Southern Christian University

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

James A. Turner

Class Session One


First, let me thank you for enrolling in New Testament 3404‑A, which is a study of all four of the Gospel Books.  And when you think about the length of these books, I believe you will say that is a pretty big order, trying to study all of them in one semester.  Matthew has twenty‑eight chapters, Mark sixteen chapters, Luke twenty‑four chapters, and John twenty‑one, making a total of eighty‑nine chapters.  So I doubt that we will be able to read every verse during this semester, but I do want us to get around to reading as many as we can. 


The first thing I would like for us to do is to call attention as to how each one of the writers begin their books.  And so, if you will, turn to the first page of Matthew.  Notice that the first thing that Matthew gives is the genealogy of Christ down to verse eighteen, and then he picks up and tells about the birth of Christ after Mary was with child.  She was betrothed to Joseph, and she was with child.  They had not come together as husband and wife, and Joseph, evidently, thought that she had done wrong, and he was about to put her away privily, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou Son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shall call his name Jesus, for it is he that shall save his people from their sins.  It is characteristic then of Matthew to do a lot of quoting, and he quotes from the Old Testament, verses twenty‑two and twenty‑three.  Now, all this that has come to pass might be fulfilled, which is spoken by the Lord through the prophets, saying, Behold the virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which is being interpreted God with us.  He quoted there from Isaiah 7:14, showing that the birth of Christ is a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14.  And Joseph arose from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife.  Now notice verse twenty‑five, "And knew her not."  Which means that he did not have sex with her until she had brought forth a son.   


Now turn to Mark.  Mark does not tell us anything about the birth of John the Baptist or the birth of Christ, but he just begins by telling about John coming and bearing witness of Christ, and then immediately moves to talk about Christ.  "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet."  Of course, here he is referring to Isaiah 40:3, beginning.  "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way.  The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."  I would like for us to turn and read from Isaiah forty, where this reference is quoted.  There are three references in the Old Testament prophecies concerning the work of the coming and work of John the Baptist.  You might want to write those three references down, Isaiah 40:3.  The other two are Malachi 3:1‑3, and Malachi 4:5-6.  Picking up here, Isaiah 40:3, "The voice of one that crieth, prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah."  Of course, that is speaking of Christ.  "Make level in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low:  And the uneven shall be made level:  And the rough places a plain."  And verse five, "And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together:  For the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken." 


Of course, there in verses three and four, which is characteristic especially of the writings of Isaiah and also other Old Testament prophets, there is a lot of figurative and symbolic language.  When he talks about make level in the desert the  highways for our God and every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low and the uneven be made level, that does not mean John would come with a lot of earth‑moving equipment and pushing down the mountains and making a level place, but that he would make a good way for Christ.  And after John the Baptist had made a good way for Christ, then verse five is referring to Christ.  "And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed."  After John had done his work, see, the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it. 


Now turn to the last book of the Old Testament.  And notice from 3:1 ‑‑ Malachi three beginning with verse one.  "Behold, I will send my messenger."  That is John the Baptist.  "And he shall prepare the way before me:  And the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire:  Behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah."  So verse one is talking about the work of John the Baptist and then the coming of Christ.  He will prepare the way before the Lord whom you will see, and that is Christ, will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger of the covenant.  And we surely know that Christ is the messenger of the New Testament covenant.  "Whom ye desire:  Behold, he cometh, saith  Jehovah of hosts.  But who can abide the day of his coming?  And who shall stand when he appeareth?  For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:  And he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver:  And he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver, and they shall offer unto Jehovah offerings in righteousness."  Again, you see the figurative language there.  He is like fullers' soap and like a refiner, purifier of silver, but it means that Christ came to make a way of forgiveness for sin in the way of purification for the sins of man.  It is very figurative and symbolic language.  Then notice that the book closes with the promise that Elijah would come.  "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Jehovah come:  And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."


Now verses five and six, again, is talking about John the Baptist.  You will do well to write down at the end of verse six Matthew 11:10 and Malachi 3:1 and Matthew 17:12.  On at least two occasions, Jesus said that John the Baptist was the Elijah that was to come, as we will notice in chapter eleven of Matthew, when he was talking about how great John the Baptist was.  He said in that reference that he is the Elijah to come.  And then when Jesus was transfigured, as recorded in Matthew seventeen, before Peter and James and John, Peter on that occasion was excited and said, Lord, let us build ‑‑ Moses and Elijah were talking to Jesus about his coming decease.  And Peter recommended let us build three tabernacles, one for thee, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.  And the voice said, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him. Jesus then told his disciples not to tell the vision until the son of man be risen from the dead.  But, anyway, they made the statement about why do the chief priests say that Elijah must first come.  Jesus said that Elijah has come.  Matthew 17:10, "And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come?  And he answered and said Elijah indeed cometh, and shall restore all things.  But I say unto you, That Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they would.  And even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them.  Then understood the disciples that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."  So there is no question about that as we will notice from Luke's account, and it is definite that John the Baptist was the Elijah that was to come as spoken of in Malachi four, verses four, five and six. 


Mark skips over the birth of John the Baptist and begins with the ministry of John the Baptist.  And let me turn back to Mark.  "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; even as it is written in Isaiah the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee.  The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready in the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  And John came and baptized in the wilderness, and preached the  baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins."  Mark moves immediately into the work of John the Baptist and then tells about Jesus coming and being baptized of John and then moves into the ministry of Christ. 


Turn to Luke's gospel.  First notice that Luke's gospel is addressed to Theophilus.  To most excellent Theophilus, as he stated.  Luke says, "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of, concerning the things wherein thou was instructed."  So Luke is first writing to confirm the faith of Theophilus, most excellent Theophilus, as he is spoken of here.  From there he moves and tells about the parents of John the Baptist, Zecharias and Elisabeth, and how that they were both from the priestly family.  "And they were both righteous before God," verse six,  "and walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."  Then he tells about how Zechariah was performing his duties as priest, offering incense at the altar of incense when the angel of the Lord stood on the right side of the altar and told him that his prayers had been answered and that Elizabeth was going to bear him a son, that he was to call his name John, and then what John would do.  From that, Luke tells about the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary six months later and telling her that she was going to have a child. 


So from the standpoint of the birth of Christ, you see that Luke's is first.  And we will do our first reading from Luke.  And then John begins his, which is different from all the others.  He gives about the preexistence of Christ.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him; and without him was not any thing made that hath been made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men."  It tells about John the Baptist coming to bear witness of the light, that he was not the light, but he came to bear witness of the light of Christ.  And then verse fourteen, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld him as the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."  And so it looks like all of these writers wrote having some specific purposes in mind.  Let us give a little attention to that.  First from the standpoint of early religious writers, I think it is evident that Matthew's gospel was the first gospel account.  H. C.  Theissen, in his book, Introduction to the New Testament, gives a date for the Greek Matthew as 50 A.D., and I think that that would be a good estimate.  Matthew is one of the twelve apostles that we will soon be reading about.  He was a tax collector, sitting at the place of toll, when Jesus called him, and he left that place of toll and followed Jesus. 


