Fall of 1952
Dr. W. Noble King
All Rights Reserved
Class Notes of Henry Arnett
I. The four Gospels are four different aspects of the same subject. The first three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are called synoptic. The fourth Gospel (St. John) deals with the same subject from a spiritual viewpoint. We shall give a brief sketch of the four authors and then enter into a study of the four books combined together in harmony.
A. MATTHEW. We do not know where St. Matthew was born. We judge him about the age of our Lord. His business was to collect the tolls levied on the merchandise that passed through the domains of Herod Antipas. He was stationed at Capernaum on an important caravan route leading to Damascus. He did not appear to be in the employ of the hated Romans but he was a tax collector and consequently was a hated publican.
The publicans were not excluded from the synagogue fully, yet they were treated as sinners and abandoned as irreligious persons. Matthew's profession was a lucrative one (Luke 19:2). Hence it cost him much to arise, forsake all, and follow Jesus (Luke 5:28). His original name was Levi but at his call it appeared to have been changed to Matthew (meaning gift of Jehovah) probably by Jesus himself. He was thus an original Apostle.
Jesus took a bold step when he chose a publican as one of His followers, but the call of Matthew was fully justified by its results. It brought Jesus into direct contact with a great class of social and religious semi-outcasts that the religious world of His day had abandoned. Matthew made a great feast to celebrate his call. This feast was attended by a great many publicans and sinners. Jesus had opportunity to speak to them about the things of the kingdom. In fact, ever after Jesus had a first hand pull with that class of persons.
Matthew wrote his Gospel primarily for the Jews. Hence he goes back to Abraham and stops there. "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1). Matthew also proves that Jesus Christ was the Old Testament's promised Messiah. Hence he has much to say about prophecy.
His genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1) follows the legal line through Jesus' foster father Joseph, and Solomon, to David, to Abraham. (Neither Joseph nor Solomon were in the blood line.) He shows that Jesus was their legal Prince.
B. MARK. Mark was evidently a Hebrew and a Levite of the family of Aaron (Pulpit Commentary). John was his Jewish name, and Marcus was his Gentile name.
He does not appear to have been converted before the Crucifixion, but he was shortly thereafter as Peter calls him his son in the faith (I Peter 5:13).
Barnabas and Paul took him on their first missionary journey but he left them at Perga and Pamphilia (Acts 13:13). On the second journey of Paul, Mark was the cause of the separation of Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas wished to take him but Paul refused as he left them once before (Acts 15:36-40). Mark later made good and Paul recommended him to the Colossians brethren at Rome (Colossians 4:10). Later on during Paul's second imprisonment at Rome when he wrote his second epistle to Timothy, Paul asked Timothy to bring Mark with him as he was both profitable to himself and to his ministry (II Timothy 4:11). Thus Mark was an intimate friend of both Paul and Peter, having been with Paul in Rome and Peter in Babylon (I Peter).
Mark is said to be cousin to Barnabas' sister Miriam's son. She lived at Jerusalem and appeared to have been a woman of some wealth as was her brother, Barnabas. She occupied her own house and had her own servants or slaves. Evidently Jesus was in the habit of staying there. Possibly the Passover was observed there. Possibly the disciples were gathered there on the evening of the resurrection. Pentecost could have occurred there. The great prayer meeting after the death of James was there. The first great center of Christian worship was there and the first church was at her house. Thus the Apostles were in the habit of lodging there (Acts 12:12); this gave Peter a chance to win the young John who was of the priestly line to Christ.
It is just possible that Mark referred to himself in his Gospel when he said, "And there followed Him a certain young man" (Mark 14:51). His is the only Gospel that mentions that young man. The events of that night and the following few days might have changed Mark's thinking about the Galilean for evidently that young man was not a disciple.
Thus Mark's Gospel would be in harmony with the preaching of both Peter and Paul. It was written to the Romans who were world rulers who believed in law and order. Jesus is set forth as the man of instant action, unlimited resources, and absolute power, the type of man that would appeal to the Romans.
C. LUKE (Lucas). Luke appeared to have been a native of Antioch in Pisidia. He was not an original Apostle, and apparently did not see Jesus in the flesh. He appeared to have been a friend and companion of St. Paul in travels and in imprisonment.
He was of the uncircumcision and therefore not of the circumcision. In other words he was not a Hebrew but a Gentile, possibly a Greek (Colossians 4:10-14). He was a "beloved physician," (Colossians 4:14) and was the constant companion of St. Paul in much of his travels (Colossians 4:14; II Timothy 4:17; Acts 27:1; Acts 28:16).
