Luke is the only synoptic writer with this parable about the widow and the bad judge. Luke had Jesus bring this parable to a conclusion with a comment about God. He wondered whether God (ὁ δὲ Θεὸς) would grant justice (οὐ μὴ ποιήσῃ τὴν ἐκδίκησιν) to his chosen ones (τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ) who cried to him (τῶν βοώντων αὐτῷ) day and night (ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός)? Would God delay long in helping them (καὶ μακροθυμεῖ ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς)? The comparison was explicit. Jesus said that God would grant justice to his chosen ones who petitioned him day and night. Their persistence prayer would pay off. God would not delay in helping them and answering their prayers for justice. Has God answered your persistent prayers?
Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus also mentioned Lot from Genesis, chapter 19:24. Jesus said that on the day when Lot left Sodom (ᾗ δὲ ἡμέρᾳ ἐξῆλθεν Λὼτ ἀπὸ Σοδόμων), it rained fire (ἔβρεξεν πῦρ) and sulphur or brimstone (καὶ θεῖον) from heaven (ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ). It destroyed all of them (καὶ ἀπώλεσεν πάντας). It would be like those days on the day (κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ ἔσται ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ) that the Son of Man would be revealed (ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀποκαλύπτεται). In other words, the destruction of the world at the time of Noah and the destruction of the town of Sodom at the time of Lot were a foretaste of the end times. It would come unexpectedly. However, the conclusion was to be expected. The comparison was explicit. The Son of Man would come like in the olden days of destruction. Are you prepared for the coming of the Son of Man at the end times?
Luke indicated that Jesus, the Lord, replied (εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος) that if they had faith (Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν) the size of a mustard seed (ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), they could say (ἐλέγετε) to this mulberry or sycamore tree (ἂν τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ), be rooted up (Ἐκριζώθητι) and planted in the sea (καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ). Luke is the only biblical writer to use the Greek term συκαμίνῳ that means a black mulberry tree or a sycamore tree that had medicinal value. Then this tree would obey them (καὶ ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν). There are expanded faith sayings that can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:28-29, and Matthew, chapter 17:19-21, who are much closer to each other. Matthew indicated that the disciples came to Jesus privately (Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ). They wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirits from that boy (κατ’ ἰδίαν εἶπον Διὰ τί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό). Jesus reminded them (ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐτοῖς) of their little faith (Διὰ τὴν ὀλιγοπιστίαν ὑμῶν), a term used predominately by Matthew. Jesus came back with a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν) that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), like here in Luke, they could move mountains from here to there (ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ Μετάβα ἔνθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται). Nothing would be impossible for them (καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν). If they had faith with prayer and fasting (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ), they would be able to cast the evil spirits out (τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται). Matthew continued to emphasize the lack of faith or the little faith of the disciples of Jesus. Mark said that the disciples wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirit from that boy (Ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό). The disciples were concerned that they must have lacked something that made it impossible for them to get rid of this evil spirit that was in that boy. Mark added the need for prayer. There was no emphasis on faith as in Matthew, where Jesus talked about faith and the mustard seed. Mark emphasized prayer, as he indicated that Jesus said that this kind of evil spirit could only be expelled (Τοῦτο τὸ γένος ἐν οὐδενὶ δύναται ἐξελθεῖν) through prayer (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ). Prayer might imply faith, but it is not explicit here in Luke. Which is more important to you, faith or prayer?
This is more or less a unique saying of Luke, who said that now, more than ever, the word or report about Jesus spread abroad (διήρχετο δὲ μᾶλλον ὁ λόγος περὶ αὐτοῦ,). Many large crowds would gather to hear him (καὶ συνήρχοντο ὄχλοι πολλοὶ ἀκούειν). Then he cured many people of their diseases (αὶ θεραπεύεσθαι ἀπὸ τῶν ἀσθενειῶν αὐτῶν). There is nothing like this in Matthew. Mark, chapter 1:45, on the other hand, said that after this cleansed leper went away, he began to proclaim what had happened to him. Then the news about his cleansing spread around, so that Jesus was no longer able to openly enter into a city or town. He had to stay out in the solitary deserted countryside. Nevertheless, the people came to him from all around the area or from various quarters. The cleansed leper did not keep quiet, so that this led to more consternation for Jesus. Luke was not that explicit, but hinted at it.
