The Fork in the Road: A Different Gospel, Part 7 (Why Galatians Has to Be)

My biggest difficulty in accepting Galatians’ teachings on the salvation of those who seek a works salvation is the seeming unfairness of it all. Why condemn someone just because he insists that the instrumental music is a salvation issue?

For that matter, circumcision is a very personal matter. It doesn’t affect our worship or organization. In today’s world, most people really don’t know who is and isn’t circumcised. Why does insisting on circumcision as a requirement to be saved cause one to fall away from grace? Why isn’t faith in Jesus and penitence enough? Why does this mistake damn and not so many others?

I studied on this for quite a long time actually. Several years. And I finally realized the obvious answer — because unity of God’s people is essential. And unity is not possible when we damn over non-gospel issues.

Think about the history of the Churches of Christ from 1889 on. In the Sand Creek Address & Declaration, we divided over instrumental music, located preachers, fund raisers other than free will offerrings, and missionary societies. (Of course, our located preachers now tell us there’s no sin in this.)

In 1939, H. Leo Boles put an effective end to efforts to re-unify the a cappella and instrumental churches in his “The Way of UNITY Between “CHRISTIAN CHURCH” AND CHURCHES OF CHRIST.” He insisted on separation over instrumental music, missionary societies, and calling the Christian Church a “denomination.”

The readers are well aware of the numerous other issues that have divided the Churches of Christ — sometimes into official camps that get footnotes in our directory and sometimes into unofficial camps that won’t invite the others to their lectureships all the while pretending not to have divided.

The Galatian heresy inevitably leads to division because there’s no way to say which errors damn and which do not. Once you’ve decide the instrument damns, then anything you feel strongly about becomes equally damning. If you’re unsure about the answer, it becomes — to you — a disputable matter and not a basis to break fellowship. But once one side figures the issue is clear, fellowship breaks. Yesterday’s disputable matter is today’s test of fellowship and salvation issue.

The result is that the lines of fellowship are no longer found in faith in Jesus and submission to Jesus as Lord. We must also submit to the higher wisdom of the editor-bishop whose periodical the preacher reads — or else face damnation. Of course, the church down the road reads another editor-bishop and so damns over entirely different issues. And so, when one church damns you, you can just transfer to the other church in town.

This constant division and wrangling is repeatedly condemned.

(Gal 5:15 ESV)  But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

(Gal 5:19-21 ESV)  19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Unity

And so, to go all the way back to part 1. I wrote,

In a recent post regarding the “progressive agenda,” I wrote,

Of course, my view of the gospel differs from the gospel as taught by conservatives in important ways. I’m persuaded that if they’ll understand the gospel as I teach it, unity will be easy.

If we would make just one little change in our thinking, unity would indeed be easy. Simply accept that we are saved by faith in Jesus — a penitent faith, that is, faith that submits to Jesus as Lord — and not by works. Do that and we will no longer have to divide over instrumental music or the frequency of communion or how to support missionaries. We can discuss those things without having to damn each other. Indeed, we could even teach in the same lectureship.

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34 Responses

  1. It would be so easy for us.. but maybe not so easy for those who hold those conservative scruples. But I think what you’ve described is what the scriptures teach. If so, it really doesn’t matter how easy it is.

  2. Jay,

    Your post is right on the spot.

    We (coc) are an odd bunch! Out of the same mouths come statements like “Only those scripturally baptized are saved” and then ” (fill in the blank) is lost because they do (fill in the blank). What an utterly silly position!

    False teachers look like sheep to the unaware. Some of them wear J C Penny suits and have diplomas from “brotherhood” schools. They are just a dangerous as those who taught circumcision as a requirement to be saved. They teach “another gospel” as you have clearly stated.

    What we need is more Paul’s and fewer timid church members who walk on egg shells to keep from offending those who are the loudest false teachers in our congregations. This is a “salvation issue”. Read Matthew 7 sometime.

    Royce

  3. Reading the original texts of the Boles speech and the Sand Creek declaration is mildly depressing, in that it shows, to me, how our CofC history has been rooted in selectively choosing the “laws” which we chose to make tests of fellowship.

    Boles speech is especially disturbing in his application of the “test of fellowship” division only to those who opposed his point of view.

    Oh well. Thank God for his graciousness to all of us.

    We all are in need of it.

