Mary Magdalene

There are three prominent women named Mary in the New Testament. Of course, there was Mary, the mother of Jesus. There was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and a friend of Jesus.

Then there was Mary “Magdalene” a loving a devoted follower of Jesus. Magdala is the town she was from. Magdala was on the western side of the Sea of Galilee. So the reference to Mary Magdalene is like Jesus of Nazareth.

An early follower of Jesus

We first see her early in the ministry of Jesus, when He cast out seven demons from her. People have been taught that she was a prostitute, but there is no Biblical evidence of this. Pope Gregory I made this claim in a sermon he gave in 591 AD.

Gregory tied three women together into one teaching. In the Gospel of Luke, there is Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had been cast out. There was Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and a friend of Jesus, mentioned in Luke 10.

Also, there was the woman who washed the Lord’s feet with perfume and her tears and dried them with her hair in Luke 7. Finally, there was an unnamed woman caught in adultery, who was protected and forgiven by Jesus. There is no evidence this was Mary Magdalene.

Images are more a myth

The images we have of Mary Magdalene are more myth than anything else. If you have seen the television series “The Chosen,” it portrays her has being possessed and eludes to her being a prostitute before she was healed by Jesus, but that is more for dramatic effect. Her “post possession” portrayal is probably closer to the real story.

Mary Magdalene first to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus

She was a female disciple, and traveled with the group. She, along with the other women, provided support. She is mentioned in all four Gospels, but more importantly, she was there for the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

This remarkable woman was the first to proclaim the risen Christ and took that message to the disciples, who were in hiding at the time for fear of being arrested.

Not the wife of Jesus

There are some who believe that Mary was the wife of Jesus and had His children, but that is completely false, and an ugly rumor to discredit the Biblical account. Through the years, there have been stories attributed to her, but not substantiated. In short, although few words are said about her, she will always be remembered as the first to see the risen Christ and to proclaim the resurrection.

Biblical references to Mary Magdalene

Matthew 27:56

Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Matthew 27:61

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

Matthew 28:1

Jesus Has Risen

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

Mark 15:40

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.

Mark 15:47

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

Mark 16:1

Jesus Has Risen

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

Mark 16:9

[The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20.] When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.

Luke 8:2

and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;

Luke 24:10

It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.

John 19:25

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

John 20:1

The Empty Tomb

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

John 20:11

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb

John 20:18

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jonah in the Bible


The prophet Jonah is remembered as the guy who was swallowed by the “whale.” Actually, the Bible doesn’t say “whale.” It says “great fish.” His contemporaries would have been the prophets Hosea, Amos and Joel. Jonah’s ministry was between 800-750 BC.

Jonah told to go to Nineveh

Jonah’s story in the Bible begins when God instructed him to go to Nineveh (modern day northern Iraq) and preach to the people there, because:

“it’s wickedness that rises up before me.”

But Jonah did not want to go there because they were enemies of his people. Jonah hated them wanted the Ninevites to die and not have the chance to repent and turn back to God. He saw them as undeserving.

Jonah disobeys God

He decided to go the other way, so he went to Joppa, a seaport about 35 miles northwest of Jerusalem and found a ship bound for Tarshish, which was a long distance to the west, the opposite direction from Nineveh. He paid the fare and left on the ship.

Nothing and no one hides from God. The Lord caused a large storm to hit hard and the crew was afraid the ship would brake apart. They began to throw objects overboard to keep it afloat. Jonah, meanwhile, was asleep below deck.

The captain came to him and ask why he would be sleeping when there was great danger of sinking. He told Jonah to call upon his God, who might hear the call and save the lives of the sailors.

Jonah tells crew to throw him overboard

The crew determined that someone on board had caused this to happen and they cast lots to see who it was. It fell to Jonah. Jonah told them to take him on deck and throw him into the sea and the storm would stop.

The men thought that was extreme, so they tried to row the boat to the shoreline. That didn’t work, so they threw Jonah into the sea. The storm ceased immediately. The crew offered a sacrifice to the Lord and promised to serve Him.

Jonah swallowed by great fish

A “great” fish swallowed Jonah. The Bible says he was in there three days and three nights. Jonah’s experience being swallowed is a foreshadowing of the death and resurrection of the Messiah. When he was swallowed, he prayed for deliverance.

