The disciples of John the Baptist (Lk 7:18-7:18)

“The disciples of John

Reported

All these things

To him.”

 

Καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν Ἰωάνει οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ περὶ πάντων τούτων.

 

Luke said that the disciples of John the Baptist (οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ) reported to John (Καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν Ἰωάνει) all these things (περὶ πάντων τούτων).  Matthew, chapter 11:2, had something similar.  John the Baptist heard about the works or deeds of Jesus the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah, while he was in a prison.  Clearly John still had a number of disciples, despite his imprisonment.  Here Luke does not explicitly mention that John was in prison, just that a few of his disciples reported back to John the Baptist about Jesus and his activities.  How do you learn about Jesus?

John the Baptist in prison (Mt 11:2-11:2)

“In prison,

John heard

About the works

Of the Christ.

He sent word

By his disciples.”

 

Ὁ δὲ Ἰωάνης ἀκούσας ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, πέμψας διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ

 

Now we are back to the question of John the Baptist.  Luke, chapter 7:18, has something similar.  John the Baptist heard (Ὁ δὲ Ἰωάνης ἀκούσας) about the works or deeds of Jesus the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah (τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ), while he was in a prison (ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ).  Clearly John still had a number of disciples, despite his imprisonment.  Thus, he sent a few of his disciples (πέμψας διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ).  Luke said that there were two, but there is no number here.  John may have been in prison in Machaerus, about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea.  Notice that this is the first time that Jesus is called the Christ (τοῦ Χριστοῦ).

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Over a thousand years later, Martin Luther, a German Augustinian religious monk and Roman Catholic priest at Wittenberg appeared.  He was a bible scholar, so that biblical influences dominated him and his followers.  The epistles of Paul showed that righteousness was a gift that was not earned.  Faith alone, not works or even indulgences to be used in purgatory, was necessary for salvation.  In 1517, he posted his printed objections, since half a century earlier the printing press had been invented.  He translated and published the New Testament in German, so that people could read the Bible themselves.  This led to the Protestant Reformation, which actually maintained many of the medieval Catholic practices.  The Counter Reformation resulted in the Roman Catholic Council of Trent.  Instead of just accepting being excommunicated, these protesters formed their own community in northern Germany and Scandinavia.  Other groups also broke off from the Roman Catholic Church.

The Former Prophets

The former prophets are the same as the so-called Christian Old Testament historical works.  These works tell us of the establishment of the Israelites and the troubles that they faced.  However, they introduced a number of prophets that received oracles from God, including Elias, Elijah, Samuel, and Nathan.  The former prophets include the works of Joshua, from the 8th-7th century BCE and Judges, from the 7th-6th century BCE.  They also include the works of Samuel or 1 Samuel and. 2 Samuel, as well as Kings, or 1 Kings and 2 Kings. all coming from the 7th-6th century BCE.  These writings indicate what happened to the Israelites as they struggled in the new promised land.  They gradually went from a few judges to a full-blown kingdom, with many prophets with their divine oracles along the way.

Blessing God (Dan 3:3-3:4)

“Blessed are you!

O Lord!

God of our ancestors!

Worthy of praise!    

Glorious is your name

Forever!

You are just

In all

You have done!

All your works

Are true!

Your ways are right!

All your judgments

Are true!”

This hymn or canticle of Azariah begins with a blessing to God, the God of his ancestors, the Lord, whose glorious name is to be praised forever. God is just to all people. All his ways, works, and judgments are true. Everything he has done is wonderful.

The message of Yahweh’s prophets (Jer 25:5-25:7)

“They said.

‘Every one of you!

Turn now

From your evil ways!

Turn now

From wrong doings!

You will remain

Upon the land

That Yahweh has given

To you

As well as your ancestors

From of old

And forever.

Do not go

After other gods

To serve them,

To worship them!

Do not provoke me to anger

With the work of your hands!

Then I will do you no harm.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Yet you did not listen to me.

Thus you have provoked me

To anger

With the work of your hands

To your own harm.’”

Jeremiah says that Yahweh’s prophets had told all of them to turn away from their evil ways and wicked doings. If they had done that, they would remain in the land that Yahweh gave to them and their ancestors forever. However, they were not to go after other gods, serving and worshipping them. Thus they should not provoke Yahweh to anger with their own hands. Yahweh was not going to harm them. However, they did not listen. They had to provoke him to anger with the works of their own hands that only brought harm to them.

Yahweh predicts the invader from the north (Isa 41:25-41:29)

“I stirred up one from the north.

He has come.

From the rising of the sun,

He was summoned by name.

He shall trample on rulers

Like on mortar,

Like the potter treads clay.

Who declared it from the beginning?

We might know before time.

We might say.

‘He is right!’

There was none

Who declared it.

None who proclaimed it.

None who heard your words.

I first have declared it to Zion.

I give to Jerusalem

A herald of good tidings.

But when I look

There is no one.

Among these,

There is no counselor.

When I ask,

Who gives an answer?

No!

They are all a delusion.

Their works are nothing.

Their images are empty wind.”

Although most interpret this passage as the predicting the victory of King Cyrus of Persia, his name is never explicitly mentioned. He is an invader from the northeast, which could be Persia. Second Isaiah says that he was summoned by name, but no name is mentioned. This invader was going to trample underfoot the rulers, as if they were like mortar or potter’s clay. This was an indication of things to come. No one else is talking about the future. However, Second Isaiah and Yahweh had declared this herald of good tidings in Jerusalem. There was no one with advice, no one to give an answer. Their works were all an empty delusion because all their false image idols were like an empty wind.