Category Archives: People in the Bible

Aquila and Priscilla

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Aquila and his wife Priscilla were Jews and natives of Pontus. Their occupation was tent making. They had fled from Rome to Corinth when the emperor Claudius had commanded all Jews to leave that city. When Paul came to Corinth, he found them and stayed with them for some time, working with them at the trade of tent making.

Later, when Paul was opposed by the Jews, and perhaps to remove any obstacle to his reception by the Gentiles, he left the house of Aquila and dwelled with a man named Justus.

It is not clear when Aquila and Priscilla became Christians, but it was certainly before Paul left Corinth, because they traveled with him to Ephesus. Paul was able to teach them a great deal about Christ in a short time, because we see Aquila and Priscilla giving instruction to Apollos in Ephesus (Acts 18). They appear to have been zealous promoters of the cause of Christ in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19).

Acts 18:2, “And he [Paul] found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them,”

Acts 18:18, “And Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.”

Acts 18:26, “and he [Apollos] began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

Aquila and Priscilla later returned to Rome, and their home there was a place of assembly for believers. See Romans 16:3 and following verses.

Some years after that they seem to have returned to Ephesus, because Paul sends salutations to them there during his second imprisonment at Rome (2 Tim. 4:19), as being with Timothy.

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Servants and Slaves in Palestine

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Some people, called hirelings, were employed for wages in ancient Palestine (Job 7:1; 14:6; Mark 1:20). But most of the servants of the Israelites, as well as those of other eastern peoples of Old Testament times, were slaves or indentured servants. Men and women who were held as property for various reasons and for various lengths of time. Some slaves were bought from neighboring nations or from foreign residents of Canaan. Some were captives taken in war. Some were children of slaves who were born in the house of the master. A slave might himself be a Hebrew who, through poverty, sold himself into servitude until he got back on his feet.

Slavery among the Hebrews was usually a mild and merciful system. The Bible, while it recognizes that slavery exists, does not approve or disapprove of the practice. Numerous standards were set up in the Law for the regulation of slavery and servitude, with laws which regulated both the conditions and the duration of the bondage.

One source of slavery was absolutely forbidden. It was punishable by death to steal or kidnap a human being for the purpose of making him a slave or to sell him to someone else as a slave. This regulation applied to Israelite and foreigner alike.

Deut. 24:7, “If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and makes merchandise of him, or sells him; then that thief shall die; and you shall put evil away from among you.”

 

Exo. 21:16, “And he that steals a man, and sells him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall be surely put to death.”

 

The Treatment of Servants

Each Israelite was considered to be a servant of God. Therefore, he was not to be treated as a bond servant, but as a hired worker; and his master was to rule over him with kindness.

Lev. 25:39-41, “And if thy brother that dwells by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bond servant; But as a hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.”

There were several ways that a Hebrew could become the servant of his brethren:

  • The Israelite, through poverty, might become unable to manage his own affairs or to maintain himself as an independent citizen. In this case he might pass by sale under the power of another. The passage in Lev. 25:39 ff, which lays down the law in these matters, does not imply that such a sale was compulsory. It is understood to mean that the individual sold himself or rather, he sold the rights to his labor to another Jew, so that he might be able to earn subsistence for himself and his family.
  • A Hebrew who had been convicted of theft was required to make restitution to the extent of at least double the value of the amount stolen if the stolen property itself was recovered. In other cases he was to pay four or five times as much as he stole also note the case of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8. If the thief could not make the required restitution, he was sold for his theft and he made restitution by his labor.

Exod. 22:1-3, “If a man shall steal …If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.”

  • Children of a Hebrew servant became, by condition of their birth, became servants of the master (Exod. 21:4).
  • When a man was claimed personally by a creditor, his children were usually sold into bondage with him. While the impoverished man might sell himself into servitude, it was only to work off his debt until the jubilee year. 2 Kings 4:1; Neh. 5:5; Isa. 50:1; Job 24:9.

