1 Corinthians 5 – Judgment of the Immoral & The Consequences of Sin

The choice is yours!

All of the below is true, but as the last paragraph states; it is very unlikely for an entire city or nation to repent.  If there is one country that will do that, it isn’t the United States; our country is slowly going downhill.

Tomorrow we’ll look at what some…

1 Corinthians 5
Judgment of the Immoral

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It kills or damages the body’s immune system cells.
AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the most advanced stage of infection with HIV.

HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person.

Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.

1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

“Not…named amongst the Gentiles” – the Roman orator Cicero states that incest was practically unheard of in Roman society.

“His father’s wife” – who this expression was used rather than “his mother” suggests that the woman was his stepmother.  The Old Testament prohibited such sexual relations (Lev 18:8; Deut 27:20).

2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

“Puffed up” – evidently proud of their liberty – a distortion of grace.

3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together” – the Corinthians are to pass judgment on the man by the authority of the Lord Jesus, not by their own because man has no authority.

“The power of our Lord Jesus Christ” – Jesus’ power is present through His word and His Holy Spirit.  All people have the authority to judge another as long as they judge by the words of Jesus.

5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

“Deliver such a one unto Satan” – abandon this sinful man to the devil that he may afflict the man as he pleases.  This abandonment to Satan was to be accomplished, not by some magical incantation, but by expelling the man from the church.

To expel him was to put him out in the devil’s territory, severed from any connection with God’s people.

“For the destruction of the flesh” – Satan is allowed to bring physical affliction on the man, which would bring him to repentance.

“The spirit may be saved” – the person put out of the church may well be a Christian.

6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

“A little leaven…the whole lump” – to illustrate Christian holiness and discipline, Paul alludes to the prohibition against the use of leaven (or yeast) in the bread eaten in the Passover feast (see Ex 12:15).

Leaven in Scripture usually symbolizes evil or sin called on to get rid of the leaven of sin because they are an unleavened batch of dough – new creations in Christ.

7 Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:

8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

“Let us keep the feast” – keeping the feast of unleavened bread.  This symbolizes living the Christian life in holy dedication to God, not just a feast once a year, and not getting involved in such sins as malice and wickedness and incestuous relations.

9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

“I wrote unto you in an epistle” – Paul here clarifies a previous letter (one not preserved).  The Corinthians mistook that letter to mean that, on separating from sin, they should disassociate themselves from all immoral persons, including non-Christian people.

Instead, Paul meant that they should separate from immoral persons in the church who claimed to be Christian brothers.

10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

“With such a one no not to eat” – calling oneself a Christian while continuing to live an immoral life is reprehensible and degrading, and gives a false testimony to Christ. 

If the true Christian has intimate association with someone who does this, the non-Christian world may assume that the church approves such immoral, ungodly living and thus the name of Christ would be dishonored. 

12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within?

“Judge them that are within” – the church is to exercise spiritual discipline over the professing believers in the church, but it is not to attempt to judge the unsaved world.

There are governing authorities to do that (Rom 13:1-5), and the ultimate judgment of the world is to be left to God (cf. Rev 20:11-15),

13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

To show the severity with which sin in the assembly must be treated Paul parallels this to the stonings of the Old Testament (Deut 13:5, 17:7, 12, 22:21, 24).

The Consequences of Sin

Many people suffer because of the actions of others. Be it genocide, mass starvation, disease, greed, or pollution, there are real consequences to sinful actions.  

The various evils affecting our planet today such as, murder, robbery, theft, kidnapping, rape, deceit, or any other sin, all have devastating effects not only on the “sinner” but on society at large.

Greed and Dishonesty

Greed, as with other sins, is at the root of many of today’s ills. As an example, many people have become addicted to gambling and often lie to hide their habit from loved ones.

Even farmers and those involved in agriculture who supplies the foods we eat everyday have been known to abandon safe agricultural practices for quick money.

Many commercial farms feed their animals a high calorie grain instead of natural feed so animals can gain weight in the shortest time possible.

On top of that, sometimes parts of dead animals are added to animal feed to increase their growth while other commercial farms use growth hormones to fatten the animals quickly.  

No wonder maladies like Mad Cow Disease (BSE) have been linked to such practices.

There is another example of greed and dishonesty that hits a little closer to home. Each year, thousands of people cheat on their income tax returns as dishonesty becomes the acceptable norm in society.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease (encephalopathy) in cattle that causes a spongy degeneration in the brain and spinal cord.

BSE has a long incubation period, about 30 months to 8 years, usually affecting adult cattle at a peak age onset of four to five years, all breeds being equally susceptible. In the United Kingdom, the country worst affected, more than 180,000 cattle have been infected and 4.4 million slaughtered during the eradication program.

The disease may be most easily transmitted to human beings by eating food contaminated with the brain, spinal cord or digestive tract of infected carcasses. However, it should also be noted that the infectious agent, although most highly concentrated in nervous tissue, can be found in virtually all tissues throughout the body, including blood.

Humans can get chronic wasting Disease from consuming milk from cows infected with “Mad Cow” Prions.

Also, many western companies, in pursuit of cheap labor, exploit foreign employees abroad to increase their profit margins. Greed reigns in the marketplace.

For instance, nations in need are denied food and medicine, which are readily available elsewhere in the world because profit driven companies only want to provide for those who can pay for them.

Charity is often ignored for the sake of profit! Simply stated, by being so covetous, much of this world’s business violates God’s commandments about stealing, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Sexual Immorality

Consider the consequences of sexual immorality. Persons engaging in such activities put themselves at risk of contracting an STD. AIDS, for example, are taking a staggering toll on human life and are among the deadliest epidemics in modern history.

Sexual activity outside of marriage may also result in unwanted pregnancies. This in turn often leads to abortions. Many marriages are being destroyed because of adultery, which is unequivocally condemned by the word of God.

Sexual immorality has led to many single parent homes, causing many negative effects on children.

There are other costs, too. Many suffer emotional pain and live with tremendous regret because of illicit sex. Ultimately, these behaviors place an extra financial burden on health care systems.

