Who is the “Man of Lawlessness” in 2 Thessalonians?

2 Thessalonians 3-10                                                                                                                          3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  

As I was reading 2 Thessalonians, I became really interested in the seven verses above. At first I thought, it must be referring to Satan, right? Who else could this mystery man possibly be? After further research, however, there is some contention over the true identity of this “man of sin”.  The way it is written leads me to believe that the Thessalonians knew the evil man that is referenced in these verses. So, who is this “man of lawlessness”?

Early Christians believed that the author was indicating the Roman Empire to be the lawless one. They carried this belief because the empire opposed Christianity, it demanded worship in comparison to a god (like it says verse 4), and it promoted evil acts. I can see the connection here, but the theory has already been disproved. According to the theorists that do not agree with this idea, the Roman Empire would have to still be an active regime in order to be the man of lawlessness. It says that the end of times will not come until the rebellion takes place and the son of destruction shows himself. Since the Roman Empire ended many years ago, it is argued that it cannot be the identity of the man of lawlessness.

The Roman Empire is just one of many theories that attempt to uncover the identity of the man of lawlessness. Another theory held by scholars is one that portrays Satan as this unnamed evil. The idea here is that Satan is constantly working behind the scenes until he can take human form and become the man of lawlessness. The biggest problem with this theory is that in verse 9 the lawless one is acting on the orders of Satan. One would assume then, if this evil one is acting according to Satan’s will, then it cannot be Satan himself.

Yet another theory I found was one that describes the rise of the papacy and the development of Catholicism to be what the author of 2 Thessalonians describes as the man of sin. This idea is popular with evangelicals and extreme fundamentalists because, to them, the papacy fits with idea of apostasy–the falling away of believers from ‘the truth’. Theorists who share this idea believe that whoever wrote this book under Paul’s name was elaborating on the Old Testament prophecy found in Daniel.

Daniel 11:31                                                                                                                              31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.

Christ was assumed to be the sole head of the church (1Cor 3:16, Eph 2:19-21), but the Roman armed forces removed Christ and set up the Papacy in his place as the abomination that desolates the true faith. A few of the famous names I found to be associated with this theory were Martin Luther, John Wesley, and John Calvin. These Protestants of the 16th Century identified the “man of lawlessness” as the Papacy, and also the Antichrist. This also brings me to the last theory of this mysterious being’s identity.

The Devil and the Antichrist by Luca Signorelli

The word Antichrist comes from the combination of the Greek word “anti” (meaning ‘in place of’ or ‘someone who stands instead of’) and the common name given to Jesus. The literal meaning would then be “in place of Christ“. The Antichrist is given the title “man of lawlessness” because he will oppose in every way the biblical God and His laws. To act as God would be the ultimate opposition to biblical law. Going back to the Satan theory, this Antichrist would be Satan’s advocate that is referenced in verse 9 of 2 Thessalonians.

It was very intriguing to see the many different viewpoints on this subject. I found theories of the man of sin’s identity that had not even crossed my mind, such as the Papacy theory. Each one has the ability to make a good argument, but some of them also have their inconsistencies. Either way, this topic opened my mind up to other possible explanations to the identity of the lawless one.

Game of Thrones allusion blog

When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” This is one of the most intense quotes from my favorite TV show, Game of Thrones. There is so much going on in this series, but I hope I can sufficiently summarize it up for those who have never watched it. The setting is located on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos. There are really three main events happening over the course of the series. First, several noble houses are at a civil war over who will rule Westeros and sit in the Iron Throne. These houses include the house of Stark and Lannister, Baratheon, Targareyan, Tyrell, Greyjoy, and the list goes on. The Starks and Lannisters are the greatest of enemies to say the least. Another plot taking place in the series follows Princess Daenerys Targareyan, the only remaining descendant of the previous ruling family, as she raises a large army in hopes of taking her claim to the throne in Westeros. Along the way, she realizes she has a special ability: she cannot be burned by fire. She walks into a huge burning flame with three dragon eggs, and walks out, unharmed, carrying three newborn dragons. From that point on in the series, she is called the Mother of Dragons. The final setting of Game of Thrones follows Eddard Stark’s illegitamate son, Jon Snow, as he becomes a watcher at the North Wall. The Wall is 700 feet high and made completely of ice. The men who reside at the Wall, called Crows, are given the responsibility of keeping all people north of the Wall (called Wildlings) out of the 7 Kingdoms of Westeros. They find out later on that Wildlings are the least of their worries. Undead creatures, known as White Walkers, become a threat to the watchers of the Wall and also to the entire 7 kingdoms. With all of these events happening at the same time, it is an action-packed, brutal, crazy, raw, awesome show! When I looked back at the most memorable stories of the new testament, I was able to find some similarities between the plots in the gospels and a few of the events that take place in Game of Thrones.

