Beware of the Pharisees (Lk 12:1-12:1)

“Meanwhile,

The crowd gathered

By the thousands,

So that they trampled

On one another.

Jesus began to speak,

First to his disciples.

‘Beware of the yeast

Of the Pharisees,

That is,

Their hypocrisy.’”

 

Ἐν οἷς ἐπισυναχθεισῶν τῶν μυριάδων τοῦ ὄχλου, ὥστε καταπατεῖν ἀλλήλους, ἤρξατο λέγειν πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ πρῶτον Προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης, ἥτις ἐστὶν ὑπόκρισις, τῶν Φαρισαίων.

 

Luke continued with a diatribe against the Pharisees.  Luke indicated that the crowd gathered by the thousands (Ἐν οἷς ἐπισυναχθεισῶν τῶν μυριάδων τοῦ ὄχλου), so that they trampled on one another (ὥστε καταπατεῖν ἀλλήλους).  This was the first mention of a problem with crowd control.  Jesus then began first to speak to his disciples (ἤρξατο λέγειν πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ πρῶτον).  He told them that they should be aware (Προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς) of the yeast (ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης) that is the hypocrisy (ἥτις ἐστὶν ὑπόκρισις) of the Pharisees (τῶν Φαρισαίων).  This saying about the yeast of the Pharisees can be found in Mark, chapter 8:16, and Matthew, chapter 16:6, but there are slight differences.  Mark and Luke did not mention the Sadducees, but Matthew did.  Matthew said that Jesus told his disciples to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Matthew had a clear rebuff of both these groups and their growing yeast, leaven, or power that was expanding, but there was no mention of the Scribes.  For Mark and Matthew, this discussion took place about bread on a boat trip.  The disciples discovered that they had no food when they landed on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  However, Mark said that it took place while they were still in the boat.  Mark was the only one to mention Herod, the Roman appointed political leader in Galilee.  Mark said that Jesus cautioned or instructed his disciples.  They were to watch out for and be aware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.  This was a clear rebuff of both the Pharisees and Herod.  Their growing yeast, leaven, or power was expanding.  Here, it is a simple warning against the Pharisees only.  Do you know anybody who is a hypocrite?

Advertisements

The historical setting (Lk 3:1-3:1)

“In the fifteenth year,

Of the reign

Of Emperor Tiberius,

Pontius Pilate was

Governor of Judea.

Herod was the ruler

Of Galilee.

His brother Philip

Was the ruler

Of the region

Of Ituraea,

And Trachonitis.

Lysanias was the ruler

Of Abilene.”

 

Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος,

 

Luke tried to set the public activities of John and Jesus within a larger historical context.  Thus, here he said that it was the 15th year of the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος).  Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος).  Herod was the tetrarch ruler of Galilee (καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου,).  Herod’s brother Philip was the tetrarch ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis (Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας), while Lysanias was the tetrarch ruler of Abilene (καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος).  Who and what is this all about?  Tiberius was the Roman Emperor from 14-37 CE.  15 years into his rule would be the year 29 CE.  Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea, but also Samaria to the north, and Idumea to the south, from 26-36 CE, so that this time frame is consistent.  Herod Antipas and Philip were the sons of Herod the Great (37-4 BC).  Herod Antipas ruled as tetrarch of northern Galilee and Perea that was east of the Jordan River from 4 BCE-39 CE.  His brother Philip ruled Ituraea and Trachonitis that were north of Galilee from 4 BCE-34 CE.  Finally, some unknown leader named Lysanias ruled as the tetrarch of Abilene that was north of Damascus, but included Lebanon.  Thus, these were all the rulers of the area where John and Jesus might have traveled within this time frame

Quirinius of Syria (Lk 2:2-2:2)

“This was the first registration.

It was taken

When Quirinius was

Governor of Syria.”

 

αὕτη ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου.