Every Israelite, male or female, who had become a slave, might be redeemed at any time by relatives or friends by the payment of what was owed. In any case, even if he were not redeemed, he was to be released after six years of service; and he was to be given a present of food and cattle (Exod. 21:2; Deut. 15:12-14). If he brought a wife into service with him, she was to be freed with him. However, if his master had provided him with a wife, the master could require the wife to stay when the man left. The children of such a marriage stayed with the master (Exod. 21:3; Jer. 34:8 ff).
If the Hebrew servant, for love of his wife and children or other reason, preferred not to accept freedom in the seventh year or when his obligation was completed, he was brought before the elders of the community and had his ear pierced as a token of his willingness to give life long servitude to his master (Exod. 21:6; Deut. 15:17).

If a Jew were to become the slave of a Gentile, the servitude could be terminated in two ways. First, it could be terminated by the arrival of the year of jubilee. Second, the servant could be released by payment to the master of the purchase price less the value of the services rendered, based upon the pay scale of a hired laborer (Lev. 25:47-54).

During the time that the slave was possessed by his master, the master had certain power of disposing of him as he would other articles of personal property. He could, for example, leave the servant to his heirs. The servant was said to have a certain monetary value, that is, his labor had a money value; but he was not supposed to be thought of as chattel.

A slave could be freed in one of four ways:

  • By redemption through the payment of money or goods.
  • By manumission, a bill or ticket of freedom issued by the master.
  • By testamentary disposition; the master could specify that the slave was to be freed upon the master’s death, for example.
  • By any act that implied that the slave was a free citizen, such as making an heir of one’s slave.

The Law had several means for the protection of slaves or servants. A servant was entitled to full religious privilege and access to all religious functions and practices, such as sacrifices, Passover and other feasts, circumcision, etc. He was to be given a day of rest on the Sabbath. He was to receive his liberty if the case of some grievous injury such as loss of eye or limb. See other passages: Gen. 17:12; Exod. 12:44; 20:11; 21:20, 26, 27; Lev. 24:17, 22; Deut. 5:14 ff; 12:12, 18.

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Paul the Apostle

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The apostle Paul was one of the most famous citizens of the Roman Empire and without question one of the most influential individuals in history. He was used by the Lord in his missionary and evangelistic activities to set in motion a great deal of the organization known as the Christian Church, the Body of Christ on earth, to the extent that billions of human beings have been directly or indirectly affected by his ministry. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote the foundation documents for the Christian way of life, the Word of God which has changed the lives of millions.

Paul’s Education

Paul was educated by his mother until the age of five. From age five to ten he studied with his father in the Hebrew scriptures and traditional writings. At the same time, being a Roman citizen and living in a Greek and Roman environment, he received a thorough education in the Greek language, history, and culture.

He was sent to Jerusalem at about the age of ten to attend the rabbinical school of Gamaliel, who was the son of Simeon the son of Hillel. Gamaliel was a most eminent rabbi who was mentioned both in the Talmud and in the New Testament (Acts 5:24-40; 22:3). Gamaliel was called Rabban – one of only seven teachers so called. He was a Pharisee, but he rose above party prejudice. He composed a prayer against the Christian “heretics”. He lived and died a Jew.

At this time, Herod was dead, and the Romans had complete control of Judea, hence, there was Roman money, language, and culture. The Jews, therefore, were inclined to cling more closely to their religion as the center of unity. [Refer to the topic: Judean History]

There were two great rabbinical schools, those of Hillel and Schammai. Hillel, the grandfather of Gamaliel, held that tradition was superior to the Law. The school of Schammai despised traditionalists, especially when there teachings clashed with the writings of Moses.

The religious school of Gamaliel (Hillel) was chiefly oral and usually had a prejudice against any book but Scripture. They used a system of Scriptural exegesis, and Josephus in his writings expressed the wish to have such a power of exegesis. When school was in session, learned men met and discussed scriptures, gave various interpretations, suggested illustrations, and quoted precedents. The students were encouraged to question, doubt, even contradict.

