Acknowledgement: This work has been summarized using The New International Version Study Bible (NIV translation 1973--84, published Zondervan 1985). Quotations are for the most part taken from that work, as are paraphrases of its commentary--thus the notes reflect the devoutly evangelical flavor and point of view of that commentary. Other sources are explicitly cited below.
Notes My choices of what to include in this summary are undoubtedly idiosyncratic but reflect my efforts to understand the Bible--especially the relationships between the Old Testament and New Testament, between the Bible and "modern" man, and between the Bible and other works that allude to it. I have tried to achieve conciseness, clarity, and consecutiveness, generally at the expense of literary merit. I have obviously focused on the Gospels and Acts.
The gospels consist of the "Synoptic" gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke, so named because of their similarities to the eye) and John. "Gospel" (from Old English "Godspel") means "good news," namely that God has provided salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
Matthew, one of the twelve apostles, is said to have been the author of Matthew. He was called Levi by Luke and Mark. It was probably written in Palestine or Antioch, in the 50's or possibly as late as the 70's or later. It was probably written for Greek speaking Jews familiar with Jewish tradition and customs, to prove to them that Jesus is their Messiah by showing them how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the OT. Some believe it derives from Mark.
Mark (John Mark), a close associate of Peter, is said to have been the author of Mark, what may be a summary of the preaching of Peter. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Antioch, deserted him later, but was finally reconciled with him. It was probably written in the 50's or 60's and may have served as the model for Matthew and Luke. Traditionally, it was written in Italy, possible Rome. He writes to Gentile readers, explaining Jewish customs, possibly to prepare them during the persecutions of the Roman Christian church in 64 - 67. He emphasizes persecution, martyrdom and suffering, the cross, discipleship, and Jesus' teachings.
The author of Luke, who also wrote Acts, addresses Theophilus, perhaps a Roman official or aristocrat. He was with Paul and is inferred from Col 4:14 to have been Luke. He was probably a well-educated Gentile physician, perhaps living in Antioch of Syria or Philippi. It was written to strengthen the faith of believers and to answer the attacks of unbelievers, probably in the early 60's to 80's. The readers are assumed to be unfamiliar with Palestine. It emphasizes salvation, the place of Gentiles as well as Jews in God's kingdom, prayer, the joy of announcing the gospel, the poor, sinners, family, "Son of Man", and the Holy Spirit.
The author of John is the apostle John. He knew Jewish life and the geography of Palestine well. It was written c. 85 (inferred because of the well developed theology) or possibly as early as the 50's to 70's before Jerusalem was destroyed. His primary intention was evangelistic but he may also have intended to correct or supplement the synoptic gospels, combat a heresy, oppose the followers of John the Baptist, etc.
Jesus Before His Birth: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.... In him was life, and that life was the light of men.... He gave the right to become children of God...born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us....Jn1:14"
The Genealogies of Jesus: Matthew and Luke provide genealogies showing that Jesus is descended from David through Zerubbabel but differing substantially beyond him [perhaps one traces Mary's and the other Joseph's lineage].
The Birth of Jesus Foretold (The Annunciation): The angel Gabriel Lk1:26 appears to Mary to tell her of the child "....Before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit....to fulfill [Isaiah's prophesy].... `God with us'.Mt1:23" An angel explains to Joseph and says the son's name will be Jesus. Mary visits Elizabeth, who says " `Blessed are you among women and blesses is the child you will bear.... The baby in my womb leaped for joy.Lk1:44'" Mary gives a hymn of praise [the Magnificat]: " `My soul glorifies the Lord.... From now on all generations will call me blessed....Lk1:48' "
The Birth of John the Baptist: The angel Gabriel had appeared to the priest Zechariah, telling him that his barren wife (and Mary's relative) Elizabeth would bear him a son to be named John, who would never take wine or other fermented drink, and who would "go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah.Lk1:13" At John's birth, Zechariah regains his speech and praises the Lord [Benedictus], prophesying John's role " `to go on before the Lord....Lk1:76' "
The Birth of Jesus: Caesar Augustus requires a census and Joseph returns to Bethlehem "because he belonged to the house and line of David.Lk2:4" Jesus is born in Bethlehem [c. 6-5 B.C.] as prophesied in Micah. Mary "wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger....Lk2:7"
The Visit of Shepherds: An angel announces to nearby shepherds the coming of the Christ, saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests [Gloria in Excelsis Deo].Lk1:14' " They visit him and spread the word of these events.
The Presentation in the Temple: His parents take him on the eighth day for circumcision and consecration. A righteous man Simeon proclaims him to be " `a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.Lk1:32 This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel....Lk2:33'" They return to Galilee.
The Visit of the Magi: Magi [Gentile; astrologers?; how many?] come from the east asking " `Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw a star in the east and have come to worship him.Mt2:2' " They visit his home but do not tell Herod.
The Escape to Egypt: King Herod the Great (37 - 4 B.C.) learns of the visit of the Magi and orders the death of all boys in Bethlehem under two (" `Rachel weeping for her children [see Jer31:15])' ". They flee to Egypt, recapitulating the history of the nation of Israel and Hosea's prophesy.
The Return to Nazareth: An angel appears to Joseph in Egypt after Herod's death. They return but to the town of Nazareth in the district of Galilee .
