Category Archives: BIBLE CONTRADICTIONS / CONFUSING VERSES SIMPLIFIED

Was Jesus born in Jerusalem?

WAS JESUS BORN IN JERUSALEM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No! To say Christ was born in Jerusalem is to misread Luke chapter 2.

Observe the following: “[1] And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. [2] (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) [3] And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. [4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David: ) [5] To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. [6] And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. [7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Submitting to the Roman Emperor, Joseph and pregnant Mary left Nazareth of Galilee (northern Israel, cf. Luke 1:26) and traveled to southern Israel for a taxation or census. Being of David’s family (Matthew 1:1,6,17,20; Luke 1:27,32,69; Luke 3:31), they went to David’s hometown, Bethlehem of Judaea (1 Samuel 16:1-18). Genealogical or family records were kept in ancestral birthplaces. While Joseph and Mary are living in Bethlehem of Judaea, Mary gives birth to Jesus. The angel of the Lord appears to shepherds out in the field, informing them of Messiah’s arrival. He says, in part: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). What is this “city of David” here?

It is true the Old Testament applies the title “city of David” to Jerusalem, and this was because it was King David’s capital city (2 Kings 9:28; 2 Kings 14:20). Here in Luke chapter 2, however, the “city of David” can only mean Bethlehem of Judaea, for it was David’s hometown. Luke already restricted the meaning in verse 4: “the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.” Only if we are careless will we insert Jerusalem into Luke 2, verses 4 and 11. Moreover, the shepherds correctly interpret “city of David” (verse 11) as Bethlehem of Judaea, for that is precisely where they intend to go! Read verse 15: “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

At this point, we must expose the fact the Book of Mormon differs significantly from the Holy Bible. In Alma 7:10 of the Book of Mormon, we read: “And, behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.” The Book of Mormon is wrong. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. Joseph Smith, while writing the Book of Mormon, evidently misread Luke!

This by no means should be considered “splitting hairs,” “nitpicky,” or “making something out of nothing.” If we do not specify Christ was born in Bethlehem, or Bethlehem Judah/Judaea/Ephratah, we are failing to make the connection of prophecy being fulfilled. He would be born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem, so to say Jerusalem is to deny fulfilled prophecy (or make it harder to realize prophecy was fulfilled). Over 700 years prior, Micah 5:2 had foretold: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Go over to Matthew chapter 2: “[1] Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, [2] Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. [3] When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. [4] And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. [5] And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, [6] And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” The name “Bethlehem” in Hebrew means “house of bread,” so it is only fitting the “Bread of Life” (John chapter 6) be born here!

Bethlehem Judah (also known as Bethlehem Ephratah and Bethlehem of Judaea) is approximately 5 or 6 miles (8 to 10 kilometers) almost due south of Jerusalem. It is not to be confused with another Bethlehem, northern Israel, near Galilee in the territory of the tribe of Zebulon (Joshua 19:15)—and Bethlehem Judah/Ephratah/Judaea is not to be confused with Jerusalem either!

Also see:
» Was Jesus born on the 25th of December?
» How can Luke 2:1 report “all the world” was subject to Caesar Augustus?
» Is there an historical mistake in Luke 2:1-2?

How can Luke 2:1 report “all the world” was subject to Caesar Augustus?

HOW CAN LUKE 2:1 REPORT “ALL THE WORLD” WAS SUBJECT TO CAESAR AUGUSTUS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Luke 2:1-2 tells us: “[1] And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. [2] (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)” How can the Bible suggest Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus decreed a tax for “all the world?” Is Scripture implying he had jurisdiction outside the Roman Empire?

The Holy Spirit, of course, was aware Caesar Augustus could tax people only within the empire’s borders. We are not to suppose, for example, the mandate extends to the North and South American continents, or Antarctica, or Australia. The point is this: Gentiles, not Jews, are the chief nation in the Earth. Why?