When Paul became a Christian, his very thorough education was enormously helpful. He was able to assimilate Christian doctrines rapidly and relate them accurately to the Scripture teaching he had received. From his education, both from Gamaliel and in the desert from the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul developed a divine viewpoint attitude toward human history.

Paul knew that the existence of God can easily be perceived by anyone, that man can become aware of God, but that many men’s deliberate halted this good beginning by immoral activities which accompanied their idolatry. Therefore, Paul had an intense hatred of idolatry of any kind.

Paul’s teaching shows that the only reality is God. Idolatry distorts man’s conception of the world and external nature. Idolatry is the enemy of mankind.

Paul knew the law of growth of human nature. As a Roman, Tarsian, Hebrew, and culturally Greek, he knew of the many distortions of the life of his society. As a nation becomes unhealthy, development is halted. Societies errors as to the nature of God and the true relation of God to man prevented nations from getting rid of their besetting evil.

The books of Acts is the chief authoritative record for the ministries of Paul and the other apostles. For a brief outline of Paul’s ministry, see the Chronological Table of Paul’s Ministry. The most thorough, accurate, and interesting secular work on Paul is The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, by Conybeare and Howson.

Paul, The Prisoner for the Gentiles

The Lord made Paul a missionary to the Gentiles, even revealing to him during the period of his arrest in Palestine, and during his subsequent trials before Jewish and Roman authorities, that he should “be of good cheer, for you must bear witness of Jesus at Rome.”

After a considerable stay at Antioch after his second missionary journey, Paul departed and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order to strengthen the disciples (Acts 18:23). During this time, he also gave directions for the collection for the poor in Jerusalem.

He came to Ephesus, probably in about 53 A.D. He found there twelve disciples of Apollos who had only received John’s baptism and were not aware of the Holy Spirit and Church Age mysteries.

He taught three months in the synagogue in Ephesus. In the face of opposition, he took his classes to the school of one, Tyrannus, where he taught daily for two years. Exorcists were converted and books of magic were burned by the new converts. He paid a visit to Corinth, then returned to Ephesus where he wrote 1 Corinthians.

Paul left for Troas and Macedonia because of the danger in Ephesus from the silversmiths and craftsmen who made articles for the worship of Diana. (See Topic: Ephesus) He sailed to Macedonia to meet Titus, landed at Neapolis and went to Philippi where he was “comforted by Titus.” He sent Titus to Corinth with the second Corinthian letter and instructions for completing the collection there for needy Christians.

Paul traveled through Macedonia and finally arrived at Corinth himself, staying there about three months and writing Romans. He took ship for Miletus where he met for a few days with Ephesian elders. He then sailed (island hopping to Coos, Rhodes, and Patara) to Tyre. From Tyre he wailed to Ptolemais and reached Caesarea.

Paul was warned not to visit Jerusalem. He went anyway and was warmly received by the brethren. He had an interview with James and the elders. A charge was brought against him by the Sanhedrin that “he taught all the Jews among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their sons, neither to walk after their customs.” [For a discussion of the Sanhedrin, see topic: Jewish Religious System]

The Sanhedrin asked Paul to do a public act of the Law in order to prove his faith. There were four men who were to undergo the ritual associated with the Nazarite vow, and Paul was requested to put himself under that vow and to pay the costs of the other four men. He did so.

After this some Jews from Asia stirred up the people against him, charging him with bringing Greeks into the Temple. A Gentile man from Ephesus named Trophimus was with Paul, and the Jews supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple, which would have been a sacrilege. The mob took Paul to kill him, but soldiers of the Roman garrison appeared. Paul spoke to the mob in his own defense, telling of his mission to the Gentiles. They shouted “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live.” (Acts 22:1-23).

