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ACTS
The continued Life of Jesus through the Apostles

INTRODUCTION

  1. General Information 6. The Dispensational Teachings
  2. The Writer 7. Divisions
  3. The Purpose 8. Ten Attacks of Satan Against the Church
  4. Themes 9. The Gentile Government
  5. The Dispensational Position    
         
GENERAL INFORMATION

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The word which Jesus began to do and teach carried on by the Holy Ghost in the lives of the Apostles,  and the early church Christians.

The truth was not spread by human power,  by the sword,  secular authority,  pious frauds,  cunning craftiness,  human eloquence,  or through worldly motives and prospects.  In Acts we have the true model of the Christian church and the means of propagating the Truth.

Date
Acts was probably written between 60-64 A.D. when Christianity was suspect by Nero,  but not yet openly persecuted.

Territory
During the time recorded in the Acts, Christianity spread from Jerusalem to Rome and beyond.

Key Verse
The Key Verse for the book as a whole is 1:8, and we can see this verse unfold throughout the book:

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” 2:1-13
“…and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem…” 2:14-5:42
“…and in all Judea…” 6:1-12:25
“…and Samaria…” 8:5-25
“…and to the end of the earth.” 13:1-28:31

Written To
Theophilus,  an unknown person,  as in the Gospel of Luke (Acts 1:1; Luke 1:3).

Luke 1:3-4
Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.      (NIV)

The word in the Greek is recorded in these two places alone,  and means “a friend of God.”

The Great Controversy

1. Should Christians observe the Law of Moses?
2. Finally agreed that the New Covenant took the place of the Old  (Chapter 15).

The Great Message
The death, burial, resurrection, and manifestations of Jesus Christ, recorded in 18 sermons.

Seven by Peter
1. 1:15-22 To the assembled believers
2. 2:14-40 On the day of Pentecost
3. 3:12-26 In the Temple
4. 4:8-12 Before the Sanhedrin
5. 5:29-32 Before the Sanhedrin
6. 10:28-43 In the house of Cornelius
7. 15:7-11 In the council at Jerusalem
Seven by Paul
1. 13:16-41 In the Synagogue at Antioch
2. 14:15-17 At Lystra
3. 17:22-31 On Mars Hill
4. 20:18-35 At Miletus
5. 22:1-21 On the Stairs in the castle
6. 24:10-21 Before Felix
7. 26:2-29 Before Agrippa
One each by James, Stephen, Gamaliel and Tertullus
1. 5:35-39 Gamaliel Before the Sanhedrin
2. 7:2-53 Stephen To the men of the Synagogue and the High Priest
3. 15:7-11 James Before the Apostles and elders of the church
4. 24:2-8 Tertullus Before Ananias and the elders of the Jews

Statistics

1. 44th book of the Bible
2. 5th book of the New Testament – Tracing the growth of the early church
3. 28 Chapters
4. 1,007 Verses
5. 24,250 Words
6. 75 Questions
7. 21 Old Testament Prophecies
8. 20 New Prophecies
9. 949 Verses of History
10. 49 Verses of Fulfilled Prophecy
11. 14 Verses of Unfulfilled Prophecy
12. 400 words not used by other writers, most of which are medical terms. [Luke Physician]



THE WRITER

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Since we know that the entire Bible has God as its Author, we will refer in this section to the "writer," rather than the "author."

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.     (NKJV)
2 Peter 1:21
For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.     (NKJV)

The most significant help in discovering the writer of Acts is simply recognizing this book's relationship to the Gospel of Luke:

1) Both books begin with a greeting to a man named Theophilus  ("friend of God")
2) The greeting in Acts to Theophilus refers to a previous writing
3) The end of Luke intentionally overlaps with the beginning of Acts to provide continuity between the two volumes
4) The writer's writing style,  vocabulary,  and attention to specific themes remain constant throughout both books.  Consequently,  the reader must assume Acts was written by the same author as the gospel of Luke.

