Biblical Exposition

Jesus Was A Jew – So What is That To You?

by Steve Ray on May 24, 2015

The Jewish Jesus - like he really was

 Jesus was a Jew.

This fact may escape the casual reader of the New Testament, but it is crucial to understanding Jesus and the book written about him—the Bible. Unhappily, in 21st century America we are far removed from the land of Israel and the ancient culture and religion of Jesus and his Jewish ancestors. 

 Let me ask you a few questions. Were you born and raised in Israel? Did you study the Torah with the rabbis from an early age? Have you traversed the rocky hills and dusty paths to celebrate the mandatory feasts in Jerusalem? 

 Do you speak Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic? I haven’t found anyone in my Catholic parish who has these credentials. Without this background, we are at a great disadvantage when studying the Bible and its central character — Jesus himself. 

 When we open the pages of our English Bible, we find a Jewish book! The setting revolves around Israel and the worship of Yahweh.

With one exception, the more than forty biblical writers were all Jews, and the exception was most likely a Jewish proselyte.  (Do you know who the only non-Jewish author in the Bible is? I’ll give you a few hints: he was a physician, one of St. Paul’s co-workers, and he wrote the first history of the Church.)   

 The point is, how can we understand the Bible and the teaching surrounding our Lord Jesus and salvation without understanding his people, his culture, and his Jewish identity? 

For the whole article click here.

{ 2 comments }

Mary, Queen of Heaven

by Steve Ray on May 22, 2015

A while ago a man called in to say my argument for the Assumption of Mary including references from the Old Testament was wrong.

Bathsheba takes care of young King Solomon; she later became his queen

I had quoted 1 Kings 2:19 where Solomon had raised his mother up to a throne to be Queen of the Kingdom. He said that was the ONLY case of a mother being a queen in the Old Testament.

He prefaced his comment by saying that he knew the Old Testament well and it does not support what I had asserted.

Well, if he knew his Old Testament as well as he said, he would realize I was correct.

In the Old Testament, the kings of Judah had queens but the queens were not their wives — but their mothers — with one exception of the queen being a grandmother.

AncientIsrael.jpgSolomon had 1,000 wives and concubines — but he only had one mother. Click here to read the section on The Great Lady or Queen Mother in Roland de Vaux’s book Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institution.

The Queen Mothers of earthly kings of Judah were not always good examples or godly queens. Many of them were egregious sinners and would intercede for the people with improper requests to the king. But, this takes nothing away from the fact that the mother was the queen and intercessor. It only confirms that many of the Old Testament kings and queens were disobedient to God.

But there is a perfect King and a perfect Queen — Jesus and his mother Mary. They follow the pattern of protocol and the royal institution. It is the royal protocol and the historical precedent and the office that is important in the analogy. Kings of Israel DO what Kings of Israel do and always have done. Jesus is THE king of Israel and would follow the protocol.

Jesus is a king sitting on the throne of his fathers David and Solomon (Luke 1:30-33; Daniel 7:13-14; Rev 5:5; 19:16) and all the subsequent kings of Judah. Solomon was called the son of David because that’s what he was. But the phrase “Son of David” became a title of the Messiah. Jesus is referred to as THE Son of David (Matt 1:1; 21:9) and is therefore the ultimate and true king.

The kings of Judah all had queens but the queens were not their wives — they were their mothers. This is the royal protocol of the Old Testament and the kings of Judah. It is ultimately fulfilled in Christianity and the Kingdom of God which, obviously, is based on the Old Testament model. Jesus is our king and obviously his mother is the queen. It is proper and justly so.

Remember, the kings of Israel do what the kings of Israel do. Jesus is the ultimate King of Israel, so…

…let’s follow the logic:
GB_king_solomon1) Solomon and subsequent kings of Judah raised their mothers to Queenship which became established as an official office;
2)
the mothers were referred to as the Queen Mothers or the Great Lady;
3)
they sat on a throne near their sons (1 Ki 2:19);
4) The kings of Israel do what the kings of Israel do;
5) Jesus is the quintessential Jewish King with an eternal kingdom;
6)
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Israelite offices of Prophet, Priest & King;
7)
As the Davidic king, Jesus who obeyed the Law perfectly, would honor his mother more than earthy kings honored their mothers;
8) It is biblical, historical, and reasonable to expect the perfect Jewish king to follow the protocol of the kingdom and his fathers by assuming his mother to a throne at his right hand.
9)
It is proper and biblical to consider Mary in a position of intercessor as the Queen of Heaven.
10) Mary is seen as the Queen of Heaven in Revelation 12:1.

