New Testament - Lesson 1
Note 1 - The Eternal
Ministry of Christ
The Eternal Ministry Of Christ
WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?
Some definitions from the world:
"Jesus was a religious leader from Palestine,
in what is now called the Middle East. His life and teachings are the basis
of Christianity. Jesus became known as Christ, which means 'the anointed
one,' the one who is chosen by God." (A First Dictionary Of
Cultural Literacy, pp81-82)
"Christianity is a way of life, embodied in a
corporate society or fellowship and centered on the worship of the One
God revealed to the world through Jesus of Nazareth, who lived as a human
being for about 30 years in Palestine and was crucified by the Romans at
Jerusalem between AD 29 and 33. Christians believe, on the testimony of
many contemporary witnesses, that he rose from the dead after three days
and was seen by his disciples on numerous occasions during the succeeding
forty days, after which he departed whence he came." (World
Religions - From Ancient History to the Present, p420)
An LDS response from Brother Kent P. Jackson: "Despite
rejection by most of his contemporaries, and despite the blindness of a
modern world that frequently sees no need of him, we know that the mortal
Jesus was no ordinary Jewish carpenter from Galilee.... A correct understanding
of the role of Jesus Christ, then, must include a knowledge of the broad
range of his eternal ministry." (Ensign, Jan 1991)
WHO IS JESUS CHRIST AND WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT HIM AND HIS ETERNAL ROLE?
The source for much of the following information is The Promised Messiah
by Bruce R. McConkie.
To understand the Son and his role requires an understanding of the Father
and his plan. This is something the world knows little about and understands
Elder McConkie: "In the exalted family of the
Gods, the Father and the Son are one. They have the same character, perfections,
and attributes. They think the same thoughts, speak the same words, perform
the same acts, have the same desires, and do the same works. They possess
the same power, have the same mind, know the same truths, live in the same
light and glory. To know one is to know the other; to see one is to see
the other; to hear the voice of the one is to hear the voice of the other.
Their unity is perfect. The Son is in the express image of his Father's
person; each has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; and both
reign in power, might, and dominion over all the creations of their hands."
(Promised Messiah, p9)
WHO, THEN, IS THE FATHER?
He is a glorified and perfect Being. An exalted Person.
A personage who has a body of flesh and bones.
He lives in a family unit.
He governs, controls, organizes, and reorganizes all things both temporal
Joseph Smith: "...he was once a man like us; yea,
that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as
Jesus Christ himself did" (TPJS, p345).
WHAT IS THE FATHER'S PLAN?
"For behold, this is my work and my
glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."
Joseph Smith: "Here, then, is eternal life--to
know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods
yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have
done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and
from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation
to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are
able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those
who sit enthroned in everlasting power.... [Such persons are] heirs of
God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same
power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the
station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those
who have gone before." (TPJS, pp346-347)
Jesus Christ's role is to carry out the will of the Father.
WHAT ELSE DO WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS CHRIST AND HIS MISSION?
He is the Firstborn of the Father in the spirit. (D&C 93:21)
He was created in the image of the Father with a spirit body. (Ether 3:16)
He lived his life in the pre-mortal/pre-earthly existence in such a manner
that he became a god himself.
He elected to accept the plan of the Father and volunteered to carry it
out giving all glory to the Father.
He is the Creator of world assisted by the noble and great ones.
He is the Creator of worlds without number.
He is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament and of all ages. He is the
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
He dispensed the gospel to Abraham.
He gave the gospel to Moses and led Israel out of Egypt.
He is the spokesman for the Father.
He is the lawgiver.
He is the Light of the World. (D&C 88:7-13)
Governs and controls the universe.
It is the divine power which gives life to all things. If it were completely
withdrawn life would cease.
It enlightens the mind and quickens the understanding of every person born
into the world.
He lived a mortal life and taught his Gospel.
He is the only sinless man to have lived upon the earth, thus being the
only one with a claim as the Messiah and Savior.
He is the Redeemer, Savior, Deliverer, and Messiah.
He atoned for the sins of all men.
He holds the keys of Resurrection. He, alone, opened the door for all men
to rise from death to immortality.
He is our advocate, intercessor, and mediator with the Father.
He is to judge all men. (John 5:22-23)
He is our Eternal King.
Elder McConkie: "The Lord is our King. He is a
great King over all the earth. He is that David whose throne shall be established
forever. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endureth
throughout all generations." (Promised Messiah, p195)
Note 2 - Historical Link From The Old Testament To The New
The following historical information helps us link the end of the prophetic
Old Testament era with the New Testament period. It should assist in painting a picture
of the world in which our Lord and Master entered into at the meridian of time.
We can more fully understand the world that he was part of by seeing how
Elder James E. Talmage: "The long history of the
Israelitish nation had unfolded a succession of events that found a relative
culmination in the earthly mission of the Messiah. That we may the better
comprehend the true significance of the Lord's life and ministry while in the
flesh, some consideration should be given to the political, social, and
religious condition of the people amongst whom He appeared and with whom He
lived and died. Such consideration involves at least a brief review of the
antecedent history of the Hebrew nation." (Jesus the Christ, p55)
The End Of The Old Testament Period
Daniel and the Jewish captivity in Babylon.
Daniel was taken captive to Babylon at about 606 B.C.
His mission continued until about 536 B.C.
During this same period of time Lao-Tzu develops the Tao Te Ching, outlining
the philosophy of Taoism.
537 B.C. - King Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon and established the Persian
Empire. Shortly thereafter, Cyrus freed the captive Jews to return to Jerusalem,
allowing them to take back the vessels of the temple seized by Nebuchadnezzar.
Only a few returned at this time.
Rebuilding of the temple begun, but their efforts stalled.
Ezra 4:1-10, the people from the land of Samaria hindered the
work on the temple.
WHO WERE THESE PEOPLE FROM SAMARIA?
When Israel was taken captive by Assyria in 721 BC, the cities of Samaria
were wholly depopulated of their inhabitants.
Later the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and other heathen nations
and placed them in the cities of Samaria. These foreigners were idolaters
and had no desire to serve Jehovah.
As time passed these Samaritans intermingled with the Jews and a variant
of the Jewish religion developed. This variant religion was heavily intermingled
with pagan and other unauthorized practices, which the Jews saw as highly
These Samaritans hindered the work on the temple. The work
on the temple stopped for up to seventeen years due to their interference.
This incident reveals the foundations of the tremendous bitterness between
the Samaritans and the Jews so evident in Christ's time.
About 520 BC - The prophets Haggai and Zechariah inspired the people to resume
construction and the temple was completed about 515 BC.
509 B.C. - Rome becomes a republic.
490 B.C. - The Greeks defeat the Persians at the Battle of Marathon.
480 B.C. - Siddhartha Gautam, the Buddha, dies about this time in India.
458 B.C. - Ezra commissioned to lead a group of Jews back to Jerusalem.
Shortly after Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, he commenced his priestly duties
of putting Jewish affairs in order. Ezra was horrified at the practices
which had come into being, including marriage to wives of pagan nations.
Ezra commanded Israel to repent. (Ezra 10:3)
444 B.C. - The prophet Nehemiah gained favor of the Persian king as his
cupbearer and led a group of Jews back to Jerusalem. He was appointed governor
Nehemiah led the people in rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem.
The times of Ezra and Nehemiah were times of renewal and recommitment to
450-432 B.C. - Malachi prophesies. Last of the prophets. The Jews
still consider him the last of the prophets. He was the last prophet of
the dispensation of Moses.
Malachi spoke to the Jews during a period of religious decline.
He labored to overcome three evils:
Neglect of the proper forms of worship.
Intermarriage with the Gentiles.