The Visit to the Temple: When Jesus is twelve, he stays behind to learn in the temple in Jerusalem, saying later to his concerned parents " `Didn't you know I had to be in my father's house?Lk2:49' "
John the Baptist Prepares the Way: He preaches in the desert of Judea to " `Prepare the way for the Lord'" as prophesied in Isaiah 40:3 saying " `Repent, for the kingdom of heaven [i.e., the rule of God] is near.Mt3:1' " He eats locusts and wild honey and baptizes confessed sinners in the Jordan. He calls the Pharisees and Sadducees "you brood of vipers" and warns of the coming of the judgment of one " `whose sandals I am not fit to carry [or `untie'Jn1:27]. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear the threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.Mt3:12' " "He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.Jn1:8" John denies being the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet.Jn1:20 " `The bride [the people] belongs to the bridegroom [Jesus].... He must become greater; I must become less.Jn3:30' "
Jesus Baptized: John exclaims " `Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!Jn1:29' " Jesus insists on being baptized by John, after which "heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said `This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.Mt3:17' "
The Temptations by Satan: Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days where he counters three temptations by the devil [relating to his ministry to come] with quotations from Deuteronomy: to use supernatural power to overcome his own hunger (" ``Man does not live by bread alone....Dt8:3'' "), to win support by showing off his powers (" ``Do not put the Lord you God to the test Dt6:16'' "), and to worship Satan for personal gain (" ``Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only Dt6:13'' ").Mt3:10 "He was with the wild animals and the angels attended him.Mk1:13"
Jesus Begins to Preach: He begins In Galilee at Capernaum in the synagogue "after John was put in prison, proclaiming the good news of God. `The time has come. The kingdom is near. Repent and believe the good news.Mk1:14' "
Jesus' First Miracle: At a wedding in Cana in Galilee, he changes water to wine.Jn2:9
The Cleansing of the Temple: In the temple courts at Jerusalem, he overturns the tables of the money changers, etc.Jn2:15 He says to them " `Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days'," meaning however "his body.Jn2:21"
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus: This Pharisee expresses faith in him and Jesus responds "... No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again [or `born from above'].... unless he is born of water and the spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.Jn3:6' " " `For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.Jn3:17'"
Jesus Talks to a Samaritan Woman: In Samaria at Jacob's well, Jesus asks a woman for water but she knows that Jews do not drink after Samaritans. He says "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.... A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on the mountains nor in Jerusalem.... God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth [i.e., the place of worship is irrelevant].Jn4:24' " He says he is the Messiah. The villagers believe in him and say he is "the Savior of the world.Jn4:42"
He Gives Life: " `For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.... The Father...has entrusted all judgment to the Son.... He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him....Jn5:23' "
The People Try to Kill Him: He claims in the Nazareth synagogue to be the Messiah. But after this and his citing of God's helping Gentiles (the widow of Zarephath and Naaman) in the Scriptures, they drive him out of town and try to throw him down a cliff.Lk4:29
The Calling of the First Disciples: Jesus calls the fishermen Simon (Peter; Aramaic "Cephas") and his brother Andrew, saying " `...I will make you fishers of men.Mt4:19' " He has miraculously made fish appear in Simon's net.Lk5:6 He adds brothers James and John, also fishermen. He calls the tax collector Matthew (Levi), responding to the Pharisees " `It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.Mt9:12' "
The Sermon on the Mount (or Plain): Probably given in Capernaum, Jesus gives demanding and somewhat exaggerated moral and ethical standards for Christian living, beginning with the Beatitudes (in Luke these teachings are arranged differently):
Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.... You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world.... Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise you Father in heaven....Mt5:16 Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed?...Mk4:21' "
"`Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets...but to fulfill them.... Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven....Mt5:20' "
"`Anyone who is angry with his brother.... First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift [at the altar].... Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.... If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.... Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress....'"
" `Do not swear at all.... Simply let your `Yes' be `Yes', and your `No' be `No'; anything beyond this comes form the evil one....'"
" `If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.... If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.... Love your enemies.... Be perfect....'"
" `When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogue.... When you pray, go into your room, close the door .... This is how you should pray: `Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name.... And lead us not into temptation, but deliver is from the evil one....' Forgive men when they sin against you....Mt6:14 Forgive and you will be forgiven.Lk6:37' "
" `When you fast, do not look somber.... Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.... but...treasures in heaven....' No one can serve two masters.... You cannot serve both God and money.... Do not worry about...what you will eat or drink.... [or] clothes.... [or] tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself....'"
" `Do not judge [i.e., self-righteously], or you too will be judged.... Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in you own eye?...Mt7:3 Do not condemn and you will not be condemned....Lk6:37 Do not throw pearls to pigs.... Ask and it will be given to you.... Do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets [the Golden Rule]....Mt7:12' "
" `Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruits you will recognize them.... Everyone who hears these words of mine and put them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock....Mt7:24' "
Jesus Drives Out Evil Spirits, Heals the Sick, and Raises the Dead: He cures the fever of a royal official's son.Jn1:53 Jesus says to a man possessed by an evil spirit " `Be quiet! Come out of him.' The evil spirit shook the man violently and same out of him with a shriek.Mk1:25" As prophesied in Isaiah, he goes "...healing every disease and sickness among the people.Mt4:23" A man with leprosy, who fails to keep quiet about this deed, so that Jesus "could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places.Mk1:43" The fever of Peter's mother-in-law.Mt8:14 A man [or two Mt8:32] who is demon-possessed and whose `name is Legion [because of all his demons]' is cured as Jesus drives his demons into pigs that drown in the sea, causing the people to ask him to leave their region!Mk5:1 He heals a paralytic on a mat (at BethesdaJn5:2; same as Bethsaida or Sheep Gate), who Jesus tells "Your sins are forgiven," causing accusations from the teachers of the law of blasphemy. A woman with chronic bleeding is cured ("Your faith has healed you") and Jarius' daughter is returned to life when Jesus speaks in Aramaic to her [Jesus may also have been able to speak Hebrew and Greek].Mk5:43 Jesus cures the blind Mt9:27 (one after Jesus spits in his eyes and lays his hands on themMk8:26 or uses saliva and mud Jn9:6; also the blind Bartimaeus Mk10:46), deaf, and mute Mk7:31, but asks that they not tell of this.Mt9:32 He heals the sick by "laying his hands on each one.Lk4:40" Twelve lepers are cured, but only the Samaritan thanks Jesus for being saved.Lk17:18 Jesus rejects the doctrine that sickness and congenital defects result from sin.Jn9:3
A Centurion's Faith: The [Gentile] centurion expresses faith in Jesus and his highly valued but paralyzed servant is cured by Jesus in his home. Jesus assures universality of his gospel: " `Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.'" Soon after, he brings a widow's son back to life.Lk7:15
Jesus demands sacrifice from his followers: " `The Son of man has no place to lay his head.... Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead [a radical demand emphasizing that Jesus' time was short and he required full commitment].Mt8:21' "
Jesus Calms the Storm: "He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.Mt8:26"
The Bridegroom: Jesus tells his disciples not to fast, comparing them to guests of the bridegroom that cannot mourn while he is with them. " `The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.... No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment.... Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins.... [i.e., Jesus represents a new order.]Mt9:15' "
Rest for the Weary: " `Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.... For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.Mt11:30' "
Jesus' Mother and Brothers: They come to take charge of him because they believe "he is out of his mind.Mk3:20" [Does the Virgin Mary have no faith in him?] But they cannot get near him because of the crowd Lk8:19 and he says " `Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.Mk3:35' " [Does Jesus reject his own relations?]
