Matthew 2 – The Coming of the Wise Men & Un-Authored Disciples

I know I don’t know you completely and I certainly understand you.  Yet, I know that You see everything, You know everything, and You control everything.  You give us freewill to do as we please, but You won’t allow anything to interfere in Your plans because Your plans are the best.

You spoke and did many things in the Old Testament, but You didn’t do that in the New Testament. 

Many people ask, “Who are You?”  I know who You are:

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one (1 Jn 5:7).

Tomorrow you will meet the Holy Ghost and John the Baptist so we will take a look at…

Matthew 2
The Coming of the Wise Men

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Bethlehem Today
A Palestinian city located in the central West Bank, neighboring south Jerusalem, with a population of about 25,000 people.
It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of Palestinian Authority. The economy is primarily tourist-driven.
The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, although the size of the community has shrunk due to emigration.
Bethlehem was sacked by the Samaritans in 529, but rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It was conquered by the Arab Caliphate of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb in 637, who guaranteed safety for the city’s religious shrines.
In 1099, Crusaders captured and fortified Bethlehem and replaced its Greek Orthodox clergy with a Latin one. The Latin clergy were expelled after the city was captured by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria. With the coming of the Mamluks in 1250, the city’s walls were demolished, and were subsequently rebuilt during the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
The British wrested control of the city from the Ottomans during World War I and it was to be included in an international zone under the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. Jordan annexed the city in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
It was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Since 1995, Bethlehem has been governed by the Palestinian National Authority.
Bethlehem has a Muslim majority, but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. Bethlehem’s chief economic sector is tourism which peaks during the Christmas season when Christian pilgrims throng to the Church of the Nativity.
Bethlehem has over thirty hotels and three hundred handicraft work shops.
Rachel’s Tomb, an important Jewish holy site, is located at the northern entrance of Bethlehem.

“Bethlehem of Judea” – a village about five miles south of Jerusalem.  It is called “Bethlehem of Judea,” not to distinguish it from the town of the same name about seven miles northwest of Nazareth, but to emphasize that Jesus came from the tribe and territory that produced the line of Davidic kings.  

That Jews expected the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem and to be from David’s family is clear from Jn 7:42.  Jesus is a Jew.

“Herod the king” – Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.), to be distinguished from the other Herods in the Bible.  Herod was a non-Jew, an Idumean, who was appointed king of Judea by the Roman Senate in 40 B.C. and gained control only by military conquest by 37 B.C.

Like many other rulers of the day, eh was ruthless.  Herod murdered one of his wives, three of his sons, a mother-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle and many others – not to mention the babies in Bethlehem.

His reign was also noted for splendor, as seen in the many theaters, amphitheaters, monuments, pagan altars, fortresses and other buildings he erected or refurbished – including the greatest work of all, the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, begun in 19 B.C. and finished 68 years after his death.

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

“King of the Jews” – indicated the wise men were Gentiles.  Matthew shows that people of all nations acknowledged Jesus as “King of the Jews” and came to worship Him as Lord.

“Star” – probably not an ordinary star, planet or comet, though some scholars have identified it with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.  It must have been a supernatural object that looked like a star, but which could actually move along and lead the wise men.  It eventually led them to the proper house.

3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

“Chief priests” – Sadducees who were in charge of worship at the temple in Jerusalem.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Israel.

King Herod the Great

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

“The young child with Mary his mother” – every time the child Jesus and His mother are mentioned together, He is mentioned first.

“Gold, and Frankincense, and myrrh” – the three gifts perhaps gave rise to the legend that there were three wise men.  But the Bible does not show the number of the magi, and they were almost certainly not kings.

Star of Bethlehem, also called the Christmas Star.
1614, German astronomer Johannes Kepler determined that a series of three conjunctions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn occurred in the year 7 B.C.
Although conjunctions were important in astrology, Kepler was not thinking in astrological terms. He argued (incorrectly) that a planetary conjunction could create a nova, which he linked to the Star of Bethlehem.
Modern calculations show that there was a gap of nearly a degree between the planets, so these conjunctions were not visually impressive.
An ancient almanac has been found in Babylon which covers the events of this period, but does not indicate that the conjunctions were of any special interest.
In the 20th century, Prof. Karlis Kaufmanis, an astronomer, argued that this was an astronomical event where Jupiter and Saturn were in a triple conjunction in the constellation Pisces.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

“The death of Herod” – in 4 B.C.

