The Background to the New Testament / No. 3.
The Gospel writers have very little to say about this party. In fact, there are only three references in the New Testament to the word “Herodian” (Matt. 22:16; Mark 3:6; 12:13). It is quite evident from their name that they were either attached to, or the champions of, the familie of Herod. In either case, they would be concerned with promoting the interests of Herod, and be disturbed by the suggestion that this “Jesus of Nazareth” was none other than the King of the Jews. Hence , their opposition to the Lord was largely on political grounds.
In the first reference to them in Matthew twenty-two, they are seen acting together with the Pharisees, in order that they might entangle the Lord in His talk (verse 15). After a flattering overture, calculated to ensnare the Lord by putting Him off His guard, the question is asked, “What thinkest thou? Is it awful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (verse 17).
Had the Lord been but an ordinary man, He would now have found Himself on the horns of a dilemma. Before Him stood the representatives of two parties; the Pharisees, who, being champions of the religion of Israel, did not take kindly to paying tribute to Caesar, and the Herodians, who would take the contrary view. If the Lord had said that tribute was not to be given to Caesar, then He would be in trouble with the authorities, and the Herodians stood before Him as witnesses. If on the other hand, He had maintained that tribute was to be given to Caesar, then the Pharisees could claim that this One was not the people’s Messiah, for He bad them submit to the ruling power. The answer of the Lord was a masterpiece:
- “And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto Him, Caesar’s. Then saith He unto them, Render therefore Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (verse 20,21).
In the second reference (Mark 3:6), the Pharisees again take counsel with the Herodians, this time to consider “how they might destroy Him”. This action is particularly significant in the light of John 18:31:
- “Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.“
It would appear that at the time of the earthly ministry of Christ, the Jews were unable to exact the death penalty, except through the medium of the Roman power. Hence the Pharisees in Mark three seek the favour of the Herodian party who, having strong connections with the throne, would be in a position to bring about the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
These references serve to show that the Herodians, although perhaps a small party, were powerful indeed, and their attachment to the throne of Herod made them useful allies to the Pharisees, although they were normally separated the one from the other by the beliefs which they held. It is important to note how the Devil can draw opposing factions together when it suits his purpose.
It has already been suggested that the Herodians were a branch of the Sadducees. This seems probable from comparing two passages of Scripture together.
- “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6).
- “And He charged them saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15).
The contexts appear to be identical, but in one case speak of the leaven of the Sadducees, in another, that of Herod. Was the leaven of Herod spread through that part of the Sadducean party known as the Herodians?
Another passage which may bear upon the subject is Luke 23:1-7. The scene is the trial of the Lord before Pilate, who proclaims, “I find no fault in this man” (verse 4). But this does not satisfy the chief priests and the people, and they become more insistent, saying, “He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place” (verse 5). Galilee! Was the mention of it accidental, or in the heat of the moment, or was there some cunning in drawing attention at this time to the fact that Christ was a Galilean? Note the effect upon Pilate, although he had already pronounced the Lord innocent.
- “And as soon as he knew that He belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time” (verse 7).
If Herod could be convinced that there was one who represented a challenge to his position as Tetrarch of Galilee, then the chief priests would have won the day. But Herod took this challenge lightly, and having mockingly dressed Him as a king, sent Him back again to Pilate (verse 11). This incident, however, served to draw Pilate and Herod together as friends, for they had previously been enemies, apparently over some dispute about jurisdiction.
The desire of the Herodians to strengthen the family of Herod by keeping it on good terms with Roman imperialism, was a fact made use of on more than one occasion by the Pharisees, who sought the downfall of the Lord. That the Pharisees had any dealings at all with men whom they must have considered despicable, is a measure of the hatred which they had toward the Lord.
This party is not referred to anywhere in the New Testament as such, but one of the Twelve Apostles is called Simon the Zealot (Luk. 6:15; Acts 1:13). This same Apostle is also called Simon the Canaanite in Matthew 10:4, although it is more strictly correct to refer to him as “the Cananaean”. This latter word appears to derive from the Hebrew qana, “to be hot, or zealous”. Whether Simon was so called because of his temperament, or from his association with the party of the Zealots does not appear from Scripture.