There was a great need for Matthew's gospel.  Remember the book of Acts shows that there were many thousands of Jewish people, that obeyed the gospel in the early days of the church.  But then in chapter seven of the book of Acts, you remember how that they stoned Stephen to death.  He was one of those that the apostles had laid hands on and had miraculous ability, and they stoned him to death.  And those who stoned him laid down their garments at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul, who is later known as Paul.  In Acts eight, we read about devout men who buried Stephen.  And as for Saul, he made havoc of the church, committing both men and women to prison.  They were all scattered abroad, and they went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4).  So persecution soon developed.  In the early days of the church, they were even meeting in the temple, but it was not long until that persecution started.  You know that those Jewish believers needed a gospel to reassure them and to comfort and encourage them under those circumstances, and Matthew's gospel is such a gospel.  He shows that the gospel of Christ is not contrary to the Old Testament scripture, but that it is a fulfillment of the promises made first to Abraham and then on down to David.  Matthew's gospel was written especially for the benefit of the Jewish people.  And he quotes and alludes to the Old Testament more than any of the other writers.  You see how that would be very meaningful to the Jewish people; it would not have had much meaning for the Gentile people.  Notice again his reference to the Old Testament there in the first chapter.  "This came to pass that it might be fulfilled which is spoken by the prophets that a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and thou shall call his name Jesus."  He continues to call attention to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.  He speaks of the kingdom of heaven more than thirty times.  A good example of his use of the kingdom of heaven is given in Matthew chapter thirteen.  Matthew 13:24, "Another parable set forth he before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field." Verse thirty‑one, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field."  Verse thirty‑three, "Another parable spake he unto them; the kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."  And verse forty‑four, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in a field; which a man found and hid, and his joy goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth it."  Verse forty‑five, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a merchant, seeking goodly pearls:  And having found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it."  And so one of the unique characteristics of Matthew is that he refers more than thirty times to the kingdom of heaven.  So Christ is king, and his kingdom will be as stated there in Matthew thirteen. Matthew is the only one that uses the word church.  Matthew sixteen, "When Jesus was in the coasts of Ceasaras Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?"  They told him,  "And then he said, But whom say ye that I am?"  And it was Peter that responded on that occasion.  "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Jesus said, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: For flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock."  Not upon Peter, but upon the bedrock of truth that Peter had mentioned that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  Upon that bedrock of truth, he said, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 


Notice in verses eighteen and nineteen of chapter sixteen that the church and kingdom are used interchangeably.  He has not changed subject in verse nineteen when he says, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:  And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:  And whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Then he charged the disciples that they should tell no man that he was the Christ. So there is no doubt about Matthew's book being an inspired book, because it was written by one of the twelve apostles.


 Now, in respect to Mark's book, the author of this book is John Mark.  The first reading we have about John Mark is in Acts twelve.  In the first part of Acts twelve, we read about how that Herod killed James the brother of John.  And when he saw that it pleased the Jews so well, he put Peter in ward and was going to kill him after the feast, after the Passover.  And the angel of the Lord released Peter from prison, and he went first to the house of Mary, where the disciples had met together and were praying.  And notice Acts 12:12, "And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered and were praying." 


Now on this occasion, Paul and Barnabas had gone to Jerusalem carrying the contributions from the church at Antioch of Syria.  You remember Agabus had gone up to that first Gentile church and had told them that a famine was coming in Judaea, and they were very generous.  They sent contributions even before the famine came, every man according to his ability, and sent it to the elders of the church by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.  So they were at Jerusalem during the time that Peter was released from prison.  Notice that many had met together at Mark’s mother’s house praying, and Peter went to the house of Mary, Acts 12:12.  "When he had considered the thing he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying."  And then when Barnabas and Saul went back to the church at Antioch, they carried John Mark with them.  Notice that it says, the mother of John, whose surname was Mark.  That is 12:12.  And then Acts 12:25, "Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministration, taking with them John, whose surname was Mark."  I wonder if they knew at that time that they were going to go on a missionary journey and that they would carry John Mark with them.  But, anyway, when they went back to Antioch, they carried John Mark with them.  And then in chapter thirteen, the Holy Spirit said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."  And they went on that first journey and established the churches of Galatia.  Mark went with them for only a small part of that first journey.  He was with them when they were preaching on the isle of Cyprus, but when they went up to Perga of  Pamphylia, John Mark left them and went back home.


When Paul and Barnabas talked about going back and revisiting those churches that they had established on that first journey, Barnabas wanted to carry Mark, (Acts 15:36-41) his cousin (Colossians 4:10), again.  And because he had left them on that first journey, Paul did want to carry him, and they separated.  Barnabas took John Mark and sailed again to the isle of Cyprus, the same direction they had gone on that first journey to revisit those churches, and Paul chose Silas, one of those that the church at Jerusalem had sent, to tell those Gentile brethren that circumcision and the keeping of the law was not binding on them, and went by land back to those churches that they had established on the first journey.  John Mark, went on that second journey with Barnabas, but, we do not have anything recorded about that in the book of Acts.  The next thing we read about John Mark was that he was with Paul during that first Roman imprisonment.  For in Colossians chapter four, he is mentioned as being with Paul at the time of the writing of the letter.  Look at Colossians 4:14, and notice how Paul speaks of Luke there.  "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, salute you."  Back to verse 4:10, "Aristarchus my fellow prisoner saluteth you, and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments:  If he come unto you, receive him.)"  So notice that Mark was with Paul at the time of the writing of the Colossian letter.  It looks like Paul was going to send him.  "Touching whom ye received commandments:  If he come unto you receive him.)"  So it looks like Paul was sending him to Colossi.  Paul also mentioned Mark in that short letter to Philemon, he is mentioned as being with Paul.  So he was with Paul during part of that first Roman imprisonment, and then when Paul wrote his last epistle, II Timothy, he urged Timothy to come to him quickly.  And if you will turn with me to II Timothy chapter four and verse nine, he says to Timothy, "Give diligence to come shortly."  And then he says in verse eleven, "Only Luke is with me.  Take Mark and bring him with thee.  For he is useful to me for ministering."  So he urges Timothy to come, and he wants him to bring Mark with him, that he is useful to me for the ministry, which shows that Mark did prove to be a very faithful person, and Paul recognized how useful he was, and he wanted Timothy to bring him. 


John Mark was not an apostle.  So how may we count his book?  Several writers have said that he wrote especially for the Romans. Some say, that he essentially wrote down what he had learned from the apostle Peter.  And in I Peter 5:13, Peter speaks of Mark as his son.  Peter had converted Mark.  Well, how could he write as an inspired writer?  Did he just copy from the other writers? A lot of what is in Mark is essentially what is in Matthew, but note that there are many distinctions between Mark’s and the other gospels. There are several things mentioned in Mark that are not mentioned in any of the others.  Well, the fact that he was a convert of Peter, and had worked with Paul, and what could the apostles do?

STUDENT:  Lay their hands on him.

