The mouth speaks from the heart (Mt 15:18-15:20)

“But what comes out

Of the mouth

Proceeds from the heart.

This is what defiles a man.

Out of the heart

Come

Evil thoughts,

Murder,

Adultery,

Fornication,

Theft,

False witness,

And slander.

These are what

Defile a man.

But to eat

With unwashed hands

Does not defile a man.”

 

τὰ δὲ ἐκπορευόμενα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ἐκ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχεται, κἀκεῖνα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, ψευδομαρτυρίαι, βλασφημίαι.

ταῦτά ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον· τὸ δὲ ἀνίπτοις χερσὶν φαγεῖν οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 6:20-23.  Jesus indicated that the true defilement was what came out of a person’s mouth, not what went into it.  He clearly explained defilement.  What came out of the mouth (τὰ δὲ ἐκπορευόμενα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος) proceeded from the heart (ἐκ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχεται).  That is what defiled a man (κἀκεῖνα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον).  Out of the heart came (ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται) such things as evil or wicked thoughts, plots or deliberations (διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί), murders or killings (φόνοι), adulteries (μοιχεῖαι), sexual immoralities, fornication or pornography (πορνεῖαι), theft (κλοπαί), false witness or false testimony (ψευδομαρτυρίαι), and slander, abusive language, or blasphemy (βλασφημίαι).  These were the things that defiled a man or person (ταῦτά ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον).  You can clearly see what Jesus, his disciples, and the early Christian community considered as sins or defilements that made a person unclean.  But to eat with unwashed hands did not defile a man (δὲ ἀνίπτοις χερσὶν φαγεῖν οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον) or make him unclean.  Notice that there is no mention of any unclean foods as in Mark.  Perhaps the Jewish Christians around Matthew still held to Jewish dietary laws.

Explanation about the seeds on the path (Mt 13:18-13:19)

“Hear then the parable

Of the sower!

When anyone hears

The word of the kingdom

And does not understand it,

The evil one comes.

He snatches away

What is sown in the heart.

This is what was sown

On the path.”

 

Ὑμεῖς οὖν ἀκούσατε τὴν παραβολὴν τοῦ σπείραντος.

Παντὸς ἀκούοντος τὸν λόγον τῆς βασιλείας καὶ μὴ συνιέντος, ἔρχεται ὁ πονηρὸς καὶ ἁρπάζει τὸ ἐσπαρμένον ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ· οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν σπαρείς.

 

This is the explanation about the sower parable, especially the seeds on the path that can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:13-15, and Luke, chapter 8:11-12, with Matthew closer to Mark.  Jesus had asked them to hear this parable about the sower (Ὑμεῖς οὖν ἀκούσατε τὴν παραβολὴν τοῦ σπείραντος).  He then explained that this was all about hearing the word of the kingdom (Παντὸς ἀκούοντος τὸν λόγον τῆς βασιλείας).  However, they did not understand what they heard (καὶ μὴ συνιέντος).  Thus, the evil one would come (ἔρχεται ὁ πονηρὸς) and seize or snatch away what had been sown in their hearts (καὶ ἁρπάζει τὸ ἐσπαρμένον ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  Jesus said that this is the explanation about the seeds that had been thrown on the path or road (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν σπαρείς).  These seeds were the words of the kingdom.  The birds were the evil ones that came and devoured them, because they did not understand the words of the kingdom.  Listening to the word was not enough.  There had to be good circumstances or pre-depositions to hearing and understanding for the word or the seed to be effective.

The brood of vipers (Mt 12:34-12:34)

“You brood of vipers!

How can you speak

Good things,

When you are evil?

Out of the abundance

Of the heart,

The mouth speaks.”

 

γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν πονηροὶ ὄντες; ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ.

 

This saying seems to be unique to Matthew.  Earlier in this work, he had John the Baptist call the Pharisees and Sadducees a blood of vipers or snakes in chapter 3:7.  In chapter 23:33, once again he referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as vipers or snakes.  Was he referring to the Pharisees here?  Jesus addressed these people as a brood or offspring of vipers or snakes (γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν).  How could they speak good things (πῶς δύνασθε ἀγαθὰ λαλεῖν), when they were evil (πονηροὶ ὄντες)?  Their mouths spoke (τὸ στόμα λαλεῖ) out of the abundance or overflow of their hearts (ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ περισσεύματος τῆς καρδίας).  They could not fool anyone.  Their evil hearts showed up in their speech, even if they tried to be good.

The eighth beatitude on persecution (Mt 5:10-5:10)

“Blessed are

Those who are persecuted

For righteousness’ sake,

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ δεδιωγμένοι ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

 

The happy, blessed, and fortunate ones (μακάριοι) would be those who were being persecuted for the sake of righteousness (οἱ δεδιωγμένοι ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης). The followers of Jesus would be persecuted. The reward for these righteous ones would be the kingdom of heaven (ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν). After each blessed action, there was a reward. Righteousness, like in the Old Testament, was a key characteristic for those who would enter the kingdom of heaven. Acting right, following the law, was at the center or the heart of being a just or righteous person.

Justification by Faith

Faith is the response of the total self, the mind, will and affections.  Being justified is a personal phenomenon.  Service and love are more important than right beliefs and sound doctrine.  You do your own believing.  God transforms the heart and you experience God’s love.  Good works are a correlation to faith.  Protestants love the apostle Paul.  They have a tendency to over emphasis the written Bible with an emphasis on private religious experience.  Diversity is good, since most Protestant groups have broken off from another Protestant group or from the Roman Catholic Church.  In a certain sense heretical or diverse views are expected rather than one orthodox single view.

 

 

Judaism as the root of Christianity

A rough comparison of Judaism and Christianity might be like the relationship of the eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.  Judaism would be like Hinduism and Christianity would be like Buddhism.  Both religions, Buddhism and Christianity rely on an already established religious base, Judaism and Hinduism, and emphasis the role of a single person, Buddha and Jesus.  Both Christianity and Judaism have the same base.  The center of the Old Testament covenant was Yahweh and his people, while the heart of the Christian message was around Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, who was Jewish.

What is better? (Sir 40:21-40:25)

“The flute makes

A sweet melody.

The harp makes

A sweet melody,

But a pleasant voice is

Better than either.

The eye desires grace.

The eye desires beauty.

But the eye desires

Green shoots of grain

More than either.

A friend is always welcome

A companion is always welcome.

But a sensible wife is

Better than either.

Kindred are for a time of trouble.

Helpers are for a time of trouble.

But almsgiving rescues

Better than either.

Gold makes one stand firm.

Silver makes one stand firm.

But good counsel is

Esteemed more than either.”

Sirach continues with his questions about what is better. However, here the answer is not wisdom. While wine and music gladden the heart, the love of friends is actually better for a happy heart. While the flute and the harp make sweet melodies, a pleasant singing voice is sweeter than both. While the eye desires grace and beauty, the eye, especially of a farmer, prefers to see the green sprouts of grain in the fields. Everyone welcomes a friend or companion in their house, but a sensible wife in the house is much better. In troubled times, family members and helpers can be supportive, but actually almsgiving helps you better than both family and friends. While gold and silver can help you stand firm, good counsel is better than both gold and silver.