Sunday, February 24, 2013

Roman Crucifixions. He Who Rules. Relationships. Christ's Second Coming. Andrew Johnson. Prince Charles and Lady Di. Two Antiochs.


For “Scripture Sunday”:

Roman Forms of Crucifixion

“Crucifixion wasn't always carried out the way we've seen it typically depicted in paintings and pictures. In fact, as noted in this chapter, a crucifixion victim likely wasn't nailed through the hands, since their structure cannot support the weight of a human body. Most likely victims were nailed through the wrist or, in some instances, had their arms tied rather than being nailed.

Nor were victims always crucified on the kind of cross typically shown in depictions of Christ's crucifixion. Note what The Anchor Bible Dictionary says in its article on crucifixion:

"At times the cross was only one vertical stake. Frequently, however, there was a cross-piece attached either at the top to give the shape of a 'T' ( crux commissa ) or just below the top, as in the form most familiar in Christian symbolism ( crux immissa ). The victims carried the cross or at least a transverse beam ( patibulum ) to the place of execution, where they were stripped and bound or nailed to the beam, raised up, and seated on a sedile or small wooden peg in the upright beam...

"Executioners could vary the form of punishment, as [Roman historian] Seneca the Younger indicates: 'I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the [cross-piece]'...

"In his account of what happened to Jewish refugees from Jerusalem [in the Jewish war of A.D. 67-70], [first-century historian] Josephus also lets us see that there was no fixed pattern for crucifying people. Much depended on the sadistic ingenuity of the moment" (David Noel Freedman, editor-in-chief, 1992, Vol. 1, pp. 1208-1209).

"The accursed tree"

The Roman historian Seneca, describing the horror of crucifixion, argued that it would be better to commit suicide than endure such a tortured death. "Can anyone be found who would prefer wasting away in pain dying limb by limb, or letting out his life drop by drop, rather than expiring once for all? Can any man be found willing to be fastened to the accursed tree, long sickly, already deformed, swelling with ugly weals on shoulders and chest, and drawing the breath of life amid long-drawn-out agony? He would have many excuses for dying even before mounting the cross" (ibid., p. 1209).

Seneca's reference to "the accursed tree" is strongly reminiscent of Peter's words when he speaks of Jesus, "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24 compare Acts 5:30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. See All...). In some cases crucifixions seem to have been carried out on a literal tree, albeit one that was basically only a trunk from which the branches had been cut away.

In these crucifixions the condemned victim would be nailed to the upright trunk or would carry his own crossbeam, which would then be fastened to the trunk and him nailed to both. It's possible that the "cross" Jesus carried to His execution, carried part of the time by Simon of Cyrene, was simply a large beam of wood.

Shape of the cross not spelled out

The word translated "cross" in the New Testament is the Greek word stauros, which "denotes, primarily, 'an upright pale or stake'" ( Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, "Cross, Crucify").

"Both the noun and the verb stauroo, 'to fasten to a stake or pale,' are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed 'cross'" (ibid.).

The Bible contains no specific description of the stauros on which Jesus died. The word stauros was used in nonbiblical writings of the time to refer to pieces of wood of various shapes, with and without crosspieces. If it were important that we know its exact shape, the Gospel writers could have easily provided us that information—yet none of them do. What is important for us to know is the willing sacrifice Jesus made of His own life for our sakes.

If we don't know whether Jesus was executed on a stake or a cross, or what shape of cross, how did the t-shaped cross come to be the most popular symbol of Christianity?

Vine's explains: "The shape of the [two-beamed cross] had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith.

"In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches...and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau, or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the 'cross' of Christ'" (ibid.).

Thus we see that the most common symbol of Christ and Christianity was a symbol that long predated Jesus and biblical Christianity.” From:


File:Justus Lipsius Crux Simplex 1629.jpg

John 19:30-36 ------------ When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and
gave up his spirit. 31Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there
came out blood and water. 35He who saw it has borne witness— his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth— that you also may believe. 36For these things took
place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: "not one of his bones will be broken.”


He Who Rules Over Men

2 Samuel 23:3 “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.’”

“David, a man after God’s own heart, recorded these “last words” (2 Samuel 23:1) to teach future leaders how they should rule. Our God is a God of both justice and mercy, and He wants those in leadership positions to judge righteous judgment and to be fair to all. The basis of right leadership is a reverence for the all-powerful God who sets the perfect pattern of leadership. Jesus Christ set the example of service and sacrifice. We, too, are to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). God’s rule is truly for the benefit of those governed.”  From:


Relationships Blog

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

Life is all about relationships. Life is all about relationships. Life is all about relationships. How can we improve all of the important relationships in our lives?

On the first day of class, my education professor told us what he believes are essential parts of being a teacher. “Our profession is about three things,” he said as he counted them off with his fingers, “relationships, relationships, relationships.”

Actually, those three things seem to be what everything is about. Out of my six college classes this semester, four have a direct connection with relationships and the other two have made a brief mention of them. One of my classes even has the purpose of helping college freshmen make new relationships with the students and staff.

I’m starting to get the idea that college isn’t just about books, labs and studies—it, too, is about relationships.

Relationships with God

College is not the only thing about relationships—so is life! And the best way to start looking at relationships is to consider our relationship with God, our Father and Creator.

God is the Supreme Being in this universe. With a word, He can create stars and planets and galaxies. With a thought, He can create life. With a whisper He can change the earth. He’s just that great. How do you approach a Being with that much power?