BROTHER TURNER:  All right.  They could have laid their hands on him and given him the gift of prophecy, which, would have guided him by the Holy Spirit in regard to his teaching.  Do you remember how that in I Corinthians chapters twelve, thirteen and fourteen are all on the subject of use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In chapter fourteen he reasons that the gift of prophecy is much more important than the gift of speaking in tongues, that a man who had the gift of prophecy that he could teach the church. 


I am turning to I Corinthians chapter fourteen, "Follow after love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophecy.  For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God."  They were having confusion in the church at Corinth. Those who had a gift of speaking in a tongue, a foreign language that they had not learned, it looks like they were getting up and speaking in the church in a foreign language, and the people did not even know what they were saying.  So Paul rebukes them for such a thing.  And then he says, "For greater is he that prophecies for he that speaketh in tongues, speaketh not unto men, but unto God.  For no man understandeth, but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.  But he that prophecies, speaketh unto men edification and exhortation and consolation."  So if man had a gift of prophecy, then he received through the Holy Spirit guidance.  So I do not think there is any doubt that Mark is an inspired book.  And then in regard to the ‑‑ If he did write what he heard Peter preach, and, of course, he evidently had heard Peter do a lot of preaching as well as Paul, and he would have that knowledge, and plus being guided by the Holy Spirit.  And the fact that it was received so early as an inspired book, I do not think there is any doubt that Mark was guided by the Holy Spirit in what he wrote. 


What about Luke’s Gospel Book and Acts? Now the first records that we have of Luke is on that second missionary journey.  Remember on that second missionary journey, Paul started out with Silas, and he went back to those churches established on the first journey and he went by land.  Do I need to show you on the map? 

They leave from Antioch, and they went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the disciples.  And then they go to those churches that they had established on that first journey.  Derbe was the last one that they established, so they went there first.  And then when they got to Lystra, they found that Timothy, a young man that Paul had converted on that first journey, was recommended by the brethren at the church at Lystra and Iconium, and Paul decided to carry him as a companion on the journey.  So he started out with Silas, and then he added Timothy.  And after he had revisited these churches, and those four churches were Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, four churches that they had established on that first journey. These are churches that the book of Galatians is written to.  After they had visited those churches, Luke says that he wanted to go into Asia.  He probably wanted to go to Ephesus, but he was forbidden by the Holy Spirit.  He wanted to go up to Bethenia, and he was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go there.  Then the writer of the book of Acts says, “that passing Mysia they came to Troas where Paul received a vision in the night, a man standing over in Macedonia, (European territory), saying come over and help us.  Acts 16:10 is the first reference concerning Luke. He is the writer of the book of Acts,  and verse ten reads, "And when he had seen the vision, straightway we sought forth to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel unto them." 


I did not give an approximate date for the gospel of Mark.  If he did write, especially for the benefit of the  Romans ‑‑ of course, they would be Gentiles, but maybe a little different from other Gentiles, then his book was probably written in the late sixties A.D..  Well, I have not mentioned this: Matthew, Mark and Luke are commonly referred to as what kind of gospels?

STUDENT:  Synoptic

BROTHER TURNER:  Yes, The Synoptic Gospels, meaning what?

STUDENT:  They are similar.

BROTHER TURNER:  Yes, frequently Matthew, Mark and Luke record some of the same things, and we will hopefully get around to noticing how that when you read the three accounts, you get a fuller account than you do just to read one or two.  And, of course, when you read all three accounts, you probably will not have nearly everything that was involved.  The accounts are brief, but by reading the three or four accounts, if four of them record about the same thing, you get a fuller account of the same event.  So the gospel books compliment each other. 


Now, in regard to Luke's gospel, he was not an apostle, but he says that he had traced everything in order.  And, of course, again, he was with Paul.  He joined Paul on that second journey, and they did their first work at Philippi and established a church there.  And Luke stayed at Philippi until Paul was ready to go with the messengers of the churches to carry the bounty of the Gentile churches to Jerusalem.  And Luke joined the company again as one of the messengers of the church carrying the bounty to Jerusalem.  And then he was with Paul almost all the time from then on.  Paul speaks of him there as a beloved physician in the passage we read in Colossians 4:14. Luke was a well‑educated man and the beloved physician.  You will notice in several occasions where it is talking about a person being sick, how that he will give a little more detailed account than the others give.  He sees the same thing as the doctor sees it.  If I remember correctly, when he talks about Jesus healing, going to the house of Peter, and his mother was sick with a fever, Matthew and Mark just talk about her having a fever, and Luke says a high fever.  And, of course, Jesus took away her fever, and she arose and  ministered to them.  Luke was with Paul or at least near Paul during Paul’s  imprisonment at Caesarea (Acts 23:31-36), and that is probably the time that he wrote his gospel during that time when Paul was imprisoned at Caesarea before his voyage to Rome.  Some account that as being about two years.  And that would have given him an opportunity, Caesarea is not far from Jerusalem, to talk with a lot of eye witnesses. 


Do you see Caesarea over there on the map?


BROTHER TURNER:  It is just a few miles from Jerusalem.  And so he could have talked with a lot of people that were eyewitnesses of all of those things that had transpired.  And the Holy Spirit did not take from a man what he was able to do on his own, but Luke is also writing by inspiration.  I do not think there is any question about that.  And, again, would not it be logical to conclude that Paul or one of the other apostles had laid hands, on Luke and given that gift of prophecy to him, whereby he would be guided by the Holy Spirit. 


Now, in regard to the destruction of Jerusalem Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote before Jerusalem was destroyed by Roman armies in 70 A.D. which is a fact of history.  So all of them were written,  Matthew, Mark and Luke were certainly written before  70 A.D..  And in regard to the gospel of Luke, Luke wrote the gospel of Luke before he wrote Acts, and he wrote the book of Acts in about 62 or 63 A.D.  And so it looks like a good reasonable date for his writing the gospel of Luke would probably be around 58 or 59 A.D.  So from the standpoint of who is first, Matthew's gospel would be first from the standpoint of time.  And Luke's would have to come in there before the book of Acts, and remember that Acts closes with that two‑year imprisonment being over (Acts 28:30-31). 


During the two years of that first Roman imprisonment Paul was permitted to live in his own hired dwelling and receive all that went in unto him.  He had those good workers assisting him, and evidently going out and encouraging people to go and hear Paul, and he carried on an evangelistic campaign during that two‑year period and wrote those four prison books, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.  Does not Acts 28:30-31 mean that that two‑year imprisonment was up when Luke finished the book of Acts.  "And he abode two whole years in his on hired dwelling, and received all that went in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus, with all boldness, none forbidding him." 


