Monthly Archives: October 2017


No set of eyes ever pierced another soul so deeply. Peter had just denied his Lord with words marred with cursing and swearing, saying, “I know not the man” (Matt. 26:74). Immediately, while he was still speaking, “the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62). How alone the Lord must have been (Is. 53:3,11; Psalm 22:1) and how guilty Peter must have felt. One glance from those eyes, eyes that were sometimes like flames of fire, conveyed more than we can ever know (Rev. 1:14,17).

Peter was a fisherman by trade, along with his brother Andrew (Matt. 4:18). They probably followed in the occupation of their father, Jonas, though we know nothing about him directly (Matt. 16:18). Peter owned at least one ship, himself (Luke 5:4), and was in a business partnership with James and John (Luke 5:7,10). He was a married man (Mark 1:30; I Cor. 9:5), though we have no record of any children born to him. Again, along with his brother Andrew, Peter owned a home in Capernaum (Luke 4:38; Mark 1:29), though his hometown was apparently Bethsaida (John 1:44). It is believed that the ruins of Peter’s house can still be found in Capernaum. He and his wife, his mother-in-law and Andrew lived in this place and Jesus was there often.

The Barjona family must have been somewhat religiously inclined. Though a fisherman by trade, Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:35, 37,40). When Andrew had heard John speak regarding Jesus as the Lamb of God, he, along with another disciple, probably John, followed Jesus and spent the rest of the day with Him (John 1:39). Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a full day of conversation with the Lord and wouldn’t it be nice to know what they discussed then? One cannot but help believe that Andrew and John spoke of this conversation with Jesus with their respective brothers, Simon and James.

Indeed, after his day with the Lord, the first task of Andrew was to find his brother, Simon, and bring Him to Jesus and introduce Jesus to him as the Messiah (John 1:38-40). When Jesus later saw Simon and Andrew working, He called them and they “straightway left their nets and followed Him” (Matt. 4:18,19). They not only left their nets but they left all and followed Him (Mark 10:28). Their previous encounter with Jesus no doubt prepared them for this call. After this time, nothing was ever the same for Simon.

After Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth, He came into Capernaum and Simon heard Him teach with power on the Sabbath days (Luke 4:31,32), and perform wondrous miracles (Luke 4:33-37), including healing his wife’s mother from a great fever (Luke 4:38-41). On one of those occasions when Jesus was teaching, He entered into Simon’s boat (Luke 5:3). When the teaching ended, Jesus instructed him to “Launch into the deep” and let down his nets. After protesting, Simon was then so astonished and overwhelmed by the great catch of fish miraculously produced, that he fell to his knees before Jesus and proclaimed his own sinfulness before the holy Son of God (Luke 5:4-8).

On another occasion, sometime between three and six in the morning, the waves of the Sea of Galilee were being whipped up by stormy winds, tossing around a small boat (Matt. 14:24). The apostles, at Jesus’ command, had taken this boat to get to the other side of the sea (Matt. 14:22). But during the darkness of the night Peter, in the ship with the other apostles, saw Jesus coming to them, walking on the sea (Matt. 14:24,25)! Walking on the sea! Peter impetuously requested to walk to Jesus on the storm-tossed sea and as long as he kept his eyes on the Lord, he, too, walked on the water (Matt. 14:29). But when the sea-water and the wind hit him in the face, and he took his eyes off of the Lord, he began to sink, only to be saved by the Lord and rebuked for his lack of faith (Matt. 14:30,31).

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, and asked His apostles who people were saying that He was, they reported the popular views that He was John, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets come back to life (Matt. 16:13,14). But when Jesus asked the more personal question “But whom do ye say that I am?” only Peter responded. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Not that the other apostles did not believe the same, but only Peter was bold enough to give it voice at that moment. His response showed the spiritual heights to which Peter could rise.

And yet, Peter could also wildly miss the mark. After bringing them to the point of acknowledging His deity, Jesus then began to reveal to them that He must suffer (Matt. 16:21). But Peter, in tempting the Lord not to go through these trials, was being used as a tool of satan and the Lord rebuked him for it just as He had praised him for his previous confession (Matt. 16:22,23). Then, shortly after this, during the Transfiguration, Peter would place on the same level as Jesus both Moses and Elijah only to be rebuked by the voice of God from Heaven commanding obedience to Christ alone (Matt. 17:1-5).

