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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pink Milk Glass

Sunday, January 18, 2015

History of the New Testament

Click on this link for my post on the History of the Old Testament. I did a study onWHY we should read the Bible. Today I want to discuss the history of the Bible andwhy we believe it is the Word of God. How did we get the Bible in it's present form? How do we know that the Bible today is God's Word?

As a Christian, before any "proofs", I believed the Bible as the Word of God. It's called faith. I began my reading and studies of the Bible with faith. And, today, I believe in the inerrant (without error) Word of God. I believe that God supernaturally and miraculously preserved His Word for us.


The New Testament documents the life of Christ and the first century church. More than half is taken up with 4 accounts of the life of Jesus Christ which we call The Gospels. The word "gospel" is the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times) “good news,” and the verb euangelizo (occurring 54 times), meaning “to bring or announce good news.”. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek (versus the Old Testament which was written mostly in ancient Hebrew) which was the common language of the area. Greek, an euangelos was one who brought a message of victory or other political or personal news that caused joy.

The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia summarizes the gospel message this way: "The central truth of the gospel is that God has provided a way of salvation for men through the gift of His son to the world. He suffered as a sacrifice for sin, overcame death, and now offers a share in His triumph to all who will accept it. The gospel is good news because it is a gift of God, not something that must be earned by penance or by self-improvement (John 3:16; Romans 5:8–11; II Corinthians 5:14–19; Titus 2:11–14)"

We are all destined for hell because of our sins. We are born with a sinful nature and we continue to act upon it by sinning. But, Praise God!, we can be saved from the wages of sin which are death and hell!

Do my feet look pretty? Because in Romans 10:13-15 it says, (13) For everyone, "whoever shall call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (14) How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without preaching? (15) And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!"

If you have read this post thus far, then you have heard the message of The Gospels. You have heard the Good News, the Good Tidings!!!! You can be saved by believing in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Master. You can pray and ask Him to forgive you and ask Him to become your Lord and Savior. Ask Him to send His Holy Spirit to live in your heart. It is a free gift! The only cost is for you to give up your self will and self-attempts to save yourself and accept Christ's salvation. He is the Son of God! He died to save you! He died to bring you from the brink of hell to eternal life in Heaven with Him! There is NO sin that cannot be forgiven for He died for all. The only unforgivable sin is the sin of not accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, rejecting His offer of salvation. So, come and join the family of God. Join all of us sinners-saved-by-grace and become a child of God. Just pray from your heart.


The New Testament contains the 4 Gospels and a history of the Apostles work to begin the early church. This book is called the Book of Acts. There are also 21 "epistles" which are letters written by the Apostles to various churches to teach and encourage them. The last book in the New Testament is Revelation. It is also referred to an an apocalypse which means uncovering, a disclosure, a lifting of a veil. It is a book of prophecy about the end times.

Scholars think that the Old Testament book of Nehemiah was written about 424-400 BC which would make it probably the last book written in the Old Testament. That means that God was silent for over 400 years before writers were inspired to write the first book of the New Testament (probably the epistle of James in 45-50 AD). This is called the intertestamental period.

All the prophesies of Jesus' life, death and resurrection occurred hundreds, even thousands of years before He was born on this earth.

For instance, in Isaiah 7:14, "(14) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." This was written by the prophet Isaiah about 740-680 BC. It was fulfilled approximately 700 years late when Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary, Matthew 1: 22-23, "(22) All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: (23) 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel'.”(New International Version - NIV)

What had happened to Israel during those 400 years? According to Wikipedia:

The Kingdom of Israel had reached its height under King David a thousand years earlier but was no longer in existence as a political entity by the time Jesus was born.

In 587 BC, the southern Kingdom of Judah with its capital Jerusalem had been conquered by the Babylonians who destroyed the First Temple and forced the Jewish population into exile, known as the Babylonian exile. Fifty years later, Cyrus of Persia permitted the Jews to return and build yet a new temple, the Second Temple, only to have it destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. Thus, the span of Jewish history from 515 BC to AD 70 is often referred to as the Second Temple period. Within it are four subdivisions:

The Persian Period (c. 537 – 332 BC)
Jewish nation ruled by high priests
Minimal interference from the Persian kings
Synagogues became significant sites for teaching and worship
The Torah became the focal point of their religion

The Hellenistic Period (c. 332 – 167 BC)
The Holy Land came under Greek control during conquests by Alexander the Great
198–167 BC was a reign of terror during which Jews suffered persecution from Antiochus IV Epiphanes, King of Syria, who sought to exterminate Judaism by force

The Hasmonean Period (167–163 BC)
Jewish rebels nicknamed "Maccabees" ("hammers") led revolt against Antiochus and won independence. Rededication of the Second Temple (defiled by Antiochus) is the origin of Hanukkah. Two important Jewish sects, Pharisees and Sadducees, emerged.

The Roman Period (beginning in 63 BC)
Roman general Pompey conquered Jerusalem in 63 BC
Herod the Great appointed as client king of the Jews by the Roman Senate (37 – 4 BC)
Census of Quirinius and Roman Judea (AD 6 – AD 135)
Includes the time of the ministry of Jesus and the Apostolic Age


The Gospel of Matthew

It was written by the Apostle Matthew. He had been formerly named Levi but he changed his name possibly after he was called by Jesus. Matthew means "given gift of God" or "given gift of Jehovah", "a reward from God".

Matthew 9:9 (Modern King James Version - MKJV) And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax-office. And He said to him, Follow Me! And he arose and followed Him.

Mark 2:14 (MKJV) And as He passed on, He saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting at the tax-office. And He said to him, Follow Me. And he arose and followed Him.

He was the son of Apheus (not the father of James the Less, for Matthew and James are never coupled as brothers). Peter, James and John were already disciples. He had not been under John the Baptist's teachings like the first 6 disciples. He humbly gives us his former name, Levi. He had been a tax collector or "publican" in the territory of Herod Antipas. Matthew was not exactly a Roman official, but was in the service of the tetrarch of Galilee, or possibly a subordinate officer, belonging to the class called portitores, serving under the publicani, or superior officials who collected the Roman taxes. He must have been wealthy. The same day on which Jesus called him he made a “great feast” (Luke 5:29), a farewell feast, to which he invited Jesus and his disciples, and probably also many old associates. He may have done this to introduce them to Jesus so they could hear His teachings.

Luke 5:27-29 (MKJV) And after these things He went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax-office. And He said to him, Follow Me. (28) And leaving all, he rose up and followed Him. (29) And Levi made a great feast in his own house for Him. And there was a great company of tax-collectors and of others who were reclining with them.

He collected dues at Capernaum on the sea of Galilee, the route by which traffic passed between Damascus and the Phoenician seaports. Matthew is not ashamed to own his identity as a "publican" in order to testify of Christ's grace in calling him. He was one of those in the Upper Room after Jesus' death, resurrection and Ascension.

Acts 1:9-15 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) After Jesus said this, he was lifted up into the sky. While they were watching, he went into a cloud, and they could not see him. (10) They were staring into the sky where he had gone. Suddenly two men wearing white clothes were standing beside them. (11) They said, "Men from Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? You saw Jesus carried away from you into heaven. He will come back in the same way you saw him go." (12) Then the apostles went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. This mountain is about a half mile from Jerusalem. (13) When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. These are the ones who were there: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Simon, the Zealot, and Judas (the son of James). (14) The apostles were all together. They were constantly praying with the same purpose. Some women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers were there with the apostles. (15) After a few days there was a meeting of the believers. There were about 120 of them. Peter stood up and said,

Matthew preached in Judaea and then in foreign nations. Tradition states that he preached for 15 years in Jerusalem in Palestine and that after this he went to foreign nations, the Ethiopians, Macedonians, Syrians, Persians, Parthians and Medea being mentioned. He is said to have died a natural death either in Ethiopia or in Macedonia. Although the Roman Catholic tradition holds he died a martyr's death in Ethiopia, Clement of Alexandria (Strom., iv. 9) gives the explicit denial of Heracleon that Matthew suffered martyrdom. As a tax collector he would have been educated.

