Tag Archives: Greek

Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus

Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, Our knowledge of the original text of the Bible comes from ancient hand-written manuscripts. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek, except for Matthew we now know was written in Hebrew. No one has the original articles, but thousands of ancient copies have been discovered. Since these copies are hand-written, there are variations in spelling, word order, and sentence structure among them. Even though those variations do cause some confusion about the biblical text, most of the manuscript readings are in agreement. Out of about 500 pages in the Greek New Testament, the manuscript variations represent only about half of a page.

The majority of ancient manuscripts contain only small portions of the biblical text, like a book or a portion of a book. Among these manuscripts there are papyrus fragments, which are the remains of the most ancient scrolls, and typically represent only a few pages of text. These papyrus fragments have all been discovered during modern archaeological digs. Another group of manuscripts is the Uncials, which use all capital letters and are written on parchment or vellum, which is a smoother writing surface than papyrus, and allows for curved letters. The Uncial manuscripts were written between the 3rd and 8th centuries and were often bound as pages in a book, or codex, rather than a scroll. A few of these ancient codices have survived intact, giving us a solid view of the Bible used by the ancient church.

Two of the oldest complete (or nearly complete) manuscripts are the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. They are both written on parchment, and have a large number of corrections written over the original text.

Codex Sinaiticus, also known as “Aleph” (the Hebrew letter א), was found by Count Tischendorf in 1859 at the Monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai. Portions of the manuscript were found in the monastery dump, and a larger portion was presented to Tischendorf by one of the monks. It is a large codex, with 400 pages (or leaves) comprising about half of the Old Testament in the Septuagint version and the full New Testament. It has been dated to the second half of the 4th century and has been highly valued by Bible scholars in their efforts to reconstruct the original biblical text. Sinaiticus has heavily influenced the translation work of modern Bible versions. Though it is considered by some scholars to represent an original form of the text, it is also recognized as the most heavily corrected early New Testament manuscript.

Codex Vaticanus, also known as “B,” was found in the Vatican library. It is comprised of 759 leaves and has almost all of the Old and New Testaments. It is not known when it arrived at the Vatican, but it was included in a catalog listing in 1475, and it is dated to the middle of the 4th century. Vaticanus was first used as a source document by Erasmus in his work on the “Textus Receptus.” Because he viewed the text of Vaticanus to be erratic, he seldom followed it when it differed from other Greek texts.

There are varying theories on how these ancient texts should be viewed by modern scholars. On one hand, some believe that the most ancient reading should be followed, as it is closest in time to the original. On the other hand, some believe that the majority should rule. Since there are thousands of ancient manuscripts, they believe we should give precedence to the reading that is represented by the most documents. One issue that is sometimes raised against the majority viewpoint is that many of those documents were written very late (9th-15th century). The answer to this is that many of the early papyrus fragments support the majority reading. Additionally, the question has been raised, “If Vaticanus and Sinaiticus represent the original reading of the text, why are there so few manuscripts that follow their lead?” If they were valued by the early church, you would expect to find many copies made from them, covering a wide period of history. What we actually find is a few early manuscripts which agree with them, but then a disappearance of that text type as we progress through history.

There is much to be learned from examining these and other ancient texts, and they should continue to be highly valued by scholars. While there may be differences in opinion as to how they are to be used, one thing is certain even with their textual variations, they show us that God has preserved His Word through the ages. We may debate the particular wording in a few passages, but the fact remains that over 90 percent of the New Testament text is unanimously supported by all the ancient manuscripts. In those passages where the proper reading is disputed, there is no major doctrinal change, and we can rest assured that we have the accurate, revealed words of God passed down to us. Many may argue this point and when they do, I ask them whether God is Almighty and can preserve His word or is He incapable of preserving His word. As for me I Know He is more that capable of preserving His own Word and thus remains the Word of God! Can I get an Amen?

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Alexis Tsipras Spearheads Drive To Open First Mosque In Athens Since The Ottoman Empire In 1833

A century in the making, Athens set for first mosque since Ottoman times

Athens’s half a million Muslims are set to get their first official mosque in more than a century.

The city has not had a formal mosque since it drove out occupying Ottomans in 1833, and Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Amanantidis told parliament last year that it was the only European capital “to be deprived of such a religious space”.

For years Muslims have resorted to praying in hundreds of makeshift sites, in crowded basements or dark warehouses targeted by racist attackers.

In May, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared building a mosque long overdue. The government, he said, would push ahead “out of respect for the Muslim residents in our capital, but also because we are obliged to actively defend our values.”

The new mosque – a 1,000 square meter building without a minaret, split over two levels – is expected to be ready in April in an old naval base in an industrial, rundown part of Athens.

“We need the mosque for our new generation, for our youth … to feel equal in law, equal in society,” said Greece’s Muslim Association spokeswoman Anna Stamou, a Greek who converted to Islam.

Friday prayers in the underground garage where she and her family went were recited in Arabic and Greek. Men knelt down to pray on its humid crimson carpet, ventilation pipes barely above their heads.

Plans to build a mosque began in 1890 with an act of parliament, but all fell through, including one timed for the 2004 Olympics. The latest effort split the ruling coalition and Tsipras’s right-wing partners voted against a bill to speed up construction.

Critics say Athens, kept afloat by international funds since 2010, cannot spare the 800,000 euros to build it.

Golden Dawn, the ultranationalist party third in popularity in polls, says migrants are burdening state resources at a time of crisis. Others still associate mosques with Turkey, its Muslim neighbor and longstanding rival.

