Exaudi Sunday comes between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost.

Exaudi is Latin, from the verb exaudire (modern day equivalents are the French exaucer and the Italian esaudire). It has several meanings, among them: hear, understand and discern, as well as heed, obey and, where the Lord is concerned, grant. The French version of the Catholic Mass uses exaucer a lot, as do hymns: ‘grant us, Lord’.

Exaudi Sunday is so called because of the traditional Introit, taken from Psalm 17:1. The two first words in Latin are ‘Exaudi Domine’ — ‘Hear, Lord’.

I have read that it is the saddest Sunday of the Church year. The faithful recall the forlorn disciples, among them the Apostles, who saw Christ’s ascent into Heaven and then awaited the arrival of the Holy Spirit.

You can find out more about it from the following post, including Lutheran perspectives:

Exaudi Sunday: between the Ascension and Pentecost

Below are the readings for this final Sunday of Eastertide for Year B in the three-year Lectionary. Emphases mine below.

The first reading describes Peter and the other ten Apostles looking for a replacement for Judas:

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

1:15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said,

1:16 “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus —

1:17 for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

1:21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

1:22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”

1:23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.

1:24 Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen

1:25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

1:26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

The Psalm is about the happiness true believers have in God, who will thwart the way of the wicked:

Psalm 1

1:1 Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;

1:2 but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.

1:3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

1:4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

1:5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

1:6 for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

The second reading — the Epistle — is from John’s letters. Either the reading from Acts or this one is generally the Epistle.

God’s testimony is greater than man’s:

1 John 5:9-13

5:9 If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.

5:10 Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son.

5:11 And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

5:12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

The Gospel reading is from John. Note that Jesus said He receives believers on His Father’s behalf. God chooses believers and gives them to Jesus. Therefore, we do not choose God. God chooses us. This blows centuries-own theological concepts — i.e. Arminianism and Universalism — out of the water:

John 17:6-19

17:6 “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

17:7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;

17:8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

17:9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.

17:10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

17:11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

17:12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.

17:13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.

17:14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

17:15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.

17:16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

17:18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Although Exaudi Sunday is bittersweet, the first Pentecost saw the Apostles rush out into the world, contending earnestly for the faith, beginning with Peter.

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Over the centuries, much has been written about the origins of the church in Rome.

Catholics and the Orthodox hold to a different history than do Protestants.

Much hinges on what has been recorded a) by historians and b) in the New Testament.

Wikipedia has a bewildering array of ancient historical writings about Peter’s ministry there and whether he and Paul were martyred together, as Catholics and the Orthodox hold. I’ll let you read those.

What brought this to mind was Paul’s friendship with Aquila and Priscilla, introduced in Acts 18:1-4.

Acts 18:2 says that Aquila, born in Pontus in Asia Minor, was a Jew — a convert by then — who had been exiled from Rome. He and his wife Priscilla ended up in Corinth, which is where Paul made their acquaintance.

The Jews and Rome

Bible.org has an informative article by Dr Greg MaGee, ‘The Origins of the Church at Rome’, excerpts of which follow. Emphases mine below.

A number of historical artifacts and writings give us an idea of the Jewish population and where they lived:

Sources indicate that before Christians emerged in Rome, Jews had already established a presence in the city. Inscriptions from Jewish catacombs and comments from literary documents open a window into the life, organization, and struggles of the Jews in Rome. The catacomb inscriptions have most recently been dated from the late second through the fifth centuries A.D.1 Richardson concludes that the inscriptions attest to the existence of at least five synagogues in Rome in the early first century, with the possibility of even more. The “Hebrew synagogue” probably arose first, with subsequent synagogues named after famous allies of the Jews.2 The language used in inscriptions suggests that many of the synagogues were in the poorer districts of the city.3 Scholars have noted the lack of evidence for a central organization or leadership structure that oversaw the different synagogues.4 At the same time, in the inscriptions only leaders are identified in relation to their synagogues. Ordinary Jews affiliated themselves with Judaism as a whole rather than their particular synagogue.5 Thus the Jews viewed themselves as a unified group despite the apparent lack of a controlling body of spiritual leaders in the city.

Literary excepts describe the social and political environment of the Roman Jews. For instance, as early as 59 B.C., Cicero offers his opinion on the Jews during his defense of Flaccus: “You know what a big crowd it is, how they stick together, how influential they are in informal assemblies… every year it was customary to send gold to Jerusalem on the order of the Jews from Italy and from all our provinces.”6 Cicero’s remarks confirm the presence of a large community of Jews in Rome and indicate misgivings about their separatist tendencies. Comments by Philo about events under the reign of Augustus provide further information:

[T]he great section of Rome on the other side of the Tiber is occupied and inhabited by Jews, most of whom were Roman citizens emancipated. For having been brought as captives to Italy they were liberated by their owners and were not forced to violate any of their native institutions… . [T]hey have houses of prayer and meet together in them, particularly on the sacred Sabbaths when they receive as a body of training in their ancestral philosophy … [T]hey collect money for sacred purposes from their first-fruits and send them to Jerusalem by persons who would offer the sacrifices.”7

Like Cicero, Philo notes that the Jews maintained a distinct identity. The section of Rome Philo mentions (Trastevere) was “the chief foreign quarter of the city, a district characterized by narrow, crowded streets, towering tenement houses, teeming with population.”8 Philo also refers to the reason some of the Jews now lived in Rome: their ancestors had been forcibly taken to Rome as slaves (under Pompey).9 Once freed, the Jews bore the title libertini.

Augustus allowed the Jews to practise their faith freely.

However, Tiberius took against the Jews in 19 AD, shipping them to Sardinia. MaGee cites Tacitus’s account:

“Another debate dealt with the proscription of the Egyptian and Jewish rites, and a senatorial edict directed that four thousand descendants of enfranchised slaves, tainted with that superstition and suitable in point of age, were to be shipped to Sardinia and there be employed in suppressing brigandageThe rest had orders to leave Italy, unless they had renounced their impious ceremonial by a given date.”10

John MacArthur adds that Sardinia was rife with plague at the time of Tiberius’s edict:

He took 4,000 Jews and sent them to a country that had the plague, hoping they’d all catch the plague and die. So they were unpopular.

In 39 AD, Claudius also banished the Jews from Rome. MacArthur tells us:

every one of them had to go. Now we know a little about Claudius. And the reason we do is that about 70 years after the edict, it was written about 120 A.D., Suetonius wrote about Claudius. Suetonius was a historian, and he got all the information on Claudius, and he wrote about his life. And one of the statements that Suetonius makes in his life of Claudius is this: “As the Jews were indulging in constant riots – listen – at the instigation of Chrestus, Claudius banished them from Rome.”

Aquila was one of those Jews. Matthew Henry’s commentary explains:

That the reason of his leaving Italy was because by a late edict of the emperor Claudius Cæsar all Jews were banished from Rome; for the Jews were generally hated, and every occasion was taken to put hardship and disgrace upon them. God’s heritage was as a speckled bird, the birds round about were against her, Jeremiah 12:9. Aquila, though a Christian, was banished because he had been a Jew; and the Gentiles had such confused notions of the thing that they could not distinguish between a Jew and a Christian. Suetonius, in the life of Claudius, speaks of this decree in the ninth year of his reign, and says, The reason was because the Jews were a turbulent people–assiduo tumultuantes; and that it was impulsore Christo–upon the account of Christ; some zealous for him, others bitter against him, which occasioned great heats, such as gave umbrage to the government, and provoked the emperor, who was a timorous jealous man, to order them all to be gone. If Jews persecute Christians, it is not strange if heathens persecute them both.

Chrestus

The name Chrestus is connected with Claudius’s edict.

It is unclear whether Chrestus was a person or, as is more likely, how the Jews in Rome referred to Christ.

MacArthur gives us more information about Chrestus:

Now, Claudius unloaded all of the Jews because they were always having riots, and the riots were instigated by a person named Chrestus. Now, you know, you can go back in history until you’re blue in the face and never find anything about anyone in that area who fits the bill named Chrestus. But what is very interesting is that the Greek Chrestus is only one letter different than the Greek Christis, which is Christ. It’s only the difference between an I and an E. And what it seems to be indicating is this: That what caused Claudius to send all the Jews out was they were rioting over the issue of Christ, which indicated probably some missionaries had come there, and had proclaimed Christ again as always was done in the synagogue, and as always happened with Paul, right? A riot ensued, and the element they had accepted Jesus Christ as Messiah was set against the Jews that were unbelieving, and they threw the city into turmoil, and Claudius got uptight and kicked them all out of town.

They were indulging in constant riots at the instigation of Chrestus. And you see, Suetonius thinks that Chrestus is some guy who lived then in Rome. And remember, he was writing 70 years later, so it’s easy to see how he could’ve made that simple error. They were probably rioting over the issue of Christ. And it seems to me that that kind of issue would preclude the fact there had to be Christ presented there. So therefore, there was the possibility of Aquilla and Priscilla being saved already. You see? And so they arrive over there in Corinth to ply their trade, and they’re already Christians.

