28 June 2008

Great Website!

...I recently came across this wonderful website! Karen's Whimsy is a site where the author has taken literally hundreds of old pictures and made them available to the public. I love looking at the pictures in old books, 1800-1900, so if you are anything like me this site will be a treasure trove!

...I have been using her illustrations(which are open to the public domain)on this blog and with school assignments. Some of them would also be great for little kids coloring. A note of caution; some of the images under the "ancient past" are rather graphic-I recommend parents approving this section themselves. Every parent has his or her own guidelines of course!

...Here is the link and below are some examples of the images available. Enjoy!

Facts on Aristotle

…Aristotle studied far more than just philosophy. One of his chief concerns was physics. Aristotle’s personal doctrine was that the “reason” behind all of what we see in the world is “Cause and Effect”. Namely four causes, material cause, formal cause, efficient cause and final cause. It was these four causes that constituted the changes in life. Matter was potential, that which can be made into something else although the basic element is still there. (i.e... bronze can be made into a statue but the basic element of bronze is still present) The formal cause is the pattern which directs a certain thing, the group to which it belongs; the formal cause is the essence of what a thing is. Efficient cause is an indication of something which has an effect. And finally, the final cause is the driven purpose or goal of a thing.

…Aristotle truly was far ahead of his generation. Aside from his extensive works on logic, metaphysics, ethics, psychology, politics, and art, he found time to devote himself to the study of biology and natural history. It was he who first compiled a list of the different animal kingdoms and species. Aristotle also investigated the differences between animals and humans, being interested in the essence of the soul.

19 June 2008

A brief look at the Roman Republic, Part 1

...In this essay I shall take a look at the Roman Republic in its height. It took many years for the Roman Government to develop into the Republic of Rome and it went through many stages. So for the purpose of lucidity I shall not focus on these stages, in much detail, here. Instead, for the reader interested in in the history of the development of the Rome's Republic, refer to my second essay on the subject which will give greater attention to the cause and effect of its development. Here we shall focus on the attained governments workings in general.

...Before moving on, it will be valuable for us to understand what is implied by the word "Republic." Broadly, it is a form of government where the leader or leaders are elected. This can be contrasted with a monarchy, in which rule is hereditary and for life;and can be compared to a democracy in which the people at large elect leaders. A republic can be run in several ways; such as by a large number of people electing leaders to office (a democratic republic, the United States for example); or by a small select group who represent the people. One of the worlds earliest republics was the Roman Republic, established around 509 B.C.

...The Romans were an independent, fiercely patriotic people. They wanted a government which would bring peace and maintain citizens rights. Yet it must also be strong enough to defend Rome in times of civil unrest.So they developed a Republic. It had offices on many levels, each one's terms lasting for different durations of time. Except for in times of national emergency the office of Consul, the governments head of state, gave the most individual power. There were always two Consuls serving at the same time, that way the power would be checked. Consuls were elected for a term of one year and could veto each others proposals. The most powerful body of the Roman Republic was the Senate however. Their responsibilities involved decrees, foreign policies, administration and finances. And they were in office for life. This was a good start, but nearly all the Senators and Consuls were upper class. Which meant the poor citizens were often taxed beyond their means and treated unfairly in court.

...So new offices had to be developed. The poor and middle classed, called Plebeians, insisted that the aristocratic Patricians give them fair representation in political decisions. When the Patricians refused, often with bloodshed, the Plebeians set up their own representative. Called the Concilium Plebis, which means council of Plebeians or working class, it was headed by an elected leader called a Tribune. This gave the people influence because the Tribune had the authority to veto the Senate and Consuls decisions if they were unfair.

...Yet even within this new system the government was never perfect. Sometimes the people had to much power, and at other times the aristocrats. But at least there was some balance.The different offices held eachother in check, and no one person could sieze absolute power. There was one special office reserved for times of emergency, when Rome itself felt threatened. Because the governement had so many checks and positions of authority, the Roman people knew it would be difficult to make quick desicions in response to a national crisis. So they priveded the office of "Tyrant", a special position for one man who would hold absolute power. His term would only last six months though. As Rome was very strong she rarely needed to appoint someone to this office.

...Stepping back to observe the whole, it must be acknowledged the Roman Republic was a very effective system of government. It had the advantage of representation and concerned itself with the lives of the actual people it served. No one man could sieze power or use power in exess for selfish gain. A republic has its downsides as well, though in most cases the good far outwieghs the bad. An unfortunate aspect of the Roman Republic could certainly be indeciseveness. And the lenght of time it took pass a law or take action.

...Nonetheless, often called the "most balanced of all governmental forms", many governments the world over pattern themselves after Romes Republic. Rome certainly proved for many years the effectiveness of its proud government. Which reflected the beliefs and rights Roman citizens held dear.

18 June 2008

Mesopotamian Facts!

I’ve got a Mesopotamian math teacher?