For months last year a dozen Greek nationalists occupied the mosque site and set up a homeless center, calling it “a hot spot for Greeks” drawing a contrast with centers on Greek islands for mainly Muslim refugees and migrants arriving from Turkey.

Messages still on the compound’s boarded up gate are stark: “No mosque,” graffiti reads. “Muslims out.”

A poster plastered on a wall depicts a minaret in a circle with a line through it. Muslims “are enemies of Christ, Orthodoxy and our country,” it says. “They should go back from where they came.”

First Mosque Since Ottoman TimesGolden Dawn says it will step up its protests.

“We have done many protests and of course we will do much more,” lawmaker Ilias Panagiotaros said at a rally in January.

Around him, a few hundred supporters raised flaming torches and waved the Greek flag alongside the party’s red-and-black flag featuring its swastika-like emblem.

“With the help of God – I repeat that – this mosque will not have a good end,” he said.

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Intertestamental Period

The time between the last writings of the Old Testament and the appearance of Christ is known as the “intertestamental” (or “between the testaments”) period. Because there was no prophetic word from God during this period, some refer to it as the “400 silent years.” The political, religious, and social atmosphere of Palestine changed significantly during this period. Much of what happened was predicted by the prophet Daniel. (See Daniel chapters 2, 7, 8, and 11 and compare to historical events.)

Israel was under the control of the Persian Empire from about 532-332 B.C. The Persians allowed the Jews to practice their religion with little interference. They were even allowed to rebuild and worship at the temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4). This period included the last 100 years of the Old Testament period and about the first 100 years of the intertestamental period. This time of relative peace and contentment was just the calm before the storm.

Alexander the Great defeated Darius of Persia, bringing Greek rule to the world. Alexander was a student of Aristotle and was well educated in Greek philosophy and politics. He required that Greek culture be promoted in every land that he conquered. As a result, the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek, becoming the translation known as the Septuagint. Most of the New Testament references to Old Testament Scripture use the Septuagint phrasing. Alexander did allow religious freedom for the Jews, though he still strongly promoted Greek lifestyles. This was not a good turn of events for Israel since the Greek culture was very worldly, humanistic, and ungodly.

After Alexander died, Judea was ruled by a series of successors, culminating in Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus did far more than refuse religious freedom to the Jews. Around 167 B.C., he overthrew the rightful line of the priesthood and desecrated the temple, defiling it with unclean animals and a pagan altar (see Mark 13:14). This was the religious equivalent of rape. Eventually, Jewish resistance to Antiochus (Maccabees, The members or followers of the family of the Jewish leader Judas Maccabaeus.
four books of Jewish history and theology, of which the first and second are in the Apocrypha and feature Judas Maccabaeus.) restored the rightful priests and rescued the temple. The period that followed was one of war, violence, and infighting.

Around 63 B.C., Pompey of Rome conquered Palestine, putting all of Judea under control of the Caesars. This eventually led to Herod being made king of Judea by the Roman emperor and senate. This would be the nation that taxed and controlled the Jews, and eventually executed the Messiah on a Roman cross. Roman, Greek, and Hebrew cultures were now mixed together in Judea.

During the span of the Greek and Roman occupations, two important political/religious groups emerged in Palestine. The Pharisees added to the Law of Moses through oral tradition and eventually considered their own laws more important than God’s (see Mark 7:1-23). While Christ’s teachings often agreed with the Pharisees, He railed against their hollow legalism and lack of compassion. The Sadducees represented the aristocrats and the wealthy. The Sadducees, who wielded power through the Sanhedrin, rejected all but the Mosaic books of the Old Testament. They refused to believe in resurrection and were generally shadows of the Greeks, whom they greatly admired.

Romans 15:13This rush of events that set the stage for Christ had a profound impact on the Jewish people. Both Jews and pagans from other nations were becoming dissatisfied with religion. The pagans were beginning to question the validity of polytheism. Romans and Greeks were drawn from their mythologies towards Hebrew Scriptures, now easily readable in Greek or Latin. The Jews, however, were despondent. Once again, they were conquered, oppressed, and polluted. Hope was running low; faith was even lower. They were convinced that now the only thing that could save them and their faith was the appearance of the Messiah.

The New Testament tells the story of how hope came, not only for the Jews, but for the entire world. Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy was anticipated and recognized by many who sought Him out. The stories of the Roman centurion, the wise men, and the Pharisee Nicodemus show how Jesus was recognized as the Messiah by those who lived in His day. The “400 years of silence” were broken by “the greatest story ever told” the gospel of Jesus Christ!

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Who were the 12 disciples?

The 12 disciples/apostles of Jesus were the foundation stones of His church, several even wrote portions of the Bible. In Revelation 21:14 we are told that the twelve foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem will have in them the names of the twelve disciples/apostles. It is evident, therefore, that God attaches great importance to these 12 men.

  1. Andrew
  2. Bartholomew or Nathanael
  3. James, the Elder
  4. James, the Lesser or Younger
  5. John
  6. Judas
  7. Jude or Thaddeus
  8. Matthew or Levi
  9. Peter or Simon Peter
  10. Philip
  11. Simon the Zealot
  12. Thomas

As we study these courageous first-century lives, and what discipleship meant in the time of Jesus, we may expect to be aided in developing a Spirit-directed twenty-first century discipleship as Christ must have meant it to be.