MaGee also mentions Chrestus in his article. He also believes there was no such person:

The claim that Christ stands at the center of the conflict of A.D. 49 is contested on several fronts. First, the most straightforward reading of Suetonius’s account implies that Chrestus himself was present in Rome, as an instigator of the unrest.29 In response to this objection, some advocates of seeing Christians in the mix of the unrest of A.D. 49 propose that either Suetonius or his source was confused about the event.30 Other scholars have supposed that instead of Suetonius confusing the vowels in the name, Christian copyists incorrectly copied the document.31 Alternatively, it is contended that the Latin sentence structure allows for Chrestus being simply identified as the cause of the disturbance rather than being physically present in Rome.32 In further rebuttal of the Christian hypothesis, critics point out that Suetonius only later introduces Christian movement, at the time of Nero.33 This suggests that the Christianity had not been on Suetonius’s radar up to that point. Spence counters by explaining that the chief aim in Claudius 25.4 is to highlight the Jewish rather than Christian experience, even though the claims of Christ were involved.34

Scholars skeptical of a Christian angle to the controversy offer an alternative theory. They assert that the reference to Chrestus indicates that a messianic figure living in Rome was generating turmoil among the Jews.35 One problem with this theory is that no such person is known from any other historical sources. Moreover, Suetonius does not qualify his description by designating the character as “a certain Chrestus,” which would be more expected if the leader had been a figure of only fleeting interest.36 Finally, a rebellion led by a messianic figure would have evoked a more violent response from the Roman authorities.37 The more likely scenario is that Jewish contentions involving the claims of Christ brought about the Roman opposition.

Origins of the church in Rome

For a big clue on the origins of the church in Rome, MaGee says we have only to look at Acts 2:10, part of the story of who witnessed the first Pentecost:

10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,

about whom, he writes the following:

A number of scholars suggest that these temporary residents of Jerusalem may have taken the gospel back to Rome.52

MaGee points out other clues in Acts 6:9 and Acts 8:1:

In Acts 6:9, Luke mentions Stephen’s confrontation with Jews from the Synagogue of the Freedmen (tine” tw’n ejk th'” sunagwgh'” th'” legomevnh” Libertivnwn). These libertini likely correspond to the freed slaves mentioned in sources examined earlier. If some of these freedmen eventually received the gospel message, their contact with libertini elsewhere could have facilitated the spread of the gospel to other regions, including Rome.53 The geographical spread of the gospel to new regions would have been further encouraged when persecutions against Christians erupted in Jerusalem (see Acts 8:1).

Clues from Acts may be incorporated into a wider model that surmises that geographical dispersions of Christians in the first century likely brought Christianity to Rome.54 Both Roman inhabitants who visited Jerusalem before returning to Rome and Jews who settled into Rome for the first time may have played a role.55 Once Jewish Christians reached Rome, they would have had relatively unhindered ministry access in the synagogues, since no Jewish controlling authority could step in to quickly and definitively oppose the propagation of the message.56

Peter — and Paul

MaGee looks at the difference between establishing and building the foundations for the church in Rome with regard to Peter, citing Acts 12:17:

A competing theory promotes Peter as the carrier of the gospel to Rome. The mysterious reference in 12:17 (Peter “went to another place”) opens the door to speculation that Rome was the destination.57 Later church tradition asserts that Peter’s ministry as bishop of Rome spanned 25 years. While the biblical evidence rules out a continuous presence in Rome, it is surmised that Peter could have founded the church in A.D. 42 and then continued his leadership over the church even when in other locations.58 Finally, Rom 15:20-24 could contain an allusion to Peter’s ministry to the Romans, which dissuaded Paul from focusing his outreach in Rome.59

A closer look at earlier Patristic testimony lessens the probability that Peter established the church at Rome. In the mid-second century A.D., Irenaeus envisions a founding role for Peter alongside Paul: “Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, laying the foundations of the Church.”60 Soon after, he refers to the “universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul.”61 Immediately, the problem surfaces that in comparing Peter to Paul, who arrived to Rome relatively late in the church’s history, Peter’s unique founding influence in the church becomes less likely.62 More likely, relatively obscure Christians made contributions to the church’s establishment, leading to a vital and growing community. As a parallel, Christianity surfaces in places like Cyprus and Cyrene without any apparent missionary journey by noted apostles (Acts 11:20). In the fourth century, the theologian Ambrosiaster shares a similar perspective on the beginnings of the Roman church:

It is established that there were Jews living in Rome in the times of the apostles, and that those Jews who had believed [in Christ] passed on to the Romans the tradition that they ought to profess Christ but keep the law … One ought not to condemn the Romans, but to praise their faith; because without seeing any signs or miracles and without seeing any apostles, they nevertheless accepted faith in Christ.”63

Scholars are quick to discount the value of Ambrosiaster’s viewpoint as independent testimony.64 Even so, one would expect that the memory of a prominent founder such as Peter or Paul would not likely be forgotten if one of them had indeed established the church of Rome.65

Lonely Pilgrim, a Protestant, wrote a well-researched article, ‘Early Testimonies to St Peter’s Ministry in Rome’. He wonders why anyone would dispute it:

This is somewhat surprising to me. Even as a Protestant, there was never any question in my mind that Peter ministered and died in Rome — perhaps because I’m also an historian. The historical evidence for Peter being in Rome is not just solid; it’s unanimous. Every historical record that speaks to Peter’s later life and death attests that he died in Rome a martyr under the emperor Nero, ca. A.D. 67. No record places the end of his life anywhere else.

Lonely Pilgrim points out that those who doubt Peter had much to do with the church in Rome are also the same people who support Paul’s presence there:

The primary reason for this opposition, I suspect, is that in a fundamentalist view, all religious truth must come from Scripture, sola scriptura — and it is not self-evident from Scripture that St. Peter was ever in Rome. This is also the reason why few Protestants seem to dispute that St. Paul was in Rome: because he tells us he was, repeatedly, in his scriptural epistles. Most more thoughtful Protestants realize that there is a difference between religious truth and historical truth, however intertwined the two may sometimes be; and historical sources are valid authorities for historical truth. These tend to be, incidentally, the Protestants least inclined toward anti-Catholicism.

Lonely Pilgrim cites the first of Peter’s letters:

But the Bible can be an historical source, too. And there is actually a significant testimony in the Bible to Peter’s presence in Rome. In the valediction of Peter’s first epistle, he wrote (1 Peter 5:13 ESV):

She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.

Here the Greek grammar is clear: ἀσπάζεται ὑμᾶς (sends greetings to y’all) ἡ ἐν βαβυλῶνι (she who is in/at Babylon) συνεκλεκτὴ (she elected/chosen together) καὶ Μᾶρκος (and also Mark) ὁ υἱός μου (my son). Peter, writing the letter, and therefore sending the greetings, is obviously with “she who is at Babylon,” and also with Mark, “[his] son.” She elected is the Church, always personified as a woman; and Peter is with the Church. But the Church where? The ancient city of Babylon had been in ruins for centuries. Peter must have been speaking in a cryptic metaphor. The Babylon of the Bible was the capital of a vast, powerful empire, and stood at the height of sin and excess. Where else could that be in Peter’s day but Rome?

Writing under the emperor Nero, Peter would wisely have used discretion in revealing his whereabouts in writing, lest his letter be intercepted by Roman authorities. The symbolism that is transparent to Christians today would not have been so explicit to those not so steeped in the Old Testament or ancient Mesopotamian history.

Peter and Paul together in Rome

Lonely Pilgrim cites St Clement of Rome — an early bishop of the city — as mentioning that Peter and Paul were there together:

Among the earliest surviving testimony outside the Bible is the first letter of Clement (1 Clement), which is usually dated to around 95 or 96 A.D. Clement of Rome, as evident from the letter, was a high official of the Church in Rome, writing in exhortation to the Church at Corinth to settle a division between the established elders and an upstart faction. The Roman Catholic Church today holds St. Clement to have been the third bishop of Rome (i.e. pope); early patristic writers varied in their listings, placing Clement anywhere from second to fourth. His letter is a clear early example of the bishop of Rome exerting authority over other churches …

Clement was the first writer to place Saints Peter and Paul as a pair, as they have always been in the Roman Church. He showed a clear and personal knowledge of the deaths of both Peter and Paul, and he assumed that his recipients also knew the stories. Most Christians accept that Paul was martyred in Rome; it is not a far stretch to assume from Clement’s pairing of the two Apostles that he also believed Peter to have died in Rome. In fact, his grammar is revealing: Peter and Paul offered their example—their martyrdom—“among us” (ἐν ἡμῖν)—that is, among the Romans. Clement was consistent throughout his letter in the use of the pronouns ὑμεῖς (you, i.e. Corinthians) and ἡμεῖς (we, us, i.e. Romans).

St Ignatius of Antioch, Lonely Pilgrim says, wrote his Epistle to the Romans, which is dated between 98 and 117 AD:

Again he placed Peter and Paul as a pair, and implied that the Romans have had personal contact with the Apostles, who enjoined them with authority.

He also cites Irenaeus of Antioch, who wrote about Peter and Paul in Against Heresies III.1.1 and III.3.1-2:

Here we have, clearly stated, not only the statement that Saints Peter and Paul built the Church at Romenot that they were the first Christian missionaries there, but that by their apostolic ministry they laid its foundations—but also, Irenaeus affirmed the doctrines of Apostolic succession and Petrine primacy, unequivocally and authoritatively, at a date earlier than many Protestants would like to recognize. What is more, St. Irenaeus was not a partisan of the Church at Rome, but the Greek-born bishop of Lugdunum (today the city of Lyon in France). In the face of the growing threat of Gnosticism, the unity of the Church and the authority of Rome were more important than ever.

You can read the citations and more early testimonies from doctors of the Church at the link.