Peter was again greatly missing the mark. He had followed the Lord after His arrest and into His trial. Only shortly before he had confidently affirmed that, though all men should be offended, he would never be offended because of Jesus (Matt. 26:33). But now, under the real possibility of capital punishment, and when it seemed everything had gone wrong, he was cursing and swearing that he did not know “the Man,” and would not so much as mention His name (Matt. 26:72). Then, in one of the most powerful moments recorded in scripture, “the Lord turned and looked upon Peter” and Peter’s courage completely left him. He swiftly fled and found a place to weep bitterly (Luke 22:62).

A lesser, weaker man, might have taken the easy way out and taken his own life (Matt. 27:1-5). But Peter, though full of human imperfections, was not weak. He cried his heart out, he entertained doubts (Mark 16:14), he wanted to go back to his old trade, until the Lord proved His resurrection by His appearance (Luke 24:34; I Cor. 15:). He faced his mistakes.  Then a little over a month later, Peter stood in the public square in the very heart of Jerusalem, when it was full of more people than at any other time of the year, and unashamedly and unafraid proudly proclaimed the resurrected Lord (Acts 2).

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3).

Eric L. Padgett


She saw the precious, little child to whom she gave birth, now a man full grown, suspended between heaven and earth, beaten, bloodied, mocked and nailed to a cruel, Roman cross. As she gazed, not just upon the God who condescended to man’s low estate (Phil. 2:5ff), but also upon the man who was her son, surely a sword pierced her to the very soul, just as old Simeon had prophesied thirty-three years earlier (Luke 2:35). What a blessed burden this woman bore throughout her life. It is no wonder that she, above all women, was chosen by the Lord to be the vessel which, after He had left the Glories of Heaven, carried Him to this mundane, mortal sphere.

No less than a personal call from the angel Gabriel would suffice to announce to her the glorious events which unfolded in her life and changed the world (Luke 1:26). She was highly favored by the Lord and blessed among women (1:28). Needless to say, she was “troubled at his saying” that she would bear the Son of God (Luke 1:29, 32, 35). Yet her words, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” marked her meek acceptance of Gabriel’s shocking announcement and demonstrated her deep faith and humble spirit. This is the same humble attitude the Lord exhibited in the garden when He said, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Luke 26:39).

Who better to understand and relate to what she was experiencing than Elizabeth? Gabriel had mentioned her cousin, Elizabeth, who was also blessed to “conceive a son in her old age” (1:36). She was already six months with child when Gabriel announced Mary’s conception and when the two met, the babe in her womb leaped for joy (1:44). Mary’s subsequent praise of the Lord demonstrated a great humility and a long and intimate acquaintance with Holy Scripture, especially Hannah’s song of thanksgiving (cf. I Sam. 2:1-10 and Luke 1:46-55). These two women spent the next three months communing with one another likely until just after John was born (Luke 1:56). Now she had to face Joseph.

How does a woman tell her betrothed that she is with child that is not his but that she has not been unfaithful to him? That this child is the promised Messiah and is a supernatural work of God? How would a man accept that? It was difficult enough for Joseph, himself a just and compassionate and holy man, for he thought it best to put her away privily to spare her the shame. Even in what he thought might be her sin, her character spoke for her until the Lord assured him that Mary was innocent. He would thenceforth share in any reproach brought upon the family by those assuming the child had been born out of wedlock (cf. John 8:41).

Mary’s composure throughout all the tumultuous events of her life testify to her faith and grace. Money was scarce for them (cf. Luke 2:22-24; Lev. 12:6-8). Traveling at this time for the census would be difficult (Luke 2:1), giving birth to Jesus in the manger because there was no room in the inn (2:7), dealing with the speculations of those who heard the shepherds’ report of the heavenly host’s announcement (Luke 2:8-20, see esp. v. 18), taking Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord forty days later (Luke 2:22; Lev. 12:2,4 – and where she received Simeon and Anna’s prophecies – vv. 25-39), receiving the magi (Matt. 2:10-12), fleeing the country to escape Herod’s cruelty (Matt. 2:13-15), returning to the lightly esteemed Nazareth (Matt. 2:23; John 1:46), running his business and rearing other sons and daughters (Matt. 13:55,56; Mark 6:3) would no doubt challenge this family.

