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Matthew 24:15-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Answer: Sign 1: Encamped Armies. The Sign Great Oppression Is Near

Matthew 24:15-28 – Sign 1: Encamped Armies. The Sign Great Oppression Is Near

|| Mark 13:14-23; Luke 21:20-24

MT24:15 “Therefore, when you see The Disgusting Thing[1] of The Desolation[2] [Daniel 9:27] {LK21:20 (encamped armies encircling Jerusalem)[3] [Daniel 9:26, 27; 11:15-17, 44, 45]} (as spoken by Daniel the prophet) standing in a Holy Place[4] [Daniel 8:11-14; 9:26] (let the reader be mindful)[5] {LK21:20 know, then, her desolation has drawn near.[6] [Daniel 8:13; 9:26, 27; 11:31; 12:11]} MT24:16 Then, let those in Judea[7] flee into the mountains[8] {LK21:21 and those within her depart. And those in the regions let them not enter into her LK21:22 because these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things written[9]} MT24:17 The one on the housetop,[10] let him not come down to enter his house. MT24:18 And the one in the field, let him not return to grab his outer garment. MT24:19 But, woe to the pregnant[11] in those days {LK21:23 for there will be great necessity upon earth and wrath to this People.[12] LK21:24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword and they will be led captive[13] into all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations[14] [Daniel 8:10, 13; 12:7] until the fulfillment of the appointed times of the nations.[15] [Daniel 12:7]} MT24:20 But keep praying your flight be not in winter[16] nor on the Sabbath.[17] MT24:21 For then those days will be a great oppression[18] of a sort not to have occurred from the beginning of the world[19] {MK13:19 which God created} until now but will never occur again.[20] [Daniel 12:1] MT24:22 And if [YHWH][21] {MK13:20} did not shorten those days[22] it is unlikely any flesh[23] would be saved. But for the Elect[24] {MK13:20 He chose} those days will be shortened. MT24:23 {MK13:21} And then if anyone says to you: ‘Look! Christ is here!’[25] Or, ‘There!’ you should not believe it.[26] MT24:24 {MK13:22} For many pseudo-anointed[27] and false prophets[28] will rise. They will give great signs and wonders[29] so as to mislead, if possible, The Elect.[30] MT24:25 {MK13:23} Look! I have foretold everything![31] MT24:26 Therefore, if ever they say to you: ‘Look! He is in the desert!’[32] you should not follow them. Or, ‘Look! He is in the inner chambers!’[33] you should not believe them. MT24:27 For as the lightning[34] comes out of the east and shines to the west so will be the Arrival of the Son of Humankind.[35] [Daniel 7:14, 22] MT24:28 Where the carcass is there the eagles will gather.[36]

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[1] The Disgusting Thing: The translation from the Aramaic by Lamsa has this as disgusting “sign.” If this is the case, it makes it clear Jesus gave two “signs”: a) one with regard to Jerusalem; and, b) one with regard to the Arrival or Parousia. In a way it shows Jesus has reversed the order of the disciples’ question which had the PAROUSIA first and then SYNTELEIAS or consummation, fulfillment, conclusion. Jesus addresses “The End” of Jerusalem first and then goes on to the Parousia.

[2] Disgusting thing of The Desolation: This phrase is from the Jewish Greek Bible the Septuagint (LXX) at Daniel 9:27 (See also Daniel 12:11). DNTT, Vol 1, page 74ff: “Matthew 24:15 is taken from the LXX of Daniel 12:11 and appears with slight variations in Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 11:31… E. Nestle demonstrated that the phrase originated as a typical Jewish term of contempt for a heathen deity.… To Jesus the term would probably connote idolatry of some sort. It is observed that Luke paraphrases his words by the expression ‘Jerusalem surrounded by armies’ (Luke 21:20). It is possible that this is closer to the intention of Jesus than is commonly recognized, for the Roman armies were notorious for the idolatrous images affixed to their ensigns.” The Nazarene makes one of his many paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible and here shows that Daniel had foretold the ultimate desolation of Jerusalem’s Temple. So it would seem Daniel 9:27 may be the closest, though all three occurrences of the key phrase may bear on the same thing: the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple.

[3] Encamped armies encircling Jerusalem: This phrase is from Luke and is added here as the explanation of what the Disgusting Thing was to prove to be: the Roman armies in their assault against Jerusalem beginning in the year 66. For details on this event read Josephus’ Wars of the Jews. The Romans minted special coins beginning with Year One and on into the Fifth Year culminating in the spring of 73. Luke 19:43, 44 recorded the Nazarene’s earlier prediction drawing on other words of Daniel: ‘For days will arrive upon you when your enemies will throw up a palisade encircling you. They will distress you on every side. They will dash your children to the ground; and they will not let a stone remain upon a stone.’ Many of these words and phrases are so similar to those in Daniel 8:9-12; Daniel 9:26-27; Daniel 11:15-17, 44, 45; Daniel 12:7, 11 so as not to be ignored and it is for these reasons we believe Jesus cautioned the reader of Daniel.