Mark 3:16-19 (ERV) These are the names of the twelve men Jesus chose: Simon (the one Jesus named Peter), (17) James and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee (the ones Jesus named Boanerges, which means "Sons of Thunder"), (18) Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon, the Zealot, (19) Judas Iscariot (the one who handed Jesus over to his enemies).

Matthew begins his book with, Mattew 1:1 (MKJV) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

He connects his gospel with the Old Testament by giving the human genealogy of Jesus. He was writing this book primarily for Jewish readers because he gives proof and evidence by citing the Jewish Old Testament. He is trying to show his Jewish readers that Jesus is the Messiah that they've been waiting on.  He frequently quotes from the Old Testament. The Jews would be knowledgeable of their lineage so Matthew is giving Jesus' human lineage. It was to show that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham and David as prophesied. Matthew traces Jesus' roots to show he was of the royal line of David through Solomon.

Psalms 132:10-14 (ERV) For the sake of your servant David, don't reject your chosen king. (11) The LORD made a promise to David, an oath of loyalty to him: "I will always put one of your descendants on your throne. (12) If your descendants obey my agreement and the laws I teach them, then the king will always be someone from your family." (13) The LORD has chosen Zion to be the place for his Temple, the place he wanted for his home. (14) He said, "This will always be my place of rest. This is where I want to sit on my throne.


The Gospel of Mark

Mark (aka Marcus) was John Mark, the son of a Jerusalem widow whose home was a meeting place for early believers. She must have been wealthy woman since she had her own home, large enough to offer as a meeting place, and she is mentioned to have a Greek servant. She must have been a woman of influence. John Mark was a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). Mark's name means "shining". Saint Mark as "Saint Mark The Lionhearted". One legend says that he was thrown to the Lions and the animals refused to attack or eat him. Instead the Lions slept at his feet, while he petted them. When the Romans saw this, they released him impressed by this sight. He is often depicted with a lion.

Acts 12:12 (ERV) When Peter realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John, who was also called Mark. Many people were gathered there and were praying.

He was the amanuensis for the Apostle Peter, meaning he took dictation from the Apostle Peter. He wrote down events as told to him by Peter. Peter would have been a firsthand witness of the life and miracles of Jesus and told Mark the stories. Peter loved him like a son Mark was probably converted by Peter so was Peter's spiritual "son".

1 Peter 5:13 (ERV) The church in Babylon sends you greetings. They were chosen just as you were. Mark, my son in Christ, also sends his greetings.

This gospel is more of the highlights of Jesus ministry on earth and seems to have been written to a non-Jewish audience. He sticks to narrating Christ's ministry not His life from birth like Matthew did. He may have been attempting to persuade gentiles to a belief in the sovereignty of Christ. It also encouraged Roman believers during a time of persecution. Jesus was the suffering servant who came to die for us and He is the Savior of the whole world, not just the Jewish nation.

Mark begins by telling the story of John the Baptist and how he came to prepare the world for the advent of Jesus, the Son of God. He gives the only quote from the Old Testament in his gospel in this first section.

When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, to prepare his way before him. - Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

Acts 12:25 (ERV) After Barnabas and Saul finished their work in Jerusalem, they returned to Antioch, taking John Mark with them.

John Mark went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary trip in 47 AD but he returned to Jerusalem for some indefinite reason. He was to minister to them as an attendant or assistant (not as a servant but as an assistant). Why did he turn back? "Not because of homesickness, or anxiety for his mother's safety, or home duties, or the desire to rejoin Peter, or fear of the perils incident to the journey, but rather because he objected to the offer of salvation to the Gentiles on condition of faith alone. There are hints that Mark's family, like Paul's, were Hebrews of the Hebrews..." - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. This was a big question in the beginning. Was the gospel just for the Jews or for the gentiles too? God settled that with a revelation to Peter who began taking the gospel to the gentiles too. But it had not been so at first so it's not surprising that John Mark would have the question in his mind. This was a sensitive subject between the Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul. Paul rebuked Peter at one point.

Acts 13:13 Paul and the people with him sailed away from Paphos. They came to Perga, a city in Pamphylia. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.

Three years afterwards a “sharp contention” arose between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-40), because Paul would not take Mark with him. He, however, was evidently at length reconciled to the Mark, for he was with him in his first imprisonment at Rome. Mark must have changed his stance upon the further teaching and revelations he was given by his spiritual father, Peter. He matured in the faith.

Acts 15:36-41 (ERV) A few days later, Paul said to Barnabas, "We should go back to all the towns where we told people the message of the Lord. We should visit the believers to see how they are doing." (37) Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark with them too. (38) But on their first trip John Mark did not continue with them in the work. He had left them at Pamphylia. So Paul did not think it was a good idea to take him this time. (39) Paul and Barnabas had a big argument about this. It was so bad that they separated and went different ways. Barnabas sailed to Cyprus and took Mark with him. (40) Paul chose Silas to go with him. The believers in Antioch put Paul into the Lord's care and sent him out. (41) Paul and Silas went through the countries of Syria and Cilicia, helping the churches grow stronger.

Colossians 4:10 (ERV) Aristarchus, the one here in prison with me, sends you his greetings. Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, also sends his greetings. (I have already told you what to do about Mark. If he comes, welcome him.)

Philemon 1:24 (ERV) Also Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke send their greetings. They are workers together with me.

2 Timothy 4:11 Luke is the only one still with me. Get Mark and bring him with you when you come. He can help me in my work here.

After Paul's death Mark joined Peter:
1 Peter 5:13 (ERV) The church in Babylon sends you greetings. They were chosen just as you were. Mark, my son in Christ, also sends his greetings.

Alexandria was the final scene of Mark's labors, bishopric, and martyrdom (Nicephorus, H. E. 2:43).  "He is represented as having remained in Cyprus until after the death of Barnabas (who was living in 57 AD according to 1Co_9:5 f) and then to have gone to Alexandria, founded the church there, become its first bishop and there died (or was marthyred) in the 8th year of Nero (62-63). They add that in 815 AD Venetian soldiers stole his remains from Alexandria and placed them under the church of Mark at Venice." - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


Gospel of Luke, Acts of the Apostles

Luke (aka Lucas) is an abbreviation of Lucanus which means light giver. He was possibly born at Antioch in Syria. Lucanus was a slave name. As Luke was a "physician," a profession often exercised by slaves and freedmen, he may have been a freedman. He was trained as a doctor. It is thought he was also an artist, painting.

Colossians 4:10-11 (CEV) Aristarchus is in jail with me. He sends greetings to you, and so does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. You have already been told to welcome Mark, if he visits you. (11) Jesus, who is known as Justus, sends his greetings. These three men are the only Jewish followers who have worked with me for the kingdom of God. They have given me much comfort.

Since Luke is not mentioned then he must not have been Jewish.

Colossians 4:14 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) Our dear doctor Luke sends you his greetings, and so does Demas.

It is probable that he was a physician in Troas, and was there converted by Paul, to whom he attached himself. He was Paul’s companion in several missionary journies. "He was Paul's medical adviser, and doubtless prolonged his life and rescued him from many a serious illness. He was a medical missionary, and probably kept up his general practice of medicine in connection with his work in Rome." - International Standard Bible Encylcopedia

He went with the Apostle Paul to Asia and Macedonia.

Acts 16:9-12 (CEV) During the night, Paul had a vision of someone from Macedonia who was standing there and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" (10) After Paul had seen the vision, we began looking for a way to go to Macedonia. We were sure that God had called us to preach the good news there. (11) We sailed straight from Troas to Samothrace, and the next day we arrived in Neapolis. (12) From there we went to Philippi, which is a Roman colony in the first district of Macedonia. We spent several days in Philippi.

He went with the Apostle Paul to Jerusalem.

