Power Corrupts.

“I  have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.” (3 John 1:9)



John was the last remaining disciple of Jesus who had physically walked with Jesus. He was writing to a church in or around Pergamum. As John opens his third letter to this particular group of believers, he commends Gaius for his hospitality to fellow missionaries. However, the interesting verse comes in 3 John 1:9.

John is calling out Diotrephes for his self-seeking ambitions. I began to research just how much modern Christians know about this man. Most of the research I found was outright cruel. This poor man was the topic of many hate sermons about manipulative pastors. Therefore, I began thinking what could turn this man of God into a self seeking oppressive tyrant?


I always remember two quotes when it comes to the idea of “power.”

“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”-John Acton

“There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those to weak to seek it”  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone   Professor Quirrel

It seems that this Diotrephes suffered from a hunger for power. As, I read through critical articles about him I found some interesting opinions about him. Such as in one article, “Diotrephes had taken a position of control over the church and did not receive these brothers or John’s ministry.  Apparently, he did not want anyone else having an influence over the church because he had taken control of the church and did not want interference.”         (http://www.eliezercall.com/the-heresy-of-diotrephes.html) He tasted power and authority. In this particular text, Diotrephes is rejecting John’s authority as the forefather of the current church. Also, in this time, one person did not have complete control in the dealings of the church. This complete power was not tolerated in the early church, and for this reason John seemed to be addressing this particular issue at this church because some corruption had crept into the body of believers. (Paraphrased http://www.eliezercall.com/the-heresy-of-diotrephes.html).


As I read through numerous articles, I came across this particular theme. The verse about the wolf in sheep clothes.

 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.- Matthew 7:15 (ESV).

Diotrephes was at least an elder in the church, but he had let the idea of his power grab a hold  him. He saw no need to take order from John who was trying to dictate the happenings of the church from a distance. I imagine Diotrephes did not like the idea of taking in John’s missionaries either. Overall, Diotrephes is synoptic with power hungry self-seekers. It is a shame that the only mention of this man in the New Testament is when the writer of John criticizes his personal ambition.  (http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx183.htm)



**Fun fact there are even websites proclaiming Diotrephes Syndrome.**



These websites promote the idea that Diotrephes was only a manipulative evil man who sought to destroy the church. They intend to clump any “religious person” who has ambition into this self-seeker’s shadow.

We Will Judge The Angels.

While reading the letter to the church at Corinthians, I stumbled across this peculiar statement?

“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!”- 1 Corinthians 6:2-3


(picture is pretty awesome)

Wait, the saints that Sir Paul is referring to in this letter are the people at the church in Corinth. So, regular people will judge the world. Ok, I mean we live here on Earth that kinda makes sense, but the second statement is astonishing. “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” Hold up! “We,” as in you Sir Paul and the regular Joe’s at Corinth are going to not only judge mortals but angels. Angels like the heavenly beings? This rhetorical question style seems to be an aspect of Paul’s writing style to relay a point. How can this be Paul?

After researching this question, I found some interesting ideas about this statement. First, judgment will be passed. How can we pass judgment on heavenly beings? After all we are a little lower than the angels.

“What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?
 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor”- Hebrews 2:6-7

According to Stewart, “The judgment of angels is something that has been given to believers. Though humanity has been made a little lower than the angels in nature, those who have trusted the Lord will be given the responsibility of judging them in the age to come.”  He later states that this judgment does not really imply the people passing condemnation on these angels. No, Stewart believes the judgment refers to the issue of rulership of the coming age. He backs his argument that “The Bible teaches that believers will be rulers over different aspects of the kingdom of God.” with Scripture from Matthew 24:46-47.

“Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.”

This argument is interesting that we as believers have the authority to judge the angels in the coming age based on the rulership in Heaven. However, Stewart clearly states that we are not to condemn these heavenly beings (http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_39.cfm).

This idea of mortal believer’s filling positions of authority  in heaven was continued in another article I found. In this article, the rebellion of Satan and the angels that followed him is mentioned primarily. “When Satan initiated his rebellion in heaven, it is evident that his treason focused on the more powerful and influential higher ranking angels…Thus, the positions of rank and authority formerly held by Satan’s minions are now vacant. “ (http://www.columbusbiblechurch.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49:1-corinthians-63&catid=37:articles&Itemid=59)

Because Satan was a bad angel and wanted to be God, he began trying to convince the most powerful angels to follow him. When they followed, their positions were made available for rulership. Likewise the Scripture Stewart used to argue that mortal believers will judge and have authority in Heaven proves to be an argument toward the vacant positions in Heaven.

