25. PROTO-CHRISTIANITY, THE BEGINNING:
A common mortal (a "son of man"), who talked about "the good news" of the coming Kingdom, died as "king of the Jews" (short digest on (my) historical Jesus Here).
A major faith is about to be born.
In the years after the crucifixion, some activist Jews (Judean &/or foreign) who saw Jesus as the King ("of the coming kingdom of our father David"
Mk11:10) and their latter converts (many of them Diaspora Jews:
Ac2:9-10 "[NASB "Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation" (5)]
` Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs"
will become members of a Jewish sect led by the Greek-speaking "group of Seven":
"Stephen ..., Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism" (Ac6:5)
The Galileans could not have started the
A) According to Eusebius' 'The History of the Church', 2, 23, quoting Hegesippus, a second century Jewish Christian writer:
"James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles."
the "church of Jerusalem" was not initially led by the "Nazarenes". However 'Acts' describes the opposite; I will come back to that later on.
B) They went back to Galilee, dispersed and disowned Jesus after his arrest, according to the alleged Jesus' prophecies in three out of four gospels:
Mk14:27-28 ""You will all fall away" Jesus told them [the disciples], "for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. ... I will go ahead of you into Galilee.""
Mt26:31-32 "Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: "`I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' ... I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
Jn16:31-32a "But a time is coming, and has come, when you [the disciples] will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone."
Jesus could not have been wrong in his prophecies! And these authors did not think the disciples (and followers) stayed together in Jerusalem!
Furthermore, GJohn specifies:
Jn20:10 RSV "Then the disciples went back to their homes." (see "John's gospel, from original to canonical" for further explanation)
And the uncanonical gospel of Peter (only a fragment is preserved), written 110?-140?, has also the disciples going back to Galilee:
"But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, wept and mourned, and each one, very grieved for what had come to pass, went to his home [and no apparition to them (or the women) in Jerusalem!]"
For evidence about the "Nazarenes" not having been Christians: see here
Now, let's look at the ending of GLuke, the only canonical gospel with no prophesied return home, disowning & dispersing.
24:46-49 "Then He [the resurrected Jesus] said to them [allegedly], "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.
[here the disciples are declared to be (only) the passive witnesses of past, present and future events, including the latter preaching. But in 'Acts', they are actively involved:
"you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (1:8b)]
` Behold, I send [notice the present tense] the Promise of My Father upon you;
[there is no prior mention (& identification) of this "Promise". But "upon [someone]" is associated with the Holy Spirit in Lk1:35,2:25,3:22,4:18. Also the "Promise" could be a reference to Joel2:28-29 "... I [God] will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; ... And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days [before the "day of the Lord" (2:31)]."
Note: the NIV Study Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible (and "Luke": Ac1:4-5) interpret the "Promise" as being the Holy Spirit]
` but tarry [stay] in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.
[but after that happens at Pentecost (according to 'Acts'), they keep staying in Jerusalem!]"
According to the aforementioned observations, it is apparent the author of GLuke had either no plan altogether to write 'Acts' later on, or, if 'Acts' was anticipated, not as it shows in the first chapters. Certainly the ending of the gospel does not fit well with the beginning of 'Acts':
a) "Luke" had (the resurrected) Jesus in person sending to the disciples the "Promise" (the Spirit) before departing to heaven. But in 'Acts' the Holy Spirit will fill the apostles later at Pentecost (2:4).
b) Then the author suggested they left Jerusalem after being "endued with power from on high". But in 'Acts', the disciples stay in the city after the Pentecost event, involved in leadership & missionary work.
c) Furthermore, right after the alleged ascension, the disciples' task is NOT to replace Judas (as in Ac1:15-26), in order to pursue "this ministry". Instead "... [they] were continually in the temple praising and blessing God ..." (Lk24:53)
d) And in GLuke, as already mentioned, the disciples "are witnesses of these things" (including preaching "to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" 24:47b). However, in 'Acts', they are the main preachers in the city, not just observers. But how to fulfill in 'Acts' 'the disciples preaching "to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem"? By having the Diaspora Jews inhabiting the holy city specified as nationals of other countries (" there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven ... Parthians and Medes and Elamites, ..." 2:5,9a), which is totally unrealistic: those Jews considered themselves part of the Jewish nation and not belonging to foreign ones!
Josephus' Wars, Preface, 2 "for the Jews hoped that all of their nation which were beyond Euphrates [amidst Parthians, Medes, Elamites, etc.] would have raised an insurrection together with them."
Josephus' Against Apion, I, 7 "... not only in Judea, but wheresoever any body of men of our nation do live; ... I mean at Egypt and at Babylon, or in any other place of the rest of the habitable earth"
Philo of Alexandria's Flaccus, VII "For no one country can contain the whole Jewish nation, by reason of its populousness; on which account they frequent all the most prosperous and fertile countries of Europe and Asia"
Certainly, "Luke" "improved" the ending of the gospel, above what is read from GMark:
- No disciples' disowning & immediate return home
- A brief apparition to the eleven in Jerusalem
but did not prepare for (the beginning of) 'Acts'.
However, when confronted later with its composition, the author had to tackle the issue of continuity. The only satisfactory solution: Jesus' disciples do not go home (& disperse), but stay together and immediately create & lead the "church of Jerusalem"!
the only available writing
dealing with the creation of the "church of Jerusalem".
And right from the start, the author went back to the post-mortem apparition and the ascension, as to "correct" some deficiencies at the ending of the gospel:
a) The seemingly very short (and tentative) apparition to the disciples in Lk24:36-49 is extended to forty days in 'Acts':
1:3 "He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."
b) The barely mentioned ascension in Lk24:51 ("He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.") is described and witnessed (seen) in 'Acts':
1:9 "... while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight."
c) Despite the present tense in Lk24:49 ("Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you;"), the "Promise" is to be given in the future:
Ac1:4-5 "... He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me [as in Lk24:49, but here not only heard, already given!]... you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.""
Note: isn't it obvious 'Acts' was written after GLuke?
According to 'Acts', the Galileans stay together
in Jerusalem. Then, a few days after the
alleged ascension, they convert a large number
of Diaspora Jews (in less than a day! Please
also note that most Diaspora Jews, living
in cities, would know only Greek). Part of the account is suspiciously mythical:
Ac2:1-3 "When the day of Pentecost came, they [the Galileans] were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them."
Then, after the (uneducated) Galileans would have spoken intelligibly in many foreign local languages, somehow attracting a large crowd of Diaspora Jews who "heard them speaking in his own language" (2:6), the following comment and the answer of Peter are rather unrealistic:
Ac2:13-15 "Some, however, made fun of them [the Galileans] and said, "They have had too much wine."
Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "... These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning!"
Since when drinking wine makes you speak an unlearned foreign language? How could those Diaspora Jews think so?
Next, only one short speech by Aramaic-speaking Peter (with extensive quotes from 'Joel' and the Psalms in order to "prove" Jesus' resurrection!) achieves the following result:
"about three thousand were added to their number that day" (2:41) to the initial "about a hundred and twenty" Galileans (1:15).
Remark: could that be an admission the Diaspora Jews were predominent from the very beginning?
That explains (dubiously) the creation of the "church of Jerusalem"!
The "proto-Christians" stayed in Jerusalem, the capital city of the future Kingdom, as it was thought:
Isa24:23, Joel3:1-21 & Mic4:1-8 (as quoted in "HJ-1b"),
Psalm132:13-16 "For the Lord has chosen Zion [Jerusalem], he has desired it for his dwelling: "This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it-- I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will ever sing for joy.""
Joel2:31b-32 "... Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance ..."
"Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue [in Jerusalem] of the Freedmen (as it was called) - Jews of Cyrene [N.E. Libya] and Alexandria, as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia." (Ac6:9)
Stephen got stoned to death by a Jewish mob right after he would have claimed "I see ... [Jesus as] the Son of Man ... at the right hand of God.
[this is the only occurrence of "Son of Man" in 'Acts' (compared with "Christ" = 24, "Lord" (as Jesus) = about 60). Also to be noted: a similar alleged declaration by Jesus in Mk14:62-64 is considered a blasphemy (which, by the way, would bring stoning to death, not crucifixion!)]" (Ac8:56b)
Before Paul's conversion ("Andronicus and Junias ... who also
were in Christ before me."
"... On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem [34-35C.E.], and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea ... Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word." (Ac8:1-4)
This is corroborated by "the churches of Judea that are in Christ" (Gal1:22), and "For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus." (1Th2:14), and also by Philip settling in Cesarea, Judea (Ac8:40,21:8-9).