Acts 21:1-19 (CEV) After saying good-by, we sailed straight to Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and from there sailed on to Patara. (2) We found a ship going to Phoenicia, so we got on board and sailed off. (3) We came within sight of Cyprus and then sailed south of it on to the port of Tyre in Syria, where the ship was going to unload its cargo. (4) We looked up the Lord's followers and stayed with them for a week. The Holy Spirit had told them to warn Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. (5) But when the week was over, we started on our way again. All the men, together with their wives and children, walked with us from the town to the seashore. We knelt on the beach and prayed. (6) Then after saying good-by to each other, we got into the ship, and they went back home. (7) We sailed from Tyre to Ptolemais, where we greeted the followers and stayed with them for a day. (8) The next day we went to Caesarea and stayed with Philip, the preacher. He was one of the seven men who helped the apostles, (9) and he had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. (10) We had been in Caesarea for several days, when the prophet Agabus came to us from Judea. (11) He took Paul's belt, and with it he tied up his own hands and feet. Then he told us, "The Holy Spirit says that some of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will tie up the man who owns this belt. They will also hand him over to the Gentiles." (12) After Agabus said this, we and the followers living there begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. (13) But Paul answered, "Why are you crying and breaking my heart? I am not only willing to be put in jail for the Lord Jesus. I am even willing to die for him in Jerusalem!" (14) Since we could not get Paul to change his mind, we gave up and prayed, "Lord, please make us willing to do what you want." (15) Then we got ready to go to Jerusalem. (16) Some of the followers from Caesarea went with us and took us to stay in the home of Mnason. He was from Cyprus and had been a follower from the beginning. (17) When we arrived in Jerusalem, the Lord's followers gladly welcomed us. (18) Paul went with us to see James the next day, and all the church leaders were present. (19) Paul greeted them and told how God had used him to help the Gentiles.

And he accompanied the Apostle Paul to Rome. (Acts 27-28)

Acts 27:1-2 (CEV) When it was time for us to sail to Rome, Captain Julius from the Emperor's special troops was put in charge of Paul and the other prisoners. (2) We went aboard a ship from Adramyttium that was about to sail to some ports along the coast of Asia. Aristarchus from Thessalonica in Macedonia sailed on the ship with us.

2 Timothy 4:11 (CEV) Only Luke has stayed with me. Mark can be very helpful to me, so please find him and bring him with you.

Philemon 1:23-24 (CEV) Epaphras is also here in jail for being a follower of Christ Jesus. He sends his greetings, (24) and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, who work together with me.

In Paul's last imprisonment there, when others forsook him Luke remained faithful. These are the last mentions of Luke. It is generally accepted that he was martyred between 75-100 AD.

Luke wrote not only the Gospel of Luke but also the Acts of the Apostles. The gospel was written before Acts. He does not claim to be an eyewitness of Jesus' ministry although he may have been a witness to at least some of His work. It is generally thought that he wrote his gospel based on what he learned from other Christian witnesses but was heavily influenced by the Apostle Paul. It seems that Luke is writing this to Theophilus (who is in Italy, probably in Rome itself) and who was not a Jew.

Luke 1:1-4 (CEV) Many people have tried to tell the story of what God has done among us. (2) They wrote what we had been told by the ones who were there in the beginning and saw what happened. (3) So I made a careful study of everything and then decided to write and tell you exactly what took place. Honorable Theophilus, (4) I have done this to let you know the truth about what you have heard.

Luke had abundant opportunity during the two years at Caesarea with Paul (Acts 24 through 26) to make careful and extended investigations. Many of the personal followers of Jesus were still living.

1 Corinthians 15:6 (CEV) After this, He appeared to more than five hundred other followers. Most of them are still alive, but some have died.

Luke may, indeed, have seen Mary herself in the years 57-59 AD (or 58-60). He could easily have met some of Mary's closest friends who knew the real facts in the case. Did some of this information come to him in written form (such as the hymns of Mary and of Zacharias) or in oral tradition? Luke knew Mark in Rome. He may have met him in Palestine also. Was Mark's one of the "many narratives" that Luke mentions?

"He was a Greek, a Christian, a physician, a man of travel, a man of world-outlook, sympathetic, cultured, poetic, spiritual, artistic, high-minded. His Prologue is the most classic piece of Greek in the New Testament, but the rest of chapter 1 and all of chapter 2 are the most Semitic in tone. The breadth of his literary equipment is thereby shown. He not only uses many medical terms common to technical circles, but he has the physician's interest in the sick and afflicted, as shown in the large number of miracles of healing narrated." - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


The Gospel of John, The Epistles of John, the Revelation of John

John was the son of Zebedee and younger brother of James. It is thought he was the youngest of the disciples and survived them all. He had been a fisherman by trade. His father, Zebedee, must have been a man of wealth since the passage in Mark says that James and John left their father with his "hired workers". James and John were not the only ones in the family who became believers. Their mother, Mary, joined the disciples and ministered to Jesus and His disciples from out of her substance.

Matthew 4:18-22 (CEV) While Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers. One was Simon, also known as Peter, and the other was Andrew. They were fishermen, and they were casting their net into the lake. (19) Jesus said to them, "Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish." (20) Right then the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him. (21) Jesus walked on until he saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat with their father, mending their nets. Jesus asked them to come with him too. (22) Right away they left the boat and their father and went with Jesus.

Mark 1:15-20 (CEV) He said, "The time has come! God's kingdom will soon be here. Turn back to God and believe the good news!" (16) As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were fishermen and were casting their nets into the lake. (17) Jesus said to them, "Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish." (18) Right then the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him. (19) Jesus walked on and soon saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat, mending their nets. (20) At once Jesus asked them to come with him. They left their father in the boat with the hired workers and went with him.

Matthew 27:55-56 (CEV) Many women had come with Jesus from Galilee to be of help to him, and they were there, looking on at a distance. (56) Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of James and John were some of these women.

Mark 15:38-41 (ERV) When Jesus died, the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom. (39) The army officer who was standing there in front of the cross saw what happened when Jesus died. The officer said, "This man really was the Son of God!" (40) Some women were standing away from the cross, watching. Among these women were Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James and Joses. (James was her youngest son.) (41) These were the women who had followed Jesus in Galilee and cared for him. Many other women who had come with Jesus to Jerusalem were also there.

It's possible that James and John's mother was Salome and some have suggested that Salome and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, were sisters. If this is true then John was the cousin of Jesus and was related to John the Baptist. Salome being their mother is accepted by church tradition.

John 19:25 (ERV) Jesus' mother stood near his cross. Her sister was also standing there with Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

John was with James and Peter at the raising of the daughter of Jairus.

Mark 5:22-24 and 63-42 (ERV) A leader of the synagogue came. His name was Jairus. He saw Jesus and bowed down before him. (23) He begged Jesus again and again, saying, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and lay your hands on her. Then she will be healed and will live." (24) So Jesus went with Jairus. Many people followed Jesus. They were pushing very close around him. ... While Jesus was still there speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. They said, "Your daughter is dead. There is no need to bother the Teacher." (36) But Jesus did not care what the men said. He said to the synagogue leader, "Don't be afraid; just believe." (37) Jesus let only Peter, James, and John the brother of James go with him. (38) They went to the synagogue leader's house, where Jesus saw many people crying loudly. There was a lot of confusion. (39) He entered the house and said, "Why are you people crying and making so much noise? This child is not dead. She is only sleeping." (40) But everyone laughed at him. Jesus told the people to leave the house. Then he went into the room where the child was. He brought the child's father and mother and his three followers into the room with him. (41) Then Jesus held the girl's hand and said to her, "Talitha, koum!" (This means "Little girl, I tell you to stand up!") (42) The girl immediately stood up and began walking. (She was twelve years old.) The father and mother and the followers were amazed.

These three were also present on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Matthew 17:1-3 (ERV) Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John the brother of James and went up on a high mountain. They were all alone there. (2) While these followers watched him, Jesus was changed. His face became bright like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. (3) Then two men were there, talking with him. They were Moses and Elijah.

