Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour

by COGwriter

Many people have various ideas about Jesus. Some come from the Bible, some come from tradition, some come from other writings, and some come from normally improper depictions of Him. The Bible itself teaches that Christians are to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:17-18).

Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? What did He teach about love and the commandments? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed?

This article, which will mainly focus on what the Bible teaches, will attempt to answer those questions. (Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.)

Jesus Existed from Before the Beginning, But Was Human When He Came

The Bible refers to Jesus by various names and titles. And although the first chronological references written about Him are in the Hebrew scriptures, the ones that seem to most discuss His existence prior to that are in the New Testament.

In response to a statement about His age made by some of the Jews:

58 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." (John 8:58, NKJV throughout unless otherwise specified)

The term "I AM" was part of the Divine Name in the Old Testament. When Jesus said He was "I AM," He was telling people that He predated creation.

Notice also the following:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1-4).

While some unitarians do not like the above passage (and some of their objections are dealt with in the article Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church?), the simply truth is that Jesus was called the Word, He existed before the New Testament events, and He became flesh.

The New Testament is clear that Jesus predated the physical creations:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:15-18)

While some trinitarians improperly claim that Jesus was fully human and fully divine while on the earth in the flesh (see Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?), this is not what the Bible teaches. Notice two passages that should make that clear for those willing to believe the Bible over traditions of men:

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

5 For, let this mind be in you that [is] also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, thought [it] not robbery to be equal to God, 7 but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made, 8 and in fashion having been found as a man, he humbled himself...(Philippians 2:5-8a, Young's Literal Translation)

Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity when He physically came into the womb Mary. An article of related interest may be Jesus is God, But Became Flesh.

The Apostle Paul makes clear that Jesus was God in the Old Testament as well as the New:

1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. (1 Corinthians 10:1-5)

7 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:7).

9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).

It is only through the name of Jesus that we can be saved:

10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)

4 And you shall know no God but Me; For there is no savior besides Me. (Hosea 13:4)

10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)

Jesus is the Saviour.

Jesus Came to the Earth Because of Love and to Die for You

Why did Jesus come to earth?

To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, which includes that He would be become our Savior because of love:

11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. (1 John 4:14)

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. (John 10:15)

7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:7-10)

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

Jesus gave up His divine privileges because He loves you.

Jesus died for our sins, our iniquities:

1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground.He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. (Isaiah 53:1-8)

God does not want us to remain in those iniquities (cf. Romans 6:1-2).

Forgiveness of sins comes from truly repenting and accepting Jesus as Saviour:

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, (Ephesians 1:7-8)

36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:36-39)

5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:5-9)

The Father sent Jesus to die for us, to cleanse us, and to take away the final penalty for our us so that we could have salvation. Christians can walk in the light of truth and not the darkness of the world.

For more information on God's plan for humans, check out the articles What is the Meaning of Life?, Building Character: Going on to Perfection, and What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?

For information on Jesus' genealogy, please check out the article Why Does Jesus Have Two Different Genealogies listed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3?

When Was Jesus Born?

But was Jesus born in late December as many people think?

No.

There are several reasons for December to be eliminated.

The most commonly understood reason is that shepherds would not have been out in the fields with their flocks then. Notice the following:

A Visit to Bethlehem

   In late December of each year, thousands of tourists flock into the small town of Bethlehem in the Judean Hills south of Jerusalem to participate in annual Christmas celebrations there. Some make the 6-mile journey from Jerusalem on foot. Upon arrival, they crowd with silent awe into the paved expanse of Manger Square in front of the revered Church of the Nativity, built over the traditional site of Jesus' birth.
   Inevitably, some of these tourists arrive in Israel unprepared. They have not thoroughly studied their guidebooks. As they step off their plane, they receive a real shock!
   November through early March is "winter" in Israel! The weather gets cold, especially at night. Often it rains — or even snows! Yet many arrive in Israel carrying luggage bulging with summer attire, •reasoning that it is always hot and arid in the Middle East. So they hurriedly purchase coats and sweaters in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem for their pilgrimage down to Bethlehem.
   Nevertheless, most of those who stand in Manger Square on December 25 each year — prepared and unprepared alike — fail to perceive the message being proclaimed by the very weather around them! Notice this plain testimony of your Bible: On the day of Jesus' birth "there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8).
   The shepherds were living out in the open fields, tending their flock through the night. The point?
   Ask any biblical scholar, or any modern Israeli: This never could have occurred in Judea in the month of December — nor even in November, or late October for that matter!
   In ancient times as today, shepherds brought their flocks in from the fields and penned them in shelters not later than the middle of October! This was necessary to protect them from the cold, rainy season that usually followed that date. (The Bible itself makes it clear that winter in Palestine is a rainy season; see Ezra 10:9, 13; Song of Solomon 2:11.)
   Yet Luke 2:8 tells us that at the time of Jesus' birth, the shepherds were yet abiding in the fields — by night, at that! They had not yet brought their flocks home to the sheepfolds. Clearly the cold, — rainy season had not yet commenced.
   Thus, on the basis of Luke's testimony alone, we see that Jesus could have been born no later than mid — October — when the weather is still pleasant at Bethlehem. A December 25 nativity is too late! (Stump K. JESUS' BIRTH The Untold Story. Plain Truth, November-December 1985)

The late Dr. Ernest Martin reported the following:

The Course of Abijah

   In the Gospel of Luke, we are told that a certain priest named Zacharias was performing his service in the Temple at Jerusalem when a most marvelous thing happened. He was privately told that his wife Elisabeth, who was quite advanced in years, was going to conceive and bear a son and that the son's name was to be John.
   This, of course, is familiar to us all. But I wonder how many have noticed the time period in which Zacharias received this information ' Let us notice this section of Scripture closely.
   "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, OF THE COURSE OF ABIA [Abijah in Hebrew]: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth" (Luke 1:5).
   This scripture clearly tells us the particular course of the 24 priestly divisions that Zacharias was serving in. It was the course of Abijah.
   Notice further: "And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God IN THE ORDER OF HIS COURSE, according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord" (Luke 1:8-9).
   Now this is very significant. It shows that Zacharias was serving in the prescribed time intended for the course of Abijah. By referring to I Chronicles 24:10, you will see that the course of Abijah was the eighth in order.
   This plainly means that he was ministering in the ninth week after the beginning of God's first month Nisan. The reason it was the ninth week and not the eighth is that the Passover season always occurs in the first month and during the third week. Since all 24 courses served during that particular week, according to the laws set down by David, this means that Zacharias officiated during the ninth week after the beginning of Nisan, the first month in spring.
   Now comes the question: On what days did Zacharias serve?
   The year in which all of this occurred was 5 B.C. The first day of Nisan in this year was a Sabbath, the very day on which the first priestly course began its ministration. On our Roman calendar, this day was April 6. Thus, by simple arithmetic, Zacharias, who served in the ninth week, was serving from Iyar 27 to Sivan 5 (June 1 to June 8). This was the time he was told that his wife was going to conceive and bear a son. But let us go one step further.
   There was no chance of Zacharias' leaving immediately after the ninth week to return home. Why? Because the next week was a Holy Day "week" — it was Pentecost. Zacharias was obliged to remain over one more week with the other 23 priestly courses and serve in the Temple. This extra service kept him in Jerusalem until Sivan 12 (June 15). At that time he was free to return to his home.
   Now why are all these dates important? We will see if we pay attention to what the Gospel writer tells us.
   "And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house" (Luke 1:23).
   This shows Zacharias returned home immediately after his ministration and then his wife conceived (verse 24). This would have occurred about the first week after he returned from Jerusalem. Gabriel had told him that he was to remain dumb, completely speechless, until the child was born. It should be obvious that no man would want to stay in such a condition — and certainly no longer than necessary. And too, Zacharias was a righteous man and was anxious to see God's command fulfilled. So, with reasonable assurance, Elisabeth must have conceived sometime immediately after Pentecost week. This week was from Sivan 12 to Sivan 19 (mid-June).
   With this information we are able to come to the exact season for John the Baptist's birth.
   The human gestation period is very near 280 days or 9 months and 10 days. If we go forward this amount of time from about Sivan 16 or mid-June in 5 B.C., we arrive at about the first of Nisan (March 27), 4 B.C. (It could not have been later in a later year, for Herod was already dead before the spring of 3 B.C.) The birth of John the Baptist was undoubtedly near this time in the very early spring.
   Now, let us come to the main question: What about the birth of Christ?
   The Gospel says that Christ was just 6 months younger than John the Baptist (Luke 1:26-27, 36). And, by adding this six months to the time of John's birth (the 1st of Nisan), we come to about the 1st of Tishri or near mid-September for the birth of Christ. So again, we arrive at an early autumn birth for Christ. So Christ was not born in the winter after all.

Other Substantiating Information

   There are many other evidences which show Christ's early autumn birth. For one, we are told that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to be taxed (Luke 2:1-5). At first sight we might think that this may have been the only reason for their journey from Galilee to Bethlehem. Such, however, was not the case. For if the journey were for taxation purposes alone, only Joseph, the head of the house, would have been required by law to go. There were absolutely no Roman or Jewish laws which required Mary's presence. But yet, Mary went with Joseph. This fact alone has puzzled commentators for centuries. Why was Mary there?
   The fact is, this taxation was coincident with the end of the agricultural year in Palestine — that is, in the early autumn just before the Feast of Tabernacles. It was customary to pay taxes on agricultural products at the end of the civil year — at the end of the harvest. For example, the Law of God commanded that the tithes of agricultural products should be paid year by year (Deut. 14:22). The civil year for tithes and taxes was reckoned from early autumn to early autumn. Even the Jews today adhere to this method of reckoning the ending of the civil years. And also in ancient Judaea, the agricultural or civil year ended and began on the first of Tishri (Hebrew calendar) — in early autumn.
   Some, however, assume that while all this was very true among the Jews, this particular taxation was decreed by Augustus Caesar, the Roman Emperor (Luke 2:1). Thus, they conclude, it must have been conducted in the Roman manner and not dependent upon Jewish laws. This assumption is not consistent with the facts of history. At the time of this taxing, Judaea was a mere "protectorate" of Rome. The Romans did not exact direct taxes from the people during this early period. They were receiving tribute from Herod, but the Romans allowed Herod to gather the taxes as he saw fit. And, it is plainly known that Herod was endeavoring to follow the customary laws of the Jews. Even the most critical of scholars hold that this particular taxation, which the Bible indicates as occurring in 4 B.C., was conducted purely in the Jewish manner (Encyclopaedia Biblica, cols. 3994-3996). This is, then, a plain indication that the taxation was very near the 1st of Tishri (the early autumn) — the ending of the civil year in Palestine when such things were common.
   This, again, shows an early autumn birth for Christ. (Martin E. When was Jesus born? Plain Truth, September-October 1972)

Related to the reason that Joseph had to go to Bethlehem (the census) at the time of Jesus’ birth, even The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the “census would have been impossible in winter” (Christmas, 1908). If something is impossible, then it did not happen. Jesus was not born on December 25th according to Catholic teachers who will accept some of their own findings.