Overall, this subject was rather confusing to research, but I found very intriguing. I mean we hold angels in such high esteem with the exception of Satan and his followers. I did not find a clear,concise answer on the matter; however, when researching the Bible does one ever? According the majority of scholars, yes there will a form of judgement passed in the coming age. Yes, we mere mortals will have the ability to rule and pass judgment over angels.

Please Admire This Heavenly Creature .

(I love X-Men)


Why Felix?


Throughout the New Testament following Christ’s ascension, Paul (formerly Saul) has many adventures. He arrested, detained, and tried several times. One specific account is penned down in Acts 24. Paul had stirred up trouble for the elders in the previous chapter spreading this “gospel.” Ananias and the elders ( including Tertullus) came to the procurator Felix’s court to bring accusations against Paul.

“Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation,  in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. But, to detain you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly.  For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.  He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.”- Acts 24:2-8

Examine and Inquire.

According to livius.org,  “Felix suppressed bands of bandits and the messianic  movement.” (http://www.livius.org/am-ao/antonius/antonius_felix.html). Felix was a Roman appointed courtier in Samaria, and he was given military aid to fulfill his occupation. Also, “Felix stimulated outbreaks by injudicious disciplinary measures” (http://www.reocities.com/Athens/oracle/3088/felix.html). Felix was a very political man, and the took the necessary means to keep himself in power. So, when Paul this head of the so-called “messianic movement” was presented to Felix what would he normally do. Crush them! Did He?

No Felix did not.

Later in the chapter, we see Felix having Paul taken car of rather nicely.

“Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.” -Acts 24:23

Why Felix? You great suppressor and military ruler. This Paul has caused so much trouble throughout Judea. However, Felix had reasoning behind his peculiar action. “Felix deferred judgment . The excuse he gave for delay was the non-appearance of Lysias, but his real reason was in order to obtain bribes for the release of Paul. He therefore treated his prisoner at first with leniency, and pretended along with Drusilla to take interest in his teaching.” (http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/felix-antonius.html). This accusation of Felix detaining Paul for bribes and not to seek out his teaching is confirmed in the Scriptures.

“After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.” – Acts 24:24-27


This rascal. He was holding a fugitive for ransom and bribes. My how times have changed. (Please hear my sarcasm.) Felix just like some politicians today seek out bribes for cases of high interest. It always amazes me the depth of the stories in the Bible, and just how relevant they are today.


One Priest? Two Priest?… Red Priest. Blue Priest.

While reading through the four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, I have seen so many things that I was not taught in Sunday School. Likewise, the story of the arrest and trial of Jesus has spurred many questions in my mind. In the account of John, the writer offers a detail that is not mentioned in the other three synoptic gospels.

“So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year.”

John 18:12-13 (ESV)


The synoptic gospels all mention Jesus being led to Caiaphas in Matthew, the high priest in Mark, and the chief priests and scribes in Luke. None of these mention Annas by name. We are told in John who Annas is. He is in fact the father-in-law of Caiaphas the high or chief priest. So, why mention Jesus being brought to Annas first?

First, who exactly was Annas? Yes, he was the father-in-law to the current high priest, but he himself was a high priest as well. “Annas [also Ananus[1] or Ananias[2]], son of Seth (23/22 BC–66 AD), was appointed by the Roman legate Quirinius as the first High Priest of the newly formed Roman province of Iudaea in 6 AD; just after the Romans had deposed Archelaus, Ethnarch of Judaea, thereby putting Judaea directly under Roman rule.” (https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney


A general search of Annas’ duration as high priest will send you links to a scripture from Luke.

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,  during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”

Luke 3:1-2 (ESV)

Wait two high priests. Can that be? The initial question of who was Annas was easily answered; however, it spun a greater question.

Were there two high priests serving at the time of Jesus? Caiaphas and Annas?