In Luke 9:49-56, James and John wish to call down fire on a Samaritan village, which had refused them hospitality. This shows their earnestness, zeal, and enthusiasm.

Luke 9:49-56 (ERV) John answered, "Master, we saw someone using your name to force demons out of people. We told him to stop because he does not belong to our group." (50) Jesus said to him, "Don't stop him. Whoever is not against you is for you." (51) The time was coming near when Jesus would leave and go back to heaven. He decided to go to Jerusalem. (52) He sent some men ahead of him. They went into a town in Samaria to make everything ready for him. (53) But the people there would not welcome Jesus because he was going toward Jerusalem. (54) James and John, the followers of Jesus, saw this. They said, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven and destroy those people?" (55) But Jesus turned and criticized them for saying this. (56) Then he and his followers went to another town.

Peter, James, John, and Andrew are the four who asked Jesus about the prophecies He had uttered, Mark 13:3-4 (ERV) Later, Jesus was sitting at a place on the Mount of Olives. He was alone with Peter, James, John, and Andrew. They could all see the Temple, and they said to Jesus, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished?”

Then there is the request of their mother for her sons in the coming kingdom. She wanted them to sit on the right and left hand of Jesus when he came into His kingdom. Evidently they got their mother to ask Jesus although Jesus turned directly to the brothers to answer.

Mark 10:35-41 (ERV) Then James and John, sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, we want to ask you to do something for us." (36) Jesus asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" (37) The sons answered, "Let us share the great honor you will have as king. Let one of us sit at your right side and the other at your left." (38) Jesus said, "You don't understand what you are asking. Can you drink from the cup that I must drink from? Can you be baptized with the same baptism that I must go through?" (39) The sons answered, "Yes, we can!" Jesus said to the sons, "It is true that you will drink from the cup that I drink from. And you will be baptized with the same baptism that I must go through. (40) But it is not for me to say who will sit at my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he chooses." (41) When the other ten followers heard this, they were angry with James and John.

Matthew 20:20-24 (ERV) Then Zebedee's wife came to Jesus and brought her sons. She bowed before Jesus and asked him to do something for her. (21) Jesus said, "What do you want?" She said, "Promise that one of my sons will sit at your right side in your kingdom and the other at your left." (22) So Jesus said to the sons, "You don't understand what you are asking. Can you drink from the cup that I must drink from?" The sons answered, "Yes, we can!" (23) Jesus said to them, "It is true that you will drink from the cup that I drink from. But it is not for me to say who will sit at my right or my left. My Father has decided who will do that. He has prepared those places for them." (24) The other ten followers heard this and were angry with the two brothers.

Once John stands alone, and asks what we may consider a characteristic question: “Teacher, we saw one casting out demons in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followed not us” (Mark 9:38; Luke 9:49). From these notices we see that John was in the front rank of the disciples,

To Peter and John was entrusted the task of preparation for the keeping of the Passover.

Luke 9:49-50 (ERV) John answered, "Master, we saw someone using your name to force demons out of people. We told him to stop because he does not belong to our group." (50) Jesus said to him, "Don't stop him. Whoever is not against you is for you."

Mark 3:16-19 (ERV) These are the names of the twelve men Jesus chose: Simon (the one Jesus named Peter), (17) James and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee (the ones Jesus named Boanerges, which means "Sons of Thunder"), (18) Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon, the Zealot, (19) Judas Iscariot (the one who handed Jesus over to his enemies).

The three, Peter, James and John, are with our Lord when no one else was. John is considered to be the "one that Jesus loved" mentioned in the Last Supper and the one who knew Caiaphas and was allowed in the yard of Caiaphas' house while they questioned Jesus.

John 13:1-2, 19-28 It was almost time for the Jewish Passover festival. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go back to the Father. Jesus had always loved the people in the world who were his. Now was the time he showed them his love the most. (2) Jesus and his followers were at the evening meal. The devil had already persuaded Judas Iscariot to hand Jesus over to his enemies. (Judas was the son of Simon.) ... I am telling you this now before it happens. Then when it happens, you will believe that I AM. (20) I assure you, whoever accepts the person I send also accepts me. And whoever accepts me also accepts the one who sent me." (21) After Jesus said these things, he felt very troubled. He said openly, "Believe me when I say that one of you will hand me over to my enemies." (22) His followers all looked at each other. They did not understand who Jesus was talking about. (23) One of the followers was next to Jesus and was leaning close to him. This was the one Jesus loved very much. (24) Simon Peter made signs to this follower to ask Jesus who he was talking about. (25) That follower leaned closer to Jesus and asked, "Lord, who is it?" (26) Jesus answered him, "I will dip this bread into the dish. The man I give it to is the one." So Jesus took a piece of bread, dipped it, and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. (27) When Judas took the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus said to Judas, "What you will do--do it quickly!" (28) No one at the table understood why Jesus said this to Judas.

John 18:12-16 (ERV) Then the soldiers with their commander and the Jewish guards arrested Jesus. They tied him (13) and brought him to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the high priest that year. (14) He was also the one who had told the other Jewish leaders that it would be better if one man died for all the people. (15) Simon Peter and another one of Jesus' followers went with Jesus. This follower knew the high priest. So he went with Jesus into the yard of the high priest's house. (16) But Peter waited outside near the door. The follower who knew the high priest came back outside and spoke to the gatekeeper. Then he brought Peter inside.

John 19:16-19, 25-27 (ERV) So Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be killed on a cross. The soldiers took Jesus. (17) He carried his own cross to a place called "The Place of the Skull." (In Aramaic the name of this place is "Golgotha.") (18) There they nailed Jesus to the cross. They also nailed two other men to crosses. They put them on each side of Jesus with him in the middle. (19) Pilate told them to write a sign and put it on the cross. The sign said, "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS." ... Jesus' mother stood near his cross. Her sister was also standing there with Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (26) Jesus saw his mother. He also saw the follower he loved very much standing there. He said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son." (27) Then he said to the follower, "Here is your mother." So after that, this follower took Jesus' mother to live in his home.

John 20:1-10 (ERV) Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She saw that the large stone was moved away from the entrance. (2) So she ran to Simon Peter and the other follower (the one Jesus loved very much). She said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they put him." (3) So Peter and the other follower started going to the tomb. (4) They were both running, but the other follower ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. (5) He bent down and looked in. He saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he did not go in. (6) Then Simon Peter finally reached the tomb and went in. He saw the pieces of linen lying there. (7) He also saw the cloth that had been around Jesus' head. It was folded up and laid in a different place from the pieces of linen. (8) Then the other follower went in--the one who had reached the tomb first. He saw what had happened and believed. (9) (These followers did not yet understand from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from death.) (10) Then the followers went back home.

After the Resurrection, Jesus shows Himself to His followers.

John 21:3-7 (ERV) Simon Peter said, "I am going out to fish." The other followers said, "We will go with you." So all of them went out and got into the boat. They fished that night but caught nothing. (4) Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore. But the followers did not know it was Jesus. (5) Then he said to them, "Friends, have you caught any fish?" They answered, "No." (6) He said, "Throw your net into the water on the right side of your boat. You will find some fish there." So they did this. They caught so many fish that they could not pull the net back into the boat. (7) The follower Jesus loved very much said to Peter, "That man is the Lord!" When Peter heard him say it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself. (He had taken his clothes off to work.) Then he jumped into the water.

John 21:19-22 (ERV) (Jesus said this to show how Peter would die to give glory to God.) Then he said to Peter, "Follow me!" (20) Peter turned and saw the follower Jesus loved very much walking behind them. (This was the follower who had leaned against Jesus at the supper and said, "Lord, who is it that will hand you over?") (21) When Peter saw him behind them, he asked Jesus, "Lord, what about him?" (22) Jesus answered, "Maybe I want him to live until I come. That should not matter to you. You follow me!"

John was there when Jesus ascended into Heaven. He and Peter were in unity when starting the first church and in the work of the early church.