Mark added the need for prayer. There is no emphasis on faith as in Matthew, chapter 17:20, where Jesus talked about faith and the mustard seed. Here the emphasis is on prayer. Mark indicated that Jesus said to his disciples (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that this kind of evil spirit could only be expelled (Τοῦτο τὸ γένος ἐν οὐδενὶ δύναται ἐξελθεῖν) through prayer (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ). Prayer might imply faith, but it is not explicit here.
Mark said the seeds were the word (ὁ σπείρων τὸν λόγον), without any further clarification. Matthew, chapter 13:19 was more explicit with the seeds as the word of the kingdom (τὸν λόγον τῆς βασιλείας). Luke, chapter 8:11, was ever more specific when he explicitly said that seed was the word of God (τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ). Mark said that the sower (ὁ σπείρων), either Jesus or his apostles, was sowing the word (τὸν λόγον σπείρει), the word of the kingdom, or the word of God into good ground, so that it might bear fruit.
Once again, Joseph was warned in a dream (χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ’ ὄναρ), without the explicit mention of the angel of the Lord. Joseph found out that the son of King Herod (ἀντὶ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῴδου), Archelaus, (23 BCE-16 CE) was now in charge in Judea (ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας). He was afraid to go back there (ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν) to Judea, since maybe King Herod’s son would be after his child just like his father. Actually, Herod Archelaus only lasted about 10 years before the Romans took the title away from him in 6 CE. Thus, Joseph decided to withdraw to the district of Galilee (ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας), without explicitly being told to do so. Galilee was a rocky terrain region in northern Israel. Originally, it was part of the tribal regions of Naphtali, Dan, and Asher, but later it was part of the northern kingdom of Israel, with a Phoenician presence and influence. In the Roman times, Galilee was clearly separate from Judea. Many of the events in the life of Jesus would take place there, even though Herod Antipas, the other son of King Herod, ruled Galilee from 4 BCE-39 CE.
What is a gospel? Who is Matthew? The English term gospel comes from the Old English ‘godspel.’ There was a musical play with the name “Godspell” that opened on Broadway in 1971. Like the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, gospel means good news or good tidings. This term originally meant the Christian message itself. However, in the second century, it came to be used for the books where this message was set out. Thus, the gospels became known as written accounts of the career and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. This Gospel of Matthew is anonymous, since there is no explicit mention of a named author within the text itself. This title (Τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον), however was added some time in the second century, perhaps with Papias of Hierapolis (100–140 CE), an early bishop and apostolic father. The apostle Matthew was among the early followers and apostles of Jesus. He was a first century Galilean, the son of Alpheus. As a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic and Greek. His fellow Jews would have despised him because he was seen as collaborating with the Roman occupation force. What we do know for certain is that the author of this gospel was probably a traditional male Jew, familiar with the technical and legal aspects of Hebrew Scripture. He wrote in a polished Semitic synagogue Greek style. Most scholars hold that the Gospel of Matthew was a product of the last quarter of the 1st century, a work of the second generation of Christians, probably sometime between 70-110 CE, or more precisely between 80-90 CE. The defining event for this community was the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, during the Jewish–Roman War of 66–73 CE. The author of this Gospel of Matthew wrote for a community of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians probably located in Syria, just north of Galilee. Antioch was the largest city in Roman Syria and the third-largest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria. This is where the term “Christian” was first used. Thus, it would seem like an appropriate place for Jewish Christians in the second half of the first century. For practical traditional purposes, I will use the name Matthew as the author of this gospel.
We all have a belief attitude to this great mysterious, even if not articulated. This attitude may be implicit or explicit. Thus, it can be a subconscious belief or a practical disbelief in God. How do we describe these various belief attitudes? Do we have a positive or negative view of God? Do we any view of God? Do we not even care about the question?
Yahweh was very explicit to Ezekiel. He was to lay down the basics for the new Temple, just like Moses with his Mosaic laws. This was to be the law of the new Temple for the post-exilic Israelites. Once the Israelites had accepted their shame for all that they had done, Ezekiel was to let them know about this divine plan for the new temple. He was to tell them about its arrangements, exits, entrances, with its whole form. They were to know its ordinances, as well as the entire plan, including its laws. Ezekiel was to write it down in the sight of these Israelites, since there should not be any ambiguity. They were to observe and follow the entire plan with all its ordinances. This was to be the law for the new Temple. The whole territory on the top of the mountain with the territory all around it would be most holy. They were not to forget that this was the law of the temple.