Persecution (Lk 21:12-21:12)

“But before all this occurs,

They will arrest you.

They will persecute you.

They will hand you over

To synagogues

And prisons.

You will be brought

Before kings

And governors

Because of my name.”

 

πρὸ δὲ τούτων πάντων ἐπιβαλοῦσιν ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν καὶ διώξουσιν, παραδιδόντες εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς καὶ φυλακάς, ἀπαγομένους ἐπὶ βασιλεῖς καὶ ἡγεμόνας ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματός μου

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that before all this occurred (πρὸ δὲ τούτων πάντων), they would arrest or lay hands on his disciples (ἐπιβαλοῦσιν ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν).  They would persecute them (καὶ διώξουσιν) and hand them over (παραδιδόντες) to the synagogues (εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς) and prisons (καὶ φυλακάς).  They would be brought before kings (ἀπαγομένους ἐπὶ βασιλεῖς) and governors (καὶ ἡγεμόνας) because of the name of Jesus (ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματός μου).  There was something similar in Mark, chapter 13:9, and Matthew, chapter 24:9.  Jesus said that his followers were going to be persecuted.  Mark indicated that Jesus warned them that they should be self-aware (Βλέπετε δὲ ὑμεῖς ἑαυτούς).  They would be handed over (παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς) to courts, councils, or synods (εἰς συνέδρια) and synagogues (καὶ εἰς συναγωγὰς), since some of the Jewish Christians were still part of Jewish social, political, and religious life.  They would also be beaten (δαρήσεσθε).  On the other hand, they would also have to stand before governors and kings (καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνων καὶ βασιλέων σταθήσεσθε) to give testimony as a witness to them about Jesus (ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).  This idea of the persecution of the Jesus followers was not a new theme for Matthew, because it was mentioned earlier in chapter 10:16-25, where Jesus was more reassuring, and chapter 16:24, where Jesus spoke about bearing the cross of death.  Jesus said that his followers were going to be persecuted, distressed, or afflicted (τότε παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς θλῖψιν), even though there was no mention of this taking place in the synagogues in Matthew.  No doubt about it, they were going to be handed over to be tortured and put to death (καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν ὑμᾶς).  They would be hated and detested (καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι) by all the gentile nations (ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν) because of his name (διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου).  This was tough talk because it was not going to be easy to be a disciple of Jesus after he was gone.  In the Acts of the Apostles, there are many instances of the early Christians being persecuted in prisons and being brought before various magistrates.  Do you think it would be difficult to be persecuted because you were a Christian?

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Many people want to hear and see what you do (Lk 10:24-10:24)

“I tell you!

Many prophets

And kings

Desired to see

What you see,

But they did not

See it.

They wanted to hear

What you heard,

But they did not hear it.”

 

λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι πολλοὶ προφῆται καὶ βασιλεῖς ἠθέλησαν ἰδεῖν ἃ ὑμεῖς βλέπετε καὶ οὐκ εἶδαν, καὶ ἀκοῦσαι ἃ ἀκούετε καὶ οὐκ ἤκουσαν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to his disciples with a solemn pronouncement (λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν) that many prophets (ὅτι πολλοὶ προφῆται) and kings (καὶ βασιλεῖς) desired to see (ἠθέλησαν ἰδεῖν) what they see (ἃ ὑμεῖς βλέπετε), but they did not see it (καὶ οὐκ εἶδαν).  They wanted to hear (καὶ ἀκοῦσαι) what they had heard (ἃ ἀκούετε), but they did not hear it (καὶ οὐκ ἤκουσαν).  Matthew, chapter 13:17 had something similar, perhaps indicating a Q source.  Jesus said that his disciples had heard and seen what other prophets and righteous ones had wanted to see and hear, but never did.  Matthew did not mention kings, but righteous people instead.  Jesus then issued a solemn declaration.  Many prophets and righteous people had longed for what they had seen and heard, but they never saw or heard these things, like they have.  The disciples of Jesus should realize how fortunate they were to be with Jesus.  Many people were less fortunate than them.  Do you feel fortunate or unfortunate?

You will suffer (Mk 13:9-13:9)

“Beware!

For yourselves!

They will hand you over

To councils.

You will be beaten

In synagogues.

You will stand

Before governors

And kings

Because of me,

As a testimony

To them.”

 

Βλέπετε δὲ ὑμεῖς ἑαυτούς· παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς συνέδρια καὶ εἰς συναγωγὰς δαρήσεσθε καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνων καὶ βασιλέων σταθήσεσθε ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς.

 

There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 10:17-18 and chapter 24:9, and in Luke, chapter 21:12-13, but there is nothing about death here in Mark.  Jesus said that his followers were going to be persecuted or distressed.  Mark indicated that the followers of Jesus should be aware about themselves (Βλέπετε δὲ ὑμεῖς ἑαυτούς).  They would be handed over (παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς) to courts, councils, or synods (εἰς συνέδρια) and synagogues (καὶ εἰς συναγωγὰς), since some of the Jewish Christians were still part of Jewish social, political, and religious life.  They would also be beaten (δαρήσεσθε).  On the other hand, they would also have to stand before gentile governors and gentile kings (καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνων καὶ βασιλέων σταθήσεσθε) to give testimony as a witness to them about Jesus (ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).  This was tough talk, because it was not going to be easy to be a disciple follower of Jesus after he was gone.

