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This category contains 15 posts

Concerning gospel chronology

Of the four canonical gospels, most scholars believe that Mark was written first, followed by Matthew, then Luke, and finally a bit later by John. Papias, writing in the early second century and recalling what he claimed to be the words of John, called Mark “Peter’s interpreter,” meaning that he wrote according to Peter’s memory of the words … Continue reading

Forty-six years of temple building brings us to A.D. 29

Unlike the synoptics, John records an early season of ministry in Jesus’ life in and around Jerusalem. It begins with his going up for the feast of Passover as it would seem he did every year of his life (at least from the age of twelve). There he finds the money-changers in the temple and … Continue reading

What happened to the sermon on the mount in the gospel of Luke?

It’s interesting to note how Luke takes various portions of the “Sermon on the Mount” and scatters them all throughout his gospel. What Matthew presents as a single message spoken by Jesus on a hillside in Galilee (see Matt. 5-7) Luke relates as coming from the Lord at many different times and places (see Luke 11:33-36, 12:22-34, and 14:34-35, for instance). The … Continue reading

Dating the year of Jesus’ twelfth birthday

Matthew tells us that Joseph originally took his family down to Egypt for fear of Herod, who ordered the slaughter in Bethlehem of all male boys two and under in an attempt to kill Jesus. After Herod’s death they returned to Israel, but when Joseph heard that Archelaus (who had a brutal reputation of his … Continue reading

How old was Jesus when he was “about thirty?”

Luke tells us that Jesus was “about thirty” years old when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23). The question is, just how close to thirty was he, really? We know that Herod the Great died in 4 B.C, and that there is a possibility that Jesus was born as much as two years before Herod’s death. … Continue reading

When did John the Baptist begin his ministry?

The first two verses of Luke 3 offer us a wealth of historical information: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” Luke writes, “Pontius Pilate being governer of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the … Continue reading

When exactly did Jesus go into the wilderness?

All of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record the story of Jesus going into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil, and each writer has this event following Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist (Mark even says it occurred “immediately” thereafter). But in John’s gospel it would seem we are given a different order of events. … Continue reading

Dating the time of Herod’s death

Scholars have pretty well agreed that Herod the Great died in the year 4 B.C. By this we know that the events of Jesus’ birth, the visit of the wise men, the family’s flight into Egypt, and the slaughter of the boys in Bethlehem all had to have occurred prior to this time. According to Josephus there was … Continue reading

Reconstructing the nativity story

Mark is silent about the birth of Jesus, and John, writing what Clement called a “more spiritual gospel” many years later has nothing to say about it, either. What we know of the nativity story comes from either Matthew or Luke, though I wonder how many people realize what a difference there is between Matthew’s and Luke’s … Continue reading

From Athens to Corinth: How Paul’s experience at Mars Hill led to his determination to know nothing but Christ crucified

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul said that when he arrived in their city he came determined to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:1,2). Why was that? The historical context of this passage is found in Acts 17:16-34. It’s a long block of scripture, so I won’t quote it all … Continue reading

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