The Roman soldiers took Paul to the governor’s castle for interrogation by scourging, at which time Paul claimed his Roman citizenship. The next morning he was taken before the Sanhedrin, but there was no conclusion because of the dissension between the Sadducees and Pharisees. Paul was taken back to the castle for protection, and it was that night that the Lord appeared to Paul telling him to “be of good cheer.” (Acts 23:6‑10)

There arose a conspiracy among forty Jews to assassinate Paul, but Paul’s nephew brought him a warning of the plot. The Romans decided to send him to Caesarea to Felix, the procurator (governor) of Judea (Acts 22:21ff). Before Felix, Paul was merely asked from province he had come. Five days later, the high priest Ananias and some of the Sanhedrin appeared, with Tertullus as their advocate (Acts 24:1‑9). They made charges, which Paul denied. Felix delayed the proceeding further until Claudias Lysias, the captain of the Roman troops n Jerusalem, could come to give evidence.

After a few days, Felix’ wife, Drusilla, a Jewess, wanted to see and hear Paul. Paul appeared and gave the gospel to Felix and Drusilla. Felix trembled but was unrepentant. He wanted a bribe from Paul so did not acquit him. (Drusilla died in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, AD 79.)

Felix kept Paul a prisoner in Caesarea (under loose house arrest) for two years until the arrival of Festus, the new governor. Festus wanted Paul taken back to Jerusalem, but Paul was aware of the danger there and uttered the Latin word Caesarem apello! – “I appeal to Caesar!” Festus was thus obliged to make arrangements for Paul to travel to Rome under escort.

About this time, King Agrippa II, with his sister, Berenice, came to visit Festus, the new governor. Festus pleaded ignorance of Jewish law, so Paul made his testimony before Agrippa, with the greatest of pomp and ceremony. This episode was one of the greatest defenses of the gospel ever recorded. Agrippa said, “Almost you persuade me …”

Festus decided then that Paul was innocent or wrongdoing, and he would have let him go free if he had not appealed to Caesar.

Paul’s Voyage to Rome

Paul’s escort on the trip to Rome was a platoon of Roman soldiers under Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Cohort. They sailed in a coasting vessel to Adramyttium and Sidon. Paul was given liberty. The next port was Myra, from which they took ship to Italy.

They sailed to Crete, stayed at the port of Fair Havens for one month, sailed for Phoenix, and were driven on the rocks at Malta where they stayed for three months. From Malta they sailed in the vessel “Castor and Pollux” to Syracuse (Sicily) and Rhegium, the port city of the Italian province of Puteoli. From there they went to Rome on the Appian Way.

In Rome Paul dwelled in his own hired house under the supervision of a Prefect of the Praetorian Guard. He was permitted t o hold meetings, and he met with Jewish elders, winning some of them to Christ. This period lasted two years, during which he wrote Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians.

He was acquitted by Nero, so he was free to travel and did so. His visits were to Crete and to Asia Minor; and it is widely thought that he traveled in Spain on a missionary journey. He is thought to have been arrested again in Ephesus and taken again to Rome from there, but this time treated as a malefactor, with his friends deserting him (except for Luke and Onesiphorus). There was persecution in Rome at this time, and a campaign of terror by Nero against the Christians. Paul was condemned and executed in Rome.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.”

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Aquila and Priscilla – Two friends of Paul whom he met in Corinth, who traveled to Ephesus with him, and were instructors of Apollos. [JAN 2012]

Aquila and his wife Priscilla were Jews and natives of Pontus. Their occupation was tent making. They had fled from Rome to Corinth when the emperor Claudius had commanded all Jews to leave that city. When Paul came to Corinth, he found them and stayed with them for some time, working with them at the trade of tent making.

Later, when Paul was opposed by the Jews, and perhaps to remove any obstacle to his reception by the Gentiles, he left the house of Aquila and dwelled with a man named Justus.

It is not clear when Aquila and Priscilla became Christians, but it was certainly before Paul left Corinth, because they traveled with him to Ephesus. Paul was able to teach them a great deal about Christ in a short time, because we see Aquila and Priscilla giving instruction to Apollos in Ephesus (Acts 18). They appear to have been zealous promoters of the cause of Christ in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19).

Acts 18:2, “And he [Paul] found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them,

Acts 18:18, “And Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.

