The Apple Of God's Eye

June 7, 2011

What You Need to Know About the New Testament Pentecost

mountjoybible.blogspot.com

Pentecost for 2011 is almost upon us. This year it falls upon Sunday, June 12, according to God’s sacred calendar. As I observe it this year, I will again marvel at how this commanded Feast of God’s  has somehow become buried in modern Christianity.

Why did Christ and the apostles observe this important feast, called the “day of firstfruits”? What does it picture in the plan of God? Should Christians observe this feast today? If so, on what day should Pentecost be observed?

You may be surprised to know that Jesus Christ kept the Feast of Pentecost. So did the apostles, disciples and the New Testament Church. Why, then, do so few “Christians” keep this important feast? When and where did professing Christians stop following the footsteps of Jesus and the apostles?

Today, most professing Christians know very little about Pentecost. Yet many have heard of “Whitsunday” (or “Whitsuntide”), which is not even so much as mentioned in the Bible.

What exactly is Whitsunday? In the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1973 edition, article “Whitsunday”), we read:

“Whitsunday (Pentecost), one of the three major festivals of the Christian Church, celebrated on the Sunday that marks the 50th day after Easter, to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at the Jewish Pentecost following Jesus’ passion, resurrection and ascension (Acts 2) ….”

Whitsunday has usurped the place of Pentecost and obscured its true meaning. But Christ and His followers did not observe Whitsunday. This day is a mere invention of men — which, sad to say, has been instrumental in turning away the minds of believers from the all-important, God-ordained festival of Pentecost. (more…)

May 9, 2011

Shocking Proof: Why The Jews Rejected Christ

tented.blogspot.com

Ever since the time of Adam man has rebelled against the government of God. As the Supreme Ruler of the universe, God has decreed that 6000 years be allotted to man to decide for himself whether he will voluntarily submit to the Government of God and keep holy the time He made holy.

Man universally has rejected God’s rule, His authority, His holy days. But God has not been idle in human affairs.

What GOD is doing these 6000 years very few recognize.

Now is not the time God is trying to save the world. He is rather calling out of the world a select few whom He chooses. To us He reveals Himself, His Will and His Purpose. But we must voluntarily choose to obey Him — and to keep holy the days He set apart.

In the days of Moses God first organized His Church and revealed to them His Plan. To keep that Church in the knowledge of that Plan, the Eternal ordained seven annual festivals. These festivals pictured the seven steps in carrying out God’s Plan.

When the Old Testament Church departed from celebrating these festivals, they lost the knowledge of the plan. This is exactly what had happened to the Jews in New Testament times! The Jews did not understand the prophecies of the first coming of Christ because they were not keeping the one festival (Passover) which pictured that Christ was coming first as the paschal lamb. They knew He would come later — at the close of 6000 years of history (pictured by the Feast of Trumpets) — as the conquering King!

The Jews knew five out of the seven steps in God’s Plan because they still observed five out of the seven festivals. But the two festivals on which they had become confused and divided pictured the very part of God’s Plan which they had lost! The Passover pictured the coming of the Messiah as the Passover lamb — to bear our sins (I Corinthians 5:7). Having changed the day of the true Passover the Jews cut themselves off from their God.

To change the day, to neglect it, is sin. And sin cuts one off from God. Hence they were unable to recognize the true gospel when it came to them through Jesus Christ. They were not expecting Christ, the Messiah, to come as a man to bear the sins of the world. They were expecting only a conquering king. Had they been celebrating the true Passover on its right day, instead of confusing it with the Feast night of the days of Unleavened Bread, they would have known that their Messiah would first come as a man to bear the sins of the world!

No wonder the Jews crucified the Saviour! They had forgotten the true Passover! (more…)

May 23, 2010

Pentecost In God's Master Plan


Pentecost, the Feast of Firstfruits, one of God’s seven annual Holy Days, pictures an important step in God’s master plan of salvation! This Holy Day helps explain the different times when salvation will be offered to different segments of mankind.

God’s annual Holy Days are laid out according to the seasons in Palestine. And God uses two harvests of Palestine to symbolize His two separate harvests of all human lives. The earlier, much smaller harvest begins with Pentecost, and the latter, much larger harvest begins with the Feast of Tabernacles and ends with the Last Great Day.

This earlier harvest is being planted now. I’ll use one of Jesus’ parables to help explain: “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way’ ” (Matthew 13:24-25).

In this parable Jesus likens God’s plan of salvation to a physical harvest of grain or wheat. (more…)

May 17, 2010

The Plain Truth About Sacred Names

thy-weapon-of-war.blogspot.com

The “Hebrew Names” teaching began in February, 1937 with Dr. John B. Briggs. He started the “Names Evangelization Program”  and “ Kadesh Name Society”  in Detroit. This group first obtained a charter as “Assembly of Y.H.V.H.” and later as “Yahveh Beth Israel.”

Dr. Briggs acted as executive, but apparently there was little growth or fruit borne, and he died in 1961, having ordained ministers to continue his work. This group believes Christ (whom they call “Yahshua”) was kept in prison a couple of days, and not crucified until the preparation for the weekly Sabbath, 28 A.D., and that He was raised three days later on the last day of Unleavened Bread. They dip three times to baptize (The Faith magazine, March 1969, page 4, and literature and correspondence from “Yahveh Beth Israel”). (more…)

January 31, 2010

How To Count Pentecost

The first of the firstfruits wave offering was made on the day after a weekly Sabbath – always on a Sunday. This was the Sunday that occurred during the Days of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:11).

The date for the Feast of Weeks must be counted beginning on the day the first of the firstfruits was offered (Lev. 23:14-16, Deut. 16:9-10).

The authorities in the Church of God are to count the days towards Pentecost, not “from,” but “beginning with” the starting point, as per the original Hebrew wording of Leviticus 23:15-16. The English word “from” is therefore misleading. The New American Bible (1970) makes the correct method of counting very clear: “Beginning with the day after the sabbath, the day on which you bring the wave-offering sheaf, you shall count seven full weeks, and then on the day after the seventh week, the fiftieth day,” you shall keep the feast of firstfruits (Lev. 23:15-16).

The day of the wave offering, the Sunday during the feast of Unleavened bread, was day one. Day seven would be the next weekly Sabbath. Day 49 would be the seventh Sabbath, and the 50th day would be a Sunday, the day after the seventh week, or seventh sabbath. This is how the original Hebrew and the authorized version state it. Thus, Pentecost always falls on a Sunday.

November 10, 2009

Defining God's Law For The Disobedient!

godwordistruth.wordpress.comMany today teach that God’s Law was nailed to the cross and is no longer in effect. They say we are now under the new covenant and the old covenant is gone. The Old Testament was for the Jews and the New Testament is for the Gentiles. They teach that we are at liberty from the law since we are now under grace. Scriptures such as Rom. 3:28 are used to show you “that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” and others such as Rom. 6:14 which states that “…ye are not under the law, but under grace.” So what about it? Is it true that the law was indeed nailed to the cross?

Why law?

In love God created man in His own image. God loves human beings and He wanted them to be happy—to have peace, and to enjoy life. In order to make such a happy state possible, God set in living motion the spiritual laws which form the very WAY to every physical, mental and spiritual well-being—to avoid sorrow, suffering, anguish, insecurity, boredom, emptiness, frustration, violence and death. These spiritual laws provide the way to happy, invigorating, vital, interesting and joyful living.

God’s proposition to ancient Israel was to make them the world’s most prosperous, most blessed and powerful nation—they were to have the supreme blessing of having the guidance, protection, help, of the all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful God, as their sole King and Ruler. Their government was to be a theocracy. God was the Lawmaker, not a congress, or parliament. He  would appoint leading men to execute His orders. And what was to come from the very voice of God for them to obey? A great law that already existed even as the laws of gravity and inertia—the laws of physics and chemistry—already existed. Only this was a spiritual law! God’s voice was to reveal that living, inexorable law in specific words, as a definite code.

“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Eternal thy God …” and then the voice of God spoke to that mass of people the words of the Ten Commandments! (Exod. 19)

On that very first day of Pentecost (called festival of firstfruits, or festival of weeks, in the Old Testament), God gave His law—His way of life—to His people. This came at the founding, and setting up, of God’s nation on Earth.