Meanwhile, millions of dollars are spent on research, hoping to find a cure for STDs such as HIV/AIDS. Although HIV can be transmitted through non-sexual means, if there were no sexual sins, there would be no HIV/AIDS pandemic; transmission rates would be extremely low.

Thou Shalt Not Murder

No one can dispute the emotional pain that results from losing a loved one. In spite of this, our society is plagued with murder and violence. Wars throughout the world, for example, are taking lives at a staggering rate.

World War II alone claimed an estimated 62 million lives globally. The destruction of economies, disruption of food and medical supplies, and untold human suffering are all terrible consequences of war.

War generates countless hardships: women are beaten and raped, property is destroyed or lost, environmental damage occurs, and millions of refugees fleeing their homeland are all testaments to the tragedy of war and its toll throughout history.

Understanding gambling addiction and problem gambling
Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, is a type of impulse-control disorder.

Compulsive gamblers can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when they know their gambling is hurting themselves or their loved ones.

Gambling is all they can think about and all they want to do, no matter the consequences.

Compulsive gamblers keep gambling whether they’re up or down, broke or flush, happy or depressed. Even when they know the odds are against them, even when they can’t afford to lose, people with a gambling addiction can’t “stay off the bet.”

Gamblers can have a problem, however, without being totally out of control. Problem gambling is any gambling behavior that disrupts your life.

If you’re preoccupied with gambling, spending more and more time and money on it, chasing losses, or gambling despite serious consequences, you have a gambling problem.

Monetary Costs

Sin has a very high monetary cost. This is evident when considering the cost of crime within a city or nation. While it is impossible to calculate an exact financial figure for the pain and suffering resulting from sin, there are studies that attempt to estimate the monetary cost of crime.

A study released in 2004 by the Canadian Department of Justice entitled, The Cost of Pain and Suffering from Crime in Canada estimated that the cost of all crime occurring in 1999 in Canada was $35.8 billion CAD.

This number includes the offences of homicide, assault, sexual assault, robbery, property, and vandalism.

In the United States, a National Institute of Justice report, Victim Costs and Consequences: A New Look released in 1996 reported that the cost of personal crime for Americans including pain and suffering totaled $450 billion USD per year.

Undeniably, sin levies a high price on society that we all must bear.

The Real Costs

However, the real costs of sin cannot be reduced to a dollar amount because of the incalculable spiritual consequences. Mankind has pursued a way of life that is contrary to that which is revealed in the pages of the Bible.

Society’s way of life, anchored in a “get rather than give” mentality is paved with sin, focusing on concern for oneself rather than others. Sin produces a myriad of costly and detrimental effects on us and our environment.

 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Prov 14:12).

The end result of sin, if left unchecked, leads to suffering, pain, death, and eventually complete destruction. There is a way to live that leads to long lasting peace and happiness.

However, to achieve such results, like the city of Nineveh, we must collectively turn to the God of the Bible and repent of breaking His laws.

In today’s world, it seems unlikely an entire city or nation will turn to God and repent; but individually we can.

You can reject a life that leads to the tragic consequences of sin, and begin a new life in Christ, that leads to good health, peace, happiness, and prosperity (3 Jn 1:2).

…Roman Archaeologists find the oldest images of Apostles in a Catacomb.

1 Corinthians 4 – Apostles of Christ & Tomb of Apostle Philip Found

The Martyrium of St. Philip
The imposing remains of the martyrium constructed in the first half of the 5th century in memory of St. Philip can be seen on slightly higher ground just outside the city defence walls.

The efforts of St. Philip resulted in the foundation here of one of the first Christian communities and one of the first Christian churches. After Philip’s I crucifixion by the Romans in 80 his son continued the work of proselytism.

Although it would seem reasonable to assume that St. Philip was buried on the site of the ruins of this martyrium no trace has been found of his grave.

The martyrium itself is an octagonal structure on foundations measuring approximately 20 x 20 m.

Access to the martyrium is afforded by a monumental flight of steps leading up to the building on the side towards the city.

It’s pretty clear that many of the Corinthians basically ignored Your commands so tomorrow I would like to look more into…

1 Corinthians 4
Apostles of Christ

1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

“Mysteries” – things that human wisdom cannot discover but that are now revealed by God to His people.

2 Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

“Judge not mine own self” – his judgment was merely human, and his conscience may be mistaken.  Only God is fully qualified to judge.

4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

“Learn in us not to think of men above that which is written” – perhaps a proverb common among the rabbis.

“Which is written” – in Scripture.  Our view of man should be Biblical.  We should recognize man’s weakness and ever-present limitations.

“Be puffed up” – one of the root causes of divisions, e.g., different religions, government and state laws, etc.

7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

Mythical ‘Gate to Hell’ uncovered in Turkey
Archaeologists reportedly have uncovered the cave believed to be Pluto’s Gate, the mythological portal to hell, in the ancient city of Hierapolis in southern Turkey.

The site was located among ruins in the area, Italian archaeologists said, according to a report on Discovery.com. Hierapolis is now known as Pamukkale.

Pluto’s Gate was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology. Pluto was the Greek god of the underworld.

8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

Paul uses irony and sarcasm here to get the Corinthians to see how poor they are because of their haughtiness and spiritual immaturity in comparison with apostles. 

In the Corinthian epistles, Paul repeatedly uses a subtle form of irony (the use of a positive statement when a negative idea is intended).

9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised.

11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place;

4:11-13 – a graphic description of Paul’s condition in Ephesus right up to the writing.

12 And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

13 Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off scouring of all things unto this day.

14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

Two unique marble statues which once warned of a deadly cave in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, near Pamukkale.
Known as Pluto’s Gate — Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin — the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition.

“The statues represent two mythological creatures,” D’Andria told Discovery News. “One depicts a snake, a clear symbol of the underworld, the other shows Kerberos, or Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog of hell in the Greek mythology.”

17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

“Some” – some of the Corinthians who were trying to undercut Paul’s authority were teaching that he was unstable (2 Cor 1:17) and that his ministry was not important (2 Cor 10:10)

19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

“Kingdom of God” – God’s present reign in the lives of His people – that dynamic new life in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), the power of the new birth (Jn 3:3-8), showing itself in humble life, dedicated to Christ and His church.