Queen of HeavenIs it impossible or unlikely that God would assume someone into heaven body and soul? All of us will be taken us some day (1 Cor 15:52). In the Bible there are at least two clear examples of humans taken up to heaven body and soul. Both Enoch (Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1-11) were taken up into heaven body and soul. Mary was not the first! There was already precedent set!

Queenship of Mary is a Marian feast day in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church,established by Pope Pius XII. On 11 October 1954, the Pontiff pronounced the new feast in his encyclical Ad caeli reginam. The feast was celebrated on May 31, the last day of the Marian month. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the feast day to August 22.

***********************************

One question was asked today about the Queen in Psalm 45. If the queen was the bride marrying the king, then how can we say the queen was always the mother and that it was a pattern by which we could see Jesus, like other Jewish kings, appointing his mother as his queen. I speculate a bit on the matter here.

For a response to the argument that Jeremiah condemns those who worship the Queen of Heaven, click here.

For more on Mary, get my documentary filmed on location. It is entitled Mary, Mother of God. You can learn more about it and order it here. My talk Mary: Real Girl & Woman of Mystery here.

15

{ 10 comments }

I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they dismiss the clear biblical meaning and importance of the word and the sacrament. 

“The goal of baptism is eternal life, but not primarily by way of vivification [my comment: giving of new life]. In spite of 1 Pet. 3:20–21; Jn. 3:5–6; Tit. 3:5, the thought of the cleansing bath is more fundamental (1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 5:26; Heb. 10:22). Biblical piety rules out magical evaluations of religious objects and actions. Hence baptism has no purely external efficacy and in itself is unimportant (1 Cor. 1:17; Heb. 9:9–10; 1 Pet. 3:21).”
(Kittel, Gerhard, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985.)

An unsuspecting person, a subscriber to the heresy or a newbie might read this without discerning the bias and the error — and how they dismiss some biblical passages to promote others. Can you find it and explain it?

********************************

NOTES: These are some notes related to the above passages. Below are quotes from an attack on my book Crossing the Tiber made by a Pastor Chris Bayak so I added them here to explain some of his false assumptions about the same verses mentioned above.

Bayak writes: “For example, [Ray] uses 1 Peter 3:18-21, admittedly one of the hardest passages in the New Testament, as proof for baptismal regeneration.”

Steve Responds: This passage is hard for Fundamentalist Protestants to interpret because they don’t like what it says and they have to twist it to fit their own man-made tradition. It is quite sad when one has to twist Scripture to fit one’s preconceived ideas. James McCarthy has a tough time with this verse in his book The Gospel according to Rome. I discuss this passage at some length in my book. I wonder how Mr. Bayack would have preferred that St. Peter reword this passage to better fit his Fundamentalist tradition.

 What Peter says is this: “And corresponding to that [Noah’s ark], baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). What about these words does Mr. Bayack find difficult? They seem pretty straightforward to a Catholic and to all Christians before the Fundamentalist movement came into being. We as Catholics don’t have to do mental gymnastics to “get around” this verse. It sounds a lot like the very first Gospel message ever preached. St. Peter preached the first gospel message in Jerusalem. It is recorded in the inspired word of God. Let’s all open our Bibles to Acts 2:38 and allow God to instruct us. “And Peter said to them,  Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “

 Enough said. My book goes into much more detail on the issue of Baptism in the Bible and in the early Church. I question whether Mr. Bayack really read the whole thing or just used the “hunt and peck” method to look for objections. In any case, he certainly uses “selective scholarship.”

Bayak writes “Yet in over ninety pages about baptism, not once does he ever mention clear passages like 1 Corinthians 1:17,  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel  (italics added).”

