The Conversion of Paul the Apostle

the Conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus...

the Conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus as painted by Michelangelo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Conversion of Paul the Apostle, was, according to the New Testament, an event that took place in the life of Paul the Apostle which led him to cease persecuting early Christians and to become a follower of Jesus. It is normally dated by researchers to AD 33–36. The phrases Pauline conversionDamascene conversion and Damascus Christophany, and road to Damascus allude to this event.

New Testament description

Within the New Testament, Paul’s conversion experience is discussed in both Paul’s own letters and in the book known by the title Acts of the Apostles. According to both sources, Paul was never a follower of Jesus and did not know Jesus before his crucifixion. Instead, he severely persecuted the early Christians. Although Paul refers to himself as an”Apostle” of Jesus, it is clear that Paul was not one of “The Twelve” apostles.[1 Cor. 9:1-2] Paul’s conversion occurred after Jesus’ crucifixion. The accounts of Paul’s conversion experience describe it as miraculous, supernatural, or otherwise revelatory in nature.

Paul’s life before conversion:

Before his conversion, Paul, then known as Saul, was a “zealous” Pharisee who “intensely persecuted” the followers of Jesus. Some scholars argue that Paul was a member of the “Zealot” party. Says Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians:

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

— Galatians 1:13–14, NIV

Paul also discusses his pre-conversion life in his Epistle to the Philippians, and his participation in the stoning of Stephen is described in Acts 7:57-8:3.

The conversion in Paul’s letters

In his surviving letters, Paul’s own description of his conversion experience is brief. In his First Epistle to the Corinthians,[9:1] [15:3-8] he describes having seen the Risen Christ:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

— 1 Cor. 15:3–8, NIV (emphasis added)

Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians also describes his conversion as a divine revelation, with God’s Son appearing in Paul.

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.

— Galatians 1:11-16, NIV (emphasis added)

The conversion in Acts of the Apostles

Acts of the Apostles discusses Paul’s conversion experience at three different points in the text, in far more detail than in the accounts in Paul’s letters. The book of Acts records that Paul was on his way from Jerusalem for Syrian Damascus to arrest followers of Jesus, with the intention of returning them to Jerusalem as prisoners for questioning and possible execution. The journey is interrupted when Paul sees a blinding light, and communicates directly with a divine voice.

Acts 9

Acts 9 tells the story of Paul’s conversion as a third-person narrative:

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

— Acts 9:3–9, NIV

The account continues with a description of Ananias of Damascus receiving a divine revelation instructing him to visit Saul at the house of Judas on the Street Called Straight and there lay hands on him to restore his sight (the house of Judas is traditionally believed to have been near the west end of the street). Ananias is initially reluctant, having heard about Saul’s persecution, but obeys the divine command:

Ananias Restoring the Sight of St. Paul (c.1631) by Pietro da Cortona.

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

— Acts 9:13–19, NIV

Acts 22

Paul on trial before Agrippa (Acts 26), as pictured by Nikolai Bodarevsky, 1875.

Acts’ second telling of Paul’s conversion occurs in a speech Paul gives when he is arrested in Jerusalem.[Acts 22:6-21] Paul addresses the crowd and tells them of his conversion, with a description essentially the same as that in Acts 9, but with slight differences. For example, Acts 9:7 notes that Paul’s companions did not see who he was speaking to, while Acts 22:9 indicates that they did share in seeing the light (see also Differences between the accounts, below). This speech was most likely originally in Aramaic, with the passage here being a Greek translation and summary. The speech is clearly tailored for its Jewish audience, with stress being placed in Acts 22:12 on Ananias’ good reputation among Jews in Damascus, rather than on his Christianity.

Acts 26

Acts’ third discussion of Paul’s conversion occurs when Paul addresses King Agrippa, defending himself against the accusations of antinomianism that have been made against him.[Acts 26:12-18] This account is more brief than the others. The speech here is again tailored for its audience, emphasizing what a Roman ruler would understand: the need to obey a heavenly vision,[Acts 26:19] and reassuring Agrippa that Christians were not a secret society. [Acts 26:26]

Theological implications

The Conversion of Saint Paul, a 1600 painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio.