The Catholic Encyclopedia correctly teaches that:

Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church (Martindale C. Transcribed by Susanti A. Suastika. Christmas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

The above is true. More on Christmas can be found in the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?

As far as the year goes, here is something from the first century Jewish historian Josephus:

"So Herod, having survived the slaughter of his son [Antipater] five days, died, having reigned thirty-four years, since he had caused Antigonus to be slain, and obtained his kingdom; but thirty-seven years since he had been made king by the Romans."  [War of the Jews, 1:33:8 (665); cf. Antiquities of the Jews 17:8:1 (191)]

Notice views of others related to Herod's death:

Josephus writes that Herod reigned for 37 years from the time of his appointment in 40 B.C. and 34 years from his conquest of Jerusalem in 37 B.C. (Antiquities 17.8.1, War 1.33.8). Jeroen H.C. Tempelman

4. B.C. ... This date is based on Josephus’s remark in Antiquities 17.6.4 that there was a lunar eclipse shortly before Herod died. This is traditionally ascribed to the eclipse of March 13, 4 B.C.

Unfortunately, this eclipse was visible only very late that night in Judea and was additionally a minor and only partial eclipse.

There were no lunar eclipses visible in Judea thereafter until two occurred in the year 1 B.C. Of these two, the one on December 29, just two days before the change of eras, gets my vote since it was the one most likely to be seen and remembered. That then dates the death of Herod the Great into the first year of the current era, four years after the usual date. John A. Cramer

http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/herods-death-jesus-birth-and-a-lunar-eclipse/ accessed 12/15/16

First-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews tells of a lunar eclipse in the final year of Herod’s life (Josephus, Antiquities 17.6.4§167); (Whiston, 1987, p. 462). The only eclipse that meets Josephus' description and allows for the 4 BCE birth of Jesus of Nazareth occurred January 9/10 in 1 BCE (1721066 JD) placing Herod's death in 1 BCE (Finnegan, 1998, pp. 298-300). Josephus’ records that sometime after the lunar eclipse, Herod—afflicted with a painful and loathsome disease—went beyond the Jordan River to bathe in the hot sulfur springs. The cures he undertook were unsuccessful. His condition worsened, and he returned to Jericho. There, in a wild rage, the paranoid monarch plotted the deaths of many prominent Jews including his firstborn son, Antipater. Josephus further reports that Herod’s death occurred before a spring Passover (Josephus, Antiquities 17.9.3§213); (Whiston, 1987, p. 465). This fixes the death of Herod the Great between January 9 and April 7 in 1 BCE (Julian). bibarch.com 05/15/18

It would seem that Herod probably died in 1,3, or 4 B.C. Or at the latest 1 A.D.

Jesus would have had to have been born at least several months before Herod's death. Most likely in 4 B.C. or perhaps 3 B.C.

Why the Name Jesus?

While the original Hebrew for the name of Jesus was probably apparently a version of the English name Joshua, what was recorded in the Greek NT was not that.

Transliterated from the Greek, Ίησοû/Ίησοûς, it would be something like Ieesoú or Ieesoús. But because of translations of that, the name commonly became Jesus in English. Since English-speaking people understand Jesus is supposed to be the Son of God, but do not normally understand Ieesoú or Iaesou, we in the Continuing Church of God will normally use the term Jesus when speaking in the English language. It should be pointed out that there are many words in English that differ from the original. For example, while most English-speaking adults have probably heard of Venice, Italy, many probably do not know that the city's actual name is Venezia--this is also true of many place names in other parts of the world.

We tend use the term Venice, not Venezia, in English to convey that city as that is a term that most would understand. That is also why we tend to use the term Jesus. The point of communication is to be understood.

In Matthew 4:10, the nominative form of our Savior's name appears in the Greek-- Ίησοûς (see Green J. The Interlinear Bible, 2nd edition. Hendrickson, 1986, p. 739)--transliterated into English as Ieesoús.

Some have improper claimed that 'Jesus' is related to the pagan deity Zeus. Yet, notice the following:

In Greek, the name of "Zeus" is really just "Ze", because the "us" is there for grammar. "Ze" is the root of the name. Thus it would be Zayin, Hey in Hebrew (which, BTW, means "this").  Like every other name in Greek, it's spelling changes with grammar (It might be Zeus, Zeu, etc) depending on whether "Ze" is the subject, object, direct object, etc., of a sentence.   So depending on how it's used in Greek Grammar, for the nominative, genitive, dative, accusative and vocative cases respectively, it becomes...

...Since "Jesus" or "Y'shua" has a name that is most properly rooted as "Ieso" in Greek, not "Iesous". "Iesous" is just a grammatical variant of the root "Ieso". Note that..

So what's similar about these two names? Well, … how they are pronounced in our tongue has some similarities. So silly english speaking people who don't know Greek and are too lazy to do research can come up with some strange ideas on what the Greeks were thinking. But this idea that "Jesus" is rooted in "Zeus" doesn't hold water when you really examine the roots and declensions in Greek from a scholarly manner. It has as much credibility as saying it originated from "Dr. Seuss". (A Greek Analysis of the Name "Iesous" or "Jesus." http://messiahalive.com/Iesus.htm accessed 02/13/18)

The Apostle Peter warned about the following:

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:14-16)

Those who insist that Jesus' name is derived from Zeus, etc. are twisting scriptures and essentially are "untaught people" who insist on falsehood.

What about the first letter of our Savior’s name? Notice something from Dictionary.com:

“J” is a bit of a late bloomer; after all, it was the last letter added to the alphabet. It is no coincidence that /i/ and /j/ stand side by side – they actually started out as the same character. The letter /j/ began as a swash, a typographical embellishment for the already existing /i/. With the introduction of lowercase letters to the Roman numeric system, /j/ was commonly used to denote the conclusion of a series of one’s – as in “xiij” for the number 13.

J’s phonetic quest for independence probably began with the sound of the letter /i/. Originally a Phoenician pictogram representing a leg with a hand, and denoting a sound similar to the /y/ in “yes,” /i/ was later adopted by Semitic groups to describe the word “arm” which, in Semitic languages, began with a /j/ – also possessing the same /y/ sound as in “yes.” Both /i/ and /j/ were used interchangeably by scribes to express the sound of both the vowel and the consonant.

It wasn’t until 1524 when Gian Giorgio Trissino, an Italian Renaissance grammarian known as the father of the letter /j/, made a clear distinction between the two sounds. Trissino’s contribution is important because once he distinguished the soft /j/ sound, as in “jam” (probably a loan sound), he was able to identify the Greek “Iesus” a translation of the Hebrew “Yeshua,” as the Modern English “Jesus.” Thus the current phoneme for /j/ was born. The English language is infamous for matching similar phonemes with different letters and /j/ is certainly no exception. In addition to the aforementioned soft /j/ sound, as in “jam,” which is phonetically identical to the soft /g/ as in “general,” the /j/ in Taj Mahal takes on a slight variation of that same sound and is probably the closest to Trissino’s original phonetic interpretation. And coming full circle, the /j/ sound you hear in the word “hallelujah” is pronounced “halleluyah.” (The Man Responsible For The Letter “J.” Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/e/j/ accessed 02/13/18)

So, because of changes in the language, we in English pronounce Jesus differently that Ieesoú or Iaesou. But since God inspired the writers of the New Testament to change 'Joshua' to something they could spell in Greek, it is obvious that God does allow for differences in the pronunciation of the names of diety.

Perhaps I should mention that sounds of letters, as well as spellings, also can change in time. Up until the 18th century, two letter fs--ff-- was apparently pronounced as ss--by the 19th century, English spellings were normally changed to reflect that.

Anyway, the Son of God does understand the word 'Jesus.'

Furthermore, after the New Testament was written, the Greek term Ίησοû was being used in church literature from the first century onward.

The Letter of the Romans to the Corinthians (A.D. 95-97), also so-called as 1 Clement, uses the Greek term Ίησοû for the Son of God, which is normally rendered 'Jesus' in English (Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers: The Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, 1999, pp. 28-29). Technically, the transliteration would be Ieesoú (Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.). It does not sound anything like 'Yeshua.'

What is believed to be the old preserved Ancient Christian sermon (c. A.D. 120-140) outside the Bible (sometimes referred to as 2 Clement) also uses Ίησοû for the Son of God. The same is true for the letters of Ignatius (c. A.D. 107-117), Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians (c. A.D. 110-137), and The Martyrdom of Polycarp (c. A.D. 156-167) all use Ίησοû for the Son of God.

The Didache (c. AD 50-150), also so-called as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, uses the Greek term Κυρíου, which is commonly translated as "Lord" referring to our Savior (Holmes, pp. 250-251). It never uses any version of the term Joshua.

Furthermore, Church of God Bishop/Pastor Melito of Sardis originally wrote in Greek:

Melito's paschal homily must be originally Greek: anyone who knows Greek can see that. (Zuntz G. Melito: Syriac? Vigiliae Christianae Vol. 6, No. 4, Dec., 1952, pp. 193-201)

Although some have thought that perhaps some of his original writings were in Syriac/Aramaic, that has not been shown to be the case. Yet, even if he did sometimes write in Syriac, Syriac was not only the language he wrote in. It has been established that Melito wrote in Greek. His perhaps most known writing-- Melito's Homily on the Passover -- was written in Greek. Melito did not use 'sacred names' either. He used Ἰησοῦν for Jesus ( verse 10), κυρίου for Lord (e.g. verse 3), and Θεού for God (e.g. verse 5) (ΜΕΛΙΤΩΝΟΣ ΠΕΡΙ ΠΑΣΧΑ http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/books/melitog.htm accessed 12/12/17).

