BMS Updates

Verse of the Day (December 20, 2019)

Verse of the Day (December 20, 2019) #BMSeminary – [decree] These Roman enrollments ran in fourteen-year cycles which began under Caesar Augustus (30 B.C. to A.D. 14, cf. Luk 3:1; Mat 22:17). We learn of these cycles from Egyptian papyri. They took years to finish. A second census is mentioned in Act 5:37 and in the writings of Josephus, which says that it was done in A.D. 6; therefore, the first was begun about 8 B.C. (cf. Act 5:37). [census] This registration was for the purpose of taxation and military conscription. Jews, however, were exempt from military service. It also included, possibly, an oath of loyalty to Caesar. [the inhabited earth] This refers to the Roman Empire or the known civilized world (cf. Luk 4:5; Luk 21:26; Act 11:28; Act 17:6; Act 17:31; Act 19:27; Act 24:5; Mat 24:14; Rev 3:10). It is surely possible that some of these texts reflect a world-wide emphasis, like Mat 24:14; Act 17:31; and Heb 1:6; Heb 2:5). [This was the first census] A second census is mentioned in Act 5:37. These Roman censuses took many years to complete, possibly up to fourteen years (i.e., evidence from Egypt). [Quirinius] There is a problem with this statement and secular history. Quirinius was the civil governor of Syria in A.D. 6. He was the military leader in Syria, of which Judea was a part, from 10-7 B.C., however, he did not become the political leader until A.D. 6. He came to Judea in A.D. 6/7 for the explicit purpose of registration for taxation (Josephus, Antiq. 18.1-2,26). The footnote in the NRSV gives the information that Quirinius was a special legate of Augustus to deal with a rebellious tribe (Homonadenses, cf. Tacitus, Annals, 13.48) and, therefore, was the military governor of Syria while Varas was the civil governor (Oxford, 1991, edited by Bruce M. Metzger and Roland Murphy, pp. NT 79-80). A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of Luke, p. 105, asserts that Quirinius acted as a special representative of the Emperor from 12 B.C. to A.D. 16, which included an administrative charge related to the census. It also asserts that he was twice governor of Syria, from 3-2 B.C. and again in A.D. 6-16. The authors of the UBS Handbook, Reiling and Swellengsegel, cite Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 3, pp. 975-977, as their source. The [everyone] refers to males, possibly males with taxable property (land, businesses, etc.). [each to his own city] This was the unique aspect related to Jewish culture. Nazareth had a clan from the tribe of Judah (family of Jesse) living there, but for several families Bethlehem was their ancestral city. [Bethlehem] This was a small Judean village about six miles southwest of Jerusalem and, therefore, about seventy miles south of Nazareth. It was known in the OT as Ephrath (cf. Gen 35:19), which became Bethlehem Ephrathah of Mic 5:2. This was a way to distinguish it from a Bethlehem in the north of Israel. This city is known as the city where Boaz and Ruth, who were ancestors of King David, lived (cf. Rth 4:11). David’s father, Jesse, lived here also (cf. 1Sa 17:12). Because it was the ancestral home of David, it was the prophesied but unexpected site of Jesus’ birth (cf. Mic 5:2; Mat 2:5-6; Joh 7:42). [because he was of the house and family of David] One wonders how much of the prophecy of 2Sa 7:12-17 Luke had in mind (cf. Luk 1:32) when he recorded this phrase about the lineage of Jesus. This phrase may have been a direct allusion to these OT Messianic promises. [to register along with Mary] One wonders why Mary traveled so late in her pregnancy when only males were required to return to their ancestral home: 1. Joseph did not want to leave her in Nazareth where she would be verbally ridiculed; 2. Joseph or Mary knew the prophecy of Micah 5 and wanted to fulfill it; 3. God was working in the situation, unbeknown to either Joseph or Mary (You Can Understand the Bible by Dr. Bob Utley)


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