Remember, Adam relinquished to Satan his God-given dominion over the Earth when he sinned in Eden (Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8). Israel became God’s supreme nation in the Earth (Genesis 12:1-3), but lost her dominion in the Earth because of King Solomon’s habitual pagan idolatry (cf. Leviticus 26:18-19; 1 Kings 11:1-43). Here, circa 930 B.C., Israel’s 12 tribes were divided into two nations or kingdoms—Israel (10 northern tribes) and Judah (two southern tribes). As the centuries passed, the Jews waned politically. Ultimately, approximately 722 B.C., the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom, thus beginning Israel’s Assyrian Captivity (2 Kings 17:6-23; cf. Leviticus 26:27-39). Between 606 and 586 B.C., the Babylonians thrice invaded the Southern Kingdom, culminating in the Fall of Jerusalem and the burning of Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C. (2 Kings chapters 24–25; cf. Leviticus 26:27-39). Thus commenced Judah’s Babylonian Captivity.

Study the Book of Daniel, especially chapter 2. World history agrees with Scripture. The Babylonians conquered Judah, the Medes-Persians overcame the Babylonians, the Greeks vanquished the Medes-Persians, and the Romans conquered and extended the Greek Empire. All these military conquests occurred during the six centuries prior to Luke chapter 2. The Holy Spirit through Luke is reminding us that Israel is under the fifth course of chastisement, still subject to Gentiles, and it will remain this way until Christ’s Second Coming and subsequent earthly kingdom (see Daniel 2:44-45). JEHOVAH God, having temporarily removed Israel from the chief political position, afforded Caesar Augustus the potential to conquer every known people on Earth. Rome can possibly acquire all the governmental potency Adam and Israel lost.

Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar confessed that was the case with him in Daniel 4:1,22. Had God not brought in the Medes-Persians to overthrow prideful Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar would have eventually conquered all continents. The Medes-Persians would have had worldwide dominion, but God used the Greeks to defeat them (most humbly) before that happened. Before the Greeks became too powerful, the LORD brought in the Romans to conquer them. Eventually, the Roman Empire collapsed. These successive kingdoms and empires have come and gone because of God’s allowance of it.

As touching the entire duration of our Dispensation of Grace (last 2,000 years), Israel has been without the Davidic dynasty. The evil world system is still awaiting a thorough purging. Satan is still reigning in the Earth. After our dispensation closes, the Antichrist will endeavor to overtake all nations (Revelation 13:7,14,16), but Christ’s return will interrupt and destroy him (2 Thessalonians 2:8), thus bringing to a permanent end Gentile dominion in the Earth. The Lord Jesus Christ will restore David’s throne to Israel—yea, to universal supremacy—and thus reign for Father God’s glory forever (Luke 1:31-33; Revelation 12:15; cf. Isaiah 9:6-7). Satan and pagan Gentiles will no longer rule in the Earth! Furthermore, through us the Church the Body of Christ, David’s throne will extend out into the heavenly places throughout the endless ages to come (2 Timothy 2:8-13). (For more about David’s throne impacting the heavenly places in the future, and our role in it, see our related study about the heavens, whose link you will find below.)

Also see:
» Is there an historical mistake in Luke 2:1-2?
» Why does “overturn” appear thrice in Ezekiel 21:27?
» Can you explain, “My kingdom is not of this world?”
» Is the “Divine right of kings” a Scriptural concept?
» Where in the Bible did God give Satan domain over the Earth?
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?
» Why are the heavens not clean in God’s sight?
» Who was “Caesar?”
» Who was “Herod?”
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?

What is the “flood” of Joshua chapter 24?