The following biographical information about the 12 original disciples of Jesus uses the New Testament accounts along with the most respected legends and traditions. We do not mean to infer, that legend and tradition constitute historical fact. We do feel, however, that they do have value in the study of the lives of these men who “…turned the world upside down…”

Who replaced Judas Iscariot?

Matthias was selected to replace Judas as recorded in Acts 1:15-26. The other man who was also in consideration was named Joseph or Barsabas, and surnamed Justus. Lots were cast and eventually Matthias was chosen. Acts 1:24-26 records the following, “And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” The Bible is sparse on additional details relating to Matthias, but it does say that Matthias was with Jesus since His baptism until his resurrection. Besides the book of Acts, Matthias isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. According to historical sources Matthias lived til 80 A.D. and spread the gospel on the shores of the Caspian and Cappadocia.

Andrew

Andrew was the brother of Peter, and a son of Jonas. He lived in Bethsaida and Capernaum and was a fisherman before Jesus called him. Originally he was a disciple of John the Baptist (Mark 1:16-18). Andrew brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus (John 1:40). He is the first to have the title of Home and Foreign Missionary. He is claimed by three countries as their Patron Saint-Russia, Scotland and Greece. Many scholars say that he preached in Scythia, Greece and Asia Minor.

Andrew introduced others to Jesus. Although circumstances placed him in a position where it would have been easy for him to become jealous and resentful, he was optimistic and well content in second place. His main purpose in life was to bring others to the master.

According to tradition, it was in Achaia, Greece, in the town of Patra that Andrew died a martyr. When Governor Aepeas’ wife was healed and converted to the Christian faith, and shortly after that the Governor’s brother became a Christian. Aepeas was enraged. He arrested Andrew and condemned him to die on the cross. Andrew, feeling unworthy to be crucified on the same-shaped cross as his Master, begged that his be different. So, he was crucified on an X-shaped cross, which is still called Saint Andrew’s cross and which is one of his apostolic symbols. A symbol of two crossed fish has also been applied to Andrew, because he was formerly a fisherman.

Bartholomew or Nathanael

Bartholomew Nathanael, son of Talmai, lived in Cana of Galilee. His apostolic symbol is three parallel knives. Tradition says he was a missionary in Armenia. A number of scholars believe that he was the only one of the 12 disciples who came from royal blood, or noble birth. His name means Son of Tolmai or Talmai (2 Samuel 3:3). Talmai was king of Geshur whose daughter, Maacah, was the wife of David, mother of Absolom.

Bartholomew’s name appears with every list of the disciples (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13). This was not a first name, however; it was his second name. His first name probably was Nathanael, whom Jesus called “An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile” (John 1:47).

The New Testament gives us very little information about him. Tradition indicates he was a great searcher of the Scripture and a scholar in the law and the prophets. He developed into a man of complete surrender to the Carpenter of Nazareth, and one of the Church’s most adventurous missionaries. He is said to have preached with Philip in Phrygia and Hierapolis; also in Armenia. The Armenian Church claims him as its founder and martyr. However, tradition says that he preached in India, and his death seems to have taken place there. He died as a martyr for his Lord. He was flayed alive with knives.

James the Elder

James, the Elder, Boanerges, son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of John the Apostle; a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida, Capernaum and Jerusalem. He preached in Jerusalem and Judea and was beheaded by Herod, AD 44 (Acts 12:1,2). He was a member of the Inner Circle, so called because they were accorded special privileges. The New Testament tells us very little about James. His name never appears apart from that of his brother, John. They were an inseparable pair (Mark 1:19-20; Matthew 4:21; Luke 5:1-11).

He was a man of courage and forgiveness, a man without jealousy, living in the shadow of John, a man of extraordinary faith. He was the first of the twelve to become a martyr. His symbol is three shells, the sign of his pilgrimage by the sea.

James the Lesser or the Younger

James, the Lesser or Younger, son of Alpheus, or Cleophas and Mary, lived in Galilee. He was the brother of the Apostle Jude.

According to tradition he wrote the Epistle of James, preached in Palestine and Egypt and was crucified in Egypt. James was one of the little-known disciples. Some scholars believe he was the brother of Matthew, the tax collector. James was a man of strong character and one of the most fiery type. Tradition tells us that he also died as a martyr and his body was sawed in pieces. The saw became his apostolic symbol.

John

John Boanerges, son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of James, the Apostle. he was known as the Beloved Disciple. A fisherman who lived in Bethsaida, Capernaum and Jerusalem, he was a member of the Inner Circle. He wrote the Gospel of John, I John, II John, III John and Revelation. He preached among the churches of Asia Minor. Banished to the isle of Patmos, he was later freed and died a natural death. John was one of the prominent Apostles. He is mentioned in many places in the New Testament. He was a man of action; he was very ambitious; and a man with an explosive temper and an intolerant heart. His second name was Boanerges, which means son of Thunder. He and his brother, James, came from a more well-to-do family than the rest of the 12 Apostles. Since his father had hired servants in his fishing business (Mark 1:20) he may have felt himself above the rest. He was close to Peter. They were acting together in the ministry. Peter, however, was always the spokesman for the band.

John mellowed with time. At the latter part of his life, he had forgotten everything, including his ambition and explosive temper, except his Lord’s command of love.

It is said that an attempt was made on his life by giving him a chalice of poison from which God spared him. He died of natural causes. A chalice with a snake in it is his symbol.