More on 'sacred names' and Jesus can be found in the article The Bible, Church History, and Sacred Names. A related sermon is available: Sacred Names: True or False Gospel?

Jesus Came to Proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom

What message did Jesus teach? He taught the good news of the coming Kingdom of God:

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23).

31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33)

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matthew 9:35)

14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15)

11 And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that

'Seeing they may see and not perceive,
And hearing they may hear and not understand;
Lest they should turn,
And their sins be forgiven them.'
" (Mark 4:11-12)

"I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent." (Luke 4:43)

This gospel message, which most do not realize He taught is important--and Jesus knew that most would not get it.

The gospel of the kingdom is so important that Jesus taught the end would not come until it was preached into all the world as a witness:

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

More on this gospel message can be found in the free booklet: The Gospel of the Kingdom of God; You can also watch YouTube video sermons: Why Teach the Kingdom of God, The Gospel of the Kingdom, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.

Jesus Came to Do the Father's Kingdom and Christians are to Pray for it To Come

While certain sects seem to think that the Bible is really mainly about Jesus, that is not really the case, in the sense that Jesus came to the earth not to do His own will but the will of God the Father:

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:38-40)

30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:30)

Jesus wanted His followers to pray to the Father, for the Father's will to be done, and for the Father's kingdom to come:

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)

We are to be like Jesus and pray that God's will and not our own will be done. To learn more about that kingdom, check out the free booklet: The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

For more on prayer, check out the free online booklet Prayer: What Does the Bible Teach?

Jesus Explained What the Law and Life Was Supposed to Be About

There tend to be two common views of the law. One is that the emphasis needs to be on minor points, and the other is that Jesus did away with it. Both views are in error.

Here are Jesus' words:

3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Christ Fulfills the Law

17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

31 "Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. Jesus Forbids Oaths 33 "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:3-48)

39 "Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.

42 "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Luke 11:39-42)

Jesus taught that the law needed to be kept, but that the principals behind the law were why the law existed. Jesus taught love. He was teaching that human society, even when it thinks it wants to obey, has rejected the give way of life, the way of love. Almost no one seems to properly grasp the significance of what Jesus was teaching.

Here is some of what the CCOG teaches about love: The Philadelphia Remnant: It's All About Love; a related video is available: Nairobi Conference: All About Love.

Here is some of what the CCOG teaches about the law: The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast; here are links to three related sermons: The Ten Commandments: Loving God, The Ten Commandments: Loving Your Neighbor , and The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.

As far as God's purpose for humans, check out articles such as What is the Meaning of Life?, Building Character: Going on to Perfection, and What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?

Jesus Taught and Kept the Ten Commandments

While some misinterpret what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:17 to justify them not keeping the Ten Commandments, Jesus Himself taught all of them:

Commandment 1 "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Matthew 4:10). "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the great commandment" (Matthew 22:37). "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment" (Mark 12:30). "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Luke 4:8).

Commandment 2 "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Matthew 4:10). "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Luke 4:8). "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). "But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam...to eat things sacrificed to idols" (Rev 2:14). "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you, because you allow...My servants to...eat things sacrificed to idols" (Rev 2:20).

Commandment 3 "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men" (Matthew 12:31). "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,...blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20).

Commandment 4 "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:11-12). "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath" (Matthew 24:20); there would be no reason to pray this if the Sabbath was not going to be in existence. "And He said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath'" (Mark 2:27); this verse tells all who will see which day is the Lord's Day. "And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue" (Mark 6:2). "And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read" (Luke 4:16). "Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths" (Luke 4:31). "The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath...Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?" (Luke 6:5,9). "But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath...The Lord then answered him and said, 'Hypocrite...So ought not this woman...be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?'" (Luke 13:14-16). "'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?'...And they could not answer Him regarding these things" (Luke 14:3,6). "are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?" (John 7:23).

Commandment 5 "For God commanded saying, 'Honor your father and your mother' and 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death'" (Matthew 15:4). "Honor your father and your mother" (Matthew 19:19). "Honor your father and your mother" (Mark 7:10). "Honor your father and your mother" (Mark 10:19). "You know the commandments:...Honor your father and your mother" (Luke 18:20).

Commandment 6 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder', and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" (Matthew 5:21-22). "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders...These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20). "You shall not murder" (Matthew 19:18). "...murders...All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21,23). "Do not murder" (Mark 10:19). "You know the commandments:...Do not murder" (Luke 18:20).

Commandment 7 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery'. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28). "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 5:32). "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts...adulteries, fornications...These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20). "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery, and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). "You shall not commit adultery" (Matthew 19:18). "...adulteries, fornications...All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21,23). "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mark 10:11-12). "Do not commit adultery" (Mark 10:19). "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18). "You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery" (Luke 18:20). "'Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery'...And Jesus said to her...'sin no more'" (John 8:4,11). "Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation" (Rev 2:22).

Commandment 8 "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts...thefts...These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20). "You shall not steal" (Matthew 19:18). "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer', but you have made it a den of thieves" (Matthew 21:13). "...thefts...All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:22-23). "Do not steal" (Mark 10:19). "You know the commandments:... Do not steal" (Luke 18:20).

Commandment 9 "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord. But I say to you, do not swear at all" (Matthew 5:33-34). "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts...false witness...These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20). "You shall not bear false witness" (Matthew 19:18). "Do not bear false witness" (Mark 10:19). "You know the commandments:...Do not bear false witness" (Luke 18:20). "And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars" (Rev 2:2).

Commandment 10 "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on" (Matthew 6:25). "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts...These are the things which defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20). "...covetousness...All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:22-23).

He also kept them all as well. Notice that Jesus said:

"I have kept My Father's commandments" (John 15:10).

So it is clear that Jesus taught everyone of the ten commandments and that He also kept them, including the Sabbath. Jesus also kept the biblical Holy Days (Luke 2:41-42; 22:7-19; John 7:10-38).

Christians should also do so. And early church history shows that they did as well. For more details, please check out the article The Ten Commandments and the Early Church. Perhaps it should also be pointed out that modern Jews believe that the Messiah would keep the Ten Commandments (for some details, check out the article Was there an expectation among Judaism for a Messiah around the time of Jesus?).

Notice that the Bible itself is clear that real Christians do keep the commandments and know Jesus:

"And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev 12:17).

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)

Properly keeping the commandments takes faith. More on faith can be found in the free online booklet Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen.

Jesus taught that the Ten Commandments were about love:

35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"

37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:35-40)

Love was really the message and that is what the Kingdom of God really is all about. More on the commandments can also be found in the article The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil. You may also be interested in a free online booklet: The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast.

As far as knowing about Jesus, that is something that real Christians are to learn more about:

17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:17-18)

The gospel includes Jesus Christ. If Protestants truly knew about Jesus, they would realize that they need to truly keep the commandments and live a different way of life. The same goes for Catholics and others who profess Christ. The same is also true about the Muslims--they do not understand the truth about Jesus or the way of life God wanted real Christians to live (see also Differences Between Islam and the Continuing Church of God).

It is because of Jesus grace that we can endure trials, even difficult ones. Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote:

9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Simply accepting some facts about Jesus is not sufficient. Jesus also needs to live His life in Christians:

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. (Galatians 2:20-21)

We need to live as a Christian (see also the article Living as a Christian: How and Why?).

While we do need to strive to obey the law, we do need the grace that God gives in order to be saved:

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walkin them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

And that grace is given to Christians. So, what are Christians do to? Notice something that the Apostle John wrote:

3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6)

In order to "to walkjust as He walked" we need to know about Jesus.

He kept the commandments (John 15:10; The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast), including the Holy Days (see also Should You Observe God's Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).

These were and are part of the Bible. Jesus prayed that His people would be set apart by the truth of God's word:

16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:16-19)

Sadly, many who profess Jesus will not truly live by the word of God, but prefer traditions of men--that is a worldly way of life, and not true Christianity (see Where is the True Christian Church Today?).

Jesus condemned religious leaders of His day who taught traditions above the truth of the word of God (e.g. Matthew 15:1-9; see also Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings).

Since most who profess Jesus accept traditions over the word of God, they misunderstand Christianity and its true history (see also the free online book Continuing History of the Church of God).

When Did His Ministry Start? How Long Was Jesus' Ministry?

So, when did Jesus start his ministry?

Jesus ministry probably started about 27 A.D. Here is what archealogy professor John McRay wrote:

The beginning of Jesus' public ministry is dated by synchronisms in the Gospel of Luke (3:1-2). A date of A.D. 27 seems likely. ... The dates mentioned by Luke are rather well established (McRay J. Archaeology and the New Testament. Baker Academic, 2008, p. 166)

The Bible seems to teach that His ministry lasted about 3 1/2 years.

Eusebius, the Greco-Roman "father of church history" taught that Jesus' ministry lasted 3 1/2 years. Since Jesus was killed in the Spring, going back 3 1/2 years puts the beginning in the Fall. 

Notice the following scriptural analysis from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The chronology of the public life offers a number of problems to the interpreter...