Luke wrote the book of Acts as well as the Gospel bearing his name. Both books were written to the same human patron, Theophilus (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1).
Being himself a Gentile, his main burden naturally was to present the Gospel to the Greek or Gentile world.
Matthew grouped similar acts together regardless of chronology, but Luke, being a historian as well as a physician, deals with events more in their chronological order.
D. JOHN. John was one of the original apostles and was by birth a Galilean. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome. His mother was probably a sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. His father is mentioned but once in the narrative, but the name occurs frequently distinguishing the sons.
Their father had hired servants thus John's apparent happy connection with the family of the high priest. (John 18:15 may point to a social or financial position above the lower levels.)
The home of the family was on the shores of the Lake of Galilee at Bethsaida (House of Provision) or else at Capernaum, which was near to Bethsaida (Luke 5:9; John 1:44; Mark 1:29).
The sons of Jonas were companions of the sons of Zebedee possibly from childhood. Thus were the two pairs of famous brothers—Peter and Andrew, James and John.
John seemed to have been eclipsed by several of the Apostles including his own brother, James. Later after the others were nearly all dead he exercised great influence and became a profound and mystic writer.
His Gospel was written to
the Christian believers of all races and all times to strengthen their
faith in the fact that Jesus was the eternal son of God (John 20:31).
Different types of error had already challenged faith in the eternity of
Christ, the deity of Christ, the Messiahship of Christ, and the Saviorhood
Thus the four phases or sides or aspects of the Gospel are presented so that all men may hear the good news in the terms which they are familiar. The Gospel is the disclosure of the revelation from God to man and that revelation is the revelation of a Person—the man, Christ.
This revelation was promised to Adam in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), and to the race through him. It was promised to part of the race in the person of Seth (Genesis 4:26). It was promised to a nation in that part in the person of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). It was promised to a tribe of that nation in the person of Judah (Genesis 49:8-10). It was promised to a house in that tribe in the person of David (Acts 2:30; II Samuel 7:12-13; Psalms 132:11). It was promised to a person in that house in the person of Mary (Luke 1:31, 35).
We shall now study the four books comprising the Gospel, together in harmony section by section.
EVENTS LEADING UP TO AND CONNECTED WITH THE BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD OF JESUS
A. Preface to the Gospel according to Luke (Luke 1:1-4). Luke addressed this letter to a person by the Greek name, Theophilus, and informed him that many had written on this subject. Hence writing on this subject was not a new thing. Luke then informed his patron that he had perfect knowledge of all things from the very beginning. He was not an eyewitness but he had fully informed himself from those who were. Hence he was well qualified to write on the subject. The purpose of his writing was that this man, Theophilus, might know the certainty of the things wherein he had been instructed.
B. An angel appeared to Zacharias in the temple (Luke 1:5-25). Place: Jerusalem. The vision of Zacharias did not occur on the great Day of Atonement, as the high priest alone functioned on that day (Leviticus 16:3; Leviticus 29:32-34). He was an ordinary priest of the course of Abia—the eighth course of the 24 instituted by David (I Chronicles 24:3-19; II Chronicles 8:24) for the service of the temple. They relieved each other every Sabbath day. On their first return from the captivity only four courses are mentioned; and Abia (Abijah) is not mentioned as one of the 24 (Ezra 2:36-39). It again appears, however, in later lists (Nehemiah 10:7; 12:4, 17). The 24 courses were probably again organized (Ellicott).
Both Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth were of the Aaronic family. The name Elizabeth in its Hebrew form is Elishaba, which was the name of the wife of Aaron herself (Exodus 6:23). It was an honored name among the Aaronic ladies. Both were advanced in years. Hence parenthood would be naturally impossible. As Zacharias burned incense within the holy place and the people prayed without, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and stood on the right side of the altar. He feared but the angel told him not to fear as his wife Elizabeth was to bear him a son and he was to call his name John. The clause "thy prayer is heard" would indicate that he was praying for a son as well as for Israel nationally, but his lack of faith in asking for a sign would show that it was pretty well hopeless. He received the sign in the form of a punishment. He became mute.
The child was to be great and was to be a Nazarite filled with the Holy Ghost from birth. He was to turn the disobedient children of Israel back to the faith of their parents, that is, turn their expectations of the promised Messiah that their fathers had been promised. The messenger was Gabriel, who stood in the presence of God.
