (Syria) and Caesarea Maritima on the
Mediterranean Sea, and between Tyre and Egypt. Customs taxes were collected from
travelers at this crossroads (Matthew 9:9). This was the job of Levi, the tax
collector, who became Christ's disciple and was later named Matthew. Jews
criticized Jesus for befriending him and other tax collectors.
Caravans stopped at Capernaum to resupply
themselves with produce and dried fish. At the lake shore, where Peter and other
fishermen worked, archaeologists discovered a fish sales area.
well-built structure measured 2 meters in width and 5 meters in length and
contained two large, rather shallow, semicircular pools, one at each end, with a
rectangular platform in the middle on which, presumably, the fish were cleaned
and sold... The two pools had a thick coat of watertight plaster. [Herold Weiss,
"Recent Work at Capernaum," Bible and Spade, Vol. 10, No. 1
(Associates for Biblical Research, 1981), p. 24.]
After our Lord's expulsion from Nazareth
(Matt. 4:13-16; Luke 4:16-31), Capernaum became his "own city." It was
the scene of many acts and incidents of his life (Matt. 8:5, 14,15; 9:2-6,
10-17; 15:1-20; Mark 1:32-34, etc.).
-- The Bible tells us that a Roman centurion built a synagogue here for the Jews
(Luke 7:1-5). His servant was later healed from severe palsy by Jesus (Matt.
8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10). The remains of what must have been a beautiful basalt
synagogue has been discovered by archaeologists. As expected for such a sacred
building, it was found at the highest point in town.
This is the synagogue where our Lord
frequently taught (John 6:59; Mark 1:21; Luke 4:33). Here, Jesus cured a demon-posssed
man (Mark 1:21-28) and delivered the sermon on the bread of life (John 6:25-59).
He even restored the life of the daughter of one rulers of this synagogue (Mark
5:22; Luke 8:41).
The synagogue is near the lake, and is built
so that when the Jews prayed here, they faced Jerusalem. It was destroyed along
with Jerusalem's temple, around 70 A.D. Many years later, it was replaced with a
white stone synagogue (perhaps 250-300 A.D.) (shown above).
- Only a few hundred feet from the synagogue, the stone house of the disciple
Peter has also been found at Capernaum. This is where Jesus healed Peter's
mother-in-law and others (Matthew 8:14-16). Jesus may have lived with Peter
while staying in Capernaum. In the years following Jesus' death and
resurrection, the house apparently became a house-church. Centuries later,
Christians honored the site by building a church here. It was destroyed in a
later conquest of the city. Archaeologists have excavated both the church and
the earlier house below. Stanislao Loffreda reported,
sources and recent archaeological discoveries make the identification of the
house of St. Peter in Capernaum virtually certain.
The house was built at the very end of the Hellenistic period (first century B.C.). In the second half of the first century A.D. some peculiar features set apart this building from all the others so far excavated in Capernaum. Here, in fact, the pavements received floors of lime several times. Interesting enough, many pieces of broken lamps were found in the thin layers of lime. ...One hundred and thirty-one inscriptions were found. They were written in four languages, namley: in Greek (110), Aramaic (10), Estrangelo (9), and Latin (2).
The name of Jesus appears several times. He is called Christ, the Lord, and the Most High God. An inscription in Estrangelo mentions the Eucharist.
There are also symbols and monograms, namely: crosses of different forms, a boat, the monogram of Jesus. The name of St. Peter occurs at least twice: his monogram is written in Latin but with Greek letters. In another graffito St. Peter is called the helper of Rome. A third inscription mentions Peter and Berenike. This Peter, however, might be the name of a pilgrim. On several hundred pieces of plaster, decorative motifs appear. the colors employed are: green, blue, yellow, red, brown, white and black. Among the subjects one can distinguish floral crosses, pomegranates, figs, trifolium, stylized flowers and geometric designs such as circles, squares, etc.
...At the beginning of the fifth century, the house of St. Peter was still standing, but it had been previously changed into a church. This we learn from Eteria, a Spanish pilgrim, who wrote in her diary: "In Capernaum, the house of the Prince of the Apostles (=St. Peter) became a church. The walls, however, (of that house) have remained unchanged to the present day."
[Stanislao Loffreda, "Caperaum - Jesus' Own City," Bible and Spade, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Associates for Biblical Research, 1981), pp. 12, 7-8.]
Mary, the mother of Jesus, made her way to
Capernaum with her other sons (Matt. 12:46,48,49). It was here that Christ
uttered the memorable words, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother
and my brethren!"
Some miracles of Christ that occurred at
Dead daughter of Jairus raised
(Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41)
Drove evil spirit from a man in
the synagogue (Mark 1:21-28)
Paralyzed man let down through the
roof and healed (Mark 2:1-12)
Jesus caused four of disciples to
catch fish in a miraculous way (Luke 5:1-11)
Through a fish, Jesus supplied
tribute tax money needed by Peter (Matthew 17:24-27)
Healing of the centurion's servant
afflicted with palsy (Matt. 8:5-13)
Healing of the son of a nobleman
in the King's court (Herod Antipas) (John 4:46-54)
Healing many other people and
casting out demons, as "all the city was gathered together at the
door" (Mark 1:29-34)
Despite the unique number of evidences our
Lord presented to them, most of the people of Capernaum remained unrepentant
disbelievers. Because they turned so strongly away from the uniquely gracious
light given, they were strongly judged. "For unto whomsoever much is given,
of him shall be much required..." (Luke 12:48). Thus, along with nearby
Chorazin and Bethsaida, Capernaum received a very stern warning from Jesus
(Matt. 11:21-24). "It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the
day of judgment, than for thee." Ultimately, the cities were all destroyed,
and Capernaum became virtually uninhabited ruins for centuries.
Today, Capernaum's inhabitants consist of a
Franciscan Monastery and a nearby Greek Orthodox Church.
(Matt. 4:18; 15:29)
The Sea of Galilee is mentioned in the Bible
under three other names.
In the Old Testament, it is called the "sea of Chinnereth"
(Num. 34:11; Josh. 12:3; 13:27), as is supposed from its harp-like shape.
The "lake of Gennesareth" (Gennesaret) once by Luke (5:1), from
the flat district lying on its west coast.