The "Nazarenes" felt they were not in danger because they stayed in Jerusalem. The persecution was not aimed at them, most likely because they played a minor role (as "guests"?) and were not sharing the objectionable beliefs of the others.
a) Paul never had, in his letters, the later members of the church of Jerusalem (led by the "Nazarenes") as being "in Christ" or "in the Lord" or "brother(s)", even if he mentioned them several times (1Co16:1,3; 2Co8:4,13-15;9:1,12-15; Gal2:1-10; Ro15:25-26,31) and acknowledged them as "saints" (1Co16:1,2; Co8:4;9:1,12; Ro15:25,26,31).
b) Mk8:29-30: "He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ". Then He strictly warned them [the disciples] that they should tell no one about Him."
That would explain why Peter & other disciples never said Jesus is/was Christ, for the remainder of their lives!
c) As explained in HJ-3a:
- According to Mk8:31-33,9:31-32, Peter & disciples have no Christian understanding of Jesus' Passion.
- According to Mk9:9-10, the disciples do not know "what "rising from the dead" meant" and are not asking Jesus for explanations (see also Mk9:31).
- Furthermore, at the initial ending of GMark (at 16:8), the disciples are not made aware of Jesus' resurrection.
d) See HJ-2b for a detailed analysis of the "Nazarenes" and their beliefs.
But those "Nazarenes" are shown in charge of the sect from day one! So when does the group of Seven (with Stephen as the apparent leader) appear in 'Acts'?
As late as chapter 6, when large increases of converts are reported (6:1,7) and right before the start of the persecution on the Greek-speaking sectarians (caused by Stephen's preaching!).
It seems "Luke" delayed the introduction of the Seven "up to the last minute", when their existence could not be untold anymore.
But those Seven are not selected as preachers, only as waiters!
Ac6:1-4 "Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
[in this egalitarian community (as described in Ac2:42-46 "... They gave to anyone as he had need ... ate together with glad and sincere hearts ..."), some are left to go hungry! And it could not have been many widows after a few years!]
` Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom,
[rather odd qualifications for waiters!]
` whom we may appoint over this business.""
"Many a time I
went from one synagogue to another
[the "Nazarenes" were meeting in the temple (Ac2:46a), not in synagogues]
` to have them punished ..." (Ac26:11a)
The (Greek-speaking) ones who fled were pursued, not only in Judea, but also up to places like Damascus (Ac9:1-2), a fully Hellenized Syrian city of the Diaspora. That caused many of them to move even farther:
"Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene,
[same city as "a certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus [who allegedly carried Jesus' cross]" (Mk15:21)]
` went to Antioch and began to speak to [Gentile] Greeks also, telling them the good news ..." (Ac11:19-20a)
[converts of the aforementioned preachers, these later ones joined by (non-eyewitnesses) Paul (from Cilicia) and Barnabas (from Cyprus). Also called a disciple is "a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple" (Ac21:16)]
` were called Christians first at Antioch [around 40-45C.E.]." (Ac11:26b)
Notes:In Antioch, Christianity started with "prophets" and "teachers" (none of them reported to have known Jesus when he was alive!):
a) The Greek word for "Christian" is 'xristianos'. It seems to be derived from 'xristos' ("Christ") the same way 'kaisarianos' (meaning supporter of Caesar in Greek) was from 'kaisaros' ("Caesar"). Both derivations are fairly irregular.
The word 'kaisarianos' appears at least three times in ancient Greek literature: Epictetus (55-135), Discourses, III, XXIV & I, XIX and
Appian (95-165, from Alexandria), The Civil Wars, III, XIII, 91 "... They hoped also to change those of the opposite faction as soon as it became a contest for liberty. When they sought for the mother and sister of Octavius, and did not discover them either in any open or secret abode, they were again alarmed at finding themselves deprived of such important hostages, and as the Cćsarians showed no disposition to yield to them they concluded that these women had been carefully concealed by them." (the events related here happened right after Julius Caesar's murder in 44B.C.E.)
b) Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman empire with one third of its eight hundred thousand inhabitants being Jews & proselytes. This Greek-speaking city, some three hundred miles north of Jerusalem, was one of the two largest centers for Diaspora Jews (the other one being Alexandria in Egypt).
'Acts' "follows" the Nazarene disciples'
activities up to around 42C.E.:
a) Any preaching by them occurs in Jerusalem only. Peter is the main preacher, John is also mentioned.
b) Peter is the only one to travel (exception: John to Samaria with Peter). However his trips are always within Judea/Samaria and start after the "Greek" dispersion (35C.E.).
The aforementioned observations (and the "prophesied" disciples' disowning of Jesus) would disprove the spurious passage (as explained already in HJ-3a):
Mk16:19-20 "After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them,
[having said, among other things: "when they [believers] drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all" (16:18)]
` he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere ..."
In the whole New Testament, the previously quoted passage (a later interpolation) is the only one about the disciples preaching "frantically" all over, and right after Jesus' crucifixion. Despite the evidence against it (from GMark, GMatthew, GJohn & 'Acts'), this rosy picture is considered by many as the proof that Jesus reappeared to them (explaining why his followers were motivated to preach everywhere and early on --which they did NOT--).
Note: outside this interpolation in GMark, the legend of the twelve preaching all over the world right after Jesus' alleged ascension appears first in Aristides' Apology (written 125-129):
"... they say that after three days he rose and ascended to heaven. Thereupon these twelve disciples went forth throughout the known parts of the world, and kept showing his greatness with all modesty and uprightness. And hence also those of the present day who believe that preaching are called Christians ..."
26. JEWISH CHRISTIANITY, THE BEGINNING:
The following O.T. texts, because of their relevance, were likely to provide solace for the earliest proto-Christians (the King could not have just died! He has to rule!) and, later on, a basis of beliefs for the Jewish Christians. Yet, some of the psalms were likely written by David as for Psalm8. Others were meant for his descendants, as for Psalms80,89,110,132: expression of great expectations and optimistic wishful thinking. These lyrics were composed for special occasions such as royal wedding (Psalm45) or inauguration (Psalm110). But later, because these (disappointing) kinglets (from Rehoboam to Zedekiah) ruled only over a small & threatened kingdom (Judah only for most of the time), it was easy to interpret these psalms as not referring to anyone of them but (as prophecies) to a future ultimate Messianic figure (and "Son of David"!).
Psalm8:4b-8: "[David commenting:]
son of man
that you care for him? You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet,
[in Heb2:6b-8a, the same psalm passage is quoted, with Jesus (as the Lord) suggested to be its "son of man" and (future) ruler, although only domestic and wild animals (used in field work or for food) are reported "under his feet" next in the same psalm:]
` all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea ..."
"Let your hand rest on the man of your right hand,
the son of man you have raised
up for yourself
. Then we will not turn from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, O Lord God Almighty; make your face shine
upon us, that we may be saved
[from the Assyrians (most likely), as per the psalm internal evidence (1-2), and also according to the NIV Study Bible notes]."
Note: by investigating the whole psalm, it seems here that God is beseeched to take the "son of man", the Judean king then during the foreign threat, as his protégé. But a "prophetic" and more direct reading suggests "the son of man" is somehow brought up at the right hand of God, that is resurrected and in heaven (as in Heb1:3 quoted later).
"The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure
oath that he will not revoke: "One of your own descendants I will place
on your throne ..." For the LORD has chosen Zion, ... "Here
I will make a horn grow for David
and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
[= "Messiah" in Hebrew, "Christos" in ancient Greek, "Christ" in English]
` I will clothe his enemies with shame, but the crown on his head will be resplendent.""
Note: some prophetic writings suggested a descendant of David associated with the advent of the Kingdom:
Jeremiah23:5-6 ""Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.""
Am9:11 "In that day I will restore David's fallen tent. ..."
More recent ones were very direct:
Psalms of Solomon 17 (written around 55B.C.E. and extrapolated from Isa11:1-10):
"21 See, Lord, and raise up for them their king, the son of David, to rule over your servant Israel in the time known to you, O God.
22 Undergird him with the strength to destroy the unrighteous rulers, to purge Jerusalem from gentiles who trample her to destruction;
23 In wisdom and in righteousness to drive out the sinners from the inheritance; to smash the arrogance of sinners like a potter's jar;
24 To shatter all their subtance with an iron rod; to destroy the unlawful nations with the word of his mouth;
25 At his warning the nations will flee from his presence; and he will condemn sinners by the thoughts of their hearts.
26 He will gather a holy people, whom he will lead in righteousness; and he will judge the tribes of the people that have been made holy by the Lord their God.
27 He will not tolerate unrighteousness [even] to pause among them, and any person who knows wickedness will not live with them. For he shall know them, that they are all children of their God.
28 He will distribute them upon the land according to their tribes; the alien and the foreigner will no longer live near them.