In fact,  many Bible readers believe Luke and Acts is a single work which was divided into two parts as the books of the New Testament were gathered together.  The size of Luke and Acts combined makes the writer of these two books the chief contributor to the New Testament,  having written twenty-five percent of all Scripture from the Christian era.  Taken as a whole,  Luke and Acts are a larger work than the combined letters of Paul.  Once readers assume Luke and Acts come from the same pen,  they can begin to look for evidence within these books which points toward the writer's identity.

The first piece of evidence comes in Luke 1:2.

1. The writer states he was not an eyewitness to the ministry of Jesus.  This fact eliminates any of the eleven disciples as candidates for authorship.
2. The "we" passages in Acts also offer a major, internal clue to the identity of the book's author.
a. During the account of Paul's missionary journeys, the author occasionally changes his style from that of a third person observer to a first person participant.
b. In Acts 16:10-1720:5-1621:1-18;  and 27:1-28:16,  the author speaks of  "we"  and "us"  in relationship to Paul's travels.
c. The language implies the author himself traveled with Paul.
d. These "we" sections include the time when Paul was imprisoned at Rome.

Scholars have determined Paul wrote Philemon,  Colossians,  and the Pastoral Epistles during his house arrest in that city. By searching those letters for references to Paul's fellow workers,  they compiled a list of companions who could have written Luke and Acts.

In 2 Tim 4:11,  Paul says,  "Only Luke is with me,"  making him the most likely person to have written
Luke and Acts.
(From Holman Bible Dictionary. (c) Copyright 1991 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.)




THE PURPOSE

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Why did Luke write Acts?
What purpose was the Spirit leading him to fulfill?
The years have produced several different answers to those questions.

1. Interpreter of Christianity to the Roman world
a. The opening verses of Luke and Acts mention Theophilus as the recipient of Luke's writings.
b. As mentioned earlier,  the name means  "friend of God"  and was common among Jews and Greeks in the first century.
c. Many Bible students think Theophilus was a Roman dignitary sympathetic to the Christian cause.
d. Perhaps Luke was writing a defense of Christianity for this official during a time of persecution to show him there was nothing subversive or sinister about the followers of Jesus.
e. The geographical framework of Acts,  the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome,  lends credibility to this idea.
2. The "Orderly" account
a. In addition to Luke's possible purpose as an interpreter of Christianity to the Roman world,  Paul's traveling companion seems to have perceived himself specifically as a recorder of God's saving work.
b. In 1:3 of his Gospel,  Luke clearly states he is trying to make  "an orderly account"  of the events surrounding Jesus' ministry.

Why did Luke separate the Gospel of Luke from Acts?

The Focus changed from Jesus to His followers
a. The obvious solution to this question would be that the Gospel of Luke focuses on Jesus Himself.
b. Acts focuses on the followers of Jesus who continued their Master's work.
c. In Acts 1:1,  Luke says to Theophilus:
"In my former book... I wrote about all Jesus began to do and teach..."
Luke implied that Jesus continued to do and teach more,  and that His story was incomplete where the Gospel ended.
d. In fact,  a careful reading of Acts makes it clear that Jesus remained the active,  living,  focus of Luke's story.

The Continuation of the Life of Christ
1. Saul In Luke 9:4 (NIV),  Jesus spoke directly to Saul and asked,  "Why do you persecute me?"
2. Aeneas Later,  in the same chapter,  Peter could say directly to Aeneas,  "Jesus Christ heals you"
(9:34 NIV).
3. Peter In chapter ten,  Jesus made His will known to Peter concerning a ministry to the Gentiles.
These are but three examples of Jesus' vital involvement in the spread of the gospel in Acts.

Therefore,  despite the fact that Acts begins with the ascension of Jesus,  there is no evidence anyone in the early church perceived Him as  "gone"  from their midst.

