Monthly Archives: February 2014

Who Was Cornelius?

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I have been so excited all week to write this blog. I know the story of Acts 10 just as well as I know the story of Harry Potter. I love this story. However, the only real reason I love this story is because it is about a guy who just happens to have my last name. I have always had a lot of questions about Cornelius.

Who was Cornelius? Why was he significant? Did Cornelius already believe in Yahweh? Is this the only account we have of Cornelius?

Who was Cornelius?

Cornelius was a centurion (10:1). A centurion, according to www.britannica.com,  “was the commander of a centuria, which was the smallest unit of a Roman legion.” Cornelius probably commanded around 100 men. A centurion is equivalent to an army captain. Cornelius lived in Caesarea (10:1). At the time, Caesarea was a” mainly Gentile city” and the “residence of the Roman Proconsul” (www.biblegateway.com). Cornelius was “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God,” (Acts 10:2). 

Why was Cornelius significant?

Cornelius was “a devout man” and a Gentile. At noon, Cornelius had a” vision of an angel of God” (Acts 10:3). Cornelius was frightened (4). He did as the angel instructed him to do so. He sent for Peter who was on the outskirts of Joppa. Joppa  to Caesarea is about a 3 to 4 day round-trip journey. Peter came and preached to Cornelius and his household. This would have included his family, servants, and the servants’ families. According to the Christian church, Cornelius was the first Gentile Christian. This means that Cornelius and his household became completely devoted to Yahweh without converting to Judaism.

Cornelius sent servants to find Peter and bring him back.

Cornelius sent servants to find Peter and bring him back.

Did Cornelius already believe in Yahweh?

The short answer is yes. According to the characteristics that are listed in verses 1 and 2, Cornelius was a moral man who feared Yahweh. Peter came after Cornelius’ vision and his own to signify that Yahweh did not consider Gentiles unclean.

Is this the first account of Cornelius in the Bible?

This is the first and only account in the Bible that specifically mentions Cornelius. However, in Luke 7, there is mention of a Roman centurion who was stationed in  Capernaum at the time of Jesus’ early ministry.  Caesarea is about 45 miles away from Capernaum. Cornelius could have very well lived in and over saw this area at some point in his career.  This centurion had a servant who was very ill. The centurion sent for Jesus to heal his servant. As a Roman, this would have shown great faith in Jesus. Not only did this centurion send for Jesus to heal his servant, but he also built a synagogue for the Jewish people.  “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:9). Personally, I think that this centurion may have been Cornelius a few years before his conversion. I think that since the centurion from Luke was faithful to Jesus, the writer of Acts would want to include a “reward”.

 

This blog was very interesting for me to write. I learned a lot about a man I kind of knew. I also made connections I had never made before.

Biblical Clichés: How Many Do We Really Say?

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Earlier this week, I was at the fabulous establishment of Wal-Mart running around  like a chicken with its head cut off looking for something to give my boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. I was with my sorority little sister who said, “Big, it is the blind leading the blind. It’s not like I know what to get either.” That’s when it hit me. We say so many clichés that come from the Bible. I called my grandmother and my mom as soon as I started to write this. These are things they told me they say or I have heard them say on a regular basis. Sometimes I open my mouth and my mother falls out; so, I’m sure I have been guilty of saying quite a few of these.

blind-leading-the-blindjapangovenrment

1.) “The blind leading the blind”

This cliché  means that uninformed people are in charge of other uniformed people. It comes from Matthew 15:13-14 . This is a metaphor that Jesus uses to explain how the Pharisees and Scribes were leading the masses when the people in charge  were no more knowledgeable  than the people they were teaching.

2.) “Apple of my eye”

This cliché refers to something /someone that one cherishes above everything else. This phrase can be found in four places in the Bible: Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalms 17:8-9;  Proverbs 7:2; and Zechariah 2:8. Normally, you hear this when someone is in a relationship and he says that his significant other is the apple of his eye. However, when this phrase is used in the context of the Bible, it is used in relationship to the laws of Yahweh.