...How does Mesopotamia have an impact on us today? The Ancient Mesopotamians were a clever and inventive people. Today we still use many of their fascinating and yet practical inventions.
...The Mesopotamians had a hand in some of the common things we use today. The wheel is perhaps their most profound contribution to society. Every time we drive a car, push a cart or ride a bike, we give tribute to this ancient race. Sundials are another one of their achievements. In older times they were used to determine what time of day it was. Although now most people use modern clocks, some still ornament their gardens with a beautiful sundial.
...Some other spheres the Mesopotamians influenced were math and surgery. The Mesopotamians had advanced forms of math. Next time you sit down to do an algebraic equation, thank those Mesopotamians! When a surgeon does his job, he is using some of the same procedures used be Mesopotamian surgeons. These people were doing brain surgery long before we established our modern hospitals!
...Because of those intellectual people who lived so long ago, we have today so many wonderful tools and conveniences at our disposal. People rarely stop to think of how much the Mesopotamians influence us today. Think of them next time you ride in a car or do your math!

Building a time machine won’t get you out of schoolwork

...You are wrong if you think children who lived in Sumer several thousand years ago did not have schoolwork. Boys from wealthy families went to a scribe school. Here among other things, the school boys learned to write cuneiform. Today our alphabet has 26 letters, but in Sumer the alphabet had over 2000 symbols. It took a long time to learn how to write with a stylus on wet clay. Advanced math like Algebra and Geometry were also taught to the students, not to mention literature. Oh, did I mention Botany, or Anatomy? Kids have been doing schoolwork for thousands of years. The Sumerians were no exception.

Coming Soon!

...I love to display my schoolwork in scrapbooks. Currently I am studying Ancient History, so that is the scrapbook I am working on. It's fun to have inspiration when scrapbooking, especially for those who are unsure how to begin. So I am going to begin a series on the subject soon! Just remember it can be as involved as you want it to be. I prefer to take things into great detail, but some may prefer a simpler layout. It's your project, so make it however best suits your purposes and needs!

17 June 2008

Paul the Apostle

Missionary to the Gentiles

The year was 34 A.D, and the hot sun beat down upon a small band of travelers, making their way to Damascus. The leader, a young man named Saul pressed forward eagerly, while his mind thought about his mission. A few days before Saul had been given permission to arrest the followers of a man called Jesus. He carried with him letters of authority from the high priest in Jerusalem.

Saul’s country had been in a state of political unrest for many years. The Roman Empire was controlling the world including Judea. Some months before, Jesus of Galilee, the simple son of a carpenter, had said he was the Son of God. Every time Saul thought about Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah it made his heart black with rage. Saul knew the Christians were wrong about Jesus because he had studied the Torah and knew by heart the prophecies that said the Messiah would come not to save men’s souls like Jesus had taught, but to help the Jews shake of Roman rule. When he was still a boy Saul’s family had sent him to be educated in Jerusalem under the respected Rabbi Gamaliel. As he grew up, Saul had become an avid student of the law, strictly keeping each commandment and ardently worshiping God, while looking forward to the Messiah who would deliver them from Rome.

Saul reached down to pat the packet of letters on his sash. Soon he would be in
Damascus. Suddenly, without warning a light brighter than the sun shone down from the sky and Saul was knocked to the ground with all his senses reeling. A strong voice said to him “Saul why are you persecuting Me”? Saul’s heart throbbed as he answered, “Who are you Lord”. I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting replied the voice. Trembling Saul asked, “What would you have me do?” Arise go into the city of Damascus, there you will find out,” said the voice of Jesus.

The light faded and Saul’s companions rushed towards him in amazement. To Saul’s dismay he found he was blind. Saul’s friends helped him enter the city a few hours later; leading him by the hand like a little child. Inside the city, Saul would not eat or drink for three days. He lay praying fervently to his Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord sent a Christian named Ananias to Saul. The man laid his hands upon Saul and prayed for him. Saul’s eyes immediately became clear and he arose asking to be baptized in Jesus name. The persecutor had become what he had once hated.

Saul, who after his baptism was called Paul, preached about what had happened to him on the road to Damascus. Everyone he met was astonished because Paul had earned the reputation of a man who hated Christians. After a while Paul was appointed by the Christian leaders in Jerusalem to be a witness to the Gentiles. So Paul, taking with him a fellow Christian called Barnabus, started on his first missionary journey.

One of the places Paul went to preach was the synagogue in Antioch. There he was trying to show the Jews how Jesus had fulfilled every prophecy written about the Messiah. While listening, the Jews noticed that Paul was allowing the Gentiles to listen too. This made the Jews upset and they stirred unhappily among themselves. Meanwhile the Gentiles were listening intently and hardly able to contain themselves when he had finished, they begged Paul to allow them to come again.

The synagogue was so crowded the following Sabbath day that not everyone could fit inside. When the Jews arrived and saw that almost the entire city of Gentiles was crowded into the synagogue, they became furious. Since the Jews believed that only they were Gods chosen people, they wanted the Gentiles turned away. Paul understood that Jesus had come for all people and tried to explain this to the Jews, but they would not listen. Some of the city’s important men were Jewish and they had Paul and Barnabus thrown out the city gates.

Paul did not despair; he picked himself up and went on his way. The two men set out for Lystra where the inhabitants worshiped many Greek gods. There Paul happened to see a crippled man sitting in the dust. Paul crouched down beside him pityingly. “Stand straight on your two feet” he told the lame man. The Holy Spirit healed the man’s deformed legs and he stood up.