The people marveled that Zacharias was so long in coming out to dismiss them with a priestly blessing (Numbers 6:24). When he did come out he could not speak but dismissed them with a gesture. After his week of ministration he then returned home.
The statement that John was filled with the Holy Ghost from birth probably refers to the fact that he was divinely designated for that office and also naturally qualified for it from the instant of birth, and also especially protected by the Holy Ghost (Adam Clarke). The case of Jeremiah enters in here. The record says that he was sanctified and ordained a prophet (Jeremiah 1:5). Thus both John the Baptist and Jeremiah were set apart (sanctified) in the plan of God for their particular tasks and callings. Both, on reaching personal accountability, had to meet the same conditions for regeneration and for heart sanctification as anyone else has to. Jeremiah was at the same time ordained a prophet but he did not become a prophet until he yielded to God's will in the matter. In this same since Judas was sanctified but the did not yield to the will of God and thus canceled that sanctification (Dummelow; Clarke, P. C. on Luke; Ellicott; Butler; Robinson).
C. An angel appeared to Mary in her home, or near to it at Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 1:26-28) apparently six months after the conception of Elizabeth. The same angel Gabriel was sent from God to Mary, a virgin, in Nazareth of Galilee who was betrothed to a man named Joseph. Both Mary and Joseph were of the House of David.
Joseph must have known that he was the rightful heir of David's house and Mary must have known that her future husband was the rightful descendent of David to the Levitical house. David's family property was at Bethlehem. Probably for fear of Herod's deadly hate for David's house, they might have moved to Nazareth. They were very poor and humble people and thus gave Herod no suspicion.
The angel pronounced blessings upon her, not as the fountain of Grace, but as a recipient of it. She was informed that she was to become the mother of the "Son of the Highest" and of the "Son of God," whose name was to be Jesus (Jehoshus or Joshua, meaning Savior).
Mary asked how this could be, seeing that she was unmarried. She was told that the Power of the Highest would over shadow her and it would thus be effected. She bowed to the will of God in faith and in obedience; and apparently at that moment the humanity of the eternal Christ had its beginning. The throne of His father, by David, by blood descent through Mary was to be His, and He was to rule forever.
Mary was also informed that her cousin (kinswoman) Elizabeth, who was called barren, (evidently a nickname given in reproach) was nearing maternity. The angel departed and Mary arose and went to Elizabeth in the hill country of Judea, evidently to a priestly town called Juttah, near Hebron (Joshua 15:55; 21:16), (Ellicott, Dummelow, Clarke, Robinson).
D. Mary visited her cousin (kinswoman evidently on her mother's side) Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56). Mary saluted Elizabeth and Elizabeth rejoiced in the Holy Ghost that the mother of her Lord should visit her. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth seemed to understand that Mary's child would be the Messiah.
We then have what we call the Magnificat, an inspired song uttered by Mary as her soul rejoiced in God. This song shows that she had familiarized herself with the Messianic statements in the Psalms and elsewhere. The Magnificat runs from Luke 1:46b to 1:55, and deals with the exaltation of those of low estate and of Israel in particular, including the House of David, and the degradation of those in authority, evidently the authority usurption.
E. The birth of John the Baptist in Juttah near to Hebron, or else in Hebron itself (Luke 1:57-80). Mary returned in three months to her own home, apparently just before John the Baptist was born (Luke 1:56). Eight days after John was born he was circumcised and, as the custom was, named at the same time. Their kinsfolk wished him named Zacharias after his father. His mother said, "Not so, but he shall be called John" (Luke 1:60). They objected and signed to the father what he would have him called. He asked for a writing table and wrote thereon, "His name is John." At once his tongue was loosed and he praised God.
Zacharias then uttered what we call the Benedictus. It extends from Luke 1:68-79 and falls into two parts. The first part deals with the redemption of Israel and the second part deals with the part that his son would play as the forerunner of the Messiah. It shows that Zacharias perfectly understood the office of his son and of the coming of the Messiah. The Benedictus was probably thought out in his mind during the time he was mute and then it broke forth from his lips the moment his speech returned.
The section closes with the statement that, "The child grew and waxed strong in spirit and was in the desert until the day of his showing unto Israel."
F. The angel appeared to Joseph (Matthew1:18-25). Place: Nazareth.
1. Mary was betrothed to Joseph but had not been taken to his home, thus finishing the period of his engagement. The engagement could only be broken by a divorce (Clarke, Ellicott).