“Out of Egypt have I called my son” – this quotation from Hos 11:1 originally referred to God’s calling the nation of Israel out of Egypt in the time of Moses.  But Matthew, under the inspiration of the Spirit, applies it also to Jesus.

He sees the history of Israel (God’s children) recapitulated int eh life of Jesus (God’s unique Son).  Just as Israel as an infant nation went down into Egypt, so the child Jesus went there.  And as Israel was led by God out of Egypt, so also was Jesus.  How long Jesus and His parents were in Egypt is not known.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh were rare, precious and expensive.
These gifts were common to their culture and only could be found in the east, not in Israel.
The three gifts represented the future roles of Jesus.
Gold was the usual offering presented to kings by their subjects.
Frankincense represents Jesus’ divinity. It is a very costly and fragrant gum distilled from a tree. It was used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God.
While frankincense represents sweetness, myrrh represents bitterness.
Myrrh is an aromatic gum and is obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. It is used chiefly in embalming the dead. (Jn 19:39).
Myrrh was brought as a gift to acknowledge the human suffering Jesus would experience as a man.

20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.

21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

“Archelaus” – this son of Herod the Great ruled over Judea and Samaria for only 10 years (4 B.C.-6 A.D.).  He was usually cruel and tyrannical and so was deposed by Rome.  Judea then became part of the Roman province of Syria, administered by prefects appointed by the emperor.

“Galilee” – the northern part of the Holy Land in Jesus’ day.

23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

“Nazareth” – a rather obscure town, nowhere mentioned in the Old Testament.  It was Jesus’ hometown.

“He shall be called a Nazarene” – these exact words are not found in the Old Testament and probably refer to several Old Testament configurations and/or predictions that the Messiah would be despised (e.g., Ps 22:6; Is 53:3), for in Jesus’ day “Nazarene.”

Un-Authored Disciples

Below are the disciples of Jesus that have nothing in the Bible that they may have written.  This does not mean they are of any less value than the authored disciples.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or Gentile, black or white, fat or skinny, Jesus loves everyone the same.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).

It doesn’t matter if someone can write, draw, sing, sculpt, talk, or whatever.  All talents are given from God, they do not come from ourselves and Jesus doesn’t see anyone better than another.

“For there is no respect of persons with God” (Rom 2:11).

Andrew – He was the son of a man named Jonah (sometimes the name is rendered as John), and brother of Simon Peter.  He lived in Bethsaida on the north side of the Sea of Galilee.  The two brothers had a fishing business in partnership with James and John.

Before Andrew had met Jesus, he had been a disciple of John the Baptist.  He became convinced that Jesus was the Messiah and brought his brother Peter to see Jesus. 

The two brothers returned to their fishing, but later, after John the Baptist had been arrested, Jesus saw Peter and Andrew by the Sea of Galilee and said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt 4:18).  Peter and Andrew, at that point in time, lived in Capernaum (Mk 1:21, 29).

Jesus always named Andrew among the first four apostles.  He was one of the four apostles who were with Jesus on the Mount of Olives.  It was Andrew who inquired about the signs that would mark the end times (Mk 13:3-4). 

Andrew also was the one who called attention to the boy who had loaves and fish when Jesus fed the 5,000 men, besides women and children, in Jn 6:5-9.

James – He was the son of a man named of Zebedee and the older brother of John the Apostle.  James was a fisherman, as was his father and brother.  He was one of the first apostles to be called by Jesus. 

Jesus gave John and James the surname of Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder.”  Together with Peter and John, James was a close confidant of Jesus, being present at many important events, including the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus, Jesus’ transfiguration, and the agony in Gethsemane. 

James was killed by King Herod Agrippa (Act 12:1-2).

Philip – He came from Bethsaida in Galilee.  Jesus invited Philip to become His disciple (Jn 1:43).  Philip became the sixth disciple of Jesus, and introduced his friend Nathanael (Bartholomew) to Jesus, who also became an apostle.

When Jesus was about to do a miracle and feed a multitude of people with a small amount of food, Jesus asked Philip where they should buy the bread to feed the people.  But Jesus was testing Philip, for Jesus already knew that He would do a miracle (Jn 6:5-6). 