We are ready to begin our second period of this first class session.  We were talking about Luke and how that Luke wrote the gospel of Luke before he wrote Acts.  And remember the introduction to the book of Acts and how that it is addressed to Theophilus when it mentions how he had already written the gospel book to him.  Reading from Acts one beginning with verse one, "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, until the day in which he was received up, after he had given commandments through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen."  And that is exactly what the gospel of Luke includes,  the teaching of Jesus from the first until he ascended back to heaven.  Note that Luke is definitely the author of the book of Acts because he says, "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was received up.  After he had given commandments through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen:  Whom he had also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking of the thing concerning the kingdom of God."  So we know that Luke is the author of the book of Acts.  And we can tell when he is with Paul then or Paul's company by his use of the pronouns.  For instance there in Acts16:10, "We sought to go forth into Macedonia."  In verse eleven, "We made a straight course to Samothracia."  And verse twelve, "We were in this city tarrying certain days."  Verse thirteen, “And on the Sabbath day we went ----“


But notice chapter seventeen, "And when they had passed through Amphipolis and Appollonia, they came to Thessalonica."  It is talking about Paul and Silas.  So Luke stayed behind at Philippi, and he stayed there for several years, until Paul was ready to carry the bounty, made up by the Gentile churches, to the poor in Judaea.  And notice that Acts twenty shows he joins the company  of Paul again.  In verse four, he talks about the messengers of the churches.  And then verse five, Acts 20:5, "But these had gone before and were waiting for us at Troas."  He is referring to Paul and himself.  And we sailed away from Philippi.  So he stayed at Philippi until he was ready to go on that journey to Jerusalem.  And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread and came unto them at Troas in five days where we tarried, seven days.  And chapter twenty‑one and verse one, "And it came to pass, that we parted from them."  So he continued with Paul on that journey to Jerusalem.  And then he is with Paul when he goes to Rome.  We know by the use of the pronouns we there.  Chapter 27:1, "And it was determined that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto the centurion named Julius, of the Augustan band.  And embarking into a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail unto the place in the coasts of Asia, we put to sea."  Luke was a well‑educated man, and the gospel of Luke has been reckoned as the best writing of the four gospel books, from the standpoint of literary work. 


Now let us talk about the Gospel of John. I think that there is considerable evidence that John wrote a long time after the destruction of Jerusalem.  He does not say anything about the destruction of Jerusalem.  And surely as important and tragic event as that was for the Jewish people, that John would have recorded about what Jesus said about the destruction of Jerusalem if he had written prior to that time.  And if he had written within just a few years after that time, would he not have mentioned that tragic event? Please turn to John 19:14-16.  Does not this passage strongly indicate that John wrote a long time after the destruction of Jerusalem, when Jewish time had been replaced by Roman time?  In chapter nineteen Pilate tries to get the people to let him release Jesus, but they cry out that they want him to be crucified.  Look at John 19:14.  And this is speaking of the time when Pilate released Jesus to be crucified, fourteen through sixteen.  "Now it was the preparation of the Passover, they therefore cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him.  Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King?  The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.  It was about the sixth hour; and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!  Then therefore he delivered him up to be crucified."  Now, if John is not using Roman times instead of Jewish time, then you have an outright contradiction between that and Mark's account.  Mark 15:25 says that he was crucified at the third hour.  Well, I will pick up with Mark 15:16 to get the account.  Jesus was scourged.  And sometimes a man would die from a Roman scourging.  Mark 15:16 picking up, "And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band."  That is referring to the soldiers.  "And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, they put it on him; and they began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!  And they smote his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.  And when they had mocked him, they took off from him the purple, and put on him his garments, and led him out to crucify him.  And they compelled one passing by, Simon a Cyrenian, coming from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to go with them, that he might bear his cross."  Evidently, Jesus was so weak from the scourging that he could not bear his cross, so they compelled Simon a Cyrenian to bear his cross.  "And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The Place of a skull.  And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh:  But he received it not.  And they crucified him, and parted his garments among them, casting lots upon them, what each should take.  And it was the third hour, and they crucified him."  Now, Mark, of course, is using Jewish time.  And the third hour of the day Jewish time would be nine o'clock in the morning.  They counted, see, as what we count as six o'clock in the morning as the first hour of the day.  And the third hour of the day would be nine o'clock in the morning.  And then there was darkness from the sixth to the ninth hour, or from twelve o'clock to three o'clock our time.  And at three o'clock, Jesus died.  But if you think of Mark's being Jewish time and John's Roman time, you see it works out right.  It was six o'clock in the morning, Roman time, which is our time, when he was released by Pilate, and they had him on the cross then at nine o'clock. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us that was darkness from the sixth to the ninth hour, which would be from 12:00 to 3 P.M. and Jesus died at 3 P.M. at the very time that they would begin the killing of the lambs for the Passover (Ex.12:5). And that way there is no discrepancy.  If that is not the case you would have a plain contradiction, right?

STUDENT:  That's right.

BROTHER TURNER:  You would have a plain contradiction if John is not writing so long after the destruction of Jerusalem that Jewish time is gone by the wayside. 


All of John's books are usually counted as being written either in the late 80s or 90s.  Remember John wrote the gospel of John, I, II and III John, and the Revelation.  And so John writes a long time after the other gospel writers.  And his Gospel Book is very different from the other accounts. There are a few things that he records that is recorded by the other three, and as we study, we will notice some of those.  But without John's account, we would not have the early part of the Judean ministry, in other words, chapters one through three. We just do not have that in the other gospel accounts. Actually, the book of John covers only a few days of the ministry of Christ.  For instance, chapters thirteen through nineteen cover only one day.  So it's very different, but we will give more attention to that when we get to the Gospel of John. 


Now let us turn and read from Luke chapters one, two and three about the birth of John and Jesus, and a few things about Jesus as a boy. We would not have anything about the birth of John the Baptist, if it were not for Luke's account, and we would not know that John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins, and that   John was about six months older. So let us begin the reading  of chapter one of Luke.  "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately, from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus."  Now, see, Luke is writing at a time when there would be so many people still living that had been eyewitnesses of many things about Christ and many other things and he could inquire and trace those things accurately by talking to eye witnesses.  And  he is writing first to confirm Theophilus, but it looks like that Luke's gospel is geared maybe especially for the Gentile people.  And he speaks of them or has Jesus speaking of the Gentile people in a very favorable way.  "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah."  Now, notice that, the course of Abijah.  "And he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron."  Do you remember that all the priests came from the descendants of Aaron of the tribe of Levi.  All of the men of that tribe were either priests or assistants to the priest, but the priest came only from the descendants of Aaron.  And so Zacharias and Elizabeth are the descendants of Aaron. "And her name was Elizabeth.  And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."  I can remember the days when studying about the qualifications of elders of the church in I Timothy chapter three, where it says that an elder of the church is to be blameless.  Sometimes some would say, we cannot have elders in this church because there is no man blameless.  Well, what does that word blameless mean?

STUDENT:  It doesn't mean perfect.

BROTHER TURNER: Yes.  It does not mean perfect. In Philippians 3:6 Paul says of himself “as touching the righteousness which is of the law blameless.” Well, did Paul not sin back there when he was persecuting Christians and seeking to destroy the church of God?

STUDENT:  I believe he did.

BROTHER TURNER:  Well, he speaks of the law as being blameless, which means that when he learned that he had sinned he did what the law required in order to receive forgiveness of sin and then he was blameless.  It does not mean that Zacharias and Elizabeth were perfect people, but they carried out the requirements of the law.  And when they did, they were blameless before God.  In the first five chapters of the book of Leviticus, it talks about the various kinds of offerings that they were to make, and the only place that they were to make those offerings were at the place where the tabernacle was.  And when a person learned that he had sinned that he was to carry the animal that the law specified to the tabernacle and there before the altar of burnt offering lay his hand on the head of the animal, and then the person was to kill that animal, as an offering for sin.  And then the priest took over the sprinkling of blood and the other things the priest was supposed to do.  Do you not think that laying his hand on the animal testified to the person that I am the one who deserves to die, but this animal is taking my place, and it gave him temporary atonement. 