The Zealots have been identified with that party described by Josephus the historian as “the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy”, the founder of which was Judas the Galilean. This man led a revolt against Rome in A.D. 6 (Acts 5:37), and his party sought to be free from the Roman yoke, even if this freedom was to be obtained by dubious means. The Zealots seem to have been more than ready to lay down their lives for this cause. Josephus says:
- “They also do not value dying and kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man Lord” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, chap. 1.).
H.A. Meyer, the German theologian, refers to them as, “a class of men who, like Phinehas (Num. 25:9), were fanatical defenders of the theocracy; and who, while taking vengeance on those who wronged it, were themselves frequently guilty of great excesses”. It says much for them however, that although they suffered a crushing defeat in A.D. 6, yet the spirit of the party alive for many years.
The possible connection of Simon the Apostle with this party is a point of interest in this regard, that the Lord is “no respecter of persons”. Amongst His followers He numbered one Matthew, a tax collector, a friend of the alien, and unpatriotic to Israel. On the other hand, Simon, as a Zealot, would be a tax hater, anti-Rome, and a fanatical patriot, quite the opposite of his fellow disciple, Mattheus, and yet made one in Christ.
Had the Lord not trod His earthly path with extreme care, He might well have been identified with the nationalistic party called the Zealots. If it could have been proved that He had declared Himself on the side of, or even encouraged this party, He would have quickly perished like Judas of Galilee. A wrong answer to the question, “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (Matt. 22:17), might well have identified Him with the Zealots, and hence caused His downfall. Despite His clear answer on this occasion, the subsequent charge brought against Him at His trial, and voiced by the multitude was:
- “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a king” (Luke 23:2).
The Lord might well have commanded a great following from this party had His words not been so carefully chosen. The people were looking for a national deliverer, the Messiah, who would free them from the Roman yoke and restore again the Theocracy in Israel. This desire may be felt from such a passage as John 6:15:
- “When Jesus therefore perceived that hey would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone.”
The Lord’s awareness of what was in man saved Him on this occasion from being identified as another Judas. He knew that is was His right to sit on the Throne of David, but was also aware that there is “a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccles. 3:1).
It is interesting to compare the Zealots of old with the modern Zionist movement. The aims and objects of the latter are, it is true, stated in more refined terms, but the basic desire remains the same. The Zealots of old sought their ends from inside the Land (by force it is true), whereas the Zionist movement has prosecuted its cause from outside the Land. The manifesto declared by the London Zionist League in the year 1905 has the following words:
- “The fundamental postulate of Zionism is that it is both inevitable and desirable that Jews should continue to maintain their separate identity. In races as in individuals there is an instinct of self preservation. Zionism seeks to justify this instinct which is ever active in the Jewish people by insisting that, if the Jew must survive, there must be something to be gained by his surviving. He must have a mission . . . The Zionist sees clearly that it is nothing less than a mockery to speak of the Jews as capable of fulfilling any mission whatever in their present state. For a Jewish mission one must have a Jewish people, united by a common Jewish consciousness and common Jewish ideals, not a collection of atoms maintaining a meaningless pretence at separateness when everything in their minds and lives which has any value depends wholly on their non-Jewish surroundings. One wants, in a word, a Jewish nation; and a Jewish nation is only possible in a land with the claims and historic associations of Palestine. The winning of Palestine is therefore essential as a means to the great end of enabling the Jews to play worthy of them in the world’s history.”
Since the above words were penned great things have taken place in the land of Israel. On May 14, 1948, the state of Israel was proclaimed in part of the former British Mandate Territory of Palestine. They are now a Middle Eastern power to be reckoned with. But has not this movement and success been of the flesh? And in this respect, is not modern Zionism like the zealous nationalism of old, seeking to bring about the purposes of God apart from His intervention? It would seem so.
But let none fail to see that these are signs of the times. The child of the flesh must come before the child of the promise; Ishmael precedes Isaac, Esau come before Jacob.