2. Joseph became aware that she was nearing maternity. Her explanation to him failed to satisfy his fears. He was going to privately divorce her, not publicly else she could have been stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:21). In the case of a priest's daughter the penalty was to be burned to death (Leviticus 21:9).
3. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and informed him that he was to take Mary from her home to his, as his wife, and not to fear as that which was formed in her was of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:24-25).
NOTE: Mary's acceptance of the will of God for her involved much. Few of her friends, if any, outside of Elizabeth and Joseph and Zacharias understood. Hence all she could do was to break with the past. There was no other alternative for Joseph either. Human disgrace and divine favor went hand in hand for them. It cost them much to bring Christ into their home. It still has its peculiar price.
G. The birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-7). Place: Bethlehem. The dates for the birth of Jesus range all the way from 4 BC to 8 BC. The time of the year is also unknown. The supposed date of His birth was not set until the sixth century. Then it was set by the Abbot, Dionysius Exiguous.
The enrollment for taxation called for all to visit their native city and register there; and Joseph and Mary, being of the House of David, journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They reached Bethlehem and the Inn was crowded, so they had to take themselves to a limestone cave used to house the animals that worked for men. There Christ was born (Robinson, Papini).
H. An angel (angels) appeared to the shepherds. Place: near Bethlehem (Luke 2:8-20).
1. Jesus was born in a stable and that birth was first announced to peasants shepherding their flocks by night. An angel informed them of the birth of the Messiah. He said, "Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."
2. An heavenly host that had accompanied the angel burst out in song. "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men in whom He is well pleased" (Revised Version). The angels returned to heaven and the shepherds decided to visit Bethlehem at once.
3. They found the babe wrapped and lying in a manger, and they made known to all the things that the angels said to them. All wondered, but Mary pondered them in her heart.
I. The circumcision of Jesus and His later presentation in the temple. Place: Bethlehem and Jerusalem (Luke 2:21-38).
1. At the eighth day, Jesus was circumcised according to the law for He was made under the law (Galatians 4:4). This rite could take place in the home. At this ceremony He was also named officially. This ceremony took place evidently at Bethlehem.
2. At 40 days He was presented at the temple at Jerusalem. The visit to Jerusalem must have preceded the visit of the Magi. It would drop in between Luke 2:38 and 2:39. Both parents were present. The mother could have attended by proxy but Mary attended personally. The parents brought the poorest offering that the law allowed, "a pair of turtle doves," one for a burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering, not that Jesus needed either but He was fulfilling the law to the letter so that we might go free.
The mother could not attend the temple until after 40 days when a boy was born and 80 days after a girl was born. Apparently only the first born was redeemed by blood (Exodus 13:2; 22:29; Numbers 3:30; Leviticus 12:2-4; Leviticus 12:8).
a. Simeon, a righteous and God-fearing man, had been informed by the Spirit that he would see the Lord's Christ before he departed. This man came in and at once knew who the child was. He blessed God and uttered what we call the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32). He informed Mary that a sword was to pass through her heart.
b. An aged widow of 84 years who had lived with her husband seven years (she must have been about 103 years or more) came in at that moment and likewise blessed God. Her name was Anna and she was a prophetess.
Simeon and Anna took a world-view of the Saviorhood of Jesus. Thus Luke alone mentioned the matter.
J. The wise men from the East. Place: Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12).
1. They must have returned from Jerusalem to Bethlehem again, for it is evident that the wise men came to Bethlehem. They were at least from beyond the eastern border of Palestine. It does not say that they came from Persia. Neither does it say that they were Persian magicians. Matthew alone mentions them and they hang on one word: Magi.
Many supposed that they star they followed was a sun. Fancy a sun appearing, reappearing, and coming so close that its rays showed on a room. It was His star composed of the same light as shown over the Tabernacle and on the Mercy Seat. It was not a star, but His star. (Baalim talked about His star, Numbers 24:17).
2. As they reached Judea they struck off to Jerusalem and the star disappeared. Seeking a king, they journeyed to a king, namely, Herod. This caused Herod to fear. He inquired of the religious leaders at Jerusalem where the promised Messiah was to be born. They said that He was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; John 7:41, 42; Matthew 2:6).
3. In secret session with the wise men, Herod inquired of them what time the star appeared. He then sent them to Bethlehem to find the Messiah. He asked them to return and tell him so that he too could go and worship.
4. They left Jerusalem and started for Bethlehem. To their astonishment the star reappeared and guided them to the very house where the young child was.
5. They presented their gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They were then warned of God in a dream not to return home by Jerusalem, but to go by another way.
