- The Magi – The Wise still Seek the Savior
- The Magi Irony
- The Magi bring Trouble to Jerusalem
- The Magi’s dream leads to the Gospel
The Magi came from Persia, and they opened the door for the gospel to influence the East.Image used by permission from Rami Oweis. https://www.facebook.com/Z.Rforarts
The end of the story – a dream by God
Matthew 2:12 says, “And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.” This often overlooked statement tells the story of return. They did not go back to Herod, who, when he found out he was tricked, was furious (v. 16). The first step for these seekers of truth was not to inform an earthly king who had bad intentions but to depart. To return to their own country, the text says, and previously we studied their Persian origins. So they left for Persia and most likely shared the story of the Savior’s birth with those they knew.
The Lord God intervened in their lives with this dream, giving them a road map to return a different way. Coming to Jerusalem had two main routes. The northern route just north of Jerusalem was the main traveled way. Still, since Bethlehem is six miles south of Jerusalem, the southern route towards Arabia into less populated areas could provide protection. There they could quickly flee the grasp of Herod.see https://theodds.website/arabian-desert-two-routes-to-bethlehem/ K.B. Vogelman gives an excellent summary of the potential issues of travel. Within hours they would be undiscoverable in the desert. Yet, however they left the region, the Lord protected them.
Sharing their Excitement!
Did they return and tell the news to others? The passage gives us a few hints about their intentions. First, they previously asked Herod, a hostile king, about a king’s coming birth. They were courageous and undaunted by his power – willing to share their experience. Third, they were exceedingly overjoyed when they saw the star (v. 10). They did not hide their excitement or amazement at what was happening to them. These Magi unashamedly inquired and rejoiced in their situation. Based on these factors, naturally, when they returned, they told others.
The day of Pentecost possibly testifies to the interest of the Magi from the Jewish people in the diaspora. Acts 2:8-11 says, “8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (ESV). Notice the first four areas mentioned dwelt within the Parthian Empire, which was under Persian control during the time of Christ. Parthians (Eastern Iran), Medes (Northwestern Iran), Elamites (Southwestern Iran, including Susa, where Daniel lived), and residents of Mesopotamia (southern Iraq, including Babylon) highlighted the non-Roman areas by placing them first in the list. This is because so many Jewish people reside in all of these areas. Some Jewish people indeed heard the Magi’s return with this birth report.
Why does the list in Acts 2 start with a non-Roman area? An extensive Jewish population lived in the Eastern regions where many dwelt since captivity. The listing prioritizes the East and most likely depicts the listing in Strabo’s writings or desires to demonstrate the massive numbers from these areas. As the book of Acts explains the gospel spread throughout the Roman empire, maybe he hints here at the spread of the gospel East from those who attended the day of Pentecost.
From the time after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we know the gospel spread West into the Roman empire, but tradition tells the story of the gospel’s spread East. Antioch, located on the silk road, provided the route for the gospel to spread to the East.http://www.mitchellteachers.org/ChinaTour/SilkRoadProject/silk_road_antioch.html One of the first major stops toward the East was Palmyra and a Christian grave inscription evidence from 135 A.D.oger-pearse.com/weblog/2013/06/24/a-christian-inscription-from-palmyra-dated-135-ad/ Many other historical facts demonstrate the existence of early Christians in these areas. Church history tells that Parthia, the Persian realm, came under the charge of Thomas, who ministered in the region.http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.viii.i.html Most likely, many other disciples joined him, along with those influenced by the day of Pentecost.
Origen (185–253 A.D.) gave the Wisemen names, and many of the early third-century Roman catacombs depicted two to four Magi coming to worship the baby, Lord Jesus.Especially the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome. https://earlychurchhistory.org/beliefs-2/who-were-the-magi/. Tradition holds that some of the Wisemen came from Saveh, Iran. This city during the Parthian times was called Saavakineh and was a central location for the Parthian empire, just East of Hamadan (Ecbatana, the Parthian capital). The probability of truth favors legitimacy since Islamic religion, history, and traditions firmly ignored any Persia connection in their writings. Even the prophet Daniel or the Priest Ezra (Uzair)find sparse mention in their writings; likewise, for Shia Islam to retain any part of this tradition brought no benefit. Thus, the Persians attempted to keep this link alive during the past centuries, revealing the probability of the Magi coming from this region.
The non-Jewish Magi coming to worship a Jewish-born king boggles the first-century mind. Yet, the inspired story is more than a tradition as the gospel spread to India and Central Asia testify to these early witnesses of the Magi, the Jewish diaspora, and even the apostle Thomas who shared in the East.
|Gospel of Matthew||Magi visit Jesus||Written 80-90 A.D.|
|Origen||Mentions their names||185–253 A.D.|
|Catacomb of Priscilla||Depiction of their coming||3rd Century|
|Church Nativity, Bethlehem||Depicted Mosaics||329 A.D.|
|Saveh, Iran||Marco Polo saw Magi tombs||c. 1295 A.D.|
The Magi seeking truth and a King worthy of worship, returned to share the kernel of the coming gospel. Their witness seeds the land even today as they encourage seekers to find Jesus!
Searching for the Magi Series
1 – The Wise Still Seek the Savior
3- The Magi bring trouble to Jerusalem
|↑1||Image used by permission from Rami Oweis. https://www.facebook.com/Z.Rforarts|
|↑2||see https://theodds.website/arabian-desert-two-routes-to-bethlehem/ K.B. Vogelman gives an excellent summary of the potential issues of travel.|
|↑6||Especially the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome. https://earlychurchhistory.org/beliefs-2/who-were-the-magi/|
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