Nativity to the Resurrection

4 BC: Herod the Great dies.
AD 4 – 39: Rule of Herod’s sons: Archelaus, Antipas,
AD 1: Anno Domini (not After Death) meaning “Year
of our Lord”; B.C. is before Christ; A.D. is after his
birth; all of human history is marked by his life. But
today B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common
Era) is used to neutralize the Christian influence.
The History of the Christian Church:
the First Century
AUGUSTUS (consecrated, holy, sacred) — a title of honor
bestowed upon Octavian, the first Roman emperor (27 BC—
AD 14). Luke refers to him as “Caesar Augustus” (Luke 2:1).
A nephew of Julius Caesar, Octavian was born in 63 BC. In
43 BC, Octavian, Lepidus, and Mark Antony were named as
the Second Triumvirate, the three rulers who shared the
office of emperor. Octavian eventually became the sole
ruler of Rome and reigned as emperor for more than 44
years, until his death in AD14. It was during his reign that
Jesus was born (Luke 2:1).
Augustus reigned during a time of peace and extensive
architectural achievements. After his death, the title
“Augustus” was given to all Roman emperors. The “Augustus
Caesar” mentioned in Acts 25:21, 25, for instance, is not
Octavian but Nero.
Octavian “Augustus” Caesar
27 BC – AD 14
Circa AD 5: Paul born
AD 6: Judea becomes a Roman
province; Jesus visits the temple as a
boy. Roman procurators begin to rule.
AD 7: Zealots in Judea rebel against Rome.
“The little village of Nazareth overlooked the main
highway linking Damascus to the Mediterranean coast
and Egypt. News of the world outside Galilee
probably reached Nazareth quickly. During His
boyhood Jesus probably heard of the revolt led by
Judas the Galilean against the Roman authorities.
This happened when Judea, to the south, became a
Roman province in A.D. 6 and its inhabitants had to
pay tribute to Caesar. Jews probably heard also of the
severity with which the revolt was crushed” (NNIBD –
Galilee, the province in which Jesus lived, was ruled
by Herod Antipas, youngest son of Herod the Great.
So the area where He lived was not directly involved
in this revolt. But the sympathies of many Galileans
were probably stirred. No doubt the boys of Nazareth
discussed this issue, which they heard their elders
debating. There is no indication of what Jesus
thought about this event at the time. But we do
know what he said about it in Jerusalem 24 years later
(Mark 12:13–17, about paying taxes to the
government as standard practice rather than
13 Later
they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to
Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said,
“Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t
swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they
are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the
truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we
pay or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap
me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16
They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is
this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s
and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him (Mark 12).
Sepphoris, about six kilometers (four miles) northwest
of Nazareth, had been the center of an anti-Roman
revolt during Jesus’ infancy. The village was destroyed
by the Romans, but it was soon rebuilt by Herod
Antipas. Antipas lived there as tetrarch of Galilee and
Perea until he founded a new capital for his
principality at Tiberias, on the western shore of the
Lake of Galilee (A.D. 22). Reports of happenings at his
court, while he lived in Sepphoris, were probably
carried to Nazareth. A royal court formed the setting
for several of Jesus’ parables (NNIBD – “Jesus”).
A popular view was that the kingdom of God meant
throwing off the oppressive yoke of Rome and
establishing an independent state of Israel. JUDAS
MACCABEUS and his brothers and followers had won
independence for the Jewish people in the second
century B.C. (MACCABEAN REVOLT - 164 B.C.) by guerrilla
warfare and diplomatic skill (NNIBD, “Jesus”. [They
defeated Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Greek Seleucid
ruler of Syria, who mandated Hellenism with its
idolatry of Zeus and the sacrifice of a pig in the Jewish
temple in Jerusalem. This infuriated the Jews to
revolt.—WD] Many of the Jewish people believed
that with God’s help, the same thing could happen
Other efforts had failed, but the spirit of revolt
remained. If Jesus had consented to become the
military leader, which the people wanted, many
would gladly have followed Him. [WD: “How did the
Maccabean Revolt of 164 BC inspire the Jews of Jesus
time in AD 30? If the Jews overthrew the Greeks
then with Judas Maccabeus’ leadership, then maybe
they could overthrow the Romans now with the
leadership of the Messiah Jesus!] But in spite of His
temptation, Jesus resisted taking this path (NNIBD,
AD 26: John the Baptist begins his
ministry; Pontius Pilate appointed
governor (AD 26-36).
AD 26/27: Jesus begins His ministry.