[4] Holy Place: Read Josephus for details on the Jews’ war with Rome. The Romans actually minted coins for the years of the Jewish campaign and then built the Arch of Titus in Rome to commemorate their final overthrow of the Jewish revolt. This relief pictures the Jewish prisoners and the Great Menorah being carried off as booty. The Temple, called the “holy place” or “sanctuary,” also features in Daniel’s prophecy: Daniel 8:11, 13, 14; Daniel 9:26; Daniel 11:31. This is the very subject before Jesus and the disciples in Matthew ch 24, Mark ch 13, and Luke ch 21.

[5] Let the reader be mindful: Does the Nazarene assume his disciples will be reading the Book of Daniel for details? He asks them to be “mindful,” or to ‘take note of this.’ (PME)

[6] Her desolation has drawn near: Thus the SYNTELEIAS of the disciples’ question about “the end.” The word “desolation” features in Daniel 8:13; Daniel 9:26, 27; Daniel 11:31; 12:11. Jesus had chosen it carefully.

[7] Those in Judea: Not just those within the city of Jerusalem but also within the whole region. In Daniel this region or area of Palestine is called “the land of Decoration (or, Beauty).” (Daniel 8:9; Daniel 11:16, 41) Josephus records the exact campaign of the Romans beginning in the north.

[8] Flee into the mountains: There is some evidence certain Christians did flee to the mountains of Perea.

[9] To fulfill all the things written: Particularly in Daniel chapters 8, 9, 11, 12. In the Book of Daniel there is a unique phrase often bandied about, ‘the time of the end,’ or ‘end-times.’ (Daniel 8:17, 19; Daniel 11:13, 35, 40; Daniel 12:4) These seem to always apply to the “end” of Jerusalem. Neither Jesus, nor his disciples, ever used such a phrase as “time of the end.”

[10] The one on the housetop: Interestingly, the Nazarene has “one” on the housetop and another “one” at work, not at some Christian meeting or involved in missionary preaching. This would have been a good time to say so if that was his meaning. The flight is extremely urgent. Now, it would seem the Nazarene could have anticipated, not the “day and hour,” but the length of the “days of distress” for the prophetic evidence was right there in Daniel 8:13, 14, 17, 19; Daniel 12:7 that the whole period of war would cover 2,300 days, with a particular period of three and a half years. As it turns out it is exactly 2,300 days from the autumn of the year 66 to the spring of 73 and the fall of Masada. It is three and a half years from the fall of 66 to the spring of 70. Jesus avoids this, other than a subtle reference in Luke 21:24, perhaps because of human nature to put things off to the last moment. He encourages all to flee without hesitation at the first “sign” of encircling armies.

[11] Pregnant: This is not a period of time longer than nine months or covering many years as Jesus’ warning to women shows. It may include those years during which a mother nurses. He has lovingly not ignored them in their plight. The disaster which befell Jerusalem was a horror on women and their children as recorded by Josephus (Luke 19:44; 23:27-30).

[12] This People: The Jews. Remember the Christians, or Messianists, were generally viewed as a Jewish sect, the Nazarenes, by the Jews and the Romans. During the wave of persecution by Nero Jews and Christians suffered. Paul and Peter were executed within the period of 66 to 70 AD. Thus viewed, the “chosen ones” may include all Jews but with the emphasis on those Christian saints. The Great Oppression involves the Jews and spreads outside of Judea (Acts 18:2; 24:5).

[13] They will fall by the edge of the sword and they will be led captive: The words “sword” and “captive” are from Daniel 11:32 in the prophetic context of the Temple and The Abomination. Also, note these two words at that future time of oppression in Revelation 13:10. In 70 AD more than one million died in the destruction of Jerusalem alone. Almost 100,000 were led off captive which the Arch of Titus in Rome commemorates.

[14] Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations: It is possible Jesus is referring to the whole period of oppression beginning in 66 through 70 AD. If Jerusalem is destroyed along with her Temple then she cannot be trampled on. It is during the three and a half years of 66 to 70 that Jerusalem is trampled. Note this word “trample” in Daniel as it is associated with Jerusalem (Daniel 8:10, 13; Daniel 12:7). Also note that the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 might well fit that period from 66 to 73 and the conquest of Masada, a word possibly meaning “fortress.” (Daniel 11:31)

[15] The appointed times of the nations: What length of time would this be? By comparing Daniel 12:7 (likely the source of Jesus’ words) and Revelation 11:2 it would seem this period, “the appointed times of the nations,” is three and a half years long and covers that space from 66 to 70 AD.

[16] Winter: A space of three or four months.

[17] Sabbath: Does Jesus still have his Jewish disciples and the Jewish peoples in mind?

