Jesus, the son of Joseph, a carpenter, and Mary, was born in Bethlehem, in Judea, in about 4 BC. Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was born of a virgin named Mary. It is believed that Joseph and Mary, who lived in Nazareth, were on the way to the census in Bethlehem. (1)
The four canonical gospels: Matthew (80-90 AD), Mark (66-70 AD), Luke (80-110 AD), and John (90-110 AD) are the foremost sources for the life and message of Jesus. However, the earliest Christian writings we possess are the Epistles of St. Paul, they were written in the years after AD 50, some twenty years after Jesus' death. (2)
Other parts of the New Testament also include references to key episodes in his life, such as the First Epistle to the Corinthians (53-54 AD) and Acts of the Apostles (80-90 AD). These four gospels were chosen by a succession of Church councils and ratified by Pope Innocent I in the early 5th century, chosen from among a number of others purporting to record Jesus's life and teachings. (3)
Jesus was born in Judea. According to the Jewish historian Josephus: "In the limits of Samaria and Judea lies the village Anuath, which is also named Borceos. This is the northern boundary of Judea. The southern parts of Judea, if they be measured lengthways, are bounded by a village adjoining to the confines of Arabia; the Jews that dwell there call it Jordan. However, its breadth is extended from the river Jordan to Joppa. The city Jerusalem is situated in the very middle." (4)
Obery M. Hendricks, the author of The Politics of Jesus (2006) argues that the term "Hebrews" is primarily a sociopolitical identity - specifically a class identity - rather than a religious identity... Thus, in effect, the testimony of the Exodus is that the defining root event from which Israel sprang was God's act of taking the side of the oppressed. In the final analysis, the seminal importance of the Exodus event is that in God's response to the class oppression of the Hebrews, God firmly posited justice and liberation as the very foundation of biblical faith." (5)
Instead of instituting a monarchy, the Hebrew tribes living in Judea developed an egalitarian form of governance by a confederacy, or governing council, made up of representatives of all their tribes and factions. The united tribes came to be called collectively Israel. "Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel." (6)
In 597 BC Judah came under the control of the Babylons and the Jews were held as slaves. It became a period of colonial domination. In Exodus it describes God's liberating response to the cries of the oppressed: "I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them." (7)
During this period the Jewish religion went through a very important development. Originally, there appears to have been not very much difference, from a religious point of view, between the Israelites and surrounding tribes. They developed the "idea that all religions except one are false, and that the Lord punishes idolatry" and "that the worship of heathen gods was sin". (8)
The Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) includes the words of several prophets. It is significant that Amos, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel, the biblical prophets who were the boldest advocates of social justice for all, apparently were people of significant financial means. "Although they themselves were not poor, these prophets were so moved by the plight of the poor among them that they risked conflict and ostracism from members of their own socioeconomic class by standing up for their needier brothers and sisters." (9)
Isaiah suggested that there would be a Messiah who would be the saviour and liberator of Israel: "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations... He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth." (10) Jeremiah argued against corrupt economic policies: "Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbours work for nothing and does not give them their wages... But your eyes and heart are only on your dishonest gain." (11)
In 539 BC the Persians destroyed the Babylonian Empire and resettled the Jewish exiles in an enclave around Jerusalem of some twelve hundred square miles. It was the Persians who established the office of high priest of the people of Israel. Joshua was the first high priest under the Persians. Zechariah describes Joshua coronation as head of the priesthood and states, "he shall bear royal honour, and shall sit upon his throne and rule." (12)
The overt political nature of the high priesthood caused many to question its legitimacy. In many quarters the high priest was reviled as a traitor because his office was sponsored by the oppressors of Israel. As a result, many Jews resented the high priesthood and, by extension, the entire hereditary priesthood. It has been claimed that a large numbers of Jews, particularly the poor, actually questioned the loyalty of the priests to Israel. (13)
In 330 BC Alexander the Great of Macedonia, defeated the forces of the Persian Empire. He died soon after and his empire was divided and ruled by different senior figures in his army. Israel and Syria came under the control of the Greek general Seleucus. He introduced a new tax that took as much as 33 per cent from each farmer's production. In 167 BC, Antiochus IV, a descendant of Seleucus and king of Syria and Palestine, declared himself "God manifest" that greatly offended the biblical commandment "you shall have no other gods before me." (14)
Antiochus also decreed that his people should abandon certain aspects of the Jewish religion. This included the practice of circumcision, the observance of the dietary laws, and the enactment of the traditional sacrifices. He also ordered that the Israelites must abandon their worship of the Lord God of Israel and instead worship Antiochus and his god, Zeus. Antiochus added that each Jewish male was to participate in the sacrifice of a pig upon a holy altar. This caused the Maccabean Revolt and many years of guerrilla warfare. However, it was not until 142 BC that the last of the Greek occupiers of Israel were driven out of the country. During the war the hereditary priestly class identified with the ruling Greeks. (15)