Tiberius AD14 -37
ZEALOT (devoted supporter) — a nickname
given to Simon, who was given this name
probably because he had been a member of a
Jewish political party known as the Zealots. A
Zealot was a member of a fanatical Jewish sect
that militantly opposed the Roman domination
of Palestine during the first century A.D. When
the Jews rebelled against the Romans in A.D. 66
and tried to gain their independence, the
“Zealots” were in the forefront of the revolt
(Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary – NNIBD).
Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God was
accompanied by works of mercy and power,
including the healing of the sick, particularly
those who were demon-possessed. These
works also proclaimed the arrival of the
kingdom of God. The demons that caused such
distress to men and women were signs of the
kingdom of Satan. When they were cast out,
this proved the superior strength of the
kingdom of God (NNIBD, “Jesus”).
For a time, Jesus’ healing aroused great popular
enthusiasm throughout Galilee. But the religious
leaders and teachers found much of Jesus’ activity
disturbing. He refused to be bound by their religious
ideas. He befriended social outcasts. He insisted on
understanding and applying the law of God in the
light of its original intention, not according to the
popular interpretation of the religious establishment.
He insisted on healing sick people on the Sabbath day.
He believed that healing people did not profane the
Sabbath but honored it, because it was established by
God for the rest and relief of human beings (Luke 6:6–
11). (NNIBD, “Jesus”)
This attitude brought Jesus into conflict with the
scribes, the official teachers of the law. Because
of their influence, He was soon barred from
preaching in the synagogues. But this was no
great inconvenience. He simply gathered larger
congregations to listen to Him on the hillside or
by the lakeshore. He regularly illustrated the
main themes of His preaching by parables.
These were simple stories from daily life that
would drive home some special point and make
it stick in the hearer’s understanding (NNIBD,
From among the large number of His
followers, Jesus selected 12 men to remain
in His company for training that would
enable them to share His preaching and
healing ministry. When He judged the time
to be ripe, Jesus sent them out two by two
to proclaim the kingdom of God
throughout the Jewish districts of Galilee.
In many places, they found an enthusiastic
hearing (NNIBD, “Jesus”).
At the city of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus decided the
time was ripe to encourage the Twelve to state their
convictions about His identity and His mission. When
Peter declared that He was the Messiah, this showed
that He and the other apostles had given up most of
the traditional ideas about the kind of person the
Messiah would be. But the thought that Jesus would
have to suffer and die was something they could not
accept (See Matthew 16:13-23). Jesus recognized
that He could now make a beginning with the creation
of a new community. In this new community of God’s
people, the ideals of the kingdom He proclaimed
would be realized (NNIBD, “Jesus”).
These ideals that Jesus taught were more
revolutionary in many ways than the insurgent spirit
that survived the overthrow of Judas the Galilean
(Acts 5:37, not the same as Judas Maccabeus who led
the Maccabean revolt in 164 B.C.). The Jewish rebels
against the rule of Rome developed into a party
known as the Zealots. They had no better policy than
to counter force with force, which, in Jesus’ view, was
like invoking Satan to drive out Satan. The way of
nonresistance that He urged upon the people seemed
impractical. But it eventually proved to be more
effective against the might of Rome than armed
rebellion (NNIBD, “Jesus”).
At the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall of A.D. 29, Jesus
went to Jerusalem with the Twelve. He apparently
spent the next six months in the southern part of
Palestine. Jerusalem, like Galilee, needed to hear the
message of the kingdom. But Jerusalem was more
resistant to it even than Galilee. The spirit of revolt
was in the air; Jesus’ way of peace was not accepted.
This is why He wept over the city. He realized the way
that so many of its citizens preferred was bound to
lead to their destruction. Even the magnificent
temple, so recently rebuilt by Herod the Great, would
be involved in the general overthrow (NNIBD,
34 “O
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill
the prophets and stone those sent to you,
how often I have longed to gather your
children together, as a hen gathers her
chicks under her wings, but you were not
willing! 35 Look, your house is left to you
desolate. I tell you, you will not see me
again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who
comes in the name of the Lord’ ” (Luke 13).
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city,
he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you,
had only known on this day what would bring
you peace—but now it is hidden from your
eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your
enemies will build an embankment against you
and encircle you and hem you in on every side.
44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the
children within your walls. They will not leave
one stone on another, because you did not
recognize the time of God’s coming to you”
(Luke 19).
Why was Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, which means “City of
Peace”? They preferred the way of violence and resistance
to Rome instead of choosing Himself as the Prince of Peace.