  4. Royce, I agree that more Pauls are needed and fewer timid members. But the problem, though the numbers of progressive, or more grace centered members are increasing, is that the grace centered churches are still few and far between. The grace centered members are scattered with no shelter in sight for many of them. That is the reason they keep silent…there is no place for them to go.
    I can remember my days as a young preacher keeping my mouth shut, not only to keep my position, but also not to alienate my family. However, if there had been more progressive churches closer and available where I could have worked and found encouragement for my faith I truly believe I could have faced friends and families easier. As it was the legalist had no qualms about causing a stir about anything they thought to be liberal teaching; they always had a place to go.
    Oh, I tried often, in ways I thought were wise and patient, to open the minds and hearts of the congregation, with some limited success. But, if things came to a head the prevailing thought was, as with most leaders, the more liberal voice must keep silent.
    I am indeed glad to see more progressive voices speaking up in the CoC; but it is going to be many years still before most congregations are spiritually healthy enough to not feel the need to make instrumental music, church cooporation, even how one views other believers and churches, as salvation issues. And many, as they reach a certain age, feel they cannot wait that long.

  5. John, you make some excellent points. It is easy to paint with a broad brush isn’t it? Although I try to resist doing so, a kind and thoughtful response like yours points out my flaw in this area.

    I am convinced that God is at work in our coc congregations. I am encouraged. Thanks for your comments.

    Royce

  6. Dude, have you ever read the first two chapters of both Matthew and Luke?

    Luke has JEsus’ parents in Bethlehem only for 40 days after his birth, then in Jerusalem offering the sacrifice for mary’s cleansing, then immediately back in Nazareth their home town in luke.

    Matthew has them still in Bethelehem three years after JEsus’ birth and then they leave and flee to egypt and after only god knows how long come back and go to Nazareth not because its their hometown (in matt bethelehem is the hometown) but because Joseph is afraid to go back to Bethlehem because of Archelaus.

    How do you rectify that? You can’t. You are arguing about the unity of gods’ people when the book you call the word of God is a mere fraud anywy. just let the conservative churches of Christ have their fun in their fake religion and move on. the bible is fake.

  7. and since this is the case it is obvious that what god really wants is morality not faith not stupid ceremonies. just live a good moral life and be done with it. stop arguing about what a contradictory books says. if this book cant even get its story straight on how long Jesus’ parents lived in Bethlehem after his birth or whether their hometown was Bethlehem or Narareth before his birth, then how can it guide you to heaven? If it is a map to heaven like you people like to say then its a cheap chinese knockoff map that will probably land you in the opposite direction.

  8. also PAul in timothy or titus delivers alexander and philetus i think it is to Satan for saying the resurrection is past (im sure you know this verse) but in Ephesians 5:14 Paul says “Awake sleeper and arise from the dead and Christ will give you light” speaking not to literally dead people but to the readrs. In this he interprets resurrection spiritually. It can therefore be a thing that is past. When you awoke from your sleep and arose from the dead and received Christ’s light, you were resurrected. PAul himself at times, then, teaches the theory that resurrection is merely conversion, but at others he condmns to hell or delivers to Satan those who teach it. He also sometimes teaches that the resurrection is not a flesh and blood resurrection “flesh and blod will not inherit the kingdom” and “it is sown a physical body but raised a spritiual body.” If Paul is not even consistent with himself, and he is not in the bible, then how can you enforce any one of his sayings? the bible is corrupt. everyone with eyes will see it.

  9. further when it comes to works salvation paul himelf cautions us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” and tells us that if we do not obsrve the eucharist his way then we “eat and drink damnation to themselves.” paul is condemned in corthinthians by his own condemnation of those who teach works. paul is condemned of teaching another gospel from the gospel that paul teaches in galatians.

  10. Dude,

    Indeed I have. Seems plain enough that Luke compresses the story by skipping the sojourn in Egypt. And it’s obvious that many other events and details are omitted as in any other biography.

    It’s sheer presumption to argue that Nazareth was not the hometown of Joseph in Mary in Matt. The text only says he was afraid to return to Bethlehem. Given the Jesus has been prophesied to be the Messiah and so sit on the throne of David, Joseph may well have intended to raise Jesus in or near Jerusalem. There is any number of reasons someone might choose to live outside his hometown.

    (Mat 2:22-23 ESV) 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

    Nazareth was (and is) a tiny village with only one claim to fame at the time. The people living there believed they were descended from David and the Messiah would come from among them. The root word for “Nazareth” is “shoot” — as in the shoot growing from the stump of Jesse, a reference to the Messiah.

