Watch: The trailer for The Chosen Season 4
Among other things, Jesus speaks against "the gates of Hell" while standing in front of a pagan temple.
In October, we got a teaser for The Chosen Season 4, which is coming to theatres early next year. Now we have the full trailer. Check it out below:
One of the most fascinating things about this trailer, for me, is how it recontextualizes the scene in which Jesus says, “It is on this rock that I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”
The line comes from Matthew 16:18.
In its original context, Jesus is speaking directly to Peter, after Peter has declared that Jesus is the Messiah. It is implied in the text that Jesus is speaking to his disciples privately, because the passage ends with Jesus telling the disciples not to tell anyone that he’s the Messiah (Matthew 16:20). But in this clip, Jesus is speaking publicly to a small crowd, which apparently includes some pagans.
In Greek, Jesus says the gates of Hades will not prevail against his church. Hades was the shadowy realm of the dead in Greek mythology, similar to Sheol in the Hebrew Bible. It’s common nowadays for people to translate that word as “Hell”, but Hades did not have the connotations of evil and punishment that we now associate with that word,1 so a lot of modern translations stick with “Hades” in passages like this, to avoid those associations. However, in this clip, Jesus does say “Hell”—and he says it in front of what looks like a pagan temple, and he says it in such a way that it sounds like he’s not merely talking about the liberation of the dead but condemning pagan idolatry or something like that.
About that pagan temple: Matthew’s gospel says Jesus made his statement while he and the disciples were visiting “the region of Caesarea Philippi” (Matthew 16:13; cf Mark 8:27).2 That city was known in Greek as Paneas, because it was closely associated with a temple to the Greek god Pan that was built by the Greeks who conquered that region a few centuries before Christ. And it would appear that Jesus is standing in front of that very temple here.
As it happens, I have been to Caesarea Philippi, and I recognized the location where this scene takes place immediately.
Here is the shot of Jesus decrying “the gates of Hell”:
Here is a photo I took of my mother when we visited Caesarea Philippi in 2018:
And here is an artist’s reconstruction of what that area might have looked like in the ancient past; this image is posted at the archaeological site today:
So, that was kind of a fascinating “Hey, I’ve been there!” moment in the trailer—except, of course, I assume that this scene was shot in America somewhere, and that the carved wall Jesus is standing in front of is a reconstruction of the real thing.
A few other quick comments about this trailer:
“Darkness is not the absence of light,” says Mary Magdalene in an opening voice-over, and all I could think was that a lot of the cinematography in this trailer is very dark (as it is, indeed, in many movies and TV shows these days).
The political collusion between the priests and the Romans begins.
It is implied that Judas will start taking betrayal money now, in Season 4, and not just in Season 6, which is the season that will depict the crucifixion. If I’m reading this correctly, it is even suggested that the people who give Judas this money will argue that the money is for the good of the movement—which ties into the fact that Judas is the Jesus movement’s treasurer (John 12:6, 13:29).
The two Simons—Simon Peter and Simon the Zealot—are wearing soldiers’ helmets for some reason. (But they’re not wearing full uniforms!) If I had to guess, I would say this probably has something to do with the Roman practice of getting people to carry things for one mile, and Jesus’ teaching that we should “go the extra mile”, similar to how we turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-42).
Jesus raises his hand. “Lazarus!” he says. You wait to hear the rest of this famous statement. And then he says… “Come out!” That might be more colloquial, and it might be how a lot of Bibles render that line these days, but… it sounds less impressive to me than “Come forth!” Less dramatic, etc.
And… that about covers it, I think.
The Chosen Season 4 is coming to theatres throughout February next year: the first three episodes on February 1, the next three episodes on February 15, and the last two episodes on February 29. Tickets are available at TheChosenRiseUp.com.
The Chosen interviews:
Season 1: Dallas Jenkins, co-writer/director (Dec 2019)
Season 2: Dallas Jenkins, co-writer/director (May 2021) | Derral Eves, producer, on Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers (Nov 2021) | Dallas Jenkins on the ‘The Chosen Is Not Good’ marketing campaign (Apr 2022)
The Chosen recaps:
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If it’s punishment of the wicked that you’re looking for, a better place in Greek mythology is Tartarus, which was the deep abyss in which the Titans and the souls of the dead received divine punishment. This is the word II Peter 2:4 uses when it talks about the punishment of the fallen angels, and it is translated as “Hell” in most English Bibles.
The Jesus of this series has been to Caesarea Philippi with his disciples before; it is where Philip introduced Nathanael to Jesus in S2E2 (i.e. Season 2 Episode 2). In the gospels, Philip introduced Nathanael to Jesus about 200 km south of this city, near Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan, where John the Baptist was baptizing people (John 1:43-51).