Conclusion

The church in Rome probably started thanks to Roman Jews who witnessed the first Pentecost in Jerusalem.

From there, Peter and Paul — separately and together — laid solid foundations for the church.

I’ll leave the final word to Dr MaGee:

Based on a study of relevant biblical and extra-biblical documents, it is generally agreed that non-apostolic Jewish Christians brought the faith of Christ to Rome in the early decades of the church. After generating both interest and controversy within the synagogues, Christianity was forced to reorganize in the wake of Claudius’s edict against the Jews. The resulting Gentile-dominated church that received Paul’s letter in the late 50’s met in small groups around the city of Rome but maintained communication and held onto a common identity and mission. Paul and Peter leave their mark on these believers, though they merely strengthen the work that had already begun to flourish in the capital city. Beyond these main points, scholars still differ on the exact timeline of the birth and growth of the Christian community, as well as on to what degree Roman reactions against Jewish instability stem from disagreements about Christ. When all is said though, the overall picture of the emergence of Christianity in Rome constitutes yet another significant example of God’s extraordinary work in the early church during the decades following Christ’s death and resurrection.

I hope this is helpful as an insight to the early church in Rome.

Ascension Day is Thursday, May 10, 2018.

The feast of Christ’s return to Heaven is always on a Thursday and ten days before Pentecost Sunday.

The following post discusses the significance of the Ascension, as it points to Christ being Prophet, Priest and King:

A Reformed view of the Ascension

Below are the readings for the Ascension of the Lord, which are the same regardless of liturgical year. Emphases mine below.

In the first reading, Luke — the author of the Gospel and Acts — addresses the latter book to his friend Theophilus. I have more on this passage in the following posts:

Ascension Day 2016 (John MacArthur on Acts 1-11)

Acts 1:9-11 on the Ascension (Jesus will come again on the last day, which was not the destruction of the temple in 70 AD)

Acts 1:1-11

1:1 In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning

1:2 until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.

1:3 After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

1:4 While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me;

1:5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”

1:7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.

1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

1:9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

1:10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.

1:11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

A choice of Psalms is offered. If Christ had not ascended to Heaven, He could not have sent the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost. Therefore, this is a feast of joy. ‘Selah’ at the end of verse 4, means ‘pay close attention’:

Psalm 47

47:1 Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy.

47:2 For the LORD, the Most High, is awesome, a great king over all the earth.

47:3 He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.

47:4 He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah

47:5 God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

47:6 Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.

47:7 For God is the king of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm.

47:8 God is king over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

47:9 The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted.

This is the alternative Psalm with the same themes:

Psalm 93

93:1 The LORD is king, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed, he is girded with strength. He has established the world; it shall never be moved;

93:2 your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

93:3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.

93:4 More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the LORD!

93:5 Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

The Epistle is from Ephesians, where Paul deftly explains the power of Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Ephesians 1:15-23

1:15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason

1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.

1:17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him,

1:18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints,

1:19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

1:20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.

1:22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,

1:23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Luke also included the Ascension in his Gospel (see ‘The Ascension’ above verse 50):

Luke 24:44-53

24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you–that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”

24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,

24:46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,

24:47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

24:48 You are witnesses of these things.

24:49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

24:50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them.

24:51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.

24:52 And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy;

24:53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

I cannot imagine what it would have been like to witness the awe and majesty of the Ascension — as well as the promise of that first Pentecost.

Someone on Reddit’s The_Donald posted the following graphic at the weekend. Pity about the typo, but the broader voting message is important:

Voters can eventually be deprived of a good quality of life by supporting the same tired political party time and time again.

Over the years, we have seen a shrinking middle class denoting economic disadvantage. Inner cities are worse than ever before; developing countries have better. We have also seen politically engineered social division tear apart the once commonly-held values of our Western nations.

In the United States, a new, emerging message is one of unity instead of division. I will have more detail on this soon.

For now, look how destructive — and cynical — Democrat policies can be:

The message of this fable is to stop voting for our own destruction.

Thursday, May 3, 2018 was National Day of Prayer in the United States.

People in other Western countries make fun of Americans for being religious, but independence, leading to nationhood, was gained thanks to prayer.

As President Trump said, in part, in the Rose Garden last Thursday (emphases mine):

On this National Day of Prayer, we join together to offer gratitude for our many blessings and to acknowledge our need for divine wisdom, guidance, and protection. Prayer, by which we affirm our dependence on God, has long been fundamental to our pursuit of freedom, peace, unity, and prosperity. Prayer sustains us and brings us comfort, hope, peace, and strength. Therefore, we must cherish our spiritual foundation and uphold our legacy of faith.

Prayer has been a source of guidance, strength, and wisdom since the founding of our Republic. When the Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to contemplate freedom from Great Britain, the delegates prayed daily for guidance. Their efforts produced the Declaration of Independence and its enumeration of the self-evident truths that we all cherish today. We believe that all men and women are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Prayer sustained us and gave us the strength to endure the sacrifices and suffering of the American Revolution and to temper the triumph of victory with humility and gratitude. Notably, as one of its first acts, our newly formed Congress appointed chaplains of the House of Representatives and Senate so that all proceedings would begin with prayer.

The power of prayer makes the impossible possible.

Bible croppedThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy have omitted — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 18:1-4

Paul in Corinth

18 After this Paul[a] left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Last week’s entry concluded Paul’s brief ministry in Athens. The good news was that he was not persecuted there. The bad news was that he did not make many converts in a city devoted to paganism. However, ‘some men’, including Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris (a lady) converted and Paul taught them away from the Areopagus. My post also discussed who these two at length, because Luke — the author of Acts — thought fit to mention them by name.

To close on Acts 17, when Paul left Berea because the Thessalonians persecuted him there, he went to Athens:

15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

Acts does not state whether Silas and Timothy found Paul in Athens, however, John MacArthur explains that Paul’s letters indicate that the three met up and were returned to the new churches (emphases mine below):

Here’s what happened, “Timothy and Silas came to Athens and met Paul.” You know what they did as soon as they got there? They said, “Paul, we’re here.” Probably, “We’re here.” He said, “Good, now I want you to go back.” And he sent Timothy to Thessalonica to check on the saints.

Remember our earlier studies of Acts, how we saw that Paul was so concerned with the saints and their growth? So they just arrived. He’d been waiting for them in Athens. They get there, and he says, “Now I want you to go back to Thessalonica.” So old Timothy turns around and off he goes to Thessalonica. And he says to Silas, “Silas, you go to Philippi and check on Luke and what’s going on in the church up there.”

So off they go againNow, the reason we know they come again is in 3:1 and 2 of 1 Thessalonians. “Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone.” You see, for a while he was not alone at Athens. But finally, he realized we can’t wait any longer. I’ve got to send you guys back to check on those churches.

Verse 2: “We sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow worker in the Gospel of Christ, to establish you and to comfort you concerning your faith.” And who is this “you” to whom he’s writing? The Thessalonians. So he sent Timothy from Athens back to the Thessalonians. And you say, “Well, where did he send Silas?” Well, he sent him to Philippi. You say, “Where does he say that?” It doesn’t say that. But I’ll tell you what it does say. Something pretty exciting.

Look at Philippians chapter 4. Now he’s writing to the Philippians. Now, you Philippians know, also, that in the beginning … “When I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me as concerning giving and receiving but you only.” Now, wait a minute. Stop right there. The Philippian church sent him money, didn’t they? No church supported me but you Philippians. How did that money get to them? Go to 2 Corinthians 11:9.

This is exciting. Watch this. He said, “When I was present with you, and lacked, I was chargeable to no man. For that which was lacking to me, the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in all things, I have kept myself from being burdensome.” The brethren who came from Macedonia brought him this. Now, apparently, Silas and Timothy, verse 5 of Acts 18: When Timothy and Silas were come from Macedonia, they’re a friend. I have some brethren from Macedonia.

Once Paul left Athens, he went to Corinth (verse 1), which is approximately 70 miles away from Athens. If Athens was Greece’s intellectual capital, Corinth was the capital of trade and politics.

Here’s a modern day map of Corinth courtesy of Wikipedia:

MacArthur explains the importance of its location with regard to trade:

Now, you’ll notice that the two parts are connected by a simple little strait there, and that’s only five miles wide, and it was precisely the center of that the city of Corinth existed some 50 miles from Athens. Now, Paul, all alone, finds himself in Corinth. Now notice anybody at all from northern Greece to southern Greece, or vice versa, any north-south traffic, had to go through Corinth.

So the trade was constantly trafficking through city of Corinth. Another interesting thing is that it was called The Bridge of Greece, not only because of its north-south traffic, but because of its east-west traffic. Ships wanting to go, say, from the western shore of Greece to the eastern shore would not sail clear around. They would shortcut it through here.

In fact, this was known as the Cape of Malea, and it was sort of like sailing around the Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope. It was a very treacherous journey. The Greeks used to say, “Any man who sails around the Cape might well write his will before he leaves.” Very treacherous …

It was also a 200-mile shortcut to go this way. You say, “Well, what did they do when they got to land?” Well, very often, they would unload their entire cargo. They would carry it across on the backs of slaves, or pull it in some kind of apparatus, and they would lower it onto a different ship here. So the ships would just run half circuits going both ways.

In fact, it was such an advantage to go across there that many ships were placed on rollers, and the whole ship was rolled five miles across the land, and dumped back in the water to continue the journey east, or vice versa, to the west.