Judas

Judas Iscariot, the traitor, was the son of Simon who lived in Kerioth of Judah. He betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and afterwards hanged himself (Matthew 26:14,16).

Judas, the man who became the traitor, is the supreme enigma of the New Testament because it is so hard to see how anyone who was so close to Jesus, who saw so many miracles and heard so much of the Master’s teaching could ever betray him into the hands of his enemies.

His name appears in three lists of the 12 Apostles (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:19; Luke 6:19). It is said that Judas came from Judah near Jericho. He was a Judean and the rest of the disciples were Galileans. He was the treasurer of the band and among the outspoken leaders.

It is said that Judas was a violent Jewish Nationalist who had followed Jesus in hope that through Him his nationalistic flame and dreams might be realized. No one can deny that Judas was a covetous man and at times he used his position as treasurer of the band to pilfer from the common purse. There is no certain reason as to why Judas betrayed his master; but it is not his betrayal that put Jesus on the cross, it was our sins. His apostolic symbol is a hangman’s noose, or a money purse with pieces of silver falling from it.

Jude or Thaddeus

Jude, Thaddeus, or Lebbeus, son of Alpheus or Cleophas and Mary. He was a brother of James the Younger. He was one of the very little-known Apostles and lived in Galilee. Tradition says he preached in Assyria and Persia and died a martyr in Persia.

Jerome called Jude “Trinomious” which means “a man with three names.” In Mark 3:18 he is called Thaddeus. In Matthew 10:3 he is called Lebbeus. His surname was Thaddeus. In Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 he is called Judas the brother of James. Judas Thaddeus also was called Judas the Zealot.

By character he was an intense and violent Nationalist with the dream of world power and domination by the Chosen People. In the New Testament records (John 14:22 NIV) he asked Jesus at the Last Supper, “But Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Judas Thaddeus was interested in making Christ known to the world. Not as a suffering Saviour, however, but as ruling King. We can see plainly from the answer Jesus gave him, that the way of power can never be substituted for the way of love.

It is said that Jude went to preach the gospel in Edessa near the Euphrates River. There he healed many and many believed in the name of the Master. Jude went from there to preach the Gospel in other places. He was killed with arrows at Ararat. The chosen symbol for him is the ship because he was a missionary thought to be a fisherman.

Matthew or Levi

Matthew, or Levi, son of Alpheus, lived in Capernaum. He was a publican or tax collector. He wrote the Gospel that bears his name. He died a martyr in Ethiopia.

The call of Matthew to the apostolic band is mentioned in Mark 2:14, Matthew 9:9; and Luke 5:27-28. From these passages, we learn that Matthew also was called Levi. It was a common custom in the Middle East at the time of Christ for men to have two names. Matthew’s names mean “a gift of God.” The name Levi could have been given to him by Jesus. It is likely that James the lesser, who was one of the twelve Apostles, was Matthew’s brother, also the son of Alpheus. Although we know little about Matthew personally, the outstanding fact about him is that he was a tax collector. The King James Version calls him a publican, which in Latin is Publicanus, meaning engaged in public service, a man who handled public money, or a tax gatherer.

Of all the nations in the world, the Jews were the most vigorous haters of tax gatherers. To the devout Jew, God was the only one to whom it was right to pay tribute in taxes. To pay it to anyone else was to infringe on the rights of God. The tax collectors were hated not on religious grounds only but because most of them were notoriously unjust.

In the minds of many honest, Jewish men, these tax collectors were regarded as criminals. In New Testament times they were classified with harlots, Gentiles and sinners (Matthew 18:17; Matthew 21:31, 33; Matthew 9;10; Mark 2:15,16; Luke 5:30). Tax collectors had been known to assess duty payable at impossible sums and then offer to lend the money to travelers at a high rate of interest. Such was Matthew. Yet, Jesus chose a man all men hated and made him one of His men. It took Jesus Christ to see the potential in the tax collector of Capernaum.

Matthew was unlike the other 12 Apostles, who were all fishermen. He could use a pen, and by his pen he became the first man to present to the world, in the Hebrew language, an account of the teaching of Jesus. It is clearly impossible to estimate the debt that Christianity owes to this despised tax gatherer. The average man would have thought it impossible to reform Matthew, but to God all things are possible. Matthew became the first man to write down the teachings of Jesus. He was a missionary of the Gospel, who laid down his life for the faith of his Master. The apostolic symbol of Matthew is three money bags which reminds us that he was a tax collector before Jesus called him.

I Have A Plan for You...Do You Trust MePeter

Simon Peter, son of Jonas, was a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida and Capernaum. He did evangelistic and missionary work among the Jews, going as far as Babylon. He was a member of the Inner Circle and authored the two New Testament epistles which bear his name. Tradition says he was crucified, head downward, in Rome.

In every apostolic list, the name Peter is mentioned first. However, Peter had other names. At the time of Christ, the common language was Greek and the family language was Hebrew. So his Greek name was Simon (Mark 1:16; John 1:40, 41). His Hebrew name was Cephas (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5 and Galatians 2:9). The Greek meaning of Simon is rock. The Arabic meaning of Cephas is also rock.

