The disciples could not heal the epileptic (Mt 17:15-17:16)

“The kneeling man said.

‘Lord!

Have mercy on my son!

He is an epileptic!

He suffers terribly!

He often falls

Into the fire.

He often falls

Into the water.

I brought him

To your disciples.

But they were not able

To cure him.’”

 

καὶ λέγων Κύριε, ἐλέησόν μου τὸν υἱόν, ὅτι σεληνιάζεται καὶ κακῶς ἔχει· πολλάκις γὰρ πίπτει εἰς τὸ πῦρ καὶ πολλάκις εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ.

καὶ προσήνεγκα αὐτὸν τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου, καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν αὐτὸν θεραπεῦσαι.

 

The story of the man with the incurable epileptic son can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:17-18, Luke, chapter 9:38-40, and here in Matthew, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Here it is the kneeling man, and not someone from the crowd who yells out to Jesus.  He addressed Jesus as the Lord (καὶ λέγων Κύριε).  He wanted Jesus to have mercy on his son (ἐλέησόν μου τὸν υἱόν), who was an epileptic (ὅτι σεληνιάζεται).  Epileptics were often considered to be possessed by the devil.  Even today, we are still unsure of the exact cause of epilepsy seizures.  This man’s son suffered very badly (καὶ κακῶς ἔχει).  He often fell into a fire (πολλάκις γὰρ πίπτει εἰς τὸ πῦρ) and into water (καὶ πολλάκις εἰς τὸ ὕδωρ).  Then there is the kicker that he had asked Jesus’s disciples to cure his son (καὶ προσήνεγκα αὐτὸν τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου), but they were not able to cure him (καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν αὐτὸν θεραπεῦσαι).  Why were the disciples of Jesus unable to cure his son?

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Cut down the bad tree (Mt 7:19-7:20)

“Every tree therefore

That does not bear good fruit

Is cut down.

It is thrown into the fire.

Thus,

You will know them

By their fruits.”

 

πᾶν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.

ἄραγε ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς.

 

This first verse is somewhat similar to Luke, chapter 13:6-9, but Luke has a parable about a bad fig tree that should be cut down.  However, Matthew has this saying here exactly the same, word for word, what John the Baptist was preaching in chapter 3:10, about bearing good fruit.  Every tree that was not bearing or producing good fruit should be cut down (πᾶν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται).  Then they should be thrown into the fire (καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται).  The second verse is like what Jesus said earlier in this chapter 7:16, when he told his disciples, via Matthew, that they would know or discern people by their fruits (ἄραγε ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς).  Once again, Matthew has Jesus teaching exactly what John the Baptist had been teaching, probably from a common Q source.

The children of Abraham should not be presumptuous (Mt 3:8-3:10)

“Bear fruit

Worthy of repentance!

Do not presume

To say to yourselves.

‘We have Abraham

As our ancestor!’

I tell you

That God is able

To raise up children

To Abraham

From these stones.

Even now,

The axe is lying ready

At the root

Of the trees.

Every tree therefore

That does not bear good fruit

Is cut down.

It is thrown into the fire.’”

 

ποιήσατε οὖν καρπὸν ἄξιον τῆς μετανοίας·καὶ μὴ δόξητε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ· λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ. ἤδη δὲ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται· πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.

 

Here is the first of the sayings from the so-called Q source. Both Matthew and Luke have the exact same pronouncement of John to the people, who presumed that they were saved by being the children of Abraham. Instead of just the Pharisees and Sadducees, Luke, chapter 3:7, had John address this to all the people coming to be baptized. This saying emphasized deeds, rather than relying on ancestry. They were to produce fruit that was worthy of repentance (ποιήσατε οὖν καρπὸν ἄξιον τῆς μετανοίας). They had to perform good deeds. They should not presume that because they have had Abraham as their father, as the privileged chosen ones (καὶ μὴ δόξητε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ), that all would go well for them. Then John pointedly said to them (λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν) that God had the power (ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς) to change stones and rocks into the children of Abraham (ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ). This was a Hebrew play on words translated into Greek. The axe was already lying at the foot of the trees, ready to go to work (ἤδη δὲ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται). Every tree that was not bearing or producing good fruit would be cut down (πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται). Then they would be thrown into the fire (καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται).

The fiery day to come (Mal 4:1-4:1)

“‘See!

The day is coming,

Burning

Like an oven.

All the arrogant

Will be stubble.

All evildoers

Will be stubble.

The day that comes

Shall burn them up.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

Thus,

It will leave them

Neither root

Nor branch.”

The day of Yahweh would be a fiery hot day.  The wicked ones would burn up as if they were in an oven.  All the arrogant and evildoers would be like stubble for the fire that would burn all of them up.  Yahweh of hosts was going to leave these wicked people without roots or branches.  Thus, the idea that God will come with fire has its biblical origins here.

The difficult day of Yahweh (Mal 3:2-3:2)

“But who can endure

The day of his coming?

Who can stand

when he appears?

Yahweh is

Like a refiner’s fire,

Like fullers’ soap.”

The day of Yahweh would be difficult for everyone.  Who could endure it?  Who would be able to stand up when it happened.  This day of Yahweh was going to be like the fire that refined precious metals.  This day was going to be like being rubbed with fuller’s soap.  A fuller was someone who made clothes white.  He used some kind of alkali, like a lye soap or a modern-day bleach.  This fuller soap was very strong.

Yahweh and Satan (Zech 3:2-3:2)

“Yahweh said

To Satan.

‘Yahweh rebukes you!

O Satan!

Yahweh,

Who has chosen Jerusalem,

Rebukes you!

Is not this man

A brand

Plucked from the fire?’”

Yahweh then had a conversation with the adversarial Satan.  Yahweh was rebuking him.  Yahweh had chosen Jerusalem.  Yet he still was going to rebuke Satan.  Then he asked if this man Joshua was a hot brand from the fire.  He wanted to know if Joshua was the representative of the Israelites of Jerusalem or from Satan.

The total punishment was coming (Zeph 3:8-3:8)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Therefore,

Wait for me,

On the day

When I arise

As a witness!

M decision is

To gather nations,

To assemble kingdoms,

To pour out upon them

My indignation,

All the heat of my anger.

In the fire

Of my passion,

All the earth

Shall be consumed.”

Yahweh, in this oracle via Zephaniah, told them to wait for the day when he would gather all the countries and kingdoms together to pour out all his indignation and anger.  He said that the fire of his passion would consume the whole earth on this final judgment day.