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NIV Integrated STUDY BIBLE
By John R. Kohlenberger III
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2013 Zondervan
All rights reserved.
The Life of Jesus
The Old Testament covers 1,600 years of historical narrative from the call of Abraham (about 2091 BC) to the prophecy of Malachi (about 430 BC). The historical narrative of Matthew through Acts covers only about 53 years, from the births of John the Baptist and Jesus (about 6 BC) to the Roman imprisonment of Paul (AD 59). Although Matthew and Luke narrate the birth of Jesus and some stories of his childhood, the Gospels focus on the ministry of Jesus from about AD 26 to 30. The letters of John and the Revelation were written near the end of the first century AD, but do not continue the narrative of the apostolic era.
Integrated into the historical narrative of the Gospels are conceptual parallels from Acts and 1 Corinthians, as well as genealogies from Ruth and 1 Chronicles.
Dating the Life of Jesus
The 12-month, 365.25-day solar calendar used by most of the western world was introduced in 46 BC by Julius Caesar and is therefore called the Julian calendar. The Romans numbered their years relative to the two consuls who took office each year. In AD 525 a monk named Dionysius Exiguus invented the concept of dividing the Julian calendar into the years numbered before Jesus was born and the years of the Lord. The Latin for the "year of the Lord" is Anno Domini, abbreviated "AD." By 1525, when Pope Gregory XIII reformed the Julian calendar into the Gregorian calendar most widely used today, the abbreviation "BC" had become standard for designating the years "Before Christ."
Dionysius incorrectly calculated the birth year of Jesus as AD 1. Herod the Great, king of Judea at the time of Jesus' birth (see Mt 2:1), actually died in 4 BC. Since Herod attempted to kill the newborn "king of the Jews" (Mt 2:2) by ordering the murder of all the boys in Bethlehem two years old and younger, most scholars deduce that Jesus must have been born about 6 BC. As to the date for the crucifixion, Jesus died on a Friday, the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread was celebrated. Of the most probable dates between AD 27 and 33, most scholars prefer Friday, April 7, AD 30.
As to the length of Jesus' ministry, Matthew, Mark and Luke mention only one Passover, making it possible that Jesus' ministry lasted only one year. But since the Gospel of John mentions three Passovers (see Jn 2:13; 6:4; 13:1), Jesus' ministry must have lasted at least two years. Luke states that "Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry" (Lk 3:23). If Jesus was born in 6 BC, this would place the beginning of Jesus' ministry in late AD 26 or early 27, with the crucifixion about three-and-a-half years later. This chronology is reflected in the chart on page 1135 and the timeline throughout this section.
Integrating the Gospels
Because the one story of Jesus is narrated in four canonical Gospels, many attempts have been made to integrate this story into a single account. The first known attempt was by the Christian apologist Tatian in about AD 170. According to the church historian Eusebius, Tatian "formed a certain combination and collection of the Gospels, ... to which he gave the title Diatessaron" (Church History, 4.29.6). "Diatessaron" in Greek means one account "by means of four." This blending of the four Gospels into one account is often called a "harmony." Although a harmony contains all the details of the life and sayings of Jesus, it loses the unique structure and context of each Gospel.
Eusebius himself came up with a different approach. According to the Introduction to Novum Testamentum Graeca (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 27th edition 1999, p. 79):
Eusebius divided the four Gospels into small units by content, and organized them into ten canons. Canon I lists the periscopes represented in all four Gospels, canons II–IV those in three, canons V–IX lists those found in only two Gospels, and canon X lists the sections which are peculiar to each Gospel.
The Eusebian canons allow a parallel or "synoptic" approach to the Gospels ("synoptic" in Greek means "viewed together"). A book that arranges the Gospels into parallel columns is technically a synopsis or a parallel, but is often called a harmony of the Gospels. As with the OT, this is the approach used in the NIVISB.
Comparison and Contrast Between the Gospels
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are often called "synoptic," meaning that they can be "viewed together" for their similarities, as well as analyzed for their differences. Many scholars believe that Mark was the first to be written and that Matthew and Luke used Mark as the basis of their work. Out of Mark's total of 661 verses, 606 are adapted by Matthew and 380 are adapted by Luke. Only 31 verses in Mark have no parallel in either Matthew or Luke. In addition, Matthew and Luke have 250 verses in common that have no parallel in Mark, leading scholars to assume they had another written source containing mostly sayings of Jesus, now lost to history. (This assumed document is often called Q, from the German Quelle, which means "source.")
The Gospel of John, on the other hand, has far fewer details in common with the Synoptics. All four Gospels mention John the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus, the feeding of the five thousand, the triumphal entry, the last supper, and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. But most of Jesus' sayings and miracles recorded in John are unique to the fourth Gospel.
Most Gospel parallels in the NIVISB are chronological. Because Jesus often said similar things in different contexts, most of these duplicate sayings are not shown as conceptual parallels. But some longer and important passages are paralleled in two locations, like the two versions of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9–13 and Luke 11:2–4.
Reading the Gospels as integrated in the NIVISB allows all four witnesses to present the one life of Jesus, showing all their similarities and all their uniqueness. In Matthew, Jesus fulfills OT expectation as the perfect king of Israel—"the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Mt 1:1)—who is also the unique "Son of God" (Mt 14:33; 27:54). In Mark's short and energetic account, Jesus is also presented as "the Messiah, the Son of God" (Mk 1:1; 8:29; 15:39). Luke's carefully researched account emphasizes the humanity and universal outreach of Jesus, mentioning more women by name than any of the other Gospels. John's reflective Gospel presents Jesus as the divine "Word" (Jn 1:1), "the one and only Son, who is himself God" (Jn 1:18), who reveals himself with seven miraculous "signs" (Jn 2:1–11; 4:43–54; 5:1–15; 6:1–14,16–21; 9:1–12; 11:1–44), explained by seven "I am" discourses (Jn 6:35; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7,11,14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). John's stated purpose in writing fits each of the Gospels well: "these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (Jn 20:31).
The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; with out him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all man kind. 5 The light shines in the dark ness, and the dark ness has not over come a it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a wit ness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He him self was not the light; he came only as a wit ness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to every one was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to be come children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
14 The Word be came flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, "This is the one I spoke about when I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me be cause he was be fore me.'") 16 Out of his full ness we have all received grace in place of grace al ready given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is him self God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an ac count of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were hand ed down to us by those who from the first were eye witnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I my self have care fully investigated every thing from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."
19 The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time."
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."
34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called a the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail."
38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled." Then the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!"
46 And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors." 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
The Birth of John the Baptist
57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John."
61 They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."
62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him.
Excerpted from NIV Integrated STUDY BIBLE by John R. Kohlenberger III. Copyright © 2013 Zondervan. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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