What happened after that is a mystery, but one that can be explained logically. Reason suggests that Jonah would have died fairly quickly. No oxygen, just digestive fluids. So, he stayed in the belly of the fish until “the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” It is similar to Jesus being raised from the dead on the third day and walking out of the tomb.

Jonah does go to Nineveh after he was swallowed by the fish

God called to Jonah a second time and this time he did go to Nineveh. He went to the city and declared that God would destroy the city in 40 days unless they turned away from their idols and back to God.

The people believed Jonah. They repented. But Jonah still did not want them to be spared. He was angry. He went outside of the city, build a hut, then sat and waited to see what would happen.

God caused a plant to grow and thick leaves would shade Jonah from the sun. Jonah appreciated this, but a worm soon came and ate the leaves. God then sent a hot wind to blow it all away. Jonah was suffering from the heat.

Jonah wanted to die.

Jonah wanted to die. To Jonah the idea of saving the people of Nineveh seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord:

Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah:

Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” Jonah replied, “It is. And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

That’s where his story ends. Jonah could not see God’s grace. He did not understand God’s wisdom. He missed out on a great blessing.

Gideon in the Bible


Many people have heard of Gideon, or at least they have heard of Gideon’s Bible, but they really don’t know much about him.

We are initially intruduced to him in the Book of Judges. The Israelites had turned away from God, evoking his displeasure. They had embraced false gods, like Baal, and God gave them over to the Midianites, who lived in the desert east of Israel.

The Midianites defeated two of tribes of Israel from the middle of the country, Ephraim and Manasseh. For seven years the Midianites came in at the harvest and took away all of their crops, leaving the Israelites without food for themselves and their livestock.

The Midianites also brought in their own cattle and animals that ate the grass that was left over. The Israelites were driven out of their villages and forced to take refuge in caves. Any crops they could raise and salvage needed to be protected, so they would burry them, or place them in empty wine presses.

Angel comes to Gideon

An Angel of the Lord visited Gideon, who was busy threshing out wheat in a hidden place. The angel said something remarkable:

The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Israelites must turn away from false gods

But there was an important task the Lord wanted completed. God wanted the Israelites to turn away from worshiping their false gods, Baal and Asherah. Even Gideon’s father, Joash, had built an alter to Baal.

Gideon took a group of men out at night and destroyed the alters to the false gods and replaced them with alters to the one true God.

Gideon’s father, upon seeing the destruction of the alter he built, spoke to the rest of the clan, who were furious and demanding Gideon’s death. Joash suggested they let Baal kill him. When Ball was unable to kill Gideon, the people began to turn back to God.

When the Midianites heard of this, a large army was assembled to take revenge. Gideon himself had a large army, but God told him to thin out his ranks and send away those who were afraid. Some went home, but the Lord told Gideon that the army was still too large.

Taking the Lord’s instruction, he led the army to a body of water. Some through down their swords and shields, went to their knees and drank, while others held on to their swords and shields, reaming ready for attack.

Those who remained ready for the attack were the ones Gideon kept to go into battle, only about 300 men to take on an opposing army of 10,000.

God had other plans

The men were ready for a great battle, but God had other plans. The Midianite army was camped out. Gideon took one of his men and went to the edge of the camp, where he overheard a discussion.

One of the Midaniates told a fellow solider that he had a dream that Gideon, a man of Israel, would come down and destroy this army, because the Lord God has given all of us into his hands. This was welcomed news for Gideon.

Even though the Midianite army was much larger, they were afraid of Gideon. He didn’t need a large army, just enough men to do exactly what they were told to do.

A pitcher and a trumpet

Gideon gave each man a lamp, a pitcher and a trumpet. The lamps were lighted and placed inside the pitchers, so they could not be seen.

He divided his men into three companies and led them down to mountain to the Midianite camp and ordered them to surround the camp. At the precise moment, a great shout from the 300 men came down:

The sword of the Lord and Gideon!”

Then came the crash of the pitchers breaking and a flash of light from every direction.

Midianites destroyed themselves

The Midianites were terrified. They tried to escape without fighting, but in every direction, there were Gideon’s men with swords drawn. The Midianites trampled each other trying to flee.

Every Midianite was killed while trying to run to the Jordan River. Gideon anticipated the Midianites trying to turn towards their homeland, but he cut them off.