Acts 18:26, “and he [Apollos] began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Aquila and Priscilla later returned to Rome, and their home there was a place of assembly for believers. See Romans 16:3 and following verses.

Some years after that they seem to have returned to Ephesus, because Paul sends salutations to them there during his second imprisonment at Rome (2 Tim. 4:19), as being with Timothy.

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Apollos – a short account of what the Bible has to say about this friend of the apostle Paul. [JAN 2012]

The New Testament character Apollos was a well-educated man from the city of Alexandria in Egypt. He was well acquainted with the Old Testament scriptures and was familiar with John the Baptist’s teachings. About A.D. 56 he came to Ephesus where he began to teach in the synagogue the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

Aquila and his wife Priscilla were at the church in Ephesus and heard Apollos speaking. They took him aside and provided him with doctrinal teaching to bring him up to date about Christ, the cross, the resurrection, etc. After this, Apollos went to preach in Achaia, especially at Corinth, having been highly recommended by the Ephesian Christians. He was very effective in representing the claims of Christ to the Jews.

Acts 18:24-28 ,Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he helped greatly those who had believed through grace; for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Acts 19:1,And it came about that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples,

In Corinth, Apollos was also very useful in watering the spiritual seed which Paul had planted. He was obviously a skilled teacher of Bible truth and much appreciated by the believers there. Unfortunately, many of the Corinthian believers became so attached to him that they produced a schism in the church, with some taking Apollos’ part, some Paul’s, and some staying out of the conflict. But it is obvious that Apollos did not encourage this party feeling, seen in the approving way Paul speaks of him and in the fact that Apollos did not want to return to Corinth when he was with Paul at Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:12).

1 Cor. 1:12,Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying,”I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.

1 Cor. 3:4-6,For when one says,”I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.

1 Cor. 3:22,whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you,

1 Cor. 4:6,Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.

1 Cor. 16:12,But concerning Apollos our brother, I encouraged him greatly to come to you with the brethren; and it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity.

Paul mentions Apollos again in Titus 3:13 and recommends him and Zenas the lawyer to Titus, knowing that they intended to visit Crete.

Titus 3:13, “Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them.”

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Barnabas – The Acts of the Apostles describes Barnabas as ‘a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith’ (Acts 6:24). [NOV 2012]

Introduction

Barnabas was born in Cyprus and died in Salamis in the first century. His Jewish parents called him Joseph, but when he sold all his goods and gave the money to the apostles in Jerusalem, the Christians gave him a new name: Barnabas, which means son of consolation or man of encouragement. Although Barnabas was not among the original twelve, he is traditionally thought to have been among the seventy-two commissioned by Jesus to preach; thus, he is given the honorary title of apostle.

Barnabas the Levite lived with the earliest Christians in Jerusalem. He was one of the first to welcome Saint Paul, the former persecutor of the early church, and his former schoolmate. He persuaded the Christians of Jerusalem to accept Paul’s claim that he was now a believer in Jesus (Acts 9:26-30). Barnabas was sent to Antioch, Syria, to investigate the community of non-Jewish believers there (Acts 11:22 ff), and brought Paul there from Tarsus. It was in Antioch that the followers of The Way were first called Christians. With Paul he took the donation from Antioch to Jerusalem community during a famine.

After this Barnabas, his cousin John Mark, and Paul returned to Antioch before setting out together on the first missionary journey of the Christian church (Acts 13:2ff). They went first to Cyprus, Barnabas’s native land, and for this reason Barnabas is honored as the founder of the Cypriot church. Then they continued on to Perga (whence John Mark returned to Jerusalem), Antioch in Pisidia (where they were so violently opposed by the Jews that they decided to preach to the pagans) and Iconium (where they were stoned).

At Lystra in Lycaonia, they were thought to be gods because of the miracles they worked and the physical beauty of Barnabas. After being taken as pagan gods, they were stoned out of the city, and fled back to Antioch in Syria. When a dispute arose regarding the observance of the Jewish laws and customs, Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem for the council that decided that non-Jews would not have to be circumcised to be baptized.

