Know the truth (Lk 1:4-1:4

“Thus,

You may know

The truth

Concerning the things

About which

You have been instructed.”

 

ἵνα ἐπιγνῷς περὶ ὧν κατηχήθης λόγων τὴν ἀσφάλειαν.

 

Luke continued with his address to Theophilus.  He wanted him to know or recognize (ἵνα ἐπιγνῷς) the truth or certainty (τὴν ἀσφάλειαν) about what words or things he had been instructed about (περὶ ὧν κατηχήθης λόγων).  This sounds like someone who had become a Christian and wanted to know more about Jesus.  In fact, the Greek term (κατηχήθης) has become the basis of the word catechism or teaching.  This clearly indicates that this was a new Christian wanting to know more.  The literate Greek reader of this work would already have had a rudimentary knowledge of Jewish and early Christian activities, but wanted more.

The corner stone (Mk 12:10-12:11)

“Have you not read

This scripture?

‘The stone

That the builders rejected

Has become

The cornerstone.

This was the Lord’s doing.

It is amazing

In our eyes.’”

 

οὐδὲ τὴν γραφὴν ταύτην ἀνέγνωτε Λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας·

παρὰ Κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη, καὶ ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν;

 

This citation of Psalm 118 can be found in Matthew, chapter 21:42, and in Luke, chapter 20:17, in an abbreviated fashion.  Mark said that Jesus asked them if they had not read the scriptures (οὐδὲ τὴν γραφὴν ταύτην ἀνέγνωτε) especially Psalm 118, that was also part of the Hallel prayer.  Then Jesus quoted a few verses of this Psalm 118: 22-23, about the stone that the builders had rejected (Λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες), because they probably thought that it was inferior.  Now, that very stone has become the cornerstone or key head stone (οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας) of that building.  This was the work of the Lord (παρὰ Κυρίου ἐγένετο αὕτη) that was amazing and marvelous to everyone’s eyes (καὶ ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν).  The rejected cornerstone was a hint at Jesus’s own rejection by the Jewish leaders.

King Herod heard about Jesus (Mk 6:14-6:14)

“King Herod

Had heard

That Jesus’ name

Had become known.

Some were saying.

‘John the baptizer

Has been raised

From the dead.

For this reason,

These powers are

At work

In him.’”

 

Καὶ ἤκουσεν ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης, φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἰωάνης ὁ Βαπτίζων ἐγήγερται ἐκ νεκρῶν, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐνεργοῦσιν αἱ δυνάμεις ἐν αὐτῷ.

 

This mention of Herod can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:1, Luke, chapter 9:7, and here.  The Roman educated Herod, was the ruler or tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 BCE-39 CE, as a client ruler, part of the Roman Empire.  This Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great.  He had built and named the capital city of Galilee, Tiberias, since the Roman Emperor Tiberius (14-37 CE) was his favorite emperor.  Mark called him a king.  King Herod had heard reports (Καὶ ἤκουσεν ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης) about Jesus, because his name had become well known or famous (φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ).  Jesus was a celebrity in Galilee.  Here we have the intersection of the Galilean official of the Roman Empire, Herod, and the famous Galilean preacher and faith healer, Jesus.  Herod, the Roman ruler in Galilee, or those around him said (καὶ ἔλεγον) that Jesus might be the resurrected John the Baptist, since some people believed that righteous people rose from the dead.  Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead (ὅτι Ἰωάνης ὁ Βαπτίζων ἐγήγερται ἐκ νεκρῶν).  How ironic, since Jesus was to rise from the dead.  Herod thought the miraculous powers of John the Baptist were at work in Jesus (καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐνεργοῦσιν αἱ δυνάμεις ἐν αὐτῷ).  He and his people thought that John might have reincarnated himself in Jesus,

Jesus came to preach (Mk 1:38-1:38)

“Jesus said

To them.

‘Let us go on

To the neighboring towns.