“Not in word, but in power” – idle, empty talk is contrasted with the genuine power of the Holy Ghost.

Idle talk, like you hear come out of Obama’s mouth.

21 What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

Tomb of Apostle Philip Found

Amid the remains of a 4th or 5th century church at Hierapolis, one of the most significant Christian sites in Turkey, Francesco D’Andria found this 1st century Roman tomb that he believes once held the remains of the apostle Philip.

Amid the remains of a fourth or fifth century church at Hierapolis, one of the most significant Christian sites in Turkey, Francesco D’Andria found this first-century Roman tomb that he believes once held the remains of the apostle Philip.

At about the same time as the July/August 2011 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review was hitting the newsstands, containing an article about St. Philip’s Martyrium, author and excavation director Francesco D’Andria was making an exciting new discovery in the field at Hierapolis, one of the most significant sites in Christian Turkey.

The tomb wasn’t discovered at the center of the octagonal hilltop martyrium as long expected, however, but in a newly excavated church about 40 yards away. D’Andria’s team found a 1st century Roman tomb located at the center of the new church, which he says originally contained Philip’s remains.

This early church of Christian Turkey was built around the tomb in the 4th or 5th century, and the nearby martyrium was built around the same time, in the early 5th century.

A team led by excavation director Francesco D’Andria in Hierapolis also uncovered the remains of Pluto’s Gate, a site considered an entrance into the underworld in the Greco-Roman period.

The remains of the apostle Philip are no longer in the tomb, however. According to D’Andria, the saint’s relics were very likely moved from Hierapolis to Constantinople at the end of the 6th century

This sixth-century bread stamp shows two churches from the site of Hierapolis in Christian Turkey: the domed martyrium on the right, and the newly-discovered church containing Philip’s tomb on the left.

And then possibly taken to Rome and placed in the newly dedicated Church of St. Philip and St. John (now the Church of the Holy Apostles), although 12th century reports describe seeing Philip’s remains still in Constantinople, the seat of Christian Turkey.

This new discovery also sheds light on the wonderful imagery of the rare 6th century bronze bread stamp from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The structures on either side of the saint can now be identified as the domed martyrium (on the right) and the new Byzantine basilical church containing the tomb of the apostle Philip (on the left), both of which were important Christian sites in Turkey. 

…the Consequences of Sin.

1 Corinthians 3 – Fellow Laborers for God & Why Did the Magi Bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

The opinion of the below article does not make sense to me, I mean, why bring arthritis medicine to a baby, but you never know.

I believe the gifts were brought to Jesus simply to show their respect and honor of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16).

Tomorrow we’ll look at…

1 Corinthians 3
Fellow Laborers for God

Kingdom of Lydia El Third Stater struck from Electrum (610-546 B.C.) NGC – Choice About Uncirculated.
This was the first coin struck with an obverse portrait produced for commerce, and it is remarkably preserved.

It is composed of a electrum, which is a mixture of Gold and Silver occurring in nature.

While crudely produced, the detail is extraordinary and it is hard to believe it was struck over 2,600 years ago.

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

“Walk as men” – like men of the world instead of men of God.  They were following merely human standards.

4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

“I have planted” – Paul’s work was of a pioneer nature, preaching where no one had ever preached before.

“Apollos” – Apollos worked in the established church, edifying the converts Paul had won.

7 So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.

Kingdom of Macedon; Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) AV Distater NGC Choice
Extra Fine

This Gold Distater, or double-stater, is one of the most remarkable coins in the Ancient world.

In fact, some refer to it as the “High Relief” of the Ancient coin world as it appears three dimensional due to an extraordinary level of craftsmanship and size.

Containing over a half-ounce of pure Gold, the obverse features Athena the Goddess of War and Nike, the Goddess of Victory on the reverse.

This is the most impressive, notable and desirable coin issued during the reign of Alexander the Great and is highly prized today.

9 For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

“God’s husbandry” – the people are God’s farm.

“God’s building” – they are also depicted as God’s temple.  He owns the farm and the building where both Paul and Apollos worked.

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

“I have laid the foundation” – by preaching Christ and Him crucified.

11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

“Fire” – God’s judgment.  The work of some believers will stand the test while that of others will disappear – emphasizing the importance of teaching the pure word of God.

For example, those that preach the “complete” word of God and without any alterations will stand the test, and those that make alterations or leave parts out, such as the Catholics and Rick Warren, will not find their way to heaven.

The Incas referred to gold as the “tears of the Sun.”
Homer,in the “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” makes mention of gold as the glory of the immortals and a sign of wealth among ordinary humans.

In Genesis 2:10-12, we learn of the river Pison out of Eden, and “the land of Havilah, where there is gold: and the gold of that land is good?”

As far back as 3100 B.C., we have evidence of a gold/silver value ratio in the code of Menes, the founder of the first Egyptian dynasty.

In this code it is stated that “one part of gold is equal to two and one half parts of silver in value.”
This is our earliest of a value relationship between gold and silver.

In ancient Egypt, around the time of Seti I (1320 B.C.), we find the creation of the first gold treasure map now known to us.

Today, in the Turin Museum is a papyrus and fragments known as the “Carte des mines d’or.” It pictures gold mines, miners’ quarters, road leading to the mines and gold-bearing mountains, and so on.

14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

“Yet so as by fire’ – perhaps a Greek proverbial phrase, meaning “by a narrow escape,” with one’s work burned up by the fire of God’s pure justice and judgment.

16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

“Temple of God” – God’s church.  Paul does not mean here that each of his readers is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  He says, “Ye (plural) are God’s temple (singular).”  In 6:19 he speaks of each Christian as a temple of the Holy Ghost.

17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

“Him shall God destroy” – Strong language, indicating that such a foolish laborer is not one of the Lord’s true servants.  This is in contrast to the thought of v. 15, where the faulty Christian worker is saved, but his work is destroyed (he suffers loss of reward). 