Jesus healed,  spoke,  and directed the work of His disciples
Even when they preached,  the disciples thought of Jesus as literally present in their preaching.
They asked the listeners of those first sermons,  not merely to believe facts about Jesus,  but to encounter through their words the One who died, rose again, and lives forever.
The ascension marked not Christ's departure,  but a change in the way Christ performs His ministry of salvation and grace.
Consequently, Acts is the continuing story of Jesus' work. It simply begins once He is no longer bound by the limitations of time and space. Acts tells what happened following the ascension when Jesus started to work through His new body, which is the church.

 

THEMES

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Because the story begun in Luke  (the saving work of God)  continues in Acts with the same central character (Jesus),  one must expect the central themes of Luke to continue in Acts as well.  What are the themes which express Luke's personal understanding of the gospel and give his record of Jesus' story his unique touch?

1. An emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit.
Luke began his Gospel with stories about individuals upon whom the Spirit descended.  He described Zechariah, Mary, Simeon, and Anna as full of the Spirit and,  consequently,  instruments of God's efforts to save His people.
Acts begins in a similar way:  at Pentecost the Holy Spirit engulfed the entire community of believers who become the vehicles through which the good news of Jesus was proclaimed in  "Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."  (1:8)   (NKJV)
2. A concern for outcasts and sinners.
Both in the Gospel which bears his name and in Acts,  Luke showed special sympathy toward persons who fell outside the traditional Jewish boundaries of acceptability.  The shepherds who attended the birth of Christ would not have been admitted to the Temple or synagogue for worship because keeping sheep made them  "unclean."
Yet,  the Spirit led Luke to record the angels' invitation to these men to gather around the manger.
In Acts,  Luke fully developed this theme which he began in the first volume of his work.  The
Ethiopian eunuch (8:26-40),
Cornelius (ch. 10),
Philippian jailer (16:22-34)
all represent persons rejected by Judaism but accepted and redeemed by Christ.
3. An emphasis on women.
Women constituted a special group of persons cut off from the center of Jewish worship. They were not permitted beyond their own court in the Temple,  and in the synagogues they were forced to stand behind a partition while men read from the Scriptures.
A prescribed morning prayer which was popular during the first century was,
"Blessed be God that He did not make me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman."
Luke,  however,  carefully recorded the importance of the role of women in the spread of the gospel.
He told about the birth of Jesus from Mary's viewpoint (as opposed to Matthew's version from Joseph's experience).
Luke is also the only Gospel which mentions the
prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38)
widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
Galilean women who supported Jesus' ministry (Luke 8:2)
In Acts,  Luke specifically drew attention to the conversions and consequent roles of
Lydia (16:11-15, 40)
Priscilla (18:18-28)
He also mentioned regularly the conversion of nameless women at various stops on the missionary journeys of Paul (see 17:4 as one example).  Judaism allowed no room for women leaders,   and Jews would not have considered female converts worth mentioning.
4. The piety of Jesus and His followers.
All the principal characters of Luke's story demonstrated great personal devotion to God and tremendous personal discipline in their spiritual lives.
In the Gospel, Mary and Joseph performed all of Judaism's prescribed rituals associated with childbirth and the dedication of a new infant.
Jesus worshiped in the synagogue "as was his custom" (Luke 4:16), and prayed regularly.
In Acts, the disciples showed the same qualities. The first few chapters constantly describe the apostles in the Temple praying. Paul's ministry was punctuated by the same type of spirituality.
5. The promise of the Holy Spirit.
It is an expansion,  in part at least,  of Mark 16:20,  and records the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to send the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49).
It is the answer to His prayer on the cross  (Luke 23:34  "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."),  a prayer which secured to the guilty nation a further respite from the doom He had pronounced  (Luke 13:35  "your house is left to you desolate").
He told about the birth of Jesus from Mary's viewpoint (as opposed to Matthew's version from Joseph's experience).
Luke is also the only Gospel which mentions the
prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38)
widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
Galilean women who supported Jesus' ministry (Luke 8:2)
6. The Kingdom of God
Throughout the book the kingdom is in view
(2:17-20;  3:19-21;  8:12;  14:22;  20:25;  28:23,  31)
The question of the Apostles rules the character of the Acts.
(1:6  "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?")
7. Jerusalem the center
The action has Jerusalem as its centre. To the Jew first.
Peter and the other Apostles are found continually in the Temple.
Paul goes first to the Synagogues,  because  “it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you”  (13:46)
He keeps the feasts  (18:21; 20:16)
He has vows  (18:18; 21:23, 26)
He walks orderly, keeping the Law (21:24)
The Gentiles take the second place  (26:22, 23)
Coming in after the Jew
But no longer as proselytes  (10:44; compare 11:3)
8. Jesus Christ - The Messiah
Wherever the name  “Christ”  is used without a qualifying word,  “Jesus,”  or  “Lord,”  it has the definite article, the Christ,  i.e.  the Messiah.
(From Holman Bible Dictionary. (c) Copyright 1991 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.)

