DIFFICULTIES  OF  THE  BIBLE


CONTINUED



The New Testament and the Old Testament



Why is it that many of the Old Testament quotations in the New Testament are not literal?



Many careful Bible students have noticed this phenomenon. Often this is accounted for by the fact that a completely literal translation from the Hebrew does not make clear sense in Greek; therefore some minor adjustments must be made for the sake of good communication. But in a few instances the rewording amounts to a sort of loose paraphrase. This is particularly true of quotations from the Septuagint (the translation into Greek of the entire Old Testament by Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, during the third and second centuries B.C.). Generally, the Septuagint is faithful to the Hebrew wording in the Old Testament, but in some instances there are noticeable deviations in the mode of expressing the thought, even though there may be no essential difference in the thought itself.


Some scholars have concluded from such deviations that the New Testament authors did not hold to the theory of verbal inspiration; otherwise they would have gone back to the Hebrew text and done a meticulously exact translation of their own as they rendered that text into Greek. It has even been argued that the occasional use of an inexact Septuagint rendering in a New Testament quotation demonstrates a rejection of inerrancy on the part of the apostolic authors themselves. Their inclusion of Septuagint quotations containing elements of inexactitude seems to indicate a cavalier attitude toward the whole matter of inerrancy. On the basis of inference from the phenomena of Scripture itself, it is therefore argued that the Bible makes no claim to inerrancy.


To this line of reasoning we make the following reply. The very reason for using the Septuagint was rooted in the missionary outreach of the evangelists and apostles of the early church. The Septuagint had already found its way into every city of the Roman Empire to which the Jews of the Dispersion had gone. This was virtually the only form of the Old Testament the Jewish believers outside Palestine had, and it was certainly the only form available to Gentile converts to the Jewish faith or to Christianity. The apostles were propagating a gospel that presented Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the messianic promises of the Old Testament. Their audiences throughout the Near East and the Mediterranean world were told to consult the Old Testament to verify the truth of the apostolic claims, that Jesus in His person and work had fulfilled the promises of God. Had the New Testament authors quoted these promises in any form other than the wording of the Septuagint, they would have engendered uncertainty and doubt in the minds of their hearers. For as they checked their Old Testament, the readers would have noticed the discrepancies at once—minor though they may have been—and would with one voice have objected, "But that isn't the way I read it in my Bible!" The apostles and their Jewish coworkers from Palestine may have been well-equipped to do their own original translation from the Hebrew original. But they would have been ill-advised to substitute their own more literal rendering for that form of the Old Testament that was already in the hands of their public. They really had little choice but to keep largely to the Septuagint in all their quotations of the Old Testament.


On the other hand, the special Hebrew-Christian audience to which the evangelist Matthew addressed himself—and even more notably the recipients of the Epistle to the Hebrews— did not require such a constant adherence to the Septuagint as was necessary for a Gentile readership. Hence Matthew and Hebrews often quote from the Old Testament in a non-Septuagintal form, normally in a form somewhat closer to the wording of the Hebrew original.


It should also be observed that in a few cases, at least, the Greek renderings (whether Septuagintal or not) of the Old Testament point to a variant reading in the original form of the text that is better than the one that has come down to us in the standard Hebrew Bible. It should be carefully noted that none of this yields any evidence whatever of carelessness or disregard on the part of the apostles in respect to the exact wording of the original Hebrew. Far from it! In some instances Christ Himself based His teaching on a careful exegesis of the exact reading in the Torah. For example, He pointed out in Matthew 22:32 the implications of Exodus 3:6 ("I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob") on the basis of the present tense implied by the verbless clause in Hebrew. He declared that God would not have spoken of Himself as the God of mere corpses moldering in the grave ("God is not the God of the dead but of the living"). Therefore Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must have been alive and well in the life beyond when God addressed Moses at the burning bush, four or five centuries later. Similarly Christ's discussion with the Pharisees concerning the identity of the one referred to as "my Lord" in Psalm 110:1 really turned on the exact terms used in that clause or sentence. He therefore asked them, "If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his son?" (Matt. 22:45, NASB). In other words, the Messiah must not only be David's lineal descendant, but He must also be his divine Lord (kyrios).


Returning, then, to the apostolic use of the Septuagint, we find that this line of reasoning (that inexact quotations imply a low view of the Bible) is really without foundation. All of us employ translations of the Bible in our teaching and preaching, even those of us who are thoroughly conversant with the Greek and Hebrew originals. But our use of any translation in English, French, or any other modern language by no means implies that we have abandoned a belief in scriptural inerrancy, even though some errors of translation appear in every modern version. We use these standard translations to teach our readers in terms they can verify from the Bibles they have. But most of us are careful to point out to them that the only final authority as to the meaning of Scripture is the wording of the original languages themselves. There is no infallible translation. But this involves no surrender of the  conviction  that  the  original manuscripts of Scripture were free from all error. We must therefore conclude that the New Testament use of the Septuagint implies nothing against verbal inspiration or scriptural in-rancy.


[FOR  A  FURTHER  KINDA  BLOW  YOU  AWAY  STUDY,  YOU  NEED  TO  READ  AND  MEDITATE  ON  THE  STUDY  ON  THIS  WEBSITE  CALLED  “HOW  DID  PAUL  USE  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT”  IT  IS  UNDER  “ABOUT  APOSTLES  AND  OTHER  DISCIPLES”  STUDY #34  -  Keith Hunt]


Doesn't the Old Testament present a different kind of God than the New Testament?



It is commonly thought by those who have not studied the Bible very carefully that the Old Testament presents a God who is full of vengeance and wrath as He enforces the standards of righteousness, whereas the New Testament reveals Him to be full of compassion and love, always seeking to forgive and restore guilty sinners. In point of fact, however, the Hebrew Scriptures (partly because they make up three-fourths of the Bible) contain far more verses on the mercy and lovingkindness of God than the New Testament does. Deuteronomy lays the greatest emphasis on the faithful, unquenchable love of God for His people. Deuteronomy 7:8 says, "But because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt" (NASB). Psalm 103:13 reads, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him" (NASB). Verse 17 says, "But the loving-kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children" (NASB). Jeremiah 31:3 has the same message: "The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness'" (NIV). Psalm 136 affirms no less than twenty-six times that "His [Yahweh's] love endures forever."


In the New Testament there is a tremendous display of the love of God. In fact, the supreme display is in the sacrifice of His only Son on the cross of Calvary; and no one ever spoke more movingly about the love of God the Father than did His Son in the Sermon on the Mount, in John in 3:16, and throughout the Gospels. Perhaps no sublimer words can be found than Romans 8:31-38, which describes the unfailing and unquenchable love of God for His children.


But at the same time it should also be observed that the New Testament teaches the wrath of God just as forcefully as the Old Testament does. John 3:36 says, "But he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (NASB). Romans 1:18 states, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (NASB). Again, in Romans 2:5-6 we read, "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds" (NASB). And consider 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9:


For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (NASB).


This theme recurs right through to the end of the New Testament, as in Revelation 6:15-17: "And the kings of the earth and the great men ... hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?'" (NASB). No passage in the Old Testament can compare with the fearsome description of God's judicial wrath found in Revelation 14:9-11. Truly our just and holy God is "a consuming fire"—in both Testaments, the Old and the New (Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29).


The portrait of God is altogether consistent throughout the sixty-six books of the Bible. God's wrath is the reverse side of His love. As the up-holder of the moral law—and He would be an unholy, Satan-like God if He failed to uphold it— God must pass judgment and execute sentence on every unrepentant sinner, whether demon or man. The sacrifice of His Son on the cross was the supreme exhibition of God's indignation against sin, for in the hour of final agony even Jesus had to cry out with anguish of soul, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" And yet the Cross was also the supreme revelation of His unfathomable love, for it was the God-man who suffered there for us, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.


[AS  PROVED  IN  MANY  STUDIES  ON  THIS  WEBSITE,  THE  GOD  OF  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT  WAS  THE  ONE  WHO  BECAME  GOD  IN  THE  FLESH - JESUS  THE  CHRIST,  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT  -  HIS  LOVE  AND  JUSTICE  -  HIS  VERY  CHARACTER  NEVER  CHANGES— HEBREWS  13: 8  -  Keith Hunt] 




The Synoptic Gospels

Why  are  there  differences  among  the synoptic Gospels?



Of the three Synoptists, only Matthew was one of the twelve disciples. Mark seems to have been an assistant to Peter, at least according to church tradition; but he probably accompanied the Twelve much of the time during Jesus' later ministry. At least the special mention (found only in Mark) of a certain young man who fled away naked from the scene of the arrest at Gethsemane quite possibly refers to him, even though he does not give his name. Luke became associated with Paul on his first journey to Macedonia (Acts 16:10), and later became intimate with the Jerusalem apostles and Jesus' mother, as he devoted himself to a careful biography of Jesus' life. Apparendy Luke was not a Jew (unlike the other NT authors), if we may judge from Colossians 4:11 and 14. Evidently he had enjoyed a fine education in literary Greek, even though much of his narration was couched in simple Hebrew style (contrast Luke 1:1-4 and the remainder of that chapter). John, of course, was one of the inner circle of the original Twelve; and he composed his gospel after the Synoptics had been published. Much of his material consisted of private discourses spoken to believers who were more mature in their understanding and faith.


As we compare the accounts given by each of the three Synoptists, we find a special set of emphases or circle of interests that characterizes each of them and exerts a controlling influence on their selection of material— both as to what they include and as to what they leave out. Even in the manner of arranging their material, there are differences appropriate to their own special perspective. They have about fifty-three units in common among themselves. Matthew has forty-two units unique to him, Mark has only seven, and Luke has fifty-nine (there are ninety-two in John) according to Westcott's tabulation. About one-half of Mark is found in Matthew, but only one-fourth of Luke. As we investigate cases of divergence between the three Synoptics, it may be helpful to recognize their special emphases and concerns as they relate to us the life of our Lord.


Matthew lays special emphasis on Christ as the Messiah and King who fulfills the promises and predictions of the Hebrew Scriptures. He seems to have a Jewish constituency in view as he brings in numerous quotations from the Old Testament, many of which are not from the Septuagint (as the other Evangelists' quotations tend to be), but which show a greater faithfulness to the Masoretic text (the standard form of the Hebrew that has come down to us today). This indicates that his audience is not dependent on a Greek translation; and this serves as a confirmation that the original form of his gospel was "in Hebrew" (this statement is found not only in Papias [A.D. 130] in his "Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord" [cited by Eusebius] but also in Irenaeus, Origen, and Jerome). By "Hebrew" Papias probably meant the Jewish dialect of Aramaic. Apparently only afterwards was Matthew's gospel translated into Greek, the form in which it has come down to us. Matthew makes more frequent reference to the law of Moses than the others do, and he uses the pious Jewish locution "kingdom of heaven" as a substitute for "the kingdom of God" in the oral teaching of Jesus. (This tendency to refer to God by the locution "Heaven" is also apparent in the Mishnaic Jewish tradition of the rabbis, but not in the Aramaic Targums, which use the phrase "kingdom of God" almost as consistently as Mark, Luke, and John. Matthew himself uses "kingdom of heaven" thirty-two times and "kingdom of God" only four times [12:28; 19:24; 21:31,43]. The probabilities are that Jesus used both expressions, but Matthew used "of heaven" as more congenial to his special audience, the Palestinian Jews.)