WHAT IS THE “FLOOD” OF JOSHUA CHAPTER 24?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“[2] And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. [3] And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac…. [14] Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. [15] And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

What is the “flood” of Joshua chapter 24? Is it the Flood of Genesis? No. It is not the Great Deluge of Noah’s lifetime. After all, Terah/Abraham/Nachor, like Joshua, all lived after the Flood of Genesis chapters 6–8, not before it. Therefore, it would not make sense to read Joshua chapter 24 as “Terah/Abraham/Nachor prior to the Flood….” Be sure to read “the other side of the flood” as a place on a map, not a position on the Bible timeline. The King James translators rendered that Hebrew word (“nahar”) more often as “river” (nearly 100 times). However, they were not incorrect when translating it as “flood” here as elsewhere. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, “flood” is a literary term for a stream/river or sea. In Old English, it is flod, both of which are related to flow (as in a river flowing). Now that we understand stream is the sense of the word “flood” in Joshua chapter 24, which river would it be?

Before the LORD God called him, Abram (his former name) was a pagan idolater in Ur of the Chaldees. Actually, his whole family was heathen. Historically, this was Genesis 11:27-32, with Abram’s call in the opening verses of chapter 12, but the progressive revelation of the matter is given in Acts 7:1-4. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham in Genesis chapter 17. Ur of the Chaldees (Babylonians) is situated in modern Iraq, near the Euphrates River. Far to the west—that is, west of the Jordan River—is the land of Canaan, where Joshua was speaking to Israel. It is debated whether he was referring to the Jordan River or the Euphrates River. (This author leans toward the Euphrates.) So long as we make “flood” a river here, and not involve the Great Flood of Noah’s day, we have grasped the most important point.

Also see:
» Is there a geographical error in 2 Kings 2:2?
» Is “Jesus” a mistake in the King James Bible in Hebrews 4:8?
» How could Jonah flee from God’s presence?

How could Jesus eat the Passover meal if He were already dead?

HOW COULD JESUS EAT THE PASSOVER MEAL IF HE WERE ALREADY DEAD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

According to Scripture, Christ Jesus ate a Passover meal with His Little Flock in Matthew 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-25, Luke 22:7-38, and John 13:1-30. Yet, some verses indicate Passover was not actually observed until a day later, when Jesus was already dead. How could this be? Is there any way to reconcile these seemingly incongruous timelines?

Here is what the Bible says about Jesus’ trial in John 18:28: “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.” According to this verse, Israel’s religious leaders have not eaten the Passover meal yet. Verse 39 quotes Pontius Pilate’s words during Jesus’ trial: “But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” Again, it seems Passover is future. Finally, verse 14 of John chapter 19: “And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” No doubt they are preparing for the Passover. It is approaching.

Let us establish a few time markers. Christ was crucified at “the third hour,” three hours after 6 a.m., or 9 a.m. (Mark 15:25). He died near “the ninth hour,” or 3 p.m. (Mark 15:33-34,37). At this time, the priests were slaughtering the Passover lambs for the nation Israel to eat at roughly 6 p.m. (Abib 14th at even or sunset; Exodus 12:6). In order to fulfill the type, Christ had to expire exactly when the lambs did: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Since Jesus is the true Passover lamb, He had to die on Passover, thus necessitating He hold an early Passover with His saints. This is precisely what He did!

Recall Leviticus 23:5: “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover.” Although Passover was the most important religious celebration in Judaism, and was usually observed on the 14th of the first month (Abib, roughly April) at even, the date of the feast could be moved if for a valid reason. Jesus moved Passover for His disciples in a similar manner. He was God, so He had the authority to move it. Also, there was an Old Testament precedent that we need not forget.

Seven hundred years prior to Christ, King Hezekiah and Judah observed Passover on the 14th of the second month, since they were not ready for the first month. “For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month” (2 Chronicles 30:2). Verse 15: “Then they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the LORD.” As Hezekiah and Judah held a late Passover, so Jesus and His disciples held an early one.

Passover was actually the evening immediately following Christ’s afternoon death, meaning He died at the very time the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. Therefore, in order for Him to eat the Passover with His disciples, He had to hold an early Passover just hours before His trial and crucifixion. The rest of Israel would not eat Passover until the following evening, which, by that time, He was already dead and buried.