But a comparison of St. John's Gospel with the Synoptic Evangelists seems to introduce another pasch, indicated in the Fourth Gospel, into Christ's public life. John 4:45, relates the return of Jesus into Galilee after the first pasch of His public life in Jerusalem, and the same event is told by Mark 1:14, and Luke 4:14. Again the pasch mentioned in John 6:4 has its parallel in the "green grass" of Mark 6:39, and in the multiplication of loaves as told in Luke 9:12 sqq. But the plucking of ears mentioned in Mark 2:23, and Luke 6:1, implies another paschal season intervening between those expressly mentioned in John 2:13 and 6:4. This shows that the public life of Jesus must have extended over four paschs, so that it must have lasted three years and a few months. Though the Fourth Gospel does not indicate this fourth pasch as clearly as the other three, it is not wholly silent on the question. The "festival day of the Jews" mentioned in John 5:1, has been identified with the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Expiation, the Feast of the New Moon, the Feast of Purim, the Feast of Dedication, by various commentators; others openly confess that they cannot determine to which of the Jewish feasts this festival day refers. Nearly all difficulties will disappear if the festival day be regarded as the pasch, as both the text (heorte) and John 4:35 seem to demand (cf. Dublin Review, XXIII, 351 sqq.). (Maas, Anthony. "Chronology of the Life of Jesus Christ." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 22 Feb. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08377a.htm>)

So, between 3 years and a few months to less than four years, is consistent with the belief that Jesus ministry lasted about 3 1/2 years.

Presuming that Jesus began His ministry on the Feast of Trumpets, the beginning of the Jewish civil 'new year,' and ended on Passover, it would have lasted about 2/12 to 3 1/2 years.

Did Jesus Die and Get Resurrected? What About the Descent to Hades?

The Apostle Paul taught that Jesus died and that is essentially like being asleep:

34 … It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:14)

Yet, many falsely claim that Jesus did not really die, but that He descended into ‘hell’/hades to preach to fallen angels and/or others after His physical death on the stake. This is what the Church of Rome teaches happened on the day they call Holy Saturday:

What happened on the first Holy Saturday?

Here on earth, Jesus' disciples mourned his death and, since it was a sabbath day, they rested. ...

What happened to Jesus while he was dead?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.

Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham's bosom”:

“It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Saviour in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”

Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.” The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment.

This is the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ's redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption. http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/12-things-you-need-to-know-about-holy-saturday3

632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was "raised from the dead" presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.478 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.479 (479 Cf. 1 Pet 3:18-19.) (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 632)

While Jesus' disciples mourned His death and would have rested on the Sabbath, when Jesus was dead, He was actually dead. Though He was raised from the dead on the day we now call Saturday.

There are several theological problems with the Roman view of 'Holy Saturday". Consider:

  1. If Jesus did not really die, which He did (Romans 5:8, 8:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:10), then He did not really give His life.
  2. Jesus said He would be like Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish (Matthew 12:40)--does anyone really claim that Jonah preached in 'hades' (called sheol in Hebrew) during that time? It is certainly not recorded that Jonah did that in the Old Testament.
  3. There is no New Testament teaching that Jesus descended into Hades to preach to various spirits or dead humans. Plus dead humans are dead (see Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? and What Happens After Death?).

On that third point, first let me quote the Bible:

27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Acts 2:27)

That passage does NOT say that Jesus descended and preached. Consider also the word translated as Hades means the grave or place of the dead.

It is NOT the same word as Gehenna (which had a fire) that is often translated as hell in many New Testaments.

It is also NOT the same word as Tartarosas which is used as a place of restraint for fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4). The Bible never teaches that Jesus went there after He was executed.

Note, in his Latin Vulgate Bible, Jerome used the word for and not the word for Hades:

4 si enim Deus angelis peccantibus non pepercit sed rudentibus inferni detractos in tartarum tradidit in iudicium cruciatos reservari (2 Peter 2:4, Latin Vulgate)

Furthermore, realize that Acts 2:27 is a quote (per Acts 2:25) of something David wrote in the Psalms:

10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Psalms 16:10)

Sheol also means grave or place of the dead. Notice the following where Sheol is translated as grave:

5 For in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give You thanks? (Psalms 6:5, NKJV; both the Catholic NJB and NABRE leave the word as Sheol, instead of using the translation as grave--see their Psalm 6:6)

Now let me quote a statement from the late French Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie Danielou on whether the New Testament teaches the descent:

The Descent Into Hell...This doctrine appears nowhere in the New Testament,1

1 So W. Bieder, Die Vorstellung von der Hollenfardt Jesus Christi, p. 128

(Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, p. 233)

Anyway, Jesus was dead for three days and three nights. Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity upon incarnation (Philippians 2:7) and did not receive it back until He was resurrected (cf. John 20:24-29).

Jesus came back from the dead:

1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you." (Matthew 29:1-7)

As far as WHEN He preached to certain fallen angels, the idea is claimed to come from 1 Peter 3:18-20). So let's look at that:

Jesus Christ was the same God who walked and talked with Moses in the wilderness — the same "I AM" (see Ex. 3:14) who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. Paul makes this plain. "I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the [Red] sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.... For they drank from the same supernatural Rock which followed them, and the ['that,' KJV] Rock was Christ" (I Cor. 10:1-4).

This same Personage in the Godhead presided over the Flood in Noah's day. Peter gives us the facts: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put. to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also he [Christ] went and preached unto the spirits [demons] in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a-preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water" (I Peter 3:18-20, KJV). (Schroeder JR. Who Was Jesus? Good News magazine, November 1975)

The timeframe of the 'descent' was the time of Noah and that flood. Thus, it DID NOT happen during the time called the 'crucifixion week.'

Did Jesus Have Long Hair?

Many wonder about Jesus' appearance?

Did Jesus have long hair like is commonly portrayed?

No, He did not according to what the Bible teaches.

David Mills, a Roman Catholic writer, had the following:

Jesus Didn’t Look the Way You Thought He Did

You know how you picture Jesus? Like most of the pictures at church, right? You’re probably wrong. …

An English scholar has just written a book called What Did Jesus Look Like. Joan Taylor teaches early Christianity and Judaism at King’s College in London. She writes about this on a website called The Conversation. …

So what does Taylor say about Jesus’ looks? She says He would have been olive-skinned with short dark hair …

We do know something about how He dressed. Scripture tells us some things and other histories tell us more. Jesus wore sandals, as everyone did then. We actually have sandals of the kind He would have worn, that survived the centuries in very dry caves near the Dead Sea.

He wore a mantle or big shawl. It had tassels on it. The gospels call these “edges.” His shawl was the ancient version of the prayer shawl called a tallit that observant Jews wear when praying.

Jesus’s basic garment was a tunic, like a very long t-shirt that ended about the knees. Here’s the most interesting thing Taylor says: As we remember from the crucifixion story, it was made of one piece of cloth, not the usual two. Taylor explains: “One-piece tunics in first-century Judaea were normally thin undergarments or children’s wear. We shouldn’t think of contemporary underwear, but wearing a one-piece on its own was probably not good form. It was extremely basic.” 02/15/18 https://www.northtexascatholic.org/inspiration-article?r=ZR8AVWDH27&amp;send_to=%2Finspiration-news

Dr. Joan Taylor in a BBC article earlier, also addressed the fact that the commonly seen pictures claimed to be Jesus are false, but instead are a Byzantine version of Zeus:

December 24, 2015

Everyone knows what Jesus looks like. He is the most painted figure in all of Western art, recognised everywhere as having long hair and a beard, a long robe with long sleeves (often white) and a mantle (often blue).

Jesus is so familiar that he can be recognised on pancakes or pieces of toast.

But did he really look like this?

Probably not.

In fact this familiar image of Jesus actually comes from the Byzantine era, from the 4th Century onwards, and Byzantine representations of Jesus were symbolic – they were all about meaning, not historical accuracy.

They were based on the image of an enthroned emperor, as we see in the altar mosaic of the Santa Pudenziana church in Rome. …

Jesus is dressed in a gold toga. He is the heavenly ruler of all the world, familiar from the famous statue of long-haired and bearded Olympian Zeus on a throne . . . Byzantine artists, looking to show Christ’s heavenly rule as cosmic King, invented him as a younger version of Zeus. What has happened over time is that this visualisation of heavenly Christ – today sometimes remade along hippie lines – has become our standard model of the early Jesus. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35120965

From the above, we can also conclude when we have reports of people who claim to have seen Jesus in various ways, those who claimed He had long hair, etc. clearly were not seeing Jesus.

The same can be said of the Shroud of Turin–that could not possibly be Jesus.

It is a version of the pagan deity Zeus that many people are bowing down before or otherwise venerating (perhaps it should also be added here that many of the portrayals of Jesus’ mother Mary, came from worship of goddesses, like Diana, who the Greeks called Artemis).

While Dr. Taylor's BBC article used the expression “probably not” related to whether Jesus had long hair, the biblical answer is DEFINITELY NOT.

Notice what the Bible says:

14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? (1 Corinthians 11:14)

Jesus did not have long hair.  If He did, the Apostle Paul would not have written the above. For additional proof, consider the following:

1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Paul would not be imitating Christ by denouncing His hair length. Consider also that God inspire the Apostle John to write:

6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:6)

If Jesus had long hair, God would have not inspired John to say to walk as Jesus walked, while also inspiring Paul to write that it is a shame for a man to have long hair.

Now let’s see some more from the BBC article:

When early Christians were not showing Christ as heavenly ruler, they showed Jesus as an actual man like any other: beardless and short-haired.  … in the 1st Century Graeco-Roman world, being clean-shaven and short-haired was considered absolutely essential. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35120965

No early Christian ever showed Jesus as a long haired person.  Having short hair was normal.  The earliest found depictions of Jesus (from the 3rd century as shown at the beginning of this post) do NOT show Jesus to have had long hair. 


The earliest surviving paintings claimed to be of Jesus, from a church at the ruined city of Dura-Europos on the Euphrates (dating from first half of the 3rd Century AD)

While no one later knew even then what Jesus actually looked like during His ministry, it took another century (and likely the influence of the idolatrous Emperor Constantine) before the longed-hair portrayals begin to appear in mass.

Furthermore, if Jesus had distinctively long hair, He would have been highly recognizable. But the Bible shows that He was not. Once, while He was speaking to the Jews during the day, they wanted to stone Him, but He escaped right after talking to them (John 10:31-39), which indicates He was not excessively tall (like the Shroud of Turin suggests) nor had distinguishing features like long hair.

Furthermore, the Jewish leaders felt the need to pay Judas (Mark 14:10) to point out Jesus with a kiss so they could arrest Him (Mark 14:43-46), which they would not have needed to do if He was distinguished with features like long hair.

