“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).


1) Sanhedrin (Heath Rogers)
2) News & Notes



Heath Rogers

The Sanhedrin was the highest Jewish court or ruling body during New Testament times. Jesus and His apostles both received opposition from the Sanhedrin. This council of the Jews condemned Jesus to death, delivered Him to Pilate, and demanded His execution. Later, this same ruling body had the apostles beaten and commanded them to no longer preach in the name of Jesus. What was the Sanhedrin, where did it come from, and what authority did it possess?

Our knowledge of the Sanhedrin comes from three sources – the New Testament, the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, and the rabbinic traditions that were written in the third century A.D.

There is a lack of positive historical information regarding the origin of the Sanhedrin. Rabbinic tradition traces the Sanhedrin back to God’s command for Moses to gather seventy elders of Israel to help him as he led the nation (Num. 11:16). Tradition also claims this council was reorganized by Ezra upon the return from Babylonian captivity. However, the Sanhedrin as we see it in the New Testament did not appear until the Intertestamental Period (the four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments).

The Greeks conceded a great amount of internal freedom to subject peoples. Palestine was then governed by an aristocratic council of elders, headed by the high priest. It is believed that this council developed into the Sanhedrin. According to Josephus, the Sanhedrin existing during the time of Greek occupation was concerned with judicial matters and was considered the governing body for all of Palestine. The jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin fluctuated when the Romans took control of Palestine. Eventually it was recognized as the ruling body of Israel even by the Jews that were dispersed throughout the world.

As the New Testament begins, Herod the Great is the king of the Jews. He had a tumultuous relationship with this council. Historically, the Sanhedrin had consisted of the chief priests and the Sadducees. This “priestly aristocracy” opposed Herod, so he admitted Pharisees into the council to cripple their power. This crippling effect can be seen in the way Paul later caused the Sadducees and Pharisees to oppose one another during his trial before the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:1-10).

The Sanhedrin consisted of seventy-one members, which included the high priest serving as the leader or president of the council. The New Testament identifies the council members as chief priests, elders, and scribes. The chief priests were members of the most prominent priestly families. The elders were tribal and family heads of the people, and like the priests, were likely Sadducees. The scribes were scholars and experts in the Law of Moses. These men were Pharisees. Although they were a minority in the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees held great popularity with the Jews and nothing could be accomplished by the council without their support.

How one became a member of the Sanhedrin is unknown. Some believe the council elected its own members. The criteria for being a council member is also unknown, but two qualifications are believed to have been wealth and adherence to rabbinic doctrine.

The Sanhedrin exercised complete control over the religious affairs of Israel. Their decisions regarding the interpretation of the Law of Moses were considered final. The Romans also allowed them to handle civil affairs and to try certain criminal cases. Roman authorities allowed subject nations to govern themselves, provided they kept the peace and did not stimulate or tolerate rebellion against the empire. The Sanhedrin had its own police force (the temple police) and could have people arrested and brought before them for trial.

One limitation placed upon the Sanhedrin by Rome was that they could not exercise capital punishment. This is why the council brought Jesus to Pilate after finding Him guilty and deserving of death (John 18:31). The one exception to this law was that the Sanhedrin, on its own authority, could put a Gentile to death (even a Roman citizen) if he passed into the inner court of the temple in Jerusalem.

The Sanhedrin is seen in a bad light in the New Testament because of its opposition to Jesus and His apostles. We know their trial of Jesus was not an unbiased examination of the facts in His case, but a means of carrying out their predetermined plan to put Him to death (John 11:53). This trial broke several rules. It was held at night, before a feast day, the death sentence was passed on the same day of the trial, and it involved obvious false witnesses. Stephen was tried before the Sanhedrin (Acts 6:12-7:60). It is not clear whether Stephen was officially condemned and executed by the authority of the Sanhedrin or if his stoning was the result of a riotous act.

Despite these facts, the New Testament indicates there were good men on the Sanhedrin. Gamaliel, a respected teacher of the law and a Pharisee, was able to talk the council out of condemning the apostles to death (Acts 5:33-40). Joseph of Arimathea, the man who buried Jesus, is described as “a council member, a good and just man” who had not consented to the council’s decision to condemn Jesus (Luke 23:50-51). Nicodemus helped Joseph bury Jesus. He was also a council member and spoke in defense of Jesus (John 3:1; 7:50-51; 19:39-42). It is not known whether these men were present at the Lord’s trial.

The Sanhedrin was abolished after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Although a court consisting of scribes was regarded by some as the continuation of the Sanhedrin, it was of an essentially different character and did not possess any authority.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Nelson’s Bible Dictionary
The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible

— Via the Knollwood church of Christ, February 2020


News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

It has now been 35 days since we were last able to assemble.  There has been no reports as to any additional illnesses by any of the members, but we still want to keep each other in prayer. 

I saw this morning that Ware County now has 81 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 5 deaths linked to it, while there are also 17,841 confirmed cases and 677 deaths statewide.  Other statistics showed 742,067 confirmed cases and 39,295 deaths throughout our nation, and 2,349,720 confirmed cases and 39,015 deaths worldwide because of covid-19.  So there are many sick and grieving people today who can use our prayers. 

We are glad to hear that Jonathan Abbott was able to return to work last week. 

Jonathan’s mother is now having hemodialysis 3 days a week and chemotherapy once a week.  She is doing well with both.

Bud Montero’s second prep work was moved up to the 21st of this month.  He had an annual checkup last week and also saw another doctor and found out that his HDL is a little low and his VLDL is on the high side.  So he will be making some adjustments to improve that.

Ashley Law reported Friday evening that her mother (Kim Rowell) has improved and is being transferred back to Waycross for therapy. Ashley thanks everyone for their calls and prayers and asks that we continue to pray for her mother to improve even more.

Let us also remember the following in prayer: Andy Berendt, Ann Vandevander, Rick Cuthbertson, Jim Lively, Rex &  Frankie Hadley, Kelly Stoneheart, A.J. & Pat Joyner, John Bladen, the Downs, Joyce Rittenhouse, Shirley Davis, the Medlock family, Sandra Goodrich, and Kerry Williams.

And, of course, let us also pray for everyone everywhere, as the Bible exhorts us to do in 1 Timothy 2:1.

Last week, I began putting together a new website through a different Internet server for the WordPress version of our weekly bulletin (which includes pictures) in order to eliminate all the ads that were being included through the other web host.  This new one is at https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress . Using this link will always take you to the latest bulletin in the post.  Previous bulletin articles can be searched through the Table of Contents.  And the Archive has even more — going all the way back to March 4, 1990 when this bulletin began.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Tebeau Street
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

The following services are all cancelled until further notice:

services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
7 p.m. (Bible class)

Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)