Non-payment of tithes and offerings.
He made two significant prophecies:
The messenger who will prepare the way before the Lord's coming: John the
The coming of Elijah the prophet.
Through this period Judah continued to live under Persian rule. Judah remained
under Persian rule for two centuries. But this may have been a blessing
since the nation was not strong enough to survive the surrounding nomads,
who may have pushed Judah into the sea.
The Rise Of The Scribes
The scribes were originally educated men who made their livelihood keeping
the records of the empire or as copyists of the scriptures.
Not only did they supply copies of the scriptures to the growing number
of synagogues, but they also became teachers of the law.
When the prophetic voice ceased in Israel, these experts in the law of
Moses began to fill the vacuum.
Through this period the common language of the people shifted from Hebrew
The language was sufficiently different that the people had to rely upon
scholars for their information and understanding.
Since there was no prophetic unifying force, various interpretations of
the scriptures evolved. Various sects came into being: the Pharisees, Sadduceees,
and the Essenes.
The Greek Conquest Of Palestine
399 B.C. - Socrates is executed for impiety and corrupting the youth of
334 B.C. - Alexander the Great attacked the Persian Empire and defeated
He quickly swept throughout the remainder of the Middle East, including
Palestine, and conquered it. Thus Palestine and the Jews were brought under
This was the first time that Palestine was brought under European influence.
New pagan influences faced the Jewish people on a greater level than in
The upper strata of Jewish society was penetrated, including the prestigious
Zadok family, which had dominated the high priest's office and thus controlled
both temple worship and the more political council of elders.
Samaria: under Greek pressure Samaria quickly adopted gentile ways and
became a stronghold for Hellenic ideas.
Although the Jews in Jerusalem made concessions to Greek ways, what happened
in Samaria caused dismay that hardened into hatred. This sealed the split
that had already developed between Jerusalem and Samaria.
By the time of Christ some Jews would take a lengthy detour around Samaria
rather than risk contamination by their so-called evil influence.
After the death of Alexander two rival generals fought to gain control
of the empire.
Ptolemy took Egypt and with it Palestine. Seleucus conquered Syria and
the northern part of the Middle East.
Ptolemy was one of Alexander's leading Macedonian generals. He became governor
of Egypt and in 304 BC he declared himself king of Egypt.
The Egyptian Ptolemies ruled for 100 years beginning in 301 B.C.
215 B.C. - Construction of The Great Wall of China begins about this time.
200 B.C. - the Seleucids captured Judea from the Ptolemies.
The Seleucids were a dynasty founded by Seleucus I. At his death (281 BC)
the Seleucids controlled most of the Asian provinces of the Macedonian
Through this period the Jewish population increased greatly, particularly
outside of Palestine (Alexandria and Babylon).
175 B.C. - Antiochus IV (a Seleucid king) decided the Greeks had been too
tolerant of the Jews. He attempted to destroy the religion of the Jews
by imposing the Greek religion upon them.
Most of the upper classes of Jewish society accepted the changes.
The remainder of the population (vast majority) saw these trends as an
alarming abandonment of their faith.
169 B.C. - the temple was plundered under order of Antiochus.
167 B.C. - his troops were sent into the Holy city on the Sabbath.
Thousands were killed. Eventually the city walls were knocked down and
a garrison was established near the desecrated Temple Mount.
Temple worship was suspended.
Sabbath observance, celebrations, and circumcision were forbidden on penalty
The people were forced to worship idols of Zeus and other false gods.
The efforts of Antiochus became increasingly more brutal.
A male child found circumcised was killed and tied around the neck of the
mother as a warning to others.
Rather than bring the Jews into submission, resistance stiffened and hatred
for Antiochus and his soldiers increased.
The Hasmoneans And The Maccabean Revolt
167 B.C. - Incident in the little village of Modin.
Greek soldiers gathered the people and demanded that Mattathias, an old
priest of the Asmonean family, offer a sacrifice to the pagan god. He refused.
