Second narrative

This second narrative centered around the Sermon on the Mount and the famous so-called Beatitudes.  The first beatitude was about poverty, while the second beatitude was about mourning.  The third beatitude was about the meek or the humble.  The fourth beatitude was about righteousness.  The fifth beatitude was on mercy, while the sixth beatitude was about the pure of heart.  The seventh beatitude was on peacemakers, while the eighth beatitude was on persecution.  There was a grand blessing for the persecuted Christians, who were the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  They had to value and become the lighted lamp.

Next came the law and the prophets.  The law with all its commandments remained.  The righteous ones would not murder, nor would they get angry with insults.  They would offer their gifts at the Temple.  They would pay their debts and not commit adultery.  Jesus warned against the sinning eye and the sinning right hand.  He favored the traditional divorce stance, but warned about marrying a divorced woman.  They should not bear false witness, nor swear at all, since they should have a simple speech.  No longer was it an eye for an eye, but rather turn the other cheek with unusual kindness.  They were to love their enemies and their heavenly Father with a perfect love.

The followers of Jesus should fast and pray.  We should have piety with almsgiving.  Our charity and prayer should be secret with short prayers.  Thus, there was the famous “Our Father” prayer.  The first part of the Lord’s prayer was about God the Father.  The second part of the Lord’s prayer was about our human problems.  We should seek forgiveness and fast in secret.  We should not want earthly treasures, but heavenly treasures.  We need to have a healthy eye because we cannot serve two masters.

We should trust in Providence.  We do not need to worry.  Just look at the birds who do not worry.  The lilies of the field have more beauty than Solomon in all his glory.  Seek the kingdom of heaven first and you will not have to worry about tomorrow.

As far as judgment was concerned, do not judge the speck in the eye of your neighbor.  Be careful with your holy treasures.  Be seekers and give to your sons.  Pray to your heavenly Father and follow the golden rule.  The gate was narrow and there were many false prophets.  Know them by their fruits.  The sound tree has good fruits.  Cut down the bad tree.  Seek the kingdom of heaven.  Stay away from evildoers.  Wise men build on a rock foundation, while the foolish ones build on a sand foundation.  The crowds were astonished at the authority of Jesus.

Wrong times (Mt 24:20-24:20)

“Pray that your flight

May not be

In the winter

Or on a Sabbath.”

 

προσεύχεσθε δὲ ἵνα μὴ γένηται ἡ φυγὴ ὑμῶν χειμῶνος μηδὲ σαββάτῳ·

 

Mark, chapter 13:18, mentions only the problem of winter, while Luke does not mention a bad time at all.  Jesus said to pray (προσεύχεσθε δὲ) that their flight would not be in the winter (ἵνα μὴ γένηται ἡ φυγὴ ὑμῶν χειμῶνος) or on a Sabbath (μηδὲ σαββάτῳ).  Matthew added the comment about the Sabbath since he considered himself and the followers of Jesus as faithful Jews.

False prophets (Mt 24:11-24:11)

“Many false prophets

Will arise up.

They will lead

Many astray.”

 

καὶ πολλοὶ ψευδοπροφῆται ἐγερθήσονται καὶ πλανήσουσιν πολλούς

 

This little saying about false prophets is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that many false prophets or pseudo prophets would rise up (καὶ πολλοὶ ψευδοπροφῆται ἐγερθήσονται), so that they would deceive or lead many astray (καὶ πλανήσουσιν πολλούς).  In the midst of their tribulations, false prophets would lead many of the followers of Jesus astray.  Who were these false prophets?

Jesus asks them to be silent (Mt 17:9-17:9)

“As they were coming down

The mountain,

Jesus instructed them.

‘Tell no one

This vision,

Until the Son of Man

Has been raised

From the dead.’”

 

Καὶ καταβαινόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ τοῦ ὄρους ἐνετείλατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων Μηδενὶ εἴπητε τὸ ὅραμα ἕως οὗ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγερθῇ.