Daenerys Targareyan after walking out of the fire with her newborn dragons.

We are all aware that Judas is accused of betraying Jesus, and this betrayal is the catalyst to Jesus’ crucifixion. In Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark is known all over the land to be one of the most honorable men alive. He has a good heart and a desire for peace among the kingdom, which is why King Robert Baratheon chose him to be his right-hand man. Eddard Stark is Jesus in this example. When Stark finds out some delicate information about Robert Baratheon’s son, Joffrey, his life is put in danger. Joffrey was found to be the product of incest from his mother, Cersei, and her twin brother, Jaime… which means that Joffrey has no rightful claim to the throne. When King Robert dies in a drunken hunting accident, Eddard puts his trust in Lord Petyr Baelish to help keep Joffrey from taking the Robert’s place as king. Petyr swears to help Eddard by promising that the King’s Guard will protect him should something go wrong.When Eddard announces in front of the king’s council that he knows of Joffrey’s true lineage, the King’s Guard turns on Eddard, and the scene ends with Baelish holding a knife to him uttering the words, “I did warn you not to trust me”. Eddard was innocent, and Petyr Baelish betrayed his trust for his own personal benefit of gaining rank with the new king, Joffrey.  This was an imitation of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot. Just like Petyr’s betrayal of Eddard Stark led to his very public execution, Judas’ betrayal of Jesus ultimately led to his very public crucifixion. Eddard was beheaded, but because it was very public, his  death sent the same message Jesus’ death did: don’t mess with people who are in fear of losing their power.

The next reference there is in Game of Thrones to the new testament is King Joffrey and King Herod. King Joffrey is the cruelest of the cruel. He had Eddard Stark executed and then put his head on a wooden steak to make Eddard’s daughter, Sansa (who is also Joffrey’s betrothed), stare at it. One of the things he did that stood out was the murder of every  illegitamate son Robert Baratheon ever had. Many of them were infants and very young boys. He had to do this because he knew people of the kingdom would eventually find out he was the product of incest. If the kingdom found out that Joffrey had no rightful claim to the thrown, then the people would look for another son of Robert to take Joffrey’s place as ruler of the 7 Kingdoms of Westeros. This is an indirect reference to the killing of all the boys in Bethlehem under 2 years of age by King Herod in hopes that baby Jesus would be killed. Herod was threatened by Jesus, just as Joffrey was threatened by any child that could have an actual claim to the Iron Throne.

Another parallel in the new testament to Game of Thrones was the Red Woman and the Devil. Her name in the series is Lady Melisandre, and the fact that she is called the Red woman is pretty substantial evidence that she’s not the most innocent of characters. She convinces Stannis Baratheon (King Robert’s brother) to follow her beliefs in the Lord of Light. She tells Stannis that if he praises the Lord of Light as his only god, then the Iron Throne will be his. He ends up sacrificing innocent people by listening to Melisandre, including his friends and his own daughter. She constantly tempts Stannis and clouds his judgement. She never ceases to try and change everyone’s belief to her own, which required turning Stannis’ people away from their own gods, and to the Lord of Light. This is much like Satan tempted Jesus, and really how Satan is a tempter in general. The “light” of the Lord of Light is the red glow of fire. Melisandre convinces Stannis to burn people alive as an offering to the Lord of Light.  We normally paint the picture of Satan with the color of red in mind. Even her name, the Red Woman, could be an insinuation of an evil inside her similar to that of the Devil.

