The harvest is coming (Lk 3:17-3:17)

“His winnowing fork

Is in his hand,

To clear

His threshing floors.

He will gather

The wheat

Into his granary.

But he will burn

The chaff

With an unquenchable fire.”

 

οὗ τὸ πτύον ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ διακαθᾶραι τὴν ἅλωνα αὐτοῦ καὶ συναγαγεῖν τὸν σῖτον εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην αὐτοῦ, τὸ δὲ ἄχυρον κατακαύσει πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ.

 

Luke has John give this menacing saying that can be found almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 3:12.  Thus, this might be a Q source saying, since it is not found in Mark or JohnLuke has God, the Lord, as a farmer at harvest time.  Luke had John say that this famer has his winnowing fork ready in his hand (οὗ τὸ πτύον ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ).  He was going to clear the threshing floors (διακαθᾶραι τὴν ἅλωνα αὐτοῦ).  He was going to gather his wheat into his barn or granary (καὶ συναγαγεῖν τὸν σῖτον εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην αὐτοῦ).  He would then burn up the leftover chaff (τὸ δὲ ἄχυρον κατακαύσει) with an everlasting or unquenchable fire (πυρὶ ἀσβέστῳ).  This last phrase was a little different than that of Matthew.  Nevertheless, this was a clear warning against the useless ones, who like chaff, would burn in an unstoppable fire.

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Cut off your hand (Mk 9:43-9:43)

“If your hand

Causes you

To stumble,

Cut it off!

It is better

For you

To enter life

Maimed

Than with two hands

And go to hell,

To the unquenchable fire.”

 

Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίσῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου, ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν· καλόν ἐστίν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν, ἢ τὰς δύο χεῖρας ἔχοντα ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν, εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον

 

This saying about better to be maimed than sin can also be found in Matthew chapter 18:8, with some minor changes since he united the hand and foot together.    In a rather harsh statement, Mark indicated that Jesus said that if your hand caused you to stumble, sin, or scandalize others (Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίσῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου), cut it off (ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν).  It would be better for you to enter life maimed or crippled (καλόν ἐστιν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν) than to have two hands (ἢ δύο χεῖρας).  Then you would go away into Gehenna (ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν), the unquenchable fire (εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον).  The Greek word for hell was “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna, based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom.  That was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.  You were better off maimed with one hand than being in these everlasting hell fires.  Whatever, the temptation, stumbling block, or snare, get rid of it, even if it is one of your own hands.

Against the sacred trees (Isa 1:29-1:31)

“You shall be ashamed

Of the oaks In which you delighted.

You shall blush

For the gardens

That you have chosen.

You shall be

Like an oak

Whose leaf withers.

You shall be

Like a garden

Without water.

The strong shall become

Like tinder.

Their work shall become

Like a spark.

They shall burn.

Their work shall burn together

With them.

No one will quench them.”

Here Isaiah attacks the pagan practice as well as the practices in Samaria, outside of Jerusalem. These were the places where people worshiped at sacred trees. He wanted them to be ashamed of their oak trees and their wonderful gardens that so delighted them. These worshipers were like dying trees or gardens without water. Soon there would be no water, as the oak leaves would wither away. These strong trees would be like tinder kindling wood. They and their works would burn together in a fire that could not be put out. Thus he called for the destruction of the oak tree idol worship and their worshipers, preferably by an unquenchable fire.