3.) “Good Samaritan” 

Growing up in church, I have heard the parable of the Good Samaritan all of my life. This story can be found in Luke. Anytime you do something nice for a stranger, you are more likely than not called a “good Samaritan.” Most people I know are aware of this biblical connection.

eye for an eye

4.) “Eye for and eye” and “A tooth for a tooth”

Most people use this cliché for justifying revenge. It is the idea that for every wrong thing you have done, the same thing should happen to you. This phrase comes from the Torah (the law). Later, in the New Testament, Jesus says instead of “eye for an eye…tooth for a tooth”, to turn the other cheek. To me. this was the phrase used before the word “karma” became popular.

5.) “Spare the rod, spoil the child”

My parents have said this more times than I can count. I thought they used this saying to justify punishing my bad behavior. However, it came from the Bible. Proverbs 13:24 says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” So, according to the Bible, my parents must have loved me a whole lot.

6.) “You reap what you sow.”

This phrase comes from the book of Galatians. It means whatever you do, it will have consequences whether they are good or bad. This is my grandmother’s favorite phrase to use whenever I complain about studying 24/7. Whatever you reap (good grades), you sowed (studying).

Am I my brother's keeper?

7.) “Am I his/her keeper?”

I have been guilty of saying this cliché many times. When someone ask me where my best friend is, my instant reply is “what do I look like, her keeper?” This comes from Genesis. Cain replies to Yahweh with this question when Yahweh questions where Abel is.

8.) “Do as I say, not as I do.” 

If I had a dollar for everytime my mother has said this to me, I could pay off my student loans. This has its roots in Matthew 23:2-3. It states, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.”  Jesus is condemning the Pharisees and scribes for not doing what they preach (#9), and tells the crowds to not pay attention to the actions of the Pharisees and scribes.

9.) “Practice what you preach”

This comes from the same verse as above. I touched on it in #8. In today’s society, this phrase is normally uttered when someone calls you a hypocrite.

10.) “Like leading a lamb to the slaughter”

This is the phrase my grandmother uses when I am getting myself in to a situation that is going to turn out badly. This cliché comes from Jeremiah and Isaiah.

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11.) “Money is the root of all evil.”

This is probably the most misquoted phrase I know. This cliché comes from 1 Timothy 6:10. It states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

12.) “Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”

If you had told me that this cliché came from the Bible, I would call you a liar. I would be wrong. This saying comes from Matthew 16:2-3. It says, “He answered them,“When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red. And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’” This is one of the things I claim this as an “Universal Truth”. Who knew that its roots were from the Bible?

13.) ” The writing is on the wall.”

Until I read Daniel last semester, I thought this cliché was derived from Shakespeare. Not quite. In Daniel 5, there was a feast that was held by King Belshazzar.  At the feast, a disembodied hand appeared and wrote the words ” Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin”. This phrase is used when something is obvious. It is normally used in a negative connotation.

sheep's clothing

14.) “Wolf in sheep’s clothing”

This comes from Matthew 7:15. This is used as a warning against false prophets. It means that someone is acting a certain way to take advantage of someone else or a specific situation.

15.) “Turn the other cheek.”

This is the opposite of #4. Jesus says to turn the other cheek when someone hits you instead of hitting them back. This is found in Matthew 5:39. This is the justification of most nonviolent movements.

 

While some of these are not word for word quotes of the Bible, the basis of the clichés are. I feel like a lot of these are said in the South more than anywhere else. My best friend from Chicago claims to have only said three of these in her whole life. I really enjoyed finding where a lot of clichés came from. I was unaware that most of these came from the Bible at all.  Why did these clichés survive the generations? Did the Bible become so ingrained in our culture that even the clichés we use come from it?

Who were the Disciples?

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While reading this week, I read over the disciples names again for the 1 millionth time. Then, it hit me. I know nothing about these men who followed Jesus for his entire ministry. These men had a very vital part in the spread of Christianity, and all my life I just skimmed over their names. So, who were these 12 disciples? What did they do after Jesus’ death? How did they die?

