“But love your enemies!
Will be great!
You will be
Of the Most-High!”
πλὴν ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν καὶ ἀγαθοποιεῖτε καὶ δανίζετε μηδὲν ἀπελπίζοντες· καὶ ἔσται ὁ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολύς, καὶ ἔσεσθε υἱοὶ Ὑψίστου,
Matthew, chapter 5:44 was more forceful when Jesus said that they were to love their enemies (ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν) and even pray for those who were persecuting them. Here Luke indicated that Jesus said that they were to love their enemies (πλὴν ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν), as in Matthew. However, they were to do good (καὶ ἀγαθοποιεῖτε). They were expected to lend to others (καὶ δανίζετε), expecting nothing in return (μηδὲν ἀπελπίζοντες). This was based on Exodus, chapter 22:25 that if they lent money, they should not charge interest to the poor. Leviticus, chapter 25:27, said that if any of their relatives fall into difficulties and become dependent on them, they should support them as though they were resident aliens. They were not to take interest or profit from them while they are living and eating in their house. Yahweh would provide. Their reward would be great (καὶ ἔσται ὁ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολύς) because they would be children of the Most-High God (καὶ ἔσεσθε υἱοὶ Ὑψίστου). Have you ever lent money to relatives?
Said to her.
‘The Holy Spirit
Will come upon you.
Of the Most High
Will overshadow you.
The child to be born
Will be holy.
He will be called
The Son of God.’”
καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σέ, καὶ δύναμις Ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι· διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον κληθήσεται Υἱὸς Θεοῦ.
Luke then has the Angel Gabriel reveal the whole plan. Just as in Matthew, chapter 1:20, the angel told Joseph that the child conceived in Mary was from the Holy Spirit. Luke did the same here. This Angel Gabriel answered Mary (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ). He said that the Holy Spirit would come over her (Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σέ). The power of the Most High God would overshadow or envelop her (καὶ δύναμις Ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι). Her child would come forth or be born holy (διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον). He would be called the Son of God (κληθήσεται Υἱὸς Θεοῦ). This was a very theological statement uttered by the Angel Gabriel. This child, Jesus would come about because of the Holy Spirit. Elohim, the most high God, would overshadow her, the way that Yahweh had overshadowed the tent of dwelling with the covenant in Exodus, chapter 37:1-9. This presence of God in Mary would make her pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. The unique act of Jesus’ conception was a fully Trinitarian action involving the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit within the womb of Mary. Obviously, the Son, her son, Jesus, would be born as a holy human person, clearly and rightfully called the Son of God. This was a very developed theology of Luke, who always stressed the role of the Holy Spirit in his writings.
“Who can command
To have it done,
Has not ordained it?
Is it not
From the mouth
Of the Most High
As well as evil comes?
Why should anyone,
Who draws breath,
About the punishment
Of their sins?”
This author indicates that nothing can get done without the consent of Yahweh. From the mouth of the Most High God comes both good and evil. Once again, there is the question of God and evil. No one should complain about the punishment for their sins from this almighty God. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Mem in this acrostic poem.
“Turn back to the Lord!
Forsake your sins!
Pray in his presence!
Lessen your offenses!
Return to the Most High!
Turn away from iniquity!
He will lead you out of darkness
To the light.
What he abhors!
Who will sing praises
To the Most High
In place of the living,
Who gives thanks?
From the dead,
As from one who does not exist,
Thanksgiving has ceased.
Those who are alive and well
Sing the Lord’s praises.
How great is
The mercy of the Lord!
His forgiveness is
For those who return to him!
Not everything is within human capability.
Since human beings are not immortal.
What is brighter than the sun?
Yet it can be eclipsed.
Flesh and blood devise evil.
He marshals the host of the height of heaven.
But all human beings are dust.
All human beings are ashes.”
Much like the later John the Baptist, Sirach here is calling for all to repent. Turn to the Lord! Give up sinning! Pray to the Lord! Turn to the Most High! Turn away from iniquity! No one can sing the praises of the Lord from Hades, the home of the dead. Only the living can give thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. The Lord is merciful. He will forgive those who return to him. Humans have limited capacities, since they are not immortal. Even the bright sun gets eclipsed. Flesh and blood humans devise evil because they are mere dust and ashes. However, the Lord has his hosts in the high heavens.
