One of our Bible study groups from the past asked if Barry would please do another study. He was hesitant because of his health, but finally agreed to do one every other week, Sunday afternoons. The decision was made to do a study on Acts and then, time permitting, start with the letters. The study will be put up as it progresses.
* * * * * * *
Setting the Stage
What the Jewish people expected of the Messiah
The Week after Palm Sunday
The Arrest and Trial
The Book of the Acts of the Apostles
Introduction and Overview of Acts
What the Jewish People Expected of the Messiah
(note: all texts labelled “Masoretic” are from the King James Version)
From the beginning, a Messiah -- a Savior -- had been promised by God. God promised Abraham it would be in his line. King David received the same promise. The prophets spoke of the time when He would come. And the people waited. As the time of Daniel's prophecies drew near, the excitement seemed to be mounting.
There is a major prophecy in Daniel. In the King James, it is a six part prophecy. However in the more ancient Alexandrian LXX, it is a seven part prophecy. The translators of the Masoretic text evidently felt there was no difference between blotting out iniquities and making atonement for them.
Daniel 9:24 (Alexandrian LXX) -- Seventy weeks have been determined upon thy people, and upon the holy city, for sin to be ended, and to seal up transgressions, and to blot out the iniquities, and to make atonement for iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy.
Daniel 9:24 (Masoretic, King James) -- Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Please keep in mind that although we are very familiar with the King James and other modern translations which are based on the Masoretic text, that text was not translated until 100 years A.D. (currently called Common Era, or CE). It is the older, Alexandrian Septuagint (LXX) which was known to the people of Jesus’ time. Whichever version you choose, the last three parts of the prophecy “to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy,” have not yet been fulfilled. Looking back on what happened with Jesus, we can see that Daniel appears to have been a two part prophecy. One part, the first three (or four) prophecies, were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. The fulfillment of the last three parts will happen when He comes as King.
But before, there was no way to know that there would be two comings. The people expected the Messiah to come once for all as reigning king. Luke 19:11-27 indicates this, and then immediately Jesus tells the parable of the servants. His entry into Jerusalem follows right after this. Here is the passage from Luke 19 (New King James):
11 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. 12 Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.
13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas,] and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’
15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ 18 And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ 19 Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’
20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. 21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ 25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) 26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”
“A certain nobleman went into a far country….and to return.” They did not hear that part. They heard the part about the money.
Here are some of the prophecies the people were aware of about the coming Messiah:
2 Samuel 7:12-16 (LXX):7:12 And it shall come to pass when thy days shall have been fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, even thine own issue, and I will establish his kingdom.
7:13 He shall build for me a house to my name, and I will set up his throne even for ever.
7:14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. And when he happens to transgress, then will I chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the sons of men.
7:15 But my mercy I will not take from him, as I took it from those whom I removed from my presence.
7:16 And his house shall be made sure, and his kingdom for ever before me, and his throne shall be set up for ever.
Please note the differences made with the Masoretic text:
7:12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
7:13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
7:14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
7:15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
7:16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
This was a prophecy Nathan made to David. Clearly it is about his son, Solomon, for the most part. Solomon built the Temple and Solomon did sin and so was subject to the Lord’s correction. However, the parallel part of the prophecy was just as clearly about the Messiah, whose throne would be forever.
From Psalm 89, (LXX) -- 89:3 I made a covenant with my chosen ones, I sware unto David my servant.
89:4 I will establish thy seed for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Pause.
… 89:28 I will keep my mercy for him for ever, and my covenant [shall be] firm with him.
89:29 And I will establish his seed for ever and ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
… 89:34 Neither will I by any means profane my covenant; and I will not make void the things that proceed out of my lips.
89:35 Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie to David.
89:36 His see shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me;
89:37 and as the moon [that is] established for ever, and as the faithful witness in heaven. Pause.
There are no significant changes in the Masoretic.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (LXX) -- 9:6 For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger of great counsel: for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him.
9:7 His government shall be great, and of his peace there is no end: [it shall be] upon the throne of David, and [upon] his kingdom, to establish it, and to support [it] with judgement and with righteousness, from henceforth and forever. The seal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this.
The King James shows the changes made in the Masoretic:
9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 11 (LXX) -- 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a blossom shall come up from [his] root:
11:2 and the Spirit of God shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and godliness shall fill him;
11:3 the spirit of the fear of God. He shall not judge according to appearance, nor reprove according to report:
11:4 but he shall judge the cause of the lowly, and shall reprove the lowly of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the word of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he destroy the ungodly one.
