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The Roller-Coaster of Faith – The Life of the Apostle Peter (Part Four)


Simon Peter’s Confession

In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked a question that men have been arguing for nearly 2,000 years: “Who do you say that I am?”  The apostles had told Him what others said about Him: that He was John the immerser, or Elijah, or one of the prophets.  But He was most interested in what they said about Him.  It must be remembered that they had all already confessed that Jesus was the Son of God after He walked on the water and then stopped the wind.1  And the next day Peter himself had confessed, “We know that you are that Christ, the Son of the living God.”2  Both of those events, though, had extenuating circumstances—the first one was right after a very impressive miracle; the second was right after they saw many disciples abandon Him, and they were asked point-blank if they were going to abandon Him too.  Here at Caesarea, there aren’t any of those stressful outside circumstances—it’s just Jesus asking them a simple question.3

Peter is the one who speaks up: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”4  The response of Jesus is a confirmation of (1) what Peter said, and (2) that Peter truly believed it:

“You are blessed, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood hasn’t revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”5

This is high praise for Peter, quite the contrast to “Oh ye of little faith,” and it improves beyond that:

“You are Peter, and upon this rock [the fact which you just confessed] I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give to you [Peter] the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be [that which] has been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be [that which] has been loosed in heaven.6

So not only did Jesus pronounce a blessing on Peter, He also gave him a promise that he would be the one to open the door to the kingdom (which he did, both for the Jews and the Gentiles),7 to publicly unlock the mystery of the gospel as revealed in Jesus Christ,8 and to proclaim the laws of the kingdom (that which is bound) and forgiveness of sins (that which is loosed) in the kingdom.9  The other apostles also exercised this authority, but it was Peter who did it first in Acts 2.

After Jesus gave this great blessing to Peter, something interesting took place—Jesus commanded all of them not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah, instead telling them that He must go to Jerusalem, be mistreated by the Jewish leaders, and then be executed; but that He would be resurrected on the third day.  Peter didn’t like what Jesus had to say, so he pulled Jesus aside,10 away from the other apostles, and started to rebuke Him!11  He said, “Mercy to you, Lord!  This thing shall not ever happen to you!”12  But Jesus turned to face him13 and said sternly:

“Get yourself behind me, Satan.  You are an offense to me, because you don’t think about the things that are of God, but those that are of men!”14

Jesus called Peter an “offense,” or a “stumbling-block,” something that was trying to keep Him from fulfilling His mission to save mankind through His death and resurrection.  The Greek word Jesus uses is skandalon—which is where we get the word scandal.

Within just a short amount of time, Jesus goes from praising Peter, blessing him, and foretelling some of the amazing work that he would be doing in the Kingdom, to calling him “Satan,” and accusing him of trying to derail God’s plan.  Peter’s ups and downs in faith and understanding certainly continue.15

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Matthew 14:32-33

2 John 6:68-69.

3 Matthew 16:13-15.  Some might contend that Jesus is putting them on the spot, and thus adding some extenuating circumstances, but if that’s true, then He was also putting them on the spot by asking them who others said that He was just two verses earlier.

4 Matthew 16:16.

5 Matthew 16:17.

6 Matthew 16:18-19.  This entire statement of Jesus is spoken to Peter, and Peter alone—the pronouns are all in the singular case.  In chapter 18, much of this is repeated to the rest of the apostles as a group.  The argument of the Catholics, that Peter had exclusive binding and loosing power, falls apart in the light of Matthew 18:18.  Additionally, the verb tenses also destroy their doctrine that Peter had the ability to make laws for the church.  The verse literally says that whatever Peter would bind on earth [future tense] would be that which was already bound in heaven [perfect tense—something which started in the past and continued to the present].  So, far from Jesus saying that Peter would be able to create church doctrine and practice, He is actually saying that Peter (and later He would include the rest of the apostles) would be an official proclaimer of the commands of God—it is a prophecy of their inspiration and place of leadership in the church.

7 See Acts 2 and Acts 10-11.  Though this promise was given to Peter, he was not the exclusive one to open the door for people to enter.  Every time the gospel is proclaimed to someone who hasn’t heard it before, the one proclaiming it is using the keys to the kingdom.  Philip, for example, is the one who opened the door to the kingdom in order to let the Samaritans into it (Acts 8).

8 As is evidenced by the opposition of the religious leaders, the abandonment of some of His disciples after hearing some “hard sayings,” and even the lack of understanding among Jesus’ closest followers, none of the Jews understood the spiritual purpose behind the coming of the Messiah, His death, and that He would be resurrected and ascend into heaven—that is, until the gospel began to be proclaimed starting at Pentecost.  Peter, on that day, unlocked a mystery about a prophecy of David which pointed toward the Christ—which he proved applied to Jesus.  On that day, he unlocked the mystery of when and what Joel 2:28-32 was specifically talking about.  Many Old Testament passages began to be unlocked to the minds of those who were willing to listen to Peter’s sermons. This promise of inspiration was also given to the other apostles (John 16:12-13), and they, too, unlocked the mysteries of many Old Testament prophecies for their hearers/readers.

9 See the footnote at John 20:23 in the NET Bible.  See also Coffman’s Commentary on Matthew 16:19.

10 Lange says: “Then Peter took Him;—προσλαβόμενος.—He laid his hand upon Him, or seized Him from behind, as if he would have moved Him by main force to alter His purpose. He stopped the Master in this manner for the purpose of remonstrating with Him” (Lange’s Commentary on Matthew 18:22, emphasis mine).

11 McGarvey says of this exchange: “Evidently Peter regarded Jesus as overcome by a fit of despondency, and felt that such talk would utterly dishearten the disciples if it were persisted in. His love, therefore, prompted him to lead Jesus to one side and deal plainly with him. In so doing, Peter overstepped the laws of discipleship and assumed that he knew better than the Master what course to pursue.” (Fourfold Gospel, page 414).

12 Matthew 16:22.  The modern Literal Version (2016 beta edition) says “God will be lenient to you…” (the words in italics being supplied by the translators).  Strong’s definition says that it is a Hebrew idiom, meaning “God be gracious!” in averting a catastrophe.  Miles Coverdale’s translation (1535) says, “LORD, favor thyself, let not this happen unto thee” (note: I have taken the liberty of updating the spelling.  Originally, it said “LORDE, fauour thy self, let not this happen vnto thee.”)  The New American Standard Bible says “God forbid it, Lord!”

13 Mark’s account includes Jesus turning to face the disciples (Mark 8:33).  So it appears that Jesus was facing Peter initially, then turned to look at the other apostles, and turned back to face Peter to issue the stinging rebuke.

14 Matthew 16:23.  The pronouns in this stinging rebuke are in the singular—this is directed solely at Peter.

15 This whole incident from Matthew 16:13-23 puts an interesting spin on the Catholic doctrine of the church being built on Peter—because ultimately, they’d have to admit that it is built on Satan, based on what Jesus actually said.

The Roller-Coaster of Faith – The Life of the Apostle Peter (Part Three)


Simon Peter’s Faith

One day, Simon was called, along with Jesus’ other disciples, up to a mountain, where the Lord had been praying all night.  After the disciples arrived, Jesus selected twelve of them, and gave them the name “apostles.”1  Simon, whom Jesus called “Peter,”2 appears to be the first one chosen (his name appears first in every list of the apostles in the Bible).

It was some time after this that Jesus said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.”  So they all got into a ship and went across the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus went to the lower part of the ship and went to sleep, and then the storm came.  This storm was so fierce that the apostles—including experienced fishermen like Peter, Andrew, James, and John—thought they were going to die.  The boat was being tossed around by the waves, and water was filling the boat.  Some of the apostles ran down to where Jesus was, waking Him, and saying, “Master, don’t you care that we are perishing?”  Jesus gets up, probably goes up to the main deck, and says, “Peace.  Be still,” and the storm immediately stopped.  Peter had never seen anything like it in his life.  Then he hears Jesus’ words, “Why are you so afraid?  How is it that you have no faith?”3  Those words made quite an impression on him.

After they all came back to Capernaum,4 the ruler of the synagogue, named Jairus, came begging for Jesus to heal his only daughter.  Jesus began to follow him, but as He did, a woman desperately seeking to be healed touched the hem of His garment; and Jesus turned around and said, “Who touched me?”  Peter, somewhat incredulously, looked at Jesus and said, “Master, the multitude is crowding and pressing [against] you; and you say, ‘Who touched me’?”  Jesus reemphasized that He had felt power leave Him, and then Peter saw the woman come before Jesus, trembling, and falling down at His feet, and explaining what she touched Him.  Jesus almost certainly smiled as He looked at her and said, “Daughter, be of good comfort: your faith has made you whole.”5  Peter probably couldn’t help but notice how different Jesus’ words were to this woman, compared to what He had earlier said to Peter and the other apostles.

After the woman was healed, Peter followed Jesus to Jairus’ house, where they were met with the terrible news: Jairus’ daughter had died before they could get there.  But Jesus looked at Jairus and told him, “Don’t be afraid: Just believe [show faith],6 and she will be healed.”7  Then Jesus goes inside with Mr. and Mrs. Jairus, and only permits Peter, James, and John to accompany them.  Peter watched as Jesus took the dead girl by the hand and said, “Little girl, arise.”8  She immediately rose up, and Peter again saw the power of faith.

