The Resurrection Life Study BibleTM

Introduction

You’ve never seen a Bible like this.

I say that because this New Testament breaks all the rules, and it breaks them for the same reason that the alabaster vial in the Gospels had to be broken: to get to the precious ointment within.

Over the centuries, many fine Bibles have emerged with the goal of getting the Scriptures out of the church pulpit and into the hands of the average man, yet one problem always remained: While the chief message of the New Testament--“Repent ye, and believe the Gospel”--was simple enough that anyone could understand it, many things beyond that message remained clouded by text that was either written in a language centuries removed from the readers, or else was too difficult for normal people to understand without someone to explain it to them. (The Ethiopian “eunuch” of Acts 8 is a good example.)

When modern paraphrases came along, they did a good job in simplifying the text of Scripture in a way that much more of the Bible became comprehensible to normal people. Even so, because the paraphrases--with good reason--adhered to the actual Scripture text, many people still had the same problem as the Ethiopian in Acts 8: They understood the words, but not necessarily the meaning of the words or their full implications. This is because the Bible, and in particular Paul’s writings, are difficult to understand without a guide who is able to explain what they meant in the time they were written.

An example of what I mean can be found in the song Yankee Doodle, which we all know from our elementary school days. The fact is, even if you know every word of the song in every language it’s ever been translated in, if you do not read other written works apart from the song that explain the culture and context of the time it was written in, you will never understand--no matter how sincere you are, and no matter how many times you read the lyrics--that the words, “Stuck a feather in his cap, and called it ‘Macaroni,’” are neither nonsensical words, nor do they refer to pasta, but are sarcastically equating Americans with British dandies who tried to appear cultured by mimicking European culture and fashion!

We have the same problem in translating and understanding the Scriptures. Without knowing the culture behind the writings that the Bible does not convey because the original readers already knew it, we can never understand what much of the New Testament means, because words that mean one thing to us may have meant something totally different to the original writers living in Judea or other parts of the Roman Empire!

And so, each week from behind the pulpit or in commentaries that most of you won’t buy, theologians who’ve spent years learning about the Bible try to teach you the things about it that you really can’t know on your own through normal devotions.

While both are necessary and edifying, getting your education through Sunday morning preaching or from a dry theological treatise will never make an imprint upon your mind and spirit the way that simply reading the Scriptures with understanding will.

Even if a good paraphrase renders a hard verse into modern language, many verses exist whose full meanings can’t properly be clarified merely by paraphrasing them--especially, again, in the case of Paul, who sometimes condenses a paragraph of teaching into only one sentence.

This is where the study Bible in your hands comes in. It will address that problem by coupling a true Bible--the King James Bible--with an amplified paraphrase to help you get the full impact of the Scriptures in a natural, free-flowing manner rather than through tidbits of information in commentary notes that are typically ignored anyway. (When it does this, the expanded text will often be bracketed as this text is.) Note that the author has attempted, where possible, to write the (bracketed) information in such a way that a reader may ignore it and read past it to have a paraphrase that sticks a bit more closely to the actual biblical text without going beyond it.

Also, because there are many passages where Christ and the Father are both being spoken of but referred to as “He,” the personal pronoun in the paraphrase text will only be capitalized when it is referring to God the Father or the Holy Spirit in order to avoid confusion.

As noted, this work goes beyond simply paraphrasing verses by expanding and building upon the biblical text. My purpose in doing this is to convey four things:

1. What is on the writer’s mind, and what perspective he is coming from, as he writes.

2. What message the writer ultimately desires to convey to his readers.

3. What his text implies, even if it does not come out and say it.

4. What the text says.

That’s right--what it actually says is at the bottom of the list, even though it is the most important. This is because the end result of the writer’s thinking and inspiration (the 4th factor) is what he writes, but the three prior factors are what result in the 4th factor. Thus, it’s these three factors beforehand that need to be amplified to get the full grasp of the 4th factor that comes out of them, and this is where a translation--however good it is--will always fall short in some places.

There are many Bibles, including the King James, that will tell you what the Scriptures say. But knowing what they say is far less important than knowing what they mean. A great example is in 2 Corinthians 12:16. “But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.”

This is a perfect example of a verse that does not say what it means, nor mean what it says. (It is Paul’s being sarcastic.)

The paraphrase also incorporates some historical and cultural background information behind the text, along with noting the implications of what various passages mean when factored against other verses that may modify them. While all this may be controversial, it is done in order to be as comprehensive as possible without losing sight of the actual Scripture text as the foundation upon which the paraphrase builds.

Now while the author explains--and prefers explaining--the text in the commentary notes at the bottom of each chapter, readers shy away from commentary notes. In fact, Bible teachers are lucky to get people to pick up a Bible to start with! A lot of information is therefore placed in the paraphrase itself because this is the best way to help a reader who may be unwilling to study commentaries actually learn what it means.

Do not make the presumption that the paraphrase is claiming to be true Scripture!

The true Scripture is on the left-hand side of the page. The right-hand side is merely an aid to help you understand the left side of the page. It may look like regular Scripture in form, but it's just a teaching aid. The King James is side-by-side with the paraphrase, allowing the reader to compare the paraphrase against the actual Scripture as food for thought. He may then agree or disagree as seems best to him.

However, not everything can be covered by simply expanding the text, and so I ask you to take the time to read through the following pages since there is some important information to help you understand what follows. If you won't read anything else, I urge you to read the article, What you never knew about the Pharisees. This article is absolutely critical to understanding the New Testament! Even if you have every word of the New Testament memorized, if you do not know who Shammai and his followers were, what they believed, and the attitudes they had, you will never see more than one side of a two-sided coin in so far as the New Testament is concerned, nor you will never understand the background of what was going on around Jesus and Paul. (You'll also be confused by the repeated references to "Shammaiites" in the Gospel paraphrases.)

You should also read What you never knew about the New Testament's view of the Law in order to understand how the Law was viewed with respect to Gentiles who were not Jews.

But first, when reading a work that seeks to teach from the Bible, you should always have a clear understanding of the author’s background and core religious beliefs. To put mine in a nutshell, I was born in the 1950s and was raised a Roman Catholic. In the late 1960s I became swept up in the occult wave that grew out of the era, and became a Spiritualist medium. Although in spiritual deception, God made great use of that time, for through these practices I came to understand the reality of the supernatural, and so in future years I was unaffected by intellectual or philosophical arguments questioning the existence of God or the devil. Ultimately, it was because the Catholic Church taught me to believe the Bible above all else, that when an educated Christian showed me that the practices I was involved in were opposed by the Bible, I rejected Spiritualism to follow Christ.

Today I am an evangelical Christian who believes that salvation and forgiveness of sin come by grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone as the atonement for our sins (Eph. 2:8). After that, I believe one keeps his salvation in the same manner: By grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone (1 Peter 1:5). I do believe it is possible to lose one’s salvation by making a conscious choice to abandon Christ, or by ceasing to hold faith in Christ through becoming “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12-13).

I hold to the core doctrines of Christianity: The virgin birth, Trinity, inerrancy of Scripture, water Baptism, etc. While I am not personally a Charismatic, I believe that the New Testament teaches that so-called “Gifts of the Spirit” are for all generations of believers until the full rule of Christ in the Messianic Age comes.

What else makes this Bible different from many others?

A major difference between this and other study Bibles lies in the fact that this work is written in a way to help the reader comprehend the Jewish background from which the New Testament sprang--but without drifting into the heresy of some modern Messianic Jewish commentators who pervert the faith by teaching that keeping the Law of Moses is a part of the Christian experience that we Gentiles have (supposedly) been deceived into abandoning!