29 He will judge peoples and nations in the wisdom of his righteousness. ...
30 And he will have gentile nations serving him under his yoke, and he will glorify the Lord in [a place] prominent [above] the whole earth. And he will purge Jerusalem [and make it] holy as it was from the beginning,
31 [For] nations to come from the ends of the earth to see his glory, to bring as gifts her children who had been driven out, and to see the glory of the Lord with which God has glorified her.
32 And he will be a righteous king over them, taught by God. There will be no unrighteousness among them in his days, for he shall be holy, and their king shall be the Lord Messiah."
4Q252 frag. 1, col. 5, (interpreting Ge49:10)
"A sovereign shall not be removed from the tribe of Judah. Whenever Israel rules there shall not fail to be a descendent of David on the throne. For the staff is the covenant of kingship, the clans of Israel are the feet, until the Messiah of Righteousness comes, the branch of David. For to him and to his descendants has been given the covenant of kingship over his people for all everlasting generations..."
PS: more could be extracted from the 'Dead Sea Scrolls' texts:
- 1QS 9-11 featuring a prophet and the priestly (Aaronic) & royal (Davidic) anointed ones.
- 4QFlor 1:11: the Scion of David will arise at the end of days (4QpISa).
Psalm110:1-2: "The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; You will rule in the midst of your enemies."
a) This psalm is (wrongly) "of David" and consequently "my Lord" appears as someone greater than David and still to come.
b) However the psalm was composed for a new (existing then) Davidian king, young and with troops (verse 3), and wishfully hoped to be a conqueror of the world (verses 5 & 6, quoted next).
c) In Heb1:13, the first verse of this psalm passage is quoted with Jesus suggested as its "Lord", and later confirmed in Heb10:13.
d) In Mk12:35-37, the same verse is used to make a point in which "my Lord" is pre-assumed to be Christ (=Jesus).
Psalm110:5-6 "The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth."
Let's notice the link in Psalm80 between
"son of man"
and "the man at your right hand". Another connection is in Psalm110 between
(as a different entity of LORD=God and king
David) and the one "at your right hand". Similarities are also obvious between Psalm132
and Psalm110, identifying the
(Christ) & descendant of David as the
"Son of Man". And then, most of these psalms deal with
the hoped for superlative (Jewish) King.
The crucified one "acknowledged" as "king of the Jews" is the "Lord"/"Christ"/"Son of David"/"Son of Man" who is saved in heaven, at the right hand of God!
He will be the great ruler in behalf of (and with) God! His earthly Kingdom (the awaited kingdom of God, announced by John the Baptist) will be triumphant over enemies & nations!
Also Psalm110:5-6 could be the origin for the "Son of Man"="Lord"="King" dispensing the "Last Judgment", as in Mt25:31-46, Ac10:42 & Jn5:25-30.
a) This later notion is conflicting with Paul's view (Ro2:3,5-6, 5:16, 14:10b,12), 'Hebrews' (12:23) and James' epistle (4:12,5:7-11).
b) The "Son of man" of 'Daniel' (7:13-14) and, if written before 70C.E., the one of 1Enoch's similitudes (Ch.46-71), may have influenced the earliest Jewish Christians, and through them, "adopted" by Mark's community, before the gospel was written:
'Son of man': Paul = 0; 1Enoch = 15; Mk = 14; (Q = 8); Mt-Q = 24; Lk-Q = 16; Jn = 12
(Note: Q & (more so) GMatthew have a Jewish Christian's bias)
a) "Christ" and "Lord" were less politically offensive and more acceptable to Gentiles than "king of the Jews".
b) New beliefs, among Diaspora Jews, about the soul of very notable Jews rising to heaven after death, such as the ones of Abraham & Moses (according to Philo of Alexandria --died around 50--), facilitated the notion of the ultimate "King" raised from the dead: if Abraham & Moses went to heaven, why not Christ!
Philo in 'The sacrifices of Abel and Cain':
- II, "... Abraham also, leaving mortal things, "is added to the people of God," having received immortality, and having become equal to the angels; for the angels are the host of God, being incorporeal and happy souls."
- III, quoted from Dt34:6, "That no one is said to know of his [Moses'] tomb"
within a passage featuring "the migration of the perfect soul [Moses'] to the living God" and "raised the perfect man [Moses] from the things of the earth up to himself [God] ...".
Furthermore Philo declared in another book, 'on the life of Moses II', LI (291),
"[Moses, right before his death] was standing at the very starting-place [mount Nebo], as it were, that he might fly away and complete his journey to heaven ..."
c) "Revelations" as a stranger or from internal voice would strengthen the belief of a resurrected Christ:
Lk24:16 "but they were kept from recognizing him [allegedly the resurrected Jesus]."
Ac22:9 RSV "Now those who were with me [Paul] ... did not hear the voice of the one [allegedly the resurrected Jesus] who was speaking to me."
Some of the quoted passages appear in early Christian writings:
- Ps8:4b-5 > Heb2:6b-8a,9
- Ps110:1 > Heb1:13,10:12-13, Mk12:36
- Ps80:17+Da7:13b > Mk14:62 "... the Son of Man [Jesus] sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."
More psalms were used by early Christian writers, especially the author of 'Hebrews' (see later). For example:
- Paul quoted psalms in his earliest letters as for Ps94:11 > 1Co3:20.
- GLuke has the resurrected Jesus declare:
Lk24:44b "Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
In 'Acts', Peter and Paul (allegedly) quote psalms (1:20,2:25-28,34,4:25-26,13:33-35).
Matthew's gospel, addressed to Jews and Jewish Christians (explanations in "Parables and gospels", Section 9), was written late and with some elements of Gentile Christianity. But it provides some glimpses on Jewish Christians' Christology.
"Matthew" emphasized human & vengeful kings, some real, others fictional and Jesus himself is acknowledged as a Jewish king, right after his birth:
Mt2:2 "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?"
Mt2:6b "... a ruler [Jesus] who will be the shepherd of my people Israel."
"Matthew" mentioned Jesus as "Son of David" many times:
(Paul's letters = 1), Mk = 3, Mt = 10, Lk = 4, Jn = 0
Mt12:22b-23 "... Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"
["Matthew" was going all out to have Jesus called "Son of David": David was no healer, so where is the connection between healing and "Son of David"?]"
GMatthew is the only one with Jesus as a
direct descendant of the kings of the Davidian
"The Gospel according to Matthew was written to the Jews. For they laid particular stress upon the fact that Christ [should be] of the seed of David."
Fragments from the lost writings of Irenaeus, XXIX
"Matthew's readers were obviously Greek-speaking. They also seem to have been Jews."
The NIV Study Bible, introduction to 'Matthew'
Ro8:34 "... Christ Jesus, who died -- more than that, who was raised to life -- is at the right hand of God ..."
Ro1:3 "Son ... a descendant of David"
Ro15:12 "... Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse [David's father] will spring up, one [Christ] who will arise to rule over the nations;
[in Paul's letters, this is the only instance of Christ/Lord/Jesus as a ruler of some sort. See 1cCorinthians for 1Co15:23-28]
` the Gentiles will hope in him.""
appear in Paul's letter to the Romans (written early 57C.E. and probably his last one), as likely a concession to the Jewish element in the community:
Ro2:17 "Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God"
Even earlier, the author of 'Hebrews' wrote:
Heb7:14 "For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah [as David], and in regard to that tribe ..."
Heb1:3b "he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."
Jesus at the "right hand" of God is also mentioned in Heb1:13,8:1,10:12,12:2.
See later on this page for more details about 'Hebrews'
In GMatthew, the kingdom of heaven is to
come on earth:
Mt5:5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
Mt6:10 "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Note: the other gospels and Paul do not specify the Kingdom will occur on earth, but rather heaven (Mk13:27b, Jn18:36, 2Co5:1-2, Php3:20).And Jesus, as the "Son of Man" and "King" (Mt31:34,40), is to return on earth to administer his judgment:
The Christian additions of 'Revelation' (see
"Daniel and Revelation"
for more details) are still very much impregnated
with Jewish Christians' Christology. Here,
the reconquest of earth (Rev19:11-21) is
done by the
"King of kings and Lord of lords"
(Rev19:16) who according to Rev19:13b ("his name is the Word of God") is Jesus himself.
This is corroborated by comparing
Rev19:15 ("Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.") and Rev19:12a ("His eyes [of the holy conqueror] are like blazing fire")
Rev2:12b ("These are the words of him ["like a son of man" (Rev1:13) heavenly Jesus] who has the sharp, double-edged sword.") and Rev1:14b ("his eyes [of divine Jesus] were like blazing fire").
