Sometime during the summer of 1983, when Lamb & Lion Ministries was only three years old, a strange man stopped by our offices and asked to speak to me. He introduced himself as Vendyl Jones, and then he smiled and said, “I’m the original Indiana Jones.” He was referring, of course, to the main character in the very popular movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was released in 1981.
When I asked him what he meant by his remark, he explained that he had been searching for the Ark of the Covenant for several years and that the main character in the Raiders movie had been modeled after him. I didn’t know whether he was kidding or not, but one thing became very clear, very fast: he was obsessed with finding the Ark of the Covenant.
After listening to him ramble on and on about the Ark and how essential it was to the building of the Third Temple, I finally found an opportunity to say a few words. I told him I did not think the discovery of the Ark was essential at all to the building of the Temple. When he asked why, I explained that the Ark was never in the Second Temple (the temple in the time of Jesus), and that it is not mentioned in the book of Ezekiel as being in the future Millennial Temple. Furthermore, I pointed out that Jeremiah prophesied that during the Millennium, “the ark shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again” (Jeremiah 3:16).
At that point, Mr. Jones lost interest in talking with me. He didn’t try to argue. He just got up and left, and he left me wondering who he was and how he had found out about me. After all, my ministry was only three years old and was known to very few people.
In the following years, I kept running across Vendyl Jones in the news, and none of it was good. I discovered that he was an apostate Christian who had denounced the deity of Jesus and had become a leader in the Noahide Movement, a group that claims that Gentiles can be saved by following the laws of Noah as revealed in Genesis 9:1-17.
The Path to Apostasy
Vendyl Jones was born in 1930 in Sudan, Texas (in West Texas between Amarillo and Lubbock). He was raised in a Baptist home and accepted Jesus as his Savior at the age of 16. He decided to enter the ministry, and in order to pursue that goal, he attended classes at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, before transferring to the now-defunct Bible Baptist Seminary in Dallas where he earned two divinity degrees.
In 1955 at age 25 he became pastor of Dugan Chapel Baptist Church in Elizabethton, Tennessee. He claims that while studying the Bible there, he came across Matthew 27:25 where it is recorded that the Jewish people cried out to Pilate that the blood of Jesus “be on us and our children.” He said there was a marginal note in his Bible that stated this passage was not in the oldest manuscripts. That deeply disturbed him. The more he thought about it, the more he became convinced that there was an anti-Semitic conspiracy among the early Church fathers to manipulate the Scriptures to put the blame for the death of Jesus on the Jewish people.
Jones resigned his pastorate in 1956 and moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where he started studying with a Jewish Rabbi. And thus began his journey into apostasy. Over the ensuing years, he rejected the virgin birth of Jesus, denied the deity of Jesus, declared all His miracles to be a sham, and scoffed at Jesus’ resurrection.
He also embraced a form of Dual Covenant Theology, arguing that the Jews can be saved by following the Mosaic Covenant and that Gentiles can be saved by following the Laws of Noah.
Many times he was asked what Bible he was using when he discovered the notation that Matthew 27:25 was not in any of the oldest manuscripts, because that simply is not true. He would never reveal which version it was (because it doesn’t exist!).
Shifting His Focus to Israel
In 1967 he moved his family to Israel in order to study at Hebrew University. Over the next four decades, he split his time between doing archaeological digs in Israel and touring the U.S. to raise money for the digs. He made two discoveries that captured headlines. One was a jug of oil he found near Qumran that he claimed was the anointing oil used at the Jerusalem Temple. The second was some red dirt that he claimed contained the 11 spices used in the Temple incense. Neither of these finds were ever endorsed by professional archaeologists.
Vendyl Jones died on December 27, 2010, at the age of 80 after suffering several months from throat cancer. Sadly, he left behind a legacy of having “trampled under foot the Son of God” and having “insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29).
Matthew 27:25 is not an anti-Semitic blood libel. It is simply an historical recording of what Jews shouted at the trial of Jesus. Its implications were more than offset by the incredible words that Jesus spoke from the Cross: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).