    It’s hard to imagine why Joseph would have moved there had it not been his hometown.

  11. Jerry,

    Our baptism enacts and presages our ultimate resurrection. We die and are born again — in anticipation of the death and rebirth that will happen at our physical deaths. But Paul never uses “resurrection” to speak of our conversion — saving that term only for the resurrection of Jesus and the general resurrection at the end of time.

    Teaching that the “resurrection” has already occurred is to deny the general resurrection and the hope into which Christians have been saved.

  12. Jerry,

    Paul is one of the most brilliant men to have ever walked the earth. Even his opponents concede his genius and influence. If we think he’s so blatantly contradicted himself, well, it’s much more likely that we’ve misunderstood him. And studying these supposed contradictions is actually an excellent way to dig more deeply into Pauline theology. Even subtle misunderstandings can lead to seeing contradictions where none actually exist,. so focusing on questions such as these help us refine our understanding.

    The Corinthians sinned in 1 Cor 11 by the way they ate and drank the Lord’s Supper (and the love feast). They sinned against the body because they refused to wait on each other and refused to share — even getting drunk and eating while others went without. In short, this was no technical footfault. They were acting utterly without love for each other (leading to the magnificent 1 Cor 13). And Paul teaches in Gal that the only thing that counts is “faith expressing itself in love.” A failure to love — especially a failure to love those within your own congregation! — utterly contradicts the gospel and can certainly lead to damnation and not violate Gal in the least because it’s rebellion against the Spirit’s leading (Gal 5)

    In Phil 2, he tells us to “work out our own salvation” but that hardly means we should earn our salvation. After all, what he says in context is –

    (Phi 2:1 ESV) 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

    Paul credits God’s work within the heart of the Christian for their work — as a consequence of their salvation. This is very much in line with Gal 5 and 6.

    I’ve never built my faith on the lack of contradiction in the scriptures. Rather, my faith is in Jesus — although I consider the scriptures authoritative revelation, inspired, and true. I don’t so much object to the argument as find it unnecessary. The scriptures point beyond themselves to Jesus, and we worship and honor him. And the more I learn about Jesus, the more I find him worthy of my love, devotion, and worship.

    There is much more that could be said, but for now, suffice to say that your questions are fair, and I’m glad you came here to ask them.

    PS — I’d appreciate your using your real email when you post. The address is invisible to all but me, and won’t risk being picked up by spam-bots. Sometimes I need to privately communicate with people posting comments.

  13. Do you really have to use Galatians to make your point, Jay?

    Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    Mat 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.
    Mat 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

    Jesus hates it when we are judgemental. If we look at the 7 churches in Asia – all “churches of Christ”, because Christ Himself views them that way! – they had far greater errors than instrumental music.

    Now, if these churches – all in the same region – had withdrawn fellowship from one another because one church has lost its first love, another one accepted the Nicolaitans, a third one “suffered” a female teacher and yet another one was so extremly luke warm … we would understand that, I am sure.

    But withdrawing fellowship even in such extreme cases of sin, does not reflect the Lord’s attitude towards these churches. He wlks in the midst of all sven churches, ahs all seven stars in His hand. He did not divide the churches into the righteous and unrighteous ones – although he addressed sin very directly saying: “If you won’t repent, you’ll be out!” But that will be determined on Judgement day, or local churches will simply cease to exist.

    It is definitely not up to us to judge churches or to withdraw fellowship … if we do that, we split the body of Christ, which is condemned as a work of the flesh.

    I followed a bit of your walk through Galatians. I still believe Paul talks only about the idea of making the Law of Moses binding for Christians in order to be saved. This is meant by falling from Grace. The application on the IM-debate is a bit far-fetched in my opinion. I don’t believe these conservatives (you mentioned) have fallen from grace because of that. But they violate Mt 7:1ff and therefore they beg for being judged according the same strict standards they apply to others and not by Grace. That’s their (very serious) problem they need to repent from.

    The teachers in any local church must uphold discipline and order in love – so they have to take care of the flock that is with them. Doing this will keep us busy and focussed on the souls entrusted to us. We should not feel responsible for churches elsewhere. Because the same Lord that holds the star of our church also hold the stars of the others, even of churches as bad as Laodicea. He will address and judge when He sees it fitting.