Despite this false teaching on the part of some Messianics, it is critically important to understand the New Testament from a Jewish perspective, for every writer of the New Testament, including (probably) Luke, was a 1st century Jew who wrote in a manner consistent with their Jewish backgrounds. Because of this, Gentile readers and Bible commentators are often unaware of many fascinating things in the Scriptures because the culture that gave birth to them is so foreign to those from a Western culture.

The background of Pentecost is a great example. We've all read of how the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples, and tongues of fire appeared over their heads as they spoke in foreign languages. People usually conclude this was a unique, first-time occurrence, but few know that what we call Pentecost was the Jewish Festival of Shavuot which, although the culmination of an agricultural Festival, also commemorated the giving of the Law at Sinai.

Jewish legend held that at the time the Law was given on Mount Sinai, God's voice issued forth in all known languages, and visibly formed as tongues of fire upon the heads of those present! Each was then asked personally if he would abide by the terms of the Law. The Jews would have seen the events of Acts 2 as a direct parallel with the most important event of Jewish history, and some would have understood it to mean that the Kingdom of God had come to earth, and that the Law was now being written in the hearts of the people as the Old Testament foretold.

This is just one small example of the many wonderful facts we often miss by our lack of understanding the Jewish culture and background of the New Testament.

The commentary is also not written with any intentional denominational bias other than the foundation of the evangelical understanding of salvation's being by faith alone. While the author has attempted to allow the text to impart its doctrine outside of any pre-conceived notions based on a specific denominational belief, all key doctrinal positions in this work will be made by sifting the biblical text through the filter of understanding that salvation comes through faith alone. Beyond that, here and there will be points that may seem Protestant or Catholic, or Charismatic or non-Charismatic in their presentation for one simple reason: The author believes the Scriptures should be taken as they stand, and no denomination has a monopoly on truth, including his own.

Last of all, this Bible places the Epistles in their correct chronological order, starting with Galatians instead of Romans, which was written years later.

Is our Bible inerrant?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misunderstanding on what “inerrancy” means with respect to the Scriptures. First and foremost, when we say that the Bible is inerrant, we mean that the first-generation manuscripts penned by the original authors were inerrant. Copies that date anywhere from 200 to 2000 years later are not regarded as inerrant to the same degree, but from available manuscripts we can reconstruct what the original source documents said with a 99% degree of certainty. Where we err from that point is in translating the words into our own language without somehow altering or misunderstanding the original message of the writer.

“Inerrant” also doesn’t mean that every word in the document is true in an overly literal sense. For instance, John writes at the end of his Gospel: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” Obviously, this is not literally true. Even if Jesus had done a billion miracles in His life, there would be enough room in all the earth to hold the books detailing those miracles. What John is doing is using hyperbole, which isn’t always noted by we readers. Hyperbole is an exaggerated, intentionally distorted statement of fact to express an important point.

In another instance, Paul writes that he was ‘Chief among sinners.’ Now is this literally true? Does it mean that Nero sinned less than Paul, or that Caiaphas was a more righteous man? Of course not! Paul is using hyperbole and making an intentionally exaggerated statement to express a more important point. There is nothing wrong with this, and the usage doesn’t mean that the Bible is in error, because the legitimate use of hyperbole exempts the text from being held to a microscopic standard of accuracy.

Also, keep in mind that writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit isn’t necessarily writing under the dictation of the Holy Spirit! For instance, if God tells a prophet: “Write these words I have spoken to you,” the man is writing under the direct dictation of the Holy Spirit, and thus his work can be presumed to be free of any error or inaccuracy.

Another prophet, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, rather than the direct dictation of the Holy Spirit, however, can be used by God to convey an idea rather than a specific message. (Perhaps as he writes poetically or metaphorically.) Because of this, it might be possible to split hairs, and detect a technical “error” in such a passage. However, such incidents, if they exist, would not compromise the overall idea that God means to convey. Thus, any good Bible--be it translation or paraphrase--can impart the inerrant overall messages that God wishes humanity to have. This is because when the Scriptures speak regarding areas of “doctrine, reproof, correction, or instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16), they are absolutely inerrant. If it’s possible for “errors” to be present anywhere in the text of Scripture, they will always deal with extraneous points of minutiae that have no bearing on any issues of consequence, or they will trace themselves to our mistranslating, misunderstanding, or misusing the text.

Why the King James Version and a paraphrase?

I chose the King James Bible as the foundation text of this commentary because it has withstood the test of time, and is unsurpassed as the best version to memorize passages from. Unfortunately, its archaic English, and the texts it employed in its creation, are causing this historic Bible to lose relevancy and influence in the face of more modern translations. It is the hope of the author to strengthen the KJV by buttressing it with both a paraphrase and commentary notes so that it will continue to have a place of eminence within Christianity.

However, because it was the most widely used English Bible for so long, some of its flaws became accepted as norms in Christianity. An example is the false teaching that “Lucifer” was once the proper name of the devil. In fact, it was simply a Latin word referring to Venus (the Morning Star) that appeared in the Vulgate, and the KJV translators, to the detriment of accuracy, retained it in Isaiah 14. As a result, there are good theologians to this day--along with people like Joseph Smith who mistakenly used it in the Mormon books he wrote--who have an incorrect belief that Lucifer was some sort of pre-fall name of the devil!

Thus, the KJV is no perfect transmission to us from the hand of God! It has many flaws, some serious. But since no Bible is perfect, there is no basis to dismiss the KJV in favor of less-known translations even if they are a bit more precise through using better texts than those available in the 17th century. Where the KJV uses a flawed translation, or where text was improperly added by the translators or earlier scribes, the commentary notes or paraphrase will address it.

As stated earlier, the reason for the paraphrase is that many people--especially ministers and theologians--using the King James Bible rarely, if ever, go beyond a superficial understanding of the words they see, misunderstanding hosts of passages because of the archaic English they are written in.

For instance, if you read 1st Corinthians 16:13, where Paul says to “quit you like men,” a normal person of average education will never comprehend that Paul means something along the lines of, “Act like grown men,” unless someone explains that to him or if he reads that in a commentary note.

Apart from that, some of the New Testament epistles weren’t written in a way that we can easily see and understand exactly what they mean. Originally, they were written down and then a messenger would have been briefed on what the writer (for instance, Paul) meant in a particular section. The messenger would then take the letter to its intended audience and read it, explaining what it meant as he did.

The problem for us is that we don’t have the messenger to explain it! Thus, we are sometimes left with only a skeleton that outlines the writer’s main points without flushing them out sufficiently so that we can understand exactly what he means. We must therefore rely on our own theological worldviews, or commentaries from theologians sometimes centuries removed from the days the text was written in, to speculate on what the New Testament writers meant. This is why theologians frequently disagree on the meaning of certain passages.

This is especially true in the case of Paul. His supernatural understanding of the Scriptures, coupled with a very fallible writing style, is why we’ve wound up with so many different denominational interpretations of his words, and why his writings continue to be misunderstood to this day by many people.

Here is one example from Romans 3:31: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

This is a perfect example of Paul’s leaving us a skeleton with no meat on it whatsoever. And naturally, theologians debate what he means in these two sentences. Many teachers, considering only the one brief sentence about establishing the Law, try to reduce Paul’s meaning there down to one brief sentence: that we put the Law on its proper footing through faith. However, a comparison of this verse with the theme of Romans, and the statements Paul has been making up to this point, can allow us to flush the verse out and determine his actual train of thought, along with the full implications of what he is saying in the verse, which actually go far beyond the two simple sentences that he wrote. These points can then be written down in a commentary note to help a reader understand the depth of the verse.

Unfortunately, normal people hate reading commentary notes! This is why the paraphrase will often expand the text to impart its full meaning for the reader who does not have the messenger to explain what the writer originally meant. Following is an example of the paraphrased Romans 3:31, showing how it amplifies the verse to convey Paul’s full thoughts behind the statement:

Actual text: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Paraphrased text: But am I saying that we make void the authority and warnings of the Torah through faith? God forbid! Rather, through faith, we set right what the Torah tries, yet fails to do despite its threats of judgment: Make men holy before God.

