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Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts - Lesson 24

Jesus' Early Galilean Ministry (Part 5)

Pictures of places in present day Israel related to Jesus' early Galilean ministry.

Craig Blomberg
Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts
Lesson 24
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Jesus' Early Galilean Ministry (Part 5)

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  • Overview of the influences of the Persian, Greek and Roman Empires on the Jewish nation. 

  • A summary of the Jewish political and religious rulers and movements, and the tensions that arose between the Jews and the occupying Roman authorities.

  • Ancient philosophies and religious movements had a significant influence on peoples' beliefs and behavior in the first century. The influence of Rome and Greece was evident throughout the world. 

  • Religious groups like the Pharisees and Sadducees, and teachings of contemporary Judaism about the Messiah affected Jesus' teaching and ministry.

     

  • One of the major influences in the social structure in Israel during the first century was the relationship and interaction between Jews and Gentiles. Various Jewish groups had differing views on how they should interact among themselves and with Gentiles. (Dr. Blomberg did not provide us with the PowerPoint slides for this lecture.)

  • One of the major influences in the social structure in Israel during the first century was the relationship and interaction between Jews and Gentiles. Various Jewish groups had differing views on how they should interact among themselves and with Gentiles. (Dr. Blomberg did not provide us with the PowerPoint slides for this lecture.)

  • The Gospels are historically reliable documents. Some of the main arguments and pieces of evidence pointing to the historical reliability of the Gospels are given in this lecture.

  • Form criticism, or form history examines how tradition has changed and how it has stayed the same. 

  • The gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke have so many similarities that they are referred to as the "Synoptic Gospels." There is also material in each of these Gospels that make it distinctive from the other two.

  • It can be helpful to examine, from a literary perspective, the passages that record the encounters that Jesus had with Nicodemus, and the Samaritan woman.

  • In order to understand the message of the Gospel of Mark, it is helpful to understand who the author is, the approximate date it was written, the audience to whom it was written, and the major themes of the book. The content of the book can be divided into the first 8 chapters that focus on the life and ministry of Jesus and the last 8 chapters that focus on His death and resurrection.

  • In order to understand the message of the Gospel of Matthew, it is helpful to understand who the author is, the approximate date it was written, the audience to whom it was written, and the possible sources on which Matthew relied when he was writing. Matthew begins by recording genealogy of Jesus and some of the events surrounding his infancy. Jesus' public ministry began with HIs baptism by John the Baptist, temptation in the wilderness and calling of the disciples. His preaching included the Sermon on the Mount and parables which Matthew grouped together in the Gospel.

  • Examining the outline and structure of the Gospel of Luke reveals the main points and the focus of Luke's Gospel and the book of Acts. Luke and Matthew have some similarities as well as some elements that are distinctive.

  • Much of the material of the Gospel of John is unique, compared to the other 3 Gospel accounts. Some of John's account alternates between recording a sign that Jesus performs with a discourse about a certain subject. Chapter 12 to the end of the Gospel covers the final days of Jesus' life on earth.

  • Some scholars belief that historical evidence supports the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, some think the historical evidence supports the inauthenticity of the Gospel accounts, and some think that the historical evidence is irrelevant. The different conclusions are due mainly to different presuppositions. It is possible to propose a probable time line of Jesus' life.

  • The Gospel accounts of Jesus' birth and early years of life show how He accurately fulfilled specific OT prophecies made hundreds of years earlier, and how His life was intertwined with that of John the Baptist. The beginning of John's Gospel is a testimony to Jesus' nature as being both fully God and fully human.

  • Locations in present day Israel that are related to Jesus' infancy and the beginning of His public ministry.

  • John the Baptist began his ministry before Jesus's public ministry. For a while their public ministries overlapped, then Jesus conducted the remainder of His public ministry without John the Baptist on the scene.

  • Turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana was one of the first miracles Jesus performed in His public ministry. He also had conversations with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, and healed the nobleman's son.

  • The Sermon on the Mount is one of the main passages showing how Jesus defines the "Kingdom of God." He also calls the disciples, redefines the family, performs healings and exorcisms, and uses parables and pronouncements to teach about who God is and how He relates to humans.

  • Images of locations in present day Israel related to Jesus' early Galilean ministry.

  • The Sermon on the Mount shows how the teachings of the Kingdom of God relate to the OT Law. It also includes additional NT teachings and a model prayer.

  • Pictures of places in present day Israel related to Jesus' early Galilean ministry.

  • Understanding parables as a literary form helps us interpret them accurately. Jesus performed miracles in various contexts for specific purposes.

  • Locations in present day Israel related to parables Jesus said and places He performed miracles.

  • Jesus' ministry in Galilee took place in locations like Nazareth, Cana, the Sea of Galilee and other nearby towns and areas. As Jesus was departing from Galilee, he performed miracles and taught at specific places along the way.

  • One of the themes in John chapters 5-11 is how Jesus fulfills the Jewish festivals. He also uses metaphors, saying that he is the, “bread of life,” “light of the world,” “gate for the sheep” and others.

  • In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus gives a sermon on forgiveness and humility. 

  • Locations in present day Israel related to Jesus' ministry.

  • Does the Bible teach that we are to marry or that we are not to marry?

  • Passion Week in the life of Jesus includes his anointing in Bethany, triumphal entry into Jerusalem, cleansing of the temple, celebrating Passover, prayer and arrest in Gethsemane, crucifixion and resurrection.

  • Chronological order of the events of the Passion week of the ministry of Jesus.

  • The death and resurrection of Jesus are significant both historically and theologically.

  • Narration describing slide photographs of locations of events that took place during Passion Week.

  • Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Jewish Messiah. He was both fully God and fully man. Jesus taught about the kingdom of God and showed compassion to the people who were outcasts in society.