The marketplace where the man had been sitting became quiet. In those times it was unlikely a lame man would ever be healed. Suddenly the people of Lystra started bowing and praying to Paul and Barnabus as if they were gods. Some of them shouted, “These men are the gods Zeus and Hermes come down to us from heaven, while the priests of Zeus hurried to hang rosy garlands and sacrifice bulls to their unexpected gods.

When Paul saw them he tore his clothing and ran about crying to the people “Stop this madness, can’t you see that we’re only mortal men like you?” We have come to teach you about the one true God, not to establish ourselves as gods. After much exhortation, Paul and Barnabus stopped the ardent worshipers from sacrificing to them.

A few days later some of the troublemaking Jews from Antioch came to Lystra.
They spread lies about the missionaries persuading the people to turn against them. Paul was violently seized and dragged by an angry mob into the marketplace. Here where he had been worshiped as a god only a few days before, Paul was pelted with rocks until he fell over, apparently dead. Then the mob left his body for the carrion birds to feed upon. Silently, the Christians of Lystra were gathering around Paul’s body, when suddenly he stood up alive, and unharmed.

Back in Jerusalem around 47 A.D Paul heard of some Christian leaders who were trying to preach Jewish customs to the Gentile Christians. They were telling the Gentile believers that to be saved they must be circumcised and obey all the Law’s of Moses. Paul had come to believe that to be saved one must only believe in Christ, and that it was no longer necessary to adhere to the strict Jewish laws. Paul went to a meeting and shared with the other apostles what he had seen done by God when he was among the Gentiles. Afterwards one of the most important Apostles, Peter, addressed the problem of the day, whether or not the Gentile Christians should be required to follow the Law of Moses. Peter agreed with Paul that the Law was not a requirement for salvation; he also believed that it was only by Gods grace that any, Jews or Gentiles were saved. It was decided that Paul and Barnabus would be sent back to the churches in Antioch. They would take with them a letter disclaiming the false preaching spread there. Paul happily prepared to leave, once again he was returning to the land of the Gentiles.

Around 50 A.D when Paul and a minister called Silas where visiting the church in Lystra, Paul met a young Christian man named Timothy. Paul observed Timothy carefully and was impressed with what he saw. He asked the young man to come with him for the rest of his journey and Timothy eagerly agreed. It was the beginning of dear friendship between the two men. In later times Paul referred to the younger man as his son. Timothy was in fact the son of a Jewish woman, although his father was Greek.

Since Timothy’s father was Greek he had not been circumcised as a child. Paul asked Timothy if he would allow himself to be circumcised, to keep the peace. In Paul’s mind circumcision was a matter of choice, not a requirement. But he was going to be traveling in places where the Jews would be angry and offended if Timothy was uncircumcised. Paul carefully thought about it and decided that it was not worth causing hard feelings over something that could be avoided. Timothy agreed to be circumcised and Paul proved himself a humble, peaceable man, truly concerned with the interests of others.

One night Paul lay sleepless upon his bed as the silver moon shone through the cracks in the mud wall revealing the slumbering forms of his companions. In a vision the Holy Spirit just had revealed to Paul that he was to go to Philippi in Macedonia next. The following morning Paul announced to Timothy and Silas the sudden change in their traveling plans. The apostle and his followers hastily made ready to board a ship headed towards Philippi.

After safely reaching the city, Paul decided to go for a short walk. His steps took him through the city gates and down to a nearby river. The sounds of laughter and splashing caught Paul’s ear as he stood by the water. Following the noise Paul came around a bend and saw a group of women washing their household’s clothes. Paul made his way over to them and sat down, hoping to have a chance to talk to some of them. Soon Paul was conversing with the women, speaking about the subject that was dearest to his heart.

One of the women named Lydia was a dealer in expensive purple cloth made from murex shells. The cloth was so rare that the Romans had passed a law saying only victorious generals could wear it. Though the message Paul was sharing caused some of her friends to titter, Lydia could not stop listening. When Paul had finished he sensed someone behind him and turned to find a woman nervous with excitement waiting to speak to him. “Will you baptize me and my family?” She implored. Paul joyfully agreed, and when they were finished Lydia invited Paul and his friends to stay at her house for as long as they remained in Philippi.

After this Paul often went back to the river to pray and preach. Once after an excursion of this sort he saw a group of people coming towards him. In there midst was a disheveled slave girl, who was possessed by an evil spirit. Because of the demon in her the girl was able to predict the future, bringing a great deal of money to her owners. As the group passed Paul the slave spied him through the throng of people pressing around her. “Look,” the girl screamed at Paul, “This man is a servant of the one true God; he will tell you how to be saved!”

The slave girl followed them everywhere; Paul and his friends were continually shadowed by the demonic shriek. One day as Paul and Silas were walking together they heard her coming. By now Paul was considerably troubled at the constant outcry. So instead of ignoring the girl and going on, Paul turned around and commanded the evil spirit to come out, in Jesus’ name, and immediately the demon left her. When the slave’s owners saw what Paul had done, they turned on him and Silas, dragging them to the city officials. The authorities decided to beat and imprison the two men after the slave owners told them that Paul and his friend were disrupting the peace.

