Yahoshua’s Ministry was Six Months
In the past, people, in error, have reconciled the travels of Yahoshua in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (the synoptic gospels), which agree with each other, to the Gospel of John, which, in many ways is a different narrative of the life of our Lord. The Gospel of John is unique and must stand alone. As will be illustrated, the ministry of Yahoshua, in the three Gospels, lasted six months or less, while in the Gospel of John, it lasts three years or more. Yahweh has presented us with two different narratives of his Son’s ministry. The accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke have to be Yahoshua’s literal travels (the three agreeing, out-numbering the one), while John’s narrative, when disagreeing with the other three Gospels, must be viewed as figurative.
It is not uncommon for Yahweh to present two or more narratives for the same event; one being literal and the other being figurative or both being figurative, but two narratives that contradict each other can not both be literal. For example, in Genesis chapter one, Elohim created Adam and Eve in a single event, while in Genesis chapter two, Yahweh Elohim first formed Adam from the dust of the ground, then he built Eve from Adam’s rib. Which account is literal and which account is figurative is unknown but in my judgment, I believe the first to be literal and the second to be figurative; the second representing the institution of marriage. The truths presented in the two messages are our lessons. Another example is the accounts of the Kings of Judah, as presented in the book of Kings and the book of Chronicles. King Solomon ended his reign, in 2 Chronicles, in glory, while in 1 Kings, Yahweh has humiliated him, taking the ten tribes from him. The facts reveal that the 1 Kings account was literal but what lesson is presented in 2 Chronicles, and why did Yahweh present the end of Solomon’s life so different in this account? The last example being, in the three Gospels, Simon of Cyrene carried Yahoshua’s cross, which must be literal but in John, Yahoshua carried his own cross, which must be figurative; Simon of Cyrene was not part of the Gospel of John.
Figures of Speech
From non-attention to these Figures, translators have made blunders as serious as they are foolish. Sometimes they have translated the figure literally, totally ignoring its existence; sometimes they have taken it fully into account, and have translated, not according to the letter, but according to the spirit; sometimes they have taken literal words and translated them figuratively. Commentators and interpreters, from inattention to the figures, have been led astray from the real meaning of many important passages of Yahweh’s Word; while ignorance of them has been the fruitful parent of error and false doctrine. It may be truly said that most of the gigantic errors of Rome, as well as the erroneous and conflicting views of the Lord’s People, have their root and source, either in figuratively explaining away passages which should be taken literally, or in taking literally what has been thrown into a peculiar form or Figure of language: thus, not only falling into error, but losing the express teaching, and missing the special emphasis which the particular Figure was designed to impart to them.”
Let us re-examine his statement, “When a statement appears to be contrary to our experience, or to known fact, or revealed truth; or seems to be at variance with the general teaching of the Scriptures, then we may reasonably expect that some figure is employed. The three year account of Yahoshua’s ministry, in the Gospel of John, is at variance with the other three Gospels, as I will illustrate, so we may reasonably expect that some figure is employed. If there would have been only three Gospels, all of them agreeing, then they all must be taken literal. If John had been the only Gospel, then it must be taken literal but this is not the case. The Gospel of John is at variance with the other three, making it the figure, when it does not agree with the other three Gospels. All the Gospels are the words of Yahweh, teaching the truths of Yahweh but the teaching methods can be literal and/or figurative.
Bullinger continues on Figures of Speech by saying, “Applied to words, a figure denotes some form which a word or sentence takes, different from its ordinary and natural form. This is always for the purpose of giving additional force, more life, intensified feeling, and greater emphasis. Whereas to-day, Figurative language, is ignorantly spoken of as though it made less of the meaning, and deprived the words of their power and force. A passage of Yahweh’s Word is quoted; and it is met with the cry, ‘Oh, that is figurative,’ implying that its meaning is weakened, or that it has quite a different meaning, or that it has no meaning at all. But the very opposite is the case. For an unusual form (figura ) is never used except to add force to the truth conveyed, emphasis to the statement of it, and depth to the meaning of it. When we apply this science then to Yahweh’s words and to Divine truths, we see at once that no branch of Bible study can be more important, or offer greater promise of substantial reward.
It lies at the very root of all translation; and it is the key to true interpretation. As the course of language moves smoothly along, according to the laws which govern it, there is nothing by which it can awaken or attract our attention. It is as when we are traveling by railway. As long as everything proceeds according to the regulations we notice nothing; we sleep, or we read, or meditate as the case may be. But, let the train slacken its speed, or make an unexpected stop; ‘we immediately hear the question asked,’ ‘What is the matter?’ ‘What are we stopping for?’ We hear one window go down and then another: attention is thoroughly aroused, and interest excited. So it is exactly with our reading. As long as all proceeds smoothly and according to law we notice nothing. But suddenly there is a departure from some law, a deviation from the even course, an unlooked for change, our attention is attracted, and we at once give our mind to discover why the words have been used in a new form, what the particular force of the passage is, and why we are to put special emphasis on the fact stated or on the truth conveyed. In fact, it is not too much to say that, in the use of these figures, we have, as it were, Yahweh’s own markings of our Bibles.
