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
PMW 2020-078 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this second 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.
Temple Abuse; Temple Transience
Over and over again the temple cult is disparaged by the OT prophets when Israel falls into sin: Isa 1:10-17; 29:13; 43:23-24; Jer 6:20; 7:1-6, 21-22; 11:15; Eze 20:25; Hos 6:5-6; Am 4:4-5; 5:21-25; 9:1; Mic 6:1-8; Mal 1:10. Jeremiah even presents God as dramatically denying he ever directed Israel to sacrifice: “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you’ ” (Jer 7:22-23). Continue reading
PMW 2020-077 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this 8-part series I will be arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually. Let’s begin (it’s almost time for breakfast).
As John writes, Israel has been a part of the Roman regime for almost a century. As such she enjoyed special leagues of “friendship and mutual alliance” which began with Julius Caesar (Jos. Ant. 14:10:1 §185; cf. Leon 8-11). Her love for Caesar was so great that after he was murdered, Jews wept for many nights at the site of his cremation (Suetonius, Jul. 84:5). Josephus, a priestly member of the Jewish aristocracy, praises Julius and records many of the treaties with the Jews which were established by Caesar and later Roman authorities (Ant. 14:10:2-25 §190-267). He then declares: “there are many such decrees of the senate and imperators of the Romans and those different from these before us” (Ant. 14:10:26). Israel engages these alignments despite her OT prophets condemning unholy alliances as harlotry (e.g., Hos 7:11; cf. Rev 5 Excursus). As noted above, the exercise of the Land beast’s authority is “in his [the Roman emperor’s] presence” (13:1a). Later in Rev 17 we will see Israel’s alliance symbolized by a harlot engaged in a drunken sexual orgy with the sea beast. Continue reading
PMW 2020-033 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
I appreciate the questions readers send to me. I regret that I am not able to answer them quickly, due to my schedule. However, here is one that is a favorite among dispensationalists. And it is an intriguing one.
You argue that John must be measuring an actual, historical temple in Rev 11:1-2. Yet Ezekiel measures a temple, even though it does not exist in history. This suggests that the temple does not need to exist for John to measure it. How do you explain this problem for your view?
Thanks for your perceptive question. Please consider the following response. Continue reading