Soon after this miracle of restoring the little girl’s life, Jesus called the apostles to Him and gave them miracle-working abilities, and sent them out on a mission to the Jews.  Peter was sent with his brother Andrew, and “went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.”9  Upon returning, Peter and the others told Jesus about the things they had done, and they got on a ship with Him and sailed to a deserted area where they could rest.10  However, the people who had been following Jesus saw what they were doing, and ran ahead to the area of Bethsaida, where the ship was headed.11

After landing, Jesus took compassion on the multitude, and told the apostles to feed them.  Peter and the rest were shocked.  Philip said, “Two hundred pennyworth of bread isn’t sufficient for each of them to even have a little!”12  Peter was most likely in agreement with this assessment, though he was probably also telling himself to “have faith.”  He was amazed when five loaves and two fishes fed the entire crowd of 5,000, and also left twelve baskets of leftovers.  The evidence was right in front of him to strengthen his faith.

This miracle was enough for many of the men among the 5,000 to declare that Jesus was truly “that prophet which should come into the world!”13  Then they sought to take Jesus by force and make Him the king.  When Jesus realized what their intentions were, He sent them away14 and went to a mountain by Himself.15

Jesus told Peter and the others to go get into the ship and sail to the other side.  Evening came, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and Jesus was still on the mountain.16  Jesus looked across the sea and saw them struggling to row because the wind was fighting against them, and the waves were tossing them around.17  Around 3 AM, Jesus came to them, walking on the water.18  They had been rowing all night for a journey that would normally have been rather short.  Peter would have been struggling along with the other apostles when all of a sudden there was screaming—there was a ghost on the waves!  Or, so they thought.  Jesus hadn’t intended to stop and join them,19 but when they saw Him, thinking He was a ghost, they were scared; so Jesus called out to them, “Have courage; it is I.  Don’t be afraid.”20

The impetuous and brave Peter, peering through the darkness and the mist kicked up by the wind and waves, called back to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you, command me to come to you on the water.”  Jesus’ replied to Peter by commanding him, “Come.”  So Peter climbed out of the rocking ship and stepped out onto the boisterous waves, and he started to walk towards Jesus on top of the water.  He was doing fine until he started looking at the waves and thinking about the wind, and down into the water he went, sinking, screaming, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately, Jesus caught hold of him, kept him from drowning, and said to him, “O you of little faith.  What caused you to doubt?”21

Peter must have been heartbroken as Jesus brought him over the water and into the rocking ship.  But as soon as they both climbed aboard, the wind stopped.  The disciples were all amazed at the suddenness with which the wind stopped; and they started worshiping Jesus, saying “Truly you are the Son of God.”22  Peter must have felt awful, seeing Jesus completely eliminate the wind and waves which had caused him to doubt.  But he didn’t have much time to dwell on it while he was in the boat, because as soon as Jesus climbed in, they were instantly at their destination.23

The next day, when the crowds discovered where Jesus had gone, they came to Capernaum and found Him, and asked Him, “When did you come here?”  Instead of answering their question, Jesus replied with something that showed their lack of focus (the same lack of focus that the apostles were also guilty of to an extent): “You seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you ate the bread and were filled.  Don’t labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures into everlasting life, which the Son of man will give to you: for Him has God the father attested.”24

After speaking about the necessity to eat His flesh and drink His blood, which was a “hard saying,” difficult to understand, “many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.”25  Jesus looked at the apostles, and asked them, “Do you wish to go away too?”  Peter, just a day removed from his embarrassing incident on the sea, spoke up, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are certain that you are that Christ, the Son of the living God.”26

Though he strongly confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and acknowledged that He had the words of eternal life, Peter had a hard time grasping the importance of some of Jesus’ teaching.  The scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem had come, and criticized the disciples for not washing their hands when they eat bread.  Jesus condemned these accusers, calling them hypocrites who were “blind leaders of the blind” who would “fall into the ditch.”  He told them that it isn’t what goes into a person that defiles him, but what comes out of him.  After Jesus said this, they went into a house, away from the people,27 and Peter boldly commanded Him, “Explain this parable to us.”  Jesus then looks at the apostles, and asks, “Are you still without understanding?  Don’t you understand yet?”28  After those words, Peter might have felt like he should have kept his mouth shut; for though he loved the Lord, he was still not the “Rock” that he knew he needed to become.  His faith was still in a state of growth.

Traveling with Jesus to the area of Tyre and Sidon, Peter saw a Canaanite woman approaching the Lord, begging, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.  My daughter is badly tormented by a demon.”  Though Jesus didn’t answer her, Peter and the other apostles were getting aggravated by her, and asked Jesus to “Send her away, because she’s crying after us.”  Jesus then told the woman that He was sent only to the Israelites; but still she persisted in humility.  Then Jesus said to her, “Great is your faith, O woman.  It is for you even as you desire,” and her daughter was healed.29  Once again, Peter must have thought back to the times when his faith was put to the test and found lacking—yet this Canaanite woman was lauded by Jesus as having “great … faith.”

After miraculously feeding 4,000 people, Peter and the apostles accompanied Jesus in a ship across the Sea of Galilee.30  Then the Lord spoke to them and said, “Take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”  But the apostles all assumed that He was saying this because they forgot to bring bread.  The scathing rebuke again came from Jesus, “O ye of little faith! … Do you still not understand, nor remember the five loaves [that fed] the five thousand, and how many baskets [of leftovers] you took up?  Neither the seven loaves [that fed] the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up?  How is it that you don’t understand that I didn’t speak to you about bread, [but] that you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?”31 They finally understood what Jesus was getting at, but Peter especially must have stung at the rebuke.

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 As discussed in the introductory chapter, the word “apostle” means “one sent with a mission.”  By the time of the first century, it had taken on the idea of someone acting as an official representative of the one who sent him.  So Peter and the other eleven were chosen to be Jesus’ representatives, His ambassadors, His delegates to the Jews, and later to the Gentiles as well.

2 As stated earlier, “Peter” and “Cephas” have the same meaning.  From the time of his selection as an apostle, Simon is primarily known by this new name, or else as “Simon Peter.”  There are some exceptions to this, and it is possible that the exceptions (usually where Jesus is speaking) are intentional to get Simon Peter to notice something about himself and his actions.

3 The calming of the storm is recorded in Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:34-41; and Luke 8:22-25.

4 Matthew and Mark both place these events in connection with the city of Capernaum.  See Matthew 9:1 (“His own city”), 9:9-17 (the call of Matthew, followed by the feast at Matthew’s house), after which Matthew says “While He spoke these things to them, behold, a certain ruler [Jairus] came to Him…”  Mark places these events in Capernaum (Mark 2:1-22).

5 Luke 9:41-48.

6 The word “believe” is the verb form of the word “faith” in the Greek.  In other words, “faith” and “believe” (pistis and pisteuo) are the same basic word in the original.  This statement of Jesus was made just as much for the benefit of Peter, James, and John as it was for Jairus.

7 The King James Version says “she shall be made whole.”  This is one word in Greek, and it is the same word that is translated “healed” or “saved” throughout the New Testament.

8 Luke 8:54, NKJV.  The Modern Literal Version has “Child, arise” (see also ESV).

9 Luke 9:1-6.  Jesus’ commands and instructions are given in more detail in Matthew 10.  Matthew also groups the apostles in pairs, which matches up with Mark’s account, that Jesus sent them out “two by two” (Mark 6:7).

10 Mark 6:30-32.

11 Luke 9:10; Mark 6:32-33

12 John 6:7.  Two hundred pennyworth is 200 days’ wages.

13 John 6:14.  This is a reference to Deuteronomy 18, when Jehovah said that He would raise up a prophet like unto Moses, that everyone must listen to or be held accountable by God.

14 Mark 6:46.  John’s account says that He “departed,” but Mark adds the detail of dispersing the crowd first.

15 John 6:15.  This passage is a deathblow to Premillennialism.  That false doctrine teaches that Jesus came to earth to set up an earthly kingdom, but was surprisingly rejected by the Jews.  This one verse shows that (1) He had the opportunity to be made king, and (2) He was anything but rejected by the Jews at this point. Additionally, Mark 6:46 states that Jesus sent away the crowds—that is, He rejected their overtures at making Him king.  The truth is, Jesus’ kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36), and it was established in the first century (see Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9).  The idea of an earthly reign of Jesus from a literal throne in Jerusalem is foreign to the Scriptures (compare also, Jeremiah 22:28-30 and Matthew 1:11-16).

16 Apparently, the Disciples assumed Jesus was going to walk to their location and that they’d just meet Him there.

17 Matthew 14:23-24; Mark 6:48.

18 Mark 6:48 calls it “about the fourth watch of the night.”  The night began at 6 PM, ended at 6 AM, and was divided into four “watches,” each lasting three hours.  The first would be 6 to 9 PM, the second was 9 PM to midnight, the third was midnight to 3 AM, and the fourth was 3 AM to 6 AM.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (“Watch”) says, “The fourfold division was according to the Roman system, each of which was a fourth part of the night.”