The fact is, most Christians--even ministers--do not have the training or skill to look at many hard Bible verses like this and understand them clearly. If you were to ask many to explain this verse, you might get a blank stare, a heretical speculation this means we must keep the Law of Moses if we come to faith in Christ, or else an off-the-cuff speculation that if we have faith in Christ, we're not under the Law at all!

This work is consequently written in order to teach and explain the writings of the New Testament--and especially the King James Bible--rather than to simply make the actual text a bit easier to read, which would still leave the reader confused in many instances about what a verse actually means. Thus, by teaming up the KJV with a paraphrase, those who appreciate the King James Bible will hopefully understand it to a greater degree, while those employing other fine Bibles may find this work to be a useful supplement to whatever Bible they normally study from.

Now as good as the King James Bible may be in some ways, it is also guilty of some very bad translations despite what some of its proponents think. The paraphrase will correct some of that, but there won't be a footnote every time it's done since too many footnotes will cause the important facts to be swallowed up by listing a bunch of minutiae. Thus, every so often you might see the paraphrase translate something in a completely different way than that of the King James translators without an explanation. While occasionally this will be because the author has simply made a mistake, often it will be because he believes there is a better rendering of the verse than the King James translators came up with. A quick glance at a direct translation Bible, or checking a Greek interlinear Bible, might help the reader understand the author's rationale in some cases.

Another major problem with most Bibles is the way the Scriptures are divided into verses*, often breaking up one sentence or paragraph into as many as eleven (!) verses, causing the reader to miss the impact of what’s written as he pauses to drop down to the next verse and pick up reading again. Here is a great example from Philippians 3:8-11:

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

The paraphrase restores it into one long sentence as it was originally written:

Yes, undoubtedly I count everything to be worth losing for the priceless knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things--considering them dung--that I may obtain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness based on Torah observance, but the righteousness which comes from God through faith alone, so that I may know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, thereby following in the pattern of his death if by any means I can likewise attain the resurrection from the dead.

Paul, of course, is notorious for his run-on sentences. Because of this, there will be places where the verses are reorganized for easier reading on the part of a Western audience, where the rules of language differ somewhat from that of the East. (Remember, Eastern people also read and write from right to left as well!)

* Numbered Bible verses originated with a Jewish rabbi of the 1400s who applied the idea to the Old Testament. The idea was later adopted by Stephanus, a printer in the 1500s, who did likewise with the New Testament as he traveled about on horseback.

Christian anti-Semitism and its effect on the New Testament

There is no question that in some places Christian animosity toward unbelieving Jews resulted in the transcription and translation of the New Testament being diluted and altered from its original meaning--but only on non-critical issues. For instance, great care was taken by ancient scribes and the later translators of the KJV to distance the translation from Judaism as much as possible, resulting at times in a slanted portrayal of the text. Here is an example:

James 2:2 traditional translation: “For if there come unto your assembly** a man with a gold ring...

James 2:2 actual translation: “For if there come unto your synagogue a man with a gold ring...

** This is the same word conveniently translated as synagogue if the sense is to be negative, such as Rev. 2:9, “The synagogue of Satan.

The good news is that the important issues of theology dealing with salvation haven’t been compromised. But error is still error, and only bad fruit can come of it. As a result, some have used the words of the New Testament to justify anti-Semitism, while the Jews, meanwhile, concluded that Christianity taught hatred of them as a people.

One can hardly blame either side when we see apparent wide-sweeping condemnation of “The Jews” and “The Pharisees” without an educated understanding that: 1--the word “Jew,” when used in a negative sense, is often more correctly translated as “Judean”***; and 2--that the problem with “The Pharisees” traces itself not to the entire movement, but to only one particular group of ultra-conservative Pharisee hypocrites who were in power during the time of Christ, and who died out by the end of the 1st century to be replaced by the more liberal group of Pharisees Jesus often got along with, whose leaders He quoted, whose oral traditions He sometimes observed, and with whom He had relatively few complaints. (This is covered in What you never knew about the Pharisees.)

*** In the time of the Gospels, there was much regional animosity between the Judeans and other Jews, much like the animosity between the Yankees and Southerners, or the arrogance of Parisians toward other Frenchmen--and much of the condemnation of “The Jews” is more of a cultural than a racial or religious bias. A perfect example of this can be shown in the ridiculous traditional translation of John 11:8: “His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” The disciples, not to mention Jesus Christ, were themselves Jews, and would no more speak such a nonsensical sentence than a Californian would say to a Texan, “Of late, the Americans sought to stone thee.” What they actually said was: “Master, the Judeans of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

Common misunderstandings within the New Testament

Apart from the term “The Jews,” there are some words used in the New Testament that had different meanings in that time and culture than they do today. They include:

Believe. In our culture, this word is typically understood as intellectually accepting that something is true. However, biblical use of the word means to rely on or consciously place faith in something, akin to the trust one has that a cane will keep a disabled person from his leg giving way, causing him to fall to the ground. The paraphrase will sometimes use the term place faith in as a substitute for the word believe.

Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven. By and large, these are synonymous terms referring to the Age brought about by the Messiah, and the establishment of his kingdom. The Paraphrase will sometimes use the term Messianic Kingdom in place of these terms.

The Law/The Law & the Prophets. The word Law is the most misunderstood and perverted word in the Bible! In Hebrew, the word is Torah, which means Instruction. Universally among the translations of the New Testament, Law seems to convey something negative, taking it from something that Paul says is holy, and instead making it something to be shunned as bad. It would be helpful to substitute in your mind the term God’s commandments when you see the words the Law. This will aid you in understanding the Torah to be the righteous commandments of God without over-exalting it. It is also helpful to understand that the Jews break the commandments down into three categories:

Mishpatim--Civil and Moral laws like, “Thou shalt not kill.” (For us, the moral laws in the Mishpatim are the unchanging heart of the Law that have existed from the creation of man before any written law was ever given.)

Edos--Witnesses to the Jewish faith or the will and nature of God. (Jewish ritual baptism falls into this category along with things like wearing prayer shawls or tefillin).

Chukim--Commandments that were given without an explanation as to why they should be followed. (Such as the ceremonial, dietary and Sabbath laws.)

The term Law & the Prophets, meanwhile, had two meanings: The Old Testament writings as a whole (as we view the phrase), but to the Jews it often referred to the written and oral Law.

Lawlessness. While this suggests anarchy, the term is better understood as a rejection of the Torah/Law of Moses.

Meat. Typically, this word simply means food of any sort. To avoid confusion, however, the author treats it literally.

Scribes. These were not copyists, but teachers of the Law of Moses.

Servant. The word should usually be translated as slave.

Sinners. In the Gospels are sentences like: “This man eateth and drinketh with sinners.” Sinners is more than just a term for unrighteous people. In that time, the “People of the soil”--or, “the Sinners”--were a classification created by the Pharisees to label the vast majority of Jews who failed to walk in the various written and oral laws with an approved degree of commitment.

Son of God/Son of Man. Originally, Son of God was not a reference to the virgin birth or that Jesus is the 2nd person of the Trinity. (Although I affirm both doctrines.) The term was synonymous with “Messiah” or “King of Israel.” In fact, any Jewish king from Solomon forward**** was called both “Son of God” and “Messiah” (meaning anointed). While the phrase sometimes does refer to Christ as the 2nd person of the Trinity, most of the time it means to make the claim that Jesus is the Messiah and King of Israel. Meanwhile, the term Son of Man (or bar Enash in the original language) has a dual meaning: One the listeners would view as, “I’m no one special,” but at the same time it ultimately declares that Jesus is the immortal and supernatural Messiah of Dan. 7:13.