The reconquest is followed by an earthly Kingdom where:
"... the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God ... came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years." (Rev20:4b)
Once again, Jesus is a "Son of David":
"... him [Jesus] ... who holds the key of David ..." (Rev3:7)
"... I [Jesus] am the root and the offspring of David ..." (Rev24:16)
a) The epistle of Barnabas (written around 97C.E.) was meant for Gentile believers and against Jewish Christians' beliefs ("son of man" and, more so, "son of David"):
12:10 "Behold again it is Jesus, not a son of man, but the Son of God, and He was revealed in the flesh in a figure. Since then men will say that Christ is the son of David, David himself prophesied being afraid and understanding the error of sinners ... David called Him Lord, and called Him not Son [of David] ..."
b) Other parts of 'Revelation' (ch 21-22) feature a physical Kingdom of God (the New Jerusalem) which gets implanted on earth in the midst of mortal Gentiles.
Expectations for a great Jewish King and Kingdom to come soon were shared by Jews at that time:
Josephus' Wars, VI, V, 4 "But now, what did the most elevate them [the Jews of Palestine] in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings,
[as in Ps110:5-6, Da7:13b-14 & Psalms of Solomon, already quoted]
` how, "about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.""
Philo of Alexandria theorized:
"In his essential character a king is equal
to every man, but in the power of his authority and rank he
is equal to God who rules over all things;
of all, for there is
nothing on earth that is higher than he
... for if he is honored as being of the
likeness of God
[evidently a Jewish king], nevertheless he is in some degree entangled in terrestrial and vile dust, by means of which he should learn
simplicity and meekness
towards all men."
(fragment preserved by Antonius, SER. CIV)
Furthermore, at the end of 'On rewards and punishments', Philo alluded to better times for his contemporary righteous Jews and proselytes, after some future apocalyptic time of destruction & purification. Then they would enjoy great prosperity in rebuilt cities (extrapolated from Eze36:33-35), with God conferring "vast wealth separately on each individual" (168).
Note: let's notice (from Josephus & Philo's writings, and also from the Psalms of Solomon) the very "down to earth" features of any new world order to come. This is very reminiscent of:
"Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Ac1:6a)
likely expressing the hope of the first Jewish Christians.
Christ (Hebrew "Messiah") means "anointed one" (chosen, consecrated), as the former kings were:
1Sa10:1 "Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, "Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?"
1Sa16:13 "So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power."
2Sa2:4 "Then the men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah."
2Sa5:3 "... they anointed David king over Israel."
1Ki1:39 "Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, "Long live King Solomon!""
1Ki19:15-16 "... When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel ..."
2Ki9:6 "... Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu's head and declared, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `I anoint you king over the LORD's people Israel."
In the O.T. (including the psalms), most occurrences of "anointed one" are about David and his royal descendants.
There are also a few instances where priests, a prophet or a foreign king are anointed:
Ex40:15 "You shall anoint them, as you anointed their father [Aaron], that they may minister to Me as priests; for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations."
1Ki19:16b "And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place."
Isa45:1 "This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus [Persian king], whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him ..."
27. PAULINE GENTILE CHRISTIANITY, THE BEGINNING:
a self-professed Pharisee (Php3:5), not an eyewitness of Jesus but nevertheless apostle to the Gentiles (Gal2:9), introduced (his brand of) Christianity on the fertile grounds of Macedonia (first), then Achaia (today's southern Greece), then Asia minor:
Ro15:19b "... So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum [western Macedonia], I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ."
He is the first acknowledged Christian theologian and wrote in '1Thessalonians':
Note: this letter (except for 1:10, 2:14-16, 3:13b added latter) was written in late 50/early 51C.E. (explanation for dating here) to the newly founded (by Paul and his "helpers") Gentile Christian community of Thessalonica (Macedonia) and it is the earliest N.T. text. Paul had just heard from them because "Timothy has just now come to us from you" (3:6a).
1Th2:12 "encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory."
Paul promised to his converts they would be the elects of the Kingdom and (as in next quote) avoid God's wrath ("the good news"). Jewish Christians and "Nazarenes" believed the same.
1Th5:9-10 "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him."
a) "to suffer wrath": "The concept of a 'final conflagration', [destruction by fire] ... occurs frequently in the Third Book of the Sibylline Oracles, as basically Jewish compilation dating about 140 B.C. The Jews appear to have adopted it from Gentiles sources (although there is a foregleam in Isa. 34.9-10), for it was held by Zeno and the Stoics and dominated the Roman-Oriental world from the first century B.C. until the third century C.E."
The Dead Sea Scriptures, Third Revised and Enlarged Edition, Theodor H. Gaster (introduction p. 22)
Pliny the Elder (26-79C.E.), 'The Natural History', 7, 16 "... the heat of that conflagration to which the world is fast approaching."
b) Allusions to the 'final conflagration' in the N.T. and other texts:
- Heb10:27 "... a fearful expectation ... of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God."
- "Q" Mt3:12b "... He [Christ] will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
- Paul in 1Co3:13 "... the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire ..."
- 2Peter (100-150) 3:10 "But the day of the Lord will come ... and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up."
- Celsus (177-178) "They [Christians] postulate, for example, that their messiah will return as a conqueror on the clouds, and that he will rain fire upon the earth in his battle with the princes of the air, and that the whole world, with the exception of believing Christians, will be consumed in fire. An interesting idea --and hardly an original one. The idea came from Greeks and others--"
- Octavius of Minucius Felix (160-250), Ch. 34 "Further, in respect of the burning up of the world, it is a vulgar error NOT to believe either that fire will fall upon it in an unforeseen way, or that the world will be destroyed by it. For who of wise men doubts, who is ignorant, that all things which have had a beginning perish, all things which are made come to an end?"
c) In Paul's letters, God's wrath to come (soon) is taken for granted:
Ro3:5b-6a "... That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? ... Certainly not! ..."
Ro12:19 "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to [God's] wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord [God: Dt32:35]."
Salvation (=avoiding God's wrath=calling into the Kingdom=the "good news") is to be provided by Jesus, through his death, with no further explanation.
"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus."
A very simple way to reassure the Gentile Christians: their dead will also enter the Kingdom alive.
is offered by proposing a parallel between Jesus' death &
"rising" and the future resurrection of dead Christians.
Then Paul seems to have realized this postulation, based on faith only, might not be well received: next and abruptly, he invoked a revelation:
1Th4:15-18,5:1-2 "According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have been asleep.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Therefore encourage each other with these words.
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief."
Needless to say, "the day of the Lord" never surprised the contemporaries of Paul. And the "brothers" of Thessalonica did not witness their resurrected dead somewhere in the clouds.
The O.T. concept of future raising of the dead (Isa26:19, Eze37:1-10, Job19:25-26, Da12:2) is brought about to "solve" an "emergency" among Pauline Christians. But from now on, resurrections will become a major issue, as seen through Paul's letters to the Corinthians (1Co15:12-22,29-54, 2Co5:1-9).
The clouds (and not earth) are the staging area for gathering Christians under the supervision of the "Lord" (Jesus, according to
"at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ"
(5:23) and 5:10b), supposedly on their way upwards, suggesting the Kingdom is in heaven:
2Co5:1 "... we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven ..."
Php3:20a "But our citizenship is in heaven ..."
This important deviation from Jewish Christianity (and Nazarenes' beliefs) might be due to Paul's Platonic/Philoic leaning or/and his desire to avoid conflict with temporal (Roman) authorities:
Ro13:1-7 "[Paul exhorting:] Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, ... The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?
[likely reference to Nero (or his subordinates in Rome), in these days 20 years old & in his fourth year as emperor, guided by the competent Burrus and the esteemed philosopher Seneca (his tutor). His reign then (in early 57C.E.) was still marked by decency and moderation. That will change later]
` Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing ..."
Paul was even acknowledging (the belief of) other gods, even earthly ones (like a deified Roman emperor):
1Co8:5 "For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many gods and many lords) ..."
For Paul, God's wrath affects the condemned individuals --wicked or/and unrepentant (Ro1:18,2:5), including "bad" Christians (Ro3:5)-- on God's Judgment Day (Ro2:5-6,3:5-6). And "the god of this age" (2Co4:4), not the Romans, presides over "the present evil age" (Gal1:4), but "the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." (Ro16:20)
Note: a "paradise" in heaven seems to have been well accepted in the Roman world:
Cicero's Republic (6. 9-26), "Dream of Scipio Africanus" (1st cent. B.C.E.)
"... there is a certain place in heaven [the Pauline paradise?], where they shall enjoy an eternity of happiness."
An earthly "master" Jewish Kingdom was out of question for converting Gentiles in a city outside the ones of the Diaspora (as Philippi, the first Christian community created by Paul and his "helpers") and especially in a Roman colony (as Philippi again).