Thus,

I may proclaim

The message there also.

That is what

I came out to do.’”

 

καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Ἄγωμεν ἀλλαχοῦ εἰς τὰς ἐχομένας κωμοπόλεις, ἵνα καὶ ἐκεῖ κηρύξω· εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ ἐξῆλθον.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 4:43, but Luke explicitly said that the message was “to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God”.  Here Mark simple recounts that Jesus said to his followers (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) that they were going to go another way (Ἄγωμεν ἀλλαχοῦ) into the nearby neighboring towns or villages (εἰς τὰς ἐχομένας κωμοπόλεις).  Thus, he could proclaim or preach (ἐκεῖ κηρύξω) this unspecified message there, since that is what he came to do (εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ ἐξῆλθον).  It was time to get to work.  They had to move on to the other nearby towns and villages to proclaim the message of Jesus.

 

Fifth narrative

Jesus traveled toward Jerusalem and taught in the Temple there, debating with the chief priests and religious leaders.  Then he spoke about the coming kingdom of heaven and the future end times.

Jesus finally went to Judea, where he cured large crowds of people.  The Pharisees questioned him about divorce.  Jesus reiterated the importance of marriage, as he spoke about Moses and divorce.  After hearing the response of Jesus about divorce, his disciples wondered why they should marry at all.  Jesus explained about different kind of eunuchs.

The children came forward to Jesus and he blessed them.  He warned against wealth.  To gain eternal life you had to keep the commandments.  They wanted to know which commandments?  The great commandment was not a problem.  However, Jesus asked them to give up their possessions, so that the rich young man walked away.  It was hard for rich people to enter the kingdom like a camel going through the eye of a needle.  Who could be saved?  The response was that all things are possible with God.  Peter wanted to know about the disciples and the eternal life reward, so that Jesus told them that the first shall be last and vice versa.

Then Jesus presented the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  He hired the first laborers, and then late in the day a second group, a third group and finally a fourth group of laborers.  The last group hired got a full day’s pay.  The first group hired were upset when they got the same as the last group hired.  This brought up the problem of generosity versus fairness, as Jesus explained the parable.

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus predicted what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem.  The mother of the sons of Zebedee wanted to know if her two sons, James and John, could be the greatest, on either side of Jesus.  Jesus pointed out the difficulties and said that only the Father set up the seating arrangements.  This led to ten angry men as they resented the two trying to be first.  Jesus reminded them about servant leadership, as the Son of Man was going to give up his life.

There were great crowds at Jericho where Jesus found two blind men asking for mercy, so he healed them.  Then began the final ministry in Jerusalem with a triumphal entry.  Jesus sent two disciples from Bethpage to get a donkey and a colt because he needed them.  Thus, the prophecy of Zechariah might be fulfilled.  They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus.  Then crowds welcomed the Son of David into Jerusalem as they began to wonder who this man was?

Jesus went into the Temple and chased out the money changers to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah.  When he cured people in the Temple, the chief priests were angry, but the little children praised him.

Then Jesus went to Bethany.  The next morning, he was hungry.  He saw a fig tree, but it had no figs, so he cursed the fig tree as it withered because of his faith.

People began to question where did Jesus get his authority?  Jesus responded with a question for a question.  He asked them about the value of the baptism of John.  They gave a timid response.  Then he told the parable about the two sons.  The first son said no at first, and then did the work, while the second son said yes and did not do the work.  Which son did the will of his father?  Thus, they did not believe John the Baptist.

Then Jesus told the parable about the wicked tenants.  This absentee land owner of the vineyard sent people to collect his rent.  Instead, the tenants beat and killed the landowner’s slaves.  He sent a second group that was also killed.  Then the tenants killed the landowner’s son.  Finally, the landowner came to take back his vineyard, citing Psalm 118 about the kingdom of God and the falling cornerstone.  The Pharisees understood this parable and tried to arrest Jesus.