But notice now again that Zacharias is the course of Abijah.  And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren.  And they both were now well‑stricken in years.  "Now it came to pass, while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course."  Now, in the average Bible class would not “the order of his course” just be passed over?  What does it have reference to?  Do you have any idea?  It has reference to what David had done before he turned over the reigns ‑‑ well, he may have already turned over the reigns of government to his son Solomon.  But, anyway, one of the last things he did, there were so many of the priestly family that he divided up the Levites into courses or into divisions, and he divided the priests up into courses or divisions.  If you will turn to I Chronicles chapter twenty‑three, it tells about the dividing up of the Levites. When he is talking about the Levites, he is talking about those of the tribe of Levite that were assistants to the priest.  "When David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel."  David assembled all the leaders of Israel and the priests and the Levites, and there were a lot of them.  Verse six, "And David organized them into divisions, corresponding to the sons of Levi, Gershom, Kohath, and Merari."  Now, those were the three families of Levi that fitted into the category of being assistants to the priests, and so he divided those up. Then in chapter 24:1, "Divisions of the sons of Aaron were these.  The sons of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar."  The latter part of verse three, "David organized them, according to the appointed duties in their service."  There were twenty‑four divisions of the priests in all, and Abijah was the eighth.  Moving down to verse nine, "The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, the seventh to Hakkoz, and the eighth to Abijah."  So David  had divided the priests up into twenty‑four divisions, and, evidently, they did not have to serve but a few weeks out of the year.  So it was Zacharias’ week to serve in the temple.  He burned incense on the altar of incense in the temple.  Does not that make it a little more meaningful? 


Picking up with verse eight again, "And it came to pass while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to enter into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.  And the whole multitude of the people were standing without at the hour of incense.  And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.  And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him."  I think it would have made us shake a little too, do you not think so?  "But the angel said unto him, fear not Zacharias because thy supplication is heard."  Do you not guess that Zacharias had been praying for some period of time that his wife Elizabeth might be able to bear children?  But his prayer is now going to be answered.  "Fear not, Zacharias, because thy supplication is heard.  And thy wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, and thou shall call his name John."  And so John the Baptist, like Jesus is named before birth.  "And thou shalt have joy and gladness and many shall rejoice at his birth.  For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and he shall drink no wine or strong drink."  And that would make him what kind of person, according to the Old Testament teaching? STUDENT:  A Nazarite.  BROTHER TURNER:  All right.  He would be a Nazarite, and they were not to drink any wine or strong drink. 


"For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, for he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.  Many of the children of Israel shall he turn unto the Lord their God."  Now, notice what that son is going to do.  His name is to be John, and he is going to turn the children of Israel.  Many of them shall he turn unto the Lord, their God.  "And he shall go before his face."  Before the face of Jehovah and before the face of Christ.  "In the spirit of and power of Elijah."  Now, remember Malachi four, five and six that before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come, that Elijah would come.  So John the Baptist as stated here in verse seventeen was the Elijah that was to come, and those two references that we called attention to in Matthew.  "And he shall go before his face, in the spirit and the power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedience to walk in the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him."  Is not that what we read from Malachi 3:1 to make ready, a people prepared for the Lord?  And then the Lord would come.  "And Zacharias said unto the angel."  I guess for six months he wished that he had not asked this question.  "Whereby shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife well‑stricken in years.  And the angel answered and said unto him, I am Gabriel."  The same one that appeared to Mary.  "That stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak unto thee and to bring thee these good tidings.  And behold, thou shalt be silent, not able to speak until the day that these things shall come to pass."  So the sign that he was given was that he would be dumb until the child is born.  Don't you know  that Zacharias  wished for a long time that he had more faith and not asked for a sign?  “And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they marveled while he tarried in the temple.  And when he came out, he could not speak unto them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple and he continued making signs unto them and remained dumb.  And it came to pass when the days of his ministration were fulfilled, he departed unto his house.  And after these days, Elizabeth his wife conceived and she hid herself five months saying, now, thus has the Lord done unto me in the days wherein he looked upon me to take away my reproach among men.” 


Look at the latter part of verse twenty‑five.  And from Hannah, you remember about her, and she considered it was a reproach that she could not have children.  And here Elizabeth was thankful that God had taken away my reproach from among men that she would be able to ‑‑ that she was pregnant with child.  She hid herself for five months.  "In the sixth month, Gabriel."  The angel Gabriel.  So it was the same one that had appeared to Zacharias.  "Was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth." 


Some of our brethren are making too much of an angel just being a messenger.  The scriptures teach that an angel was a special messenger of the Lord, different from a human being. STUDENT:  Right.

BROTHER TURNER:  Can you imagine here of Gabriel just being an ordinary person? STUDENT:  No.

Now we have several passages where an angel or angels appeared in the form of a man. In Judges 13:2-20 we read about an angel appearing to Manoah’s wife in the form of a man but when Manoah offered a sacrifice the angel “ascended in the flame of the altar.” Verse twenty‑six, "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the city of Galilee, named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David.  And the virgin's name was Mary.  And he came in unto her and said, Hail, thou that are highly favored, the Lord is with thee.  But she was gravely troubled at the saying and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be. And the angel said unto her, Fear, not Mary, for thou has found favor with God."  That surely speaks well of Mary, does it not?  She was a God‑fearing person for that statement to be made of her, that she had found favor with God.  Do you remember back there that Noah found favor with God.  "And behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb."  So this is before she conceived in her womb.  Matthew began after she was pregnant and showing.  "And  behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus.  He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the most high and the Lord shall give unto him the throne of his Father David.  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." 


Now, this is one of  many passages that show that Christ is now reigning on the throne of David.  And that old premillennial doctrine that has Christ coming back to earth and reigning on the earth for a thousand years is as false as it can be.  I do not know of any doctrine that conflicts with more plain passages of scripture than that doctrine does.  David never actually had a throne.  The throne was God's.  In I Chronicles 29:23, when Solomon was anointed the second time, “he sat upon the throne of Jehovah, and all Israel feared him.”  Let us take time to look at that passage.  If you can get across to people that David never actually had a throne, that the throne was God, and God just raised up David to reign over the house of Israel, and that David's throne is spoken of as David's throne in the same sense that the Old Testament law is spoken of as Moses law. It surely was not Moses' law, but since God gave the law through Moses, it is appropriately spoken of as Moses' law.  But I Chronicles ‑‑ I think I've got the right passage 29:23, Solomon had already been made ‑‑ had been sworn in as king under an emergency situation (I Kings 1:1-5, 1:32-49), but then later he was anointed as king a second time.  It was after David got in a better health condition. Let us pick up with I Chronicles 29:20, "And David said to all the assembly."  And so David is at least back to some degree of health.  "Now bless Jehovah from God.  And all the assembly blessed Jehovah and the God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped Jehovah, and the king.  And they sacrificed sacrifices unto Jehovah, and offered burnt offerings unto Jehovah, on the morrow after that day, even a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel.  And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time and anointed him unto Jehovah to be prince and Zadok to be priest.  Then Solomon sat on the throne of Jehovah as king instead of David his father, and prospered, and all of Israel obeyed him."  Sitting on the same throne of David that he had been sitting on back there when he was first anointed.  But here it is spoken of as the throne of Jehovah.  So the throne was God's.  And when we read from Matthew, we will talk about the king that was carried into Babylon captivity and Jeremiah said about him “Write this man down as childless R.A.S.V.. For none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David, and ruling in Judah (Jeremiah 22:30).”  The angel Gabriel tells Mary that God is going to give her son Jesus the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever.  And of his kingdom, there shall be no end. 


