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Wednesday, May 4 2011

The Centurions

In the time of imperial Rome (from "imperial" came the words emperor and empire - see Emperor and Ancient Empires - Rome in the Fact Finder question below), a legion was the largest unit in the Roman army, composed of infantry and cavalry ("legion" is from the Latin words legio and lego which meant to collect). At full strength, particularly when the Roman Empire reached its peak of military power during the time of The Prophet Of Galilee, such a division of an army could consist of more than 6,000 soldiers. Each legion was divided into "cohorts" of 600 men; each cohort was further divided into "centuries" of 100 men. A century (from the Latin word centum i.e. a century has 100 years, and a dollar has 100 cents) was commanded by an officer known as a centurion.

As recorded in Bible History, the centurions, like all military commanders, were men who carried out the orders of their political governors. They did however think for themselves while off duty, including in matters of the true God (rather than the Roman "divine" emperor) - as in this example of a Christian-believing centurion who asked the Messiah for a miraculous healing for his servant. His faith actually exceeded many of the Christ's fellow Israelites, as the Messiah Himself stated with "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel" (Christ Himself is now an army Commander - see Christ The Conqueror For Peace and The Coming World Dictator).

"8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 8:6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

8:7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 8:9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven [see The Gospel of The Kingdom of God; also Are We In Heaven Now?]. 8:12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth [see The Lake Of Fire Into An Ocean Of Fire - When?].

8:13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour." (Matthew 8:5-13 KJV)

"Truly this was the Son of God"

Centurions were men who carried out orders, including the one to Crucify a prisoner named Jesus of Nazareth. Like the centurion who was a believer before the Crucifixion, some other centurions became believers after witnessing the ordeal that they themselves inflicted upon Him i.e. "Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God."

Map Of The Roman Empire

"27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour [i.e. from about noon to 3:00 on a present-day clock; see Hours Of The Day].

27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [see Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?]

27:47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias [i.e. Elijah; see The Prophets: Elijah].

27:48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with Vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. 27:49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost [see Giving Up The Ghost]. 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom [see Why Was It Torn?]; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many [see Why Were Their Deaths Interrupted?].

27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God." (Matthew 27:45-54 KJV)

Under the orders of Pontius Pilate, a centurion released the dead body of the Christ to Joseph of Arimathaea for burial.

"15:42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath [i.e. the High Day of Passover, not the regular weekly Sabbath that came later in the same week; see Why Observe The True Sabbath?], 15:43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 15:44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.

15:45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 15:46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. 15:47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid." (Mark 15:42-47 KJV)

Cornelius was another believing centurion. The LORD brought about his meeting with Peter, in a lesson to Peter that salvation was not limited to Jews (Acts 10:1-48; see Peter's Ministry; also The Gospel By The Gentile and To Jews And Gentiles).

"10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord?

And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

10:7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 10:8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa." (Acts 10:1-8 KJV)

"10:21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

10:22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. 10:23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him." (Acts 10:21-23 KJV)

As an occupying force, Roman troops were the police of Jerusalem. When the apostle Paul was attacked by a mob of unbelievers, the "chief captain" ordered him taken to the local governor by "two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea."

"21:30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. 21:31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 21:32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

21:33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. 21:34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. 21:35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence [i.e. violation of the law - see Violence] of the people. 21:36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.

21:37 And as Paul was to be led into the castle [see Castles], he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee?

Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? 21:38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?

21:39 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people." (Acts 21:30-39 KJV)

"22:24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. 22:25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

22:26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman [see Paul's Passport].

22:27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman?

He said, Yea.

22:28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom.

And Paul said, But I was free born.

22:29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him." (Acts 22:24-29 KJV)

"23:22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast showed these things to me.

23:23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; 23:24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor." (Acts 23:22-24 KJV)

Paul was placed in the custody of another centurion, "named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band," for his voyage to Rome (see Paul's Crash Landing).

"27:1 And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band. 27:2 And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.

27:3 And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. 27:4 And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 27:5 And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 27:6 And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. 27:7 And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; 27:8 And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.

27:9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous [see also Paul At Sea], because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, 27:10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. 27:11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul." (Acts 27:1-11 KJV)

Fact Finder: What were the succession of empires that ruled the land of Israel after Israel itself ceased to become an imperial power in the time of King David (see Israelite Monarchy - The United Kingdom)?
Ancient Empires - Assyria
Ancient Empires - Babylon
Ancient Empires - Persia
Ancient Empires - Greece
Ancient Empires - Rome


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This Day In History, May 4

1471: The Yorkists defeated the Lancastrians in the Battle of Tewkesbury during the Wars of the Roses.

1493: Pope Alexander VI, a Spaniard (at the time, Christopher Columbus was exploring and claiming the "new world" for Ferdinand, the king of Spain who started the murderous "Spanish Inquisition" against non-Catholics in Europe), decreed that all new lands discovered west of the Azores were Spanish, in effect dividing the world between Spain and Portugal.

1639: The St. Joseph and 2 other ships left Dieppe, France, for Canada; its travelers would eventually found a Jesuit College, a Hospitaliers house, and an Ursuline convent in "New France."

1814: The Bourbon reign was restored in France.

1886: The Haymarket Square Riot in Chicago by anarchist organized labour; 7 Chicago policemen were killed.

1919: The "May The Fourth" movement began in China when 3,000 students at Peking University launched a national protest.

1945: British Field Marshal Montgomery announced that all enemy forces in the Netherlands, northwest Germany and Denmark had surrendered unconditionally. on the same day, the U.S. 7th Army captured Hitler's country retreat of Berchtesgaden.

1947: The Etzel (a self-proclaimed "zionist" group - true Zionism is about Jesus Christ, not those who deny and reject Him - see Zionism; also Anti-Zion Is Anti-Christ) launched a deadly assault on the British prison at Acre, several weeks after 4 of their gang were hanged there for murders that they committed. By dynamiting its walls, 251 convicted criminals were able to escape, although several of the condemned felons were later recaptured and hung (2 days after the executions, 2 British soldiers were taken hostage and hanged by the Etzel in "retaliation"). By the present-day definition, the Etzel were a terrorist group who ignored (or were just plain ignorant of the fact) that it was the British that liberated the land of Judah, and much of the rest of the Middle East, from centuries of rule and occupation by the Ottoman Empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) and that it was the British Balfour Declaration (listen to our Sermon The Balfour Declaration) that enabled the independence of the modern-day state of Israel. The Etzel were killing the people that were freeing them.

1970: Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine others.

1982: During the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina, the destroyer HMCS Sheffield was struck by a French-made Exocet missile. 20 British seamen were killed and 24 others injured. The missile plowed through the very center of the ship, causing so much damage that it later had to be scuttled.





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