'1Thessalonians' has NO Christ/Jesus/Lord as king or ruler, no O.T. quotes, no mention of any biblical stories and no Jewishness of any sort.
The Thessalonians (and Paul!) seemed certain the Kingdom will come very soon: we can gather through Paul's answer that they asked for times & dates and were unprepared to the fact some of them would die before.
This belief and the one about being the elects (and avoiding God's wrath) were likely the main causes for their conversion to Paul's Christianity. And thinking short term, they had no reason to be interested about the "historical Jesus" or even some coherent theology/christology.
'1Thessalonians' stands as the only (known)
letter written by Paul during the second
missionary journey. Then, after his visit
to Jerusalem (52C.E.), Paul learned that
the Corinthians had, in part, deserted him:
1Co1:11-12 "My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas [Peter]"; still another, "I follow Christ.""
Apollos and very likely Peter went to Corinth during Paul's absence. Somehow, that divided the Christian community and "Christ crucified" surfaced as a main issue. And in '1Corinthians' (quoted passages written in 53C.E., according to my own research. All details about dating are in Paul's third journey), Paul wrote:
"Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is
of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the
of God the world through its
did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of
what was preached to save those who believe.
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
"Christ crucified", as a message, was not making sense to either Gentiles or Jews, especially the educated (intellectual and wise) ones.
a) For Jewish Christians then, as explained earlier in Section 26, the interpretation of scriptures led them to believe that Jesus, as the King/Son of David/Son of Man/Christ/Lord went to and will come back from heaven (at the inauguration of the kingdom of God). Consequently, his execution is no more than a non-fatal accident and otherwise meaningless.
b) Much later (140-150), apologist Justin acquiesced the accusations about "Christ crucified":
Trypho, XXXII, "this so-called Christ of yours was dishonourable and inglorious, so much so that the last curse contained in the law of God fell on him, for he was crucified."
c) Still later (160-250), apologist Minucius Felix acknowledged (and evaded) the "problem":
Octavius, Ch. 9 "... the cross, appropriates fitting altars for reprobate and wicked men ..."
Octavius, Ch. 29: "... you [a pagan] attribute to our religion the worship of a criminal and his cross, you wander far from the neighbourhood of the truth, in thinking either that a criminal deserved ... to be believed God."
Paul, evidently on the defensive, counteracted by saying "God made foolish the wisdom of the
world". But he did not try to explain the theological significance of Jesus' death on the cross. Rather, he surmised:
1Co2:8 "None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
[allusion to an unspecified God's plan at work]."
It is evident that
had become a theological weakness with no
clear solution. Unwilling to use the scriptures
for justification (if any relevant passage
could be found!) and go back to his prior
"teaching", Paul had little to go on. However,
he started to use O.T. passages, but only
in order to defend his points against "human
wisdom" and in favor of spiritual enlightenment:
1Co1:18-19 "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written [Isa29:14]:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.""
1Co3:19-20 "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written [Job5:13]: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; and again," [Ps94:11] The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.""
Finally, "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" and "Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." (1Co1:30) alluded to Christ elevated status and role (but with no further explanation), through a self-admitted process of boasting (glorying):
"Therefore, as it is written:
[loosely drawn from Ps34:2,44:8 & Jer9:23-24. But here, the boasting is in favor of the LORD=God, not the Lord (Jesus)!]
` "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." (1Co1:31, also 2Co10:17)
Note: boasting by Paul:
2Co11:10 "As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia [Greece] will stop this boasting of mine."
2Co11:18 "Since many ["false apostles" (11:13)] are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast.
[acknowledgment that Paul felt he had to boast in order to compete]"
2Co12:1 "I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained,
[because his boasting was making him look like "a foul" (11:16-17)]
` I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord."
Gal6:14 "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
"When I came to you, brothers,
I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom
as I proclaimed to you
the testimony about God
[and NOT Jesus!]. For
I resolved to know nothing
while I was with you
and him crucified.
[as already gathered from '1Thessalonians', Paul's preaching appears to have been very minimal in the early years of his "ministry". Also, it looks here Paul was not putting Jesus' crucifixion as Christ in any historical context, which would have taken out the mystery]
` I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words,
[alluding to his former feeble argumentation]
` but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began."
It appears that Paul's initial
"testimony about God"
and him crucified"
(in unclear terms) and nothing much else (as Jesus' message, etc.):
1Co1:17 "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel -- not with words of human wisdom, lest [in order not] the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."
and with some allusion to the Kingdom:
1Co4:20 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power."
1Co4:5 "Therefore [the Christians of Corinth then] judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. ... At that time each will receive his praise from God."
Paul explained his earlier success was not due to him but by "a demonstration of the Spirit's power".
As a matter of fact, Paul used his lack of skills:
2Co10:1b "I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you"
2Co10:10 "For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he [Paul] is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing."
2Co11:6a "I may not be a trained speaker ..."
in order to explain the Corinthians did not get converted "with wise and persuasive words" of "eloquence or superior [human] wisdom".
And once again, "the wisdom of this age" is said to be useless for understanding the "hidden" and "secret" one of God.
1Co2:10-15a "but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things ..."
Paul fell back on the "Spirit" as a substitute for his lack of theology: the "Spirit of God" through "spiritual" but not "wise and persuasive" words is to provide answers for Christians "that we may understand what God has freely given us [salvation]."
Note: earlier, Paul wrote about the Spirit's role for Christians:
1Th5:19-20a "Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything."
God's secret and hidden (and unexplained) wisdom, with the enrollment of the "Spirit" to explain it (in "fuzzy" terms), could not have been a satisfactory solution for Christians looking for a more tangible explanation (about why Jesus' crucifixion brings salvation): it had to be found!
In 'Philippians', it is widely accepted that Paul:
a) quoted a Christian hymn composed earlier (very likely by Apollos, the author of 'Hebrews', prior to the writing of this epistle).
b) added to it "even death on the cross".
This appears to be the "missing link" (no Son & sacrifice yet, but Jesus is pre-existent already):
Php2:6-11 "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death.
[Heb5:8 "... he learned obedience from what he suffered ..."]
` ... Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
[Heb1:4b "as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs."]
` that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
28. FULL GENTILE CHRISTIANITY, THE BEGINNING:
Apollos and 'Hebrews'
The author of the letter is most likely Apollos,
but not Paul:
From the NIV Study Bible: introduction to 'Hebrews':
"... candidate for authorship [of 'Hebrews'] is Apollos, whose name was first suggested by Martin Luther and who is favored by many scholars today."
From the New Jerusalem Bible: introduction to 'Hebrews':
"... perhaps the most likely [author] is Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew who is praised by Luke for his eloquence, apostolic zeal and knowledge of the scriptures, Ac18:24-28. Not only are these qualities reflected in the letter itself, but its language and thought, with their marked affinity with Philo, also suggests Alexandrian culture."
Contrary to Paul's usual practice, the author of 'Hebrews' nowhere identifies himself in the letter. Furthermore, the statement:
Heb2:3 "This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him"
indicates the author was not an eyewitness, nor the alleged recipient of revelations, as Paul claimed:
Gal1:11b-12 "... the gospel ["good news": salvation] I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."
2Co13:3a "... since you [the Christians of Corinth] are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me [Paul]."
Also, the "specific emphases and writing styles are markedly different [between 'Hebrews' and Paul's letters]." (The NIV Study Bible)
As a Jewish Christian, Apollos was introduced
(52C.E.) to Pauline Christianity in Ephesus:
Ac18:25-26 "He [Apollos] had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila [followers of Paul (Ac18:2-3)] heard him, they invited him in their home and explain to him the way of God more adequately."
According to Ac18:24, "a Jew named Apollos" was "a native of Alexandria" (Jews from Egypt intensely believed in angels), and "a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the scriptures".
Apollos visited Corinth at least once (in
Ac18:27-28 "When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia [Corinth], the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ."
This trip was acknowledged by Paul:
1Co3:6 "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."
Apollos was highly regarded in Corinth and
had his own followers (therefore competing
1Co1:11-12 "... there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos" ..."
1Co3:4-10 "... there is jealousy and quarreling among you ... For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?"
a) In the early days in Ephesus (53C.E.), Paul claimed he supervised Apollos:
1Co4:6a "Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written. "Then you will not take pride in one man over against another."
b) But later (55C.E.), Apollos appears to have been his own man and was not accepting orders from Paul:
1Co16:12 "Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity."