When Jesus was twelve years old, when the family went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover and returned back home, Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem unbeknownst to Mary and Joseph, arguing with the doctors of the law (Luke 2:41-45). When they discovered that He was not with them and went back to Jerusalem, Mary reproved Him having treated them thus. However, Mary was gently reproved by the words of the young Jesus when He told her: “How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” (2:49). And though she did not yet fully understand all these things, she kept them in her heart (Luke 2:50,51).

After his cousin John’s endorsement of Him (John 1:29-37; Matt. 3:7-15), particularly after the Father in Heaven’s announcement of His divinity (Matt. 3:16,17), and after His temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13), Jesus publicly announced Himself as Messiah in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30). He had already gained fame as a teacher in the synagogues in the region (Luke 4:14,15). Though this is where Mary and Joseph had reared Jesus, no mention is made of her presence there or of her other children, when the multitudes attempted to kill Him (Luke 4:28-30). As is usually the case, Mary kept herself in the background.

Mary also bore the burden of a divided family. Her other children, James, Joseph, Simon, Judas and at least two daughters (Matt. 13:55,56; Mark 6:3), did not believe Jesus’ claim that He was the Messiah or that He could perform miracles. They urged Him to go to into Judea, which was unsafe for Him at that time, to show Himself to the disciples (John 7:3-5). While His brethren at first did not believe Him, it seems after some time they were converted (Acts 1:14). James and Judas, at least, became believers for they wrote the New Testament epistles which bear their names. What role Mary played in their conversion, if any, cannot be known.

In Cana of Galilee, Mary appealed to Jesus to remedy a mundane social oversight–there was a lack of wine at the wedding to which Jesus was invited. Perhaps Jesus’ own presence there had caused the problem, because many more people might have come knowing that He would be there. And perhaps this is why Mary wanted Jesus to do something which would prove His claims. And though she is gently rebuked by Jesus for assuming she could control His actions, she, nevertheless, informs the servants to do whatever He tells them. She acts the part of a loving mother who desires to see her child succeed.

It must have been excruciating for Mary to see her son treated as He was by the multitude, doubted, despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. She spent the greater part of His life with Him in Nazareth as He carried on Joseph’s trade until He began to publicly proclaim Himself as Messiah. If the Lord ever appeared to Mary after His resurrection, there is no Record of it. The last we see of Mary is when she continued with one accord with the apostles and disciples, the women that followed and supported Jesus, and her children. None of the New Testament epistles directly mention her again.

She was a sincere, humble and godly woman, devoted to the Lord and His Cause. She was a woman most worthy to be emulated, but not worthy of worship. She was, after all, a woman, a wife and a mother.

Eric L. Padgett


Mothers and fathers could be heard weeping openly and loudly. There was no comforting these grieving parents and families at the loss of their children, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, and grandchildren. These innocents were cruelly and systematically murdered without hesitation, without remorse, all to fulfill the desires and political ambitions of one, evil man. This is not a mass murder scene in some modern metropolis, but the scene in a little, obscure village two thousand years ago.

The perpetrator of this heinous, unforgettable slaughter was king Herod the Great. Herod (meaning “hero” or “son of a hero”) was an Idumean by birth, though it was claimed, apparently falsely, that his family came from one of the more important Jewish families to come out of the Captivity. He is said to have been intelligent and capable but mercilessly conniving and cruel. He aligned himself with whatever political forces in Rome would best serve his fortunes. He would stop at nothing, not even blatant infanticide, to advance his political standing and power and he ruled firmly for the next thirty-three years (37 B.C. – 4 B.C.).