Later that night, Paul and Silas were praying on the floor of a dank cell. The moans of other prisoners reached their ears through the cold wall. Suddenly Paul decided to sing a hymn. Soon Silas joined in. Together they lifted the mournful atmosphere of the prison, their voices echoing through the corridors while singing of the love and reverence they bore towards Christ. Soon the moaning stopped as thief and debtor, slave and murderer stopped to listen.

Just then the prison floor began to shake and rumble and the walls moved. For a few moments a mighty earthquake rocked the prison to its foundation. Then as suddenly as it had started the earthquake ceased. Paul’s chains fell from his hands and he turned to see that Silas was also free. The cell door stood wide open, Paul got up and peered out into the eerie gloom. Silas came over and stood beside him and presently they saw that all the prison doors were open. A slight motion caught Paul’s eye and he saw the jailer draw a sword. To Paul’s horror the jailer turned the blade towards his own heart, preparing to fall upon it; for he believed that the prisoners had escaped which meant his life was forfeit.

“Stop, do not do it, we are all here” shouted Paul. The jailer looked up with relief as he called for a lantern and hurried to the apostle’s cell. Kneeling humbly the man took Paul and Silas hands in his own and asked “sirs, what can I do to be saved”. Kindly the men answered “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will have eternal life”. Then the jailer took them to his own house, where he washed their wounds.

Later that day the magistrates sent messengers to the jailer, ordering him to release Paul and Silas. When the jailer told him, Paul became thoughtful and informed the messengers that he and Silas were roman citizens. This was true, for although Paul was a Jew, he had been born in the Roman city of Tarsus.

Hastily the messengers went to tell their masters, who became frightened because it was against Roman laws to punish an untried Roman citizen. Hurrying to the jailer’s house the magistrates apologized for the misunderstanding and very politely asked Paul and Silas to leave the city. So the two men went to their hostess house, where Timothy met them with relief, and made ready to leave Lystra.

Paul’s next intention was to go to Athens in Greece. Since his two friends were needed at the city Berea for a short time, he set out alone. While Paul was waiting for Timothy and Silas to join him, he explored Athens. It was a beautiful city full of glorious statuary, colorful markets and the greatest thinkers in the world of men. Dodging baskets and litters born on the backs of slaves Paul wandered about, looking at the novelties arranged in booths overshadowed by statues of Greek gods and goddesses. Approaching one of the pedestals supporting the figure a larger, grim looking man wearing heavy armor, Paul traced the words “Ares, god of war.” Another statue bore the inscription “Zeus, King of heaven”. The list went on; everywhere Paul turned he saw another man made image, covered in offerings from devoted worshippers. Besides the images of their gods, the Greeks had many temples. At one of these Paul came across an odd sight. It was an alter without any image which read “To an unknown god”. Paul realized that here was an opening to teach about Christ.

Some philosophers invited Paul to come to a meeting that afternoon and tell them about his beliefs; Athenians were very curious about anything new or different from their own ideas. When Paul arrived men began to question him and soon the whole room wanted to hear him speak. Paul cleared his voice and looked around at his audience. Some were old bearded philosophers; many were confident middle-aged men, and a few were young boys being trained in the Greek school of thought. “Men of Athens I can see that you are very religious for as I walked through your city I saw many temples and alters dedicated to your gods,” Paul announced. He was greeted by a murmur of assent before he went on, in fact I even found an alter to an unknown god in the midst of your worship centers, It is about this unknown god that I am about to speak. Paul told them about Christ and the message of salvation. As he began telling how Jesus resurrected from the grave, most of the Greeks laughed heartily. However a few asked Paul to come back and speak to them again.

At about this time Claudius the Emperor passed a law forbidding Jews to live in Rome. Many Jews were without homes wandering through the Empire looking for new places to stay. Paul met some of them and converted them to Christianity before his companions rejoined him and he left Athens.

Several years later Paul was staying in Ephesus the capitol of Asia. There God gave Paul the power to perform many miracles in Christ’s name. The cloths Paul touched were able to heal the sick and drive out demons. Some Jews wanted to drive out evil spirits as well. They would say “In the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches come out”, since they did not believe in Jesus themselves.

One day seven Jewish brothers gathered around a demon possessed man who lay upon his couch, eyes vacantly shifting to each of their faces. The Jews commanded the evil spirit to leave, using their customary words. The possessed man fixed his eyes upon the men with his teeth barred and the demon said, “I know Jesus and Paul, but who are you?” Then leaping up in a bound he beat each of the men and stripped them of their clothes until they escaped naked.

Soon all of Ephesus was talking about what had happened to the seven men and the name of Jesus was held in great honor. Many of the sorcerers and witches that inhabited Ephesus became believers in Christ and together they burned their black writings where all could see.

Paul had spent nearly two years in Ephesus, not to mention other cities and he decided it was time to go home. He sent Timothy and Silas on ahead of him to Jerusalem, intending to follow them in a few days.

Before Paul could leave Ephesus though, a man named Demetrius decided it was time
to put an end to Paul’s preaching. Demetrius was a silversmith, who made a great deal of money selling silver shrines to honor the Greek goddess Artemis. Lately there had been a dramatic decrease in Demetrius business; due to the enormous amount of Gentiles who no longer worshiped the idols of mans imagination. Demetrius called together some of his fellow tradesmen who also made objects of worship for the Greek gods. The man Paul is ruining our businesses while we stand by watching, Demetrius said angrily. Already our profits are getting low and when that happens we know that the gods are not being worshiped as they deserve, we must stop Paul before he converts every respectable Greek to his scandalous religion. We must act before the alter fires in the temple of our goddess grow cold!

