Teacher Notes

Bible Stories for Adults

Between the Testaments

Malachi, Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha

Welcome and Announcements
    Next Week - Jesus is the Way to the Father (John 14:1-14)
    Bible Words to Remember:
      You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

Opening Prayer

Returning to the Lord (Nehemiah)
    How did the people learn about God's Law after returning to Judah?
      Nehemiah 8:2-3 = Ezra read the Book of the Law to the large assembly
    How did the people respond when they realized how they had been sinning?
      Nehemiah 8:9 = They cried & mourned

    How did they respond later in the month after their situation sank in?
      Nehemiah 9:1-3 (8:1-9:37) = They were greatly moved & confessed their sins
    What did they understand to be the reason their ancestors had been exiled?
      Nehemiah 9:29-30 = Disobeyed God's laws & ignored His messengers
    What did they do to show their sincerity in being faithful to God?
      Nehemiah 9:38; 10:29 = Rededicated themselves & made an oath to keep God's Laws

The Last of God's Prophets (Malachi) = Late in Nehemiah's life, 1000 yrs after Conquest, 400 yrs before Christ
    Did the Jews persevere in their dedication to obey God's Law?
      Nehemiah 13:6-7, 10-11 = Strayed while Nehemiah was gone in Babylon
    Why were the Jews so quick to stray?
      Malachi 3:14-15 = Why obey when even the evildoers prosper?
    What were some examples where the Jews cut corners in keeping God's Law?
      Malachi 1:7-8 = Brought blemished animals to sacrifice
      Malachi 2:11 = Married foreign wives
      Malachi 2:14 (14-16) = Divorce
      Malachi 3:8 (8-10) = Failing to tithe

    Would God give up on these people or would He send another messenger?
      Malachi 3:1 = He'd send a messenger to prepare the way for the Messiah
    Who would this messenger be?
      Malachi 4:5 = Elijah
    Did this messenger come as God promised?
      Luke 1:13, 17 = Yes, Elijah came back as John the Baptist

Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha
    Religious writings not accepted as divinely inspired (not in canon)
      Old Testament canon defined by rabbis at Jamnia in 90 AD
      Produced and circulated during period of 200 BC - 100 AD
        Contain various historical references and stories
      Recommended by Jerome & Luther for ethical but not doctrinal teaching
      Many apocryphal New Testament writings also exist, such as:
        Gospel of the Infancy, Gospel of Thomas, ... Nicodemus, ... Bartholomew
        Acts of John, ... Paul, ... Peter, ... Andrew, ... Philip, ... Thomas

    Apocrypha = Greek for hidden things
      Contain ideas that disagree with Protestant doctrine
        Purgatory, masses for the dead, good works earn merit with God
      Roman Catholics accept 12 of these 15 books as Deuterocanonical
        Accepted at Council of Trent in 1546 in response to reformers
      Eastern Orthodox accept all but 2 Esdras as canonical
      1 & 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions To Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch,
        Letter of Jeremiah, Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon,
        Prayer of Manasseh, 1 & 2 Maccabees

    Pseudepigrapha = Greek for false authorship
      Falsely claimed to be written by a well-known ancient figure
        Given even less credence than apocrypha
      Called Apocrypha by Roman Catholics
        Eastern Orthodox accept 3 & 4 Maccabees as canonical
      Enoch, Psalms of Solomon, Books of Adam and Eve, Martyrdom of Isaiah,
        Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs

Persian Period (539-333 BC)
    Aramaic became common language while in captivity (replaced Hebrew)
    Cyrus conquered Babylon and allowed exiles to return
    Temple and city walls were rebuilt, God's Law was reinstated
      Jewish high priest was appointed as head of church & state
    Artaxerxes III assassinated by Bagoas (his minister of state)
      A's son Arses set up as puppet king by Bagoas
      Arses replaced by Darius III (Codomanus) when he disagreed with Bagoas

Alexander the Great (336-323)
    Strong Greek military developed by Philip of Macedon (358-336)
      Alexander took rule after his father Philip was assassinated
    Conquered the eastern world to build Greek empire
      Defeated Persians in 333 BC at Issus
      Established Alexandria in Egypt in 331 BC
    Died soon after returning to Babylon in 323 BC
    Greek empire was divided between his 4 generals
      Ptolemy - Ruled Egypt, Capital at Alexandria in Egypt
      Seleucus - Ruled Babylonia, Capital at Antioch in Syria

Greek Period (333-63 BC)
    Ptolemies (323-198)
      Egypt flourished under the 15 Macedonian kings called Ptolemies
        Government patterned after pharaohs instead of Greeks
      Ptolemy wrestled Palestine control away from Seleucus
        Palestine changed hands numerous times in this period
      High priest served as top administrator of Judea, line of Zadok (David's priest)
        Pentateuch (Torah) served as Judea's constitution
        Sanhedrin served like a senate & supreme court
      Septuagint made during prosperous reign of Ptolemy II (Philadelphus)
        72 elders translated Hebrew Pentateuch into Greek (6 per tribe)
      Cleopatra's son by Julius Caesar, Ptolemy XV, was the last Ptolemy
        Murdered with mother by Octavian's orders in 30 BC