John (6:1; 21:1) calls it the "sea of Tiberias" (q.v.). The
modern Arabs retain this name, Bahr Tabariyeh.
This lake is 12 1/2
miles long, and from 4 to 7 1/2 broad. Its surface is 682 feet below the level
of the Mediterranean. Its depth is from 80 to 160 feet. The Jordan enters it 10
1/2 miles below the southern extremity of the Huleh Lake, or about 26 1/2 miles
from its source. In this distance of 26 1/2 miles there is a fall in the river
of 1,682 feet, or of more than 60 feet to the mile. It is 27 miles east of the
Mediterranean, and about 60 miles northeast of Jerusalem. It is of an oval
shape, and abounds in fish.
Its appearance in
the late 19th century was thus described:
utter loneliness and absolute stillness of the scene are exceedingly impressive.
It seems as if all nature had gone to rest, languishing under the scorching
heat. How different it was in the days of our Lord! Then all was life and bustle
along the shores; the cities and villages that thickly studded them resounded
with the hum of a busy population; while from hill-side and corn-field came the
cheerful cry of shepherd and ploughman. The lake, too, was dotted with dark
fishing-boats and spangled with white sails. Now a mournful, solitary silence
reigns over sea and shore. The cities are in ruins!"
This sea is chiefly
of interest as associated with the public ministry of our Lord. Capernaum,
"his own city" (Matt. 9:1), stood on its shores. From among the
fishermen who plied their calling on its waters he chose Peter and his brother
Andrew, and James and John, to be disciples, and sent them forth to be
"fishers of men" (Matt. 4:18,22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5: 1-11). He
stilled its tempest, saying to the storm that swept over it, "Peace, be
still" (Matt. 8:23-27; Mark 7:31-35); and here also he showed himself after
his resurrection to his disciples (John 21).
Sea of Galilee is indeed the cradle of the gospel. The subterranean fires of
nature prepared a lake basin, through which a river afterwards ran, keeping its
waters always fresh. In this basin a vast quantity of shell-fish swarmed, and
multiplied to such an extent that they formed the food of an extraordinary
profusion of fish. The great variety and abundance of the fish in the lake
attracted to its shores a larger and more varied population than existed
elsewhere in Palestine, whereby this secluded district was brought into contact
with all parts of the world. And this large and varied population, with access
to all nations and countries, attracted the Lord Jesus, and induced him to make
this spot the center of his public ministry."
Meaning: a garden of riches
A town of Naphtali, called Chinnereth (Josh. 19:35), sometimes in the
plural form Chinneroth (11:2). In later times the name was gradually changed to
Genezar and Gennesaret (Luke 5:1). This city stood on the western shore of the
lake to which it gave its name. No trace of it remains. The plain of Gennesaret
has been called, from its fertility and beauty, "the Paradise of
Galilee." It is now called el-Ghuweir.
The Lake of Gennesaret, the Grecized form of CHINNERETH (q.v.). (See
GALILEE, SEA OF.)
Meaning: house of fish
The name of two biblical cities...
A town in Galilee, on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, in the
"land of Gennesaret." It was the native place of Peter, Andrew, and
Philip, and was frequently resorted to by Jesus (Mark 6:45; John 1:44; 12:21).
It is supposed to have been at the modern 'Ain Tabighah, a bay to the north of
A city near which Christ fed 5,000 (Luke 9:10; compare John 6:17; Matt.
14:15-21), and where the blind man had his sight restored (Mark 8:22), on the
east side of the lake, two miles up the Jordan. It stood within the region of
Gaulonitis, and was enlarged by Philip the tetrarch, who called it "Julias,"
after the emperor's daughter. Or, as some have supposed, there may have been but
one Bethsaida built on both sides of the lake, near where the Jordan enters it.
Now the ruins et-Tel.
Was named along with Bethsaida and Capernaum
as one of the cities in which our Lord's "mighty works" were done, and
which was doomed to woe because of signal privileges neglected (Matt. 11:21;
Luke 10:13). It has been identified by general consent with the modern Kerazeh,
about 2 1/2 miles up the Wady Kerazeh from Capernaum; i.e., Tell Hum.
originally called Simon (= Simeon ,i.e.,
"hearing"), a very common Jewish name in the New Testament
He was the son of Jona (Matt. 16:17). His
mother is nowhere named in Scripture. He had a younger brother called Andrew,
who first brought him to Jesus (John 1:40-42). His native town was Bethsaida, on
the western coast of the Sea of Galilee, to which also Philip belonged. Here he
was brought up by the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and was trained to the
occupation of a fisher. His father had probably died while he was still young,
and he and his brother were brought up under the care of Zebedee and his wife
Salome (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1). There the four youths, Simon, Andrew,
James, and John, spent their boyhood and early manhood in constant fellowship.
Simon and his brother doubtless enjoyed all the advantages of a religious
training, and were early instructed in an acquaintance with the Scriptures and
with the great prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah. They did not
probably enjoy, however, any special training in the study of the law under any
of the rabbis. When Peter appeared before the Sanhedrin, he looked like an
"unlearned man" (Acts 4:13).
"Simon was a Galilean, and he was that
out and out...The Galileans had a marked character of their own. They had a
reputation for an independence and energy which often ran out into turbulence.
They were at the same time of a franker and more transparent disposition than
their brethren in the south. In all these respects, in bluntness, impetuosity,
headiness, and simplicity, Simon was a genuine Galilean. They spoke a peculiar
dialect. They had a difficulty with the guttural sounds and some others, and
their pronunciation was reckoned harsh in Judea. The Galilean accent stuck to
Simon all through his career. It betrayed him as a follower of Christ when he
stood within the judgment-hall (Mark 14:70). It betrayed his own nationality and
that of those conjoined with him on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:7)." It
would seem that Simon was married before he became an apostle. His wife's mother
is referred to (Matt. 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38). He was in all probability
accompanied by his wife on his missionary journeys (1 Cor. 9:5; compare 1 Pet.
