During the Roman era, tax collectors and the manner in which taxes were collected evolved and varied from one region to the next. Here we offer a general picture of the process that will allow us to appreciate the role tax collectors played in the Gospels. Taxes were paid to both the temple and the state, each of which established its own tax code without consideration of the other. First-century Jews paid a religious tithe of their produce, herd, and flock (Lev 27:30-32); they were also required to pay the half-shekel or two-drachma tax for sanctuary upkeep (Exod 30:13; Matt 17:24). The state demanded taxes that included a poll tax levied on males fourteen to sixty-five years of age and females twelve to sixty-five, real estate tax, customs tax collected at road and harbor stations, a tax on produce that amounted to 10 percent on grain and 20 percent on wine, fruit, and oil, a 1 percent income tax, and sales and inheritance taxes.Continue reading EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (TAX COLLECTOR PT1)
The NT distinguishes between demonic possession and physical disease. Matthew 4:24 states that Jesus healed “all those who were afflicted, those suffering form various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics” (HCSB). Thus the theory that demonic possession should be equated with epilepsy or any other neurotic ailment is weak. Some of the demons made assertions of Christ’s divinity when the disciples did not show such recognition. Mental or physical illness would not impart this type of knowledge (Mark 5:13; Luke 4:33-35; 8:29-33).Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (DEMONIC POSSESSION PT2)
The number four and groups of four connect with our sense of place in the horizontal world. Everything around us is in one of four directions: east, west, north, or south. In the worldview of the Old Testament, complete descriptions were often developed in sets of four. When the tax collector Zacchaeus expressed his practical faith in Jesus, he included a promise to “pay four times as much as I owe to those I have cheated in any way” (Luke 19:8). Jesus accepted that commitment as a sign of genuine repentance, symbolic of completeness. And there are four Gospels, a complete picture of the life of Christ.Continue reading SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (FOUR/4)
According to Matthew 4:18-20, “As [Jesus] was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. ‘Follow Me,’ He told them, “and I will make you fish for people!’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”Continue reading MEN OF THE BIBLE (SIMON PETER “ORDINARY GUY, EXTRAORDINARY OPPORTUNITY”)
Jesus was fully God when he came to earth. He was also fully human. He can empathize with our weaknesses and our limitations.
By the same token, he is also acutely aware of our potential as humans because he maximized his. He knows not just who we are and what we’re like but also what we can become. Continue reading MEN OF THE BIBLE (JESUS: THE PERFECT EXAMPLE)