Those who did escape would soon encounter the Ephraminites and many more were killed. Never again would the Midianites venture off their lands to take on the tribes of Israel.

The Ephraminites, who occupied the center of the land, were very powerful. They were not pleased with Gideon and wanted to know why Gideon did not seek their help. But Gideon gently told them that they had killed thousands of Midianites. He added:

What could my men have done without your help?”

Gideon reminded them that they had taken the Midianite princes Oreb and Zeeb in the battle. His words were well received.

Gideon became judge over Israel

After this event, as long as Gideon lived, he was a judge over Israel. They wanted to make him king, but Gideon said no and told them:

The Lord God is King of Israel. No one but God shall be king over these tribes.”

Gideon was the fifth of 15 judges to rule over Israel and regarded as having the most wisdom, courage and faith in God. Gideon is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as a man of great faith.

Free Gideon Bibles

Today, Gideon International is a Christian organization dedicated to evangelism and giving away Bibles.

Peter in the Bible

Peter in the Bible

He is first identified as Simon called Peter, also called Cephas, in the Gospels. A poor fisherman, but feisty and full of fight, Peter heard the calling of Jesus/Yeshua and dropped everything.

Peter is often remembered as the man who betrayed Jesus three times. But, he is also the only man who, upon hearing the Master’s calling, got out of the boat on the Sea of Galilee and walked on water. He is the man who was told by Jesus: “Upon this rock I will build my church.”

Peter can be translated as “rock” or “stone,” but some may translate the name as precious stone, or perhaps jewel.

Peter the first to declare Jesus is the Messiah

Peter is the first disciple to declare that Jesus is the Messiah that all of the Jews had been anxiously awaiting for centuries. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus questions His disciples, asking them “Who do people say I am?” Peter is quick to reply “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Interestingly, Jesus did not prompt him, or give away the answer to that question. Peter knew it, however, because God had revealed it to him. Jesus replies:

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Cephas (Peter) (Petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Peter was a man of action

Peter is an interesting character. He was a married man and Jesus actually came to his house and healed his mother in-law. He was ready for a fight, wanting a fight, the man who drew his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane and cut off the ear of one of the guards trying to arrest Jesus.

Peter is a man of action and the first of the disciples to go to the empty tomb after the resurrection.

Peter proclaims Christ has risen

Prior to His ascension, Jesus promises to send a counselor, the Holy Spirit. After the Pentecost, it is Holy Spirit power that enables Peter to overcome his earthy fears and boldly proclaims the risen Christ to the Jewish authorities and anyone else within earshot.

It is a completely different man from the one who, afraid of rejection and being arrested, denies Christ and goes into hiding. He was also the one who offers to protect and die for Jesus/Yeshua, yet he buckles when even asked if he knows the man.

But he is also the man handpicked by Christ to lead the new movement. Peter grows in the faith and in influence. He appeared before the Sanhedrin on two occasions and on both openly defied the Jewish religious leaders, proclaiming the risen Christ.

Peter hand-picked by Christ to lead His movement

He was a major player in the early church. Jesus handpicked Peter to lead and had an interesting exchange with him, asking him three times, “Do you love me.”

The questions do not translate well into English, but in Greek, they are rather profound, because there are six words for love. The words used in the Bible are are Eros (attraction or passionate), Phila (brotherly love, friendship) and agape (love for everyone, unconditional love).

Eros, of course, is the attraction to another person, such as a man and woman falling in love. Phila, or brotherly love, applies to loving your neighbor. That is close to another word for love, phiilautia, which is love of self.

Agape comes closest to the kind of love God has for man. It is real, unconditional and long suffering. Jesus ask Peter, “Do you (eros) me?,” “Do you (phila) me?” and “Do you (agape) me?”

One way of looking at this questioning might be is Jesus asking Peter if he is attracted to His message, is Peter His friend and does Peter love Him completely? Peter answers in the affirmative all three times.

Jesus then tells him, “Feed my sheep.” Peter is given the mantle of leadership at that point. Jesus would then go home to His Father.

Peter is the first Pope in the Roman Catholic church

According to the Roman Catholic Church, Peter was the first Pope. But the Roman Catholic Church would not be established for another three centuries after his death. He was killed between 64-68 AD.