  • Acts was written as a continuation of the Gospel of Luke to record what the Holy Spirit was doing through the lives of followers of Christ in the early church. The gospel spread ethnically from Jews to Gentiles, and geographically from Jerusalem to the rest of the world.

  • Stephen challenged the Jewish leaders to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Paul's conversion was a key event in the history of the early church.

  • The discussion in the Jerusalem council in Acts chapter 15 was how Jews and gentiles could function together as the body of Christ.

  • Narrative describing pictures relating to places that were significant in the early church.

  • The book of Acts records events that happened during Paul's travels as he preached the gospel and established churches throughout Asia Minor and Europe.

This class studies issues of introduction for the four Gospels and Acts, and, using the English New Testament, provides a harmonistic study of the life of Christ with a focus on his essential teachings, the theology of evangelism, and the planting of the church as recorded in Acts.

 

Dr. Craig Blomberg

Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts

nt511-24

Jesus Early Galilean Ministry (Part 5)

Lesson Transcript

 

This is the 24th lecture in the online series of lectures for understanding the Gospels and Acts, in complement with the textbook by Craig Blomberg’s Jesus and The Gospels: an Introduction and Survey

 

This lecture or supplement includes slides of places mentioned in the study of the Gospels and Acts. This first slide provides a picture of the south end of the Sea of Galilee where a display of lush foliage is shown, uncharacteristic of the country of Jordan. As we move into Jesus parables, we will see how they draw on much that was common and familiar in the typography as well as customs of Galilee. 

 

The next slide shows a picture of the north end of Galilee, and across toward the east of the Jordan reminds us of the section that forms the bread basket in Israel. So we should not be surprised to find good grass lands for sheep herding and grazing and to understand why Jesus composed a parable about lost sheep. At nighttime, one sees the full moon across from Tiberius, the largest modern city of Galilee which was also the capital city where Herod Antipas made his political center of jurisdiction in Jesus’ day. It’s interesting, like Tiberius, the second largest city of Galilee, though now in ruins for archeologists to uncover, never appear by name in the Gospels or anywhere else in the New Testament. These were the two most gentile oriented cities; the most political important cities in the Roman provincial division of its empire in the first part of the first century in Galilee. 

 

Is it that Jesus deliberately avoided these locations because he was sent to the Jew first? Or is it simply an accident of Biblical narration because nothing distinctive occurs or worthy of special mention in the evangelist eyes. Short of evidence, we will not be able to determine the answer to this with any certainty. Mary Magdalene, the well-known companion of Jesus and the Apostles in the New Testament Gospels, means Mary of Magdala or the Hebrew ‘Midgal’ and this is (on the slide) the approximate site, due west on the Sea of Galilee, where Magdala probably existed in first century times, a small fishing village. Here is a tile prosaic (another slide) unearthed from the first century of Magdala and we can see the style of one form of boat as well as pottery and other common products of the day. 

 

Also, prominent throughout Jesus’ ministry, in and around the Sea of Galilee, that which includes his ministry in and around Capernaum and the synagogue there. Ruins of which still stand and remain a major tourist attraction on the northwestern shore to this day. Another slide and view of the synagogue  and a close up of the relief work of the Ark of the Covenant, a visual symbol and reminder, though no longer in existence in Jesus’ day, a portion of the original furniture in the Holy of Holies. Here, set up for tourists to see in the foreground, is a mill stone. Of such, a donkey would have been hitched to a large wooden pole attached to the center of the apparatus and as the animal walked around in a circle, this would turn the mill stone and thus crushing the grain. Little wonder that Jesus could declare in Matthew 18 that it would be better that someone would have a mill stone hung around their neck and cast into the sea than to cause a child to fall into sin. In the background, the white cylindrical device is a typical wine press where the grapes were put into the top and then the handle pushed down so that they were crushed; coming out of the bottom and then for good measure, people in bare feet would tread out the wine even further. Of course, then it was subsequently washed and diluted with water to about a third of the strength of most modern day wines. This shows what happens to a mill stone over time which has been set up for tourists to see how it would have worked in the environment of Capernaum.  

 

And then we come to a very clear capital Greek letter inscription on the Capernaum synagogue, reminiscent of the fact that these were often erected in honor to a wealthy patron, local government official of some kind or in this case, with thanks giving to Herod himself and his family, no doubt for at least allowing the presence of Jewish religion and worship in this fashion. Those portions of letters than can most easily be deciphered read, ‘Herodais Mu-chi We-ah-su-ma-toas Tek-noas’, thus some kind of honorific inscription to Herod and his sons. Nearby, also excavated for tourists to view in the environment of Capernaum and near the synagogue in particular, are ruins of foundations of rooms and buildings of the homes in the village nearest the synagogue. In the foreground are the smaller houses, but in the background of this slide is an octagonal shaped house with some inscriptions and artifacts dating from the 4th century AD of a Christian church already by then and believed to be the location of Peter’s home. Here is a picture of that structure from a different angle. In more recent years, the Roman Catholics, who own this particular site, erected a viewing area where one can look through the floor and see the ruins and the modern structure is an edifice, a memorial, as well as a tourist site.  But arguably ruining some of the effect from an earlier date when the ruins were more visible, out in the open. 

 

We read in various Gospel texts about homes with thatched roofs. One can see a few pieces of thatch emerging from this stone structure with clear example of the remanence of sticks and boards and thatch that original would have spanned, with mud held in place, over the entire roof. It would have been this kind of roof that the four men carrying the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12 and parallels would have dug through in order to lower the man down into the area where Jesus was teaching. And on an earlier lecture series when we talked about the parable of the friend at midnight in Luke 11:5-8 and reflected on some of the contributions that sociological criticism can make to an understanding about the parable.