When the crowd of tradesmen realized what Demetrius was saying they became furious. The word spread like wildfire and soon the entire city was shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians”! For two hours the city was in an uproar, and some of Paul’s friends were dragged to the theater. When Paul heard the commotion he wanted to go to the theater and speak to the people, but his other friends would not let him fearing he would be crushed.

At last a flustered city clerk was able to calm the crowd somewhat. Reasoning with the people the clerk shouted loudly, “Citizens, since the entire world knows that Artemis of the Ephesians is a goddess then why press this matter?, if Demetrius and the other craftsmen wish to bring complaints against Paul then they should do it peacefully in court.” Then he dismissed the subdued inhabitants of Ephesus. After the crowd had dispersed Paul left on his return journey to Jerusalem.

Around 58 A.D Paul was staying in Troas for a few days. On Sunday he gathered the Christians together so that he could speak to them before he left. The shadows lengthened until the only light came from hanging lamps above the assembly. Paul spoke on, heedless of the time, for he was to leave the next morning. The room was an upstairs one with tall windows letting in the cool night air.

Towards the back of the room a young man named Eutychus had taken possession of a comfortable window seat. Paul was talking about important things that took a long time to discuss, and several times Eutychus caught himself falling asleep. Paul looked up at his listeners, and saw a man fall backwards out of a window seat into the night. Women screamed and men rushed downstairs with lanterns. Outside they found Eutychus dead. Wait, Paul cried, making his way to the young man. Assuring the weeping women that Eutychus was not dead; Paul threw himself over the man’s body and held it in his arms. Eutychus, who had been dead a few moments before, opened his eyes and yawned. Feeling hungry he got up and went back to the upstairs to find some food. Paul resumed his talking, never stopping to rest from delivering his precious message until the sun peered through the windows. Then he left Troas.

As Paul continued to Jerusalem, he bade farewell to many churches. People wept when Paul told them that God had made it apparent to him that he would not see them again. Then they would sadly watch Paul board his ship and sail away into the horizon.

Paul made his final stop at the city Caesarea, before entering Jerusalem. He and his companions stayed with a man named Philip the evangelist. One morning gentle knocking announced a visitor to Philips house. A prophet called Agabus came into the room where Paul and the others were sitting. Gravely undoing Paul’s belt, the prophet proceeded to bind his own hands and feet with it. Looking up at Paul, Agabus warned him that the owner of the belt would be bound by the Jews in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans.

Upon hearing this Paul’s companions cried out and begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Tears filled Paul’s eyes as he reached for his friends and said, “My brothers why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I know that I will not only be bound for Christ, but also die for His names sake. Nothing would move him from doing Gods will and after this he went to Jerusalem.

The Christians in Jerusalem were overjoyed to see Paul after so long. But as usual there were problems to be settled concerning Gentiles and the Mosaic Law. Although they had settled with Paul that the Gentiles were not subject to the Laws extremities, they knew that many of the Jewish people did not understand Paul’s motives. Thinking it best to keep peace, the Elders in Jerusalem asked Paul to go to the temple and cut his hair as well as purify himself, a rite held to dedicate the man to the Lord. The Apostles in Jerusalem explained to Paul that some of the Jews believed he was trying to discourage the Jewish people from obeying the Laws of Moses. By participating in the purification vows at the temple Paul would be showing the people that he was still a law-abiding citizen.

Paul agreed to the plan. While he was at the temple a few Jews recognized him. “This man is defiling our holy temple by allowing gentiles to enter it, and he preaches against us and our laws” they shouted. The people grabbed Paul and rushed him outside through the gates of the temple. Before Paul could get up the mob began to trample him under foot. As Paul was rolling about, beginning to feel weak, he saw some Roman soldiers pushing their way through the crowd, coming towards him. Reaching Paul the soldiers placed him under arrest for disturbing the peace and tried to march him away. The angry mob pushed so hard on the soldiers that armed

as they were, the soldiers feared they would not be able to get their prisoner out of the crowd alive. Only after Paul was carried upon the soldiers backs could they escape the crowd.

Before Paul went into the Roman barracks he called out to the commander, “Please, may I speak to the people?” Startled that Paul spoke Greek the commander gave his consent, motioning his soldiers to release their charge. Paul climbed the barrack steps and told the Jews how he had seen Christ on the road to Damascus. The Jews listened until Paul said that God had sent him to the Gentiles. Then the peace was shattered and the people shouted more than ever as they demanded Paul’s death. The commander turned to his men and told them to take Paul inside and beat him until they found out why the people were angry with him. As they prepared to beat Paul, he asked one of them who was standing near if it was lawful to beat an untried Roman citizen. The soldier ran straight to his commander and reported that the man they were about to beat was a Roman. The commander strode down to where Paul was being held and asked “Is it true you are a Roman citizen?” Yes Paul answered, I am one by birth. The men who were restraining Paul drew back alarmed and even the commander was disturbed when he found out he had chained a roman citizen.