Now, this area here, was a very important gulf, the Saronic Gulf, and this is the Corinthian Gulf. And there were two very important cities; Cenchreae and Lechaeum on the shore. And from those cities, everything went to Corinth. So Corinth held a very strategic location. You might say to yourself, “Why didn’t somebody build a canal?” Well, Julius Caesar had the idea, and Nero started it, and it was finished in 1893. So it took a while, but there’s one there now.

Now, the result of this particular location was the fact that there was a tremendous amount of traffic there. And as I said, it became a place where all kinds of activities went on, mostly to entertain the traffic, and so it lent itself greatly to the kind of immorality that became common and synonymous with its name.

Before I get to the immorality, here is MacArthur’s description of the city’s political importance:

Corinth was really the county seat, although you might call it the provincial capital. It was to Greece what Washington D.C. is to America in a sense. It was a provincial capital, which meant that the proconsul of Rome stayed there, and the headquarters were there.

It has been said by some writers that Corinth was the vanity fair of the Roman Empire …

Now for the immorality:

And if Athens is the city of learning, Corinth is sin city. At best, we could probably name it that. It was the most debauched and debased city in that world of that day. In fact, the actual name Corinth became a common term. And “Corinthian” meant immoral.

If you said, “Joe over there is a Corinthian kind of guy, you meant he was immoral.” The name became synonymous with vice. To say that that woman is a Corinthian woman meant she was a prostitute, because that’s what the women did in Corinth. And the verb, to Corinthianize, meant to go a-whoring. That’s exactly what the common use of Corinthianize was.

Now, Corinth was vile to the very core. It wasn’t just the slaves or the middle class; it was the upper crust. The whole city was debased, and there were some reasons for that. It was the center of trade and travel, and sailors were going through it all the time, and caravans. And it was a fitting place for entertainment of lust

Now, Corinth was also a familiar city to many because of the fact that it had what was called the Isthmian Games, which were second only to the Olympics. So it was a center of sports. The people in Corinth were characterized all around the world as vile people.

You know, the Greeks used to love stage plays. They used to put on all kinds of plays, morality plays, and all kinds of things, Greek tragedies, the whole thing. And whenever a Corinthian was in a play, he was always depicted drunk just because of the character of Corinth. If you were from Corinth, you were drunk and immoral.

Now, in the city of Corinth, there was a giant hill that dominated like a bog fortress, and it was a pretty impregnable hill. It is called the Acropolis, and some of you may have heard of it. But the Acropolis was more than just a fortress, it was more than just a hill. It was a temple. And on the top of the Acropolis was built a massive temple to the goddess Aphrodite, who was sort of the goddess of sexual activity.

Now ministering, and I use the word loosely, in Aphrodite’s temple, were a thousand priestesses, and their particular ministry was the ministry of prostitution. And so every evening, these thousand priestesses descended from the Acropolis, and infiltrated the city of Corinth and plied their trade. And so it was a wide-open carnival atmosphere. The whole city was nothing but a great big hustling territory for professional prostitutes.

Now, if you think Paul had a rough time in a city of intellectuals, you can imagine the change when he got into this place. If Athens glorified the mind, Corinth glorified the body.

This is why Paul told the Corinthian women to cover their hair. Their hairdos were overly elaborate and did not belong in a place of worship.

In Corinth, Paul met a Jew from Rome, Aquila, who was born in Pontus in Asia Minor, and Aquila’s wife Priscilla (verse 2). They were in exile in Corinth because of Claudius’s edict that the Jews should leave the city.

The story of the church in Rome, the Jews there and their expulsion is every bit as much a rabbit hole as Dionysius the Areopagite‘s identity. I will address those three topics in a separate post, but for now, here is Matthew Henry’s concise summary:

Suetonius, in the life of Claudius, speaks of this decree in the ninth year of his reign, and says, The reason was because the Jews were a turbulent people–assiduo tumultuantes; and that it was impulsore Christo–upon the account of Christ; some zealous for him, others bitter against him, which occasioned great heats, such as gave umbrage to the government, and provoked the emperor, who was a timorous jealous man, to order them all to be gone.

Both Henry and MacArthur believe that the couple became converts in Rome. The church there was already established.

The couple are saints in the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church. They were martyrs for the faith.

Of Aquila, tradition says:

Aquila did not long dwell in Rome: the Apostle Paul is said to have made him a bishop in Asia Minor. The Apostolic Constitutions identify Aquila, along with Nicetas, as the first bishops of Asia Minor (7.46).

Priscilla had a higher profile. MacArthur points out:

It’s interesting, I think, to know here that Aquila is mentioned first. But from now on, the remaining verses, most of them mention Priscilla first. I think it’s two out of three.

You say, “Well, why would that be?” Well, really it’s three reasons. If you want to count hen-pecked, but we’ll eliminate that one. The other two reasons that Aquila would be mentioned after Priscilla: One, Priscilla may have been a very noble Roman woman. And Aquila may have married into really highbrow society-type stuff. And so Priscilla kind of ranks as Priscilla first.

The other possibility is that Priscilla became the strength spiritually; that Priscilla really grew spiritually, and consequently she’s named first; whichever one, we really don’t know. But it is interesting that she is named first, either because of her Roman heritage, if that is the case, or because of her spiritual dimension.

In fact, some Bible scholars hold that Priscilla is the author of the Book of Hebrews:

Priscilla was a woman of Jewish heritage and one of the earliest known Christian converts who lived in Rome. Her name is a Roman diminutive for Prisca which was her formal name. She is often thought to have been the first example of a female preacher or teacher in early church history. Coupled with her husband, she was a celebrated missionary, and a friend and co-worker of Paul.[8]

While the view is not widely held among scholars, some scholars have suggested that Priscilla was the author of the Book of Hebrews. Although acclaimed for its artistry, originality, and literary excellence, it is the only book in the New Testament with author anonymity.[2] Hoppin and others suggest that Priscilla was the author, but that her name was omitted either to suppress its female authorship, or to protect the letter itself from suppression.[2][9]

She is the only Priscilla named in the New Testament. The fact that she is always mentioned with her husband, Aquila, disambiguates her from different women revered as saints in Catholicism, such as (1) Priscilla of the Roman Glabrio family, the wife of Quintus Cornelius Pudens, who according to some traditions hosted St. Peter circa AD 42, and (2) a third-century virgin martyr named Priscilla and also called Prisca.[10]

We will read that the couple accompanied Paul in part of his ministry.

As for the rest of their life story, Bible Wiki tells us:

It is believed that Aquila and Priscilla returned to Rome, because Paul sent them greetings in his letter to the Romans.[4]

However, Got Questions says:

Paul’s last reference to them is in his last letter. Paul was imprisoned in Rome and writing to Timothy one last time. Timothy was pastoring the church at Ephesus, and Aquila and Priscilla are there with him, still faithfully ministering (2 Timothy 4:19). To the end, Aquila and Priscilla were offering hospitality to other Christians, spreading the gospel they had learned from Paul, and rendering faithful service to the Master.

Regardless of where they ended up, they were a devout couple, devoted to proper doctrine as they nourished newcomers to the faith.

All three were tentmakers by trade (verse 3). So, Priscilla wasn’t at home all day, she was earning a living. This further demonstrates the equality present in Greece and Macedonia at that time. Last week’s post described Damaris as likely to be an educated woman if she was at the Areopagus (MacArthur seems to be the only one who posits she was common). We also know that Lydia had her own career as a dealer in purple goods. She was also the first European convert and inspired her whole household to embrace the faith when she did.

Returning to the notion of earning one’s own living, Paul was careful not to ask for a stipend from any of the churches. It is difficult for us to reconcile such a well educated, privileged man making tents. Henry explains that this is partly because of his upbringing and partly because of his conversion:

1. Though he was bred a scholar, yet he was master of a handicraft trade. He was a tent-maker, an upholsterer; he made tents for the use of soldiers and shepherds, of cloth or stuff, or (as some say tents were then generally made) of leather or skins, as the outer covering of the tabernacle. Hence to live in tents was to live sub pellibus–under skins. Dr. Lightfoot shows that it was the custom of the Jews to bring up their children to some trade, yea, though they gave them learning or estates. Rabbi Judah says, “He that teaches not his son a trade is as if he taught him to be a thief.” And another says, “He that has a trade in his hand is as a vineyard that is fenced.” An honest trade, by which a man may get his bread, is not to be looked upon by any with contempt. Paul, though a Pharisee, and bred up at the feet of Gamaliel, yet, having in his youth learned to make tents, did not by disuse lose the art. 2. Though he was entitled to a maintenance from the churches he had planted, and from the people to whom he preached, yet he worked at his calling to get bread, which is more to his praise who did not ask for supplies than to theirs who did not supply him unasked, knowing what straits he was reduced to. See how humble Paul was, and wonder that so great a man could stoop so low; but he had learned condescension of his Master, who came not to be ministered to, but to minister. See how industrious he was, and how willing to take pains. He that had so much excellent work to do with his mind, yet, when there was occasion, did not think it below him to work with his hands. Even those that are redeemed from the curse of the law are not exempt from that sentence, In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread. See how careful Paul was to recommend his ministry, and to prevent prejudices against it, even the most unjust and unreasonable; he therefore maintained himself with his own labour that he might not make the gospel of Christ burdensome, &c.; 2 Thess. iii. 8, 9. 3. Though we may suppose he was master of his trade, yet he did not disdain to work at journey-work: He wrought with Aquila and Priscilla, who were of that calling, so that he got no more than day-wages, a bare subsistence.