By trade, Peter was a fisherman. He was a married man (1Corinthians 9:5) and his home was Capernaum. Jesus probably made His headquarters there when He visited Capernaum. Peter was also a Galilean as was typical of many of the other disciples. Josephus described the Galileans this way, “They were ever fond of innovation and by nature disposed to change and delighted in sedition. They were ever ready to follow the leader and to begin an insurrection. They were quick in temper and given to quarreling and they were very chivalrous men.” The Talmud says this of the Galileans, “They were more anxious for honor than for gain, quick-tempered, impulsive, emotional, easily aroused by an appeal to adventure, loyal to the end.” Peter was a typical Galilean. Among the twelve, Peter was the leader. He stands out as a spokesman for all the twleve Apostles. It is he who asked the meaning of the difficult saying in Matthew 15:15. It is he who asked how often he must forgive. It is he who inquired about the reward for all of those who follow Jesus. It is he who first confessed Jesus and declared Him as the Son of the Living God. It is he who was at the Mount of Transfiguration. It is he who saw Jairus’ daughter raised to life. Yet, it is he who denied Christ before a maiden. He was an Apostle and a missionary who laid down his life for his Lord. It is true, Peter had many faults, but he had always the saving grace of the loving heart. No matter how many times he had fallen and failed, he always recovered his courage and integrity.

Peter was martyred on a cross. Peter requested that he might be crucified head downward for he was not worthy to die as his Lord had died. His apostolic symbol is a cross upside down with crossed keys.

Philip

Tradition says that disciple Philip preached in Phrygia and died a martyr at Hierapolis. Philip came from Bethsaida, the town from which Peter and Andrew came (John 1:44). The likelihood is that he, too, was a fisherman. Although the first three Gospels record his name (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13), it is in the Gospel of John that Philip becomes a living personality.

Scholars disagree on Philip. In Acts 6:5, we have Philip as one of the seven ordained deacons. Some say this is a different Philip. Some believe this is the Apostle. If this is the same Philip, then his personality came more to life because he had a successful campaign in Samaria. He led the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ (Acts 8:26). He also stayed with Paul in Ceasarea (Acts 21:8) and was one of the major figures in the missionary enterprise of the early church.

The Gospel of John shows Philip as one of the first of many to whom Jesus addressed the words, “Follow Me.” When Philip met Christ, he immediately found Nathanael and told him that “we have found him, of whom Moses … and the prophets, did write.” Nathanael was skeptical. But Philip did not argue with him; he simply answered, “Come and see.” This story tells us two important things about Philip. First, it shows his right approach to the skeptic and his simple faith in Christ. Second, it shows that he had a missionary instinct.

Philip was a man with a warm heart and a pessimistic head. He was one who would very much like to do something for others, but who did not see how it could be done. Yet, this simple Galilean gave all he had. In return God used him. It is said that he died by hanging. While he was dying, he requested that his body be wrapped not in linen but in papyrus for he was not worthy that even his dead body should be treated as the body of Jesus had been treated. The symbol of Philip is a basket, because of his part in feeding of the five thousand. It is he that stressed the cross as a sign of Christianity and victory.

Simon the Zealot

Simon, the Zealot, one of the little-known followers called the Canaanite or Zelotes, lived in Galilee. Tradition says he was crucified.

In two places in the King James Version he is called a Canaanite (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18). However in the other two places he is called Simon Zelotes (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13).

The New Testament gives us practically nothing on him personally except that it says he was a Zealot. The Zealots were fanatical Jewish Nationalists who had heroic disregard for the suffering involved and the struggle for what they regarded as the purity of their faith. The Zealots were crazed with hatred for the Romans. It was this hate for Rome that destroyed the city of Jerusalem. Josephus says the Zealots were reckless persons, zealous in good practices and extravagant and reckless in the worst kind of actions.

From this background, we see that Simon was a fanatical Nationalist, a man devoted to the Law, a man with bitter hatred for anyone who dared to compromise with Rome. Yet, Simon clearly emerged as a man of faith. He abandoned all his hatred for the faith that he showed toward his Master and the love that he was willing to share with the rest of the disciples and especially Matthew, the Roman tax collector.

Simon, the Zealot, the man who once would have killed in loyalty to Israel, became the man who saw that God will have no forced service. Tradition says he died as a martyr. His apostolic symbol is a fish lying on a Bible, which indicates he was a former fisherman who became a fisher of men through preaching.

Thomas Didymus

Thomas Didymus lived in Galilee. Tradition says he labored in Parthia, Persia, and India, suffering martyrdom near Madras, at Mt. St. Thomas, India.

Thomas was his Hebrew name and Didymus was his Greek name. At times he was called Judas. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us nothing about Thomas except his name. However, John defines him more clearly in his Gospel. Thomas appeared in the raising of Lazarus (John 11:2-16), in the Upper Room (John 14:1-6) where he wanted to know how to know the way where Jesus was going. In John 20:25, we see him saying unless he sees the nailprints in Jesus’ hand and the gash of the spear in His side he will not believe. That’s why Thomas became known as Doubting Thomas.

Thomas became certain by doubting. By nature, he was a pessimist. He was a bewildered man. Yet, he was a man of courage. He was a man who could not believe until he had seen. He was a man of devotion and of faith. When Jesus rose, he came back and invited Thomas to put his finger in the nail prints in his hands and in his side. Here, we see Thomas making the greatest confession of faith, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas’ doubts were transformed into faith. Thomas was always like a little child. His first reaction was not to do what he was told to do and not to believe what he was asked to believe. The good news to him was always too good to be true. By this very fact Thomas’ faith became great, intense and convincing. It is said that he was commissioned to build a palace for the king of India, and he was killed with a spear as a martyr for his Lord. His symbol is a group of spears, stones and arrows.