The Red Woman, Lady Melisandre

I very much enjoy the Game of Thrones TV series. I would recommend it to anyone (who is not squeamish) ! Until I really sat down and thought about it, I didn’t realize that my favorite TV show had so many references back to the New Testament. It is a clear indication that pop culture has never really shifted far away from the original stories of the Bible. It was fun being able to dissect, not only our studies in BAL, but also in my favorite series, Game of Thrones.

Who was Theophilus??

luke and theophilus
Drawing portraying Luke handing his writings over to a younger Theophilus

As we have seen in both the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles, the author of both books addresses a being called Theophilus.

Luke 1:3-4 I, too, have carefully investigated everything from the beginning and have decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Acts 1:1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach

I’m sure I was not the only one, but I was curious to discover who this Theophilus character was. Before any research, I imagined Theophilus as an apprentice to Luke. The way Luke addresses him as ‘excellent’ and mentions things that have been taught led me to this conclusion. After further investigation,  I found many other theories that explain who (or what) Theophilus is.

The first hypothesis I discovered in my research as to the identity of Theophilus turned out to be my personal favorite. It’s called the honorary title viewpoint. Theophilus literally means “dear to God”, or “loved by gods”. Using the literal definition of the name, some have entertained the thought that “Theophilus” is just a generic term for Christians or Christ’s followers. Luke would then be simply addressing a general population of people that are learning the works of Jesus Christ. I favor this idea because I love the use of symbolism in any form. Maybe Luke wanted to use this literary device to capture the attention of his intended audience.

saint luke
Luke writing down his stories

Next, there is the theory that Theophilus was a Roman official responsible for the judicial investigation of Paul. To elaborate, I found a quote from  John Mauck, author of Paul on Trial: The Book of Acts as a Defense of Christianity.

“I contend that Luke investigated, gathered facts, borrowed from other sources, and edited them for a different and definite purpose: He wrote a legal ‘brief’ to defend Paul against charges of fomenting civil insurrection and, by extension, to defend all of Christianity against the charge that it was an illegal religion. His original reader, Theophilus, was, the evidence will show, the Roman official responsible for the judicial investigation of trials to be conducted before the Emperor Nero. Luke, true to his reputation as an evangelist, crafted his brief to present the gospel so that even the very investigator would come to believe in Jesus.”    -John Mauck, “Paul on Trial”

John Mauck is an attorney himself, so that could be why his conclusion of the identity of Theophilus was centered around the justice system. Still, he has done his research, and I believe he has a valid theory.

The next theory names Theophilus as the lawyer of Paul in his trials, rather than the Roman investigator. In contrast to the previous theory, this would mean that Luke wrote his stories for Theophilus’ to use in court as a defense strategy for Paul.

most excellent theophilus

Yet another theory of his identity supposes that he is a Roman official. This one is a little different than the previous theory by Mauck. There is textual evidence that many Roman officials were addressed as ‘most excellent’, especially in the book of Acts.

Acts 24:2  And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying: “Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation,

Acts 25:26 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.

I can surely see how this explanation would also be an acceptable one. Luke uses the same title when addressing known Roman officials as he does at the beginning of Luke and Acts to address Theophilus, so who is to say that Theophilus was not a Roman official?

The final hypothesis I found in search of Theophilus’ true identity was one that portrayed him as a Jewish high priest. This description suggests that Theophilus ben Ananus is the ‘Theophilus’ that Luke is referring to in his dedications. That would make Theophilus the son of Annas and the brother-in-law of Caiaphas. Scholars who support this explanation claim that the Sadducees were the target group for the Gospel of Luke, and that would explain Luke’s emphasis on the trials that were specific to Sadduccee principles.

y u have no certainty

There are many theories that attempt to verify the identity of the elusive Theophilus. The difficult part is that all of them have at least some portion of them that are supported by history or by text. How is one to decide the best explanation?? Like I mentioned earlier, I really liked the idea that Luke is speaking to a general group of people by using the literal meaning of the word Theophilus. It is equally likely, though, that Luke is addressing a real person. Either way, Luke does not give enough information to decide on the true identity of Theophilus.


Water to … wait WHAT?? Did Jesus drink alcoholic wine?