When they returned to Antioch, Barnabas wanted Paul and John Mark to continue their travels with him, but Paul fell out with John Mark, perhaps because John Mark had abandoned them at Perga. In spite of Paul’s extremely forceful character, Barnabas took Mark’s side, demonstrating that he was a man of considerable determination and courage. Acts 15:39 states, “. . . there arose a sharp contention between them. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.” Paul chose a new ally, Silas, and went elsewhere to strengthen the churches. Little more is heard of Barnabas though it is believed that the rift with Paul was healed because we read about Barnabas later in 1 Corinthians 9:6. Paul also discusses his relationship to Barnabas in his letter to the Galatians.

The Mission of Barnabas

When intelligence came to Jerusalem that Peter had broken through the restraints of the Jewish law and had even eaten at the table of the Gentiles (Acts 11:3), there was general surprise and displeasure among those of the circumcision. But when he explained to them all the transaction, they approved his conduct, and praised God for His mercy to the heathen (Acts 11:18). Soon news came from a greater distance which showed that the same unexpected change was operating more widely.

The persecution in which Stephen was killed resulted in a general dispersion of the Christians. Wherever they went they spoke to their Jewish brethren of their faith that the promises had been fulfilled in the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This dispersion and preaching of the gospel extended even to the island of Cyprus and along the Phoenician coast as far as Antioch. For some time the glad tidings were made known only to the scattered children of Israel. Some of the Hellenistic Jews, natives of Cyprus and Cyrene, spoke to the Greeks themselves at Antioch, and the Holy Spirit gave such power to the word that a vast number believed and turned to the Lord. The news was not long in traveling to Jerusalem. Perhaps some message was sent in haste to the apostles of the church. The Jewish Christians in Antioch might be perplexed how to deal with the new Gentile converts and it is not unnatural to suppose that the presence of Barnabas might be anxiously desired by the fellow missionaries of his native island.

We ought to observe the honorable place which the island of Cyprus was permitted to occupy in the first work of Christianity. We shall soon trace the footsteps of the apostle to the heathen in the beginning of his travels over the length of this island and see here the first earthly potentate converted and linking his name forever with that of Saint Paul (Acts 13:6-9). Now, while Saul is yet at Tarsus, men of Cyprus are made the instruments of awakening the Gentiles, one of them might be that Mnason of Cyprus who afterwards was his host at Jerusalem (Acts 21:16), and Joses the Levite of Cyprus, whom the apostles had long ago called the son of consolation and who had removed all the prejudice which looked suspiciously on Saul’s conversion (Acts 9:27), is the first teacher sent by the Jerusalem church to the new disciples at Antioch. “He was a good man and full of the Holy spirit and of faith.” (Acts 11:24) He rejoiced when he saw what God’s grace was doing, he exhorted all to cling fast to the Savior whom they had found, and he labored himself with abundant success. Feeling the greatness of the work and remembering the zeal and strong character of his friend, whose vocation to this particular task of instructing the heathen was doubtless well known to him, he departed to Tarsus to seek Saul.

Whatever length of time had elapsed since Saul came from Jerusalem to Tarsus, and however that time had been employed by him, whether he had already founded any of those churches in his native Cilicia, which we read of soon after (Acts 15:41), whether he had there undergone any of those manifold labors and sufferings recorded by himself (2 Cor. 11) but omitted by Saint Luke, whether by active intercourse with the Gentiles, by study of their literature, by traveling, by discoursing with the philosophers, he had been making himself acquainted with their opinions and their prejudices, and so preparing his mind for the work that was before him, or whether he had been waiting in silence for the call of God’s providence, praying for guidance from above, reflecting on the condition of the Gentiles, and gazing more and more closely on the plan of the world’s redemption, however this may be, it must have been an eventful day when Barnabas, having come across the sea from Seleucia, or round by the defiles of Mount Amanus, suddenly appeared in the streets of Tarsus. The last time the two friends had met was in Jerusalem. that they then hoped, and probably more than they then thought possible, (Acts 11:18) Barnabas had seen the grace of God (Acts 11:23) with his own eyes at Antioch, and under his own teaching a great multitude (Acts 11:24) had been added to the Lord. He needed assistance. He needed the presence of one whose wisdom was higher than his own, whose zeal was an example to all, and whose peculiar mission had been miraculously declared. Saul recognized the voice of God in the words of Barnabas, and the two friends traveled in all haste to the Syrian metropolis.

