This essay demonstrates that there is no historical, geographical, archaeological, topographical, geological, literary, or Biblical evidence that the Temples of King Solomon and Herod the Great were located over the Gihon Spring in the City of David as believed by a handful of proponents. It does affirm that the Temples were located on the historical Temple Mount.
Archaeology and the Bible, Jerusalem Comments Off on Were Solomon and Herod’s Temple in the City of David Over the Gihon Spring?
Paul and Places Comments Off on THE APOSTLE PAUL AND DR. LUKE ON THE ISLAND OF COS: Sin, Sickness, and Death
The island of Cos played an important role in the history of medicine. In fact, one of the ancient medical discoveries made on this island is used on a regular basis today. Apart from the Band-aid, I’ll bet this “miracle drug” is in most, if not all, of our medicine cabinets at home. Some may carry a bottle of it in their purse, or have it in their cars’ glove compartment. This item is used for a host of things that ails us; including headaches, back pain, fevers, and to reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes.
A physician on the island of Cos noticed that the bark from the white willow tree relieved the aches, pain, and fever of his patients. It wasn’t until the 1820’s that the substance that relieved the pain was identified as salicin and was used to create salicylic acid. In 1897, Felix Hoffman, a chemist for the Bayer Pharmaceutical company in Germany developed acetylsalicyhe acid to help relieve the pain of his father’s arthritis. Today, that discovery is known as aspirin! It is only within the last 200 years or so that we have rediscovered what Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine (460-375 BC), discovered on this island – an ancient form of aspirin.
We will come back to Hippocrates later, but first, let’s introduce the island.
Description of the Island
The island of Cos, approximately 290 square kilometers (180 square miles), lies in the center of the Dodecanese, a chain of islands along the southwest coast of modern-day Turkey. On a map, the shape of the island looks like a dolphin or a whale swimming. It is the third largest island in this chain and is approximately 100 kilometers northwest of Rhodes and 250 kilometers east-southeast of Athens, or 192 nautical miles from Piraeus, the seaport of Athens.
Pliny reports that the island is 100 Roman miles in circumference (Natural History 5.134; LCL 2:321). Strabo says the circumference was 550 stadia (Geography 14.2.19; LCL 6:287), which is about 90 miles and fairly close to reality.
A mountainous region begins south of the city of Cos and runs along the southern coast of the island. This region includes Dikaio Christo, the highest peak at 846 meters above sea level.
Today, the islanders make their living from agriculture, fishing, and tourism. The farmers raise vegetables, grapes, grain, olives, and citrus fruit. Beekeeping is a by-product of their agricultural work. They also raise livestock. In antiquity, the island of Cos was noted for its fruits and especially for its grapes (Pliny, Natural History 15:18; LCL 4:335; 17:30; LCL 5:93).
The Greek historian and geographer, Strabo (64/63 BC to AD 21), gave a brief description of the island of Cos in Geography (14:2:19; LCL 6:287-289). Of the city of Cos he says, “… the city is not large, but it is the most beautifully settled of all, and is most pleasing to behold as one sails from the high seas to the shore.”
For a brief overview of the history of the island of Cos, see Picozzi 1976: 465-467. For an in-dept analysis, see Sherwin-White 1978.
Was there a Jewish Presence on the Island of Cos?
The ancient sources state that there were Jewish connections with the island, but there are no sources that indicate there was a thriving Jewish community living on the island in antiquity.
During the rule of Judah the Maccabee, some Jewish envoys received a safe-conduct letter from the consul C. Fannius Strabo to the magistrates of Cos for their trip from Rome to Jerusalem in 161 BC (Jewish Antiquities 14: 233; LCL 7: 573).
A letter on behalf of the high priest, Simon (ruled 140-134 BC) was written by the consul in Rome, L. Caecilius Metellus (1 Macc. 15:23), and sent to a number of cities, including Cos.
Josephus, the First Century AD Jewish historian, recounts an event that took place in 102 BC. In that year, Cleopatra III of Egypt “sent the greater part of her wealth and her grandsons and her testament to Cos for safe keeping [in the sanctuary of Asclepius]” (Jewish Antiquities 13: 349; LCL 7: 401). He goes on to quote Strabo of Cappadocia who relates what happened next. “’Mithridates sent to Cos and took the money which Queen Cleopatra had deposited there, and eight hundred talents of the Jews.’ Now there is no public money among us except that which is God’s and it is evident that this money was transferred to Cos by the Jews of Asia because of their fear of Mithridates” (Jewish Antiquities 14: 112-113; LCL 7: 505-507). The transfer of the “talents of the Jews” occurred in 88 BC. This money probably refers to gifts given to the Temple in Jerusalem or the yearly half-shekel Temple tax. Some have concluded that this number was too high for the annual Temple tax so suggested that this might be the private fortunes of the Jewish people living in Asia Minor.
A Greek inscription found in the excavations of Cos refers to a Jewess or a “God-fearer” (Safrai and Stern 1974: 154). Whether she was part of a Jewish community on Cos is a matter of speculation. We have no absolute information in this regard.
Josephus also tells us that Herod the Great (73-4 BC), the “king of the Jews,” “endowed (Cos) with revenues to maintain the annual office of gymnasiarch [the keeper of the gymnasium who was responsible for the conduct of the festal games and for the maintenance and payment of trainers and training-masters] to perpetuity, to ensure that this honourable post should never lapse” (Jewish Wars 1:423; LCL 2: 201). Herod the Great had sailed past Cos in the spring of 14 BC on his way to join Marcus Agrippa, Augustus’ chief lieutenant in the Black Sea region, on his expedition to Bosporus (Jewish Antiquities 16:17; LCL 8: 215).
Another Greek inscription discovered on Cos mentioned Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee and Perea during the time of the Lord Jesus. He apparently followed in his father’s footsteps concerning diplomacy with the Greek world (Safrai and Stern 1974: 285).
Artists from the Island of Cos
One of the famous artists from Cos was Praxiteles whose workshop flourished between 364-361 BC. He worked in bronze, but his most famous works were in marble. On one occasion, he made two statues of Venus (Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty), one was draped with cloth and the other was not. The cultured and refined people of Cos were offended by the non-draped one, so they purchased the statue of her draped. The perverts from Cnidus loved the other statue of Venus so they purchased it and built a temple for her in their city. It became a major tourist attraction with people from all over the Aegean Sea sailing to see her in her birthday suit and all her naked glory! (Pliny, Natural History 36: 20-21; LCL 10: 15-17). The Apostle Paul sails by this city on at least three occasions, but there is no record of him, or the ship he was on, stopping there (cf. Acts 27:7).