Acts 3:1-7 (ERV) One day Peter and John went to the Temple area. It was three o'clock in the afternoon, which was the time for the daily Temple prayer service. (2) As they were entering the Temple area, a man was there who had been crippled all his life. He was being carried by some friends who brought him to the Temple every day. They put him by one of the gates outside the Temple. It was called Beautiful Gate. There he begged for money from the people going to the Temple. (3) That day he saw Peter and John going into the Temple area. He asked them for money. (4) Peter and John looked at the crippled man and said, "Look at us!" (5) He looked at them; he thought they would give him some money. (6) But Peter said, "I don't have any silver or gold, but I do have something else I can give you. By the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth--stand up and walk!" (7) Then Peter took the man's right hand and lifted him up. Immediately his feet and legs became strong.

Acts 4:12-13 (ERV) Jesus is the only one who can save people. His name is the only power in the world that has been given to save anyone. We must be saved through him!" (13) The Jewish leaders understood that Peter and John had no special training or education. But they also saw that they were not afraid to speak. So the leaders were amazed. They also realized that Peter and John had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:1-4 (ERV) While Peter and John were speaking to the people, some Jewish leaders came up to them. There were some priests, the captain of the soldiers that guarded the Temple, and some Sadducees. (2) They were upset because of what Peter and John were teaching the people. By telling people about Jesus, the apostles were teaching that people will rise from death. (3) The Jewish leaders arrested Peter and John and put them in jail. It was already night, so they kept them in jail until the next day. (4) But many of the people who heard the apostles believed what they said. There were now about 5000 men in the group of believers.

The persecution of the early church began. Saul (later converted and became the Apostle Paul) was beginning the deadly persecution. It scattered the new believers although the Apostles stayed.

Acts 8:1 (ERV) Saul agreed that the killing of Stephen was a good thing. Some godly men buried Stephen and cried loudly for him. On that day the Jews began to persecute the church in Jerusalem, making them suffer very much. Saul was also trying to destroy the group. He went into their houses, dragged out men and women, and put them in jail. All the believers left Jerusalem. Only the apostles stayed. The believers went to different places in Judea and Samaria.

Fifteen years after Apostle Paul's first visit, Apostle John was still at Jerusalem, and helped to take part in the settlement of the great controversy, between the Jewish and the Gentile Christians.

Acts 15:4-7 (ERV) When the men arrived in Jerusalem, the apostles, the elders, and the whole church welcomed them. Paul, Barnabas, and the others told about all that God had done with them. (5) Some of the believers in Jerusalem had belonged to the Pharisees. They stood up and said, "The non-Jewish believers must be circumcised. We must tell them to obey the Law of Moses!" (6) Then the apostles and the elders gathered to study this problem. (7) After a long debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ...

Galatians 2:9-10 (ERV) James, Peter, and John seemed to be the leaders. And they saw that God had given me this special gift of ministry, so they accepted Barnabas and me. They said to us, "We agree that you should go to those who are not Jews, and we will go to the Jews." (10) They asked us to do only one thing--to remember to help those who are poor. And this was something that I really wanted to do.

There is no information in the Bible concerning the duration of John's activity in Judea. According to tradition, John and the other Apostles remained some 12 years there. The persecution of Christians under Herod Agrippa I led to the scattering of the Apostles through the Roman Empire's provinces.

Acts 8:14-17 (ERV) The apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted the word of God. So they sent Peter and John to the people in Samaria. (15) When Peter and John arrived, they prayed for the Samaritan believers to receive the Holy Spirit. (16) These people had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but the Holy Spirit had not yet come down on any of them. This is why Peter and John prayed. (17) When the two apostles laid their hands on the people, they received the Holy Spirit.

John remained apparently in Jerusalem as the leader of the church there. He was not there, however, at the time of Paul's last visit (Acts 21:15-40). According to Church tradition, after the Assumption of Mary, John retired to Ephesus. From there he wrote the three epistles attributed to him {1st, 2nd and 3rd John}. According to Tertullian (in The Prescription of Heretics), John was plunged into boiling oil in the Coliseum of Rome but survived with no injury. Supposedly, everyone in the audience of the Coliseum converted after this miracle. John was then banished by the Roman authorities to the Greek island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. This event would have occurred in the late 1st century, during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, who was known for his persecution of Christians. (Source: Wikipedia)

When John was aged, he trained Polycarp who later became Bishop of Smyrna. The Gospel of John was probably written, at Ephesus about A.D. 78. It is thought that John survived the other Apostles and died of old age in Ephesus after 98 AD. John's traditional tomb is thought to be located at Sel├žuk, a small town in the vicinity of Ephesus.

This gospel was written to believers


Epistle of James

This letter was written by an author named "James", often identified with James, the brother of Jesus, aka James the Just, James the Righteous, James of Jerusalem NOT the brother of John, sons of Zebedee. There were other James mentioned in the New Testament and it can get confusing.

In a letter written by Clement of Rome, James was called the "bishop of bishops, who rules Jerusalem, the Holy Assembly of Hebrews, and all assemblies everywhere". In the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, Jesus names James his successor: "The disciples said to Jesus, 'We know that you will depart from us. Who will be our leader?' Jesus said to them, "Where you are, you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into existence.'" Hegesippus, in his fifth book of his Commentaries, writing about James, says, "After the apostles, James the brother of the Lord surnamed the Just was made head of the Church at Jerusalem." Some Protestant groups claim the Matthew 1:25 statement that Joseph "knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son" to mean that Joseph and Mary did have normal marital relations after Jesus' birth, and that James, Joses, Jude, and Simon, were the natural sons of Mary and Joseph and, thus, brothers of Jesus. Also mentioned, but not named, are "sisters" of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark 6:3 and the Gospel of Matthew 13:55-56. Eusebius records that Clement of Alexandria related, "This James, whom the people of old called the Just because of his outstanding virtue, was the first, as the record tells us, to be elected to the episcopal throne of the Jerusalem church." (Source: Wikipedia)

Matthew 13:53-58 (ERV) When Jesus finished teaching with these stories, he left there. (54) He went to the town where he grew up. He taught the people in the synagogue, and they were amazed. They said, "Where did this man get such wisdom and this power to do miracles? (55) Isn't he just the son of the carpenter we know? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? (56) And don't all his sisters still live here in town? How is he able to do these things?" (57) So they had a problem accepting him. But Jesus said to them, "People everywhere give honor to a prophet, but in his own town or in his own home a prophet does not get any honor." (58) Jesus did not do many miracles there, because the people did not believe in him.

Since the Roman Catholics think that Mary was also virgin born and remained a virgin even after Jesus' birth, despite being married to Joseph, this presents a problem. They think these "brothers" and "sisters" of Jesus were either spiritual brothers and sisters; step brothers and step sisters by Joseph's first marriage; OR, were actually cousins and not siblings. Some think that Mary remarried to Clopas after the childless Joseph died. They think Clopas was a brother of Joseph and therefore picked to marry Mary after his brother's death (according to Jewish Law, if a man dies without children, his widow is suppose to be married off to another brother).

The Apostle Paul mentions James being an eye witness of Christ's death, burial and resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:3-9 (ERV) I gave you the message that I received. I told you the most important truths: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say; (4) that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day, as the Scriptures say; (5) and that he appeared to Peter and then to the twelve apostles. (6) After that Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died. (7) Then he appeared to James and later to all the apostles. (8) Last of all, he appeared to me. I was different, like a baby born before the normal time. (9) All the other apostles are greater than I am. I say this because I persecuted the church of God. That is why I am not even good enough to be called an apostle.

Galatians 2:9 (ERV) James, Peter, and John seemed to be the leaders. And they saw that God had given me this special gift of ministry, so they accepted Barnabas and me. They said to us, "We agree that you should go to those who are not Jews, and we will go to the Jews."