In the contrast of chapters 1-4 Paul here refers to people who tear the local church apart by factions and quarrels.

18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

Why Did the Magi Bring
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?

Medicinal uses of frankincense may help explain the gifts of the magi.

Skopje – Macedonian archaeologists have discovered 17 tombs dating from the 5th century B.C. in Ohrid, southwestern Macedonia, local media reported Monday.
In one tomb, archaeologists found bones of a 15-year-old girl with a unique funeral mask made up of thin gold eye-covers, gold plate for the mouth and a plaque with an engraved sun placed on her chest.

Precious metals have long been valued, treasured and used as a medium of exchange. Sometime around 650 B.C. coins made their first appearance, and they were used both in commerce and as a means of promotion or propaganda–a purpose they continue to serve today.

Were the gifts of the magi meant to save Jesus from the pain of arthritis? It’s possible, according to researchers at Cardiff University in Wales who have been studying the medical uses of frankincense.

Since the early days of Christianity, Biblical scholars and theologians have offered varying interpretations of the meaning and significance of the gold, frankincense and myrrh that the magi presented to Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew (2:11).

These valuable items were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world: gold as a precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil.

In fact, these same three items were apparently among the gifts, recorded in ancient inscriptions that King Seleucus II Callinicus offered to the god Apollo at the temple in Miletus in 243 B.C.

 The Book of Isaiah, when describing Jerusalem’s glorious restoration, tells of nations and kings who will come and “bring gold and frankincense and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6).

Although Matthew’s gospel does not include the names or number of the Magi, many believe that the number of the gifts is what led to the tradition of the Three Wise Men.

In addition to the honor and status implied by the value of the gifts of the magi, scholars think that these three were chosen for their special spiritual symbolism about Jesus himself—gold representing his kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming—an interpretation made popular in the well-known Christmas carol “We Three Kings.”

The traditional gifts of the magi—gold, frankincense and myrrh—may have had symbolic as well as practical value. Researchers believe the medicinal uses of frankincense were known to the author of Matthew’s gospel.

Kingdom of Macedon King Phillip II (359-336 B.C.) NGC – AV Stater – Choice Mint State Star
Absolutely phenomenal and extremely rare Gold Stater of the highest quality.

The overall look is simply phenomenal given it was issued over 2,300 years ago. Struck during the reign of Phillip II, the father of Alexander the Great, it is without question a museum quality antiquity.

Comprised of approximately ¼ ounce of pure Gold, the obverse features the head of Apollo and the reverse a charioteer with two intricately etched horses.

There is no question the artist who carved these dies was one of the finest of his time.

Still others have suggested that the gifts of the magi were a bit more practical—even medicinal in nature.

Researchers at Cardiff University have demonstrated that frankincense has an active ingredient that can help relieve arthritis by inhibiting the inflammation that breaks down cartilage tissue and causes arthritis pain.

The new study validates traditional uses of frankincense as an herbal remedy to treat arthritis in communities of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where the trees that produce this aromatic resin grow.

Did the Magi “from the East” know of frankincense’s healing properties when they presented it to young Jesus?

…the tomb of Apostle Philip found.

1 Corinthians 2 – True Wisdom the Gift of God & The City of Corinth When Paul Was There

The Corinth Canal, carrying ship traffic between the western Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea, is about 2.5 miles east of the city, cutting through the Isthmus of Corinth that connects the Peloponnesian peninsula to the Greek mainland, thus effectively making the former an island.
The builders dug the canal through the Isthmus at sea level; no locks are employed. It is 4.0 miles in length and only 70 feet wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships.

It now has little economic importance.

The canal was mooted in classical times and an abortive effort was made to build it in the 1st century A.D.

Construction finally got underway in 1881 but was hampered by geological and financial problems that bankrupted the original builders. It was completed in 1893, but due to the canal’s narrowness, navigational problems and periodic closures to repair landslips from its steep walls, it failed to attract the level of traffic anticipated by its operators.

It is now used mainly for tourist traffic.

Today, as well as through out the history of time, valuable gifts were usually only given to important people, such as kings and queens.  They certainly weren’t given to children, let alone babies.

Yet, Jesus, even as a baby was a king so tomorrow we’ll look at…

1 Corinthians 2
True Wisdom the Gift of God

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

“When I came to you” – on his initial trip to Corinth 51 A.D.

“With excellency of speech or of wisdom” – perhaps Apollos had influenced the Corinthians in such a way that they were placing undue emphasis on eloquence and intellectual ability.

2 For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

“Not to know anything…save Jesus Christ” – Paul resolved to make Christ the sole subject of his teaching and preaching while he was with them.

3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

“Not with enticing words of man’s wisdom” – this does not give preachers a license to neglect study and preparation.  Paul’s letters reveal a great deal of knowledge in many areas of learning and his eloquence is apparent in his address before the Areopagus.

Paul’s point is that unless the Holy Spirit works in a listener’s heart, the wisdom and eloquence of a preacher are ineffective.  Paul’s confidence as a preacher did not rest on intellectual and oratorical ability, as did that of the Greek orators.

“Demonstration” – the Greek word is used of producing proofs in an argument in court.  Paul’s preaching was marked by the convincing demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Corinth is a major road hub. The A7 toll motorway for Tripoli and Kalamata, (and Sparta via A71 toll), branches off the A8/European route E94 toll motorway from Athens at Corinth.
Corinth is the main entry point to the Peloponnesian peninsula, the southernmost area of continental Greece.

5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

“Perfect” – wise, developed Christians; contrast the “babes” mentioned in 3:1 (see Heb 5:13-6:3).

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

“Mystery” – the mystery, or secret, was once hidden but is now known because God has revealed it to His people.  To unbelievers it is still hidden.

“Unto out glory” – God’s wisdom will cause every believer to share eventually in Christ’s glory.

8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

“Princes of the world” – rulers of this age, such as the chief priests, Pilate and Herod Antipas, and the politicians, the Pope and certain evangelists of this age.

9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

The city has been connected to the Proastiakos, the Athens suburban rail network, since 2005, when the new Corinth railway station was completed.