He appears to have been settled at Capernaum
when Christ entered on his public ministry, and may have reached beyond the age
of thirty. His house was large enough to give a home to his brother Andrew, his
wife's mother, and also to Christ, who seems to have lived with him (Mark 1:29,
36; 2:1), as well as to his own family. It was apparently two stories high
At Bethabara (R.V., John 1:28,
"Bethany"), beyond Jordan, John the Baptist had borne testimony
concerning Jesus as the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29-36). Andrew and John
hearing it, followed Jesus, and abode with him where he was. They were
convinced, by his gracious words and by the authority with which he spoke, that
he was the Messiah (Luke 4:22; Matt. 7:29); and Andrew went forth and found
Simon and brought him to Jesus (John 1:41).
Jesus at once recognized Simon, and declared
that hereafter he would be called Cephas, an Aramaic name corresponding to the
Greek Petros, which means "a mass of rock detached from the living
rock." The Aramaic name does not occur again, but the name Peter gradually
displaces the old name Simon, though our Lord himself always uses the name Simon
when addressing him (Matt. 17:25; Mark 14:37; Luke 22:31, compare 21:15-17). We
are not told what impression the first interview with Jesus produced on the mind
of Simon. When we next meet him it is by the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 4:18-22).
There the four (Simon and Andrew, James and John) had had an unsuccessful
night's fishing. Jesus appeared suddenly, and entering into Simon's boat, bade
him launch forth and let down the nets. He did so, and enclosed a great
multitude of fishes. This was plainly a miracle wrought before Simon's eyes. The
awe-stricken disciple cast himself at the feet of Jesus, crying, "Depart
from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). Jesus addressed him
with the assuring words, "Fear not," and announced to him his life's
work. Simon responded at once to the call to become a disciple, and after this
we find him in constant attendance on our Lord.
He is next called into the rank of the
apostleship, and becomes a "fisher of men" (Matt. 4:19) in the stormy
seas of the world of human life (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:13-16), and
takes a more and more prominent part in all the leading events of our Lord's
life. It is he who utters that notable profession of faith at Capernaum (John
6:66-69), and again at Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke
9:18-20). This profession at Caesarea was one of supreme importance, and our
Lord in response used these memorable words: "Thou art Peter, and upon this
rock I will build my church."
"From that time forth" Jesus began
to speak of his sufferings. For this Peter rebuked him. But our Lord in return
rebuked Peter, speaking to him in sterner words than he ever used to any other
of his disciples (Matt. 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33). At the close of his brief
sojourn at Caesarea our Lord took Peter and James and John with him into
"an high mountain apart," and was transfigured before them. Peter on
that occasion, under the impression the scene produced on his mind, exclaimed,
"Lord, it is good for us to be here: let us make three tabernacles"
On his return to Capernaum the collectors of
the temple tax (a didrachma, half a sacred shekel), which every Israelite of
twenty years old and upwards had to pay (Ex. 30:15), came to Peter and reminded
him that Jesus had not paid it (Matt. 17:24-27). Our Lord instructed Peter to go
and catch a fish in the lake and take from its mouth the exact amount needed for
the tax, viz., a stater, or two half-shekels. "That take," said our
Lord, "and give unto them for me and thee."
As the end was drawing nigh, our Lord sent
Peter and John (Luke 22:7-13) into the city to prepare a place where he should
keep the feast with his disciples. There he was forewarned of the fearful sin
into which he afterwards fell (22:31-34). He accompanied our Lord from the
guest-chamber to the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46), which he and the
other two who had been witnesses of the transfiguration were permitted to enter
with our Lord, while the rest were left without. Here he passed through a
strange experience. Under a sudden impulse he cut off the ear of Malchus
(47-51), one of the band that had come forth to take Jesus. Then follow the
scenes of the judgment-hall (54-61) and his bitter grief (62).
He is found in John's company early on the
morning of the resurrection. He boldly entered into the empty grave (John
20:1-10), and saw the "linen clothes laid by themselves" (Luke
24:9-12). To him, the first of the apostles, our risen Lord revealed himself,
thus conferring on him a signal honor, and showing how fully he was restored to
his favor (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5). We next read of our Lord's singular
interview with Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where he thrice asked
him, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" (John 21:1-19). (See
After this scene at the lake we hear nothing
of Peter till he again appears with the others at the ascension (Acts 1:15-26).
It was he who proposed that the vacancy caused by the apostasy of Judas should
be filled up. He is prominent on the day of Pentecost (2:14-40). The events of
that day "completed the change in Peter himself which the painful
discipline of his fall and all the lengthened process of previous training had
been slowly making. He is now no more the unreliable, changeful, self-confident
man, ever swaying between rash courage and weak timidity, but the stead-fast,
trusted guide and director of the fellowship of believers, the intrepid preacher
of Christ in Jerusalem and abroad. And now that he is become Cephas indeed, we
hear almost nothing of the name Simon (only in Acts 10:5, 32; 15:14), and he is
known to us finally as Peter."
After the miracle at the temple gate (Acts 3)
persecution arose against the Christians, and Peter was cast into prison. He
boldly defended himself and his companions at the bar of the council (4:19, 20).
A fresh outburst of violence against the Christians (5:17-21) led to the whole
body of the apostles being cast into prison; but during the night they were
wonderfully delivered, and were found in the morning teaching in the temple. A
second time Peter defended them before the council (Acts 5:29-32), who,
"when they had called the apostles and beaten them, let them go."
The time had come for Peter to leave
Jerusalem. After laboring for some time in Samaria, he returned to Jerusalem,
and reported to the church there the results of his work (Acts 8:14-25). Here he
remained for a period, during which he met Paul for the first time since his
conversion (9:26-30; Gal. 1:18). Leaving Jerusalem again, he went forth on a
missionary journey to Lydda and Joppa (Acts 9:32-43). He is next called on to
open the door of the Christian church to the Gentiles by the admission of
Cornelius of Caesarea (ch. 10).
After remaining for some time at Caesarea, he
returned to Jerusalem (Acts 11:1-18), where he defended his conduct with
reference to the Gentiles. Next we hear of his being cast into prison by Herod
Agrippa (12:1-19); but in the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison
gates, and he went forth and found refuge in the house of Mary.
He took part in the deliberations of the
council in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-31; Gal. 2:1-10) regarding the relation of the
Gentiles to the church. This subject had awakened new interest at Antioch, and
for its settlement was referred to the council of the apostles and elders at
Jerusalem. Here Paul and Peter met again.