Acts 21:15-19 (ERV) After this, we got ready and left for Jerusalem. (16) Some of the followers of Jesus from Caesarea went with us. These followers took us to the home of Mnason, a man from Cyprus, who was one of the first people to be a follower of Jesus. They took us to his home so that we could stay with him. (17) The brothers and sisters in Jerusalem were very happy to see us. (18) The next day Paul went with us to visit James, and all the elders were there. (19) After greeting them, Paul told them point by point all that God had used him to do among the non-Jewish people.

According to a passage found in existing manuscripts of Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, (xx.9) "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" met his death after the death of the procurator Porcius Festus but before Lucceius Albinus had assumed office (Antiquities 20,9) — which has been dated to 62 AD. The High Priest Hanan ben Hanan took advantage of this lack of imperial oversight to assemble a Sanhedrin and he has James the Just arrested and accused of him of breaking the laws. It seems the scribes and Pharisees came to James to ask him to discourage the Christian believers and deny Christ. But James refused, instead saying, "Christ himself sitteth in heaven, at the right hand of the Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven" so they threw him down. He then kneeled as they stoned him to death and prayed for his murderers using Christ's own words, "I beseech thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." When one of the priests heard James prayer, he yelled for them to stop but someone hit him in the head with a staff. James was martyred 69 AD.


Epistle of Jude

Jude 1:1 (ERV) Greetings from Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. To those who have been chosen and are loved by God the Father and have been kept safe in Jesus Christ.

According to a straight, uncomplicated reading of this verse, Jude was a half brother of Jesus, brother of James the Just.

Mark 6:1-6 (ERV) Jesus left and went back to his hometown. His followers went with him. (2) On the Sabbath day Jesus taught in the synagogue, and many people heard him. They were amazed and said, "Where did this man get this teaching? How did he get such wisdom? Who gave it to him? And where did he get the power to do miracles? (3) Isn't he just the carpenter we know--Mary's son, the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And don't his sisters still live here in town?" So they had a problem accepting him. (4) Then Jesus said to them, "People everywhere give honor to a prophet, except in his own town, with his own people, or in his home." (5) Jesus was not able to do any miracles there except the healing of some sick people by laying his hands on them. (6) He was surprised that the people there had no faith. Then he went to other villages in that area and taught.

But the authorship is contested. It is not clear if Jude, the brother of Jesus, is also Jude, the brother of James, or Jude the Apostle, son of Mary mother of James the Less and Jude. The debate has continued over the author's identity as the apostle, the brother of Jesus, both, or neither. As mentioned earlier, many Christians (Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestants) believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary and interpret the relationship of "brothers of Jesus" in ways that are compatible with that belief, such as stepbrothers or cousins. Some scholars have argued that since the author of that letter has not identified himself as an apostle and actually refers to the apostles as a third party, he cannot be identified with the Jude who is listed as one of the Twelve. Others have drawn the opposite conclusion, i.e., that as an apostle, he would not have made such a claim on his own behalf. There are so many Judes in the scriptures, the only one we know it isn't is Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Christ. Eusebius (Church History III.19-22), Jude was "said to have been the brother of the Lord according to the flesh", and that two of his grandsons lived till the reign of Trajan.

Hegesippus, a 2nd-century Christian writer, mentions descendants of Jude living in the reign of Domitian (81-96). Eusebius relates in his Historia Ecclesiae (Book III, ch. 19-20):

"But when this same Domitian had commanded that the descendants of David should be slain, an ancient tradition says that some of the heretics brought accusation against the descendants of Jude (said to have been a brother of the Saviour according to the flesh), on the ground that they were of the lineage of David and were related to Christ himself. Hegesippus relates these facts in the following words.
"Of the family of the Lord there were still living the grandchildren of Jude, who is said to have been the Lord's brother according to the flesh.
"Information was given that they belonged to the family of David, and they were brought to the Emperor Domitian by the Evocatus. For Domitian feared the coming of Christ as Herod also had feared it. And he asked them if they were descendants of David, and they confessed that they were. Then he asked them how much property they had, or how much money they owned. And both of them answered that they had only nine thousand denarii, half of which belonged to each of them; and this property did not consist of silver, but of a piece of land which contained only thirty-nine acres, and from which they raised their taxes and supported themselves by their own labor."
Then they showed their hands, exhibiting the hardness of their bodies and the callousness produced upon their hands by continuous toil as evidence of their own labor. And when they were asked concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to appear, they answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works. Upon hearing this, Domitian did not pass judgment against them, but, despising them as of no account, he let them go, and by a decree put a stop to the persecution of the Church. But when they were released they ruled the churches because they were witnesses and were also relatives of the Lord. And peace being established, they lived until the time of Trajan. These things are related by Hegesippus" (Source: Wikipedia)

This epistle was apparently written in the later period of the apostolic age, for when it was written there were persons still alive who had heard the apostles preach.

Jude 1:17-18 Dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said would happen. (18) They told you, "In the last times there will be people who laugh at God and do only what they want to do--things that are against God."


Pauline Epistles
Romans, 1st Corinthians, 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1st Thessalonians and Philemon (considered authentically written by the Apostle Paul)

Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus (considered pseudopigrapha which means the real author attributed it to the Apostle Paul

Colossians, and 2nd Thessalonians (thought to be written by the Apostle Paul's followers after his death but based on his teachings)

Timothy, 2nd Timothy, and Titus (possibly written by other writers based on Apostle Paul's teachings but a generation later)

Paul was not one of those called by Jesus at the beginning of His earthly ministry. He was not one of the Twelve Disciples. His original Jewish name was Saul and he had inherited his father's Roman citizenship.

Paul was born about the same time as Jesus. He was called Saul of Tarsus. Tarsus was the capital of Cilicia, a Roman province in the south-east of Asia Minor. That city stood on the banks of the river Cydnus. It was a centre of extensive commercial traffic. It was a wealthy city. Tarsus was also the seat of a famous university, higher in reputation even than the universities of Athens and Alexandria, the only others that then existed. Saul was born here and here he spent his youth, doubtless enjoying the best education his city could afford. His father was of the straightest sect of the Jews, a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin, of pure and unmixed Jewish blood.

Acts 23:6 (ERV) Paul knew that some of the men in the council meeting were Sadducees and some were Pharisees. So he shouted, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee and my father was a Pharisee! I am on trial here because I believe that people will rise from death."

Philippians 3:5 (ERV) I was circumcised on the eighth day after my birth. I am from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a true Jew, and so were my parents. The law was very important to me. That is why I became a Pharisee.

We read of his sister and his sister's son (Acts 23:16), and of other relatives (Romans 16:7; 16:11-12).

It was decided that he would become a Rabbi but, according to Jewish tradition, he learned a trade before entering into his religious training.

Acts 18:1-3 (ERV) Later, Paul left Athens and went to the city of Corinth. (2) There he met a Jewish man named Aquila, who was born in the country of Pontus. But he and his wife, Priscilla, had recently moved to Corinth from Italy. They left Italy because Claudius had given an order for all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to visit Aquila and Priscilla. (3) They were tentmakers, the same as Paul, so he stayed with them and worked with them.

When he was ready, at about the age of 13, he was sent to the Jewish school of sacred learning at Jerusalem as a student of the law. He became a student of Rabbi Gamaliel. After his years of study, he went to Tarsus where he was probably engaged in synagogue work. But he is back in Jerusalem soon after Jesus' death and resurrection.

For some years, Christianity had been quietly spreading in Jerusalem. But one of the seven deacons, Stephen, caught attention.

Acts 5:12-18 (ERV) The apostles were given the power to do many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. They were together in Solomon's Porch, and they all had the same purpose. (13) None of the other people dared to stand with the apostles, but everyone was saying wonderful things about them. (14) More and more people believed in the Lord, and many men and women were added to the group of believers. (15) So the people brought those who were sick into the streets and put them on little beds and mats. They were hoping that Peter's shadow might fall on them as he walked by. (16) People came from all the towns around Jerusalem. They brought those who were sick or troubled by evil spirits. All of them were healed. (17) The high priest and all his friends, a group called the Sadducees, became very jealous. (18) They grabbed the apostles and put them in jail.