The Conversion of Paul, in spite of his attempts to completely eradicate Christianity, is seen as evidence of the power of Divine Grace, with “no fall so deep that grace cannot descend to it” and “no height so lofty that grace cannot lift the sinner to it.”It also demonstrates “God’s power to use everything, even the hostile persecutor, to achieve the divine purpose.”

The transforming effect of Paul’s conversion influenced the clear antithesis he saw “between righteousness based on the law,”which he had sought in his former life; and “righteousness based on the death of Christ,” which he describes, for example, in the Epistle to the Galatians.

Nature of the conversion experience

The Bible says that Paul’s conversion experience was an encounter with the resurrected Christ. Alternative explanations have been proposed, including sun stroke and seizure. In 1987, D. Landsborough published an article in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, in which he stated that Paul’s conversion experience, with the bright light, loss of normal bodily posture, a message of strong religious content, and his subsequent blindness, suggested “an attack of [temporal lobe epilepsy], perhaps ending in a convulsion … The blindness which followed may have been post-ictal.”

This conclusion was challenged in the same journal by James R. Brorson and Kathleen Brewer, who stated that this hypothesis failed to explain why Paul’s companions heard a voice (Acts 9:7), saw a light,[Acts 22:9] or fell to the ground.[Acts 26:14] Furthermore, no lack of awareness of blindness (a characteristic of cortical blindness) was reported in Acts, nor is there any indication of memory loss. Additionally, Paul’s blindness remitted in sudden fashion, rather than the gradual resolution typical of post-ictal states, and no mention is made of epileptic convulsions; indeed such convulsions may, in Paul’s time, have been interpreted as a sign of demonic influence, unlikely in someone accepted as a religious leader.

 

Differences between the accounts

An apparent contradiction in the details of the account of Paul’s revelatory vision given in Acts has been the subject of much debate. Specifically, the experience of Paul’s traveling companions as told in Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 has raised questions about the historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles, and generated debate about the best translations of the relevant passages. The two passages each describe the experience of Paul’s traveling companions during the revelation, with Acts 9:7 (the author’s description of the event) stating that Paul’s traveling companions heard the voice that spoke to him; and Acts 22:9 (the author’s quotation of Paul’s own words) traditionally stating they did not.

Biblical translations of Acts 9:7 generally state that Paul’s companions did, indeed, hear the voice (or sound) that spoke to him:

And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

—Acts 9:7, King James Version (KJV)

The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one.

—Acts 9:7, New American Bible (NAB)

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

—Acts 9:7, New International Version (NIV)

By contrast, Catholic translations and older Protestant translations preserve the apparent contradiction in Acts 22:9, while many modern Protestant translations such as the New International Version (NIV) do not:

And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

—Acts 22:9, King James Version (KJV)

My companions saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.

—Acts 22:9, New American Bible (NAB)

My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

—Acts 22:9, New International Version (NIV)

“Hear” or “Understand”?

Critics of the NIV, New Living Translation, and similar versions contend that the translation used for Acts 22:9 is inaccurate. The verb used here — akouō (ἀκούω) — can be translated both “hear” and “understand” (both the KJV and NIV translate akouō as “understand” in 1 Cor. 14:2, for example). It often takes a noun in the genitive case for a person is being heard, with a noun in the accusative for the thing being heard. More classically, the use of the accusative indicates hearing with understanding. There is indeed a case difference here, with Acts 9:7 using the genitive tēs phōnēs (τῆς φωνῆς), and Acts 22:9 using the accusative tēn phōnēn (τὴν φωνὴν). However, there has been debate about which rule Luke was following here. On the second interpretation, Paul’s companions may indeed have heard the voice (as is unambiguously stated in Acts 9:7), yet not understood it, although New Testament scholar Daniel B. Wallace finds this argument based on case inconclusive.

“Voice” or “Sound”?

A similar debate arises with the NIV’s use of the word “sound” instead of “voice” in Acts 9:7. The noun used here — phōnē (φωνῆ) — can mean either. By translating 9:7 as “they heard the sound” instead of “they heard the voice,” the NIV allows for Paul’s companions to have heard an audible sound in Acts 9:7 without contradicting the statement in Acts 22:9 that they did not hear a comprehensible voice .