Traditions of Barnabas

Tradition says that Barnabas preached in Alexandria and Rome, and was stoned to death at Salamis about 61 A.D. He is considered the founder of the Cypriot church. The Order of Barnabites, founded by Saint Antony Zaccaria in Milan in 1530 A.D., took their name from their principal church named for Barnabas, who was once believed to have been the first bishop of Milan.

The apocryphal epistle of Barnabas was long attributed to him, but modern scholarship now attributes it to an Alexandrian Christian between 70 and 100 A.D.

The gospel of Barnabas was probably authored by an Italian Christian who became an Muslim. The acts of Barnabas, once attributed to John Mark, are now known to have been written in the 5th century A.D.

Barnabas is especially venerated in Florence, Italy, and Cyprus. He is invoked against hailstorms and as a peacemaker.

Bible references to Barnabas: Acts 4:36; 9:27; 11:22, 30; 12:25; 13:1, 2, 7, 43, 46, 50; 14:12, 14, 20; 15:2, 12, 22, 25, 35, 36, 37, 39; 1 Cor. 9:6; Gal. 2:1, 9, 13; Col. 4:10.

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Moabites

The Moabites were descendants of Lot, Moab being the son of Lot and his older daughter.

[Ammon was the son of Lot with his younger daughter, thus the Ammonites. The Edomites were descended from Esau, the son of Isaac. The Amalekites were descended from Eliphaz, a son of Esau.]

Geography of Moab

The territory of Moab is usually described in three parts:

  • The field of Moab, enclosed by natural fortifications. This portion was bounded on the north by the gorge of the Arnon river; on the west by the Dead Sea cliffs; on the south and east by a circle of hills which have no natural opening except for the flow of the Arnon.
  • The land of Moab was the more open country from the Arnon north to the hills of Gilead.
  • The plains of Moab was the district in the low, tropical depths of the valley of the Jordan River.

When the Israelites came up from Egypt, they approached Moab from the southeast, outside the bordering circle of hills. They were forbidden to disturb the Moabites in their enjoyment of the land which they had taken from the Emim. Deut. 2:9-11

Therefore, they applied for permission to pass through the territory of Moab. This was refused, so they went around its borders.

History of Moab

Although the Moabites refused passage to the Israelites, Moab did not fight against Israel while they were neighbors for more than 300 years. In fact, Deut. 2:29 makes no complaint about hostility either of Edom or Moab, only mentioning that Moab lacked hospitality and hired Balaam to curse Israel.

There is no hint that either nation hindered Israel in its passage along the borders, although Edom did stand ready to fight should its territory be encroached upon. Deut. 2:29 indicates that trade was carried on.

The Moabites were much too friendly, in fact, sending their daughters to cultivate friendly relations with Israelite men and to entice them into idolatry. Num. 25:2 (note feminine of verb)

The Moabites peaceful character and their many possessions may account for the terror of Moabite King Balak at the approach of the Israelites. He took rather special means to guard against them. Instead of sending his army out, he first consulted with the leaders of Midian. Moab and Midian were kin by virtue of their common descent from Terah, Moab through Lot from Haran, and Midian from Abraham by Keturah. Gen. 11:27; 19:37; 25:2

The result of this conference was that the two nations united in sending for the prophet Balaam. Num. 25

The Exclusion of Moab

The exclusion of Moabites and Ammonites from the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation was not on account of hostility but because of their lack of hospitality and the hiring of Balaam. Deut. 23:4 There is no direct prohibition of marriage with Moabites. These rules were made against Canaanites.

