“Remember Lot’s wife!”
μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ
Luke was the only gospel writer to have Jesus remark about remembering Lot’s wife (μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ). This was is a reference to Genesis, chapter 19:26. There Yahweh had rained down on both Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire, so that all who lived in those two towns and the plains around it were destroyed. Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Luke and Jesus did not elaborate on the circumstances of her death, just remember it as if it was well known. This was quite a striking biblical image, since they were in the plains by the Dead Sea that was also called the Salt Sea. Have you ever looked back with regret?
“If the same person
Sins against you
Yet turns back
You must forgive!”
καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ λέγων Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ.
Luke indicated that Jesus said that if the same person sinned against you (ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ) 7 times a day (καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας), yet turned back to you 7 times (καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ), and said that he repented (Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ), you must still forgive him (ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ). There is something like this saying in Matthew, chapter 18:21-22, although there was no mention of Peter here in Luke. Matthew indicated that Peter took on a specific leadership role. He wanted to know how many times he should forgive his brother’s sins? Peter wanted to know how often he should forgive his brother who had sinned against him (ποσάκις ἁμαρτήσει εἰς ἐμὲ ὁ ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀφήσω αὐτῷ). Peter thought that 7 would be a good number. Was 7 times enough (ἕως ἑπτάκις)? Most Jewish people had forgiven offenses 3 times. 3 strikes and you were out. Peter seemed overly generous in his attempts at forgiveness. Jesus surprised Peter with a solemn declaration (λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦ) by telling him to forgive his brother’s sins not just 7 times (Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις) but 490 times, 7*70 (ἀλλὰ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά). However, this saying about 7*70 was unique to Matthew, who was the only one who ever used this number ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά in the New Testament literature. This number, nevertheless, could be found in Genesis, chapter 4:24 when Cain and Lamech were talking about violent revenge. Lamech wanted his vengeance 7*70. Was this number an attempt to indicate infinity before we had that term? 490 seems overly generous in any circumstances. However, here in Luke, it might be even more since forgiveness was expected 7 times each day. How many times do you forgive people?
“But whoever denies me
Will be denied
Before the angels of God.”
ὁ δὲ ἀρνησάμενός με ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἀπαρνηθήσεται ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀγγέλων τοῦ Θεοῦ
Luke indicated that Jesus said that whoever denied him before other people (ὁ δὲ ἀρνησάμενός με ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀνθρώπων), they would be denied before (ἀπαρνηθήσεται ἐνώπιον) the angels of God (τῶν ἀγγέλων τοῦ Θεοῦ). This verse is similar to Matthew, chapter 10:34, indicating a Q source. Matthew indicated that Jesus said that anyone who denied or repudiated him before other men, he was going to deny or repudiate them before his Father in heaven also. Once again, there was a difference between the angels of God and the Father in heaven. Jesus wanted loyalty to him, no matter what the circumstances. If they were loyal here on earth, he would intercede with his Father for them in heaven, as their mediator. Would you ever deny Jesus?
“As for those seeds
On the good soil,
These are the ones
When they hear
They hold it fast
In an honest
And good heart.
They bear fruit
With a patient endurance.”
τὸ δὲ ἐν τῇ καλῇ γῇ, οὗτοί εἰσιν οἵτινες ἐν καρδίᾳ καλῇ καὶ ἀγαθῇ ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον κατέχουσιν καὶ καρποφοροῦσιν ἐν ὑπομονῇ.
Luke indicated that Jesus said that the seeds on the good soil (τὸ δὲ ἐν τῇ καλῇ γῇ) are the ones (οὗτοί εἰσιν οἵτινες) who heard the word (ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον) and held it or kept it fast (κατέχουσιν) with an honest and good heart (ἐν καρδίᾳ καλῇ καὶ ἀγαθῇ). They would bear fruit with a patient endurance (καὶ καρποφοροῦσιν ἐν ὑπομονῇ). This explanation of the sower parable about the good seeds can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:20, Matthew, chapter 13:23, and here, with Matthew closer to Mark. Mark and Matthew indicated that Jesus said that the seeds sown on good soil were the people who heard the word and accepted it. They then bore good fruit. They yielded either 30-fold, 60-fold, or a 100-fold. Matthew, had the reverse order of Mark, 100, 60, and 30, while Luke, has no number on the fruitful harvest. Only about 25% of the seeds sown were effective. Thus, only about 25% of the people hearing the word of the kingdom from Jesus would follow it. The seeds or the word that fell on the path, on the rocky ground, or the thorns were ineffective. However, even among the effective seeds that were on good soil, the word would have different results. Some would yield 30 times, some 60, and some 100. There was no magic formula. The circumstances among the good hearers would also bring about a variety of responses and effectiveness. How effective are the seeds of the word of God in your life?