The Silk Trade on Cos
The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), writing in his History of Animals, describes a caterpillar that goes through each stage of its metamorphoses in six months and leaves behind a cocoon. He records: “Some of the women actually unwind the cocoons from these creatures, by reeling the thread off, and then weave a fabric from it; the first to do this weaving is said to have been a woman of Cos named of Pamphila, daughter of Plateus” (5:19; LCL 10: 177). Silk was introduced to the Greek world by the Coans sometime before Aristotle. In the 1st century AD, a purple silk was produced that was highly prized and in demand in Rome (Juvenal, Satire 8.101; LCL 167). For a discussion of the silk trade, see Richter 1929:27-33; Forbes 1930:22-26; Sherwin-White 1978:242, 378-383.
Some Coins from the Island of Cos
In 1979 a coin was discovered in a burial cave in Jerusalem. This coin was struck with a crab on it that is typical of the coins from the island of Cos that were minted down to the second century BC. Dr. Rachel Barkay, the former curator of the numismatic collection at the Bank of Israel, explained the importance of this coin: “The coin of Cos, found in the excavations of the ‘Shoulder of Hinnom’ in Jerusalem, is thus one of the earliest coins found in Israel and among the earliest coins minted. Judging by its context, we would safely date it somewhere between 550-500 BC” (1984-1985: 5).
The island of Cos minted coins in the first century AD. Most of the coins circulating on Cos when Dr. Luke and the Apostle Paul visited had the image of the bearded god Asclepius or a coiled snake, a symbol of the healing god, on the reverse side of the coin (Burnett, Amandry, and Ripolles 1992: 452-453; Plate 118; Kromann 1988). Incidentally, the medical symbol, the cross with a serpent around it, comes from the Asclepius cult, not Moses’ lifting up the serpent in the wilderness! (cf. John 3:14; Num. 21:7-9).
Hippocrates and the Asklepieion on Cos
The Asklepieion was the famous healing complex with its temples dedicated to Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. It was located in the suburb of the city of Cos. This center of healing was made famous by Hippocrates (460-377 BC), the father of medicine, who was born on the island (Pliny, Natural History 29.2; LCL 8:185).
When Hippocrates lived on the island there was only an altar dedicated to the healing god Asclepius. The construction of the Asklepieion began after the death of Hippocrates in the mid-4th century BC and was built in his honor.
Strabo describes this shrine: “In the suburbs [of the city of Cos] is the Asclepieium, a temple exceedingly famous and full of numerous votive offerings, among which is the Antigonus of Apelles. And Aphrodite Anadyomene [emerging from the sea] used to be there [this, too, was a painting by Apelles], but it is now dedicated to the deified Caesar in Rome, Augustus thus having dedicated to his father the female founder of the family. It is said that the Coans got a remission of one hundred talents of the appointed tribute in return for the painting. And it is said that the dietetics practiced by Hippocrates were derived mostly from the cures recorded on the votive tablets there. He, then, is one of the famous men from Cos; and so is Simus the physician” (Geography 14.2.19; LCL 6: 287-289, brackets are footnotes in the Loeb edition).
Pliny the Elder mentions an inscription that was recorded on the temple to Asclepius on Cos. It gave the preparation for making a remedy for counteracting the poison of venomous animals. He adds a footnote, that “King Antiochus the Great is said to have used this preparation as an antidote for the poison of all venomous creatures except the asp” (Natural History 20. 264; LCL 6: 157).
There are some notable physicians that came out of the Hippocratic Medical School on the island of Cos. For example, the Greek historian Arrian (AD 95-175) reports that after Alexander the Great was severely wounded in a battle with Indians and he tittered on the brink of death, Critodemus, a physician from Cos, successfully removed the arrow and saved his life (Anabasis of Alexander 4. 11. 1; LCL 2:131).
Another physician, Gaius Stertinius Xenophon (ca. 10 BC-AD 54), was the personal physician to Emperor Claudius who reigned AD 41-54. Tacitus reports that Dr. Xenophon was one of the suspected culprits in the poisoning of Claudius when he ate mushrooms, the “food of the gods.” When the poison did not take effect right away; Agrippina, the wife of Claudius and mother of Nero, got Dr. Xenophon to intervene. According to Tacitus, “He, it is believed, under cover of assisting the emperor’s struggles to vomit, plunged a feather, dipped in a quick poison, down his throat: for he was well aware that crimes of the first magnitude are begun with peril and consummated with profit” (Annals 12.67; LCL 4:415). Indeed, it was a profitable act. According to Pliny the Elder, Dr. Xenophon and his brother, also a physician, left 30 million sesterces to their heirs (Natural History 29.7-8; LCL 8:187).
There is a bit of irony in the actions of Dr. Xenophon because the Hippocratic Oath says: “I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrongdoing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. … Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free” (Hippocrate’s Oath, LCL 1:299-301; Kaipokas 1991: 13)!
There is even more irony here. Emperor Claudius, in AD 53, exempted the inhabitants of the island of Cos from paying taxes because of their contribution to the medical field and the prayers of Dr. Xenophon (Tacitus, Annals 12.61; LCL 4:405).
A biography of Hippocrates was written by Soranus, a Greek physician from Ephesus, who was trained in the medical school at Alexandria, but practiced medicine in Rome during the reigns of emperors Trajan and Hadrian (AD 98-138). Unfortunately, there are no known extant copies of this biography today.
The Visit by the Apostle Paul and His Fellow Travelers
At the end of his third missionary journey in AD 57, the Apostle Paul and his traveling companions bypassed Ephesus in order to get back to Jerusalem for Shavuot (Pentecost). He stopped in Miletus, most likely for a few days, in order to meet with the Ephesian elders and exhort and encourage them in the work of the Lord, and to warn them of false teachers in the church (Acts 20:19-38).
After Paul’s tearful farewell to the elders, Dr. Luke picks up the account of their travels saying, “… when we departed from them we set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes …” (Acts 21:1). With a fair wind, the ship could cover the forty nautical miles due south in about six hours. If they left Miletus in the early morning, the ship would arrive at Cos by early afternoon and the Apostle Paul and his fellow travelers would have the rest of the day to engage in sight-seeing and evangelistic activities. They would have spent the night on Cos while the ship was off loaded and resupplied before continuing on their journey to Rhodes the next morning.
As they approached the harbor of Cos, the sailors and passengers, would have noticed the famous Asklepieion on the northwest slopes of the island, behind the city. They would have observed three terraces in this complex, each with temples and buildings on them. Perhaps Dr. Luke had an interest in visiting the Asklepieion for a closer view of the buildings, statues, and inscriptions. More than likely, some people on the ship were visiting Cos in hopes of getting healed because of the reputation of this shrine.
A guide book for Cos informs us that “the apostle Paul visited the island on one of his journeys, sharing and teaching his religion of love under the Hippocrates plane tree.” According to tradition, this plane tree [known to Americans as a sycamore tree, Platanus occidentalis], situated a few minutes walk from the harbor area, was planted by Hippocrates and was the place where he taught his students (Alexandri 1981: 14, 58-59). Whether this tradition of Hippocrates planting the tree is true or not, and whether Paul preached under this tree, I do not know. There is no way to verify either of these claims. The tree, however, is claimed to be the oldest tree in Europe today.