We have no further mention of Peter in the
Acts of the Apostles. He seems to have gone down to Antioch after the council at
Jerusalem, and there to have been guilty of dissembling, for which he was
severely reprimanded by Paul (Gal. 2:11-16), who "rebuked him to his
After this he appears to have carried the
gospel to the east, and to have labored for a while at Babylon, on the Euphrates
(1 Pet. 5:13). There is no satisfactory evidence that he was ever at Rome. Where
or when he died is not certainly known. Probably he died between A.D. 64 and 67.
Meaning: manliness, a Greek name.
This is the name of one of the apostles of
our Lord. He was from Bethsaida in Galilee (John 1:44), and was the brother of
Simon Peter (Matt. 4:18; 10:2). On one occasion John the Baptist, whose disciple
he then was, pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God" (John
1:40); and Andrew, hearing him, immediately became a follower of Jesus, the
first of his disciples.
After Andrew had been led to recognize Jesus
as the Messiah, his first desire was to bring his brother Simon to Jesus. After
this, the two brothers seem to have continued being fishermen for a while, and
did not become the fully follow the Lord as attendants till after John's
imprisonment (Matt. 4:18,19; Mark 1:16,17).
The Bible tells us very little about Andrew.
He was one of the confidential disciples (John 6:8; 12:22), and with Peter,
James, and John questioned our Lord privately concerning his future coming (Mark
13:3). He was present at the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:9), and he
introduced the Greeks who desired to see Jesus (John 12:22). Little else is
known about him.
It is noteworthy that Andrew brings others to
Christ three times, (1) Peter; (2) the lad with the loaves; and (3) certain
Greeks. These incidents may be regarded as a key to understanding his character.
(1.) The son of Zebedee and Salome; an elder
brother of John the apostle. He was one of the twelve. He was by trade a
fisherman, in partnership with Peter (Matt. 20:20; 27:56). With John and Peter
he was present at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2), at the raising of
Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37-43), and in the garden with our Lord (14:33).
Because, probably, of their boldness and energy, he and John were called
Boanerges, i.e., "sons of thunder." He was the first martyr among the
apostles, having been beheaded by King Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1, 2), A.D. 44.
(Compare Matt. 4:21; 20:20-23).
(2.) The son of Alphaeus, or Cleopas,
"the brother" or near kinsman or cousin of our Lord (Gal. 1:18, 19),
called James "the Less," or "the Little," probably because
he was of low stature. He is mentioned along with the other apostles (Matt.
10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15). He had a separate interview with our Lord after his
resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7), and is mentioned as one of the apostles of the
circumcision (Acts 1:13). He appears to have occupied the position of head of
the Church at Jerusalem, where he presided at the council held to consider the
case of the Gentiles (Acts 12:17; 15:13-29: 21:18-24). This James was the author
of the epistle which bears his name.
The name "John" is mentioned
131 times in the King James Bible. This was the name of various biblical
One who, with Annas and Caiaphas, sat in judgment on the apostles
Peter and John (Acts 4:6). He was of the relatives of the high priest;
John Mark: John was the Hebrew name of Mark (q.v.). He is
designated by this name in the acts of the Apostles (12:12, 25; 13:5, 13;
John THE APOSTLE, brother of James the "Greater" (Matt. 4:21; 10:2; Mark
1:19; 3:17; 10:35). He was one, probably the younger, of the sons of
Zebedee (Matt. 4:21) and Salome (Matt. 27:56; compare Mark 15:40), and was
born at Bethsaida. His father was apparently a man of some wealth (compare
Mark 1:20; Luke 5:3; John 19:27).
received the same Hebrew education as did other Jewish youths. When he
grew up, he became a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. When John the
Baptist began his ministry in the wilderness of Judea, John, with many
others, gathered round him, and was deeply influenced by his teaching.
There he heard the announcement, "Behold the Lamb of God," and
forthwith, on the invitation of Jesus, became a disciple and ranked among
his followers (John 1:36,37) for a time.
He and his
brother then returned to their former avocation, for how long is
called them (Matt. 4:21; Luke 5:1-11), and now they left all and
permanently attached themselves to the company of his disciples. He became
one of the innermost circle (Mark 5:37; Matt. 17:1; 26:37; Mark 13:3). He
was the disciple "whom Jesus loved."
In zeal and
intensity of character he was a "Boanerges" (Mark 3:17). This
spirit once and again broke out (Matt. 20:20-24; Mark 10:35-41; Luke 9:49,
betrayal of Jesus, he and Peter follow Christ afar off, while the others
hastily flee (John 18:15). At the trial he boldly follows Christ into the
council chamber, and from there to the praetorium (18:16,19, 28) and to
the place of crucifixion (19:26,27). To him and Peter, Mary first conveys
tidings of the resurrection (20:2), and they are the first to go and see
what her strange words mean.
resurrection he and Peter again return to the Sea of Galilee, where the
Lord reveals himself to them (21:1,7).
We find Peter
and John frequently together after this (Acts 3:1; 4:13).
apparently remained in Jerusalem as the leader of the church there (Acts
15:6; Gal. 2:9). His subsequent history is unrecorded. He was not there,
however, at the time of Paul's last visit (Acts 21:15-40). He appears to
have retired to Ephesus, but at what time is unknown.
churches of Asia were the objects of his special care (Rev. 1:11).
under persecution, and was banished to Patmos (1:9). When he was
eventually released, he apparently returned to Ephesus, where he died,
probably about A.D. 98, having outlived all or nearly all his friends and
companions, even those older than him. Some scholars, differ, believing
that this John and the John of Ephesus, were not the same person.