[18] Great oppression: In the Greek translation of Matthew this is THLIPSIS MEGALE and is borrowed from the LXX at Daniel 12:1 with hints from Daniel 7:25’s bela (Strong’s #1080) which is rendered “oppress” by some. The words THLIPSIS MEGALE is repeated in Revelation 7:14 for reasons we will see later.

[19] Of a sort not to have occurred from the beginning of the world: This tribulation is without parallel in human creation. Does Jesus not still have Jerusalem in mind? So this is to be the worst disaster in Jerusalem’s history. Note how the Jewish Tanakh (JPS) renders Daniel 12:1, ‘It will be a time of trouble, the like of which has never been since the nation came into being.’ This would refer directly to the nation of Israel.

[20] Will never occur again: Does Jesus the Jew mean Jerusalem will never again experience such a disaster as that by the Romans between 66-70 AD? We shall see later in our consideration of Apocalypse.

[21] YHWH: Or, [the] Lord. The Greek KYRIOS in Mark 13:20 is without the article suggesting God’s Name may have originally appeared here [Compare the Diaglott].

[22] Shorten those days: The period of oppression against Jerusalem.

[23] Flesh: Jewish flesh according to the context.

[24] The Elect: Or, “the chosen ones.” The Greek is EKLEKTOUS. This may well apply to the Jews as a People including the Christian saints. It is during this widespread oppression, with its center in Jerusalem, that Peter and Paul were executed. They did not survive “the great oppression.” They were not “saved” out of it. Note how the term “elect” or “chosen ones” can be applied to Israel (Psalm 105:6, 26, 43; 106:5, 23; Isaiah 65:9, 15, 22, 23; Luke 18:7) and to the Christian disciples (Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:9).

[25] Christ is here: With these events and the destruction of Jerusalem it would be the appropriate time for someone to claim to be the Messiah or for others to predict the Return of Christ. Throughout history there have been those who claimed Christ had actually returned. “Christ is here!” they cried, though their interpretations of this varied greatly.

[26] You should not believe it: The Nazarene makes it clear his Arrival or Parousia does not take place with the destruction of Jerusalem as the disciples might have anticipated.

[27] Pseudo-anointed: Or, “false christs (messiahs).” Jesus foretold his “field” would be sown with “weeds” (zizania) or counterfeit “sons of the Kingdom.” (Matthew 13:38) “Apostasy” was foretold by Paul (Acts 20:29; 2 Thessalonians 2:2-7; 1 Timothy 4:1, 2; 2 Timothy 3:5-9). Peter foretold “false prophets.” (2 Peter ch 2) Jude and John stated this process was already in deep ferment (Jude 4, 11-19; 1 John 2:19, 26; 4:3). Any who claimed to be “The Anointed” and yet made false prophecies claiming, “The Time is at Hand!” (Luke 21:8 Byington) were a danger to the true Elect.

[28] False prophets: Read Deuteronomy 18:20-22 on how to know when a prophecy is not from God. Certainly, one of the main themes of these prophets is to go counter to the Lord Jesus who they claim to represent: ‘The Time is at Hand!’ They mislead by complicated and obscure time chronologies which they have worked out. Most of these have used Daniel, particularly chapters 4 and 8.

[29] Great signs and wonders: The more “signs” a prophet points to, the more one ought to be cautious. Paul says something similar at 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10 when he discusses “the Man of lawlessness.” Some in modern times hail their powers to heal, or cast out demons, or point to grand buildings, or international publishing, or great radio and television satellite communication networks. Paul stresses it is “the truth” one ought to hold dear (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

[30] To mislead, if possible, The Elect: Jesus may cover the centuries in this warning for throughout the ages the false prophets have misled millions who have failed to do exactly what Jesus directed: ‘Do not believe them.’

[31] I have foretold everything: At John 14:29 the Nazarene taught, ‘I have told you before it occurs so when it does occur you will believe.’

[32] He is in the desert: There are to be no isolated appearances of the Christ in deserted locations, or wilderness areas where some false prophets might try to gather their followers, where others in general cannot view him.

[33] He is in the inner chambers: There are to be no private appearances of Christ to individuals in their bedrooms or elsewhere. Any who claim to have had the Christ appear in their private rooms would be false prophets. This may include private and personal visions or dreams. Three of the four Christian religions actually founded in America during the 1,800’s make such claims.

[34] As the lightning: Lightning is something visible and discernible with the naked eye from horizon to horizon by all under its illumination. Lightning can be seen even with the eyes closed. Compare Luke 17:24 where the ‘revealing of the Son of Man’ is compared to lightning.

