Blessed are the poor (Lk 6:20-6:20)

“Then Jesus

Looked up

At his disciples.

He said.

‘Blessed are you

Who are poor!

Yours is

The kingdom of God.”

 

Καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἔλεγεν Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοί, ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

Luke said that Jesus looked up at his disciples (Καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ).  He said (ἔλεγεν) that the poor are blessed or happy (Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοί), using the second person plural.  Their reward would be the kingdom of God (ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  This sermon on the plain is somewhat similar to the sermon on the mount in Matthew, chapters 5-7.  Most people speak about the 8 beatitudes of Jesus on the mountain, since they feature the key points of Jesus’ preaching that was founded on the Hebrew Scriptures.  What does “blessed (Μακάριοι)” mean?  This Greek word Μακάριοι appeared over 68 times in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament, especially in the Psalms.  God will bless these people, so that they will be the fortunate ones, the happy ones, the wise ones.  There are echoes of Psalm 32, where the happy and blessed ones are those who have had their sins forgiven, since they have no deceit in their hearts.  The blessed people are the poor, the hungry, the mourners, and those being persecuted.  Number one is the poor.  However, right off the bat, there is a difference with Matthew. chapter 5:3, who used the term the “poor in spirit (οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι).”  What did Matthew mean by this “poor in spirit” or spiritual poverty?  There is a whole Judaic tradition about the oppressed poor and the humble of the land, as in the prophets Isaiah, chapter 61:1 and 66:2, and Zephaniah, chapter 2:3, but that was not spiritual poverty.  Perhaps, this was more like the lack of concern for material things, whether you are actually poor or not.  For Luke, it was black or white, poor or not.  The 2nd major difference was the reward.  Matthew talked about what they would possess, the kingdom of the heavens (ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν), while Luke said it was the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ), plain and simple.

Salvation for the House of David (Lk 1:69-1:69)

“He has raised up

A mighty savior

For us

In the house

Of his servant David.”

 

καὶ ἤγειρεν κέρας σωτηρίας ἡμῖν ἐν οἴκῳ Δαυεὶδ παιδὸς αὐτοῦ,

 

Luke had Zechariah continue with his canticle of praise.  Zechariah said that God had raised up a horn of salvation (καὶ ἤγειρεν κέρας σωτηρίας) or a mighty savior for them in the house of his servant David (ἡμῖν ἐν οἴκῳ Δαυεὶδ παιδὸς αὐτοῦ).  This was a reference to the savior Jesus rather than to his son John.  This horn of salvation was a common theme in the psalms, like in the victory Psalm 18:2, where God was David’s shield, his horn, his stronghold, and his savior.  In Psalm 89:17-24 and Psalm 75:5, the psalmist glorified in his strength, since the horn was a symbol of strength.  Clearly this strong savior was linked to the house of David.

How can David be the Lord (Mk 12:37-12:37)

“‘David himself

Calls him Lord.

So how can he be

His son?’

The large crowd

Was listening to him

With delight.”

 

αὐτὸς Δαυεὶδ λέγει αὐτὸν Κύριον, καὶ πόθεν αὐτοῦ ἐστιν υἱός; Καὶ ὁ πολὺς ὄχλος ἤκουεν αὐτοῦ ἡδέως.

 

There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 22:35-37, and Luke, chapter 20:45.  What did David mean when he called the future Messiah Christ, a son of David?  The traditional belief was that the Messiah Christ would be the son or descendent of David.   Jesus then posed this big question.  Mark indicated that Jesus asked how can David call the Messiah Lord (αὐτὸς Δαυεὶδ λέγει αὐτὸν Κύριον) and yet be the son of David (καὶ πόθεν αὐτοῦ ἐστιν υἱός)?  This was a trick question.  Why would David call his future son or descendant his own Lord or master, or consider him greater?  The implication was that Jesus, the Son of Man, and descendant of David, was greater than David.  Peter, in fact, repeated this citation of Psalm 110 in his preaching in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2:34-35, also.  Only Mark had the comment that the large crowd was listening to Jesus with delight or gladly (Καὶ ὁ πολὺς ὄχλος ἤκουεν αὐτοῦ ἡδέως).

They go the Mount of Olives (Mt 26:30-26:30)

“When they had sung

The hymns,

They went out

To the Mount of Olives.”

 

Καὶ ὑμνήσαντες ἐξῆλθον εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν.