**** This was based on God’s promise to David that He would be like a father to Solomon (2 Sam. 7:14).

Spirit. Among the uses for this word in the East, spirit can mean something along the lines of a prophetic teaching, a prophetic utterance, or a mystic interpretation of Scripture. If you don’t realize that, you may misunderstand a few verses in the New Testament using the word in that way when they say things like: “Now the Lord is that Spirit,” “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,” and so on.

Weak. Often, Paul uses the word weak, weakness, or infirmities not to refer our frailty or lack of strength, but rather to a lack of knowledge or understanding, and we must look at the context to determine which way he is using the word. An example is Romans 14:1, which refers to someone “weak in the faith,” who is still bound by some religious dietary laws due to his lack of full understanding. Even the word faith itself is arguably used a handful of times (Matt 16:8, 2 Cor. 10:15) as a synonym for knowledge or understanding because the Jews considered knowledge and understanding of God and His ways to be a component part of one's faith.

Works. The word can refer to religious or ceremonial observances, or to good or bad deeds.

Apart from these examples, many statements in the New Testament are idiomatic. Just as we might use phrases like, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” or, “Give me your John Hancock,” Eastern people used many phrases that had a different meaning from the sum of the words. Some of these you may recognize: Thou hast said it; The day and the hour; Give God the glory; Reigned as kings; I never knew you; Bought with a price; and Smite you on the cheek are all idioms.

At times, different regions might use the same language differently, and sometimes we must go beyond what the words seem to say in order to find out what they really mean. A friend of mine, for example, once went to visit relatives in Mexico. While there, she told her grandmother, “I’ll be back later,” using California Spanish. The woman got a very puzzled look on her face at hearing that, because the same words that mean, “I’ll be back later” to a Mexican-American from California mean “I’ll walk backwards” to an actual Mexican, even though both speak Spanish!

In another instance, the Beatles recorded a song in 1967 called, Within you/without you. Though people from the UK and the US both speak “English,” people in the UK still use the word without to mean outside of something, while people in the US only use it to mean not including something. Thus, American teenagers with a predisposition toward viewing the word in the one way their own culture used it wrongly believed the lyrics were saying that life goes on not including someone, when the message was actually that life goes on both inside and outside of someone!

There are some cases where the New Testament arguably presents similar problems for us in our Western culture.

Some final notes about the Paraphrase

Ultimately, the author can do no more than offer up his views based on nearly 40 years of studying history and the Bible with an open mind, trying to get to what the Scriptures actually teach, irrespective of pre-conceived doctrinal notions. Thus, the reader will undoubtedly find things he likes and dislikes, along with things he agrees or disagrees with. It must also be acknowledged that some fine theologians would have vastly different opinions than the author on some points, and the reader should reference a variety of views on certain passages to come to his own view on which position seems most reasonable. So check what the Catholic believes. Check what the Protestant believes. Consider the view of the Dispensationalist and the Amillennialist, the Charismatic and the Cessationist, the Calvinist and Arminian. See what makes sense to you, and cleave to that which is true. There are numerous arguable issues of biblical theology, and beyond the essentials of who Christ is and the means of salvation, we can all vigorously argue our positions so long as we can also admit that we can always be wrong.

Keep in mind that a paraphrase reflects the writer's own views, so it will always have error, here and there, due to the writer's fallible understanding of the Bible! Thus, a paraphrase--no matter how good--should never be considered inerrant to the degree a real translation like the KJV is. This is why you should never view any paraphrase or thought-for-thought Bible translation as an authoritative exposition of Scripture, but merely the understanding one person or group has about the Scriptures, which may or may not be wholly accurate. Having said that, the reader should still understand that even true Bibles choose some differing biblical texts over others; then add, delete, or flavor text to impart what the translators believe the original text means in the receptor language, again making even the best Bible translation fallible and in error, here and there, because of the translators' own prejudices.

One example is in Isaiah 34:14. In Hebrew, it incorporates the name of the female demon Lilith. Theologians, however--not just in the case of the KJV, but in most other Gentile-published Bibles--are uncomfortable with the fact that the Bible speaks about a female demon, and so they change the actual Scripture by taking it upon themselves to substitute everything from the words night creature to screech owl in place of Lilith’s actual name to avoid having to deal with the problem of the actual Hebrew text!***** If these same theologians believe the Scriptures are inerrant and should not be altered, one wonders why they see the need to improve upon what God has written by deleting the name of a demon simply because they do not like its implications.

***** Apart from most Jewish Bibles, I can only recall a few Gentile-published Bibles that keep Lilith’s name in the passage. By the way, the myth that she was Adam’s first wife is a newer, revisionist legend from hundreds of years after Christ. In ancient times, Lilith was a demon of lust who may have had some identification with Isis, Hathor, and a variety of other goddesses. Many rabbis also believed that she was the ‘Night Terror’ of Psalm 91 as the word for “Night” there is “Lil” or “Layil.”

Vince Garcia (newbible@earthlink.net)

December, 2005

Bibliography and suggested reading

A Dictionary of Paul and His Letters by Gerald P. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid

The Bible, From Ancient Eastern Manuscripts by George Lamsa

The Book of Enoch by R.H. Charles and Richard Laurence

Commentary on the New Testament from Talmud & Hebraica by John Lightfoot

Dead Sea Scrolls--A New Translation by Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr., & Edward Cook

Holy Bible (from the Vulgate) by Monsignor Ronald Knox, published by Baronius Press.

Jerusalem Bible by J R R Tolkien (among others)

Jesus the Pharisee by Rabbi Harvey Falk

Jesus the Jewish Theologian by Brad H. Young

Jerusalem in the time of Jesus by Dr. Joachim Jeremias (a must-read for any student of Biblical history!)

The Jewish Encyclopedia by Funk & Wagnalls

Jewish New Testament & Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern

Jewish Sources in Early Christianity by David Flusser

Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg

Life & Times of Jesus the Messiah by Dr. Alfred Edersheim

Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament by George Abbot-Smith

New Jerusalem Bible published by Doubleday Books

New Manners & Customs of Bible Times by Ralph Gower

New Testament Commentary by George Lamsa

Poet & Peasant by Kenneth Ewing Bailey

Strong’s Concordance by James Strong

Thayer's and Smith's Bible Dictionary

The Talmud by Soncino Press

The Talmud by Adin Steinsaltz

The Temple & its Ceremonies by Dr. Alfred Edersheim

Word Meanings in the New Testament by David Earle

Works of Flavius Josephus by William Whiston

Yeshua by Ron Mosely

Matthew

No one knows when the Gospel of Matthew was written, though it may have been around 50-60 AD in Antioch. It was almost certainly written first in Aramaic, and then later translated into Greek. This early “Hebrew Matthew” was probably the foundation for Mark’s subsequent Gospel.

Note: If you did not read the article about Pharisees before jumping into Matthew, note that references to Shammai or the Shammaiites are speaking of the chief Pharisee leader of Jesus’ time, and those who followed his legalistic teachings. The Pharisees who embraced his teachings were the main opponents of Jesus in the Gospels.

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 1

1 The book of the generation1 of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar2; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

6 And Jesse begat David3 the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;

8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;

10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;

11 And Josias begat Jechonias4and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;

13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;

14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;

15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;

16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus5 who is called Christ.6

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.7

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD8 appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS9 : for he shall save his people from their sins.