On the following day the commander put Paul on trial before the chief priests yet nothing could be found to charge him with. When things got out of hand and riotous the commander removed Paul and sent him back to the barracks. That night as Paul was sleeping the Lord comforted him in a dream assuring him that he would live to carry the gospel all the way to the capitol of the world, Rome.

A group of Jews were waiting to speak to the commander the next morning. They wanted Paul come and answer questions again that day. Unknown to the Romans however, forty Jewish men had sworn a solemn oath to neither eat nor drink until Paul was dead. These men intended to ambush Paul on his way to the assembly and kill him. Fortunately for Paul, his nephew who lived near happened to overhear what was planned. The boy had hurried to warn his uncle about the danger he was in, arriving before the Jewish men. The commander thought quickly, it would not be safe for Paul to remain near Jerusalem, so he decided to send him to the governor of Caesarea. Calling aside two of his centurions the commander ordered them to leave with Paul that night taking two hundred soldiers, two hundred spearmen and seventy horsemen to guard from a surprise attack. The centurions bore a letter for the governor, telling why Paul was under arrest.

Governor Felix of Caesarea was an important man, with a weakness for money. When he had read the commanders letter and heard Paul’s defense; also hearing the Jews many accusations against Paul, intermixed with complements for himself, Felix sighed. He knew of these Christians and had dealt with the Jews unreasonable charges before. “Wait until the commander arrives” Felix implored the Jews and Paul; after all he had actually been at the riot and would know all the facts.

A few days had passed and Felix decided it would be interesting to hear Paul speak about his beliefs in private. So he summoned Paul, and accompanied by his wife Felix prepared to listen to the apostle. At first Felix was amused, but when Paul began to talk about the judgment of God, he felt his face turn white. Great fear came over Felix and motioning Paul to stop he said “Go away now Paul, I will send for you again when it’s convenient for me.” Felix did not set Paul free though, because he hoped that Paul would offer him a bribe for his release. Since Paul never did he remained a prisoner in Caesarea for two years.

At last Governor Felix was recalled to Rome and a new man named Festus arrived to take his place. Festus called an assembly together of all those who wished to press charges against Paul and prepared to judge the case. Paul spoke well, defending himself from the Jews accusations with consistency, and after listening Festus could not find any fault with the prisoner. The Governor asked Paul if he would go to Jerusalem and be tried there like he had two years before; Festus was new to his office and wanted to become popular among the Jews, hence why even though he had determined that Paul was innocent he wished for him to be tried again. Paul stood up and answered “I appeal to Caesar, if there is any truth in the accusations against me then I am have no objection to dieing, but you know I am innocent and therefore no one has the right to deliver me to the Jews.” Festus shook his head. After talking with his advisers Festus turned back to Paul and said, “You have appealed to Caesar, and then to Caesar you will go.”

The year was 59 A.D when King Agrippa of Galilee came to visit Festus. For a while now Festus had been frustrated about Paul’s case, so he decided to ask Agrippa for his opinion. King Agrippa became very interested and asked if he could listen to Paul personally. Festus was delighted to learn that the King was willing to help him decide what was to be done with Paul. The next day as Paul was sitting in his cell he heard footsteps walking down the corridor. The steps stopped in front of his door and the grating sound of a key turning in the lock made Paul look up. A guard came in and asked Paul to accompany him. He followed the guard into a large well-furnished room full of people lounging on couches, being entertained by dancing.

Governor Festus stood up when he saw Paul and announced, “Here is the man Paul have told you about, the Jews hate him yet I find he has done nothing wrong.”; Unfortunately he has appealed to the emperor, making it impossible for me to free him. I ask you who are here today to help me find something to say about Paul in the letter I must send to Rome concerning him, because it is only logical that a prisoner has some charge against him.

Agrippa turned to Paul saying “You may tell us about yourself”. Paul respectfully bowed to King Agrippa. Carefully remembering each detail Paul told the story of his life, and as he talked vivid memories came back to him, the road to Damascus, Christ’s voice, blindness and salvation. Oh King Agrippa, Paul cried out when he had finished his narrative; I have not disobeyed my Lord. Christ commanded me to go unto the Gentiles and tell them the truth, to bring them out of darkness into light, to turn them from Satan to God. I am standing on trial before you now because it is Gods will that I testify to you that the prophecies have been fulfilled through Jesus Christ. Christ suffered, lived the perfect life, died on the cross, resurrected from the dead and now He is proclaimed to the Jews and Gentiles as the Messiah! When Paul paused for breath after saying this, Festus leapt to his feet and exclaimed “Paul you are simply insane, I believe all your studying has driven you out of your mind.” Calmly Paul replied, “I am not mad great Festus, I speak the truth and your friend King Agrippa who knows of the prophecies will be able to tell you I am not insane.

Paul asked a simple question of Agrippa, “Do you believe in the prophets? I know you do. The King let a moment of silence follow Paul’s questioning statement. Finally he answered Paul with a question of his own “Do you believe that within such a short time you will convince me to become a Christian? Paul had a reply already on his lips “I pray that not only you but everyone in this room will become what I am, except for my chains”. When Agrippa heard Paul say this he went out with Festus the others.