Luke in the Bible

Luke in the Bible

He wasn’t a disciple. He wasn’t an Apostle. But Luke gave us an amazing account of the life of Christ and the formation of the early Christian movement. He never knew Jesus/Yeshua and was not a part of the entourage traveling with the Messiah. He came on the scene much later.

He did, however, have a close friendship with the Apostle Paul. Like many others who have made their marks on history, Luke was in the right place at the right time.

Luke met Paul on Paul’s second missionary trip

Luke met the apostle Paul on Paul’s second missionary trip. Widely regarded by scholars as a Greek physician and most likely a Gentile, Luke was a physician by trade. He is also believed to have come from Antioch.

Other bible scholars may assert that Luke was a Hellenic Jew, which can be explained as a Jew who has completely assimilated into the Greek culture.

Luke went with Paul to Phiippi and remained there until Paul returned on his third missionary journey.

Luke may be the only Gentile author in the Bible

There were Jewish followers of Christ who observed the Jewish traditions. Also, some Gentile (non Jews) believers did not observe those same Jewish traditions but did follow Christ.

If Luke was in fact a Gentile, he would be the only New Testament writer who was. Evidence points to Luke as the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, as both works are addressed to Theophilus and are consistent in style.

Luke chronicled Paul’s missionary journeys

Luke chronicled Paul’s missions much like a journalist would cover the activities of a famous person. Because he did not know Christ or see things for himself, Luke relied on the personal witness of those who did.

Luke write first-hand accounts of key events in the Bible

Luke’s close association with Paul and other Apostles, gave him access to the first-hand accounts so vital to the authenticity of the story. Like any good journalist, he interviewed many people, checked his facts, and with the help of Paul and the Holy Spirit, wrote a powerful story.

He adds details in the Book of Acts that could only be given by someone who was there, who saw it for himself. Perhaps it is easiest to think of Luke as an historian.

The Gospel of Luke

Luke’s Gospel can be described as “The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Book of Acts can be described as “The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles.”

Luke divides his Gospel into three sections. First he tells of Jesus’ early ministry in Galilee, then moves to His ministry in Judea, then finally to the last week in Jerusalem.

Luke was with Paul when Paul was in a Roman prison

Luke was with Paul when Paul was imprisoned at Caesarea and he went with Paul to Rome, where Paul would later be executed. His travels with Paul gave him ample opportunity to interview people, chronicle their stories and discernment truth from fiction.

Luke is primarily an evangelist

Luke’s writings are historical and accurate, but at the same time, they are essentially intended to be evangelistic (bring people to Christ). He lays out the path to salvation, with details from the life of Christ and encounters that illustrate Christ’s deity.

Unlike a strictly journalistic piece of writing, Luke’s accounts are warm, loving and respectful of those he met. More importantly, his writings are appealing to both Gentiles and Jews, as Christ broke down the barriers and united a community of believers.

Ruth in the Bible

People in the Bible, Ruth

Ruth lived in the time of the judges, before Saul was crowned Israel’s first king. The country was very divided, as people turned away from God. The journey through the wildness, the exodus from Egypt and the amazing acts of God were still very much in the contemporary memory.

There were the threats of foreign enemies, but Ruth’s story occurs during a time of peace between Israel and Moab (southeast of Jerusalem). Her story is about devotion, in particular Ruth’s devotion her her mother in-law, Naomi.

Ruth’s story helps us get a better understanding of the way in which God’s will is carried out. He works His will through the actions of everyday people. Ruth’s faithfulness not only is a blessing to Naomi, but also a blessing through the family of David, leading to the Messiah, Jesus.

The book of Ruth in the Bible is interesting because God is not mentioned very much at all. In the Book of Esther, for example, God isn’t mentioned once. Another very interesting fact is that Ruth is a Gentile, a Moabite but a direct descendant of Jesus.

Three Widows Move to Judah

Naomi was married to Elimelech and had two sons. There was a famine in Judah, so Elielech took his wife and two sons from their home in Bethlehem, to live in Moab, which was southeast of Jerusalem.

The sons were Mahlon and Kilion. While there they married Moabile women, Oprah and Ruth. Elielech died, as did the two sons. The three widows were alone.

Naomi heard the the Lord had ended the famine, so she decided to return to Judah. Naomi did not expect her daughters in-law to go to Judah with her, and told them to stay in their own, saying:

“Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”

Oprah returned home, but Ruth stayed with Naomi. She said “Where you go I will go and your God my God.” Interestingly, they were going back to Judah, to Bethlehem, and Ruth, the Gentile, made a deliberate and conscious decision to follow the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.

