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.

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The fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah (Mt 12:17-12:17)

“This was to fulfill

What was spoken

Through the prophet Isaiah.”

 

ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἡσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

 

There is no question that this citation from Second Isaiah, chapter 42-1-4, was unique to Matthew.  He was a strong believer that these sayings of the Old Testament or Hebrew scriptures were fulfilled with Jesus (ἵνα πληρωθῇ) and his healings.  Matthew explicitly mentions that the prophet Isaiah had spoken these words (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἡσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος).

Jesus takes a low profile (Mt 12:15-12:16

When Jesus

Became aware of this,

He departed from there.

Many crowds followed him.

He cured all of them.

He ordered them

Not to make him known.”

 

Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς γνοὺς ἀνεχώρησεν ἐκεῖθεν. καὶ ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ πολλοί, καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτοὺς πάντας,

καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς ἵνα μὴ φανερὸν αὐτὸν ποιήσωσιν

 

Although this first sentence is unique to Matthew, the second sentence is a direct quote from Mark, chapter 3:12.  Once again, Matthew emphasized the great crowds without any specific number.  He cured all the sick people but did not want them to make it public.  There seems to be a contradiction here with large crowds, many healings, and yet not making it public, as if that was possible.  Although he wanted a low profile, he continued to heal many people.  Jesus knew what was going on with the Pharisees (Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς γνοὺς).  Thus, he left that area of Galilee (ἀνεχώρησεν ἐκεῖθεν).  However, great crowds followed him anyway (καὶ ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ πολλοί).  He healed, cured, or served all of these people (καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτοὺς πάντας).  Then he ordered, warned, or admonished them (καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς) not to reveal or make him known (ἵνα μὴ φανερὸν αὐτὸν ποιήσωσιν).  This was often referred to as the Messianic secret that Matthew indicated in chapters 8:4 and 9:30.

The priests in the Temple (Mt 12:5-12:5)

“Have you not read

In the law

That on the Sabbath

The priests in the temple

Break the Sabbath.

Yet they are guiltless?”

 

ἢ οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε ἐν τῷ νόμῳ ὅτι τοῖς σάββασιν οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τὸ σάββατον βεβηλοῦσιν καὶ ἀναίτιοί εἰσιν;

 

This saying is unique to Matthew.  He has Jesus cite an example in Numbers, chapter 28:9-10, where there was a special sacrifice only on the Sabbath.  This sacrifice had two male one-year old lambs without blemish, and two-tenths of an ephah of choice flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, and its drink offering.  This was the burnt offering every Sabbath.  This was in addition to the regular burnt offerings and the drink offerings.  However, this sacrifice was not mentioned in any other place in the Torah.  Jesus asked them if they had read the law (ἢ οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε ἐν τῷ νόμῳ) where on the Sabbath (ὅτι τοῖς σάββασιν), the priests in the temple (οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ) broke or profaned the Sabbath with these sacrifices (τὸ σάββατον βεβηλοῦσιν), yet they were guiltless (καὶ ἀναίτιοί εἰσιν).

Against Capernaum (Mt 11:23-11:24)

“You!

Capernaum!

Will you be exalted

To heaven?

No!

You will be brought down

To Hades.

If the deeds of power

Done in you

Had been done in Sodom,

It would have remained

Until this day.

But I tell you!

On the day of judgment

That it shall be more tolerable

For the land of Sodom

Than for you.”

 

καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ, μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ; ἕως Ἅιδου καταβήσῃ· ὅτι εἰ ἐν Σοδόμοις ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν σοί, ἔμεινεν ἂν μέχρι τῆς σήμερον.

πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι γῇ Σοδόμων ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ σοί.

 

Then Matthew has Jesus take on his own new home town of Capernaum.  Luke, chapter 10:15, has a similar statement, word for word, indicating a possible common Q source.  However, the second verse is unique to Matthew.  Jesus, turned to his home town of Capernaum (καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ), as mentioned in chapter 4:13.  He questioned them.  Would they be exalted or raised up to heaven (μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ)?  No!  In fact, they would be cast down to the unseen world of Hades (ἕως Ἅιδου καταβήσῃ), the traditional Greek word for hell.  If the mighty miracles that were done in Capernaum were done in Sodom (ὅτι εἰ ἐν Σοδόμοις ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν σοί), Sodom might have remained until the present day (ἔμεινεν ἂν μέχρι τῆς σήμερον).  This refers to the story in Genesis, chapter 19:1-29.  Then Jesus gave a solemn pronouncement “I say to you” (πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) that on the day of judgment (ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ σοί) it would be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for the people of Capernaum (ὅτι γῇ Σοδόμων ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται).  Thus, Jesus had warned these three towns within 10 miles of each other, because they had not repented despite his many miracles there.

Preaching against the various towns (Mt 11:20-11:20)

“Then he began

To reproach

The cities

In which most

Of his deeds of power

Had been done.

Because they did not repent.”

 

Τότε ἤρξατο ὀνειδίζειν τὰς πόλεις ἐν αἷς ἐγένοντο αἱ πλεῖσται δυνάμεις αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐ μετενόησαν·

 

These introductory comments against the various Galilean towns are unique to Matthew.  Jesus started to denounce or reproach the various towns (Τότε ἤρξατο ὀνειδίζειν τὰς πόλεις) where he had worked his powerful miracles (πόλεις ἐν αἷς ἐγένοντο αἱ πλεῖσται δυνάμεις αὐτοῦ) of healing and curing.  However, in those towns, they did not repent (ὅτι οὐ μετενόησαν).  Jesus was upset that despite his many miracles, these towns had not repented of their evil ways.

These twelve apostles were for the Jews (Mt 10:5-10:7)

“Jesus sent out

These twelve,

With the following instructions.

‘Go nowhere

Among the Gentiles!

Enter no town

Of the Samaritans!

But go rather

To the lost sheep

Of the house of Israel!

Preach as you go!

Saying,

‘The kingdom of heaven

Is at hand.’”

 

Τούτους τοὺς δώδεκα ἀπέστειλεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς παραγγείλας αὐτοῖς λέγων Εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε καὶ εἰς πόλιν Σαμαρειτῶν μὴ εἰσέλθητε·

πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ

πορευόμενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε λέγοντες ὅτι Ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

 

There is no exact equivalent to this exclusive mission to the Jews, that this is unique to Matthew.  Jesus sent out these 12 apostles (Τούτους τοὺς δώδεκα ἀπέστειλεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  He commanded them with specific instructions (παραγγείλας αὐτοῖς λέγων).  They were to stay away from the gentiles (Εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε).  They were not allowed to enter any Samaritan town either (καὶ εἰς πόλιν Σαμαρειτῶν μὴ εἰσέλθητε).  Thus, they had to stay away from the gentiles and the Samaritans.  Their mission, however, was to go to the lost sheep in the house of Israel (πορεύεσθε δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ).  They were to go and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (πορευόμενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε λέγοντες ὅτι Ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν).  This is exactly the same teaching as John the Baptist, word for word, as in chapter 3:2.  Matthew had John say that the kingdom of heaven (γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν) was at hand, coming near (ἤγγικεν).  Notice that Matthew did not say the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of heaven.  In fact, it is in the plural, heavens.  This connection of the message of John and Jesus is very strong here in Matthew.