Hebrew Gospel Pearls #6 – Matthew 3:1-6

In Hebrew Gospel Pearls #6 (Matthew 3:1-6), Nehemia and Keith discuss Baptism from a Jewish perspective, the surprising connection between John the Baptist and Christopher Columbus, and what led medieval rabbis to read the New Testament.

I look forward to reading your comments!

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56 thoughts on “Hebrew Gospel Pearls #6 – Matthew 3:1-6

  1. Black leather
    Roman leather was used extensively including for the military tents. It was predominately brown. Other societies used different tanning methods and hence had different colored leather. Black may have been the usual color in Parthia. Leather could be prepared by smoking the hides with certain leaves, compared to the Roman method.

  2. Nehemia and Keith, DO NOT STOP Gospel Pearls! We love this so much! Thank you for all you do. We cannot wait for you to continue these fantastic studies.

  3. To Jake Wilson: re. Paul as a “Jew.”
    I think before you criticize you should really read the Scriptures with a spirit of truth. Not to weaponize the Word of God to try and prove your point. That’s what I see going on here with certain people. They want their way. It must be an ego problem. But I can tell you from my perspective they are not genuine.
    To answer your question you have to read the Scriptures with some purpose of logic combined with spirit and truth.

    Paul was severely threatened with death by the Jews, and was rightfully protected by the Romans as a result of his citizenship. He was accused by the Jews of changing the law. He was not being technical when dealing with hysterical people that wanted to kill him. The only people that can be
    legitimately known as Jews as those from the Tribe of Judah. When they came back from Babylon the word Jew was lost and became loosely used for the purpose at hand. And still is to this day.
    Use logic.

  4. Hi Sean,

    Generally speaking, the terms ‘Hebrew’, ‘Jew’, and ‘Israelite’ are used interchangeably in Scripture.

    Though Abraham and Isaac were technically non-Jews, it was their line that birthed the Jewish nation, and to them the promises and the eternal sign of circumcision was given (the Arabs also circumcise, but they didn’t receive the promise).

    Yes, the scattered tribes had all been circumcised as infants, and then, upon repentance, underwent ‘heart circumcision’ performed by the Messiah (immersion in water in Yeshua’s name).

    For 7 years the New Covenant was only entered by Jews, and then also non-Jews accepted it (Samaritans and Gentiles). The Jewish Nazarenes maintained of course physical circumcision on the 8th day because they were Jews They were increasingly persecuted till they disappeared from history in the 4th century.

    The Gentile Nazarenes, – who were persecuted together with their Jewish brethren – kept the entire Torah (Sabbath, festivals, dietary laws, etc.) except physical circumcision. The parallel chapters of Gal 2 and Acts 15 confirm that non-Jews are not to be physically circumcised (unless they want to convert to Judaism or Islam :-)).

    • Hanotzrim, unless you are referring to the Talmud as scripture, or unless I’m wildly missing something in my lifelong studies, your first sentence is simply, all together, completely wrong. Hebrew, Jew and Israelite are very distinctively used throughout the old and new testaments. I understand that they may sound to some, that they are used interchangeably. The falling out of use of “Hebrew”, the use of “Jew” to describe those left after the northern tribes departed, Paul calling himself a “Hebrew”, the Jewish keeping of the Levitical dietary laws given to the 12 tribes as the nation of Israel, the distinction of Jews as a race and as those who do “Jewish” things, all of these have complexity, but in no way do these make them “interchangeable”. Frankly, to say they are interchangeable sounds lazy to me.

      I think problems come from wanting the whole “we are set apart” thing. Zechariah says the Jews are the apple of God’s eye. But as in Jeremiah 31, the grafting in of Gentiles is to the nation of Israel. All the tribes. Not just the Jews. My understanding is that the Talmud gets rid of that whole thing, leaving only Jews to be saved. Only Jews are Israel. Any tribes lost were Jewish, especially Ephriam and Manasseh, but when they left they lost God’s promises and vanished, never to return. When nothing could be further from the truth as per prophecy.

      Clearly, physical circumcision is not a requirement for non-Jews who accept Christ. But physical circumcision is not wrong. It is one of uncountable legalisms that some men use to bind others with.

      I once had an acquantance attempt to apply some legalism to me because in a paragraph, I neglected to capitalize “God”. At his unrelenting insistence for a non-official and merely conversational script, that I make the correction (that I normally would and did elsewhere in the script), I refused and warned him that he risked assuming the role of a modern Pharisee.