“Jesus said to him,
I do not say to you
But seventy times seven.”
λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις, ἀλλὰ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά.
This saying about 7*70 is unique to Matthew. Jesus surprised Peter with a solemn declaration (λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦ) by telling him to forgive his brother’s sins not 7 times (Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις) but 490 times, 7*70 (ἀλλὰ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά). Matthew is the only one who ever used this number “ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά” in the New Testament literature, but that number could be found in Genesis, chapter 4:24 when Cain and Lamech were talking about violent revenge. Lamech wanted his vengeance 7*70. Was this number an attempt to indicate infinity before we had that term? 490 seems overly generous in any circumstances, but was this to mean all the time?
Textual criticism is the study of the variants in the original Hebrew or Greek texts. This textual criticism attempts to establish the original wording of the biblical texts. There is an attempt to establish the possible formation and transmission of the texts themselves. All the original manuscripts of the Bible have been lost. Thus, the goal of textual criticism is to recover the best critical text possible, given the circumstances of today. Most modern translations are based on various Hebrew and Greek critical texts. These ancient texts were copied by hand with some possible human errors. Many kinds of copying errors have been categorized and classified. Textual criticism is known as lower criticism, because it is the foundation for all of the other kinds of critical study.
Be true to your training!
Be at peace!
What is the value of hidden wisdom?
What is the value of unseen treasure?
Better are those
Who hide their folly,
Who hide their wisdom.
Therefore show respect for my words!
It is not good
To feel shame
In every circumstance.
Not every kind of abasement
Is to be approved.”
Sirach wants you to respect his words. He wants everyone to be true to their training and at peace. He thought that hidden wisdom and hidden treasures were useless. If there was anything to hide, it should be your folly. Thus it was better to hide folly than wisdom. The same with shame. You should not be ashamed in any circumstances. Not every kind of shaming is approved.
“So I became great.
I surpassed all
Who were before me in Jerusalem.
My wisdom remained with me.
Whatever my eyes desired,
I did not keep from them.
I kept my heart from no pleasure.
My heart found pleasure in all my toil.
This was my reward for all my toil.
Then I considered
All that my hands had done.
I considered the toil
I had spent in doing it.
All was vanity.
It was like chasing after wind.
There was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
Qoheleth became great as he surpassed all those that had gone before him. Yet he still had his wisdom. There was no pleasure denied to him. Whatever his eyes or heart desired, he got. He was the great playboy of the ancient world. Everything was his because of his wealth. In fact, he felt that he deserved this because of his hard work, which is true about most rich people. They feel that they deserve all their wealth because of their hard work. They forget about all the other hard working people who never achieve great wealth because of their circumstances. Qoheleth considered how much time he had spent becoming rich and great. Then it all kicked in. This was useless and in vain. He was once again out there chasing a wind that could never be caught. Rarely does one ever get rich enough to feel that they have enough. Like the super rich, suddenly Qoheleth felt that he had enough, because nothing was to be gained under the sun. He practically had everything. He was the richest man in Jerusalem.
“Under three things the earth trembles.
Under four it cannot bear up.
When a slave becomes king,
When a fool is glutted with food,
When an unloved woman gets a husband,
When a maid succeeds her mistress.”
Once again we are back at the numerical proverb of 3 and 4. The earth trembles. There are 4 things that this author cannot bear: 1) a slave who becomes a king, 2) a fool filled with food, 3) an unloved woman with a husband, and 4) a maid that succeeds her mistress. These seem like annoying circumstances for an elite person who does not like people moving out of their social class status. However, there is a sensibility to the unloved wife and the scorned mistress.
“A wise child makes a glad father.
But a foolish child is a mother’s grief.
Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit anyone.
But righteousness delivers from death.
Yahweh does not let the righteous go hungry,
But he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
A slack hand causes poverty.
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
A child who gathers in summer is prudent,
But a child who sleeps in harvest brings shame.”
Right from the start of these sayings there is the contrast between the wise and the foolish child. Wickedness did not bring profit, but righteousness would save you from death. Early death was considered a punishment for sin. Yahweh would not let the righteous go hungry, but the wicked would be hungry. Notice the contrast and the idea of ‘but’. Here we have the classic explanation of poverty. You are poor because you do not work hard. You are rich because you have worked hard. There is never any mention of circumstances. Once again, we are back at the prudent child who gathers in the summer, while the other shameful child sleeps during the harvest time.