Then, many centuries later, on the day of Pentecost, a.d. 31, God gave His Holy Spirit to His people—the love of God to fulfill that law. And that came at the founding, and setting up, of God’s Church on Earth!

And if you think this law was for “Jews only,” you couldn’t be more wrong! Have you not read, in Acts 7:38, that those Israelites “received the lively oracles to give unto us”—for us who, under the New Testament, are Christians?

Sin defined

By Bible definition, sin is the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4) and without the law, there can be no sin (Rom. 4:15). Were the law really nailed to the cross, we would have no guidepost to tell us what sin actually is, and as we know, we can’t even enter into [eternal] life without keeping the commandments. This makes the “no law” arguement very difficult to defend.

John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” Did you get that? Commandment keeping is associated directly with the law of God! Love is the way of giving, serving, sharing. That is why John 14:15  says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Imagine that. We cannot even pretend to love Jesus Christ if we don’t love His spiritual laws. Can it get any more real than that?

The love of God is eternal and so is the law of God. Perhaps that is why Mat 5:18 says, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Yet man seems to think nothing of casting it away, despite these plain words. Observe more closely, now, the Sabbath command.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). God said remember this day! So men have insisted on forgetting—or trying to change it to a different day!

Christ said, in the sermon on the mount: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law,” so professing Christians think He did come to destroy it!

Christ said, in the same sermon on the mount: “Swear not,” so professing Christians universally hold up their right hands and swear.

Christ said: “Love your enemies,” so professing Christians—pretending to follow Him—hate their enemies and go to war to kill them.

Christ said: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” so professing Christians say, “It’s impossible to keep God’s law, let alone to be perfect. Christ kept it in our stead, and then abolished it.”

Christ commands “Do!”—and His professed followers don’t!

Christ commands “Don’t!” and His professed followers do!

Perhaps it is time to stop following the crowd and to keep God’s word the way it was intended – spiritually, not carnally.

November 4, 2009

Proving God's Calendar Correct!

JEWISH-CALENDARThe Scriptures are the standard against which any arguement for a Christian should stand or fall. Without such a standard to compare with, any attempt to prove a thing becomes futile, subject to misinterpretation.

Think for a moment! How would you prove that a rug you bought was 9 by 12 feet? You would need a ruler, a standard to measure by. How would you know the ruler to be correct? The final word on the matter would come from the Bureau of Standards in Washington which keeps masters on hand for every weight or measurement.

Now how will you check the new moons? Are you certain the first day of the month is in the correct place or should it be a day or two earlier? Where is the master, the standard to go by?

Here is the answer! What advantage did Paul have being a Jew? “Unto them [the Jews] were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1,2). Oracles are communications from God. These must be our final authority in the problem with regard to new moon dates. The question now arises, where is the oracle which will solve the problem of new moon dates? Is the Jewish calendar such an oracle?

Who gave the Jewish people their calendar? Suppose you found it to be the same person who preached for 3 1/2 years, chose 12 disciples to be apostles and then gave His life on the cross, to be resurrected three days later. Would you be willing to hear Him?

Notice Stephen’s testimony to the High Priest concerning Moses and Christ, “This is he [Moses], that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel [or messenger — Christ] which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us” (Acts 7:38).

How to Prove It

Now consider this: The One who became Jesus Christ spoke to Moses and Aaron (not to the entire congregation) saying, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” These two men were to instruct the people to use this Sacred Calendar.

GOD gave the Calendar. Man is to use it. Is man to stand in judgment of God as to whether this divine communication, this oracle, is proper or not? Hardly.

The knowledge of the inner working of the Calendar was retained by God’s appointed physical priesthood until the year 360 A.D. In that year the Jewish leaders published the information for all to know, so the broken and scattered Jewish nation (and Christians as well) would be able to continue the observance of God’s Feast Days in accordance to the new moons as calculated from Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was always the point from which the new moons were observed and sanctified. It was the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, that determined when the new moon was apparent. And it was their responsibility to notify the Jewish communities of the beginning of the months.

However, by 360 A.D. when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders took an extraordinary step to allow the scattered Jews to keep the new moons, festivals and Holy Days always at the same time. They then made public the system of calendar computations that hitherto had been an apparently guarded secret of the priesthood.

Thus, all Jews (and Christians) throughout the world could know when the new moon would occur according to Jerusalem time and consequently they could celebrate the same day all over the earth in unity.

It should be obvious now how to prove all things. Check them against the Oracles of God. What are these Oracles preserved by God through the Jewish people? Three: The Scriptures, The Sabbath, and The Calendar.

It was God’s prerogative to give these communications and commands. It was God’s responsibility to see that they were preserved down to our time. It was God’s judgment that a stiff-necked, rebellious, unchanging Jewish people should be given the assignment to preserve His Calendar, His Sabbath, His Scripture. With God behind them you may be sure that they carried out this task.

Do the Jews Obey?

The matter of whether the Jews have obeyed these Scriptures, rested on this Sabbath, kept the correct days in the correct manner on this Calendar, is an entirely different question.

There is no need to follow the Jews in their rebellion. Stephen continues, “Our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt.” In rejecting Moses, they rejected Christ whom he represented.

If you reject Moses today, if you reject the Oracles given through Moses, you also reject the One who sent him. The overwhelming majority of those of you who read this had ancestors who did reject Moses and Christ as their leaders and were condemned to die in the wilderness.

The real reason now becomes apparent why it is so hard for us to turn our hearts and minds to the true way that God has given to us. We have inherited this same stiff-necked rebellious nature.

Questions Answered

Doesn’t the faint crescent of the new moon become visible at an earlier time to the observer in California than to an observer in Jerusalem?

Yes, it does and for a number of reasons.

Mainly that the day travels from east to west across the globe. A day starts on the eastern coast of China or Australia (or even earlier with the islands just to the west of the International Date Line). It requires 24 hours to make a complete circuit arriving once more at the International Date Line. The moment of sunset thus travels westward across the earth. It would occur in Jerusalem 10 hours earlier than in California, which is 10,000 miles farther west.

This 10 hour difference would allow the moon to move 5 degrees eastward through the background of stars away from the sun’s position. The crescent of the new moon could thus be seen one day earlier by California observers about 40 per cent of the time. What are God’s instructions? If the people of Jerusalem, where God’s permanent headquarters are to be, cannot see this crescent of the moon following sunset, then the entire world east and west of that city must delay beginning the month till the following sunset.

This is the ordinance as it was given by God. We are not free to begin earlier because of the way we see it.

Another 6 hour difference as to the date for the new moon is introduced by the practice of delaying the ending of a day till midnight. Your almanac and Roman calendar “new moon” dates follow this pagan practice. This factor alone would shift the date of the new moon one day earlier 25 per cent of the time. Yet this pagan source is the one that many of you have used to check God’s Sacred Calendar. Isn’t it time we shift our allegiance to God’s Oracles and away from the customs and terminology of the heathen?

Still another factor makes this crescent of the new moon visible earlier in California. Just as the path of an eclipse of the sun moves from west to east across the earth so the moment at which the crescent would become visible (if the observer’s time were just after sunset) also moves from west to east across the globe and for the same reason. Up to 6 1/2 hours are required for this moment to cross the earth.

Thus while the day comes to us from the east, the month (or the moment the month might begin) sweeps across the earth from the west. It is natural for the western observer to want to begin his month too early. But it is God’s calendar and His month based on that calendar that we ought to follow.

A Difference in Latitude

Another question: Does one’s latitude also make a difference in his ability to see this crescent of the new moon in the west just after the sun goes down?

Yes, this also affects the problem on all except two days of the year, the day of the spring equinox (March 21) and of the autumnal equinox (September 23).

On these two days the sunset line runs straight north and south on the surface of the earth from south pole to the north. Latitude thus makes no difference in sunset time on these two days. Sunset would be six o’clock (sun time) for everyone. (The fact that standard time is commonly used for an entire time belt and is based on mean solar time would mean that the time shown by our clocks might vary up to 50 minutes and in certain localities over an hour from sun time.)