K. The flight into Egypt, Herod's cruelty, and the return to Nazareth. Places: Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth (Matthew 2:13-23; Luke 2:39,40).
1. When the wise men left, an angel informed Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt, as Herod would seek the young child's life. God was always one jump ahead of Herod. The one dominant quality in the life of Joseph was instant obedience and faith in God. He was a remarkable instrument for God to use in outwitting Herod (Matthew 2:13-15).
2. Herod then realized that he had been mocked of the wise men. He ordered all the male babies from two years old and under to be slain. It was dated from the visit of the wise men backwards for two years (Matthew 2:17-18).
3. Herod died within a year after Jesus was born. At his death the angel informed Joseph in a dream to return to the land of Israel. He did so. He heard that Archelaus reigned in the room of Herod and he feared. God informed him to turn aside into Galilee to a city called Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23). Luke informs us that it was the same Nazareth in Galilee that they had originally left (Luke 2:39-40, Dummelow; Clarke, P.C.).
L. At 12 years of age Jesus went up to the Passover at Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52).
1. From one year to 12 there is silence in the life of Jesus. At 12 all males had to attend the three great yearly feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Exodus 23:17; Deuteronomy 16:16). Women apparently had to attend the Feast of Passover at least for part time. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus went up to the Passover Feast.
A Jewish child at 12 became responsible with regard to the law, and at his 13th birthday he put on the phylacteries which were worn at the recital of his daily prayer (Matthew 23:5, Ellicott).
2. People journeyed in groups to the feasts. Sometimes it is thought that men traveled with men and women with women; and sometimes the children were with one group, and sometimes with the other. On their homeward march Jesus tarried behind. They journeyed a day or part of a day before they noticed that Jesus was not with the groups. They returned and sought for Him in Jerusalem. After three days they found Him where they had left Him, namely, in the temple hearing the doctors and asking them questions.
3. Mary said to him, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?" It was a rebuke to Him. He turned and gently rebuked her by saying, "How is it that ye sought me? Know ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" This is the only mention of Jesus between one and 30, possibly because it was off the beaten path of everyday life.
4. The statement did not fully grip their minds. He then returned with them and was subject to them. He advanced in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man (Clarke, Dummelow, Ellicott).
M. The genealogies of Jesus the Christ (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). There are no other Bible genealogies of Christ.
1. Matthew, writing to the Jews, traces the legal line (as the crown descended) from Abraham to David, then to Joseph, and Jesus. It is the "book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1).
a. Between Joram and Osias (Hosea) three are left out. They are Azariah, Joash, and Amoziah—the accursed progeny of Athaliah, who introduced the idolatry of Ahab into the House of Judah. Two of the three were apostates and all three met violent death.
b. The term son or to begat could be used with regard to a successor as well as an actual blood son (Ellicott). They also jumped great gaps with the father-son relationship and thought nothing of it. Different names appear for different persons. Our concern with regard to such facts was not their concern.
c. Matthew is writing to the Jews and only David is called a king. Christ is called Messiah. It was David's throne so he is called the king and Christ is his specially promised son according to the flesh, and also the Son of God. Hence He is called the Messiah. This is in keeping with Galatians 3:16. Matthew then passes from Abraham to David on down the line to Joseph, the husband of Mary to whom was born Jesus. Jesus' legal right to the throne was through His legal father, namely Joseph. That however is not enough. He must be traced in the blood stream to David, to Abraham, and to Genesis 3:15. This can only be done through the mother of His humanity, namely Mary. Mary was His only connection with the human race.
NOTE: He was the promised seed of the woman in the first place and He was presented to the world through the woman.
2. Luke deals with a racial promise more specifically than he does with the Abrahamic promise. He goes back to Adam and to God by way of David and Abraham. Christ was the racial Messiah. Therefore, He must be the "seed of the woman." Luke 3:23, 38 put together reads: "And Jesus when he began to teach was about 30 years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, …the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God."
a. In that verse as it stands, we pass from Jesus as the subject of discussion to Joseph, and Joseph remains the subject. We carry Joseph to Adam, and to God. That is not what is intended at all. It is grammatically incorrect.
b. Drop the explanatory "as was supposed" and see how it reads. "And Jesus when he began to teach was about 30 years of age, being the son of Joseph, …the son of Heli, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the Son of God." That is logically and grammatically correct but it is not factually correct for Jesus was not the son of Joseph, neither was Joseph the son of Heli.
c. Let us bring in the explanatory "as was supposed" and also the balancing suppressed clause that is understood but not brought in. That suppressed clause should have been in Italics. "And Jesus when he began to teach, was about 30 years of age being (as was suppressed) the son of Joseph (but in reality the son of Heli, …the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
NOTE: The term son is suppressed in the Greek, but brought out as it clarifies the record. The balancing clause but in reality should also have been brought out and placed in Italics. The Targum agrees with this and says that Mary was the daughter of Heli, and Jesus was the son of Mary. Thus Jesus was the grandson of Heli. The Hebrews called such a son.