      So the question would be, would a secular Jew who accepts Christ and becomes Messianic, still need to be circumcised? ha

      • Hi Sean,

        I think the verse is quite clear:

        “Was someone already circumcised when he was called? Then he should not try to remove the marks of his circumcision. Was someone uncircumcised when he was called? He shouldn’t undergo b’rit-milah.” (1 Cor vii 18)

        Also, the emphasis was on ‘generally speaking’, so I don’t see a problem (we were discussing Messiah’s circumcision, not Judahites, “Idumean Jews”, etc.).

        But I happily agree to disagree. Certain Hebrew Roots folks push Gentile physical circumcision, but I have given my opinion (and agree with Paul).

        PS: If James wrote to the scattered tribes, they are not lost; the split into the two houses was neither watertight nor permanent.

    • Simplify it. The distinction between a Jew and a Hebrew was determined by the 12 sons of Jacob. (Gen 49)
      Abraham, Issac and Jacob were Hebrews. The tribe of Judah, the messianic king line, were always referred to as Jews.
      The 10 northern tribes were all Hebrews. Judah, Benjamin stayed in south with the Temple along with some Priesthood Levites who were never considered a tribe. When Judah and Benjamin returned from Babylon they were known as the Jews. Whoever lived in Judea were Jews in the eyes of the Romans. One could be an Eskimo and if he lived in Judea they were considered Jews. However, notice Paul was the tribe of Benjamin and he knew he wasn’t a Jew but a Hebrew. (Phil 3:5) When Paul was preaching, he discouraged any more recognition of genealogies. (Titus 3:9) (1Tim 1:4) Strict genealogies were kept from the garden onward in order to establish the messianic king line which almost became extinct under Athaliah.(2Kings 11:1-3) Christ had to be of the messianic lineage. After Christ there was no more need to distinguish any distinction between tribes All were together including gentiles if they believed in Christ.No more argument as to who is who. Believe in Christ.

        • Saul Id himself as a Hebrew, tribe of Benjamin, not Judah. Was also a Roman citizen with Roman rights born in Tarsus, Cilicia. But still a Hebrew. Changed his name to Paul when he converted Sergia Paulus with the Gospel against the advice of his prophet
          Acts 13

          • Jake, Paul’s obviously not lying or contradicting his profession to be a Benjamite. So considering the he was speaking to a Roman who would know what a Jew was, and might not know what a Benjamite was, I would say he was probably giving a familiar reference. Like saying “I’m from Denver”, when you are actually from Littleton, CO.

        • Indeed he was Jewish. Not a small lineage issue though, considering that all the disciples were Benjamites except for Paul and Judas, if memory serves. And technically, they were all Hebrews, and before the split, they were all Israelites.

  5. Thanks Reyes,

    That’s interesting as it underlines the carnality of the soul.

    I was only referencing man’s threefold nature as in 1 Thes 5:23 (spirit, soul, body).

    Obviously, only the body is physical and no soul runs through my veins nor does the soul contain any blood (neither pure, sinless, poisonous or any other types of blood).

    Btw., I fully agree with Nehemia, Keith, and Josephus 🙂 that John’s baptism meant ritual cleansing after repentance. I somehow jumped the gun here by mistake and was referring already to “Christian water baptism” 🙂 sorry.

  6. You people are getting too stuffily academic for me. All I know is in Job “Though worms shall devour my flesh and my bones be as dust, YET…YET I shall see God whom I shall see for myself and my eyes shall behold him and not as a stranger.” (Job 19:26) (So only spirit) The flesh profits nothing.(John 6:63)

    Christ told woman at well God desires no religiosity but only Spirit and truth. (John 4) God breathed life into man. (Gen 2:7) You were chosen from the foundation of the world. (Ep 1:4) Did not the soul make the human what he is?

    When God made man/woman he wanted a family to enjoy what he had created. Adam had dominion over creation. Be fruitful and multiply. She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. There is blood in that soul. How else would life be created between man and woman? God made woman’s body not to blend with the infant’s blood. The man predominates. Life is blood.

    Why was Abel’s blood sacrifice accepted and Cain’s was not. Not only did Cain give a cursed offering not caring whether blood counted as righteous which he didn’t give. Abel valued life’s blood that he chose to sacrifice. Cain gave only brush of the ground.