The Lord during His earthly ministry would not ally Himself with, nor encourage the cause of the party of the Zealots. There was a fulness of time coming when He Himself would take over the reigns of government. That time is again drawing near.
BRIAN E. SHERRING
The Background to the New Testament / no. 4.
From the very earliest times provision had been made for “thy stranger within thy gates” (Exod. 20:10). The Imperial Dictionary says:
- “The peculiar vocation of Israel, as the chosen nation set apart to the Lord by the covenant seal of circumcision, established a clear line of demarcation between the Israelites and surrounding nations; but it did not prevent the presence or preclude the toleration of strangers among them. The various occasions with brought them into peaceful or hostile contact with their neighbours belonging to other races necessarily led to the more or less temporary sojourn, wether voluntary or compulsory, of foreigners in Israel; and accordingly we find their existence recognized and their position defined by various precepts, positive and negative, from the time of the exodus and the establisment of a distinctive Jewish polity.”
The word “proselyte” is not to be found in the Authorized Version of the Old Testament, but the Greek proselutos occurs frequently in the Septuagint. The equivalent Hebrew word is ger, generally rendered “stranger” in the Authorized Version. The first occurrence of this Hebrew word is Genesis 15:13:
- “And he said unto Abram, know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”
This experience of the People of Israel is referred to by the Lord when He commands:
- “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exod. 22:21).
These strangers within the commonwealth of Israel were, together with the Israelites themselves, forbidden to eat unleavened bread during Passover (Exod. 12:19), to work on the Sabbath (Exod. 20:10), to eat blood (Lev. 17:10), to practice idolatry (Lev. 20:2), to blaspheme the name of the Lord (Lev. 24:16), etc. Their lives were therefore very closely bound up with the People of Israel.
There were however, strangers and strangers, even as there were degrees of proselytes. Accordingly, when the ordinance of the Passover was appointed, it was stated, “This is the ordinance of the Passover; there shall no stranger eat thereof” (Exod. 12:43). Yet in verse forty-eight of the same chapter is written, “When a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it”. It should be observed that the Hebrew words resident in these two verses are different; verse forty-three referring literally to “a son of strangeness”, ben-nekar and verse forty-eight to “a sojourner”, ger. The usage of the latter word in this respect seems to indicate the willingness of the stranger to be identified with the People of Israel, to make their home his home. Such a desire is reminiscent of Ruth the Moabitess, who said to Naomi:
- “For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Not all strangers however, would hold such strong feelings toward Judaism as this, and it must be understood that when the word “proselyte” is used in this article, it is used of all who were attracted in various degrees of intensity towards Judaism. Later, a twofold division of proselytes became apparent; those who by circumcision had obtained access to the privileges of Temple worship, and those who only professed a respect for the Mosaic religion, and attended as hearers in the synagogues (see The Life and Epistles of St. Paul by Conybeare and Howson). The proselytes referred to in Acts (2:10; 6:5; 13:43) were probably the former of these two classes, since other terms seem to be used by Luke to describe the latter (e.g. “devout”).
That Gentiles became proselytes during both Old and New Testament days is probably attributable to their recognition of the superiority of the religion of Israel. When, through the dispersion, Jewish communities sprang up in all parts of the then known world, Gentiles, unsatisfied with the heathenism around them, attached themselves to these communities.
Those described during Acts as “fearing God” (10:2), “worshipping God” (16:14), “devout” (13:50, 17:4), were probably some of these. Many of them appear to have been women. Dean Farrar, writing of New Testament days, says:
- “Greek proselytes were at this period common in every considerable city of the empire” (The Life and Work of St. Paul).
Although many Gentiles joined themselves to Judaism of their own volition, it must be remembered that the Pharisees had a certain zeal for proselytism:
- “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matt. 23:15).