    I think we may relax a bit …

    Alexander

  14. To Jerry

    How do you rectify that? You can’t. You are arguing about the unity of gods’ people when the book you call the word of God is a mere fraud anywy. just let the conservative churches of Christ have their fun in their fake religion and move on. the bible is fake.

    I think there are two ways of pointing to such contradictions:
    a) Well that’s weird, I don’t get it – could anyone help me?
    b) See, how weird that is? No one could take that seriously!

    The person a) can be helped, the other one can’t. The way you conclude your observations with “the bible is fake” contradicts the way you write the name of or Lord JEsus (with double capital beginning). Our Lord did not treat the Bible the way you do, He never spoke irreverently of God’s word as you do. He said:

    Joh 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth.

    It is more a question of attitude, Jerry, not of passages that from our perspective don’t fit together. So, what kind of person are you that asks this question? A person type a) or a person type b)?

    In Christ
    Alexander

  15. But if you really like to propose one of these contradictions for a discussion off topic (in private), you may write me a mail: alex.basnar@telering.at (please consider about 7 hours time-difference)

    Alexander

  16. Are abasnar and alexander bansar the same poster?

  17. Yes. I regularly misspelled my last name, and then my Avatars changed and I confused everybody and myself, and well … yes. Anyway. It’s me …

  18. Jay,
    Your responses to Jerry are excellent; no one can say that you do not mine deep for the gems.
    However, though you are correct to say that Paul never uses the term “resurrection” in speaking of conversion I, nevertheless, believe that it is an accurate way of stating what happens at conversion. If a person dies in order to be reborn, as a person does at conversion, that person has experienced a resurrection. Our baptism proclaims a resurrection that happens when we first recognize who we are, God’s child, our new selves, and the daily resurrection we experience as we die to self, as love calls for, as well as when we sin again and again, and experience the new birth again and again until the final resurrection when we leave this existence to be with God. Life in Christ is “death and resurrection”.
    Students and teachers of the Bible have no problem using synonyms where the significance is not tampered with; I find that to be the case for the term “resurrection”.
    Just one of the many thoughts that have formed in my heart and mind up to this point in my life. Again, your presentation of your study is excellent; there is a reason so many enjoy your blog.

  19. Jerry, since you cross-posted your comments on both my blog and Jay’s, and since it is off topic on the article on my site, I won’t aprove it for posting there. But I’ll briefly address your first complaint about the reliability of scripture. In Luke 2:39 it states:

    Luk 2:39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.

    Luke omits the details about Joseph and Mary taking Jesus to Egypt, but he doesn’t deny that it occurred. He presents an accurate, orderly sequential account. But, as in all historical narratives, he doesn’t record every event. So, given that he omitted that event, it does not follow that there is an inaccuracy. Insisting that this is an inaccuracy must be motivated by something other than the actual text.

  20. Assuming that Luke just failed tot mention the trip to egypt that wuld mean that they moved to Nazareth 40 days after Jesus was born then when Jesus was about 3 they moved back to bethlehem so the wise dudes could come and worship him, then they went to egypt then when they got back to egypt they moved back to Nazareth again. Is that what you guys are proposing? I think you simply arent taking the fact that Jesus was three years old when the magi came sriously.

  21. or you are somehow ignoring that the magi came to a house in bethlehem (not to the manger) when he was 3 not to nazareth and that they departed for egypt from bethlehem not nazareth. this makes it impossible to rectify matthew and luke’s stories. because per luke they moved to nazareth when Jesus was forty days old and per matt when he was 3.

  22. Jerry,

    The Idiomatic Translation of the New Testament translates —

    (Luk 2:39 MIT) After the parents had completed everything required by the law of Yahveh, they returned to Galilee to their city of Nazareth.

    There is no indication in the Greek that they returned to Galilee immediately. Rather, the emphasis is on the obedience to the Law of Moses by Jesus’ parents.

  23. Jerry Pinciati–

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments. I’m always thrilled to read/learn something from anyone coming from a totally different paradigm than the one I hold.

    I’m neither schooled nor skilled enough to challenge the points you have brought up–but they also don’t really affect my faith either way. But it is fun to learn something new.

    I’m curious–why are you reading this? From the post you made yesterday (the blog is in limbo and your posts have disappeared…I am going from memory) you implied that you basically live by the tenants of the Christian faith, you just believe the bible is bogus.

    Do you believe in God or are you an atheist? Or do you believe in God…just not that the bible is inspired?