As I researched more vigorously into the term that Annas served as the appointed high priest, the more I saw the complexities of the Jewish system of law influenced by Roman rule. According to an article written by Roy Cogdill, Annas was the High Priest of the Jews at the time Jesus was tried; but he had been deposed from his office for the very reason that he had tried to impose the death penalty on another occasion, and the Romans had appointed his son-in-law, Caiaphas, to be High Priest in his stead. (http://www.truthmagazine.com/archives

/volume31/GOT031277.html). An article from Princeton revealed the same fate for Annas. He was appointed by Rome, but was dismissed by the Procurator Gratus for imposing and executing capital sentences which had been forbidden by the imperial government,” (Princeton). Caiaphas was appointed by Roman authority as the high priest. Although, Annas was not serving as a high priest, he was still a very well respected man throughout the Jewish community especially the religious elite. In fact, he was probably a great political leader because he had five sons and a son-in-law  most likely acting as puppet high priests. So, Caiaphas was the high priest serving at the time of Jesus’s trial, but Annas still was regarded as a person of importance to the Jewish council. Again the article mentions a scriptural reference to the regard of high priesthood for the duration of the man’s life according to the Mosaic Law. (paraphrase Princeton).

“And the congregation shall rescue the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge to which he had fled, and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.”

 Numbers 35:25 (ESV)

“For he must remain in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest, but after the death of the high priest the manslayer may return to the land of his possession.”

Numbers 35:28 (ESV)

Perhaps for this reason, Annas was still called “high priest” even after his dismissal, along with Caiaphas(Luke 3:2). He also may have been acting as president of the Sanhedrin, or a coadjutor of the high priest.




John mentioned Annas for a reason. After research both in the scripture and in outside sources, I seem to have found an answer. No, there were not two serving priests at the time of Jesus’ trial. Annas was first appointed by Rome as a high priest of Judaea, but he was later dismissed by Procurator Gratus. Instead, his son-in-law Caiaphas (more recognized) was appointed as the high priest in his place. (paraphrase Truth Magazine) According to the account of John, Jesus was first brought before Annas and then Caiaphas. This instance most likely occurred because Annas was still highly regarded in the Jewish religious community, or he may have been serving as a part of the Sanhedrin. (paraphrase Princeton). I can only assume that Jesus was brought before Annas to wait for the “chief priests and scribes” to assembly for this make shift trial. The more I read this ancient text, the more I see so many things that I have never been taught.


Literary Study Bible ESV.





“Jesus Christ: The Boy Who Lived”


A controversial book cover art.

Like most people my age a certain book and movie series stretched over the span of our childhood. The Harry Potter series. However, the series sparked loads of tension in my church, but my parents saw no need to censor the series from me. I am glad they did not because now I see how many allusions to the Bible are in the series. The two main allusions are the prophecy and the death of the Chosen One.  I believe Duoghah says it best, “A critical and honest study of the Harry Potter series will reveal that it is similar to the Bible in so many ways. While many writers in their works had either made allusions to the Bible or quoted some parts of it, the Harry Potter series succinctly explores the themes which can be found in the Holy Bible.” (http://www.humanities360.com/index.php/parallels-between-harry-potter-and-the-bible-37218/)

Harry holding the Orb in the Hall of Prophecy


First, the Gospels have many quotations and references to the Old Testament prophets. Jesus himself quotes a prophecy from Isaiah 61 in Luke 4

“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed.'” (Luke 4:17-18 ESV)

Isaiah was prophesying about the coming Savior of the Jews. The one who would give sight to the blind and set those who are oppressed free. This text is one of many prophecies about the Savior made in the Bible. Similar to this prophecy quoted in Luke, is the prophecy  Professor Trelawney  makes in  the OOTP.  Both prophecies make reference of the one who is to free those oppressed by  evil.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …” – Trelawney (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

Second, who is this one who will save? I was reading through Luke’s account of the Crucifixion Story, and I stumbled across a term that J.K. Rowling used to describe Harry throughout her series. “Chosen One.” Each main character is seen as the one who will finally defeat the evil in the world. Both Jesus and Harry, see through the course of their story in order to save those that they love that they must die. During Luke’s Gospel account of the story the soldiers and onlookers are mocking Jesus branding him “Chosen One” as he is being led to Golgotha to die.  Jesus willingly walks to his death for the sake of others. According to the story, three days later Christ conquered death.