Believing that the end justified the means, the Pharisees had few scruples in the means they employed to make a proselyte. Consequently, although confirming in some degree to Judaism, many proselytes still held heathen ideas, and so were hypocritical and reprobate. Hence the Lord’s words, “twofold more the child of hell”. The name “proselyte” thus came into disrepute, and Rabbinical writers had the strongest contempt for them. They called them “the leprosy of Israel”, and said “that they are not to be trusted to the twenty-fourth generation”. But those who appear in the Acts of the Apostles were evidently not of this character, for many of them embraced the faith and showed that their works were not evil (John 3:20,21). Josephus, writing of the Jews in Syrian Antioch, says:
- “They also made proselytes of a great many of the Greeks perpetually, and thereby, after a sort, brought them to be a portion of their own body” (The Wars of the Jews, Book VII, chapter 3).
This quotation is particularly interesting when it be remembered what a large place Antioch had in the exercise of the Christian ministry.
Proselytes were present on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10), and it is reasonable to suppose that they were also present in every synagogue into which the Apostles went. As the Acts period were on, it is probable that they furnished a majority of the new converts.
The references already made to the many women proselytes of the time is interesting in the light of certain passages in the Acts.
- “But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts” (13:50).
It is known that the Pharisees exercised a great influence over women. By their pious professions they were able to “devour widows’ houses” (Matt. 23:14), and exert pressure on female proselytes to stir up their husbands against the Apostles. 2 Timothy 3:6 may also have some bearing upon this practice:
- “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts.”
When seen against such a background, the words of the Apostle Paul concerning women take on a new light.
The zeal of the Pharisees to proselytize was still present in those of the party which believed. When the Gentiles were added to the church, “certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed” (Acts 15:5) misunderstood the position. They viewed the coming in of the Gentiles as a making of proselytes, and this caused trouble, especially in Antioch and the South Galatian churches. Such misunderstanding called forth the council of Acts 15 and the Galatian epistle. The demand of these Pharisaic believers with respect to the Gentile converts, “that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5) was negated by the Apostles, and no greater burden than four necessary things imposed upon them (Acts 15:28,29). Galatians 2 however, demonstrates how closes the Christian world once came to giving way to this Pharisaic tendency to proselytize, when even Peter and Barnabas were carried away, compelling the Gentiles, by their own actions, to Judaise (verses 11-14). How much is owed to the Apostle Paul from a human standpoint cannot be estimated, for he appears to have been the only one at this time who stood against the intrusion of rights. He opposed the circumcision of Titus, a Greek (verse 3), and withstood Peter to the face (verse 11). This latter action on the part of the Apostle evidently influenced Peter greatly, for when the council of Acts 15 was later held, he is found saying:
- “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers or we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:10,11).
(The evidence demonstrating that the letter to the Galatians was written before Acts 15, is presented in The Apostle of the Reconciliation by C.H. Welch, pag. 84-86.)
Although the position of the Gentile was clearly defined at this time, and despite the later revelation given to the Apostle Paul (Eph. 3) so evidently completely divorced from Judaism, yet has this Pharisaic tendency remained in all ages of the professing church. There have always been those who have sought to add to “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:11) the “command . . . to keep the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5). Both Catholics and Protestants have alike been guilty of this practice, apparently being unaware that it is written of “you Gentiles”:
- “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens of the holiest of all, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).
The proselytes of old were limited in their approach to the Lord by type and shadow. At best, they basked in the reflected glory of Israel. The present Gentile members of the Body of Christ have, in contrast to these, been made “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the Holiest of All in light” (Col. 1:12). Such blessedness is almost beyond belief, especially in contrast to what the Gentile was “in time past”, and it should bring forth from every member of this blessed company thanksgiving unto the Father.
BRIAN E. SHERRING
The Background to the New Testament / No. 5.
A Samaritan, according to the etymological significance of the word, is an inhabitant of the land of Samaria, but in the sense in which is found in Scripture, it has an ethnological aspect. It is used of that hybrid race which stood halfway between the Jews and the Gentiles. Note how these three peoples are distinguished from each other in Matthew 10:5,6:
- “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Compare also Acts 1:8.
The origin of the Samaritans is to be traced to that period following the downfall of the Northern Kingdom, the ten tribes, Israel. The King of Assyria, having carried the original inhabitants of Samaria away to distant cities, repeopled the land with strangers. See 2 Kings 17:20-24:
- “And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the land of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight . . . so was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. And the King of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sephar-vaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the Children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities there.”