Jesus continued to speak in parables.  This parable was about the king who gave a great wedding banquet.  However, the invited guests refused to come to the wedding banquet.  He sent out a second invitation to the wedding banquet, but they refused the second invitation also.  They treated his slaves badly.  The king was angry and sent out new invitations to the wedding feast.  Finally, a man without a wedding garment showed up, but he threw him out of the feast.  The explanation of this parable was that many are called, but few are chosen.

Next the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by flattering him.  They asked him a question about taxes.  Jesus gave a harsh response as he had a dialogue about the Roman coin about whose image was on it.  Give Caesar his due.  The Pharisees and their disciples left.

However, the Sadducees asked a question about the resurrection.  There was a law about marrying the brother of a dead man.  There was a woman who married seven brothers, who was her husband in the resurrection?  Jesus responded that there was no marriage in the resurrection.  The living God of their ancestors would show them the way.  The crowd was astonished.

The Pharisees regrouped and wanted to know what is the greatest commandment?  Jesus responded about the two great commandments to love God and your neighbor.  Then Jesus asked the Pharisees a question.  Was the Christ the son of David?  Then who was the Lord for David?  After that there were no more questions for Jesus.

Jesus then cursed the Scribes and Pharisees.  He told his disciples to do what they say, but not what they do.  They tied up heavy burdens on the people.  They wore special clothing and sought the places of honor.  They want to be called Rabbis.  No one was your father or master.  Greatness comes with humility.  They tried to lock people out of heaven as they shut it off.  Even when they tried to make converts, they are like blind guides and fools.  They swore by the altar or the gift of the altar.  They swore by heaven, but they had forgotten the law.  They wanted the gnat out your eye but had a camel in their own eye.  They worried about the outside of the cup instead of the inside.  They were like whitewashed tombs.  They proclaimed reverence for the tombs of the prophets, but they were like their sinning ancestors. They were like serpents.  They would kill the prophets.  They spread innocent blood.  Soon the house of Jerusalem would be desolate.

Finally, there were the predictions about the end times.  Jesus left the Temple as he predicted its destruction.  What are the signs of the Parousia?  There would be the beginning of the great suffering so that they should not be lead astray.  There would be rumors of wars in those troubled times.  They would be persecuted for the sake of Jesus.  There would be betrayals and false prophets.  Love would grow cold.  Endurance would be necessary.  The importance of Daniel the prophet was emphasized.  In Judea, they would flee to the housetops.  It would be too late for the people in the fields.  This would be the wrong time to be pregnant or nursing.  There would be great tribulation, but the days would be short.

The end was coming because there would be false Christs and people looking for the Messiah.  The Son of Man would come on the clouds as the darkness in the skies appeared.  There would be a gathering of the chosen ones.  Using the parable of the fig tree, they could tell that the end was near.  This generation would pass away, but Jesus’ words would not pass away.  No one knew the day, since it would be like in the days of Noah.  Only one would be taken and the other left, so be ready.  Be a wise and faithful slave, not a wicked slave.

Jesus told the parable of the ten bridesmaids where half were wise and half foolish.  They all fell asleep.  When the bridegroom came, they all got up.  However, the foolish ones had no oil and wise ones said that there was not enough oil for both of them.  When the foolish left to get oil, they shut the door.  When they came back, the bridegroom said that he did not know them.  Thus, you do not know the day.

Next Jesus told the parable of the talents.  A man entrusted his assets to his slaves.  He gave them money.  One slave added five more talents, another added two more talents, but the third slave dug a hole and buried his money.  The master settled their accounts.  The slave with five talents got five more talents.  The slave with two talents got two more talents.  The slave with one talent was rebuked and punished.  Thus, there will be rewards and punishments at the end times.