There is an “apologetic” emphasis.

1. Christianity is defended against false charges.
2. Its founder had been condemned to death by a Roman Prefect on charges of sedition.
3. The movement seemed to be accompanied by tumult and disorder.
4. Luke shows the crucifixion as a gross miscarriage of justice.
5. Pilate pronounced Him not guilty of the charges.
6. Herod Antipas (tetrarch of Galilee) agreed.
7. Throughout the Acts, it is shown that the Greek and Roman leaders were favorably impressed by the apostles and their message.



THE  DISPENSATIONAL  POSITION

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1. The original title of the Book was probably simply  “Acts”  (praxeis),  as found in the Codex Sinaiticus,  and there is no reason to doubt that it owes its human authorship to Luke,  “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14). Tradition from very early times ascribes it to him.
Eusebius (A.D. 300) in his Ecclesiastical History says  (Bk. III, chapter 4),
“Luke….a physician has left us two inspired books…one of these is his gospel…The other is his acts of the apostles which he composed not from what he had heard from others (like his gospel),  but from what he had seen himself.”
2. The Book is a record of the  “Actsof the Holy Spirit through “witnesses chosen before of God” (10:41) during the period of the final offer to the children of Israel of national restoration and blessing,  on condition of national repentance and obedience.
In the Old Testament the offer was made by the Father,  as Jehovah,  through the prophets (Hebrews 1:1),  and was rejected (cp. Zech. 7:12-14; &c.).
3. In the Gospels the offer was renewed in and by the Son,  and was again rejected (Matthew 23:37-39; &c.). “Acts” records the third and final presentation by the Holy Spirit,  and its final rejection by the Nation of Israel (28:25-28. Romans 11:25, &c.).
Of these  “chosen witnesses”  no mention is made of  “works”  done by any save those through Peter and John of the Twelve,  and later those through Paul.
4. The Structure of the Book shows that the Book consists of two main divisions.
The First Consisting of the first twelve chapters  (after the introduction 1:1-5),
concerns the “witness” (1:8) of the apostles in Jerusalem, Judaea, and Samaria.
Peter, the apostle of “the circumcision” (Gal. 2:7), is the central figure,
and this section ends with his imprisonment at Jerusalem (A.D. 44).
The Second The last sixteen chapters, carries on the “witnessing”  “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (cp. 1:8; Col. 1:23),
Paul being the chief personage (Gal. 2:7).
This division terminates with his imprisonment at Rome in A.D. 61.




THE  DISPENSATIONAL  TEACHINGS

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Throughout the whole period of the “Acts,”  the witness was accompanied by the miraculous gifts promised
(Mark 16:17, 18).
Cp. 3:7, 8; 5:5, 10, 15, 16; 6:8; 8:6, 7, 13; 9:33-42; 11:28; 13:11; 14:8-10; 16:18; 19:6, 12; 28:3-6, 8, 9.

Thenceforward,  the privilege of proclaiming and  “witnessing”  (Isa. 43:10; 44:8, &c.)  was taken from the Jew,  and  “the salvation of God”  was “sent =sent away; (Greek apostello.  Implying the mission or commission employed,  and the power and authority backing it.)  to the Gentiles” (28:28).