“Spirit searcheth all things” not in order to know them, for He knows all things.  Instead He comprehends the depth of God’s nature and His plans of grace; so He is fully competent to make the revelation claimed here.

11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

“Spirit of the world” – the spirit of human wisdom as alienated from God – the attitude of the sinful nature.

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

The city was largely destroyed in the earthquakes of 365 and 375, followed by Alaric’s invasion in 396.
The city was rebuilt after these disasters on a monumental scale, but covered a much smaller area than previously.

Four churches were located in the city proper, another on the citadel of the Acrocorinth, and a monumental basilica at the port of Lechaion.

“Which the Holy Ghost teacheth” – the message Paul proclaimed was expressed in words given by the Holy Spirit.  Thus spiritual truth was aptly combined with fitting spiritual words.

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

2:14-3:4 – this passage explains why many fail to apprehend true wisdom.  It is because such wisdom is perceived by the spiritual (mature) Christian.  The Corinthians, however, were worldly (infant) believers and the proof of the immaturity was their division over human leaders.

“Natural man” – described in Jude 19 as one who is “sensual”.  The non-Christian is basically dominated by the merely physical, worldly or natural life.  Because he does not possess the Holy Spirit, he is not equipped to receive appreciatively truth that comes from the Spirit.  Such a person needs the new birth (Jn 3:1-8; Tit 3:5-6).

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

“Is judged of no man” – one who does not have the Spirit is not qualified to judge the spiritual person.  Thus believers ware not rightfully subject to the opinions of unbelievers.

16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

The City of Corinth When Paul Was There

When Paul arrived in 51 CE, the Corinth he saw was little more than 100 years old, but was five times as large as Athens and the capital of the province.

Roman imperial ruins: the spring of Peirene.
The arched openings led to bowls carved in the rock where water collected.

Ancient Corinth, the original Corinth, founded in the 10th Century B.C., had been the richest port and the largest city in ancient Greece.

Strategically located guarding the narrow isthmus that connects the Peloponnesus (as southern Greece is called) to the mainland, it was a powerful commercial center near two seaports only 4 miles apart.

Lechaeum, the western harbor in the Corinthian Gulf was the trading port to Italy and Sicily, and Cenchreae, the eastern harbor in the Saronic Gulf, was the port for the eastern Mediterranean countries.

Periander (ca. 625-585 BCE) had constructed a five foot wide rock-cut tract (Gk. diolkos) for wheeling small ships and their unloaded cargo from one gulf to the other.

By 400 B.C., a double wall ran from the city to Lechaeum to protect a two mile rock paved street, about 40 feet wide, leading to the port.

When Rome demanded the dissolution of the Achaian League, Corinth, the leader, resisted and so Lucius Mummius, the Roman consul, leveled the city in 146 B.C., killed the men and sold the women and children into slavery. Some of the wealthier families escaped to the island of Delos.

For the next 100 years, only a handful of squatters occupied the site. Julius Caesar refounded the city as a colony in 44 B.C., named it Colonia Laus Julia Corinthiensis and populated it with conscripted Italian, Greek, Syrian, Egyptian and Judean freed slaves. New Corinth, as Ancient Corinth, thrived.

The Acrocorinth, the acropolis of the ancient city, was heavily fortified during the Middle Ages. Nothing is left of the fabled temple to Aphrodite, but remains of the medieval fortifications, which were built on earlier foundations, may still be seen from the western side.

“Within just a few years, new Corinth’s settlers’ enormously profitable commerce at this crossroads of the nations had brought thousands more eager settlers from all over the Mediterranean and enormous personal wealth to a local ruling class of self-made women and men.” [Horsley and Silberman, The Message and the Kingdom, p. 163].

The wealthy Greek families who had fled to Delos also returned.

Commentators usually assume that Corinth was an especially licentious city, a reputation it seems to have had in ancient times. Indeed, one of the Greek verbs for fornicate was korinthiazomai, a word derived from the city’s name.

Apparently this estimation was based on Strabo’s report of 1,000 sacred prostitutes in the temple of Aphrodite on the Acrocorinth, an 1886-foot hill that rises above the city to the south.

Recent scholars point out, however, that the charge was more likely an Athenian slander against the pre-146 B.C. city since sacred prostitution was a Middle East custom, not a Greek one.

Little remains of the ancient city of Corinth.

No doubt Corinth, like other large port cities, had plenty of prostitutes to service the sailors, but they were not sacred.

Paul Settles Down

It’s easy to see why Paul chose Corinth as headquarters for his mission to the west.

The city was young, dynamic, and not hidebound by tradition, a mix of dislocated individuals without strong ethnic identities seeking to shed their former low status by achieving social honor and material success.

Paul was not intimidated by a big, bustling, cosmopolitan hub city, with no dominant religious or intellectual tradition, for Corinth shared many characteristics with Tarsus, his home town, and Syrian Antioch, his home church city.

The heart of the city, the forum, was filled with temples and shrines to the emperor and various members of his family, built alongside temples to the older Greek gods such as Apollo.

Apollo’s son, Asklepios, the god of healing, had a shrine there as well as at Epidaurus, the ancient site of miracle healings, about 50 miles southeast.

These ruined arches and entryways to shops on what was once the agora call on the tourist’s imagination to see the gleaming buildings, complete with statuary, they once were.

Luke’s account of Paul’s stay in Corinth is found in Acts 18:1-18. According to the story, after some initial success in the synagogue, but with considerable conflict, he decides to concentrate on the non-Jews, apparently with significant success.

He settles in and stays for 18 months, working as a tentmaker and living with fellow tentmakers, Aquila and his wife Pricilla (Prisca in his letters), two of the Jews expelled from Rome by Emperor Claudius in a general expulsion.

His success may have led to his being dragged before Gallio, the Roman proconsul, by the local Jews for heresy. Gallio dismisses the charge as a purely intra-Jewish affair.

Soon afterwards Paul leaves, accompanied by Aquila and Pricilla, bound for Antioch, but on the way they stop over in Ephesus.

Changes

Today, the Corinth Canal had been cut through the isthmus since Paul crossed over. Even Periander had envisioned the canal, but lacking the technology, he settled for the marble tramway.