19 See Mark 6:48, MLV, NET, ESV, Living Oracles.  The KJV and NKJV both say that Jesus “would have passed them by.”  But the Greek word translated “would,” means to wish, or to desire.  Jesus “intended” to pass them by.

20 The account of Jesus’ walking on the water is recorded by Matthew (14:22-33), Mark (6:445-51), and John (6:15-21).  All three mention the wind, the reaction of the disciples, and Jesus’ words.

21 Though Jesus’ walking on the water is recorded in three of the four gospel accounts (only Luke doesn’t mention it), it is only Matthew that mentions Peter’s adventure on the perilous sea.  Why the others omit this part is a matter of speculation.

22 Matthew 14:32-33.  Mark 6:51-52 adds a detail, saying that they were greatly astonished because they hadn’t considered the miracle of the loaves (the feeding of the 5,000), because their heart was hardened.  That is, they were still putting physical things first and not considering the power Jesus had already shown.

23 John 6:21.

24 John 6:22-27.  Verse 27, King James Version, says “sealed,” but the idea is of authorizing something by means of a seal.  Thus, God the Father was attesting to, showing His approval of, Jesus Christ.

25 John 6:51-66.

26 John 6:67-69.

27 Mark 7:17.

28 Matthew 15:16-17.  Though Peter is the one who spoke up, Jesus addresses His rebuke to the whole group.  The word “you” (“ye” in the King James Version) is plural in the original.

29 Matthew 15:21-28.  Though Jesus’ mission was primarily to the Israelites, He still showed compassion on the Gentiles and worked among them somewhat as well.  For example, soon after healing this woman’s daughter, Jesus went to Decapolis (Mark 7:31), which was a federation of ten free Greek cities, primarily made up of Gentiles.  He did many miracles among them, causing them to “glorif[y] the God of Israel” (Matthew 15:30-31).  And then Jesus had compassion on them, and fed them—all 4,000+ of them (Matthew 15:32-38).

30 Mark 8:13.

31 Matthew 16:5-11.  When Jesus says, “ye of little faith,” He is addressing the entire group of the apostles.  The word “ye” is plural.

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One of the most influential men in the Lord’s church in the last 200 years is, without a doubt, John William (J.W.) McGarvey.  He is well-known for his strong, conservative commentaries, his numerous articles on Biblical Criticism, and for being a prolific trainer of preachers in the late-1800s and early-1900s.

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The Roller-Coaster of Faith – The Life of the Apostle Peter (Part Two)

FAIR WARNING…. Today’s post is short.  I admit it.  But it must be done, because the next post in this series is one section, and it is LONG.  I hope that you’ll be okay with getting a short post–at least this once.  🙂

Simon Peter’s Call

Though Peter was first introduced to Jesus by his brother, Andrew, and spent several months following Jesus through Galilee, Jerusalem, and Judea before returning to Galilee (seeing several miracles, and baptizing many people while he was at it),1 Peter’s official call didn’t happen until perhaps a year or more after meeting the Lord.

It was on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, near his boat, that Simon was washing his nets,2 when Jesus climbs into the boat and asks him to “thrust out a little from the land.”  Simon complies, climbing into the ship with Jesus and moving the boat a little ways from the shore.  Simon looks at the shoreline and sees a huge mass of people, all in rapt attention to what Jesus has to say to them.  Having followed Jesus for some time, hearing Him teach, seeing Him work wonders, Simon knew exactly how the people felt.

After Jesus finishes speaking to the crowds, He spoke to Peter, telling him to “launch out into the deep,” and then he says to both Simon and Andrew, “let down your nets for a catch.”3  They obey, and the amount of fish that in the net is so incredibly massive that they can’t pull it into their boat.  In fact, they have to call another ship (belonging to Zebedee) over to help them take in the catch—and even then, both boats are so overloaded with fish that they begin to sink!

Peter, seeing what is happening, falls down at Jesus’ knees, proclaiming his unworthiness: “Depart from me, for I’m a sinful man, o Lord.”4  But Jesus tells him, “Don’t be afraid.  From now on, you will catch men [be fishers of men].”5  And from that point, Peter leaves everything and follows Jesus.6

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 All of these events can be found in the first four chapters of John.

2 Vincent says that this washing was of the “sand and pebbles accumulated during the night’s work.”  (see note on Luke 5:2).

3 Luke 5:4.  The command to “launch out” is singular, given to Peter.  The command to “let down your nets” is plural, thus Jesus speaks to the whole crew—primarily, this would be Simon and Andrew.

4 Luke 5:8.

5 Luke 5:10; Mark 1:17.

6 Luke 5:11; see also Luke 18:28.  Peter still apparently owned his fishing boat, for after the resurrection, he said, “I’m going fishing” and several disciples joined him in the boat (John 21:1-ff).  It’s probable, then, that Peter allowed his father (if his father was still alive) or perhaps Zebedee to use his boat to continue in the fishing business.

Baptism, Our Lord’s Command

It’s been just a little bit, but we’re happy to announce that we are posting more new books on the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary.  And today’s is one we think you’ll really like.

This book was originally published in Australia, 1913, by the Austral Publishing Company of Melbourne.  We have not changed any content from the original, but we have made some changes that we believe you will find worthwhile: (1) We have Americanized the spelling of words [for example, baptise is now baptize], (2) We have corrected incorrect Scripture references [usually, this was simply a reference to the wrong chapter in a book], (3) We have also corrected punctuation mistakes when we came across them.

Also, just like with every other book that we have published, we have completely reformatted it to give it a more pleasing look.  We have changed the font size, increased the size of the headings, and just overall tried to give it a facelift.

We are happy to present “Baptism: Our Lord’s Command (Containing a Reply to ‘The Question of Baptism’ by Mr. A. Madsen, a Methodist Minister)” by A.R. Main.


  1. PREFACE. 2
  2. Introduction to the 2016 Edition. 3
  3. Baptism: Our Lord’s Command. 5
  4. New Testament Example and Precept. 11
  5. The Commission. 20
  6. The Argument from Circumcision. 30
    2. REPLY. 33
    6. COLOSSIANS 2:11-12. 42
  7. Jewish Baptism. 46
  8. Family Baptisms. 52
    1. CORNELIUS. 53
    2. CRISPUS. 54
    3. THE JAILER. 54
    4. STEPHANAS. 56
    5. LYDIA. 57
    6. OIKOS AND OIKIA. 58
  9. Jesus and the Little Ones. 70
    1. “OF SUCH IS THE KINGDOM.”. 71
    3. “FEED MY LAMBS.”. 75
    4. TO YOUR CHILDREN (ACTS 2:39). 76
    5. ACTS 21:4-5. 79
    6. PAUL’S LETTERS. 80
    7. 2 JOHN. 81
    9. BABES IN HEAVEN. 86
  10. A Pædobaptist Miscellany. 88
    1. JOHN’S BAPTISM. 88
    2. THE EUNUCH. 89
    3. SIMON MAGUS. 90
    5. THE LORD’S DAY. 92
  11. Post-Apostolic Practice. 94
    1. THE DIDACHE. 95
    2. JUSTIN MARTYR. 96
    3. IRENÆUS. 97
    4. ORIGEN. 97
    5. TERTULLIAN. 98
    6. CYPRIAN. 101
    7. “A HISTORICAL FACT.”. 103
  12. The Action of Baptism. 109
    1. LEXICONS. 110
      1. The Baptism of John. 120
      2. The Eunuch. 122
      3. Baptism a Burial. 123
      4. John 2:23. 127
      5. Baptism of Suffering. 128
      6. Baptism in the Holy Spirit. 128
      7. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2. 130
      8. 1 Peter 3:20-21. 131
      9. Baptism of Three Thousand. 132
      10. Baptism of the Samaritans. 133
      11. Ezekiel 36:25. 135
  13. The Evil of Infant Sprinkling. 137

To download this well-researched book, or read it online, simply click the link below:

Baptism: Our Lord’s Command (A.R. Main)

The Roller-Coaster of Faith – The Life of the Apostle Peter (Part One)

WELCOME BACK!  We’re been working hard, getting things ready for you to read and enjoy and use.  I’ve received emails from several people who have told me that they are using the apostles lessons as sermons and/or class material.  Thanks for letting me know!  We are so happy that you are finding it useful!  Now, enough of the chit-chatting; on to the story of Peter!!!!!

The most prominent of all the apostles, Peter has been both exalted far beyond his rightful place, and cast down to near-Judas depths by religious people over the past two thousand years.  In their rush to deny Peter’s place as the first Pope, many Christians unfortunately negate Peter’s divinely-given prominence among the apostles, and by extension, the early church.  Neither extreme is correct.

Simon Peter’s Family

Jesus refers to him as the “son of John” or “son of Jonah.”1  We know nothing about this man except that he had two very religious sons: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew.  From this, we can infer that he was probably a devout Jew as well.

