The sin against the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:31-12:32)

“Therefore,

I tell you!

People will be forgiven

For every sin

And blasphemy.

But blasphemy

Against the Spirit

Will not be forgiven.

Whoever speaks a word

Against the Son of man

Will be forgiven.

But whoever speaks

Against the Holy Spirit

Will not be forgiven,

Either in this age

Or in the age to come.”

 

Διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν, πᾶσα ἁμαρτία καὶ βλασφημία ἀφεθήσεται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, ἡ δὲ τοῦ Πνεύματος βλασφημία οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται.

καὶ ὃς ἐὰν εἴπῃ λόγον κατὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ κατὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος τοῦ Ἁγίου, οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ οὔτε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι οὔτε ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι.

 

There are similar statements to this in Mark, chapter 3:28-30, and Luke, chapter 12:10.  It might be okay to disrespect the Son of Man, but it is quite another thing to speak against or blasphemy the Holy Spirit.  Blasphemy was profaning the name of God.  If you profaned the Holy Spirit you were hopeless.  Only God could forgive.  If you gave up on God and his Spirit, there was no hope of forgiveness.  The Son of Man was so human that you could be forgiven for speaking against the Son of Man, Jesus, but not the Holy Spirit.  Jesus told them with a solemn proclamation (Διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν).  God would forgive all human sins and blasphemies (πᾶσα ἁμαρτία καὶ βλασφημία ἀφεθήσεται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).  However, he would not forgive the sin of blasphemy against the Spirit (ἡ δὲ τοῦ Πνεύματος βλασφημία οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται).  Humans could speak against the Son of Man (καὶ ὃς ἐὰν εἴπῃ λόγον κατὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) and be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ).  However, anyone who spoke against the Holy Spirit (ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ κατὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος τοῦ Ἁγίου) would not be forgiven (οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ), either now or in the future (οὔτε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι οὔτε ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι).

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The servant of Yahweh (Matt 12:18-12:18)

“Here is my servant!

I have chosen him.

My beloved!

My soul is well pleased

With him.

I will put my Spirit

Upon him.

He shall proclaim justice

To the gentile nations.”

 

Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου ὃν ᾑρέτισα, ὁ ἀγαπητός μου ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου· θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν, καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ.

 

A series of scholarly debates has risen about who this servant of Yahweh is in Isaiah, chapter 42:1.  Is it the country and people of Israel or is it an individual prophetic person?  Sometimes the reference is singular as here, but is that also symbolic?  There are many chants or songs about the servant in Second Isaiah.  This oracle has Yahweh speak directly about his servant, who he will uphold, since he is the chosen one.  Yahweh’s soul delights in him.  He puts his Spirit upon him.  This servant of Yahweh will bring about justice for all the nations.  At first take, this appears to be an individual that Yahweh really likes.  Mathew made a clear choice about this servant of Yahweh.  Jesus is the servant of God (Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου).  God has chosen him (ὃν ᾑρέτισα).  He is God’s beloved (ὁ ἀγαπητός μου).  The soul of God has delighted in Jesus (ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου).  God would put his Spirit on Jesus (θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν).  Jesus would proclaim a just judgment to the gentile nations (καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ).  The text that Matthew used is not an exact copy of the Greek or Hebrew text, but close enough.

The hidden things from the wise ones (Mt 11:25-11:25)

“At that time,

Jesus said.

‘I thank you!

Father!

Lord of heaven

And earth!

You have hidden

These things

From the wise ones

And the intelligent ones.

You have revealed them

To unlearned little ones.”

 

Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι, Πάτερ, Κύριε τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅτι ἔκρυψας ταῦτα ἀπὸ σοφῶν καὶ συνετῶν, καὶ ἀπεκάλυψας αὐτὰ νηπίοις·

 

Then Matthew has Jesus say that the unlearned little one had received revelation, but the wise and intelligent ones did not understand them.  Luke, chapter 10:21, has a similar statement, indicating a possible common Q source.  Mathew used the transition phrase “At that time” (Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ).  Jesus was answering people (ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν).  He said thank you to his Father, the Lord of heaven and earth (εἶπεν Ἐξομολογοῦμαί σοι, Πάτερ, Κύριε τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς).  He had hidden these things from the wise and intelligent ones (ὅτι ἔκρυψας ταῦτα ἀπὸ σοφῶν καὶ συνετῶν).  However, he revealed them to the unlearned little ones (καὶ ἀπεκάλυψας αὐτὰ νηπίοις).  Somehow, the unwise ones were the ones who got God’s revelation, while the wise and intelligent ones did not understand them, because God had hidden it from them.

Receive Jesus (Mt 10:40-10:40)

“Whoever welcomes you,

Welcomes me.

Whoever welcomes me,

Welcomes the one

Who sent me.”