[IT  IS  BY  NO  MEANS  CERTAIN  THAT  MATTHEW  WROTE  IN  HEBREW  OR  ARAMAIC;  IF  HE  DID,  NOTHING  HAS  BEEN  HANDED  DOWN  IN  EITHER  LANGUAGE,  WHICH  IS  I  BELIEVE  MIGHTY  STRANGE;  WHAT  SOME  EARLY  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  “FATHERS”  HAVE  SAID  MEANS  NOTHING  IN  THE  LIGHT  OF  TRUTH  -  Keith Hunt]


The Palestinian focus is also found in Matthew's attention to details about contemporary Jewish life and religious customs. The teaching of Jesus was designed to correct unsound interpretations of the Torah that were sophistic evasions of the true intent of God's law; these receive special emphasis in Matthew's gospel. Matthew devotes particular attention to Jesus' teaching ministry and tends to group logically cohesive themes of instruction into major blocks, of which there are four outstanding examples. Especially prominent are (1) the Sermon on the Mount (which may have been delivered all at one time, though it must have been partially repeated elsewhere, judging from the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:17-49); (2) the parables of the kingdom, which are similarly collected in Matthew 13:1-52 but tend to occur separately in Mark and Luke; (3) the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 which does not substantially differ from Mark 13 and Luke 21; but insofar as it is tied right in with Matthew 25 (the foolish virgins, the parable of the talents, and the judgment of the nations), it does represent a cluster grouping not found in the others; and (4) the long denunciation of Pharisaical hypocrisy and casuistry in Matthew 23, which is not found in the others.


There is also an interesting tension between the theme of salvation through Christ as being primarily intended for the Jews (in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises and the widening of its scope to the Gentile nations in accordance with the Great Commission [Matt. 28:16-19]). On the one hand, Jesus emphasizes that His primary mission was to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (15:24), and that was the ground of His tendency to avoid any of the Gentile areas around Palestine (10:5). (Only Mark 7 mentions Jesus' short visit to the region of Tyre.) Jesus even encourages His disciples to follow the teaching of the law of Moses as explained by the scribes and Pharisees (23:2) [WELL   FROM  ALL  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT  THIS  WOULD  ONLY  MEAN  FOLLOW  THEM  AS  OR  WHEN  THEY  ARE  CORRECT  -  Keith Hunt] On the other hand, Matthew alone records the visit of the Gentile Magi soon after Christ's birth (2:1-12), as if to emphasize the potential outreach of Christ's rule to all the nations of the earth. In the record he gives of the parable of the wicked husbandmen, Matthew records the full text of Jesus' judgment on His unbelieving countrymen: "Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that produces the fruits of it" (21:43). The parallels in Mark and Luke summarize His statement by saying simply "shall be given to others."


Mark is not so much concerned with Jesus as the messianic Prophet as he is with Jesus as the Conqueror over Satan, sin, sickness, and death—the Man of action who triumphs as the Suffering Servant (Isa. 53). Mark focuses on Jesus' dynamism and redemptive deeds rather than on His philosophy and theological teaching. In this biography the action moves rapidly, and the characteristic word is "straightway" (euthys). The church tradition that Mark, having served at first with Barnabas and Paul, became an assistant to Peter at Rome (if Peter in fact did go to Rome) may be correct. If so, much of his narrative concerning Christ would have tended to summarize Peter's own characteristic presentation of Christ's life and deeds, with its heavy emphasis on the suffering of Christ and the events of Passion Week (chaps. 11 -16), nearly two-fifths of the entire text of the Gospel). The detailed reference to Simon of Cyrene, who bore Christ's cross, as the "father of Alexander and Rufus" may tie in with the Rufus mentioned in Romans 16:13 as a member of the Christian community in Rome. Mark has several interesting quotations from Jesus' ipsissima verba in His native Aramaic, such as Boanerges (rendered "Sons of thunder") in Mark 3:17; ephphatha (for 'etpattah, meaning "open up!") in 7:34; talitha koum(i) (rendered "Maiden, arise!") in 5:41; and Eloi (or better Eli) lema sabachthani (rendered "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?") in 15:34. These sound like explanations intended for Dispersion Jews unfamiliar with Aramaic or for Gentiles, who might especially appreciate these interpretations. Mark also took particular pains to explain Jewish religious customs (cf. 7:3ff.). Clark Pinnock summarizes Mark's emphasis by saying that Mark is especially concerned to present Jesus as the "Son of God, the glorious Son of man, and the Redeemer" (in Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, 2:786).


Luke  came  to  his  task  from  the perspective of an educated Greek, a physician who took a special interest in the details of Christ's miracles of healing. He was concerned to present a comprehensive, historically accurate biography of Jesus as the perfect Son of Man, bringing out His excellencies and surpassing tenderness in dealing with people.


It was his announced purpose to set forth a carefully researched account, "having investigated everything carefully from the beginning," so that Theophilus and his other readers "might know the exact truth" about the words and deeds of the Lord Jesus. The terms akribos kathexes ("accurately in correct order") indicate his policy of following fairly strict chronological order in the arrangement of his material and also of including biographical material omitted by the other Synop-tists that he felt would help complete the portrait of Jesus in all its beauty and grandeur. (One notable departure from chronological order may be found in his account of Christ's wilderness temptation, and even that exception is disputed by many scholars.) Luke includes more details of our Lord's life than do the other Evangelists. He gives all the background for the birth of John the Baptist and includes all the prophetic utterances that accompanied John's birth as well as that of Jesus. Luke alone records the angelic annunciation to Mary, the visit of the shepherds to Bethlehem, and the birth of our Lord in a stable. He alone narrates Jesus’ presentation in the temple, the prophecy of Simeon, and Jesus' adventure in Jerusalem as a lad of twelve. In chapter 4 Luke tells of Jesus' rejection by the angry mob at Nazareth and alone relates the story of the raising of the dead son of the widow of Nain (7:11-17).


Much interest is devoted to Jesus' dealings with women and children and His tender regard and consideration for them. Luke mentions not only well-known   women   like   Mary   and Martha (who figure so prominently in John's gospel) but also a good many others (perhaps as many as thirteen) not mentioned elsewhere. Of particular moment is the emphasis on Jesus' concern for those who were considered social outcasts, such as Samaritans and publicans (like Matthew-Levi and Zacchaeus), the band of ten lepers (17:11-19), the weeping women of Jerusalem (23:27-31), and the repentant thief who hung on the cross beside Him (23:39-43). Valuable details omitted by others pertain to important developments on Easter Sunday, such as His meeting with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and His first visit to the assembled disciples after the Crucifixion (24:36-39). Luke alone gives us details of Christ's ascension from the Mount of Olives (24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11).


In his zeal for accuracy and precision, Luke used about 180 terms in his gospel that occur nowhere else in the New Testament, and many of them are rare and technical. He devotes special attention to various types of disease and physical sufferings, such as the "great fever" that afflicted Peter's mother-in-law (4:38). Especially noteworthy is his description of Christ's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, with His sweat dropping from His face and frame like great drops of blood (22:44). Similar attention to detail characterizes Luke's other book, Acts, where in chapter 28, for example, he describes the shipwreck at Melita (Malta)—using at least 17 nautical terms with technical accuracy—the deadly adder that failed to do Paul any harm by its venomous fangs, and the fever and dysentery that afflicted Publius.


Luke, then, is preeminently the gospel of Christ's humanity and of His surpassing love and tenderness as the Son of Man. Also, Luke is certainly the most comprehensive of the four biographers in covering the details of Christ's earthly life.


The purpose of this brief characterization of each of the three Synoptists has been to furnish some sort of guideline or rationale in accounting for what each Evangelist includes in his record and what he omitted, and for the particular manner of his presentation. But it should be understood that all three of them accurately related the events of Christ's career and the words of His mouth, even though they included only what was pertinent to their particular approach. When any room is photographed in a person's home, the camera may well capture different views of the contents, depending on the angle from which the picture is shot. All of them are accurate, even though they are by no means identical. The same is true with a classroom of students who are engaged in taking notes on their teacher's lecture. Each student will note at least a few details that are not reported by the others, and yet none of them will be making a false report of what the instructor said.


In the same way we are to fit together the testimony of each of the three Synoptists. Each one is on the alert for details that fit in with his own special view of Jesus, and so there are naturally going to be inclusions and omissions that correspond with the particular aim of each Evangelist. (Students of classical Greek literature notice a similar phenomenon in regard to Plato's portrait of Socrates, his revered teacher in Athens, and the quite different emphasis of Xenophon, who was another of Socrates' pupils. Plato dwells on his teacher's skill in dialogue and his masterful treatment of philosophical themes: Xenophon in the Symposium concentrates on the character and personality of Socrates, as indicated by various anecdotes from personal experience. The two witnesses bring out different aspects of their master, but neither is in error!)


As we deal with episodes in our Lord's life that are of such importance that all three (or even John as well) furnish an account, our task is to line them up beside one another and see how each fits in with or supplements the others. In almost every case, a careful consideration will yield a synthetic account that bears a resemblance to a stereophonic player as contrasted with a monaural player, or a trio of monaural recorders. Some writers deprecate Tatian's Diatessaron (which interweaves material from all four Gospels to form a composite, sequential account of Jesus' works and words), but with dubious justification. Essentially the same method is followed in every inquest or court hearing where a multiplicity of witnesses are to be heard. Each of them may contribute differing details that bear on the case, but the judge and jury that hear the various testimonies are expected to fit together the contribution of each witness into a self-consistent, coherent picture of the entire episode or transaction.


Bible critics who have never had any training in the law of evidences may decry the "harmonistic method" all they wish; but like it or not, it is essentially the harmonistic method that is followed every day that court is in session throughout the civilized world. This method has a very definite bearing on valid procedures in biblical criticism, as well as in the practical conduct of a tort or criminal action, or even a contract case in a court of law, today. Then the critics would find that most of their artificial, logically fallacious and basically biased approaches to the text of Holy Scripture would be successfully challenged by even the most inexperienced attorney and thrown out by the presiding judge. From a truly scientific and objective approach such as is followed in a responsibly conducted action at law, the three Synoptists have nothing to fear so far as credibility and verification are concerned. The same is true with the rest of Scripture.


Matthew


From which of David's sons was Jesus descended? In Matthew 1:6 Jesus' ancestry is traced through Solomon, while in Luke 3:31 it is traced through Nathan. 



Matthew 1:1-16 gives the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, who was himself a descendant of King David. As Joseph's adopted Son, Jesus became his legal heir, so far as his inheritance was concerned. Notice carefully the wording of v. 16: "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ" (NASB). This stands in contrast to the format followed in the preceding verses of the succession of Joseph's ancestors: "Abraham begat [egennesen] Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, etc." Joseph is not said to have begotten Jesus; rather he is referred to as "the husband of Mary, of whom [feminine genitive] Jesus was born."


Luke 3:23-38, on the other hand, seems to record the genealogical line of Mary herself, carried all the way back beyond the time of Abraham to Adam and the commencement of the human race. This seems to be implied by the wording of v.23: "Jesus... being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph." This "as was supposed" indicates that Jesus was not really the biological son of Joseph, even though this was commonly assumed by the public. It further calls attention to the mother, Mary, who must of necessity have been the sole human parent through whom Jesus could have descended from a line of ancestors. Her genealogy is thereupon listed, starting with Heli, who was actually Joseph's father-in-law, in contradistinction to Joseph's own father, Jacob (Matt. 1:16). Mary's line of descent came through Nathan, a son of Bathsheba (or "Bathshua," according to 1 Chron. 3:5), the wife of David. Therefore, Jesus was descended from David naturally through Nathan and legally through Solomon.


