Elijah or ancient prophets (Lk 9:8-9:8)

“Some others said

That Elijah had appeared.

Others said

That one of the ancient prophets

Had risen.”

 

ὑπό τινων δὲ ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐφάνη, ἄλλων δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη.

 

Luke said that some people said Jesus was the appearance of Elijah (ὑπό τινων δὲ ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐφάνη).  Others said that Jesus was one of the ancient prophets who had risen (ἄλλων δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη).  There was nothing about this speculation in Matthew.  However, Mark, chapter 6:15, had something similar, almost word for word.  Some people said that Jesus was Elijah.  Still others said that he was a prophet, like the former ancient prophets.  Elijah was a 9th century BCE northern Israelite prophet whose work can be found in the Old Testament Books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  There was no doubt that the role of Elijah dominated late Jewish thought at the time of Jesus, with his name appearing around John the Baptist, the transfiguration, and the death of Jesus.  The prophets were the holy men of Hebrew scripture who brought the word of Yahweh to his people.  Who would you compare Jesus to?

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A great prophet (Lk 7:16-7:16)

“Fear seized

All of them.

They glorified God.

Saying.

‘A great prophet

Has arisen among us!

God has looked favorably

On his people!’”

 

ἔλαβεν δὲ φόβος πάντας, καὶ ἐδόξαζον τὸν Θεὸν λέγοντες ὅτι Προφήτης μέγας ἠγέρθη ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ὅτι Ἐπεσκέψατο ὁ Θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke said that fear seized all the people (ἔλαβεν δὲ φόβος πάντας) there in Nain.  They glorified God (καὶ ἐδόξαζον τὸν Θεὸν).  They said that a great prophet had arisen among them (λέγοντες ὅτι Προφήτης μέγας ἠγέρθη ἐν ἡμῖν).  God had visited or looked favorably on his people (καὶ ὅτι Ἐπεσκέψατο ὁ Θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ).  This was truly a shocking development.  The people of Nain were fear struck and felt privileged at the same time.  They began to praise God.  They called Jesus a great prophet like Elijah in 1 Kings, chapter 17:17-24, and Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 4:32-37, who restored life to dead young people about 1,000 years prior.  This was a big deal.  Would you be afraid or amazed if you saw a dead man rise up from a casket?

The Savior is born (Lk 2:11-2:11)

“To you

Is born

This day,

In the city

Of David,

A Savior.

He is the Christ,

The Messiah,

The Lord.”

 

ὅτι ἐτέχθη ὑμῖν σήμερον Σωτήρ, ὅς ἐστιν Χριστὸς Κύριος, ἐν πόλει Δαυείδ.

 

Luke then explained what the good news or the gospel proclamation was all about.  A savior was born for them that day (ὅτι ἐτέχθη ὑμῖν σήμερον Σωτήρ) in the city of David (ἐν πόλει Δαυείδ).  As they were on the outskirts of Bethlehem, they knew where the city of David was.  This savior was the Christ (ὅς ἐστιν Χριστὸς), the Messiah, the Lord (Κύριος).  Luke listed all the names that would be applied to Jesus.  He was a savior, someone who would protect Israel.  He was the Christ, the anointed one of God.  He was the Messiah, the expected liberator of his people, the Israelites.  He was the Lord, God, truly divine.  This baby Jesus would be all these things rolled up into one.  This was really big news.

 

Forgive sins (Lk 1:77-1:77)

“You will give

Knowledge

Of salvation

To his people,

By the forgiveness

Of their sins.”

 

τοῦ δοῦναι γνῶσιν σωτηρίας τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀφέσει ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν

 

Luke continued Zechariah’s canticle about the future of John.  Zechariah said that his new born son, John, would give knowledge of salvation (τοῦ δοῦναι γνῶσιν σωτηρίας) to his people (τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ) by the forgiveness of their sins (ἐν ἀφέσει ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν).  Zechariah predicted the kind of preaching that John would later give about salvation coming from repentance and the forgiveness of sins.

The prayer of Zechariah (Lk 1:68-1:68)

“Blessed be the Lord!

The God of Israel!

He has looked favorably

On his people.

He has redeemed them.”

 

Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,

 

Luke then had this so-called Benedictus prayer, based on the Latin translation of Εὐλογητὸς.  At the same time, this prayer is a prophesy also.  First, Zechariah was thankful for all the people of Israel, not just himself.  He used the familiar blessing that David said to Abigail in 1 Samuel, chapter 25:32, and to Solomon in 1 Kings, chapter 1:48.  Solomon used this same blessing in 1 Kings, chapter 8:35.  He said that the Lord was blessed (Εὐλογητὸς Κύριος).  He was the God of Israel (ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ) who had visited, intervened, or looked favorably (ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο) on his people (τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ,), since he has saved or brought them redemption (καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν).  Zechariah had a sense of what the scope of John’s birth would be on all Israel, not just his family.  He implied that salvation or redemption had already taken place with the birth of his son John, not waiting for Jesus.

The circumcision (Lk 1:59-1: 59)

“On the eighth day,

They came

To circumcise

The child.

 

Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ὀγδόῃ ἦλθον περιτεμεῖν τὸ παιδίον,

 

Luke explained what happened on the eighth day (Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ὀγδόῃ) after the birth of the child.  They came to circumcise this child (ἦλθον περιτεμεῖν τὸ παιδίον).  This circumcision, brit milah, or bris was a sign of the covenant with God that goes back to Abraham in Genesis, chapter 17:11-12.  This sacerdotal covenant alliance story emphasized male circumcision as the main part of the Yahweh covenant.  Thus. circumcision became a big deal.  Every male was to be circumcised by removing the flesh of the foreskin of his penis, when he was eight days old.  This also included male slaves born or brought into the house.  An uncircumcised Jewish male would be cut off from his people, because he had broken the covenant with God.  Circumcision has been practiced among many ancient and contemporary groups for either religious or hygienic reasons.  In fact, despite their differences, Islamic males practice circumcision also.  In the USA, most boys born in a hospital are circumcised for hygienic or health purposes.

Judaism as the root of Christianity

A rough comparison of Judaism and Christianity might be like the relationship of the eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.  Judaism would be like Hinduism and Christianity would be like Buddhism.  Both religions, Buddhism and Christianity rely on an already established religious base, Judaism and Hinduism, and emphasis the role of a single person, Buddha and Jesus.  Both Christianity and Judaism have the same base.  The center of the Old Testament covenant was Yahweh and his people, while the heart of the Christian message was around Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, who was Jewish.