The proclamation is now by witnesses taken out from among “all the Gentiles upon whom My Name is called” (15:17),  including of course the Jewish members of  “the body.”

1. In the earlier section,  the  “witnessing”  of the Twelve,  as recorded from 2:5 to the end of chapter 12,  was to  “Jews and proselytes: (2:10) alone;
unto you (Jews) first” (3:26), &c.
Their subject was that JESUS (“the Nazarene”) IS THE MESSIAH;
cp. 2:31, 36; 3:18, 20; 4:10, 26; 5:42; 8:5, 37; 9:20, 22.
2. At Damascus,  after his  “Conversion,”  Saul (Paul)  “preached (kerusso = to proclaim [as a herald],  from kerux,  a herald;  without reference to the matter proclaimed;  and without including the idea of teaching.) Jesus in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God,”
and proved  “that this is very Christ,” i.e.  JESUS AS THE MESSIAH.
3. There was no proclamation to Gentiles as such (see 11:3).
The preaching of the Word was to the Jews only (11:19),  and to the Gentile proselytes,  that
the crucified  “Nazarene,”  JESUS, WAS IN TRUTH THE MESSIAH.
The duration of this witnessing was about 15 years.
4. The second part of  “Acts”  records the apostleship of Paul,  and his  “witnessing,”  which was to Jews and Gentiles alike.
He was the  “chosen vessel”  separated by the Holy Spirit  “to bear My Name before Gentiles and Kings, and sons of Israel
5. His subject was  “Jesus and the resurrection”  (17:18).
Not,  be it marked,  Jesus as Messiah,  but JESUS (SAVIOR-GOD),  raised from among the dead,  and made the federal Head of a new race of beings by resurrection,  as announced in Psalm 2:7 (compare 13:32-39).
6. This “witnessing” lasted the 15-16 years of the labors of Paul and those associated with him till the imprisonment in A.D. 61.
And to the Jew was given priority of hearing the message
(13:5, 14, 42, 43; 14:1; 17:1, 10, 17; 18:4, 7, 19, 26; 19:8).

The Progress Of Doctrine (teaching)

The development of dispensational teaching in Acts,  as well as in the complementary  “Church”  Epistles of Paul,  and the limitations of the strictly Hebrew Epistles.  Our Lord’s words in John 16:12, 13,  are precious,  and they are precise.

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.    However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come."

The Gospels record what the Lord  “began to do and teach”  (1:1).
After His resurrection He continued  “speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom.”
And after His Ascension the teaching is carried on by the Holy Spirit,  the Spirit of the truth  (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26),  Who was to guide (lead on) into “all the truth” (see John 16:12, 13).



DIVISIONS

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The book naturally divides into two parts which are relative,  mainly:

(1) The ministry of Peter, John, Stephen, Philip to the People in the Land.
(2) The ministry of Paul, Barnabas, Silas to the Dispersion outside the Land.

The period covered by the entire Book is:

(1) From Pentecost A.D. 29 to Passover A.D. 44
(2) From Pentecost A.D. 46 to A.D. 61
Consecutively,  from A.D. 29 to A.D. 61 = 32 years.
This must not be confounded with the whole period between the Crucifixion,  the climax of the national rejection of the Lord as Messiah,  and the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus,  viz. from A.D. 29 to A.D. 60;  that is,  40 years. [‘This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled’  Matthew 24:34].