The Twelve are Sent Out to Preach and Heal: He designates twelve of his disciples "apostles.Lk6:13" Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael), Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus [Judas son of James?], Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot have been added. The twelve apostles are sent out "two by twoMk6:7" (to the Jews according to Matthew): " `Do not go among the Gentiles.... Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.... Preach `The kingdom of heaven is near.' Do not take along any gold...for the worker is worth his keep.' I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.... All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.... You will finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes[?].... Do not be afraid of them that kill the body but cannot kill the soul.... Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.... but a sword. For I have come to turn `a man against his father, a daughter against her mother....Micah7:6' Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.... Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me....Mt10:38 '" " `If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.... Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.Lk14:33' " "They drove out many demons Mk6:13" and healed the sick. His other followers include Mary "(called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna,...and Susanna.Lk8:3' "
The Unrepentant Cities: Jesus denounces the cities that had not accepted him, especially Capernaum. Of Nazareth, he says " `Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.Mt13:57' "
The Pharisees Criticize and Plot Against Him: Jesus counters the criticism of the Pharisees that his disciples gather grain to eat and that he heals a man's hand (or a crippled woman Lk13:14 or a man with dropsy Lk14:4 or a paralyzed man who carries his matJn5:10) on the Sabbath, citing David's eating of consecrated bread and saying " `The Sabbath was made for man [i.e., for restoration], not man for the Sabbath.Mk2:27 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.... For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath....Mt12:7 If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and pull it out?... Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.Mt12:12' " After he heals a demon-possessed man, they accuse him of conspiring with Beelzebub and Jesus answers "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.Mk3:25' " When they ask him for a miraculous sign, he says "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!... The Son of Man will be three days and three nights [?] in the heart of the earth.Mt12:40' " Later, they criticize his disciples for not washing their hands before meals. He responds " `You hypocrites....'" and recalls Isaiah (" `These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me....'") " `What goes into a man's mouth does not make him `unclean', but what comes out of his mouth.... For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality,... These are what make a man `unclean.'Mt15:19' " He suggests of the Pharisees: "If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.Mt15:14' " They ask for a miraculous sign but he again refuses, saying " `You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.Mt16:3' " He warns his disciples about the yeast (teachings) of the Pharisees.
Jesus explains his use of parables [Parabole = "a placing beside; comparison or illustration]: " `The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven [or `...kingdom of God'Mk4:11] has been given to you, but not to them.Mt13:11' " for, as in Isaiah, " `Though seeing they do not see; though hearing they do not hear or understand.Mt13:12' "
The Parable of the Sower of Seeds: "...But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it.Mt13:23' "
The Parable of the Weeds: "...At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.Mt13:30' "
The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast: " `The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.... Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants....Mt13:32' "
The Parables of The Hidden Treasure and the Pearl; the Net: " `The kingdom of heaven is like a net.... This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace.Mt13:50' "
The Rich Fool: He plans to " `take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry'" after an abundant harvest but God takes his life away as a result of his foolishness.Lk12:19
Jesus Speaks of John the Baptist: John's disciples visit Jesus and ask (because of John's own uncertainty Lk7:20) if he is the one who was to come. Jesus responds by recounting his miracles, reminding them of Malachi's prophesy, and saying " `Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he [because he is of the old covenant].... He is the Elijah who was to comeMt11:14....' " John is imprisoned by Herod [Antipas] because of his condemnation of Herod's marriage to the wife of his brother, Herodias. Her daughter [Salome] dances and demands John's head on a platter as reward, which Herod grants.
The Sinful Woman Anoints Jesus: Jesus is dining with Simon, a Pharisee, when a prostitute wets his feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair, kisses them, and pours perfume from an alabaster jar on them. He explains " `her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much.Lk7:47' "
Jesus Feeds 5,000: Jesus mourns the death of John the Baptist. A crowd including 5,000 men is fed from five loaves and two fish.
Jesus The Bread of Life: Later, he says " `I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.... For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.... This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.... Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood [i.e., has faith in him?] has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day....Jn6:54' " Many of his disciples desert Jesus over this doctrine and he explains in part that "the words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.Jn6:63' "
Jesus Walks on Water: The same evening, he walks on the water and Peter does as well. Peter says: " `Truly you are the Son of God.Mt14:33' "
Jesus Attends the Feast of Tabernacles: He teaches in Jerusalem, saying his teaching " `comes from him who sent me.... If a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath...why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?...Jn7:23' " The guards refuse to arrest him after he speaks. " `...You will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.Jn7:33' "
The Adulteress: ?Apocryphal: The Pharisees bring in and plan to stone an adulteress as Moses commanded. Jesus responds " `If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.... Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.Jn8:11' "
The Witness Justifying His Testimony: " `I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.Jn8:18 You are of this world; I am not of this world....Jn8:23' "
The Children of Abraham and of the Devil: " `If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.... Everyone who sins is a slave to sin....Jn8:34 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire [to kill Jesus].... The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.... Before Abraham was born, I am!Jn8:58' " The people then try to stone him.
The Good Shepherd: " `I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.Jn10:11' "
Jesus Withdraws to Tyre and Sidon: A woman from Syrian Phoenicia (a Canaanite) asks Jesus to help her daughter, who is possessed of an evil spirit. He is reluctant at first to help a Gentile but does so after she pleads " `even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.Mk7:28' "
Jesus feed 4,000: Jesus returns to the Sea of Galilee and feeds 4,000 men (plus women and children, who ate separately!) from seven loaves and a few fish.