How did the 12 disiples die?

  1. Andrew = Crucified on an X-shaped cross
  2. Bartholomew or Nathanael = Flayed alive with knives
  3. James the elder = First apostle martyred
  4. James the lesser = Sawn in pieces
  5. John = Died of natural causes on the isle of Patmos
  6. Judas Iscariot = Hung himself
  7. Jude or Thaddeus = Killed with arrows
  8. Matthew or Levi = Martyred in Ethiopia
  9. Peter = Crucified upside-down on a cross
  10. Philip = Died by hanging
  11. Simon the Zealot = Died a martyrs death
  12. Thomas = Killed with a spear

Where did the disciples die?

A map of locations of where the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ died, according to tradition. Blue markers represent commonly accepted death locations while yellow markers represent disputed locations. Updated: Now with Saint Matthis (Judas’ replacement)

Saint James the Lesser
Saint Jude
Saint Simon the Zealot
Saint Thomas
Saint Bartholomew
Saint Philip
Saint James the Lesser
Saint James the Greater
Saint Andrew
Saint Peter
Judas Iscariot
Saint John
Saint Simon the Zealot
Saint Matthew
Saint Matthias

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Rhema Word

New Testament Greek is one of the most abused areas of Christian theology. Often with little more than an interlinear Greek New Testament, concordance and personal subjective emotional experiences, people come up with strange doctrines they believe is supported by God.

There are two primary Greek words that describe Scripture which are translated “word” in the New Testament. The first, logos, refers principally to the total inspired Word of God and to Jesus, who is the living Word. Logos is found in John 1:1; Luke 8:11; Philippians 2:16; Hebrews 4:12; and other verses. The second Greek word translated “word” is rhema, which refers to the spoken word. Rhema literally means an utterance (individually, collectively or specifically). Examples are found in Luke 1:38; 3:2; 5:5; and Acts 11:16.

BlueCharismatic and non-charismatic Christians have different views regarding rhema and how it should be understood. Some charismatics view rhema as the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to them at the present moment. They believe they should be guided by the Holy Spirit through inner feelings, impressions and experiences. Some believe that the direct words of God to the individual can also be imparted through the words of others, such as a preacher in a worship service or a friend who counsels them. Through these avenues, the Christian experiences God’s direct leading. There is also the belief that the spoken word has more power than the written word, but there is no biblical basis for such a belief.

Evangelical Christians, however, have a much different understanding of rhema, believing that it is essentially synonymous with logos. In other words, the specific guidance we receive from the Holy Spirit at any given time can only be discerned by the general principles laid down in the Bible. Where the Bible is silent on specifics-such as where a young person should go to college-then the Christian applies biblical principles (good stewardship of God-given resources, protecting one’s heart and mind from godless influences, etc.) to the situation and thereby arrives at a decision.

The test of the authenticity of a rhema from God is how it compares to the whole of Scripture. Orthodoxy says that God will not speak a word that contradicts His written Word, the Scriptures, so there is a built-in safeguard to prevent misinterpretation. The obvious danger is that one who is not familiar with the logos can misinterpret or misunderstand what he or she perceives to be a rhema.

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Should all pronouns referring to God be capitalized?

Many people struggle with this question. Some, believing it shows reverence for God, capitalize all pronouns that refer to God. Others, believing the “rules” of English style should be followed, do not capitalize the deity pronouns. So, who is right? The answer is neither. It is neither right nor wrong to capitalize or not capitalize pronouns that refer to God. It is a matter of personal conviction, preference, and context. Some Bible translations capitalize pronouns referring to God, while others do not.

Ain't God So GoodIn the original languages of the Bible, capitalizing pronouns referring to God was not an issue. In Hebrew, there was no such thing as upper-case and lower-case letters. There was simply an alphabet, no capital letters at all. In Greek, there were capital (upper-case) letters and lower-case letters. However, in all of the earliest copies of the Greek New Testament, the text is written in all capital letters. When God inspired the human authors of Scripture to write His Word, He did not lead them to give any special attention to pronouns that refer to Him. With that in mind, it follows that God is not offended if we do not capitalize pronouns that refer to Him.

If you capitalize pronouns that refer to God to show reverence for His name, fantastic! Continue doing so. If you capitalize pronouns that refer to God to make it more clear who is being referred to, great! Continue doing so. If you are not capitalizing pronouns that refer to God because you believe proper English grammar/syntax/style should be followed, wonderful! Continue following your conviction. Again, this is not a right vs. wrong issue. Each of us must follow his/her own conviction and each of us should refrain from judging those who take a different viewpoint.

The main thing is that ‘God’, whether being referred to by noun, pronoun or otherwise, be ‘capitalized’ in our hearts!

Amen?

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Christian do if he/she lives in an area where there is no church to attend

The Lord said if only 2 or 3 are gathered in His name He will be there also. If we are alone the spirit will guide us and keep us.

There are many areas of the world, such as China, where many restrictions are placed on Christians in regard to when, where and how they may worship. In some countries, Christian worship in any form is not permitted, and some repressive governments arrest and kill Christians simply for declaring or exercising their faith. For Christians who live in such areas, considerable effort must be expended to ensure they will continue to grow and mature in the faith while away from any kind of church atmosphere and in a country hostile to God.

