to mislead trusting people. Regarding religious leaders who deceive, the Bible states: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:13) As Jesus forewarned, there is grave danger to those who blindly follow the lead of such men.—Matt. 15:14.
Questions From Readers
● Which Zechariah was Jesus referring to when he spoke of “Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar”?—H. R., Canada.
Jesus was speaking against the religious leaders of his day when he said, “that there may come upon you all the righteous blood spilled on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.” (Matt. 23:35) In Luke’s account the words “son of Barachiah” are omitted. (Luke 11:50, 51) They are also not found in Matthew’s account in the Codex Sinaiticus. However, the weight of manuscript evidence is that Jesus did mention “Zechariah son of Barachiah.”
Understandably one might wonder which man Jesus meant, since more than twenty men are named Zechariah in the Hebrew Scriptures. While some commentators feel that Jesus meant the prophet “Zechariah the son of Berechiah,” who wrote the book of Zechariah, there is nothing to indicate that he was murdered.—Zech. 1:1; LXX; Dy.
The most common understanding is that Jesus referred to Zechariah “the son of Jehoiada the priest,” since this Zechariah was stoned to death during the days of King Jehoash. (2 Chron. 24:20-22) Supporting this conclusion is the fact that Chronicles is listed last in the traditional Jewish canon, thereby making Abel the first righteous man recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures as having been murdered and Zechariah the last. Also, the place of death of this Zechariah, “in the courtyard of Jehovah’s house,” corresponds with Jesus’ location of the incident “between the sanctuary and the altar.”
In the cases of both Abel and Zechariah a reckoning for shedding of blood was foretold. (Gen. 4:10; 2 Chron. 24:22) And there is a strong parallel between the circumstances and events in the days of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada and those of the generation living when Jesus spoke. Soon after priest Zechariah’s death, a Syrian force despoiled Judah and executed acts of judgment on Jehoash. (2 Chron. 24:23-25) After describing the bloodguilt of those to whom he was talking, Jesus said: “All these things will come upon this generation.” (Matt. 23:36) Those words were fulfilled on Jerusalem and Judea in 70-73 C.E.
Who, then, was the father of this Zechariah—Barachiah or Jehoiada? Some have thought that the aged priest Jehoiada (2 Chron. 24:15) was actually Zechariah’s grandfather and that his father (Barachiah) was not mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, though his name may have been preserved in the genealogies of the priests. Another suggestion, and one that is quite reasonable, is that Jehoiada, the father of Zechariah, who was murdered, may have had two names, as is the case with other Biblical persons. (Compare Matthew 9:9 and Mark 2:14.) Interestingly, the meaning of Barachiah (Jah blesses) is much like that of Jehoiada (Jehovah knows or regards). In any event, Jesus could appropriately draw on the unrighteous murder of Zechariah in condemning persecutors of God’s servants in his day.
● Was the apostle Paul ever married?—L. B., U.S.A.
The Bible does not comment directly on this; though, from things Paul wrote, it seems possible that he was a widower during his years as a Christian.
One basis for this conclusion is the way he expressed himself in defending his apostleship when writing to the Corinthians. He pointed out that he had certain rights that he had not used. For one thing, he did not accept personal financial assistance from them, even though he had the right to eat at their expense. (1 Cor. 9:4, 11-15)