The Jews of Israel were free of colonial oppression for the first time for over 450 years. They instituted their own government, which became known as the Hasmonean regime. According to one historian, "unlike their idealistic and self-sacrificing Maccabean forebears, however, the Hasmoneans proved to be so morally corrupt and so exploitative of their own people that when the Roman general Pompey entered Israel in 63 BC, some Jews actually welcomed him." (16)
After subduing Jerusalem and the southern province of Judea, Pompey marched through Israel freeing them from Jewish law and custom and imposing rigorous economic tribute. Josephus argues in the Antiquities of the Jews (94 AD) that in the initial decades of the occupation, the Roman Army destroyed complete towns and slaughtered, crucified, or enslaved their entire populations. This continued over the next few years and in 43 BC, General Avidius Cassius conquered Taricheae in Galilee and enslaved 30,000 of its inhabitants. (17)
When Julius Caesar achieved power he installed a Hasmonean, Hycanus II, as their high priest to administer Roman interests. However, in 41 BC, after the assassination of Caesar, Mark Anthony gave his support to Herod the Great. In the years that he took to achieve total power, he engaged in extensive slaughter throughout Galilee, the hotbed of resistance to his rule. In 37 BC his rule was consolidated after an extensive siege of Jerusalem with an army of eleven infantry battalions and six hundred cavalry. "When the troops poured in, a scene of wholesale massacre ensued... and the Jews of Herod's army were determined to leave none of their opponents alive." (18)
Herod the Great executed all the main opposition figures, including the former high priest, Hycanus II. The Romans gave Herold the title "King of the Jews". In return he funneled as much wealth to Rome as possible and resorted to unspeakable brutality to thwart his own people's every quest for freedom. Richard A Horsley has argued: "Herod, in fact, instituted what today would be called a police-state, complete with loyalty oaths, surveillance, informers, secret police, imprisonment, torture, and brutal retaliation against any serious dissent." (19)
In 31 BC Mark Antony was defeated by Octavian who declared himself as Emperor Augustus. Herold immediately changed sides and pledged his loyalty to Augustus. He also adopted a new title, "Admirer of the Romans" and ruled like a tyrant. It is claimed that during his period as king he ordered the execution of his wife, brother-in-law, three of his sons and 300 military leaders. Herod was so brutal that Augustus is reported to have said that it was better to be Herod's pig than his son, because, as a Jew, Herod would not kill a pig. (20)
Herod and his Roman allies continued to commit terrible atrocities. According to Tacitus, the resistance leader, Calgacus, said: "We have sought in vain to escape the Romans' oppression by obedience and submissiveness. They are the plunderers of the world... If the enemy is rich, they are rapacious, if poor, they lust for dominion. Not East, not West has satiated them... They rob, butcher, plunder, and call it empire, and where they make a desolation, they call it peace." (21)
At the time of the birth of Jesus, the Romans crucified some two thousand people in the Galilean city of Sephoris as punishment for rebelling against Roman rule. (22) As Quintilian pointed out, public crucifixions were intended to strike terror in the hearts of those under Roman rule: "Whenever we crucify the guilty, the most crowded roads are chosen, where the most people can see and be moved by this fear. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect." (23)
It has been argued by Adrian N. Sherwin-White, in his book, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (1963) that the Gospels "presents two classes, the very rich and the very poor". He goes on to say that the rich in Israel were a very small class of no more than 5 per cent of the population. It was comprised of Roman bureaucrats, aristocratic priests, a handful of rich landowners, and tax collectors. The rest of the people were very poor, many to the point of destitution. (24)
As Obery M. Hendricks has pointed out: "Although in first-century Israel there was profound poverty and destitution, most of the poor were working poor. The great majority were peasants engaged in subsistence farming, which means that after they paid Roman taxes, there was barely enough for survival, and certainly no surplus for long-term planning, or even enough to meet emergencies... Most peasant farmers had land holdings of less than 6 acres, with, on average, only 1.5 acres available for cultivation, hardly enough to support a family." (25)
Herod the Great died in 4 BC and was replaced by three of his sons, who controlled different parts of the Kingdom of Judea: Herod Archelaus, Herod Antipas and Philip the Tetrarch. The main resistance to the new rulers were the wandering preachers. Foremost among them was John the Baptist who began a ministry of preaching and baptism by the Jordan River, which marked the western edge of Antipas' territory of Perea. John attacked Antipas marrying Herodias, who had formerly been married to his half-brother Herod II, as it was incestuous and contrary to Jewish law (26)
Little is known about the early life of Jesus until he was baptized by John the Baptist and began his own ministry when he is about thirty years old. "When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.' (27)