    It also seemed that you implied that you came from a COC background…I was curious about that as well. If that is the case, well, I know many that have lost their faith (I’m sure that is the case in most denoms). I myself am just coming back from a long hiatus…my heritage in the COC was such that I decided, “if this is what being a follower of God looks like, I’m not sure that I am interested.”

    But by the grace of God, I was led out of that dungeon. I’d love to hear about your journey…obviously, you don’t have to answer any of this, I am certainly prying into a place that you have no obligation to share. I was just highly intrigued yesterday after reading your posts.

    Either way man, best wishes, and I’m truly sorry if your faith heritage soured your view of Christianity. I wish I didn’t understand that, but it is all-too-common it seems.

  24. Jay, even if that is the case that Luke is just skipping it and it doesnt mean they immediately went to nazareth, remeber that Matthew says Jesus went down to egypt because of prophecy “out of egypt I called my son” but this is Hosea 11:1 “when israel was young I loved him and called my son out of egypt.” this is no prophecy of Jesus but a reference to the Exodus when God told moses to tell pharaoh “israel is my firstborn, let my son go to serve me lest I kill your firstborn.”

    even therefore if you save the harmony of matthew and luke you still find matthew to be misusing the old testament.

    JMF, it is not the coc itself but the bickering of all who war to have their perspective outrun and take over all others. this is all what christianity has degraded into is a fight to impose your abstract doctrines on everyone else. did Jesus really come to damn all who would not believe a certain set of contradictory doctrines and save those who do have this faith (even if they are immoral)? or did he come to teach us a better morality that anything that had been taught before, even in the Old testament? Did he come to call us to morality despite faith or to faith despite morality? this is the question, and I perceive that he would rather have morality than faith.

  25. Jerry Pinciati–

    I not only agree with you, I think the scriptures agree with you! But I’d say Jesus called us to faith with the bi-product morality (love one another).

    So if the view you espouse is that you wish we’d focus on the two biggest commands and put doctrinal agreement on the back burner, then I am in agreement, and I suppose many readers are echoing with a hearty “amen” of their own.

    I wish you could have come to church with me this morning–this is exactly what we are studying. Many, many Christians are striving to put doctrinal minutiae in the back, and keep our focus on the big picture. That being Christ crucified and loving each other. To that Jerome quoted John as saying, “To love each other is enough.”

  26. Jerry,

    I don’t think it’s fair to contrast morality and faith — because the New Testament meaning of “faith” is faith in Jesus — not faith in a system of doctrine.

    One of the essential purposes of this blog is to encourage readers to give up division based on incidentals and to instead unite based on faith expressing itself in love.

    Regarding Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1, Lenski writes,

    What Matthew points out is an inner and divinely intended connection between the two sojourns in Egypt. God brought about the first sojourn and made that first sojourn a factual prophecy of the second, which he also brought about. The first is thus a divinely intended type of the second. It is not accidental that the angel sent Joseph to Egypt and to no other land. In addition to the word-prophecies we must recognize the fact-prophecies. It is the nature of the latter that they can be recognized only by and through their fulfillment. It is always the antitype which reveals the type as what it really is in God’s original intention.

    Hmm … I’m not sure I’m persuaded, but I’m not an expert in these things. I rather think the real solution is found in what N. T. Wright has extensively argued regarding Jesus’ ministry — that he took on the identity of Israel and did for Israel what Israel failed to do — be a light to the nations, etc.

    Therefore, many of the prophecies about Jesus are in fact about Israel — because he was fulfilling Israel’s destiny in himself. Thus, the church — which is Jesus’ body — is the spiritual Israel, meaning that Jesus himself has taken on the identity of Israel.

    It’s a deep and fascinating topic (and I’ve not done it justice), and it finds its deepest expression in the prophecies of Isaiah. But it takes Wright hundreds of pages to sort through it, and I can’t type that much in this little box.

    Now, there are entire books written on alleged contradictions in the Bible — and I’ve never read any of them. But that means you can lob questions like this my way for months on end — and you’ll likely never run out of alleged contradictions.

    As I said before, my faith is not built on the non-contradictory nature of the Bible. My faith is in the person Jesus, the Son of God.

    So I really don’t want to have to answer a book’s worth of contradictions. But you can post your most challenging one or two and I’ll see what I can do with them. This has been educational. I always profit from digging more deeply into the scriptures.