These strangers in time mixed with the original inhabitants of the land (it is doubtful whether they were all carried away), and the resulting hybrid race formed the nucleus of the Samaritans. Later, during Ezra-Nehemia period, a “mixed multitude”, separated from Israel and expelled from Jerusalem, were probably also absorbed among them. Thus, shortly after the return from Babylon, the Samaritans existed as a powerful nation in the centre of Palestine. The hatred which grew up between this people and the Jews dates from the time when Judah returned from the Babylonian captivity. When the children of the captivity began to rebuild their temple and their walls, the Samaritans offered their help:
- “Now when the adversaries (Samaritans, verse 10) of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do” (Ezra 4:1,2).
This offer was spurned by Israel, and these adversaries then set about to frustrate their purpose (verse 3-5). Involved in this opposition was one Sanballat who, according to an Aramaic papyrus discovered in 1909, was “governor of Samaria”. The various forms which his opposition took are noted in The Companion Bible at Nehemiah 2:10. They are all to be found in Nehemiah, and are grief (2:10), laughter (2:19), wrath and indignation (4:1-3), fighting (4:7,8), subtlety (6:1,2) and compromise (6:5-7).
A Sanballat is mentioned by Josephus as having built a temple on Mount Gerizim, but this testimony on this point is to be viewed with some suspicion as his chronology is evidently at fault. It is however possible, that Sanballat, after his failure to successfully oppose the building of the Temple at Jerusalem, did in fact build a rival temple for the Samaritans. (The interested reader is referred to The Antiquites of the Jews Book XI, chapter 8). Whatever be the truth of the foregoing, the fact remains that there did at one time exist on Mount Gerizim a temple, and even after its destruction by John Hyrcanus (over one hundred years before Christ) it remained a sacred site to the Samaritans.
After the death of Alexander the Great, when his kingdom had been divided amongst his four generals, a dispute concerning the true site of the Temple was brought before Ptolemy, the general to whom had been allotted Egypt and Palestine. Josephus records the event:
- “Now it came to pass that the Alexandrian Jews, and those Samaritans who paid their worship to the temple that was built in the days of Alexander at Mount Gerizim, did now make a sedition one against another, and disputed about their temples before Ptolemy himself, the Jews saying that, according to the Law of Moses, the temple was to be built at Jerusalem; and the Samaritans saying that it was to be built at Gerizim. They desired therefore the king to sit with his friends and hear the debates about these matters, and punish those with death who were baffled . . . . By this speech and other arguments, Andronicus persuaded the king to determine that the temple at Jerusalem was built according to the Law of Moses, and to put Sabbeus and Theodosius to death” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIII, chapter 3).
This dispute continued till the days of the Lord, when the woman of Samaria again brought it up in His presence (John 4).
There can be no doubt that Mount Gerizim was a hallowed site. Abraham built his first altar there (Gen. 12:6,7), as did also Jacob (Gen. 33:18-20), and the Lord commanded that His blessing should be put there:
- “And it shall come to pass, wen the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land wither thou goest to posses it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon Mount Gerizim, and the curse upon Mount Ebal” (Deut. 11:29).
Note that Sichem and Shechem, mentioned in the first two of the previous three quotations, are one and the same, and originally represented a region in which the Mounts Gerizim and Ebal stood. Compare Sychar (John 4:5) and Sychem (Acts 7:16). Apart from the hallowed connections of Mount Gerizim, the Samaritans justified it as a place of worship from Deuteronomy 27:4,5:
- “Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in Mount Ebal . . . . And there shall thou build an altar unto the Lord thy God.”
The Samaritan Pentateuch reads, “Gerizim” for “Ebal”, and although this is thought to be a deliberate alteration, yet did the Samaritans rest their case upon it.