Jesus now claimed he was the son of God and implied that he was the Messiah mentioned by prophets such as Isaiah. "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone who is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all." (28) On another occasion he said: "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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (29)
Jesus supported the Ten Commandments that appeared in the Old Testament: "(i) You shall have no other Gods before me; (ii) You shall not make for yourselves an idol; (iii) You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God; (iv) Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy; (v) Honor your father and your mother; (vi) You shall not murder; (vii) You shall not commit adultery; (viii) You shall not steal; (xi) You shall not give false testimony; (x) You shall not covet." (30)
Jesus added to this moral code. On the subject of adultery he commented: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (31) At the same time he criticised those who were quick to judge others: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?" (32) Jesus also said: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (33)
Jesus also added another very important commandment: "Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (34) He also attempted to rank the commandant: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (35)
Love was central to the moral code taught by Jesus: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (36) "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven." (37)
It has been argued that Jesus's Sermon on the Mount is the essence of his political teaching. "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." (38)
It has been pointed out that Jesus was not advocating passivity: "Those to whom Jesus was speaking were not people with social or political power, but those who lacked it... Jesus is not making a general statement, he is speaking specifically to those whose social, economic, and political standing make them walking targets of humiliation and abusive power. And what he is telling his poor and powerless hearers is how to exercise power even when they are overpowered." (39)
Jesus urged his followers to use non-violence as a political tactic: "Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" (40) These people will deserve the highest honour: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (41)
Jesus also criticised the emphasis placed on ownership of goods and property. According to the Gospel of St Luke, Jesus said "'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (42) He then goes on to say: "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." (43)
Jesus embraced the uncompromising egalitarianism of prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. He told his disciples: "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you." (44) The vast majority of Jesus' pronouncements in the Gospels characterize the kingdom of God as an earthly reality. Jesus proclaims that God's kingdom will transform economic arrangements, as in his statement of class reversal, "many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first”. (45) Jesus reiterated this truth in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, who complain that others, who did not work as long as they, were paid an equal amount. (46)
It has been argued that Jesus' conception of God's kingdom - is a society based on love of others rather than self-centeredness and greed; an economy based on cooperation and consideration of others' needs rather than thoughtless competition." (47) Jesus suggested that those who kept their wealth for themselves would be punished: "Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (48)
Mark Dever, the author of God and Politics (2016) interprets the message in a different way. He points out that when Jesus was asked: "Is it right to pay the poll-tax to Caesar or not. Should we pay or shouldn't we?" Jesus replied: "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." (49) Dever attempts to explain the point that Jesus is making: "As Christians, we believe that government is one of a number of enterprises that we can be involved in, that are not specifically Christian, but are good and even mediate the blessing of God to us... The Bible supports the implication of Jesus' exhortation here to pay for even non-Christian governments, because by the nature of what they do, governments are made to be good, to reflect God's own authority." (50)
James the Just, believed to be the cousin of Jesus, took a particular strong stance against the wealthy: "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up for treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter." (51) However, it has been argued that "Jesus wasn't a revolutionary fundamentally against Rome. He was a much more radical revolutionary, leading a revolt against the dominion of sin and death. That was the revolution he was starting." (52)
Bertrand Russell has argued that there were several important Jewish elements in the Christianity preached by Jesus: (i) "A sacred history, beginning with the Creation, leading to a consummation in the future, and justifying the ways of God to man." (ii) The existence of a small section of mankind whom God specially loves. For Jews, this section was the Chosen People; for Christians, the elect." (iii) "The Christian conception of virtue, seems to have come from the Jews." (iv) "Christians kept part of the Hebrew Law, for instance the Decalogue, while they rejected its ceremonial and ritual parts... What is Jewish in origin is the exclusiveness of the elect." (v) "The Jews believed that the Messiah would bring them temporal prosperity, and victory over their enemies here on earth... For Christians, the Messiah was the historical Jesus." (vi) "The Jewish and Christian doctrine... conceived the Other World (Heaven and Hell) as not metaphysically different from this world, but as in the future, when the virtuous would enjoy everlasting bliss and the wicked would suffer everlasting torment." (53)