 

Luke noted that this first registration was taken (αὕτη ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο) when Quirinius was governing Syria (ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου).  Quirinius was the legate of Syria from 6 CE-12 CE.  He was born 51 BCE and died at the age of 72 in 21 CE.  He did take a census or registration for tax purposes in 6 CE when he took over.  This led to the revolt of Judas the Galilean and the formation of the Jewish Zealots, who opposed Roman rule.  They opposed this census for the purposes of taxation by Quirinius, the Governor of Syria.  The one problem is that this census took place 10 years after Herod had died.  However, the birth of Jesus and John was placed during the reign of Herod.  Thus, there is a problem with this dating by Luke, who may have been confused about these historical details.

 

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod (Mk 8:15-8:15)

“Jesus cautioned them.

He said.

‘Watch out!

Beware of the yeast

Of the Pharisees

And the yeast

Of Herod.’”

καὶ διεστέλλετο αὐτοῖς λέγων Ὁρᾶτε, βλέπετε ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ τῆς ζύμης Ἡρῴδου.

 

This saying about the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod can be found in Matthew, chapter 16:6, and Luke, chapter 12:1, but there are slight differences.  Matthew mentioned the Sadducees, while Mark was the only one to mention Herod, the Roman appointed political leader in Galilee.  Mark said that Jesus cautioned or instructed his disciples (καὶ διεστέλλετο αὐτοῖς).  They were to watch out for and be aware (Ὁρᾶτε, βλέπετε) of the yeast of the Pharisees (πὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων) and the yeast of Herod (καὶ τῆς ζύμης Ἡρῴδου).  This was a clear rebuff of both the Pharisees and Herod.  Their growing yeast, leaven, or power was expanding.  Like earlier in this chapter, there was no mention of the Scribes.

Herod had seized John the Baptist (Mk 6:17-6:17)

“Herod himself

Had sent men

Who arrested John.

They bound him.

He put him

In prison

On account

Of Herodias,

His brother Philip’s wife.

Because Herod

Had married her.”

 

Αὐτὸς γὰρ ὁ Ἡρῴδης ἀποστείλας ἐκράτησεν τὸν Ἰωάνην καὶ ἔδησεν αὐτὸν ἐν φυλακῇ διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι αὐτὴν ἐγάμησεν·

 

This mention of Herod seizing John the Baptist can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:3, Luke, 3:19-20, and here.  As if this story was not complicated enough, King Herod, the Roman ruler in Galilee, had already seized or arrested John the Baptist.  John had been complaining that King Herod Antipas had married Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Herod Boethus or Philip, after King Herod had divorced his first wife.  He had sent his first wife back to her father that started a war.  Mark said that Herod had sent men (Αὐτὸς γὰρ ὁ Ἡρῴδης ἀποστείλας) to seize or arrest John (ἐκράτησεν τὸν Ἰωάνην).  They bound him up and put him in jail (καὶ ἔδησεν αὐτὸν ἐν φυλακῇ).  King Herod did this because of his new wife Herodias, who had been the wife of his brother Philip or Herod Boethus (διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ).  Then King Herod married Herodias (ὅτι αὐτὴν ἐγάμησεν).

Fourth narrative

The fourth narrative section revealed the increasing opposition to Jesus.  Thus, his disciples had to prepare for his absence.  These instructions emphasized responsibility and humility.  Simon was renamed Peter, the rock upon which he was going to build his church, especially the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.

While Jesus was preaching in the various towns, John the Baptist was put in prison.  The disciples of John questioned Jesus and Jesus responded.  Jesus then asked questions about John.  Was John more than a prophet?  Then Matthew had a series of Old Testament scriptural quotations about John.  How great was John the Baptist?  Was John Elijah?

Jesus warned that this was a childish generation that was indifferent as they kept on eating and drinking, as if nothing important was happening.  Jesus was against the various Galilean cities and towns, especially Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.  Jesus explained that there were hidden things from the wise ones, especially the relationship of the Father with the Son, but that the disciples had an easy yoke to bear.