All the audience agreed that the apostle was innocent, and Agrippa was especially sorry that Paul had appealed to Caesar and could not be set at liberty.

In 60 A.D Paul boarded a ship headed for Lystra where he had nearly been stoned to death fourteen years before. For a while the trip went smoothly, good sailing and fair winds sped the ship on its way. Then Paul was transferred to different ship headed for Alexandria in Egypt, its final destination being Rome.

The captain who commanded the second ship was unwise and foolish. Instead of remaining in port when the winter storms were near the ship, he sailed into a terrible hurricane. Even though Paul was shipwrecked and stranded on a strange island God took care of him and his life was spared.

It was three months until the centurion in charge of the prisoners could find a new ship to take them to Italy. During that time Paul did many miracles among the islands people. Now Paul was on his way again. He watched the ever billowing sea as the ship brought him closer and closer to his final destination. Land was sighted and soon rocky coastline came into view. Only a little longer and Paul would at last be in sight of Rome.


Paul reached Rome in about 61-62 A.D. The Bible tells us that Paul was imprisoned there for a long time. Whether he was ever released is a matter of debate since the Bible does not tell us exactly what happened to Paul after his years of captivity in Rome. What is certain is that Paul continued to share the gospel throughout his imprisonment without fear for his life, for the apostle said in a letter to Timothy; If we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. (2 Tim 2:11-12) Although no one knows how Paul died, it is generally believed that he was beheaded under the Roman Emperor Nero in 64-66 A.D. Let us take to heart the lessons Paul taught about the faith so that when we die we may be able to say like him, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Tim 4:7)


New King James Bible Biblical Times (Antony Mason)

The Revell Bible Dictionary Bible Lands (Eyewitness)

The Narrated Bible (F. LaGard Smith) Atlas of the Bible (Readers Digest)

Commentaries on Acts (John Calvin)

Atlas of the Bible (Readers Digest)

The Peloponnesian Wars

The Peloponnesian Wars

Because Persia was a threat to small independent-spirited Greece, the Greek city states decided to form a confederacy called the Dorian League. Each of the Greek states; Athens, Sparta Corinth, Delos and many others, would still have there own individual government and freedoms. Yet in matters of trade, war and public funding they would consult each other. Athens was the most important city state having power and influence; however the League was named after Delos where the treasury was kept.

After Persia suffered defeat in 468 B.C., the Greeks bethought themselves safe and wished to dismantle the League. But Athens had grown power hungry. She had benefited greatly during the wars with Persia by using the extra money to build up her temples and walls. Athens was also the one who had built and controlled the Greek navy which won victory over the Persians in the battle of Salamis. Now dismayed at the thought of loosing her high seat of power, the Athenians used their navy to turn on their countrymen. Thus the Peloponnesian Wars began.

Staged in two phases, from 431-404 B.C., the civil war raged on. With it came hardships and plague. Athens won the first stage after a long hard siege, but lost the second when she overreached her arm.

The first stage began and ended with the great Athenian politician, speaker and general Pericles. Elected tyrant during the wars early years, Pericles was an eloquent man and strong leader. When faced with siege he did not flinch, knowing that Athens ports could stay open thus supplying the city with food indefinitely. For two years Athens held out valiantly.

Outside the walls of Athens camped a new confederacy, the Spartan League. As its name indicates the Spartans were the Leagues strongest players. They were angry with the thought of becoming a part of Athens Empire and violently opposed it. They had always been a warrior city-state, with warriors raised from infancy to know the art of war and defend Spartan rights.

Meanwhile the Athenians held out tolerably well with their navy supplying food and products. Then Providence decreed an unforeseen turn and plague struck the city: one third of its population died including Pericles. This was disheartening to the Athenians who never fully recovered. It seemed an omen of foreshadowing doom, eventually the Athenian Empire must crumble.

Still the Athenians did what they could. New Tyrants ruled one after the other, but none of them compared to Pericles. Indeed most of them were foolish and wanted only popularity with the people rather than making wise decisions for the war. Eventually under one of these tyrants Athens attacked the city of Melos, a city in league with the Spartans: and put to death every man of fighting age while enslaving the women and children.

For a time it seemed that this act of brutality had brought victory to Athens. She regained much of her former strength and the first phase of the Peloponnesian wars came to an end. But then Athens decided she wanted to control a city called Syracuse in Sicily, by doing so she would gain access and control of all the Greek colonies and trade. Essentially she would become the only power and win the war. The second phase was ushered in.

This second phase lasted thirteen years, and they were draining years for Athens. Before two had even passed she lost an army and two large flats. Now was when they needed their strong leader Pericles, but he alas was dead!

Amazingly Sparta at this point was so intent on defeating Athens that she was willing to turn to the Greeks old enemy Persia for help. In return for money, which Sparta wanted to build a fleet, Sparta promised to give Persia the Greek cities of Ionia. How fickle politics are! What began as a united effort to drive Persia from its stronghold in Ionia, ended in Persia being handed the bloodied cities in return for money. Mineral for the blood of patriots and rivalry for the land of brothers.

