The power of the law (Lk 16:17-16:17)

“It is easier

For heaven

And earth

To pass away,

Than for one stroke

Of a letter

Of the law

To be dropped.”

 

εὐκοπώτερον δέ ἐστιν τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν παρελθεῖν ἢ τοῦ νόμου μίαν κεραίαν πεσεῖν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that it was easier (εὐκοπώτερον δέ ἐστιν) for heaven (τὸν οὐρανὸν) and earth (καὶ τὴν γῆν) to pass away (παρελθεῖν), than for one stroke of a letter of the law to be dropped (ἢ τοῦ νόμου μίαν κεραίαν πεσεῖν).  Nothing in the Law or the Torah could be changed or dropped, plain and simple.  This saying is similar to Mark, chapter 13:31, and Matthew, chapter 5:18, with a few exceptions.  Matthew has this as a great Jesus solemn pronouncement for his disciples (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν).  The next phrase is the same in Luke and Mark.  Heaven and earth would not pass away (ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ) until the law was fully accomplished (ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται).  Matthew, like Luke here, is even more specific with a detailed remark about the fact that not even an iota of the Law or not one stroke of a letter would go away (ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου), before the Law was fully accomplished.  Iota was the Greek word for the Hebrew yod, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet.  Mark indicated that it was the words of Jesus, and not the Law, that would not change.  Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 3:31, would further expand on this idea of upholding the law.  In Matthew, chapter 24:35, and in Luke, chapter 21:33, Jesus said that heaven and earth would pass away (ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται), but his words would not pass away (οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρελεύσονται).  This was a simple statement about the enduring quality of the words of Jesus.  Here, however, it is the words of the law that would not pass away, not the words of Jesus.  Which is more important for you, the law or the words of Jesus?

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The grandfather of Jesus (Lk 3:23-3:23)

“Jesus was the son,

As was thought,

Of Joseph,

The son of Heli.”

 

ὢν υἱός, ὡς ἐνομίζετο, Ἰωσὴφ, τοῦ Ἡλεὶ

 

Luke said that Jesus was the son (ὢν υἱός), as was thought or supposed (ὡς ἐνομίζετο), of Joseph (Ἰωσὴφ,), the son of Heli (τοῦ Ἡλεὶ).  Right off the bat, there is a problem with the differences between the genealogies of Matthew and Luke.  The end of the genealogy of Matthew, chapter 1:16, is Joseph (Ἰωσὴφ) with his father Jacob (Ἰακὼβ).  Perhaps the names of Jacob and Joseph were an attempt to connect Jesus with the great Joseph, the son of Jacob, who brought the sons of Jacob to Egypt.  However, compared to the text here in Luke, there is a difference with the father of Joseph, the grandfather of Jesus.  Luke called him “the son of Heli,” not “the son of Jacob.”  Luke said that Joseph was the so-called father of Jesus.  Thus, it might seem simple enough to compare this genealogy of Jesus with the one in Matthew, chapter 1:1-1:17.  Both the gospels of Matthew and Luke listed the family tree of Jesus.  These genealogies were theological statements with different parent genealogies and different audiences.  Matthew, went from Abraham to Jesus, so that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Jewish messianic expectations.  The theme of David was important, since Joseph was called the son of David.  Matthew explained that there were 3 sections of 14 generations.  One section went from the call of Abraham to the accession of David as king.  The second grouping went from David to the Babylonian exile.  The final section went from the Exile to the coming of the Messiah.  The Gospel of Luke genealogy, on the hand, goes from Jesus to Adam to God.  Luke’s view was more universal.  Jesus could trace his roots back to God.  Luke, who had the best Greek, was apparently writing for the gentiles of the Pauline Churches.  The Son of God was a more meaningful term.  Luke spoke of the Son of Adam, the second Adam, a theme that Paul also used.  Jesus had both divine and human origins.  This was not difficult for Greeks, since their gods were always having relations with humans in their mythical stories.  Thus, there are two different genealogies for Joseph, with only one common person, David.  This left Jesus with 2 paternal grandfathers, Jacob and Heli.  Matthew listed 52 people, but Luke has 77 ancestors because he went further back in time.  It is what it is.

This is my blood (Mk 14:24-14:24)

“Jesus said to them.

‘This is my blood

Of the covenant.

It is poured out

For many.’”

 

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ αἷμά μου τῆς διαθήκης τὸ ἐκχυννόμενον ὑπὲρ πολλῶ

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 26:28, but Matthew added “the forgiveness of sins” at the end.  Luke, chapter 22:20, has a blessing cup before the bread and one after the bread and the supper.  Paul spoke about a “new covenant” in I Corinthians, chapter 11:25.  In John, chapter 13:53-58, Jesus was preaching about eating and drinking the body and blood of the Son of Man, since there was no institution narrative.  Mark indicated that Jesus said to them (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that this was his blood of the covenant (Τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ αἷμά μου τῆς διαθήκης), that was to be poured out for many people (τὸ ἐκχυννόμενον ὑπὲρ πολλῶ).  This blood poured out for many may be an allusion to Isaiah, chapter 53:12.  This blessing of the wine had a more elaborate narrative than the bread.  However, both would become part of the new developing Christian Eucharistic Communion worship service.  Notice that Mark has this statement about the blood of Jesus after they had already drunk the cup.  The same could be implied from Matthew also.