[35] Arrival of the Son of Humankind: For the first time the Nazarene uses the disciples’ word PAROUSIA as Matthew translates the Hebrew. Jesus is to use PAROUSIA three times (Matthew 24:27, 37, 39) according to the Greek translator of Matthew’s Hebrew. The word PAROUSIA only occurs here in the Gospels. It should be kept in mind that Jesus most likely spoke in Hebrew (Acts 26:14) and the disciple Matthew recorded his original Gospel in that language (Irenaeus, a Christian teacher of the Second Century wrote: “Matthew published a written gospel for the Hebrews in their own tongue.” The History of the Church by Eusebius, page 210). So, it was a later translator, possibly Matthew himself, who put the Greek word PAROUSIA in the mouths of Jesus and his disciples.

What Hebrew word might the Nazarene have used? Since PAROUSIA is always connected with the “Son of Man” it is likely Jesus borrowed a word from Daniel 7:13 or 22: athah (Strong’s #857, #858) which means “arrive,” the same meaning of PAROUSIA. See notes on Matthew 24:3 for more details. PAROUSIA means the arrival or visit of a king or important person. The English word “coming” has become a common noun referring to such a royal visit. Paul uses PAROUSIA in the context of the Second Coming only once outside of his Thessalonian letters (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8).

Mark and Luke do not use PAROUSIA but choose other synonyms: ERKHETAI, ERKHOMENOS, ELTHON which mean “come” or “arrive.” Matthew does this himself (Matthew 24:30, 42, 44, 45, 25:19). ERKHOMENOS happens to be the word used in the Jewish Greek Bible, the Septuagint (LXX), at Daniel 7:13 with ELTHEN being used at Daniel 7:22. Is this enough to establish that PAROUSIA (presence) is roughly the same as ERKHOMENOS (coming) or ELTHON (arrive)?

[36] Where the carcass is there the eagles will gather: This sudden cryptic is not the first time the disciples heard it. See something similar at Luke 17:37 when the disciples respond to certain ones being “taken along.” The disciples ask, ‘Where, Lord?’ The Nazarene responds in words similar to Matthew 24:28. If the “eagles” are those “taken along” (a word similar to that in John 14:3 and Luke 17:34) and these are raptured or gathered, then the “body” is the returning Christ (Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1 with Matthew 24:30). Luke uses SOMA (body) whereas Matthew uses TO PTOMA (fallen body, carcass, corpse) which happens to also occur at Revelation 11:8, 9, 12 in a context suggesting the Rapture following words paraphrased from Luke 21:24 (Revelation 11:2).

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Preceding

Matthew 13:36-43 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Zizania in the Field Explained

Matthew 13:47-50 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Dragnet

Matthew 24 about temples or Houses of God and the end of the age

Matthew 24:1-2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Desolation, Oppression and the Parousia – The Setting

Matthew 24:3 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Desolation, Oppression and the Parousia – The Apostles’ Question

Matthew 24:4-8 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Answer: Part One – Beware Being Misled

Matthew 24:9-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Answer: Part Two – The Acts of the Apostles Foretold

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Additional reading

  1. Prophecies over coming days
  2. Sign of the Times and the Last Days #1 The Son of man revealing
  3. Sign of the Times and the Last Days #2 Wars, natural disasters, famine and false Messiahs
  4. Sign of the Times and the Last Days #3 Coming events revealed in the prophetic writings
  5. Thought on the first day of the new civil year 2020
  6. Today’s thought “My times are in your hand” (January 14)
  7. 1st thought for today “The world may be wicked” (January 16)
  8. Today’s thought “The eyes of man are never satisfied” (April 17)
  9. Today’s thought “When approaching the battle against your enemies today” (May 03)
  10. To be prepared for the Day of Judgment

Nazarene Commentary Luke 2:1-7 – A Firstborn’s Birth In Bethlehem

Luke 2:1-7 – A Firstborn’s Birth In Bethlehem

LK2:1 Now it occurred in those days[1] that a decree[2] was sent out from Caesar Augustus[3] to register[4] all the inhabitants of the land.[5] LK2:2 This was the first census during the time Quirinius[6] was governor of Syria. LK2:3 So everyone traveled to register in their individual towns. LK2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee and the village of Nazareth to Judea and David’s village called Bethlehem.[7] LK2:5 Because his family was of David’s genealogy he registered there with his pregnant fiancée[8] Mary. LK2:6 And it came about while they were there it became the time for her to give birth. LK2:7 She gave birth to a son – her firstborn[9] – and then she wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them at the inn.[10]


[1] In those days: About 10 AD.

[2] Decree: The Greek is DOGMA.

[3] Caesar Augustus: The Roman Emperor died in 15 AD.

[4] Register: Or, taxed, census, registration.

[5] All the inhabitants of the land: The word may refer only to Judea.