There are many
interesting traditions concerning John during his residence at Ephesus,
but these cannot be confirmed as historical truth.
the name of a centurion whose history is
narrated in Acts 10
He was a "devout man," and like the
centurion of Capernaum, believed in the God of Israel. His residence at Caesrea
probably brought him into contact with Jews who communicated to him their
expectations regarding the Messiah; and thus he was prepared to welcome the
message Peter brought him. He became the first fruit of the Gentile world to
Christ. He and his family were baptized and admitted into the Christian church
(Acts 10:1, 44-48). (See CENTURION.)
a ruler of the synagogue at Capernaum, whose
only daughter Jesus restored to life (Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41)
Entering into the chamber of death,
accompanied by Peter and James and John and the father and mother of the maiden,
he went forward to the bed whereon the corpse lay, and said, Talitha cumi, i.e.,
"Maid, arise," and immediately the spirit of the maiden came to her
again, and she arose straightway; and "at once to strengthen that life
which had come back to her, and to prove that she was indeed no ghost, but had
returned to the realities of a mortal existence, he commanded to give her
something to eat" (Mark 5:43).
Meaning: separated, generally supposed to be
the Greek form of the Hebrew netser, a "shoot" or
Some, however, think that the name of the
city must be connected with the name of the hill behind it, from which one of
the finest prospects in Palestine is obtained, and accordingly they derive it
from the Hebrew notserah, i.e., one guarding or watching, thus
designating the hill which overlooks and thus guards an extensive region.
This city is not mentioned in the Old
Testament. It was the home of Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:39), and here the angel
announced to the Virgin the birth of the Messiah (1:26-28). Here Jesus grew up
from his infancy to manhood (4:16); and here he began his public ministry in the
synagogue (Matt. 13:54), at which the people were so offended that they sought
to cast him down from the precipice whereon their city was built (Luke 4:29).
Twice they expelled him from their borders (4:16-29; Matt. 13:54-58); and he
finally retired from the city, where he did not many mighty works because of
their unbelief (Matt. 13:58), and took up his residence in Capernaum.
Nazareth is situated among the southern
ridges of Lebanon, on the steep slope of a hill, about 14 miles from the Sea of
Galilee and about 6 west from Mount Tabor. It is identified with the modern
village en-Nazirah, of six or ten thousand inhabitants. It lies "as in a
hollow cup" lower down upon the hill than the ancient city. The main road
for traffic between Egypt and the interior of Asia passed by Nazareth near the
foot of Tabor, and thence northward to Damascus.
It is supposed from the words of Nathanael in
John 1:46 that the city of Nazareth was held in great disrepute, either because,
it is said, the people of Galilee were a rude and less cultivated class, and
were largely influenced by the Gentiles who mingled with them, or because of
their lower type of moral and religious character. But there seems to be no
sufficient reason for these suppositions. The Jews believed that, according to
Micah 5:2, the birth of the Messiah would take place at Bethlehem, and nowhere
else. Nathanael held the same opinion as his countrymen, and believed that the
great "good" which they were all expecting could not come from
Nazareth. This is probably what Nathanael meant. Moreover, there does not seem
to be any evidence that the inhabitants of Galilee were in any respect inferior,
or that a Galilean was held in contempt, in the time of our Lord. (See Dr.
Merrill's Galilee in the Time of Christ.)
The population of this city (now about
10,000) in the time of Christ probably amounted to 15,000 or 20,000 souls.
"The so-called 'Holy House' is a cave
under the Latin church, which appears to have been originally a tank. The 'brow
of the hill', site of the attempted precipitation, is probably the northern
cliff: the traditional site has been shown since the middle ages at some
distance to the south. None of the traditional sites are traceable very early,
and they have no authority. The name Nazareth perhaps means 'a watch tower' (now
en-Nasrah), but is connected in the New Testament with Netzer, 'a branch' (Isa.
4:2; Jer. 23:5; Zech. 3:8; 6:12; Matt. 2:23), Nazarene being quite a different
word from Nazarite."
Greek: basilikos, i.e., "king's
an officer of state (John 4:49) in the
service of Herod Antipas
He is supposed to have been the Chuza,
Herod's steward, whose wife was one of those women who "ministered unto the
Lord of their substance" (Luke 8:3). This officer came to Jesus at Cana and
besought him to go down to Capernaum and heal his son, who lay there at the
point of death. Our Lord sent him away with the joyful assurance that his son
After spending a night in solemn meditation
and prayer in the lonely mountain-range to the west of the Lake of Galilee (Luke
6:12), on the following morning our Lord called to him his disciples, and from
among them chose twelve, who were to be henceforth trained to be his apostles
After this solemn consecration of the twelve,
he descended from the mountain-peak to a more level spot (Luke 6:17), and there
he sat down and delivered the "sermon on the mount" (Matt. 5-7; Luke
6:20-49) to the assembled multitude.
The mountain here spoken of was probably that
known by the name of the "Horns of Hattin" (Kurun Hattin), a ridge
running east and west, not far from Capernaum. It was afterwards called the
"Mount of Beatitudes."
...a Galilean fisherman, the husband of
Salome (q.v.), and the father of James and John, two of our Lord's disciples
(Matt. 4:21; 27:56; Mark 15:40). He seems to have been a man of some position in
Capernaum, for he had two boats (Luke 5:4) and "hired servants" (Mark
1:20) of his own. No mention is made of him after the call of his two sons by
The earliest mention of city-building is that
of Enoch, which was built by Cain (Gen. 4:17). After the confusion of tongues,
the descendants of Nimrod founded several cities (10:10-12).
Next, we have a record of the cities of the
Canaanites, Sidon, Gaza, Sodom, etc. (10:12, 19; 11:3, 9; 36:31-39). The
earliest description of a city is that of Sodom (19:1-22). Damascus is said to
be the the oldest of the post-Flood cities, still inhabited today.
Before the time of Abraham there were cities
in Egypt (Num. 13:22). The Israelites in Egypt were employed in building the
"treasure cities" of Pithom and Raamses (Ex. 1:11); but it does not
seem that they had any cities of their own in Goshen (Gen. 46:34; 47:1-11).
In the kingdom of Og in Bashan there were
sixty "great cities with walls," and twenty-three cities in Gilead
partly rebuilt by the tribes on the east of Jordan (Num. 21:21, 32,33,35;
32:1-3, 34-42; Deut. 3:4,5, 14; 1 Kings 4:13). On the west of Jordan were
thirty-one "royal cities" (Josh. 12), besides many others spoken of in
the history of Israel.
A fenced city was a city surrounded by
fortifications and high walls, with watch-towers upon them (2 Chr. 11:11; Deut.
3:5). There was also within the city generally a tower to which the citizens
might flee when danger threatened them (Judg. 9:46-52).