Much has been made by modernists over the fact that in all of contemporary, written history only Matthew records this gruesome event (Matt. 2:16-18). But it is well known that this slaughter was clearly within the moral capabilities of Herod. After Herod took Jerusalem by military force (37 B.C.), he summarily executed forty-five of his political enemies, including all of the Sanhedrin save two. He also had John Hyrcanus, his wife’s grandfather, strangled because he thought he was plotting to take the kingdom from him. Indeed, he “slew also all those of his own family” who believed “that Herod’s government should cease, and his posterity should be deprived of it” (Ant. 17:2:4), including his wife and sons.

It was during the last days of Herod the king that Jesus was born (Matt. 2:1, 19,20). Hearing that influential foreigners were looking for the one born king of the Jews not only troubled Herod but also all Jerusalem. The citizens of Jerusalem were no doubt troubled because they feared what this old despot would do. Their fears were justified for he slaughtered dozens of innocent children to kill just one whom he feared would depose him as king.

The Holy Spirit says that these events fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:15). Some, including McGarvey, have said that Jeremiah did not intend this as a prophecy of these events but that Matthew merely adopted the wording as a fitting representation of the current situation. But the greater context of the passage in Jeremiah is clearly Messianic and other passages are used in the same way (i.e., Is. 7:14; II Sam. 7:12,13). If the author (in this case, the Holy Spirit) of a passage (Jer. 31:15) says that this is it’s fulfillment (Matt. 2:16-18), what right do we have to tell Him that He is wrong?

Josephus tells us that before Herod died, he realized no one would mourn his death. To make certain that there would be mourning on that occasion, Herod called to Jerusalem “all the principal men of the entire Jewish nation, wheresoever they lived” and locked them in the hippodrome and ordered his sister to have them all killed when he died so that there would be mourning in the land upon his death (Ant. 17:6:5). Fortunately, his sister did not carry out those wishes and set the men free. But so many are the cruel acts of Herod the great that the slaughter of dozens of innocent children is perfectly in keeping with his character.

The son of Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea (4 B. C. – 39 A. D.), is also involved in the life of Christ and the early church. This Herod, motivated solely by unbridled lust for his illegitimate wife’s daughter, was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist (Matt. 14:1-12). Antipas is also the Herod mentioned in scripture who laboriously questioned Jesus, hoping to see some miracle (Luke 23:8) and when Jesus would not so much as speak, He, with his men of war, contemptuously mocked the Saviour (Luke 23:11). Interestingly, one of the early leaders in the church at Antioch had been brought up with this Antipas (Acts 13:1).

In Acts twelve we have recorded for us the acts of Herod Agrippa I, King of Judaea (41–44 ce), who “stretched forth his hand to vex certain of the church (12:1) and killed James, the brother of John (12:2) and imprisoned the apostle Peter, intending to kill him, as well. Because of his pride, however, the Lord smote him dead and he was eaten of worms (Acts 12:20-24). Agrippa II is seen in the trial of Paul and is notable because of his admission, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 25:13-26:32).

It is ironic that these descendants of “Esau tried still to get from Jacob the forfeited blessing (Gen. 27:29, 40), in vain setting up an earthly kingdom on a professed Jewish basis, to rival Messiah’s spiritual kingdom” (Fausset). While the Jews rejoiced over the death of Herod because they were set free from a mad tyrant, the world ever rejoices over the death and resurrection of Jesus because He sets us free the spiritual bondage of sin.

Eric L. Padgett


The Pharisees wanted to entangle Jesus in His talk (as He had done so often to them, e.g., Matt. 21:23-27) and what better way to do this than to ask a question about politics and religion (Matt. 22:15)? Their question centered on Caesar: “Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not” (Matthew 22:17)? If Jesus answered “Yes,” then the Jews would turn away from Him but if He answered “No,” then He would draw the ire of the Roman authorities (cf. John 19:12). Caesar was not to be challenged.

Caesar was the title of the Roman Emperor (just as Pharaoh was the title of the Egyptian ruler). Initially, that title was the name of the Roman general who defied the Roman senate and ultimately gained political and military control of Rome. His full name was Gaius Julius Caesar and he effectively managed to guide the Roman Republic to an end and inaugurate the Roman Empire.1 His military conquests not only brought under Rome’s control more territory than ever before but also brought him personal glory. He would claim, or imply, in his public orations, that he was descended from the gods and eventually an imperial cult grew up in which the emperor was worshiped as divine.