During the summer months the sunset line curves toward the northeast with a portion of the north Polar region in continual sunlight. During the winter months the sunset line curves toward the northwest with a portion of the north polar region in darkness 24 hours a day. (These statements are for the northern hemisphere only. The conditions are reversed south of the equator.)

The moment at which an observer at any point on the earth might see the crescent of a new moon and want to begin his month varies widely. Even the factor of whether the moon is north or south of the ecliptic, slightly affects the ability of the observer to see the crescent, especially in the extreme latitudes.

Conjunction or Crescent

A third question: Is the new moon noted on the Roman calendar or in an almanac or astronomy book the same term as the new moon on God’s Sacred Calendar? Not at all. The term “new moon” from these secular sources refers to the conjunction (or molad) of the sun and moon rather than the visible crescent which could first be seen about six hours later.

The astronomer’s “new moon” is the moment an eclipse of the sun might occur. (The moon is usually above or below the sun rather than in front of it. Thus eclipses do not occur at each of these “new moons”.) But remember that this conjunction occurs at least 6 hours before any observer anywhere can see the new moon crescent with his eyes.

God’s new moon on the other hand is the beginning day of a month, a day that begins at sunset at least 6 hours after this conjunction. Both the conjunction and sunset must be calculated for the Jerusalem area not for our local area. Then the first day of the new month moves west across the earth.

Delay for Preparation

A fourth question: Isn’t the first day of God’s Sacred Calendar sometimes delayed for special reasons?

Yes. One reason for delaying the beginning of a month is to prevent the day of Atonement (Annual Sabbath) from falling on a Friday which is a preparation day. Another is to prevent any of the autumn annual festivals from falling on a Sunday. All feasts which follow Pentecost represent the SECOND PART of God’s Plan. They must not fall on Sunday which would represent the FIRST part of God’s Plan which began 1300 years ago.

Timed for the Future

A final question: Don’t the Jews themselves admit that the computation of the length of the month and length of the year upon which this Sacred Calendar is based are not quite in perfect accord with the present day figures provided by the very exacting measurements of our modern astronomers?

Yes, this is true. It would be more surprising if it were not true. There are slow accumulative changes in the length of the month and year over centuries of time.

This minute variation which makes 13 Sacred Years slightly longer than 19 astronomical years is a very important clue to chronology. But that subject is too long for this article! This variation, however, does not affect the mathematical calculation of new moons.

Is it unusual that the One who planned the Sacred Calendar should be one step ahead of both the astronomers of the time of Moses and the present twentieth century? With a perfect understanding of the movements of the heavens as well as the needs of man, God looked forward over a six thousand year period and prepared a Calendar that would keep in harmony with the heavens throughout the entire time.

It was this system that was restored to the children of Israel as they were being freed from bondage and it is this system that is preserved for us today by God through the Jewish people.

No need exists for any change or alteration in the Sacred Calendar prior to Christ’s return and we look for no such change from the Jewish people. The published dates of the Jews and of our Sacred Calendar which cover the entire twentieth century are absolutely correct.

 

Source: Good News, October 1957

September 29, 2009

Is "First Day Of The Week" The Same As Sunday?

There is a theory circulated among certain Sunday-keeping groups that Sunday became the Sabbath after the resurrection of Christ. As supposed proof, they mistranslate the original Greek phrase, usually rendered “first day of the week,” as “first of the sabbaths.” They claim that the first Sunday after the resurrection became the first “Christian Sabbath” — and that Saturday was the “Jewish Sabbath.” This idea is absolutely FALSE!

No competent Greek scholars accept such a translation. But let the Bible itself disprove this fable. If the Sunday after the resurrection were the first “Christian Sabbath” — which it never could be — then any Sunday thereafter could not be the “first of the sabbaths,” but would of necessity be either the “second or third … or hundredth of the sabbaths!”

Acts 20:7 recorded of  56 A.D. — 25 years after the resurrection! Yet the same original Greek phrase, translated “first day of the week” in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, occurs here! This could not be the “first of the sabbaths” 25 years after the resurrection — since, by their theory, the first of the “Christian sabbaths” would have already occurred 25 years before the event recorded in Acts 20:7. Obviously the Greek cannot mean what they say it does!

Now turn to I Corinthians 16:2. This letter was written in the late winter of 55 A.D. — almost 24 years after the resurrection — and the same Greek expression occurs here. This certainly was not the “first of the Christian sabbaths!” It would be 24 years too late! The answer is that the only proper idiomatic rendering of the Greek phrase is “first day of the week,” not “first of the sabbaths.”

But, it may be objected, is not the Greek word sάbbaton, translated “week,” the same word often translated “sabbath”? Of course it is, but the inspired Greek word may also mean “week” — because the sabbath determines the length of the week. The Greeks had two words for “week”: hebdomad and sάbbaton. Only the word sάbbaton is used in the New Testament. It comes from the Hebrew word meaning “rest,” “sabbath,” “week,” “seven.”

In Luke 18:12 the Greek word sάbbaton is translated properly as “week,” not “sabbath.” The Jews fasted “twice in a week,” Monday and Thursday, not “twice on a sabbath.” That would be foolish! This verse alone proves that the Greek word sάbbaton may mean “week.”

But there is even more proof. The English expression “first day of the week” comes from two different Greek idioms. In Mark 16:9, the original Greek is prootee sabbάton. It has only one meaning: “first [day) of [the] week.” In this verse sabbάton is the Greek singular possessive form of sάbbaton — and means “of the week.” Prootee means “first.”

But in all other cases (Mat. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2) the Greek word sάbbaton, which may mean either “sabbath” or “week,” is in the plural. The Greek expression translated “first day of the week” is, in these verses, mia toon sabbάtoon. It is an idiom and cannot be translated literally into English. It, too, means “the first day of the week,” but it refers to one particular “first day” — the Sunday upon which the wave sheaf was offered — the Sunday AFTER two sabbaths!

Since the Greek word sάbbaton in these verses is in the plural, it may mean either “weeks,” or “sabbaths.” Professor Sophocles, a Greek scholar, indicates in his Lexicon, p. 43, par. 6, that the expression means “[day number] one after the sabbaths.” Which sabbaths? The first high day or annual sabbath and the weekly sabbath falling within the Days of Unleavened Bread! Here is the proof!

The same plural form — sabbάtoon – is found in the Greek Septuagint translation of Leviticus 23:15. In this verse the Greek for “the morrow after the sabbath” is epaύrion toon sabbάtoon and means idiomatically “the day after the sabbaths.” The Greek translators understood that you begin counting Pentecost from the Sunday after the weekly sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread. They used the plural word sabbάtoon, meaning “sabbaths,” to make plain that the Sunday on which the wave sheaf was offered followed BOTH the first annual sabbath AND the weekly sabbath in the Days of Unleavened Bread.

In other words, every New Testament writer was making especially plain which particular Sunday followed the resurrection — the Sunday after the two sabbaths, which in that year fell on Thursday and, of course, Saturday. In all these verses the original Greek, loon sabbάtoon, means idiomatically “AFTER the sabbaths” — and cannot be taken literally to mean “of the sabbaths.” It is a Greek idiom which uses the possessive plural with the meaning of “after.” The Greek translation of Leviticus 23:15 proved it!

Even in Acts 20:7 and I Cor. 16:2, the day referred to was the day the wave sheaf was offered. In 56 A.D., when the events in Acts 20 occurred, the Passover occurred on a weekly Sabbath. The Days of Unleavened Bread extended from Sunday through the following Sabbath. The day of the wave-sheaf offering in that year immediately followed the Days of Unleavened Bread. That was the day Paul preached until midnight — beginning Saturday night immediately after the Festival was over (Acts 20:7).

Those with Luke kept the entire Feast in Phillipi. After the feast, Luke and those with him left Phillipi for Troas (Acts 20:6). Paul left Troas on the day the wave sheaf was offered — before Luke arrived at Troas. Luke does not say “when we came together, Paul preached unto us” — he clearly states “when the disciples come together, Paul preached unto them.” Whenever Luke includes himself he uses the “we” form (Acts 20:6, 13).