A group of Greek Jews who were in Jerusalem for Passover asked Philip to have him introduce them to Jesus (Jn 12:20-22).  During the Last Supper, Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father (Jn 14:8-11).  Philip was present during the prayer meeting in the upper room with the 120 (Act 1:13-15) after the ascension of Jesus.

Bartholomew – (perhaps also known as Nathanael) appears in the lists of the twelve apostles given in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts.  Usually, his name is paired off with Philip.  Bartholomew is a patronymic and thus not a person’s familiar name. 

He does not seem in John’s Gospel and the association of Philip with the otherwise unknown Nathanael (Jn 1:45-51, 21:2) leads to the possibility that Nathanael was Bartholomew’s personal name.

“Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

And Nathanael said unto him, can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!  Nathanael said unto him, Whence knowest thou me? 

Jesus answered and said unto him, Before Philip called thee, when you was under the fig tree, I saw thee.  

Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou?  Thou shalt see greater things than these” (Jn 1:45-50).

It is believed that Bartholomew/Nathanael was a missionary with Philip and Thomas.  He is said to have preached the gospel in Armenia, India, Lycaonia, Mesopotamia, Persia and Phrygia.

Thomas – In Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts, he is called Thomas.  In Jn 11:16, he is given a further name, Didymus.  On the evening of the day of the resurrection, Thomas declined to believe that Jesus had         appeared to the other disciples (Jn 20:24), hence the term “doubting Thomas.”

When Jesus appeared again after eight days, Thomas was there also and on seeing Him confessed his faith that Jesus is God (Jn 20:28).

 

 

Thaddeus – It is believed that he was also known as Judas, son of James (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot).  In some New Testament passages, the name Thaddeus appears among the list of 12 Apostles. 

But in other New Testament passages, the name Judas, son of James, appears instead.  In ancient times, a person could have two or three different names, such as a Greek-language name and a Hebrew name.  And, sometimes people were known primarily by their occupational title.

The name Thaddeus appears in the list of Apostles given in Matt 10:3, between James, son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot.  In Mk 3:18, the name Thaddeus appears, again, in the same placement. 

In Acts 1:13, however, a man named Judas, son of James, is listed below Simon.  And in Lk 6:16, Judas (son of James), is listed again among the 12 Apostles, between Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. 

In Jhn 14:22, there is a reference to Judas (not Iscariot) who spoke to Jesus.  The two names, however, never seem in the same book, lending credence to the belief that they both refer to the same person.

Simon the Zealous – This Simon appears in all the lists of the twelve. He is called “kananaios(Matt. 10:4, Mark 3:18), and “Zelotes” (Lk 6:15; Act 1:13)

Kananaios is from the Hebrew word qana (the zealous), and has no connection with the village of Cana or the land of Canaan.  The Greek “Zelotes” is a translation.  It is widely agreed that Simon’s second name was given to him in adult life and signifies his zeal.

 

 

 

 

Judas Iscariot – “man of Kerioth,” the son of Simon, was the treasurer of the twelve.  He considered it a waste of money when Mary anointed Jesus with expensive oil.  And, John states that Judas had often dipped into the funds for his own personal use (Jn 12:3-6), and that Judas cared little about using the money to help the poor.

After Jesus and His disciples went to Jerusalem,  Satan entered into Judas (Lk 22:3) and Judas approached local community leaders, offering to deliver Jesus into their hands for 30 pieces of silver (Matt 26:14-15). 

During the Last Supper, Jesus foretold of Judas’ betrayal (Matt 26:25).  Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  After Jesus’ arrest, Judas was seized with remorse.

He returned the betrayal money and hanged himself (Matt 27:3-5).  The money was later used to buy a piece of land, which became known as the “Field of Blood.”

When we willfully sin we open the door for Satan to walk in.  Greed and Pride are probably the two most popular sins.  Out of greed Judas not only lost is finances and his life, but his soul as well.  That is why Paul says:

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim 6:10).

Matthias – Matthias was chosen to become the 12th Apostle after the death of Judas.  In Acts, chapter 1, Peter explains to about 120 followers the need to replace Judas, as he recites a Psalm, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take (Act 1:20).

Two men are nominated by the assembly, Joseph Justus, who was also called Barsabbas, and Matthias.  The assembly prayed to God to make the right choice, and Matthias was chosen.  Nothing more is written of him in the Bible. 

…Baptism in the Ancient World.