Does not Matthew 1:9 err in listing Uzziah as the father of Jotham?



Matthew 1:9, which gives the genealogy of Jesus through His legal father, Joseph, states, "Ozias begat Joatham." These are the Greek forms of Uzziah and Jotham. Some are confused by this mention of Uzziah, because Jotham's father is called Azariah in 2 Kings 15:1-7 and in 1 Chronicles 3:12. On the other hand, 2 Kings 15:32,34 calls him Uzziah rather than Azariah and refers to him as the father of Jotham. The same is true of 2 Chronicles 26:1-23; 27:2; Isaiah 1:1; 6:1; 7:1. The names are different, but they refer to the same king; 'zarydh ("Azariah") means "Yahweh has helped," whereas 'uzzi-yahu ("Uzziah") means "Yahweh is my strength." The reason for the two names is not given in the biblical record, but the fact that he bore them both (perhaps Azariah was later replaced by Uzziah) is beyond dispute.


There are various reasons for the acquisition of second names in the case of Israel's leaders. Gideon acquired the name Jerubbaal because of his destruction of the altar of Baal at Ophrah (Judg. 6:32; 7:1; 8:29, etc.). Rehoboam's son Abijam was also called Abijah (cf. 1 Kings 14:31; 15:1, 7-8 for Abijam and 1 Chron. 3:10; 2 Chron. 12:16 for Abijah). Jehoahaz son of Josiah also bore the name of Shallum (2 Kings 23:21 and 1 Chron. 3:15; Jer. 22:11). Jehoiakim, Josiah's oldest son, was originally named Eliakim; but Pharaoh Necho changed his name to Jehoiakim (i.e., "Yahweh will establish" rather than "God will establish"), according to 2 Kings 23:34. Likewise Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim was also known as Jeconiah, and Zedekiah's original name was Mattaniah.


Astrology is condemned in the Bible as a form of idolatry. Yet in Matthew 2:2 the birth of Christ was told to the Magi by the appearance of His star in the heavens. How can this be? 


First of all, we need to define astrology as a superstitious belief in the movement or the position of the planets and stars as forewarnings of the will of the gods (or the forces of fate), which the devotees of astrology may somehow cope with by taking some sort of evasive or preventive action. Or else, as with the horoscopes and study of the signs of the zodiac so much in vogue today, astrology may indicate special potentialities in those born under a certain constellation, or signify good or bad luck for activities that might be engaged in during that particular day. In ancient pre-Christian times, this concern for astrology was accompanied by actual worship of the heavenly bodies in a ritualistic way. All who carried on such practices in ancient Israel were subject to execution by stoning (Deut. 17:2-7).


In the case of the natal star of Christ, however, none of the above elements was involved. The star the Magi saw in the East constituted an announcement that the Christ child had been born. We know this because of the scope of Herod's command to his corps of butchers sent to Bethlehem: "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi" (Matt. 2:16, NIV). Therefore the star must have appeared when Jesus was born, and it must have required the Magi more than a year to get to Jerusalem and have their interview with Herod. The star was not a forewarning but the announcement of an already accomplished fact.


Second, no worship of false gods or of deterministic powers of fate was involved in this pilgrimage of the Magi. They simply received God's announcement through the star as requiring them to seek the newborn King, because they understood that He was destined to be Ruler over the entire world—including their own country (which might have been Persia, since the Magi were most active there in ancient times). They therefore decided to make up a caravan for the group (whether there were three of them or more, we cannot be sure, except perhaps for the three types of gifts mentioned: gold, frankincense, and myrrh) and conduct a pilgrimage to the kingdom of the Jews. They wished to do homage to the God-sent Baby destined to become King of the Jews and of the whole earth as well.


Third, it should be understood that the Scripture speaks in several other passages of divine announcements in the heavens set forth by the sun, moon, and stars. For example, Jesus speaks of "the sign of the Son of Man" that will "appear in the sky,... with power and great glory" (Matt. 24:30, NIV). It is fair to assume that this sign will include the sun, moon, or stars—though it could be some sort of blazing apparition. But certainly at Pentecost the apostle Peter, quoting from Joel 2:28-32, was referring to these signs of the Second Coming when he said, "I will show wonders in the heaven above.... The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord" (Acts 2:19-20, NIV). These celestial manifestations have nothing to do with astrology as a pagan superstition.


One last word about the star of Bethlehem. Much speculation and astronomical calculation have been devoted to the question of how such a bright and outstanding star could have been visible to the Magi. Some have suggested that there was an unusual lining up of planets or stars so that their combined light could have produced such a noteworthy brilliance. While such a cause might be assigned to the appearance of the original star, it is highly unlikely that any normal star was capable of directing its glow so specifically over Bethlehem that the wise men could identify the place where the Christ child was then residing. And yet according to Matthew 2:9, "The star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was." This was plainly a supernatural star sent by God for their special guidance.


[NO  STAR  CAN  SHINE  OR  STAN D  OVER  A  HOUSE;  THE  SIMPLE  ANSWER  IS  THAT  ANGELS  ARE  OFTEN  REFERRED  TO  AS  STARS— SEE  REVELATION  CHAPTER  ONE.  THIS  WAS  THEN  A  STAR-ANGEL  AND  CERTAINLY  THAT  ANGEL  COULD  STAND  OVER  THE  HOUSE  WHERE  JESUS  WAS  -  Keith Hunt]



Is not Matthew 2:6 a distortion of Micah 5:2 that significantly alters its meaning?


There are several minor variants in wording as between the Hebrew text of Micah 5:2 and the quotation of it in Matthew 2:6. There is also one major deviation of an unusual sort: a negative has apparently been substituted for a positive. As seems often to be the case, Matthew did not quote from the Septuagint version (LXX) but from some other Greek translation, possibly Proto-Theodotion. Actually the LXX is very close to the Masoretic text (MT) in this verse, and its only deviations are minimal concessions to Greek idiom. But Matthew used a more paraphrastic version, or perhaps injected a bit of interpretation as he dealt directly with the Hebrew original, endeavoring to bring out implications rather than giving a merely literal rendering.


In the first clause, addressed to Bethlehem, the house of Ephrathah, Matthew substitutes for "Ephrathah" the phrase "land of Judah." The LXX uses "house of Judah," as if repeating after lehem the bet that appears before it. Matthew may have derived from the etymology of Ephrathah a poetic name for Judah as "Fruitful One" (from the root p-r-y, "fruit" or "be fruitful") the rendering above given.


The MT and the LXX agree in rendering the second clause "Thou art small to be among the thousands of Judah." Surprisingly enough, Matthew injects a strong negative in this main clause. Where the other two say positively, "Thou art small [sa'ir; LXX says 'very small' (oligostos)] to be among the thousands of Judah [be'ale pi Vhudah; LXX has en chiliasin Ionda], "Matthew resorts to a paraphrase in order to bring out the implication behind the positive statement used by Micah himself. In other words, if Micah is saying to Bethlehem that it is small in size to be reckoned among the thousand-family towns of Judah, yet the messianic ruler is destined to come from there, this adds up to the insight that Bethlehem is really a very important town indeed, one of commanding leadership. Consequently Matthew feels justified in commencing the clause with a strong negative; that is, if the promised Messiah is destined to come out of Bethlehem, then it is by no means the least in Judah, despite the modest size of its normal population. So Matthew ends up with "Thou art by no means [oudamos] least among the rulers of Judah."


The second variation in the second clause has to do with the treatment of the word lapim, "thousands"—which even the LXX renders as chiliasin (dative plural of chilias, "a thousand"). Matthew 2:6 refers to it as hegemosin ("rulers"). How can this change be justified? Well, in this context it is clear that it is a town that is being addressed, rather than a literal army unit. Possibly towns were so referred to (cf. 1 Sam. 23:23) because they contained a thousand families, or else because they were capable of mustering at least a thousand men-at-arms for the national militia. The standard term for a subdivision of a tribe was either mispahah ("family," "clan," "sub-tribe") or else 'elep (1 Sam. 10:19,21). From that specific submeaning it was but a step to refer to its military commander or civil ruler by the same term, just as the latin centurio ("centurion") was derived from centuria ("a company of one hundred soldiers").


There is also a possibility, however, that Matthew (or the non-Septuagintal Greek version from which he was quoting) read 'allupim (actually in the construct plural, 'ailupe) instead of MT's 'alepe ("thousands of). This would involve no change of spelling in the consonants themselves, and vowel points were not added to the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible until about A.D. 700. 'Allu-pim is the plural of 'allup ("chieftain," "colonel in command of a thousand troops"). This is adequately rendered by higemon ("ruler") and would therefore justify Matthew's interpretation of this term. For all we know, this was the word Micah actually intended to write back in the late eighth century B.C., when the waw, which is characteristic of post-Exilic orthography, had not yet been introduced into the spelling of this word. In view of the clear suggestion of a messianic deliverer, destined by God to rule the world, the context tends to support this interpretation of '-l-p-y almost as strongly as the vocalization put on it by the Masoretes. The only problem is to relate the concept of "ruler" with the town of Bethlehem as a municipality. Yet even this may be understood as implying that a great messianic ruler (mosel) might logically be expected to come from a leading city in the territory of Judah, such as Hebron, Lachish, or Bethshemesh, rather than from a small community like Bethlehem in Micah's day.


It is quite significant that the final portion of Matthew 2:6 is really not taken from Micah 5:2 at all, even though it somewhat resembles it. Micah 5:2b says, "From you One will go forth for Me to be a ruler in Israel" (NASB). Matthew 2:6b concurs in part: "For out of you shall come forth a Ruler," but then it concludes with the words "who will shepherd My people Israel" (NASB). Notice that "will shepherd My people" is not found at all in Micah. Rather, it is inserted from 2 Samuel 5:2, which contains a promise from the Lord to King David, quoted to him by the leaders of the Ten Tribes at Hebron: "And the Lord said to you, 'You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel."' (NASB). Therefore the words "will shepherd My people" are taken from 2 Samuel 5 rather than from Micah 5 (both contain "Israel" as the concluding word); and we find ourselves dealing with a conflate quotation, combining portions of Micah 5:2 and 2 Samuel 5:2.


From this commingling of passages, we are to gather that Matthew did not intend to furnish a literal rendering of a single Old Testament verse, but meant rather to bring together two passages bearing on the fulfillment of divine prophecy in regard to the place of Messiah's birth, and apparently in regard to His royal lineage as well. The phrase from 2 Samuel 5 suggests by implication that the Ruler who is to be born in Bethlehem will fulfill perfectly the model of the theocratic King first exemplified by His ancestor David. (For other examples of conflate quotations in the New Testament, cf. Matt. 27:9-10, which combines elements from Zech. 11:12-13 with an important element taken from Jer. 19:2,11, and 32:6-9. Another case is Mark 1:2-3, which combines Isa. 40:3 with Mai. 3:1.)