Next came the question of eating on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees reacted against Jesus, but he used the example of David and the priests in the Temple to respond to them.  God was the Lord of the Sabbath.  Thus, when Jesus went into the synagogue, they asked him if he would heal anyone on the Sabbath?  Jesus compared sheep to human beings and then healed the man’s hand.  Thus, the Pharisees conspired against Jesus, while he took a low profile.

Jesus said that the fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah was at hand in the servant of Yahweh.  Jesus cured the blind and mute man as the crowds were amazed.  However, the Pharisees compared Jesus to Beelzebul, the devil.  Jesus responded that a divided kingdom would not stand.  The Spirit of God was with Jesus.  The bandits tied up people before stealing from them.  You were either for or against Jesus.  They should be aware of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then issued a series of sayings about a tree and its fruit.  He compared the Pharisees to a brood of vipers.  There could be good and bad treasures.  Words would either save or condemn them.

Jesus told them about the sign for this evil generation that was always seeking signs.  He was only going to give them the sign of Jonah.  Notice how the men of Nineveh reacted.  The Queen of Sheba brought gifts to Solomon.  The unclean spirit would return with other evil spirits.  The relatives of Jesus, his mother and brothers showed up, but Jesus said that he had a new family.

Then Jesus spoke in parables siting in a boat by the sea.  There was the parable of the sower with his lost seeds, where only a few of the seeds fell on good soil.  His disciples wanted to know why he was speaking in parables, so that Jesus explained why he used parables.  Once again, he referred to a prophecy of Isaiah.  He explained about the seeds on the rocky ground and the seeds among the thorns.  Finally, he explained the meaning of the seeds on good ground or path since they were the blessed ones.

Then there was the parable about the weeds among the wheat.  The slaves let the weeds grow and then separated them at harvest time.  There were other parables about the mustard seed and the yeast.  Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, but he explained these parables to his disciples, especially the sower, the field, and the seeds.  He explained the enemy and the burning of the weeds.  The punishment for the weeds came at the harvest end times.  Thus, the reward for the righteous will be at the end times.

The kingdom of heaven was like a treasure, like pearls, and like a fishing net.  Jesus explained the parables because the disciples did not understand them.  They were like new and old treasures.

Jesus was an astonishment in his own home town.  They all knew the family of Jesus.  Thus, he was a prophet without honor in his own country.

Herod thought that Jesus was a resurrected John the Baptist, but he was afraid of John the Baptist.  At his birthday party, Herod granted the wish to have the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Meanwhile, John the Baptist’s disciples buried him.

Jesus was worried as he was healing the sick people.  The disciples complained about the crowds, so that Jesus told them to give them something to eat.  However, they only had five loaves and two fish.  Then Jesus blessed the five loaves of bread and distributed them to the crowd.  There were even leftovers from this crowd of five thousand people.

The disciples left in a boat, so that Jesus prayed alone.  The boat was in the middle of the sea when Jesus walked on water to come to them.   Peter talked to Jesus and then attempted to walk on the water.  Jesus then saved Peter who recognized Jesus as the Son of God.  Then there were the healings at Gennesaret, where Jesus cured the sick.

The Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus to ask him why his disciples did not wash their hands before eating.  Jesus responded by telling them to honor their parents since there was hypocrisy in their traditions.  He cited Isaiah about vain worship.  He told them to hear and understand.  They should watch what came out of their mouth rather than what went into their mouth as defilement.  The Pharisees were offended, but Jesus called them blind guides.  Peter wanted to understand more so that Jesus explained the mouth should speak from the heart.

Jesus went to the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon where he met a Canaanite woman.  He said that he was only going to the lost sheep of Israel, but this Canaanite woman persistently asked for help.  Jesus refused again saying that he could not feed the dogs.  However, she responded that dogs eat crumbs from the table.  Jesus said that she had great faith and healed her.

As Jesus healed the crowds of people in the mountain near the Sea of Galilee, he had compassion for them.  Where will they get food?  His disciples said that they had seven loaves.  Jesus then gave thanks over them and distributed the bread to four thousand men as there was a second multiplication of bread loaves.