Temple of Apollo, Ancient Corinth.

At the time, it was also thought that Poseidon, god of the sea, opposed joining the Aegean and the Adriatic.

Others dreamed of constructing the canal, including Julius Caesar, because it saved 200 miles of sailing around the Peloponnesus, but it was Nero who actually attempted it in 66 CE.

Included in his workforce were 6,000 young Jewish slaves recently captured by Vespasian in Galilee, where the Jewish war had begun.

His attempt was soon abandoned on the belief that if the seas where connected, the more northerly Adriatic, mistakenly thought to be higher, would flood the more southern Aegean.

A French company, which began the work in 1881 where Nero’s crew had stopped, completed the canal in 1893.

What finally killed ancient Corinth was the earthquakes, but it has been extensively excavated.

The museum contains many intriguing artifacts found there, e.g., a room of items used in healing ceremonies and a room of sculptures, including the beautiful Corinth sphinx and a portrait of the young Nero.

…why the Magi brought gifts to baby Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1 – Paul’s Thanksgiving & The Lost Cities of South Asia and the Far East: Angkor (3 of 4)

The Mekong is a trans-boundary river in Southeast Asia.
It is the world’s 12th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is 4,350 km (2,703 mi), and it drains an area of 795,000 km2 (307,000 sq mi), discharging 457 km3 (110 cu mi) of water annually.

From the Tibetan Plateau this river runs through China’s Yunnan province, Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

In 1995, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam established the Mekong River Commission to assist in the management and coordinated use of the Mekong’s resources. In 1996 China and Burma (Myanmar) became “dialogue partners” of the MRC and the six countries now work together within a cooperative framework.

We’ve seen a lot of lost cities and each one of them was great.  I wonder if there are any cities that needed to be lost and buried, like Detroit, Michigan for example.

Tomorrow we’ll look at…

Corinthians 1
Paul’s Thanksgiving

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

5 That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

Giant Catfish from the MeKong river.
The Mekong River is still a relatively healthy, natural, free-flowing river.

It is one of the most biodiverse rivers on Earth (in terms of freshwater fish). Most of its habitats and connections between habitats are still intact. Remarkably, the Mekong is still capable of producing 2.6 million tons of fish a year, despite fishing pressures from millions of people who depend on the river for sustenance.

That makes it the most productive river in the world.

12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

“Apollos” – he had carried a fruitful ministry in Corinth.

“Cephas” – Peter.  It has been suggested that those who followed Peter in Corinth were Jewish Christians.

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

“Not to baptize” – Paul is not minimizing baptism; rather, he is asserting that his God-given task was primarily to preach.  Jesus and Peter also had others baptize for them.

“Wisdom of words” – Paul’s mission was not to couch the gospel in the language of the trained orator, who had studied the techniques of influencing people by persuasive arguments.

18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

The quotation is from Is 29:14, where God denounced the policy of the “wise” in Judah in seeking an alliance with Egypt when threatened by King Sennacherib of Assyria.

“The wise” – Aristides said that on every street in Corinth one met a so-called wise man who had his own solutions to the world’s problems.

They’re still here, but no longer on the street corners.  These lunatics are now online and cover the globe or they are in politics.  If you don’t believe me take a look at the White House.

In about 750 CE, the Mayan city of Tikal had a population of more than 60,000 souls.
During its peak, archaeologists believe that the city center spanned almost six square miles, and further research tells us that Tikal’s population may have spread outwards from the center for at least 47 square miles.

The city remained a secret for more than a thousand years; Spanish conquistadores passed within a few miles of Tikal on their rapacious journey through the area, but never learned of its existence.

In 1848, the Guatemalan government made the first official expedition and report on the city; it was declared a National Park in 1995.

Today, modern Mayans celebrate their ancestors with pilgrimages to Tikal, which hosts more than 100,000 Guatemalan visitors each year.

20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

“Wisdom…foolishness” – Jesus expresses a similar thought in Lk 10:21.  It is God’s intention that worldly wisdom should not be the means of knowing Him.

“Foolish preaching” – not that preaching is foolish, but that the message being preached (Christ crucified) is viewed by the world as foolish and that is because the majority of the world are fools.

22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

1:26-31 – the Corinthian Christians themselves were living proof that salvation does not depend on anything in man, so that when someone is saved, he must glory in the Lord.

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

The Lost Cities of South Asia and
the Far East (3 of 4)

Angkor

Location: Cambodia
Date Of Construction: 802 C.E.
Abandoned: Largely Abandoned by 1431 C.E.
Built By: Khmer Empire
Key Features: Angkor Wat; Angkor Thom; Bayon Temple; Baray (Reservoirs); Lack of Non-Sacred Buildings

The great legacy of the Khmer Empire and arguably the greatest religious complex of all time, the city of Angkor is a remarkable collection of temples and canals, buried under thick jungle when it was first encountered by European explorers.

Recent hi-tech investigations have revealed its full, colossal extent and provided valuable clues about the self-inflicted environmental problems that may have caused its demise, but the authorities seem powerless to prevent the continual degradation of the ancient treasure by looters.

Angkor is a Khmer word derived from the Sanskrit term for “holy city”. It was the capital and religious center of the Khmer Empire, a state that flourished in Indochina from the 9th to the 15th centuries CE.

Bas relief from Angkor Wat showing dancing asparas — female spirits or divinities also known as sky-dancers or celestial dancers.
Overleaf: The colossal temple of Angkor Wat, viewed from across the wide moat that surrounds it. The moat symbolized the oceans, and the towers the peaks of sacred Mount Meru.

West of the Mekong River, near Tonle Sap – the largest lake in Indochina – on a wide, low-lying plain in the center of modern-day Cambodia, Angkor grew over the centuries into the largest – in geographical terms – pre-industrial city in history, with a population that may have numbered as many as a million.

But to the modern visitor there is little that resembles a city; instead there is a collection of temples and water features widely scattered around a scrubby plain interrupted by patches of thick jungle.

How could this strange landscape have supported such a vast population and what could have motivated the construction of such a profusion of religious architecture?