“And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” (Luke 23:35 ESV)

Likewise, Harry walks toward his death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (DH). He is walking through the Forbidden Forest to his death. He is met by Voldemort and Death Eaters who mock him, and he is met ultimately with death. We see in DH a dream like sequence, and ultimately Harry returning to life and defeating Voldemort.  “Voldemort is vanquished and the world is saved. Harry has literally sacrificed himself (his scar is now gone) to save the world.”(http://hubpages.com/hub/Harry-Potter-Christ-Like-or-Not).

 “Given that the Bible is part of the founding literature of Western Civilization, it is not difficult to find similarities between it and a large number of works of fiction, both classic and modern. And much as it will anger many fundamentalist Christians, this is true even of the Harry Potter series.” (http://voices.yahoo.com/parallels-between-harry-potter-3933038.html?cat=2).

These are two of the greatest pieces of literature ever written in my opinion. Christians can riot the series if they want, but Biblical Allusions are so saturated in this series. From the inherent Good vs. Evil theme to even the minute emblems of the Lion and the Snake, it is clear that Harry Potter draws allusion to stories in the Bible.

Why were women so fearful in the presence of Jesus?


Reading through the book of Mark, I began seeing many stories of healing. Two particular instances stood out to me in reading.  Mark 5:21-43 and Mark 7:24-30 . The first story refers to a woman suffering from a perpetual bleeding problem, and in her desperation to be healed she approaches Jesus in a crowd. However, she only touches the hem of his robe. The next story shows a woman who comes to Jesus in desperation for the sake of her child. Then she references herself as only worthy to take the scraps from the table.  Why did the woman feel as if she could only touch the hem of his robe? Why does the woman see herself taking scraps from the table. Why were they so fearful?  I believe it is based on culture.

During the Greco-Roman Empire, women were viewed vastly different than they are now in Western Culture. I believe that the culture influenced the way women saw themselves and reacted to men.  First, women were viewed mainly inferior to men . “As the great Roman orator Cicero wrote, “Our ancestors, in their wisdom, considered that all women, because of their innate weakness, should be under the control of guardians.” (http://www.dartmouthapologia.org/articles/show/118) Not only were women considered weak, but in government affairs most women had no voice including the right to vote.  According to most sources,  ancient Roman families were ruled strictly by the eldest male. Some of the prescribed roles women had during these times were to bear children,  to teach the culture to the children, and to submit to the male figure in her life whether that was her father, brother, or husband. All of these roles were accepted as a typical view of a women during  this time period; however, exceptions to these roles could be seen in certain aristocratic or upper class women’s lives. However, it was frowned upon for women to receive much education. They learned only enough to pass the Roman culture to their children.(http://www.moyak.com/papers/roman-women.html).

I am a part of an international community at my University, and I am friends with a young man from Jordan. I asked if I could interview him as a viewpoint on this subject, simply because he understood the culture more than me. Given that modern day Jordan is not the only place Christ walked it is very close to the majority of places that are referenced in the New Testament. The interview was very interesting because his answers were in contrast to what I thought they would be.


How were women treated during the Roman Empire in what is now modern day Jordan?

Salem: “Before the Roman Empire’s rule in this land, people viewed women in illogical ways according to today’s standards. It was almost a primitive or extremist view and a treatment of oppressing women. However, during the time of Roman Empire in modern day Jordan, Palestine, and Cyprus the men and women lived in relative peace and minimum oppression of women.” ( He added that this was strictly his view looking back to the roots of his culture.)

How has the view or treatment of women changed now in Jordan and surrounding areas?

Salem: “Well, this is connected to my last answer. After the Roman Empire or the time of Jesus, politics and political parties began working toward controlling society. They often used religious establishments as their route to infiltrate society and to manipulate people. With the rise of political parties, the views and treatment of women is slowly returning to that of  the primitive or extremists.”

How are women viewed and treated in Jordan today?

Salem: “ Now, women are typically seen in the role of a housewife, but not because she has been oppressed. Simply, because of the great number of refugees that are settled in my country, work is hard to find. The opportunity to find a job is decreasing rapidly because of the large competition of workers applying. Mainly, women are treated and viewed like the women here in America or in the UK. We have a very modern society, but always remember there are exceptions.” (Again he added this was strictly his viewpoint).