Vespasianus01 pushkin edit.png

Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, 9th Emperor of the Roman Empire

[6] Quirinius: His full name is Publius Sulpicius Quirinius. Tacitus the Roman historian mentions him: “[Quirinius] sprang from the municipality of Lanuvium – had no connection; but as an intrepid soldier and an active servant he won a consulate under the deified Augustus, and, a little later, by capturing the Homonadensian strongholds beyond the Cilician frontier, earned the insignia of triumph,… adviser to Gaius Caesar during his command in Armenia.” [The Annals, III, XLVIII)] He died 21 AD. Josephus mentions him: “Quirinius, a Roman senator who had proceeded through all the magistracies to the consulship and a man who was extremely distinguished in other respects, arrived in Syria, dispatched by Caesar to be governor of the nation and to make an assessment of their property. Coponius, a man of equestrian rank, was sent along with him to rule over the Jews with full authority.” Josephus mentions that he ordered a taxation which may have caused the need for the census. This led to a Jewish revolt. [Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 1, 2, 3, 4 [i, 1]] For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Acts 5:37. Another commentary states: “Quirinius stood in exactly the same relation to Varus, the governor of Syria, as at a later time Vespasian did to Mucianus. Vespasian conducted the war in Palestine while Mucianus was governor of Syria; and Vespasian was legatus Augusti, holding precisely the same title and technical rank as Mucianus.” [The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge 1957, Vol. IX, pp. 375, 376] This and other histories and archaeological discovers proves the existence of such a person.

[7] Bethlehem: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew 2:6. [Micah 5:2]

[8] Fiancée: Or, espoused wife, betrothed, engaged, having been given in marriage. The state of engagement made Mary his woman or wife. Though they were not married by the Jewish ritual of the wedding feast, there was no legal condemnation under the Law of Moses.

[9] Firstborn: Or, her first child. The Greek is PROTOTOKON, the first born of a woman. Thus, inferring she had other children. [Matthew 1:25]

[10] Inn: Or, lodging house. This may have been a guestroom, however it may have been a caravanary – a place where those on the trade routes stopped for over night rest. Surely it was primitive and one thing dominated the sense – the odour of animals.

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File:Daphni.jpg

A mosaic from Daphni Monastery in Greece (ca. 1100), showing the midwives bathing the new-born Christ. Originally uploaded to English Wikipedia by User:Ghirlandajo.

Additional notes:

About the birth of Christ there are different opinions, but all historians agree Jeshua son of Josef and Miriam (Joseph and Mary) was born before the beginning of the contemporary time calendar system. We take it he was born on October 17, 4BCE.
All has to be taken in account: cleaning of the stalls, having the sheep out in the fields, position of the stars and lunar circle with the amount of falling stars and special notated events in the air, plus the census and the people in charge at the time, as well as the killing of the babies.

Please do find additional reading:

  1. Astronomical and Historical Evidence for Dating the Nativity in 2 BC
    By Nollet, James A.
    Academic journal article from Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Vol. 64, No. 4
    Article details
    It is commonly accepted that Jesus Christ was born either before 4 BC (working from references in Matthew, Flavius Josephus) or after AD 6 (working from information in Luke). However, Flavius Josephus’s dates are unreliable and sometimes argue against themselves. Astronomically, the eclipse of March 13, 4 BC, is highly unlikely to have been the eclipse which Josephus states heralded the death of King Herod, who, therefore, did not die in 4 BC; neither did Herod die in 3 BC or 2 BC, since there were no lunar eclipses visible in Judea in those years. However, 1 BC had two eclipses; either of these, more likely the latter, was the eclipse which just preceded Herod’s death. Herod, therefore, died either in 1 BC or AD 1, and Jesus, therefore, was born either from 3 BC to 1 BC, or from 2 BC to AD 1. The Quirinius census of Luke’s gospel was not the Quirinius census of AD 6, but rather the Pater Patriae census in 2 BC. Jesus was probably born then in 2 BC. This date is consistent with the records of Matthew, Luke, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Eusebius.
    When I attended Catholic parochial schools, the nuns taught us that Jesus was born “in the Year 0.” (1) Today, it is generally taught that Jesus was born during or before 4 BC. But there is no actual record of this date. This supposition rests solely on Flavius Josephus’s passing remark that a lunar eclipse occurred shortly before King Herod died, and we know there was an eclipse visible in Jerusalem on March 13,4 BC. Since we know from the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus was up to two years old or younger when Herod died, this means Jesus could have been born as early as 6 BC. This date, however, seems to clash with the Nativity account in Luke, which says that the Nativity occurred during a census conducted by the Roman Governor of Syria Quirinius, who we know conducted a census of Judea in AD 6. This article proposes that the likeliest date of the Nativity was not 4 BC, but instead about 1 BC. This is also the year when Herod actually died, and it reconciles the apparent discrepancy of dates in the Nativity accounts of Matthew and Luke.
    There are actually many estimates for the year of the birth of Jesus. Some of the earliest include the placement of the birth of Jesus in the 44th year of the reign of Emperor Augustus, about 3-2 BC by Irenaeus in AD 180. (2) In AD 194, Clement of Alexandria estimated that Jesus was born 194 years before the death of the emperor Commodus who died on the last day of AD 192; therefore Jesus was born around 2 BC. (3) Early in the fourth century, Eusebius wrote that Jesus was born in the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus, and in the 28th year after the death of Cleopatra. (4) Leaving aside the issue of inclusive or exclusive counting, that places the birth of Jesus at around 2 BC. The Gospel of Luke states that there was a “universal census” of the entire Roman world shortly before Jesus was born, when P. Sulpicius Quirinius was governor of Syria. Quirinius was governor twice, in 3 BC and in AD 6. (5) However, we generally and popularly suppose that Luke was referring to the latter term, because that was the year in which a local census for taxation purposes occurred; this would mean that Luke exaggerated when he spoke about a census of the whole (Roman) world.
    According to Josephus, Augustus sent Quirinius to be governor of Syria at the same time that he sent Coponius to be the first procurator of Judea, (6) stating also that this census occurred in the 37th year “after Caesar’s victory over Antony at Actium” (31 BC) (7) which, counting inclusively, brings us to AD 6. However, we will see that Josephus was wrong on many of his dates. Therefore, as a working hypothesis, I regard it as possible that Josephus got his fact wrong about Coponius, confusing Quirinius’s first term as governor with his second term. If so, most of the discrepancy between the dates of the Nativity which exists between Luke and Matthew …
    Read the full-text article