In light of the author's intention, therefore, it is clear that Matthew did not contradict or pervert the meaning of Micah 5:2 (or of 2 Sam. 5:2) in the way he interpreted their implication according to the divine purpose that underlay them both. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that Herod's Bible experts quoted from more than one Old Testament passage. In a sense, therefore, they were the ones responsible for the wording, rather than Matthew himself.


Why do Matthew and Luke differ in the order of Christ's temptations?


Matthew 4:5-10 puts the proposal to jump from the pinnacle of the temple as the second of Christ's three temptations and the offer of the world empire as the third. Luke 4:5-12 makes the offer of the empire temptation number two and the jump from the pinnacle number three. Here we have a clear-cut discrepancy. How are we to account for it without sacrificing the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy?


This is understandably one of the often-debated questions raised in any discussion of the Synoptic accounts of Christ's life. But is is not really unique, for similar problems arise in connection with the cursing of the fig tree in Matthew 21:18-19 and Mark 11:12-21. Likewise, compare the "staff" passage in Mark 6:8 ("only a staff") with Matthew 10:10 and Luke 9:30 ("no staff"). In each case the technical differences arise from the special aim of the various Synoptists as they draw their portrait of Jesus.


In the case of the conflicting order of the second and third temptations as recorded by Matthew and Luke, we must take note of the adverbs and conjunctions employed by each in relating the episode. In the case of Matthew, there is a more definite emphasis on the sequence of the two temptations than in Luke. Matthew 4:5 says, "Then [tote] the Devil takes Him along to the holy city, and he set Him on the pinnacle of the temple." After Jesus has refused to cast Himself down from it, as Satan proposed, we read, "Again [palin] the Devil takes Him along to a very high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms." These two adverbs, tote and palin, seem to be quite specific indeed—so specific that if the second and third temptations did not take place in that order, then Matthew would definitely have been in error.


In Luke's case, however, a simple kai ("and") is all that introduces the second temptation mentioned (the offer of a world empire). Likewise the third temptation (the jump from the pinnacle) is led into with a mere de ("and" or "but"). This account is by no means so emphatic in regard to sequence as are Matthew's tote and palin. It is much like the report of the little girl who said, "Do you know what we had for Thanksgiving yesterday? We had apple pie and turkey and everything!" The chances are that a more careful interrogation would reveal that she had been served the turkey before she had her apple pie. But she mentioned the pie first because she thought of it first, no doubt preferring the dessert to the main course. Could her report be faulted as erroneous under these circumstances?  Hardly!


No more should Luke be reproached for reversing the order from the chronological standpoint so as to keep to an ideational order—if indeed it was he who reversed the order rather than Matthew.


From the evidence of the two adverbs mentioned above, we may reasonably deduce that Matthew adhered to the historical sequence in putting the pinnacle before the mountain top. But for Luke, there may have been a more logical order in putting the temptation of taking an immediate shortcut to world power as an appropriate middle stage in the ascending order of testings, rather than the climactic display of supernatural powers before the great throng worshiping at the Jerusalem temple.


That Luke should be less exact than Matthew in matters of chronological order may seem surprising, since Luke normally is the most careful of all the Synoptists in regard to correct sequence. But in this particular chapter he seems to have preferred a proleptic order in the interests of dramatic effect. This is very clearly brought out by the ensuing episode: Jesus' visit to His hometown of Nazareth. It was a very striking development that right after He had passed through the gauntlet of spiritual battle with Satan (vv.1-13), and thus proved His mettle as Messiah, Jesus should have made His way first of all back to His own people in Nazareth. But there He met with incredulity and rejection and even had His life threatened before He finally departed for Capernaum.


Very significantly in the course of His sermon at the Nazareth synagogue, Jesus quoted the people as murmuring against Him, "Physician, heal yourself! Those great things that we heard took place in Capernaum, perform them here as well, in your own hometown!" (v.23). But the interesting thing about this remark is that up until this point Luke had made no mention of Capernaum at all, and yet Jesus' audience had already heard about the miracles He had performed there. Not until after He escaped from the riot His sermon evoked does our Lord make His way back to Capernaum, which He had begun to use as His headquarters. His reception there was far more cordial and appreciative than at Nazareth (4:31-32), and it was there that He performed the notable miracles of healing the demoniac in their synagogue (vv.33-37) and instantaneously curing Peter's mother-in-law as she lay at death's door with a high fever (vv.38-39). It may have been that these particular cures were performed after His visit to Nazareth; but there can be no doubt (on the basis of v.23) that Jesus had already been to Capernaum and had done some notable miracles there before He went over to Nazareth (cf. vv.14-15). Yet Luke does not mention Capernaum by name until after Nazareth. The advantage he gained from the heightened contrast between the two cities may have prompted him in this case also to depart from strict chronological sequence.


When the centurion's servant was ill, who actually came to Jesus, the centurion (Matt 8:5 -13) or the servant himself (Luke 7:2-11)?


Matthew 8:5 states: "Now when he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, beseeching Him." This states very explicitly that it was the centurion who came to Jesus; the servant himself was paralyzed and confined to his bed, suffering great pain. It would obviously have been impossible for him to come to Jesus in person.


Luke 7:2 says, "A servant of a certain centurion was very sick and about to die, and he was highly esteemed by him." From the context, it was the servant who was highly esteemed by the centurion; therefore, the "by him" must refer to the centurion rather than the servant. This establishes the fact that the subject of the next sentence is necessarily the centurion also. In other words, when v.3 begins "And hearing of Jesus he sent to Him elders of the Jews, asking Him that He would come and heal his servant," it is perfectly evident that Luke also reports that it was not the servant who came to Jesus in person; rather, it was the centurion. The nearest eligible antecedent for the participle akousas ("hearing") and for apesteilen ("he sent") is auto ("by him"), which was the last to be mentioned. Hence these two accounts are in perfect agreement.


Perhaps it should be added that Luke contributes the detail that the centurion sent on a committee of Jewish elders to intercede with Jesus on his behalf. Only after the elders had explained to Christ how deserving the centurion was of His favorable consideration did He enter into direct conversation with the Roman officer. He had come part way to the centurion's house before He met him in person, and there in the street He spoke with him.



Why did Jesus always speak of Himself as Son of Man?



Matthew 8:20 is the first occurrence of the title "Son of Man" applied by the Lord Jesus to Himself: "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (NASB). (This title is used of Christ thirty-two times in Matthew, fourteen in Mark, twenty-six in Luke, and twelve in John.) Jesus never refused to accept the title "Son of God" when He was so addressed by God the Father at His baptism (Mark 1:11: "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased") or on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:7). Nor did He refuse it when the demons so hailed Him as He cast them out of their victims (Mark 3:11: "You are the Son of God!"), or even when Satan challenged Him in the wilderness temptations (Luke 4:3: "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread").


The disciples hailed Him as "truly the Son of God" after He had miraculously stilled the storm; and Peter came up with his identification of "the Son of Man" (Matt. 16:13) with the Spirit-taught recognition: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (v. 16, NASB). Jesus commended him for this confession of faith and conferred on him the "keys of the kingdom." At His trial before Caiaphas (Matt. 26:64), Jesus affirmed the divine title when the high priest challenged Him: "Tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God!" Jesus responded, "You have said it [yourself]; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven." At this solemn moment, when He was on trial for the crime of blasphemy, Jesus of Nazareth appropriated the tide of the divine-human Messiah, the universal King, who was revealed to the prophet Daniel (Dan. 7:13).


Daniel 7:13-14 reads: "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days [who was God Almighty on His throne] and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him" (NASB). It was this celestial figure with whom Jesus identified Himself at that dramatic moment of crisis, thereby announcing that there would be a future trial some day in which Caiaphas and all his cohorts would stand condemned before the bar of divine and eternal justice. Then sentence would be pronounced on them, and they would be led away into everlasting doom.


This raises the question of what the title "Son of Man" (Bar nas in the Aramaic of Dan. 7) signified. Why was the Messiah represented as a glorified human being rather than as the divine King of Glory? The answer is to be found in the necessity of the Incarnation as indispensable to man's redemption. The fallen, guilty race of Adam could not have their sins atoned for except by a Sin-Bearer who represented them as a true human being as He laid down His life for their sake. The Old Testament term for Redeemer is go'el, which implies "kinsman-redeemer." He therefore had to be related by blood to the person whose cause he took over and whose need he supplied, whatever it was, whether to buy him back from slavery (Lev. 25:48), to redeem his forfeited property foreclosed on a mortgage (Lev. 25:25), to care for his childless widow (Ruth 3:13), or to avenge his blood on the murderer (Num. 35:19).


God revealed Himself to Israel as go'el of His covenant people (Exod. 6:6; 15:13; Isa. 43:1, Ps. 19:14 [15 Heb.], et al.); but before God became Man by the miracle of the Incarnation and the Virgin Birth, it was a mystery to God's ancient people how He could ever qualify as their go'el. God was their Father by creation, to be sure, but go'el implies a blood relationship on a physical level. And so God had to become one of us in order to redeem us from the guilt and penalty of our sin. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14, NASB).


God as God could not forgive us for our sins unless our sins were fully paid for; otherwise He would have been a condoner and protector of the violation of His own holy law. It was only as man that God in Christ could furnish a satisfaction sufficient to atone for the sins of mankind; for only a man, a true human being, could properly represent the human race. But our Redeemer also had to be God, for only God could furnish a sacrifice of infinite value, to compensate for the penalty of eternal hell that our sin demands, according to the righteous claims of divine justice. Only God could have devised a way of salvation that made it possible for Him to remain just and at the same time become the Justifier of the ungodly (Rom. 4:5), instead of sending them to the everlasting perdition they deserved. But through the Cross the broken law was more fully satisfied than if all mankind had gone to hell forever; for it was the perfect Man who was also infinite God that furnished an effectual sacrifice for all believers of every age.


The miracle of the Incarnation, which alone made possible the rescue of Adam's race, was perhaps the greatest miracle of all time. How could God remain God and yet also become man by assuming a human nature and by birth into the world from a human mother? And how could He become a single person in two distinct natures, one human and one divine? Other religions might speak of a godlike man or a manlike god, but only God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity,[SECOND  PERSON  OF  THE  GODHEAD  IS  MORE  CORRECT,  FOR  THERE  ARE  NOT  THREE  PERSON  GODS  IN  HEAVEN  AS  PROVED  BY  OTHER  STUDIES  OF  MINE  -  Keith Hunt] could find a way to become a true human being—eligible to represent man at the Cross.


Lest Christians become confused about the divine-human elements in their Savior and fall into the Docetic error of supposing that He was really God in His essential being and that His human form and body were only a temporary disguise that He discarded at the Ascension, Jesus may have felt it best to emphasize that He was really and truly man, even though He was also God. For only as man could He serve as Messiah and redeem His people through His sacrificial death. And, of course, it was only as man—the Man who had lived a completely sinless life—that He could be qualified to sit in judgment on the sins of men at His second coming. As the man who perfectly obeyed the law of God and never yielded to temptation, Christ is in a position to condemn those who have transgressed the moral law and who have in addition rejected His atonement and lordship for their lives.


The need to stress the genuineness of His humanity was therefore a contributing factor in leading Jesus to speak of Himself consistently as the Son of Man. Yet the principal reason was unquestionably the identification with the sublime figure of Daniel 7:13, who is destined to come in clouds of glory, sitting on the right hand of Power, and assuming absolute dominion over all the earth, after He has meted out justice to all who in this lifetime refused God's mercy.