Persecuted for the sake of Jesus (Mt 24:9-24:9)

“Then they will

Hand you over

To be tortured.

They will put you

To death.

You will be hated

By all nations

Because of my name.”

 

τότε παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς θλῖψιν καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν ὑμᾶς, καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου.

 

There is something similar in Mark, chapter 13:9, and in Luke, chapter 21:12, where there is a mention of synagogues, kings, and governors, but nothing about death.  This is not a new theme for Matthew, because it was mentioned earlier in chapter 10:16-25, where Jesus was more reassuring, and chapter 16:24, where Jesus spoke about bearing the cross of death.  Jesus said that his followers were going to be persecuted, distressed, or afflicted (τότε παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς θλῖψιν), even though there was no mention of this taking place in synagogues here.  No doubt about it, they were going to be handed over to be tortured and put to death (καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν ὑμᾶς).  They would be hated and detested (καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι) by all the gentile nations (ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν) because of his name (διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου).  This was tough talk because it was not going to be easy to be a disciple of Jesus after he was gone.

You will be persecuted (Mt 10:17-10:18)

“Beware of those men!

They will hand you over

To tribunals.

They will flog you

In their synagogues.

You will be dragged

Before governors

And before kings,

Because of me.

You will be

A testimony

Before them

And the gentiles.”

 

Προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων· παραδώσουσιν γὰρ ὑμᾶς εἰς συνέδρια, καὶ ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν μαστιγώσουσιν ὑμᾶς·

καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνας δὲ καὶ βασιλεῖς ἀχθήσεσθε ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν.

 

Equivalent passages to this can be found in Mark, chapter 13:9, and Luke, chapter 21:12.  Jesus, via Matthew warned his apostles and disciples that they would be persecuted because of him.  They should realize or be aware of what other men were going to do to them (Προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  They would be handed over to the local councils, courts, tribunals, or local Jewish Sanhedrin (παραδώσουσιν γὰρ ὑμᾶς εἰς συνέδρια).  These were local gatherings called “συνέδρια.”  They would be flogged or scourged in the synagogues (καὶ ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν μαστιγώσουσιν ὑμᾶς).  This “μαστιγώσουσιν” would be a whipping that one would endure after being tied to a pole.  They would also be dragged before governors and kings (καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνας δὲ καὶ βασιλεῖς ἀχθήσεσθε).  All this would happen to them (ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ) because they were going to give testimony or witness about Jesus before other people even the gentiles (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν).  They were warned about how difficult the task of being a follower or apostle of Jesus might be.

The Magi go home (Mt 2:12-2:12)

“Having been warned

In a dream

Not to return

To Herod,

They left

For their own country

By another road.”

 

καὶ χρηματισθέντες κατ’ ὄναρ μὴ ἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην, δι’ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν.

 

The magi were warned (χρηματισθέντες) not to return to Herod (μὴ ἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην) in some sort of divine dream (κατ’ ὄναρ). This led them to withdraw from this scene and return to their own country (ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν), wherever that may be.   They were not going to stop to see King Herod, as he had asked them to do. Thus, they went home using another road (δι’ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ), avoiding Jerusalem. So, ends the saga of these worshipping magi, magicians, wise men, or kings. Clearly, they symbolize the outreach of Jesus to other than Jewish people, but beyond that, it is difficult to say more. The idea of 3 kings does not come from the text itself. It can only be implied from the 3 gifts that were presented, but from nothing else.

The Magi arrive (Mt 2:1-2:1)

“Magi

From the East

Came to Jerusalem.”

 

ἰδοὺ μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν παρεγένοντο εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα

 

Now we have some magi (μάγοι) arrive (παρεγένοντο) from an eastern area (ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν) into Jerusalem (εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα), the capital, where Herod would have been living.  Who were these wise guys or magi?  The word “μάγοι” appears in both the Old and New Testament.  Ordinarily this word is translated as a magician or sorcerer in the sense of illusionist or fortune-teller, except for here in the Gospel of Matthew.  Magi originally were the followers of the Persian Zoroastrianism or Zoroaster.  These priests paid particular attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was regarded as a science.  Their religious practices and use of astrology caused derivatives of the term magi to be applied to the occult in general.  Obviously, this led to the later English term magic or magicians.  These magi also had an interest in astrology and other esoteric studies.  However, the more common use of magi was to describe magicians, or practitioners of magic.  Thus, the magicians have come to town.  These magi have been popularly referred to as wise men or kings, but there is nothing in this account that implies that they were rulers of any kind.  This story of the magi only appears in Matthew and not in the Luke infancy story.