Another priest stepped forward and agreed to make the sacrifice.
Mattathias grabbed a sword and cut down both the priest and the Syrian
He then fled to the hills with his five sons and called upon all Judah
to join them in the revolt.
Mattathias died soon after the revolt began and his son Judah took over
leadership of the revolt.
He was a military genius and time after time devastated forces two to four
times the size of his own. He exhorted his poorly equipped troops to have
faith in God and the righteousness of their cause.
164 B.C. - The city of Jerusalem had been re-conquered. The Jews became
independent of their foreign overlords for the first time in over 400 years.
Assisted by the Hasideans and an army of 6,000, Judas won several victories
over Syrian armies and, in 164 BC, occupied the Temple in Jerusalem, building
a new altar and fortifying the area. This remarkable event continues to
be celebrated as the Feast of Chanukah or Rededication (sometimes also
called the Festival of Lights).
In that 400 year period the Jews had been dominated by the Babylonians, the
Persians, the Egyptian Ptolemies, and the Seleucids.
This revolt is commonly known as the Maccabean revolt because Mattathias'
son was called Judah the Maccabee or Judas Maccabeas.
Judah continued his battles against the Selucids, but eventually died in
battle. His brothers continued and worked to extend the borders of Judea.
The sons and grandsons of the Maccabees degenerated into a mode of politics
63 B.C. - Israel had become so corrupt that she easily fell into the hands
of the Romans when Pompey annexed Judea.
It was during this period that the scribes and Pharisees developed a near
worship of Torah and the law. Obedience to the law took on a more rigid
form of worship.
Judea Under The Romans
Pompey appointed one of the Hasmoneans to be king, though he had little
His advisor was an Idumean (a people hated by the Jews) named Antipater.
Antipater worked himself in good standing with the Romans and eventually took over
power from the Jewish puppet-king.
Antipater consolidated his power by assisting the Romans in a struggle
against the Parthians.
In payment for this aid, Antipater was granted the right to have his son
appointed king of Judea.
Under Rome the Jews were given a certain amount of religious liberty, but
could not impose death penalties as Moses had once done.
27 B.C. - Octavian becomes the first Roman emperor; the Senate names him
Herod was hated by the Jewish people, though he had supposedly converted
He was brutal and vicious.
Rome was pleased with his rule.
Completely loyal to Rome.
From the viewpoint of Rome he kept control in what was a troublesome province.
He undertook great building programs through heavy taxation.
Herod died shortly after the birth of Jesus.
The Roman's divided the rule of the kingdom between Herod's three sons:
Philip - north and east of Galilee.
Herod Antipas - Galilee and Perea.
Archelaus - Judea, Samaria, and Idumea. Archelaus was removed from his
position in 6 A.D. due to extreme and oppressive measures. His territory
was given to Herod Antipas to rule.
It was into this world that our Savior Jesus Christ was born.
The Jews were looking for the promised Messiah.
They were looking for a great general that would overthrow the Romans and
return Israel to its greatness under kings David and Solomon.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "It comes, therefore,
as no surprise to find that all Israel in the days of Jesus were looking
for a temporal Deliverer, for a Messiah born in the lineage of Abraham
and David, who, sitting on the throne of their greatest king, would free
them from personal and national bondage and vanquish their enemies. They
looked for a preeminent Judahite ruler for the scepter was not to depart
from David's Judah until Shiloh came who would throw off the Roman yoke
and scatter the legions of the Caesars....
"Such a Deliverer,
such a Messiah, as they envisioned, would not only restore the kingdom
to Israel, but would also return the dispersed of that great nation to
their original inheritance in their promised Canaan. All Israel again would
find residence on the soil that once was theirs." (Mortal Messiah
Note: The Old Testament Student Manual (1 Kings to Malachi) contains a more
detailed review of this historical information (see pages 359-365)
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
05 December 2014