MacArthur says that although the expression used is ‘tent maker’, all tent makers were leather workers. They obtained the hair for the tent material from goatskin and tanned the hides:

… they were scanopoioi” … Literally, it means leather workers.

And Paul apparently would tan the leather, and then having made the hair, he would keep the leather, do something with the leather. He was a leather worker. So were they.

MacArthur also thinks there is reason to believe that Paul met the couple at synagogue:

Everybody would be sitting according to their trades. Like we’d have all the carpenters over here. We’d have all the bricklayers over there. We’d have all the artists over here. In other words, some historians indicate that in synagogues, it was common to divide people in sections according to their trade.

On the Sabbath, Paul was in the synagogue reasoning with the Jews and the Greek Gentiles (verse 4). ‘Reason’ is the key word here. Henry’s commentary says:

1. He reasoned with them in the synagogue publicly every sabbath. See in what way the apostles propagated the gospel, not by force and violence, by fire and sword, not by demanding an implicit consent, but by fair arguing; they drew with the cords of a man, gave a reason for what they said, and gave a liberty to object against it, having satisfactory answers ready. God invites us to come and reason with him (Isaiah 1:18), and challenges sinners to produce their cause, and bring forth their strong reasons, Isaiah 41:21. Paul was a rational as well as a scriptural preacher.

2. He persuaded them–epeithe. It denotes, (1.) The urgency of his preaching. He did not only dispute argumentatively with them, but he followed his arguments with affectionate persuasions, begging of them for God’s sake, for their own soul’s sake, for their children’s sake, not to refuse the offer of salvation made to them. Or, (2.) The good effect of his preaching. He persuaded them, that is, he prevailed with them; so some understand it. In sententiam suam adducebat–He brought them over to his own opinion. Some of them were convinced by his reasonings, and yielded to Christ.

Those are good things for us to remember as we share the Gospel with others. Let us reason with others when we present the Good News.

Next time — Acts 18:5-11

On April 2, 2018, Q gave a rundown of what he/they expected to happen last month.

Let’s look back to see how many of the topics Q mentioned in message 988 of April 2 made the news cycle:

Q !xowAT4Z3VQ 875265

April [A].
IG report.
Sessions public attack.
RR problems.
Seals broken.
[A]rrests.
Why was Huber made public?
Why now?
Everything has meaning.
[A]wan.
Tarmac.
Iran.
NK.
U1.
FBI.
DOJ.
Mueller.
Election Integrity.
Immigration Bill.
Border.
Wall.
Military start.
BIG month.
Q

The IG — Inspector General’s — report was scheduled for April but is now thought to appear in a few weeks’ time. Whether that is actually in May or June is unknown.

Sessions public attack — meaning Attorney General Jeff Sessions — bubbled up in April and continued during the first week in May with calls for his resignation.

RR — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — definitely had problems in April, which I will cover in a separate post.

Seals broken — if that meant indictments, that did not happen.

Arrests — none of note.

Awan — the Awan brothers from Pakistan, led by Imran Awan, who were running the IT for Democrats in the House of Representatives, did make pro-Trump news sites, and Trump tweeted about ‘the Pakistani mystery man’. I will cover the Awan investigation in a separate post.

Tarmac — the infamous secret meeting between then Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton in July 2016 on Lynch’s plane. James Comey and Lynch disagree on their recollections of the Hillary Clinton ‘investigation’, or ‘matter’. Comey said one thing in his new book, A Higher Loyalty, and Lynch remembers differently. In early April (after Q’s post), NBC’s Lester Holt interviewed Lynch:

LESTER HOLT: But, so Comey says you want to call it, “The Clinton matter.” He wants to call it, “The Clinton investigation.” To the extent, though, that he noted it, that it bothered him did he go to you and question your credibility with regard to the Clinton case?

LORETTA LYNCH: Well, look I can tell you that, you know, it was a meeting like any other that we that we had had where we talked about the issues. And we had a full and open discussion about it.

LESTER HOLT: And he didn’t raise any concerns about?

LORETTA LYNCH: And concerns were not raised.

Trump tweeted:

Q corroborated the tweet (message 1161 of April 15), hinting that Lynch could have been offered Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court if Hillary had been elected. I have no interpretation of the mention of Rep Adam Schiff (D-California), the 187 (dead code) and John Brennan, former CIA director, other than it seems Q is saying Brennan is a black hat:

SC – Supreme Court.
RBG.
AS 187 / Clown Black (Brennan).
Q

Q’s next message, 1162, says:

We made sure a reporter was there to capture.
These people are stupid.
Q

The reporter’s name is Christopher Sign. He moved to Atlanta in 2017. His last day with KNXV Phoenix was September 29.

Iran — was a big news item. Critical Threats has a summary:

Key takeaway: Iranian officials may be preparing to retaliate against Israel after Israel launched its second airstrike against Iranian targets in Syria since April 8.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) targeted Iranian assets in western Syria on April 29 and reportedly killed 18 Iranian fighters. Iranian media denied the reports of Iranian deaths following the strike. The April 29 strike comes after Israel’s April 8 airstrike on the Pro-Syrian regime T-4 airbase in Homs, Homs Governorate in southern Syria. The April 8 strike killed seven IRGC fighters. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani vowed to “punish” Israel for its “evil action” following the April 8 airstrikes. Defense Minister Artesh Brigadier General Amir Hatami warned Israel on May 1 to stop its “scheming and dangerous behaviors” and suggested that the Axis of Resistance and Iran would confront Israel with a “regrettable and blindsiding” response.

NK — North Korea — was April’s blockbuster news item, which will feature in a separate post.

U1 — Uranium One — made a brief blip in the news cycle and might relate to the Mueller investigation’s raid on the properties and hotel room of Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen on April 9:

FBI, DOJ and Mueller — much is happening there which will feature in a separate post, although some April news is in my post about Jeff Sessions’s recusals.

Election Integrity — a report about voting abuses and the actual number of votes from the 2016 election was due but has not yet materialised.

Immigration Bill — nothing has happened since the beginning of the year.

Border — two stories made the news: part of the human caravan reached the US border with Mexico and dozens of California communities voted against the state’s sanctuary city policy.

Wall — construction began on March 26.

Military start — the National Guard was sent to the border with Mexico, and there was another attack on Syria nearly a year to the day after 2017’s.

BIG month — yes, especially where North Korea is concerned.

Q’s daily posts discussed John McCain’s trip to Syria a few years ago, social media tracking, the raid on Michael Cohen, trade with China, the plane incidents (‘new booms’, message 1174), the change of government in Armenia (CIA — ‘clowns’ — losing control, message 1243), not to mention the Iran deal and Uranium One — asking about the possibility that Uranium One material ended up in Syria.

Q also reiterated that the administration has the information it needs and that it will soon be time to proceed to the next phase: justice (message 1296, April 29).

I hope so, because, right now, things look rather unsettled.

As always, Q advised everyone to stay united rather than divided.

What follows are the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter for Year B in the three-year Lectionary.

The first reading is about the baptism of the first Gentiles, namely Cornelius and his household whom Peter had converted. The Jewish converts present were amazed to find that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too:

Acts 10:44-48

10:44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.

10:45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles,

10:46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said,

10:47 “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

10:48 So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

The Psalm will be familiar to many and is one of joy:

Psalm 98

98:1 O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.

98:2 The LORD has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

98:3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

98:4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.

98:5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.

98:6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD.

98:7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it.

98:8 Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy

98:9 at the presence of the LORD, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

John’s Epistle expresses the close relationship between believers and the Lord. Note that the baptism theme relates to the passage from Acts 10. Most celebrants would choose one of those readings rather than both:

1 John 5:1-6

5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child.

5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.

5:3 For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,

5:4 for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.

5:5 Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

5:6 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

The Gospel reading from John ties in well with the Epistle:

John 15:9-17

15:9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.

15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

15:11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

15:13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

15:15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

15:16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.

15:17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Incidentally, Thursday, May 10, 2018, is the feast of the Ascension. Pentecost follows ten days afterwards.

In the first half of 2017, Trump supporters — myself included — were enthusiastic about Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as attorney general.

On February 10, I wrote about child molesters and traffickers:

Can Jeff Sessions make pizza great again?

Although perverts and traffickers are always being arrested, under Sessions’s watch, the number began to increase exponentially. Great news!

Another big problem was MS-13. On April 10, I posted:

Attorney General Sessions sends message to MS-13: ‘We will find you’

From those two targets, we see that Sessions’s DOJ was making a move on people all of us can agree fall into the category of criminal.

However, there is another type of criminal: Washington DC politicians who work against the interests of the United States and, within that group, the subset which has been trying to bring down President Donald Trump since November 9, 2016, the day after the election. George True’s guest post of April 15, 2018 explains how serious this is:

Guest post: a reader’s perspective on the Deep State and Mueller investigation

That Jeff Sessions does not consider the DC Swamp rats to be criminals is problematic.

My other 2018 posts about him have reflected this:

Trump tweets frustration with slow investigation (February 24 – 28, 2018)

Increasing outcry for Sleepy Sessions to go (April 19)

Guest post: a reader’s perspective on Jeff Sessions’s priorities (George True, April 20 and Rosenstein’s presidential cufflinks)

Jeff Sessions began recusing himself from Swamp rat investigations early in 2017.