The New American Standard Bible, New Century Version, and English Standard Version maintain the “hear”/”understand” distinction while using “voice” in both passages. On the other hand, the Holman Christian Standard Bible has “sound”/”voice” with “hear” in both passages, and The Message adopts a similar translation, but with “sound”/”conversation.” The French La Bible du Semeur distinguishes between entendaient (“heard”) and compris (“understood”).

Although it is possible that there is a contradiction in these two passages unnoticed by their author, Richard Longenecker suggests that first-century readers probably understood the two passages to mean that everybody heard the sound of the voice, but “only Paul understood the articulated words.” Similar comments have been made by other scholars.

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The Great Commission

English: Resurrection of Christ

Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Great Commission of Christianity is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian  Theology emphasizing ministry, missionary work, evangelism, and baptism. The Apostles are said to have dispersed from Jerusalem and founded the Apostolic Sees. Among Christian eschatological views, Preterists believe that the Great Commission and other Bible prophecy was fulfilled in the first century while Futurists believe Bible prophecy will be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ.

The most famous version of the Great Commission is in Matthew 28:16–20, where on a mountain in Galilee Jesus calls on his followers to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Only Matthew records an earlier lesser commission, only for the Twelve Apostles, in 10:1–42, and directed only to the children of Israel, undertaken during Jesus’ mortal life, which is similar but different from the episode of the Commissioning the Twelve Apostles found in the other Synoptic Gospels. In Luke, Jesus says that all people will be called to repentance and tells his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they become invested with power, which presumably happened at Pentecost in the Book of Acts. Luke also has Jesus dispatching disciples during his ministry, sending them to all the nations and giving them power over demons, including the Seventy disciples. In John, Jesus promises to bestow the Paraclete (helper) on the disciples, which perhaps is what happens in John 20:21–23. The Great Commission in the traditional ending of Mark is thought to be a second-century summary based on Matthew and Luke.

It is unknown who coined the term “The Great Commission”. Scholars such as Eduard Riggenbach (in “Der Trinitarische Taufbefehl’) and J.H. Oldham et al (in “The Missionary Motive”) assert that even the very concept did not exist until after the year 1650, and that Matthew 28:18–20 was traditionally interpreted instead as having been addressed only to Jesus’s disciples then living (believed to be up to 500), and as having been carried out by them and fulfilled, not as a continuing obligation upon subsequent generations. The issues of Biblical law in Christianity and the Law of Christ and whether or not they include the Great Commission are still hotly debated.

The most familiar version of the Great Commission is depicted in Matthew 28:16–20:

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Other versions of the Great Commission are found in Mark 16:14–18Luke 24:44–49Acts 1:4–8, and John 20:19–23. In Luke, Jesus tells the disciples to preach repentance and forgiveness, and promises that they will have divine power. In John, Jesus says the disciples will have the Holy Spirit and the authority to forgive sins and to withhold forgiveness. In Acts, Jesus promises the disciples that the Holy Spirit will inspire them.

All these passages are composed as words of Christ spoken after his resurrection. According to some critics, in Mark Jesus never speaks with his disciples after his resurrection. They argue that the original Gospel of Mark ends at verse Mark 16:8 with the women leaving the tomb (see Mark 16).

The call to go into the world in Matthew 28 is prefaced a mere four chapters earlier when Jesus states that the Gospel message will be heard by representatives of all nations, at which time the end will come. This is accented in Revelation when the Apostle John sees members of every tongue and nation gathered around the throne of God.

The commission from Jesus has been interpreted by evangelical Christians as meaning that his followers have the duty to go, teach, and baptize. Although the command was initially given directly only to Christ’s Eleven Apostles, evangelical Christian theology has typically interpreted the commission as a directive to all Christians of every time and place, particularly because it seems to be a restatement or moving forward of the last part of God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:3.

Commentators often contrast the Great Commission with the earlier Limited Commission of Matthew 10:5–42, in which they were to restrict their mission to their fellow Jews, to whom Jesus referred to as “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24).