What is the house of Jacob today?

 STUDENT:  The church.

 BROTHER TURNER:  All right.  The house of Jacob today is the church.  Do you remember the words of Romans 2:28‑29, "He is not a Jew who is one outward in the flesh, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly.  And circumcision is of the heart and not of the letter; whose praise is not of man but of God."  So every child of God in that sense is a Jew.  He is a part of the new Israel of God.  In the book of Isaiah, Isaiah continued to talk about how that the family was going to be increased.  We will probably get around to calling attention to some of those in the process of our study. It was going to be an increase by the bringing in of the Gentile people, and Palestine would not be large enough to hold the new family, the new Israel of God (Isaiah11:1, 11:10, 42:6, 49:1, 49:19-22, 54:1-3, 56:5, 62:2, 65:15).  And so Christ would reign over the house of Jacob.  And the church and the kingdom, you remember in Matthew 16:18-19 that they are used interchangeably.  So in a sense here is the same thing, right?  The house of Jacob is the church or the kingdom of God (I Timothy 3:14-15).  "And of his kingdom there shall be no end."  So that can refer only to the kingdom of Christ.  It can not be referring to an earthly kingdom.  And remember from Daniel 2:44 that “in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.  It shall not be left to another people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”  We have a song, “The kingdoms of the earth pass away one by one, but the kingdom of heaven shall stand.  It shall stand.  It shall stand.  Forever it shall stand.”  And that is truly according to the teaching of the Bible. “And of his kingdom there shall be no end.”  Now notice carefully verses thirty‑four and thirty‑five, "And Mary said unto the angel, how shall this be seeing that I know not a man?"  Meaning what?

STUDENT:  That she's a virgin.

 BROTHER TURNER: Yes, I have not had sex with any man.  So how am I going to have a child?  How am I going to have a son?  And the angel answered and said unto her, "The Holy Spirit shall come up on thee and the power of the most high shall overshadow thee, wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God."  This is absolutely talking about the virgin birth, that Mary would give birth to a son without the agency of man. And do you remember from Galatians chapter four, where it talks about “when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son, born of woman, born under the law. That he might redeem them that were under the law.”  That would be a ridiculous statement if it is not talking about the virgin birth of Christ. What man is there that has not been born of woman?  But spoken of in that sense, born of woman without the agency of man.  Like Genesis 3:15 said was to take place, that the seed of woman would bruise the head of the serpent or the devil. Remember Genesis 3:15 was the first prophecy of Christ to come. 


We were down to verse thirty‑six, I believe.  "Behold Elizabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren."  So John the Baptist must have been about six months older than Christ, right? "For no word from God shall be void of power.  And Mary said, behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy words.  And the angel departed from her. Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste unto a city of Judah and entered into the house of Zecharias and saluted Elizabeth.  And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  And she lifted up her voice with a loud cry, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." And so when she goes and meets Elizabeth, she is already with child.  "And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord shall come unto me."  And how does Elizabeth. know that Mary was to be the mother of her Lord? STUDENT:  The Holy Spirit had come to her BROTHER TURNER:  All right.  Notice that she is filled with the Holy Spirit.  So the Holy Spirit gives her these words, that the mother of my Lord.  How would Mary be the mother of Elizabeth's Lord? STUDENT:  There would be no way she would   have known that.  BROTHER TURNER:  No way that she could have known that, except given that instruction she's speaking from the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit had given her those words.  And, of course, Christ is Elizabeth's Lord like he is to be every person's Lord.  Verse forty‑four, "For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy."  And think of that, John the Baptist leaping in her womb for joy.  But remember he is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, going back to verse fifteen, even from his mother's womb.  So we will sign off on verse forty‑four for a while.  (A brief recess was taken.) 



We are ready to begin the third period of this class session.  We were down to Luke 1:45.  "For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  And blessed is she that believed:  For there shall be a fulfillment of the things which hath been spoken to her from the Lord."  And so there Elizabeth would be speaking of Mary, that Mary believed what the angel Gabriel had told her.  "And Mary said, My soul both magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in the God of my Savior.  For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaiden:  For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.  And his mercy unto all generations, and generations on them that fear him."  I believe Mary is speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit too.  "He hath showed strength with his arms; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.  He hath put down princes from their thrones, and hath exalted them of low degree.  The hungry he hath filled with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away.  He hath given help to Israel, his servant, that he might remember mercy; as he spake unto our fathers, to Abraham, and his seed for ever.  And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned unto her house.  Now Elizabeth's time was fulfilled that she be delivered; and she brought forth a son.  And her neighbors and her kinsfolks heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her."  God had magnified his mercy toward Elizabeth by making it possible that she could bear a son, and a great son at that.  And they rejoiced with her.  They were doing the proper thing, weren't they, when they rejoiced with Elizabeth at the birth of John?  "And it came to pass, that on the eighth day that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of his father."  This matter of Juniors is no new thing!

STUDENT:  That's true.

 BROTHER TURNER:  But what father does not want a son named after him?  Not many, to say the least, and that was the pattern of that day.  And so it looks like it was the custom that when the child was circumcised they named him on that day.  And it looks like the women of the village had a part in coming up with the name.  And they were going to call him Zecharias, Jr., right?

STUDENT:  Right.

BROTHER TURNER:  "And it came to pass, that on the eighth day."  And why the eighth day? STUDENT:  Abraham.  That's the covenant.

BROTHER TURNER:  That is the covenant of circumcision given back there to Abraham, as recorded in the seventeenth chapter of the book of Genesis.  And Abraham was ninety‑nine years old, was he not?

STUDENT:  Right.