[WELL  JUSTICE  UPON  THOSE  WHO  ARE  DESTROYING  THE  EARTH  AT  HIS  COMING;  BUT  SOME  LIKE  TO  THROW  IN  THAT  IT  IS  MORE  THAN  THAT….. JUSTICE  TO  HELL-FIRE  FOR  THOSE  WHO  REFUSED  GOD;  AND  THEY  NEVER  IT  SEEMS  THINK  ABOUT  THOSE  WHO  WILL  NEVER  HAVE  HEARD  ABOUT  CHRIST  OR  THE  BIBLE  WHEN  JESUS  RETURNS—— THAT’S  A  WHOLE  OTHER  SUBJECT  -  Keith Hunt]


What did Jesus mean by "Let the dead bury their dead" (Matt. 8:22; Luke 9:60)?


The situation Jesus was dealing with at the time He gave this injunction involved an important decision a young follower of His had to face. The young man had to choose between remaining at home until his father died or leaving his home and family in order to follow the Master and enter into His service. Quite possibly the man's father was in poor health, and it was uncertain how long he would live. The basic issue at stake was which has the higher priority: God or family?


Jesus saw that the young man was ready for discipleship; therefore He said to him, "Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead" (NASB). By this He meant that the rest of the young man's family would be on hand to care adequately for the ailing father and to take care of the funeral services. They apparently were not believers in the Lord Jesus and therefore had not yet emerged from spiritual death into eternal life. That is to say, they were still "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). As we read in John 3:36, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (NASB). From the standpoint of their spiritual relationship to God, therefore, the other members of the family were dead; and they were perfectly suited to the responsibility of attending to the father's needs and his ultimate interment. Rather than waiting around for him to die and thus losing all opportunity for training under Christ's instruction, the young disciple was bidden to put first the call of God to Christian service. "He who loves father or mother more than Me," said Jesus, "is not worthy of Me" (Matt. 10:37).


[THE  PRIORITY  OF  BEING  JESUS’  DISCIPLE  WAS  MORE  IMPORTANT  THAN  ANYTHING;  HENCE  THE  UNCONVERTED,  SPIRITUALLY  DEAD  CAN  LOOK  AFTER  THE  PHYSICAL  THINGS  OF  THIS  EARTHLY  LIFE  TIME;  WHEN  GOD  CALLS  ALL  ELSE  MUST  TAKE  SECOND  PLACE  -  Keith Hunt]


How can Matthew 8:28-34 (the maniacs of Gadara) be reconciled with Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39 (the maniac of Gerasa)?



There are two principal variations between these two accounts (the Marcan and Lucan accounts are in essential agreement). The first is the location of the episode itself; was it Gadara, Gerasa, or Gergesa (as the Sinaiticus, the Coridethian, the Bohairic Coptic, and Family 1 of the minuscules read for this name)? An examination of the map for this region to the east of the Sea of Galilee reveals that Gerasa (now called Jerash) was far removed from the Sea of Galilee to the southeast, more than twenty miles east of the Jordan Valley. It is virtually impossible to relate Gerasa with an episode that seems to have taken place on the eastern shore of Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee).


As for Gadara (which is the reading in most manuscripts of Matt. 8:28— although Washingtonensis, Family 1, Family 13 of the minuscules, and the Bohairic Coptic attest "of the Ger-gesenes"), it was located about eight miles southeast of the southern tip of Gennesaret; so it is entirely possible that the political control of this region was centered in Gadara as the capital city. Hence it would be called "the land of the Gadarenes," even though Gadara itself lay south of the Yarmuk Paver. Although Mark and Luke both point to Gerasa (Alexan-drinus, Washingtonensis, Family 13, and the Syriac Peshitta attest "of the Gadarenes" for Luke 8:26), the distinct preference should be given to Gadara because of its greater proximity to Genessaret.


None of the synoptic Gospels strongly supports Gergesa (despite the manuscripts cited above), though Gergesa enjoys the distinct advantage of being located right on the eastern shore of Gennesaret, about one-third of the way down from the northern end of the lake. From the standpoint of location merely, it should receive the preference; but in view of the much stronger manuscript evidence, Gadara is more likely to have been the original reading in all three Synoptics, with scribal error substituting the name of Gerasa, possibly because at a later period the name of Gerasa had become more widely known than that of Gadara. Perhaps it is worth noting that the shape of D (daleth) and the shape of R (resh) are very similar in the Hebrew alphabet; therefore if the name was being transcribed into Greek characters from the Hebrew/Aramaic alphabetical form, GaDaRa' might have been misread as GaRaRa[Da]. Gergesa also begins G-R—, which might have been misread from G-D—. But Gadara has the strongest claim to being the authentic, original spelling of the name in all three Gospels.


The second distinction between the Matthew account and that of Mark and Luke is that there were really two maniacs who came out to meet Jesus as He disembarked on the eastern shore of the lake, rather than just the one demoniac of Mark and Luke. How serious a problem is this? If there were two of them, there was at least one, wasn't there? Mark and Luke center attention on the more prominent and outspoken of the two, the one whose demonic occupants called themselves "Legion."


As a seminary professor I have occasionally had small elective courses containing only two students. In some cases I remember only one of them with any distinctness, simply because he was the more brilliant and articulate of the two. If I were to compose a set of memoirs and speak of only one of my two-student class, I could hardly be charged with contradicting the historical fact that there were actually two of them in the elective course. A similar case in the synoptic Gospels is found in the episode of the healing of Bartimaeus outside Jericho. Matthew 20:30 records that Bartimaeus actually had a companion with him who also was blind. Luke (18:35) does not give any names at all but refers to only one blind beggar. It is Mark (10:46) who spells out his name both in Aramaic (Bar-Tim'ay) and Greek (huios Timaiou) form. The reason for this emphasis on him, as over against his companion, was that he was the more articulate of the two.


Whatever the differing inclusions or omissions as between the various Synoptics, they all agree as to what became of the demonic occupants of the maniacs of Gadara: they were all sent into the nearby herd of swine, and thus permitted to carry out on these ceremonially unclean animals the full destruction of life that had at first been intended for their two human victims. The hapless pigs dashed down the cliff into the waters of Gennesaret and were drowned (cf. Matt. 8:30-34; Mark 5:11-14; Luke 8:32-37.)




In Jesus's commissioning of the twelve disciples, were they or were they not to take a "staff (cf. Matt. 10:10; Mark 6:8)?


In Matthew 10:5-6 Jesus commissioned His twelve disciples to go out on an Evangelistic tour of the cities of Israel, preaching the arrival of the kingdom of heaven, and healing the sick and the demon possessed. Then He cautioned them in regard to their equipment for this journey: "Do not acquire [ktesesthe] gold or silver or bronze for your money belts; or a bag [peran, "knapsack"] for your journey, or evert two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support" (Matt. 10:9-10). The parallel in Luke 10 mentions other articles for the journey in Christ's commission to the seventy, but this must have been a later episode. At any rate the word "staff" is not used at all. But in Mark 6:7-9, where His commission to the Twelve is likewise recorded, we read in w. 8-9: "And He instructed them that they should take nothing [meden airosin] for their journey, except a mere staff [ei me rabdon monon); no bread, no bag, no money in their belt; but to wear sandals; and He added, 'Do not put on two tunics'" (NASB).


Both Matthew 10 and Mark 6 agree that Christ directed the disciples to take along no extra equipment of any kind for this journey but simply to go on their mission with what they already had. Luke 9:3 agrees in part with the wording of Mark 6:8, using the same verb airo ("take"); but then, like Matthew, adds: "neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; do not even have two tunics apiece." But Matthew 10:10 includes what was apparently a further clarification: they were not to acquire a staff as part of their special equipment for the tour. Mark 6:8 seems to indicate that this did not involve their necessarily discarding or leaving behind even the walking stick that they normally took with them wherever they went, while they were following Jesus during His teaching ministry. As Lange (Commentary on Mark, p. 56) says, "They were to go forth with their staff, as they had it at the time; but they were not to seek one carefully, or make it a condition of their travelling." Lange then sums up the paragraph as follows: "The fun damental idea is this, that they were to go forth with the slightest provision, and in dependence upon being provided for by the way…We find in them [i.e., Mark's expressions] no other than a more express view of their pilgrim state, burdened with the least possible encumbrance, and as free as might be from all care." So understood, there is no real discrepancy between the two passages.


In Matthew 16:28, did Jesus mean that He would come again in the lifetime of His disciples?



After speaking of His second advent in great power and glory to judge the world in righteousness (Matt. 16:27), Jesus added, "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom" (v.28, NASB). By this He apparently referred to a preliminary phase of His coming, rather than to the final and climactic phase, when He will be accompanied by His glorious angels. This preliminary manifestation would take place before the death of some of those who were then listening to His voice. There are three possible fulfillments of v.28.


The first possible fulfillment would have been the glorious Transfiguration up on the high mountain referred to in Matthew 17:1-8, where Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus and discussed with Him His approaching death and resurrection (cf. Luke 9:31).


In a certain sense Christ appeared to Peter, James, and John in His heavenly glory as the Founder of the messianic kingdom of God. But since the principal emphasis was laid on His "departure" (Exodos, v.31) rather than on His return, this could hardly have been the fulfillment our Lord had in mind.


The second possible fulfillment would have been the powerful descent of the Holy Spirit on the church at Pentecost (Acts 2:2-4). Jesus had promised His disciples, during His discourse in the Upper Room, "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:18, NASB). This He said right after He had spoken to them of the imminent bestowal of the Holy Spirit ("another paraclete ... the Spirit of truth"). Evidently, then, Jesus meant that He would come again to them in and by the … the Holy Spirit. In v.23 Jesus added this further confirmation: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him" (NASB). Since it was at Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came with miraculous power on the 120 disciples who had been praying together, and manifested Himself by tongues of fire on their heads and the ability to proclaim the gospel in foreign languages, it is quite evident that Christ returned to His followers at Pentecost through the Holy Spirit. Thus He did not leave His disciples "orphans" but actually came to them. This understanding is reinforced by Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me" (NASB). This could not refer to a bodily appearance of Christ but rather to the invasion and capture of the heart of a truly converted believer by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. So it can only mean that when the Holy Spirit enters the heart of a regenerate sinner, it is Christ Himself who comes to him as indwelling Savior and Lord. Numbers of the people who heard Christ's promise of Matthew 16:28 were privileged to enter into that experience, and in that preliminary sense Jesus came again to them within their lifetime.


A third possibility of fulfillment might be the events of A.D. 70, when the no-longer-needed temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans under Titus, and the no-longer-holy city itself—the city that had rejected Christ in A.D. 30 and had called for His death by crucifixion—was totally demolished. In the sense that Christ's prophecy of Jerusalem's destruction was fulfilled (Matt. 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 19:43-44), Jesus may be said to have come in judgment on the city that had witnessed His judicial murder. But this could hardly be said to display Christ's regal splendor or the glory of His mighty angels (which was indirectly manifested by the marvelous outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost); so it is a less likely fulfillment than the preceding.