'Hebrews' was not addressed to Jews or Jewish
a) "Jew(s)" (or "Hebrew(s)" or "Israelite(s)") is never used in the epistle and the title 'To the Hebrews' might have come from Clement of Alexandria (end of 2nd century).
b) Some of the 'Hebrews' themes would be considered unacceptable (and heretical) by Jews and Jewish Christians alike:
A recurring theme of the letter is that Christ's sacrifice (as the ultimate high priest) changed the (old) Law (or made it irrelevant):
Heb7:12 "For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law."
Heb10:1a "The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming -- not the realities themselves."
Heb14:19 "... The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God."
Heb7:28 "For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son ..."
Also, a related theme in 'Hebrews' is Jesus'
sacrifice enabling a new covenant, replacing
the old one:
Heb7:22, 8:6-7 "... the covenant of which he [Jesus] is the mediator is superior to the old one ...", 9:15
Heb8:13 "By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear."
Heb10:9b "He [God] sets aside the first [covenant] to establish the second."
Certainly, these assertions could not have been tolerated by Jewish Christians (or Jews):
Mt5:17-18 ""Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.""
Ge17:10 "This is my covenant with you [Abraham] and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised."
Ge17:13b-14 "My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
But even more heretical for a monotheist Jewish Christian (or a Jew) was a second God:
Heb1:8 "But about the Son he [God] says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever ..."
[drawn (out-of-context!) from Ps45:6a "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever" But in this psalm:
" I [the author of the psalm] recite my verses for the king" (Ps45:1)
"Daughters of kings are among your honored women [concubines or wedding guests]; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir." (Ps45:9)
and "O God" is the God of this Davidian king:
"God, your God, has set you [the king] above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy" (Ps45:7b)]"
Note: Ps45:7b is copied in Heb1:9b, but, in the later, the anointed one is the "Son of God", not a real Davidian king!
Therefore, many parts of 'Hebrews' would have infuriated Jewish Christians or (unconverted) Jews. Furthermore, they were not likely to be fooled by out-of-context quotes from the scriptures.
Apollos made use of many biblical stories (his "forte", according to Ac18:24) and some biblical/Jewish rituals (drawn from the scriptures), but he explained them "from scratch", with the necessary details. No previous knowledge of the scriptures was
required in order to follow his argumentation:
The next quote is an example:
Heb11:29-31 "By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient."
Then, after fifteen such "by faith" biblical items, Apollos wanted to skip on details:
Heb11:32-34a "And what more shall I say?
I do not have time to tell about
[here, Apollos acknowledged:
- His (Gentile) audience depended on his explanations about biblical events.
- The readers/listeners knew little (or nothing) about illustrious O.T. figures]
` Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword ..."
As Gentile Christians were led by Paul to
believe (2Co5:1 & Php3:20 previously
quoted), the elects are to be saved in heaven:
Heb12:22b-23 "the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly ..." (see also Heb11:8-16)
But Jewish Christians (and Jews!) believed the Kingdom will come on earth as previously explained in Section 26.
'Hebrews' was written before the temple destruction in 70C.E.
(in agreement with the NIV Study Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible):
This is evidenced in:
Heb2:3b, 3:13, 4:7, 5:1-3, 7:27
Heb8:5 "They [the priests] serve [Greek present tense] at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven."
Heb9:25 "... the high priest enters [Greek present tense] the Most Holy Place every year ..."
Heb10:1b-2a "For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year ["endlessly" does not mean up to 70C.E. only!], make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered?
[they were certainly stopped (in 70C.E.), which goes against the aforementioned argument]"
Heb10:11 "Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices ..."
Notes: in contrast, the gospels (all of them written after Jerusalem destruction) took advantage of the destruction of the temple to make a point that Jesus' death (and resurrection) had replaced it:
Mk14:57-58 "... "We heard him say, `I [Jesus] will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.'"" (also in Mt26:60-61)
28.1.7 'Hebrews' was written when Jesus' eyewitnesses had been heard by the recipients of the letter (and likely the author himself):
"This salvation which was first announced by the Lord [Jesus], was confirmed to us by whose who heard him." (Heb2:3b)
Note: there is only one more occurrence in this letter of Jesus/Christ/Lord being "heard" (this time allegedly by God) and it was:
"who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, ... and was heard ..." (Heb5:7)PS: other mention of the earthly Jesus:
Heb2:14-18 "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death ... For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way ... Because he himself suffered when he was tempted ..."
28.1.8 'Hebrews' was written for early believers:
Heb3:7-19-4:1-12: here, a point is made the Israelites of the Exodus did not enter God's rest (Kingdom, the heavenly Jerusalem) because of rebellion and sins:
Heb3:16-18 "For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He [God] angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?
[it is suggested here that death "proves" God's rejection]
` And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?"
However, the author claimed "again He [God] designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts."" (4:7)
"Today" has come because:
"the gospel ["good news"] was preached to us [the recipients of the letter and the author] as well as to them [Moses' Israelites];" (4:2a)
"but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today,"" (3:13)
"... let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (10:25b)
"... in just a very little while ..." (10:37a)
Finally he exhorts his readers/listeners:
"Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest ..." (4:11a)
Could those words have been written if a lot of Christians had already passed away?
If, before the epistle was issued, many believers were known to have died, the main point of Heb4:1-12 would backfire: how could some latter Christians, recipients of the letter, believe they are the today's ones when, as the (dead) Israelites of the Exodus, the earlier (dead) Christians (who heard the gospel too!) were evidently NOT (and with no given reason)?
Deceased Christians (in significant numbers) could not have been ignored, as they are in Heb4:1-12, and generally in the whole epistle. This points to the fact the letter was written very early in the Christian era, for a first "crop" of believers, soon after their conversion.
- Heb10:32a "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light ..."
- Heb6:1-2a "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms ..."
28.1.9 'Hebrews' was written for the (mostly Gentile) Christian community of Corinth:
Note: for latter interpolations in 'Hebrews', click here
Now let's analyze the clues and pieces of evidence showing the early Christian community of Corinth (well known through Paul's letters) was in fact the one addressed to.
Low "spiritual" level in the community:
1Co3:1-2 "Brothers, I [Paul] could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-- mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready."
Same appraisal in 'Hebrews':
Heb5:11-13a,6:1a "... but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant ..."
But building on foundations had begun:
1Co3:10 "By the grace God has given me, I [Paul] laid a foundation [Jesus Christ: 3:11b] as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it."
As Apollos certainly was doing:
Heb6:1a "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation ..."
Same peculiar practices in the community:
Heb2:4 "God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will."
Heb6:4 "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,"
1Co12:7-11 "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. ... gifts of healing ... miraculous power ... prophecy ... tongues ... All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."
1Co14:12 "... Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts ..."
Not meeting regularly:
'Hebrews' mentions a very unJewish habit:
Heb10:25a "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing ..."
Jews or even Jewish Christians would be meeting regularly for the Sabbath day.
However, in '1Corinthians', Paul wrote that some of the "lesser" members of the community might feel out of place among the other Christians:
1Co12:13-26 "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body --whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free ... Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body ... And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable ..."
That would explain why some Christians in Corinth would be skipping on meetings!
28.1.10 Cross-influence between Paul in '1Corinthians' and Apollos in 'Hebrews' is noticeable:
Note: '1Corinthians' (and also '2Corinthians') is actually a combination of three different epistles: all details about dating, split & later additions in Paul's third journey
Here is a brief recapitulation:
The two early epistles:
'1aCorinthians' (written early 53C.E.): 1:10-4:21
'1bCorinthians' (written later in 53C.E.): 9:1-27
The later epistle:
'1cCorinthians' (written early 55C.E.): The rest (except 1:4-9,14:33b-35,15:3-11,15:23-28)
From the early epistles (53C.E.) to 'Hebrews':
a) 1Co1:24 "Christ the power of God"
then: Heb1:3 "his powerful word"
b) 1Co4:5 "[Jesus] will expose the motives of men's hearts"
then: Heb4:12 "the word of God [Jesus] judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
From 'Hebrews' to the later epistle (55C.E.):
then: 1Co5:7 "For Christ ... has been sacrificed."
In Paul's earlier letters, a "sacrifice" might have been alluded to, but never enunciated. And in all of Paul's epistles, this sacrifice is never explained (but 'Hebrews' does it, at length!).
Heb9:12,10:19,29 "[Jesus'] blood"
then: 1Co10:16,11:25,27 "[Jesus'] blood"
Heb9:20a "... even the first covenant was not put in effect without blood. ... He [Moses] said, "This is the blood of the covenant ...""
then: 1Co11:25a "In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new convenant [Heb8:8,13,9:15,12:24] in my blood [Heb9:12,10:19,29] ...""
a) In the whole '1Corinthians' letter, there is no indication about the meaning of this "sacrifice" or an explanation about the "new covenant". In '1Thessalonians' (and the early '1Corinthians' epistles), written before, there is no mention of any "sacrifice", "blood" or "covenant".