It has been pointed out that Jesus preached only to the Jews. "Judaism had no real missionary sense; it could not have, as it was a religion founded on race. If you were not born a Jew you could not belong to the 'chosen people', and that was that. In the diaspora many gentiles and Greeks were drawn to Judaism and become honorary members of the synagogues. A very few were circumcised, but most balked at this and followed Judaism from a distance... Jesus probably shared this Jewish exclusivism. In Capernaum he taught in the synagogues as an ordinary young rabbi, and throughout his career there is no indication that he sought out gentiles or tried to win them over. His doctrine of the kingdom was entirely Jewish - there had never been a tradition that the Messiah would start a new religion." (54)
Jesus acquired a large following in Galilee. One of the reasons for his popularity was his astonishing success as a faith healer. His miracles of healing the sick was an essential part of his messianic claim. He eventually left Galilee and decided to go to Jerusalem: "From that time Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and be raised up on the third day." (55)
Jesus began on the Mount of Olives, before entering Jerusalem. He arrived riding on a donkey in fulfilment of the prophecy made by Zechariah: "Say to the daughter of Zion: Look, your king comes to you; he is humble, he rides on a donkey and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden." (56)
According to the gospels Jesus had a most enthusiastic welcome. "Crowds rushed forward to greet him, spreading garments and branches in his path and shouting, 'Hosannah to the Son of David." The word hosannah means 'save us' or 'liberate us'. The Messiah was to be the descendant of David, the king who had established the first free Jewish kingdom in Jerusalem, which he captured from the Jebusites." (57)
The arrival of Jesus upset the religious elders and he was arrested and is taken to the Sanhedrin, a Jewish judicial body. Richard A Horsley has observed that "the Jewish priestly aristocracy maintained a consistently cooperative relationship with the Roman provincial government." (58) Sean Freyne agrees and argues that the average Jew in Israel "found himself in the rather strange position that those very people to whom he felt bound by ties of national and religious loyalty, the priestly aristocracy, were in fact his social oppressors." (59)
According to the Gospel of St Mark: "They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together... The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree." Finally, the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?". Jesus replied “I am”. (60)
The Jewish elders asked the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to judge and condemn Jesus for various allegations, accusing him of blasphemy, perverting the nation, forbidding the payment of tribute, inciting sedition against Rome, sorcery, claiming to be the King of the Jews, the Son of God, and a savior to the world. Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law." The elders responded that "we have no right to execute anyone”. After questioning Jesus the Roman governor returned to the elders and told them "I find no basis for a charge against him". (61)
The Jewish elders insisted that Jesus was executed. Pilate pointed out that it was the custom at the Passover Festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. He told them that a man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in a recent uprising. (62) "Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, "but the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead". "What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. "Crucify him!" they shouted. (63)
Two other men, both "social bandits", were also taken out to be crucified, "a form of capital punishment reserved for terrorists, insurgents and political insurrectionaries". (64) Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” One of the criminals being executed said: "Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" According to the Gospel of St Luke the other criminal rebuked him. "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." (65)
The Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Governor Pontius Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers did this to the other two men but when they came to Jesus they found he was already dead, they did not break his legs "Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water." (66)
Joseph of Arimathea, a recent disciple of Jesus, removes his "body from the cross, wraps him in a clean cloth, and buries him in his new rock-hewn tomb. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away." The next day the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate and asked for the tomb to be made secure. "Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first... So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.” (67)
The Gospel of St Mark claims: "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. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, 'Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?' ... But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 'Don’t be alarmed,' he said. 'You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples." (68)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
You have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'
"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '
"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'
"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
What man among you with 100 sheep, on losing one of them, will not leave the 99 behind in the wilderness and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he gets home, he calls his friends and his neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous ones who have no need of repentance.
