The power of the law (Lk 16:17-16:17)

“It is easier

For heaven

And earth

To pass away,

Than for one stroke

Of a letter

Of the law

To be dropped.”

 

εὐκοπώτερον δέ ἐστιν τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν παρελθεῖν ἢ τοῦ νόμου μίαν κεραίαν πεσεῖν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that it was easier (εὐκοπώτερον δέ ἐστιν) for heaven (τὸν οὐρανὸν) and earth (καὶ τὴν γῆν) to pass away (παρελθεῖν), than for one stroke of a letter of the law to be dropped (ἢ τοῦ νόμου μίαν κεραίαν πεσεῖν).  Nothing in the Law or the Torah could be changed or dropped, plain and simple.  This saying is similar to Mark, chapter 13:31, and Matthew, chapter 5:18, with a few exceptions.  Matthew has this as a great Jesus solemn pronouncement for his disciples (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν).  The next phrase is the same in Luke and Mark.  Heaven and earth would not pass away (ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ) until the law was fully accomplished (ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται).  Matthew, like Luke here, is even more specific with a detailed remark about the fact that not even an iota of the Law or not one stroke of a letter would go away (ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου), before the Law was fully accomplished.  Iota was the Greek word for the Hebrew yod, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet.  Mark indicated that it was the words of Jesus, and not the Law, that would not change.  Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 3:31, would further expand on this idea of upholding the law.  In Matthew, chapter 24:35, and in Luke, chapter 21:33, Jesus said that heaven and earth would pass away (ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται), but his words would not pass away (οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρελεύσονται).  This was a simple statement about the enduring quality of the words of Jesus.  Here, however, it is the words of the law that would not pass away, not the words of Jesus.  Which is more important for you, the law or the words of Jesus?

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The good news (Lk 16:16-16:16)

“The law

And the prophets

Were in effect

Until John came.

Since then,

The good news

Of the kingdom of God

Is proclaimed.

Everyone

Tries to enter it

By force.”

 

Ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται μέχρι Ἰωάνου· ἀπὸ τότε ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ εὐαγγελίζεται καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the law (Ὁ νόμος) and the prophets (καὶ οἱ προφῆται) were in effect until John came (μέχρι Ἰωάνου).  Since then (ἀπὸ τότε), the good news has been proclaimed (εὐαγγελίζεται) about the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Everyone tries to enter it by force (καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται).  The law and the prophets were the two major parts of the Hebrew Bible.  John the Baptist represented some sort of turning point.  His preaching about the kingdom of God meant that the days of the law and prophets were numbered.  There is something similar, but in a different context with a different meaning in Matthew, chapter 11:12-13.  There Jesus talked about the days of John the Baptist until the present (ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι), not a very long time.  The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται).  What kind of violence was taking place in the heavenly kingdom?  Did this mean that so many people were violently seeking the kingdom of heaven that John was talking about?  Is this some kind of violence within the kingdom of heaven?  Were these violent people trying to get into the kingdom of heaven?  The next sentence seems to support this idea that violent people wanted to seize the kingdom of heaven by force (καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν).  In Matthew, chapter 17:11-13, Jesus compared John to Elijah.  Like here in Luke, all the prophets and the law had prophesied until the time of John the Baptist (πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάνου ἐπροφήτευσαν).  Then Jesus said that John was the new Elijah (αὐτός ἐστιν Ἡλείας), the one who was to come (ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι).  However, they had to be willing to accept this (καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι).  Anyone who had ears to hear should listen to this (ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω).  Clearly, something fundamental changed with John the Baptist and his proclamation of the kingdom of God.  How were John and Jesus connected in their preaching?  What is your opinion about John the Baptist?

Jesus’ clothes are whiter than white (Mk 9:3-9:3)

“His clothes

Became

Dazzling white,

Such as no one

On earth

Could bleach them.”

 

καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο στίλβοντα λευκὰ λίαν, οἷα γναφεὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς οὐ δύναται οὕτως λευκᾶναι.

 

This description of the clothing of Jesus can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:2, Luke, chapter 9:29, and here in Mark, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Jesus was transfigured in front of the 3 apostles. There was a metamorphosis, as the appearance of Jesus changed right before their very eyes.  There was no mention of the face of Jesus changing, as in Matthew.  Mark indicated that Jesus’ clothes or garments became a dazzling white (καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο στίλβοντα λευκὰ λίαν).  They were so white that not even any cleaner on earth could bleach them any whiter (οἷα γναφεὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς οὐ δύναται οὕτως λευκᾶναι).  Suddenly, the human Jesus seemed more brightly divine with his amazing glittering white clothes.  White and light were good, while black and darkness were bad.

Jesus is transfigured before the three apostles (Mt 17:2-17:2)

“Jesus was transfigured

Before them.

His face shone

Like the sun.

His clothes

Became dazzling white.”

 

καὶ μετεμορφώθη ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν, καὶ ἔλαμψεν τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἥλιος, τὰ δὲ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο λευκὰ ὡς τὸ φῶς.

 

This transfiguration can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:2-3, Luke, chapter 9:29, and here in Matthew, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Jesus was transfigured in front of the 3 apostles (καὶ μετεμορφώθη ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν).  There was a metamorphism, as the appearance of Jesus changed right before their very eyes.  His face was shining like the sun (καὶ ἔλαμψεν τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἥλιος,), just like what happened to Moses, in Exodus, chapter 34:35.  There the face of Moses was so bright that he had to put a veil on after talking to Yahweh, before he could talk to Aaron, his brother.  Jesus’ clothes or garments became a dazzling white, like a bright light or white snow (τὰ δὲ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο λευκὰ ὡς τὸ φῶς).  Suddenly, the human Jesus seemed more brightly divine.  White and light were good, while black and darkness were bad.

The law remains (Mt 5:18-5:18)

“Truly,

I tell you!

‘Until heaven

And earth

Pass away,

Not an iota or yod,

Nor one stroke of a letter,

Will pass away

From the law,

Until all is accomplished.’”

 

ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ, ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.

 

This saying is similar to Mark, chapter 13:31, and Luke, chapter 16:17, with a few exceptions. Matthew has this as a great Jesus pronouncement for his disciples, since he said right at the beginning, “Truly, I tell you (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν)! The next phrase is exactly the same in Luke and Mark. Heaven and earth would not pass away (ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ,) until the law was fully accomplished (ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται). Matthew is even more specific with a detailed remark about the fact that not even an iota of the Law or not one stroke of a letter would go away (ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου), before the Law was fully accomplished. Iota was the Greek word for the Hebrew “yod,” the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Nothing in the Law or the Torah could be changed, plain and simple. Mark indicated that it was the words of Jesus, and not the Law, that would not change. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 3:31, would further expand on this idea of upholding the law.

Plural Model of Salvation

Jesus may not be the only Savior.  We can learn from other religions.  New is not wrong, just like the ideas of slavery have changed.  This psychology of faith says we have to follow the example of Jesus, really experience the presence of God in Jesus.  The Christian mission to teach all remains, but Christianity is not the final or superior religion.  Christianity is the best good news, not the only good news.  We appreciate all colors, but those in love say that the most beautiful woman in the world is the women that that they love.

Redaction criticism

The study of how the manuscript editions of the texts have changed is called redaction criticism.  This is the examination of these literary biblical document to discover how the biblical authors have formed and linked the materials together.  How did they edit these texts to establish their meaning and significance?