    After sin, blood became poisoned. You must leave will die. Nothing dies in God’s Kingdom. Christ’s sinless Blood paid penalty for broken Sinai covenant. (Liv 17:11) Only currency in earth Satan’s kingdom that could pay it. However, man’s Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. (1Cor 15:50) When we the living depart, we will be changed and will have the same resurrected body that Christ had. When he rose he told Thomas, I’m flesh and bone – no mention of blood. (Luke (24:39) Of course not, John said, I saw the blood go down into the earth. (1John 5) Our bodies on
    earth are containers (tabernacles) for God’s spirit. Christ told Peter flesh and blood did not reveal God to you but only spirit of God. (Matt 16:17)

    Christ said you must be born again. A second time to reestablish your original spirit in order to inherit the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3) It all boils down to the spirit of Almighty God. Just as he breathed his spirit into man. He will return man’s spirit to himself. Christ said, Father into your hands I commend my spirit – nothing more. (Luke 23:46) So it’s spirit and truth folks. No convoluted words of academic Wisdom. What is wisdom? the knowledge of God from a spiritual standpoint. 1Cor 3:16) Because God is spirit. Hope it helps explain my position.

  7. Hi hanotzrim
    I suspect you are seminary educated. I disagree. Your theories sound matter of fact and stilted. Obviously, no matter, no worries, but friends, Thanks for responding.

      • Shalom Jake & Yvonne,

        This website contains Nehemia’s teaching “Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement” where he says:

        …….It should be pointed out that one of the meanings of the word “NeFeSH”, commonly translated as “soul”, is in fact “appetite”.

        [Linguistic note: NeFeSH has the literal meaning of “throat” as in the verse “Save me, O God; for the waters have reached [as high as] my throat (NeFeSH)” (Psalms 69:2) and thus by extension came to signify: breath, life, appetite, etc.]…….

        With Nehemia’s insight of the soul (throat) being the seat of the appetites these proclamations come to life: “my soul thirst for you” and “Yehovah is my portion says my soul”

        Just like the physical throat has its appetites and desires we can visualize the soul as the throat to the heart and be blessed when seeking Yehovah. (Proverbs 2:10).

        “For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;”

        Shalom

    • i was encouraged by your introduction but then disappointed you mention seminary. also would love for you to expand in your post

  8. Wasn’t John doing Mikvah?
    Christians don’t because it in the TORAH/law which they are no longer under so they also miss the promised blessing from YEHOVAH!

    • Except for circumcision, grafted in Gentiles are subject to God’s instructions (Tora); sadly most are not aware of it.

        • Because since the New Covenant is available, Gentiles are no longer grafted into Israel through physical circumcision. Joining Israel as depicted in JER 31:31–34 is only possible with a circumcised heart.

          Thus, the cutting away of the foreskin of the heart (removal of the sinful Adamic nature) is mandatory for Jew and Gentile. But through performing physical circumcision a Gentile thwarts the New Covenant since he tops it up with a covenantal allegiance to sinful Israel, i.e. Jewry outside the New Covenant (see 1 Cor 7:18).

          A Jewish person, on the other hand, is commanded to be physically circumcised because he is of Abrahamic stock; the “circumcision made without hands” (COL 2:11) does not replace physical circumcision.

          • Today, a nice way to put it, would be that who-is-of-what-stock is often very incorrect. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Hebrews, the Israelites, Ephriam, Manasseh, Levites and Benjamites are all called “Jews”. I have yet to figure out why this is. But given that the “tribes of Israel” who were known in Greece and Rome were being preached to by Paul, it could at least be said that the first Christians among the Gentiles were also of Abrahamic stock. The practice of physical circumcision was probably still in effect among them.

  9. Through water baptism the HEART is circumcised. Let’s drop both Judaism’s idea of Yetzer Hara that can be squashed through Torah observance and Augustine’s extreme idea of ‘original sin’ – since both are wrong (btw. no infant will be condemned; kids are only liable from a certain age onward, depending on their maturity (see Num 14:31; Deut 1:39). But anyway, ALL of Israel will be saved.

    God said that HE would circumcise the heart, and during baptism the foreskin of the heart is removed through the Messiah (it is a ‘supernatural heart operation’, if you will).

    Maybe tedious, but to grasp that one has to look at the fall:

    Attached to God’s spirit, the human spirit originally led the soul which in turn led the body. With the expulsion from Eden, when the spiritual union of man and God was severed, the soul was severed from the spirit. Sin raised a DIVIDE between soul and spirit, aka the ‘foreskin of the heart’. Contrary to original design, and sadly considered as ‘normal’ today, man is merely led by his soul (and body), i.e. by his intellect, emotion, and will – a condition which the Scripture refers to as ‘stony’, ‘darkened’, or ‘blind’. Like the knowledge of good and evil, this heart condition has been passed on through procreation.