The relationship which existed between the Jews and the Samaritans during the Lord’s earthly ministry, is described for us in John 4:9:
- “Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, how is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”
The Greek word translated “dealings” is sunkraomai, and it requires some explanation. It is evident from the narrative that the Jews did have some dealings with the Samaritans, for “His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat” (4:8). “The city” was Samaritan, and this implies two things: that the Jews did have dealings with them, and that the food sold must have been deemed kosher (or lawful). The lexicographer Parkhurst, recognizing the difficulty in the Authorized Version translation, quotes Dr. John Lightfood on the passage:
- “Lightfood, however, I think more justly, interprets sunkraomai by ‘being obliged, or laying themselves under any obligation to, by accepting of favours from'” (Greek Lexicon).
Hence, having no dealings with would seem to imply “having no friendly intercourse with”.
The attitude of the Jews toward the Samaritans may be further seen from such a passage as John 8:48, where the Lord is accused, “Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon”. Note also the suggestion of the disciples in Luke 9:54, when certain Samaritans would not received the Lord. Yet did the Lord portray this people in a good light in contrast to Israel, when He gave the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). and consider also, that of the ten lepers who were cleansed by the Lord. the one who turned back in thanksgiving was a Samaritan (Luke 17:11-19).
The Samaritans seem to have reacted favourably to the Gospel. This may be ascertained from the sequel to the Lord’s talk with the Samaritan woman. The woman, upon the return of the disciples from the city, left her waterpot, and, speaking to the men of that city, said, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?” (John. 4:29). The reaction of the Samaritans was immediate, for “they went out the city and came unto Him” (verse 30). The Lord, seeing them afar off, said:
- “Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (verse 35).
In verse 39, “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that I ever did”, and, “Many more believed because of His own word” (verse 41).
When later, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them”, it is recorded that, “The people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake” (Acts 8:5,6). Luke also allies the church with Samaria (Acts 9:31), and refers to the brethren there (Acts 15:3). So the Samaritans, despite their origin, received the Word of God, proving again that God is no respecter of persons, a fact further emphasized by the willingness of the Lord to discuss with the woman of Samaria a subject as high and as holy as worship.
BRIAN E. SHERRING
The Background to the New Testament / No. 6.
Temple & Priesthood
To build a temple for the Lord was the desire of David the King, and belonged to the period when, “the Lord had given him rest roundabout from all his enemies” (2 Sam. 7:1). But David was not allowed to fulfill this desire for he had been a man of war, and so the honour was reserved for his son Solomon. The building of this Temple represented the passing of the pilgrim stage and the establishing of the kingdom.
After the revolt of the ten tribes during the reign of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, this Temple suffered a series of misfortunes. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak King of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took many of the Temple treasures away (1 King 14:25-28). Later, during the reign of Asa King of Judah, more of its treasures were taken in order to establish a covenant with the King of Syria, so that the Norther Kingdom, ruled at this time by Baasha, might defeated (1 Kings 15:16-21). Thus did the Temple continue to suffer, until finally, the King of Babylon removed all te vessels, burnt it down and demolished the wall. God’s reasons for allowing such a thing to happen are given in 2 Chronicles 36:14-21:
- “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which He had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers. Rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place: but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought upon them the King of the Chaldees . . . . He have them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord . . . . all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem . . . . to fulfill the word of the Lord.”
Under Ezra and Nehemiah the Temple and walls were rebuilt at the decree of Cyrus King of Persia (Ezra 1:1-4). This second Temple, like the first, also had its trials, suffering especially at the hands of Antiochus Epiphanes who set up “an abomination of desolation” upon the altar (1 Macc. 1:54). Later the Maccabees cleansed the Temple from this pollution, and turned the enclosure into a fortress. By the time of Herod the Great (appointed Procurator of Judaea by Julius Caesar in 47 B.C.) it had fallen into decay.
Herod, in accordance with his policy of conciliating the people, and possibly also in expiation of the atrocity he committed by exterminating the Sanhedrin, put the work in order to reconstruct the Temple. But this work was done in such a way that it did not appear to the building of a third edifice. The Imperial Bible Dictionary has the following comment:
- Although it was an entirely new building which Herod projected and actually accomplished, yet his very object required that he should avoid conveying the idea of its being wholly new, and that he should rather appear aiming at the proper restoration and embellishment of the existing one. On this account he seems to have taken down the latter piecemeal, and put up the other in its place, so as to preserve the continuity of the edifice, and admit of its being still called, as it certainly was, the second temple.”