[THE  FIRST  ONE  IS  THE  CORRECT;  IT  WAS  A  VISION  AS  RECORDED  IN  MATTHEW,  OF  CHRIST  IN  HIS  GLORY,  AS  HE  WILL  BE,  AND  OTHERS  OF  HIS  BROTHER  AND  SISTER  WHEN  HE  COMES.  THE  SPIRIT  COMING  AT  PENTECOST  IS  NOT  CHRIST  COMING  IN  HIS  KINGDOM.  THE  INDWELLING  OF  THE  SPIRIT  AS  BOTH  THE  FATHER  AND  CHRIST  COME  INTO  EVERY  TRUE  CHRISTIAN,  IS  NOT  CHRIST  COMING  INTO  HIS  KINGDOM.  IT  WAS  ONLY  SOME  OF  THOSE  STANDING  THERE  THAT  WOULD  SEE  CHRIST  COMING  IN  HIS  KINGDOM;  IT  WAS  SOME  OF  THE  DISCIPLES  RIGHT  THERE  AND  THEN,  WHO  WOULD  SEE  THIS,  NOT  A  WHOLE  GROUP  OF  THEM  ON  PENTECOST,  OR  EVERY  TRUE  CHRISTIAN  WHEN  CONVERTED.  THE  FIRST  ONE  STATED  ABOVE  IS  THE  CORRECT  ONE,  THE  VISION  OF  TRANSFIGURATION  -  Keith Hunt]  



On which day of the week was Christ crucified?



Matthew 12:40 states: "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." If the general tradition—that Christ was crucified on Friday of Holy Week, died at 3:00 p.m. (the "ninth hour" of the day), and then rose again from the dead on Sunday at dawn—is correct, how can it be said that Jesus was three days and three nights in the grave? He was interred about 6:00 p.m., according to Luke 23:54. ("And it was the day of preparation [hemera paraskeues] and the Sabbath was coming on   [epephosken].")


This would mean that the period of interment was only from Friday night to Saturday night before the Resurrection on the dawn of Sunday; and it would also mean only one dawn-to-sunset day, namely Saturday, had passed. How do we get "three days and three nights" out of two nights and one day? Must not the actual day of crucifixion have been Thursday or even Wednesday?


It is perfectly true that a Friday Crucifixion will not yield three full twenty-four-hour days. But neither will a Thursday afternoon Crucifixion, nor a Wednesday afternoon Crucifixion either. This results from the fact that Jesus died at 3:00 p.m. and rose at or about 6:00 a.m. The only way you can come out with three twenty-four-hour days is if He rose at the same hour (three days later, of course) that He was crucified, namely, 3:00 p.m. Actually, however, He rose "on the third day" (1 Cor. 15:4). Obviously, if He rose on the third day, He could not already have been buried for three whole nights and three whole days. That would have required His resurrection to be at the beginning of the fourth day.


What, then, is the meaning of the expression in Matthew 12:40: "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth"? (NASB). This can only refer to three twenty-four-hour days in part or in whole. That is to say, Jesus expired at 3:00 p.m. near the close of Friday (according to the Hebrew method of reckoning each day as beginning at sundown), which would be one day. Then Friday 6:00 p.m. to Saturday 6:00 p.m. would be the second day, and Saturday 6:00 p.m. to Sunday 6:00 p.m. would constitute the third day—during which (i.e., Sunday 6:00 a.m. or a little before) Christ arose. Christ rested in hades (where paradise, or "Abraham's Bosom," still was, according to the indications of Luke 16:22-26; cf. Luke 23:43) for a portion of the three days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The same would be true, of course, if the Evangelists had been reckoning according to the Roman method, from midnight to midnight.


Why then are three portions of day referred to in Matthew 12:40 as "three days and three nights"? The simple answer is that the only way "day" in the sense of dawn-to-dusk sunlight could be distinguished from the full twenty-four-hour cycle sense of "day" was to speak of the latter as "a night and a day" (i.e., an interval between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. of the day following). In other words, Friday as a twenty-four-hour unit began on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and lasted until Friday 6:00 p.m. Correspondingly, Sunday began at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, according to Hebrew reckoning (but 12:00 p.m. Saturday according to Roman reckoning). According to ancient parlance, then, when you wished to refer to three separate twenty-four-hour days, you said, "Three days and three nights"—even though only a portion of the first and third days might be involved.


[NOT  SO  AT  ALL;  JESUS  SAID,  “ARE  THERE  NOT  12  HOURS  IN  A  DAY”  THREE  DAYS  AND  THREE  NIGHTS  IS  VERY  SPECIFIC  -  Keith Hunt]


A similar usage is apparent from the narrative in 1 Samuel 30:12, where "he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights" is equated in v. 13 with hayyom selosah ("three days ago")—which could only mean "day before yesterday." But if the Egyptian slave fell ill on the day before yesterday (with relationship to the day on which David found him), then he could not have remained without food or water for three entire twenty-four-hour days. We simply have to get used to slightly different ways of expressing time intervals. (Similarly the Feast of Pentecost was originally called the "Feast of Weeks" because it fell on the forty-ninth day after the offering of the wave sheaf on the  first  day  of the  Feast  of Un-leavened Bread. Yet it was known actually as the Fiftieth Day—Pentecoste in Greek.)


[NOPE  IT  WAS  NOT  THE  49TH  DAY  BUT  THE  50TH.  THE  AUTHOR  JUST  DOES  NOT  UNDERSTAND  THE  COUNTING  TO  PENTECOST;  ALL  FULLY  EXPOUNDED  ON  THIS  WEBSITE  UNDER  “FEASTS  OF  GOD”  SECTION.


NOW,  FIRST,  JESUS  DID  NOT  SAY  “THREE  DAYS  AND  THREE  NIGHTS  FROM  MY  DEATH”  HE  SAID  “THE  SON  OF  MAN  WILL  BE  THREE  DAYS  AND  THREE  NIGHTS  IN  THE  HEART  OF  THE  EARTH.  THIS  WAS  FROM  THE  TIME  HE  WAS  PLACED  IN  THE  TOMB  OR  EARTH.  I  HAVE  PROVED  IN  OTHER  STUDIES  OF  MINE,  JESUS  WAS  NOT  PUT  IN  THE  GRAVE  UNTIL  AFTER  THE  “EVENING”  HAD  BEGUN.  AFTER  THE  14TH  DAY  HAD  ENDED,  THE  14TH  DAY  BEING  THE  DAY  OF  HIS  CRUCIFIXION.


SECOND.  YOU  CAN  LOOK  FOR  A  THOUSAND  YEARS  AND  YOU  WILL  NEVER  FIND  ANY  VERSE  THAT  COMES  CLOSE  TO  SAYING  JESUS  WAS  RESURRECTED  ABOUT  6 A.M.  SUNDAY  MORNING!  IT  JUST  AIN’T  THERE!  THE  ONE  OFTEN  USED, “NOW  WHEN   JESUS  WAS  RISEN  EARLY  THE  FIRST  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK, ……” [MARK 16: 9] IS  A  MISPLACEMENT  OF  THE  COMMER  WHICH  COMMERS  ARE  NOT  IN  THE  GREEK MSS.  IT  SHOULD  READ,  “NOW  WHEN  JESUS  WAS  RISEN,  EARLY  THE  FIRST  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK  HE  FIRST  APPEARED  TO  MARY  MAGDALENE…..”


THE  ARGUMENTS  TO  TRY  AND  PROVE  JESUS  DIED  ON  A  FRIDAY  AND  ROSE  SUNDAY  MORNING,  HAS  BEEN  ARGUED  WAY  WAY  DEEPER  THAN  THIS  AUTHOR  GIVES.  IT  WAS  ARGUED  BY  DR.  SAMUELE  BACCHIOCCHI  IN  HIS  BOOK  ON  THE  SUBJECT.  I  HAVE  ANSWERED  ALL  THE  ARGUMENTS  OF  BACCHIOCCHI.  YOU  WILL  FIND  MY  IN-DEPTH  ANSWERS  TO  THIS  MATTHEW  12:40  QUESTION,  UNDER  “MISCELLANEOUS”  ON  THIS  WEBSITE  -  Keith Hunt]




Is the mustard seed really the smallest of all seeds?



In Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus describes the mustard seed (kokkos sinape-os) as being "smaller than all the seeds." The question arises as to whether this statement could be supported by a knowledgeable botanist, or did Christ make a mistake in His rating of the comparative size of the mustard seed? In all probability, He was referring to the black mustard (Brassica nigra; cf. W.E. Shewell-Cooper, "Mustard," in Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, 4:324-25). J.C. Trever (But-trick, Interpreter's Dictionary, 3:477) suggests that the orchid seed is even smaller than the seed of the black mustard. But it is highly questionable whether Jesus was discussing all plant life on planet Earth when He made this statement. No one yet has proved that ancient Palestinians planted anything that bore a smaller seed than that of the black mustard, and that was the framework within which Jesus was speaking. There is no record of the orchid ever being cultivated in Palestine.


As for Jesus's description of the growth of the black mustard, there seems to be some divergence of opinion. Trever states that the Brassica nigra does not grow to tree size, nor are its branches large enough to make nests in. But Shewell-Cooper quotes L.H. Bailey as stating that some mustard plants grow to a height of ten feet; if so, its branches would certainly be suited for smaller birds to nest in.



How can we resolve the discrepancies in the Synoptic accounts of the rich-young-ruler episode?



The three reports of the encounter between Christ and the rich young ruler are found in Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, and Luke 18:18-30. These contain special details, some of which are found only in one of the three accounts, others in only two out of the three. But when we synthesize the information contributed by all three of the Synoptics, we obtain a fuller picture of all that transpired than would be the case with any single account. Therefore we may be grateful for their occasional diversity.


Stonehouse (Synoptic Gospels, pp. 95-96) furnished the following statistics. The Marcan account is considerably longer than the others, employing 279 Greek words, as against Matthew with 270 (of which 38 occupy the unique 19:28) and Luke with only 202. This ratio is of unusual interest inasmuch as most New Testament scholars regard Mark as the earliest of the four Evangelists. If so, his longer and fuller account cannot be regarded as a "later" embellishment of a more primitive "tradition"—as liberal critics usually assume when one synoptic account is longer than the others.


Stonehouse devotes much discussion to the interesting question of the principles followed by each of the Synoptists in selecting his material. Quite obviously Matthew's special interests included demonstrating to Jews (1) that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, i.e., the authentic Jewish Messiah; (2) that Jesus was the divine Prophet and finally authoritative Teacher of the holy life (brought together in five major blocks of connected instruction); and (3) that Jesus fulfilled the promises to Israel and yet was also the Light of the Gentiles—to whom the kingdom of God would be transferred.


As for Mark, his focus is on Christ's redemptive deeds even more than on His oral teaching; the emphasis is on action more than discussion. Hence the  characteristic  word  is  "straightway." His concern is to interpret Palestinian customs (with occasional quotations in Aramaic) to a Gentile public— probably Roman, in view of his many Latinisms.


Luke, on the other hand, stresses the personal dynamic of the Lord Jesus and His tender concern for individual people, including women and children. But his guiding principle is to follow a consistently historical methodology and to cover the whole sweep of Jesus' biography from the very beginning (even to the birth of the forerunner, John the Baptist; the annunciation to Mary and the shepherds; and the visit to the temple at age twelve) to the very end (the Ascension from the Mount of Olives). He includes an extraordinary number of episodes and heart-searching parables not included by the other two. The Perfect Man, incarnating the love and grace of God, opens up the way to a new life for all true believers, whether Jew or Gentile.