However in 'Hebrews', the "new covenant" and the "sacrifice" are among the major themes. Furthermore, the author of 'Hebrews' started his extrapolations on the "new covenant" right from scratch, that is the only occurrence of "new covenant" in the scriptures, Jer31:31-34 (=> Heb8:8-12), which he quoted entirely.
b) No Eucharist and "Last Supper" are in 'Hebrews', despite its many mentions of Jesus' blood and the "new covenant". The obvious explanation: 'Hebrews' was written before Paul's "Last Supper".
"How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be
... who has treated as an
of the covenant that sanctified him ..."
then: 1Co11:27 "Therefore whoever ... drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of ... the blood of the Lord."
by his death
him who holds the power of death"
then: 1Co15:55-57 ""Where, O death , is your victory? ..." ... But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
In 'Hebrews' there are many abbreviated biblical stories (i.e. Heb7:1-3,11:1-31).
then: in the later part of '1Corinthians' (after 'Hebrews'), along with the quotes (14:21,15:32,55), one biblical story (about the Exodus) is mentioned: 1Co10-5,7,8b,9b,10b,18.
Note: in '1Thessalonians' (50C.E., before Apollos), there are no reference to O.T. passages. In the early parts of '1Corinthians', there are only a few short quotes from the scriptures.
In 'Hebrews', the author gave the (strong) impression the elects of the heavenly Jerusalem will be the contemporary &
righteous believers (12:1:29), and very soon (11:25,37). There is no mention of resurrected dead Christians
joining the non-deceased ones. And in the aforementioned "today" passage (Heb3:16-4:1-11), death is suggested as a sign of rejection about entering God's rest (3:17), as also interpreted in:
1Clement:51 "[the Israelites'] sedition against Moses the servant of God, and whose condemnation was made manifest [unto all]. For they went down alive into Hades, and death swallowed them up."
then: in the later part of '1Corinthians', seemingly in order to address the speculations raised by the aforementioned details in 'Hebrews', Paul had to tackle vigorously the problem of unbelief about resurrections (including Jesus' one), (1Co15:12b "... how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?"), regarding the deceased Christians' entry in the Kingdom:
1Co15:18 "Then [if no resurrections] also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished."
In 'Hebrews', there are references to the
pre-existence of Christ:
Heb9:26a "Then Christ would have to suffer many times since the creation of the world ..."
then: a pre-existent Christ as "the spiritual rock" is contrived by Paul:
1Co10:2-4 "They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ."
a) Prior to that (and 1Co8:6 "the Word of God", quoted earlier), there is no mention of Jesus/Christ's pre-existence in Paul's earlier letters.
b) There is no mention of any pre-existent Christ ("anointed one") in the whole O.T.
"For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He
angry forty years?
Was it not with those who sinned
[Moses' Israelites], whose corpses fell in the wilderness?"
(drawn from Nu14:21-35)
1Co10:5 "But with most of them [Moses' Israelites] God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered [also translated as "they were overthrown/strewn"] in the wilderness."
Note: both Paul and Apollos mentioned this part of the Exodus story.
Apollos specified a gospel was preached to those Israelites (Heb4:2) (but they rebelled) and speculated: "For if Jesus had brought them [the Israelites then] into rest, he [God] would not have spoken afterwards about another day." (Heb4:8 Darby).
Paul went one step further, with Christ himself providing religious guidance (in vain!) through "the spiritual rock". Also Paul avoided saying all these Israelites died (death, here, being a sign of rejection, therefore suggesting Paul's dead Christians would not be saved), only the bad ones (1Co10:8-10)!
"the Son ... heir of all things, through whom he made the universe [or, more accuratly, "the worlds", according to the Greek]"
then: Paul followed by acknowledging Jesus as the pre-existent "Word of God" (but with caution!):
1Co8:6 "... there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Jesus Christ [but NOT "the Son"], through whom all things (came)"
A) Let's notice the common "all things" and "through whom". Also, Paul stressed the Father as the initiator of the Creation, when Heb1:2 barely does (and Heb1:10 suggests the Son is the Creator!). Maybe Paul wanted to "correct" the declaration in 'Hebrews'!
B) Jesus as the "Son" (of God) appears mainly in Paul's last (authentic) letters (written late 56 to 57C.E.):
2(c)Co1:19, Gal2:20,4:4,6, Ro1:3,4,9,5:10,8:3,29,31 (altogether eleven times).
Jesus as "Son" is featured only a few times in Paul's early letters (written 50 to early 57C.E.):
1Th1:10, 1Co1:9,15:28 (three times)
Please note: there is no "Son" in 'Philippians' and 'Philemon'.
1Th1:10, 1Co1:4-9 and 1Co15:23-28 are very likely latter interpolations. I want to stress the authenticity of the aforementioned passages is contested because of many suspicious items, not only because of "Son". But let's say, in '1Thessalonians' and '1Corinthians', Paul was unlikely to mention Jesus as "the Son", because he wrote:
"God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Th1:1)
"our God and Father" (1Th1:3,3:13)
"our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus" (1Th3:11)
"For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many gods and many lords, [for Paul, as it seems here, "lords" are not "gods"]
` yet for us there is one God, the Father ... and one Lord Jesus Christ ..."(1Co8:5-6a)
"the heavenly man [Jesus]"(1Co15:48,49)
For more justifications, please click on 1Th1:10, 1Co1:4-9 and 1Co15:23-28.
Paul was reluctant to approve Jesus as the "Son of God". That did not come from Paul; but because of its acceptance among Gentile Christians, he had to adopt it later on. And in his letters to the Corinthians, Paul made the (clever) transition
TO: 2Co1:19a "For the Son of God, Jesus Christ ..."
FROM: 1Co1:3 "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
as follows: 2Co1:3a "... the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ..."
Eleven occurrences of Jesus as "Son (of God)" are in 'Hebrews' but there is nothing in Paul's letters about an explanation/basis for Jesus as the pre-existent "Son of God" (but it is in 'Hebrews'!).
C) For the dating of 'Galatians', click here
28.1.11 Apollos was inspired by the sources and/or works of the illustrious and highly respected Hellenistic Jewish scholar Philo Judaeus (20B.C.E.-50C.E.), ALSO of Alexandria:
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
"In anticipation of Christian doctrine he [Philo] called the Logos [the Word] the first-begotten Son of God, the man of God, the image of God, and second to God."
According to "the Works of Philo", Hendrickson
Publishers (back cover):
"Philo, too, employs interpretive strategies that parallel those of the author of Hebrews. Most scholars would agree that Philo and the author of Hebrews are drawing from the same, or at least similar, traditions of Hellenistic Judaism. With these kind of connections to the world of Judaism and early Christianity, Philo cannot be ignored."
From the New Jerusalem Bible, as already quoted:
"... its language and thought [of 'Hebrews'], with their marked affinity with Philo, also suggests Alexandrian culture."
Some quotes from Philo's works:
a) "Now the image of God is the Word, by which all the world was made" (The special Laws I, ch. XVI)
b) "... the second deity, who is the Word of the supreme Being" (Questions and answers on Genesis II)
c) "For the Father of the universe has caused him to spring up as the eldest Son, whom, in another passage, he calls the firstborn. And he who is thus born, imitating the ways of his father ..." (On the confusion of tongues, ch. XIV)
d) "And even if there be not as yet one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labor earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angel, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called the authority and the name of God and the Word, and man according to God's image ..." (On the confusion of tongues, ch. XXVIII)
Note: the speudo-Daniel Dead Sea scroll 4Q246 mentions a "son of God" as the mysterious "like a son of man" of Da7:13:
"He will be called the son of God; they will call him the son of the Most High ... His kingdom will be an eternal kingdom, and he will be righteous in all his ways. He [will jud]ge the earth in righteousness and everyone will make peace ... every nation will bow down to him ..."
e) "And this same Word is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race which is exposed to affliction and misery; and is also the ambassador, sent by the Ruler of all, to the subject race. And the Word rejoices in the gift ..." (Who is the heir of divine things, ch. XLII)
f) "the most ancient Word of the living God ... he will never take the mitre off from his head, he will never lay aside the kingly diadem, the symbol of an authority which is not absolute, but only that of a viceroy, but which is nevertheless an object of admiration." (On flight and finding, ch. XX)
g) "the man [the high priest] who was consecrated to the Father of the world, should have as a paraclete
[intercessor], his Son, the being most perfect in all virtue, to procure forgiveness of sins, and a supply of unlimited blessings..." (On the life of Moses II, ch. XXVI).
h) "Who then is the chief butler of God? The priest who offers libations to him, the truly great high priest, who, having received a draught of everlasting graces, offers himself in return, pouring in an entire libation full of unmixed wine" (On dreams II, ch. XXVII)
i) "For there are, as it seems, two temples belonging to God; one being this world [heaven], in which the high priest is the divine word, his own firstborn son."(On Dreams I, ch. XXXVII)
j) "For we say the high priest is not a man, but is the word of God ..." (On flight and finding, ch. XX)
28.2 Apollos in 'Hebrews':
Note: let's observe again the (highly strategic) changes (about authorship and referred entity) in the quoted scripture passages (especially the psalms). St Jerome (who thought Paul authored also 'Hebrews') wrote: "The proofs which you [Paul] have used against the Jews or against other heretics bear a different meaning in their own contexts to that which they bear in your epistles" (Letter XLVIII, 13, to Pammachius)
"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days
["the day of the Lord" was supposed to happen soon!]