Some translations incorrectly insert in Acts 20:7 the pronoun “we.” The overwhelming majority of New Testament Greek manuscripts have “they,” not “we.” The original Greek of Acts 20:13 indicated that Paul “had left arrangements,” prior to Luke’s arrival at Troas, for Luke to proceed in ship to Assos in order to pick up Paul.

I Cor. 16:2 also refers to the day the wave sheaf was offered at Jerusalem — just another indication that what was laid in store was fruit of the field, not money in a church offering-plate! The time those Christians began to harvest was “upon the day after the sabbaths” — upon Sunday after the early-morning offering of the wave sheaf.

This precise history, not usually understood, clearly indicates that the New Testament Church continued to observe the sabbath and the annual festivals God gave, and that they always regarded Sunday as a work day.

Source: Good News, 1958

August 19, 2009

Twelve Reasons Why Jesus' Trial Was Illegal

The trial of Jesus was without legal precedent. He was fraudulently convicted by the courts of His day. He was executed by crucifixion even though His judge found Him innocent!  Why?

It is time we understood what was behind Jesus’ crucifixion and learned the 12 outstanding reasons why the arrest, trial and conviction of Jesus were illegal.

Atheists and agnostics today try to prove that Jesus was legally crucified. Here are surprising statements from a book entitled The Prosecution of Jesus, by Richard Wellington Husband.

Concerning the trial of Jesus, he charges on page 281: “The arrest was legal … The hearing by the Sanhedrin was legal … The course of trial in the Roman court was legal … The conviction was legal, and was justified.”

The author, a lawyer, was undoubtedly sincere in his convictions. He was a professor of classical languages at Dartmouth College. Here is how Mr. Husband justifies his beliefs:

“The arrest” of Jesus “was legal, for it was conducted by the proper officers, acting under instructions from the Sanhedrin. There was no illegality in the circumstances under which the arrest was affected. The hearing by the Sanhedrin was legal, for it was merely a preliminary hearing, and was not a formal trial. The course of trial in the Roman court was legal, for it harmonized with the procedure shown in the sources to be pursued by governors of provinces in hearing criminal cases.”

Pilate conducted himself as other judges did, contends Mr. Husband. That made it legal! It is a strange way of reasoning. Now here is Mr. Husband’s final conclusion:

“The conviction was legal, and was justified provided the evidence was sufficient to substantiate the charges, and the records,” he writes, “do not prove the contrary.”

Here a former professor in one of America’s leading colleges contends that there is insufficient evidence in the Bible to show that any reversal of Jesus’ conviction was justified. Here is a man who, if he had sat on the Sanhedrin, might have sincerely said, “He is guilty.”

The Jewish point of view

I have another book before me. It contains the traditional Jewish point of view. The book is entitled The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth. It is by Max Radin. He was a professor of law in the University of California. From page 229, I quote the following: “If he [Jesus] had said only a tithe (tenth) of the things credited to him it was enough to make an indictment.”

From page 109 of this same book, I quote the following about the trial of Jesus. Mr. Radin says there is “no clear statement of how the knowledge of the trial came to those who reported it.” Mr. Radin has been taught to believe that neither Matthew, Mark, Luke nor John had any personal evidence because the trial was private, a secret affair.

What he does not discuss, of course, is the possibility that Jesus, who was condemned — the One who heard everything, who was there on trial — rose from the dead and told the disciples what occurred so that they could report it to us that we might know today.

But let us continue with Max Radin’s point of view. On page 231 you will discover the following statement as to what a trial in Judea was like in Jesus’ day:

“We are, most of us, familiar with the procedure of criminal investigations. The accused person is arrested, arraigned before a committing magistrate, specifically accused and formally tried. He may, and he generally does, appeal to a higher court, if he is convicted. All these things take time, and there is almost necessarily an interval of weeks and months between the later stages of the procedure. But above all, the procedure is strictly regulated by law, and any serious deviation is not merely an irregularity but will probably prevent punishment from being inflicted.”

Notice that most trials involving criminal procedure take weeks, if not months. Jesus’ trial was completed in less than nine hours after His arrest. And it was all done in private so that there would not be any witnesses who could testify on His behalf. How does Mr. Radin reconcile these conflicting sources of evidence?

On page 241, he reasons: “Mark’s version, even by his own testimony, cannot be more than a guess. Instead of a hurried night meeting, a harsh and brief interrogatory, a disregard of established rules of evidence and procedure, the trial may have been formally correct, and the judgment even from the point of view of an upright judge just though severe.”

Mr. Radin assumes that Mark was guessing. Then he assumes it could have been conducted in an entirely different manner. Yet the only extant sources of evidence for the trial come from the Bible. There is no other record to justify another point of view.

Limits on Jews’ authority

What legal authority did the Jews have to try Jesus?

“According to the common view,” reports Mr. Husband in his book, page 210, “the right to try capital cases,” that is, cases involving death penalties, “and even the right to pronounce sentences, still rested with the Sanhedrin, but the actual penalty could not be inflicted until the governor” — that is, the Roman governor, in this case Pilate — “had given his sanction.”

But this view is hardly true. The Jews not only had the power to try certain crimes, but they had the power to convict and the power to execute in all but cases of treason or sedition against Rome and Roman authority.

The assumption that Jesus’ opponents had no power to execute is incorrectly based on John 18:31-32. Here the Jews had said that, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” Lifting it out of its context, critics have assumed that the Jewish nation had no lawful right whatsoever to put anyone to death. But this does not happen to be the case.

Have we forgotten how Stephen died? His enemies said, “He blasphemes,” and they stoned him to death. The Romans didn’t disapprove. When Jesus first preached His sermon the day of Pentecost in Nazareth, the Jews sought to stone Him to death. If it were illegal, they wouldn’t have tried it. The Romans would have pounced on them.

The elders of the nation on one occasion brought to Jesus a woman who was committing adultery. They said: “Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

If they had no right to stone any to death, Jesus could have said simply, “Don’t you know under what law you are living?” And what would they have felt like before the Romans if that would have reached Pilate’s ears? But Jesus didn’t say any such thing. Jesus accepted the fact that the right to execute adulteresses and other criminals existed. He told the guiltless to cast the first stone.

Paul was stoned in Asia. Not only in Judea, but in other areas of the Roman world, wherever the Jews were settled, it is plain the Jews had the legal right to execute the penalty of their law. The Romans allowed it. But why did the Jews make the statement that we find recorded in John 18:31-32?

Here is the answer: “From the earliest period the Roman governor took cognizance of all matters that had any relation to the public security or the majesty of the Empire. Consequently there was no time at which the Roman magistrate would not step in when a charge of treason was made, or a seditious movement begun. The case against Jesus is one especially in point, for the charge against him [treason] could under no circumstances be tried by any tribunal except that of the governor.”

Only when it came to treason, civil disobedience, incitement to revolution or attacks against the majesty, that is, Caesar, did the Roman government decide that it was proper that its governors or representatives should intervene. Otherwise, all local administration was carried on by the people and the regular, constituted courts of the conquered nations, of the provinces or of the allies of Rome.

The opponents of Jesus accused Him of blasphemy. But they did not want to execute Him. So they charged Him with treason before the Romans.  What the religious leaders had to do was create charges of treason against Jesus in order to bring it up to Pilate so that they would not be responsible for His death.

Summary of events

After the last supper on Passover, Jesus went out and prayed. Then Judas came with a mob. Accompanying that mob were the high priest, the judges and jury, inciting the mob as they went out to arrest Him.

After Jesus was arrested, Annas examined Him alone. He was ex-high priest.

They next took Him to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, before sunrise while it was yet night, where He was informally condemned. After sunrise, the Sanhedrin quickly condemned Him formally to make legal their previous conduct.

Then they took Him to Pilate on different charges. Pilate wanted to wash his hands of the whole affair. When Pilate found Jesus was of Galilee, he sent Him to Herod. After Herod saw Jesus and could not get anything but silence from Him, Herod decided to let Him go back to Pilate. Then, at the second time before Pilate, the Roman governor, under pressure, gave sentence — even against his own will.