Some (see also Preterism) believe that the Great Commission was already fulfilled based on the statements “And they went out and preached everywhere,” (Mark 16:20), “the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven,” (Colossians 1:23), and “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations,” (Romans 16:25–26).

 

Little Commission

English: Papyrus 110 recto Nederlands: Papyrus...

Papyrus 110 recto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew 10 is the tenth chapter in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament section of the Christian Bible. Matthew 10 comes after Jesus had called some of his disciples and before the meeting with the disciples of John the Baptist. This section is also known as the Mission Discourse or the Little Commission in contrast to the Great Commission. The Little Commission is specifically to the Israelites while the Great Commission is to all nationalities.

Matthew 10 consists almost entirely of Jesus’s sayings. In this chapter, Jesus sends out the Twelve Apostles to heal and preach throughout the region and gives them careful instruction. Many of the sayings found in Matthew 10 are also found in Luke 10 and the Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Thomas is not found in the accepted New Testament canon.

Verses 2-4 of the chapter list the names of Jesus’s Apostles.

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. (King James Version)

 

 

Did Jesus Go to Hell?

Harrowing of Hell Medium Res

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
The third day he arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
from there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

(taken from The Apostles’ Creed)

The eighth line of the Apostles’ Creed reads, “He descended into hell.” While man-made creeds do not carry the authority of Scripture, they are generally meant as accurate representations of the teaching found in God’s inerrant Word. This presents us an interesting question then: how accurate is the Apostles’ Creed in its presentation of this point?

There are a number of passages from which the teaching arises, but primarily, theologues will use verses from Matthew 12:38-41Romans 10:7, and Ephesians 4:7-10to demonstrate Christ‘s descent to hell. In Matthew 12:40, Jesus compares himself to Jonah proclaiming, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” And clearly, when Christ died, he gave up his spirit (John 19:30). But to where did his spirit go?

In the end, it comes down to understanding what Scripture means when it speaks of Christ descending into the lower parts of the earth (or the heart of the earth). His soul spent three days and three nights in that abode. Almost unanimously, this deep part of the earth is interpreted as signifying the netherworld (i.e., that place wherein the spirits of the dead make their abode) — hell didn’t begin to take on its modern meaning conoting that particular location wherein the damned are punished eternally until quite recently. There are a number of directions Christians depart at this point — and that is what is the activity in which Christ was engaged these three days.

There are three notable perspectives:

  1. Christ spent his three days suffering the wrath of God.
  2. Christ spent his three days proclaiming his victory over the Satanic kingdom.
  3. Christ spent his three days preaching the Gospel to the Old Testament believers who dwelt in a separated portion of the netherworld.

The first position benefits from the comparison between Jonah and Christ. It is not difficult to see that just as Jonah spent his time in suffering in the deep (or the grave), so too might not have Christ suffered in the land of the dead? Peter claims in Acts 2:24 that Christ, by his resurrection, was loosed from the pangs of death, “because it was not possible for him to be held or conquered by them” — meaning that until he arose, Christ laboured under the throes of death. He suffered then, in this case, that we, his sheep, might be spared such.

The second perspective presents a more cheery picture — Christ descending into the depths of hell to proclaim his Gospel victory. Satan defeated. Death defeated. And the Lord of life victorious and boasting in triumph! A beautiful picture. Unfortunately, there seems little evidence from Scripture that this occurred during the three days and three nights, and it presumes that Satan and his fallen angels make their abode in “the heart of the earth” — something else not really stated in Scripture.

The third and final position that we will here look at arrives from a difficulty in interpreting1 Peter 3:18-20. Christ, it is supposed, entered into the depths to proclaim the Gospel to Old Covenant believers. The biggest question burdening such an interpretation is one of motivation: why did Christ specially go to preach to those who already believed? All of the Old Testament saints had already received the Gospel by grace through faith. It was accounted them as righteousness. So then, why? While Christ may indeed have preached the Gospel so, it certainly doesn’t seem necessary.

In the end, true saints believe along a number of different interpretive lines at this point. The Christian’s solemn and joyous duty then is to allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves. But as this is not a matter of division, every Christian should allow his brother some breadth in his interpretation, always maintaining godly fellowship borne in love and charity.