Actually, God has probably already approached you. He may not have talked to you like He talked to His prophets in the Old Testament, but today He talks to us through the Bible—His book on relationships. He has actively inspired the Bible so that we can learn and grow (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

What does the Bible say about our relationship with God?

One of the most important aspects of our relationship with God is that we must fear Him. By fear, we don’t mean be terrified of Him. The fear of God is a reverence, a respect based on His power and authority. We are told multiple times in the Bible to fear the Lord (Leviticus 19:32 and 25:17, for example). If we properly fear God, then we will strive to obey Him and do exactly as He says.

Yet, as great as God is, our thoughts and desires are important to Him. God cares about each of us as individuals—not just one great blob called humanity. In Numbers 12:8 God described His close relationship with Moses. Though we can’t see God face to face, we should all build our relationship with Bible study and prayer. God speaks to us through the Bible, and we can communicate with Him by praying (John 16:23-24).

Relationships with ourselves

Do you love yourself? If you answer no, then there could be a problem.

When Christ gave us the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), He based it on the fact that we would want the best for ourselves. That was the point behind the Golden Rule—to treat everyone as well as we would want others to treat us.

We most definitely want to avoid the extreme of pride (Proverbs 6:16-17). However, we shouldn’t see ourselves as worthless either. God created us and gave us the potential to be His children! If we think of ourselves as worthless, we may be questioning the God who made us, and that will affect our relationships with Him and others in a negative way.

Ask God to help you see yourself from His perspective—as a sinner who needs to change, but also as a potential child of God, greatly blessed by our Creator.

Relationships with others

Six of the 10 Commandments deal with our relationships with others. Six of the 10 Commandments deal with our relationships with others. Six of the 10 Commandments have to do with our relationships with other humans. All of our relationships—from our families to our friends to our coworkers—are extremely important. Man is not made to be alone (Genesis 2:18). We are built to have relationships.

These relationships will require some work. However, anyone who has had an excellent friend, good parents or a loving husband or wife could tell you that every bit of work that you put into it is more than worth it.

Sometimes relationships are all that can keep us going. When we fall or stumble, it will be those with whom we have good relationships—our friends and family—that we will turn to (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

To give us an idea of how important relationships are, Christ told us to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44). If we are to care for our enemies, then what does that say of those who are not our enemies? We are to care for everyone—to have a relationship with everyone.

Now, in a world with over 7 billion people, I don’t think that Christ expects us to personally know everyone. But we can form relationships with the people around us—positive relationships that help us as much as they help others.

Life is about relationships—and that is what we must be about. We must have a good relationship with God, with ourselves and with those we encounter throughout the day. Like my professor said, it’s all about three things: relationships, relationships, relationships.  Read more in our "10 Commandments" section.” From:


This morning’s TV program on WGN:

Christ's Second Coming: When Predictions Fail

“Be wary of self-proclaimed prophets. Only God the Father knows the precise time of Jesus' return.”

Transcript at:


On This Day:

President Andrew Johnson impeached, Feb 24, 1868:

“The U.S. House of Representatives votes 11 articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson, nine of which cite Johnson's removal of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. The House vote made President Johnson the first president to be impeached in U.S. history.”


Prince Charles and Lady Di to marry, Feb 24,1981:

“The Prince of Wales and the Lady Diana Spencer have ended months of speculation with the announcement they are to be married.

Lord Maclean, the Lord Chancellor made the following statement at an investiture at the Palace: "It is with greatest pleasure that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh announce the betrothal of their beloved son the Prince of Wales to the Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of the Earl Spencer and the Honourable Mrs Shand Kydd."”  More at:



After Wendy and I had our Saturday phone call, Jay called to say that he wanted to go to afternoon church in Willis, as he had to work in the morning.  When he goes, he prefers to go to the morning Conroe Church. Jay’s boss had told me that he already knew that the Sabbath is on Saturday, but wanted Jay to do some ‘make ready’ for a trailer that he is renting out.  The new tenants were arriving noon. 

Jay doesn’t like to go early for Bible Study, (but likes to stay for the potluck), so I thought I had better get ready early, in case Jay begged off again. I like the Bible Study, we have fun discussions, and learn a lot. Jay asked me to call him on his cell at noon, but he didn’t answer, three times.   So Misty and I drove over there. Jay’s mouth looked square-shaped, a good indication that he had been into something.   Pills, booze, whatever.  So he said he wasn’t going to church after all.

Bible Study was about The Miracles of The Prophets, Deut.18:18-22 and about the miracles in the time of Elijah. I and II Kings.

images[8] The sermon was about The Joy of The Gentiles, Acts 13 and Paul’s first missionary journey between the two Antiochs. The one in Syria, and the one in Pisidia.

“There are two Antiochs in the book of Acts. What are the differences between them?  The ancient world had a number of cities named Antioch. Most of them were founded by Seleucis I who ruled from 305 to 281BC. He was the founder of the Seleucid Empire that ruled from Turkey to Iran. He named the cities after his father Antiochus.”

The pot-luck was great, as usual, and out of their kitchen window, I could see the tents set up for another night of camping and nature walks on the grounds.  I wish I could have stayed for that, but my MH isn’t ready yet, I would have to take it for Misty to stay in.  

I hadn’t slept well the night before, so I was beat.  I fed the animals, and laid down for a nap, but didn’t wake up until 600 AM today!

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