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

23 Behold, a virgin10 shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

1 This is a record of the ancestry of Jesus the Messiah, descendant of David, and descendant of Abraham.

2 Abraham (Father of a Multitude) fathered Isaac (Laughter); and Isaac fathered Jacob (Heel-catcher or Supplanter); and Jacob fathered Judah (He Shall be Praised) and his brethren;

3 And Judah fathered Perez (A Breach) and Zara (Rising) of Thamar (Date Palm); and Perez fathered Esrom (Enclosed); and Esrom fathered Aram (High); 4 And Aram fathered Aminadab (One of the Prince’s People); and Aminadab fathered Naasson (Enchanter); and Naasson fathered Salmon (A Garment);

5 And Salmon fathered Boaz (In Him is Strength) of Rahab (Wide); and Boaz fathered Obed (Serving) of Ruth (Friend); and Obed fathered Jesse (Wealthy);

6 And Jesse fathered David (Beloved) the king; and David the king fathered Solomon (Peaceful) of her that had been the wife of Urias;

7 And Solomon fathered Roboam (Enlarger of the People); and Roboam fathered Abijah (My Father is Yah); and Abijah fathered Asa (Doctor);

8 And Asa fathered Josaphat (Whom Yahweh Judges); and Josaphat fathered Joram (Whom Yahweh Has Exalted); and Joram fathered Ozias (Strength of Yahweh);

9 And Ozias fathered Joatham (Yahweh is Upright); and Joatham fathered Achaz (Possessor); and Achaz fathered Hezekiah (The Might of Yahweh);

10 And Hezekiah fathered Manasses (Forgetting); and Manasses fathered Amon (Builder); and Amon fathered Josias (Whom Yahweh Heals);

11 And Josias fathered Jechonias (Whom Yahweh Establishes) and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias fathered Salathiel (I Have Asked of God); and Salathiel fathered Zorobabel (Born in Babylon);

13 And Zorobabel fathered Abiud (Father of Praise); and Abiud fathered Eliakim (God Rising); and Eliakim fathered Azor (Helper);

14 And Azor fathered Zadoc (Just); and Zadoc fathered Achim (The Lord Will Establish); and Achim fathered Eliud (God His Praise);

15 And Eliud fathered Eleazar (Help of God); and Eleazar fathered Matthan (Gift); and Matthan fathered Jacob (Heel-catcher or Supplanter);

16 And Jacob fathered Joseph (Let Him Add), the husband of Miriam (Rebel), of whom was born Jesus (Yahweh is Salvation) who is called Christ--the Anointed One.

17 So there are fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen generations from David to the forced exodus to Babylon, and fourteen generations from that to the birth of the Messiah.

18 Now the circumstances of Jesus Christ’s birth were these: While his mother Miriam was still engaged to Joseph--before they had formally been married--she, though a virgin, was found to be pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

19 Her fiancé Joseph, a just man (who was unwilling to put her through the public humiliation of the Sotah ceremony for alleged adulteresses), considered divorcing her quietly.

20 But while he was debating what to do about these things, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, and said: Joseph, descendant of David--don’t hesitate to go through with this marriage to Miriam and take her as your wife, for her unborn child was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

21 She will give birth to a son whom you will name Yeshua (--or Jesus in the Greek tongue, which means ‘God is Salvation’--) because he will save his people from their sins.

22 This all happened so that a prophecy spoken by the Lord through the prophet Isaiah could come to pass:

23 Behold, a young (virgin) girl shall become pregnant, and give birth to a son that shall be called Emmanuel, which means ‘God is in our midst.’

24 Awakening, Joseph heeded the angel’s words, and took Miriam as his wife.

25 But he did not sleep with Miriam at any time during the pregnancy, and finally a boy child was born whom Joseph named Yeshua (Jesus).

1. This is believed to be the genealogy of Joseph, whereas Luke supposedly records Mary’s. The genealogy is intentionally incomplete to equal 42 generations (and this by counting some people twice). There is precedence for doing this in the Old Testament (Ezra’s genealogy is abbreviated, for instance), but why Matthew does this is a mystery we will never have a certain answer for. He may be omitting insignificant ancestors. The numeric value of David’s name is 14, and this may play into it. There were 14 Zadoqite High Priests from the time of the Tent Tabernacle to the erection of Solomon’s Temple, another possible inspiration for Matthew’s odd manipulation of the genealogy.

2. One of only four women mentioned in the genealogies of Jesus, whose name means “Date Palm.” Her story is in Genesis 38.

3. All Jewish kings had both a birth name and a coronation name(s). Solomon, for instance, was also called Jedidiah and Lemuel. It’s possible that David’s birth name was Elhanan as suggested in 2 Sam. 21:19. Note the reference there to Elhanan’s being the son of Jair, or that it was the “brother” of Goliath who was slain, is spurious in the opinion of some scholars.

4. Some theologians believe, based on a prophecy in Jeremiah 22:30 to Jechonias/Jehoiachin, that the Solomonic line became disqualified from producing an heir to the throne of Israel despite a prophecy in 2 Sam. 7:13, which speaks of Solomon's throne being perpetuated forever. Through this, the birthright shifted to Nathan's line, and Luke later traces that line from Nathan to Mary with the Solomonic birthright being restored when Joseph weds Mary and grants Jesus the rights to both genealogies. Against this is the fact that Philo identifies Jechonias with Neri, mentioned in Luke's genealogy (Luke 3:27), but this is hardly conclusive.

5. The Hebrew birth name of Jesus was Yeshua, the Hebrew version of Joshua, which means God is salvation. In Galilee, the “a” was not pronounced, and so His followers may have known him as Yeshu. The later Greek/Latin/English transliteration to Jesus may, by divine intent, be His coronation name, and so it may literally be true that it is to Jesus that every knee shall bow.

6. Meaning “anointed.”

7. There is far more to this than is apparent in this one sentence. Mary's being pregnant when already betrothed was a strangling offense (assuming she was between 12 and 12 1/2), or a stoning offense. And if she were from a priestly family, as some believe, the penalty would have been death by a torch being thrust down her throat. While it is debatable how often stoning took place under the Roman occupation, Mary, whose Hebrew name was Miriam (Rebel), otherwise would have had to undergo the Jewish Sotah ceremony (see Numbers 5) to prove she had not committed adultery. Although reasonably straightforward in the Torah, by the time of Christ it had grown into a humiliating process where the woman was partially stripped and dragged around the grounds of the Temple in an effort to wear her down and cause her to confess her sin, the apparent belief being that she was guilty until proven innocent. During this ceremony, the women of Jerusalem were required to come to the Temple to observe the spectacle as a deterrent to adultery. It is these things that are on Joseph’s mind as he debates how to handle the situation.

8. Some denominations (Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example), deny the Deity of Christ, and teach that He is an exalted angel who in the Old Testament appeared as the Angel of the Lord. While most Christians agree that Jesus did appear at times as the Angel of the Lord, this verse quickly shows a flaw in the view that Jesus was nothing more than an angelic being since the Angel of the Lord appears when Christ is already within the body of Mary, showing that there are at least two separate beings who were called by this title: Gabriel--a true angel--and the pre-incarnate Christ.

9. As noted, the angel probably would have used the name Yeshua, rather than the Greek Iesous  (Jesus), but this is not a certainty.

10. Quoted from the Septuagint, the popular Greek version of the Old Testament of the time. As the oldest texts we have are from later centuries, it is impossible to verify that copies in Matthew’s time used the Greek word parthenos, which usually, but not always, refers to a virgin. The Hebrew word almah was employed in the Hebrew text, meaning either a virgin or a young girl/woman. The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 clearly was not prophesying a virgin birth in its direct context to king Ahaz, but this suggests the possible divine inspiration behind the Septuagint translation (72 scribes, working independently, supposedly produced identical manuscripts of at least the Pentateuch, though there is a question as to the accuracy of the source claiming this); or that ancient scribes also considered this to be a Messianic prophecy and chose to translate it in a metaphysical manner.

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 2

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men1 from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts 2 thereof, from two years old and under 3, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. 4

19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither:5 notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth6: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the latter days of Herod the Great, some sages came to Jerusalem from the east.