For the Christian in a country that allows possession of a Bible or studies on various books or topics of the Bible, diligent daily study of the Word is essential, especially if fellowship with other Christians isn’t possible. It’s essential for those Christians to carve out time each day to study God’s Word and spend time in prayer with God, asking Him to reveal to them what He wants them to learn and the strength to apply it each day. Prayer is a most crucial component in the Christian life in situations like this and should not be neglected, not even for a day. For those in countries where Bibles are outlawed, but who have open internet access, numerous websites that contain whole word-for-word versions of the Bible are invaluable. There are even online fellowship groups for believers to meet and encourage one another.

Finding other believers in the area can lead to starting a quiet, underground home group where believers get together weekly to study God’s Word and pray with and for one another. The home church movement in China produced a strong and vibrant community of Christian faith in an atmosphere of the worst repression and persecution. Those who have started underground home groups in Middle Eastern countries have found a tremendous hunger for God’s Word among English-speaking, foreign workers living in their area. These faithful believers rotate the meetings each week, keep it to word-of-mouth only, and grow tremendously in their faith during these difficult times.

fish-whatshotnThe Greek word for fish is “ichthys.” As early as the first century, Christians made an acrostic from this word: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, i.e. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. The fish has plenty of other theological overtones as well, for Christ fed the 5,000 with 2 fishes and 5 loaves (a meal recapitulated in Christian love-feasts) and called his disciples “fishers of men.” Water baptism, practiced by immersion in the early church, created a parallel between fish and converts. Second-century theologian Tertullian put it this way: “we, little fishes, after the image of our Ichthys, Jesus Christ, are born in the water.”

Greeks, Romans, and many other pagans used the fish symbol before Christians. Hence the fish, unlike, say, the cross, attracted little suspicion, making it a perfect secret symbol for persecuted believers. When threatened by Romans in the first centuries after Christ, Christians used the fish mark meeting places and tombs, or to distinguish friends from foes. According to one ancient story, when a Christian met a stranger in the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company. Current bumper-sticker and business-card uses of the fish hearken back to this practice.

However a Christian chooses to maintain a close relationship with the Lord while in isolation from other believers, God will encourage him or her and give His strength. Believers have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who resides within us (Ephesians 1:13-14) for exactly these types of situations. The history of Christianity is filled with stories of believers who maintained strong faith under the worst persecution and isolation imaginable. The power of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of believers is never to be underestimated.

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We Need to Rely on the Power of God

We often hear about the power of God, of His greatness and how we can rely on it to get us through difficult trials such as a job loss, a sticky divorce, bankruptcy, hateful persecutions, sufferings through a debilitating illness or loss of a loved one. So, we ask, just how powerful and great is God? And, more importantly, how can we rely on the power of God? The apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of this power in his letter to the Ephesians:

“And what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:19-20, NASB). The Greek word translated “greatness” is megethos which means “strong” or “great,” and it appears only here in the New Testament. This word obviously wasn’t sufficient for Paul to express God’s great power, so he adds the word “surpassing” or huperballo, which in the Greek literally means to “throw beyond the usual mark” or to “excel or surpass.” So, the full idea of the expression huperballo megethos is a power that is beyond measure, superabounding or surpassing power, power that is “more than enough.”

FlowerGreek authorities tell us that because this term megethos is found only here in all the New Testament, this reflects the outreach of Paul’s mind when he sought to describe this power of God, his attempt at “stretching at the seams” as he tries to pour more meaning into these words. What Paul is really telling us is that God’s power exceeds or surpasses everything. The God who not only spoke the universe into existence, but who raised Jesus from the dead, and who “put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22, NASB), has power far beyond any possibility of being measured. Paul simply could not say enough about the greatness and majesty of God, and even using language as exact as Greek, he still had difficulty finding the words to express his thoughts.

So, how can we rely on such enormous power of God? First of all, the resurrection of Jesus is the great hope of all believers. Because He lives, we will live also (John 14:19). Peter said we have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:3-4, NASB). We and what we have are protected by God’s power (verse 5). No matter how weak or ill-equipped we may at times feel, we have the assurance that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NASB). Most importantly, we have the faith He has given us (Ephesians 2:8-9) to strive according to that power (Colossians 1:29), and we do so with the confidence that ultimately God will accomplish His good in our lives. We have this powerful affirmation from Paul: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB).

Finally, we remember the promises of Christ Himself in regard to the incredible power of prayer: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8, NASB).

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Joy and Happiness

A dictionary definition of happiness is “a state of well-being, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” The definition of the word “rejoice,” from which our word “joy” comes, is “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad.” Depending on the translation, the Bible uses the words “happy” and “happiness” about 30 times, while “joy” and “rejoice” appear over 300 times. If we look at some verses it will help us understand why joy is different from happiness.

Genesis 30:1-13 tells the story of two sisters, Rachel and Leah, and their rivalry over their husband, Jacob. Each woman tries to have more male children in order to please him, even using their handmaidens to conceive more offspring. Leah’s handmaiden, Zilpah, bore Jacob a second son, and verse 13 says, “Then Leah said, ‘Happy am I! For women have called me happy.’ So she named him Asher.” Thus the word “happy” comes from the Hebrew root word ashar and means “to set right or be blessed.” We also find the word “happiness” in Deuteronomy 24:5, which says, “When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken.” The word “joy” comes from the Greek root word chara and means “to be exceedingly glad.” James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.”