How would the Apostle Paul have approached the people on Cos with the gospel or what would he have preached on the island? We could only conjecture. When Dr. Luke wrote the book of Acts he did not record all the events in Paul’s life because that was not his purpose. When he composed the book, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, he selected those events that fit his overall theme, purpose and structure of the book. A detailed account of Paul’s visit to Cos was not included in Luke’s selection (Gooding 1995: 383-390). In fact, all he says about the visit to Cos is one line in one verse.
Permit me to use my sanctified imagination for a few minutes as to what the Apostle Paul and his traveling companions might have done on the island. I can imagine Paul disembarking from the ship and proclaiming the gospel of God’s grace to the people of the island. His first objective, as was his custom, might have been to make contact with the Jewish community on the island, if there was one on the island. In fact, only a few months before, he penned his missionary strategy in a letter to the church in Rome. He wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). If there was a synagogue he would have proclaimed the Lord Jesus as the Messiah of Israel and the fulfillment of the Messianic passages in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Or, perhaps at the urging of Dr. Luke, they walked out to the Asklepieion for a sight-seeing tour. As they approached the shrine, the entrance to the complex was on the northeast side of the complex through a propylon (gate) that opened up into a large open courtyard with a horseshoe shaped stoa around it built during the Hellenistic period. They would not have seen the Roman baths to their left (east) because that was built during the 3rd century AD. As they approached the stairs leading to the second level they would have observed to the left of the stairs, springs in the retaining wall. To the right was a small, recently built temple that was built by the wealthy doctor and personal physician to the emperors, Gaius Xenophon. They would have observed a statue on a base with an inscription, probably dedicated to Emperor Nero.
As they ascended the stairs to the second terrace, a large altar, built in the middle of the 4th century BC, came into view. Their tour-guide would have informed them that it was probably built by the sons of the famous artist Praxiteles. To the right of the altar was an Ionic temple to Asclepius dating to the 3rd century BC. To the left of the temple (south) was the priest’s residence, called an “Abaton,” where the sick waited for the priest to diagnose their sickness and proscribe a cure. The diagnosis was based on the appearance of Asclepius in a dream of the sick person. Behind the Abaton, in the southwest corner, was the entrance to the sacred spring. To the left of the altar (east) was a temple in the Corinthian order. This would not have been visible to Paul and Luke because that was not built until the 2nd century AD.
As they climbed to the third terrace, the prominent Doric temple came into view. This structure was dedicated to Asclepius in the 2nd century BC and surrounded by a stoa. Many years later, this temple was turned into a church called the Panayia Tarsou.
Or, as tradition states, the Apostle Paul might have preached under the plane tree of Hippocrates in the city of Cos. If so, what might have been the text he used, or the Bible story he would tell? The Gospel of John would not be written for another 35 years or so, but Paul might have been aware of the event described in John chapter five. Paul grew up and was educated in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3). He knew the city well. He had made several trips to the Holy City after his conversion and conferred with some of the original Twelve Apostles, including the Apostle John (Gal. 2:9). Most likely, someone, possibly the Apostle John, recounted the event of the man with the infirmity 38 years who laid in the “Beth Hesed” (the “house of mercy”) in Jerusalem (Franz 1989: 24-28; 2017: 125-133).
It is my understanding that the “House of Mercy” was a healing shrine dedicated to the Semitic healing deity, Eshmun, who was known in the Greek world as Asclepius. What an opportunity the apostle had to proclaim the Lord Jesus as the true Great Physician. Everybody in his audience knew of the Asklepieion on the island. Perhaps some had been there for healing; maybe others had just disembarked from the ship in order to visit the famous healing shrine. Just as John would use this miracle, or sign, to present the truth “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing you might have life through His name” (20:31), so likewise Paul. He would proclaim the Lord Jesus as the Great Physician who not only heals the body, but also makes the soul whole and regenerates the spirit. Something Asclepius could not do!
What was going through Dr. Luke’s mind as the ship approached Cos? He could not help but see the Asklepieion situated on the slopes behind the city. He knew this was the home of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, and the location of the famous medical center. I believe that Dr. Luke approached the island with mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was indebted to Hippocrates for much of what he knew about medicine. Yet on the other hand, he could not accept Asclepius as a healing deity. In fact, in his research for his gospel, Luke records many of the healing miracles of Jesus (Hobart 1882). This caused Luke to worship the Lord Jesus Christ as the Great Physician. Dr. Luke was thankful that Hippocrates broke the bondage of superstition among the Greeks of his day. They believed that a person was sick because the Greek gods and goddesses were angry with them. People would then offer sacrifices in hope of appeasing the offended god or goddess. Hippocrates, on the other hand, based on his careful observations of his patients, said: “No, a person is sick because of the way they live. In order to get well, they must change their lifestyle.” He understood we live in a “cause and effect” world. The Apostle Paul would go one step further and say sin was the root cause of sickness and ultimately death.
Reflections on the Apostle Paul’s Visit to Cos
The Apostle Paul would have “seized the moment” to proclaim the gospel as he always did. He saw how blinded the people were to a god who was not a god at all and proclaimed to them the Lord Jesus as the Great Physician and the only One who could truly heal a person (cf. 1 Cor. 8:4-6). With the book of Romans fresh in his mind, (he had written it only a few months before), Paul would have gone to the “root of the matter” and declared that sickness and disease was the result of sin. Ultimately, death was the result of sin (Rom. 6:23a; James 1:15). There were only a few exceptions to this universal law. The first was the Patriarch Job. God in His sovereignty allowed Satan to afflict Job with boils without him knowing about it (Job 2: 1-8). Also, the Lord Jesus healed a man who was blind from birth so that the works of God might be revealed in him (John 9:1-3). The third example was Paul himself. The Lord gave him an unnamed infirmity in order to keep him humble about all the revelations that he received from the Lord (2 Cor. 12: 5-10).
The problem of sin, however, affected everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. Paul wrote in Romans, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (3:23). The only solution to this problem is putting ones faith in the Lord Jesus, and Him alone, as the One who died on Calvary’s cross to pay for all sin and rose again from the dead three days later (Rom. 6:23b). If anyone would puts his trust, or believe, in Him he can have forgiveness of his sins, a home in heaven, be justified and declared righteous by a holy God and clothed with His righteousness and be able to enter God’s presence forever (Romans 4 and 5). Have you trusted the Lord Jesus as your Savior?
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Paul and Places Comments Off on LL Paul and Places – Via Egnatia
The Via Egnatia was an important Roman road crossing Ancient Macedonia and Thrace. Originally this road was built to move the Roman war machine to the East, later it was used by the Early Church to spread the Gospel of peace to a pagan world. This article will discuss the history, archaeology, and construction of this ancient road and the Biblical people and events associated with it.