Seat of the Khmer God-kings

The region of Indochina known today as Cambodia was a collection of small states known to its northern neighbors, the Chinese, as Zhenia.

At the start of the 9th century CE the Khmer king Jayavarman II, ruler of Kambuja, united the fragmented principalities of the region and extended his sway over most of Indochina.

In 802 CE he declared himself to be devajara, meaning ‘royal god’ – effectively labelling himself as ‘god-king’ and establishing the royal personality cult as the central strategy by which the monarchy legitimized its rule – a strategy that was to lead to the incredible sacred architecture of Angkor.

In 889 CE Yasovarman I moved the capital of the Khmer Empire to Angkor and set about transforming it into a sacred landscape: a replica of heaven on Earth.

In the mythology of Hinduism, the state religion of the Khmers, the center of heaven was Mount Meru, the abode of the gods, which was surrounded by the oceans.

On Phnom Bakheng, the only natural hill in the area, Yasovarman built a pyramidal temple, symbolizing and recreating Mount Meru.

Within the temple a sacred stone, or lingam, represented Shiva, one of the supreme Hindu gods but also the Khmer god-king.

Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries.
The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara (नगर), meaning “city”.

The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a “universal monarch” and “god-king”, and lasted until the late 14th century, first falling under Ayutthayan suzerainty in 1351.

A Khmer rebellion resulted in the 1431 sacking of Angkor by Ayutthaya, causing its population to migrate south to Longvek.

Thus the Khmer god-kings gave physical expression to their divine right to rule, legitimizing their authority through the very fabric of their capital.

To complete the early reconstruction of the cosmology, the temple at Phnom Bakheng was surrounded by a most, to represent the oceans, and this was fed from the first of two huge reservoirs, or baray, constructed at the site.

The Eastern Baray at Angkor is 5 x 1 miles in area and held up to 48, 400,000 cubic yards of water; the Western Baray is even larger. 

They were the largest manifestation of the massive and complex system of irrigation channels, canals, moats, and ponds – over a thousand of them – that underpinned life in Angkor.

With the network of water-management features the Khmer were able to tame the annual flooding of Tonle Sap, irrigating their rice paddies and making their agriculture highly productive.

A 13th century Chinese visitor to Angkor recorded that they could produce three or four crops of rice a year, making it possible to support a huge population spread across a vast urban sprawl.

Between 1992 and 2007, researchers using satellites, NASA radar imagery, light aircraft and more down-to-earth technology such as scooters, were able to show that at its height Angkor had covered 386 square miles, making it the largest pre-industrial city in history.

The next biggest rival, the Mayan City of Tikal was more than an order of magnitude smaller at 38½ to 58 square miles.

Angkor’s glory years came in the 11th to 13th centuries.  Under King Suryavarman I (reigned 1011-1050), the imperial palace-city of Angkor Wat, the most famous and the greatest of the temples at Angkor, intended as his mausoleum. 

According to an inscription in the temple, Suryavarman II won the throne after slaying a rival prince in battle, leaping onto his war-elephant and engaging him in single combat.

Like the earlier temples, Angkor Wat with its five towers was a version of the sacred Mount Meru, which according to the myth had five peaks.

The greatest of the Khmer kings and the last great builder at Angkor was Jayavarman VII (reigned 11 SI- 1220), who refurbished Angkor Thom, built temples to his parents, and, on adopting Mahayana Buddhism as his personal faith, constructed the Buddhist temple of Bayon in the heart of Angkor Thom.

It is famous for the giant faces peering out from its towers, representing King Jayavarman VII as the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara: thus the king contrived to maintain and even enhance the cult of royal personality despite the change in religion.

The Record of Zhou Daguan

Dinosaurs in ancient Cambodian temple.
The magnificent jungle temples of Cambodia were produced by the Khmer civilization, beginning as early as the eighth and extending through the fourteenth century A.D.

One of, if not the greatest monarchs and monument builders of this empire was Jayavarman VII, crowned supreme king in 1181. Portrait statues, depicting him meditating in the fashion of Buddha, have been found throughout the region.

These awesome temples were rediscovered by Portuguese adventurers and Catholic missionaries in the 16th century and many were restored in 19th and 20th centuries.

Ta Prohm, one of the most picturesque, was left in it’s natural state. It recently gained international attention as the setting for the first Laura Croft movie.

In 1296 a Chinese diplomat, Zhou Daguan, visited Kambuja and wrote an account of life in Angkor, A Record of the Customs of Cambodia, which provides an invaluable record of the medieval kingdom.

He described the main temples and also depicted a society governed both by pervasive religious devotion and the strict and oppressive hierarchies that fed off that devotion to maintain their status and prerogatives.

The elite emphasized the importance of subordination and owned hundreds of slaves who were often treated very poorly.

Yet in some ways life in Kambuja was easier than in China, with the result that there was a significant population of Chinese ex-pats who had fled their homeland.

The first thing that such a new arrival had to do, Zhou Daguan reported, was obtain a wife, because trade was an exclusively female preserve.

He also described the typical domestic set-up, offering a valuable clue to the mystery of why, beyond infrastructure such as canals and bridges, there seems to be little trace of the non-religious aspect of this heavily populated city.

The typical Kambujan home was apparently devoid of furniture and many of the implements and utensils they used were ‘disposable’ – for instance, ‘they use a tree leaf to make a little bowl and jiao leaves to make a little spoon to take the broth to their mouths.

When they have finished using these things they throw them away/ (Similar bowls are still used in parts of Cambodia today.)

Applied on a larger scale, this principle of using natural materials might explain why only the religious monuments are left.

Building in stone was reserved for the residences of the gods; apart from infrastructure, secular buildings, apparently up to and including royal palaces, were made from timber or even more perishable materials, which did not long survive the abandonment of the city thanks to the tropical climate.

The Loss and Rediscovery of Angkor

One of the animals enclosed in these circles is a stegosaurus.

After Jayavarman VITs death there was a brief return to Hinduism, which saw widespread defacing and desecration of Buddhist imagery, but eventually Buddhism was established as the state religion of the Khmers and many of the temples were converted to Buddhist shrines.