His way was the path of peace with God through faith in
Himself, but they did not recognize Him as the true Messiah—
the liberator from sin. In spite of the fact that many would
receive Him with palms and shout “Hosanna!” at His
triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), nevertheless,
the religious leaders and the Jewish people as a whole did not
accept Him as Messiah. He was crucified soon after that
triumphal entry. This would lead to their destruction some 40
years later in AD 70 by the Romans who completely destroyed
the newly finished Temple and burned the city. They lost
their statehood and did not become an organized
governmental nation again until 1948.
During the week before Passover in A.D. 30,
Jesus taught each day in the temple area,
debating with other teachers of differing beliefs.
He was invited to state His opinion on a number
of issues, including the question of paying taxes
to the Roman emperor. This was a test question
with the Zealots. In their eyes, to acknowledge
the rule of a pagan king was high treason
against God, Israel’s true King (NNIBD, “Jesus”).
Jesus replied that the coinage in which these taxes
had to be paid belonged to the Roman emperor
because his face and name were stamped on it. Let
the emperor have what so obviously belonged to him,
Jesus declared; it was more important to make sure
that God received what was due Him.
This answer disappointed those patriots who followed
the Zealot line. Neither did it make Jesus popular
with the priestly authorities. They were terrified by
the rebellious spirit in the land. Their favored
position depended on maintaining good relations
with the ruling Romans (NNIBD, “Jesus”).
If revolt broke out, the Romans would hold them responsible
for not keeping the people under control. They were afraid
that Jesus might provoke an outburst that would bring the
heavy hand of Rome upon the city.
The enthusiasm of the people when Jesus entered Jerusalem
on a donkey alarmed the religious leaders. So did his show of
authority when he cleared the temple of traders and
moneychangers. This was a “prophetic action” in the tradition
of the great prophets of Israel. Its message to the priestly
establishment came through loud and clear. The prophets’
vision of the temple—“My house shall be called a house of
prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:7)—was a fine ideal (NNIBD,
But any attempt to make it measure up to reality would be
a threat to the priestly privileges. Jesus’ action was as
disturbing as Jeremiah’s speech foretelling the destruction
of Solomon’s temple had been to the religious leaders six
centuries earlier (Jeremiah 26:1–6). 4 Say to them, ‘This is
what the LORD says: If you do not listen to me and follow my
law, which I have set before you, 5 and if you do not listen to
the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent
to you again and again (though you have not listened), 6
then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city an object
of cursing among all the nations of the earth’ ” (Jer. 26:4-6).
(NNIBD, “Jesus”).
To block the possibility of an uprising among the
people, the priestly party decided to arrest
Jesus as soon as possible. The opportunity
came earlier than they expected when one of
the Twelve, Judas Iscariot, offered to deliver
Jesus into their power without the risk of a
public disturbance. Arrested on Passover Eve,
Jesus was brought first before a Jewish court of
inquiry, over which the high priest Caiaphas
presided (NNIBD, “Jesus”).
The Jewish leaders attempted first to convict
Him of being a threat to the temple. Protection
of the sanctity of the temple was the one area
in which the Romans still allowed the Jewish
authorities to exercise authority. But this
attempt failed. Then Jesus accepted their
charge that He claimed to be the Messiah. This
gave the religious leaders an occasion to hand
Him over to Pilate on a charge of treason and
sedition (NNIBD, “Jesus”).
While “Messiah” was primarily a religious title,
it could be translated into political terms as
“king of the Jews.” Anyone who claimed to be
king of the Jews, as Jesus admitted He did,
presented a challenge to the Roman emperor’s
rule in Judea. On this charge Pilate, the Roman
governor, finally convicted Jesus. This was the
charge spelled out in the inscription fixed above
His head on the cross. Death by crucifixion was
the penalty for sedition by one who was not a
Roman citizen (NNIBD, “Jesus”).
With the death and burial of Jesus, the narrative of
His earthly career came to an end. But with His
resurrection on the third day, He lives and works
forever as the exalted Lord. His appearances to His
disciples after His resurrection assured them He was
“alive after His suffering” (Acts 1:3). These
appearances also enabled them to make the
transition in their experience from the form in which
they had known Him earlier to the new way in which
they would be related to Him by the Holy Spirit
(NNIBD, “Jesus”).
AD 30: Jesus is crucified, buried, rose
from the dead, ascended into heaven;
Pentecost and early church beginnings

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