NOTE (at the side of chart): Matthew comes down from Abraham to David, to Solomon, through Judah to Jeconias or Coniah (where the Solomonic line was cut off—Jeremiah 22:28-30). The legal line then passed over to the bloodline in the house of Nathan in the person of Salothiel or Shealtiel. Luke goes from Mary to Heli, then to Nathan, and then crosses to David and on to Adam. Thus he leaves Solomon and the reigning line of kings out.
NOTE (under chart): (1) Heli's male heir was his brother Jacob and Jacob's male heir was his own son Joseph. This made Joseph the legal heir to the Levitic throne. Then Heli's blood descent was Mary and Mary's first born son was Jesus. Thus Jesus was blood heir and legal heir. Joseph and Mary were cousins with a common grandfather, Matthat or Matthan. The Targum agrees with this.
(2) In Matthew's genealogy there were four women mentioned. All four went off the beaten path. There was Tamar. The men of the place said there was no harlot there but Tamar did go off the beaten path. There was Rahab, who is called the harlot, yet who married Solomon and thus entered the Messianic line. There was Ruth whose reputation was above reproach. Yet she crossed the accepted standard of conduct. It was only her unstained record that saved her reputation. Then there was Bath-Sheba whose past record was unstained but who definitely crossed the ethical standards of the day. They are mentioned, as they were all unusual in some manner.
The ethics of their day would clear Tamar and possibly Ruth, but not Bath-Sheba exactly. Rahab is in the fog of heathenism and was probably as guiltless as the others if the truth is known.
ANNOUNCEMENT AND INTRODUCTION
TO OUR LORD'S PUBLIC MINISTRY
A. The ministry of John the Baptist. Place: the desert and the Jordan (Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18).
1. The time is about 26 AD and John is about 30. The word of the Lord came to him and he started to preach in the wilderness of Judea, evidently around the Jordan. Matthew, Mark, and Luke introduce this section with a quotation from the Old Testament. Matthew refers to Isaiah 40:3; Mark refers to Malachai 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3; Luke refers to Isaiah 40:3-5.
2. His message is confession and remission of sin and baptism. He further declared that now the ax was to be laid to the root of the trees. His dress was camel's hair and a leathern girdle and his food was locusts and wild honey.
3. When he saw a group of the Pharisees in attendance, he castigated them severely. They appeared to have been relying on the Abrahamic pedigree and on the letter of the law instead of on personal salvation. They were called serpents and were commanded to bring forth meat for repentance.
4. John then stated that his baptism was with water but there was One coming after him whose baptism was with the Holy Ghost and with fire. This One was declared to be much greater than John.
Three groups asked John what they were to do:
a. The common multitude. John told them to share with the needy.
b. The publicans. John told them to collect no more than was appointed them.
c. The soldiers. John told them, "Exhort from no man by violence, neither accuse anyone wrongly and be content with your wages."
NOTE: Luke alone informs us of the questions asked by those three groups.
B. The baptism of Jesus the Christ. Place: the Jordan (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23). We shall date this AD 26.
1. Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee after the people were baptized, not with them. John would "have hindered Him," recognizing the superiority of Christ to himself. Jesus said, "Suffer it now for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness" (R.V.).
"To fulfill every righteous ordinance" (Matthew, Adam Clarke): Adam Clarke points out that just as circumcision was the initiary ordinance with regard to the Jewish religion, baptism with water is the initiary ordinance in the Baptist's ministry or dispensation.
All proper symbols or ordinances were to be fulfilled by Christ. Just as the requirements of the law—the recognition of a symbolic priesthood, the temple with its symbolism, the altar, the blood sacrifices, etc.—were all fulfilled in Christ. Christ took us from under the law. Thus we have Pauline liberty in Christ.
2. The heavens were rent asunder (R.V.) and John saw the Holy Spirit descending as a dove and resting upon Him:
a. Jesus the Christ was there visibly present.
b. The Spirit of God was there in the form of a dove visibly present.
c. The Father spoke from the rent heaven audibly to at least John the Baptist.