Study Resources :: Did Jesus Go to Hell?. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/apostles_creed.cfm

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The Holy Seventh Day of God Covenant:

The Rainbow set as the symbol of the Covenant ...

The Covenants of God

The Christian religious organizations of the world mainly preach that there is the Old and New Covenant, but the Bible talks about several other covenants that God made with man. These agreements help us to understand the dealings God was having with man and the results that would occur. (present or future) A covenant is a binding agreement that is made by two or more persons or parties. God’s covenants were simple and direct.

The Holy Seventh Day of God Covenant: The seventh day of the week was made Holy at the recreation or rebirth of our world. This day was made for man, not man for this day. This agreement was for all humans, and its blessings were to be a benefit for everyone. God reintroduced the Holy Seventh Day to Israel through Moses. Exodus 31:16 states: “Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath (Holy Seventh Day), to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant”. God also introduced additional Holy Days (Sabbaths) throughout the year, which correlated with His festivals.

(Leviticus 23) These Sabbaths (Holy Days) gives us the opportunity to draw closer to God and to understand His plan of salvation, not only for us, but for all of mankind.
” If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My Holy Day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the Holy Day of God honorable, and shall honor God, by not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in God. And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of God has spoken”. (Isaiah 58:13-14)
” For the Son of Man (Jesus the Anointed) is Lord even of the Sabbath”(Matthew 12:8)

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The Three Days and the Three Nights

The Resurrection of Christ (Kinnaird Resurrection)

After the Crucifixion :: The Three Days and the Three Nights

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)

If Matthew 12:40 literally means three days and three nights then the crucifixion cannot be on Friday. Some say rather than a literal three days it is an old idiom referring to the two days prior to the day being spoken of. We have found nothing to substantiate this view. The Friday crucifixion is the most widely held view due to the traditional celebration of Easter. Did the crucifixion actually take place on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday?

In order to make the most informed estimate, we need to examine the Sabbath. The original Hebrew word “Shabbath” is defined as: an intermission, the day of rest, the holy seventh day; a week (Leviticus 23:15 [cf. Deuteronomy 16:9Matthew 28:1]), the sacred seventh year, a sabbatical year.

Leviticus 23:1-4 lets us know about the “weekly sabbath,” that day set aside each week to honor the Lord. Verse three defines how a sabbath is to be observed, i.e., “…but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.”

However, these are NOT the only sabbaths. Besides the weekly sabbaths there are the High Sabbaths related to the Hebrew Feasts (or Festivals), described in Leviticus 23:4-44.

These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work. (Leviticus 23:4-8)

For example, the verses above speak of two feasts, Passover and Unleavened Bread. Passover starts on the 14th day of Nisan (Hebrew month) and lasts one day. The Feast of Unleavened Bread starts the next day (i.e., the 15th of Nisan) and lasts for seven days.

Please note, the Passover is not a High Sabbath day, this important fact is often overlooked. You can tell because the usual command for a sabbath of “an holy convocation and no servile work is to be done,” is not given for Passover. So while Passover is a feast day, it is not a sabbath day. “Why is that important?” you ask. It was on this day Jesus did the work of redemption. Servile work would have been unlawful on a Sabbath day, so God ordained for this day to be a festival, remembering the lamb’s blood that caused the angel to “Passover” the Israelites in Egypt and pointing to the Lamb who would shed His blood for all mankind.

One other important feast day is not a High Sabbath day, the Feast of First Fruits. Interestingly enough, this is the day of Jesus’ resurrection.

The Lord set forth two sabbath days each for the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of TabernaclesLeviticus 23:7-8 tells us that both the first and seventh (last) day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is an holy convocation and to do no servile work therein. Leviticus 23:35-36 states the same for the Feast of Tabernacles. As you go through the remaining feasts you will see the same instruction.

Next we need to examine what Jesus said regarding His death.

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40 NKJV)

(Just a side note: for those who say the story of Jonah is untrue and just a legend—it appears that Jesus doesn’t agree with them!)

Jesus said three days and three nights. There is absolutely no way to get three daysand three nights from Friday to Sunday. The chart below shows this, remember a Jewish day starts at sunset rather than midnight.