Peter's Confession of Christ: Jesus asks " `Who do you say I am?'" and Peter responds "'You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.'" Jesus replies " `... This was not revealed to you by man, but by my father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven....Mt16:19' "
Jesus Predicts his Death: Jesus announces that he must go to Jerusalem where he will be killed. Peter tries to dissuade him, but Jesus says " `Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men. If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.... Whoever loses his life for me will find it.... For the Son of Man is going to come in his father's glory with all his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.... Some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in the kingdom [the Transfiguration or the Pentecost?].Mt16:28' " (or " `...before they see the kingdom of God come with power.Mk9:1' ") " `They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.Mt17:23' "
The Transfiguration: Jesus takes Peter, James, and John onto a mountain and "There he was transfigured before them. His face shown like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.Mt17:3" Jesus warns the disciples not to reveal this. " `... Elijah has already come [as John the Baptist], and they [the teachers of the law] did not recognize him, but they have done to him everything they wished. In the same way, the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.Mt17:14' "
The Disciples Lack Faith: The disciples fail to heal a boy with seizures. Jesus does so and explains " `Because you have so little faith.... If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain...and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.Mt17:20' "
Jesus Pays His Temple Taxes: Jesus directs Peter to draw the needed tax of two drachmas out of a fish's mouth.Mt17:27
Children: " `Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.... And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck....Mt18:6 If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of then wanders away, will he not...go to look for the one that wandered off? In the same way your father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.Mt18:14 Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven (or `God'Mk10:14) belongs to such as these.Mt19:14' "
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-two: Jesus sends out seventy-two with instructions similar to the apostles'. They return saying " `even the demons submit to us in your name.'" Jesus replies " `...I saw Satan falling like lightning from heaven.Lk10:1' "
The Good Samaritan: When asked " `who is my neighbor?'" Jesus tells the story of a man who is robbed and beaten. He is passed up by a priest and a Levite but is helped by a Samaritan. " `Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man?.... Go and do likewise [love has no national boundaries].Lk10:37' "
A Brother Who Sins Against You: " `If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.... Witnesses.... If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector [excommunication?].Mt18:17' " He recounts the Parable of the unmerciful servant, who would not show the same forgiveness he had been shown, and again stresses the need to forgive your brother.Mt18:35
Divorce: " `They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.... Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.Mt19:9....' "
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard: Workers who are hired late in the day [i.e., sinners saved more recently] receive the same wage [reward in heaven] as those who worked all day.
The Request From The Mother of (and/or from) James and John: She asks that they sit at his side in heaven. Jesus responds " `Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?... These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my father.... Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave Mt20:27....' "
Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead: Lazarus dies before Jesus can arrive. He reassures Lazarus' sisters Martha and Mary: " `I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies....Jn11:25' " He restores Lazarus to life. The Sanhedrin under Caiaphas and the Pharisees plot his death and Jesus withdraws to safety.
Jesus Visits Martha and Mary: In Bethany, Jesus praises Mary, who listens at his feet, rather than Martha, who is distracted with preparations.Lk10:38 [On another occasion,] Mary anoints Jesus' feet with nard from an alabaster jar " `to prepare me for burial Mt26:7' " and wipes them with her hair.Jn12:7 Judas, who keeps and sometimes steals from the money bag, objects to the waste.
Jesus Talks to the Rich Young Man (or Ruler): " `There is only One who is good.'" He advises him to obey six commandments (murder, adultery, stealing, false testimony, honor parents, and `love thy neighbor as yourself') but observes that " `it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.Mt19:24' " But `"...all things are possible with God.Mk10:27' "
Jesus' Prophesies About Jerusalem: " `O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!Lk14:34 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.... They will not leave one stone on another....Lk19:44' " " `[The people] will fall by the sword and be taken as prisoners to all the nation. Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.Lk21:24' "
The Parables of the Lost Sheep and Coin: Like a shepherd who rejoices at finding his lost sheep, " `in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.Lk15:7' " The Coin is a similar parable.Lk15:9
The Parable of the Lost [Prodigal] Son: The younger son takes his share of his father's estate, goes to a distant country, and squanders it. He is reduced to poverty and returns to his father. The older brother resents the celebration on his return but the father says " `you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.Lk15:31' "
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager: He covers up his wasteful over-consumption by reducing the amounts owed to his master and is commended. " `Whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches.Lk16:11' "
The Rich Man and Lazarus: The rich man ignores the suffering of the beggar Lazarus, who is covered with sores. After they die, Lazarus goes to Abraham's side but the rich man is tormented in hell (Greek "Hades") "in agony in this fire." Between them is a great chasm. Jesus warns that the rich man's brothers should listen to Moses and the Prophets to avoid the same fate.Lk16:29
Jesus Talks to Zacchaeus: Jesus stays with a tax-collector, saying " `the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.Lk19:10' "
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree: Observing a fruitless tree, he curses it and it withers.
The Triumphal Entry: On Sunday, they obtain (a colt of) a donkey and Jesus rides into Jerusalem to fulfill Zechariah's prophecy. The crowds wave palm branches Jn12:13, shout " `Hosanna to the Son of David.... Hosanna in the highest!Mt21:9' " and spread their cloaks before him.