    Eusebius of Caesarea.jpg

    Eusebius of Caesarea Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist

  2. The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith: The Incarnational Narrative as History
  3. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity
  4. Nativity Allusions–Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary, 1986
  5. Christmas and Arbitrary choice for 25 December
    The choice of 25 December is considered arbitrary and not based on evidence provided in the New Testament, the Christian text dealing with the life of Christ. Many theories have been put forward for the choice of the 25 December as Christ’s Nativity, but that it fell during Roman Saturnalia is now largely dismissed. It appears to have been fixed in relation to Epiphany (6 January), counting backward twelve days (now the twelve days of Christmas) or thirteen nights by the lunar calendar. It also falls three days after the winter solstice, a date when a number of pagan gods underwent resurrection after the shortest day of the year. This includes Sol Invictus of the Roman state religion during pagan times, a cult associated with the deification of the emperor. Whatever the explanation, it is evident that the early Christian Fathers, in their struggle for political and psychological supremacy, turned the interpretatio romana (the process of romanizing foreign gods) on its ear by expropriating a number of pagan symbols and observances and providing them with new Christian meanings. For this reason, Christmas and especially the foods associated with it represent a fusion of diverse pagan strands varying widely in emphasis from one country to the next. The celebration of Yule in Scandinavia has become one of the most distinctive aspects of the holiday as observed in northern Europe. The tradition of St. Nicholas of Myra in the Netherlands and the Franciscan cult of the Bambino Gesu in Italy are examples of the many forms these fusions have taken. All are expressed symbolically in food.
  6. Christmas [Christ’s Mass], in the Christian calendar

    The observance probably does not date earlier than AD 200 and did not become widespread until the 4th cent. The date was undoubtedly chosen for its nearness to Epiphany, which, in the East, originally included a commemoration of the nativity. The date of Christmas coincides closely with the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, a time of rejoicing among many ancient cultures. Christmas, as the great popular festival of Western Europe, dates from the Middle Ages. In England after the Reformation the observance became a point of contention between Anglicans and other Protestants, and the celebration of Christmas was suppressed in Scotland and in much of New England until the 19th cent.

    In the mid 19th cent. Christmas began to acquire its associations with an increasingly secularized holiday of gift-giving and good cheer, a view that was popularized in works such as Clement Clarke Moore‘s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (1823) and Charles Dickens’s story A Christmas Carol (1843). Christmas cards first appeared c.1846. The current concept of a jolly Santa Claus was first made popular in New York in the 19th cent. (see Nicholas, Saint).

    The Yule Log [Yule, from O.E.,=Christmas], the boar’s head, the goose (in America the turkey), decoration with holly, hawthorn, wreaths, mistletoe, and the singing of carols by waifs (Christmas serenaders) are all typically English (see carol). Gifts at Christmas are also English; elsewhere they are given at other times, e.g., at Epiphany in Spain. The Christmas tree was a tradition from the Middle Ages in Germany. The crib (crèche) with the scene at Bethlehem was popularized by the Franciscans. The midnight service on Christmas Eve is a popular religious observance in the Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches.

  7. Observance of Christmas in early British North America
    The observance of Christmas in early British North America derived from practices familiar in England, where 25 December was celebrated with a good deal of bawdy revelry. Due to this association, as well as the lack of any biblical sanction for that date, observance of Christmas was opposed by Puritans in England and was banned in the Massachusetts Bay Colony between 1659 and 1681.
    In the nineteenth century, Christmas became domesticated, with a shift toward a nuclear family experience of gift giving around a Christmas tree. The tree was popularized by immigrants from Germany, where it had become prominent earlier in the century. Christmas became the principal sales holiday of the year, presided over by Santa Claus, a figure compounded from myth, religious history, and the need for a congenial symbol for the new attitude toward the holiday. He was introduced and promoted by popular literature and illustration, from Clement Moore‘s “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” (1823) to Thomas Nast’s cartoons of the portly character. Charles Dickens toured America in 1867 reading from his enormously popular “A Christmas Carol,” which further reinforced the notions that were crystallizing about how Christmas should be celebrated.

