They all sat down (Lk 9:15-9:15)

“They did so.

They made them

All sit down.”

 

καὶ ἐποίησαν οὕτως καὶ κατέκλιναν ἅπαντας.

 

Luke uniquely said that the crowds followed orders (καὶ ἐποίησαν οὕτως), as they all sat down (καὶ κατέκλιναν ἅπαντας).  In the other gospel stories, Jesus ordered them to sit down in groups, but only Luke said that they actually did what Jesus asked them to do.  Do you actually follow through on what people ask you to do?

Five thousand people (Lk 9:14-9:14)

“There were

About five thousand men.

Jesus said

To his disciples.

‘Make them sit down

In groups of

About fifty each.’”

 

ἦσαν γὰρ ὡσεὶ ἄνδρες πεντακισχίλιοι. εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ Κατακλίνατε αὐτοὺς κλισίας ὡσεὶ ἀνὰ πεντήκοντα.

 

Luke said that there were about 5,000 men (ἦσαν γὰρ ὡσεὶ ἄνδρες πεντακισχίλιοι).  Jesus told his disciples (εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς) to make them sit down (Κατακλίνατε αὐτοὺς) in groups of about fifty each (κλισίας ὡσεὶ ἀνὰ πεντήκοντα).  All four gospels have the people sitting on the grass in groups that totaled about 5,000 people.  The exact details are slightly different in Matthew, chapter 14:19, Mark, chapter 6:39-41, and John, chapter 6:10, plus here.  Mark did not mention the total number of people until the end of this story.  Mark said that Jesus ordered or commanded them to get all the people to sit down or recline in groups on the green grass.  Thus, they sat down or reclined in groups of 100s and of 50s.  That is why there was an easy way to get a count of the crowd.  Have you ever tried to count a large crowd?

Not enough oil (Mt 25:9-25:9)

“But the wise ones

Replied.

‘No!

There will not be enough

For you

And for us.

You had better go

To the dealers

To buy some

For yourselves.’”

 

ἀπεκρίθησαν δὲ αἱ φρόνιμοι λέγουσαι Μή ποτε οὐ μὴ ἀρκέσῃ ἡμῖν καὶ ὑμῖν· πορεύεσθε μᾶλλον πρὸς τοὺς πωλοῦντας καὶ ἀγοράσατε ἑαυταῖς.

 

This parable story is unique to Matthew.  Jesus continued with this story.  The wise bridesmaids replied (ἀπεκρίθησαν δὲ αἱ φρόνιμοι λέγουσαι) that they would not give the foolish ones any oil with a flat “no (οὐ).”  They said that there would not be enough oil for both groups of them (Μή ποτε οὐ μὴ ἀρκέσῃ ἡμῖν καὶ ὑμῖν).  Instead, they suggested that they go to some oil dealers (πορεύεσθε μᾶλλον πρὸς τοὺς πωλοῦντας) to buy some oil for themselves (καὶ ἀγοράσατε ἑαυταῖς).  I am not sure what oil dealers would be open in the middle of the night.  This seems like the wise ones gave a very self-righteous rude response.

Gather in my name (Mt 18:19-18:20)

“Again truly!

I say to you!

If two of you agree

On earth

About anything

You ask,

It will be done for you

By my Father in heaven.

Where two

Or three

Are gathered

In my name,

I am there

Among them.”

 

Πάλιν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐὰν δύο συμφωνήσωσιν ἐξ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς περὶ παντὸς πράγματος οὗ ἐὰν αἰτήσωνται, γενήσεται αὐτοῖς παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς.

οὗ γάρ εἰσιν δύο ἢ τρεῖς συνηγμένοι εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα, ἐκεῖ εἰμι ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν.

 

This saying about prayer in common is unique to Matthew.  Jesus had another solemn pronouncement, “Again truly! I say to you (Πάλιν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν)!”  He said that if two of them could agree on earth about anything (ὅτι ἐὰν δύο συμφωνήσωσιν ἐξ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς περὶ παντὸς πράγματος) they asked for, it would be done for them by his heavenly Father (οὗ ἐὰν αἰτήσωνται, γενήσεται αὐτοῖς παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς).  Where two or three of them were gathered together (οὗ γάρ εἰσιν δύο ἢ τρεῖς συνηγμένοι) in his name (εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα), Jesus would be there in the middle, among them (ἐκεῖ εἰμι ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν).  Some groups of Christians exist all over the world today, where 2 or 3 followers of Jesus gather to pray to the heavenly Father.

Individual Conscience

Everyone has the right to an opinion.  We all enjoy freedom of speech.  Yet we have to ask the question about what is truth.  What are the boundaries of Church membership?  We always create boundaries.  States need lines or borders.  Groups have laws, common beliefs, values, and practices.

The other Pauline letters

Five other Pauline associated epistles are also part of the New Testament canon.  They include the letters to Timothy, 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy from the late 60s-100 CE.  There is also the letter to Titus, from the late 60s-100 CE, and the letter to Philemon, from the late 50s to the early 60s CE.  Finally, there is the letter to the Hebrews, from the late 60s-100 CE.  As opposed to the letters addressed to Christian communities, these later epistles were addressed to individuals or groups.  Their ties to Paul are less certain than the early letters to the various early developing Christian community churches.

The locust plague (Joel 1:4-1:4)

“What the cutting locust left,

The swarming locust

Has eaten.

What the swarming locust left,

The hopping locust

Has eaten.

What the hopping locust left,

The destroying locust

Has eaten.”

The big event that Joel was talking about was a locust plague. Apparently, there were a series of locust attacks, a fairly common event in the ancient world. The mild-mannered grasshoppers would suddenly join in groups during times of drought and then attack the growing grain fields in droves. There must have been three separate attacks. Joel called them cutting locusts, swarming locusts, and hopping locusts. One came right after the other to destroy the field crops.