The story that I found most interesting in John was when Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana. As I was reading, I kept having flashbacks of English 101 in senior year of high school. My teacher had no problem sharing her very strong beliefs with us in that class. (She didn’t know not to talk about the “f” word, apparently.) One day, the class got into a heated debate over whether or not Jesus drank ‘real’ wine. Half of the class thought JC drank wine that had been fermented, similar to what we would drink in modern times. The other half, along with my teacher, were convinced that Jesus never drank a drop of alcohol in his lifetime. The belief was that there was enough evidence to suggest that the fruit of the vine was merely grape juice and not fermented wine. Once again my curiosity was piqued, just as it was in my senior year of high school. While in high school I never researched the topic any further, so I was excited when the opportunity arose to do some digging and find out which one of these theories makes the most sense textually and historically.

First century wine holders

The earliest archaeological evidence of wine production has been found in Georgia (the country, not the state), Iran, Greece, and Armenia dating back as early as 6000 B.C. ! The wine that was consumed in first century Palestine would have been much different than the wine that is sold in stores today. Proverbs describes wine, saying it “bites like a snake and poisons like a viper“. The preservation methods in ancient times would have been much different. There were many different types of additives and preservatives to help keep it from spoiling. It was often boiled as well to kill off any bacteria which created a thick, syrupy liquid that we would not recognize today as wine. Also, “fermentation” was not exactly an understood method back then. The people thought it was a gift from the divine that there grapes turned into a substance that made them intoxicated.

I will begin with the theory that Jesus drank grape juice. One man’s explanations stood out the most in my research. His name is Bruce Lackey, and he has several points that he believes proves the theory that Jesus never made, nor drank, alcoholic drinks. All of his justifications are textual. (For the sake of keeping my blog from becoming a book, I will only cover a few of his major points as he goes on for days on this subject.) He starts with the idea that the scripture will make clear when referring to wine as an alcoholic beverage and when it is referring to simple juice.

John 2:10    and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk    freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

Here, the book of John is saying that the poorer wine is saved until the end of the party when everyone has become intoxicated and no longer cares for the taste. Lackey proposes that since the guests of the wedding enjoyed the taste of the wine that Jesus created for them so much, they could not have already been intoxicated. In other words, they were enjoying the non-fermented fruit of the vine.

Ephesians 5:18  18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit

Proverbs 20:1  1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

“The fact is, neither the wine which they had at first, nor that which Christ made, was alcoholic.”  -Bruce Lackey

Another argument as to why Jesus did not drink or make wine was the assumption that Jesus would not knowingly send people to Hell. In Isaiah 5:11-14, the text says that Hell had to be enlarged because of the drinking of alcoholic beverage. The point Lackey is making here is if Jesus was the true Messiah, theoretically he would not condemn his followers to Hell by making alcoholic wine for them to drink. I found a couple of scholars who shared Lackey’s view on wine in the Bible. The idea is that every time the scripture mentions wine in a not-so-flattering way (or referring to drunkenness), it must be fermented wine. If the wine is mentioned at a celebratory time (where no one is accused of being drunk) it must be non-fermented wine.

Of course, there is a direct opposition to the opinion that Jesus never drank nor made alcoholic wine. The scholars that share this view believe that there is just no evidence anywhere in the text to suggest that Jesus made/drank grape juice instead of wine. The Oxford dictionary always refers to wine as an alcoholic beverage and never a non-fermented drink. They argue that the people who translated the King James Bible knew the difference between grape juice and wine, so they would have distinguished them from one another if the need had risen. The Greek word, oinos, that was used in the miracle story and throughout the text translates to wine or fermented/alcoholic drink.

this party blows

Yet another point that these scholars make is that the scripture warns only against drunkenness and not drinking. There are even times in the text where drinking is recommended.

Proverbs 31:6-7   6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, And wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, And remember his misery no more.

This helps the scholars argument because drinking alcohol was seemingly encouraged in many places in the bible.

