The good news (Lk 16:16-16:16)

“The law

And the prophets

Were in effect

Until John came.

Since then,

The good news

Of the kingdom of God

Is proclaimed.

Everyone

Tries to enter it

By force.”

 

Ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται μέχρι Ἰωάνου· ἀπὸ τότε ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ εὐαγγελίζεται καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the law (Ὁ νόμος) and the prophets (καὶ οἱ προφῆται) were in effect until John came (μέχρι Ἰωάνου).  Since then (ἀπὸ τότε), the good news has been proclaimed (εὐαγγελίζεται) about the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Everyone tries to enter it by force (καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται).  The law and the prophets were the two major parts of the Hebrew Bible.  John the Baptist represented some sort of turning point.  His preaching about the kingdom of God meant that the days of the law and prophets were numbered.  There is something similar, but in a different context with a different meaning in Matthew, chapter 11:12-13.  There Jesus talked about the days of John the Baptist until the present (ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι), not a very long time.  The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται).  What kind of violence was taking place in the heavenly kingdom?  Did this mean that so many people were violently seeking the kingdom of heaven that John was talking about?  Is this some kind of violence within the kingdom of heaven?  Were these violent people trying to get into the kingdom of heaven?  The next sentence seems to support this idea that violent people wanted to seize the kingdom of heaven by force (καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν).  In Matthew, chapter 17:11-13, Jesus compared John to Elijah.  Like here in Luke, all the prophets and the law had prophesied until the time of John the Baptist (πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάνου ἐπροφήτευσαν).  Then Jesus said that John was the new Elijah (αὐτός ἐστιν Ἡλείας), the one who was to come (ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι).  However, they had to be willing to accept this (καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι).  Anyone who had ears to hear should listen to this (ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω).  Clearly, something fundamental changed with John the Baptist and his proclamation of the kingdom of God.  How were John and Jesus connected in their preaching?  What is your opinion about John the Baptist?

Love your neighbor (Lk 10:27-10:27)

“You shall love

Your neighbor

As yourself.”

 

καὶ τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.

 

Luke indicated that the lawyer said that they should love their neighbor (καὶ τὸν πλησίον σου) as themselves (ὡς σεαυτόν), using the second person plural.  There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:3, where Mark indicated that Jesus, not the lawyer, replied that the 2nd commandment was like the 1st one. since it was about love.  Not only were they to love God, but they were to love their neighbors as themselves.  There were no other commandments greater than these 2 commandments of love.   Everything was based on the love of God and neighbor.  Matthew, chapter 22: 38-39 had Jesus reply also, not the lawyer, that they were to love their neighbors as themselves, since all the commandments of the law and the prophets hung on these two commandments.  This second commandment was based on Leviticus, chapter 19:11-18, that has become the basic fundamental cornerstone of Judaism and Christianity.  Leviticus further explained the Ten Commandments and your neighbor.  They were not to steal or deal falsely with their neighbor.  They should not lie, swear, or defraud their neighbor.  They were not to keep the wages of a laborer, or revile the deaf or the blind.  They should not render an unjust judgment, since they should treat the poor and the great with equal justice.  They should not slanderer or profit from the blood of their neighbors.  They were not to hate in their heart any of their relatives.  They should not take vengeance or bear a grudge, because they should love their relatives and neighbors as themselves.  All the commandments of the law and the prophets depended on these two commandments of loving God and your neighbor.  Do you love your neighbor?

Pharisees come to Jesus (Lk 5:17-5:17)

“One day,

While Jesus

Was teaching,

Pharisees

And teachers of the law

Were sitting nearby.

They had come

From every village

Of Galilee,

Judea,

And Jerusalem.

The power

Of the Lord

Was with Jesus

To heal.”

 

Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν διδάσκων, καὶ ἦσαν καθήμενοι Φαρισαῖοι καὶ νομοδιδάσκαλοι οἳ ἦσαν ἐληλυθότες ἐκ πάσης κώμης τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ Ἰουδαίας καὶ Ἱερουσαλήμ· καὶ δύναμις Κυρίου ἦν εἰς τὸ ἰᾶσθαι αὐτόν.

 

Luke said that one day (Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν), while Jesus was teaching (καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν διδάσκων), Pharisees (Φαρισαῖοι) and teachers of the law (καὶ νομοδιδάσκαλοι), perhaps Scribes, were sitting nearby (καὶ ἦσαν καθήμενοι).  Apparently, they had come (οἳ ἦσαν ἐληλυθότες) from every village of Galilee (ἐκ πάσης κώμης τῆς Γαλιλαίας), Judea (καὶ Ἰουδαίας), and Jerusalem (καὶ Ἱερουσαλήμ).  This was a large gathering of Pharisees.  On that day, the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal people (καὶ δύναμις Κυρίου ἦν εἰς τὸ ἰᾶσθαι αὐτόν).  Matthew, chapter 9:1, had Jesus return to his home in Capernaum, after a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee.  Mark, chapter 2:1, said that when Jesus returned to Capernaum, after some days on the road, people heard that he was at home in his house.  Thus, Capernaum, according to Matthew, had become his own home town, while Mark mentioned that he was in his house or home in Capernaum.  Luke did not explicitly mention Capernaum.  However, neither Mark or Matthew mentioned any gathering of Pharisees and Scribes, like Luke did here.