    The ‘circumcision made without hands’ heals the broken heart, it removes the veil and the partition between man and God, i.e. it removes the old sinful Adamic nature (which the blood of animals could not remove). Note: it does not replace physical circumcision for Jewish males.

    Naaman, the leper, healed through dipping in the Jordan foreshadowed this; many Rabbinic sources call the Messiah the ‘Leper Scholar’ because he took our leprosy (sin) and enabled our healing.

    To heal and restore God employs water AND FIRE – the earth was baptized in water in Noah’s day, and the coming fire baptism will result in a NEW earth, a restored creation (the millennium).

    I trust that will be covered in the next parts, but no one is BORN AGAIN or becomes a Christian through mere water baptism (that is churchianity). Water baptism won’t save anyone; Noah would have died on his boat had God not dried the earth by ‘ruach’.

    Neither does Scripture say that baptism is an “outward manifestation” and that all is fine the moment your heart is right. All the Israelites would have died in Egypt with their “good heart attitudes” had they not crossed the Red Sea, the latter foreshadowing water (and spirit) baptism.

    • hanotzrim See if I’m on your page. This is what I’ve figured out. Yes When God made the body he breathed (spirit) into man and he became a living soul (Blood is in the soul) Yeshua poured out his soul (life blood) for our salvation.

      So man had spirit (breath) led by the soul (blood) Life is in the Blood. When man sinned he was separated from God. His blood was poisoned and he would die. His severed spirit became the focus of Satan. And God would not allow man to stay in his Garden.

      Agreed Water “baptism” a pagan description. That one quick dunk whether pretense or not is all that it takes seems far fetched. John the Baptist never claimed to make people “born again.” It was for the purpose of repenting and then to wash themselves so as not to sin again. Man is in Satan’s kingdom and he has the constant battle not to succumb to sin.
      As John said: But there’s one coming that will “baptize” of the Father for the indwelling fire of Holy Spirit.

      • Well, ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ are sometimes used interchangeably and at other times ‘soul’ denotes a person. ‘Heart’ is sometimes called ‘soul’ and sometimes ‘spirit’ (it’s a bit confusing).

        But if one considers all Scripture, and as per 1 Thes 5:23, man is composed of spirit, soul, and body.

        Man’s soul or ‘mind’ was originally led by his spirit which in turn was linked to God’s Spirit (you wrote that the soul led the spirit, but it was the other way round).

        ‘Amen’ to the rest you have written. Yes, the fallen cherub is real, and his realm of control is typified through Egypt – escaping the slavery of sin is only possible by crossing the Red Sea = water and spirit baptism (or ‘wind’ baptism).

        • No. I believe God breathed his breath into man which was God’s spirit. Then man became a living soul. The blood is in the soul. (Gen: 2:7) I believe soul (man’s blood) and spirit (God’s spirit) are separate. (Lev 17:11) Man lost God’s spirit when he sinned. Then he was ousted and his blood life/soul was w/o God’s spirit. That predominated until the one to come that had the remedy to rectify the situation. Christ’s Blood was sinless. He reunited man with the Holy Spirit of the Father. (John 6:63) Remember the (body) flesh profits nothing. It’s the spirit that quickens. God’s spirit was/is life.

          • No worries, Yvonne. I guess this is my final input, and then I happily agree to disagree.

            You confuse the different meanings of ‘soul’:

            1) ‘Soul’ can refer to a PERSON, as in: “The soul that sins shall die” (it does NOT mean “body and spirit can stay alive, only the soul shall die”).

            2) ‘Soul’ can refer to a PART OF A PERSON, the latter consisting of spirit, soul, and body – spirit and soul are non-physical; the body is physical.

            3) ‘Soul’ can refer to LIFE in general, as in Lev 17:11: “The life of the flesh is in the blood.”

            I am only talking about the 2nd meaning where ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ refer to the HEART of a person (not the physical heart). That heart is the center of a person, i.e. the real ‘you’ – resident in a body of flesh. That is what God breathed into man when He made him a living person.

            Just like a physical heart, the spiritual heart consists of two halves: spirit and soul (which is why sometimes ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ both mean ‘heart/mind’ and are used interchangeably).

            Initially, man’s heart was UNDIVIDED and the human spirit (i.e. that measure of Spirit given by God) could freely lead the soul, to wit, the will, the emotions, the intellect, the imagination, and the memory. Put differently, the heart was WHOLE, and man loved God with his WHOLE HEART.