Overall, women in the Roman Empire in what is modern day Jordan, Palestine, and Cyprus were treated and viewed as inferior to men according to the research I read. In contrast, my Jordanian friend Salem offered an interesting opposing viewpoint on the matter. Either way, the women in these two particular stories were fearful to break a culture norm of inferiority toward men.

What makes the Wise Man wise?

wise men

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,  saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”- Matthew 2:1-2 (ESV)

Growing up in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt, I have heard the story of the Christ birth innumerable times over the years. However, upon dissecting the story through a new lens, I began questioning the story that I was taught. Who exactly were the “wise men”? Where did they come from? When did they arrive? Why all these questions? After all the childhood Nativity Story revealed all the answers to these questions. Right? Let’s see what some quick research has to say on the matter.

Who exactly were the “wise men”?

The particular word for “wise men” in Matthew 2:1-2 is translated from the Greek word magos or plural magi. This passage in Matthew contains the only use of this particular form of magos or magi in the New Testament. During the ancient times, magi were considered very knowledgeable men who focused in occult studies such as astrology and dream interpretation. (http://www.ldolphin.org/magi.html) Now, these were extremely intelligent men, and the text depicts their knowledge of astrology through their journey following a star to Jerusalem. Also, a reference to their interpretation of dreams is made shortly following the mention of their meeting Jesus.  “being warned in a dream not to return to Herod…” Matthew 2:12a. So, these wise men were not necessarily kings (probably nobles), but they were magi.

Where did these magi come from?

Searching for ancient magi and their geographic areas of origin proved to provide interesting results. According to the scripture Matthew 2:1-2  the wise men or magi came from the “east”. Well, in this time where exactly was “east”?  With Jerusalem to the extreme west of  known civilization in the Roman Empire, one would see the vast Persian, Syrian, and Parthian Empire to the extreme east of known civilization.(See Map Below) During these ancient times magi practiced their learned skills mostly in the Persian and Parthian Empires east of Jerusalem.  Likewise, in the Parthian culture it was custom to present gifts to a king (http://www.ldolphin.org/magi.html ). These magi were priests in the Parthian Empire during the time of Christ. These men who saw “the star” began a long journey to Jerusalem, and more than likely the men carried quite the entourage with them when they travelled.  I believe Steve Collins says it best, “If one Parthian leader traveled with so large a caravan on routine business within Parthia, how large was the caravan of the Magi — a whole delegation of Parthian nobles carrying great treasures to worship a “new-born king?” It was large enough to frighten the whole city of Jerusalem! The Wise Men coming to Jesus were not bringing just a few samples of gold and other precious things that they carried in their personal saddlebags. They were coming to worship a royal-born child, so they likely had a whole train of pack animals loaded with “gold, frankincense and myrrh!”  (http://stevenmcollins.com/html/Parthia%20Excerpt.html)


When did the magi arrive in Jerusalem?

I had always assumed from the stories, movies, wooden displays, and yard decorations that the “wise men” arrived the night Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and they worshipped him in a manger. However, the research has prompted me to change my thinking on the event. Most likely these magi were from the Parthian Empire which lies approximately 1000-1200 miles east of Jerusalem. (http://www.ldolphin.org/magi.html)  With camels as the primary form of transportation and with the massive entourage these magi would have brought with them,  this journey would have taken months to complete. Also, as I read the text more closely, Matthew refers to “Jerusalem” and also “ the young child” not to Bethlehem or the baby. Highly revered throughout both the Roman and Parthian empires, these magi would spare no great gift from the “King of the Jews.” I found no solid proof of extensive preparation, but I would believe the magi took necessary steps to assemble and provide the best for this newborn king.  Two of my sources agreed, the journey alone from Parthia  would have taken months for the magi to complete not including preparation. After the research and reading the text, there is no evidence to place the magi at the manger the night of Jesus’ birth. (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09527a.htm)

To conclude, the Nativity Story that I had believed to be true was shattered during this small amount of research.  The “wise men” were magi from the Parthian Empire. They were not named as kings in the text, but they most likely were considered nobles throughout the empires.  From the Parthian Empire, these magi traveled a very long distance to reach Jerusalem. The trip concluded with the magi finding not a baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem, but the young Christ child with his mother in Jerusalem.