2 They asked: Where is he who is born the King of the Jews? (In Babylon,) we saw his star arise, proclaiming his birth, and are come to pay homage to him.

3 When Herod the Great heard about this, he became nervous (for his throne), and all Jerusalem trembled with him.

4 So when Herod summoned all the chief priests and Torah teachers among the people and demanded to know where the Messiah would be born,

5 They told him: Bethlehem in Judea, for the prophet Micah wrote:

6 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

7 Then Herod (--concerned about word of this child’s existence spreading--) secretly called the visiting sages and asked exactly when they had first seen the star.

8 (When they answered that it was around a year previously,) he then sent them to Bethlehem, saying: Search diligently for this young child, and let me know when and where you find him so I may go pay homage to him as well.

9 At Herod’s word they departed--and the star they had seen in the east moved before them, and led them to a house (in Bethlehem) where the young child was. And there it halted.

10 At seeing the star do this, the sages greatly rejoiced.

11 They came into the house and found the infant with his mother Miriam. They fell prostrate, reverencing him, and then they opened their packs and presented the family with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 As they slept, God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod, so they returned to their country by a different route.

13 After they left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in another dream, and told him: Get up, and flee with the young child and his mother to Egypt, and stay there until I bring word for you to return, for Herod will try to find the babe and slay him.

14 As soon as the dream was over, Joseph awakened and wasted no time in leading his family out of Bethlehem, and they left that same night, fleeing westward to Egypt.

15 They were there until Herod died soon after, so that a word of the Lord through Hosea the prophet could be fulfilled that said: Out of Egypt have I called my son.

16 After Herod realized that the sages had gotten the better of him, he was furious, and sent his men out to slay all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were around (one year old or younger, for the sages said it was around a year earlier that they had seen the star).

17 This was to fulfill a prophecy by Jeremiah the prophet:

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

19 Herod died soon after this, and in Egypt an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in another dream,

20 Saying: Get up, and take the baby and his mother back to Israel, for the ones who wanted him dead are now dead themselves.

21 So Joseph arose, gathered up the young child and his mother, and they returned to the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Herod’s son Archelaus had taken the throne of Judea (--and was already showing himself to be a despot like his father--) he was afraid to go back. On top of that, he had a dream from God not to go back as well, and so he turned aside to the region of Galilee.

23 Thus, Joseph came to settle in a hamlet called Nazareth, fulfilling what was said by the prophets: He shall be called a Nazarene.

1. Matthew probably jumps about a year ahead in time, for the Wisemen did not arrive until long after the child was born. It was around a 10-day journey from the border of Babylonia to Israel, so they apparently delayed in making their journey.

The identity and number of the Wisemen is debatable. The word magi may be understood in a variety of ways, from astrologers, to magicians, to Jewish sages, to even court officials. The most reasonable understanding would be that they were sages aware of a coming Messiah, and that the sign of a star in the heavens was viewed as a fulfillment of a prophecy in Numbers 24.

2. Should be translated as: “Region.”

3. It was a custom to reckon the age of a child from conception, and at birth it was already considered to be one year old.* (In later periods, children could be considered to pass their first year upon the arrival of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year in September.) Thus, someone two years old by our reckoning would only have been one year old by Jewish reckoning. Herod probably ordered that all boys younger than toddlers be slain.

* This custom even carried over to some degree into Western Christianity. In Catholicism, for instance, the age of a potential godparent is still reckoned under the assumption that a child is considered to be a year old at birth. Thus, a godparent’s minimum age is 16 through that formula, but only 15 in actual chronological age.

4. An odd statement. Its original context referred to Jews taken captive by the Assyrians. Rachel’s tomb is near Bethlehem, and this may figure into the verse.

5. Joseph had good reason to fear, for while Archelaus held a banquet for all of Jerusalem on the death of Herod as a gesture of goodwill, he slew 3000 Jews during the Passover of 4 BC (though this date may be off by a couple of years).

6. Skeptics point out that there is no such prophecy in the Old Testament. However, since Matthew states that this was “spoken” of, he may be citing an ancient oral tradition that is now lost. 2 Chron. 30:19 may indicate a lost book of the Bible called the Sayings of the Seers (or the Book of Hozai), which may be the genesis of this claim by Matthew. Whether the tradition cited held that the Messiah would literally come from Nazareth (which, as a city, is not recorded in any literature until long after the death of Christ, though archeological evidence from a 1st century synagogue in Caesarea mentions the town by name in connection with a family of priests), or whether this refers, in a philosophical sense, to the Messiah ben Joseph, or “Suffering Messiah,” who was expected to be mocked and rejected, we cannot know for sure. For those unaware, there was a belief in some streams of Judaism that at least two Messiahs were coming: the Messiah ben David, the conquering Messiah everyone wanted; and the Messiah ben Joseph, a suffering Messiah who would precede the conquering Messiah, and be slain. One description of a dying Messiah can be found in the apocryphal book of 4th Ezra, chapter 7, written 350 years before Christ, which states that God’s Son, the Messiah, would die, and the earth returned to a state of oblivion as in its beginning.

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 3

1 In those days came John the Baptist1, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

2 And saying, Repent2 ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts3 and wild honey.

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.4

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees5 and Sadducees6 come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones7 to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:8

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.9

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

1 In the days when Jesus had grown to adulthood but still lived in Nazareth, John (--or Yochannon in the Hebrew tongue--) the Baptizer started his ministry in the Judean wilderness,

2 Saying: Repent, all of you, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!

3 Now John was the one spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he wrote: The voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

4 This same John (--as had Elijah in olden times--) dressed in a garment of camel’s hair with a leather girdle about his loins, and he ate (carob beans) and wild honey.

5 Everyone in Jerusalem, Judea, and in the region along the Jordan came,

6 And were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees, (the religious leaders who controlled the synagogues,) and Sadducees, (the priests who controlled the great Temple,) come to his baptism, John railed against them, saying: You bunch of snakes! Who warned you to repent and escape God’s coming wrath?!

8 (Change your attitudes and the way that you act if you’ve come to repent!)

9 Don’t think to yourselves, We’re Abraham’s descendants (so we have nothing to fear)! I tell you God can take these rocks you see (--the ones erected by Joshua when the Israelites entered the Promised Land--) and turn them into children of Abraham if He wants to!

10 Be warned that God’s ax is ready to cut down the trees that bear no good fruit, therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire!

11 I am indeed baptizing you with mere water for repentance, but someone is coming after me--one whose sandals I am not even worthy to carry (as a slave would)--who will baptize with the Holy Spirit, and fire!

12 His fan is in his hand, ready to fan the harvest to separate the wheat and gather it into his barn, but the chaff (--John said about the Pharisees and Sadducees--) he will burn with a fire that will never go out!

13 Eventually, Jesus also came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.

14 But John tried to stop him, saying: I need you to baptize me, and yet you come to ask me to baptize you?

15 Jesus answered: Allow it, for we must do this to fulfill the plan of righteousness. So John baptized him.

16 When Jesus came up from the water, John had a vision of the heavens opening up and the Spirit of God descending and resting upon Jesus like a dove.

17 And a voice from heaven said: This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased!

1. Josephus on John the Baptist.

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins, but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared, lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise, thought it best by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure to him. (Ant. 18 5.2)

Note: In the Middle East, there are still thousands of non-Christian followers of John the Baptist called Mandaeans, with their own unique baptismal and religious practices. The Mandaeans supposedly invented the handshake as a form of greeting.

2. The word metanoeo--one of the most important words in the New Testament--together with its brother word metanoia, shows the basis of true repentance that leads to salvation. The word means to come to a moral understanding that one’s sin is wrong in God’s eyes, and through that to change one’s behavior away from sin and toward righteousness. Its cousin word metamelloai means to be sorry for one’s sins primarily because of the circumstances a person now finds himself in as a result of them. This false, superficial repentance is the sort evidenced by Judas, who “repented himself.”