Acts 5:33-42 (ERV) When the council members heard this, they became very angry. They began to plan a way to kill the apostles. (34) But one member of the council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, stood up. He was a teacher of the law, and all the people respected him. He told the men to make the apostles leave the meeting for a few minutes. (35) Then he said to them, "Men of Israel, be careful of what you are planning to do to these men. (36) Remember when Theudas appeared? He said he was an important man, and about 400 men joined him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were scattered and ran away. They were not able to do anything. (37) Later, during the time of the census, a man named Judas came from Galilee. Many people joined his group, but he was also killed, and all his followers were scattered. (38) And so now I tell you, stay away from these men. Leave them alone. If their plan is something they thought up, it will fail. (39) But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them. You might even be fighting against God himself!" The Jewish leaders agreed with what Gamaliel said. (40) They called the apostles in again. They beat them and told them not to speak anymore using the name of Jesus. Then they let them go free. (41) The apostles left the council meeting. They were happy because they were given the honor of suffering dishonor for Jesus. (42) The apostles did not stop teaching the people. They continued to tell the Good News--that Jesus is the Messiah. They did this every day in the Temple area and in people's homes.

Acts 6:7-15 (ERV) The word of God was reaching more and more people. The group of followers in Jerusalem became larger and larger. Even a big group of Jewish priests believed and obeyed. (8) Stephen received a great blessing. God gave him power to do great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. (9) But some of the Jews there were from the synagogue of Free Men, as it was called. The group included Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and Asia. They started arguing with Stephen. (10) But the Spirit was helping him speak with wisdom. His words were so strong that these Jews could not argue with him. (11) So they told some men to say, "We heard Stephen say bad things against Moses and against God!" (12) By doing this, these Jews upset the people, the older Jewish leaders, and the teachers of the law. They became so angry that they came and grabbed Stephen and took him to a meeting of the high council. (13) The Jews brought some men into the meeting to tell lies about Stephen. These men said, "This man is always saying things against this holy place and against the Law of Moses. (14) We heard him say that Jesus from Nazareth will destroy this place and change what Moses told us to do." (15) Everyone there in the council meeting was staring at Stephen. They saw that his face looked like the face of an angel.

Acts 7:1-2 (ERV) The high priest said to Stephen, "Is all this true?" Stephen answered, "My Jewish fathers and brothers, listen to me. Our great and glorious God appeared to Abraham, our ancestor, when he was in Mesopotamia. This was before he lived in Haran.

Acts 7:53-60 (ERV) You are the people who received God's law, which he gave you through his angels. But you don't obey it!" (54) When those in the council meeting heard this, they became very angry. They were so mad they were grinding their teeth at him. (55) But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked up into heaven and saw the glory of God. And he saw Jesus standing at God's right side. (56) Stephen said, "Look! I see heaven open. And I see the Son of Man standing at God's right side." (57) Everyone there started shouting loudly, covering their ears with their hands. Together they all ran at Stephen. (58) They took him out of the city and began throwing stones at him. The men who told lies against Stephen gave their coats to a young man named Saul. (59) As they were throwing the stones at him, Stephen was praying. He said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" (60) He fell on his knees and shouted, "Lord, don't blame them for this sin!" These were his last words before he died.

Philippians 3:6-7 (CEV) And I was so eager that I even made trouble for the church. I did everything the Law demands in order to please God. (7) But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless.

Acts 8:1-3 (Bible in Basic English - BBE) And Saul gave approval to his death. Now at that time a violent attack was started against the church in Jerusalem; and all but the Apostles went away into all parts of Judaea and Samaria. (2) And God-fearing men put Stephen's body in its last resting-place, making great weeping over him. (3) But Saul was burning with hate against the church, going into every house and taking men and women and putting them in prison.

1 Timothy 1:12-17 (BBE) I give praise to him who gave me power, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he took me to be true, making me his servant, (13) Though I had said violent words against God, and done cruel acts, causing great trouble: but I was given mercy, because I did it without knowledge, not having faith; (14) And the grace of our Lord was very great, with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. (15) It is a true saying, in which all may put their faith, that Christ Jesus came into the world to give salvation to sinners, of whom I am the chief: (16) But for this reason I was given mercy, so that in me, the chief of sinners, Jesus Christ might make clear all his mercy, as an example to those who in the future would have faith in him to eternal life. (17) Now to the King eternal, ever-living, unseen, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. So be it.

The conversion of Saul is called the Damascus Road Experience.

Acts 9:1-43 (BBE) But Saul, still burning with desire to put to death the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, (2) And made a request for letters from him to the Synagogues of Damascus, so that if there were any of the Way there, men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. (3) And while he was journeying, he came near Damascus; and suddenly he saw a light from heaven shining round him; (4) And he went down on the earth, and a voice said to him, Saul, Saul, why are you attacking me so cruelly? (5) And he said, Who are you, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are attacking: (6) But get up, and go into the town, and it will be made clear to you what you have to do. (7) And the men who were with him were not able to say anything; hearing the voice, but seeing no one. (8) And Saul got up from the earth, and when his eyes were open, he saw nothing; and he was guided by the hand into Damascus. (9) And for three days he was not able to see, and he took no food or drink. (10) Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias! and he said, Here I am, Lord. (11) And the Lord said to him, Get up, and go to the street which is named Straight, and make search at the house of Judas for one named Saul of Tarsus: for he is at prayer; (12) And he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hands on him, so that he may be able to see. (13) But Ananias said, Lord, I have had accounts of this man from a number of people, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem: (14) And here he has authority from the chief priests to make prisoners all who give worship to your name. (15) But the Lord said, Go without fear: for he is a special vessel for me, to give to the Gentiles and kings and to the children of Israel the knowledge of my name: (16) For I will make clear to him what troubles he will have to undergo for me. (17) And Ananias went out and came to the house, and putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, whom you saw when you were on your journey, has sent me, so that you may be able to see, and be full of the Holy Spirit. (18) And straight away it seemed as if a veil was taken from his eyes, and he was able to see; and he got up, and had baptism; (19) And when he had taken food his strength came back. And for some days he kept with the disciples who were in Damascus. (20) And straight away, in the Synagogues, he was preaching Jesus as the Son of God. (21) And all those hearing him were full of wonder and said, Is not this the man who in Jerusalem was attacking all the worshippers of this name? and he had come here so that he might take them as prisoners before the chief priests. (22) But Saul went on increasing in power, and the Jews in Damascus were not able to give answers to the arguments by which he made it clear that Jesus was the Christ. (23) Then, after some days, the Jews made an agreement together to put him to death: (24) But Saul got knowledge of their design. And they kept watch day and night on the roads out of the town, so that they might put him to death: (25) But his disciples took him by night and let him down from the wall in a basket. (26) And when he came to Jerusalem, he made an attempt to be joined to the disciples, but they were all in fear of him, not taking him for a disciple. (27) But Barnabas took him to the Apostles and gave them an account of how he had seen the Lord on the road, and had given hearing to his words, and how at Damascus he had been preaching in the name of Jesus without fear. (28) And he was with them, going in and out at Jerusalem, (29) Preaching in the name of the Lord without fear; and he had discussions with the Greek Jews; but they were working for his death. (30) And when the brothers had knowledge of it, they took him to Caesarea and sent him to Tarsus. (31) And so the church through all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was made strong; and, living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, was increased greatly. (32) And it came about that while Peter was going through all parts of the country he came to the saints who were living at Lydda. (33) And there was a certain man there, named Aeneas, who for eight years had been in bed, without power of moving. (34) And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you well: get up and make your bed. And straight away he got up. (35) And all those living in Lydda and Sharon saw him, and were turned to the Lord. (36) Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, that is, Dorcas: this woman was given to good works and acts of mercy at all times. (37) And it came about, in those days, that she got ill and came to her death: and when she had been washed, they put her in a room which was high up. (38) And because Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having knowledge that Peter was there, sent two men to him, requesting him to come to them straight away. (39) And Peter went with them. And when he had come, they took him into the room: and all the widows were there, weeping and putting before him the coats and clothing which Dorcas had made while she was with them. (40) But Peter made them all go outside, and went down on his knees in prayer; and turning to the body, he said, Tabitha, get up. And, opening her eyes, she saw Peter and got up. (41) And he took her hand, lifting her up; and, sending for the saints and widows, he gave her to them, living. (42) And news of it went all through Joppa, and a number of people had faith in the Lord. (43) And he was living in Joppa for some time with Simon, a leather-worker.