    Charles Dickens-A Christmas Carol-Title page-First edition 1843.jpg

    A Christmas Carol, a early Victorian era Britain novella by English author Charles Dickens, first published by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843. One of the greatest influences in rejuvenating the old Christmas traditions of England but, while it brings to the reader images of light, joy, warmth and life, it also brings strong and unforgettable images of darkness, despair, coldness, sadness and death.

  8. Christmas, Saturnalia and the birth of Jesus
  9. God’s Special Gift
  10. Birth of Christ – articles
  11. A season of gifts
  12. Thanksgivukkah and Advent
  13. Christmas customs – Are They Christian?
  14. Jesus begotten Son of God #1 Christmas and Christians
  15. Jesus begotten Son of God #2 Christmas and pagan rites
  16. Irminsul, dies natalis solis invicti, birthday of light, Christmas and Saturnalia
  17. The nativity story
  18. Religious Practices around the world
  19. Idolatry or idol worship
  20. Focus on outward appearances
  21. Speedy Christmas!
  22. Christmas trees
  23. Merry Christmas with the King of Kings
  24. What do you want for Christmas
  25. Ember and light the ransomed of Jehovah
  26. Sancta Claus is not God
  27. Wishing lanterns and Christmas
  28. ‘Tis The Season To Be Cranky: Religious Right Gears Up New Round Of ‘War On Christmas’ Claims
  29. The atheist’s Thanksgiving dilemma  Whom to thank when there’s no recipient?
  30. Pagan Roots? 5 Surprising Facts About Christmas
  31. Nativity scene of the birth of the Bill of Rights
  32. Mocking, Agitation and Religious Persecution
  33. History of Christianity
  34. The imaginational war against Christmas
  35. Being Religious and Spiritual 8 Spiritual, Mystic and not or well religious

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  • Merry Christmas From Real Media (thisisrealmedia.com)
    So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
  • Have yourselve a Merry Christmas (prhayz.com)
    Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife who was with child.  So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
  • Practical Details (loveunderstandserve.wordpress.com)
    Jesus was born at the time of a census called for throughout the Roman Empire. In order to expedite the data collection, the different Israelite tribes were require to assemble in their ancestral hometowns. For Joseph, this was the town of Bethlehem, where his great- (x24) grandfather David was born. This census was most probably being conducted in anticipation of a tax increase and for the purpose of enforcing military service.
  • Did a Census Really Bring Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem? (gospelbondservant.com)
    The census or enrollment, which, according to Luke 2:1, was the occasion of the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, is connected with a decree of Augustus embracing the Greek-Roman world. This decree must have been carried out in Palestine by Herod and probably in accordance with the Jewish method–each going to his own city–rather than the Roman.

    While Josephus does not mention the Herodian census, Luke carefully distinguishes the census at the time of Jesus’ birth as “first,” (i.e. first in a series of enrollments connected either with Quirinius or with the imperial policy inaugurated by the decree of Augustus).

    The geographical work of [Herod] Agrippa, together with the interest of the emperor in the organization and finances of the empire and the attention which he gave to the provinces are indirectly corroborative of Luke’s statement. Augustus himself conducted a census in Italy in and in Gaul in 727/27* [see Roman dating system, ‘AUC‘] and had a census taken in other provinces. For Egypt there is evidence of a regular periodic census every 14 years extending back to 773/20 and it is not improbable that this procedure was introduced by Augustus.

    The time of the decree is stated only in general terms by Luke, and it may have been as early as 727/27 or later in 746-8, its execution in different provinces and subject kingdoms being carried out at different times. Luke dates the census in the kingdom of Herod specifically by connecting it with the administrative functions of Quirinius in Syria. But as P. Quintilius Varus was the legate of Syria just before and after the death of Herod from 748/6-750/4 and his predecessor was C. Sentius Saturninus from 745/9-748/6 there seems to be no place for Quirinius during the closing years of Herod’s reign.

    Tertullian indeed speaks of Saturninus as legate at the time of Jesus’ birth. It is possible that the connection of the census with Quirinius may be due to his having brought to completion what was begun by one of his predecessors; or Quirinius may have been commissioned especially by the emperor to conduct a census in Syria.