A city with suburbs was a city surrounded
with open pasture-grounds, such as the forty-eight cities which were given to
the Levites (Num. 35:2-7).
Cities of Refuge
There were six cities of refuge, three on
each side of Jordan, namely, Kadesh, Shechem, Hebron, on the west of Jordan; and
on the east, Bezer, Ramoth-gilead, and Golan. The cities on each side of the
river were nearly opposite each other. The regulations concerning these cities
are given in Num. 35:9-34; Deut. 19:1-13; Ex. 21:12-14.
City of David
When David reduced the fortress of the
Jebusites which stood on Mount Zion, he built on the site of it a palace and a
city, which he called by his own name (1 Chr. 11:5), the city of David.
Bethlehem is also so called as being David's native town (Luke 2:4).
Jerusalem is called the Holy City, the
holiness of the temple being regarded as extending in some measure over the
whole city (Neh. 11:1).
Pithom and Raamses, built by the Israelites
as "treasure cities," were not places where royal treasures were kept,
but were fortified towns where merchants might store their goods and transact
their business in safety, or cities in which munitions of war were stored. (See
How do we know the Bible is true?
There have been hundreds of books written on the subject of the evidences
of the divine inspiration of the Bible, and these evidences are many and varied.
Most people today, unfortunately, have not read any of these books. In fact, few
have even read the Bible itself! Thus, many people tend to go along with the
popular delusion that the Bible is full of mistakes and is no longer relevant to
our modern world.
Nevertheless the Bible writers claimed
repeatedly that they were transmitting the very Word of God, infallible and
authoritative in the highest degree. This is an amazing thing for any writer to
say, and if the forty or so men who wrote the Scriptures were wrong in these
claims, then they must have been lying, or insane, or both.
But, on the other hand, if the greatest and
most influential book of the ages, containing the most beautiful literature and
the most perfect moral code ever devised, was written by deceiving fanatics,
then what hope is there for ever finding meaning and purpose in this world?
If one will seriously investigate these
Biblical evidences, he will find that their claims of divine inspiration (stated
over 3,000 times, in various ways) were amply justified.
The remarkable evidence of fulfilled prophecy
is just one case in point. Hundreds of Bible prophecies have been fulfilled,
specifically and meticulously, often long after the prophetic writer had passed
For example, Daniel the prophet predicted in
about 538 BC (Daniel 9:24-27) that Christ would come as Israel's promised Savior
and Prince 483 years after the Persian emperor would give the Jews authority to
rebuild Jerusalem, which was then in ruins. This was clearly and definitely
fulfilled, hundreds of years later.
There are extensive prophecies dealing with
individual nations and cities and with the course of history in general, all of
which have been literally fulfilled. More than 300 prophecies were fulfilled by
Christ Himself at His first coming. Other prophecies deal with the spread of
Christianity, as well as various false religions, and many other subjects.
There is no other book, ancient or modern,
like this. The vague, and usually erroneous, prophecies of people like Jeanne
Dixon, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and others like them are not in the same
category at all, and neither are other religious books such as the Koran, the
Confucian Analects, and similar religious writings. Only the Bible manifests
this remarkable prophetic evidence, and it does so on such a tremendous scale as
to render completely absurd any explanation other than divine revelation.
Unique Historical Accuracy
The historical accuracy of the Scriptures is
likewise in a class by itself, far superior to the written records of Egypt,
Assyria, and other early nations. Archeological confirmations of the Biblical
record have been almost innumerable in the last century. Dr. Nelson Glueck,
probably the greatest modern authority on Israeli archeology, has said:
archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of
archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact
detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper
evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries."
Another striking evidence of divine
inspiration is found in the fact that many of the principles of modern science
were recorded as facts of nature in the Bible long before scientist confirmed
them experimentally. A sampling of these would include:
These are not stated in the
technical jargon of modern science, of course, but in terms of the basic world
of man's everyday experience; nevertheless, they are completely in accord with
the most modern scientific facts.
It is significant also that no real mistake
has ever been demonstrated in the Bible, in science, in history, or in any other
subject. Many have been claimed, of course, but conservative Bible scholars have
always been able to work out reasonable solutions to all such problems.
The remarkable structure of the Bible should
also be stressed. Although it is a collection of 66 books, written by 40 or more
different men over a period of 2,000 years, it is clearly one Book, with perfect
unity and consistency throughout.
The individual writers, at the time of
writing, had no idea that their message was eventually to be incorporated into
such a Book, but each nevertheless fits perfectly into place and serves its own
unique purpose as a component of the whole. Anyone who diligently studies the
Bible will continually find remarkable structural and mathematical patterns
woven throughout its fabric, with an intricacy and symmetry incapable of
explanation by chance or collusion.
The one consistent theme of the Bible,
developing in grandeur from Genesis to Revelation, is God's great work in the
creation and redemption of all things, through His only Son, the Lord Jesus
Bible's Unique Effect
The Bible is unique also in terms of its
effect on individual men and on the history of nations. It is the all-time best
seller, appealing both to hearts and minds, beloved by at least some in every
race or nation or tribe to which it has gone, rich or poor, scholar or simple,
king or commoner, men of literally every background and walk of life. No
other book has ever held such universal appeal nor produced such lasting
One final evidence that the Bible is true is
found in the testimony of those who have believed it. Multitudes of people, past
and present, have found from personal experience that its promises are true, its
counsel is sound, its commands and restrictions are wise, and its wonderful
message of salvation meets every need for both time and eternity.
How did Jesus Christ die?
SEVERE STRESS, EVEN BEFORE THE
ABUSE BEGAN -- Jesus had the
weight of the world on his shoulders. Even before the crucifixion, began
he clearly had physical symptoms associated with severe stress. The
night before the execution, his disciples reported seeing Jesus in
"agony" on the Mount of Olives. Not only did he not sleep all
night, but he seems to have been sweating profusely. So great was the
stress that tiny blood vessels were rupturing in his sweat glands and
emitting as great red drops that fell to the ground (see Luke 22:44).
This symptom of severe stress is called hematohidrosis. (Learn more...)
Jesus was physically exhausted and in
danger of going into shock unless he received fluids (which he
apparently did not). This is the man that the Roman soldiers tortured.