These are the six steps through which Jesus went from after midnight to nearly 9 o’clock. And at 9 o’clock He was crucified. At 3 o’clock that afternoon, He was speared in the side and killed (Matt. 27:49, Moffatt). Shortly before sunset, He was carried to the tomb. That’s how quickly the world got rid of the Savior!

Judas’ betrayal

“Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. Then he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude” (Luke 22:3-6).

Judas’ treachery developed as a result of Jesus’ rebuke for having condemned the woman who anointed Him with oil. Judas had said to Jesus, “Why didn’t you give that to the poor?” Judas wanted that money himself. He would have taken the oil, gone out and sold it, then claimed he gave it to the poor and pocketed the money. That is what he wanted to do, for he was a thief (John 12:1-8).

So he went to the chief priests and the captains, who bribed him to deliver Jesus in the absence of the crowds who listened to Jesus. The idea was to have Jesus seized privately, so the public, especially the Galileans, would not know until it was over. The plan was to get Jesus at night, try Him at night, sentence Him just after sunrise, to make it look legal, take Him to Pilate, incite a mob to get Pilate to condemn Him, have Him crucified, if possible, in the morning, before those favoring Him would be about.

Who made up the mob that arrested Jesus? The answer to this question brings us to the first error in Jesus’ conviction. We should now examine, point by point, the 12 primary reasons why the arrest, trial and conviction of Jesus were illegal.

First reason

The principle on which any trial may be considered illegal is that it is prejudicial against the man who is tried — that it does not allow him to have full recourse to law so that he might present his part of the case.

Now notice the steps in Jesus’ arrest, trial and conviction. The first point is that Jesus was arrested illegally.

Consider John 18:2-8: “And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place” — where Jesus was that night — “for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore … went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him [by a kiss], also stood with them. Then — when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ — they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way.’ ”

Now continue with Luke 22:52: “Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, ‘Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs?’ ”

Those who went to have Christ arrested included the priests and elders — His judges! Among them were the very ones who bribed Judas!

Jesus was arrested secretly, by night. He was not arrested on the formal charge of any crime. There was no charge presented here. There was no warrant for His arrest, no statement of what He had done. They just simply took Him.

Contrary to what Mr. Husband said in his book, The Prosecution of Jesus, there was no legal basis on which Jesus was arrested. Nobody had presented testimony or evidence of guilt to the Sanhedrin whereby they could have requested His arrest.

Here is what Jewish law declares. Mendelsohn says in his Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, page 274: “The testimony of an accomplice,” that is, Judas, “is not permissible by Rabbinic law … and no man’s life, nor his liberty, nor his reputation can be endangered by the malice of one who has confessed himself a criminal.”

The very fact that Judas took a bribe from the judges was certainly proof that Judas was guilty of a criminal offense.

Second reason

The first step in Jesus’ trial was a preliminary examination in a private night proceeding before Annas (John 18:12-14, 19-23).

Notice the Jewish law on this point from Dupin’s book, Jesus Devant Caiaphe et Pilate (a French work): “Now the Jewish law prohibited all proceedings by night.”

Salvador in his Institutions de Moise, pages 365-366, declares, “An accused man was never subjected to private or secret examination.” Yet Jesus was.

According to the law, as stated in the Jerusalem Talmud, the Sanhedrin sat from the close of the morning sacrifice to the time of the evening sacrifice. And Lemann says in his book, Jesus Before the Sanhedrin, page 109, “No session of the court could take place before the offering of the morning sacrifice.” No night meetings were permitted.

The law permitted such an investigation only upon daylight.

Third reason

The indictment against Jesus was itself false and therefore illegal.

According to the law of the Jews, declares Edersheim in Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Volume I, page 309: “The Sanhedrin did not, and could not, originate charges.” But in Jesus’ case, it did.

Here was the proper procedure, as stated by Innes in his book, The Trial of Jesus Christ, page 41: “The evidence of the leading witnesses constituted the charge. There was no other charge; no more formal indictment.” In Jesus’ case there at first had been no witnesses presented. Opponents simply arrested and started to accuse Him.

Continuing: “Until they [the witnesses] spoke, and spoke in the public assembly, the prisoner was scarcely an accused man. When they spoke, and the evidence of two agreed together, it formed a legal charge, libel or indictment, as well as the evidence for its truth.”

Next consider that Mendelsohn writes, page 110: “The only prosecutors known to Talmudic criminal jurisprudence are the witnesses to the crime. Their duty is to bring the matter to the cognizance of the court, and to bear witness against the criminal” — after he is arrested. “In capital cases, they are the legal executioners also. Of an official accuser or prosecutor there is nowhere any trace in the laws of the ancient Hebrews.”

In the case of Jesus there were no witnesses who presented their evidence to the court. The court took it upon itself to secretly arrest Jesus; then they had to find false witnesses.

Fourth reason

The Sanhedrin court illegally proceeded to hold its trial of Jesus before sunrise.

Notice that the preliminary investigation before Annas brought forth no evidence whatsoever. Instead of dismissing the case they proceeded to hold an illegal court.

Why was it illegal? Mendelsohn states: “Criminal cases can be acted upon by the various courts during day time only, and by the Lesser Sanhedrins from the close of the morning service till noon, and by the Great Sanhedrin till evening” (page 112).

The trial of Jesus was begun at night in the hours of early morning, without any witnesses to defend Jesus.

Here is what Maimonides writes in Sanhedrin III: “The reason why the trial of a capital offence could not be held at night is because … the examination of such a charge is like the diagnosing of a wound — in either case a more thorough and searching examination can be made by daylight.”

The Mishna says, Sanhedrin IV, 1: “Let a capital offense be tried during the day, but suspend it at night.” Once more the opponents of Jesus violated their law in order to rid themselves of Jesus and His teachings.

Fifth reason

In the case of Jesus, the Sanhedrin was illegally convened to try a capital offense on a day before an annual Sabbath.

Notice why: “They shall not judge on the eve of the Sabbath, nor on any festival,” says the Mishna, “Sanhedrin” IV, I.

In Wise’s Martyrdom of Jesus, page 67, we read the following conclusive — and shocking — evidence: “No court of justice in Israel was permitted to hold sessions on the Sabbath or on any of the seven biblical Holy Days. In cases of capital crime, no trial could be commenced on Friday or the day previous to any Holy Day, because it was not lawful either to adjourn such cases longer than overnight, or to continue them on the Sabbath or Holy Day.”

The opponents of Jesus even violated their law by arresting Jesus on the day before an annual Sabbath. They arrested Him at the beginning of Wednesday in A.D. 31; the first annual Sabbath that year was Thursday.

Sixth reason

The trial of Jesus was illegal because it was concluded in one day.

We read from Jewish law: “A criminal case resulting in the acquittal of the accused may terminate the same day on which the trial began. But if a sentence of death is to be pronounced, it cannot be concluded before the following day” (Mishna, “Sanhedrin” IV, 1).

This was to allow sufficient opportunity for any witnesses in support of the accused to present themselves.

The court did not want to allow Jesus this opportunity.

Seventh reason

The indictment against Jesus was false and its use illegal because it was founded upon Jesus’ uncorroborated statement. The court pronounced sentence on Jesus with no supporting evidence whatever.

Consider: The only evidence presented by witnesses to the court was given by two false witnesses. But their testimony was not even used by the court in sentencing Jesus to death. Here is what happened:

Two false witnesses testified that Jesus said, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58).

The Jews used this belated statement as an indictment against Jesus. But this piece of evidence was not what Jesus said. He never said the words that is made with hands. Jesus was not referring to the physical Temple of Herod erected by human hands, but to His body (John 2:19, 21), which would be raised in three days.

Then “the high priest arose and said to Him, ‘Do You answer nothing? What is it that these men testify against You?’ But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, ‘I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God’ ” (Matt. 26:62-63).

The question the high priest asked Jesus had nothing to do with the indictment! Jesus was indicted on the false charge that He would destroy the physical Temple and rebuild it in three days’ time. But the court condemned Him on another matter altogether.

Notice the facts. They asked: ” ‘Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.’

Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’

Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?’

They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death’ ” (verses 63-66).

Jesus was indicted on one charge, tried on another and condemned on His own testimony.

Jesus was not condemned because He said, “Within three days I will build this temple.” He was immediately condemned on the charge of blasphemy.