It is a profitable exercise to correlate the insertions as well as the omissions that mark each synoptist in his treatment of the episodes in Christ's career from the vantage point of these three areas of interest. All three are to be regarded as trustworthy, helpful witnesses, even though they emphasize slightly different facets of Christ's life and personality. But it is when we have the benefit of all three reports that we can assemble the fullest understanding of each of Jesus' encounters with people and His responses to their needs.


As we compare the testimonies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we will bring out the particular contributions from each as we combine them all into a full composite.


The Query of the Rich Young Ruler


As he makes his first approach to Jesus on the matter of his own standing before God as a justified believer, the ruler asks, "Good [Mark, Luke] Master, what good [Matt.] thing shall I do, that I may obtain [Matt.] or: inherit [Mark, Luke] eternal life?" Jesus answers him with a question, to probe his understanding of the divine nature of Christ's goodness and of the nature of goodness itself. "Why do you call Me good [Mark, Luke], or: ask Me about what is good [Matt.]? There is just One who is good [Matt.]; in fact, there is no one good but God alone [Mark, Luke]. But if you wish to enter into life [Matt.], you know the commandments [Mark, Luke]; keep them [Matt.]!"


[MOST  JUST  DO  NOT  GET  WHAT  JESUS  WAS  SAYING  HERE.  HE  WAS  IN  EFFECT  SAYING,  “YOU  ARE  CALLING  ME  ‘GOOD’  -  ONLY  GOD  IS  GOOD,  SO  ARE  YOU  ADMITTING  I  AM  GOD,  GOD  IN  THE  FLESH?” - Keith Hunt]


Christ's Challenge to the Ruler's Sincerity The young man countered with a request for specifics: "Which of them [Matt.]?" he enquired. Jesus pointed him to the most basic of all—the Decalogue. "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother. And also [Matt.] you shall love your neighbor as yourself."


The young man [Matt.] said to Him, "All these I have kept, from [Mark, Luke] my youth up. What [Matt.] do I still lack? And Jesus looked [Luke] on him and loved him, and said, "You do lack one thing [Mark, Luke]; if you wish to be perfect [Matt.], go [Matt., Mark] and sell all the possessions [Matt.] you have, and give them out to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. And come and follow Me."


The Young Man's Refusal and Departure


When he heard this statement, the young ruler became downcast [Luke] and very grieved [Matt., Luke] as he went away—for he had many possessions [Matt., Mark] and was very rich [Luke]. On observing this, Jesus looked around [Mark] on His disciples and said to them, "I tell you truly [Matt.] that it is with difficulty that a rich man will enter the kingdom of heaven [Matt.]. In fact, those who possess wealth will enter God's kingdom only with difficulty [Mark, Luke]." But the disciples were amazed [Mark] at His words. Again He said, "Children, how hard it is to enter into the kingdom of God [Mark]! It is easier for a camel to go into [Matt., Luke] and pass through [Mark] the eye of a needle than to enter the kingdom of God [so, even Matt.!]."


The Rewards of Dedicated Discipleship


The disciples were astonished [Matt., Mark] at hearing this; and they said [Mark] to one another, "Who then can be saved?" And looking on them [Matt., Mark] Jesus said, "With men this is impossible, but all things [Matt., Mark] are possible with God."


Then answering [Matt.] Peter began [Mark] to say to Him, "Behold, we have left all [Matt., Mark] that is ours [Luke] and have followed You [Matt.]. What then shall there be for us?" Jesus said to them [Matt., Luke], "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed [Matt.] Me in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you yourselves also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel [Matt, only]." (Note that on another occasion, in Luke 22:30b, Christ repeats that same promise about sitting on the twelve thrones.)


Then Jesus continued with a promise for this present world: "There is no one who has left [Mark, Luke—but Matt, phrases it: 'And everyone who has left'] home [Matt.: 'homes'] or wife [Luke] or brothers or sisters, or father or mother [Matt., Mark] [Luke: 'or parents'], or children or lands, for the sake of My name [Matt.] and the gospel [Mark] and the kingdom of God [Luke], who will not receive many times as much [Matt., Luke; Mark: 'a hundred times as much'] at this present time [Mark, Luke], homes and brothers and sisters and children and lands [Mark only], along with persecutions; and in the age to come [Mark, Luke] he will inherit [Matt.] eternal life. But many who are first [Matt., Mark; Luke: 'And behold, there are last who shall be first'] shall be last, and those who are last shall be first [Matt., Mark; Luke: 'and there are first who shall be last'].


As we conclude this synthesis of the three synoptic accounts, we note that there are three verbal variations that convey exactly the same thought but that are technically different in wording: (1) Matthew 19:29: "And everyone who has left," as opposed to Mark 10:29 and Luke 18:29, which read "There is no one who has left"; (2) Mark 10:30 reads "a hundred times," as opposed to Matthew 19:29 and Luke 18:30, which read "many times as much"; (3) Luke 18:29 reads "parents," as opposed to Matthew 19:29 and Mark 10:29, which read "father or mother." Perhaps it should be mentioned also that Matthew 19:29 reads "homes" (oikias) while the other two read "home" (oikian).


This pericope, then, gives us an instructive example of the range of verbal variation present in the Synoptics, displaying a genuine overlap or alternative rather than related items that may be fitted together as a composite. Apart from possible scribal error (the Peshitta Syriac version of Luke 18:29 does not read a special word for "parents" but employs 'abohe, "fathers"; so it looks as if Luke had this word in mind when he chose the Greek word goneis ["parents"] and preferred not to break it up into "father and mother," as Matt, and Mark decided to do), items 1 and 2 leave us uncertain as to which exact Aramaic term our Lord used in His actual discourse as originally given. But we may be content with the observation that each case can be explained on the basis of the same original statement in Aramaic, which is susceptible of being handled in more than one way when it is cast into Greek (as in the case of "parents" vs. "father and mother" in item 3). In the latter case, perhaps, it should be added that to this day it is still customary in literary Arabic to use the dual number ('abawdni) of the word for "father" ('aburi) in order to express the idea of "parents." Thus "his parents" would in Arabic be 'abawdhu (lit., "his two fathers").


[WELL  INTERESTING  IN  HOW  YOU  CAN  PUT  TOGETHER  THE  SYNOPTIC  GOSPELS;  BUT  WHEN  ALL  IS  SAID  AND  DONE,  WHAT  DID  THIS  DO  FOR  YOU?  WERE  YOU  REALLY  EDIFIED  AS  TO  THE  TRUTH  HERE  JESUS  TAUGHT,  IN  THE  WAY  TO  INHERIT  ETERNAL  LIFE?  THE  TRUTH  HERE  EXPRESSED  BY  JESUS  SHOULD  BLOW  AWAY  A  HUGE  SALVATION  ERROR,  BY  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  AND  PROTESTANT  CHURCHES.  I  GREW  UP  IN  A  CHURCH  OF  ENGLAND  SCHOOL,  AND  A  LOCAL  SUNDAY  SCHOOL  CHURCH.  I  WAS  TAUGHT  TO  MEMORIZE  THE  TEN  COMMANDMENTS  AS  IN  EXODUS  20,  FULL  VERSION,  EVERY  WORD!  I  KNEW  EXACTLY  WHAT  THE  4TH  COMMANDMENT  STATED.  I  GREW  UP  IN  THE  1940s  AND  1950s. - TOWNS  CLOSED  DOWN  ON  SUNDAYS;  NO  PRO  SPORTS  WERE  PLAYED  ON  SUNDAYS.  IT  WAS  COMMONLY  TAUGHT  SUNDAY  WAS  “THE  LORD’S  DAY”— I  BELIEVED  IT  WAS  THE  7TH  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK.  NOT  ONE  PERSON  EVERY  TOLD  ME  IT  WAS  NOT.  CHRISTIANITY  WAS  TO  ME  OBSERVING  THE  7TH  DAY  SABBATH  AS  FOUND  IN  THE  4TH  COMMANDMENT.  I  CAME  TO  CANADA  AT  AGE  18.  I  HAD  BOARD  AND  ROOM  WITH  A  BAPTIST  HUSBAND  AND  WIFE.  THEY  SOON  FOUND   I  WAS  A  CHRISTIAN;  THEY  INVITED  ME  TO  THEIR  CHURCH.  I  WAS  ATTENDING  ALL  THROUGH  THE  WINTER  OF   1961/62.  ONE  DAY  I  WAS  LISTENING  TO  PREACHERS  ON  THE  RADIO;  THE  BAPTIST  MAN  SAID  TO  ME, “DO  YOU  LIKE  THE  PREACHING  OF  THAT  MAN?”  I  TOLD  HIM  I  DID.  HE  RESPONDED,  “HE’S  A  7TH  DAY  KEEPER.”  I  SAID,  “WELL  ARE  WE  NOT  ALSO?”  HIS  REPLY  JUST  ABOUT  BLEW  ME  AWAY,  “NO,  SUNDAY  IS  THE  FIRST  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK.”  I  WAS  IN  TOTAL  SHOCK!  I  COULD  NOT  BELIEVE  WHAT  HE  HAD  JUST  TOLD  ME.  I  WENT  TO  THE  LIBRARY,  PICKED  UP  A  BOOK  CALLED  “CHRISTIAN  FEASTS  AND  CUSTOMS”  BY  A  CATHOLIC  BISHOP.  HIS  FIRST  WORDS  UNDER  HIS  CHAPTER  ON  THE  WEEKLY  SABBATH  WAS,  “YOU  CAN  LOOK  FROM  COVER  TO  COVER  IN  THE  BIBLE,  AND  YOU  WILL  NEVER  FIND  SUNDAY  AS  A  HOLY  DAY,  OR  SANCTIONED  TO  BE  OBSERVED.  THE  7TH  DAY  IS  THE  ONLY  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK  MADE  HOLY  IN  THE  BIBLE…… BUT  WE  OF  THE  TRUE  CHURCH  HAVE  THE  AUTHORITY  TO  CHANGE  THE  WEEKLY  SABBATH  FROM  THE  7TH  DAY  TO  THE  1ST  DAY…..”


I  WAS  STUNNED  ONCE  MORE.  I  JUST  DID  NOT  WANT  TO  BELIEVE  THAT  ALL  CHRISTIANITY  AS  I  KNEW  IT,  FROM  AGE  7  TO  NOW  19,  WAS  WRONG  ON  THE  DAY  TO  KEEP  HOLY  AND  SET  ASIDE  TO  WORSHIP  GOD.  AS  THE  MONTHS  WENT  ON  I  CAME  INTO  CONTACT  WITH  MANY  WHO  SAID  THE  TEN  COMMANDMENTS  DO  NOT  MATTER,  THE  4TH  COMMANDMENT  DOES  NOT  MATTER,  WE  ARE  SAVED  BY  GRACE  NOT  BY  LAW.  IMMEDIATELY  HEARING  THIS  MY  MIND  WENT  TO  MATTHEW  19  AND  THE  RICH  YOUNG  MAN,  AND  JESUS’  ANSWER  TO  HIS  QUESTION.  I  THOUGHT  JESUS  CAN  NOT  BE  WRONG.  I’VE  GROWN  UP  READING  MATTHEW  19  OVER  AND  OVER,  JESUS  CANNOT  BE  WRONG.  AND  SO  IT  IS,  THE  TRUTH  OF  MATTHEW  19  STILL  REMAINS  IN  THE  BIBLE.  GOD  CANNOT  LIE.