It is thanks to his brother Andrew that Simon first gets to meet Jesus.  Andrew, a disciple of John the Immerser, was pointed to Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” and went to find Simon, telling him, “We have found the Messiah!”2  It is quite possible that Simon was also a disciple of John, which would explain how Andrew was able to find him and bring him to Jesus that same day.3

Possibly as much as a year later, Jesus comes into Simon’s house in Capernaum, and heals Simon’s mother-in-law. She immediately got up and began to serve them, which shows that she was most likely a kind, hospitable woman.  Simon Peter was married,4 though we know very little about his wife except that she (1) was still living some 25 years after Pentecost, (2) apparently accompanied her husband on some of his ministry trips, and (3) was a Christian.5  As a side note, this is evidence against Peter being the “first Pope,” as Popes aren’t allowed to be married.6

Simon Peter’s Names

When he was born, this man who would later become one of the greatest Christians to ever live was given the name Simon, or Simeon.7  This was an ancient name, common among the Israelites8 because it was the name of the second-born of the twelve sons of Jacob.9

When Simon met Jesus for the first time, the Lord said to him, “You are Simon, the son of John: you shall be called Cephas.”10  The name Cephas means “stone” in Hebrew.11  After this, however, Paul is the only one who uses this Hebrew form of the name.12

The name “Peter” is simply the Greek form of the Hebrew “Cephas.”  So when Jesus told him that he would be called “Cephas,” He could just as accurately said, “You will be called Peter,” because they mean the same thing.  After this, Simon is almost always referred to as either “Peter” or “Simon Peter.”13

The name “Peter” was divinely-given,14 perhaps to emphasize the kind of person Jesus needed Simon to become—a steady source of strength.15  It is also possible that Jesus gave Him this name, in part, because of the illustration He would use in Matthew 16:16-18:

Simon Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered and said to him, “You are blessed, Simon, son of John: because flesh and blood hasn’t revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I say to you, that you are Peter [Greek, Petros], and upon this rock [Greek, Petra] I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

The difference in the two words, Petros and Petra, are striking.  Petros [Peter] is masculine in Greek, and means a small rock; Petra is feminine in Greek, and means a large slab of rock, bedrock, or a solid mountain of rock.  It was the inspired statement that Peter made (that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God) that was the rock upon which the church would be built—not Peter himself.16

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 John 1:42; 21:15-17.  The King James’ Version of Matthew 16:17 gives a transliteration of the Greek (which was a transliteration of the Aramaic), “Barjona.”  But this simply means “son of Jonah,” or “son of John.”  The two names are very similar in the original language.  See David Smith’s article, “Peter,” in James Hasting’s Dictionary of the Bible.

2 John 1:40-41.

3 John the Immerser was baptizing in Bethabara (John 1:28), which was near Jericho, around 60 miles from Capernaum, where Peter and Andrew lived (Mark 1:19-21).  Thus, Peter must have been nearby.  This has led many to the natural conclusion that Peter was a disciple of John, which is a very reasonable guess (see W. Patrick’s article, “Peter,” in Hasting’s Dictionary of Christ in the Gospels).

4 In addition to the fact that Peter had a mother-in-law (an impossibility for an unmarried man), he also identifies himself as “an elder” (1 Peter 5:1), thus he was a “husband of one wife,” or more literally, a “one-woman man” (1 Timothy 3:2).  If he was not married, then he would have no right to hold the office of an elder.  In addition, 1 Corinthians 9:5 appeals to Peter as an example of a married apostle (see next footnote).

5 1 Corinthians 9:5, written approximately AD 56, states “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles and the brethren of our Lord, and Cephas [Peter]?”  From this passage, (1) it seems that it was common knowledge that the other apostles were married at that time; (2) the phrase “lead about” means to take someone around with them, showing the apostles’ wives accompanied them; and (3) Paul specifically states that each wife was “a sister,” that is, a sister in Christ (see this verse in ASV, MLV, ESV, NKJV, etc.)

6 The Catholic Church claims Peter was the first Pope, the first bishop of Rome.  There are several lines of biblical evidence which refute this false doctrine, such as: (1) Peter was married, though the Catholic Church teaches that priests (from which the Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, and Popes come) cannot be married; (2) Paul desired to come to Rome to work with the church (Romans 1:10-11); but also said that he would not build on another man’s foundation (Romans 15:20); and Peter’s name is conspicuously absent from the list of greetings that Paul gives to the Christians in Rome (Romans 16); there is no biblical evidence that Peter was ever in Rome; Peter’s mission was to the Jews (Galatians 2:9), and all the Jews had been expelled from Rome (Acts 18:2), giving Peter no reason to go there.  There is much more that could be added, but as it is outside the scope of this work, this will suffice.

7 He is called “Simon” in the gospel accounts, but in Acts 15:14, James (the brother of the Lord) refers to him as “Simeon.” Though it is not translated as such in most English Bibles, in 2 Peter 1:1, he identifies himself as “Simeon Peter” (the ESV, NRSV, NET, NAB, Disciples Literal New Testament, and the Living Oracles all translate this properly).

8 There is a Simeon in Luke 2:25-35; another one mentioned in Luke 3:30; a prophet with that name in Acts 13:1.  Jesus had a brother named Simon (Matthew 13:55); two apostles had that name (Matthew 10:1-4); Jesus ate at the house of a Pharisee named Simon (Luke 7:36-44); Jesus stayed in the house of Simon the leper near the end of His ministry (Matthew 26:6); a man named Simon carried Jesus’ cross (Matthew 27:32); Judas Iscariot’s father was named Simon (John 12:4); the infamous magician-turned-Christian (and according to tradition, turned enemy of Christianity) was named Simon (Acts 8:9, 13); Peter stayed in the house of Simon the tanner while in Joppa (Acts 9:43, 10:5-6).

9 Genesis 35:23.

10 John 1:42.

11 The Hebrew root, Keph (כּף) is used in Job 30:6 and Jeremiah 4:29.

12 1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:22, 9:5, 15:5; and Galatians 2:9.

13 Twice in Matthew, Jesus refers to Peter simply as “Simon” (Matthew 16:17; 17:25); In Mark, after noting that Jesus gave Simon the name “Peter,” the apostle is only identified called “Simon” one time (though in the same verse (14:37), Mark also calls him as Peter); Luke’s gospel account uses “Simon” multiple times after noting that he was also called Peter (7:40-44; 22:31; 24:34); John records Jesus calling him “Simon” on only one occasion (21:15-17).  After Pentecost, the only time the name “Peter” or “Cephas” is absent in identifying him is Acts 15:14, where he is called “Simeon.”

14 Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14.

15 Simon would eventually be the one who used the “keys of the kingdom” to welcome both Jew and Gentile into the Kingdom of God (see Matthew 16:16-18; Acts 2; Acts 10-11).  He was also one who was given a specific commission to strengthen the rest of the apostles (Luke 22:31-32); and was entrusted with the shepherding care of Jesus’ sheep (John 21:15-17).

16 The Catholic Church ignores the differences in the original words to make the claim that Jesus was going to build the church on Peter himself (yet again, their argument to elevate Peter to Popehood fails based on biblical evidence).  The only way that petra could be a reference to Peter is if he somehow got a sex change halfway through Jesus’ sentence—an absolute absurdity.

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved – The Life of the Apostle John (part 5)

John as an Author

It is often argued that the writings of John (the Gospel, his three letters, and Revelation) were the last ones to be written, and are to be dated between AD 90-100.1 It is more in keeping with the biblical information to place his writings before AD 70.2  By this time, John was an older man3 who was writing to Christians to warn them about apostasy,4 to remind them to stay faithful,5 to encourage downhearted Christians,6 to remind them about the words of the Lord in regards to the overthrow of Judaism,7 and to comfort them with the knowledge that their persecutors will be overthrown.8

The Gospel According to John

By this point, three other gospel accounts had already been written,9 so there was no need for John to write one unless he had information that needed to be presented that wasn’t in the other accounts.

Matthew wrote to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, and thus focused on Old Testament prophecies, starting with the birth of Jesus.  Mark wrote to convince the Roman readers that Jesus was a powerful leader who died for them, beginning with the herald announcing His coming.  Luke wrote to show the humanity of Jesus in precise historical terms.  By the time John wrote, however, a large contingent of Jewish Christians were leaving the faith, going back into Judaism.10 By doing this, they were denying the power of Christ.  So, when John wrote, his focus was to show the origin, power, and authority of Jesus Christ.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was [in His very nature] God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by Him; and apart from Him, nothing was made that was made. … He came to His own [people] and His own [people] did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become children of God, believers into His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the desires of the flesh, nor of the desires of man, but of God.  And the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us (and we admired His glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.11

John repeatedly stresses the deity of Jesus throughout his gospel account.  John 1:1, 14 shows us that the Word which became flesh is, by His very nature, God.12  Several times, John records Jesus applying the words “I AM” (which the Jews would have understood as a reference to Jehovah) to Himself.13  John says an Old Testament vision of Jehovah was actually a vision of Jesus.14  In short, John wrote to prove the deity of Jesus and to show that it is only through Jesus that eternal life can be gained.15  This is quite powerful when you consider that Jewish Christians were leaving Christianity in large numbers at the time it was written—this book would have been quite timely.16

The Letters of John

Like Peter did in his second letter, John stressed the reality of Jesus Christ by appealing to himself as not only an eye-witness, but also an ear-witness, and one who studied and touched Jesus while He was here on earth.17  He also made it a point to remind them of what they possessed through Jesus Christ: (1) the forgiveness of sins, (2) the knowledge of God/Christ, (3) overcoming Satan, and (4) strength.18  He also forcefully stated that just because someone is a Christian doesn’t mean they are incapable of sinning—in fact, far from it:

If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.19

He focuses on the importance of love quite as bit as well, telling them what they are supposed to love (each other),20 and what they are not to love (the world, neither the things of the world).21  And he also shows his care for the faithful,22 while also showing his frustration with and repudiation of false teachers23 and those who tried to rule the church.24

Like Paul, John’s wrote both to individuals and to congregations (with benefit to the universal church).25 And thank God that he wrote these letters, because they contain wonderful comforting information about salvation, both then and now.26


While John was on Patmos, an island which was a “rock quarry…used as a place of banishment for certain types of offenders,”27 he received a revelation from Jesus Christ.  It’s generally assumed that he was exiled to Patmos by the Roman Emperor,28 but that’s not explicitly stated.  It might be that he was evangelizing.29

In writing the Revelation, John simply wrote what he saw and how he reacted to it.  He was overwhelmed by all that he saw, at one point fainting,30 at another point breaking into tears,31 and then worshiping the angel who delivered the message to him.32

This book was written to encourage faithfulness,33 to foretell the vindication of Christ and His apostles,34 to describe the glorious church,35 and to comfort first-century Christians with the promise of the destruction of their persecutors.36

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 See Guy N. Woods, A Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1989[?]pages 18-19, and Woods’ A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John, and James, Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1963[?], pages 206-207.

2 The promise of miracles from God in the church (including inspiration) was limited to the time between the death of Jesus Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem (see Zechariah 12:10-14:2, especially noting 13:2), a 40-year period (see Micah 7:15), which would take place during the “last days” of Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:16-21, Isaiah 2:1-2).  When the completed word of God came, the miracles would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).  Since, according to the Bible,  miracles ended in AD 70, then the completed word of God also had to be finished by that time as well.  For a much more in-depth explanation of this topic, see the Appendix, “The End of Miracles” in this author’s book, The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts.

3 2 John 1.

4 2 John 7-11.

5 2 John 8.

6 3 John.

7 1 John 2:18 (see especially in Greek, where John says “it is the final hour, and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists: therefore we know it is the final hour,” and compare it with what Jesus said in Matthew 24:24 in regards to the signs preceding the final overthrow of the Jews and the Jewish system).

8 See the entire book of Revelation.  The persecutors who will be overthrown by God in Revelation are the Jews.  Compare Matthew 23:34-39 with Revelation 18:10-19:2.  See also Arthur Ogden’s fantastic work, The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets, and this author’s work, Things Which Came to Pass: A Study of Revelation, Class Handouts, Cobb Publishing, 2014 (As of this writing, the commentary/teacher’s guide, Things Which Came to Pass: A Study of Revelation, is still being prepared).

9 Matthew was written first, around AD 40 (see chapter on Matthew for more information), while Mark and Luke were written in the mid to late 50s.  Since Luke doesn’t include any of the information from John’s gospel (except that which is also found in Matthew), yet claims that he “traced accurately” (implying that he did much research) the things which he wrote.  The only logical, biblical conclusion that can be drawn from this is that Luke wrote his gospel prior to John writing his.  Since Acts (Luke’s sequel to the gospel) was written around AD 62, it is no stretch to say that the gospel could easily have been written by AD 58.  For more information on the dating of the New Testament writings, see Redating the New Testament by J.A.T. Robinson.

10 See the entire book of Hebrews.

11 John 1:1-3, 11-14.

12 The arrangement of the words in Greek, as well as the lack of the definite article in Greek before “God” at the end of John 1:1 shows that what is under consideration is the nature or character of the Word.  Jesus Christ is, in His nature, God.  He is distinguished from God, when it is a reference to the Father, but He shares of the same nature.  What God is, the Word is.  See the New English Translation (NET) at this verse.

13 John 6:35, 48, 51; 8:16, 23-24, 28, 58; 9:5, 9; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:6, 8.

14 John 12:39-41, a reference to Isaiah 6:10 where the word “Jehovah” is used.

15 John 20:30-31.

16 Certainly there are other reasons John wrote, and many other things we could mention that are unique to John’s gospel account, but these will suffice for our purpose.  For more study on the uniqueness of John’s gospel, see the introduction to Guy N. Woods’ Commentary on John.  Most commentaries on John’s gospel will include mention and elaboration on these points.

17 Compare 2 Peter 1:15-19 with 1 John 1:1-4.  Since they are dealing with the same problem (people denying the reality of Jesus Christ), it make no sense to say (as some do) that John’s first letter couldn’t have been written until AD 90 because he is supposedly dealing with Gnostic teachings which didn’t arise until very late in the first century.  It’s universally agreed that Peter was killed during the reign of Nero, yet he dealt with the same issues, so this “proof” for a late date for First John is ridiculous.

18 See 1 John 1:12-14.

19 1 John 1:8-10.

20 1 John 2:10, 2 John 5-6.  It’s worth noting here that, according to John, the command to love one another also includes walking in the commandments of Jesus Christ.

21 1 John 2:15.

22 3 John 1-4.

23 2 John 7-11.

24 3 John 9-11.

25 3 John was written to Gaius.  2 John was written to “the elect lady and her children,” which is most likely a reference to the church in Jerusalem and the members thereof.  It cannot be that John is writing about a specific individual woman, for this “lady and her children” are said to be known and loved by “all them that have known the truth.”  There was no woman that well-known.  But the church in Jerusalem was known to all Christians (what Christian hasn’t heard about Pentecost and the Jerusalem church in the book of Acts?).  It is also possible that this is speaking of the church universal, but that makes John’s closing statement in 2 John very confusing.  If the “elect lady” is the universal church, who is her sister?

26 1 John 1:7, 9; 5:13.

27 Burton Coffman, commentary notes on Revelation 1:9.

28 Among the early writings that take this position, there is not agreement about which emperor banished him there.  Many claim Domitian, and thus some expositors take the position that it had to have been written around AD 95-96.  John A.T. Robinson (in Redating the New Testament) says that Domitian acted as emperor (even calling himself the emperor) prior to Vespasian’s arrival in Rome to take the throne, and so it could have taken place around AD 70.  However, there are very early Bible translations (second century) which include in the title of the final book of the New Testament, “…when he was exiled to Patmos by Nero.”

29 Foy E. Wallace argues that John went to Patmos for the purpose of receiving the Revelation and evangelizing.  See his The Book of Revelation, notes on Revelation 1:9.

30 Revelation 1:17.

31 Revelation 5:4.

32 Revelation 19:10.

33 Revelation 1:3, 2:10.

34 Revelation chapters 18-19.

35 Revelation 21.

36 The entire book of Acts shows that the primary persecutors of Christianity in the first century were the Jews.  It is their overthrow that is pictured in the book of Revelation.  For more details, see Things Which Came to Pass: A Study of Revelation by this author.

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved–The Life of the Apostle John (Part 4)

John after the Ascension

After listening to Jesus teach about the “things pertaining to the kingdom of God” and seeing the Lord ascended into heaven, John stayed in Jerusalem with the rest of the apostles.1  On the day of Pentecost, John heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and he started preaching the gospel in another language.  People gathered around to listen, and were amazed by what was happening.2  After Peter spoke up and proved that Jesus is the Messiah that had been prophesied in the Old Testament, John spent several hours baptizing people into Christ,3 and rejoicing at the salvation received by them.

Some days later, John accompanied Peter to the temple during the hour of prayer, 3:00 PM.4  They came upon a man who had never walked before, a man who was physically impaired from the time of his birth to prevent him from ever being able to walk.  Men carried him each day to the temple gate so that he could beg for money to survive.  As John walked towards the temple, the man asked him and Peter for money.  Instead of money, the man was given something even greater—healing.  John and Peter walked into the temple area with this man clinging to them, leaping for joy, as the people began to stare and follow them because they recognized this as the lame man who had been unable to ever walk.5  Peter took the opportunity to preach a sermon to the people, resulting in thousands believing in Jesus.  But the priests and Sadducees were extremely upset,6 and they arrested John and Peter, leaving them in jail overnight.7

The next morning, John, as well as Peter, was called to stand before the Sanhedrin, and questioned about how they were able to accomplish this great miracle.  The council wanted to know where John and Peter got the miraculous power, and also by whose authority it was done.8  They already knew that the miraculous ability had to have come from God (see John 3:2), but they wanted to know who gave them the authority to go into the temple complex and heal this man.  The book of Acts only records Peter speaking, but it is obvious that John wasn’t silent during this time, because after they were done answering, condemning the Jewish leaders for murdering Jesus Christ, the Bible says: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlettered and common men, they marveled, and recognized that they had been with Jesus.”9

The council couldn’t speak against John or Peter, because the proof of their claim was standing right next to them in the form of the formerly crippled man.  Instead, they threatened them not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus, to which John and Peter both replied, “You judge whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God; for we are not able not to speak the things which we have seen and heard.”10  Even though threatening John and Peter was completely ineffective, they threatened them again before finally letting them go, because they were too afraid to punish the two apostles.11

John and Peter, after being released, went to the other apostles,12 and reported what had happened.13  The whole group prayed together, asking for continued boldness, and as a result, God filled them with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke again with boldness, and were able to exercise “great power.”14