Here is what the Jewish scholar Maimonides wrote in his book: “We have it as a fundamental principle of our jurisprudence, that no one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make confession of guilt before a legally constituted tribunal, such confession is not to be used against him unless properly attested by two other witnesses” (“Sanhedrin” IV, 2).

Jesus was condemned on His own testimony, even though His testimony was not proved blasphemous. The court didn’t even examine Him according to the law to see whether His statement was blasphemy. They only demanded, “Are you the Son of God?” And He responded: “You’re going to see the son of man seated at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Was this blasphemy? Of course not! Jesus did not even refer directly to Himself. He merely said: “the son of man.” The court did not seek to prove who the “son of man” was.

They knew, of course, that Jesus meant Himself. For all through His ministry, they came and purred in front of Him, and asked: ” ‘How long do you keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe.’ ”

But as soon as Jesus even gave an indirect statement at the trial, they did not doubt whom He meant by “son of man.” On this testimony Jesus was condemned despite the scripture in Psalm 110. Even Mr. Radin admits that Jesus’ testimony was not blasphemy. On pages 248 and 249 he says:

“The ‘blasphemy’ which the Pentateuch mentions is a literal cursing of God or a direct defiance of him. The only pentateuchal reference makes this clear. It is in Leviticus, chapter 24, and the incident which gave rise to the statute indicates the character of the offense of blasphemy in Jewish law. The half-Egyptian had cursed God — the Israelitish God — as under the circumstances of the quarrel there described, he would have been likely enough to do. No such thing could have been charged against Jesus by his most inveterate enemies.”

Yet the religious leaders did this very thing! Now consider another violation of law in extracting this testimony from Jesus:

“No attempt is ever made to lead a man on to self-incrimination. Moreover, a voluntary confession on his [the defendant’s] part is not admitted in evidence, and therefore not competent to convict him, unless a legal number of witnesses minutely corroborate his self-accusation” (Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, page 133).

Eighth reason

The condemnation of Jesus was illegal because the merits of the defense were not considered. When they heard Jesus’ statement, the high priest shouted, “He has spoken blasphemy!” But the law in Deuteronomy 13:14 says, “Then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently.”

The law in the Mishna says, “The judges shall weigh the matter in the sincerity of their conscience” (“Sanhedrin” IV, 5).

Ninth reason

The condemnation of Jesus by part of the Sanhedrin was illegal because those who would have voted against the condemnation of Jesus were not there.

Notice what took place at Jesus’ trial before dawn, according to Mark 14:64: ” ‘You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?’ And they all condemned Him to be worthy of death.”

It was unanimous. There was no investigation, no examination to see if He did or did not blaspheme. They just used His testimony against Him without further investigation. They all did it immediately, instantaneously, simultaneously. It was mob spirit that condemned Jesus!

Here is what Mendelsohn states of such a procedure: “A simultaneous and unanimous verdict of guilt rendered on the day of the trial has the effect of an acquittal.”

The verdict against Jesus was simultaneous and unanimous, although the law required at least one of the council to serve as a defense counsel.

The proper method of voting was to have “the judges each in his turn absolve or condemn” (Mishna, “Sanhedrin” XV, 5). “The members of the Sanhedrin were seated in the form of a semicircle at the extremity of which a secretary was placed, whose business it was to record the votes. One of these secretaries recorded the votes in favor of the accused, the other against him,” states the Mishna, “Sanhedrin” IV, 3.

“In ordinary cases the judges voted according to seniority, the oldest commencing; in a capital case, the reverse order was followed. That the younger members of the Sanhedrin should not be influenced by the views or the arguments of their more mature, more experienced colleagues, the junior judge was in these cases always the first to pronounce for or against conviction,” says Benny, in Criminal Code of the Jews, pp. 73-74.

Furthermore, the high priest rent or tore his clothes at the trial (Mark 14:63, Matt. 26:65). In Leviticus 21:10 the high priest is forbidden to do so: “And he who is the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes.” See also Leviticus 10:6. He tore his outer garment to stir up emotion, to prejudice others.

The high priest should have remained calm so that no mistake in judgment would be made. In Jesus’ trial none of these requirements were followed.

Let Wise’s book, Martyrdom of Jesus, page 74, explain the law on this point:

“If none of the judges defend the culprit, i.e., all pronounce him guilty, having not defender in the court, the verdict guilty was invalid and sentence of death could not be executed.”

Jesus was condemned contrary to the law! Now notice which members of the Sanhedrin were missing during the trial.

Take the case of Joseph of Arimathaea. After Jesus was crucified, we read from Luke 23:50-51, Authorized Version, “And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just.” The word counsellor is admitted by all hands to represent a member of the Sanhedrin. “The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them” — and neither had Nicodemus.

In Mark’s account we learn that all those present condemned Jesus instantaneously and unanimously.

But since the night meeting was illegal, Joseph of Arimathaea was not present. The opponents of Jesus wanted to make sure he could not defend Jesus. Think of the utter lack of any fairness in this trial!

Tenth reason

The sentence against Jesus was pronounced in a place forbidden by law.

After the mob seized Christ, they led Him away, after having been at Annas’, and brought Him into the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. The trial of Jesus wasn’t held in court! Read Luke 22:54: “Then, having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house.”

The court building wasn’t legally to be opened until after sunrise.

According to the law, “A sentence of death can be pronounced only so long as the Sanhedrin holds its sessions in the appointed place,” says Maimonides, in his book, Section XIV.

The Talmud says, “After leaving the hall Gazith [the court] no sentence of death can be passed upon anyone soever” (From Bab. Talmud, “Abodah Tarath” or “Of Idolatry,” ch. 1, fol. 8).

A sentence of death may be passed only in a legal court, not in some private home, as occurred in Jesus’ case.

Eleventh reason

Most Sanhedrin members themselves were legally disqualified to try Jesus.

According to Mendelsohn, Hebrew Maxims and Rules, page 182, “The robe of the unfairly elected judge is to be respected not more than the blanket of the ass.”

Some of the judges were elected unfairly. We have the names from the Bible and from Josephus of most of the men who were on the Sanhedrin at the time of Jesus.

Such men as Caiaphas, Eleazar, Jonathon, Theophilus, Mathias, Ishmael, Simon, John, Alexander, Ananias and many others were, according to Josephus, recipients of bribes and appointed by members of the family who themselves had no right to sit on it, bought their offices and were disrespected by their people.

There were 12 ex-high priests living at this one time, all part of the Sanhedrin. The Bible expressly requires a man to be high priest throughout his lifetime, at the end of which another took his place. But under the Romans, high priests could be voted into office year by year.

The whole official arrangement — the whole choice of offices — was wrong.

But there was another reason that disqualified almost all Jesus’ judges. It is this: “Nor must there be on the judicial bench either a relation, or a particular friend, or an enemy of either the accused or the accuser,” writes Mendelsohn, page 108.

Many of the judges were Jesus’ enemies. They even paid bribe money to betray Him.

In Benny’s work, Criminal Code of the Jews, page 37, this surprising statement is found: “Nor under any circumstances was a man known to be at enmity with the accused person permitted to occupy a position among his judges.”

Everybody knew that the Sadducees and Pharisees were at outs with Jesus. Yet they were permitted to try Him.

Twelfth reason

The court illegally switched the charges against Jesus from blasphemy to sedition and treason before Pilate. Observe how it was done!

The next step in Jesus’ trial was to take Him to the legal court for a mock, private trial at sunrise.

“As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council” — now that they had already condemned Him of blasphemy, they were going to take Him to court for a mock trial! — “saying, ‘If You are the Christ, tell us.’ ”

Notice that they repeated the same questions over again.

“But He [Jesus] said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.’ ”

They had to make this trial look legal.

So “they all said ‘Are You then the Son of God?’ And He said to them, ‘You rightly say that I am.’ And they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.’ Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate” (Luke 22:66-71, 23:1).

This meeting probably didn’t last any more than a few minutes! Now their trial, which was illegally conducted in the private home of Caiaphas, was outwardly legalized.

But instead of taking Jesus out to be stoned for blasphemy, they switched the charges after the court was dismissed!