This is a great Trinitarian demonstration. "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."
C. The temptation of Jesus. Place: the desert of Judea (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13).
1. This temptation of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness was an historic fact as was the temptation of Adam in the Garden of Eden. Satan must have known who Jesus was. Matthew and Luke bring the references to bread, the temple, and the world in different orders. Luke brings them bread, the world, the temple.
2. Apparently He was led out to the wilderness by the Holy Spirit (Matthew and Luke). Whether it was to lay His life's plan and Satan came along, or whether it was definitely as the second Adam to meet the adversary who conquered the first Adam is not plain. The burden of inference is with the second possibility.
3. It would appear that the three-fold suggestion of the devil came after the 40 days had expired. Bread would naturally come first in the three and that came after the 40 days (Robinson). The first act of Jesus' public ministry was thus a combat with Satan. We shall observe the matter in the order given by Matthew.
NOTE: Forty-day fasts:
a. "If thou be the Son of God command that these stones become bread." Jesus was hungry and the devil hit Him at His weakest point and in His weakest hour. Jesus refused to use His great power in the mundane field for selfish purposes or to be trapped by the devil. (He later multiplied bread for others.) Jesus replied, "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
b. In the Holy City, Jesus was placed on a pinnacle of the temple and the tempter said, "If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down. For it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning thee and on their hands they shall bear thee up lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone." The suggestion here was to do something spectacular and thus get the people to regard Him as a great someone. That which was fundamentally wrong with the suggestion was presuming on the keeping power of God. Jesus replied, "Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God." (R.V.)
c. The devil then took Him up on a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and said, "All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Jesus replied, "Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written, thou shall worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve." The devil then left Him for a season and angels came and ministered to Him.
d. The first Adam lost under the most ideal circumstances and the last Adam won under the most adverse circumstances. Mark says that He was with the wild beasts in the desert. Adam turned the beasts against man, and Christ will ultimately swing them back on man's side again.
In each case Jesus drew the word of the Lord on Satan. He refused to argue with Him. He said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that procedeth out of the mouth of God." There Jesus classed bread among the words of God. He spiritualized the material concept and no one verse of scripture was to stand alone but all statements dealing with the same subject were to be considered. Jesus did this in each case. This is the secret of a proper Bible interpretation. Almost all erroneous doctrines are built on scriptures dealing with but one phase or aspect of the issue.
The devil suggested that all would belong to Jesus if He would fall down. Jesus said the opposite, "If I be lifted up." Jesus refused to side step the Cross and to take a short cut to His purpose.
Jesus was very God as well as very Man, and knew it. He had been proclaimed the Son of God by the Father from heaven and He had been anointed without limit by the Spirit and yet the devil twice tempted Him to doubt the fact of His divine Sonship. "If thou be the Son of God," do so and so. Furthermore, Jesus was tempted to worship the devil. That for Jesus was the worst that He could do. Let no man think that he shall ever reach the place where awful temptations will not suggest themselves to him or that he will not be tempted to doubt his sonship. All such temptations must be kept outside of locked hearts—locked to them.
D. Preface and testimony of John the Baptist to Jesus in St. John's Gospel. Place: Bethany, beyond Jordan (John 1:1-24).
1. The word Logos ( ) was in the eternal beginning with God the Father—not in the beginning of creation as the term is used in Genesis 1:1; but eternally before that. Thus the deity and personality of the Logos are declared.
a. All things were created through this Logos as the active agent of the Godhead. Thus the Logos is here called God (John 1:1c) and also called God in the creation statement.
i. This Logos is the LIFE, and the author and sustainer of all life (John 1:4).
ii. Being the author of life He is also the Light of rational human beings. This Light had shined in the darkness of sin during all times and the darkness had not overcome it (John 1:5, R.V.).
b. Thus He still lights every man that cometh into the world but it refused to recognize Him. His own people, friends, and family received Him not. Those who did He gave the right to become children of God (John 1:9-13).
c. The Logos became flesh and tabernacled among us and we beheld His glory. John the Baptist declared that this Logos was the One coming after him, He who also was before him. "The Law was given by Moses but Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Grace and truth were revealed in the Garden of Eden. Thus Christ was there and declared redemption through sacrifice. Through this Logos, God the Father is declared. "He that hath seen me hath seen God."