Herod’s temple was begun (according to The Companion Bible) in 20 B.C., and was still in the process of being built when the Lord walked this earth.
- “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple (naos), and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple (naos) in building, and wilt you rear it up in three days?” (John 2:19,20).
The Greek naos refers to the actual Temple building consisting of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, and should be distinguished from hieron which refers to the whole of the Temple courts. The other word translated “temple”, oikos (Luke 11:51), is really “house”, and is so translated in most of its occurrences. This distinction between the Greek words for “temple” must be taken as qualifying the statement concerning the unfinished work. In fact, according to Dean Farrar,
- “The assertion of the Jews was not strictly accurate, for ho naos autos (as distinguished from to hieron), with all its porticoes, had been finished in eight or nine years” (The Life of Christ).
This suggests that the Jews (John 2:20) were referring rather to the length in which the whole project had been in hand. Work on this temple continued until A.D. 64, just six years before its destruction by fire under Titus.
The Temple which stood during the Lord’s earthly days was an attempt by Herod to endear himself to his Jewish subjects, an attempt which failed. And yet in spite of this origin and motive, the Lord identified Himself with it, calling it “My Father’s house (oikos)” (John 2-16). Note also Matthew 21:12,13:
- “And Jesus went into the temple (hieron) of God . . . and said unto them, It is written, My house (oikos) shall be called The House (oikos) of Prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Later “My house” became “your house” (Matt. 23:38). Yet even after … … … to be continued!!
DE OPENBARING – bevrijding van bezet gebied
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Verzoening hoe? . . .
Bij een voorstelling als die van de komende Antichrist kan men slechts trachten door tekstvergelijking, het naspeuren van de context en extrapolerend uit eigentijdse gegevens, een schets te maken die deze voorstelling verstaanbaar maakt. Aan onze visie mag dus geen andere waarde worden toegekend dan die men zou toekennen aan een zo verantwoord mogelijke speculatie en extrapolatie. Dit neemt overigens niet weg dat de hoofdlijnen van de nu volgende schets verantwoord kunnen worden door een zo getrouw mogelijk volgen van de betreffende voorstellingen.
De gestalte van de Antichrist is op zichzelf een vreemde, fantastische figuur, maar plaatst men hem in de bijbelse context, met name in die van de voorstellingen over de eindtijd en in de toekomstbeelden van moderne visionaire auteurs en moralisten, dan is hij toch heel goed denkbaar!
Om de mogelijkheid van een komende pseudo-messias die zich later ontpopt als de exponent van het absolute kwaad, onder het oog te kunnen zien, moeten wij de situatie in ons opnemen waarin hij volgens de voorstellingen geplaatst wordt.
Hij verschijnt op het wereldtoneel als het Christus-organisme — de gemeente der ‘eerstelingen’ — van de aarde is weggevoerd en zich verenigd heeft met de Volkomen Mens. Nu de gemeente van Christus voltooid is en opgenomen, zijn de eindgerichten begonnen, maar de achtergebleven mensheid heeft daar — uitgezonderd zij die zich bewust zijn wat er wezenlijk gebeurd is — geen notie van. De ‘eerstelingenoogst’ moest geborgen worden vóór de luciferische activiteit zich ten volle op aarde kon ontplooien (1 Kor. 15,23; Ap. 3,10; 4,4; 5,8-10). De andere ‘oogsten’ zullen geschieden onder de gerichten. ‘Wee de aarde . . . want de duivel is tot u neergedaald, in grote grimmigheid, wetend dat hij weinig tijd heeft’ (Ap. 12,12).