Ecclesiastes 9:7  7 Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

I certainly did not expect there to be such an inconsistent view on this topic, not only by the theorists and scholars, but also in the text itself. There are verses that warn against drinking wine and there are verses that promote it as a healing agent and a way to be happy. Even after my research, I have seen that both sides have a very strong argument when it comes to reading the text and in historical accounts. Did Jesus drink alcoholic wine? We may never be able to definitively answer that question.



The traitor-Judas Iscariot: What happened to him after his betrayal of Jesus?

kiss of betrayal.jpg
Kiss of Betrayal

After reading Matthew, Mark, and now Luke, we are pretty familiar with the man who betrayed Jesus for silver. His name was Judas Iscariot. He was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, and he is most infamous for the kiss of betrayal that directly led to Jesus’ arrest by the police force of the Sanhedrin. I noticed while reading Luke, however, that there was no further information concerning Judas after Jesus was arrested (as there was in Matthew). Judas is a very interesting character to me. So, I wondered, what happened to this rogue disciple after he betrayed Jesus?

I will start with the explanation of Judas’ departure that we first encounter in Matthew.

Matthew 27:5
“Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.”

This explanation is probably the most widely accepted out of the ones I found. Matthew describes Judas Iscariot as becoming so overwhelmed with remorse for what he had done to Jesus that he gave back his reward of 30 pieces of silver and hanged himself shortly after. There is, however, what seems like a contradiction to this story in Acts.

Judas and 30 pieces of silver.jpg
Judas accepts 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus

Acts 1:18
“Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.”

This biblical explanation in Acts seems to be a completely different ending for Judas Iscariot than what we read in Matthew. The story went from Judas, giving back his money and taking his own life, to Judas buying land with his 30 pieces of silver but then dying by falling face-first and his guts falling out. This field is still known today as the Field of Blood from Judas’ death. It does seem a little confusing that there are two different accounts of Judas’ final days in the gospels.

Now, the third theory is compilation by scholars that puts those two contradictions into one explanation of Judas’ death. Some scholars are keen to believe that the accounts in Matthew and Acts are just two descriptions by two authors that perceived the same event of Judas’ death differently. They aren’t saying that Judas either died by hanging or that he died by disembowelment. They are actually saying that he indeed died by hanging himself (Matthew), but then (as morbid as it is) his body hung for several days in the tree causing his body to swell in the heat. When the branch finally fell, these scholars conclude that his abdomen could have easily burst which would explain the description of Judas’ death found in Acts where his “entrails gushed out”.

judas death in matt and acts.png
Portrayal of Judas’ death by hanging and falling

The next theory of Judas switches gears entirely. In the Gospel of Judas, Judas Iscariot is not necessarily the traitor that he is considered to be by most today. In this version of the story, Judas turns Jesus over to the authorities for execution upon Jesus’ request, as part of a plan to release his spirit from his body. In this account, Judas was faithfully obeying the wishes of his master, Jesus. Therefore, he was innocent of betrayal because Jesus asked him to be turned over to authorities. This could possibly mean that Judas never received any pieces of silver. This, in turn, would mean that he never bought any farm land (as in Acts), nor did he feel remorse (as in Matthew) because he was only following Jesus’ command. So, in theory, he wouldn’t have been in on his newly purchased farmland where he fell and his abdomen burst, but he also wouldn’t have committed suicide. As far as this theory of Judas goes, he could have lived out the remainder of his days in peace. I could not find any definitive future for Judas in this account, though, so this is simply speculation on my part.

Lastly, there is a theory by Piapas, a bishop of Hierapolis and a disciple of John.
(WARNING: The following account by Piapas is extremely grotesque and could be disturbing to some readers!!)

Judas did not die by hanging[45] but lived on, having been cut down before he choked to death. Indeed, the Acts of the Apostles makes this clear: Falling headlong he burst open in the middle and his intestines spilled out.[46] Papias, the disciple of John, recounts this more clearly in the fourth book of the Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord, as follows:
Judas was a terrible, walking example of ungodliness in this world, his flesh so bloated that he was not able to pass through a place where a wagon passes easily, not even his bloated head by itself. For his eyelids, they say, were so swollen that he could not see the light at all, and his eyes could not be seen, even by a doctor using an optical instrument, so far had they sunk below the outer surface. His genitals appeared more loathsome and larger than anyone else’s, and when he relieved himself there passed through it infection and worms from every part of his body, much to his shame. After much agony and punishment, they say, he finally died in his own place, and because of the stench the area is deserted and uninhabitable even now; in fact, to this day one cannot pass that place without holding one’s nose, so great was the discharge from his body, and so far did it spread over the ground.