            Since the fall, the heart is DIVIDED. Just as our physical pump, the heart of natural unregenerate man is now PARTITIONED, i.e. the spirit is severed from the soul. Instead of guiding the soul, the spirit lies dormant. In other words, THE HEART IS BROKEN, and only the Messiah who heals the broken-hearted and sets the captives free (from their sinful nature), can fix it. And then, once we are healed, we can love God WITH OUR WHOLE HEART.

            That is what water baptism in Messiah’s name is all about. The Messiah cuts away the partition wall between spirit & soul to restore man to his pre-fall state:

            “The word of God [Messiah] is alive and powerful; sharper than a double-edged sword; piercing the divide between soul and spirit.” (Heb 4:12)

            (This operation also removes the partition wall between Jew and Gentile, and the veil between man and God).

            ‘Blood’, ‘wine’, ‘oil’, ‘water’, ‘wind’ and ‘fire’ are all symbols of God’s Spirit, but let’s leave Spirit baptism for another day.

  10. Shalom and thank you for these wonderful works that you do!!

    I do have some nagging questions please!I

    If John is a descendant of Aaron on both his father’s and mother’s side, then why is there no mention in the records done by the priests ?

    After all, people of such important descent would have been recorded for their genealogy ? Or do I understand this wrong?

    • John’s father, Zacharias, was a Levitical priest but not necessarily a direct descendant of Aaron. Elizabeth= Elisheva in Hebrew was a daughter of Aaron, Luke 1:5. That meant John’s grandfather was Aaronic on his mother’s side.
      In Herod’s time it was very dangerous to be a male of known Aaronic descent. You would get killed by Herod. High priests were considered to be ‘ethnarchs’ — the rulers of the nation. There was no Davidic king.
      Herod hunted down and killed all legitimate Davidic claimants to ‘his’ kingdom. He wanted to control the priesthood. He married a daughter of the Maccabees then killed off the Maccabee priestly line (even though they may not have been Aaronic). The last one, Alexander the boy-high priest, was drowned by his Gaul guards. (Josephus Wars, 1:22,2 (437)).
      The priesthood had slightly different ‘genealogical’ rules to kings. Think of each part of Temple being run by
      a family guild. Some were singers, some musicians. Priests had to be of the correct family pedigree but those named in the priest-lists were those who were registered in the Temple for the specific offices: makers of incense, those in charge of sacrifices, checking animals, infrastructure, guards at the gates, captains of the guards etc. Thus a guard-priest might not be followed by his son but by a nephew. (The son might live abroad or be disqualified for one reason.)
      You will find the high priestly genealogy or chief priest-list of Jehoshua in Luke 3. Note that it uses the same formula as Josephus when referring to priests: the word ‘son’ does not appear in the Greek. The Chief Priest and high priests took office in their thirtieth year in Hebrew reckoning. Jesus was recognized as the legitimate successor and (Greek: enomizeto, legally registered) son of Joseph of the Eli, of the Matthat, of the Levi etc.
      John’s priestly line obviously followed some of these ancestors as John and Jesus were cousins and related in terms of their priestly families.

      • Thank you David ! I really appreciate your answer !

        (Herod hunted down and killed all legitimate Davidic claimants to ‘his’ kingdom. He wanted to control the priesthood.)

        Now that you have pointed this out, it seems so obvious !
        Yeshua had been killed …
        … and John has been a cousin to Yeshua …

  11. Another edifying episode! These studies are a highlight in our days of difficult news. And yes, I am using your discussion as a beginning and also using other reference materials including the ones that you have recommended. I am sure that I am part of a large group of listeners who are doing that. I say that as a form of encouragement to both of you, Keith and Nehemiah.
    I loved the discussion about Rabbi Zacuto. He sounds like an incredible man and it enriches my life to know about him and his connection with Columbus.
    Thank you both!

  12. Hi Nehemia: I heard you mention, I believe, your Rabbi relative who told Columbus how to read the solar systems to navigate. Did I hear you say that this same Rabbi when examining his theories said that Yeshua was born in the year one? If so, then MRood’s research claims that Yeshua was born in year 3? Which one is correct? Any info would be appreciated. Thank you. Great info.

  13. Shalom, Nehemia. Regarding Gospel Pearls 6, why would Yochanon’s body have been cremated? That sounds like another relic hoax. The teaching was excellent, btw!! Thank you!!