So when the Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar, they thought they were really forcing Jesus to either blaspheme Jehovah by implicitly affirming the deity of Caesar and thus break the law of Moses (Ex. 20:1-3) or else bring down the wrath of Rome upon His head for treason. But in Jesus’ answer, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s,” Jesus not only answered propitiously, but also showed by implication that Caesar was not God!

When Jesus was born (4 B.C.), Caesar Augustus (27 B.C -14 A.D) was emperor of Rome (Luke 2:1). Augustus’ birth name was Gaius Octavius Thurinus. He was Julius Caesar’s grandnephew but was adopted by him and succeeded him as emperor of Rome. It was Augustus’ decree that “all the world should be taxed” that brought into fulfillment the prophecy of Micah (5:2) concerning the location of the birth of Christ (Matt. 2:4-6).

Tiberius Claudius Nero succeeded Augustus as emperor of Rome. Tiberius was adopted by Augustus just as Augustus was adopted by Caesar. Tiberius’ father had been a fleet commander for Julius Caesar and was forced to give up his wife to Augustus. When Tiberius’s father died, he went to live with his mother and the emperor Augustus. He was trained in the ways of the state and distinguished himself in many ways. Though Augustus never really liked him, he was the least offensive choice to succeed Augustus as Emperor.

His reign was mild at first but he is reported to have become cruel and obscene. It was during his fifteenth year that the “word of God came unto John” (Luke 3:1). This is the only place he is mentioned by name in the New Testament but he is the emperor that is under consideration when the Pharisees attempt to ensnare Jesus with the question of paying tribute to Caesar.

The fourth emperor, Caligula, is not mentioned in the New Testament. It was in the days of the fifth emperor, Claudius, that Agabus prophesied of the famine that was to come (Acts 11:28). Suetonius independently records that there was “a scarcity of grain because of long-continued droughts” (Suetonius, The Life of Claudius, 18). In Acts 18:2, Luke records that Claudius had expelled all Jews from Rome. Suetonius also mentions that “since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome” (Suetonius, The Life of Claudius, 25). This “Chrestus” is very likely a reference to Christ.

The sixth emperor was the notorious Nero. He was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus but upon his adoption by Claudius he became Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. He is especially noted for his wickedness. He was accused by contemporary historians of having started the A.D. 64 conflagration which resulted in destroying much of Rome in order to make way for his building projects. However, he quickly blamed the fire on Christians. He was the first emperor to persecute Christians and while his persecution was not as wide spread as Domitians, it was more vicious.

Tacitus recorded Nero’s persecutions of Christians: “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed” (Tacitus, Annals, 15:44). He was truly the beast of Revelation (Rev. 13:18; 17:9,10).

It was in the days of these Julio-Claudian kings that the God of heaven set up a kingdom that would never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44). The gates of hell would not and will not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). Christ now reigns, sitting on the throne of that kingdom (Acts 2:29,30), which is an everlasting kingdom (Luke 1:31-33). While we render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, we ought to obey God rather then men (Acts 5:29). We should know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to womsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Dan. 4:17).


Eric L. Padgett


1. Modern scholars usually begin the list of Roman emperors with Augustus. However, the position here is that Julius was the first emperor for at least these reasons: 1) Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, refers to him as such. He wrote that it was Julius “who first of all changed the popular government, and transferred it to himself” (Antiquities 19:1: 11). Second, Josephus numbers the emperors with Augustus as number two, Tiberius as three, etc. (Antiquities 18:2:2). Josephus lived during this period of time and would know how Julius and Augustus were perceived. 2. Suetonius, a contemporary Roman historian, also begins his enumeration of emperors with “the Divine Julius.” 3. Dio Cassius lists Julius as the first. 4. Moses Stuart observes “At most, only an occasional beginning of the count with Augustus can be shown, in classic authors. The almost universal usage is against it” (p. 277, link).