TORTURE BY BEATING WITH ROMAN
SCOURGES -- Having previously
been beaten by the Jews, it was now the Romans' turn. The beatings
administered by Roman soldiers are well known to be very bloody, leaving
lacerations all over the body. Romans designed their whips to cut the
flesh from their victim's bodies. These beatings were designed to be
painful to the extreme. It would also cause a fluid build up around his
lungs. In addition, a crown of thorns was forced into his scalp which
was capable of severely irritating major nerves in his head, causing
increasing and excruciating pain, as the hours wore on.
In Christ's severely stressed
condition, these beatings were easily enough to kill him. His body was
horribly bruised, cut and bleeding. Having had no nourishment for many
hours, and having lost fluids through profuse sweating and much
bleeding, Jesus would have been severely dehydrated. This brutal torture
would certainly be sending him into what doctors call "shock,"
and shock kills.
In addition, Jesus was forced to
carry the the wooden beam on which he would die. Imagine the effect of
carrying a heavy weight if you were in that condition.
-- Hung completely naked before the crowd, the pain and damage caused by
crucifixion were designed to be so devilishly intense that one would
continually long for death, but could linger for days with no relief.
According to Dr. Frederick Zugibe,
piercing of the median nerve of the hands with a nail can cause pain so
incredible that even morphine won't help, "severe, excruciating,
burning pain, like lightning bolts traversing the arm into the spinal
cord." Rupturing the foot's plantar nerve with a nail would have a
similarly horrible effect.
Furthermore, the position of the body
on a cross is designed to make it extremely difficult to breathe.
Frederick Farrar described the
intended, torturous effect: "For indeed a death by crucifixion
seems to include all that pain and death can have of horrible and
ghastly--dizziness, cramp, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic
fever, tetanus, shame, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment,
horror of anticipation, mortification of untended wounds--all
intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all,
but all stopping just short of the point which would give to the suffer
the relief of unconsciousness."
One doctor has called it "a
symphony of pain" produced by every movement, with every breath;
even a slight breeze on his skin could bring screaming pain at this
Medical examiner, Dr. Frederick
Zugibe, believes Christ died from shock due to loss of blood and fluid,
plus traumatic shock from his injuries, plus cardiogenic shock causing
Christ's heart to fail.
Whatever the final cause of death,
there is no question that it was painful beyond words.
Near the end, a criminal beside him
mocked, "If you are the Christ, save yourself and us." Little
did this sinner know that the man he was speaking to hung there
voluntarily. He was speaking to our Creator, capable of releasing all
the power in the universe and beyond, and easily saving himself. Jesus
remained in this agony and shame, not because he was powerless, but
because of his incredible love for humanity. He suffered to provide the
needed way of salvation for you and me.
You can read about Christ's death in
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - each of these disciples reported what
happened, with greater or lesser details depending on their main focus.
∑ Frederick W. Farrar, The Life of Christ (Dutton,
Dovar: Cassell and Co., 1897).
Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Campus
Michael Green, Man Alive (Colorado Springs, Colorado:
Inter-Varsity Press, 1968.
Dr. Ramsay MacMullen, History Professor Emeritus of Yale
University, Dr. James Strange, Professor of Religious Studies,
University of South Flordia, and Dr. Frederick Zugibe, medical examiner,
in "How Jesus Died: The Final 18 Hours" a video released by
∑ Death & Resurrection of the Messiah, Faith Lessons (video) (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Focus on the Family).
Did Jesus really sweat drops of blood?
Before the crucifixion, as Jesus Christ prayed in the Garden of Gesthemane,
the disciple and physician Luke noted that:
being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of
blood falling to the ground."
-Luke 22:44 (NKJV)
This was written by the physician Luke, a
well-educated man and a careful observer by profession.
Luke is also the only
gospel writer to mention the bloody sweat, possibly because of his interest as a
physician in this rare physiological phenomenon, which spoke elequently of the
intense spiritual agony Jesus was suffering... (Dr.
Henry M. Morris, The Defenders Bible, arginal notes for Luke 22:44)
Although this medical
condition is relatively rare, according to Dr. Frederick Zugibe (Chief Medical
Examiner of Rockland County, New York) it is well-known, and there have been
many cases of it. The clinical term is "hematohidrosis." "Around
the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form."
Under the pressure of great stress the vessels constrict. Then as the anxiety
passes "the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture. The blood goes
into the sweat glands." As the sweat glands are producing a lot of sweat,
it pushes the blood to the surface - coming out as droplets of blood mixed with
What was the source of Jesusí great stress
and anguish? Clearly he was in intense spiritual agony. Being the Son of God, he
would have in detail everything that was about to happen to him. He knew that he
was physically facing one of the most horrible forms of capital punishment there
has ever been. His body was human, and he would feel everything at least as
intensely as we would. Was this the source of his severe stress? It is doubtful.
The really great weight upon Jesus was the
knowledge that he would soon bear the terrible trauma of taking the guilt for
all of our sins upon him -- my sins and yours. He knew that under this weight of
sin, the Father would forsake him and thus he would endure a form of hell itself
for lost sinners.
As powerful as Jesus is, he could easily have
avoided all of this and simply disappeared. He could have brought down a legion
of angels to protect him. He could have made his skin impenetrable. He could
have anesthetized his pain so that he felt nothing. But he chose to do none of
these things. Rather, he willingly chose to genuinely be "wounded for our
transgressions" and "bruised for our iniquities" so that he could
truly pay for our sins and suffer human death.
"...He was oppressed and He was
afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth."
(Isaiah 53:5,7, NKJV)
Is it possible that Jesus did not die, but only fainted on the
cross, later recovering from His wounds?
Crucifixion was an excruciating experience -- indeed, these two
words are clearly related. The cause of death by crucifixion was multifaceted
and torturous! These factors included exhaustion asphyxia, dehydration, and
congestive heart failure.
That Jesus could have survived such agony on
a Roman cross, to limp out of the tomb by His own power, is improbable enough!
That His bruised and grievously wounded appearance could have been hidden, so
that He could deceive despairing disciples into believing He was "The Risen
Lord of Life" and conqueror of death, is absurd! A man in such a condition
could hardly have inspired his disciples. Jesus would have been incriminated as
a fraud. Only a supernaturally raised Jesus was capable of healing the broken
hearts of the disciples.