Also see:
» Was Jesus crucified on Friday?
» Do Mark 15:25 and John 19:14 contradict?
» What is a “propitiation?”
» Should we observe the Lord’s Supper?
» Are Christians obligated to observe the Passover?

Is there an historical mistake in Luke 2:1-2?

IS THERE AN HISTORICAL MISTAKE IN LUKE 2:1-2?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Bible critics grumble that Luke 2:1-2 allegedly contains an historical mistake: “[1] And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. [2] (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)” Is there an error here?

Mary the virgin gives birth to the Lord Jesus in verse 7. Herod the Great, king of Judaea, died when Jesus was just a few years old (cf. Matthew chapter 2). If Herod died no sooner than 1 B.C., we deduce Luke 2:1-2 (and Jesus’ birth) occurred circa 4 B.C. Difficulty, however, arises when historians claim Cyrenius* did not become governor of Syria until A.D. 6. If they are correct, Luke is mistaken because he has Cyrenius reigning several years earlier. (*The King James Bible calls him “Cyrenius.” Modern English versions name him “Quirinius,” his full title being “Publius Sulpicius Quirinius”).

According to Jewish historian Josephus, a prominent census (“taxing”) was conducted in Palestine in A.D. 6. Acts 5:37 makes reference to that event in which the Jews fiercely rebelled. Cyrenius was in charge of that taxing, as well as punishing the insurgents. Could this have been the census of Luke 2:1-2? No. The A.D. 6 census was roughly a decade after the census coinciding with Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:7. Luke must have another census in mind when opening chapter 2.

One Bible commentator sheds light on the subject from an archaeological standpoint: “A fragment of stone discovered at Tivoli (near Rome) in A.D. 1764 contains an inscription in honor of a Roman official who, it states, was twice governor of Syria and Phoenicia during the reign of Augustus. The name of the official is not on the fragment, but among his accomplishments are listed details that, as far as is known, can fit no one other than Quirinius. Thus, he must have served as governor in Syria twice. He was probably military governor at the same time that history records Varus was civil governor there.”

Apparently, in 8 B.C., Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus sent out the decree for the census to be undertaken, but delays prevented it from being administered until three or four years later. Remember, aged Herod the Great was in his final years, and political disagreement between him and Rome likely complicated the process. This was the census of Luke 2:1-2, when Cyrenius (Quirinius) had been military governor of Syria, and Quinctilius Varus the civil governor. Many years later, Cyrenius became civil governor of Syria, and there was a second census (the one of A.D. 6, alluded to in Acts 5:37 in hindsight).

There is no historical mistake in Luke 2:1-2. Cyrenius (Quirinius) reigned as governor of Syria twice. Luke 2:1-2 refers to a census during his first term (circa 6–4 B.C.). Cyrenius served another term approximately A.D. 6–9, with a second census taken here (mentioned in Acts 5:37). Remember, if the Holy Spirit did not guide Luke to perfectly record the historical facts, then we could not trust the Bible as touching (the more important) spiritual facts! Think about it!

Also see:
» Who was “Herod?”
» Who was “Caesar?”
» Who was High Priest—Annas or Caiaphas?

What is Paul’s “lie” in Romans 3:7?

WHAT IS PAUL’S “LIE” IN ROMANS 3:7?

by Shawn Brasseaux

How are we to understand Romans 3:7? “For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” Just what is this “lie?” Did Paul tell a falsehood here?

For the context, start at verse 1 and continue through verse 7: “[1] What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? [2] Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. [3] For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? [4] God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. [5] But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) [6] God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? [7] For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? [8] And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.”

