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Why Would Have the First Disciples Have Believed in Jesus?What Are the Meanings of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5?†† When Did Jesusí Ministry Begin and John the Baptistís End?


Why did the earliest apostles believed in Jesus despite He wasnít famous or had done any public miracles when they first committed themselves to Him?There are several possible answers to this question.A number of the early leading disciples were possibly relatives of Jesus or friends of His relatives.For example, James and John may have been Jesusí cousins if their mother was Salome and she in turn was the wife of Zebedee, the fisherman.In turn, John very likely was the unnamed companion of Andrew, who was Peterís brother, and who introduced Peter to Jesus (see John 2:35-42).Another factor was that Jesus had an impressive bearing and command of Scripture even when He was young, since He impressed learned Jewish teachers of the law in the temple even when he was only 12 years old (Luke 2:46-47).He grew in favor with both God and men as He increased in age and wisdom.So discerning people who knew Jesus from when He young could have seen how He was different compared to other men even before He launched His public ministry and did miracles.Furthermore, Jesus could be given miraculous insights that werenít noticed publicly, but still could still impress His listeners.Consider the interesting case in which Jesus saw by vision the skeptical Nathanael under the fig tree with Philip, which so impressed Nathanael that he immediately was convinced that Philip was right about Jesusí being the Messiah (see John 1:45-51).In addition, as the narrative in John 1 shows, John the Baptist gave a public witness that Jesus was the Lamb of God who came to take away the worldís sins, which in turn lead two disciples (one of them clearly Andrew, and the other almost surely the Apostle John) to follow Jesus (John 1:29-39).So the earliest disciples who later became apostles responded to His character and knowledge being different compared to other menís, John the Baptistís public witness, and their being relatives or friends of His relatives who had known Him for many years.


Now letís turn to another question you asked, which concerned the meaning of each of the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12).The famous Bible commentator Matthew Henry states a few useful generalizations about them.He notes that each of these blessings has two purposes.First, they each state who will truly be happy and what their characters will be composed of.Second, they state what true happiness consists of.They promise that people who follow these principles will become happy ultimately as they perform them.At times, they are paradoxical.For example, the first Beatitude says those who mourn (i.e., are unhappy about something) will be comforted (i.e., made happy).In this case, one needs to be unhappy about the right things.If one has sinned, and wishes to repent and to change oneís life, one will be much happier in the long term, even in this life, let alone the next. The gentle or meek will inherit the earth after Jesusí return and their resurrection or translation into Godís ruling kingdom.By being kind in character, God will reward them ultimately physically and spiritually even if they end up being mistreated or oppressed during this life.Those who really strongly wish to be righteous ultimately will be satisfied, since obeying Godís way of life makes for the most happiness long term, especially when eternal life is counted in the calculations.The merciful will receive mercy, which in principle correlates strongly with Jesusí frequent teachings that people canít be forgiven unless they forgive others (Matthew 6:12, 14-15; Mark 11:25-27; Matthew 18:21-35).To constantly demand justice, revenge, and/or punishment against others in this life who hurt us is often counter-productive spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically, especially when we have no power to punish them (such as when they live far away, are dead, or hold major power over us, such as bosses, landlords, politicians, government officials, etc.)The pure in heart will be motivated to be reconciled to God so that one day they will see Him and even live with Him in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-3).People who try to solve conflicts (not just merely avoid them) among others (including themselves) are aiming to build the kind of peace that God wants among His children.He wants all His children to get along with each other well ultimately if the are going to live forever together in His kingdom.Finally, we are ultimately blessed if we suffer from persecution from other people since God will reward us for our sufferings.This Beatitude is particularly paradoxical, but we need to remember that we donít just live this physical life for the sake of this life, but also for the next life:We may suffer now when relatives, co-workers, friends, and others reject us for upholding the name of Jesus and for serving Him, but then God will reward us down the road later.But that takes faith, doesnít it?Do we really believe that there will be a future eternal life with God that will right all the wrongs and reward us for all our pains in this life for serving Him?If we donít, then we wonít have the motivation to live the way of life illustrated by Jesusí Beatitudes.


You also asked why Matthew wrote (Matt. 4:17):ďFrom that time Jesus began to preach and say, ĎRepent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.íĒFrom what time did Jesusí ministry begin?Notice verse 12 above:ďNow when He heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee.ĒJesusí public ministry mainly began after John the Baptist had been arrested by Herod and put into prison, although itís true that for a time both Jesus and John were baptizing disciples simultaneously (John 3:22-26).


So I hope that these answers to your questions about Jesusí teachings and the beginnings of His ministry have been helpful to you.Please feel free to email me back if you have more questions on these subjects.




Eric V. Snow


Click here to access essays that defend Christianity:  /apologetics.html

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Why does God Allow Evil? Click here: /Apologeticshtml/Why Does God Allow Evil 0908.htm

May Christians work on Saturdays? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Protestant Rhetoric vs Sabbath Refuted.htm

Should Christians obey the Old Testament law? /doctrinalhtml/Does the New Covenant Abolish the OT Law.htm

Do you have an immortal soul? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Here and Hereafter.htm

Does the ministry have authority? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is There an Ordained Ministry vs Edwards.html

Is the United States the Beast? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Are We the Beast vs Collins.htm

Should you give 10% of your income to your church? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Does the Argument from Silence Abolish the Old Testament Law of Tithing 0205 Mokarow rebuttal.htm

Is Jesus God? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is Jesus God.htm

Will there be a third resurrection? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Will There Be a Third Resurrection.htm



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