Bear testimony (Lk 21:13-21:13)

“This will give you

An opportunity

To testify.”

 

ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν εἰς μαρτύριον.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that this persecution would give them an opportunity (ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν) to testify as a witness or a martyr (εἰς μαρτύριον).  This verse is somewhat similar to Mark, chapter 13:10, with a hint of this in Matthew, chapter 24:14.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that the good news of the gospel (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον) must first be proclaimed (πρῶτον δεῖ κηρυχθῆναι) to all the gentile nations (καὶ εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη).  That would be a difficult task, certainly putting the end times at a further distance.  This mission to the gentile nations was a trademark of the Gospel of Mark with its emphasis on the gentile non-Jewish Christians.  Matthew had the same idea in chapter 10:22, and also in chapter 24:14, where Jesus said that this gospel, this good news of the kingdom (τοῦτο τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας) would be preached (καὶ κηρυχθήσεται) throughout the whole inhabited world (ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ), as a witness or testimony to all the gentile nations (εἰς μαρτύριον πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν).  Then the end would come (καὶ τότε ἥξει τὸ τέλος).  Matthew seemed to set a precondition before the coming of the end times that the gospel would be preached throughout the whole known world.  Luke was more restrained here simply saying that there was an opportunity to be a witness or martyr.  Would you be a Christian martyr?

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My messenger (Lk 7:27-7:27)

“This is the one

About whom

It is written.

‘See!

I am sending

My messenger

Ahead of you.

He will prepare

Your way

Before you.’”

 

οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται Ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus saw a special role for John the Baptist.  He said that John was the one about whom Malachi, the prophet, chapter 3:1, had written (οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται), without mentioning the prophet’s name.  Malachi had said that he was sending his messenger ahead of him or before his face (δοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου) to prepare the way before him (ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου).  This Scripture written passage about the role of John was from the prophet Malachi, although not explicitly mentioned here.  This saying about John the Baptist can be found word for word in Matthew, chapter 11:10.  Thus, this may have been a Q source about John, like many of the other passages about John.  Actually, Mark, chapter 1:2, had part of this saying as the beginning of his gospel when he introduced John.  In Malachi, Yahweh was going to send his messenger or angel before him or his face to prepare the way for him.  Originally, Yahweh would re-enter into his Temple, because the messenger of the delightful covenant had prepared things for him.  There is no mention of the Temple here.  John was clearly inferior to Jesus, since he was there to prepare the way for Jesus as his messenger, much like an angel of God.  Who prepared the way to Jesus for you?

The citation from Isaiah (Lk 4:18-4:19)

“The Spirit of the Lord

Is upon me.

Because

He has anointed me

To bring good news

To the poor.

He has sent me

To proclaim release

To the captives.

He has sent me

To give recovery

Of sight

To the blind.

He has sent me

To let the oppressed

Go free.

He has sent me

To proclaim the year

Of the Lord’s favor.’”

 

Πνεῦμα Κυρίου ἐπ’ ἐμέ, οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς, ἀπέσταλκέν με κηρῦξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν, ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει,

κηρῦξαι ἐνιαυτὸν Κυρίου δεκτόν.

 

This is unique to Luke, who used this citation from Isaiah, chapter 61:1.  Jesus read or said that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him (Πνεῦμα Κυρίου ἐπ’ ἐμέ), because God had anointed him (ὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με) to bring good news to the poor or oppressed (εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς).  Some Orthodox texts have the healing of the brokenhearted (συντετριμμένους τὴν καρδίαν) also.  God has sent him (ἀπέσταλκέν με) to proclaim the release to the captives (κηρῦξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν).  He has sent him to give recovery or sight to the blind (καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν), although there was no mention of the blind in Isaiah.  He has sent him to let the oppressed go free (ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει).  He has sent him to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (κηρῦξαι ἐνιαυτὸν Κυρίου δεκτόν), which is exactly the same as Isaiah, chapter 61:2.  The Spirit of Yahweh was upon him, who had been anointed, either like a priestly or a royal anointing.  However, the primary mission was not cultic, but rather social in nature, what we might call social justice.  Having been called by the Spirit and anointed by Yahweh, he was sent out with a simple generic mission.  Bring good news to the oppressed.  This good news concept was later adapted by the early followers of Jesus who talked about the good news of the gospel.  This basic mission included binding up the broken hearted and freeing prisoners.  This servant or prophet was sent out to proclaim a year of Yahweh’s favor.