Romans chapters 1–3 is the Holy Spirit skillfully outlining his legal case for the prosecution of sinful mankind. Whether Gentile/heathen (1:18-32) or Jew/religious (2:1-29), Romans 3:9 concludes, “…all [are] under sin.” Beginning at verse 21, the Holy Spirit reveals His solution to man’s sin problem: “[21] But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; [22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Getting back to the opening of chapter 3, “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” The Jews of the Old Testament economy (specifically, prior to Paul’s apostleship) understood their sin problem. They had the Hebrew Bible—our “Old Testament Scriptures”—whereas the Gentiles did not (Romans 3:1-2, cf. Romans 2:17-24; Romans 9:3-5). In this respect, Israel was aware of the words and will of the one true God. Contrariwise, the non-Jews (Gentiles) had been given over to the pagan idols and spiritual darkness they preferred (Acts 14:15-17; Acts 17:22-31; Ephesians 2:11-12).

“For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” Even though individual Jews did not believe that aforementioned Divine revelation given to the nation Israel—culminating in the Jews’ crucifixion of Christ—that did not nullify or cancel the covenants JEHOVAH God made with the nation’s patriarchs centuries earlier (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, et cetera). Although man lies, God does not: He always keeps His promises, and man will never be able to justly accuse Him of being untrustworthy. The Lord would be (will) still be faithful in taking care of Israel’s sin problem and making them His earthly people via the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; cf. Hebrews chapters 8 and 10).

“But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)” The Holy Spirit anticipates man’s objection, so He leads Paul to summarize that sinner’s “defense.” After unsuccessfully attacking God for allegedly being dishonest or unfaithful (Romans 3:4)—thereby failing to discredit God’s accusations against him—the sinner proceeds to want God to be lenient toward him. Unwilling to accept the penalty for his sin problem, he resorts to more excuses: “My unrighteousness, my sinful lifestyle, makes God’s righteousness look all the better. How can God condemn me so harshly if He is more glorious when compared to my sinful activities? Would He not be evil in punishing someone who makes Him look so good?” Paul promptly answered, “God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?” God is not unrighteous or wicked, otherwise He would be in no position to judge sinners. Indeed, the Judge of all the Earth shall do right (Genesis 18:25) at the Great White Throne Judgment when He deals with unsaved sinners bound for the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15)!

“For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” This amplifies the previous statements (Romans 3:5-6). Sinful man offers another lame justification for how he is not as bad as God’s testimony against him indicates. “When I tell a lie, I make God’s truth look even better. There is nothing like a good contrast to God so as to bring out His very best! How can God then find fault with me?! Without me, He would look worse off!” Paul is being philosophical here. He is not actually telling a lie but rather highlighting a difference that sinful man mentions so as to clear his name and/or make himself look less guilty.

“And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.” Paul’s critics had misconstrued his message of “salvation by grace through faith in Christ without our works” as meaning nothing more than “grace is a license to sin.” “Live however you want, for in doing so you emphasize God’s grace!” As the excuse “My lie makes God’s truth look better,” this too was wrong. Whether sinners trying to ease their conscience and save themselves from being labeled a “sinner,” or sinners who believe their evil deeds are their opportunity to display God’s grace, neither will be excused at the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15. No matter how “clever” sinful man will be in the Day of Judgment, God is fully prepared to outsmart and answer him! (He already has in Romans!!)

Also see:
» “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”
» Is grace “a license to sin?”
» What is Romans 2:24 talking about?
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» Is “God forbid” a “poor translation?”
» How were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?
» Why are lost people not judged for their works immediately after physical death?

How can the Bible call Herod Antipas a “king?”

HOW CAN THE BIBLE CALL HEROD ANTIPAS A “KING?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible calls Herod Antipas a “tetrarch” on five occasions:

  • Matthew 14:1: “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,….”
  • Luke 3:1: “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,….”
  • Luke 3:19: “But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,….”
  • Luke 9:7: “Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;….”
  • Acts 13:1: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

“Tetrarch” is the transliteration of the Greek word that literally means “ruler of the fourth part [of a kingdom].” Someone may then use this to complain about Bible verses that refer to Herod Antipas as a “king.” Read these passages:

  • Matthew 14:9: “And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.”
  • Mark chapter 6: “[14] And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad: ) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him….. [22] And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. [23] And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom…. [25] And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. [26] And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. [27] And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,….”

