The Lord of the Sabbath (Mt 12:6-12:8)

“I tell you!

Something greater

Than the temple is here.

If you had known

What this means.

‘I desire mercy,

Not sacrifice!’

You would not have

Condemned

The guiltless.

The Son of Man is

Lord of the Sabbath.”

 

λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι τοῦ ἱεροῦ μεῖζόν ἐστιν ὧδε.

εἰ δὲ ἐγνώκειτε τί ἐστιν Ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν, οὐκ ἂν κατεδικάσατε τοὺς ἀναιτίους.

κύριος γάρ ἐστιν τοῦ σαββάτου ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

 

Mark, chapter 2:27-28, has a similar saying to this, so that he may be the source of this saying.  Matthew has Jesus begin with a solemn proclamation (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν).  Something or someone greater than the Temple is here (ὅτι τοῦ ἱεροῦ μεῖζόν ἐστιν ὧδε), a clear reference to Jesus himself.  Too bad, that they did not know what the saying about mercy was all about (εἰ δὲ ἐγνώκειτε τί ἐστιν).  Matthew then used the same citation of Hosea that he had earlier in chapter 9:13.  Jesus explained that he desired mercy (τί ἐστιν Ἔλεος θέλω), and not sacrifices (καὶ οὐ θυσίαν), based on Hosea, chapter 6:6, where the essential message was that Yahweh wanted real faithful love, not mere sacrifices.  Hosea wanted the Israelites to have real knowledge of God, rather than worry about burnt offerings.  Thus, the Pharisees would not have condemned the innocent or guiltless ones (οὐκ ἂν κατεδικάσατε τοὺς ἀναιτίους) since Jesus and his disciples had done nothing wrong.  The Son of Man was the Lord of the Sabbath (κύριος γάρ ἐστιν τοῦ σαββάτου ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου).  Jesus then could control the Sabbath, not the other way around.  Instead of the Sabbath as a gift to humans, Jesus would reinterpret the laws of the Sabbath as the Lord of the Sabbath.

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John as Elijah (Mt 11:13-11:15)

“All the prophets

And the law

Prophesied

Until John came.

If you are willing

To accept it,

He is Elijah,

Who is to come.

Let anyone with ears

Listen!”

 

πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάνου ἐπροφήτευσαν

καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι, αὐτός ἐστιν Ἡλείας ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι

ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω

 

This saying of Jesus, via Matthew, was based on the prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, where Yahweh said that he was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  Mark has something similar in chapter 9:11-13.  Matthew repeated this saying later in chapter 17:11-13, where Jesus again compared John to Elijah.  There was no question here.  All the prophets and the law had prophesized until the time of John the Baptist (πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάνου ἐπροφήτευσαν).  Then Jesus said that John was the new Elijah (αὐτός ἐστιν Ἡλείας), the one who was to come (ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι).  However, they had to be willing to accept this (καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι).  Anyone who had ears to hear should listen to this (ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω).

 

Old Testament scriptural quotation about John (Mt 11:10-11:10)

“This is the one

About whom

It is written.

‘See!

I am sending

My messenger

Ahead of you.

He will prepare

Your way

Before you.’”

 

οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου.

 

This written passage about John (οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται) is from the prophet Malachi, chapter 3:1, although not explicitly mentioned here.  This saying about John the Baptist can be found word for word in Luke, chapter 7:27.  Thus, this may have been a Q source about John, like many of the other passages about John.  Actually, Mark, chapter 1:2, had part of this saying as the beginning of his gospel when he introduced John.  In Malachi, Yahweh was going to send his messenger or angel before him or his face (Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου) to prepare the way for him (ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου).  Originally, Yahweh would re-enter into his Temple, because the messenger of the delightful covenant had prepared things for him.  There is no mention of the Temple here.  John was clearly inferior to Jesus, since he was there to prepare the way for Jesus as his messenger, much like an angel of God.

The citation from Hosea about mercy (Mt 9:13-9:13)

“Go!

Learn what this means!

‘I desire mercy,

Not sacrifice!

I have come

Not to call the righteous,

But sinners.’”

 

πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε τί ἐστιν Ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν· οὐ γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς.

 

This response of Jesus is almost the same as in Mark, chapter 2:17, and Luke, chapter 5;31.  Jesus explained that they ought to learn what he means (πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε), because he desired mercy (τί ἐστιν Ἔλεος θέλω), and not sacrifices (καὶ οὐ θυσίαν).  This was based on Hosea, chapter 6:6, where the essential message was that Yahweh wanted real faithful love, not mere sacrifices.  Hosea wanted the Israelites to have real knowledge of God, rather than worry about burnt offerings.  Jesus had come not to call the people who were righteous already (γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους), but to call the sinners (ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλούς).

