Generosity versus fairness (Mt 20:13-20:15)

“But the landowner replied

To one of them.

‘Friend!

I am doing you no wrong!

Did you not agree

With me

For a denarius?

Take what belongs to you!

Go!

I choose to give

To this last

The same

As I give to you.

Am I not allowed to do

What I choose

With what belongs to me?

Or are you envious

Because I am generous?’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς ἑνὶ αὐτῶν εἶπεν Ἑταῖρε, οὐκ ἀδικῶ σε· οὐχὶ δηναρίου συνεφώνησάς μοι;

ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε· θέλω δὲ τούτῳ τῷ ἐσχάτῳ δοῦναι ὡς καὶ σοί·

οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι ὃ θέλω ποιῆσαι ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς; ἢ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμι;

 

This parable is unique to Matthew, as Jesus concluded this parable.  The landowner replied to one of them (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς ἑνὶ αὐτῶν) with a sarcastic greeting of companion or friend (εἶπεν Ἑταῖρε).  He had done nothing wrong to them (οὐκ ἀδικῶ σε).  They had agreed to the one denarius pay for a day’s work (οὐχὶ δηναρίου συνεφώνησάς μοι).  They should just take their money and go (ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε).  If the landowner was generous that was not the problem of this day laborer.  He could give to the last hired what he gave to the first hired (θέλω δὲ τούτῳ τῷ ἐσχάτῳ δοῦναι ὡς καὶ σοί).  Was he not allowed (οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι) to do whatever he wanted to do with his own belongings (ὃ θέλω ποιῆσαι ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς).  Were they envious with an evil eye (ἢ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν) because he was generous (ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμι)?  In fact, they did not mind generosity.  They just wanted to know why none of that generosity came their way.  That is the problem with generosity.  The person who worked hard for a fair payment sometimes resents the generosity towards those who did not do as much work.  Why was the hard worker for the whole day not compensated more generously than the one-hour worker?  There are always two sides to every story.

Gather in my name (Mt 18:19-18:20)

“Again truly!

I say to you!

If two of you agree

On earth

About anything

You ask,

It will be done for you

By my Father in heaven.

Where two

Or three

Are gathered

In my name,

I am there

Among them.”

 

Πάλιν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐὰν δύο συμφωνήσωσιν ἐξ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς περὶ παντὸς πράγματος οὗ ἐὰν αἰτήσωνται, γενήσεται αὐτοῖς παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς.

οὗ γάρ εἰσιν δύο ἢ τρεῖς συνηγμένοι εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα, ἐκεῖ εἰμι ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν.

 

This saying about prayer in common is unique to Matthew.  Jesus had another solemn pronouncement, “Again truly! I say to you (Πάλιν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν)!”  He said that if two of them could agree on earth about anything (ὅτι ἐὰν δύο συμφωνήσωσιν ἐξ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς περὶ παντὸς πράγματος) they asked for, it would be done for them by his heavenly Father (οὗ ἐὰν αἰτήσωνται, γενήσεται αὐτοῖς παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς).  Where two or three of them were gathered together (οὗ γάρ εἰσιν δύο ἢ τρεῖς συνηγμένοι) in his name (εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα), Jesus would be there in the middle, among them (ἐκεῖ εἰμι ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν).  Some groups of Christians exist all over the world today, where 2 or 3 followers of Jesus gather to pray to the heavenly Father.

New Testament Greek books

Most Christians agree on all the twenty-seven books that make up the New Testament.  Obviously various Christian groups emphasize one or another of these books as more important.  All these books of the New Testament were written in Greek, the literary language of the Roman Empire.  They are a mixture of gospels, letters, and other writings.

The moral use of the Bible

Some see the Bible as some sort of instruction manual on how to live a supposed good life.  Somehow, the Bible serves as a backup proof text for all the great questions in life.  A biblical response is either good or bad, not subject to argumentation.  You can only discuss the text.  Putting your life and belief system in the Bible means that you are trumping every other argument.  “The Bible tells me so” ends the discussion and the argument.  You can only agree, disagree, or argue about the meaning of the text, if your morality is based on the Bible.

The proposition (Dan 13:19-13:21)

“When the maids

Had gone out,

The two elders

Got up.

They ran to her.

They said.

Look!

The garden doors

Are shut!

No one can see us!

We are burning

With desire

For you!

Give your consent!

Lie with us!

If you refuse,

We will testify

Against you

That a young man

Was with you.

This was why

You sent your maids away.’”

The two elder judges seized the moment, once the maids were gone. They jumped up from their hiding place and ran over to the bathing Susanna. They made their proposition. They told Susanna that they were burning with desire for her, as if that was a good pitch. They wanted her to consent to have sex with them. They wanted consensual sex rather than rape her. However, they told her that if see did not agree, then they would testify against her. They were going to say that she sent her maids away, so that she could have sex with a non-existent young man. That was the deal, sex with them or be judged by them as committing adultery with someone else. What a strange choice.

Eliphaz wants Job to reconcile with God (Job 22:21-22:30)

“Agree with God!

Be at peace!

In this way good will come to you.

Receive instruction from his mouth.

Lay up his words in your heart.

If you return to the Almighty Shaddai,

You will be restored.

If you remove unrighteousness from your tents,

If you treat gold like dust,

If you treat the gold of Ophir like the stones of the torrent bed,

If the Almighty Shaddai is your gold,

If the Almighty Shaddai is your precious silver,

Then you will delight yourself in the Almighty Shaddai.

Lift up your face to God!

You will pray to him!

He will hear you.

You will pay your vows!

You will decide on a matter!

It will be established for you.

Light will shine on your ways.

When others are humiliated,

You say it is pride.

God saves the humble.

He will deliver even those who are guilty.

They will escape

Because of the cleanness of your hands.”

Eliphaz wanted Job to admit his guilt so that everything would be fine. He wanted him to just agree with God. Then Job would be at peace. He should listen to God and admit his failings. He wanted him to return to the almighty Shaddai. The almighty one should be his gold, silver, and precious metal. Then he could lift up his face to God since God would hear his prayers. God does not like the haughty, but prefers the humble. Eliphaz wanted Job to be humble before God. Thus even if he was guilty, God would forgive him because of his clean hands.