The Time of the Judges

After the conquest of Canaan, Moab oppressed Israel for 18 years. It is significant, however, that “The Lord strengthened Eglon, the King of Moab, against Israel … and he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek and went out and smote Israel” (Judges 3:12,13). The Moabite conquest ended with the assassination of Eglon by the judge Ehud.

The Time of the Kingdom

We read that Saul fought against Moab, 1 Sam. 14:47.

Early relations seemed fairly friendly, however, as we see in Ruth.

David, when being pressed by Saul, entrusted the safe keeping of his father and mother to the king of Moab. But, twenty years later, for some reason, he treated the Moabites hard and took spoil from them for the treasure of the temple, 2 Sam. 8:2. The Moabites became tributary to David. Later they again sent their daughters, this time to Saul to lead him astray.

The Moabites were still paying tribute in the days of Ahab, 2 Kings 3:4,5. After Ahab, they revolted. They collected an army (2 Chron. 20) of Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, and attacked Judah, then ruled by Jehoshaphat. Judah met them with prayer and praise of God. God caused dissension to break out in the camp of the enemy. The Moabites and Ammonites first slaughtered the Edomites, then each other, and Israel gathered the spoil.

Moabites continued to appear in Bible accounts and in historical accounts. [ See Unger’s Bible Handbook ] Josephus described Moab as still a great nation in Roman times. The name “Moab” remained in history until about 380 AD in the time of Eusebius.

The language of Moab was a dialect of Hebrew, differing from Biblical Hebrew only in some small details.

THE RELIGION OF MOAB

Chemosh (ke-mosh) was the national deity of Moab. This god was honored with cruel and perverse practices including child sacrifices like those of Molech. The account on the Moabite Stone (see below) states that “the anger of Chemosh” is the reason for Israel’s subjugation of Moab.

Solomon made a fatal mistake of rearing an altar to Chemosh in Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:7, and this abomination was not destroyed until almost 300 years later during the purge carried out by Josiah (2 Kings 23:13).

THE MOABITE STONE

The Moabite Stone is an important memorial of alphabetic writing. Erected by Mesha, king of Moab, to record his successful revolt against Israel and to give honor to the god Chemosh for his victory. The stone was set up about 850 BC

The stone was discovered in 1868 by a German missionary, Klein. He was on a visit to Moab and was told by an Arab sheik that there was an inscribed stone lying at the town of Dhiban, the ancient city of Dibon. On examining the stone he found it to be a stele of black basalt, round at the top and nearly four feet in length and two in width. There were thirty-four lines of inscription using the Phoenician alphabet.

Klein was not fully aware of the importance of his find. He returned to Jerusalem and informed the Prussian consulate of the discovery. The Prussians made plans to obtain the stone.

The next year, a member of the French consulate, M. Clearmont-Ganneau, heard that the stone was still lying in the open, exposed to the weather. He determined to get possession of it for France. He sent Arab natives to get “squeezes” made and to arrange the purchase of the stone.

These Arabs quarreled in the presence of some of the inhabitants of Dhiban, but an impression was made and delivered to the French consulate.

But the bidding for the stone, the arguments, and the rivalry between the Prussians and the French aroused in both Moabite and Turkish officials a good idea of the stone’s value. So the governor of the province naturally demanded the prize for himself. The Arabs of Dhiban, rather than lose the stone for nothing to the governor of their province, lighted a fire under it, and when it was very hot, poured cold water on it and shivered it into pieces.

The pieces of the Moabite stone were distributed to various families in the area to put into their corn granaries as charms to protect from corn blight. A considerable number of these fragments have since been recovered, but without the squeeze which was taken when the stone was intact, it would have been impossible to fit many of them together.

The writing on the stone was deciphered in 1886 by two German professors who worked for weeks in the Louvre, where the squeeze may still be seen. The inscription on the stone supplements and corroborates the history of King Mesha of Moab as recorded in 2 Kings 3:4‑27. The inscription is proof that the Moabites were akin to Israelites in language as well as in race. The likeness between the languages of Moab and Israel extends beyond grammar and syntax. It is a likeness which exists also in thought.

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