 Steve Responds: I really don’t see what the above verse has to do with anything unless Mr. Bayack is trying to imply that Paul had a low regard for baptism or considered it an unnecessary appendage to belief in Christ. I remember as a Fundamentalist making my daughter write a report on the unnecessary nature of baptism a symbol only before I would allow her to be baptized. How far off I was.

 Paul’s converts were all baptized immediately upon belief in Christ (e.g., Acts 16:31) as was he himself (Acts 9:17 18). Philip also showed the importance of baptism and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch immediately (Acts 8:36ff.). St. Paul himself recognizes that baptism was the means of his own cleansing and regeneration (e.g., Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5). The very fact that St. Paul makes this observation at this point in the argument demonstrates the importance and deep significance Baptism held in the apostolic Church. Had it been unnecessary or unimportant, he would not have even mentioned it in this context. What Mr. Bayack assumes about this passage actually proves the opposite.

 Jerome’s Biblical Commentary observes, “No special mission was needed to baptize, and Paul usually left the administration of baptism to others. This does not imply any disdain for it; Rom 6:3-12 and 1 Cor 6:11 indicate Paul’s high regard for the sacrament of incorporation into Christ.”

 Matthew Henry, in his ever popular Protestant commentary on the Bible, is also instructive in this matter. “Was it not a part of the apostolical commission to baptize all nations? And could Paul give thanks to God for his own neglect of duty? He is not to be understood in such a sense as if he were thankful for not having baptized at all, but for not having done it in present circumstances, lest it should have had this very bad construction put upon it that he had baptized in his own name, made disciples for himself, or set himself up as the head of a sect.

[Paul] left it to other ministers to baptize, while he set himself to more useful work, and filled up his time with preaching the gospel. This, he thought, was more his business, because the more important business of the two. He had assistants that could baptize, when none could discharge the other part of his office so well as himself. In this sense he says, Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel not so much to baptize as to preach” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible).

 Paul, like Jesus, delegated baptizing to his disciples and ministers. The Catholic Church has never taught that baptisms must be done by an apostle or priest. The Church has acknowledged that any person can do baptisms, if done in the correct manner. Jesus thought baptism was important since he told Nicodemus he couldn’t see heaven without it (John 3:5). If Mr. Bayack denies that John 3:5 refers to Baptism he really shows that he is out of continuity with the Bible and the early Church and again his Fundamentalist Protestant tradition is shown to nullify the inspired word of God.

 Jesus also, like Paul, did not baptize His followers but delegated the task to his disciples (cp. John 4:1 2).

 Bayak writes: “He ignores Paul’s definition of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, which makes no mention of baptism or communion, that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Likewise, because he seeks to prove the necessity of the sacraments, he never addresses verses declaring salvation as a free gift such as Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9.”

Steve Responds:  I do not ignore 1 Corinthians 15:1 4 but since it does not directly refer to the topic at hand Baptism it was not necessary to bring it up. What would happen if I brought up every verse in the Bible?

 Does Mr. Bayack imply that Baptism is not a free gift? How much more gratuitous can God be than to offer us a sacrament of faith as simple and as wonderful a gift as baptism? Ephesians 2:8 9 and Romans 6:23 do not contradict the Church’s teaching on Baptism, rather they support it. Does Mr. Bayack forget that the first verses of Romans 6 directly mention Baptism and its necessity for the placement of the believer into Christ? In fact, in Romans 6, Paul says that baptism is quite essential. Listen to what he says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3 5). According to St. Paul, it is through Baptism that we are placed into Christ!

 Is Mr. Bayack again being selective (practicing “selective scholarship”) by using a proof text allegedly against baptism from Romans 6 but ignoring the fact that Romans 6 begins by teaching us that it is through Baptism that we are placed into Christ? He ignores the whole context but pulls his proof text out of context to support his Fundamentalist tradition.

 I also deal with this passage to some degree in Crossing the Tiber, and find it frustrating that Mr. Bayack appears not to have read what I wrote, but still somehow feels competent to review and critique my book. I feel that I am spending far too much time rewriting things for him that he should have understood if he really read the book.

{ 1 comment }

Are You Born Again?

May 19, 2015

 Since we are all renewing our Baptismal Vows at the Jordan River today, thought this post from a year ago might be appropriate :-) It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the same way – with “water and the Spirit“. Consider the following: 1) The [...]