Jesus Cleanses the Temple: On Monday, he drives out the buyers and sellers and turns over the tables of the money changers.Mt21:12
The Power of Prayer: " `Have faith in God.... If anyone says to this mountain `Go throw yourself into the sea'...it will be done for him.... Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.Mk11:24' "
The Authority of Jesus Questioned: They ask what authority he has to enter and he responds with a question " `John's baptism--where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or among men?Mt21:25' "
The Parable of the Two Sons: One son refuses his father's request initially but fulfills it later whereas the other initially agrees but doesn't follow through. Repentant sinners are like the former compared to the people in the temple.Mt21:32
The Parable of the Tenants: An absent landowner [God] rents his vineyard to some workers [the Pharisees etc.], but they seize his servants and kill his son [Jesus], so the landlord finds other tenants [e.g., Gentiles]. The chief priests and Pharisees knew Jesus was talking about them.Mt21:45
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet: A king prepares a wedding banquet for his son but those invited [Jesus' detractors] fail to come. So he says " `Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.... And the wedding hall was filled with guests [his followers].'" A disrespectful man [the Pharisees] however is thrown out. " `For many are invited, but few are chosen....Mt22:14 When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.Lk14:14' " He also tells the similar Parable of the Great Banquet.Lk14:24
The Parable of the Persistent Widow: Pray and do not give up because even an unworthy judge will respond with justice to multiple entreaties.Lk18:7
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector: God will favor the Repentant humble sinner over the one who exalts himself.Lk18:14
Paying Taxes to Caesar: The Pharisees try to trap Jesus, but he responds "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.Mt22:21' "
The Resurrection and Marriage: In response to the Sadducees question about sequential marriages, Jesus says "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead--have you not read what God said to you, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.Mt22:32' " In Luke, he adds " `The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage [celibacy?], and they can no longer die.... They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection.... For to him all are alive.Lk20:38' "
The Widow's Offering: " `A poor widow put in two very small copper coins...'" at the temple and Jesus says she " `has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.Lk21:4' "
The Greatest Commandment: " ``Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul Dt6:5 and with all your mind Mt22:37' (`...and with all your strength.Mk12:30') This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it : `Love your neighbor as yourself.Lev19:18' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.Mt22:40' "
Whose Son is the Christ?: Is Christ the son of David if David calls him Lord and Christ sits at the right side of the Lord?Mt22:45
Woe to the Pharisees: Jesus warns his followers to obey the teachers of the law and the Pharisees but not to do as they do, " `for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see.... They love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in synagogues.... But you are not to be called `Rabbi', for you have only one Master and you are all brothers [i.e., avoid pride-engendering titles].... The greatest among you will be your servant.... Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.Mt23:12 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites.... You have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy, and faithfulness.... You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.... You are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets Mt23:31...' " He predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
Signs of the End of the Age (The Olivet Discourse in Matthew): His disciples ask " `what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?'" He responds " `... Many will come in my name.... Nation will rise against nation.... There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginnings of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death....Mt24:9 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me.... But not a hair on your head will perish [i.e., there will be no spiritual loss?]....Lk21:17 The love of most will grow cold.... And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world...and then the end will come. So when you see standing in the holy place `the abomination that causes desolation',...then let those who are in Judea flees to the mountains.... There will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now.... But for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.... False Christs and false prophets will appear.... For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.... All the nations of the earth will mourn.... They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky.... And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds.... This generation [or race] will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour...but only the Father.... You do not know on what day your Lord will come.... At an hour when you do not expect him.... There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.Mt25:51' " " `Keep your lamps burning....Lk12:35 Pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.Lk21:36' " To the Pharisees, he says "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation.... because the kingdom of God is within (or `among') you.Lk17:21' " A time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out -- those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.Jn5:29' "
The Parable of the Ten Virgins: Teaches to be prepared for the unexpected coming of the Lord.Mt25:13
The Parable of the Talents: Teaches that each person should make full use of his abilities and assets [thus "talents"] and invest in the future.Mt25:30 Similar to the Parable of the Minas: " `...To everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away [?].Lk19:26' "
The Sheep and the Goats: " `When the Son of Man comes in his glory [on earth or in heaven?]', he will separate the people of all nations into `sheep' on his right and `goats' on his left. The sheep will be rewarded for their good deeds because " `I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.... Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine [the Jewish or all God's people?], you did for me.'" As for the goats, " `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.... Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.Mt26:46' "
The Plot Against Jesus: The high priest Caiaphas, the chief priests and the elders plot to kill Jesus. Satan enters Judas Iscariot and he agrees to betray him for thirty silver coins.
The Lord's Supper: The disciples and Jesus eat together Thursday evening at the Passover Meal ("when [or prior to which] it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb.") " `My appointed time is near.... One of you will betray me....' Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, `Take and eat; this is my body.Mt26:26' " (In Luke: " `This is my body given for you; do this is remembrance of me.Lk22:19') Then he took the cup,...saying `Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins....Mt26:28 This very night you will all fall away on account of me.... You [Peter] will disown me three times.Mt26:34 If you have a purse, take it, and also a bag....[i.e., be prepared to pay your own way.]Lk22:36' "
Jesus Washes His Disciple's Feet: He washes the feet of his disciples and says " `No servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than one who sent it.Jn13:16' "
Jesus Comforts and Instructs His Disciples About The Holy Spirit: " `Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.... I will come back and take you to be with me.... I am the way and the truth and the life....Jn14:6 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.... The Holy Spirit...will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you....Jn14:25 I am the vine; you are the branches.... Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends....Jn15:13 When [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will guide you into all truth.... You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come....Jn16:21' "
Jesus Prays (at Gethsemane or the Mount of Olives or an olive grove): He prays with Peter, James, and John but they cannot stay awake. " `My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.... The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.Mt26:41' " "His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.Lk22:44 But at last he is resolved (an angel has strengthened him Lk22:43) and says " `My father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.Mt26:42' " Jesus prays for himself, his disciples, and for all who will believe in him through their message.Jn17:1
Jesus' Arrest: That night, Judas arrives with a crowd and betrays Jesus with a kiss. Peter strikes Malchus with a sword, cutting off his ear, but Jesus stops the fighting and heals the man's ear Lk22:51. " `Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my father.... But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled?....Mt26:54' " He says to the persecutors "this is your hour when darkness reigns.Lk22:53' " A young man and follower of Jesus [John Mark?] flees naked.Mk14:52
Jesus' Trial: Jesus is taken before the chief priests [Sadducees] and the Sanhedrin (the high court of the Jews), first to Annas and then to Caiaphas Jn18:12. He acknowledges his claim to be the Christ and is charged with blasphemy. They spit is his face and strike him with their fists. Peter disowns Jesus. Judas hangs himself.
In the morning (Friday), they turn him over to the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, demanding his execution. He sends Jesus to Herod for judgment but Herod sends him back.Lk23:7 Pilate asks him " `Are you the king of the Jews?'" and Jesus responds " `My kingdom is not of this world.... But...from another place.Jn19:36' " He offers Barrabas or Jesus and the crowd, persuaded by the chief priests, pick Barrabas to be released. The crowd calls for Jesus' crucifixion and Pilate, though unconvinced of Jesus' guilt and after attempts to persuade the crowd otherwise fail, acquiesces. He washes his hands in front of the crowd, claiming " `I am innocent of the man's blood.Mt27:24' " Jesus is flogged, dressed (temporarily) in a scarlet (or purple) robe and a crown of thorns, and mocked by the soldiers.