Acts 26:12-20 (MKJV) In which pursuit also traveling to Damascus with authority and power of decision from the chief priests, (13) at midday, along the highway, O king, I and those with me saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun; shining around me. (14) And all of us falling to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew dialect, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. (15) And I said, Who are you, lord? And He said, I am Jesus whom you persecute. (16) But rise and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of what you saw, and in what I shall appear to you; (17) delivering you from the people and the nations, to whom I now send you (18) in order to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the authority of Satan to God, so that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. (19) After this, king Agrippa, I did not disobey the heavenly vision. (20) But to those first in Damascus, and Jerusalem, and to all the country of Judea, and to the nations, I made known the command to repent and to turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance

Another translation is Acts 26:14 (CEV) We all fell to the ground. Then I heard a voice say to me in Aramaic, "Saul, Saul, why are you so cruel to me? It's foolish to fight against me!"

Immediately after his conversion he went into Arabia, perhaps for devout study and meditation on the marvelous revelation that had been made to him.

Galatians 1:17-24 (CEV) I didn't say a word, not even to the men in Jerusalem who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went at once to Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus. Three years later I went to visit Peter in Jerusalem and stayed with him for fifteen days. (19) The only other apostle I saw was James, the Lord's brother. (20) And in the presence of God I swear I am telling the truth. (21) Later, I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. (22) But no one who belonged to Christ's churches in Judea had ever seen me in person. (23) They had only heard that the one who had been cruel to them was now preaching the message that he had once tried to destroy. (24) And because of me, they praised God.

Coming back, after three years, to Damascus, he began to preach the gospel but he had to flee and went to Jerusalem where he stayed for 3 weeks before having to flee again to Tarsus where he stayed for about 3 years. Then he began his missionary journeys.

Paul arrived in Jerusalem on his fifth and final visit to Jerusalem in 57 AD with a collection of money for the community there. He was warmly received. But Acts goes on to recount how Paul was warned by James and the elders that he was gaining a reputation for being against the Law, saying "they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs". Acts 21:21 Paul underwent a purification ritual in order to give the Jews no grounds to bring accusations against him for not following their law. Paul caused a stir when he appeared at the Temple, and he escaped being killed by the crowd by voluntarily being taken into Roman custody. There was a plot to kill Paul so he was transported by night to Caesarea Maritima. He was held as a prisoner there for two years, until a new governor reopened his case in 59 AD. When the governor suggested that he be sent back to Jerusalem for further trial, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to "appeal unto Caesar". His final days were spent in Rome. On the way to Rome for his appeal as a Roman citizen to Caesar, Paul was shipwrecked on "Melita" (Malta),Acts 28:1 where he was met by Publius and the islanders who showed him "unusual kindness". He arrived in Rome c. 60 AD and spent another two years under house arrest (beyond his two years in prison in Caesarea). During this imprisonment he probably wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy, the last he ever wrote. Neither the Bible nor other sources say how or when Paul died, but Ignatius, probably around 110, writes that Paul was martyred. Christian tradition holds that Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero around the mid-60s at Tre Fontane Abbey In June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results concerning the tomb of Paul at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. The sarcophagus was not opened but was examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense, purple and blue linen, and small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon dated to the 1st or 2nd century. According to the Vatican, these findings are consistent with the tradition that the tomb is Paul's. The sarcophagus was inscribed in Latin saying, "Paul apostle martyr". (Source: Wikipedia)


1st and 2nd Peter

1st Peter is considered to be the earliest letter. The two epistles have some differences so that some believe there are two authors. But it may be Peter using an amanuensis, or secretary.

1 Peter 5:12 (CEV) Silvanus helped me write this short letter, and I consider him a faithful follower of the Lord. I wanted to encourage you and tell you how kind God really is, so that you will keep on having faith in him.

Peter's Jewish name was Simon, a common name. He was the son of Jonah and had a brother named, Andrew. 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 a professional fisherman. His father had probably died while he was still young, so Peter and his brother were brought up under the care of Zebedee and his wife Salome. He was settled in Capernaum and was probably about 30+ yrs old when Jesus called him.

Matthew 16:17-18 (CEV) Jesus told him: Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! You didn't discover this on your own. It was shown to you by my Father in heaven. (18) So I will call you Peter, which means "a rock." On this rock I will build my church, and death itself will not have any power over it.

John 1:40-42 (CEV) One of the two men who had heard John and had gone with Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. (41) The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and tell him, "We have found the Messiah!" The Hebrew word "Messiah" means the same as the Greek word "Christ." (42) Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus saw him, he said, "Simon son of John, you will be called Cephas." This name can be translated as "Peter."

Galileans were known as independent, energetic. His bluntness and impetuosity got him in trouble. He spoke with a Galilean dialect which placed him as Galilean. When he followed Jesus after He was arrested, Mark 14:70 (CEV) "No, I'm not!" Peter replied. A little while later some of the people said to Peter, "You certainly are one of them. You're a Galilean!".

He was married and had a home before he became a disciple and his wife may have accompanied him on his missionary journies.

Matthew 8:14-15 Jesus went to the home of Peter, where he found that Peter's mother-in-law was sick in bed with fever. (15) He took her by the hand, and the fever left her. Then she got up and served Jesus a meal.

1 Corinthians 9:3-6 When people question me, I tell them (4) that Barnabas and I have the right to our food and drink. (5) We each have the right to marry one of the Lord's followers and to take her along with us, just as the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Peter do. (6) Are we the only ones who have to support ourselves by working at another job?

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, as well as to his own family. It was apparently two stories high.

Mark 1:29 (CEV) As soon as Jesus left the meeting place with James and John, they went home with Simon and Andrew.

Mark 2:1-4 (CEV) Jesus went back to Capernaum, and a few days later people heard that he was at home. (2) Then so many of them came to the house that there wasn't even standing room left in front of the door. Jesus was still teaching (3) when four people came up, carrying a crippled man on a mat. (4) But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above him and let the man down in front of everyone.

Mattew 4:18-20 (CEV) While Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers. One was Simon, also known as Peter, and the other was Andrew. They were fishermen, and they were casting their net into the lake. (19) Jesus said to them, "Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish." (20) Right then the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him.

Luke 6:13-16 (CEV) The next morning he called his disciples together and chose twelve of them to be his apostles. (14) One was Simon, and Jesus named him Peter. Another was Andrew, Peter's brother. There were also James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, (15) Matthew, Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus. The rest of the apostles were Simon, known as the Eager One, (16) Jude, who was the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus.

Peter became a favorite of Christm being the first of the Apostles and always in the inner circle of Peterm James and John. He passionately believed that Jesus was the Messiah although, when Jesus was arrested, he was so afraid that, despite following them, he denied he was a follower of Jesus Christ three times. His remorse and repentance were so sincere that he ran off in tears. After Jesus' resurrection, He spoke specifically with Peter to reassure him he was forgiven. On the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to live in men, Peter became a fearless, indefatigable preacher. As soon as he was filled with the Holy Spirit, he began preaching to those assembled. (Acts 2:14).

Peter labored in ministry in Rome in the later part of his life. It is church tradition that he was murdered circa 64 AD by being crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to die as his Lord had died. The death of Peter is attested to by Tertullian at the end of the 2nd century, and by Origen in Eusebius, Church History III.1. Origen wrote: "Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer."

I will stop here. This gives you the setting and history of the New Testament. My next study will be on the history of the canonicity of the books of the Bible. How were they chosen above others and considered sacred?

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