Naomi asks Boaz for help

When they arrived they had nothing. Naomi had a relative through her marriage to Elimelech, a man named Boaz. He was a man of standing in the community and had fields. Ruth decided she would ask if she could glean the fields after they had been harvested.

She spoke to the foreman, who went to Boaz to discuss it. Boaz was moved and told Ruth to join the other servant girls who worked in the fields. Boaz further instructed the men not to touch her.

Ruth asked him why she had been given favor, after all, she was a foreigner. Boaz told her that he had heard of her kindness to Naomi and how she had left her own home and family to be with Naomi. He would, later marry Ruth.

He also went to the kinsman-redeemer and asked him to buy the property from Naomi, which was once owned by her husband Emielech. The kinsman-redeemer was not in a position to make the purchase, he told Boaz to buy the land. He did.

Points of Interest

Ruth married Boaz and they had a son, Obed. Obed would later marry and have a son Jesse. Jesse would have several sons, the youngest being David, the future king of Israel.

From David is a direct bloodline to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Ruth, therefore is David’s great grandmother and a blood relative of the Messiah. Ruth, a Gentile, leads us to Christ. Who knows, had Ruth not been loving and faithful to Naomi, she never would have met Boaz.

But God, using the course of human events to His purpose, makes this remarkable story about a widowed Moabite woman, whose family would change human history.

What is a kinsman-redeemer?

The kinsman-redeemer was a male relative. He would have, according to their laws and traditions, the right to act on behalf of a relative who needed help, in this case Naomi and Ruth. He is one who would rescue or deliver.

Boaz bought the property formerly owned by Emiliech and his sons from the kinsman-redeemer. Jesus was a kinsman-redeemer, a male relative, who paid the price of man’s sin and reclaimed the property owned by his father, God. Yahweh (God) is Israel’s redeemer, both father and deliverer. God made man, Jesus/Yeshua, is the kinsman.

Joseph in the Bible


There are two Joseph’s referenced in the Bible. For information on Joseph son of Isaac please visit our page on Joseph when he reveals his identity to his brothers Joseph reveals his identity

Joseph the Carpenter

One of the most important people in the life of Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah was His earthy father, Joseph. We know Joseph was a carpenter from Nazareth, and that he was born in Bethlehem.

We know that he was engaged to Mary when she was visited by the angel and told that she would carry God’s son. The Gospel of Matthew informs us that Joseph agonized over the situation, but that the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and eased his mind. Joseph married her.

Under the law, he could have had her stoned. After all, she was promised to him and he never had relations with her. This sinful betrayal of trust would have, at the very least, made her a social leper.

But because of the angel’s visit, Joseph understood what was happening.

Ironically, Caesar’s demand for a census meant that Joseph would have to go to Bethlehem, his birthplace, so he avoided any embarrassment in Nazareth and prophesy would be fulfilled with Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.

After the birth of Jesus, Joseph had another dream, far more troubling than the first one. Herod the Great had sent out a degree that all firstborn male children should be killed. Herod was told about prophesies that a King would be born in Bethlehem. The angel told Joseph to gather up his family and flee. They went to Egypt.

Joseph settles again in Nazareth

Soon after Herod died and the Romans divided his kingdom into pieces, for his sister and three sons. Herod Antipas became head of Galilee, where Joseph and his family would return. They settled again in Nazareth, fulfilling another prophesy that Jesus would be called a Nazarene.

Meanwhile, Herod’s son Archelus was the leader of Judea, where Jerusalem is located. This is important because when Jesus went on trial in Jerusalem, Herod Antipas was visiting for the Passover, so the Jewish authorities took Jesus to Herod because as a Nazarene, he would have been under Herod’s authority.

Little is known about Joseph. We are told of the incident when Jesus was 12 years old and was teaching in the temple. But other than that, Joseph isn’t mentioned.

The Gospels of Mark and John make no mention of him at all, other than John 6:42, which states, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?”

He is not quoted, or referred to in any significant way. Roman Catholics revere him as the patron saint of workers and he is regarded as Saint Joseph.

Joseph in good standing with God

We can deduce that Joseph was in right standing with God. After all, he has the enormous task of raising the Messiah.