3. A probable mistranslation. While locusts are kosher, and though the Essenes used them as a food when they could find them (they aren’t quite as common in Palestine as one might think), tracing the word back to the Hebrew, it refers to carob beans. The Jewish Mishna, coincidentally, verifies carob and honey as food of Nazirites.

Note that carob pods were the “husks” that the Prodigal Son wished to fill his own belly with.

4. The kosher form of baptism/immersion involved a person dipping underwater three times (as even the 1st century Christian Didache shows). No one touched him during this, but up to three witnesses might stand by to verify the baptism was performed correctly, for if so much as the top of the head failed to submerge, then the baptism had to be redone.

Unlike our modern Western culture, baptism was usually performed in the nude. Thus, there is no reason to suppose that John’s baptism took place with attention given to modesty as the movies portray. This brings up an interesting question: What was the role of women in the formula? Women would not have been allowed to be present at a men’s baptism, and there are two options:

1. John’s wife (if he had one) or else some godly women followers* conducted separate baptism rituals for females.

2. That women did not participate in John’s baptism, for although in Judaism women immersed for numerous reasons, we have no certain New Testament proof that women ever received his baptism. Most, however, presume they did. If so, they likewise did it nude. By the time of Acts, something had changed in the formula since Paul baptizes Lydia who presumably was clothed; and Philip baptized both men and women. Maimonides also allowed for potential clothed immersion provided both the person and his clothing were washed clean beforehand.

Last of all, the end of the verse, which mentions followers verbally “confessing” their sins to all, is written in a way indicating it was done as a part of the ritual.

* Jewish writings may give some enlightenment on this matter, for it is recorded: The women place a woman in the waters up to the neck; and two disciples of the wise men, standing without, instruct her about some lighter precepts of the law and some weightier, while she, in the meantime, stands in the waters. And then she plungeth herself; and they, turning away their faces, go out, while she comes up out of the water.

5. Josephus on the Pharisees.

Now, for the Pharisees, they live meanly, and despise delicacies in diet; and they follow the conduct of reason; and what that prescribes to them as good for them they do; and they think they ought earnestly to strive to observe reason’s dictates for practice. They also pay a respect to such as are in years; nor are they so bold as to contradict them in any thing which they have introduced; and when they determine that all things are done by fate, they do not take away the freedom from men of acting as they think fit; since their notion is, that it hath pleased God to make a temperament, whereby what he wills is done, but so that the will of man can act virtuously or viciously. They also believe that souls have an immortal rigor in them, and that under the earth there will be rewards or punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously in this life; and the latter are to be detained in an everlasting prison, but that the former shall have power to revive and live again; on account of which doctrines they are able greatly to persuade the body of the people; and whatsoever they do about Divine worship, prayers, and sacrifices, they perform them according to their direction; insomuch that the cities give great attestations to them on account of their entire virtuous conduct, both in the actions of their lives and their discourses also.

6. Josephus on the Sadducees.

But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this: That souls die with the bodies; nor do they regard the observation of any thing besides what the law enjoins them; for they think it an instance of virtue to dispute with those teachers of philosophy whom they frequent: but this doctrine is received but by a few, yet by those still of the greatest dignity. But they are able to do almost nothing of themselves; for when they become magistrates, as they are unwillingly and by force sometimes obliged to be, they addict themselves to the notions of the Pharisees, because the multitude would not otherwise bear them.

Josephus on the Essenes.

The doctrine of the Essenes is this: That all things are best ascribed to God. They teach the immortality of souls, and esteem that the rewards of righteousness are to be earnestly striven for; and when they send what they have dedicated to God into the temple, they do not offer sacrifices because they have more pure lustrations of their own; on which account they are excluded from the common court of the temple, but offer their sacrifices themselves; yet is their course of life better than that of other men; and they entirely addict themselves to husbandry. It also deserves our admiration, how much they exceed all other men that addict themselves to virtue, and this in righteousness; and indeed to such a degree, that as it hath never appeared among any other men, neither Greeks nor barbarians, no, not for a little time, so hath it endured a long while among them. This is demonstrated by that institution of theirs, which will not suffer any thing to hinder them from having all things in common; so that a rich man enjoys no more of his own wealth than he who hath nothing at all. There are about four thousand men that live in this way, and neither marry wives, nor are desirous to keep servants; as thinking the latter tempts men to be unjust, and the former gives the handle to domestic quarrels; but as they live by themselves, they minister one to another. They also appoint certain stewards to receive the incomes of their revenues, and of the fruits of the ground; such as are good men and priests, who are to get their corn and their food ready for them. They none of them differ from others of the Essenes in their way of living, but do the most resemble those Dacae who are called (city people).

7. John may have been baptizing where Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan and erected 12 large memorial stones (Josh. 4), and these may be the stones he refers to.

8. Though often presumed to be the fire of the Holy Spirit upon Christians, John seems to be speaking back and forth to his followers along with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Thus, the fire spoken of refers to the latter groups being consumed in wrath, and not to “Holy Ghost fire” on believers. This is why Mark omits the verse about fire in Mark 1:8 in his record of John’s words.

9. Jesus does not seek baptism because He has need of repentance. He may be doing so to identify with us. Or, He could be immersing because He is now going to begin His ministry as a rabbi. Immersion would be appropriate to reflect His change in status from a layperson to a teacher of the Torah. It is also possible that He is undergoing baptism as part of a priestly ordination.

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 4

1 Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God1, command that these stones be made bread.

4 But he answered, and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.2

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.3

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues,4 and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed5 with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.

25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

1 Then the Spirit of God led Jesus up into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

2 He fasted a full forty days and nights, and at the end was very hungry.

3 When the Tempter came to him (in his weakness), he said: If you’re really the Son of God, command a miracle, and turn these rocks into bread!

4 But Jesus answered: It is written in the Scriptures that, Men shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that God speaks.

5 Next, the devil took Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem and set him upon the pinnacle of the Temple.

6 He said: If you’re the Son of God, jump down--for it’s written in the Scriptures: He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

7 Jesus’ reply was: It is again written in the Scriptures, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

8 Then the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and gave him a vision of all the world’s kingdoms and their glory.

9 He said to Jesus: All these (people and nations) I will give to you if, falling down, you will do an act of worship to me.

10 Then Jesus said to him: Get away, Satan! It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve!

11 Then the devil left, and angels came and ministered to Jesus.

12 Now when Jesus heard that Herod Antipas had cast John into a dungeon, he went back to Galilee.

13 And after leaving Nazareth, he moved to Capernaum [the city of Nahum the prophet], which is on the coast of the Sea of Galilee in the regions assigned to the tribes of Zebulon and Napthali,

14 So a prophecy of Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled:

15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

17 From that point forward, Jesus (took up the message of John, preaching and proclaiming): Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!

18 One day, Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee and saw two brothers--Shimon, called Peter, and Andrew his brother--who were casting a net into the great lake, for they were fishermen.

19 Jesus said to them: Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men!

20 So they immediately left their nets, and followed him.

21 Going along the shore, he found two other brothers, James and John, who were mending their fishing nets in a boat with their father Zebedee, and Jesus called them too.

22 So they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Jesus.

23 Jesus then went all around the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the “Good news” of the Messianic Kingdom, and healing all sorts of sickness and disease troubling the people.

24 Jesus’ reputation spread throughout all Syria, and the people flocked to him with all the sick people who were diseased or in pain; and others who were demon-possessed, insane, or paralyzed--and he healed them!

25 Because of this, massive crowds from Galilee, the “Ten Cities” region, Jerusalem, Judea, and other lands far beyond the Jordan, followed him wherever he went.