Sometime later, after Stephen was murdered and Saul of Tarsus began to viciously persecute the church, John and the other apostles received word that Philip had gone into Samaria and converted many of them to Jesus Christ.  They were excited about this new information, certainly remembering the words of Jesus before He ascended that the gospel would be spread from Jerusalem, to Judea, and to Samaria as well.15 The apostles chose John and Peter to go to the Samaritans,16 with the purpose of facilitating their reception of the miracles which were given by the Holy Spirit.17  It is interesting that John was sent, since at one time he asked for power to call down fire on a village of Samaria18—what a difference now!  Some have suggested that John and Peter were sent in order to confirm to the Jews in Jerusalem that the addition of the Samaritans was approved by God, and not just something cooked up in the mind of Philip.19

After arriving, John and Peter went to God in prayer on behalf of the Samaritan Christians, asking that they might also receive the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit.  They were then guided by God to lay hands on certain individuals for this purpose. 20 When Simon, a magician-turned-Christian with a significant desire for prominence, saw this, he offered the two apostles money if they would give him the power to pass on the miraculous gifts.  Peter and John both replied, condemning his actions and him as well if he did not repent, after which Simon asked them to pray to God on his behalf so that the things which they had said wouldn’t happen to him.21

After this incident, John and Peter gave their testimony about Jesus, and proclaimed the word of the Lord to them.  Then they left that city, returning to Jerusalem, but stopping to preach in many Samaritan villages along the way, converting more souls to Jesus Christ.22  Upon returning to Jerusalem, they no doubt gave a first-hand report of the things which occurred in Samaria to the other apostles who had sent them, and joined with them in rejoicing about the new souls that had joined in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

The joy in the growth of the church continued, but John also experienced some sadness.  The Gentiles had just begun to be added to the church, which upset many of the Jews greatly.  Herod, who continually sought for the approval of the Jews, arrested and killed John’s brother, James.23  Such a thing pleased the Jews, and certainly John was happy that his brother had passed into Paradise, but there was no doubt a great sadness that he would no longer see his brother in this life.

Within a few years, a great controversy erupted in the church over whether Gentile converts to Christianity must first be circumcised.  Paul, Barnabas, and Peter were the star witnesses for God during a large gathering in Jerusalem to deal with this issue.  After the matter was decided, John, Peter, and James (the brother of our Lord)24 gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, showing that they endorsed the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles.25

Thus we see John being connected with the gospel in Jerusalem, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth.

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Acts 1.

2 These events are recorded in the second chapter of Acts, specifically verses 1-12.

3 If we assume that the apostles were not hurrying people along, we can estimate that each apostle baptized one person per minute (it can be done much quicker than that, but we’ll go with longer period here for the sake of argument).  That means that each apostle could baptize 60 people per hour.  There’s 12 apostles, so that makes 720 baptisms per hour.  At that rate, the apostles themselves could have easily baptized the 3,000 souls into Christ in just over four hours.  And since the sermon took place around nine in the morning (Acts 2:15), that would make the baptisms completed by around 1:30-2:00 in the afternoon.  Even if they went twice as slow, they’d still have gotten everyone baptized while there was still daylight.

4 It should be noted that this was not a time which was commanded by God, but was something that the Jews had gradually turned into a tradition.  There was nothing wrong with it, and the two apostles did not sin by observing the religious traditions of the Jews.  They would have sinned if they had attempted to bind it on others, or if they had condemned others for taking that time to pray.  Religious traditions, so long as they do not violate the Law of God, are fine—understanding that they are traditions and not something to be bound upon others, nor something to condemn others for observing.

5 This incident is recorded in Acts 3.

6 The priests were upset because if what Peter and John were preaching was true, their service in offering sacrifices was no longer valid.  Additionally, as the priests were teachers in the temple area, they would have had quite a fit of jealousy when the people flocked to hear John and Peter.  The Sadducees were extremely upset because Peter’s sermon was promoting the resurrection—something which they vehemently denied.  In essence, Peter’s sermon identified the Sadducees as false teachers, and they didn’t like it one bit.

7 The response of the people is seen in Acts 4:1-4.

8 Acts 4:7.  Campbell makes the following observation on the question of the council: “Ποια δυναμει, not ποια εξουσια—physical strength.  In what strength—in what name?  There was strength and authority also in the name of the Lord.  But as to the spectators—in this case of physical infirmity—their attention was absorbed in the strength put forth.” (Alexander Campbell, Acts of the Apostles, Translated from the Greek, on the Basis of the Common English Version.  With Notes.  New York: American Bible Union, 1858, page 25).

9 Acts 4:13.  KJV says “unlearned and ignorant,” but this isn’t accurate according to the present use of those terms.  Robertson says, “Unlearned…Unlettered men without technical training in the professional rabbinical schools of Hillel or Shammai. …ignorant…a layman, a man not in office (a privatae person), a common soldier and not an officer, a man not skilled in the schools.” (Robertson’s Word Pictures, on Acts 4:13).  The Greek word translated “ignorant” is idiotai, from where we get our word idiot.

10 Acts 4:19-20.  Note the two negatives in the last part, “we are not able not to speak.”  In other words, “It is impossible for us to remain silent.”

11 Acts 4:21-22.

12 Acts 4:23.  The word “company” (KJV) certainly includes the apostles, though some believe it includes other Christians as well.  Campbell says “…to their own friends, not especially to the Apostles.” (Acts of the Apostles, page 28).  This is unlikely.  The Greek word, idios, means “one’s own,” and is used in the Bible to refer to one’s own countrymen (John 1:11), one’s own family (1 Timothy 5:8), one’s own disciples (John 13:1), and one’s own friends (Acts 24:23).  The group under consideration all prayed together, asking for continued boldness, and the result was a miraculous filling with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31), and “great [miraculous] power” was exercised by the apostles, not by the Christians in general (Acts 4:33).  The context, and what we learn from Acts 8 relative to the way miraculous gifts were passed on (including the inspiration mentioned in Acts 4:31), leads us to conclude that John and Peter went to their own company, that is, they went to the other ten apostles.

13 The other Apostles (and other Christians too), would have been worried about John and Peter, since they no doubt would have heard of their arrest and heard that there was going to be a trial of sorts.  Most likely, the apostles were gathered for a time of prayer on behalf of John and Peter.  Christians did this same thing in Acts 12 when Peter was in jail (see especially verse 12).

14 Acts 4:31, 33.  See also the author’s notes on this passage in The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts.

15 Acts 1:4.

16 Literally, the apostles apostled John and Peter (Acts 8:14).  The word “sent” (KJV) is the verb form of apostle.

17 Acts 8:14-16.  This passage is treated extensively in The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts by this author.  See there for a much fuller explanation and proof that the reception of the Holy Spirit is equivalent to being able to perform miracles.

18 Luke 9:54.

19 See Robertson’s Word Pictures on Acts 4:14.

20 It was not a universal promise that all Christians would receive the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38-39 limits it to a single generation, and then only to those whom God selected for that purpose.  It is obvious that Simon had become a Christian (Acts 8:12-13), but he only knew that the Holy Spirit was given by what he saw take place when the apostles laid hands on others—he did not know it from person experience, but only from seeing it.  Thus we have an example of a Christian who never “received the Holy Spirit.”

21 Acts 8:18-24.  Simon’s response in verse 24 proves that John wasn’t a silent partner in the condemnation.  Simon said, “You [plural] pray to the Lord for me so that none of these things which you [plural] have spoken happen to me.”  Whether Simon ever truly repented is difficult to say.  We would like to think that he did, especially based on his belief of the condemnation that was pronounced on him, but that is inferring something that might not be a necessary inference.  It is the almost universal declaration of early Christian writers that Simon remained apostate and worked to lead people away from Jesus.  See the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Simon Magus.”   Ignatius calls him “the firstborn of Satan” (James Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, “Simon Magus”).

22 Acts 8:25.

23 Acts 12:1-2.  It is generally assumed (and quite probably right) that James was beheaded (see Johnson’s The People’s New Testament with Notes, on Acts 12:2), though the words used by Luke don’t demand that interpretation. “The Jews considered beheading a shameful death” (Robertson’s Word Pictures, on Acts 12:2), which explains why it please them to see it happen to one of the leaders of the Christian movement.