In the last judgment, the Son of Man would appear in glory.  There would be sheep and goats, with the sheep on the right hand.  They had taken care of him.  They wondered when they had done this.  The Son of Man replied that they took care of him when they cared for the least of his brothers.  Then he told the goats on his left side to depart from him because they had not taken care of him when they did not care for the lowly people.  Thus, there would be eternal punishment or eternal reward.

You are like your ancestors (Mt 23:31-23:32)

“You testify

Against yourselves.

You are descendants

Of those

Who murdered

The prophets.

Fill up,

Then,

The measure

Of your ancestors!”

 

ὥστε μαρτυρεῖτε ἑαυτοῖς ὅτι υἱοί ἐστε τῶν φονευσάντων τοὺς προφήτας

καὶ ὑμεῖς πληρώσατε τὸ μέτρον τῶν πατέρων ὑμῶν.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 11:48.  The Pharisees and Scribes testified or witnessed against themselves (ὥστε μαρτυρεῖτε ἑαυτοῖς), since they admitted that they were the descendants or sons of those who murdered the prophets (ὅτι υἱοί ἐστε τῶν φονευσάντων τοὺς προφήτας).  Jesus then told them to fill up or complete the work with the measuring rod of their ancestors (καὶ ὑμεῖς πληρώσατε τὸ μέτρον τῶν πατέρων ὑμῶν).   Thus, they have the same attitude as their ancestors.  However, there is very little evidence of Jewish prophets being killed.

Lock people out of heaven (Mt 23:13-23:13)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You lock people out

Of the kingdom of heaven!

You do not go in yourselves.

But when other people

Are going in,

You stop them!”

 

Οὐαὶ δὲ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι κλείετε τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων· ὑμεῖς γὰρ οὐκ εἰσέρχεσθε, οὐδὲ τοὺς εἰσερχομένους ἀφίετε εἰσελθεῖν.

 

This “Woe to you (Οὐαὶ δὲ ὑμῖν)!” was a famous Israelite prophetic saying or curse that Matthew had used earlier in chapter 11:21.  Here, there are a series of these curses against the Scribes and the Pharisees.  Were these some scribes that did the work for the Pharisees or a separate Scribe group, since this phraseology continued throughout this series of curses.  In Luke, chapter 11:42-44, Jesus cursed just the Pharisees, without any mention of the Scribes.  However, the content here was unique to Matthew.  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees (γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι), who he also called hypocrites (ὑποκριταί).  Jesus said that they locked people out of the kingdom of heaven (ὅτι κλείετε τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  Although they could not get into or enter heaven themselves (ὑμεῖς γὰρ οὐκ εἰσέρχεσθε), they were stopping or not allowing others to enter (οὐδὲ τοὺς εἰσερχομένους ἀφίετε εἰσελθεῖν) the kingdom of heaven.  Not only were they not going to heaven, they were stopping others from going to heaven, a serious charge.

The first son (Mt 21:28-21:29)

“What do you think?

A man had two sons.

He went to the first one.

He said.

‘Son!

Go!

Work

In the vineyard today.’

He answered.

‘I will not!’

But later

He changed his mind.

He went out to work.”

 

Τί δὲ ὑμῖν δοκεῖ; ἄνθρωπος εἶχεν τέκνα δύο· προσελθὼν τῷ πρώτῳ εἶπεν Τέκνον, ὕπαγε σήμερον ἐργάζου ἐν τῷ ἀμπελῶνι.

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν Ἐγὼ κύριε, καὶ οὐκ ἀπῆλθεν.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew and is reminiscent of the parable of the day laborers in the vineyard in chapter 20:1-16.  Jesus was still talking with the chief priests and elders.  Jesus continued with another parable by asking them what did they think (Τί δὲ ὑμῖν δοκεῖ)?  In this parable story, a man had two sons (ἄνθρωπος εἶχεν τέκνα δύο).  He went to the first one (προσελθὼν τῷ πρώτῳ).  He told this first son to go and work in his vineyard that day (εἶπεν Τέκνον, ὕπαγε σήμερον ἐργάζου ἐν τῷ ἀμπελῶνι).  However, this first son answered (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν) that he was not going to go out into the vineyard to work (Ἐγὼ κύριε, καὶ οὐκ ἀπῆλθεν).  Interesting enough, most of the Greek manuscript texts do not have the last phrase that this son changed his mind.  However, the explanations assume this verse that the first son later or afterwards changed his mind and went out to work in the vineyard (ὕστερον δὲ μεταμεληθεὶς ἀπῆλθεν).