 

Once again, we are back at the messianic secret that can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:9, Luke, chapter 9:36, and here in Matthew that is closer to Mark.  Jesus and his 3 disciples came down or descended from the mountain (Καὶ καταβαινόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ τοῦ ὄρους).  He commanded, instructed, or ordered them (νετείλατο αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων) not to tell anyone about this spectacular vision (Μηδενὶ εἴπητε τὸ ὅραμα) until the Son of Man had been raised from the dead (ἕως οὗ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγερθῇ).  They would be free to speak about this after the death and resurrection of Jesus, but not before that turning point among the followers of Jesus.

The foolish ones with a sand foundation (Mt 7:26-7:27)

“Everyone

Who hears

My words,

But does not act

On them,

Will be

Like a foolish man.

The foolish man

Built his house

On sand.

The rains fell.

The floods came.

The winds blew.

They beat

Against that house.

It fell.

Great was its fall.”

 

καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ μὴ ποιῶν αὐτοὺς ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ μωρῷ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν ἄμμον.

καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέκοψαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἔπεσεν, καὶ ἦν ἡ πτῶσις αὐτῆς μεγάλη

 

These verses are just like Luke, chapter 6:49, which might indicate a Q source.  The opposite of the preceding verses is present here.  Everyone who heard these words of Jesus (καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους) but did nothing about them (καὶ μὴ ποιῶν αὐτοὺς), as opposed to those who acted upon them, were like a foolish or stupid man (ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ μωρῷ).  These foolish people built a house on a sand foundation or sandy ground (ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν ἄμμον), not a rock foundation.  It is interesting to note that these must have been former followers of Jesus, since they had heard his words, not people who had never heard about Jesus, indicating a rift among the followers of Jesus.  The rains fell (καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ) and the floods came (καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ), just as the preceding verses.  Winds would blow (καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι) and beat against this house also (καὶ προσέπεσαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ).  However, there was a different result here.  The house fell (καὶ ἔπεσεν) because it was built on a sand foundation.  The rock foundation was those who had followed the words of Jesus.  The sand foundation was those who heard the words of Jesus but did not follow it.  Their house would suffer not just a fall, but a great fall (καὶ ἦν ἡ πτῶσις αὐτῆς μεγάλη).  It was not good enough to hear the words of Jesus, you had to act on them.

False prophets (Mt 7:15-7:15)

“Beware of false prophets!

They come to you

In sheep’s clothing.

But inwardly they are

Ravenous wolves.”

 

Προσέχετε ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν, οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες.

 

Another great Old Testament theme was the warning against false prophets, as can be found in Jeremiah, chapters 5:6, 5:31, and 6:12-15, Ezekiel, chapter 22:27-28, Zechariah, chapter 13:2, and Micah, chapter 3:5-8.  Mark, chapter 13:22 had a similar warning from Jesus.  The followers of Jesus should be on guard, should pay attention, and be aware (Προσέχετε) of these false or pseudo prophets (ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν).  They come to them with their sheep’s clothing (οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων), but inwardly they are ravenous wolves (ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες).  These false prophets look like meek sheep, but they are really like veracious wolves.

The birds do not worry (Mt 6:26-6:27)

“Look at the birds

Of the air!

They do not sow.

They do not reap.

They do not gather

Into barns.

Yet your heavenly Father

Feeds them.

Are you not

Of more value than they?

Can any of you,

By worrying,

Add a single hour

To your life span?”

 

ἐμβλέψατε εἰς τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν οὐδὲ συνάγουσιν εἰς ἀποθήκας, καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τρέφει αὐτά· οὐχ ὑμεῖς μᾶλλον διαφέρετε αὐτῶν;

τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται προσθεῖναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ πῆχυν ἕνα;

 

Once again, Luke, chapter 12:24-26, has a similar Jesus saying, almost word for word, indicating a common Q source.  Luke called the birds ravens.  Matthew has Jesus tell his disciples to look and see the birds of the heavenly skies (ἐμβλέψατε εἰς τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  The word “οὐρανοῦ” means heaven, sky, or air.  These birds do not sow or scatter (ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν), reap or harvest (ὅτι οὐ σπείρουσιν), or gather crops (οὐδὲ συνάγουσιν) into a granary or barn (εἰς ἀποθήκας).  They are freeloaders.  Yet they are able to eat off the land, because the heavenly Father feeds them (καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τρέφει αὐτά).  Are the disciples or followers of Jesus not more valuable than these birds (οὐχ ὑμεῖς μᾶλλον διαφέρετε αὐτῶν)?  Is worrying going to add one cubit or one hour to your life span or age (τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν δύναται προσθεῖναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ πῆχυν ἕνα).  Probably, the opposite is true.  Don’t worry!  Be happy!

