PMW 2020-084 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this eighth entry in an 8-part series I am concluding my argument that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, in that it was under the control of Roman-controlled priests. I recommend reading the previous articles first, and in order.
We must recall that Jesus called first century Israel under its unbelieving authorities an “adulterous generation” (Mt 12:39//; 16:4//). That charge harkens back to OT Israel’s unfaithfulness through idolatry. Thus, the first century temple system about which John is writing, is controlled by a corrupt, Messiah-denying high priesthood and has now become an idol linked with and likened to emperor worship. For this reason, Christ begins moving his people away from the temple because with his coming it no longer serves any God-approved purpose. As Wright (Jesus and the Victory of God, 182) observes: Jesus “prophesies that God will destroy the temple . . , not only because it was becoming obsolete but because of its flawed use and Israel’s rejection of Jesus.” Continue reading
PMW 2020-083 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this seventh entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, being run by a corrupt priesthood in collusion with the Roman authorities. I recommend reading the previous articles first, and in order.
Wiens (62) argues regarding Stephen’s sermon that “idolatry is not so much an initial phase [of Israel’s national experience beginning with Moses] as a continuing reality, and that one of Stephen’s main points here is to contrast false and true worship at every stage of Israel’s cult.” Stephen speaks of the golden calf (Ac 7:39-41), Moloch worship (v 43), and finally mentions the Jewish temple which was “made with hands” (v 48). Wiens points out that Israel apparently believed that when they made an idol, they made the god itself, for they requested that Aaron “make for us gods” (v 40; Ex 32:1), whereupon we read that “they made a calf” and “were rejoicing in the works of their hands” (v 41). Thus, “that is what the authors of Exodus and Acts apparently wanted their readers to understand. People create their own gods if they do not worship the God who created the heavens and ‘all these things’” (Wiens 62). Continue reading
PMW 2020-082 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this sixth entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship because of its corrupt high-priestly aristocracy. I recommend reading the previous articles first, and in order.
Gaston (75-76) argues for “a definite anti-cultic polemic in the tradition behind the gospel according to Mark.” Thus, in Mk 14:58 the Lord himself alludes to the temple as an idol for Israel. There we read witnesses against him declaring: “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands [cheirpoiēton] and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” We see cheirpoiēton frequently used of idols in the LXX in the place of eidōlon or tupos. In the LXX the term “almost always” (TDNT 9:436) refers to pagan idols: Lev 26:1; Dt 4:28; 2Ki 19:18; 2Ch 32:19; 27:15; Psa 115:4; 135:15; Isa 2:8; 10:11; 16:12; 19:1; 21:9; 31:7; 46:6; Hab 2:18. Beale states that it “always” refers to idols (Beale, Temple 224n). Simon (133) notes that “chiropoiēton is the technical term, so to say, by which the Septuagint and the Greek-speaking Jews describe the idols.” We also find it in Philo (Vit. Mos. 1:303; 2:51, 88, 165, 168) and the Sibylline Oracles (3:650ff; 4:8-12). Consequently, Evans notes that “made with hands” is a “hint at [the temple’s] idolatrous status”; Lightfoot agrees. Therefore, Walker (10) calls this phrase “potentially incendiary.” Continue reading
PMW 2020-081 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this fifth entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually. I recommend reading the previous articles first, and in order.
Jewish Temple as Pagan Idol
In the final analysis, the Temple system has become for Israel an idol substituting for a right relationship with God. Formalism has replaced vitalism in worship, externalism has pushed out spirituality. The Lord rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for their empty traditionalism which “invalidated the word of God” (Mt 15:1-6), making them “hypocrites” (15:7), and showing that “this people honors Me with their lips, / But their heart is far away from me, / But in vain do they worship Me, / Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (15:8-9). He chastises Peter for not understanding the hypocrisy involved in Pharisaic hand washing rituals (15:15-20), for “not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man” 15:11). Continue reading
PMW 2020-080 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this fourth entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually.
Along with pride in their national shrine the Jews boast of their physical descent from Abraham, as Paul strongly indicates: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I” (2Co 11:22). This involves a trusting in the flesh (Gal 4:23, 39; 1Co 10:18 [Gk]). They pride themselves in physical circumcision (Ro 2:25-29; Gal 5:11; 6:12-13; Php 3:2-3; Tit 1:10). Indeed, they trust in all their ritual traditions as Paul’s testimony shows: “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions” (Gal 1:14). When he defends his apostleship against his opponents he writes: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I” (2Co 11:22).
We see Judaism’s strong ritual concern early in the post-Pentecost Christian witness. In Ac 6:14 Stephen is charged with an attempt to “alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” Scharlemann (102) observes that “the word translated as ‘customs’ reads eth in Greek; and this, in turn, is a translation of the Hebrew minh got. It was used to cover the whole complex set of ritual prescriptions and religious obligations assumed by the Jew when he took upon himself the yoke of the kingdom. It was the word used to refer to carrying out the requirements of the oral tradition.” Continue reading
PMW 2020-079 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this third entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually.
The temple authorities, including especially the high priests, were irrevocably corrupt long before the Jewish War. Indeed, the high priest in Jesus’ day was Anna, of whom Brown (Jn 1:121) notes: “the corruption of the priestly house of Annas was notorious.” According to Josephus: “The principal high-priestly families, with their hired gangs of thugs, not only were feuding among themselves, but had become predatory, seizing by force from the threshing floors the tithes intended for the ordinary priests” (Ant.. 20.180, 206-7). The Babylonian Talmud laments: “Woe is me because of the house of Boethus; woe is me because of their staves! . . . Woe is me because of the house of Ishmael the son of Phabi; woe is me because of their fists! For they are High Priests . . . and their servants beat the people with staves” (Pesah. 57a). “Starting by about 58 or 59, the high priests began surrounding themselves with gangs of ruffians, who would abuse the common priests and general populace” (Horsley HP 45). In fact, “the high priests and royalists actually contributed to the breakdown of social order through their own aggressive, even violent, predatory actions” (Horsley HP 24). Continue reading