“Do not hate hard labor.
Do not hate farm work.
These were created by the Most High.
Do not enroll in the ranks of sinners.
Remember that retribution does not delay.
Humble yourself to the utmost.
The punishment of the ungodly is fire and worms.”
These Sirach recommendations continue. You should not dislike hard labor or farm work since they were created by the Most High God. Do not hang out with sinners because retribution will not be delayed. Humble yourself. The punishment for the ungodly is both fire and worms.
“The heavens proclaim his righteousness.
All the peoples behold his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame.
They make their boast in worthless idols.
All gods bow down before him.
Zion is glad.
The towns of Judah rejoice,
Because of your judgments.
You are most high
Over all the earth.
You are exalted far above all gods.”
The heavens proclaim the righteousness of God. Everybody sees his glory. All the worshipers of false images and worthless idols are put to shame since their gods bow down before Yahweh. Mount Zion and all Judah are glad and rejoice. The judgments of Yahweh are most high over all the earth. Yahweh is exalted over the other gods. This seems like some kind of contest between the various gods where Yahweh is the clear winner.
“You live in the shelter of the Most High.
You abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
You will say to Yahweh.
‘My refuge and my fortress.
In whom I trust.’”
Psalm 91 has no title, unlike many of the other psalms. This psalm starts with 4 different names for God, which is unusual since normally only 2 or 3 names are used, God or Yahweh. First we live in the shelter of the Most High God that is El Elyon in Hebrew and gphyistos in Greek, the highest one. Next we abide in the shadow of the Almighty God that is El Shaddai in Hebrew and the more familiar Greek pantokrator, creator of all. Normally when the Israelites speak to God they call him with the more familiar Yahweh that is the proper name for the God of Israel, more commonly the Hebrew epigram YHW. He seems to be an Israelite warrior God who gets angry a lot. He could not be depicted with any statues or idols. Later Jewish prayer life changed the pronunciation of Yahweh with the word Adonai in its place. The common translation of Yahweh into Greek was kurios, or Lord. Thus many bibles use this term “Lord” for Yahweh. So what did he say to Yahweh? Yahweh is his refuge and fortress. However, then we have the 4th term for God, Elohim in Hebrew and Theos in Greek. Using Theos in Greek put God at the same level as other gods, but clearly Adonai or Yahweh was the monotheistic God in the later writings. Obviously this psalmist trusted in God.
‘You are gods.
You are children of the Most High.
All of you are gods.
You shall die like mortals.
You will fall like any prince.’
Judge the earth!
All the nations belong to you!”
The temple prophet uses the words of God. He told the various other gods and world leaders that they were gods since they were children of the Most High God. However, they would all die like mortals and other earthly princes. Finally the psalm ends with the cry for God to arise and judge the earth since all nations belonged to God anyway.
“When he killed them,
They sought him.
They sought God earnestly.
That God was their rock,
That the Most High God was their redeemer.
But they flattered him with their mouths.
They lied to him with their tongues.
Their heart was not steadfast toward him.
They were not true to his covenant.”
After some of the Israelites died in the desert, others claimed to repent. They sought God earnestly as they remembered that God was their rock. The Most High God was their redeemer. They tried to flatter God with their mouths as they lied with their tongues. Their heart was not in it. They were not true to the covenant.
“Therefore the people turn and praise them.
They find no fault in them.
‘How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?’
Such are the wicked.
They are always at ease.
They increase in riches.
All in vain have I kept my heart clean.
I have washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been plagued.
I am punished every morning.”
Asaph, the psalmist warned that people were praising these wicked people. No one seemed to find fault in what they were doing. The people were saying how can God not know about this since he is the most high one. The wicked ones seem to be at ease as they increase their wealth. Asaph maintained that he had kept his heart clean in vain. He had washed his hands in innocence. However, all day long he suffered from illness. He was punished every morning as he woke up.