As a result, he has made life extremely difficult for President Trump and his associates. The coup continues apace.

January 10, 2017 — first hint of recusal

As early as January 2017, Sessions said he would recuse himself from any campaign issues involving Hillary Clinton.

On January 10, the Los Angeles Times reported (emphases mine):

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s pick to be the next attorney general, testified before Congress on Tuesday that he would recuse himself from any investigations and prosecutions involving Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Sessions and Trump called during the fall campaign for Clinton to be investigated and prosecuted for her use of a private email server, despite determinations by the FBI and Justice Department that her actions did not warrant charges. Since his election, Trump has said he did not support such an investigation or prosecution. 

Sessions said he had made comments during the “contentious” campaign about Clinton’s use of the email server and her family’s charitable foundation that could place his objectivity in question.

“I believe the proper thing for me to do would be to recuse myself from any questions involving those kind of investigations that involve Secretary Hillary Clinton,” the Alabama Republican told senators on the Judiciary Committee.

March 2, 2017 – first recusal statement

After Sessions was appointed attorney general, he formally recused himself from campaign investigations.

On March 2, he gave a statement, excerpted below:

During the course of the confirmation proceedings on my nomination to be Attorney General, I advised the Senate Judiciary Committee that ‘[i]f a specific matter arose where I believed my impartiality might reasonably be questioned, I would consult with Department ethics officials regarding the most appropriate way to proceed.’ 

During the course of the last several weeks, I have met with the relevant senior career Department officials to discuss whether I should recuse myself from any matters arising from the campaigns for President of the United States

Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States

Quartz provided the background:

US attorney general Jeff Sessions, responding to mounting pressure from Democrats and from his own party, announced that he is recusing himself from any current or future investigations into the 2016 US presidential campaigns. The decision followed reports that he had spoken twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the US. Russia, of course, is widely believed by US intelligence agencies to have meddled in the election.

Sessions, a former Republican senator and an advisor to US president Donald Trump during the race, had testified during his Senate confirmation hearing in January that he had not had communications with the Russians during the campaign. At his press conference today (March 2), Sessions spoke about one of the meetings, recalling that it ending in a tense confrontation about Ukraine.

Business Insider provided more detail:

The attorney general recused himself on March 2 after reports emerged that Sessions had twice met with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, during the course of the election, contradicting statements he made during his Senate confirmation hearing, in which he said under oath that he did not have contacts with Russians during the campaign

Following the bombshell report, Democrats swiftly demanded Sessions’ resignation, while a growing group of Republicans called on the attorney general to recuse himself from campaign-related investigations.

During questioning by Sen. Ron Wyden later in the hearing, Sessions said that there were no classified reasons for his recusal, as former FBI Director James Comey suggested in his Senate testimony last week. Sessions also claimed that he had informally recused himself since he was confirmed to lead the Justice Department. 

I basically recused myself the first day I got into the office because I never accessed files, I never learned the names of investigators, I never met with them, I never asked for any documentation,” Sessions told Wyden. “The documentation — what little I received — was mostly already in the media.” 

Months later, the Los Angeles Times noted:

In March, Sessions announced he was recusing himself from any investigation into charges that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion between Russians and Trump’s campaign. Following his announcement, reports surfaced that Trump was irate that Sessions had recused himself from any investigation.

Fake news or a grain of truth in that last sentence?

I’m writing up what happened to HR McMaster, which I will post here in due course, and found that these rumours and reports turned out to be true.

June 13, 2017 – second recusal statement

On June 13, 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported Sessions’s second formal recusal, this time into Russian collusion:

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions insists his recusal from any investigation into Russian collusion in last year’s election was simple: It’s the law.

In an opening statement before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Sessions cited a Department of Justice regulation that he said mandated him stepping aside …

“I recused myself not because of any asserted wrongdoing on my part during the campaign,” Sessions said. “But because a Department of Justice regulation, 28 CFR 45.2, required it.”

“That regulation states, in effect, that department employees should not participate in investigations of a campaign if they have served as a campaign advisor,” said Sessions.

Throughout much of the 2016 election, Sessions served as a senior advisor to Trump’s campaign.

July 2017 — a vexed Trump unloads

On July 19, three New York Times reporters — Peter Baker, Michael S Schmidt and Maggie Haberman — published an interview (and transcript) with President Trump at the White House.

Trump did not mince words. The article led with this:

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

However, the topic did not come up until later in the interview. On this and other subjects, this has to be one of the best interviews ever. On Robert Mueller, Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein, Trump had this to say:

SCHMIDT: What do you understand to be the four corners of what Mueller [Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in the Russia investigation] can look at, if he steps—— [crosstalk]

TRUMP: I don’t know. Nobody has contacted me about anything.

_________

TRUMP: Because I have done nothing wrong. A special counsel should never have been appointed in this case.

BAKER: Can we put that on the record?

TRUMP: Because so far, the only — yeah, you can put it down.

SCHMIDT: Was that [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions’s mistake or [Deputy Attorney General Rod J.] Rosenstein’s mistake?

________

TRUMP: Look, Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself.

BAKER: Was that a mistake?

TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.

HABERMAN: He gave you no heads up at all, in any sense?

TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.

HABERMAN: Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.

________

TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore. Now, he, we went through a lot of things. We were interviewing replacements at the F.B.I. Did you know Mueller was one of the people that was being interviewed?

HABERMAN: I did, actually.

TRUMP: He was sitting in that chair. We had a wonderful meeting.

HABERMAN: Day before, right?

SCHMIDT: Did he want the job?

TRUMP: The day before! Of course, he was up here, and he wanted the job.

HABERMAN: And he made that clear to you? He would have——

________

TRUMP: So, now what happens is, he leaves the office. Rosenstein leaves the office. The next day, he is appointed special counsel. I said, what the hell is this all about? Talk about conflicts? But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point. So Jeff Sessions, Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers.

HABERMAN: You mean at the hearing?

TRUMP: Yeah, he gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t. He then becomes attorney general, and he then announces he’s going to recuse himself. Why wouldn’t he have told me that before?

HABERMAN: Why do you think it was? What do you think it was?

TRUMP: I don’t know.

BAKER: What would cause you — what would be the line beyond which if Mueller went, you would say, “That’s too far, we would need to dismiss him”?

TRUMP: Look, there are so many conflicts that everybody has. Then Rosenstein becomes extremely angry because of Comey’s Wednesday press conference, where he said that he would do the same thing he did a year ago with Hillary Clinton, and Rosenstein became extremely angry at that because, as a prosecutor, he knows that Comey did the wrong thing. Totally wrong thing. And he gives me a letter, O.K., he gives me a letter about Comey. And by the way, that was a tough letter, O.K. Now, perhaps I would have fired Comey anyway, and it certainly didn’t hurt to have the letter, O.K. But he gives me a very strong letter, and now he’s involved in the case. Well, that’s a conflict of interest. Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are? But then, then Comey also says that he did something in order to get the special prose— special counsel. He leaked. The reason he leaked. So, he illegally leaked.

Trump took to Twitter to express his vexation with Sessions, who was on an MS-13 mission in El Salvador at the time (see his priorities!):

So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?

On July 27, Sessions told Tucker Carlson (Fox News) how ‘hurtful’ the President’s tweets were. Note that he defended his recusals:

He never should have taken the job!

Mueller conflicts of interest

To go into all the conflicts of interest in this investigation would take ages. Uranium One is the biggest, and it involves Russia, Mueller and Rosenstein.

That said, the public were angry at the way Big Media — especially CNN — were reporting the Mueller investigation.

On July 24, a contributor to The_Donald posted a testy thread, the title of which is:

FAKE NEWS CNN defending Sessions’ recusal while DEAD SILENT about Mueller needing to recuse for the same reasons. MUELLER IS MORE CONFLICTED THAN SESSIONS! REPORT THE TRUTH!

By way of reply, someone posted a link to a Crime and Consequences article, ‘My View: Mueller is Conflicted Out‘. The premise of the article is that Robert Mueller cannot continue to serve as Special Counsel under 28 USC Section 528 and 28 CFR Section 45.2. You can read the article for the detail.

The author provides an excellent summary of Mueller, James Comey and more. The following continues to be discussed today, particularly in light of Comey’s recent book launch and associated interviews:

Jim Comey and Bob Mueller have been friends for about 15 years

Comey now finds himself smack-dab at the center of the Russian investigation over which Mueller presides. Questions swirl around Comey — about whether the President wanted/hinted/hoped/asked/directed/or something else the investigation of National Security Adviser Gen. Flynn to be stopped/abandoned/slowed/soft-peddled/something else. This is probably the central element of the obstruction of justice case Mr. Trump’s opponents would like to see made against him.

Questions also swirl about Comey’s notes about this conversation, why he gave them to a private individual (Prof. Dan Richman of Columbia Law) to convey to the press. Additional questions have arisen about whether this curious and seemingly devious means of putting contents of the notes in the public domain (leaking, in other words) was designed specifically to bring about the appointment of a Special Counsel outside the President’s direct reach — and, indeed, whether Comey wanted, expected or intended his friend Mueller to get the job.

There is much to be said of all this, none of it very happy-making. But one thing that can be said with considerable clarity if not comfort is that, under the governing rules (set forth above), Mueller has a long-term relationship with Comey that “may result in a personal…conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof.”

He is therefore disqualified. I hope and believe that Mueller, whom I believe to be an honest man and a partisan of the rule of law, will see this for himself. If he doesn’t, I hope Rod Rosenstein will.