This overly gruesome, detailed account of Judas’ last days is different than that of Matthew, Acts, and the Gospel of Judas. Piapas’ story of Judas explains that he was cut down from the tree before he could die from hanging himself. Then, he suffered until his last day from some terrible disease that caused his entire body to swell and become infected.

bad luck brian judas.jpg

I was very surprised at all the theories of Judas’ life/death after his betrayal of Jesus. This is one of the most intriguing subjects I’ve ever looked into. It’s pretty difficult to take a stance on just one of these notions of Judas’ future after Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. If I had to pick the explanation I like the most, I would pick the blended theory of Matthew and Acts. It takes into consideration that the authors probably described the same event, but portrayed it differently in their writing.

Why did the Romans use crucifixion to execute Jesus?


carrying the cross.jpg
Black and white still of the carrying of the cross

The crucifixion scene (chapter 15) in Mark is fairly straight-forward, much like the rest of the book of Mark. The author does not really address why the Romans chose crucifixion as a means of Jesus’ execution. I was curious as to why such a gory, horrific death was selected for a man claiming to be the “King of the Jews”. To non-Christians, those are just words. If a man had made these claims today, it would be likely that no harm would come to him. So, why were these words cause enough for the Roman government to make a man endure, possibly, the most excruciating death imaginable? Was Jesus crucified simply because of his claim to be the Messiah?

Crucifixion was not a practice that originated with the Jews or their judicial laws. The Romans picked up on the practice from the Persians, Carthaginians, and Macedonians  and began to carry out crucifixions regularly. Jesus was not the first to be put to death by crucifixion, and he was not the last. The Romans had been using this method of execution at least 70 years before Jesus Christ was crucified in Golgotha. I was aware that the Romans were known for their brutality, but I was unaware they crucified so many people. Alexander the Great is credited with the crucifixions of  2,000 people when he took the city of Tyre! I was also surprised to learn what type of criminals were sentenced to die by crucifixion (especially when comparing their offenses to that of Jesus’). It was mostly slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state that were unfortunate enough to die by crucifixion. So I wondered, was there not an alternative, more humane way that the Romans could have used to punish Jesus? What other means of punishment could they have used against him?

Well, that proved to be a terrifying find. I found that the other punishments the Romans could have used for Jesus’ crime of sedition were:

beheading, strangling, throwing one from a cliff, burying alive, and even drowning!

I suppose, with the Romans, there was no such thing as humane punishment of criminals. (That is especially the case if the quickest and least painful way to die on that list appears to be beheading!!). So, if all of the punishments of sedition were equally as gruesome and terrifying, there must have been some other reason Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion. This leads me back to my original question. Why was Jesus of Nazareth, when charged with sedition, forced to endure the unimaginable pain of being nailed to a cross and left to suffer for hours?

Depiction of the arrest of Jesus in the garden

There are some scholars who believe that Jesus was not crucified for claiming to be the King of Jews. They believe he was actually crucified because his followers were carrying weapons. Dr. Martin, a professor at Yale, presumes that the Roman government believed that Jesus was a direct threat to them politically. He claims, though, that because the disciples carried swords, it gave Jesus’ adversaries good cause to arrest him and persecute him without question because of the danger they posed. Simon Peter did use a sword to “cut the ear off of one of those arresting Jesus”.  This was a very intriguing theory to me because I never would have considered that to be a reason to arrest someone in the first century.

The trial of Jesus

The most popular opinion of why Jesus was forced to suffer an agonizing death is because it would send the most “lingering message” to the rest of Jesus’ followers. These scholars suppose that the Romans were concerned about Jesus’ presence. They were terrified that this man claiming to be the Messiah would cause uproar and a disruption of their society. They had to make a display of power using the death of Jesus as a public demonstration. They wanted to use Jesus’ death as a message to all of his followers that the Roman government alone had authority over them. With crucifixion, they would be able to exhibit this message loud and clear.