Van de achtergebleven mensheid uit gezien is het toneel volkomen anders. Het is wellicht niet geheel onmogelijk ons enige voorstellingen te maken van de situatie die dan op de wereld heerst. De Antichrist is immers een toekomstige figuur, niet slechts ten opzichte van de profetie en de apocalyps maar ook voor ons, twintigste-eeuwse mensen. Als wij aan de Antichrist denken, moeten wij dus een toekomstige wereld schetsen. Dan mogen wij, extrapolerend uit de gegevens van onze tijd, wel veronderstellen dat ondanks alle moeilijkheden die ons thans nog behagen, een toekomstige mensheid vrijwel ongelimiteerde mogelijkheden tot een ongekende evolutie heeft, die zelfs het karakter van een transmutatie kan aannemen. Als er geen allesvernietigende kernoorlog uitbreekt (en gezien de gevolgen moet een dergelijke oorlog reeds tot de eindgerichten worden gerekend en is het uitbreken daarvan naar onze mening vóór de eindgerichten niet waarschijnlijk) zullen de tendensen naar een vrijwel alles omvattende beheersing en ordening zich doorzetten. Dan zullen materiële welvaart (afgezien van de slachtoffers van sanerende werkingen en bijverschijnselen) weelde, genot en levensduur waarschijnlijk tot ongekende hoogte stijgen. De mens staat op het punt door de verworvenheden en perspectieven van wetenschap en techniek zijn tevoren illusoir ‘paradijs’ te realiseren. De bouwstenen voor een wereldomspannende heilstaat liggen gereed. Vrijwel onbeperkte productiemogelijkheden en ver doorgevoerd automatisme, de ontwikkeling van de computer en de geperfectioneerde, bijna-menselijke robot, scheppen de voorwaarden voor een economie, die in principe de huidige welvaart voor een deel der wereldbevolking kan doen evolueren in weelde voor alle mensen. Het wachten is slechts op de geniale architect, die de politiek en sociaal-economische formule vindt om deze mogelijkheden waar te maken. Hetzelfde geldt de idealen van wereldeenheid en wereldvrede, waarvan de bedreiging en de verstoring, zoals vroeger, inherent is aan potentieel gebrek en aan onkunde, maar uit het ontbreken van een formule en een macht die deze idealen kan realiseren, verklaard moet worden. Politieke en economische wereldordening is geen onmogelijkheid meer en als zij eenmaal tot stand gebracht kunnen worden zal deze basisordening nog oneindig veel meer mogelijkheden aan de expansie van wetenschap en techniek verlenen dan in een verscheurde en aan allerlei groepsbelangen gebonden wereld mogelijk is. Het ligt in de lijn van de ontwikkeling, dat langs wetenschappelijke weg zelfs een ‘geluksstaat’ voor de mens bereikt kan worden, die betrekkelijk onafhankelijk is van materiële omstandigheden! Met gebruikmaking van electroden en chemische preparaten experimenteert men reeds met succes op menselijke hersenen, teneinde bewustzijnstoestanden op te wekken die zonder enige twijfel met een authentiek beleefd geluk gelijkgesteld mogen worden. In aanmerking genomen dat technieken nog maar nauwelijks beproefd zijn en bij voortgaande experimenten tot een veel grotere perfectie zullen worden opgevoerd, gezien de verbluffende vorderingen in de neuro- en hersenchirurgie en de genetische conditionering, mag zonder aarzeling een nu nog onvoorstelbaar conditionering van het menselijk bewustzijn tegemoet worden gezien.
Deze ontwikkelingen zijn veel nabijer dan men zich over het algemeen kan voorstellen en eerst als men dit beseft, kan iets begrepen worden van het vooral hatelijk karakter van de eindgerichten in zo’n wereld! Er zijn theoretisch immers twee mogelijkheden: de mensheid zal reeds een deel van de bovengenoemde mogelijkheden hebben kunnen realiseren of — als de eindgerichten nabij zijn — zij op het punt staan dit ‘paradijs’ binnen te gaan. In beide gevallen zullen de eindgerichten … … … wordt vervolgd!!
Studies en studieboeken:
Kehilat HaCarmel – Haifa / Israel
Standing in the Gap!
El Shaddai Ministries: Sjabbat vieren met Pastor Mark Biltz
Books as: BLOOD MOONS, GOD’S DAY TIMER, DECODING THE ANTICHRIST
Gerard J.C. Plas