As I’ve said in many other contexts, I like rule-orientation and fear self-justification, a ubiquitous flaw in even the best of men. There is no way Comey is not a central witness in this investigation (if not a subject). Even less is there a way Mueller can be expected to evaluate Comey’s credibility with the fresh neutrality, arm’s-length curiosity, and objective sharp eye his job demands.

Whether Mueller’s departure would work out well or badly for Mr. Trump is not knowable (it is also decidedly not the subject of this post). My point is about the application of stated rules to the facts at hand. Let the chips fall where they may, the application is clear: Mueller cannot remain as Special Counsel.

That article was from June 2017. Nearly one year later, nothing has changed. Mueller’s still in situ.

On September 20, Law & Crime‘s Rachel Stockman asked why Rosenstein wasn’t recusing himself from the Mueller probe. Because Sessions recused himself, Rosenstein is the DOJ’s link to Mueller (emphases in the original, those in purple mine):

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein is overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia investigation after Jeff Sessions recused himself. However, there are some concerns about his ability to adequately supervise an investigation that he has now become a part of. On Tuesday night, The Wall Street Journal broke the story that over the summer, Mueller’s investigators interviewed Rosentein about President Donald Trump‘s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

The Journal claims the FBI’s handling of the interview “could be a sign that Mr. Mueller’s team doesn’t view Mr. Rosenstein as a central witness in its probe, as the deputy attorney general hasn’t withdrawn himself from overseeing it since that interview.” That could very well be the case, but the optics don’t look good. A spokesperson for Rosenstein said “if there comes a time when he needs to recuse, he will. However, nothing has changed.” Well, now might be the time …

Rosenstein, as a federal lawyer and a DOJ employee, is guided by both local D.C. ethics rules and Justice Department guidelines. Both would prohibit him from overseeing an investigation if he is a person of interest or a target

However, legal experts emphasize that we don’t know yet whether Rosenstein is a target of the investigation for his role in writing that infamous memo giving Trump “justification” for firing Comey.  Did Rosenstein cooperate in a lie to the public?  18 USC 1512(c)(2) says that obstruction happens when a person “corruptly… impedes [an] official proceeding or attempts to do so.”

“Creating a false narrative for firing Comey could be such an attempt. The definition of ‘official proceeding; includes “a proceeding before a Federal Government agency which is authorized by law.’ That language is broad enough to encompass the FBI and the Comey investigation,” Gillers said.

Now, the hope is that if the investigation starts honing in on Rosenstein, Mueller would advise him that he needed to recuse himself.  BUT there is this added wrinkle: Mueller may have an incentive in wanting to keep Rosentein as his supervisor. Trump’s team has hinted more than once that he might fire Mueller. Federal law says that technically Trump can’t do the firing. Instead, the U.S. Attorney General (or in this case Rosenstein since Sessions recused himself) would have to do it. From all indications, Rosenstein would probably not demure to such a demand from Trump …

In the end, we must rely on Mueller’s integrity, and pray that if Rosenstein was in legal jeopardy, Mueller would do the right thing and ask him to take himself off the investigation. In the wake of James Comey’s breach in DOJ policy, asking us to trust our public officials seems like a scary thought. With so much at stake, so many unknowns, and the world watching, Mr. Rosenstein needs to think long and hard about recusing himself. 

Well, Rosey’s still managing the Mueller investigation.

September 2017 – calls for unrecusal

By September, there were calls for Sessions to unrecuse himself. Here’s Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch:

By December, there was doubt as to whether Sessions should have recused at all:

On December 18, Alan Dershowitz offered the clearest rationale for an unrecusal. Emphases mine below.

He told Fox & Friends (video at the link):

Sessions could un-recuse himself, because the law allows anyone who’s recused themselves to un-recuse if there are new developments or circumstances.

And Dershowitz said the reason Sessions can do this, is because Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should recuse himself.

Rosenstein is a “key witness” after writing the memo justifying Jim Comey’s firing.

November 2017 – question over possible Uranium One recusal

On November 2, Breitbart reported that Rep. Mark Gaetz (R – Florida) told them that Sessions would recuse over Uranium One (H/T: Conservative Treehouse). Bold emphasis in the original, those in purple mine:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a small group of lawmakers in late September he was recused from appointing a special counsel to look into potential corruption surrounding the Uranium One deal and Fusion GPS’s work on the Trump dossier, according to one of the lawmakers present.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told Breitbart News on Wednesday that he and other House Judiciary Committee Republicans had met with Sessions at the Justice Department on September 28 in advance of an upcoming committee hearing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein later this month.

Gaetz said that when he asked Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate the 2010 Uranium One deal and Fusion GPS, the attorney general stood up, said he could not discuss the matter because he had recused himself, and walked out of the room, leaving them with a group of Rosenstein staffers “who showed no interest.”

“He said that anything that had to do with 2016 election, or Russia, or the candidates in the 2016 election, fell under the scope of his recusal, and he left the room,” Gaetz said.

“It was Sessions’ position that his recusal on the Russia matter divorced him from any oversight on Uranium One and Fusion GPS. That’s troubling. Sessions’ recusal is a function of his involvement in the Trump campaign. In no world does that impact his judgment as it relates to Fusion GPS and Uranium One. But he views the recusal more broadly. That’s troubling because that puts Rosenstein in charge,” he said.

Gaetz said Rosenstein’s staffers provided “no answers” and “no timeline for answers.”

This is why many of us have been saying that Sessions must resign or, as such time as the Senate will approve a replacement, be fired.

Yet, investigative journalist Sara Carter told Fox’s Sean Hannity that the report was not true:

I hope Sara Carter is correct.

November 2017 – Sessions critics told they are disloyal

Sleepy’s critics are constantly being told by his supporters that by being critical of him they are being critical of Trump! False!

As much as I liked Imperator_Rex — currently Vachel Lindsay — on Twitter, the logic that he and others employ with this stance is wrong. Here’s a taster from a rather long thread of his from November 3:

Who knows what’s happening with The Storm? All the people we want to see brought to justice have been going on book tours (Hillary, Comey), giving speeches overseas (Obama) and leading a normal life (e.g. John Podesta).

Re 36, no, it’s not because Trump ‘wants’ Sessions there, it’s because the only way Trump can get a replacement for him is if he (Sessions) resigns (vacancy rules apply).

The Senate told Trump in 2017 that they will not approve any new cabinet members, making it impossible for Trump to fire Sessions. Nor will the Senate allow Trump to appoint someone new when the Senate is not in session. Consequently, the Senate has not been declaring any formal recess.

Trump’s hands are tied, unless Sessions resigns.

Even then, Trump has to have a replacement in mind.

It certainly won’t be Rosenstein.

Re 37, saying that Sessions critics are disloyal to Trump is egregious. We care deeply about President Trump. That’s why we want Sessions out of the way, so that Swamp rats can be dealt with the way the Founding Fathers intended.

Again, we have only Sara Carter’s word for that.

December 2017 – Former FBI director Kallstrom says Mueller should recuse

On December 4, former FBI director James Kallstrom told Breitbart that Robert Mueller should recuse himself:

“Bob Mueller should have never been offered nor accepted the job as special counsel as he has a huge conflict of interest,” Jim Kallstrom tells Breitbart News …

Not only do observers describe Mueller and the man he recommended to replace him as FBI director, James Comey, as close or even best friends, but the special counsel pursues an investigation heavily involving the bureau he once led. How one maintains detachment in leading a team that includes numerous anti-Trump partisans in a probe involving one’s close friend and the former bureau for which Mueller served as director goes unexplained.

Other problems Kallstrom sees include the means by which investigators obtained information and what constituted probable cause to obtain it.

“The Obama administration apparently, had the advantage of using electronic surveillance, collecting information on the Trump campaign,” Kallstrom explains. “That collection, in my view, may be found to be unlawful.”

If the surveillance and investigatory methods prove unlawful, Kallstrom notes that this puts Mueller in an awkward position of looking into his close friend and perhaps the bureau that both men once led.

“If they used the phony dossier as the predicate for the FISA order they obtained, that could be a huge problem,” Kallstrom tells Breitbart News. “If they knew the information was phony, that is a felony. If they did not know it was phony, they were incompetent.”

January 2018 – White House tried to talk Sessions out of recusal

On January 5, 2018, Fox News reported that White House officials tried to talk Sessions out of recusing himself in 2017 (emphases mine):

President Trump instructed three senior White House officials to talk Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of recusing himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and members of the Trump campaign, multiple sources told Fox News on Friday.

Trump called on White House counsel Don McGahn, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer to stop Sessions from recusing himself.

Spicer has denied the allegation.

The push to convince Sessions allegedly took place over the course of a number of telephone calls that covered a variety of other topics, the well-placed sources told Fox.

On Thursday, The New York Times first reported that Trump had directed McGahn to contact Sessions this past March. According to The Associated Press, two anonymous sources confirmed that McGahn unsuccessfully lobbied Sessions to continue to oversee the Russia investigation.

Sessions supporters will have trouble with ‘multiple sources’ and ‘anonymous sources’, but every single presidential administration has had them.

My upcoming McMaster chronicle shows that, nearly every time one of these sources spoke to the media, they were telling the truth.