Not bread alone (Lk 4:4-4:4)

“Jesus

Answered him.

‘It is written.

‘One does not live

By bread alone.’”

 

καὶ ἀπεκρίθη πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς Γέγραπται ὅτι Οὐκ ἐπ’ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος.

 

Once again, this is the same as Matthew, chapter 4:3, nearly word for word.  Luke said that Jesus responded to the devil (καὶ ἀπεκρίθη πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς) by citing a Septuagint written phrase (Γέγραπται) from Deuteronomy, chapter 8:3, about the fact that man does not live by bread alone (ὅτι Οὐκ ἐπ’ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος).  Luke did not finish this phrase the way that Matthew did by saying that man lives by all the words that come from the mouth of God.  In Deuteronomy, Yahweh had reminded the Israelites that they had been tested for 40 years with hunger.  Then came this saying about not living by bread alone, but by every word that came from the mouth of Yahweh, an anthropomorphism for Yahweh’s law.  The Book of Deuteronomy was the most quoted book of the Torah in these New Testament writings.

The purification (Lk 2:22-2:22)

“When the time came

For their purification,

According to the law

Of Moses,

They brought him up

To Jerusalem

To present him

To the Lord.”

 

Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ αὐτῶν κατὰ τὸν νόμον Μωϋσέως, ἀνήγαγον αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα παραστῆσαι τῷ Κυρίῳ,

 

Luke said that when the time or the days were completed (Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι) for their purification (τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ αὐτῶν), according to the law of Moses (κατὰ τὸν νόμον Μωϋσέως, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem (ἀνήγαγον αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα) to present him to the Lord (παραστῆσαι τῷ Κυρίῳ).  What is this purification and is it different than circumcision.  The story of John did not have this purification ritual.  Strictly speaking, this was a purification of the mother to take place 40 days after the birth of a child that had made her unclean as described in Leviticus, chapter 12:1-8.  The presentation of the child and the father were not part of this purification ritual.  There was no law or custom about the presentation of a child, other than the presentation of the first born as in Exodus, chapter 13:2 and 13:16.  Women were considered unclean after childbirth because of the blood discharge that took place with birthing.  If a male was born, the woman was unclean for 7 days, like menstruation, so that on the 8th day the male child could be circumcised.  There were 33 more days of blood purification for the male child.  During her unclean period, this new mother could not touch any holy thing, or go into the sanctuary.  Thus, the purification ritual took place on the 40th day, a symbolic number based on the 40 years of the Israelites in the desert wilderness.

They have forgotten the law (Mt 23:23-23:23)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You tithe

Mint,

Dill,

And cumin!

You have neglected

The weightier matters

Of the law,

Justice,

Mercy,

And faith!

These you ought

To have practiced,

Without neglecting

The others.”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον, καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου, τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὸ ἔλεος καὶ τὴν πίστιν· ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα μὴ ἀφεῖναι.

 

Like Luke, chapter 11,42, Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, and 15.  The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses of Matthew.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees.  This time it was their insistence on tithing.  He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον), instead of more serious matters of the law (καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου).  Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice (τὴν κρίσιν), mercy (καὶ τὸ ἔλεος), and faith (καὶ τὴν πίστιν).  They should have spent more time on these issues (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα) without neglecting the other things (μὴ ἀφεῖναι).  This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law.

What the Pharisees wear (Mt 23:5-23:5)

“The Pharisees

And Scribes

Do all their deeds

To be seen by other men.

They make

Their phylacteries broad.

Their fringes

Are long.”

 

πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα,

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that these Pharisees and Scribes did all their deeds to be seen by other men (πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).  They broadened their phylacteries (πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν) and enlarged their long fringes or tassels (καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα) on their clothes.  Thus, they had distinctive garments that they wore.  These phylacteries were leather boxes that contained scriptural passages.  They would wear them on their forearms or head as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:9-16.  and Deuteronomy, chapter 6:4-9, that was closely tied to the “Shema.”  They were to write these biblical sayings of the law on their hands and forehead.  On the other hand, the fringes or tassels on the bottom of their clothing was based on Numbers, chapter 15:37-41.  They made the tassels on the four corners of their garments, with a blue chord on the fringe of each corner.  This was to remember all the commandments of Yahweh, a nice little reminder about their obligations.  Ever today, some Jewish groups wear these tassels called the tzitzit.  The same command about tassels can be found in Deuteronomy, chapter 22:12.  Apparently, the Pharisees may have been the only ones wearing these larger tassels and large prayer boxes.