  14. According to 1 Peter 3, Baptism is ” saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”

    • I am under the impression that when Yeshua told John the Baptist that he wanted to be “baptised” for Righteousness sake I’m thinking that he was referring to being sanctified and “washed” just before he met his Father. Yeshua was not there to “confess any sins” as some religions teach. At this moment John discovered that Yeshua was the Messiah when he came up out of the water and John saw the 2 signs. John did not know prior to that point. Am I wrong in saying that this is what Almighty God wanted when he told Moses to get the people “washed” before they were brought to Sinai to meet him. That would be a sign of respect and righteousness as what the Messiah said.(Exodus 19:10)

      • Yeshua was simply re-enacting his birth as the “Light of the World”, born of water and Spirit on day one (Gen 1:2-3). That’s why the Gospel of the Hebrews mentions the voice saying, “This day have I begotten you.”

        It had nothing to with showing respect, but is a pattern for man to follow. To be saved, man needs to be born of water and Spirit, i.e. born of God.

  15. Box breaker!! I love it. I am often referred to as a boat rocker. And you guys ROCK!!! My paradigms are shifting – AGAIN!

    “Gather more than 10 people and see how long it takes to get arrested.” Hmmm. Are you sure that referred to a couple thousand years ago?

    How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
    who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

    • I know – I was also totally thinking that about the gathering together of groups. And yes, I love your “How beautiful. . .” quote!

  16. Is it not almost prophetic that gatherings by Christians were prohibited by the Roman authorities and gatherings by Christians is prohibited by ‘authorities’ in the USA. in 2020

    • Absolutely. In Texas they haven’t ‘prohibited’ yet, but strongly discourage to the point that churches have ‘self-prohibited’ their own gathering. I find it very fearful and Faith-lacking.

  17. Thank you Nehemia. History seems to have forgotten Columbus and the eclipsed moon incident. I found that very interesting.

    I found something about 21 minutes into the podcast that seems curious or a possible discrepancy. The New Testament confirms that Yeshua was 6 months older than John the Baptist. But in your conversion of years you placed John’s birth about 1 BC. Then say Rabbi Zacuto uses a date equivalent to around 13 AD, and that Herod killed John. Would that not have put John at 14-15 years old when beheaded? Thus Yeshua, being 6 months younger also in that age range? Yet NT verses point to Him being around 30.(Luke 3:23)

    Possibly I misunderstood what you or the rabbi was saying, but seeming discrepancies, tend to jump off the page at me, or in these podcasts.

    • I had to listen to that part again – it seems the rabbi was giving the timeline of Herod the Tetrarch beginning his reign in 13AD.

  18. NG,
    #6 is a very intriguing history lesson: what ‘religious’ people will do for food. I like to call John, Yochanan ben Zechariah haChoen. Well done.

  19. Re John’s baptism and the term “born again”: Rabbi Bob Gorelik, in one of his discussions of Second Temple Judaism, says that the term “born again” was used when a God Fearer was converting to Judaism. The conversion was complete when the person went down into the waters of baptism (running water, or “living waters”), and he emerged, it was said that he was “born again” as a Jew by birth, with no trace of his old nature. That would help explain Nicodemus’ shock at being told he needed to be “born again.” It does seem convoluted when the term “born again”, sometimes referred to as the “evangelical lynchpin”, has been totally reversed as referring to a new Christian.

    • It simply means “born of God” (or born from ‘above’). It refers to the restoration of man to his pre-fall state; nothing to do with a new Christian.

  20. Hello Brothers. I have been following Nehemia and Keith for about a year now. I love it. New testament question. Many times Yeshua is asked – Are you the son of God. The answer is often – You have said it. I suspect now that I understand a little bit of Hebrew grammar that the reason is the only way to communicate a question is through intonation, the sound of your voice or what part of the sentence you emphasize. So that a statement and a question are in the same form grammatically. Is that correct?

    • Yes! The counter proposal is right on. All these events in Scripture can be looked at in various ways. We each have to believe we are being guided by Yehovah’s holy spirit and doing the best we can as He gives us understanding. Thanks for sharing.

    • Alan

      Very interesting viewpoint !! Thank you for sharing!
      ‘Page 47 footnote 31’ sums up the motivation of ‘John’s baptism’ realistically well! Nothing happens in a vacuum … !

      After all, the people who should have been responsible to proclaim the word of Yehovah, missed the mark in doing so! … And without the understanding of the law, the people go astray!
      John came to proclaim repentance of sin, for sin is the transgression of the law! … Therefore he must by definition, also have turned the hearts of the People back to Yehovah, through the teaching of the law or ‘word’…

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