Other Studies Comments Off on The Sunday School Myths of Christmas
Every Christmas season we have UN-Biblical Sunday School Christmas plays. This article examines some of these myths that we perpetrate every year.
The greatest weekend in salvation history was predicted by King David the prophet in Psalm 16 almost a thousand years before it happened. In Gethsemane we see His trust (Psalm 16:1-6); up to Gabbatha, we see him unmovable (16:7-8); at Golgotha, we see His joy (16:9a); in the “Garden Tomb,” we see Him risen (16:9b-10); and in the Glory, we see Him rejoicing (19:11)!
There are two special exhibitions in New York City that illustrate the World of the New Testament.
The first is at the Onassis Center in the Olympic Tower on 5th Ave. This exhibit is entitled: “God’s and Mortals at Olympus.” All the objects from this display come from the city of Dion, a Roman colony in the First Century AD, at the base of Mount Olympus. The port of Dion was probably where the Apostle Paul embarked on a ship to Athens on his Second Missionary Journey (Acts 17:14). Two highlights of this exhibition are a headless cult statue of Zeus Hypsistos (“Almighty”) and a mosaic of the epiphany of Dionysus, the god of wine and merry making. This exhibition is open until June 18, 2016. There are free guided tours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1 PM. Admission is FREE.
For further information: http://www.onassisusa.org/exhibition.php?m=3&h=11
The second special exhibition is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Ave. and is entitled “Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the ancient World.” One-third of the 264 artworks on display come from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The church at Pergamon was one of the seven churches in the early chapters or the Book of the Revelation to receive a letter from the Lord Jesus (Rev. 2:12-17). Three highlights of this exhibit are the 11-foot wide painting of the acropolis by the 19th century German artist Friedrich von Thiersch; a model of the altar of Zeus that some commentators suggest is the “Satan’s throne” (Rev. 2:13); and a 13 foot tall statue of Athena Parthenos, similar to the one in the Parthenon in Athens, but on a much smaller scale. This exhibition closes on July 17, 2016. Admission is free with museum admission. Their website says: If you buy tickets at a museum ticket counter, the amount you pay is up to you. Please be as generous as you can. Suggested admission is $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, $12 for students, and free for children under 12.
For further information: http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2016/pergamon
by Gordon Franz
In his latest book, Temple: Amazing New Discoveries that Change Everything About the Location of Solomon’s Temple (2014), Robert Cornuke advocates that the Temples of King Solomon and Herod the Great were not located on the Temple Mount as vast majority of scholars believe, but were situated over the Gihon Spring in the City of David. Mr. Cornuke identifies the traditional Temple Mount with the Antonia’s Fortress, home to 10,000 troops and support personnel of the Tenth Roman Legion. Cornuke’s theory is simply a restatement of an old theory by Dr. Ernest L. Martin, The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot (2006).
Here I offer eight reasons why the Temples of King Solomon and Herod the Great could NOT have been located over the Gihon Spring in the City of David.
(1) The Temple Mount platform built during the First Temple period and supported the Temple of King Solomon will not fit in the City of David. Josephus, the First-century AD Jewish historian, and the Mishnah gives the dimension of the platform supporting Solomon’s Temple was built on as 500 x 500 cubits (861 feet x 861 feet, almost three football fields long!), a size much too large for the narrow hillock comprising the City of David. The square platform would have extended over the Kidron Valley and up the slopes of the Mount of Olives and would have covered known buildings and tombs that have been excavated by archaeologists (click here for diagram). This understanding reveals that the maps and drawings in the book are inaccurate. Bottom Line: Cornuke’s Square Temple Platform is way too small for the ancient literary sources and the 500 x 500 Square Platform is way too big for the City of David.
(2) The Lord Jesus did not prophesy the destruction of the Temple platform. When the Lord Jesus prophesied that “not one stone would be left upon another” of the buildings of the Temple (Matt. 24: 1-2; Mark 13: 1-2; Luke 21: 5-6), He was referring to the Temple of Herod, the surrounding buildings, and the Royal Stoa; but not the lower retaining walls that supported the Temple platform. These retaining walls were not buildings!
(3) The normal locations of threshing floors are always outside the city, and generally on top of hills. This fact contradicts Cornuke’s proposal to locate the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite downslope near the Gihon Spring inside the City of David. A threshing floor near the Gihon Spring would not catch the gentle evening breeze for winnowing the wheat and chaff. The ideal location for a threshing floor in Jerusalem is the area of the Temple Mount, the place where the ancient sources have always placed it.
(4) The book misrepresents what the Pilgrim of Bordeaux wrote in his travel-log. By ignoring the fact that the Pilgrim had already described his visit to the Temple Mount, Cornuke incorrectly identifies it as the Pilgrim’s location of the Praetorium.
(5) Eleazar Ben-Yair, the commander of Masada during the First Jewish Revolt and a non-eyewitness to the fall of Jerusalem, was misunderstood in the book. Conuke’s theory wrongly attributes Eleazar Ben-Yair’s description of the Citadel near today’s Jaffa Gate with an alleged Praetorium on the Temple Mount. Only by confusing these buildings does Cornuke find support for his proposal.
(6) Cornuke’s 600-feet bridge between the Antonia’s Fortress and the Temple Mount is a misreading of Josephus. A careful reading of the passage shows that Josephus is describing porticoes around the entire Temple Mount and the stairs leading down from the Antonia’s Fortress to the Outer Courts of the Temple. Josephus never wrote of a bridge between the Temple and Antonia Fortress.
(7) The alleged evidence of a coin dated to AD 20, recently found under the Western Wall does not prove that Herod the Great did not build the Temple on the Temple Mount. To the contrary, it disproves Cornuke’s theory that the whole Temple Mount was the Antonia’s Fortress. This is because Herod built and finished the Antonia’s Fortress in his lifetime, but the coin only indicates that the enclosure of the Temple Mount was not completed during his lifetime.
(8) The book misunderstands the early Muslim history of the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock was built by the Umayyad Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik (AD 685-705). Its octagonal shape indicated that it was a commemorative building, and not a mosque. ‘Abd al-Malik constructed the Dome of the Rock as a commemorative building over the site of the Solomon’s Temple that had been identified for him by the Jewish people who came to Jerusalem with ‘Abd al-Milik. Bottom Line: The Muslims built the Dome of the Rock because it was the place of the former Temple of Solomon.
FURTHER READING: For a highly researched and meticulously documented critique of Cornuke’s Temple theory, based on my first-hand experience of living, studying, teaching, and working in Jerusalem, I invite you to read my 46-page essay: “Cornuke’s Temple Book: ‘The Greatest Archaeological Blunder of All Time.’”. For critiques of other alleged “discoveries” by Mr. Cornuke, see “How Accurate are Bob Cornuke’s Claims”.