` he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe ["the worlds"]. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say, [Psalm2:7, unspecified author] "you are my Son; today I have become your Father"?
[the "Son" in the psalm is a Davidian king who has already been "installed" as "my king on Zion [Jerusalem], my holy hill." (6). His potential enemies, "kings" and "rulers of the earth" (10), are advised to "be wise" and "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry ..." (12)]
` or again,
[2Sa7:14a, here the "Son" is definitively Solomon, "... your offspring to succeed you [David], who will come from your own body ..." (7:12)]
` "I will be his father and he will be my Son"? And again, when God brings his first born into the world, he says, [likely Dt32:43 LXX (Greek) Bible] "Let all God's angels worship him." In speaking of the angels he says, [Psalm104:4 LXX (Greek) Bible] "He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire." But about the Son he says, [Psalm45:6-7, but here "O God" is God, not his Son] "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom [some Jewish Christianity here] ...". He [God] also says,
[Psalm102:25-27: but in it, according to the context, the Creator here is God. But for Apollos it is Christ]
` "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands ...". To which of the angels did God ever say,
[Psalm110:1, allegedly "of David", not God. According to the next two verses of the psalm, the addressee is a young Judean king with troups]
` "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those [the elects] who will inherit salvation?"
"It is not to
that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone
has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man
that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels
[as a man], now crowned with glory and honor, because he suffered death,
[no mention of post-mortem appearances. And "crowned with glory and honor" would be explained only by "because he suffered death" (and was a mere man)!]
` so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."
Who suffered death is not just a man, but the Son of God! Then of course, the execution of God's Son is a lot more momentous (and subject to extraordinary implications) than the one of a mere Galilean peasant.
Heb6:6 "if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."
Heb12:2 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Here, the crucifixion is considered shameful, a public disgrace. Later, Paul wrote: "For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness ..." (2Co13:4). That would explain some of the concerns about "Christ crucified" and why "crucified" does not appear in '1Thessalonians'.
Note: the "glorious" crucifixions will come some 40 years later: Jn17:1-5,21:19
came into the world, he said: "
[Psalm40:6-8 is quoted here by Apollos]"
[Psalm40 is "of David", not Christ. Here is an extract:
Psalm40:6-12 "Sacrifices and offerings you did not desire, ... burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I [David] said "Here I am, I have come ... I desire to do your will, O my God; ... I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; ... For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head ...""]
` First he [Christ, as by Apollos] said, " [again from Psalm40:6-8] Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will.""
This is the explanation of a pre-arrangement assumed by Christ, between himself and God (the Father): animal sacrifices are not desired by or pleasing to God. Then Christ, as the
"great high priest", offered himself (to replace the burnt and sin offerings). Pre-existent Jesus
taking the initiative to sacrifice himself
is also mentioned in:
Heb7:27b "... He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself."
Heb10:12 "... this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins ..."
In Paul's letters, it is echoed only once:
Gal1:3b-4a "... Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins ..."
Afterward, Paul opted for God sending his Son for sacrifice (which makes less sense!):
Ro3:25a "... God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement..."
Ro8:3b "... God did by sending his own Son ... to be a sin offering ..."
And the turning point might have been:
Gal4:4 "... God sent his Son ..."
Note: that would show 'Hebrews' as written before 'Galatians'!
Heb4:14a "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God ..."
had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of God.
[the resurrection by God is explained by 5:7 "who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear"]
` Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."
After the great sacrifice, Jesus is the guarantor of salvation for Christians, because he became their high priest (forever).
Heb7:24-25 "but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him [Christians], because he always lives to intercede for them."
And how does Christ (the Lord) become a priest (eternally)?
Through one of the psalms (what else!):
Psalm110:4 "The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "[as copied in Heb5:6]
[here, it is the (young) king of Judah then (110:3 "Your troops will be willing on your day of battle, ... you will receive the dew of your youth.") who is the "Lord" at God's "right hand" (110:1)]
` are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.""
Heb5:9b-10 "he [Jesus: the young Davidian king has been replaced!]
` became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek."
Heb9:15-17 "For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance --now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will [the second covenant], it is necessary to prove the death of the one [Christ] who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died [an explanation that Christ had to die]; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living."
Heb10:9b-10 "He sets aside the first [covenant] to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
The sacrifice of Christ supersedes the first covenant given to Moses and his people (the Jews):
Heb8:18-19a "This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people ..."
Heb9:25-26 "Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood which is not his own. Then Christ would have to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself."
The pre-existent Jesus=Christ=Lord="Heir Of All Things"="Son of God" came down from heaven to offer himself in sacrifice on the cross for the Christians' atonement of sins, allowing the Gentile elects to enter the eternal Kingdom,
of the living God.
You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels
in joyful assembly, to the church of the
(Heb12:22-23a). But for the ones who keep sinning,
"no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a
that will consume the enemies of God."
"Christ crucified" was no more a theological liability. And the rationale behind "salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Th4:9b) and "he died for us" (1Th4:10a) was finally explained.
From now on, Paul will use (and appeal to) human wisdom in his letters to make his theological points; the same wisdom which earlier was vile and useless (1Co1:18-2:6):
1Co10:15 "I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say."
Ro3:5b "That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.)"
Furthermore, Paul will become clear about
the sacrifice for atonement of sins:
2Co5:19a "that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them ..."
2Co5:21a "God made him [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us ..."
Gal1:3b-4a "... our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age ..."
Ro3:23-25 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,"
Ro4:25a "[Christ] who was delivered up because of our offenses, ..."
And Paul was not suggestive anymore (as in
1Th4:16-17) about the location of the Kingdom
(in the heavenly Jerusalem):
2Co5:1 "... we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven ..."
Php3:20a "But our citizenship is in heaven. ..."
Gal4:26a "... the Jerusalem which is above is free ..."
a) The quoted segment from 2Co5:1 might have been directly inspired by Philo:
"And the proselyte ... has received as a most appropriate reward a firm and sure habitation in heaven" (On reward and punishment", ch. XXVI, 152)
As also this one for Php3:20a:
"... looking upon the heavenly country in which they have the rights of citizens ..." (On the confusion of tongues, ch. XVII) (See also Heb11:16)
b) Another suspected borrowing of Paul from Philo:
"There are two types of men; the one a heavenly man, the other an earthly. The heavenly man, being made after the image of God, is altogether without part or lot in corruptible and terrestrial substance; but the earthly one was compacted out of the matter scattered here and there, which Moses calls "clay."" (Allegorical Interpretation I, ch. XII, 31)
Let's compare that with:
1Co15:46-49 (Darby) "But that which is spiritual [was] not first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual: the first man out of [the] earth, made of dust; the second man, out of heaven. Such as he made of dust, such also those made of dust; and such as the heavenly [one], such also the heavenly [ones]. And as we have borne the image of the [one] made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly [one]."
Heb10:35-37 "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, "He who
["that which" according to the NKJV alternative translation (& the Greek!). No "second coming" here!]
` is coming will come and will not delay.""
Heb12:28a "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken ..."
Heb10:25b "... let us encourage one another --and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
With "the Day" so close, the reassuring letter, with its scholarly explanations, was likely to be believed. Nevertheless, Apollos exhorted his contemporary Christians for hope and faith:
Heb3:6b "And we are his house [God's], if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast."
Heb10:23a "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess"
Heb4:14 "Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess"
Heb11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Note: "... the New [Testament] has its deuterocanonical books ..., their canonicity having formerly been a subject of some controversy in the Church. These are for the entire books: the Epistle to the Hebrews ..." (Catholic Encyclopedia: Canon of the New Testament)PS: for summary of beliefs among Jesus' groups in 57C.E. (Paul's last trip to Jerusalem), click HERE.
Maybe the text reveals too much on how Christian theology/christology got justified!
=> Next: Appendix A: 27 C.E.