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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
I am the resurrection and the life. The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone who is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.
A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit and prove yourselves my disciples. Just as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; remain in my love. If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love. "These things I have spoken to you, so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be made full. This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his life in behalf of his friends. You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master does. But I have called you friends, because I have made known to you all the things I have heard from my Father.
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up for treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.
(1) Gospel of St Luke (2:1-21)
(2) Karen Armstrong, The First Christian: St. Paul's Impact on Christianity (1983) page 24
(3) Anthony Grayling, Ideas that Matter (2009) page 100
(4) Josephus, The Jewish War (c. AD 75) 3.3.5
(5) Obery M. Hendricks, The Politics of Jesus (2006) page 14
(6) Book of Joshua (24.1)
(7) Book of Exodus (3:7-8)
(8) Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946) pages 326
(9) Obery M. Hendricks, The Politics of Jesus (2006) page 31
(10) Book of Isaiah (42:1)
(11) Book of Jeremiah (22:13)
(12) Book of Zechariah (6:9-13)
(13) Obery M. Hendricks, The Politics of Jesus (2006) page 36
(14) Book of Exodus (20:3)
(15) Maccabees (1.14-15)
(16) Obery M. Hendricks, The Politics of Jesus (2006) page 40
(17) Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews (94 AD) 14:105
(18) Josephus, The Jewish War (c. AD 75) 1.342-346
(19) Richard A Horsley, The Liberation of Christmas (2006) page 71
(20) Macrobius, Saturnalia (400 AD) 2.4.2
(21) Tacitus, On the Life of Julius Agricola (c. AD 98) 30
(22) Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews (94 AD) 17:295
(23) Quintilian, Declamationes (80 AD) 274
(24) Adrian N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (1963) page 139
(25) Obery M. Hendricks, The Politics of Jesus (2006) page 62
(26) Gospel of St. Mark (6:18)
(27) Gospel of St Luke (3:21-22)
(28) Gospel of St. John (11:25-26)
(29) Gospel of St. John (3:10-21)
(30) Book of Exodus (20)
(31) Gospel of St Matthew (5:27-30)
(32) Gospel of St Matthew (7:1-5)
(33) Gospel of St John (8:7)
(34) Gospel of St Matthew (19:18-19)
(35) Gospel of St Matthew (22:37-40)
(36) Gospel of St John (13:34-35)
(37) Gospel of St Matthew (5:43-45)
(38) Gospel of St Matthew (5:38-41)
(39) Obery M. Hendricks, The Politics of Jesus (2006) page 168
(40) Gospel of St Matthew (26:52-54)
(41) Gospel of St Matthew (5:9)
(42) Gospel of St Luke (12:15)
(43) Gospel of St Luke (12:48)
(44) Gospel of St Matthew (20:25-26)
(45) Gospel of St Matthew (19:30)
(46) Gospel of St Matthew (20:16)
(47) Obery M. Hendricks, The Politics of Jesus (2006) page 168
(48) Gospel of St Matthew (19:23-24)
(49) Gospel of St. Mark (12:15-17)
(50) Mark Dever, God and Politics (2016) pages 24-25
(51) Epistle of James (5:1-6)
(52) Mark Dever, God and Politics (2016) page 47
(53) Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy (1946) pages 311-312
(54) Karen Armstrong, The First Christian: St. Paul's Impact on Christianity (1983) page 27
(55) Gospel of St Matthew (16:21-22)
(56) Book of Zechariah (9:9)
(57) Karen Armstrong, The First Christian: St. Paul's Impact on Christianity (1983) page 37
(58) Richard A Horsley, Journal for the Study of Judaism 17 (1986)
(59) Sean Freyne, Gailee, Jews, and the Gospels (1986) page 199
(60) Gospel of St Mark (14:53-62) (47)
(61) Gospel of St John (18: 28-38)
(62) Gospel of St Luke (23:19)
(63) Gospel of St Mark (15: 9-13)
(64) Anthony Grayling, Ideas that Matter (2009) page 100
(65) Gospel of St Luke (23:32-43)
(66) Gospel of St John (19:31-34)
(67) Gospel of St Matthew (27: 57-65)
(68) Gospel of St Mark (16: 1-8)