Archaeology and the Bible Comments Off on Tour of Biblical Greece with New York School of the Bible
New York School of the Bible (NYSB) is sponsoring a study tour of Biblical Greece. The emphasis will be on the cities and places that were visited by the Apostle Paul and his co-workers, as well as sites that have an indirect bearing on the Biblical text.
Gordon Franz will be leading the tour of Biblical Greece March 15-25, 2016 for the unbelievable price of $2,499. Please join us.
For further information, download the information brochure.
Archaeology and the Bible Comments Off on THE 2014 ABR STUDY TOUR OF BIBLICAL GREECE
by Gordon Franz
The 2014 Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) Study Tour of Biblical Greece is, as they say, history. Biblical Greece is more than just the sites visited by the Apostle Paul and his teams when he was on his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th missionary journeys. The Apostle Peter was in Greece on several occasions. Events associated with the books of Daniel and Esther in the Hebrew Scriptures also occurred in Greece. In the background were three kings: Xerxes; Philip II; and Alexander the Great. The ABR study-tour was a learning experience for one and all, myself included.
We had 23 people in the tour group, plus the two hosts: Robert Sullivan, the president of the ABR board, and myself. The average age of the group was about 70 years old, so we moved a bit slower than I am used to. But even with our diversity of backgrounds and age, we blended well as a family.
We also had an excellent tour guide, James Nikolopoulous. James is a young, energetic, and very knowledgeable guide. He also has a great sense of humor. This was the second time I worked with him and it was again a delight. We “tag-teamed” on the teaching and complimented each other well.
I will not bore you with a stop-by-stop description of everything we did at each site, but rather, will highlight some of the more unusual things we got to do. When we got off the plane in Thessaloniki the first thing I noticed was the warm sunshine, clear blue skies, green grass, and profusion of wildflowers! After a long and brutal winter in the northeast, these were welcomed sights! 🙂
On our first two nights we stayed at the Hotel Lydia on the edge of Philippi (Acts 16:12-40). This hotel was chosen because of location – location – location. At the end of our first day of touring we were scheduled to hike to the top of the Acropolis of Philippi. I think our jet-lag caught up with us! Instead, I walked around the walls of ancient Philippi.
On the second day we stopped at the ancient site of Amphipolis (Acts 17:1). Usually tour buses only stop at the famous lion of Amphipolis, but we visited the museum and the acropolis as well. This was only the second time I had visited the latter two and was able to discern some Biblical associations that will be helpful for an article that I am writing on the ancient city of Amphipolis. There are on-going excavations at a large tumulus near the site that may produce some very important discoveries, but patience is the order of the day. After, we stopped at Apollonia (Acts 17:1). Only a few squares have been excavated at this site, but there is really nothing to see. At least we could say, like the Apostle Paul: “Been there, done that!”
At Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great and the capital of ancient Macedonia, Rob Sullivan gave a discourse on Macedonia (Greece) in the book of Daniel. Hundreds of years before Alexander the Great was born, the prophet Daniel predicted Alexander’s role in human history.
There was a large Jewish community living in Berea (Verea in modern Greek) up until World War II. During the war, a number of the Jews were taken to concentration camps. Today there is only one synagogue left in the city and a small Jewish community. We happened to visit the synagogue on Shabbat and much to my surprise, the door was open. There was a small group of Israelis visiting the synagogue so we got to visit it as well. I sang the Shema (Deut. 6:4) while inside.
Our guide told us an interesting account that appeared in a Greek newspaper in the 1950’s. According to the article a 2nd century BC Torah scroll was taken from the synagogue of Berea during World War II. After the war the scroll was bought by a Jewish philanthropist. In the margin of this Torah Scroll was a notation that Rabbi Sha’ul from Jerusalem visited the synagogue, a reference to the Apostle Paul (Acts 17:10-15). I am planning to follow-up on this article and write up my observations.
We visited the site of the battle of Thermopylae between the 300 Spartan soldiers and the Persian army in 480 BC. The topography of the battle became clear when we stood on the site and saw the terrain. There is nothing like seeing a site first hand to help visualize the battle and history. This is especially true with Biblical sites and Bible history. A few days later we took a water-taxi ride from Piraeus, the commercial harbor of Athens, to Salamis and were able to see the geographical setting for the famous battle of Salamis, the battle that changed the course of western civilization. This battle stopped the Persian advance into Greece in 480 BC. Biblically, this event took place before three words in the book of Esther: “After these things” (Esther 2:1a).
All the national parks in Greece were closed on Independence Day (March 25). Because of that, we had to leave Delphi, the home of the famous temple of Apollo, out of our original program. Thanks to our driver, Christos, and guide, James, we were able to rearrange our original schedule and put Delphi back into the program. That was a bonus because we got to see the important Gallio inscription in the museum (cf. Acts 18:12), as well as the excavations.
A short stop at the Church of St. Luke in Thebes allowed us to discuss the ministry of Dr. Luke, the gospel that bears his name, and the book of Acts. Recently a rib-bone, presumably from Dr. Luke, was returned to Thebes from Italy. Sorry, but that’s another story, for another time! 🙂
Corinth was a busy day. Our first stop was Isthmia and we discussed the Apostle Paul’s use of athletic terminology; then hiked to the top of the Acrocorinth and visited the shrine to Aphrodite and enjoyed a spectacular view of the region. The important inscription of Erastus was visited as well as the museum and excavations of Corinth. Recently the Bema was repaired and reopened so tourists can walk up and stand where Gallio passed judgment on the Apostle Paul (Acts 18:12-17).
Our final two days were taken up with touring in Athens and also some book shopping.
We flew Turkish Airlines to and from Greece. The service was excellent. It is no wonder they have been chosen the best airline in Europe three years running. They deserved it. Service was their priority.
Paul and Places Comments Off on LUKE THE PHYSICIAN: with “Medicine for the Souls”
by Gordon Franz
Eusebius (AD 260-340), considered to be the Father of Early Church History, described Luke the Physician in these terms: “Luke, who was by race an Antiochian and a physician by profession, was long a companion of Paul, and had careful conversation with the other Apostles, and in two books left us examples of the medicine for the souls which he had gained from them” (Eccl. Hist. 3.4.6; LCL 1:197).
Human beings are made in the image of the Triune God, thus we are a tricotomous (three-part) being with a body, soul and spirit (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 1 Thess. 5:23). The Apostle Paul concluded his first epistle to the Thessalonians with these words: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In this essay, we will examine the life of Dr. Luke and see how his life and his writings ministered, not only to the soul as Eusebius said, but to the whole person – body, soul and spirit. Dr. Luke used the 52 chapters of the gospel that bears his name and the Book of Acts to minister to our physical needs (body), emotional needs (soul), and spiritual needs (spirit).