 

Ὁ δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς ἐμὲ δέχεται, καὶ ὁ ἐμὲ δεχόμενος δέχεται τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapters 9:48 and 10:16, Mark, chapter 9:37, and John 12:44.  Quite often the idea is associated with accepting children.  Here it is Jesus himself.  Whoever accepts, welcomes, or receives his followers or disciples (Ὁ δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς), then they would be accepting Jesus (ἐμὲ δέχεται).  Furthermore, if they are welcoming Jesus (καὶ ὁ ἐμὲ δεχόμενος), then they are receiving, accepting, and welcoming the one who sent Jesus (δέχεται τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με), the Father.  There is a clear connection between God, the Father, Jesus, and his followers.  Accepting one means accepting all.

The value of sparrows (Mt 10:29-10:31)

“Are not two sparrows

Sold for a penny?

Yet not one of them

Will fall to the ground

Without your Father’s will.

But even the hairs

Of your head

Are all numbered.

Do not be afraid!

You are of more value

Than many sparrows.”

 

οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται; καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ πεσεῖται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἄνευ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν.

ὑμῶν δὲ καὶ αἱ τρίχες τῆς κεφαλῆς πᾶσαι ἠριθμημέναι εἰσίν.

μὴ οὖν φοβεῖσθε· πολλῶν στρουθίων διαφέρετε ὑμεῖς.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapter 12:6-7, indicating a Q source.  Jesus, via Matthew, compared human life to 2 sparrows.  He asked whether 2 sparrows (οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία) that sold for a penny or a Greek “assarion” (ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται), worth about 2 cents. were more valuable than humans.  Not one of these sparrows would fall to the ground without the heavenly Father (καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ πεσεῖται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἄνευ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν).  God, the Father, could number all the hairs on their head (μῶν δὲ καὶ αἱ τρίχες τῆς κεφαλῆς πᾶσαι ἠριθμημέναι εἰσίν.).  They should not be afraid (μὴ οὖν φοβεῖσθε), because they are more valuable that many sparrows (πολλῶν στρουθίων διαφέρετε ὑμεῖς).  If God the Father cares for these insignificant birds, how much more is he concerned about humans.  There was a continual theme about not being afraid.

The believing blind men (Mt 9:28-9:28)

“When Jesus

Entered the house,

The blind men

Came to him.

Jesus said to them,

‘Do you believe

That I am able to do this?’

They said to him.

‘Yes!

Lord!’”

 

ἐλθόντι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ τυφλοί, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς Πιστεύετε ὅτι δύναμαι τοῦτο ποιῆσαι; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ναί, Κύριε.

 

Not only are there similar stories about healing the blind men found in Mark, chapter 10:49-52, and Luke, chapter 18:40-43, but also in Matthew, chapter 20:32-33, but the other more elaborate stories took place in Jericho, and not as here in Galilee.  Their faith was at the heart of this healing.  It is not clear whose house Jesus went into, but he did go into a house (ἐλθόντι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν).  These blind men followed him into the house (προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ τυφλοί).  Then Jesus asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς) if they believed that he was capable of healing them (Πιστεύετε ὅτι δύναμαι τοῦτο ποιῆσαι).  They responded that they believed in him the Lord (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ναί, Κύριε).  Matthew has them refer to Jesus at “Lord (Κύριε).”  That could mean an important person or literally the Lord or God.  Perhaps the latter is intended here.

Did Jesus blaspheme? (Mt 9:3-9:4)

“Then some of the scribes

Said to themselves.

‘This man is blaspheming.’”

But Jesus,

Perceiving their thoughts,

Said.

‘Why do you think evil

In your hearts?’”

 

καὶ ἰδού τινες τῶν γραμματέων εἶπαν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Οὗτος βλασφημεῖ.

καὶ εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὰς ἐνθυμήσεις αὐτῶν εἶπεν Ἵνα τί ἐνθυμεῖσθε πονηρὰ ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν;

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 2:6-8, and Luke, chapter 5:21-22, about the scribes and blasphemy.  Interesting enough, Matthew does not mention the Pharisees here.  Some of these scribes seem to be talking to themselves, but not to others (καὶ ἰδού τινες τῶν γραμματέων εἶπαν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς).  These scribes were 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.  They might have been the fore-runners of the rabbinic class that was developing at that time.  They thought that Jesus was blaspheming (Οὗτος βλασφημεῖ).  Blasphemers used scurrilous or irreverent language about God.  Jesus seemed to know what they were thinking (καὶ εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὰς ἐνθυμήσεις αὐτῶν) and saying to themselves.  He asked them why they had such evil thoughts in their hearts (εἶπεν Ἵνα τί ἐνθυμεῖσθε πονηρὰ ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν).  Thus, Jesus turned the tables on them by exposing their evil thoughts.