The return of the evil spirits (Mt 12:44-12:45)

“Then this unclean spirit says.

‘I will return

To my house,

From which I came.’

When he comes,

This spirit finds it empty.

It is swept.

It is put in order.

Then the unclean spirit goes

And brings along

Seven other spirits

More evil than itself.

They enter there.

They live there.

The last state of that person

Is worse than the first.

Thus,

It will it be also

With this evil generation.”

 

τότε λέγει Εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου ἐπιστρέψω ὅθεν ἐξῆλθον· καὶ ἐλθὸν εὑρίσκει σχολάζοντα καὶ σεσαρωμένον καὶ κεκοσμημένον.

τότε πορεύεται καὶ παραλαμβάνει μεθ’ ἑαυτοῦ ἑπτὰ ἕτερα πνεύματα πονηρότερα ἑαυτοῦ, καὶ εἰσελθόντα κατοικεῖ ἐκεῖ· καὶ γίνεται τὰ ἔσχατα τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκείνου χείρονα τῶν πρώτων. οὕτως ἔσται καὶ τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ τῇ πονηρᾷ.

 

This saying about the returning unclean spirit can also be found word for word in Luke, chapter 11:25-26, indicating a Q source.  This implies a failed exorcism or a failed healing, so that the evil unclean spirit would return with more evil spirits.  Thus, the final state of that person would be worse than it was in the beginning.  This unclean spirit said to itself that it would return to its house or the place or person that it had come from (τότε λέγει Εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου ἐπιστρέψω ὅθεν ἐξῆλθον).  Nothing had been put in its place, because this unclean spirit found it empty or unoccupied (καὶ ἐλθὸν εὑρίσκει σχολάζοντα), swept clean (καὶ σεσαρωμένον) and in order, newly decorated (καὶ κεκοσμημένον).  Thus, the unclean spirit went and brought 7 more evil spirits (τότε πορεύεται καὶ παραλαμβάνει μεθ’ ἑαυτοῦ ἑπτὰ ἕτερα πνεύματα πονηρότερα ἑαυτοῦ).  All these evil spirits entered and lived there (καὶ εἰσελθόντα κατοικεῖ ἐκεῖ·).  Finally, the last state of that person would be worse than the original situation (καὶ γίνεται τὰ ἔσχατα τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκείνου χείρονα τῶν πρώτων).  Thus, it would be the same for this evil generation (οὕτως ἔσται καὶ τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ τῇ πονηρᾷ).  Jesus had just called this generation evil in chapter 12:19.

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Lose your life to find it (Mt 10:39-10:39)

“Those who find

Their life

Will lose it.

Those who lose

Their life

For my sake

Will find it.”

 

ὁ εὑρὼν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἀπολέσει αὐτήν, καὶ ὁ ἀπολέσας τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εὑρήσει αὐτήν.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapters 9:24 and 17:33, Mark, chapter 8:35, and John 12:25.  In order to gain your eternal life, you have to lose your life for the sake of Jesus.  Anyone who thinks that he has found his life or soul (ὁ εὑρὼν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ) will lose it (ἀπολέσει αὐτήν).  On the other hand, anyone who loses their life or soul (καὶ ὁ ἀπολέσας τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ) for the sake of Jesus (ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ) will find their life or soul (εὑρήσει αὐτήν).  Thus, you have to lose your life or soul in Jesus, in order to truly live.

The visit of the leader (Mt 9:18-9:19)

“While he was saying

These things to them,

A leader came in.

He knelt before him.

Saying,

‘My daughter

Has just died.

But come!

Lay your hand

On her!

Then she will live.’

Jesus got up.

He followed him,

With his disciples.”

 

Ταῦτα αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος αὐτοῖς ἰδοὺ ἄρχων εἷς προσελθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ λέγων ὅτι Ἡ θυγάτηρ μου ἄρτι ἐτελεύτησεν· ἀλλὰ ἐλθὼν ἐπίθες τὴν χεῖρά σου ἐπ’ αὐτήν, καὶ ζήσεται.

