Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2
Thesis: When Christ entered history, He brought no rebellion against God with Him.
Introduction: At this time of year, the debate about the celebration of "Christmas" is always reignited by those who claim that it is wrong for believers to take part in what was not originally a matter of regular celebration by the Church and what has, without debate, been turned into a deeply paganized season of serious hostility toward Christ. Covetousness is idolatry and covetousness runs amok during the Christmas season. The determined attempt to make the season "secular" by eliminating all reference to Jesus is also idolatry. So, there is some sense in which the season is extremely dangerous for the saints because we all have a tendency to be swept along by the culture with little to no regard for the need to stand in the Truth. But, it is also true that false arguments do little to nothing to help us stand in the Truth. And, there is a plethora of false arguments that are made every year at this time in order to try to create a rebellion against "Christmas" in the hearts of the saints.
In our study this morning, we are going to ignore the debate. God looks on the heart and never criticizes people who do what they do as an expression of their love for Him, and men are notorious for trying to force some kind of external conformity to their version of what constitutes "love for God". The truth is: God criticizes both idolatry and Pharisaism. But, there is a greater fact before us in the text today: God's methods of dealing with men's problems of sin seldom find a real agreement in the hearts of men.
Last week we looked at the mouse who wanted to be considered an elephant and saw that the decisions of the power hungry invariably feed their own destruction. This morning we are going to look at the typical reaction men give to the power hungry -- to see that it is not at all how we ought to react.
December 19, 2004
- I. What Does the "Hegemony" of Quirinius Over Syria Have to Do With Anything?
- A. A "hegemony" is the exercise of influence and authority of one entity over another.
- 1. It does not have to mean "governor".
- 2. But, it can mean "governor".
- B. Quirinius' "hegemony" over Syria is recorded in Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, Books XVII and XVIII.
- 1. According to Josephus, Archelaus fell into disfavor with Caesar (about 10 years after he had replaced the Herod who attempted to murder the baby Jesus) and was banished from rule by Caesar (the historians tell us this was in 6 A.D.).
- 2. This necessitated a replacement of him, so two things happened...
- a. Quirinius, a member of the Roman senate who had a long history of involvement in the government of Rome, was given the "hegemony" over Syria.
- b. Judah was placed under Syria's authority so that Quirinius became the Roman authority over Judah also at that time.
- 3. This political upheaval created a sense of "need" by Rome to have a careful accounting of Archelaus' domain, so a decree was made that Judah had to submit to an "enrollment".
- 4. At this time, a man from Galilee, named Judas, began to rant about Rome's use of the enrollments as a way to enslave the Jews, and he attracted a very large following and instigated a rebellion that resulted in his death and the dissolution of his followers. Rome's reaction was violent and the number of people who were killed and cities that were destroyed was significant enough to make it sit on the popular mind of the day. This means that when someone would refer to "the enrollment", almost everyone would think of this particular one unless something was said that would compel them to think otherwise.
- 5. This series of events made it into Luke's records for Theophilus in Acts 5:37.
- C. Quirinius' "hegemony" over Syria was indisputably at the end of Archelaus' rule over Judah (in 6 A.D.), ten years after Matthew says Jesus was born close to the end of the reign of Herod.
- II. What Did Luke Actually Say About the "Hegemony" of Quirinius in His Record to Theophilus?
- A. auth apografh prwth egeneto hgemoneuontov thv suriav kurhniou.
- B. The problem is that the translation is flawed by the misunderstanding of proth in conjunction with auth in respect to the hegemony of Quirinius.
- 1. The word proth is used by John the Baptizer in John 1:15 and 1:30 and the meaning is "before".
- 2. This same word is used by Jesus in John 15:18 and the meaning is, again, "before".
- 3. The idea that "this" enrollment was "the first" and that it took place during the "hegemony" of Quirinius is simply not true.
- a. Some have conjectured that Quirinius had a "hegemony" over Syria twice -- once in the years of Herod, and again in the years after Archelaus, but there is no evidence for that except in the (flawed) translation of this text.
- b. None of the speculators answer a very basic question: what does the "hegemony" of Quirinius over Syria have to do with Luke's message to Theophilus?
- III. What Does the Hegemony of Quirinius Over Syria Have to Do With Anything?
- A. It was a deeply painful historical point of focus for the Jews.
- 1. It had caused a considerable number of Jews to lose their lives.
- 2. It had caused a considerable number of widows in Israel.
- 3. It had caused a host of children to have to grow up fatherless.
- 4. It had been caused by a "theological argument" that claimed that God was unhappy with Israel's willingness to be ruled by Rome and that He would miraculously help them if they would "rebel" against that rule.
- 5. The theology was proven to be false, but its underlying demonic origins were never really exposed.
- B. It was a highly visible historical point of focus for the Romans.
- 1. Josephus wrote that Judas' rebellion marked the beginning of a "theology" that resulted in the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem.
- a. He was wrong about it being the "beginning".
- b. He was right about it being the reason for the destruction of Jerusalem.
- 2. The Romans were confirmed in their attitude that the Jews were a recalcitrant people who would only respond to military might.
- C. It was the point of contrast for Theophilus between the methods of God in the Christ, and the methods of the dark kingdom in the Judas' of this world.
- 1. A perusal of Acts 5 and Luke 2 reveals that men typically attempt to meet force with force in order to exalt their own agendas -- and that the wise among men are very cautious about attempting to force their perspective upon others.
- 2. When God sent His Son into the world, it was not to rebel against being "servants".
- 3. The coming of Jesus was not associated with the "theology of liberation" as that theology focuses upon the rejection of submission to the agendas of others.