The Pharisee dinner (Lk 11:37-11:37)

“While Jesus

Was speaking,

A Pharisee

Invited Jesus

To dine with him.

Thus,

Jesus went in.

He took his place

Reclining at the table.”

 

Ἐν δὲ τῷ λαλῆσαι ἐρωτᾷ αὐτὸν Φαρισαῖος ὅπως ἀριστήσῃ παρ’ αὐτῷ· εἰσελθὼν δὲ ἀνέπεσεν

 

Luke uniquely indicated that while Jesus was speaking (Ἐν δὲ τῷ λαλῆσαι), a Pharisee invited Jesus (ἐρωτᾷ αὐτὸν Φαρισαῖος) to dine with him (ὅπως ἀριστήσῃ παρ’ αὐτῷ).  Thus, Jesus went in and took his place reclining at the table (εἰσελθὼν δὲ ἀνέπεσεν).  This is the second of 3 times that Jesus will uniquely have a dinner with a Pharisee, earlier in chapter 7:36 and later in chapter 14:1.  Earlier Luke had said that one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him.  Thus, Jesus went into the Pharisee’s house.  He took his place reclining at the table.  Then the sinful woman appeared.  In each case, the Pharisees were watching Jesus very closely.  However, he must have been on speaking terms with these Jewish leaders to get this invitation.  Thus, the hostility with the Pharisees did not seem to be personal but rather theological or philosophical over their interpretation of the divine role in Jewish life.  Matthew, chapter 15:1, and Mark, chapter 7:1, had a confrontation with the Pharisees and the Scribes who came to Jesus from Jerusalem.  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had their 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.  These Pharisees in the New Testament continually engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples.  However, here it will be personal confrontation at a dinner party.  Do you have dinner with people that you disagree with?

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He will be like Elijah (Lk 1:17-1:17)

“With the spirit

And power

Of Elijah,

He will go

Before the Messiah.

He will turn

The hearts

Of parents

To their children.

He will turn

The disobedient

To the wisdom

Of the righteous.

He will

Make ready

A people

Prepared for the Lord.”

 

καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία, ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων, ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον.

 

Luke then introduced the concept of Elijah to this new child. The role of Elijah can be found also in Mark, chapter 9:11, as well as in Matthew, chapter 17:11, where the disciples of Jesus asked him why the Scribes said that Elijah the prophet had to come first.  The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah.  Malachi had said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  Jesus did not disagree with this comment.  He responded by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming to restore all things.  There was no doubt about the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, as in the Elijah cycle in 1 Kings, chapter 17-19.  He dominated late Jewish thought.  In Matthew, Jesus had a clear link of Elijah to John the Baptist, since he was the new Elijah.  Here Luke said that this child would precede or go first before the Lord (καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ).  He would have the spirit and the power of Elijah (ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία).  Then he would turn the hearts of parents to their children (ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα), as well as turn the disobedient ones into wise righteous ones (καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων).  He would prepare people to be disposed to get ready for the Lord (ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον), by teaching about repentance and restoring families.  This child was going to be the forerunner for the Messiah, since all the prophets and the law had predicted this right up until the time of this child John.

Elijah restores things (Mk 9:12-9:12)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Elijah is indeed

Coming first

To restore all things.”

 

ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτοῖς Ἡλείας μὲν ἐλθὼν πρῶτον ἀποκαθιστάνει πάντα·

 

The role of Elijah can be found also in Matthew, chapter 17:11, as well as here in Mark.  Mark said that Jesus did not disagree with the Scribes.  He responded to his disciples (ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτοῖς) by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming first to restore all things (Ἡλείας μὲν ἐλθὼν πρῶτον ἀποκαθιστάνει πάντα).  There is no doubt that the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, dominated late first century Jewish thought.

The role of Elijah (Mt 17:10-17:11)

“The disciples asked Jesus.

‘Why then do

The Scribes say.

That Elijah must come first?’

Jesus replied.

‘Elijah is indeed coming.

He will restore all things.’”

 

Καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγοντες Τί οὖν οἱ γραμματεῖς λέγουσιν ὅτι Ἡλείαν δεῖ ἐλθεῖν πρῶτον;

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν Ἡλείας μὲν ἔρχεται καὶ ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα·

 

The role of Elijah can be found also in Mark, chapter 9:11, as well as here in Matthew.  The disciples of Jesus asked, questioned or interrogated him (Καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγοντες) about why the Scribes (Τί οὖν οἱ γραμματεῖς) said that Elijah had to come first (λέγουσιν ὅτι Ἡλείαν δεῖ ἐλθεῖν πρῶτον).  The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah.  He said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  These Scribes were contemporary 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.  Jesus did not disagree with this comment.  He responded (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν) by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming to restore all things (Ἡλείας μὲν ἔρχεται καὶ ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα).  There is no doubt that the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, dominated late Jewish thought.

 

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.