  • Nazareth to Bethlehem (toddthehiker.wordpress.com)
    More than 700 years before the birth of Christ the prophet Micah foretold the place of the Messiah’s birth, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”  (Micah 5:2)  The reason Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem in the first place was because of the decree from Caesar Augustus, someone who did not even acknowledge the God of the Israelites.  If not for his decree there would have been no reason for a poor carpenter from Nazareth and his pregnant betrothed to make the difficult trip to Bethlehem.  When you stop to consider the events that took place to ensure the fulfillment of this prophesy you realize just how incredible they are, and perhaps you can begin to understand the sovereignty of God.
  • The Nativity explained: The Census (christiantoday.com)
    A counting of peoples across the Roman Empire, requiring that all people return to the lands of their origin. In Joseph’s case, that was Bethlehem, the city of David.
    +
    it isn’t as though Rome only had one census that came round every so often. There were tax censuses, designed to give an idea of exactly how much money the government could bring in, but there were also allegiance censuses, where rather than merely counting everyone, people were gathered up and encouraged to swear a pledge of allegiance to Caesar in Rome.
  • The Star of Bethlehem explained? (must read) (religionstudent.wordpress.com)
    The Star of Bethlehem plays a significant role in the nativity story.  Most Christians accept this as part of tradition, while the phenomena is criticized by those who are less likely to buy in to the story.  However, could it be that the Star of Bethlehem isn’t just part of a story?  Could the famous star actually have existed at the time of Jesus? According to “Biblica The Bible Atlas: A Social and Historical Journey through the Lands of the Bible” it may have actually existed.

    First, to support Biblica’s claim, we must first look at the birth of Jesus.  By exploring the two accounts of the Birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew.  Matthew makes the claim that Jesus was born in the time of King Herod (the man who later plans to kill the newborn).  Luke does not only make mention of King Herod, but the author also makes mention of Jesus being born during the time of Augustus Caesar and Quirinius the governor of Syria.  Luke’s account, however, is controversial.  Augustus ruled from 27 BCE to 14 CE and Quirinius governed Syria from 6-7 CE.  The problem comes with Herod who ruled from 37-4 BCE.  This historical fact means that Luke’s mention of Quirinius is inaccurate and should be disregarded (although historical accuracy is not the focus of Luke’s Gospel).

  • Was There Really a Census at the Time? (nostopministries.wordpress.com)
    Luke’s precise language emphasizes a particular census, as if to contrast it with similar ones. In fact, another census did occur ten years later, which Luke refers to in Acts 5:37. The author’s additional information concerning Qurinius’s governorship (Luke 2:2), which is unnecessary for the narrative, reveals a familiarity with the recent past. Luke knew his audience would need clarification between similar events, so he gave them the details necessary to understand the date he meant.The emperor at the time of Jesus’s birth, Caesar Augustus, kept count of the population throughout his empire for taxation purposes. Israel would have been no exception. Even if we have no other accounts of the census taken during that time (which is no proof that the event didn’t happen given the sparse records available), the event seems likely from what we do know of the Roman Empire.

    Quirinius may, in fact, have governed Syria at the time and also ten years later. However, the original Greek suggests another possible reading. Luke’s statement may imply that King Herod performed a Jewish style census (counted according to the historic location of the tribes and clans) to keep the peace. Thus, the command of Caesar was notreally carried out in the Roman method (counted by where the person was born) until ten years later when Qurinius was governor and Herod had died.

  • The Nativity According to Luke | David’s Commonplace Book
    Linus quotes from the Gospel according to Luke. There are two accounts of Jesus’s birth in the New Testament, the account that Luke gives and the account that Matthew gives. Mark ignores the question of Jesus’s birth entirely, preferring to begin with Jesus’s public ministry while John actually begins his account before the nativity and moves from there to Jesus’ career.
  • What Luke Actually Wrote (str.typepad.com)
    The gist of the problem is that Luke claims that the first tax when Quirinius was governor of Syria was at the time of Jesus’ birth – around 4-2 B.C. The Jewish historian Josephus, however, records that the first tax under Quirinius’ administration was in 6 A.D., after Jesus’ birth. There’s no reconciling these reports, unless we actually look back at what Luke wrote and at some historical data.
  • Was Jesus really born? – Virendra Parekh (bharatabharati.wordpress.com)
    “Let me tell you at the outset that Jesus is no mythological mumbo-jumbo like your Rama and Krishna, and even Buddha. On the contrary, he was a solid historical figure whose miracles were witnessed and vouchsafed by many contemporary people,” said a Jesuit missionary to Sita Ram Goel. Let us have a closer look at this ‘solid historical figure’.

    Historicity of Jesus as described in Gospels has been one of the principal dogmas of all Christian denominations. Now, as Ram Swarup used to say, historicity by itself does not mean much. You and I are historical persons, but that fact by itself does not confer greatness or any other virtue on us. However, when historicity of the founder is touted as a point of superiority, we are inclined to examine it a little more closely.
    +
    Sita Ram Goel has pointed out that word “Christian” does not appear in the Christian literature itself before 140 AD. On the other hand, anti-Christian polemics which appears for the first time around 160 AD, starts by questioning the existence of a character called Jesus Christ.

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