 

This is exactly word for word in Mark, chapter 14:26, and similar in Luke, chapter 22:39.  Both Matthew and Mark agree that after they had sung the praise hymns (Καὶ ὑμνήσαντες), they went out to the hill or the Mount of Olives (ἐξῆλθον εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν).  The hymns that they would have sung would be the Hallel Psalms 115-118, that were usually associated with the Passover service.  The Mount of Olives was about 2 miles east of the old city of Jerusalem, where many people had been buried for thousands of years.  Thus, when Jesus and his 12 disciples had finished with their Passover hymn singing of the Hallel psalms, they went outside the city about 2 miles to this graveyard where there was a hill with a lot of olive trees on it.

The first beatitude about poverty (Mt 5:3-5:3)

“Blessed are

The poor in spirit!

Theirs is

The kingdom of heaven.”

 

Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

 

Most people speak about the 8 beatitudes of Jesus on the mountain.  They are also found in Luke, chapter 6:20, since they feature the key points of Jesus’ preaching that was founded on the Hebrew Scriptures.  What does “blessed (Μακάριοι)” mean?  This Greek word Μακάριοι appears over 68 times in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament, especially in the Psalms.  God will bless these people, so that they will be the fortunate ones, the happy ones, the wise ones.  There are echoes of Psalm 32, where the happy and blessed ones are those who have had their sins forgiven, since they have no deceit in their hearts.  The blessed people are the poor, the hungry, the mourners, and those being persecuted.  Number one is the poor.  However, right off the bat, there is a difference with Luke, chapter 6:20, who simply said blessed are the poor (Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ) without any modification, since he did not mention the “poor in spirit (οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι),” as Matthew indicated here.  What does Matthew mean by this “poor in spirit” or spiritual poverty?  There is a whole Judaic tradition about the oppressed poor and the humble of the land, as in prophets Isaiah, chapter 61:1 and 66:2, and Zephaniah, chapter 2:3, but that was not spiritual poverty.  Perhaps, this is more like the lack of concern for material things, whether you are actually poor or not.  For Luke, it was black or white, poor or not.  The 2nd major difference was the reward.  Matthew continued to talk about what they would possess, the kingdom of the heavens (ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν), while Luke said it was the kingdom of God, plain and simple.

Seek God (Wis 1:1-1:5)

“Love righteousness!

You rulers of the earth!

Think of the Lord in goodness!

Seek him with sincerity of heart!

Because he is found

By those who do not put him to the test.

He manifests himself

To those who do not distrust him.

Perverse thoughts separate people from God.

When his power is tested,

It exposes the foolish.

Wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul.

Wisdom will not dwell in a body enslaved to sin.

A Holy Spirit will flee from deceit.

A disciplined spirit will flee from deceit.

The Spirit will leave foolish thoughts behind.

The Spirit will be ashamed

At the approach of unrighteousness.”

This book is set in poetic verses just like Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and The Song of Solomon. This author wants the rulers of the earth to seek God with a sincere heart. Only those who are not testing him will find him. God will manifest himself to those who do not distrust him. Perverse thoughts will separate them from God. If they test his power, he will expose their foolishness. Wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul nor dwell in a body enslaved in sin. The Holy Spirit, who is disciplined, will flee from deceit. He will leave foolish thoughts behind because he is ashamed of the approach of the unrighteousness ones. Here we have a more developed theology of God. He is no longer Yahweh since this is a Greek Septuagint work. He is the Greek Lord (τοῦ Κυρίου). Wisdom (σοφία) is almost equivalent to God (Θεοῦ). Notice also the use of the Holy Spirit (ἅγιον γὰρ πνεῦμα), even if not too specific. The Spirit of God will not stay with the deceitful and unrighteous. The concept of soul (ψυχὴν) also fits in nicely. I will be using the Greek Septuagint to highlight certain words and concepts in this Greek work.

The good wife (Prov 31:10-31:12)

Aleph

“A good wife,

Who can find her?

She is far more precious

Than jewels.

Bet

The heart of her husband

Trusts in her.

He will have no lack of gain.

Gimel

She does him good.

She does not bring harm,

All the days of her life.”

The Book of Proverbs ends with this Hebrew acrostic or alphabet tribute to the perfect wife. Each verse starts with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet like some of the Psalms. Finding the perfect wife was like finding wisdom. This has led some to see wisdom as female, so that the Spirit of wisdom is feminine. A good capable wife is hard to find. She, like wisdom, is far more precious than jewels. Her husband can trust her. He will be successful because of her. She brings him good and not harm all the days of her life.