11:5 And he shall have his loins girt with righteousness, and his sides clothed with truth.
11:6 And the wolf shall feed with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the young calf and bull and lion shall feed together; and a little child shall lead them.
11:7 And the ox and bear shall feed together; and their young shall be together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
11:8 And an infant shall put his hand on the holes of asps, and on the nest of young asps.
11:9 And they shall not hurt, nor shall they at all be able to destroy any one on my holy mountain: for the whole [world] is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as much water covers the seas.
11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious.
Masoretic: 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
11:3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
11:5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
11:6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
11:7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
11:8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
Jeremiah 23:5(LXX) -- Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and understand, and shall execute judgment and righteousness on the earth.
Masoretic-- Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
Micah 4:1-8 (LXX) -- 4:1 And at the last days the mountain of the Lord shall be manifest, established on the tops of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and the peoples shall hasten to it.
4:2 And many nations shall go, and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and they shall shew us his way, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Sion shall go forth a law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4:3 And he shall judge among many peoples, and shall rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles; and nation shall no more lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn to war any more.
4:4 And every one shall rest under his vine, and every one under his fig-tree; and there shall be none to alarm [them]: for the mouth of the Lord Almighty has spoken these [words].
4:5 For all [other] nations shall walk everyone in his own way, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.
4:6 In that day, saith the Lord, I will gather her that is bruised, and will receive her that is cast out, and those whom I rejected.
4:7 And I will make her that was bruised a remnant, and her that was rejected a mighty nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Sion from henceforth, even for ever.
4:8 And thou, dark tower of the flock, daughter of Sion, on thee the dominion shall come and enter in, [even] the first kingdom from Babylon to the daughter of Jerusalem.
Masoretic -- 4:1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4:3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
4:4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.
4:5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
4:6 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted;
4:7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.
4:8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
Zechariah 14:9 (LXX) -- And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one,
Masoretic – the same
This gives you an idea of what the Jewish people were expecting from the Messiah. Even Mary was given the same promise about Jesus in Luke 1:31-33: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David."
The people knew Daniel’s prophetic time for the arrival of the Messiah was near. Jesus had been performing miracles and attracting thousands. The words in Zechariah 9:9 must have rung in their heads as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, on a donkey:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; proclaim [it] aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, the King is coming to thee, just, and a Saviour; he is meek and riding on an ass, and a young foal.
At this point, both Jesus’ disciples and the people expected the Millennial Empire to come immediately. Jesus would defeat the Romans and rule from Jerusalem.
Jesus seemed, at first, to agree with them. Read Luke 19:37-44
Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:
“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
There is a common idea that somehow the stones themselves would make sounds proclaiming Jesus as King. But that is not what Jesus was referring to.
The Israelites had been captured by Babylon, and Jerusalem and its walls destroyed, in 586 BC. In Daniel 9, we read that Daniel was told there would be 69 “weeks” of years from the time the decree to build the wall of Jerusalem until the Messiah arrived. The decree was given on the 1st of Nissan, in the 20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes. That would have been March 5, 444 BC, as recorded in Nehemiah 2:1, 5-6. Given a prophetic year of 360 days, and adding those weeks of years, or 173,880 days to the decree given by Artaxerxes, we arrive at precisely Palm Sunday, 33 AD (the 10th of Nissan). THAT is why the stones themselves were bearing witness to the identity of Jesus as the Messiah. These were the stones put in the wall by Nehemiah himself. More about this is in our article on Jerusalem’s Walls.
The people were expecting a Conqueror, a King. The Kingdom would start within a few days, surely. But Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. This was a sign of peace. This fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, but the continuation of that prophecy did, indeed, make it seem like the end of Roman domination was very, very soon. Perhaps, if the Jews had turned to Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah, it would have. But, as we shall see in Acts, He was rejected. Here is the entire passage from Zechariah, starting with 9:9
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.
Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
I will bend Judah as I bend my bow
and fill it with Ephraim.
I will rouse your sons, Zion,
against your sons, Greece,*
and make you like a warrior’s sword.
* "against your sons, Greece" has another translation just as faithful to the original Hebrew: "along with your sons, Greece."
continue to the Week After