The gospel preaching of John (Lk 3:18-3:18)

“Thus,

With many other exhortations,

John proclaimed

The good news gospel

To the people.”

 

Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἕτερα παρακαλῶν εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν·

 

Only Luke has this explanation that John the Baptist with many other exhortations (Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἕτερα παρακαλῶν), other than those recounted here, proclaimed the good news to the people (εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν).  Was this the same good news or gospel (εὐηγγελίζετο) that Jesus would later preach?  Luke was the only one among the other gospel writers who linked John and Jesus as relatives in chapter 1:36.  John’s mother, Elizabeth, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, were relatives of some sort, thus making their children relatives or cousins also.  They could be compared in some ways to Aaron and Moses or the later Peter and Paul.  One was superior to the other, but the other played an indispensable role.  John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century CE.  He used baptism, some kind of dipping in water, as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement.  Thus, he became known as the one who baptizes, the Baptizer, John the Baptist.  This John certainly had a relationship with Jesus, but the exact relationship between John and Jesus is also problematic.  They may have originally been co-workers.  However, they separated as Jesus went along a different route.  However, the shadow of John the Baptist appeared again and again in the biblical stories about Jesus and his apostles.  Some believe that Jesus may have been an early follower or disciple of John, but the textual indications are that John saw himself as clearly subservient to Jesus.  Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John, such as the apostle Andrew, the brother of Simon, in John, chapter 1:40, and in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19:2-6.  There may have been also some contact between John the Baptist and the Qumran-Essene community, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  John might have been associated with them or part of their community for a while.  Thus, John the Baptist has been revered as a prophet and a Christian saint throughout the centuries.

John the Baptist (Mt 3:1-3:1)

“In those days,

John the Baptist

Appeared

In the wilderness

Of Judea,

Preaching.”

 

Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις παραγίνεται Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς κηρύσσων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας,

 

Matthew now switched to more common material about Jesus and his life. John the Baptist is mentioned in all four canonical gospels. In fact, if anything, Matthew seemed to be following Mark, chapter 1:4, since Mark began his gospel with this story. Matthew began this episode with his trademark transitional phrase, “In those days it happened (Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις).” John the Baptizer (Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτιστὴς) came preaching (παραγίνεται…κηρύσσων) in the wilderness or desert in Judea (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας). This wilderness was southeast of Jerusalem and west of the Dead Sea. Apparently, John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century CE. He used baptism, some kind of dipping in water, as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement. Thus, he became known as the one who baptizes, the Baptizer, John the Baptist. He certainly had a relationship with Jesus, but the exact relationship between John and Jesus is also problematic. According to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1:36, John’s mother and Jesus’ mother were relatives of some sort. Both John and Jesus may have originally been co-workers. However, they separated as Jesus went along a different route. However, the shadow of John the Baptist appeared again and again in the biblical stories about Jesus and his apostles. Some believe that Jesus may have been a follower or disciple of John, but the textual indications are that John saw himself as subservient to Jesus. Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John, as in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19:2-6. There may have been some contact between John the Baptist and the Qumran-Essene community, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Thus, John might have been associated with them or part of their community for a while. John the Baptist died by beheading, as explained later in this gospel, chapter 14:10. Thus, John the Baptist has been revered as a prophet and a Christian saint throughout the centuries.

The righteous shall prevail (Mal 4:2-4:3)

“‘But you who revere

My name,

The sun of righteousness,

Shall rise,

With healing in its wings.

You shall go out leaping

Like calves

From the stall.

You shall tread down

The wicked.

They will be ashes

Under the soles

Of your feet,

On the day

When I act.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh of hosts said that the righteous, on the other hand, who revered the name of Yahweh, would be like a rising sun with healing wings.  They would be like leaping calves coming out of their stalls.  They would walk all over the wicked, so that the wicked ones would become like ashes under their feet.  All of these things were going to take place on the day when Yahweh was going to act.

Profanation of the name of Yahweh (Mal 1:12-1:14)

“But you profane it

When you say

That Yahweh’s table

Is polluted.

Thus,

The food for it

May be despised.

‘What a weariness this is.’

You say.

‘You sniff at me.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘You bring what has been taken

By violence,

Or is lame,

Or sick.

This you bring

As your offering!

Shall I accept that

From your hand?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Cursed be the cheat,

Who has a male in his flock!

If he vows to give it,

Yet sacrifices to Yahweh

What is blemished!

I am a great King!’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘My name is revered

Among the nations.’”

These priests have profaned the name of Yahweh.  They have polluted Yahweh’s table.  They have brought despised food to Yahweh’s altar.  They were tired, weary, and sniffing at Yahweh.  They brought offerings that had been violated, lame, or sick.  Should Yahweh accept these blemished offerings?  No, he should curse those who vowed to bring sacrificial offerings, but instead cheated him by bringing blemished animals.  Yahweh was a great king whose name was revered throughout the whole world, among all the countries.

The dragon and Daniel (Dan 14:23-14:26)

“Now in that place,

There was a great dragon

That the Babylonians revered.

The king said

To Daniel.

‘You cannot deny

That this is a living god.

So,

Worship him!’

Daniel said.

‘I will worship

The Lord,

My God.

He is the living God.

But give me permission!

O king!

I will kill the dragon

Without a sword,

Without a club.’

The king said.

‘I give you permission.’”

Daniel now will take on the great nameless dragon god, that the king and the Babylonians revered. The king pointed out that this dragon was surely a living god worthy of worship. Daniel once again announced that he was only going to worship the Lord, his living God. However, he wanted permission from the king to kill the dragon, without using a club or a sword. The king then gave him permission to do so.

The Babylonian god Bel (Dan 14:3-14:4)

“Now the Babylonians

Had an idol

Called Bel.

Every day,

They provided for it

Twelve bushels

Of choice flour,

Forty sheep,

Six measures

Of wine.

The king revered it.

He went every day

To worship it.

But Daniel worshiped

His own God.”

This god Bel was Bel Marduk, the great god of the Babylonians, mentioned by Jeremiah and Isaiah. Every day, the people provided this idol 12 bushels of choice flour, 40 sheep, and 6 measures or about 50 gallons of wine. The king Cyrus revered Bel, as he worshipped this god on a daily basis. Bel may have been popular in Persia also. However, Daniel worshipped his own God, but there is no indication where he did this.