The gospel preaching of John (Lk 3:18-3:18)

“Thus,

With many other exhortations,

John proclaimed

The good news gospel

To the people.”

 

Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἕτερα παρακαλῶν εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν·

 

Only Luke has this explanation that John the Baptist with many other exhortations (Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἕτερα παρακαλῶν), other than those recounted here, proclaimed the good news to the people (εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν).  Was this the same good news or gospel (εὐηγγελίζετο) that Jesus would later preach?  Luke was the only one among the other gospel writers who linked John and Jesus as relatives in chapter 1:36.  John’s mother, Elizabeth, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, were relatives of some sort, thus making their children relatives or cousins also.  They could be compared in some ways to Aaron and Moses or the later Peter and Paul.  One was superior to the other, but the other played an indispensable role.  John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century CE.  He used baptism, some kind of dipping in water, as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement.  Thus, he became known as the one who baptizes, the Baptizer, John the Baptist.  This John certainly had a relationship with Jesus, but the exact relationship between John and Jesus is also problematic.  They may have originally been co-workers.  However, they separated as Jesus went along a different route.  However, the shadow of John the Baptist appeared again and again in the biblical stories about Jesus and his apostles.  Some believe that Jesus may have been an early follower or disciple of John, but the textual indications are that John saw himself as clearly subservient to Jesus.  Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John, such as the apostle Andrew, the brother of Simon, in John, chapter 1:40, and in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19:2-6.  There may have been also some contact between John the Baptist and the Qumran-Essene community, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  John might have been associated with them or part of their community for a while.  Thus, John the Baptist has been revered as a prophet and a Christian saint throughout the centuries.

The sword (Lk 2:35-2:35)

“The inner thoughts

Of many

Will be revealed.

A sword

Will pierce

Your own soul too.”

 

 καὶ σοῦ δὲ αὐτῆς τὴν ψυχὴν διελεύσεται ῥομφαία, ὅπως ἂν ἀποκαλυφθῶσιν ἐκ πολλῶν καρδιῶν διαλογισμοί.

 

Luke explained that Simeon warned Mary about her future suffering.  This is often thought of as the beginning of the many sorrows that Mary will endure because of her son, Jesus.  Luke said that a sword would pierce or go through the soul of Mary (καὶ σοῦ δὲ αὐτῆς τὴν ψυχὴν διελεύσεται ῥομφαία).  Simeon said that the inner thoughts of many would be revealed (ὅπως ἂν ἀποκαλυφθῶσιν ἐκ πολλῶν καρδιῶν διαλογισμοί).  Thus, the later medieval devotion to the Sorrowful Mother Mary is based on this passage and further developed in this gospel of Luke.

The angel Gabriel (Lk 1:19-1:19)

“The angel

Replied.

‘I am Gabriel!

I stand

In the presence

Of God.

I have been sent

To speak to you.

I bring you

This good news.’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἐγώ εἰμι Γαβριὴλ ὁ παρεστηκὼς ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ ἀπεστάλην λαλῆσαι πρὸς σὲ καὶ εὐαγγελίσασθαί σοι ταῦτα·

 

Luke said that this angel pulled rank.  He replied to Zechariah (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῷ) that he was the Angel Gabriel (Ἐγώ εἰμι Γαβριὴλ), who stood in the presence of God (ὁ παρεστηκὼς ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ), probably around the heavenly throne.  He had been sent to speak to Zechariah (καὶ ἀπεστάλην λαλῆσαι πρὸς σὲ), since he brought him these good tiding, this good news (καὶ εὐαγγελίσασθαί σοι ταῦτα), using the Greek word for gospel εὐαγγελίσασθαί.  Who then was this Angel Gabriel?  He was considered an archangel, or a higher angel than the others, maybe one of the top 7 angels.  He appeared to Daniel, chapters 8 and 9, where he explained the visions to Daniel.  He appeared twice in this gospel of Luke, here to Zechariah and later to Mary, chapter 1:28, both in this infancy narrative.