The Roman soldiers pronounced Jesus dead, and
He was dead. The mixture of blood and water that poured out of the wound they
made in his side is clear evidence of this.
If the writers of the Gospels had been
inclined to exaggerate, they would have been restrained from doing that by the
fact that a great many people were still living who had witnessed the events of
which they were writing. Many were foes. If the disciples had put in errors or
exaggerations, they would have been challenged by people in a position to know.
today might naively assume that the First Century was an age of extreme childish
credulity - that people in those days were willing to attribute supernaturalism
to almost any unusual occurrence. But this is an unfair way to describe that
time. Jerusalem was a crossroads of the world. Educated men had been reading
Aristotle for over three centuries. Epicureanism was the prevailing philosophy
of the day (eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die). Many in the Greek and
Roman world barely recognized the existence of a real God and held in utter
contempt the idea of God intervening in the affairs of men. The Jews also were
skeptical and reasoned people, and had absorbed Roman philosophical ideas. (They
were part of the Roman world with Roman laws and Roman courts.)
Resurrection of Christ - What happened? Who saw Jesus alive after his death? Why
was his resurrection important?
Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead is
one of the cardinal facts and doctrines of the gospel. If Christ be not risen,
our faith is vain (1 Cor. 15:14). The whole of the New Testament revelation
rests on this as an historical fact. On the day of Pentecost, Peter argued the
necessity of Christ's resurrection from the prediction in Psalm 16 (Acts
2:24-28). In his own discourses, also, our Lord clearly intimates his
resurrection (Matt. 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John 2:19-22).
The evangelists give circumstantial accounts
of the facts connected with that event, and the apostles, also, in their public
teaching largely insist upon it.
How many times did Jesus appear after his
death and resurrection?
Eleven different appearances of our risen
Lord are recorded in the New Testament...
To Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre alone. This is recorded at length only
by John (20:11-18), and alluded to by Mark (16:9-11).
To certain women, "the other Mary," Salome, Joanna, and others,
as they returned from the sepulchre. Matthew (28:1-10) alone gives an account of
this. (Compare Mark 16:1-8, and Luke 24:1-11.)
To Simon Peter alone on the day of the resurrection. (See Luke 24:34; 1
To the two disciples on the way to Emmaus on the day of the resurrection,
recorded fully only by Luke (24:13-35. Compare Mark 16:12,13).
To the ten disciples (Thomas being absent) and others "with
them," at Jerusalem on the evening of the resurrection day. One of the
evangelists gives an account of this appearance, John (20:19-24).
To the disciples again (Thomas being present) at Jerusalem (Mark
16:14-18; Luke 24:33-40; John 20:26-28. See also 1 Cor. 15:5).
To the disciples when fishing at the Sea of Galilee. Of this appearance
also John (21:1-23) alone gives an account.
To the eleven, and above 500 brethren at once, at an appointed place in
Galilee (1 Cor. 15:6; compare Matt. 28:16-20).
To James, but under what circumstances we are not informed (1 Cor. 15:7).
To the apostles immediately before the ascension. They accompanied him
from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet, and there they saw him ascend "till a cloud
received him out of their sight" (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:4-10).
It is worthy of note
that it is distinctly related that on most of these occasions our Lord afforded
his disciples the amplest opportunity of testing the fact of his resurrection.
He conversed with them face to face. They touched him (Matt. 28:9; Luke 24:39;
John 20:27), and he ate bread with them (Luke 24:42,43; John 21:12,13).
In addition to the above, mention might be made of Christ's manifestation
of himself to Paul at Damascus, who speaks of it as an appearance of the risen
Savior (Acts 9:3-9, 17; 1 Cor. 15:8; 9:1).
It is implied in the words of Luke (Acts 1:3) that there may have been
other appearances of which we have no record.
Who performed the resurrection?
The resurrection is spoken of as the act...
of God the Father (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:24; 3:15; Rom. 8:11; Eph. 1:20; Col.
2:12; Heb. 13:20)
of Christ himself (John 2:19; 10:18)
of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3:18)
Why is the resurrection important?
The resurrection is a public testimony of
Christ's release from his undertaking as surety, and an evidence of the Father's
acceptance of his work of redemption. It is a victory over death and the grave
for all his followers.
The importance of Christ's resurrection will
be seen when we consider that if he rose the gospel is true, and if he rose not
it is false. His resurrection from the dead makes it manifest that his sacrifice
Our justification was secured by his
obedience to the death, and therefore he was raised from the dead (Rom. 4:25).
His resurrection is a proof that he made a
full atonement for our sins, that his sacrifice was accepted as a satisfaction
to divine justice, and his blood a ransom for sinners. It is also a pledge and
an earnest of the resurrection of all believers (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14;
15:47-49; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2). As he lives, they shall live also.
It proved him to be the Son of God, inasmuch
as it authenticated all his claims (John 2:19; 10:17).
Christ did not rise, the whole scheme of redemption is a failure, and all the
predictions and anticipations of its glorious results for time and for eternity,
for men and for angels of every rank and order, are proved to be chimeras. 'But
now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that
slept.' Therefore the Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation. The kingdom of
darkness has been overthrown, Satan has fallen as lightning from heaven, and the
triumph of truth over error, of good over evil, of happiness over misery is for
ever secured" (Hodge).
What about claims that Jesus did not rise
from the dead?
With reference to the report which the Roman
soldiers were bribed (Matt. 28:12-14) to circulate concerning Christ's
resurrection, "his disciples came by night and stole him away while we
slept," Matthew Henry in his "Commentary," under John 20:1-10,
grave-clothes in which Christ had been buried were found in very good order,
which serves for an evidence that his body was not 'stolen away while men
slept.' Robbers of tombs have been known to take away 'the clothes' and leave
the body; but none ever took away 'the body' and left the clothes, especially
when they were 'fine linen' and new (Mark 15:46). Any one would rather choose to
carry a dead body in its clothes than naked. Or if they that were supposed to
have stolen it would have left the grave-clothes behind, yet it cannot be
supposed they would find leisure to 'fold up the linen.'"