This is the most important point of all. For it is not by fleshly wisdom that the words which Yahweh teaches are to be understood. The natural man cannot understand the Word of Yahweh. It is foolishness unto him. A man may admire a sun-dial, he may marvel at its use, and appreciate the cleverness of its design; he may be interested in its carved-work, or wonder at the mosaics or other beauties which adorn its structure: but, if he holds a lamp in his hand or any other light emanating from himself or from this world, he can make it any hour he pleases, and he will never be able to tell the time of day. Nothing but the light from Yahweh’s sun in the Heavens can tell him that. So it is with the Word of Yahweh. The natural man may admire its structure, or be interested in its statements; he may study its geography, its history, yea, even its prophecy; but none of these things will reveal to him his relation to time and eternity; nothing but the light that cometh from Heaven; nothing but the Sun of Righteousness can tell him that. It may be said of the Bible, therefore, as it is of the New Jerusalem, ‘The Lamb is the light thereof.’ Our gift of holy ruah works in our hearts, leading us to Christ, to glorify the Christ. The same ruah must inspire Yahweh’s truths in our hearts, for these truths can and must be, ‘Spiritually Discerned (1 Cor. 2:1.16).’
Yahoshua’s Six Month Ministry in the Three Gospels
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! She that Slayeth the Prophets
We must also remember that Jerusalem was not a heavenly place but rather an evil place; a place where the prophets were slain. This explains why Yahoshua, he being a prophet, would not be displaying his powers there, until he was ready to die. Yahoshua proclaimed in Luke 13:33-34, “...it is impossible that a prophet perish, outside Jerusalem. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! she that slayeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! How often, have I desired to gather together thy children, like as a hen, her own brood, under her wings,––and ye did not desire!” At another time, in Matthew he proclaims, “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! that slayeth the prophets, and stoneth them that have been sent unto her,––how often, would I have gathered thy children, like as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,––and ye would not!” The leading religious groups, abiding in Jerusalem, were the High-Priests, Rulers (Sanhedrins), Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes. These groups were the enemies of Yahweh (Mat. 23).
After his entry into Jerusalem, he goes into the Temple and overturns the tables of the vendors, saying, “…It is written, My house, a house of prayer, shall be called; but, ye, are making it, A den of robbers” (Mt. 21:13, Mk. 11:15, Lk. 19:45)! He then healed the blind and the lame (Mt. 21:14). After these acts, “…the High–priests and the Scribes, heard, it, and began seeking how they might, destroy, him,––for they were fearing him; for, all the multitude, were being struck with astonishment at his teaching” (Mk. 11:18, Lk. 19:47). They did destroy him, on the 14th of Nicene, by having him crucified.
In sharp contrast, the Gospel of John has him doing this at the beginning of his ministry; a full three years before his death. John 2:13-16 states, “And, near, was the Passover of the Jews; and, Yahoshua, went up unto Jerusalem. And he found, in the temple, them that were selling oxen and sheep and doves, also the money–changers sitting. And, making a scourge out of rushes, all of them, thrust he forth out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and, the money–changers’ small coins, poured he forth, and, the tables, he overturned; and unto them who were selling, the doves, he said––Take these things hence! Be not making, the house of my Father, a house of merchandise.” In this case the High-priests and Scribes did not want to destroy him but rather asked for a sign? I can not imagine that the High-priest and Scribes would be allowing Yahoshua to do this to the vendors each festival over a period of three years. An additional point is that in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, in John 12:12-19, the multitudes knew who he was and he did not over turn the vendors table as he did in the other three Gospels.
Mapping Yahoshua’s Journey in the Three Gospels
Nazareth & Jordan River 1:9; Wilderness 1:14; Galilee 1:14; Capernaum 1:21 (He had a home in Capernaum); “…forsaking Nazareth, he came and fixed his dwelling in Capernaum, which was by the lake,––within the bounds of Zebulun and Naphtali” (Mt. 4:12); Whole of Galilee 1:39; Capernaum 2:1; Sea of Galilee 3:7, 4:1; Gerasenes 5:1; Nazareth 6:1-4; Villages 6:6; Desert Place 6:31; Bethsaida 6:45; Gennesaret 6:53; Tyre 7:24; Sea if Galilee 7:31; Dalanutha 8:10; Bethsaida 8:22; Caesarea of Phillip 8:27; High Mountains 9:2; Galilee 9:30; Capernaum 9:33; Bounds of Judea 10:1; Going to Jerusalem 10:32-34; Jericho 10:46; Bethphage & Bethany 11:1; Jerusalem 11:11.
In the Gospel of Mark, doing a word search on, the word, 'Jerusalem,' one can discover it’s usages; Those that came from Jerusalem to see him in 1:5, 3:8; Scribes coming from Jerusalem to see him 3:22, 7:1; Yahoshua’s final journey towards Jerusalem 10:32, 33, 11:1 and Yahoshua entering Jerusalem 11:11, 15, 27.
The festival of weeks (Pentecost) and the festival of Booths are not mentioned in the three Gospels, which Yahoshua would have attended six times in a three year period. Also there is no mention of the festival of Trumpets and the most important Hebrew Day, the Day of Propitiation (Atonement), which would have occurred three times over three years; all in Jerusalem.
From the evidence of these three Gospels, Yahoshua was only in Jerusalem during the last few weeks of his life. His literal ministry, discounting his forty days in the wilderness, must have been around four and one-half months, the last few weeks being in Jerusalem. (An interesting observation is unveiled in Matthew 24:1 and Mark 13:1. "And, Yahoshua coming forth, from the temple, was taking his departure, when his disciples came forward to point out to him the buildings of the temple." This statement appears to states that this visit is Yahoshua and his disciples first time together in Jerusalem because the disciples are discussing the building of the temple. If they had, together, been at the Temple eight times before this visitation, then this statement makes little sense.) Yahoshua's ministry began at the river Jordan, continued throughout Galilee and Decapolis and ended in Judea; Jerusalem being the pinnacle. This short ministry could also help explain the man at the Gate Beautiful. The scriptures state in Acts 3:2, “And, a certain man, who had been, lame from his mother’s womb, was being carried,––whom they used to lay daily at the door of the temple––the door called Beautiful, that he might ask alms of them who were entering into the temple.” If Yahoshua’s ministry was three years, then this means this man was at the temple all nine times when Yahoshua was there but was not healed. Could it be that Yahoshua was only at the Temple for one very short visit, as recorded in the three Gospels, meaning, this man missed being healed by Yahoshua. After the ascension of our Lord, the apostles, coming through the Gate Beautiful, a few weeks later, bestow the healing this man had missed?
Gospel of John
Let us review the statement of E. W. Bullinger concerning figures of speech. “It may be asked, ‘how are we to know, then, when words are to be taken in their simple, original form ( i.e., literally), and when they are to be taken in some other and peculiar form ( i.e. , as a Figure )?’ The answer is that, whenever and wherever it is possible, the words of Scripture are to be understood literally, but when a statement appears to be contrary to our experience, or to known fact, or revealed truth; or seems to be at variance with the general teaching of the Scriptures, then we may reasonably expect that some figure is employed. And as it is employed only to call our attention to some specially designed emphasis, we are at once bound to diligently examine the figure for the purpose of discovering and learning the truth that is thus emphasized. Let us humbling petition Yahweh and his Only-Begotten Son to open the eyes of our understanding that we may know his truths.
There are three Passovers in John with one festival of Booths, which would require his ministry to be three years or more. He is working wonders in Jerusalem, over these three years, unhindered physically by the High-priests and Scribes, operating freely in the Temple until the end, which is completely foreign and contrary to the other three Gospels, if taken literally. Let us study his many encounters in Jerusalem (She that slayeth the prophets) throughout his ministry in John:
Joh 2:13 And, near, was the Passover of the Jews; and, Yahoshua, went up unto Jerusalem.
We must conclude, according to the other three Gospels, that Yahoshua’s earlier events in John, which occurred in Jerusalem before John 11:55, including the Passovers, are not literal events but rather they are figurative events, employed only to call our attention to these specially designed messages from Yahweh. Our duty is to diligently examine the figure for the purpose of discovering and learning the truths that is thus emphasized.
For example, the narrative of John, chapter nine, concerning the man born blind, can not be literal because Yahoshua was not in Jerusalem, which is where this event occurred, until the last few weeks of his life. This narrative, being a figure, is why this event is not recorded in any of the other three Gospels. This narrative abounds with many life messages, including the lesson of staying faithful to Yahoshua alone, even if it requires being forsaken by friends and family and enduring the persecution of religious men, which occurred to the man born blind. The final message is, “And Yahoshua said––For judgment, I, unto this world, came: that, they who were not seeing, might see, and, they who were seeing, might become, blind” (Jn. 9:39). This is our lesson from John chapter nine. Likewise, we can go to the other narratives in John, such as John 2:13 (Yahoshua in Jerusalem), ones which disagree with the other three Gospels. These narratives can not be literal, so they must be understood as being figurative. We then receive these lessons, given to us by our Teacher, our Ab (Father), Yahweh of Hosts.
Our forefathers and fathers have gotten the time period of Yahoshua’s ministry wrong; this not being their first mistake. They will probably reject this study, calling it heresy but Yahoshua stated, "For judgment, I, unto this world, came: that, they who were not seeing, might see, and, they who were seeing, might become, blind.” We must submit ourselves to the written Word of Yahweh and not to the traditions of men. Yahweh has given us an examination concerning his four accounts of his Son’s life. It is our task to study, in-depth, the events recorded in the Gospels and come to a sound conclusion. We have studied Mark’s Gospel. Let us move forward on into the Gospels of Matthew and Luke to see if they agree with Mark (Appendix A). Let us be bold with our observations, teaching other generations the truths of Yahweh’s Word rather than traditions of men.
(When quoting scriptures, from the Rotherham Emphasized Bible New Testament, I will substitute the Hebrew words
(For Footnotes, Read the PDF Version.)
Yahoshua's Journey in Matthew & Luke
© 2005-2017 Chuck Cunningham