    And I echo JMF’s comment. I wish you’d been with me in church this morning. The sermon was about selling property, adopting orphans from among the millions of orphans in other nations, and the efforts of several of our members to sell their homes and move to a housing project to serve the poor.

    The Churches of Christ — and the American church in general — are dramatically changing. The Holy Spirit is working powerfully among us. It’s exciting and challenging.

  27. Dear Jerry

    How come that you think Jesus was 3 years old when the magi came?

    Mt 2:1 starts the report with “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem Judea … Magi from the east came.”

    This sounds like a direct step from the story of his birth to the visit of the magi, it does not indicate a huge gap of 3 years.

    The only reason, we could conclude two (!) years is verse 16: Herod gave orders to kill all the boys … who were two years old and under (!), in accordance with the time he had learned from the magi.”

    So the magi gave a time of two years – this might be due to a few reasons:
    a) the star appeared before the Lord’s birth, announcing it (the magi surely needed a couple of months to understand the sign and to travel that distance)
    b) It might be that the magi (!) suggested the time of the birth preceded the appearnace of the star a bit

    Actually we would have to ask them. But Herod killed all boys to years and under (1) – so two years is the maximum, a few days the minimum. Within that range we have to think.

    So I see no problem between Luke and Matthew

    Alexander

  28. Jerry,
    Decided to ask a question. What is the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection? What is the outworking of it?

    His resurrection indicates that redeeming work, His teaching, His Word, has all authority. Including the authority that led His apostles. Correct?

    We need to avoid the “red-letter Christianity” (“I believe Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels; that is all.”) that is blinding some believers. They have forgotten that the apostles penned those “red letters.” Boith the Gospels and apostolic teaching are the work of the risen Lord.

    So, while Christian faith is not faith in a system of doctrine, faith in Jesus also embraces a “system of doctrine” — which is the Word of the risen Lord. That is part of the meaning of Ephesians 4:1ff. His authority extends to His teaching.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton

  29. Luke omits the time in Egypt, but since Matthew knew of it and tells of it, we can be sure that Joseph and Mary fled there rather than returning quickly to Nazareth with their new son. Each gospel writer had to condense the story. John puts it well in suggesting the things they’d love to tell would take far more room than the books of the time could handle. If we need to believe Luke was mistaken, we can, but I prefer to suppose he was just eliding (purposely omitting some details). It’s sure that Jesus was brought up in Nazareth rathe than in Egypt. By the time he was 12, the family traveled from Nazareth to Jerusalem.

  30. “rathe” should be “rather” in the earlier post of course.

  31. “This sounds like a direct step from the story of his birth to the visit of the magi, it does not indicate a huge gap of 3 years.”

    The three year gap is indicated when Herod begins slaying the children “three years and under according to the time he dillgently inquired of the wise men.” In other words, the wise men first saw the star three years ago and knew from this that the baby king they sought was 3 years old, and they told this to Herod. This is why Herod capped his killing with three year olds.

  32. My Bible says two years and under. But if two years was an exact date, well why didn’t he spare the younger ones? You can discern two-year olds from one year olds and new-born babes.

    So Herod was uncertain about the age, he had a range from zero to two that he covered in his massacre. Maybe the wise men were uncertain, too – or they really saw the star two years ago the first time and again when they came. Since still there are a few theories around about the star of Bethlehem, we can only guess.

    When the Magi asked, “where isthe one who has been born king of the Jews”, they did not seem to know when Jesus was born exactly, they only referred to the star.

    But considering the distance and the time to study and undertand the sign, it is possible that the first appearance of the star preceded the birth of Christ. That there were two appearances is actually clear from the text. They saw the star back home, and they saw it again in Bethlehem.

    How long does it take to travel from Chaldea to Bethlehem? Hard to say. 2 weeks or longer?

    When they arrived, it is clear that Jesus was circumcised already, and that Mary and Joseph did not stay in the stable any more, but in a house (so that’s no surprise at all).

    Taken all this into consideration, I tend to say that the magi arrived within the first two or three months after the birth of our savior.

    Alexander

  33. Alexander,

    You might be interested in http://www.bethlehemstar.net. You can read through the presentation online. This fellow has a take on the timeline and the “star” that is fascinating (I get goose bumps just thinking about it). You can even order a DVD of his presentation.

    It’s worth your time to read/watch.

  34. Nancy, that was fascinating. Thanks for the link!

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