Dr. Luke is only mentioned by name three times in Paul’s epistles (Col. 4:14; Philemon 24; 2 Tim. 4:11), although he might be hinted at on several other occasions. When he wrote his gospel and the book of Acts, he did not mention his name at all (Acts 1:1), nor did he mention his brother Titus. Dr. Luke was a humble person and he did not want to call attention to himself or his family, but rather, he wanted to point people to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in His Church.
His Ethnicity – An Antiochian Gentile
At the end of Paul’s epistle to the church at Colosse, written about AD 62, he sent greetings from different people who were laboring with him in Rome, even though he was under house arrest and waiting for his trial before Nero. He wrote: “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bare him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you” (Col. 4:10-14).
These verses imply that Dr. Luke was a Gentile. Paul recounted greetings from Aristarchus, (John) Mark, and Jesus/Justus and identified them as being of the circumcision, i.e. they were Jewish. The next three names, by implication, were Gentiles: Epaphras, Luke, and Demas. Luke may also have been a “God-fearer,” a Gentile who followed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but who did not undergo circumcision in order to enter the Jewish nation.
As previously mentioned Eusebius stated that Luke was “by race an Antiochian.” Sir William Ramsay, the noted authority on the historicity of the Book of Acts, pointed out that: “Eusebius, however, does not say that Luke was an Antiochian; he merely speaks of him as ‘being according to birth of those from Antioch.’ The curious and awkward expression is obviously chosen in order to avoid the statement that Luke was an Antiochian” (1896: 389). He went on and conjectured that Luke had some kind of family connection with Antioch. On the other hand Jerome, a near contemporary of Eusebius, stated that Luke was “a physician of Antioch” (Lives, 1994: 363). I will assume in this essay that he had some personal connection with Antioch.
Dr. Luke had the distinct honor of being the only non-Jewish writer of the New Testament. If that is the case, then it would rule out Church traditions that identified him with Lucius (Acts 13:1; Rom. 16:21; Wenham 1991b; Lewis 2010), or one of the “seventy” (Luke 10:1-20), or the companion of Cleopus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-33). In fact, Luke implied in the introduction to his gospel that he had not seen the Lord, but rather, heard about events in the life of the Lord Jesus from other eye-witnesses (Luke 1:2).
It is hinted in the Book of Acts that he is an Antiochian. He mentioned this city a number of times and gave details of it and showed some “civic pride” (Acts 11:19-30; 13:1; 14:26-28; 15:22, 30-35; 18:22). Interestingly, when he wrote about the six deacons in Jerusalem who were waiting on tables, he mentioned them by name, but only Nicolas is identified by where he was from – Antioch (Acts 6:5). Luke also mentioned the fact that the believers in the Lord Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch (11:26).
His Profession – Physician
During Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, he wrote to the believers in Colosse and identified Luke as: “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14). Reading through the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts in Greek, one is struck with the abundant use of medical terminology in these books (Hobart 1882; with words of caution from Marx 1980a: 168-172).
Luke is the only gospel writer that recorded Jesus’ statements about physicians. “Physician, heal yourself!” (Luke 4:23). “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31). He also extended “professional courtesy” to his fellow doctors when he recounted the events surrounding the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years. John Mark writes, “Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse” (5:25-26). Dr. Luke toned his account down in an almost clinical statement about the inability of the woman to get healed: “Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any” (8:43).
It is interesting to conjecture where Dr. Luke got his medical training. There were important Greek medical centers in Pergamum, Tarsus, Athens, Alexandria in Egypt, Berytus (Beirut in Lebanon), Laodicea ad Mare (“by the sea,” Latakia in Syria), and the Asklepion shrine on the island of Cos that was established in honor of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. Interestingly, Luke did not record anything about this medical center or what transpired on the island when he and the Apostle Paul landed on the island on their way to Jerusalem at the end of Paul’s third missionary journey. All Dr. Luke recorded was: “And it came to pass that, that when we had departed from them [the Ephesian elders] and set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara” (Acts 21:1).
Hippocrates is known as the father of modern medicine because he broke from the traditional Greek view of sickness and disease. In his day it was believed that a person was sick because the gods were angry at the individual. So the solution to the problem was to offer sacrifices to the offended deity. On the other hand, Hippocrates brought medicine into the realm of science. He diagnosed the patient ailments and disease by his clinical observation of the body and enquired about the patient’s lifestyle. Hippocrates also understood the inner workings of the body because he dissected some of his patients, presumably after they died! Hippocrates believed in a cause and effect relationship between the patient and the disease. In essence, you were sick because of your lifestyle – what you ate, what you drank, what you did or did not do to your body. If you were sexually promiscuous, chances are you would get a sexually transmitted disease! This was interesting because in the Greek world, the gods and goddesses were immoral and sexually promiscuous and the people just emulated their deities. So why should the gods be angry at the people and give them a sexually transmitted disease if the people were only emulating the gods?! This does not make sense. I’m sure Hippocrates understood the inconsistency of Greek mythology which led him to the conclusion that you got sick because of your lifestyle.
Hippocrates also looked for natural remedies for people’s sickness. On the island of Cos there was a white willow tree. Hippocrates observed that the bark and leaves from this tree cause the pain in a patient to diminish or cease. Only recently did scientists analyze the bark from this tree and found out that the active ingredient is what is found in Aspirin. Hippocrates was 2,300 years ahead of Beyer Aspirin!
In the Greek world, medicine was considered an art, or a philosophy, but not so much a science. There were at least two philosophical schools of thought concerning medicine and healthcare in Luke’s day. The first school of thought had been championed by the Athenian philosopher Plato (427 – 347 BC). In this philosophy, the doctor made medical, and health care, decisions to advance the good of the society, thus their primary job was to protect the welfare of the state (Grey 2011: 29-41). Plato wrote: “… but that, when bodies were diseased inwardly and throughout, he did not attempt by diet and by gradual evacuations and infusions to prolong a wretched existence for the man and have him beget in all likelihood similar wretched offspring? But if a man was incapable of living in the established round and order of life, he did not think it worth while to treat him, since such a fellow is of no use either to himself or to the state” (Republic 407D; LCL 5:279).
On the other hand, the Hippocratic school of thought on medicine and healthcare was patient centered and emphasized the doctor/patient relationship. The first principle of Hippocrates was “Do no harm to the patient.” The Hippocratic Oath still stands as a cornerstone in modern medicine and it even forbids doctor assisted suicide and abortion. The Hippocratic School was patient oriented, and not state oriented.
Again, it could be conjectured which school of thought Dr. Luke might have favored. Dr. Luke was called a “beloved physician” indicating that he cared for his patients, and was also the personal physician to the Apostle Paul. This would suggest that Dr. Luke followed the Hippocratic philosophy and not the statist Platonic philosophy. (For a discussion of some of the other philosophies, see Marx 1980a).
James Smith, a classical scholar and yachtsmen, has also suggested that Luke was at one time a ship doctor because he was versed in nautical matters, and described them in the appropriate language of seamanship (1978: 21). Luke used many detailed nautical terms when he recorded the voyage to Rome in Acts 27-28. (1978: 20-28).
