No get out of jail free (Lk 12:59-12:59)

“I tell you!

You will never get out

Until you have paid

The very last penny.”

 

λέγω σοι, οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν ἕως καὶ τὸ ἔσχατον λεπτὸν ἀποδῷς.

 

Luke said that Jesus gave a solemn pronouncement (λέγω σοι) that they would never get out of jail (οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν) until they had paid every last lepton or penny (ως καὶ τὸ ἔσχατον λεπτὸν ἀποδῷς).  A lepton was a small Greek coin, the smallest amount of money.  Thus, it is translated as a penny.  There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 5:26, indicating a Q source.  Matthew had this solemn statement of Jesus (ἀμὴν λέγω σοι), just like Luke.  They would never get out of jail (οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν) until they had paid off the last κοδράντην (ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην).  This κοδράντην was a 1/10 of a drachma, about .03 cents, generally translated as a penny.  Settle your debts before you go to court!  Have you had difficult financial dealings with other people?

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Forgiveness (Lk 11:4-11:4)

“Forgive us

Our sins!

We ourselves

Forgive everyone

Indebted to us.”

 

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἀφίομεν παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν·

Luke indicated that Jesus said that we should ask the Father to forgive our sins (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν).  Afterall, we ourselves have forgiven everyone indebted to us (καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἀφίομεν παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν).  Matthew, chapter 6:12, said that we should ask the Father to forgive our debts (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν).  This includes whatever we owe to God, because our sins have put us in debt to God.  If we ask for forgiveness, that assumes that we have forgiven our own debtors (ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν).  This saying about forgiveness seems similar to Matthew, chapter 6:14-15, that came right after the “Our Father” prayer.  Basically, the heavenly Father would forgive those people who have forgiven others for their missteps or trespasses.  On the other hand, if you did not forgive others, your heavenly Father would not forgive you your trespasses.  You can see how the idea of trespasses, instead of debtors, came to be part of the “Our Father.”  Mark, chapter 11:25, indicated that Jesus said that whenever they would stand and pray, they should forgive others, especially if they have anything against anyone.  Then their heavenly Father would forgive them for their missteps or trespasses.  What are these trespasses?  The Greek word “τὰ παραπτώματα” means to fall away after being close, a lapse, a deviation from the truth, an error, a slip up, relatively unconscious, or non-deliberate.  Apparently, this was not a serious offense, something like daily implied insensitive insults.  However, they still had to forgive the trespasses of others to be forgiven by the heavenly father.  You can see how the idea of trespasses took on a greater significance over debtors in this great prayer to the Father.  Do you forgive other people?

The Son of Man will give up his life (Mt 20:28-20:28)

“The Son of Man came

Not to be served,

But to serve.

He gives his life

As a ransom for many.”

 

ὥσπερ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι, ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν.

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 10:45, word for word.  Jesus said that the Son of Man came not to be served (ὥσπερ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι), but to serve others (ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι).  He was going to give his life (καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ) as a ransom for many people (λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν).  This ransom or freeing of slaves was a divine liberation from the slavery of sin.  Quite often in the Old Testament, Yahweh said that he was going to save his people, the Israelites.  Jesus was going to pay the penalty of death.  Thus, he ransomed a great number of people from their sins or their debts.

Debts (Mt 5:25-5:26)

“Come to terms quickly

With your accuser,

While you are

On the way

To court.

Otherwise,

Your accuser

May hand you over

To the judge.

The judge

May hand you over

To the guard.

You will be

Thrown into prison.

Truly,

I say to you!

‘You will never get out

Until you have paid

The last penny.’”

 

ἴσθι εὐνοῶν τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ σου ταχὺ ἕως ὅτου εἶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ· μή ποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ, καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ, καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ·

ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην.

 

Jesus, via Matthew, had some common-sense advice that seems to come from the common source Q, since Luke, chapter 12:58-59, has almost exactly the same saying.  If you had a court case, try to settle it quickly before you get to court with the person that you owed money to.  You should be agreeable to your accuser (ἴσθι εὐνοῶν τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ σου).  You should try to solve this case with your accuser on the way to court (ἕως ὅτου εἶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ).  Otherwise, this accuser would turn you over to a judge (μή ποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ), who would in turn send you to a guard (καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ), who would throw you into jail or a prison (καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ).  Then Matthew has this solemn statement of Jesus (ἀμὴν λέγω σοι), just like Luke.  You would never get out of jail (οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν) until you have paid off the last κοδράντην (ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην).  This κοδράντην was a 1/10 of a drachma, about .03 cents, generally translated as a penny.  Settle your debts before you go to court!

Temporary gifts to the servants (Ezek 46:17-46:17)

“But if the prince

Makes a gift,

Out of his inheritance,

To one of his servants,

It shall be his

Until the year of liberty.

Then it shall revert

To the prince.

Only his sons

May keep a gift

From his inheritance.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, pointed out that the prince could give gifts to his servants out of his own inheritance. However, it would not be a permanent gift, since it would have to be returned in the year of liberty or the Jubilee year. Every 50 years was a Jubilee year, so that debts were forgiven then. In this case, the gift given to a servant had to be returned, because only the sons of the prince could keep inheritance gifts on a permanent basis.

The letter of King Antiochus VII to Simon (1 Macc 15:2-15:9)

“The contents of the letter of King Antiochus were as follows.

‘King Antiochus

To Simon the high priest and the ethnarch

And to the nation of the Jews,

Greetings!

Whereas certain scoundrels

Have gained control of the kingdom of our fathers,

I intend to lay claim to the kingdom

So that I may restore it as it formerly was.

I have recruited a host of mercenary troops.

I have equipped warships.

I intend to make a landing in the country

So that I may proceed

Against those who have destroyed our country

Against those who have devastated many cities in my kingdom.

Now therefore I confirm to you

All the tax remissions that the kings before me have granted you.

I release you from all the other payments

From which they have released you.

I permit you to mint your own coinage as money for your country.

I grant freedom to Jerusalem and the sanctuary.

All the weapons which you have prepared

All the strongholds which you have built

All the strongholds that you now hold

Shall remain yours.

Every debt you owe to the royal treasury

Any such future debts shall be canceled for you

From henceforth and for all time.

When we gain control of our kingdom,

We will bestow great honor upon you,

Your nation and the temple,

So that your glory will become manifest in all the earth.’”

King Antiochus VII was about to take over for his brother because he was complaining about the scoundrels who had taken over his country, probably King Trypho. He sent his greetings to Simon and the whole Jewish nation. He talked about how he was going to land and take his country back, so that it is clear he is not there yet. However, he granted to Simon and Jews all the tax exemptions that his brother and father had granted them. He went one step further when he said that they could mint their own coins. This was a strong sign of an independent nation. He allowed them to keep all their weapons and strongholds. All future debts would be cancelled. That is unique and seems to be saying take my money, you do not have to pay it back. Once again, there is the hypothetical “when” he gained control then he was going to honor Simon. He wanted the Jewish glory manifested on the whole earth. He was offering a lot before he had anything.