March – Sessions took recusal advice from Obama lawyers

Just when the Sessions situation couldn’t seem more intolerable, the Gateway Pundit reported on March 14 that the attorney general took recusal advice from Obama adminstration lawyers (emphases in the original):

On Wednesday night FOX News contributor and legal expert Gregg Jarrett told Sean Hannity that Sessions used the WRONG LAW when announcing his recusal. He took advice from OBAMA OFFICIALS and they misled him.

Gregg Jarrett: He betrayed the president. He knew when he was sworn in that he was going to recuse himself and the very next day he put the recusal in motion. He never told the president about that. And by the way he cited the regulation in his recusal… He cited the wrong law. It didn’t apply.

Sara Carter: I think he was being advised badly at the time.

Gregg Jarrett: Yeah, by Obama’s holdovers. Who in the world would believe them?

Good grief! He cited the wrong law!

The DOJ regulation Sessions cited — 28 CFR 45.2— says “no DOJ employee may participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution, or who would be directly affected by the outcome.”

As Andrew McCarthy at National Review reported, “The regulation he cited applies to a different type of investigation.”

Once again the question must be asked: Who did deep state catch Jeff Sessions in bed with?

My thoughts exactly.

April 2018 – Congress asks Sessions to investigate Swamp

On April 18, members of Congress wrote to Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray and United States Attorney John Huber requesting that they issue a criminal referral for a long list of Swamp dwellers, including FBI Director James Comey, Hillary Clinton and others – including FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, for a laundry list of potential crimes surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

You can read the letter in full at Scribd.

ZeroHedge has more (emphases in the original):

Recall that Sessions paired special prosecutor John Huber with DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz – falling short of a second Special Counsel, but empowering Horowitz to fully investigate allegations of FBI FISA abuse with subpoena power and other methods he was formerly unable to utilize.

The GOP letter’s primary focus appears to be James Comey, while the charges for all include obstruction, perjury, corruption, unauthorized removal of classified documents, contributions and donations by foreign nationals and other allegations.

The letter also demands that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “be recused from any examination of FISA abuse,” and recommends that “neither U.S. Attorney John Huber nor a special counsel (if appointed) should report to Rosenstein.”  

April 2018 – possible partial recusal in Cohen investigation

Early in April, the home, office and hotel room of President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen were ransacked.

It’s possible that Sessions could recuse himself from this, too — at least partially.

On April 24, Gateway Pundit carried a news story, ‘WTH? AG Sessions Will Not Recuse Himself From Cohen Investigation — Only on Certain Issues‘ (emphases in the original):

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided not to recuse himself from the investigation into Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Don’t get too excited because Sessions will consider stepping back on specific matters tied into the Cohen probe …

On Tuesday, GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin sent a letter to AG Sessions demanding to know his involvement in the FBI raid of Cohen.

“We would like to know if you approved, were consulted, or had any involvement in this decision by the Department of Justice,” Zeldin asked in a letter to AG Sessions about the FBI raid of Cohen on April 9th.

Gateway Pundit cited a Reuters article which says that Sessions discussed the matter at a Senate appropriations subcommittee meeting about the proposed 2019 budget for the Justice Department. Please read it, because it’s got all the classic Sessions recusal statements.

Conclusion

To date, Sessions’s recusals look increasingly like refusals to do the AG job in its entirety.

Jeff Sessions is up for the chop. It’s just a matter of time and circumstance. After the Cohen raid, Trump is even unhappier with the AG and the DOJ than he was a year ago at this time.

Speaking of children, a social epidemic that seems to be rampant is that of child trafficking and exploitation.

The British ‘grooming’ cases are by now well known. Sadly, such tragic depravity continues because of local corruption (perpetrators, police, politicians) and the refusal to prosecute destructive ‘cultural norms’.

The United States also has a problem with child trafficking and exploitation. I wonder if it started in the early 1980s. Many of us remember that was when missing children’s photos began appearing on milk cartons.

Children Missing From Care is the source of the sad statistic that one in seven of 25,000 runaways in 2017 was likely to be a victim of child sex trafficking. Of that number, 88 per cent were in the care of social services when they went missing. This appears to be down from one in six runaways in 2016 who were trafficked.

Therefore, progress is being made, albeit very slowly.

Children Missing From Care is part of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

There is a federal law against child trafficking and exploitation:

Enacted in September 2014, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, P.L. 113-183 (H.R. 4980) requires the States to report each missing or abducted foster child to law enforcement and to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

The Bringing Missing Children Home Act, a portion of the larger Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, P.L. 114-22, was enacted in May, 2015. Among other improvements related to record-keeping, this legislation amended federal law to ensure that law enforcement agencies respond appropriately and coordinate with NCMEC and social service agencies when a child goes missing from foster care.

For many years prior to the passage of these important laws, NCMEC has successfully partnered with social service agencies in several states and local jurisdictions by assisting and supporting their efforts to locate and return missing children to safe places. Please see Resources for Social Services for additional information regarding reporting requirements, steps to take when a child in care goes missing and how NCMEC can assist.

Unfortunately, putting an end to this horrific practice is unlikely to end soon. It is lucrative and involves many people, including government employees. In 2016, FBI Anon commented on 4chan (see here, here and here). This is what he said about child trafficking, particularly in California. The State is complicit (image courtesy of 8chan):

In January 2018, Newsweek published an article on this topic: ‘We Have Set Up a System to Sex Traffic American Children’ (image courtesy of 8chan):

A lawyer, Michael Dolce, wrote the article. He is Of Counsel at Cohen Milstein, and a member of the firm’s Catastrophic Injury practice group.

What struck me about the article was Dolce’s conclusion, which echoes the aforementioned FBI Anon quote (emphases mine):

We need law enforcement consistently prosecuting those who fail to report child abuse and runaways in a timely manner so we can find them before the pimps do. From cases of child abuse victims I have represented, I can name dozens of adults who knew of abuse in institutional care, but failed to report it.

Not one of them was arrested, even when I asked law enforcement to do it. And we must fire child welfare officials accountable for their role. I have never seen an official be fired in any case; in fact, I’ve seen one responsible official get a job promotion.

With or without the Internet, predators will continue to find vulnerable children to build the sex trade. Until we address the source of the victims, this will continue to be the truth we create for our nation’s youth.

True. (This is the same in the UK, by the way.)

This is why President Trump is intent on putting a stop to this (image courtesy of 8chan):

There is another element to this, which is child sacrifice. 8chan can be crude at times, but it also a fertile place for morality and the occasional Bible commentary, such as the following:

Question: “What does the Bible say about child sacrifice?”

Answer: The horrific practice of child sacrifice has been committed throughout the world for thousands of years. Generally, the sacrifice of a child was intertwined with the worship of a pagan deity, often a fertility god. Worshipers sought to obtain a blessing from their god(s) or to confirm or complete a vow taken in the name of the god.

Ancient Aztecs, Incas, and a few other peoples in South and Central America practiced child sacrifice. The same for the Druids of Europe. The city of Carthage in North Africa contains evidence of child sacrifice related to the worship of Ba’al Hammon, a god imported from Phoenicia. Many Roman writers refer to this barbaric act in Carthage.

The Bible contains the heart-breaking tale of child sacrifice practiced in the name of Molech (also spelled Moloch or Molek), a god of the Ammonites. Molech worship was practiced by the Ammonites and Canaanites, who revered Molech as a protecting father figure. Images of Molech were made of bronze, and their outstretched arms were heated red-hot. Living children were then placed into the idol’s hands and died there or were rolled into a fire pit below. Some sources indicate a child might also be “passed through the fire” prior to the actual sacrifice in order to purify or baptize the child. Molech worship occurred in the Hinnom Valley near Jerusalem. Because of this, the valley became associated with the idea of Tophet, or hell (Isaiah 30:33; Jeremiah 19:12; Mark 9:45).

God prohibited Israel from child sacrifice in general and Molech worship in particular. Leviticus 20:2-5 states, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.’” Many other Old Testament passages affirm God’s zero-tolerance for child sacrifice.

Sadly, King Solomon became involved in this horrendous practice, as recorded in 1 Kings 11:4-11, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD. . . . On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. . . . The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command.”

Later, the evil king Manassah offered his own son as a sacrifice (2 Kings 21:6), as did King Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:1-4). The people of Judah participated in this crime against their own sons—a sin so “detestable” that God said it had never even crossed His mind (Jeremiah 32:35). Child sacrifice was one reason for the Babylonian captivity (verse 36).

Some critics of the Bible point to the story of Abraham, who laid his son Isaac on an altar and prepared to sacrifice him as directed by God (Genesis 22:1-14). However, in this case, God was testing the obedience and faith of Abraham. God stopped him from actually following through and provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice.

Today, child sacrifice is practiced throughout the world. There has been a resurgence of child sacrifice in Uganda. Witch doctors have been implicated in the mutilation and death of children who were killed in an effort to bring good fortune and wealth to those willing to pay for it. There is also a correlation between child sacrifice and modern-day abortion. Unprecedented numbers of children have been “sacrificed” at the hands of abortionists for the sake of convenience, immorality, or pride. Hundreds of thousands of babies have been killed so that their parents can maintain a certain lifestyle. God hates “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17), and we can be sure that God will judge this horrendous sin.

Whether trafficking, exploitation and/or sacrifice, I pray that God guides law enforcement and government officials to rout this indescribably egregious practice against children.

Once that happens, we will be amazed to discover that people we hold in high esteem — politicians, captains of industry and celebrities — are not only involved but also networked together, often internationally.

I also pray for the helpless victims, wherever they might be in the world. May God heal their wounds, mental and physical.

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