A Possible Reconstruction of His Life
The Scriptures are silent as to when or where Dr. Luke came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior. We do know that the Apostle Paul did not lead him to the Lord; otherwise, he would have called him his son in the faith. Perhaps he was part of the Hellenist (Greek) group was the converted in Acts 11:20-21.
If it is reliable, there is an interesting addition in Acts 11:28 of the Codex Bezae D, a 5th century AD manuscript that is now housed at Cambridge University. It would demonstrate that Luke was part of the early church at Antioch. It reads: “And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. And there was much rejoicing; and when we gathered together one of them [Agabus] stood up and said” by the Spirit that there would be a famine (11:27-28). The word “we” is a late addition to the text, but it may reflect an earlier account that Dr. Luke was in Antioch at the time of the famine. The Apostle Peter was also in Antioch at this time and it would account for how and where Luke got his information about Peter when he wrote Acts 1-12 (Finegan 1998: 189).
Jerome, in his Lives of the Illustrious Men, wrote that Luke was: “An adherent of the Apostle Paul, and companion of all his journeying.” Does that mean Luke was with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (AD 47-48)? Luke does not say “we” were there, yet if the account is read carefully, it does sound like an eye-witness account.
In the Book of Acts, there are three “we-sections” (Acts 16:10-40; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:14). These are passages where Luke includes himself in the narrative because he was with the Apostle Paul. The first “we-passage” occurs during Paul’s second missionary journey (AD 49-50). Paul, Silas, and Timothy arrived at Alexandria Troas. While there, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia who said, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). Luke then records: “Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (16:10). Luke now included himself with the Apostle Paul and his team. William Ramsey suggested that Luke was the man who appeared in the vision to Paul, but others do not concur with his view. When they arrived at Philippi, Paul and Silas, both Jews, were arrested and brought before the magistrates (Acts 16: 19-21). Luke and Timothy are not arrested because both were Gentiles. After Paul’s release from prison, the magistrates encouraged Paul and his party to leave the city. They did and Luke continued the narrative by saying, “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica” (17:1). Luke is no longer with them because he stayed back at Philippi. Some have suggested this was his home town, or at least his adopted home town.
Luke does not include himself in his narrative again until the second “we-section” at the end of Paul’s third missionary journey (April/May AD 57). Luke joined Paul and seven other brothers who were taking the collection to the needy saints in Jerusalem (Acts 20:5-21:18).
In the Land of Israel
Dr. Luke went to Jerusalem with Paul at the end of his third missionary journey. After Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem and imprisonment in Caesarea, nothing is heard of Dr. Luke until Paul appealed to Caesar and boarded a ship towards Rome. It was at this time that Luke and Aristarchus boarded the ship along with Paul (20:4, cf. 27:2). What was Dr. Luke doing for the two years (AD 57-59) while Paul was in prison? I am certain that he was one of those visiting Paul in prison (Acts 24:23). But more than that, most likely, he used this time to gather material for his gospel.
In the beginning of the Gospel of Luke it is written: “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seems good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you and orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (1:1-4). There are several things to note in this passage. First, there were other gospels already circulating. According to Church tradition, Matthew was the first gospel written, and Mark, writing on behalf of Peter, was the second gospel written. Both were composed and circulating before the middle of the 40’s of the First Century AD. Second, eyewitness accounts of the life of the Lord Jesus were given to Luke, and probably Aristarchus [“delivered them to us”].
Luke took advantage of this time in the Land of Israel (cf. Matt. 2:21) and visited the sites in Jerusalem, Samaria, Perea, and Galilee where the Lord Jesus had ministered and interviewed the people who had seen and heard the Lord Jesus. I am sure he spent time in Nazareth talking with Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus, and obtained the details of the birth of the Lord Jesus from her. The account in Luke 1 and 2 was written in medical language. Perhaps he stopped in Naim to interview the widow woman’s son who was raised from the dead (Luke 7:11-17), an account that only Dr. Luke recorded and was a medical miracle!
The third thing to notice is that the gospel was addressed to the “most excellent Theophilus.” The title “most excellent” seems to suggest he was a high ranking Roman official. The identity of this individual has been debated in scholarly circles and a number of individuals have been suggested. The most interesting and intriguing possibility that I have found so far, and probably the most plausible, is Werner Marx’s thesis that Theophilus was King Agrippa II (1980b: 17-26). You will recall Agrippa’s famous line after the Apostle Paul gave his defense and testimony at the Praetorium in Caesarea. He said to Paul, “Thou almost persuaded me to be a Christian!” (26:28). The Gospel of Luke was written to remind Agrippa II “that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” by the Apostle Paul (Luke 1:4; Marx 1980b: 21-22).
The Voyage to Rome
The third “we-passage” is Acts 27:1-28:16 and recounted the voyage to Rome in AD 59-60. Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus embarked on a ship bound for Adramyttium. When they reached the port of Myra they transferred to an Alexandrian grain ship headed for Rome. Dr. Luke gave a vivid nautical description of the journey, the storm, and the shipwreck on Malta.
While on Malta, Paul and Luke had a healing ministry. “And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went into him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed (iasato) him. And when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed (etherapeutonto)” (Acts 28:8-9). Two different Greek words are used in this passage for healing. Paul “healed” Publius’ father by prayer and faith (28:8), but Luke cured the sick people with medical treatment (28:9; Harnack 1907: 179. 28:3-10; Ramsay 1956: 16-17). The spiritual and physical go hand-in-hand in a healing ministry
With Paul in Rome
During the Apostle Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome (AD 60-62) he was under house arrest while waiting his trial before Nero. He was allowed to have visitors and Dr. Luke was one who attended his physical and medical needs. When Paul wrote to the saints in the Lycus Valley, he sent greetings from Luke. “Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you” (Col. 4:14). “Epapheas, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you. As do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers” (Philemon 23-24).
Luke was known in Colosse and by Philemon who also lived in Colosse. This has raised some interesting questions. When did they meet Luke? Had he been to the Lycus Valley? If so, when? I would like to suggest that Luke had been through the Lycus Valley on his way to Philippi. A possible reconstruction of events is that Peter, along with Silvanus and John Mark, planted the churches in the Lycus Valley in AD 40-42. Peter and / or Paul suggested Dr. Luke go to Philippi in Macedonia. Luke travelled through the Lycus Valley and gave greetings from Peter and told them about Paul.