Secret fasting (Mt 6:17-6:18)

“When you fast,

Anoint your head!

Wash your face!

Thus,

Your fasting

May not be seen

By other men,

But by your Father,

Who is in secret.

Your Father,

Who sees in secret

Will reward you.”

 

σὺ δὲ νηστεύων ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ τὸ πρόσωπόν σου νίψαι,

ὅπως μὴ φανῇς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων ἀλλὰ τῷ Πατρί σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ· καὶ ὁ Πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ ἀποδώσει σοι.

 

As earlier, Jesus, via Matthew, indicated that secret almsgiving and prayer were good.  Here now, unique to Matthew, Jesus said to fast in secret (σὺ δὲ νηστεύων).  They should anoint their heads (ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν) and wash their faces (καὶ τὸ πρόσωπόν σου νίψαι,).  Thus, no one would know that they were fasting (ὅπως μὴ φανῇς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων).  However, their father (ἀλλὰ τῷ Πατρί σου) in secret (τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ) would know.  Like in the almsgiving and praying, their Father would be able to see them in secret (καὶ ὁ Πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ).  Thus, he would also reward them (ἀποδώσει σοι), so that their reward would be in heaven, not here.  Why all this secrecy?  Were they afraid of being persecuted for something?  The followers of Jesus were to give alms, pray, and fast in secret, not in public, so that they would get a reward from their heavenly Father.

The first part of the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:9-6:10)

“Pray then in this way!

‘Our Father

In heaven!

Holy be your name!

Let your kingdom come!

Your will be done,

On earth,

As it is in heaven.’”

 

οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς· Ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου·

ἐλθάτω ἡ βασιλεία σου· γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς·

 

Matthew, as well as Luke, chapter 11:2-3, both have the “Lord’s Prayer,” “The Our Father,” with only slightly different versions, perhaps indicating a Q source.  The text in Luke is shorter than here, since Matthew has 7 demands of God, one of his favorite numbers.  The first part of the prayer is about the glory of God himself, the Father.  Jesus simply tells them to pray like this (οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς).  The Greek word for praying “προσεύχεσθε” means an exchange of wishes.  Jesus opened this prayer with a call to their common “our” Father (Πάτερ ἡμῶν) who is in the heavens (ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς).  The heavenly father was a major theme throughout Matthew.  His name should be holy (Ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου), just as in the Hebrew scriptures where the name of Yahweh was holy, especially Psalm 105:1-5.  His kingdom should come (ἐλθάτω ἡ βασιλεία σου).  His will should be done (γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου) on earth (καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς), just as it is done in heaven (ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ).  Obviously following the will of God, Yahweh, was a common theme of Judaic life.  The followers of Jesus would not be exempt from following the will of their heavenly Father.

Short prayers (Mt 6:7-6:8)

“When you are praying,

Do not heap up empty phrases,

As the gentiles do.

They think

That they will be heard

Because of their many words.

Do not be like them!

Your Father knows

What you need

Before you ask him.”

 

Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί· δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται.

μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς· οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν.

 

This is another saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that serves as the introduction to the “Our Father” prayer.  When the followers of Jesus were praying (Προσευχόμενοι δὲ), they should not babble or use vain empty words (μὴ βατταλογήσητε).  Matthew used this Greek word “βατταλογήσητε” that only appears here in all the biblical literature.  This was a kind of long babbling stammering rote type of prayer that some gentiles used (ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί).  Thus, once again Matthew indicated that these gentles were not part of the Jesus followers.  These long-winded gentile non-Jewish people thought that they had to use a lot of words to be heard (δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται).  The Jesus followers should not be the same or like them (μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς), since their divine Father (οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν) knew what they needed before they even asked (ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν).