Bible Quiz Question #6
How many years was the ministry of the Messiah? Support your answer with as many names of the church fathers that support your view.
If you said three and one half years and Eusebius[i],[ii], you would be wrong but correct in the sense that he promoted the idea and that it has been widely repeated as true over the centuries. In fact, Eusebius, who was the apologist of Constantine[iii], came up with this number of years in trying to reconcile Messiah’s ministry to Daniel chapter 9 vs. 27[iv]. But he missed the mark.
The time of Eusebius in the 4th century is far removed from the Messiah’s 1st century ministry. By then it was an acceptable practice in the Alexandrian school of Theology to use allegory, or simply put, to just make it up[v].
Other so called church fathers said Messiah’s public ministry was about a year. They are, Clement of Alexandria[vi], Origen[vii],[viii], Julius Africanus[ix], Philatrius[x], Hilarion[xi] and Tertullian[xii] among others basing their view on Isaiah 61:2:
To proclaim the year of יְהֹוָה‘s[xiii] good pleasure, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; (Isaiah 61:2 JPS)
Two events are mentioned here. The Messiah’s ministry or יְהֹוָה YeHoVaH’s “good pleasure” and the second coming right after the day of יְהֹוָה YeHoVaH’s wrath. And in the words of the Messiah Himself in Luke 4:19:
“THE SPIRIT OF יְהֹוָה IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE HAS ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR; HE HAS SENT ME TO HEAL THE BROKENHEARTED, TO PROCLAIM LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET AT LIBERTY THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED; TO PROCLAIM THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF יְהֹוָה.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. (Luke 4:18-20 NKJV)
Please notice that the Messiah stopped reading before He got to “the day of vengeance…” indicating a partial fulfillment of YeHoVaH’s pleasure at that time and a second fulfillment or coming of Wrath. Two separate days, in other words.
The Passover lamb was a symbol of the Lamb of God, our Messiah’s sacrifice:
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; ye shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats; (Exodus 12:5 JPS)
Again, 1 year.
If you calculate the time between His baptism by John the Baptist to the Day of Pentecost or a/k/a the Feast of Shavuot where the Spirit was given as promised, His ministry is exactly 70 weeks[xiv] fulfilling Gabriel’s prophecy to Daniel in Daniel 9 in a sub context and in a different way than what was understood and taught by Eusebius. These church fathers already had created the doctrine of Amillennialism meaning that Y’shua’s second coming had already taken place in a secret coming into the believer’s heart.
A controversy over whether the Apostle John actually wrote John 6:4 where a third Passover that the Messiah attended has been refuted by Bible Chronologist, Michael Rood. This is either an error or an insertion into the original text[xv] and it has made it difficult to restore chronology to the Gospels until now. Textual differences are not uncommon in the Greek fragments.
The correct answer is 70 weeks.
[i] Eusebius Bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine, the “Father of Church History” according to the Catholic Encyclopedia; b. about 260; d. before 341. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05617b.htm, accessed 6/24/2016.
[ii] Eusebius was for a 3 and one half year public ministry of Jesus and was influenced by Origen’s later views. But he did write, “And this indeed is true. For it is evident that the three evangelists recorded only the deeds done by the Saviour for one year after the imprisonment of John the Baptist, and indicated this in the beginning of their account.” Church History, Book III, chapter 24:8, Eusebius Pamphilus, via the Catholic encyclopedia; http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250103.htm; Accessed 6/24/2016.
[iii] The Life of Constantine, Books I, II, III, IV; Eusebius Pamphilus.
[iv] “The beginnings of this “sacred cow” go back to Origen in the third century, and it was popularized by Eusebius in the fourth century. The authenticity of the three-year ministry is seldom questioned. [so] It must be true. Origen and Eusebius related Jesus’ ministry to Gabriel’s prophecy to Daniel about the Seventy Weeks (Dan. 9:24-27). Half the final week was three and a half years. Since Jesus must be the fulfillment of that prophecy, His ministry lasted three and a half years.” Kenneth Frank Doig, http://www.nowoezone.com/NTC16.htm; accessed 6-24-2016. [Sarcasm from the source].
[v] Ante-Nicene Fathers (Volume 9), 9.13.01, Commentaries of Origen – Introduction. eSword version.
[vi] Clement of Alexandria, Ante-Nicene Fathers (Volume 3), 2.05.47 Clement – Stromata, Book 7 –Ch 15 –End. Footnote 119. eSword version.
[vii] Origen originally believed that Messiah’s ministry was about a year. Ante-Nicene Fathers (Volume 4), 4.04.24 Origen – Against Celsus; Book 2 – Ch 1 – 20. Footnote 18. eSword version;
[viii] Origen, later in his life changed his view to a three and one half year period. “The first one to mention a three-year ministry might have been Origen (changing his mind!) in ‘Commentary on Matthew’ (Book XXIV), written late in his life, but Eusebius (early 4th cent.) was the first to argue for it.” Bernard D. Muller, http://historical-jesus.info/appb.html, accessed 6/24/2016.
[ix] Julius Africanus, Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08377a.htm, accessed 6/24/2016. According to this source, Julius Africanus “is the father of Christian chronography.” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08565a.htm, accessed 6/24/2016.
[xii] “Other early Christians believing an one-year ministry include the followers of (gnostic) Basilides (active 120-140) (according to Clement’s ‘Stromata’, I, 21, 146) and the ones of (gnostic) Valentinus (active 120-160) (according to Irenaeus ‘Against Heresies’, I, 3, 3), Origen (185-254) (De Principiis, IV, 1, 5 “[Christ] taught about a year and a few months“), Tertullian (160-220?), Lactantius (late 3rd to early 4th cent.), St Gaudentius (died c. 410), Evagrius (4th cent.), Orosius (375?-418?) and St Ephraem (306?-373).” Bernard D. Muller, http://historical-jesus.info/appb.html, accessed 6/24/2016.
[xiii] The true name of God. Not deflections like Ha Shem or Adonai to the Jews or Lord to the Christians. Yehovah to those of us who respect His name. Sometimes written as YeHoVaH.
[xiv] According to “The Chronological Gospels, The Life and Seventy Week Ministry of the Messiah”, Introduction, “Daniel’s Seventy Sevens Messianic Prophecy, Page 15-16; Michael Rood; http://www.aroodawakening.com.
[xv] John 6:4, ibid. Rood asserts that the context of this passage is against an actual Passover at this time and the verse is a forgery to sustain the views of Replacement Theology; “The Chronological Gospels, The Life and Seventy Week Ministry of the Messiah”, Introduction, Page 5; http://www.aroodawakening.com.