Generosity versus fairness (Mt 20:13-20:15)

“But the landowner replied

To one of them.

‘Friend!

I am doing you no wrong!

Did you not agree

With me

For a denarius?

Take what belongs to you!

Go!

I choose to give

To this last

The same

As I give to you.

Am I not allowed to do

What I choose

With what belongs to me?

Or are you envious

Because I am generous?’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς ἑνὶ αὐτῶν εἶπεν Ἑταῖρε, οὐκ ἀδικῶ σε· οὐχὶ δηναρίου συνεφώνησάς μοι;

ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε· θέλω δὲ τούτῳ τῷ ἐσχάτῳ δοῦναι ὡς καὶ σοί·

οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι ὃ θέλω ποιῆσαι ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς; ἢ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμι;

 

This parable is unique to Matthew, as Jesus concluded this parable.  The landowner replied to one of them (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς ἑνὶ αὐτῶν) with a sarcastic greeting of companion or friend (εἶπεν Ἑταῖρε).  He had done nothing wrong to them (οὐκ ἀδικῶ σε).  They had agreed to the one denarius pay for a day’s work (οὐχὶ δηναρίου συνεφώνησάς μοι).  They should just take their money and go (ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε).  If the landowner was generous that was not the problem of this day laborer.  He could give to the last hired what he gave to the first hired (θέλω δὲ τούτῳ τῷ ἐσχάτῳ δοῦναι ὡς καὶ σοί).  Was he not allowed (οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι) to do whatever he wanted to do with his own belongings (ὃ θέλω ποιῆσαι ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς).  Were they envious with an evil eye (ἢ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν) because he was generous (ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμι)?  In fact, they did not mind generosity.  They just wanted to know why none of that generosity came their way.  That is the problem with generosity.  The person who worked hard for a fair payment sometimes resents the generosity towards those who did not do as much work.  Why was the hard worker for the whole day not compensated more generously than the one-hour worker?  There are always two sides to every story.

Last group hired (Mt 20:6-20:7)

“About five o’clock,

The eleventh hour,

The landowner went out.

He found others standing around.

He said to them.

‘Why are you standing here

Idle all day?’

They said to him.

‘Because no one

Has hired us.’

He said to them.

‘You also go

Into the vineyard.’

 

περὶ δὲ τὴν ἑνδεκάτην ἐξελθὼν εὗρεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Τί ὧδε ἑστήκατε ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν ἀργοί;

λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἡμᾶς ἐμισθώσατο. λέγει αὐτοῖς Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα.

 

This parable is unique to Matthew.  This landowner of the vineyard went (ἐξελθὼν) to the market square at about 5:00 PM, the eleventh hour (περὶ δὲ τὴν ἑνδεκάτην).  He found some people still standing around (εὗρεν ἄλλους ἑστῶτας) in the square.  The landowner asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) why were they standing around idle all day (Τί ὧδε ἑστήκατε ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν ἀργοί).  They said to him (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ) that no one had hired them (Ὅτι οὐδεὶς ἡμᾶς ἐμισθώσατο).  Thus. he told them (λέγει αὐτοῖς) to go to work in his vineyard (Ὑπάγετε καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν ἀμπελῶνα).  The Greek Orthodox text added the phrase about the earlier group.  He simply said that they would receive what was right, just, or fair (καὶ ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον λήψεσθε).  Remember, the first group had been working 11 hours before this last group began to work.