But there was also a general decline in the Khmer Empire (see below) and from the late 13th century it was threatened by the growing power of the Thai (or Siamese) kingdom to the west.

According to the popular history of the site, the end of Angkor came in 1431, when the Thai invaded the western provinces of Kambuja and sacked the city, at which point the Khmer fled to the new Khmer capital near Phnom Penh, taking their treasures with them.

In practice, historians have largely discredited this story, and substantial populations continued into the 16th century, possibly as lay support for communities of Buddhist monks based in the temples.

But the center of political gravity had shifted irrevocably and Angkor subsided until it was a shadow of its former glories.

By the 17th century, the population had diminished substantially, and in the tropical heat and humidity the jungle quickly reclaimed the site and the roots of fig trees and other plants wreaked considerable damage on the unmortar masonry, forcing blocks it arc threatening to bring the mighty temples low.

The extraordinary ruins of Angkor first became famous in Europe thanks to the writings and sketches of French explorer Henri Mahout, who visited the site in 1860.

The idea that the carving may have been added recently is simply not possible for at least a half-dozen reasons.
1. Patina is still obvious in the recesses.

2. The depth of relief on the carvings that cover every square inch of this column, is more than half an inch. Removing the imagined “original” carving would have left a recessed surface. Then, carving the stegosaur on the recessed surface would require still deeper recesses.

The above photograph clearly demonstrates that the carving is not recessed. It is flush with the other carvings. Since the plates on the back of the stegosaur protrude from the recessed background at least half an inch, it would not be possible to add them to the background by subsequent carving. The plates are an integral part of the rock surrounded by a recessed, patina covered background.

3. There is approximately 40 feet of overburden that would have been displaced in order to replace the entire block.

4. The blocks are held together, not with mortar, but with iron “staples” in the shape of a capital “I” typically about 8 inches long, 1.5 inches wide and 3/8 of an inch thick. An inset in the shape of the staple was carved into the surface of two adjoining blocks, across the abutment, one end in one block and the other end in the other. With the staple in the shaped recess, the next tier of blocks holds the staple in place. They are used horizontally and vertically.

5. It may sound presumptuous, but I am trained in petrology. (this is not me talking) I know rocks. If someone had altered this rock, years after the original carvings, I would see it immediately. It would also be obvious to other experts who have carefully examined this carving (documented below). I can tell you without the slightest doubt, this carving is not modern, it is contemporary with the other carvings of Ta Prohm.

6. It should also be mentioned that the mind-set in Cambodia is very different form ours. The people are still greatly intimidated by governmental authorities. The brutal execution millions for almost any excuse, is vivid in the memory of virtually all adults in this country. Some of the same government officials responsible for the slaughter of perhaps 1/4 of the population are still in power today in this communist dictatorship.

Consider this in connection of the fact that dozens of federal police with AK 47’s patrol the ruins day and night, daring anyone to deface or take “souvenirs.” It is simply not credible to imagine pranksters, defacing and re-carving these “sacred” temples, which are still actively used today for Hindu and Buddhist idol worship.

His account vividly depicts the impact of coming upon the cyclopean ruins draped in verdant growth, a sight “which presents itself to the eye of the traveler, making him forget all the fatigues of his journey, filling him with admiration and delight, such as would be experienced on finding a verdant oasis in the sandy desert”.

In practice, however, Mahout was far from the first European to visit Angkor, which was reported by the Portuguese in 1550.

But it was his account that catapulted Angkor to fame as an archetypal lost city, although the wonder and awe it provoked was not limited to Europeans.

When Mahout asked the local people who had constructed such marvels they told him it had been built by gods or giants, while Siamese scribes, writing just two centuries after the fall of the Khmer empire recorded that it was said that “angels from heaven came to help in building this magnificent city”.

The Mysterious Decline

Since serious scholarship into Angkor began, and particular since the institution of the Ecole Francaise D’Extreme-Orient in 1898, there has been much debate over the causes of Angkor’s decline.

While accounts of the fatal Thai raid of 1431 may be inaccurate, it is generally accepted that Angkor was in terminal decline by the 15th century and there are competing theories abop0ut why.

One line of argument is that the Khmer regime was exhausted both by continual warfare with its neighbors and by the tremendous demands of the monumental labor that had created Angkor’s sacred landscape.

King Jayavarman VII, for instance, is renowned as the greatest of the Khmer kings, but for his subjects his mania for construction must have been incredibly taxing.

Towards the end of the Khmer era the state religion became Theravada Buddhism and George Coedes, perhaps the foremost scholar of Angkor, argues that this form of the religion, with its emphasis on the denial of the reality of the individual, was not compatible with the cult of royal personality.

Coedes argues that the combination of this with the military and economic exhaustion of the state resulted in an erosion of central authority, which in turn led to a breakdown of maintenance of the irrigation system, with knock-on effects for the agricultural basis of the city’s existence.

More recently the water-management system at Angkor has come in for closer scrutiny as the ultimate rather than merely proximate cause of the city’s decline.

The recent project to map the full extent of ancient Angkor has led to claims that the city’s vast urban sprawl became self-defeating.

Mass deforestation to meet the demands of the population and the constant construction projects led to soil erosion, while at the same time the water management system simply became too large for effective management.

The result was that the irrigation canals became clogged with silt and ceased to function.

Other theories about the city’s collapse include climate change, with archaeologists from the University of Sydney pointing to the transition from the medieval warm period to the Little Ice Age as the trigger for the city’s water crisis, and disease, with the suggestion that breakdown of the irrigation system led to stagnant water, which in turn led to an explosion of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Unfortunately the ancient city’s decline continues to this day. Initially the fabric of the city was at risk from the encroaching jungle, but now this threat has been replaced with a human one.

Ever since it was uncovered Angkor has attracted the attentions of looters and art thieves, and even today professional teams of looters openly survey parts of the site for statues, facades and reliefs they can rip out and sell on.

Rapidly increasing tourism at the site could also pose problems.

…the City of Corinth when Paul was there.