While in Rome, Paul had daily prayer meetings in a rented apartment. These meetings included those who were ministering with him and to him (Col. 1:1; 4: 7-14). “We … praying always for you” (1:3); “We also … do not cease to pray for you” (1:9). Luke considered prayer important. When he wrote his gospel, he recorded a number of instances where Jesus prayed or talked about prayer. However, he recorded eight instances that were unique to his gospel, and not in the other three gospels. The Lord Jesus prayed at His baptism (3:21); at the Transfiguration (9:28-29); before choosing His apostles (6:12); for His enemies on cross (23:34, “Father, forgive them”); for His disciples to learn the lesson on prayer (11:1); and talked about prayer in the parable of the persistent friend (11:5-10); as well as two other parables on prayer (18:1-14): the widow and the unjust judge, as well as the Pharisee and tax collector when they were in the Temple praying. Dr. Luke was a man of prayer and thought the subject matter important.
Did Luke Leave Paul in Rome?
During Paul’s first imprisonment, he wrote a letter to the Philippians believers. This was a group of people who knew Luke well and he knew them. I found it odd that Paul does not send greetings from Luke back to the church at Philippi. One can only conjecture what happened. Perhaps Paul had sent him back to Philippi with the news of his imprisonment and the church sent Epaphroditus to Rome with the financial gift for Paul. If this is the case, more than likely Luke stayed in Philippi and was there when the letter arrived.
Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey
After Paul was released from prison in AD 62, he went on a fourth missionary journey, one not recorded in the Book of Acts, but pieced together by looking at Paul’s later epistles. This journey lasted for about five years (AD 62-67). It included Crete, Macedonia, Asia Minor, Greece, and probably Spain. Luke apparently met Paul again when he traveled through Philippi and joined him in his travels. Paul was eventually arrested, probably at Nicopolis, and imprisoned in Rome again (AD 67). While there, he wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, and asked him to come to Rome and to bring John Mark with him. He mentioned his loneliness because only Luke was with him (2 Tim. 4:11). Demas had deserted him, and Titus and Crescens were off on an apostolic mission. Yet Paul recognized that “the Lord stood with me and strengthened me” (4:17). Yes, the Great Physician and the beloved physician stuck closer to him than a brother (Prov. 18:24).
Dr. Luke was probably at the beheading of Paul, perhaps at a distance. More than likely it was the good doctor who buried the body of his friend, co-worker, and fellow traveler on the road of life.
Dr. Luke in Thebes of Boiotia
Church tradition has said that after the death of Paul (AD 67), Dr. Luke went and ministered in the region of Boiotia in central Greece today, and particularly in Thebes of Boiotia. Tradition also stated that he wrote to Theophilus who was the governor of Achaia. If we follow Marx’s suggestion, however, that Theophilus was King Agrippa II. It is plausible that Luke handed him a copy of the Book of Acts when he went through Achaia to Rome during the winter of AD 68/69 (Josephus, Jewish Wars 4.499; LCL 3:149).
Church tradition also stated that a mob arrested Luke in Thebes at the age of 84, flayed him alive and crucified him on an olive tree which some say is still there today. This ended the earthly life and ministry of the beloved physician, Dr. Luke. The story of his bones will be recounted elsewhere!
Life Lessons to be Learned from the Life of Dr. Luke
There are at least five lessons we can learn from the life of Dr. Luke, the beloved physician. The first lesson is that Dr. Luke showed humility. God lists seven things that He hates and considers an abomination. The first on God’s hate list is a proud look (Prov. 6:16-18). The opposite of pride is humility. Luke exemplified that by not calling attention to himself or his family, but rather the person of the Lord Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Second, Dr. Luke used his medical training and ability as a mission field and a tool to further the gospel. Medicine, if one follows the Hippocratic philosophy, is patient centered and ideal for Christian involvement. Dr. Luke was a personal physician who was patient oriented. Thus the adjective “beloved” is used to describe him. The medical field could be a great missionary field for individual Christians. I once had a doctor, who on his business card placed the statement, “An assistant to the Great Physician” under his name. He acknowledged that he used medical treatments, but it was the Lord Jesus who was the Great Physician and ultimate Healer.
A young lady who was in fellowship at Valley Bible Chapel graduated from nursing school and had to decide what area of nursing she wanted to go in. She chose the cancer ward. Folks, people who go there are terminal! They are about to check out of this life and into Eternity. Some people who go there may be in denial, but most people realize they are about to hit the end of the road. She chose this field because she wanted to show Christian love and compassion towards those who were in pain and about to die. It was also a great opportunity to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus because people want to know where they are going to spend eternity when they died: Heaven or Hell. Nancy made it clear that they could be assured of a home in Heaven when they died, also the forgiveness of sins, and the righteousness of God freely given to them, if they put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior (Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 3:9; 1 John 5:13). It is because of His death on Calvary’s cross and His bodily resurrection from the dead that all sin had been paid for in full. All a person has to do, the only thing a person can do, is to trust the Lord Jesus as his or her Savior.
Third, Dr. Luke demonstrated loyalty to his friend the Apostle Paul. Prov. 18:24 states: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” We like to sermonize this passage and say it’s the Lord Jesus that always sticks closer than a brother and that is true, but Dr. Luke stuck close to Paul in his darkest hour when everybody else had left him for another task, or even deserted him completely. Haunting words, “Only Luke is with me.” How many people can we count on as friends who will be with us through thick and thin during our lonely hours when everybody seems to have deserted us? But to put the shoe on the other foot, how many people will we be loyal to when they are going through rough times? Do we stick closer to them than a brother?
Fourth, Dr. Luke was a man of prayer. He did it and he wrote about it. How is your prayer life? Is it a priority in your life? Do you set a specific time apart for this spiritual exercise? Do you rejoice when you see God answer your prayers, sometimes in the most unexpected ways?
Fifth, Dr. Luke ministered, by his life and writings, to the whole person. Human beings are made in the image of the Triune God, thus we are a tricotomous (three-part) being with a body, soul and spirit (Gen. 1:26-27; 1 Thess. 5:23). We should follow the example of Dr. Luke when we minister to an individual; he ministered to the whole person. At times we have to deal with peoples physical needs (body). The epistle to James had already been written. In it, James the son of Zebedee gives an example of lack of faith toward our fellow human being. There was somebody in the assembly who did not have cloth or food and asks his fellow believers for some of these items. One of the brothers or sisters said, “God bless you, be warmed and filled,” but did nothing to help that fellow believer. James said that persons faith is useless – dead (James 2:14-17). Dr. Luke took care of Paul’s physical needs when he was imprisoned in Rome. He also gave medical treatment to the people on Malta.
At other times we need to attend to people’s emotional needs (soul). Dr. Luke ministered to Paul’s loneliness when others had left him. Finally, at times we need to attend to people’s spiritual needs (spirits). Dr. Luke was actively involved in Paul’s ministry as a co-laborer, but he had his own writing ministry that touched the spiritual being in each individual. The written Word of God, the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, strengthened and encouraged individual believers in their walk with the Lord. As he wrote to Theophilus: “That you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” These books also built up the Body of Christ.
So, how are we doing in our ministry to dispense spiritual medicine to the whole person – body, soul, and spirit?!
Bruce, F. F.
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