Strictly speaking, a king is more powerful than a tetrarch: the tetrarch reigns over a quarter of a kingdom, whereas a king’s territory is more extensive. How could Matthew and Mark then title Herod Antipas a “king?” We do not have to be technical here. “King” can be used in the general sense of anyone ruling over or being superior to another, so Matthew and Mark are certainly not in error in applying it to Herod Antipas. Antipas was a ruler, and in that broad sense he was king. Matthew was aware he was a “tetrarch,” and gave him that specific title (14:10). Yet, there is something important being signaled here, and we need to be receptive to the Bible instead of being critical of it.

When the Holy Spirit sometimes calls Antipas a “king,” He is looking beyond Antipas’ role as a “tetrarch.” He is alerting us to the fact Israel prefers this king as opposed to her true King. Antipas is accepted as king, but Jesus Christ is rejected as King. Remember, the Herodians were a sect of Jews partial to the Herodian dynasty. (There were various “Herods” in Scripture. See our study linked at the end of this article.) Herodians wanted a Herod to reign over them directly, as opposed to Rome appointing and ruling them through a Herod. Their position exemplifies Israel’s national situation: Israel declines to have a son of David (namely, Jesus) rule over them and fulfill the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-17; cf. Isaiah 9:6-7).

Recall these verses about the Lord Jesus Christ being heir to the throne of King David:

  • Matthew 2:2: “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”
  • Matthew 21:5: “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”
  • Mark 11:10: “Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”
  • Luke 1:31-33: “[31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: [33] And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
  • Luke 19:38: “Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.”
  • John 12:13,15: “[13] Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord…. [15] Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.”

In Matthew through John, Israel refuses to have Christ as their King. For Scripture to always call Herod Antipas a “tetrarch”—and never “king”—would cause us to lose the connection. King Herod is reigning, not King Jesus Christ, and that is the way Israel wants it! So as to underscore that fact, Herod Antipas is sometimes referred to as “king.” By the way, if you study those special verses (Matthew chapter 14 and Mark chapter 6, John the Baptist’s imprisonment and ultimate beheading), you can see Christ’s rejection as King. John was Christ’s forerunner. Therefore, John’s rejection is yet another indication of (1) Israel’s unbelief and refusal of King Christ, and (2) her willingness to let an evil king (Herod Antipas) slaughter God’s prophets in her midst.

Also see:
» Who were the “Herodians?”
» Who was “Herod?”
» Who was “Caesar?”

How could there be two “evenings” in Matthew 14:15-23?

HOW COULD THERE BE TWO “EVENINGS” IN MATTHEW 14:15-23?

by Shawn Brasseaux

As touching Christ’s miraculous feeding of the 5,000, we encounter two seemingly disparate verses in Matthew.

  • Matthew 14:15: “And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.”
  • Matthew 14:22-23: “[22] And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. [23] And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.”

We have an “evening” in verse 15 and an “evening” in verse 23. How could that be? Was it not already stated that it was evening? Or, did 24 hours actually elapse between these two verses? No, that does not seem to be the case. The Jews reckoned two “evenings” in a day—one began at 3 p.m. and the other started at 6 p.m. Verse 15 is the first evening; verse 23 is the second. They occurred on the same day, the first opening in mid-afternoon and the second commencing near dusk.

Also see:
» Do Mark 15:25 and John 19:14 contradict?
» Feeding the 4,000 and feeding the 5,000—same or different?
» Do Matthew 17:1, Mark 9:2, and Luke 9:28 contradict?

Do Mark 15:25 and John 19:14 contradict?

DO MARK 15:25 AND JOHN 19:14 CONTRADICT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Read Mark 15:25: “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.” Nothing appears amiss here, right?

Turn now to John 19:13-16 and consider it: “[13] When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. [14] And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! [15] But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. [16] Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.”