Day 1 = Friday before Sunset
night 1 = Friday sunset – Saturday sunrise
Day 2 = Saturday sunrise – Saturday sunset
Night 2 = Saturday sunset – Sunday sunrise
Day 3 = Sunday sunrise – resurrection

Assuming Jesus rose from the dead AFTER sunrise on Sunday, which is not stated as such in the Scriptures (the Scriptures merely state that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb right after sunrise), there still are only two nights. There is no way to get three nights in this scenario. To dogmatically choose this position of crucifixion on Friday and Resurrection on Sunday is to choose a position contrary to Jesus’ own prophecy.

Another Scripture to consider is John 12:1, “Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany…”. Jesus was travelling from Jericho. If the crucifixion took place on Friday (which had to also be Passover), then this journey took place on the sabbath. Travelling that distance on the sabbath was legally out of the question for a devout Jew.

What if the crucifixion took place on Thursday? This would certainly add the additional night we need to fulfill Jesus’ prophecy, but it raises a problem with the days because you have to count partial days for either the crucifixion or resurrection, but not for both. The partial days problem can be argued successfully but not conclusively because, as stated earlier, all we are told about the resurrection is that Jesus arose on the day after the weekly sabbath. This could be anytime from Saturday just after sunset to the point where Mary Magdalene saw Him, after sunrise.

Proponents of a Thursday crucifixion might argue counting a partial day for Thursday (the crucifixion), a day for Friday, a day for Saturday (day) and that Jesus arose just after sunset at the beginning of the fourth day which would not be counted. In addition, there would be three full nights in between as well. So Thursday can be argued from the Scriptures.

It is possible to argue for a Wednesday crucifixion if you don’t count partial days (i.e. knowing that Jesus died at 3:00 p.m., you don’t count the three hours of Wednesday as a full 12 hour day). The scenario would be as follows:

Day 0 = Wednesday 3:00pm – sunset
Night 1 = Wednesday sunset – Thursday sunrise
Day 1 = Thursday sunrise – Thursday sunset
Night 2 = Thursday sunset – Friday sunrise
Day 2 = Friday sunrise – Friday sunset
Night 3 = Friday sunset – Saturday sunrise
Day 3 = Saturday sunrise – Saturday sunset

In this view, Jesus is resurrected sometime between sunset on Saturday and sunrise on Sunday, which would be a partial night and therefore not counted.

Now why did the early church decide it was Friday? Read the following verse:

Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. (Mark 15:42-43 NKJV)

They assumed since it was the day before the sabbath, it meant Friday. Here is where our background on the sabbath sheds some light. We know that since the crucifixion was on the Passover, it was automatically the day before a sabbath, no matter what day it was on, because the High Sabbath day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the next day. Again, no matter what day Passover was on, the next day was automatically a sabbath.

Holding to a Friday crucifixion really is at odds with Scripture. Scripture does say that it was the Feast of First Fruits when He arose, so we know that the resurrection was Sunday (i.e., sunset Saturday — Sunday sunrise). Therefore, using Jesus’ own words we conclude it was a Wednesday or Thursday crucifixion

If we factor in two more important points there is a stronger case for a Thursday crucifixion:

1. When the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Bible (66 books, written by 40 authors over 2000 years), He wove various clues into the text in order for us to verify the authenticity of the Bible. As we see prophecy come to pass we gain more respect for the Word because only the God who knows the end from the beginning could predict with 100% accuracy. God’s plan for redemption is the message of the Scriptures, it is the gospel, or “good news.” There are proclamations or subtle clues on literally every page.

The Feasts were not only historic (i.e., to be celebrated once they left Egypt and settled into the Promised Land of Israel), but also prophetic, pointing to the Savior (read Hebrews 8:1-10:39). It is no coincidence that Jesus was crucified on Passover, the same day God saved the Hebrews from the death in Egypt by placing blood of a lamb on the door posts and door jambs (making a cross). It is no coincidence that Jesus arose from the dead on the feast of First Fruits. It is no coincidence that the Church was officially given the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel on the Feast of Pentecost.