Jesus went to Magadan.  There the Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven.  Once again, Jesus said that there are weather signs, but he would only give this evil generation the sign of Jonah.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, but Jesus warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees.  He reprimanded his disciples for their lack of faith as he reminded them about the multiplication of the loaves of bread.  They should be worried about the Pharisees not food.

What was the role of Peter?  Jesus asked about the Son of Man as the disciples responded.  Then Jesus asked them about himself.  Peter gave a very positive response, so that Jesus rewarded him.  The Messianic secret was tied to the future of Jesus in this conversation between Peter and Jesus.  He would have to take up his cross if wanted to save his life because the Son of Man in his kingdom would be coming soon.

Jesus took three of his apostles up a mountain where he was transfigured before them.  Moses and Elijah appeared with him.  Peter wanted to set up three tents for them.  A voice from the cloud came as the three apostles adored him.  Jesus asked them to be silent about this.  What was the role of Elijah and John the Baptist?

An epileptic man knelt before Jesus that his disciples were unable to heal.  Jesus then healed him, so that his disciples wondered why they were unable to heal this epileptic?  Jesus spoke about the future of the Son of Man.  Should they pay the Temple tax?  Jesus responded that the son of the king did not pay taxes, but he told Peter to pay them anyway.

Finally, we have the ecclesiastical discourse about who is the greatest.  A child is the greatest because when you welcome a little child, you welcome Jesus.  They were not to cause children to sin.  They were not to tempt people.  It would be better to be maimed and blind than suffer eternal fire.  They were not to despise the little ones.  Jesus explained the parable of the lost sheep and fraternal correction.  What were you to do with a sinning brother.  Let him become a gentile, if he does not listen.  Common prayer was important so that they should gather in his name.  How often should they forgive?  The response was the seventy times seven.

Then there was the parable of the unforgiving servant slave.  The master settled accounts with servant slaves.  One owed ten thousand talents, so that the king forgave him his debt.  However, this servant slave would not forgive the debt of his fellow slaves, who were angry.  Thus, this unforgiving slave was tortured.  This parable explanation was simple, forgive your brothers.

Herod’s birthday party (Mt 14:6-14:8)

“But when Herod’s birthday came,

The daughter of Herodias danced

Before the company.

She pleased Herod.

Thus,

He promised

With an oath

To grant her

Whatever she might ask.

Prompted by her mother,

She said.

‘Give me the head

Of John the Baptist

Here on a platter.’”

 

γενεσίοις δὲ γενομένοις τοῦ Ἡρῴδου ὠρχήσατο ἡ θυγάτηρ τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος ἐν τῷ μέσῳ καὶ ἤρεσεν τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ,

ὅθεν μεθ’ ὅρκου ὡμολόγησεν αὐτῇ δοῦναι ὃ ἐὰν αἰτήσηται.

ἡ δὲ προβιβασθεῖσα ὑπὸ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτῆς Δός μοι, φησίν, ὧδε ἐπὶ πίνακι τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ.

 

This birthday party of Herod can be found in Mark, chapter 6:21-25, and here.  At the birthday celebration of Herod (γενεσίοις δὲ γενομένοις τοῦ Ἡρῴδου), the daughter of Herodias danced in the middle of this public celebration (ὠρχήσατο ἡ θυγάτηρ τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος ἐν τῷ μέσῳ).  Herodias’ daughter by her first marriage was called Salome.  She pleased Herod so much (καὶ ἤρεσεν τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ), that he gave a solemn oath promise to grant her whatever she might request (ὅθεν μεθ’ ὅρκου ὡμολόγησεν αὐτῇ δοῦναι ὃ ἐὰν αἰτήσηται).  Urged on by her mother (ἡ δὲ προβιβασθεῖσα ὑπὸ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτῆς), Salome said that she wanted the head of John the Baptist to be brought there on a platter or a dish (Δός μοι, φησίν, ὧδε ἐπὶ πίνακι τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ).  Obviously. Herod had made a rash solemn statement and his wife Herodias took advantage of that.