BROTHER TURNER: And Ishmael was thirteen years old when that covenant of circumcision was given, but from then on, every Hebrew child was to be circumcised on the eighth day and all of those slaves born in Abraham's house were to be circumcised when they were eight days old.  Now, let us take time to turn back and read a little bit in Genesis chapter seventeen.  Notice verse one of Genesis seventeen, "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, Jehovah appeared to Abraham, and Abram said unto him."  Verse nine, "And God said unto Abraham, as for thee thou shalt keep my covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee.  This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every male among you shall be circumcised.  And ye shall be the circumcised in the flesh  of your foreskin.  And it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.  And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in thy house."  And remember that when Abraham moved, it was like a small town or village moving.  There were three hundred and eighteen trained soldiers that had been born in his house (Genesis 14:14).  So really there were a lot of people included in Abraham's house. "Or bought with money, of any foreigner, that is not of thy seed."  And they told him that his wife Sarah was going to have a child.  Verse twenty‑two, "And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.  And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the self‑same day."  That was circumcising a lot of men.  "As God had said unto him.  And Abraham was ninety years old and nine."  Ninety‑nine years old,  "And when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, and Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.  In the self‑same day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.  And all the men of his house, those born in his house, and those bought with money of a foreigner, were circumcised with him."  So Abraham was a man of real faith, and that kind of faith caused him to do just  exactly as God had instructed him to do.  And he did it, and he did not put it off.

STUDENT:  Active faith.


BROTHER TURNER:  So the ladies have a problem, they want to name him John.  Verse fifty‑nine, "And it came to pass on the eighth day that they came to circumcise the child.  And they would have called him Zacharias after the name of his Father.  And his mother answered and said, not so; but he shall be called John."  So Elizabeth knew what  the angel had said. Zacharias must have written a note to her telling her what the angel had said.  "And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name."  That is not the pattern.  "And they made signs to his father, what he would have him called.  And he asked for a writing tablet, and he wrote, saying, His name is John.  And they marveled all.  And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, blessing God."  And so just as the angel told him he would be dumb until the child was born, at the time of circumcision, he writes his name is John, and his tongue is loosed.  Verse sixty‑five, "And fear came upon all that dwelt round about, and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea."  Well, do you see how that they knew something very unusual was taking place?  "And all that heard them laid them up in their hearts saying, what then shall this child be, for the hand of the Lord was with him.  And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying."  And, again, speaking by inspiration. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and brought redemption for his people."  And, of course, that would have to do with John the Baptist making a way for Christ, and then Christ coming and dying as a sin offering and for all of us.  "And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David."  And, again, Christ is of David's descent.  "And he spake by the mouth of the holy prophets, that have been of old."  A number of the Old Testament prophets spoke of Christ as being the one that would be raised up to rule over Israel.  "Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he swear unto Abraham our father."  And that is referring to Genesis 12:3, don’t you think, when God told Abram, when he was called back there, that if he would leave his kindred and his father's house, and go into a land that he would show him, that he would bless him, and through his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed.  And remember Paul refers to that in the third chapter of the book of Galations.  He said to Abraham was the promise made that he saith not to his seed as of many, but to thou seed which is Christ.  I think that is about Galatians 3:16.  So Christ was to come through the seed of Abraham.  So verse seventy‑three again, "The oath which he swear to Abraham, our father, to grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies should serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all of our days.  Yea, and thy child, thou shalt be called the prophet of the most High."  And there he is speaking of his son John the Baptist, right?  "And yea, thou child, shalt be called the prophet of the most High:  For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to make ready his ways."  And so very definitely, we have many references saying John is to make the way of Christ.  "To give knowledge of salvation unto his people and the remission of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high shall visit us."  Would not that be Christ?  "To shine upon them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. And the child grew, and waxed strong in the spirit, and was in the desert till the day of his showing unto Israel."  And so John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judaea.


Chapter two, "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled."  Enrolled for taxation.  "This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was the governor of Syria.  And all went to enroll themselves, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and family of David.)"  It would be like our going to vote, the place where we are enrolled to vote.  We are enrolled at a certain place, and we ought not go somewhere else and expect to vote, because we would not be on that roll.  They are going to be enrolled for taxation. "And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, unto Judaea to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and family of David:) To enroll himself with Mary who was betrothed to him, being great with child.  And it came to pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she would be delivered.  And she brought forth their firstborn son, and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."  So many people would be going there to enroll, there were no accommodations for them there in the inn.  And so it looks like they may be in the quarters where the animals were, right?  Don't they say that animals sometimes were down on the first floor underneath the house, as we might think of it.  "And so she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger."  And so what would the manger be?


STUDENT:  It would be the feeding trough.

BROTHER TURNER:  It would be the feeding trough where they fed the animals or they put the hay.  "And there were shepherds in the same country."  Matthew tells about the wise men coming from the east, but at a later date than Luke has given here.  He tells about the shepherds, about the angels appearing to the shepherds while they are watching over their flock. “There were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, keeping watch by night over their flock.  And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shown round about them; and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them."  And, again, when the people came into the presence of angels, it is pretty well the pattern of the whole Bible about angels, that people were afraid of them.  "And they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, be not afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."  So the angel makes the announcement to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks.  "Bring ye tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this is a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothing, and lying in a manger."  And so those shepherds could go and find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  Now, think about this.  When we read Matthew's account, evidently, the child is around two years of age when Matthew tells about the wise men going.  But here the babe has just been born.  He is still wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.  "And this is a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying."  And, again, the heavenly host, not an earthly host.  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among them, in whom he is well pleased.  And it came to pass, as the angels went away from them into heaven."  Notice, they went back to heaven.  So do you not think that they are just stretching a point too far, that the angels are messengers and leave it as though a man can be an angel.  STUDENT:  Right.


BROTHER TURNER:  "And it came to pass, as the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found both Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger.  And when they saw it, they made known concerning the saying, which was spoken to them about the  child.  And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept these sayings, pondering them in her heart."  Mary must have kept a lot of sayings for many years, but by the time Jesus began his ministry, she decided that he could turn the water into wine.  She had come to some conclusions by that time.  "And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart."  And what do we need to do with many passages of scripture that we read? STUDENT:  We need to meditate upon them.

BROTHER TURNER:  All right.  Ponder them in our heart as to what the real meaning is. Peter said of Paul's epistles that he had written in them of some things that were hard to be understood, and they needed a lot of thought and a lot of pondering and a lot of studying.  Verse twenty, "And the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, even as it was spoken unto them.  And when eight days were fulfilled for circumcising him, his name was called Jesus, which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb."  So Joseph and Mary did not have a problem about a name.  "And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him before the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." 


Here we have a requirement of the Old Testament, “every male that openeth the wound shall be called holy to the Lord.”  And what is the background of that?  When God passed over the houses of the Egyptians, the firstborn of man and beast was killed (Exodus 12:29-30).  And because of that, the firstborn was to be offered unto the Lord and, of course, they did not kill the child, but they were to offer a sacrifice in its stead.  Let us turn to Leviticus twelve.  I think it will give us some instruction about that.  This has to do with them offering a sacrifice. The law required for them to wait for a certain number of days after the birth of a child before this sacrifice was to be made. Let us read beginning with Leviticus 12:1. "And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman conceived, and bears a man child:  Then shall she be unclean seven days; as in the days of the impurity of her sickness shall she be unclean.  And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.  And she shall continue in the blood of her impurity three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.  But if she bear a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her impurity, and she shall continue the blood of her purifying three‑score and six days.  And when the days of her purifying are over, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tent of the meeting unto the priest. And he shall offer it to Jehovah and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the fountain of her blood.  This is the law of her that beareth whether it is a male or a female.  Now notice verse eight, “And if her means suffice not for a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons.  The one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering, and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be cleaned.”  Now going back to the reading of verse twenty‑four, “and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord a pair of turtledoves and two young pigeons.”  So what does this tell us about the parents of Jesus? STUDENT:  That they were poor.  BROTHER TURNER:  Yes, that they were poor, and  they did not have to offer a lamb, but they can offer a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. 