Simon (Peter) & Andrew: 

Simon (Peter) was born in  Betsaida, a town in Galilee. He was the son of Jona and brother of the apostle Andrew.They were fishermen. Simon (Peter) was married.  He was a follower of John the Baptist.  Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter. Simon (Peter) was the “mouth piece” of the disciples. He was outspoken. He is most known for denying Jesus as the Son of God three times. In the book of Acts, Simon (Peter) is the one who preaches at Pentecost. Simon (Peter) is the one who converted Cornelius and his family, all Gentiles,  in Acts 10. Tradition says that persecution of the first Christians in Jerusalem led Peter to Rome, where he spread the gospel to the fledgling church there. Legend has it that the Romans were going to crucify Peter, but he told them he was not worthy to be executed in the same manner as Jesus, so he was crucified upside down.

Andrew is only mentioned 12 times in the Bible.  He was also a follower of John the Baptist. The Acts of St. Andrew, an apocryphal work from the 3rd century, says Andrew was arrested and executed in 60 CE while preaching on the northwest coast of Achaia. A 14th century tradition says he was crucified on an X-shaped cross, lasting for two days before dying.

James & John: 

James is the brother of John. James and John were fishermen. They knew Simon (Peter)  and Andrew. Jesus gave James the Greek name of “Boanerges” which translates as “Sons of Thunder.”  After Jesus’ death, we do not hear anything of James until his death.  He  was the first of the 12 apostles to be martyred. He was killed with the sword on order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea, about 44 A.D., in a general persecution of the early church.

John was called the “beloved disciple”. He was the only apostle to stay with Jesus as he was dying on the cross.  John  has five books of the Bible attributed to him; the Gospel of John, Revelation, and three epistles. He is thought to be the only apostle to die a natural death at an old age.

Philip:

Philip was also from Bethsaida. Little is known about his life before Jesus. Philip introduced Bartholomew to Jesus. It is thought that Philip died during the reign of Domitian and was martyred aged 87 by being crucified upside down. In 2011,  excavation director Francesco D’Andria made a discovery in Hierapolis, a significant site in Christian Turkey. He claims to have found the tomb of Philip.

The discovered tomb of Philip

The discovered tomb of Philip

Bartholomew:

Little is written about Bartholomew. Bartholomew is also called Nathanael. He is skeptical of Jesus being the Messiah. After Jesus’ death, it is believed that Bartholomew went to India. It is said that he was martyred at Albanopolis in Armenia. The form of death is uncertain. Some say he was beheaded, and others say that he flayed alive and crucified, head downward

Matthew (Levi):

Matthew was called Levi before Jesus called him to be a disciple.  He was the son of Alpheus. Matthew was a tax collector. Matthew was in Capernaum when Jesus called him.  He is credited with the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew. There is a tradition that points to Ethiopia as his field of labor; other traditions mention of Parthia and Persia. It is uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of martyrdom.

Thomas:

Doubting Thomas

 

Thomas’ early life is unknown. His name in Greek and Aramaic, Didymus,  means twin. In a non-canonical text,  the Acts of Thomas, it is suggested that Thomas was a carpenter and a member of Jesus’ immediate family. It is believed that Thomas went to Syria, ancient Persia, and India. Thomas is still known today as the apostle to India for the many churches that he formed and helped build there.Thomas died in India in 72 AD as a martyr for his faith when an Indian king, angry that he couldn’t get Thomas to worship an idol, ordered his high priest to stab Thomas with a spear.

James, the son of Alphaeus:

There is no information on this James other than him being named an apostle. Since there is no information on him, we do not know where he lived after Jesus’ death or how he died.

Simon (the Zealot):

Not much is known about Simon the Zealot’s life before or after Jesus.  It is commonly believed that Simon was called Zealot because of his adherence to the Jewish law and to the Canaanite law. He was one of the original followers of Christ. Western tradition is that he preached in Egypt and then went to Persia with St. Jude, where both suffered martyrdom.

Judas, son of James:

He is also called Thaddaeus or Jude.  As is common, not much is known about Judas. Tradition holds that he founded a church at Edessa and was crucified there as a martyr.

Judas of Iscariot:

Judas of Iscariot is the disciple who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. After Jesus’ arrest, Judas felt remorseful and hanged himself.

 

 

While I didn’t find solid information om any of the disciples, I did learn a little more about these men. It’s pretty hard to find any solid information on people who (may or may not have) lived 2000 years ago. I did realize about half way through the list the further down you go, the less you find. So, where these disciples listed in order of importance?