There are many other accounts in the Scripture that point specifically to Christ’s redemption of mankind. Let’s go back to Genesis and visit Noah. It is generally held that the ark is a “type” of Jesus. The ark saved Noah and his family from the wrath of God’s judgment upon the evil world. Jesus offers salvation to all those who trust in Him, sparing them from judgment for their sins.

The ark rested, or finished the work of saving Noah’s family on a significant day.

Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. (Genesis 8:4 NKJV)

God instituted a calendar change explained in Exodus, and the seventh month became the first month. It turns out that the same day the ark rested is the 17th day of Nisan, which just happens to be three days and three nights after the 14th of Nisan (the future Passover feast). So that would mean that in prophetic illustration, God caused the ark to rest from the flood (His wrath on an evil world) on the same day that Jesus would rise from the dead to save mankind from the future wrath upon a Christ–rejecting world. Coincidence? Highly unlikely.

Note that for this to be a true prophetic model, the only day of the week that works for a Sunday resurrection on the 17th of Nisan, is a Thursday crucifixion on the 14th day of Nisan.

2. The last argument for a Thursday crucifixion comes from the actions of Mary Magdalene. Why did Mary wait until Sunday to go to the tomb with the ministering oils and herbs? If the crucifixion took place on Wednesday, then Thursday would have been the High Sabbath, making it impossible for her to go to the tomb on that day, but Friday would have been a normal day, with no restrictions. If on the other hand Thursday was the day of the crucifixion, then Friday would have been the high sabbath, and Saturday would have been the weekly sabbath (making it impossible for her to go on Friday or Saturday), leaving Sunday as the first “legal” day she could have made the trip.

With all of that said, it must be noted that the day of the week is not something we know from Scripture. If God wanted us to know whether it was Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, it would have been clearly stated.

What we do know is that it occurred on Passover as a model of the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb, and that He rose again on the Feast of First Fruits, since He is the First Fruit of the resurrection. It is fine to hold a personal view, but unwise to become dogmatic about it. We should celebrate the cross and the resurrection every day of our earthly visit.

Study Resources :: After the Crucifixion. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/crux.cfm

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The Authors of Scripture – New Testament

King James Bible

Who were the authors of the Bible and when did they write? The identity of a book’s author can sometimes give great insight into its meaning and intent. Some of the books of the Bible have easily identifiable authors while others remain a mystery to this very day. The list below provides a key to probable Biblical authorship.

New Testament Authors

  • Narratives:
    • The gospel according to Matthew was written by Matthew the tax collector.
    • The gospel according to Mark was written by John-Mark.
    • The gospel according to Luke was written by Luke the Physician.
    • The gospel according to John was written by John the disciple that Jesus loved.
    • The Acts of the Apostles was written by Luke the Physician.
  • Epistles (or letters):
    • The Pauline Epistles are those written by Paul (Saul) of Tarsus:
      Romans
      1 Corinthians
      2 Corinthians
      Galatians
      Ephesians
      Philippians
      Colossians
      1 Thessalonians
      2 Thessalonians
      1 Timothy
      2 Timothy
      Titus
      Philemon
    • The Peterine Epistles are those written by Peter of the Twelve:
      1 Peter
      2 Peter
    • The Johanine Epistles are those written by John, the disciple that Jesus loved:
      1 John
      2 John
      3 John
    • And though sharing in three literary traditions — apocalyptic, prophetic, and epistolary — listing John’s Apocalypse (also called Revelation) as an epistle will suit our purposes here. This was written by the same John as above.
    • The book of James was written most likely by James the brother of Jesus.
    • The book of Jude was written by Jude the brother of James.
    • The epistle of Hebrews is written anonymously. Some people ascribe it to the Apostle Paul while others prefer Apollos. Most scholars lean toward someone other than Paul (simply because the grammar and use of certain key Pauline terms is markedly different from the whole body of his identified epistolary work). In the end, God didn’t see the book’s authorship as important to us (if He had, He would have identified the man He used in writing Hebrews), so any guess as to the identity of the author is mere speculation and should have no bearing upon our interpretation of the passages found within.

Study Resources ::. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/authors.cfm

 

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