Okay.  Let us turn back, I think that Exodus chapter thirteen would be about the firstborn.  Exodus thirteen beginning with verse one, "And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast:  It is mine."  Now, remember God had passed over and killed the firstborn of man and beast in the houses of the Egyptians, but the people of Israel had sacrificed the Passover lamb and had applied its blood to the lentils and to the doorposts of their houses, Exodus chapter twelve and I think around verse seven.  I believe it is verse thirteen that says, God said that  when I see the blood, talking about the blood of the lamb, applied to the lentils and to the doorposts of their houses, “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”  And now the people of Israel are to sanctify unto the Lord the firstborn of man and beast.  Later this was changed to, I believe, the priestly family would be for the taking of the firstborn of the other tribes.  But, anyway, the firstborn was to be sanctified unto the Lord. Exodus 13:12 beginning, “You shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstlings of your cattle that are males shall be the Lord’s --- Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.” So they were to redeem their first born children by offering a lamb, but notice Leviticus 12:8, “And if he cannot afford a lamb then he shall take two turtle doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering, and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”


Back to Luke 2:25, "And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel:  And the Holy Spirit was upon him."  Again, he is going to be speaking by inspiration of the Spirit.  "And it hath been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he would not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ."  So Simeon was an old man, a devout man, but it had been revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.  "And he came into the spirit into the temple.  And when the parents brought in the child Jesus, that they might do concerning him after the custom of the law."  (Offering the  sacrifice).  "Then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, now let thou thy servant depart, Lord, according to thy word in peace:  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light for revelation to the Gentiles."  Isaiah,49:6 reads that it.  It would not be enough for Christ to be raised up for Israel, but God would give him as a light to the nations or Gentiles.  So that is what this is talking about.  "Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light for the revelation to the Gentiles."  And so Christ is that light, a revelation to the Gentiles.  "And the glory of thy people Israel.  And his father and his mother were marveling at the things which were spoken concerning him."  They knew that they were meaningful, did they not? 


"And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel."  He would be set for the falling of what part of Israel?

STUDENT:  It would be the Jewish nation.

BROTHER TURNER:  Yes, as a whole that would be the nation. It would be those that did not believe on Christ, but he would be for the rising of all those who believed on him.  "Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against; (Yea, and the sword shall pierce through thy own soul,) that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."  Do you think that would have reference to the death of Christ, verse thirty‑five?  That would be like a sword piercing through her own soul.  "And there was Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher:  She was of great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and she had been a widow even unto fourscore and four years."  Boy, she is old! Fourscore and four, that would be eighty‑four years, and she had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and she had been a widow eighty‑four.

STUDENT:  She's up there.

BROTHER TURNER:  She must have been above a hundred, right?  She had to have been, would she not?  Am I reading correctly?  If she was just fifteen when she married and then lived with her husband seven years, that would be twenty‑two.  Then eighty‑four to that, would put her over a hundred.  "Who departed not from the temple, worshiping with fastings and supplications night and day.  And coming up at that very hour, she gave thanks unto God, and spake of him to all them that were looking for the redemption unto Jerusalem.  And when they had accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.  And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom:  And the grace of God was upon him." 


And, again, Luke is the only one that tells anything about the childhood of Jesus.  And here the child is strong, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God which was upon him.  "And his parents went every year to Jerusalem at the feast of the passover.  And when he was twelve years old, they went up after the custom of the feast.  And when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not."  And I have heard people talk about how that that reflected on his parents, that they went two or three days with him not being with them.  But can you imagine as the people journeyed back home, the multitude of people that would be going, and how children usually get with other children, and especially if there are a lot of cousins in the crowd.  It is a very natural thing to think that he was with their kin people.  Is  that what it says, kinsfolk?  "But supposing him to be in the company, they went a day's journey; and they sought for him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.  And when they found him not, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking for him.  And it came to pass, after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both  hearing, and asking them questions.  And all that heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.  And when they saw him, they were astonished:  And his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?  Behold, thy father and I sought thee sorrowing.  And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me?  Knew ye not that I must be in my Father's house?"  I imagine Mary pondered that statement too, don't you guess?  "And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them."  So they did not have full understanding of it then.  "And they went down, and he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and he was subject to them; and his mother kept all these sayings in her heart."  Again, that would be the same thing as she pondered them in the heart. And so they did not understand what Jesus meant when he said, knew ye not that I must be about my Father's house.  "And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man."  It is only from Luke's account that we have very much about the boyhood of Jesus. Matthew tells about their carrying the child to Egypt, and then after the death of the king, carrying him back home.  But Luke at least carries to when he is twelve years old, and then we have a gap from twelve to thirty.  He was about thirty years old when he begins his ministry.  Chapter three. Luke begins and tells about John the Baptist and he tells when it was.  So he has done a lot of tracing, and notice that he gives the history.  "Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being the governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene.  And the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.  And he came into all the region round about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins." 


I can remember the day when a lot of our brethren would say that John's baptism was a baptism of repentance, but it was not for remission of sins.  STUDENT:  They must have missed this verse.

BROTHER TURNER:  Yes, turn back and notice Mark’s account. In Matthew's account, they were baptized of John in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  And so if there was no forgiveness of sin, why would they have been confessing their sins?  And then Mark definitely says it was for remission of sins.  Mark 1:4, John came who  baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins.  Of course, the King James says for remission of sins.  The American Standard, unto remission of sins.  And the Greek word there is the same Greek word as used in Acts 2:38, where Peter says, “repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for, the (King James Version), unto, the (American Standard Version), for the remission of sins. Young's Analytical Concordance says the Greek word used there means in view of.  And, of course it means, in view of receiving remission of sins.  It is the same Greek word as used in Matthew 26:28, where Jesus says this is the blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the remission of sins.  And you need to keep in mind Matthew 26:28.  There are a lot of sincere people out there that believe what their preachers have told them that for means because of.  Well, sometimes for does mean because of, but it is a different Greek word.  In Young's Analytical Concordance, I believe it gives forty‑three different Greek words for our English word for.  And I do not remember the one that says ‑‑ that means because of. Some preachers would say, a man is in jail because he committed a crime, for he committed a crime.  And so they pull the wool over the eyes of the people.  And there are a lot of people that have heard that so long, and the way that the preachers talk about it, that they think you are to be baptized because you are already saved.  That is the doctrine.  Notice that Jesus was about thirty years old, according to Luke's account, when he began his ministry, Luke 3:23.  And Jesus himself when he began to teach was about thirty years of age, being the son, as was supposed, of Joseph.  And then he begins and traces back to Adam.  And so his genealogy is very different from Matthew's genealogy.  Well, I guess we better plan on beginning with Matthew, reading from Matthew for our next session.  As we read from Matthew, we'll note a lot of the parallels that are given in the other gospels.  I appreciate your good attention.