The Crucifixion and Death: Jesus initially carries his own cross Jn19:17, but then Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry it. He is crucified on Friday between two robbers on "Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull) Mk15:22" (or "The Skull" Lk23:33 [Calvary]). They hang a sign over him: "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.Mt27:37". Jesus says " `Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.Lk23:34' " The soldiers divide up his clothes after casting lots. He is insulted and mocked by the chief priests, the teachers of the law, the elders, the robbers, and those who pass by. He is offered wine vinegar. MaryJn19:25, Mary Magdalene, Mary [the Virgin Mary's sister and the wife of Clopas, mother of James the younger and Joses], and Salome [the wife of Zebedee and mother of Apostles John and James] watch "in the distance.Mt27:56" One of the robbers says " `this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'" He responds " `... today you will be with me in paradise.Lk24:43' " He cries out in Aramaic " `My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" He dies in the late afternoon, saying " `Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,Lk23:46' " and the earth shakes, the temple curtain is torn, etc. "The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.Mt27:52" One of the soldiers pierces his side with a spear, producing a flow of blood and water.Jn19:34 A centurion praises God and expresses his faith: " `Surely he was the Son of God,Mt27:54' " or " `Surely this was a righteous man.Lk23:47' "
The Burial of Jesus: Before 6 P.M. Friday night, his body is taken by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, wrapped in a linen cloth (or strips), and buried in Joseph's new tomb, sealed by a large rock. His tomb is guarded to prevent his followers from staging a resurrection.
The Empty Tomb: The earth shakes and an angel rolls back the stone. On Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary Mt28:1" (and Salome Mk16:1) arrive to prepare the body with spices and perfumes but find the tomb empty. They are told by an angel (or two) " `Do not be afraid.... He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.Mt28:6' " The chief priests plot to discredit the story of the resurrection by having the soldiers claim Jesus' disciples stole the body.Mt28:13
Jesus Appears to Women: Jesus appears to the women (or just Mary Magdalene Jn20:14) and tells them " `Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.Mt28:10' " The women tell the eleven apostles of this miracle but they do not believe.Lk24:11
Jesus Appears to Two Men Going to Emmaus: Cleopas and another man see Jesus, who walks with them unrecognized and tells them much. They eat together and recognize him but he then disappears. They tell the Eleven of this miracle.Lk24:33 ?Apocryphal: the apostles are told of this but still do not believe.Mk16:12]
Jesus Appears to the (Ten, then) Eleven Disciples: Jesus appears to the ten apostle, Thomas being absent, and when he hears of this he is doubtful Jn20:25. Jesus appears to the eleven disciples in Galilee and says: " `All authority has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you [The Great Commission]. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.Mt28:20' " In Luke, he reassures them that he is not a ghost: " `Peace be with you. Why are you troubled and doubts rise in your minds?... Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have. Do you have anything here to eat?....Lk24:41 This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem....Lk24:47 Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.Jn20:29' " ?Apocryphal: " `In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all....Mk16:18' "
Jesus Reappears to Some of His Disciples: Jesus appears and produces fish in Peter's net. He reinstates Peter and again asks him to " `Follow me! Jn21:19' "
The Ascension: Near Bethany, "while he was blessing [his apostles], he left them and was taken up to heaven.Lk24:51" (In Acts, Luke says this occurred forty days after the resurrection.Ac1:3) ?Apocryphal: "After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.Mk16:19"
Acts was probably written by Luke, the companion of Paul and a physician, around 63 A.D. or later, possibly as Paul awaited trial in Rome. Like the gospel of Luke, it is addressed to Theophilus. It presents the history of the founding of the Christian church, the spread of the gospel, the beginnings of congregations, evangelism, and other acts of the apostles (and of the Holy Spirit). It records defenses made against accusations by Jews as well as Gentiles and serves as a guide to future Christians experiencing specific situations and persecutions.
Jesus ascends to heaven after forty days on the earth following his resurrection from death. He tells his apostles that "in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" and that they "'...will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.Ac1:8' "
The apostles are Peter (Simon, Cephas, author of 1/2 Peter), John (son of Zebedee; author of his gospel, Revelation, 1/2/3 John, etc.), James (brother of John), Andrew (brother of Peter), Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew (Nathanael), Matthew (Levi; gospel author), James (the younger, son of Alphaeus), Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James (Thaddeus) are joined by Mary and Jesus' brothers. Matthias replaces Judas Iscariot, who has killed himself in his Field of Blood.
On the day of Pentecost (50 days after the Passover Sabbath), the Holy Spirit fills them and they begin to speak in foreign tongues (at least some of which are understandable by foreign visitors from Parthia, Phrygia, etc.) Peter speaks to the crowd about Jesus, citing Joel 2:28 and Psalm 16, saying that David spoke of the resurrection of Christ, and calling for repentance and baptism. Later, Peter heals a crippled beggar. He asks the Jews who have killed Jesus to repent. Peter and John are jailed by the Sadducees (who do not believe in resurrection from the dead). He appears before the Sanhedrin (the supreme court) including the High Priest Ananias, and is told to quit teaching about Jesus, then released.
The followers, now over five thousand, "were in one heart and one mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything that they had.Ac4:32" Barnabas gives generously to them, but Ananias [not the high priest] and his wife Sapphira hold back and die as a result (in fact Peter prophesies that they will die). The apostles continue their healing miracles on many people, and they are again arrested by the jealous Jews. They appear again before the Sanhedrin. Peter is defended by the Pharisee Gamaliel and released. They continue to preach the good news, that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). Stephen and six others (the "Seven") are appointed to help (they are similar to deacons). Stephen "did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people." The priests conspire against Stephen, accusing him of blasphemy. He defends himself before the Sanhedrin, but he concludes by accusing them of betraying and murdering Jesus. They drag him outside of Jerusalem and stone him to death with Saul's approval. A great persecution begins, scattering the apostles and attempting to destroy the church.
Simon the sorcerer tries to buy the ability to heal from Philip (one of the Seven), but he refuses. Philip baptizes an Ethiopian eunuch.