At this point, there appears to be an incongruity. Mark places Christ’s crucifixion at the third hour,” but, strangely John estimates His trial before Pontius Pilate was at the sixth hour.” How could Christ be tried three hours after His crucifixion? Is Mark mistaken in his timetable? Maybe John is wrong? What about Bible inerrancy?

Firstly, the easiest route to take is to throw up our hands and cry out, “Contradiction! We have found an error in the Bible!” Then, we just toss aside the Scriptures and gleefully begin our lifelong crusade of “disproving the Bible.” We travel the world, exhibiting our “skillful” handling of using Mark against John and John against Mark. Since denominational people are always looking for excuses to discard the Bible and embrace their church tradition, many will convert to our side after they hear our “appealing” (yet superficial) case. (Unfortunately, this scenario of unbelief is a true story!)

Secondly, we can take the difficult road. Following this course, we will face much opposition. Actually, it is because we will encounter people who have gone the easiest route (see previous paragraph). We can simply take the position of faith and believe the Bible is perfect. Instead of us correcting the Scriptures, we let the Scriptures correct us. Yes, it is a strange view to most, seeing as to we are so accustomed to hearing people in church not believing the Bible, and preachers and teachers discouraging us from trusting the Scriptures. Yet, we will assume Mark meant what he said and said what he meant, and John meant what he said and said what he meant. There is no error in either Gospel Record.

Here is a plausible scenario. What if Mark reckoned time according to the Jewish calendar? If so, the “third hour” is roughly three hours after sunrise, or 9 A.M. Now, what if John wrote according to the Roman method of timekeeping? Romans, like all other Gentiles, start a day at midnight. Consequently, the “sixth hour” is six hours after midnight, approximately 6 A.M. To summarize it in one simple sentence: Christ’s trial before Pilate was at 6 A.M. (John / sixth hour, Roman time), and He was crucified at 9 A.M (Mark / third hour, Jewish time). Is that possible? Indeed, it is, and if we can explain it then there is no mistake. See, dear friends, just a little mental effort, a little study, goes a long way with the Scripture! (That is, if [!] we are willing to handle the Bible honestly and objectively. Otherwise, let us commence our “crusade!”)

Also see:
» Why are Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradictory?
» Is Matthew 26:59-61 contradictory?
» Do Hosea 11:12 and Hosea 12:2 contradict?

Did Peter use obscenities when denying Christ?

DID PETER USE OBSCENITIES WHEN DENYING CHRIST?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Was Peter employing vulgarities in these two passages? “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew” (Matthew 26:74). “But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak” (Mark 14:71). Long ago, this author remembers his pastor teaching on this topic, claiming Peter was uttering “four-letter words” or expletives. Is that true of Peter?

The “cursing” and “swearing” were not filthy language but rather strong religious language. It was something to the effect of, “I am not associated with the man! Heaven curse me if I am lying!” This is Peter’s third denial, so it is most extreme. In modern speech, someone would say, “God strike me dead if I am not telling the truth when I say I know not the man!” At this point, Peter considers the Lord Jesus as nothing but “the man… this man of whom ye speak.” So dominated by the flesh, he cannot bring himself to even say Jesus’ name! Poor Peter is distancing himself from the very God-Man he passionately claimed he would so vigorously defend.

We will recall his boastful statements made some hours prior, as found in Matthew 26:33-34: “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” Peter argued still. As we know quite well, the Lord, regrettably, was correct in this prediction (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:25-27).

Friends, let us be ever so careful in our words, remembering to place more emphasis on God’s love and faithfulness than on our (fickle) love and (un)“faithfulness.” By the way, to discover God’s solution to Peter’s dilemma, be sure to read our John 21 study linked below!

Also see:
» Why did Satan want to “sift” the circumcision saints?
» Did Judas Iscariot have to betray Christ?
» Who are the “these” in the “more than these” of John 21:15?