Jesus is homeless (Mt 8:20-8:20)

“Jesus said to him.

‘Foxes have holes.

Birds of the air

Have nests.

But the Son of Man

Has nowhere

To lay his head.’”

 

καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσιν καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις, ὁ δὲ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ.

 

This saying of Jesus is exactly the same in Luke, chapter 9:58, indicating a possible Q source.  Jesus responded to this scribe (καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς) by telling him that he was homeless.  Foxes had foxholes (Αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσιν).  Birds of the air had nests (καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις).  However, the Son of Man (ὁ δὲ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) had nowhere to put his head (οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ).  This is the first instance of Matthew having Jesus say that he was the “Son of Man” (Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου), since this might be based on the Book of Daniel, chapter 7:13.  Daniel also saw in his night vision that the “son of man” was coming from heaven.  This Son of Man went to the Ancient One and presented himself to God.  However, he was given dominion, glory and kingship over all people, nations, and languages.  Everyone would serve him, since his kingdom would last forever, and never be destroyed.  This has been often interpreted as the coming of the Messiah, the savior.  Jesus and his disciples used this term.  However, in the Book of Ezekiel, Yahweh used this term for Ezekiel.  So that, the “Son of Man” may also mean that Jesus was trying to point out his humanity, like everyone else.

The first part of the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:9-6:10)

“Pray then in this way!

‘Our Father

In heaven!

Holy be your name!

Let your kingdom come!

Your will be done,

On earth,

As it is in heaven.’”

 

οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς· Ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου·

ἐλθάτω ἡ βασιλεία σου· γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς·

 

Matthew, as well as Luke, chapter 11:2-3, both have the “Lord’s Prayer,” “The Our Father,” with only slightly different versions, perhaps indicating a Q source.  The text in Luke is shorter than here, since Matthew has 7 demands of God, one of his favorite numbers.  The first part of the prayer is about the glory of God himself, the Father.  Jesus simply tells them to pray like this (οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς).  The Greek word for praying “προσεύχεσθε” means an exchange of wishes.  Jesus opened this prayer with a call to their common “our” Father (Πάτερ ἡμῶν) who is in the heavens (ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς).  The heavenly father was a major theme throughout Matthew.  His name should be holy (Ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου), just as in the Hebrew scriptures where the name of Yahweh was holy, especially Psalm 105:1-5.  His kingdom should come (ἐλθάτω ἡ βασιλεία σου).  His will should be done (γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου) on earth (καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς), just as it is done in heaven (ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ).  Obviously following the will of God, Yahweh, was a common theme of Judaic life.  The followers of Jesus would not be exempt from following the will of their heavenly Father.

Love your enemy (Mt 5:43-5:44)

“You have heard

That it was said.

‘You shall love

Your neighbor!

You shall hate

Your enemy!’

But I say to you.

Love your enemies!

Pray for those

Who persecute you!’”

 

Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου καὶ μισήσεις τὸν ἐχθρόν σου.

ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν διωκόντων ὑμᾶς·

 

Luke has something similar to this in chapter 6:33, but Matthew is more forceful here.  Once again, Matthew begins by asking them to recall what they have heard said (Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη) about loving their neighbors (Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου), based on the holiness code in Leviticus, chapter 19:18.  However, the next phrase, about hating your enemies (καὶ μισήσεις τὸν ἐχθρόν σου), cannot be found in any Hebrew biblical texts.  However, the reading of the psalms, and the general attitude prior to the exile indicates that the Israelites did not generally wish well on their enemies.  They often asked Yahweh to come and destroy their enemies.  Hate was not encouraged, it was just there.  Then Matthew has this solemn strong announcement from Jesus (ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν), without ambiguity.  They were to love their enemies (ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν) and even pray for those who were persecuting them (καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν διωκόντων ὑμᾶς).  Perhaps, many of the followers of Jesus at the time of Matthew’s writing were actually being persecuted.  In fact, the Byzantine text added here a couple of phrases to elaborate on this.  These followers of Jesus were asked to bless those cursing them (εὐλογεῖτε τοὺς καταρωμένους ὑμᾶς).  They were to do good to those who were spitefully accusing them, hating them, and persecuting them (καλῶς ποιεῖτε τοῖς μισοῦσιν ὑμᾶς, καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν ἐπηρεαζόντων ὑμᾶς, καὶ διωκόντων ὑμᾶς).  These early Christians were asked to be generous to their enemies and persecutors.