Saul the Pharisee plans to imprison those belonging to "the Way" but is confronted on the road to Damascus by Jesus ("Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?") and temporarily blinded. Jesus tells a man named Ananias that Saul " `is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings....Ac9:15' " Ananias follows Jesus' instructions, assists Saul, and Saul's vision is restored as if something like scales fall from his eyes, and he is converted. Saul begins to preach in Damascus (c. 35 AD) and subsequently in Jerusalem. He tries to join the disciples, but they are understandably suspicious of him. Saul is almost killed for his preaching to Grecian Jews, and he is sent to Caesarea (Syrian coast) and on to Tarsus (in Cilicia in modern southern Turkey near the Cilician Gates).
Peter heals a paralytic and in Joppa brings a dead woman, Dorcas or Tabitha, back to life. An angel comes to the centurion Cornelius to fetch Peter back to Caesarea from Joppa. In a vision, God tells Peter " `Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.Ac10:15' " Afterwards, Peter allows three Gentiles to enter his house as his guests (thus taking the first steps toward accepting Gentiles). Peter insists that he is only a man and says "...God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.Ac10:35' " When the Holy Spirit comes on these Gentiles, Peter baptizes them. For this act, he is criticized by the "circumcised believers" but he answers that "...God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.Ac11:18' "
In Antioch (Syria), Barnabas brings Saul from Tarsus, and they meet with the growing church, the disciples of which are now called Christians.
The apostle James (John's brother) is executed by King Herod Agrippa I [grandson of Herod the Great], but Peter avoids the same fate when an angel rescues him from prison. He seeks refuge with John Mark's mother, Mary. Herod is struck down by an angel [he died 44 AD] for not praising God and for claiming himself to be a god.Ac12:23
The Holy Spirit sends Saul and Barnabas from Antioch (in Syria) to Cyprus on Paul's first missionary journey (c. 46 - 48 AD), with John Mark (the gospel author) as their helper. There, the sorcerer Elymas becomes blind as predicted by Saul (now called Paul). They sail on to Perga in Pamphylia (south Turkey). John Mark leaves them there. Saul continues on to the town of Antioch in Pisidia, where Paul teaches that Jesus was raised from the dead without decay and that " `through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.Ac13:39' " The Jews are jealous of the crowds the missionaries are attracting, and expel them from their region. Paul says he will now turn to the Gentiles. In Iconium, he has to flee to escape an assassination plot. Paul heals a crippled man in Lystra (Turkey). Paul is stoned by some Jews in Lystra but survives, moves on to Derbe, and eventually returns to Perga and back to Antioch (in Syria).
Paul travels to Jerusalem to debate at a council whether the Gentiles must follow Mosaic law. A letter to the Gentiles describes a compromise agreement: circumcision will not be required but sexual immorality and certain foods will not be allowed.
Paul disagrees with Barnabas over taking John Mark back in their company, and Barnabas departs with Mark for Cyprus. Paul, now with Silas, begins his second missionary journey (c. 49 - 52). He passes through Cilicia (SE part of modern Turkey) and works to strengthen the churches there. They are joined by Timothy (to whom 1 and 2 Timothy are addressed) at Derbe. They pass through Phrygia and Galatia (both in modern central Turkey) and, after Paul is so directed in a vision, continue on to Macedonia. Luke appears to join the group at Troas, as the text now reads "we" intermittently. Paul converts a woman named Lydia in Philippi. He drives out a spirit from a slave girl--she has been predicting the future for a profit, and this causes distress to her owners. Paul and Silas are arrested and flogged in Philippi but later released (because Paul is a Roman citizen). In Thessalonica, a riot is started by the jealous Jews and blamed on Paul--he flees to Berea and on to Athens. In Athens, he preaches against the worship of many Gods and idolatry. He preaches that God "does not live in temples built by hands.Ac17:24" In Corinth, he stays for one and a half years, preaching to Jews and to Gentiles, and is attacked by some of the Jews (51 or 52 AD). God reassures him that he will not be harmed. He returns to Jerusalem and Antioch, passing through Ephesus (in Asia, on the west coast of modern Turkey) on the way.
Paul begins his third missionary journey (c. 53 - 57), traveling again through Galatia and Phrygia to Ephesus. When he lays on his hands, he brings the Holy Spirit upon his converts and they speak in tongues. The Jew Apollos has become an accomplished teacher of the Way and goes to Achaia (in modern SW Greece). Paul teaches in Asia Minor for two years, working many miracles with the sick--even handkerchiefs that have touched him have curative properties. Some Jews who falsely attempt to drive out an evil spirit by invoking the name of Jesus are attacked by the newly dispossessed man, causing fear among them. A mob in the Ephesian theater is incited to riot by a silversmith who makes silver shrines of Artemis and is losing business because of the Christians. Paul departs for Macedonia, then Greece, returning to Macedonia after learning of a plot against him, and traveling on to Troas in Asia Minor. There, he brings the newly deceased young man Eutychus back to life. He bids farewell to the Ephesian elders, believing that he will not return to see them. He quotes Jesus: " `It is more blessed to give than to receive.Ac20:35' " Luke and others warn him in Caesarea not to go to Jerusalem but Paul cannot be dissuaded from doing the Lord's will.
He is welcomed in Jerusalem initially, and meets with James and the elders, but after seven days, hostile Jews from Asia stir up the crowd against him (for anti-Jewish teachings and defiling the temple by bringing in Greek Gentiles) and he is arrested. He is almost killed and defends himself in front of the crowd, telling again of his origins, of learning from the great teacher Gamaliel, his conversion when Jesus came before him, and of his mission to the Gentiles. He again reminds them that he is a Roman citizen by birth (which provides considerable protection to him). Later before the Sanhedrin, he precipitates a debate over the resurrection between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The next morning, Jesus appears to him, saying " `As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.Ac23:11' " About forty Jews plot to assassinate him, but he is transferred to Caesarea for his own protection . In a trial before Governor Felix (governor of Judea c. 52 - 59/60 AD), he answers the accusations of the high priest Ananias, acknowledging that he is a follower of "the Way" and believes in resurrection. Felix defers a decision and Paul remains in prison. Two years later, Porcius Festus succeeds Felix and Paul appeals to him to allow him to be tried before Caesar. Festus consults King Agrippa, and Paul defends himself before King Agrippa [Herod Agrippa II] and his wife Bernice. He again recounts his history, conversion, mission, etc. Festus tells him that he is insane, and Agrippa asks "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?Ac26:28" The king knows that he is without guilt, but he feels he must still send Paul to Rome for trial.