THE  TRUTH  OF  MATTHEW  19  AND  THE  SALVATION  QUESTION  IS  FULLY  AND  DEEPLY  EXPOUNDED  FOR  YOU  ON  THIS  WEBSITE  -  Keith Hunt]


How can Matthew 20:20 be reconciled with Mark 10:35?



Matthew 20:20-21 states that it was the mother of James and John who came to Jesus with the request that they might be appointed as Jesus' foremost officials after He should come into His kingdom. But Mark 10:35 records James and John themselves as presenting this request to our Lord. Which account is correct? In all probability both versions are correct. It would be altogether natural for the mother and her two sons to agree on the petition and then for the mother to pave the way by approaching Christ first concerning this matter. Soon afterwards the two sons came up to second her request on their own behalf.


This is just as understandable as the somewhat similar strategy followed by the prophet Nathan, when he first put Solomon's mother, Bathsheba, up to making the first approach to aged and sickly King David (1 Kings 1:11-21). Then came Nathan himself and verified her tidings that Adonijah was seizing power as David's successor, rather than Solomon himself, whom David had earlier designated as heir of his throne (vv.22-27). This is a very true-to-life account and furnishes no improbabilities to reconcile.



How many did Christ heal of blindness, and was it when He was entering Jericho or leaving it?



In Matthew 20:29 we are told that Jesus and His disciples were coming out of Jericho when they were appealed to by two blind men.  Mark 10:46 agrees that it was when Jesus was leaving Jericho that the healing occurred; but at the same time he mentions only one blind man and gives his name quite precisely (Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus). Luke 18:35 states that "a certain blind man" (no companion is mentioned, nor is this man's name actually given) first heard of Jesus when He and His followers were entering into Jericho. Verse 36 adds that it was while the crowd was passing by (ochlou diaporeuomenou) that he started making inquiry as to what was going on. Then he cried out, saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (v.38, NASB). Then the leaders of the procession began to rebuke him, in order that he might be quiet. Yet he only cried out all the more, repeating the same petition. In v.40, Jesus hears him calling out and stops in order to help him. Then (as in Matt, and Mark) he is brought to Jesus and makes his personal appeal to Christ for the gift of sight.


It is only after we compare the testimony of all three witnesses that we obtain a fuller understanding of the whole episode. From Luke 18:35 we learn that Bartimaeus first learned of Jesus' visit to Jericho as He and his followers were entering the town. Then, as the crowd was passing by, he tried to gain Christ's attention by calling out directly to Him from where he was sitting. Yet it would seem that he was not at first successful; for it was not until Jesus had entered the town, had His contact with Zacchaeus, taught the people the parable of the pounds (or: minas), and was on the point of leaving the city that Bartimaeus finally managed to engage Christ's attention. Possibly this was because the crowd was quieter on Jesus' departure than it had been at His arrival. At any rate, it was not until that point that Jesus stopped walking and gave orders for Bartimaeus to be brought to Him.


Mark   10:46-47  makes  this  clear:


"And they come to Jericho. And as He was going out from Jericho ... Bartimaeus ... was sitting by the road. And hearing that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'" We cannot be certain whether w.47-48 refer to his first (and unsuccessful) appeal, or whether it was his subsequent outcry on Jesus' departure. From Matthew 20:30 we get the clear information that it was the latter. For Matthew 20:29 states quite explicitly that this dialogue with Jesus took place as the Lord was emerging from the city. Matthew also informs us that Bartimaeus had picked up a blind colleague in the meantime. It seems that Bartimaeus spoke to him of his high hopes of getting through to Jesus when He would depart from the city, by the same gate He had entered. It may not have been a close friend of his, since Bartimaeus seems to have called out on his own behalf, in the first instance at least (Mark 10:48; Luke 18:39).


Bartimaeus and his unnamed companion moved forward at more or less the same time to where Jesus was standing. As they made their way to the Savior, they jointly petitioned Him (Matt. 20:33). Yet for some reason it was Bartimaeus who showed the greater energy in his importunity to Christ, and it was therefore to him that Jesus addressed His remarks and questions. He next healed the other man as well, and apparently touched their sighless eyes with His hand, thus restoring their sight to them (Matt. 20:34). The result was that both men joined Jesus' following and rejoiced as they witnessed to everyone they saw concerning what the Lord had done for them.


The three accounts supplement one another very helpfully in such a way as to bring out the facts that (1) Bartimaeus was the prime mover and the undiscourageable man of faith in this approach to Jesus for healing, while his companion was a less aggressive personality who was content to chime in with whatever Bartimaeus said; (2) Bartimaeus' persistence was such that he would not take no for an answer, no matter how sternly the public ordered him to be silent. He even kept waiting for a second opportunity to contact Jesus, no matter how long it took for our Lord to accomplish His purposes in Jericho. Therefore he was most intently waiting for Jesus as He finally emerged once more through that same city gate.


Matthew was concerned to mention all who were involved in this episode (just as he alone of the Synoptists recorded the fact that it was really two maniacs that met Jesus on the territory of Gadara [Matt. 8:28], whereas both Mark and Luke speak only of one demoniac possessed by the Legion demons). Matthew is content to record that actual scene of healing, whereas Luke gives particular attention to the entire proceedings, from the moment that Bartimaeus first heard about Jesus' arrival—a feature only cursorily suggested by Mark 10:46—because he is interested in the beggar's persistence in request before the cure was actually performed on him. As for the second blind beggar, neither Mark nor Luke find him significant enough to mention; presumably he was the more colorless personality of the two.



How many donkeys were involved in the Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem? One or two?


Matthew 21:2 mentions two animals involved in Christ's entrance into Jerusalem: the mother donkey and her foal. In the parallel accounts in Mark 11:2 and Luke 19:30 only the male foal is referred to; nothing is said about the mother. But this does not constitute a contradiction, because all three gospels agree that Jesus rode on a young donkey foal (polos) that had not been ridden before. Only the mother donkey is at issue. Rather than being guilty of embellishing the narrative, however, Matthew was simply pointing out (21:5) that the prediction in Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled to the letter by this symbolic action of Christ. Zechariah 9:9 closes with the words "humble, and mounted on a donkey (hamor, even on a foal ['ayir], the son of a she-ass [‘a-tono-t]." Matthew goes on to record that the mother donkey went on ahead of Jesus as He rode on her young foal (v. 7).


What was the point of involving the she-ass in this transaction? A moment's reflection will bring out the fact that if the foal had never yet been ridden (and that was an important factor for the sake of the symbolism), then he probably was still dependent on his mother psychologically or sentimentally, even though he may have been completely weaned by this time. It simply made it an easier operation if the mother donkey were led along down the road toward the city gate; then the foal would naturally follow her, even though he had never before carried a rider and had not yet been trained to follow a roadway.


The Zechariah passage does not actually specify that the parent donkey would figure in the triumphal entrance; it simply describes the foal as "the son of a she-ass" by way of poetic parallelism. But Matthew contributes the eyewitness observation (and quite possibly neither Mark nor Luke were eyewitnesses as Matthew was) that the mother actually preceded Jesus in that procession that took Jesus into the Holy City. Here again, then, there is no real contradiction between the synoptic accounts but only added detail on the part of Matthew as one who viewed the event while it was happening.


Did Christ curse the barren fig tree before or after He expelled the moneychangers from the temple?



In Matthew 21:12-17 we are told that after Christ entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He went straight to the temple and proceeded to cast out those selling animals for sacrifice within the court and those converting the monetary gifts of worshipers into currency acceptable for the temple treasury. Luke 19:45-46 contains a much-shortened version of the same account and states that the cleansing took place after Jesus had entered the temple. But in Mark 11:11-19 it is clearly stated that Jesus did not expel the tradesmen from the temple until Monday, after He had cursed the barren fig tree (w. 12-14). Matthew does not speak of the fig tree until after he has described the cleansing of the temple (21:18-19). Luke does not refer to the fig tree incident at all; so we have to deal only with Matthew and Mark in regard to this problem of sequence. How are we to reconcile these two accounts? Quite obviously Jesus would not have cleansed the temple court on two successive afternoons, using precisely the same terms: "My house shall be called a house of prayer."


As we study the narrative technique of Matthew in general, we find that he sometimes arranges his material in topical order rather than in the strictly chronological order that is more often characteristic of Mark and Luke. Matthew's collection of teachings contained in the three chapters (5-7) of the Sermon on the Mount may perhaps have been delivered all at one time, as the multitude sat on the hillside below Him on the traditional site of the Mount of the Beatitudes, by the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. The fact that portions of the Sermon-on-the-Mount teachings are found sometimes in other settings, such as in the Sermon on the Plain in Luke (6:20-19) and elsewhere, may mean no more than that Jesus often spoke on these same themes wherever He went during His three-year ministry in Palestine and its adjacent regions. But Matthew's tendency to group his material in themes according to a logical sequence is quite clearly exhibited in the series of eight parables of the kingdom of heaven that make up chapter 13. Once a theme has been broached, Matthew prefers to carry it through to its completion, as a general rule.


Matthew and Mark agree that as soon as Christ entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He made His way straight to the temple (Matt. 21:12; Mark 11:11). They also agree that He actually entered the temple on that Sunday. Mark contributes that it was in the late afternoon that this took place, and that after He entered He took a careful look around at what was going on. Doubtless He was deeply disturbed by the loud, irreverent commercialism, just as He had been three years before, when He had chased the merchants out at the end of His lashing whip (John 2:13-17). On that occasion He had denounced them for making God's house a place of merchandise (rather than quoting Isa. 56:7, as He did in this Holy Week episode).


Mark then tells us that Jesus did nothing publicly to express His indignation on that late Sunday afternoon. On the contrary, Jesus returned to Bethany—presumably to the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha—and spent the night there. We may be sure that He spent part of that night in prayer, seeking from the Father guidance as to what He should do on the next day. It may well be that Jesus saw in the barren fig tree He encountered on His way back to Jerusalem that Monday morning of Holy Week a vivid reminder of the unfruitfulness of Israel as a nation; and for that reason He made it a special object lesson for His disciples.


The fig tree had produced its foliage without having put forth its fruit—which in that climate normally precedes the full leafage itself. (Mark 11:13 observes that it was not the regular season for the production of figs, but apparently this particular tree had gone into full foliage without developing any figs at all.) Jesus also used the rapid withering of the fig tree (apparently before Monday was over) to teach the disciples that the prayer of faith (and His curse had been in the nature of a prayer for judgment on that tree) could accomplish such marvels as these, and even greater (such as the moving of mountains into the sea; cf. Matt. 21:20-22; Mark 11:20-25).


Mark then goes on to relate, following his principle of chronological sequence, that Christ went back to Jerusalem and into the temple; there He expelled the noisy, venal tradesmen and moneychangers from the hallowed court, employing the language referred to above: "'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations,' says the Lord, 'but you have made it into a house of thieves'" (Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). Matthew, however, felt it suited his topical approach more effectively to include the Monday afternoon action with the Sunday afternoon initial observation, whereas Mark preferred to follow strict chronological sequence. (Luke says nothing about this matter either way, since he does not include the fig tree episode at all.)


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TO  BE  CONTINUED