DreamiesHow could we ever consider going through difficulties and trials a reason to feel joy? James 1:3-4 gives us a clue when it says, “Knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The deep, abiding joy comes as we persevere through trials, with God’s help, and our faith matures and is strengthened. So happiness tends to be fleeting and depends upon temporal factors like circumstances or other people. Joy, on the other hand, is true contentment that comes from internal factors like our faith in the Lord. True joy is everlasting and not dependent upon circumstances.

The book of Philippians is a great study in the difference between joy and happiness. Written by the Apostle Paul while imprisoned in Rome, this book uses the words “joy,” “rejoice,” and “joyful” 16 times and teaches us how to have true contentment in Jesus Christ, despite our circumstances. In chains and aware that his life was coming to an end, Paul talks about his faith and trust in Christ and how it had changed his whole perspective on suffering. In Philippians 1:12-24, Paul says that because of his two-year imprisonment (Acts 28:30), the whole Roman guard heard the gospel from him, and it had even spread throughout all of Rome. In verse 18 Paul says, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.” Paul goes on to encourage others to have peace knowing that God strengthens us (Philippians 4:13) and “supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

So the Bible teaches that happiness is fleeting because it often depends on things outside of ourselves, but true joy is eternal because it is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ, which is itself an everlasting source of joy.

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The Biblical Method of Evangelism

The Apostle Paul is often called the greatest evangelist. That said, Paul’s method of evangelism can be considered the “Biblical” method as recorded throughout the book of Acts. In all cases except one, Paul would go to a new city to the synagogue and begin preaching the gospel. He started this way because his audience would be Jews who had a strong Old Testament background. That saved him a lot of time. He could build on their foundation and lead them into the New Testament understanding without needing to go back through all of the prophecies etc. After some time, Paul would be required to move out of the synagogue because of the resistance of the Jews, at which time he would move his preaching to a local house, taking with him whatever converts he had from the Jews. This local house now became the local “Christian” church, open and inviting to all, Gentiles and Jews alike. Paul usually stayed for several months, and visited them as often as he could. He commissioned and trained other preachers. He wrote letters to instruct and encourage the new congregations and their pastors. The only time Paul deviated from this method of evangelism was in Athens (Acts 17:16). That time he was called by the Greek philosophers to the Aeropagus to defend himself on the charge of “proclaiming foreign gods.” This charge carried the death penalty for those convicted. Now, having an audience of Greeks who had no Jewish background or understanding, Paul brilliantly started with what they did understand – “The Unknown God.” He was acquitted and allowed to leave. He also took with him some converts, even from that situation.

When trying to decide how to share Christ with someone, the starting point should be the same as that of John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. Matthew 3:2 tells us that John began his ministry with the words “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Repentance refers to a “change of mind,” which implies sorrow for past offences (2 Corinthians 7:10), a deep sense of the evil of sin as committed against God (Psalm 51:4), and a conscious decision to turn from sin to God. The first words Jesus spoke when He began His public ministry were identical to John’s (Matthew 4:17).

Biblical evangelism – The good news and the bad news
The word “gospel” means “good news.” While many well-meaning Christians begin their evangelistic efforts with the good news of God’s love for mankind, that message is lost on unbelievers who must first come to grips with the extent of the bad news. First, man is separated from a holy, righteous God by sin. Second, God hates sin and is “angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). Third, death and judgment are inevitable (Hebrews 9:27). Fourth, man is wholly incapable of doing anything about the situation. Until the full extent of this bad news is presented, the good news cannot be effectively communicated.

LightBiblical evangelism – The holiness of God
What is missing from much modern evangelism is the holiness of God. In Isaiah’s vision of heaven, God’s holiness is being extolled by the seraphim around the throne. Of all the attributes of God they could have praised, it was His holiness-not His love-of which they sang. “And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory'” (Isaiah 6:3). When we understand just how holy God is, we can begin to understand His hatred of sin and His righteous wrath against sinners. Zechariah 8:16-17 and Proverbs 6:16-19 outline the sins God hates-pride, lying, murder, false witness, those who stir up trouble, and those with evil in their hearts. We cringe at the idea of God actually hating, because we are more comfortable with Him as a God of love, which He certainly is. But His hatred is real and it burns against evil (Isaiah 5:25; Hosea 8:5; Zechariah 10:3).

The unsaved person stands in mortal peril of the wrath of holy God, as Hebrews 10:31 reminds us: “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” An unbeliever is separated from God by his sin, which God hates, and there is nothing he can do about it. His nature is corrupt and fallen and he is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) with no hope of redeeming himself. He cannot save himself, in spite of good intentions or good works (Romans 3:20). Every good work that man thinks he can do is as “filthy rags” in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). No amount of good living will make us acceptable in God’s eyes because the standard is holiness, without which no one will see God (Hebrews 12:14).

Biblical evangelism – Salvation through Jesus Christ
But now comes the good news. What man could not do to save himself, God accomplished on the cross. Jesus exchanged His righteous, holy nature for our sinful nature so that we can stand before God completely clean and pure, new creations with the old sin nature gone forever (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). God provided the perfect sacrifice for our sin, not because we deserved it or earned it, but because of His love and grace and mercy (Ephesians 2:8-9). Only those whose natures have been changed can escape the wrath of God and live in the light of His love and mercy. If we believe these things and commit our lives to following Christ by faith, we will live eternally with Him in the bliss and glory of heaven. This is good news indeed.

Biblical evangelism begins with prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in witnessing, open doors of opportunity, and a clear understanding of the bad news of sin and wrath and the good news of love, grace, mercy and faith.

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