2. The Sanhedrin passed on every Gentile who became a member of the Jewish religious commonwealth. The candidate was both baptized and circumcised. Jews were not baptized, as were the Gentiles. The Sanhedrin took it for granted that no man had authority to make such changes as John was making except he was commissioned from on high. Hence they sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was (John 1:19, 22).
a. John declared that he was sent by God to bear witness to the Light (John 1:6-8).
b. John declared that he was not the expected Christ (John 1:20).
c. They looked for the person of Elijah to return just before the Christ came but John declared that he was not the person of Elijah (John 1:21a; Matthew 11:14).
d. They asked him if he were that prophet referring to the prophet spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15,18. Again John said, "No." (Matthew 11:14).
3. Seeing that John was none of these, they then demanded of him why he baptized. He declared that he did it in preparation for the coming of the One who was already in their midst and who was greater by far than he.
a. The day after that on which the Jews had questioned John, John said, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin (carnal nature) of the world." This he said as Jesus was coming toward him (John 1:29).
b. John must have known of Jesus and who Jesus was but possibly he did not know Him personally. The Holy Ghost had given him a sign of identification by which he would recognize the Son of God, "And I knew him not; but he that sent me to baptize with water said unto me, ‘Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding upon him the same is he that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost and I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God’" (John 1:33-34).
NOTE: It is not definite just where we would put Jesus' baptism at the hand of John the Baptist in John's gospel. It apparently would have to come before the 29th verse. Possibly so with the temptation in the wilderness.
E. Jesus gains disciples. Place: The Jordan in Galilee (John 1:32, 52).
1. The next day John the Baptist and two of his disciples were standing as Jesus walked along. John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God." This appears to have been a suggestion for them to follow Jesus. They did so and abode with Him that day (Jewish time 4 PM; Gentile time 10 AM)
NOTE: One was Andrew, the brother of Peter, and the unnamed one almost certainly John himself. Andrew found Peter and informed him that they had found the Messiah. Jesus gave Simon the name of Peter.
2. The next day, apparently after that mentioned in verse 35, Jesus journeyed on into Galilee and found Phillip and said, "Follow me." Phillip was of Bethsaida as were Andrew and Peter. Phillip located Nathaniel (Bartholomew) under the fig tree and informed him that they had found the One of whom Moses wrote.
a. Nazareth was an insignificant little place, and Nathaniel wondered if any good thing could come out of the little place. It would hardly appear that it was because of its wickedness alone that he would have said that.
b. Phillip said, "Come and see." He came and was fully satisfied and said, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art King of Israel." Jesus informed him that he would see "the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
NOTE: This is the preliminary call of at least five of the apostles as disciples. It is interesting to note that several of them were disciples of John the Baptist, before they became disciples of Jesus. Many of Jesus' disciples were what we call Christians before they became physically acquainted with the physical Jesus.
F. The marriage at Cana of Galilee. Place: Galilee (John 2:1-12).
1. The third day from Judea to Galilee.
2. Jesus' mother was there; hence the home was probably that of a friend or of a relative. Now Jesus suddenly appears with at least five, possibly six, maybe seven persons. The home must have been a godly one for company like that to be perfectly at home in it, and the home was at ease in their presence.
3. The wine was soon gone with six or eight extras. Jesus' mother informed Him as really He was to blame for the shortage. Jesus said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee, my hour is not yet come."
a. The term Woman was used by Jesus here to his mother, on the cross to His mother, to the woman at the well, to Mary of Magdolia, to the Syrophoenician woman, and was equivalent to "Lady" (John 2:4; Matthew 15:18; John 4:21; John 19:26; John 20:15).
b. The same term was used by the angel to Mary at the door of the sepulcher as she sat and wept (John 20:13). St. Paul also used the term in regard to believing women in his church (I Corinthians 7:16). The word was used by the best Greek writers pretty much as we use the term Lady and was so used even in addressing Queens (Adam Clarke).
c. "What have I to do with thee," meaning "Are you sure this is a concern of ours." "Mine hour is not yet come" meaning that His public ministry was not yet in reality begun.
4. With regard to the shortage, Mary told the servants to do whatever He said. This they did.
a. There were six water pots at the door for the guests to wash their feet in. The six were thought to hold about nine gallons each.
b. Jesus ordered the water pots filled to the top and then ordered them to draw out. It was the best wine that they had that night (Adam Clarke, P. H. C.; P. C. on John; Dummelow; Robinson; Butler).
5. After the matter of turning the water into wine, Jesus, His mother,
His brethren, and His disciples went down to Capernaum for a brief time
(John 2:12). From there they then journeyed from Jerusalem to the
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