They drank from the cup (Mk 14:23-14:23)

“Then Jesus took

A cup.

After giving thanks,

He gave it

To them.

All of them

Drank from it.”

 

καὶ λαβὼν ποτήριον εὐχαριστήσας ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς, καὶ ἔπιον ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντες

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 26:27, and similar in Luke, chapter 22:17, but there it preceded the blessing of the bread.  Paul used almost the same wording in I Corinthians, chapter 11:25.  John, chapter 6:53-58, had Jesus preaching about eating and drinking the body and blood of the Son of Man.  Matthew and Mark agree that Jesus took a drinking cup (καὶ λαβὼν ποτήριον), assuming this cup was filled with wine.  After giving thanks or eucharistizing it (εὐχαριστήσας), Jesus gave them this drinking cup (ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς).  Instead of telling them to drink from this cup, as in Matthew, Mark simply said that all of them drank from it (καὶ ἔπιον ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντες).  This new developing Christian Eucharistic worship service used the Greek word “εὐχαριστήσας (giving thanks)” as it became the name of the Last Supper remembrance event.

 

This is my body (Mk 14:22-14:22)

“While they were eating,

Jesus took

A loaf of bread.

After blessing it,

He broke it.

He gave it

To them.

He said.

‘Take!

This is my body.’”

 

Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καὶ εἶπεν Λάβετε· τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου.

 

This is almost word for word in Mathew, chapter 26:26, but in Luke, chapter 22:19, it has a little more elaboration.  Paul used almost the same wording in I Corinthians, chapter 11:23-24.  In John, chapter 6:35-58, Jesus was preaching about eating the flesh of the Son of Man, the bread of life, so that he does not have a Last Supper institution narrative.  Mark said that while they were eating (Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν) the Passover meal, Jesus took a loaf of bread (λαβὼν ἄρτον).  He spoke the blessing or blessed it (εὐλογήσας).  He broke it into pieces (ἔκλασεν).  Then he gave it to them (καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς).  He said (καὶ εἶπεν) that they should take (Λάβετε) this bread, because it was his body (τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου).  There was no mention of eating it here, as in Matthew.  This Eucharistic institution narrative may already have been in this stylized form at the time of the writing of this gospel.  There was no specific indication whether this was leavened or unleavened bread, just a loaf of bread.  However, if it was a Passover meal on the feast of the Unleavened Bread, the evident assumption would be that it was unleavened or “matzah” bread.  Clearly, this institution narrative has had a profound effect on further Christian Eucharistic sacramental theological development.

John the Baptizer (Mk 1:4-1:4)

“John the Baptizer

Appeared

In the wilderness.

He was proclaiming

A baptism

Of repentance

For the forgiveness of sins.”

 

ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν

 

There is something similar, but not quite the same in all 4 gospel stories.  Matthew, chapter 3:1-2, called John the Baptist (βαπτιστὴς) not the Baptizer (ὁ βαπτίζων), but John was in the wilderness, like here, calling for repentance.  In Matthew, John also warned the people that the kingdom of heaven was near.  Luke, chapter 3:2:3, is actually closer to Mark, since he used the exact same words about John in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  John, chapter l:19-29, had a long dialogue with John and the priests and Levites about what he was doing.  Mark has this simple statement that John the Baptizer, or the one baptizing, appeared (ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτίζων) in the wilderness or desert (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ).  How and what he did before or after did not matter.  He was there proclaiming or preaching a baptism of repentance, a life change, or metanoia (κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας) to have sins or faults forgiven or wiped away (ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν).  John tied this repentant change of life style baptism with the forgiving of sins or wiping away of past faults, since he was calling for repentance.  John and Jesus are linked in some ways like Aaron and Moses or the later Peter and Paul.  One is superior to the other but the other plays an indispensable role.

The law remains (Mt 5:18-5:18)

“Truly,

I tell you!

‘Until heaven

And earth

Pass away,

Not an iota or yod,

Nor one stroke of a letter,

Will pass away

From the law,

Until all is accomplished.’”

 

ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ, ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.

 

This saying is similar to Mark, chapter 13:31, and Luke, chapter 16:17, with a few exceptions. Matthew has this as a great Jesus pronouncement for his disciples, since he said right at the beginning, “Truly, I tell you (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν)! The next phrase is exactly the same in Luke and Mark. Heaven and earth would not pass away (ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ,) until the law was fully accomplished (ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται). Matthew is even more specific with a detailed remark about the fact that not even an iota of the Law or not one stroke of a letter would go away (ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου), before the Law was fully accomplished. Iota was the Greek word for the Hebrew “yod,” the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Nothing in the Law or the Torah could be changed, plain and simple. Mark indicated that it was the words of Jesus, and not the Law, that would not change. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 3:31, would further expand on this idea of upholding the law.