They took Him to Pilate, and here is what we read in John 18:28-31:

“Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium [hall of judgment], and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this Man?’ They answered and said to him, ‘If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.’ Then Pilate said to them, ‘You take Him and judge Him according to your law.’ ”

Pilate was difficult to convince. He didn’t want to be bothered at this hour in the morning. But the enemies of Jesus replied, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” Why wasn’t it lawful? Let Luke give the surprising answer:

“And they began to accuse Him, saying, ‘We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:2).

Notice that the Jews did not charge Jesus with blasphemy. Had they done so, Pilate would have told the Jews not to bother him, but to deal with Jesus according to their own law by stoning. The religious leaders were afraid of their own people! So they trumped up other and new charges against Jesus before Pilate.

Pilate now had reason to be surprised. The only cases for which the Jews could not try a man involved sedition or treason.

“Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you speaking for yourself on this, or did others tell you this about Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew?’ ” He didn’t like the Jews, did he? ” ‘Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?’ ”

“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants [the disciples] would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here’ — not of this time, not of this world order.

“Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ ” Jesus chose not to answer that.

Pilate finds Jesus innocent

“And when he had said this, he [Pilate] went out again to the Jews, and said to them, ‘I find no fault in Him at all’ ” (John 18:33-38).

When Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he told the Jews to take Him to Herod: “And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time” for the Passover (Luke 23:7).

After an interview with Jesus, Herod sent Him back to Pilate. To frighten the Roman governor, the opponents of Jesus stirred up the mob outside.

Pilate began to see that there was trouble brewing. He had a mob on his hands. This was trial by mob rule! So Pilate took Jesus, terribly scourged Him, let the soldiers plait on Him a crown of thorns and array Him in purple.

Pilate brought Jesus out again and shouted to the mob: ” ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him… when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.’ ”

The opponents answered and said, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die” — and now for the first time they reveal to Pilate why they condemned Him — “because He made Himself the Son of God” (John 19:4-7). They were getting very angry.

Pilate became frightened. He didn’t want to have anything happen for which he would be held responsible by the Roman gods. Upon this, Pilate definitely sought to release Him (John 19:12), for there were no witnesses whatever in this trial before Pilate. The mob had commenced accusing Jesus without proof, without witnesses, without testimony.

Then the ignorant mob cried out: “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend.” They were threatening Pilate with loss of his office.

Matthew 27:24-26 picks the story up:

“When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.’ ”

The ignorant mob responded: “His blood be on us and on our children.”

What they were really saying is: “You execute Him. We don’t want to stone Him; we want you to execute Him.”

Then Pilate “scourged Jesus, [and] he delivered Him to be crucified.” The purpose of scourging was to prepare a criminal for death.

But notice — Pilate did not even give a formal decision against Jesus Christ. He just turned Him over to the soldiers to do what the mob wanted.

Jesus was crucified, though found innocent by Pilate

That is where the trial of Jesus abruptly broke off. No justice here! An innocent man condemned by mob violence! The dastardly act of crucifixion followed. Yet some today would still falsely claim, in the face of all this evidence, that Jesus’ trial was legal, and His crucifixion justified.

Most of us have not really examined the trial of Jesus before. Just look at this trial. What a mockery of justice it was! Can you imagine what it would be like if you had been on trial, to be spitefully treated as these thrill-seeking soldiers treated Jesus? What consideration, what fairness would have been given you?

All this suffering Jesus endured to pay the penalty of sin for you! Yet not you only, but to pay the penalty of the sin of the whole world. It is time you personally were made to look at the last hours of Jesus in mortal flesh to see what a miscarriage of justice led up to the crucifixion — what a mockery was made of trial — and to understand the reasons why the conviction of Jesus was an utter fraud — all voluntarily endured by Christ to pay the penalty of your sin in your stead!

Source: The Good News, February 1983

March 27, 2009

First Day Of The Week: Sunday Or Saturday?

There was a theory circulated among certain Sunday-keeping groups that Sunday became the Sabbath after the resurrection of Christ. As supposed proof, they mistranslate the original Greek phrase, usually rendered “first day of the week,” as “first of the sabbaths.” They claim that the first Sunday after the resurrection became the first “Christian Sabbath” — and that Saturday was the “Jewish Sabbath.

This idea is absolutely FALSE! No competent Greek scholars accept such a translation. But let the Bible itself disprove this fable. If the Sunday after the resurrection were the first “Christian Sabbath” — which it never could be — then any Sunday thereafter could not be the “first of the sabbaths,” but would of necessity be either the “second or third … or hundredth of the sabbaths!”

Look at Acts 20:7. The event recorded here occurred in 56 A.D. — 25 years after the resurrection! Yet the same original Greek phrase, translated “first day of the week” in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, occurs here! This could not be the “first of the sabbaths” 25 years after the resurrection — since, by their theory, the first of the “Christian sabbaths” would have already occurred 25 years before the event recorded in Acts 20:7. Obviously the Greek cannot mean what they say it does!

Now look at I Corinthians 16:2. This letter was written in the late winter of 55 A.D. — almost 24 years after the resurrection — and the same Greek expression occurs here. This certainly was not the “first of the Christian sabbaths!” It would be 24 years too late! The answer is that the only proper idiomatic rendering of the Greek phrase is “first day of the week,” not “first of the sabbaths.”

But, it may be objected, is not the Greek word sάbbaton, translated “week,” the same word often translated “sabbath”? Of course it is, but the inspired Greek word may also mean “week” — because the sabbath determines the length of the week. The Greeks had two words for “week”: hebdomad and sάbbaton. Only the word sάbbaton is used in the New Testament. It comes from the Hebrew word meaning “rest,” “sabbath,” “week,” “seven.”

In Luke 18:12 the Greek word sάbbaton is translated properly as “week,” not “sabbath.” The Jews fasted “twice in a week,” Monday and Thursday, not “twice on a sabbath.” That would be foolish! This verse alone proves that the Greek word sάbbaton may mean “week.”

But there is even more proof. The English expression “first day of the week” comes from two different Greek idioms. In Mark 16:9, the original Greek is prootee sabbάton. It has only one meaning: “first [day) of [the] week.” In this verse sabbάton is the Greek singular possessive form of sάbbaton — and means “of the week.” Prootee means “first.” But in all other cases (Mat. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2) the Greek word sάbbaton, which may mean either “sabbath” or “week,” is in the plural.

The Greek expression translated “first day of the week” is, in these verses, mia toon sabbάtoon. It is an idiom and cannot be translated literally into English. It, too, means “the first day of the week,” but it refers to one particular “first day” — the Sunday upon which the wave sheaf was offered — the Sunday AFTER two sabbaths! Since the Greek word sάbbaton in these verses is in the plural, it may mean either “weeks,” or “sabbaths.”

Professor Sophocles, a Greek scholar, indicates in his Lexicon, p. 43, par. 6, that the expression means “[day number] one after the sabbaths.” Which sabbaths? The first high day or annual sabbath and the weekly sabbath falling within the Days of Unleavened Bread!

Here is the proof! The same plural form — sabbάtoon – is found in the Greek Septuagint translation of Leviticus 23:15. In this verse the Greek for “the morrow after the sabbath” is epaύrion toon sabbάtoon and means idiomatically “the day after the sabbaths.” The Greek translators understood that you begin counting Pentecost from the Sunday after the weekly sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread. They used the plural word sabbάtoon, meaning “sabbaths,” to make plain that the Sunday on which the wave sheaf was offered followed BOTH the first annual sabbath AND the weekly sabbath in the Days of Unleavened Bread.

In other words, every New Testament writer was making especially plain which particular Sunday followed the resurrection — the Sunday after the two sabbaths, which in that year fell on Thursday and, of course, Saturday. In all these verses the original Greek, loon sabbάtoon, means idiomatically “AFTER the sabbaths” — and cannot be taken literally to mean “of the sabbaths.” It is a Greek idiom which uses the possessive plural with the meaning of “after.” The Greek translation of Leviticus 23:15 proved it!