Getting back to the BBC article, notice why else Jesus would not have had long hair:

If he had had even slightly long hair, we would expect some reaction. Jewish men who had unkempt beards and were slightly long-haired were immediately identifiable as men who had taken a Nazirite vow. This meant they would dedicate themselves to God for a period of time, not drink wine or cut their hair – and at the end of this period they would shave their heads in a special ceremony in the temple in Jerusalem (as described in Acts chapter 21, verse 24).

But Jesus did not keep a Nazirite vow, because he is often found drinking wine – his critics accuse him of drinking far, far too much of it (Matthew chapter 11, verse 19). If he had had long hair, and looked like a Nazirite, we would expect some comment on the discrepancy between how he appeared and what he was doing – the problem would be that he was drinking wine at all. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35120965

And that is correct. Also, notice that the Bible said Jesus did drink wine, but that the Nazirites could not:

19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children. (Matthew 11:19)

1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, 3 he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. 4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin. (Numbers 6:1-4)

While some claim that Jesus never made nor drank wine, but only grape juice, consuming anything from grapes was prohibited for Nazirites. Since Jesus did not sin, He certainly was not under a Nazirite vow walking around with long hair.

Sadly, many prefer to accept the Byzantine portrayal of Jesus as Zeus. That is a false portrayal of the real Jesus.

Zeus was the head of the pagan deities that Romans and Greeks (though the Greeks called Zeus ‘Jupiter’) worshiped. Christians certainly were not to continue in pagan worship practices by renaming Zeus as Jesus. Nor were they to rename other pagan deities as something else nor incorporate pagan holidays into their form of worship:

20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20-21)

You are not honoring Jesus by venerating long haired portrayals of Him that came from paganism.

Nor is Jesus being honored by those who observe the date of a pagan god’s birthday as a Christian holiday (see also What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? and/or Should You Observe God's Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).

What does Jesus look like now?

Notice:

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.
14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;
15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;
16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. (Revelation 1:12-18)

So, no, Jesus does not look like the common portrayals of Him.

Proof Outside of the Bible that Jesus Existed

Some have claimed that Jesus did not exist, but was made up by the Apostle Paul and/or other writers of the New Testament.

However, there is proof outside of scripture that Jesus existed.

Here is a quote from rom Suetonius. He discusses that around 49 A.D., the Roman Emperor Claudius banished all Jews from the city of Rome (this seems to be an incident also mentioned in Acts 18:2):

“He expelled the Jews from Rome, on account of the riots in which they were constantly indulging, at the instigation of Chrestus” (The Lives of the Caesars, Bk. V, 25).

Chrestus is believed to be a slang and derogatory reference to Christ. Suetonius was not a Christian and referred to them as holding to "a novel and mischevious superstition" (Life of Nero, 16.2), as cited in Bock DL. Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods. Baker Academic, 2002, p. 48.

Here are two quotes from the Jewish historian Josephus (first century):

Antiquities 18.3.3 Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.

Antiquities 20.9.1 But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.

Notice a translation of a Latin quote from the first, and early second, century Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus: 

Annal. 15, 44...Christians...Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea where the mischief originated..(Annals of Tacitus.  As cited in Giles JA. Heathen records to the Jewish scripture history:containing all the extracts from the Greek and Latin writers, in which the Jews and Christians.  James Cornish, 1856. Original from Harvard University, Digitized, Oct 17, 2008, p. 105)

So, secular sources from those that did not claim to believe in Jesus reported about Him.

More Sources Outside Of Scripture

Someone sent me an email with the following:

JEWISH SOURCES:

Epitome from Church History of Agapius
(Arabic)
 
At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus.  And his conduct was good and he was known to be virtuous.  And many from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples.  Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.  And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship.  They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive.  Accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah concerning who the prophets have recounted wonders.
 
Babylonian Talmud
 
On the eve of Passover Yeshua was hanged.  For forty days before the execution a herald went forth and cried, "He is going to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.  Anyone who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf."  But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of Passover.  - Sanhedrin 43a
 
ROMAN SOURCES:

Mara bar Serapion, Letter to Son Serapion
 
What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death?  Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras?  In a moment their land was covered with sand.  What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king?  It was just after that their kingdom was abolished.  God justly avenged these three wise men:  the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion.  But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato.  Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera.  Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.
 
Pliny the Younger, Letters to Trajan
 
 It is my rule, Sire, to refer to you in matters where I am uncertain.  For who can better direct my hesitation or instruct my ignorance?  I was never present at any trial of Christians; therefore I do not know what are the customary penalties or investigations, and what limits are observed.  I have hesitated a great deal on the question whether there should be any distinction of ages; whether the weak should have the same treatment as the most robust; whether those who recant should be pardoned, or whether a man who has ever been a Christian should gain nothing by ceasing to be such; whether the name itself, even if innocent of crime, should be punished, or only the crimes attaching to that name.

 Meanwhile, this is the course that I have adopted in the case of those brought before me as Christians.  I ask them if they are Christians.  If they admit it I repeat the question a second and a third time, threatening capital punishment; if they persist I sentence them to death ...

All who denied that they were or had been Christians I considered should be discharged, because they called upon the gods at my dictation and did reverence, with incense and wine, to your image ... and especially because they cursed Christ, a thing which, it is said, genuine Christians cannot be induced to do.  Others named by the informer first said they were Christians and then denied it, declaring that they had been but were no longer, some having recanted three years or more before and one or two as long ago as twenty years.  They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods and cursed Christ.  But they declared that the sum of their guilt or error had amounted only to this, that on an appointed day they had been accustomed to meet before daybreak, and to recite a hymn antiphonally to Christ, as to a god, and to bind themselves by an oath, not for the commission of any crime but to abstain from theft, robbery, adultery and breach of faith and not to deny a deposit when it was claimed.  After the conclusion of this ceremony it was their custom to depart and meet again to take food:  but it was ordinary and harmless food, and they had ceased this practice after my edict in which, in accordance with your orders, I had forbidden secret societies.  I though it more necessary, therefore, to find out what truth there was in this by applying torture to two maidservants, who were called deaconesses.  But I found nothing but a depraved and extravagant superstition, and I therefore postponed my examination and had recourse to you for consultation.  - Letters 10.96
 
ibid., Trajan's Reply
 
The method you have pursued, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those denounced to you as Christians is extremely proper.  It is not possible to lay down any general rule which can be applied as the fixed standard in all cases of this nature.  No search should be made for these people; when they are denounced and found guilty they must be punished; with the restriction, however, that when the party denies himself to be a Christian, and shall give proof that he is not, that is by adoring our gods, he shall be pardoned on the ground of repentance, even though he may have formerly incurred suspicion.  Information without the accuser's name subscribed must not be admitted in evidence against anyone, as it is introducing a very dangerous precedent, and by no means agreeable to the spirit of the age.  - Letters 10.97

Here are some more.  There is some overlap (with the above and yours). Anyways, I got it from http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2012/is-there-any-evidence-for-jesus-outside-the-bible/


Thallus (52AD)

Thallus is perhaps the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus and he is so ancient that his writings don’t even exist anymore. But Julius Africanus, writing around 221AD does quote Thallus who had previously tried to explain away the darkness that occurred at the point of Jesus’ crucifixion:

“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)

If only more of Thallus’ record could be found, we would see that every aspect of Jesus’ life could be verified with a non-biblical source. But there are some things we can conclude from this account: Jesus lived, he was crucified, and there was an earthquake and darkness at the point of his crucifixion.

Pliny the Younger (61-113AD)
Early Christians are also described in secular history. Pliny the Younger, in a letter to the Roman emperor Trajan, describes the lifestyles of early Christians:

“They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”

This EARLY description of the first Christians documents several facts: the first Christians believed that Jesus was GOD, the first Christians upheld a high moral code, and these early followers et regularly to worship Jesus.

Suetonius (69-140AD)
Suetonius was a Roman historian and annalist of the Imperial House under the Emperor Hadrian. His writings about Christians describe their treatment under the Emperor Claudius (41-54AD):

“Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he (Claudius) expelled them from the city (Rome).” (Life of Claudius, 25:4)

This expulsion took place in 49AD, and in another work, Suetonius wrote about the fire which destroyed Rome in 64 A.D. under the reign of Nero. Nero blamed the Christians for this fire and he punished Christians severely as a result:

“Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.” (Lives of the Caesars, 26.2)

There is much we can learn from Suetonius as it is related to the life of early Christians. From this very EARLY account, we know that Jesus had an immediate impact on his followers. They believed that Jesus was God enough to withstand the torment and punishment of the Roman Empire. Jesus had a curious and immediate impact on his followers, empowering them to die courageously for what they knew to be true.

Tacitus (56-120AD)
Cornelius Tacitus was known for his analysis and examination of historical documents and is among the most trusted of ancient historians. He was a senator under Emperor Vespasian and was also proconsul of Asia. In his “Annals’ of 116AD, he describes Emperor Nero’s response to the great fire in Rome and Nero’s claim that the Christians were to blame:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

In this account, Tacitus confirms for us that Jesus lived in Judea, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and had followers who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.

Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD)
Sometime after 70AD, a Syrian philosopher named Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to encourage his son, compared the life and persecution of Jesus with that of other philosophers who were persecuted for their ideas. The fact that Jesus is known to be a real person with this kind of influence is important. As a matter of fact, Mara Bar-Serapion refers to Jesus as the “Wise King”:

“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king?…After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.”

From this account, we can add to our understanding of Jesus. We can conclude that Jesus was a wise and influential man who died for his beliefs. We can also conclude that his followers adopted these beliefs and lived lives that reflected them to the world in which they lived.

Phlegon (80-140AD)
In a manner similar to Thallus, Julius Africanus also mentions a historian named Phlegon who wrote a chronicle of history around 140AD. In this history, Phlegon also mentions the darkness surrounding the crucifixion in an effort to explain it:

“Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth to the ninth hour.” (Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)
Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen (an early church theologian and scholar, born in Alexandria):
“Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events . . . but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions.” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 14)
“And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place … ” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 33)
“Jesus, while alive, was of no assistance to himself, but that he arose after death, and exhibited the marks of his punishment, and showed how his hands had been pierced by nails.” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 59)

From these accounts, we can add something to our understand of Jesus and conclude that Jesus had the ability to accurately predict the future, was crucified under the reign of Tiberius Caesar and demonstrated his wounds after he was resurrected!

Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 A.D.)
Lucian was a Greek satirist who spoke sarcastically of Christ and Christians, but in the process, he did affirm that they were real people and never referred to them as fictional characters:

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account….You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.” (Lucian, The Death of Peregrine. 11-13)

From this account we can add to our description and conclude that Jesus taught about repentance and about the family of God. These teachings were quickly adopted by Jesus’ followers and exhibited to the world around them.

Celsus (175AD)
This is the last hostile ‘pagan’ account we will examine (although there are many other later accounts in history). Celsus was quite hostile to the Gospels, but in his criticism, he unknowingly affirms and reinforces the authors and their content. His writing is extensive and he alludes to 80 different Biblical quotes, confirming their early appearance in history. In addition, he admits that the miracles of Jesus were generally believed in the early 2nd century! Here is a portion of his text:

“Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.”

Celsus admits that Jesus was reportedly born of a virgin, but then argues that this could supernatural account could not be possible and offers the idea that he was a bastard son of a man named Panthera (an idea borrowed from Jews who opposed Jesus at the time). But in writing this account, Celsus does confirm that Jesus had an earthly father who was a carpenter, possessed unusual magical powers and claimed to be God.


Hostile Non-Biblical Jewish Witnesses

In addition to classical ‘pagan’ sources that chronicle the life of Jesus and his followers, there are also a number of ancient hostile Jewish sources that talk about Jesus. These are written by Jewish theologians, historians and leaders who were definitely NOT sympathetic to the Christian cause. Their writings are often VERY harsh, critical and even demeaning to Jesus. But there is still much that these writings confirm. ...

Jewish Talmud (400-700AD)

While the earliest Talmudic writings of Jewish Rabbis appear in the 5th century, the tradition of these Rabbinic authors indicates that they are faithfully transmitting teachings from the early “Tannaitic” period of the first century BC to the second century AD. There are a number of writings from the Talmud that scholars believe refer to Jesus and many of these writings are said to use code words to describe Jesus (such as “Balaam” or “Ben Stada” or “a certain one”). But let’s be very conservative here. Let’s ONLY look at the passages that refer to Jesus in a more direct way. If we do that, there are still several ancient Talmudic passages we can examine:

“Jesus practiced magic and led Israel astray” (b. Sanhedrin 43a; cf. t. Shabbat 11.15; b. Shabbat 104b)
“Rabbi Hisda (d. 309) said that Rabbi Jeremiah bar Abba said, ‘What is that which is written, ‘No evil will befall you, nor shall any plague come near your house’? (Psalm 91:10)… ‘No evil will befall you’ (means) that evil dreams and evil thoughts will not tempt you; ‘nor shall any plague come near your house’ (means) that you will not have a son or a disciple who burns his food like Jesus of Nazareth.” (b. Sanhedrin 103a; cf. b. Berakhot 17b)
“Our rabbis have taught that Jesus had five disciples: Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni and Todah. They brought Matthai to (to trial). He said, ‘Must Matthai be killed? For it is written, ‘When (mathai) shall I come and appear before God?’” (Psalm 92:2) They said to him, “Yes Matthai must be killed, for it is written, ‘When (mathai) he dies his name will perish’” (Psalm 41:5). They brought Nakai. He said to them, “Must Nakai be killed? For it is written, “The innocent (naqi) and the righteous will not slay’” (Exodus 23:7). They said to him, “Yes, Nakai must be kille, for it is written, ‘In secret places he slays the innocent (naqi)’” (Psalm 10:8). (b. Sanhedrin 43a; the passage continues in a similar way for Nezer, Buni and Todah)
And this, perhaps the most famous of Talmudic passages about Jesus:
“It was taught: On the day before the Passover they hanged Jesus. A herald went before him for forty days (proclaiming), “He will be stoned, because he practiced magic and enticed Israel to go astray. Let anyone who knows anything in his favor come forward and plead for him.” But nothing was found in his favor, and they hanged him on the day before the Passover. (b. Sanhedrin 43a)

From just these passages that mention Jesus by name, we can conclude that Jesus had magical powers, led the Jews away from their beliefs, had disciples who were martyred for their faith (one of whom was named Matthai), and was executed on the day before the Passover.

Jesus did exist. If you count the ancient New Testament manuscripts, there is more early documented proof that Jesus existed than many famous secular leaders. The proof does exist.

Was Jesus Counted in the Roman Census of Augustus? Was Jesus Reported in the Census of Quirinius? Was There Such as Census?

Some have questioned if there was an actual census as described in Luke 2:1-5. Various ones have done so with the intent to disprove that Jesus was the Messiah.

Let’s begin by seeing what Luke’s Gospel states:

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. (Luke 2:1-5)

Notice that specific details are listed above. It perhaps should be pointed out that if these details were in factual error that people around the time this was written would have objected. And historians have not found contemporaneous reports of people disputing details of Luke’s account.

However, the primary modern objections to Luke’s account by critiques seem to be 1) there was no record of an empire-wide census during the time of Augustus, 2) Quirinus was not governor of Syria at the time, and 3) that people would not be required to relocate for a census.

Regarding the first common objection to Luke 2, it should be pointed out that Augustus, himself, stated there were various censuses during his reign. He specifically mentioned three for taxation, but also alludes to one for registration (Davis W. Readings in Ancient History: Rome and the West. Minerva Group, 2004, pp. 168-169). These may have been carried out a different times in different regions.

In ancient times, a census sometimes took years to perform (Holden, p. 153).

Related to the census in Luke, consider also two reports from the historian and lawyer Tertullian (late second/early third century):

For to none of men was the universal aggregation of spiritual credentials appropriate, except to Christ; paralleled as He is to a "flower" by reason of glory, by reason of grace; but accounted "of the root of Jesse," whence His origin is to be deduced,— to wit, through Mary. For He was from the native soil of Bethlehem, and from the house of David; as, among the Romans, Mary is described in the census, of whom is born Christ. (Tertullian. An Answer to the Jews, Chapter 9. Translated by S. Thelwall. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.)

For to whom else could He better have imparted it, than to such as were strangers to the Creator, if He especially belonged not to the Creator? And yet how could He have been admitted into the synagogue— one so abruptly appearing, so unknown; one, of whom no one had as yet been apprised of His tribe, His nation, His family, and lastly, His enrolment in the census of Augustus— that most faithful witness of the Lord's nativity, kept in the archives of Rome? (Tertullian. Against Marcion, Book IV, Chapter 7. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3.)

Tertullian was indicating familiarity with this particular census, associates it with Augustus, and even reported where the records were stored.

If there was no census, Tertullian would not have included that in his address to the Jews as they would have been able to easily dispute this if the census had not happened.

Now consider that Augustus received the title, the Pater Patriae, on February 5, 2 B.C. (which was the Day of Concord on the Roman religious calendar). In the Res Gestae Divi Augusti VI.35, composed by Augustus himself, he wrote:

while I was administering my thirteenth consulship the senate and the equestrian order and the entire Roman people gave me the title Father of my Country. (as cited in Argubright J. Bible Believer’s Archaeology - Volume 1. 2013, p. 140)

But in what way did Augustus obtain this title?

For the claim to be legally accurate that the entire Roman people to give the title Pater Patriae would seem to have involved some type of an Empire-wide accounting. Since Augustus was awarded this in early 2 B.C., collecting supporting data for this must have begun in prior years.

Notice also the following:

In 6/5 B.C. the people in the town of Conobaria in Baetica, Spain took an oath for the safety of Augustus, as recorded in this somewhat fragmentary inscription, the first such oath found in the western part of the empire. It would appear that at this time an empirewide demonstration (even including Judea, where sacrifices were made to Jehovah for the safety of Augustus) of allegiance to Augustus and his designated heirs was orchestrated. (Lewis N, Reinhold M. Roman Civilization: Selected Readings, Volume 2. Columbia University Press, Originally 1955. 1990, p. 589)

The Armenian historian Moses of Khorene said that the native sources he had available showed that in the second year of Abgar, king of Armenia in 3 B.C.E., the census mentioned by Luke brought Roman agents “to Armenia, bringing the image of Augustus Caesar, which they set up in every temple.” It is implied that people had to go to the temples to register for the census. This information is very similar to that engraved on the Paphlagonian inscription (also referring to 3 B.C.), that recorded the “oath” given to Augustus. The same oath was sworn by all the people in the land at the altars of Augustus in the temples of Augustus in the various districts. (Martin E. The Star of Bethlehem. Academy for Scriptural; 2 edition, 1991, Chapter 12)

Presuming a start of an oath registration in 5 or 6 B.C., this is consistent with Jesus being born in 4 or 5 B.C. (Armenia, being a bit more remote from Rome, would reasonably have likely started later. And as far as the Paphlagonian inscription goes, it says the oath was “completed” (Cumont F. "Inscription grecque de Vézir-Keupru dans l’ancienne Paphlagonie (Asie Mineure),” Comptes-rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 44 , 1900) in the third year from 6/5 B.C., hence was finished in 4/3 B.C. (it does not state which year the oath was first urged).

Notice also:

Luke actually states that the “census” was an enrollment or a registration of some kind. …  We have no early historical information other than Luke and Tertullian that a census of the Roman world took place in 3/2 B.C.E., Augustus, with his own hand, composed an account of major events in his life. He wrote of the official censuses in 28 B.C.E., 8 B.C.E., and C.E. 14 …

Josephus referred to the second (and the ordinary) census conducted by Quirinius in C.E. 6, but what about the first one which Tertullian said took place in the time of Saturninus who was governor of Syria … B.C.E.? Lardner, as early as the 18th century, was convinced that Josephus mentioned this earlier one as well. 10 The oath referred to in Josephus and the registration of Luke may be one and the same. The best thing to do is to quote the remarks of Josephus about the oath in their entirety.