With its fleet built Sparta headed to the seas, hoping to gain victory on water where they had not on land. Athens must have must have been alarmed, for she had but one fleet left at this time. Yet it was impossible to back down, so the battle ensued. Sparta won at last and Athens was forced to give up her territories, dismiss her armies and crawl home to lick her wounds.

What meanwhile were the other smaller, but still significant city states thinking? They rejoiced at Athens defeat, hoping for rest and renewed peaceful trade. Happily they concluded prematurely that they were free to govern themselves as they wished.

Yet while the Peloponnesian wars finally ended, the Greek people still could not claim peace. One threat precedes another and now Sparta was not willing to up her luxurious hold on the other city states, which now included Athens. This threat was far worse than the other for Sparta was a harsh totalitarian society, which no one wanted in power.

And so the city states once again formed a confederacy, this time without a notable name. Together they waged war on Sparta, eventually defeating her and gaining some much needed respite. Now the city states had come full circle, they were back were they started nearly thirty years later. The major civil wars were over for a time.

Alexander the Great

Christ and Alexander

In the year of 356 B.C. a beautiful baby boy was born, his name was Alexander. We now know him as Alexander the great because of what he accomplished in his short life of 32 years. It is interesting to see the contrast between this Macedonian mans life and that of a certain Jew named Jesus Christ. Jesus also lived 32 years, but his kingdom is a heavenly one which cannot be taken away. Whereas Alexander’s vast empire and wealth fell apart after his death.

Alexander’s father was Philip of Macedonia and his mother was a priestess called Olympia. Although he would be far outshone by his son, Philip began what Alexander later finished; building an empire. Philip had a drive for power and he set about putting his own kingdom in order, all the while waiting, waiting for the opportunity to conquer his Greek neighbors. Alexander must have inherited his fathers conquering spirit because at an early age he tamed a wild horse- which later became his famous steed Bucephalus.

Philip accomplished much in his lifetime and died around 336 B.C., it is probable he was murdered. This left 20 year old Alexander king of Macedonia and although young he was fully prepared for the responsibility of running a kingdom. Besides, his father had already done all the groundwork of training an army and securing a kingdom. So Alexander turned his eyes towards Persia, the old enemy of the Greeks. He began dreaming of defeating them in battle and spreading Greek supremacy to the entire known world.

While Alexander was planning to bring himself glory and fame, Jehovah was bringing all His purposes to pass. Daniel prophesied 300 years before Alexander’s birth that he would come and defeat Persia. In Daniel 8: 7-8 Alexander is described as a goat and Persia as a ram, and the ram was defeated by the goat. The Jewish people were under heavy oppression from Persia at that time, and in God’s providence He decreed that Alexander would come lift their burden. Indeed it is amazing that Alexander had mercy on the Jewish people after destroying so many other nations.

Determined and resolute Alexander marched his forces against Persia. Within several months Darius, king of Persia, must have been quaking in his kingly robes as Greece’s new ruler proved his power. Alexander won the battles of Issus, Granicus, and Gaugemala… and kept marching on.

Persopolis, the capitol city of Persia’s empire finally fell into Alexander’s hands in 331 B.C. Triumphant at last; Alexander sat in Persia’s great gilded throne and exclaimed “So this is what it feels like to be an Emperor”. But with victory came a price, Alexander grew vain and imagined himself a god. This led to discontentment among his soldiers who were free Greeks and valued independence. Still, Alexander held a strong sway over them, and the East had captivated him.

So once again Alexander called hi vast army together and prepared to campaign in India. Somehow Persopolis was burned to the ground soon after; some say it was Alexander’s final revenge on Persia, others believe it was an accident. India was an unknown challenge to the Greeks, its climate and terrain soon began to wear them down. Their leader urged them to press on, realizing more and more India’s wealth in jewels, gold and spices. But when Alexander himself became ill with a putrid fever which nearly claimed his life, he ordered a retreat.

Death loomed over Alexander now, he was weak and yet proud. His actions further separated him from his Greek generals as he spent long nights reveling. Once while in his drunken state, he ordered the death of a close friend who had once saved his life! It was now, at the height of his power and corruption that Daniel had prophesied his reign would end. “Daniel 8:8”

Unexpectedly in 323 B.C. Alexander the Great died. It came as a shock to his Kingdom, as the man was young and in comparatively good health. Worse, the Emperor left no capable heir. His only child was not yet born; the people knew not whether the baby would be male or female; and Alexander had made no provision for administration until the child should come of age. Apparently he had not thought to die so suddenly or so young. This left the door open for his four generals to seize power. They murdered all of Alexander’s family members and divided the kingdom among themselves. Ptolemy ruled Egypt; Lysimachus took Thrace and Asia Minor; Selucucus took Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia; leaving Cassander Macedonia and Greece.

What began with Alexander, ended with Alexander. His vision of a great united empire died with him and instead was divided into four manageable pieces. Yet God was at work building His kingdom which would last for all eternity. Through Alexander a new culture was born, the “Hellenistic Period”. Because of Alexander the Great, Greek language was spread to most of the known world. The New Testament was first written in Greek and many people were able to read it and join the kingdom of Christ. God’s sovereign hand on His-story has and always will be perfect!

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot hope to keep, in order to gain what he cannot loose.”
Jim Elliot

“The days go by, they quickly pass,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.”