Paul sails under guard from Caesarea with Luke and others (c. 59-60). Near Crete, they are blown off course by a storm, and Paul reassures the crew that they will all survive--eventually they are shipwrecked on Malta. He is bitten by a poisonous viper but miraculously suffers no ill effects. He heals the father of the chief official of the island and all others on the island who were sick. A few months later, they arrive in Rome. He is allowed to live under house arrest awaiting trial. For two years, he preaches about Jesus and the kingdom of God, to Jews and to Gentiles who come to see him.
Acts ends here during his imprisonment (c. 62 AD), but there are several indications in the NT that Paul was eventually released and traveled on a fourth missionary journey to Spain 62-4 AD, Crete 64-5, Miletus 65, Colosse 66, Ephesus 66, Philippi 66, Nicopolis 66-7, and Rome 67 prior to his final martyrdom in 67/68 [which is not explicitly discussed in the NT]. [Summary expanded January 2003]
Romans was written by Paul on his third missionary journey c. 57, to the church at Rome, perhaps from Corinth. It outlines God's plan of salvation and righteousness for all mankind. He is trying to prepare the way for his intended visit, delayed because of his need to deliver donations to Jerusalem Christians.
Paul writes c. 55 from Ephesus to Corinth, a crossroads port city on the Corinthian isthmus noted for its immorality and Aphrodite worship. He is concerned with moral laxness and other problems experienced in the immature church there.
Paul writes also c. 55, from Macedonia, to defend against attacks on his integrity and his authority as an apostle. He has changed his itinerary but insists that the collection of funds be completed as planned.
Paul writes to the Galatian region c. 48 - 57. He argues against adherence to OT practices such as circumcision, defends his authority as an apostle, and argues that man is justified by his faith in Jesus rather than by legalistic works.
Paul writes probably c. 60 from Roman prison, to Ephesus in Asia Minor (modern Turkey). His message is that we have been saved to bring praise and glory to God, that individuals have been united in the church, etc.
Paul writes from prison, probably in Rome c. 61, to thank the Philippians for a gift, report his circumstances, encourage them to stand firm, etc. Philippi was a Roman colony in Macedonia.
Paul probably wrote Colossians, again while imprisoned in Rome, c. 60. Colosse was in Asia Minor. The church there was founded by Epaphras. Paul attacks false and heretical teaching, including ceremonialism, asceticism, deprecation of Christ, angel worship, secret knowledge, and reliance on human wisdom (early Gnosticism).
Paul probably wrote 1 Thessalonians, from Corinth c. 51, probably his earliest canonical letter. Thessalonica was a port in Macedonia. Paul encourages the new converts, gives instruction concerning Godly living, and gives assurance concerning the future of believers who die before Christ returns. It deals with last things (eschatology) as does 2 Thessalonians.
2 Thessalonians was probably written by Paul, c. 51-52.
The Pastoral Letters consist of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus and were probably written by Paul to instruct them as his apostolic representatives. 1 Timothy, which was written c. 63 - 65 from Philippi, instructs Timothy in Ephesus in how to refute false teachings and in other church affairs.
2 Timothy was written by Paul in Rome, to Timothy in Ephesus c. 67 - 68, while imprisoned in a cold dungeon in Rome. He tells of his loneliness and is concerned with the welfare of the churches.
Titus was written by Paul in Philippi C. 63 - 65 to Titus in Crete. Titus was left behind to continue the organization of the new Christian converts.
Paul wrote c. 60 from prison in Rome or Ephesus, to Philemon in Colosse regarding Philemon's slave, who had converted to Christianity.
Hebrews was written by an intellectual Jewish Christian, probably not Paul but perhaps Barnabas or Apollos, probably before 70 A.D. It was written to Jewish converts to Christianity. Its theme is the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ, who is superior to the OT prophets and fulfills a "new covenant." There can be no turning back to the old Jewish system.
James was probably the oldest brother of Jesus, not the apostle James. James was written from before 50 to the early 60's. It is distinctively Jewish, refers to synagogues, and may be the earliest of the NT writings. It is written to "the twelve tribes," perhaps to early Christian Jews from Jerusalem after Stephen's death.
1 Peter is written in polished and idiomatic Greek, claimed to be by Peter (though questionable), but perhaps with Silas serving as an intermediary writer. It dates probably to the early 60's. He writes from "Babylon" (?Rome). He deals with persecution of Christians.
2 Peter claims to be by Peter, written probably toward the end of his life c. 65 - 68. It has parallels with Jude. The author deals with false teachers and evildoers who have come into the church.
The apostle John is thought to be the author, dated c. 85 - 95. It is addressed to unspecified believers, probably from Ephesus. It describes heretics as antichrists and attacks early Gnostic teaching (which taught that man's body is evil, salvation is achieved through special knowledge rather than by faith in Christ, Christ was not human, the body is to be treated harshly, and that licentiousness was condoned.) He also gives believers assurance of salvation.
2 John was written c. 85 - 95 by John, who discourages hospitality to Gnostic teachers.
3 John was written c. 85 - 95 by John, who encourages support for the itinerant teachers he sends out.
The author is Jude (Judah or Judas), perhaps the apostle or more likely Jesus' brother. Jude refers to Apocryphal literature and has similarities to 2 Peter. It dates from c 65 to c. 85. Its unstated recipients are warned against the false teachings of early Gnosticism.
The author identifies himself as John, probably the apostle but possibly John the Presbyter. Revelation was written as Christians were entering a time of persecution, perhaps 54 - 68 or 81 - 96, probably c. 95. He warns the believers at Smyrna and Philadelphia about coming persecutions and emperor worship, and states that the final showdown between God and Satan is imminent. It is apocalyptic literature, highly symbolic, and full of visions. It has been interpreted to apply to the first century, to all of history, to the end times, or to an idealized time.