καὶ ἐγερθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ

 

This episode about the healing of the ruler’s daughter can be found in Mark, chapter 5:21 and Luke, chapter 8:40, except that there this leader had a name, Jairus, the leader of the synagogue.  Here, he is only called a generic leader or ruler (ἄρχων).  Apparently, this took place while Jesus was speaking to the people about his sayings (Ταῦτα αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος αὐτοῖς).  This unnamed leader or Jarius came and knelt before Jesus (ἰδοὺ ἄρχων εἷς προσελθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ).  He then spoke to Jesus telling him that his daughter had just died (λέγων ὅτι Ἡ θυγάτηρ μου ἄρτι ἐτελεύτησεν).  There is no mention of her age here as in Luke, where she was 12 years old.  In Mark, she was very sick, not dead.  However, his belief in the power of Jesus was clear.  He said that if Jesus came (ἀλλὰ ἐλθὼν), he could lay his hand on her (τὴν χεῖρά σου ἐπ’ αὐτήν).  Then she would live (καὶ ζήσεται).  This leader had a great belief in Jesus to raise the dead.  Jesus then responded immediately, without saying anything.  He simply got up (καὶ ἐγερθεὶς) with his disciples (καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ).  They followed this leader (ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ).

The second part of the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:11-6:13)

“Give us

Our daily bread

Today!

Forgive us

Our debts!

We also have forgiven

Our debtors.

Do not bring us

Into the time of trial!

Rescue us

From the evil one!

 

Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν·

καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

 

In the second part of the “Lord’s Prayer,” “The Our Father,” Matthew and Luke, chapter 11:3-4, have the 4 human petitions, perhaps indicating a common Q source.  We should ask the Father to give us (δὸς ἡμῖν) our daily bread or sustenance to sustain our human life (Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον) today (σήμερον).  Every day, even today, we need our daily nutrition to live.  The hope is that God the Father will provide for us.  We should ask the Father to forgive our debts (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν).  This includes whatever we owe to God, because our sins that have put us in debt with God.  If we ask for forgiveness, that assumes that we have forgiven our debtors (ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν).  We ask the Father not to lead us into temptation or be tested in a trial (καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν).  Finally, we ask the Father to rescue or deliver us from painful evil or the evil one (ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ).  A Byzantine manuscript has an addition here that has become popular as the ending of the Lord’s Prayer because it has an “Amen” at the end of it.  “For the kingdom (Ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία) and the power (καὶ ἡ δύναμις) and the glory (καὶ ἡ δόξα) are yours forever. Amen (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν).”  This would have fit in better after the first 3 petitions about God the Father, since these 4 petitions are about us here on earth.

Transcendence of God

Transcendent means beyond this material world around us.  Immanent is the opposite, within this world.  This mysterious reality of a transcendent God is not a thing, but a being, a personal being, beyond all personality that is all-powerful and all gentle.  This transcendent mystery may be sometimes contradictory, yet we try to live in harmony and in accord with this unknown.  An encounter with mystery is an experience that we feel is a part of our lives.  Thus, a personal encounter with a personal mystery is an attempt to explain our human relationship with God.  How is reading the Bible an encounter with a transcendent God?

The moral use of the Bible

Some see the Bible as some sort of instruction manual on how to live a supposed good life.  Somehow, the Bible serves as a backup proof text for all the great questions in life.  A biblical response is either good or bad, not subject to argumentation.  You can only discuss the text.  Putting your life and belief system in the Bible means that you are trumping every other argument.  “The Bible tells me so” ends the discussion and the argument.  You can only agree, disagree, or argue about the meaning of the text, if your morality is based on the Bible.

Against the Philistine cities (Zech 9:5-9:7)

“Ashkelon shall see it.

They shall be afraid.

Gaza too,

Shall writhe in anguish.

Ekron also,

Because its hopes are withered.

The king shall perish

From Gaza.

Ashkelon shall be uninhabited.

A mongrel people

Shall dwell in Ashdod.

I will make an end

Of the pride of Philistia.

I will take away

Its blood

From its mouth.

I will take away

Its abominations

From between its teeth.

It too shall be a remnant

For our God.

It shall be

Like a clan in Judah.

Ekron shall be

Like the Jebusites.”

Once again, there is a diatribe against the Philistine cities on the Mediterranean coast.  Only 3 of the 5 cities are mentioned here.  Ashkelon and Gaza would be afraid.  Ekron would have its hope crushed.  There would no longer be a king in Gaza.  No one would live in Ashkelon.  Only a mongrel or mixed race would live in Ashdod.  The pride of the Philistines would be crushed.  Yahweh was going to end their unclean practices of eating their meat with blood in their mouths, since they would follow the Israelite dietary laws.  These Philistines would become a small remnant just like Judah had become.  Ekron would become like the decimated Canaanite Jebusites, who had formerly inhabited Jerusalem, before the time of David.