Seeking signs (Mt 12:38-12:38)

“Then some of the Scribes

And Pharisees

Said to him,

‘Teacher!

We wish

To see a sign

From you.’”

 

Τότε ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ τινες τῶν γραμματέων καὶ Φαρισαίων λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε, θέλομεν ἀπὸ σοῦ σημεῖον ἰδεῖν.

 

This seeking of signs was common among all the synoptic gospel writers, Matthew, here and chapter 16:1-4, Mark, chapter 8:11-12, and Luke, chapter 11:29.  Once again, the Scribes and Pharisees wanted a sign.  These Scribes were religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed.  They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.  The Pharisees, on the other hand, were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Pharisees in the New Testament, engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples, as here.  Some of these scribes and Pharisees (Τότε ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ τινες τῶν γραμματέων καὶ Φαρισαίων) asked Jesus, as they called him a teacher or rabbi (λέγοντες Διδάσκαλε).  They wanted to see a sign from Jesus (θέλομεν ἀπὸ σοῦ σημεῖον ἰδεῖν).

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The good and bad treasure (Mt 12:35-12:35)

“The good person

Brings good things out

Of a good treasure.

The evil person

Brings evil things

Out of an evil treasure.”

 

ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ ἐκβάλλει ἀγαθά, καὶ ὁ πονηρὸς ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ θησαυροῦ ἐκβάλλει πονηρά.

 

This is similar to Luke, chapter 6:45, thus indicating a possible Q source.  Matthew has Jesus continue the same dichotomy theme that only good can come from good people and only bad can come from bad persons.  This is a common-sense statement that talks about good and evil men.  The good or kind person (ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος) brings good things out of his good treasure or store house (ἐκ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ θησαυροῦ ἐκβάλλει ἀγαθά).  The evil or wicked person (καὶ ὁ πονηρὸς ἄνθρωπος) brings evil things out of his evil treasure or store house (ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ θησαυροῦ ἐκβάλλει πονηρά).  There is never any ambiguity.

The brood of vipers (Mt 12:34-12:34)

“You brood of vipers!

How can you speak

Good things,

When you are evil?

Out of the abundance

Of the heart,

The mouth speaks.”

 

γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν πονηροὶ ὄντες; ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ.

 

This saying seems to be unique to Matthew.  Earlier in this work, he had John the Baptist call the Pharisees and Sadducees a blood of vipers or snakes in chapter 3:7.  In chapter 23:33, once again he referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as vipers or snakes.  Was he referring to the Pharisees here?  Jesus addressed these people as a brood or offspring of vipers or snakes (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν).  How could they speak good things (πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν), when they were evil (πονηροὶ ὄντες)?  Their mouths spoke (τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ) out of the abundance or overflow of their hearts (ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας).  They could not fool anyone.  Their evil hearts showed up in their speech, even if they tried to be good.

The tree and its fruit (Mt 12:33-12:33)

“Either make the tree good.

Thus,

Its fruit will be good.

Or make the tree bad.

Thus,

Its fruit will be bad.

The tree is known

By its fruit.”

 

Ἢ ποιήσατε τὸ δένδρον καλὸν καὶ τὸν καρπὸν αὐτοῦ καλόν, ἢ ποιήσατε τὸ δένδρον σαπρὸν καὶ τὸν καρπὸν αὐτοῦ σαπρόν· ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ καρποῦ τὸ δένδρον γινώσκεται.

 

A similar remark can be found in Luke, chapter 6:43, as well as earlier in Matthew, chapter 7:16-20, where there was talk about good fruit from good trees.  Either you make a tree good or worthy (Ἢ ποιήσατε τὸ δένδρον καλὸν) with good or worthy fruit (καὶ τὸν καρπὸν αὐτοῦ καλόν) or a bad or rotten tree (ἢ ποιήσατε τὸ δένδρον σαπρὸν) with bad or rotten fruit (καὶ τὸν καρπὸν αὐτοῦ σαπρόν).  The worthy tree or the rotten tree will be known by its worthy or rotten fruits (ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ καρποῦ τὸ δένδρον γινώσκεται).  This is a basic common-sense statement.  Simply stated, a good or bad tree will only produce what it is.  There will be no mixing of the good and the bad fruits.  Good fruit only comes from good trees, while rotten fruits only come from rotten trees.  You can tell what kind of a tree it is by its fruits.

The sin against the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:31-12:32)

“Therefore,

I tell you!

People will be forgiven

For every sin

And blasphemy.

But blasphemy

Against the Spirit

Will not be forgiven.

Whoever speaks a word

Against the Son of man

Will be forgiven.

But whoever speaks

Against the Holy Spirit

Will not be forgiven,

Either in this age

Or in the age to come.”

 

Διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν, πᾶσα ἁμαρτία καὶ βλασφημία ἀφεθήσεται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, ἡ δὲ τοῦ Πνεύματος βλασφημία οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται.

καὶ ὃς ἐὰν εἴπῃ λόγον κατὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ κατὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος τοῦ Ἁγίου, οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ οὔτε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι οὔτε ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι.

 

There are similar statements to this in Mark, chapter 3:28-30, and Luke, chapter 12:10.  It might be okay to disrespect the Son of Man, but it is quite another thing to speak against or blasphemy the Holy Spirit.  Blasphemy was profaning the name of God.  If you profaned the Holy Spirit you were hopeless.  Only God could forgive.  If you gave up on God and his Spirit, there was no hope of forgiveness.  The Son of Man was so human that you could be forgiven for speaking against the Son of Man, Jesus, but not the Holy Spirit.  Jesus told them with a solemn proclamation (Διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν).  God would forgive all human sins and blasphemies (πᾶσα ἁμαρτία καὶ βλασφημία ἀφεθήσεται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).  However, he would not forgive the sin of blasphemy against the Spirit (ἡ δὲ τοῦ Πνεύματος βλασφημία οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται).  Humans could speak against the Son of Man (καὶ ὃς ἐὰν εἴπῃ λόγον κατὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) and be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ).  However, anyone who spoke against the Holy Spirit (ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ κατὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος τοῦ Ἁγίου) would not be forgiven (οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ), either now or in the future (οὔτε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι οὔτε ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι).

For or against Jesus (Mt 12:30-12:30)

“Whoever is not with me,

Is against me.

Whoever does not gather

With me,

Scatters.”

 

ὁ μὴ ὢν μετ’ ἐμοῦ κατ’ ἐμοῦ ἐστιν, καὶ ὁ μὴ συνάγων μετ’ ἐμοῦ σκορπίζει.

 

This saying of Jesus is exactly the same, word for word, in Luke, chapter 11:23, thus indicating a Q source.  You are either with Jesus or against him.  There is no in between.  Whoever is not with Jesus (ὁ μὴ ὢν μετ’ ἐμοῦ), is against him (κατ’ ἐμοῦ ἐστιν).  Whoever does not gather with Jesus (καὶ ὁ μὴ συνάγων μετ’ ἐμοῦ), scatters abroad (σκορπίζει).  Either you stand and gather with Jesus or you are against him and scatter everywhere.  The choice is yours.