24 See chapter dealing with this James for more information on his role during this incident.

25 Compare Acts 15 with Galatians 2:1-10.

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved–The Life of the Apostle John (Part 3)

John after the Resurrection

John stayed at the cross until after Jesus had died, and witnessed first-hand the soldier shoving a spear into the side of Jesus.  He watched as the blood and water came flowing from the wound, and it made an indelible impression on him.  Years later, when he wrote his account of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he made sure to include this information, and even stressed that he was there to see it firsthand.1

After the death of Jesus, John was quite sad and upset. He still didn’t understand the Scriptures, that Jesus would rise from the dead.2 But the next morning, Mary Magdalene, along with Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James,3 came running to him and the other apostles, most likely with tears and confusion, saying, “They’ve taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we don’t know where they’ve laid him.”  They also said that they had seen men in shining clothes who told them that Jesus had risen.  But the apostles thought they were making things up and didn’t believe them.4

However, John and Peter took off running immediately for the tomb where Jesus had been laid.  John was the faster of the two men, and beat Peter there.  Then, while waiting for Peter to get there, John bent down and looked inside.  There he saw the linen burial clothes laying inside the rock tomb, but he didn’t enter.  Then, Peter finally arrived and went straight in the place where Jesus’ body had been placed a few days earlier.  John followed Peter in, and saw again the burial clothes laying there, and also noticed that the face cloth was laying by itself, “rolled up” (ASV) together.  Seeing this was enough to make John believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, even though he didn’t understand yet that it was what the Scriptures had foretold.5  Coffman has some interesting comments at this point:

Commentators who refer this to some mere tidying up of the grave, or the folding of the garments (there were no garments; but medical bandages), miss the point. Since when has it ever been supposed that a folded garment, or cloth, proved that the dead had arisen? The certain implication of this astounding narration is that Jesus had risen through the winding shroud of bandages, napkin and all, leaving behind the positive and undeniable evidence of his supernatural triumph over death. Remember, this evidence convinced John. The very amount of space accorded this phenomenon in this Gospel is far more than enough to indicate the extraordinary implications of “the linen cloths lying.” Matthew has a remarkable corroboration of this account in the words of the angel, “Come see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 26:6), thus emphatically implying all that John here related.

…The napkin around the head would not have connected with the winding shroud; and that independent placement was preserved in the manner of the linen cloths lying.6

Barclay agrees:

Then something else struck him–the grave-clothes were not disheveled and disarranged. They were lying there still in their folds—that is what the Greek means—the clothes for the body where the body had been; the napkin where the head had lain. The whole point of the description is that the grave-clothes did not look as if they had been put off or taken off; they were lying there in their regular folds as if the body of Jesus had simply evaporated out of them. The sight suddenly penetrated to John’s mind; he realized what had happened—and he believed. It was not what he had read in scripture which convinced him that Jesus had risen; it was what he saw with his own eyes.7

That evening, word had spread that Peter had seen the Lord,8 and John gathered together with all the apostles (except for Thomas, who was absent).9  They kept the doors shut, in fear that the Jewish leaders might come after them—especially now that whispers were spreading that the tomb was found empty, and people were claiming to have seen Jesus very much alive.10  While they were gathered together, Jesus appeared in their midst, and said “Peace to you,” and showed them His hands and His side, proving that it was Him.  Joy cannot begin to describe the feeling that John was experiencing.  But at the same time, Jesus upbraided them because they hadn’t believed the ones who had told them that He had been raised.11

Some time afterwards, John accompanied Peter and some of the other apostles onto a boat where they went fishing all night, but caught nothing.  The next morning, John saw a man on the shore, who called out to them, “Children, do you have any food?”  After they replied in the negative, John heard the man say, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you’ll find [fish].”  When they did this, there were so many fish that they couldn’t draw the net in.

The other apostles apparently didn’t realize who it was on the shore, but John did.  He said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!”  John was left with the boat as he watched Peter jump into the water and swim to shore.  John and the other apostles brought the ship to shore, dragging the net behind them, and then sat down with Jesus and ate.

After they finished eating, Jesus began to walk with Peter, and John followed them.  It is probable that John heard at least part of the conversation, including Jesus’ foretelling of Peter’s death, and Peter asking Jesus, “What about this man?” (referring to John).  Then John heard Jesus’ reply of, “If I desire that he remains until I come, what is that to you?  You follow me.”  Decades later, this conversation about John was still remembered, so that when John wrote his account of the good news of Jesus, he had to make it clear that Jesus wasn’t saying John would never die—just that John’s fate was unimportant to the command of Jesus to “follow me.”12

That is a lesson that we would all do well to remember—it doesn’t matter what anyone else does, our command is to follow Jesus.

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 John 19:30-35.  John does not emphasize his status as an eyewitness for any other specific event his gospel account.  This shows that the blood and water coming from Christ has a major significance.  See Romans 6:3-5; Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:5, 7:14.

2 John 20:9.

3 Luke 24:10.  Most likely, this is Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.  Since they had not yet seen Jesus Himself raised, she would have been called by the name of her oldest known living son, which was James.  Luke has a general habit of not mentioning someone by name unless he expected the reader to already know who that person was, or unless that person showed up elsewhere in his writings.  Joanna was mentioned in Luke 8:3, Mary Magdalene in 8:2.  Other than Mary Magdalene, Luke mentions two women named Mary: Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ (and his brothers, including James).  Since it was already common knowledge (thanks to Matthew’s gospel which was published and distributed around 20 years earlier) that James was the brother of Jesus and the son of Mary, Luke could identify the mother of Jesus as “Mary, the mother of James,” and the readers would have known exactly what he meant by it.

4 John 20:1-2 only mentions Mary Magdalene speaking to John and Peter, but she says “we don’t know where they’ve laid Him.”  Luke 24:10-11 mentions two other women by name, and includes “others.”  It is possible that the women split up in order to get the news spread to the apostles quickly.

5 John 20:1-9.

6 James Burton Coffman, comments on John 20:6-7.

7 The Daily Study Bible Commentary on John, notes on John 20:1-10.

8 Luke 24:33-34.  The actual appearance to Peter isn’t described in the Scriptures, but it is referenced in this passage, as well as 1 Corinthians 15:5.

9 John 20:24-25.  For why Thomas may have been absent during this meeting, see the chapter dealing with him.

10 Even the Jewish leaders knew the tomb was empty, for they paid the soldiers who were guarding it to lie and say that the disciples stole the body (Matthew 28:11-15).

11 Mark 16:9-15.

12 This whole incident is found in the last chapter of John, especially

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved–The Life of the Apostle John (Part 2)

John as an Apostle

One morning, John and the rest of the disciples of Jesus were called to go up a mountain where Jesus had been praying all night.  John must have been excited by being selected as one of just twelve men that would be representatives for the miracle-working man that he believed to be the Messiah.  John then followed his cousin down the mountain, where he saw a crowd of people waiting—and Jesus healed the sick and diseased among them.1

After preaching in Decapolis, on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus returned to Capernaum2 and was approached by the ruler of the synagogue, Jairus,3 concerning his daughter who was near to death.  John was one of just three disciples of Jesus who was selected to accompany the Lord inside the house to see this little girl raised from the dead.4

Later on, John was taken by Jesus, along with Peter and James, to a mountain where Jesus prayed.  John fell asleep, but when he awoke, the sight before him was quite a shock: Jesus was positively shining, and standing with Him were Moses and Elijah.  Then a cloud overshadowed them, and they heard God Himself speak, “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.”  And then John looked, and the two Old Testament figures had disappeared, leaving only Jesus.  A mixture of fear and excitement was boiling inside John, but Jesus told them not to say anything about what they had seen until after He was risen from the dead.5

Upon returning to Capernaum, John and the other disciples argued about who was the greatest among them.  Jesus criticized them all, and said, “If any man desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”6  This is a lesson that John apparently didn’t learn the first time, because not too long afterwards, he and his brother James had their mother ask Jesus for the two greatest seats in the kingdom, causing Jesus to say almost the exact same words: “Whoever shall be great among you shall be your servant; and whoever of you desires to be the first shall be servant of all.”7

In between these two events, John tells Jesus a story about how, when the apostles were out and about, they saw someone who wasn’t part of their group casting out demons in Jesus’ name.  John and some others went to the man and told him to cease, because he wasn’t following them.  To this, Jesus replied, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no man who shall do a miracle in my name that can speak evil lightly of me.  For he that is not against us is on our side.”8  John learned an important lesson there—don’t forbid people from doing good.

But what happens when people are staunchly rejecting Jesus?  John didn’t just want to forbid them, he wanted to kill them!

It came to pass, when the time was come that [Jesus] should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.  And He sent messengers before His face: and they went and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make [things] ready for Him.  And they didn’t receive Him because His face was as though He desired to go to Jerusalem.  And when His disciples, James and John, saw, they said, “Lord, do you desire that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did?”  But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”  And they went to another village.9

Jesus and His disciples came to the Jerusalem area, and stayed at the house of Lazarus on the Sabbath.10 On the next day, John witnessed the “triumphal entry,”11 where Jesus entered the city riding the colt of an ass, and heard the people crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!”12  Then John followed Jesus to the temple, where the Lord taught the people, after which they returned to Bethany (probably to the house of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha).13  On Monday, John followed Jesus back into Jerusalem.  Along the way, they saw a fig tree, and Jesus desired to eat some of the fruits from it.  However, there was nothing but leaves on the tree, and John heard Jesus utter the words “Let no fruit grow on you, henceforward forever!”14  After they came into Jerusalem, and into the temple, John watched:

Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; and He would not allow that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.  And He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called by all nations The House of Prayer’?  But you have made it a den of thieves!”15

That evening, John accompanied Jesus out of Jerusalem for the night.16

On Tuesday, John again accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem, and they passed the same tree they had the day before.  Except this time, the tree was dried up from the roots—completely withered—after which Jesus spoke about the power of faith.  They then entered the city and went into the temple, where a group of scribes, elders, and chief priests confronted Jesus and demanded to know where He got His authority to do these things.  John must have smiled to himself when he heard Jesus reply by asking them where John’s authority to baptize came from—and saw the Jewish leaders feign ignorance.17

Then, John heard Jesus give a parable, condemning the Jewish leaders—and they knew it was directed at them—for rejecting Him.18  Then he saw Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees all working together, taking turns trying to trap Jesus.19  As they were leaving the temple, one of the disciples (we’re not told which one) said to Jesus, “Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings!”  To this, Jesus replied, “You see these great buildings?  There shall not be left one stone on another, that shall not be thrown down.”20

It was because of this statement of Jesus that John approached Jesus with Peter, Andrew, and James, and asked Jesus to “Tell us when shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?”21  In answer to those questions, Jesus told these four men about the signs to look for, including “when you shall see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.”22 This he did, foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem—which took place 40 years later in AD 70.23

Thursday evening,24 Jesus came with John and the rest of the apostles to a large upper room that was prepared for them to eat the Passover.25  Earlier, Jesus had specifically selected Peter and John, sent them from Bethany into Jerusalem so that this room could be made ready.

Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed.  And He [Jesus] sent Peter and John, saying “Go and prepare us the Passover, so that we may eat.”  And they said to Him, “Where do you wish that we prepare it?”

And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered into the city, a man will meet you there, carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters.  And you shall say to the goodman of the house, ‘The Master says to you, “Where is the guest-chamber where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.”

And they went, and found [everything] as He had said to them: and they made ready the Passover.26

Based on the command of Jesus and John and Peter’s obedience, it appears that these two disciples actually did the killing and cooking of the lamb in preparation for what is usually called “The Last Supper.”

When they were all gathered together in the upper room, Jesus said, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”27 It was during this occasion that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, followed by announcing that one of the twelve was going to betray Him.28  The apostles all began to ask, “is it I?”29

Now there was, leaning on Jesus’ bosom, one of His disciples [John], whom Jesus loved.  Therefore, Simon Peter motioned to him, so that he should ask who it would be about whom He spoke.  He, then, lying on Jesus’ chest, says to Him, “Lord, who is it?”  Jesus answered, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.”  And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.30

Then, the same old argument came up again about which one would be greatest among them.  It is possible that James and John had learned their lesson by this point and kept their mouth shut, but it’s also possible that their ego took over again.31  And like before, Jesus had to teach them the lesson about being a servant.32  Yet just hours after they were arguing about who would be the greatest, they all (even John) ran away and forsook Jesus.33

Before abandoning Jesus, however, John was taken by Jesus with Peter and James in order to “watch” while He prayed.34  But John, like the other two, fell asleep.  After being awakened by the Lord, John again went to sleep shortly after the Lord left to go pray a second time.  The next time John woke up, Judas was arriving with a band of soldiers.35

After abandoning Jesus, John regained some of his composure, and began to follow the crowd to the high priest, Annas.  The high priest knew John, which many have taken as evidence that John’s family was wealthy, and so this disciple was permitted to enter into the court to view the proceedings.  He watched as Jesus was interrogated and brutalized during this mock trial.36

Whether John followed Jesus to his other trials that morning isn’t stated, but he stood at the cross, looking up at His Master who was hanging, bleeding, and beaten.  He heard the Lord say to His mother Mary, “Woman, behold your son!”  Then John heard Jesus speak directly to him, “Behold, your mother!”  And from that moment, John took care of her.37

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Luke 6:12-19.

2 Matthew places this incident with others which took place in Capernaum.  See Matthew 9:1 (“His own city”), 9:9-17 (the call of Matthew, followed by the feast at Matthew’s house), after which Matthew says “While He spoke these things to them, behold, a certain ruler [Jairus] came to Him…”  Mark places these events in Capernaum (Mark 2:1-22).

3 This Jairus, being the ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum, would have been on hand to see Jesus casting out the demon, as recorded in Luke 4:31-37.

4 Luke 8:51-55.

5 Luke 9:28-36, Mark 9:8-9.

6 Mark 9:33-35.

7 Matthew 20:20-24; Mark 10:35-44, especially verses 43-44.  The KJV says “chiefest,” but the Greek is the same as in 9:35 and 10:44.

8 Mark 9:38-40.  Neither Mark nor Luke (the only other gospel writer who mentions this event) tell us who this man casting out demons in Jesus’ name was.  Some (Lange, Lightfoot, and others) have suggested that this man was a disciple of John the Immerser who cast out demons by the name of the “Messiah” which he expected to come, not necessarily doing it in the name of “Jesus”—but there is no evidence that any of John’s disciples were able to perform miracles.  Others (Calvin, most notably) take the ridiculous stance that this man “proceeded inconsiderately to work miracles.”   Clarke suggests that this man might have been one of the seventy who had been given miraculous abilities, yet who decided to not be part of the mass of disciples after returning from his mission—except that this event took place before Christ chose the seventy (see Luke 9:49-10:1).

What is important to note is that John doesn’t say the man was trying to cast out demons (like the sons of Sceva in Acts 19), but that he was actually doing it.  Jesus even acknowledges that this man was actually working miracles by saying “Don’t forbid him [from casting out demons].”  Thus this man had been given miraculous power by God (probably via Christ), because he was a true disciple of the Lord, even though for whatever reason, he was unable to devote all of his time to following Jesus on His preaching tours.

9 Luke 9:51-56.  The first-rate chronological historian gives no record of events between John’s misplaced zeal for forbidding those who believed in Jesus and his desire to destroy the ones who rejected Him.  It’s as though John was saying, “Jesus, I get that we aren’t supposed to forbid those who are doing good, but surely you can’t have a problem with us wiping out those who are refusing to help you at all!”  What John didn’t understand at that point was the patience of the Lord, and that the Lord Himself will take care of punishing the wicked at judgment.

10 John 12:1-13, with special emphasis on the first and last verse of that section.

11 It is never called that in Scriptures, but it is the commonly accepted name for what took place on the Sunday prior to Jesus’ crucifixion.

12 Mark 11:9; Luke 19:38 (Luke says “Blessed is the King…”).  This is a quotation of Psalm 118:26.  Most likely, the Jews who were saying this would have quoted the verse as it is written, which is “Blessed is he that comes in the name of Jehovah!”

13 Mark 11:11, Luke 19:47.  Mark provides some specifics on the passage of days during this week (see Mark 11:12).

14 Mark 11:12-14; Matthew 21:19.  Mark adds the detail that it wasn’t time for figs yet (verse 13).

15 Mark 11:15-17.  This was a significant event which emboldened the scribes and chief priests to even more want Jesus dead (Mark 11:18).

16 Mark 11:19.

17 Mark 11:20-33; Luke 20:1-8.

18 The fullest account of this exchange between Jesus and the Jewish leadership is found in Matthew 21:33-46.

19 Mark 12:13-27. This is astounding, because these are (for lack of a better term) different political parties within Judaism.  They were violently opposed to each other (see Acts 23, for example), but they all recognized that Jesus was a danger to their positions of power.

20 Mark 13:1-2, Matthew 24:1-2, Luke 21:5-6.

21 Mark 12:3-4 is the only place that tells us that this question was asked by just these four men.

22 Luke 21:20.  Matthew calls it “the abomination of desolation” which Daniel foretold, meaning that Jesus described something that had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier.

23 There are disagreements about the exact year of Jesus’ death, but biblically and historically speaking, it is most likely AD 30, which makes Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70 forty years away.

24 For the Jews, the new day of the week began at 6pm, because of Genesis 1, which says “the evening and the morning were the first day.”  So Thursday evening to them, because it began a new day, is what we would refer to as Wednesday evening.

25 Mark 14:12-17.

26 Luke 22:7-13.

27 Luke 22:15.  This is another way of saying, “I have desired very much…”

28 Some have argued, based on Matthew and Mark’s accounts (juxtaposed with John’s) that Judas left prior to the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  However, Luke (who claimed to write chronologically) places the announcement of betrayal (“the hand of him that betrays me is with me on the table”) after the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:14-22).

29 Mark 14:18.

30 John 13:23-26.  It seems strange that though Jesus positively identified Judas as the betrayer, none of the other apostles seemed to catch what He was saying.  Judas had them all fooled.

31 Luke 22:24.  It’s interesting that this should come right on the heels of Jesus announcing that one of them would betray Him.  It may be that they went from saying, “Is it I?” to “It couldn’t be me,” to “I know it couldn’t be me, because I’m the most devoted follower Jesus has.”

32 Luke 22:25-30.

33 Matthew 26:56.

34 Mark 14:32-34.

35 Matthew 26:36-47.

36 John 18:15-22.

37 John 19:26-27.  Some have questioned why it is that Jesus would ask John to take care of his mother instead of asking His own brothers.  First, it is most likely that Joseph was no longer alive at this point (otherwise Jesus would be asking His mother to leave her husband, which is ridiculous).  Second, John wasn’t a stranger—he was Mary’s nephew, so John is still family.  Third, at this point, the brothers of Jesus were not believers, and perhaps Jesus didn’t want to subject His mother to staying with non-believers.  Fourth, John was apparently wealthy—the family fishing business was large enough to employ servants, and John was on friendly terms with the high priest (which couldn’t be said of many—if any—poor people).  We don’t know that the Jesus’ brothers were financially able to care for their mother.