Read the full article →

Stop Eating Animals! It is Against the Plan of God!

May 12, 2015

IF YOU EAT ANIMALS YOU ARE VIOLATING THE PLAN OF GOD. YOU SHOULD BE A VEGAN AND EAT NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, INCLUDING FISH, EGGS, MILK, YOGURT, LOCUSTS OR MEAT. IS THIS **REALLY** GOD’S PLAN? MY RESPONSE TO A VEGAN CRITIC (updated 4/22/11) The original blog and comments An added comment. It was asserted that many [...]

Read the full article →

Luke’s Gospel: Greek Physician, Historian & Friend of Mary

May 8, 2015

Her face shone as she related the stories—the words were vibrant, and though older now, her memory was excellent. He sat enraptured as she brought the past into living color. He had traveled a long way to see her and he sat motionless, with furled brow, taking careful notes on his parchment. He spent hours [...]

Read the full article →

Interesting Pictures of Mary – Can You Figure them Out?

April 16, 2015

Question 1 Do you understand why this is a picture of Mary? (Hint: Catechism paragraph no. 724.) Question 2 Is Moses kneeling to worship the bush? Question 3 Why is the picture to the left a “statue of Mary” (Hint: Heb 9:4)? Question 4 What is in the womb of Mary? (Hint: Jn. 6:48-50; Jn. [...]

Read the full article →

Meet St. Paul as he Writes to the Romans; A Brief Study to Make it Easy

April 12, 2015

I love St. Paul and love to write about him and his epistles. I also enjoyed traveling through six countries filming his life story and theology. St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is often seen as impossible to understand except by theologians — and most skip right over this masterpiece. With hopes that you will [...]

Read the full article →

Did Catholics Invent Pilgrimages?

April 7, 2015

No, it was something the Holy Family did at least once a year! Look what the Catechism says: “[Jesus'] public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts” (583). And the Psalmist wrote: “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage” (Psa 119:54 in RSV-Catholic [...]

Read the full article →

How Long Was Jesus in the Tomb? Another Contradiction?

April 4, 2015

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:38-40) Skeptics claim to have discovered an error in the New Testament —claiming Jesus was not in the tomb [...]

Read the full article →

When Was Jesus Crucified? How Long on the Cross? Do the Gospels Contradict Each Other?

April 3, 2015

Do the Gospels Conflict? How Long was Jesus on the Cross? The question intrigued me sufficiently enough that I spent the best part of a day working on it. On the surface there seems to be a contradiction in the Gospels, mentioning different times for the crucifixion.  Maybe the Apostles forgot to check their watches! Mark says [...]

Read the full article →

Was Jesus Crucified Naked?

April 1, 2015

A gentleman heard me on Relevant Radio earlier. I had mentioned on the air that one of the great humiliations of a crucifixion was that a man was crucified naked. This thoughtful gentleman wrote to challenge my comments. Below is his e-mail and my response. Dear Mr. Ray, Please correct your description of the Passion. [...]

Read the full article →

Two Cool Timelines for Holy Week

March 31, 2015

There are a lot of things that happened in Holy Week. Do you know what was done when?  Where Jesus was each day?  What the sequence of events were? These are great tools to accompany you through Holy Week and beyond. Print them out and put them on your refrigerator. Talk about it over dinner [...]

Read the full article →

Steve on Lots of Radio Shows this Week

March 30, 2015

Lots of Radio Shows this Week – Join Me!  All times are Eastern Time All of the “Virtual Tours” came out VERY different, since a few of them were pre-recorded. None of them were alike :-) Each interviewer asked, and will ask different questions which take us in many different directions. It is a topic [...]

Read the full article →

Rise AGAIN? When Did Jesus Rise the First Time?

March 28, 2015

Since we will soon be again at the very place where Jesus rose again from the dead, there is an interesting question that is often asked. It’s a fair question — one I’ve been asked numerous times. “If Jesus rose AGAIN, when did he rise the first time? He did not die and rise prior to [...]

Read the full article →

Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter

February 19, 2015

                          St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon [...]

Read the full article →