“There was moreover a certain sect of Jews who valued themselves highly for their exact knowledge of the law; and talking much of their contact with God, were greatly in favor with the women of Herod’s court. They are called Pharisees. They are men who had it in their power to control kings; extremely subtle, and ready to attempt any thing against those whom they did not like. When therefore the whole Jewish nation took an OATH to be faithful to Caesar, and [to] the interests of the king, these men, to the number of above six thousand, refused to swear. The king having laid a fine upon them, Pheroras’ wife [Herod’s sister-in-law] paid the money for them. They, in requital for her kindness (for they were supposed, by their great intimacy with God, to have attained to the gift of prophecy), prophesied that God having decreed to put an end to the government of Herod and his race, the kingdom would be transferred to her and Pheroras and their children. Salome [Herod’s sister], who was aware of all that was being said, came and told the king of them. She also told him that many of the court [of Herod] were corrupted by them. Then the king put to death the most guilty of the Pharisees, and Bagoas the eunuch, and one Carus, the most beautiful young man about the court, and the great instrument in the king’s unlawful pleasures. He [Herod] likewise slew every one in his own family, who adhered to those things which were said by the Pharisee. But Bagoas had been elevated by them and was told that he should some day be called father and benefactor of the [new] king, who was to be appointed according to their prediction, for this king would have all things in his power, and that he [the king] would give him [Bagoas] the capacity of marriage, and of having children of his own.” (Josephus, Antiquities XVII.41–45)

More than 6000 Pharisees refused to take the oath of allegiance to Augustus and Herod. (Martin E. The Star of Bethlehem. Academy for Scriptural; 2 edition, 1991, Chapter 12)

The idea that Luke could have been referring to some type of oath census is not new. Notice confirmation in the 5th century from Paulus Orosius related to Augustus Caesar:

Caesar …  ordered a census to be taken of each and every province and that all men should be enrolled. … This is that earliest and most famous acknowledgment which designated Caesar first of all men and the Romans lords of the world; for in the census list all. men were entered individually …  The first and greatest census was then made. The great nations of the whole world took an oath in the one name of Caesar and were joined into one fellowship through their participation in the census. (Orosius P. The seven books of history against the pagans. Columbia University Press, 1936, pp. 317, 322)

Well, this could have been the decree referred to by Luke c. 4 B.C.

So, despite naysayers, there is evidence outside of Luke’s Gospel that there was a registrative census at that time.

Some scholars claim that Josephus indicated that the census Luke referred to instead began 7-10 years after Jesus was born was called the Census of Quirinius.

Here is what Josephus wrote related to it:

17:5 So Archelaus's country was laid to the province of Syria; and Cyrenius, one that had been consul, was sent by Caesar to take account of people's effects in Syria, and to sell the house of Archelaus.

18:1 NOW Cyrenius, a Roman senator, and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to be a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance. Coponius also, a man of the equestrian order, was sent together with him, to have the supreme power over the Jews. Moreover, Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus's money; but the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any further opposition to it, by the persuasion of Joazar, who was the son of Beethus, and high priest; so they, being over-persuaded by Joazar's words, gave an account of their estates, without any dispute about it. Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite, (1) of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Sadduc, (2) a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty; as if they could procure them happiness and security for what they possessed, and an assured enjoyment of a still greater good, which was that of the honor and glory they would thereby acquire for magnanimity. They also said that God would not otherwise be assisting to them, than upon their joining with one another in such councils as might be successful, and for their own advantage; and this especially, if they would set about great exploits, and not grow weary in executing the same; so men received what they said with pleasure, and this bold attempt proceeded to a great height. All sorts of misfortunes also sprang from these men, and the nation was infected with this doctrine to an incredible degree; one violent war came upon us after another, and we lost our friends which used to alleviate our pains; there were also very great robberies and murder of our principal men. (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 17.5,18.1)

Quirinius in Greek is Κυρήνιος, sometimes transliterated Cyrenius, as in the above account.

So, in Josephus’ account, there was an account of a time of taxation and one Jewish leader rebelled. Whether this is the same or related to Gamaliel's account in Acts 5:36 is not absolutely clear from this--but there are some common parts.

It has also been suggested that perhaps Josephus was actually referring to one named P. Quintilius Varus, who was legate in Syria from around 6-4 B.C. (Novak RM. Christianity and the Roman Empire: Background Texts. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2001, p. 298) instead of Quirinius.

Some believe that there was an error in Josephus' account or its interpretation and that this particular census was held earlier.

While it is widely accepted the Quirinius had a census around 6/7 A.D., there is  some possible evidence to suggest that Quirinius called for an earlier census.

First, from a biblical perspective, recall that Luke used the term “first” related to the census in Luke 2:2, likely fully knowing that there was a second census later.

Secondly, notice the following:

The Lapus Venetus (CIL III 6687) describes a census ordered by Quirinius of the Syrian city of Apamea. Some evidence suggests a date of 10-6 B.C. for this inscription ... (Quirinius. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Q-Z. Bromily GW, editor. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, reprint, 1995, p. 12)

Furthermore, the Latin Tibirinus tells of someone getting authority again in that region, and it may be a reference to Quirinius becoming governor twice (Ibid, p. 12). While some dispute this, others believe that, at least to a practical degree, Quirinius held the governing authority twice and ordered the census that Luke 2:2 referred to (Holden, p. 154) and the census Josephus mentioned (which seems to have been later).

An additional reason to accept that is that, in the second century, Justin Martyr's wrote to Roman that Quirinius was a “procurator,” not the governor of the area of Judea:

Now there is a village in the land of the Jews, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, in which Jesus Christ was born, as you can ascertain also from the registers of the taxing made under Cyrenius, your first procurator in Judaea. (Justin. First Apology, Chapter XXXIV)

A procurator governs, but is not necessarily the governor. Hence, Quirinius’ role and timing is not inconsistent with Luke’s account.

There is another account of interest to mention related to Quirinius:

Jerry Vardaman has discovered the name of Quirinius on a coin in micrographic letters, placing him as proconsul of Syria and Cilicia from 11 B.C. until after the death of Herod. The evidence contributed by Vardaman supports the view that there were two Quiriniuses. (McRay J. Archaeology and the New Testament. Baker Academic, 2008, p. 154)

If this inscription date is accurate, then perhaps Luke was referring to an earlier Quirinius or that Quirinius held some type of governing position there twice.

Some critics have claimed it was not feasible that Quirinius could have been governor twice or could have been when Quintilius Varus was governor. Well, there were problems with Quintilius Varus that may have led Quirinius to ‘govern’ while Quintilius held the post (Holden, p. 154), and that may be why Quirinius was officially given the governorship later.

Furthermore, it should be noted that Josephus reported about TWO governors/presidents of Syria at the same time in the first century named Saturninus and Volumnius (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 16, Chapter 9). Thus, it is logical to conclude there could have been two governors or an official governor and other governing official in Syria a few decades earlier.

While some have said that arguments involving Quirinius supporting Luke’s account are simply conjecture, those who claim Quirinius disprove Luke are falsely conjecturing. From what is known, there are several ways that Quirinius could have been involved as Luke wrote.

The reference to Quirinius in Luke’s account does not disprove what Luke wrote.

As mentioned before, some have said that citizens normally do not travel in Roman censuses. While that may be, Luke was reporting about the counting of a conquered people. It is reasonable to conclude that the relevant Roman authorities must have decided to move the Jews once to do such a census.

The late Dr. Ernest Martin wrote the following:

If the oath of loyalty mentioned by Josephus is what brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem … then it makes sense why Mary had to accompany Joseph. In a regular census Mary would not have needed to go with Joseph, nor would Joseph have needed to travel so far. Some have suspected that both Joseph and Mary were descendants of David, and were legitimate claimants to the throne of Israel (had such a throne existed). It could easily be seen why Mary, as well as Joseph, was expected to sign the oath of loyalty to Augustus. All “royal claimants” would have especially been singled out to give the oath of allegiance. This would even have involved Mary. It was possible in Jewish circles for female descendants of David to have the rights of primogeniture and kingship for their offspring (cf. Antiquities, XVIII. 124 and also Acts 16:1–3 where the principle of legal maternal descent is shown).

Luke tells us that the reason why both Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem was because he was reckoned as belonging to the house of David. While everyone else went “into his own city” (Luke 2:3) no doubt in their own local neighborhoods, those of royal Judaic lineage because of political implications had to register in Bethlehem. This requirement would allow Herod to know who all claimants were in Judaea to the royal throne of David. He was anxious to know who all these people were (in order to keep them subjected to thorough non-political functions) so that his own dynasty would survive. This was especially important at this time in history because there was then a great deal of messianic expectation among the Jews.

Registering David’s descendants in Bethlehem, the city of David, would have been a ploy not only to get all the people to attend for prestige purposes but for Herod to find out who they were. (Martin E. The Star of Bethlehem. Academy for Scriptural; 2 edition, 1991, Chapter 12)

Anciently, travel requirements were not restricted to Judea. The requirement to travel to their ancestral lands was also part of Caius Vibibus Maximum’s decrees when he announced a census in 104 A.D.:

Gaius Vibius Maximus, Prefect of Egypt. Since the time is come for the house to house enrolment, it is necessary for all absentees on any ground whatever from their own districts to return to their own hearths that they may carry out … the regular order of the enrolment (Nicoll WR, ed. The Expositor, Volume V, seventh series. Hodder and Stoughton,1908, p. 218)

Furthermore, notice the following from 48 A.D.:

I Thermoutharion along with Apollonius, my guardian, pledge an oath to Tiberius Claudius Caesar that the preceding document gives an accurate account of those returning, who live in my household, and that there is no one else living with me, neither a foreigner, nor an Alexandrian, nor a freedman, nor a Roman citizen, nor an Egyptian. If I am telling the truth, may it be well with me, but if falsely, the reverse. In the ninth year of the reign of Tiberius Claudius Augustus Germanicus Emperor. Oxyrhynchus papyrus 255 (Roth AG. Signs of the Cross: the Search for the Historical Jesus: From a Jewish Perspective. Xlibris Corporation, 2001, p. 54)

So, reports from two Roman leaders show people were required to relocate for a census.

This is outside evidence of the reasonableness of Luke’s account.

Perhaps it should be added that although the Church of Rome believes that the New Testament census took place, The Catholic Encyclopedia correctly declares that the “census would have been impossible in winter” (Christmas, 1908). Another reason to eliminate the winter was because shepherds in that part of the world did not spend their nights with the sheep at that time of the year.