Joseph presented the child at the temple for circumcision. Joseph would have raised him in the Jewish tradition and taken him to synagogue. They would have observed all of the Jewish holidays and observances. As the spiritual leader of the house, this would have been Joseph’s primary responsibility.

We do not know when Joseph died, as after the incident in the temple, nothing is said of him. Some may speculate that he died sometime before Jesus began his public ministry, which would offer an explanation of why Jesus stayed home for so many years before beginning his ministry. He had to take care of his mother.

John in the Bible


There are two men named John, who appear prominently in the Gospels. The first is John The Baptist, whose ministry preceded the public ministry of Jesus. John was a fiery itinerant preacher, who called for people to repent and be baptized. He was a cousin to Jesus and six months older.

The other John, is the Apostle John, one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus.

John the Baptist

John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus, the son of Elizabeth and the priest Zechariah. Mark’s Gospel describes him as a fulfillment of prophesy, a messenger who comes before the Messiah. He proclaimed the coming of the Christ.

John used baptism as a ritual done in anticipation of the coming Messiah. He encouraged people to repent and turn to God. Many of the followers of Jesus started out with John, but as Jesus began his ministry John knew that his ministry must diminish and that people needed to follow Jesus.

There was an emotional and significant meeting of John the Baptist and Jesus on the day that Jesus went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. The exchange was interesting because John did not want to perform the baptism, saying that Jesus should baptize John. But Jesus insisted, explaining to John that he was doing this to fulfill all righteousness.

Even though Jesus, the Son of God, was sinless, he submitted to baptism just like everyone else who came to participate in the sacrament. When Jesus came out of the water, a voice heaven proclaimed, “You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

John the Baptist was a fiery preacher, who held nothing back. He called out Herod Antipas, the king, for divorcing his wife and marrying his brother’s wife. Herod had John the Baptist beheaded. This took place approximately 30 AD.

The Apostle John

The Apostle John was one of the original 12 disciples of Christ and was the writer of the Gospel, three epistles and the Book of Revelation. He was the one “who Jesus loved.” John was at the cross and Jesus told him to take care of His mother.

John was a son of Zebedee and was a convert of John the Baptist, and while with the Baptist in the Jordan Valley, he met Jesus. John the Baptist knew that his ministry must diminish because Jesus had begun his public ministry. John would then to turn to Jesus.

John, the son of Zebedee, becomes a disciple of Jesus

After first meeting Jesus, John went back to fishing, but then he would meet Jesus again and at that time both John and his brother James would drop fishing and follow Jesus. Both would become disciples.

John and his brother that their passions, and both were upset with a man who was casting out demons outside of the authority of Christ. They also wanted Jesus to tell them which would be the greater in heaven, a question that put them at odds with the other disciples.

John and his brother James were with Jesus when he met with Elijah and Moses in the mountain.

John outlines the LOVE of Christ in his writings

The Gospels tell of the life of Jesus, but John’s writing was different. His Gospel is not an account of the ministry of Jesus as much as it is a theological portrait of the Messiah. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are like photographs, snapshots of moments and events. John’s Gospel is like an oil painting, giving the reader a feel for the love of Christ.

Interestingly, one of the prevailing beliefs was Gnosticism, a decidedly anti-Christian faith that centered on knowledge, denouncing the deity of Jesus. John’s Gospel is a direct repudiation of those beliefs. John’s intention is to show that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name.

John begins with a very forceful and deliberate declaration. Gnostics did not believe that Jesus could be fully man and fully God. That which is spirit, according to them, was good. The flesh was bad. They concluded that Jesus could not be God.

John took direct aim at the Gnostics and wrote:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus is the Word

Notice he wrote the “Word” with a capitol “W” declaring that Jesus IS the word. John also writes what might be the most familiar quote of the New Testament, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. “ (John 3:16)

The Gospel of John reads like a love letter from God to man. John was the only Apostle who was not executed.

James in the Bible

James in Bible

If you look for James in the Bible, you might get confused because there were three men names James in the New Testament. James was a common name in Biblical times, as it is today. .

The first two men named James we encounter in the Gospels are James, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John and James, the son of Alphaeus. Both were among the original 12 disciples.