Even in Acts 20:7 and I Cor. 16:2, the day referred to was the day the wave sheaf was offered. In 56 A.D., when the events in Acts 20 occurred, the Passover occurred on a weekly Sabbath. The Days of Unleavened Bread extended from Sunday through the following Sabbath. The day of the wave-sheaf offering in that year immediately followed the Days of Unleavened Bread. That was the day Paul preached until midnight — beginning Saturday night immediately after the Festival was over (Acts 20:7).

Some translations incorrectly insert in Acts 20:7 the pronoun “we.” The overwhelming majority of New Testament Greek manuscripts have “they,” not “we.” The original Greek of Acts 20:13 indicated that Paul “had left arrangements,” prior to Luke’s arrival at Troas, for Luke to proceed in ship to Assos in order to pick up Paul.

I Cor. 16:2 also refers to the day the wave sheaf was offered at Jerusalem — just another indication that what was laid in store was fruit of the field, not money in a church offering-plate! The time those Christians began to harvest was “upon the day after the sabbaths” — upon Sunday after the early-morning offering of the wave sheaf. This precise history, not usually understood, clearly indicates that the New Testament Church continued to observe the sabbath and the annual festivals God gave, and that they always regarded Sunday as a work day.

March 16, 2009

What Is The Casting Of Lots?

God gave ancient Israel the system of casting lots as a means of determining His will in doubtful matters (Num. 33:54; I Sam. 14:42; I Chron. 24:5). God would guide the outcome so as to reveal His will. This method was still in use in the time of Christ. The disciples used casting lots in determining whom God was selecting to fill the office vacated by Judas (Acts 1:15-26).

After the eventful Pentecost of A.D. 31, no further mention is made of casting lots. The apostles depended upon direct guidance by the Holy Spirit, which, among other things, was to guide God’s people into all truth (Acts 2 and John 16:13). Please also notice Acts 6:1-8; 13:1-3; 15:19, 28; and 16:6.

Today, as in early New Testament times, God uses the power of His Holy Spirit through His chosen ministers to reveal His will in important matters of concern to the Church on which the Scriptures give no definite command.

February 27, 2009

Proof: Jesus Christ’s Killers Found

heartofwisdom.com/.../

heartofwisdom.com/.../

If I asked you straight out who killed Jesus Christ, would you be able to give a correct answer? Some say it was the Jews, others argue it was Pilate. Certainly no one involved would argue anything but their innocence. But as you read, let me throw a startling statement at you. There is evidence that you the reader killed Christ as surely as if your hands were on the spear that pierced His side. Not you alone of course, but every one of us is guilty. Here’s how!

Definite Proof

In Acts 2:5-36, it states that men from every nation dwelling gathered in Jerusalem (verses 9-11), to witness a great event. Most still talked about the death and crucifixion of Jesus Christ; the great earthquake at the time of His death, and the rent in the great veil of the Temple. These were no ordinary circumstances. Indeed, some even said they had seen dead men, risen from their graves, walking the streets of Jerusalem.

So the buzz was in the air and the rumours were flying, until that Pentecost morning of June 18, 31 A.D., when a great rushing of wind sounded about the city. Running to the source of the sound, a crowd began forming around a house with an upper room. The door opened and the eleven plus one stepped forth — and others with them. There was a eerie silence as everyone held their breath waiting for an explanation.

Then, as those that came forth from the house began to speak, an amazing thing happened — every person, regardless of his nation or language, heard them in his own native tongue. You can guess that there was a lot of amazement and wonder at this? What did it mean? Between the confusing din, some even began to accuse the apostles of drinking too much wine — of being drunk!

It was time for an explanation and the man called Peter held up his hands, stilling the crowd. His voice, strong and powerful, boomed out to the crowd the first recorded sermon of the New Testament. He explained the circumstances and denied their accusations by preaching the Word of God, under special inspiration from God.

But do you suppose he tried to calm the crowd with soothing words? No, in fact, he started out by accusing the large group of crucifying Jesus Christ (verses 22 and 23). What a beginning, considering that these people from all over the earth had not participated physically in the crucifixion! Yet Peter said under inspiration, “You have taken, and [you] by [your] wicked hands have crucified and slain. He repeated himself for good emphasis in verse 36.

It doesn’t matter if we are not directly descended from these people, just as it didn’t matter to Peter that those gathered in front of Him had not physically participated in the killing of Jesus Christ. We are all just as guilty as the High Priest who blasphemed and condemned Jesus Christ to death (Mark 14:63-65); just as guilty as those who spat on Him; or as those who struck Him with fists, bludgeoning His face until it was raw and swollen. Yes, even as guilty as the man who scourged Jesus Christ with a cat-o’-nine-tails (Matt. 27:26) until His skin was ruptured and torn and His bones were exposed (Ps. 22:17), leaving Him just short of death.

At this point, Jesus Christ was not even recognizable as a human being. The scourging was preparatory to the most vicious death yet devised by man. Christ was nailed to a cross by nails that drove deep into the red, raw flesh, pinning His hands and feet to that stake. We also cannot escape blame for this act, nor the final indignity of thrusting the spear in Jesus Christ’s side. Then we helped raise the cross and dropped it into the hole, as Christ’s flesh tore on the nails when it hit bottom.

Are you confused as to how you and I individually participated in an event that happened roughly 2000 years ago? Let me explain. Are you a Christian, an atheist or something in between? Do you practice the faith of Islam, Judaism, Taoism or other religions? Or are you someone “morally” upright, yet never attend a church service? It doesn’t matter. Most people the world over, irregardless of religious leanings, beliefs, faiths and so on literally curse Jesus Christ every day of the year when they trample on God’s Holy Days, or His weekly Sabbath. They mock Jesus Christ when they fail to keep the law of God and spit in His face by trying to do away with the Ten Commandments altogether. Everyone, through their actions and words, is guilty of crying out “crucify Him” in a thousand different ways (Mark 15:13).

We have helped put to death the only Saviour this world has ever known! We have despised and rejected “… a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him: and with His stripes we are healed. All we [all of us] like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:3-6).

Disobedience to God’s laws caused His excruciating death. Yet here is the love of God, that while we are going about our despicable deeds and evil behaviour, Jesus Christ was commending His love toward us. He died for us (Rom. 5:8). This sacrifice applies to all people, of all times. Can we comprehend what Jesus Christ – the former Word who was with God for all eternity (John 1:1) – endured? The God who had lived from eternity without beginning or end, without mother or father, without pain, and the very express image, brightness and character of the Father and His power. He sat down with the Father and made the plans to come to this earth and suffer that we might live!

This God of majesty, power and awesome splendour took the job willingly, predetermining to endure the cross that we might live (Heb. 12:2). He was made a mortal man to suffer death for you and for me! Think of how humbling it would be to come in the same weak flesh and blood as your creation, but with the ultimate purpose of destroying death, pain, sickness, disease and misery (Heb. 2:9, 14).

And while doing so, this great being was tempted just like we are tempted — conquering the downward pull of the flesh perfectly without sin (Heb. 4:15). It wasn’t without effort either, as He prayed and humbled Himself before His Father for strength, “… and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44)

Those who deny Him fail to understand that all “nations [on earth] are as a drop in a bucket and are counted as the small dust of the balance ….” (Isa. 40:9-15). Think about that. What is your net value to God? When all nations in totality are only a drop in a bucket, how significant are we, who are counted as specks of dust? Yet this great God sacrificed Himself for us! That is almost incomprehensible.

What’s Your Reaction?

So how concerned are you, or am I, over this terrible death? We have a responsibility which must be taken literally. God says it is He who calls us (John 6:44), and desires we realize the seriousness of our crimes, repenting of them (Acts 2:38). This does not apply to those who sin or drift along, nor to the scoffers and those full of pride and vanity. Not if we keep sinning! Not if we just drift along, or are filled with pride and vanity!

God desires humbleness (I Pet. 5:5-6) and will resist all other forms of character. When we exercise true repentance of our past misdeeds and are properly baptized and, by God’s Spirit put into the true Church of God, the living body of Christ — then we have God’s complete forgiveness.  He is able to blot out our sins, our transgressions — no matter how wicked we have been (Ps. 51:1). And yes, this despite all having participated in the killing of Christ. We indeed have a God of love and deep concern.

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