The Structure of the book of Acts as a whole
1:1-3 INTRODUCTION
1:4-2:13 JERUSALEM Mission of the Holy Spirit Equipment of the Apostles
2:14-8:1- THE MINISTRY of Peter (with others) to the Nation in Jerusalem and in the Land
8:-1-11:30 PETER’S MINISTRY (with others) in the Land of Israel
12:1-23 JERUSALEM Peter’s imprisonment Subsequent Abode (Caesarea) and close of ministry
12:24-13:3 ANTIOCH Mission of the Holy Spirit Equipment of Paul and Barnabas
13:4-14:28 THE MINISTRY of Paul (with others) to the dispersion
15:1-19:20 PAUL’S MINISTRY in association with the twelve
19:21-28:29 EPHESUS AND JERUSALEM Paul’s arrest and
Imprisonment
Subsequent abode (Rome) and Close of ministry
28:30, 31 CONCLUSION

It divides into two natural periods:

1. The Period of Home Missions – Chapters 1-8
With Jerusalem as its center, work done mainly in Palestine among the Jews

(A) Preparatory Events
1. (1:4-8) The Divine Commission
2. (1:10, 11) The ascending Lord
3. (2:1-4) The descending Spirit
4. (2:4; 4:31) The workers’ equipment
(B) The Ministries
1. (2:14-4:12) Of Peter
2. (7:1-60) Of Stephen
3. (8:5-25) Of Philip and Peter
4. (8:26-40) Of Philip

2. The Period of Foreign Missions - Chapters 9-28

(A) Opening with Jerusalem as its center
(B) Transferred to Antioch in Syria (probably because of persecutions in Jerusalem)
(C) Dealing mainly with Paul’s missionary journeys, of which there were 4, if considering his trip to Rome as a missionary endeavor.




TEN  ATTACKS  OF  SATAN  AGAINST  THE  CHURCH

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“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”   II Cor. 2:11

Attacks from Outside the Church
  THE ATTACK

THE RESULTS

1. (2.11) Mocking (2:41) "that day about three thousand souls were added to them"
2. (4:21) Threatened (4:31) "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness"
3. (5:40) Beatings (5:42) "daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ"
4. (8:1) Persecution (8:4) "those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word"
5. (12:1-4) Persecution (12:24) "the word of God grew and multiplied"

Attacks from Inside the Church
  THE ATTACK

THE RESULTS

6. (5:1-9) Hypocrisy (5:11) "great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things"
7. (6.1) Division (6:7) "the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith"
8. (8:9-19) Satanic Influence (8:20) "Your money perish with you"
9. (11:2) Division (11:18) "they became silent; and they glorified God"
10. (15:1) False Doctrine (15:22-31) "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things...When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement"

Matthew 12:25
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.      (NKJV)

1 Corinthians 1:12-18
Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."
Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.  Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.



THE  GENTILE  GOVERNMENT

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Governor

One who governs a land by authority of a supreme ruler to whom he is subordinate.
Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea when Jesus was crucified,  and is so called (Matt. 28:14),  though his specific Roman title was Procurator.

Procurator

Latin for manager, administrator.
The agent of the Roman Emperor,  who resided in Imperial  (as distinct from Senatorial)  provinces,  received the revenues and paid them into the emperor’s private exchequer.

1. The Military governor and chief magistrate was called Proprietor or Legate.
2. In the smaller imperial provinces and sometimes in parts of larger ones the office of Legate was dispensed with,  and the entire government civil and military was entrusted to a Procurator.
Such was the case in Judea.
3. When Archelaus was deposed by the Emperor Augustus in A.D. 6,  Judea,  Samaria,  and Idumaea were erected into a division of the prefecture of Syria,  called the province of Judea,  and placed under procurators.

These procurators were subject to the governor of Syria;  but in Judea itself their authority was supreme.

1. The Roman garrison stationed in the province stood at their command.
2. All important matters came before their judgment seat.
3. They had the power of life and death.
4. Their sentence was executed by the soldiers.

They commonly resided at Caesarea by the sea;  but they were wont to go up to Jerusalem at the feasts and sometimes to winter there,  and they visited various cities of their dominion as occasion required.  When in Jerusalem,  they were accustomed to occupy the palace of Herod.

Tetrarch

One who rules over the 4th part of a kingdom or province.
Philip of Macedon divided Thessaly into 4 districts called Tetrarchies.  Eventually the word Tetrarch was used loosely for a petty subject prince,  even though the land was not divided among 4 such rulers.