So while there was a census and Jesus was born, that most likely would have been in the Fall. For why December 25th was selected by various ones, see the article What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?).

There were censuses around the time of Jesus was recorded by Luke, Tertullian, and Josephus. Censuses occurred during Augustus’ reign.

The Second Century Writers Taught That Jesus is God

Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, and also God according to various Christian and professing Christian writers of the second century. And they also taught that He always had existed.

In "the oldest complete Christian sermon that has survived" (Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p. 102)--outside those in the Bible--sometimes erroneously referred to as Second Letter of Clement, it seems to support binitarianism. It was given perhaps with a year or so of John's death (thus may be towards the end of the time of Ephesus), begins with the following:

Brothers, we ought so to think of Jesus Christ, as of God, as "Judge of the living and the dead" (An Ancient Christian Sermon (2 Clement), 1:1. In Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p. 107)

Ignatius, who was known by Polycarp (and praised in this same Polycarp epistle, which is known as Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians), wrote around 108-120 A.D.:

For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit. He was born and baptized so that by His submission He might purify the water (Ignatius of Antioch, Letters to the Ephesians 18,2--note this is translated the same by at least three separate translations as done by Dr. Lightfoot, J.H. Srawley, and Roberts & Donaldson).

Polycarp of Smyrna, in the mid-second century, wrote:

But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance, and purity; and may He bestow on you a lot and portion among His saints, and on us with you, and on all that are under heaven, who shall believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and in His Father, who "raised Him from the dead (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Chapter 12 modified by R. Thiel to correct omission in translation).

For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist (Polycarp, Chapter VII. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Him who died for us, and for our sakes was raised again by God from the dead (Polycarp, Chapter IX. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Melito of Sardis wrote:

For the deeds done by Christ after His baptism, and especially His miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of the Deity hidden in His flesh. For, being at once both God and perfect man likewise...He concealed the signs of His Deity, although He was the true God existing before all ages (Melito. On the Nature of Christ. From Roberts and Donaldson).

These are the apparent positions of all groups that I am aware of that profess any form of Christianity, except those that are unitarian or affiliated with the Jehovah's Witnesses. Thus, early Christians believed and taught that Jesus is God. Regarding Melito's statement about the Deity hidden in Christ's flesh after baptism, recall that Jesus taught that it was the Father in Him that did the works, and hence it was not Jesus' deity that did them (John 14:10).

Even heretics in the second century, like Irenaeus, realized that Jesus was God. Notice excerpts from two of Irenaeus' writings:

...there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book IV, Preface, Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Thus then the Word of God in all things hath the pre-eminence; for that He is true man and Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God. Jesus the Anointed of God, showing Himself to be the One who was proclaimed beforehand by the prophets (Irenaeus, St., Bishop of Lyon. Translated from the Armenian by Armitage Robinson. The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching. Wells, Somerset, Oct. 1879. As published in SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO, 1920).

The fact that various ones in the second century taught that Jesus was God should help dispel the false unitarian position that He was not and that early professors of Christ did not accept Jesus' deity.

Sermons Specifically on the Gospels and All of Jesus' Words

In the Continuing Church of God, we have put together sermons specifically on the gospels, and have covered ALL words Jesus is recorded to have spoken in the New Testament.

Jesus said:

18 "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

That is why our sermons try to cover what Jesus taught and go over His words.

We have produced sermons that, in total, do cover every command and statement directly attributed to Jesus in the New Testament:

MATTHEW Here are links to twelve sermons covering the 28 chapters of Matthew: Matthew 1-2: Greek or Aramaic, Jesus, and the Star?, Matthew 3-5: John the Baptist, Temptations, and the Beatitudes, Matthew 6-7: Charitable Deeds, the Rosary, Prayer, the Golden Rule, and Faith, Matthew 8-10: Married Clergy, Faith, Coming Persecution, and the Ecumenical Agenda, Matthew 11-12: John the Elijah, Sodom, Unpardonable Sin, & 3 Days and 3 Nights, -14: Parables, Mustard Seeds, Birthdays, and Faith, Matthew 15-16: Tradition, Signs of the Times, and The Rock & Peter, Matthew 17-18: Transfiguration, Elijah to Come, Taxes, and Forgiveness, Matthew 19-20: Transgender? Divorce? Purgatory? The first shall be last?, Matthew 21-23: 'Palm Sunday,' Come as You Are?, and the Greatest Commandments, Matthew 24: Temple Destruction, Sorrows, Tribulation, and the Return of Jesus, and Matthew 25-28: Midnight Cry, False Christians, Resurrection, & Teaching what Jesus Taught.

MARK Here is a link to a sermon covering all of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Mark: What did Jesus teach in the Book of Mark? Here is a link to six sermons covering all the verses in the Gospel of Mark: Mark 1-2: Author, Prophecy, & Miracles, Mark 3-5: Healing, Demons, and Parables, Mark 6-9: Tradition, John’s beheading, Elijah, and Restoration, Mark 10-12: Marriage, Divorce, Needle Eye, Greatest Command, & Taxes, Mark 13: Temple, Four Horsemen, Troubles, Great Tribulation, and Gospel Proclamation, and .

LUKE Here are links to eight sermons covering the entire 'Gospel of Luke': Luke 1-2: John the Baptist, Mary, and the Census, Luke 3-6: John the Baptist, Jesus’ genealogy, Satan’s Influence, and the Sermon on the Mount, Luke 7-9: Miracles, Purpose of Parables, Kingdom of God, and Women Supporting the Ministry, Luke 10-11: The 70, Doing the Work, the Good Samaritan, Prayer, and Signs, Luke 12-13: Priorities, Delayed Fruit Bearing, Little Flock, Prophecy, and the Narrow Way, Luke 14-16: The Lost Sheep, the Prodigal Son, the Rich Man and Lazarus, Luke 17-20: Faith, the Kingdom, Gathering, Prayer, & Rewards, and Luke 21-22: Giving, Sorrows, Persecution, Tribulation, Fig Tree, and Violence. The last sermon also covers Jesus' words in the Book of Acts.

JOHN Here are links to a seven-part sermon series covering the entire 'Gospel of John': John 1-3: Anti-unitarian, Wine, Being Born Again, & Heaven, John 4-6: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman, Miracles and the Bread of Life, John 10-12: Sheep, Hirelings, Lazarus/Soul Sleep and ‘Palm Day’, John 13-15: Footwashing and the Words of Jesus, John 16-18: Truth, Trinity, and Pontius Pilate, and John 19-21: Do not only try, do what God wants.

REVELATION This is a link to a sermon covering the rest of the words Jesus spoke as recorded in the New Testament, specifically the Book of Revelation and some passages in first and second Corinthians: Revelation: Jesus’ Final Words.

The above shows that the Continuing Church of God has obeyed the commission Jesus gave in Matthew 28:19-20.

Despite ISIS Claims, Jesus was Prophesied to be Born

In an article in the Islamic State publication Dabiq titled Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You, it give six reasons why that group hates and fights. Here is the first reason it gave:

1. We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices. (Dabiq, issue 15, Shawal 1437, 31 July 2016, p. 31).

But the prophets DID teach that God would have a son. Notice what the prophet Isaiah was inspired to write:

6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Notice what the Psalmist prophesied:

6 "Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion."

7 "I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
'You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You. (Psalms 2:6-7)

Jesus was begotten to be the Christ:

10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-12)

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Muslims supposedly believe the Old and New Testaments--though they claim that they were altered. Yet, there would be no reason that the Jews would have altered a prophecy in Isaiah to point to a Son being born who is called the 'Mighty God' as that would support views of Christians. Nor would they have altered the Psalms for the same reason.

It is NOT a lie to point to Jesus as the Son of God, and His arrival was prophesied.

The Islamic State should not hate Christians for believing what the Bible teaches about Jesus. But that is part of its wrong reasoning.

Although the Islamic State does not represent all Islam, Muslims have an incorrect view about Jesus (see also Differences Between Islam and the Continuing Church of God).

Jesus Will Come Again, False Ones Will Claim to be Him, But the Kingdom Will Be Beyond Expectations!

The Book  of Acts is clear that Jesus will return:

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."  (Acts 1:9-11)

Jesus said He would return:

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3)

Jesus warned that there would be false Christs:

23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it.  24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  (Matthew 24:23-24)

And there have been many false claiming to be Christ and many multitudes falsely claiming to follow Christ . But Jesus will return and reward His real followers.

Jesus will return and eliminate false christs and leaders in this world:

6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! (Revelation 19:6)

11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great."

19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Revelation 19:11-21)

(Because the False Prophet, who will initially feign Christianity, will get people to worship the Beast per Revelation 13:11-12 and that Beast himself wants to be worshipped per Daniel 11:36-37, the Beast in a sense will be the last "False Christ" of this age.)

Notice what will later happen in the ultimate kingdom of God:

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." (Revelation 21:1-5)

The Apostle Paul wrote about that Kingdom:

9 "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Now also notice:

6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:6-8)

Notice that Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:8), will eliminate those who break the commandments. Jesus is not going to tolerate those that hate and do not love in the Kingdom.

As far Jesus' return before this, notice something that the Apostle Paul wrote:

13 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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Jesus was, and is, the prophesied Savior. Those whom God calls (John 6:44) are given the chance to repent and accept Jesus Christ's sacrifice. Then, upon being baptized, they are given God's Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). Repent and really accept Him as Lord and Savior. Believe the truth and properly act upon it.

God has either called you or may be calling you (see also our free online booklet: Is God Calling You?).

Do not think that there is no way you can be called, because of your past:

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:8-13)

Jesus came because of love. He died for you because He and the Father love you. He will bring in the Kingdom of God because He loves you. God's Kingdom will ultimately have no sorrow or pain, but an incredible joy.

Grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:8). And comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Here is a free book containing over 200 prophecies and other evidence about Jesus: Proof Jesus is the Messiah.

For more on what Jesus taught, check out the free online book: The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Here is a link to a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.

Thiel B. Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour. http://www.cogwriter.com/jesus.htm (c) 2013/2014/2015/2016/2017/2018 0906

Back to home page