I believe the Romans chose crucifixion for Jesus’ execution because it would make the biggest statement to his followers. They would use this crucifixion as a warning and simply concede in their goals of spreading the Christian gospel. At least, that is what the Romans were hoping. It makes sense that they wanted to make him suffer before he could bring down their power hungry government with a simple claim of greatness. It is also possible, though, that Jesus’ crowd holding weapons made it easier for the Romans to arrest him. Both scholarly opinions on the reason behind the crucifixion of Jesus make valid arguments and definitely provoke a little more thought on the matter.





‘Til divorce do us part: Is it permissible to get divorced?

In the day and age we live in, let’s face it, divorce is more common than coming down with a cold in this winter. More accurately, the divorce rate in the U.S. has risen to roughly 55 out of every 100 marriages. (That’s a pleasant thought isn’t it?…) Well, what is it that we think of when we hear that a married couple is getting a divorce in society today? “Oh, that’s awful!” we say, but we gradually move on with our day because it’s just not a big deal to most people (including Christians) today.

divorce scented candle

In the book of Matthew, it is curious to me that Joseph, so quickly, decided to divorce Mary when he caught news of her pregnancy. I suppose I can’t blame him for jumping to the conclusions he did.  Still, I just imagined marriage in biblical time to be more sacred and come with more finality than what I’m familiar with seeing in the present day. That is what drew my attention to the different viewpoints on the culture of divorce. So, is divorce acceptable under the right circumstance, is it absolutely forbidden in the church, or does its position lay somewhere in a gray area?

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The book of Matthew tells us this,

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'”

Well, that sounds easy enough.

32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

So, what is Jesus trying to get across about the act of divorce?  I suppose it seems pretty clear cut (in this context anyway) that Christ does not condone divorce unless under specific circumstance such as porneia (adultery). However, if you read only from Mark and Luke on this matter, it would appear that divorce under any circumstance is a direct disobedience to God. So, which perspective is correct?

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To find a comfortable stance on the subject, we need all the information.

Of course, there is Matthew 5:32 (see above).

Mal. 2:14-16 God Hates Divorce. He hates it because it always involves unfaithfulness to the solemn covenant of marriage that two partners have entered into before Him, and because it brings harmful consequences to those partners and their children.

1 Corinthians 7:12-15 in summary explains the scenario of a divorce between a nonbeliever and believer. The believer must not divorce the nonbeliever in the marriage. If the nonbeliever chooses to leave, though, then the believer should let him or her go, and let that be the end of it.

Deuteronomy 24:1 said that a husband could divorce his wife if he found ‘something objectionable’ about her.

Wow… No wonder there is not a cohesive viewpoint on this topic.


With that many inconsistent statements, it is very easy to be puzzled on what the ‘correct’ attitude towards divorce should be.

Christians have mainly four different viewpoints when it comes to divorce.

  1. forbidden to divorce, forbidden to remarry
  2. forbidden to divorce, okay to remarry
  3. okay to divorce, but not to remarry
  4. okay to divorce, as well as remarry
We can infer from the varying points of view of divorce that “some find this issue to be unimportant while others see it as an essential doctrine or ethical belief which has great consequences.” There are so many conflicting interpretations of the act of divorce. It could very well be because many interpret the Bible more in the light of their own circumstances of divorce than in the light of what the Bible actually says on the subject.
Given the scripture to refer to, along with the varying viewpoints of the Christian church, I made an effort to come to my own stance on divorce. It’s evident in the Book that divorces did happen, so I feel that must rule out the statement of ‘divorce is forbidden’. However, it’s also unbelievable that a man could simply pick a reason (like his wife looking at him wrong) to divorce his wife and it be acceptable. It may sound like a cop-out, but I do feel like my stance on the matter of divorce is somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. There were some exceptions mentioned above (like the divorce between a believer and nonbeliever and in the case of adultery) that I believe could be valid grounds for a divorce. It just makes sense in my eyes that there must be a way out of a marriage that is harmful (mentally or physically) to one, or both, parties without it being a direct disobedience. It is confusing but very interesting to think about.