The Romans adopted the term and used it as a convenient title for a prince to whom they granted a small territory only,  and whom they were unwilling to dignify with the authority and rank of a king.  The New Testament names 3 of these petty dignitaries:

1. Herod tetrarch of Galilee
2. Philip tetrarch of Ituraea & Trachonitis
3. Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene

In the case of the tetrarchs Herod Antipas and Philip the title was appropriate,  even in its original sense,  for Augustus gave ½ of the kingdom of Herod the Great to Archelaus,  with the title of Ethnarch,  and divided the remainder into 2 tetrarchies,  which he gave to them.  A tetrarch was sometimes in courtesy called a king.

Caesar

The family name of a branch of the Julian house or clan in Rome.
Its most illustrious representative was Gaius Julius Caesar,  who was assassinated in 44 B.C.
The name  “Caesar”  was assumed by his grand-nephew Octavius,  later the emperor Augustus.  Tiberius,  who succeeded Augustus,  and Caligula,  Claudius,  and Nero,  who followed in succession,  were all entitled by relationship to the great dictator to bear the family name.

The 6 succeeding emperors – Galba,  Otho,  Vitellius,  Vespasian,  Titus,  and Domitian complete the number 12 in Suetonius’  “Lives of the Caesars.”
From having been the name of one mighty conqueror,  and then of a series of emperors,  the name Caesar became the type or symbol of the civil power in general,  and it is continually used in this sense in discussions as to the relative domains of civil and ecclesiastical rulers.

Tiberius Caesar

The 2nd Roman emperor,  born 42 B.C.,  the adopted son,  also stepson and son-in-law,  of Augustus.
During his reign Judea was governed by Valerius Gratus and Pontius Pilate.  At one time he banished the Jews from Rome,  but later recalled the edict,  and gave them redress for the severity of the provincial governors.  The city Tiberias,  on the Sea of Galilee,  was built in his honor by Herod Antipas.

Speaking of Euticus,  Agrippa’s freed-man –

“But Tiberius,  according to his usual custom,  kept him still in bonds,  being a delayer of affairs,  if ever there was any other king or tyrant that was so;  for he did not admit ambassadors quickly,  and no successors were dispatched away as governors or procurators of the provinces that had been formerly sent,  unless they were dead;  whence it was that he was so negligent in hearing the causes of prisoners.

And as a further attestation to what I say of the dilatory nature of Tiberius,  I appeal to this his practice itself;  for although he was emperor 22 years,  he sent in all but two procurators to govern the nation of the Jews – Gratus,  and his successor in the government,  Pilate.  Nor was he in one way of acting with respect to the Jews,  and in another with respect to the rest of his subjects.

He further informed them,  that even in the hearing of the subjects.  He further informed them,  that even in the hearing of the causes of prisoners,  he made such delays,  because immediate death to those that must be condemned to die,  would be an alleviation of their present miseries,  while those wicked wretches have not deserved any favor;  ‘but I do it that,  by being harassed with the present calamity,  they may undergo greater misery.’”
(Josephus, Ant. XVIII, VI, 5)

Pontius Pilate

Josephus records:
“After this he raised another disturbance,  by expanding that sacred treasure which is called Corban upon aqueducts,  whereby he brought water from the distance of 400 furlongs.  At this the multitude had great indignation;  and when Pilate was come to Jerusalem,  they came about his tribunal,  and made a clamor at it.  Now when he was apprised beforehand of this disturbance,  he mixed his own soldiers in their amour with the multitude,  and ordered them to conceal themselves under the habits of private men,  and not indeed to use their swords,  but with staves to beat those that made the clamor.

Now the Jews were so badly beaten,  that many of them perished by the stripes they received,  and many of them perished as trodden to death,  by which means the multitude was astonished at the calamity of those that were slain,  and held their peace.”
(Josephus, Wars II, IX, 4)

 

(End of the Introduction)

Bibliography

 


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