The third James we meet is James, the younger brother of Jesus. Unlike the other two men, this James had his doubts about Jesus, and along with other family members, had concerns about his brother’s mental health.

Jesus meets Elijah and Moses

James, the son of Zebedee, was sentenced to death by King Herod (Acts 12:2). He was with Peter and John when Jesus led them up a high mountain.

Jesus was transfigured right before them and meet with Elijah and Moses. It was an amazing moment, as Jesus and the two prophets stood in a bright cloud, their faces and bodies shining like the sun. Peter got the idea that they should build shelters for the three of them. At that moment, a voice from the cloud said,

This is my son whom I love, with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

The disciples were terrified and fell to the ground. Jesus quickly went to them and said not to be afraid. Jesus was back to normal and Elijah and Moses were gone. Jesus told Peter, James and John not to talk of what they witnessed. James was put to death by King Herod (Acts 12:2).

James, the son of Alphaeus, is only mentioned in passing, just three times, once each in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

James the brother of Jesus

Perhaps the most interesting ‘James’ is James the brother of Jesus. Unlike the disciples, the brother of Jesus was not a follower and certainly had serious doubts about his older brother.

We first see him mentioned when Jesus returns to Nazareth. The townspeople were not impressed, as they saw him only as the carpenter’s son, the older brother of James, Simon and Judas.

Jesus also has sisters who lived there. People wondered, “What makes him so special?” Even his own brothers mocked him, “For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”

James had seen his brother perform miracles, but still did not believe. In his defense, it is understandable that it would be difficult to believe that your older brother was the son of God.

James sees Jesus are the resurrection

However, James sees his brother after the resurrection. He sees his dead brother alive again. At that moment it all came together for James and he went to the Apostles to pray and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit,

When that day happened, James was filled with the Holy Spirit and was a powerful servant in the new church. This once doubting brother was the author of the Epistle of James.

James was an influential church leader

James became an influential leader in the church. For example, there was a dispute those followers who believed that in order to be Christian, men first had to be circumcised and follow all of the Jewish laws.

Peter and Paul disagreed and insisted that Gentiles can be followers of Jesus without following the Jewish tradition. It was a rather contentious argument, with both sides arguing with passion and conviction.

James listened to the debate, but said nothing. Only after listening to both sides, did he render an opinion (Acts 15:13-21). He points out that God has redeemed both Jews and Gentiles. He quotes the prophet Amos, who wrote,

After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ things known from long ago.”

James shows discernment and wisdom in quoting the Scriptures. Later the Apostle Paul would write that there is no Jew and no Gentile, just believers and nonbelievers. James’ authority and wisdom end the debate.

James became an important leader in the church. His passion was to care for the poor

James agreed with Paul

When recounting the story of the Jerusalem Council in Galatians 2:1-10, Paul describes James as a pillar of the church, a man of high reputation. He also records that when James and the other elders approved his ministry to the Gentiles, the one thing they asked was that he remember the poor.

The Epistle of James is an admonishment for the wealthy.

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.

You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you.

The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.” (James 5:1-5).

The death of James

James, the once doubting brother of Christ, was taken by the Jews and thrown from the pinnacle of the temple. The fall did not kill him. He was beaten to death with clubs.

Jacob in the Bible


It all began with Abraham, then his son Issac, and then his grandson Jacob. God had promised Abram (later renamed Abraham) that he would be a great nation and that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky. Abraham’s first two sons, Ishmael and Issac certainly would.

Issac and his wife Rebekah had two children, Esau and Jacob. Esau, the firstborn, was a rugged, outdoor type of man, who enjoyed hunting and would bring his catch home to please his father. He was an impressive man and his body was covered with hair. The two had a close relationship.

Jacob, on the other hand, was more quiet and reserved. He would tend the flocks and was closer to his mother than his father. Issac preferred Esau, while Rebekah favored Jacob. This sets up what would be a rather dramatic turn of events.

The firstborn was usually the son that would inherit the lion’s share of his father’s estate, and Issac had every intention of giving Esau his property. Esau would have received twice as much as Jacob, because of his birthright.

Jacob, the younger, had no legitimate claim. Interestingly, Issac himself was not the oldest son, as his half-brother Ishmael was the firstborn of Abraham, but God had intended all along that Issac, born to Abraham’s wife Sarah, would be the one to carry on the legacy.