    Seleucids (198-165) = Named after Seleucus or his son Antiochus
      Pushed Hellenism & built Greek cities throughout empire
        Hellenism - Greek thought, customs, lifestyle
        Intended to unify diverse peoples and cultures
        Threatened Jewish faithfulness to God and His Law
      Antiochus III recaptured Palestine from Ptolemy V in 198 BC
        Gave Jews right to make their own laws, Donated to temple
      Antiochus IV forced unity (Hellenism) & expansion (heavy taxation)
        Selfnamed Epiphanes (Manifest) = Said Zeus was manifest in him
          Nicknamed by his subjects Epimanes (madman)
        Sold high priesthood to highest bidder, then deposed & resold
        Plundered & desecrated the temple - altar to Zeus (167-164 BC) & sacrificed pig
          Forbade circumcision, Sabbath, festivals, Torah - punishable by death

Maccabean Period (165-134 BC)
    Priest Mattathias killed official demanding pagan sacrifice & began revolt
      Fled to hills with sons & others, organized an army
      Destroyed altars, killed Hellenized Jews, circumcised Jewish boys
      Mattathias killed within 3 months, succeeded by son Judas
        Nicknamed Maccabee = hammerer (for great might as a warrior)

    Judas Maccabeus led surprise attacks against Seleucids & won independence
      Temple was cleansed & rededicated (celebrated at Hanukkah)
      Skirmished around Palestine & Galilee to bring scattered Jews back to Jerusalem
      Killed in political battle against Seleucid army

    Jonathan followed brother Judas and gained power with shrewd politics
      Awarded role of high priest although not of Zadokite line
      Taken prisoner and killed by Trypho under Antiochus VI

    Simon took title of great high priest and commander and leader of the Jews
      Qumran community was established in protest (Dead Sea Scrolls)

Hasmonean Period (134-63 BC)
    John installed as Priest-Prince after father Simon was killed by son-in-law
      Took name of John Hyrcanus I (Descendants were called Hasmoneans)
      Defeated by Antiochus VII, Won freedom & Samaria from Demetrius II
    Two parties emerged during John Hyrcanus I
      Pharisees - Focus on obedience to God's Law (study, apply, develop)
        Descended from Hasideans
          Opposed Judas Maccabeus' efforts to win political freedom
          Content with cleansing of Temple and reestablishment of Jewish worship
      Sadducees - Priests & nobles opposed Pharisees to protect privileges

    Aristobulus (son) called himself king (instead of ethnarch)
      Imprisoned brothers & mother to protect reign
    Alexander Jannaeus (brother) expanded borders to include David's territory
      Power-hungry, hated by his own people
    Alexandra Salome (widow) brought time of peace & prosperity
    Aristobulus II and Hyrcanus II (Salome's sons) fought for leadership
      Rome intervened and Palestine became part of the Roman Empire
      Pompey imprisoned Aristobulus II & appointed Hyrcanus II high priest

Roman Period (63 BC-)
    Julius Caesar took Syria from Pompey in 47 BC
      Appointed Hyrcanus as ethnarch & high priest, Antipater as procurator
      Antipater's sons as governors - Herod over Galilee, Phasael over Jerusalem
      Herod married Hyrcanus' granddaughter after Antipater was killed
    Parthians gained power over Syria after Julius Caesar was killed in 44 BC
      Parthians helped Aristobulus's son Antigonus become high priest
      Hyrcanus exiled to Babylon, Phasael commit suicide, Herod ran to Rome

    Herod the Great won favor of Mark Antony & Octavian, named King of the Jews
      Took over 3 years later after Romans executed Antigonus
      Reported directly to Rome, a Hellenist at heart, not accepted by Jews
      Became paranoid, killed some of his wives & kids to protect throne
        Matthew 2:16 = Ordered murder of babies to kill potential threat
      Used heavy taxation for a lavish building program (inc. 2nd Temple)
    Herod's territory was divided between his 3 remaining sons when he died
      Herod Archelaus ruled Judea 10 years and was replaced by procurators
        Pontius Pilate was the fifth procurator (26-36 AD)
      Herod Antipas ruled Galilee, Jesus' homeland
        He killed John the Baptist and was in Jerusalem when Jesus died

In the Fullness of Time - Bethel Bible Series, New Testament Study 1
    Hour Glass - Galatians 4:4-5 = When the time had fully come
    Greek Empire
      Sword = World brought together by conquests of Alexander the Great
      Greek Pillar = Cultural barriers removed by spread of Hellenism
      Greek Letters = Common language allowed unhindered communications
    Roman Empire
      Golden Eagle = Roman rule & unity prevented power struggles
      White Flag = People lived in security under Pax Romana (Roman Peace)
      Roads to Coliseum = Network of roads was built for army response
    Manuscript = Hebrew Traditions and Dispersions
      Jews longed for coming of the promised Messiah
      Earlier exiles carried Hebrew message throughout the world
    Three Figures = Mankind desperately needed God's intervention
      Clasped Hands = Foreign gods & philosophy led to spiritual confusion
      Bowed Head = The Roman way of life was filled with moral corruption
      Upraised Arms = Many searched for decency and justice

Closing Prayer

Copyright © 1997 by Kurt Rosenhagen

Use of this material is provided free of charge for use in personal or group Bible Study, no permission needed.
The author reserves all rights for use in published material or in uses where fees are involved.
For permission, or to provide your comments, insights and feedback, contact the author at:


Return to Bible Stories for Adults Home Page