Jacob wants Esau’s birthright

Esau did not care about the birthright, or at least he didn’t think about it. He just lived his life, hunting, enjoying each day. Jacob, on the other hand, wanted the birthright.

One day after hunting, Esau came home tired and hungry. Jacob was preparing dinner and had a pot simmering. Esau immediately wanted some.

He asked Jacob to give him some of the food. Jacob, a wise and cleaver man, told his brother that he would give him food if Esau would sell him his birthright.

Esau was a man who lived in the moment, one day at a time, and gave no thought to the meaning and significance of his birthright. He was hungry. He reasoned that his birthright was useless and that food was more important. He gave his birthright to Jacob.

Rebekah heard the whole conversation and she came up with a plan that would hand the birthright over to Jacob.

Jacob gets Esau birthright

Rebekah told Jacob to go out to the flock and bring back two lambs to be cooked, just the way Esau would cook them for his father. She told him cook the food and present it to Issac, but Jacob reminded her that he and his brother were not alike. Esau had hairy arms, while Jacob’s arms were smooth.

Jacob was afraid that the deception would anger his father, but Rebekah assured him that if he did what she instructed all would be well. She got some of Esau’s clothes and told Jacob to put them on. She placed some of the skins on his arms and hands, so he would “feel” like his older brother.

He went with the food to see his father, who was surprised to see him. Jacob identified himself as Esau. Issac’s eyesight was failing. He thought he recognized the voice of Jacob, so he asked him to come closer. When he felt his arms and hands, he was convinced it was Esau. Issac ate the food and gave Jacob the blessing, thinking he was Esau.

Esau decides to kill Jacob because of birthright

Soon after Esau came home, with his hunt, and prepared food for his father. When Esau came in and offered it, Issac was confused and asked “Who are you?” Esau answered him, then Issac trembled and asked, “The who is the one who came in and gave me the food and I blessed him?”

Esau knew what had happened and was angry. Issac was old and Esau decided that when his father died, he would kill Jacob and take back his birthright.

God chooses Jacob to make a great nation

Jacob (Hebrew meaning one who supplants) had little idea what was before him. He had tricked his brother Esau into giving up his birthright, with the help of his mother.

Very sneaky. But just as God had intended Isaac to be the heir to Abraham, Issac’s son Jacob was to continue making the great nation that God has promised.

Jacob gets wrong wife

Jacob left Canaan and went out to seek a wife. He met and wanted to marry Rachel, so he worked for her father, Laban, for seven years to earn her hand. But on the wedding night, Laban snuck Leah, his older daughter, into Jacob’s tent, a switch Jacob did not realize until morning.

Jacob, who stole his brother’s blessing, now had the wrong wife. Still he loved Rachel, so he worked another seven years to earn her hand.

Then he had two wives and each wife shared their servants with Jacob. All told, Jacob had twelve sons. Leah was the mother of Ruben (the oldest), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.

Rachel gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin. Zilpah (Leah’s maid servant) was the mother of Gad and Asher. Bilhah (Rachel’s maidservant) was the mother of Dan and Naphtali. (These sons would later be the names of the 12 tribes of Israel.)

Jacob returns to Canaan

While settling with Laban, Jacob became prosperous. That brought on some friction with the rest of the family, and that put Jacob’s life in jeopardy. The Lord told him to go back home to Canaan, so he packed up his wife, his servants and his children and returned to his homeland.

Before he crossed the river to enter, he sent his family and his possessions ahead and remained on the bank. During the night a man came to him and they wrestled each other.

Why? The Bible does not tell us. The fight was a draw basically, but ended when the mysterious man struck Jacob’s hip and pulled it out of joint.

The man asked Jacob to quit fighting and let go, but Jacob refused unless the man would bless him. The man said his name would no longer be Jacob, but Israel, “because you have struggled with both God and men and have won.”

And He (the mysterious person) said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” . . . And He blessed him there. (Genesis 32:24)

Jacob’s youngest son, changes history

Jacob’s youngest son, Joseph, changed this history and direction of the Israelites forever. Sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, Joseph would in the years ahead, rise to be the second most powerful man in Egypt.

When famine came to their homeland, the Israelites (Jacob’s offspring) went to Egypt for food. When their numbers grew, fearing their power, the Pharaoh ordered them to be enslaved. Some 400 years later, God used Moses to deliver them.