1. Some teachers believe that the devil was attempting to get Jesus to independently resort to His own supernatural power to relieve His hunger, disqualifying Him as our redeemer since He would have failed to live completely as a human man by turning to the power of His own divinity to solve His problems. As mentioned in the introduction, the term “Son of God” is primarily a synonym for “the Messiah” or “King of Israel.”

2. By means we do not know, the devil brings Jesus atop the Temple in Jerusalem, 175 feet above the city, tempting Him to perform a supernatural act in front of all Jerusalem to prove to the masses He is the Messiah.

3. This is an interesting event. Can it be that we have the devil, who knows precisely who Jesus is--God in the flesh--has the gall to tempt his very creator, who can destroy him with a single word, into falling down and actually ‘worshipping’ him?

Unlikely.

So to understand the event, we must look beyond what seems to be happening, and use reason to determine what is actually happening. If we accept that there is no logic whatever in the devil trying to get his own creator to worship him, we can then surmise that Satan’s true offer is not the authority of the Gentile kingdoms (which the Scriptures indicate are God’s to give anyway), but rather the lost souls within those kingdoms over whom the devil has ultimate ownership and control. Thus, Satan is not trying to get Christ to worship him as his god. He is seeking some level of Christ’s acknowledgment of his temporal authority, and by this to undoubtedly preserve his own existence. Some commentators otherwise believed this incident to be one whose ultimate purpose was to reveal to Satan just who Jesus was. Whatever the case, Jesus does not give Satan’s claimed legal authority even minimal acknowledgment.

.

4. The word is daimonizomenoi, which is translated as “possessed,” although the term demonized is a better rendering. A great can of worms is opened within Christian circles because of this word, with some believing that Christians can, and others that they cannot, fall into the category of being demonized. As the Gospels show, someone demonized can undergo a variety of effects from minor physical illness to full demonic possession. The assertion that Christians are entirely immune to forms of demonization short of whole possession does not appear to be fully substantiated by the New Testament, although that belief is within orthodox theology.

5. The synagogue is not a Biblical invention, but originated during the Babylonian captivity as a means for the Jews to retain knowledge of their religion and customs. Upon the Jews’ return to Palestine, the synagogues provided a place of worship, teaching, and fellowship.

 

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 5

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.1

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.2

18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.3

19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.4

20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.5

21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

22 But I say unto you6, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca7, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool8, shall be in danger of hell fire.

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.9

29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

30 And if thy right hand offend10 thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. 11

33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:

35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 12

40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.13

42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.13

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.15

1 And seeing the vast host of people, he went up upon a hill (so that his voice could be heard more clearly), and when he had sat down, his disciples came to him.

2 Then Jesus began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3 Blessed are those who are (humble and contrite), for theirs is Kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are those who show mercy to others, for they will have mercy shown to them.

8 Blessed are those with pure hearts, for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are those who work to bring peace to the earth, for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what is right, for the Kingdom of heaven awaits them.

11 Blessed are you when you’re slandered, persecuted, and lied about because you follow me.

12 Rejoice, and be very glad--for you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven since this is how the prophets were persecuted before you!

13 You are the salt of the earth. But if, like diluted salt, you lose that which makes you a force of seasoning and preservation, what good are you? You are no better than the salt that is strewn in the Temple courts during wintertime that men trample upon.

14 You are all lights in this world, and like a city that is built upon a hill you cannot hide what you are.

15 Men don’t light a candle and hide its light under a basket! They put it in a candlestick so everyone in the house is able to see in the darkness.

16 So let the light of God in you so shine that people will see your good deeds, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

17 Don’t misunderstand my purpose, for I have not come to distort or overturn the Law or the prophets [as some might be claiming]. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

18 I assure you that if it takes to the end of time itself, not so little as one point of minutiae will pass from the commandments--until the whole of the Law completes its ordained purpose!

19 So whoever breaks so little as one insignificant commandment, and teaches others some rationale for doing so, will be called the lowest of the low in the Kingdom of heaven! But whoever follows the commandments of God, and teaches others to follow them as well, shall be called a great man in the Kingdom of heaven.

20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of (hypocrites like) the Torah teachers and Pharisees, you have no chance of entering into the Kingdom of heaven.

21 For instance, you’ve heard it was said from ancient times, Thou shalt not kill, and whoever murders shall be in danger of the judgment…

22 But I want you to know that if you even hold a grudge against a brother in the community, you are in danger of the judgment! And if you verbally denounce a brother in the community, you may be taken to court for slander--but if you (pass judgment upon another person’s salvation or right standing with God when it is not your place to do so,) you are in danger of hellfire yourself!

23 Therefore, if you bring a sacrificial gift to the altar and there recall that a brother has something against you,

24 Leave your gift before the altar, go make amends with your brother, and then come back to make the gist offering.

25 If an adversary sues you, settle your debt before the judge intervenes even if it’s on the courthouse steps--because, if you’re in the wrong, the judge may hand you over to the jailer, and he will throw you into Debtor’s Prison!

26 I tell you truly, once the gavel comes down you won’t get out of prison until you find a way to pay off every cent of what you owe from behind bars. (And how could you do that, once you’re in prison?)

27 (With this in mind,) consider the fact that from days of old you’ve heard it said: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

28 But I want you to know that a person who simply looks upon another and fantasizes about them--even if it goes no further--is guilty of adultery in his heart so far as God is concerned (and a price must be paid for that sin)!

29 So if you can’t turn your right eye away from an attractive woman or man--pluck it out, and throw it away! It’s better to lose an eye than to have your whole body wind up in hell! (Where, like the man in Debtor’s Prison, you will stay until you’ve paid the full debt.)

30 As well, if your hand is used for your own lustful self-gratification--cut it off, and throw it away! Better to have no hand than to let your hand lead you to destruction, and your whole body wind up in hell! (Where, like the man in Debtor’s Prison, you will stay until you’ve paid the full debt from behind bars.)

31 It’s been said that, A man who wants to divorce his wife should write out a Bill of Divorce, and send her away.

32 But I tell you that as far as God is concerned, any man who divorces his wife for a reason other than her committing fornication, makes her, and anyone she subsequently marries, both adulterers (because God still considers her married to her first husband--and the man who divorced her to start with will be called to account for his action that caused two others to wind up in sin)!

33 You’ve heard it has been said by people since the olden days, You shall not swear falsely, but will carry out the oaths you make by invoking God as a witness.

34 But I tell you not to make vows at all! Do not swear at all, or invoke heaven as a witness, for that is where God’s throne is.

35 Do not swear by anything upon the earth, for it is God’s footstool; nor should you swear by Jerusalem itself, for as the Psalm says, it is ‘the city of the Great King’ (--the Messiah).

36 Don’t even swear by your own head, because you can’t even make one hair white or black.

37 But just agree or disagree to a thing and leave it at that--because anything else is of the Evil One.

38 You’ve heard it said that it is acceptable to take reasonable vengeance for wrongs done to you--eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.

39 But I tell you, don’t take that attitude and resist evil done to you by someone. And if a person insults you, ignore it.

40 If anyone wants to sue you for your robe--hand over your cloak, too.

41 (If a Roman soldier invokes his right under their law, and compels you to carry his equipment for one mile--carry it for two miles!)

42 Give to anyone who asks, and don’t refuse someone who wants to borrow from you.

43 (You have heard the Essenes say:) “A man should love his neighbor, but hate his enemy.”

44 But I say to love your enemies as well, and bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who take advantage of, or persecute you.

45 In doing this ,you will be children of your Father in heaven, for He has the sun rise on the evil as well as the good, and sends rain to good people as well as bad.

46 For if you love only those who love you back, what reward is there in that? Even tax collectors (--the most hated people in our society--) do that!

47 And if you wish Godspeed only to those in your own circle of friends, how are you being any better than the tax collectors who do likewise?

48 By doing these things I’ve told you, you will demonstrate the attributes of your Father in heaven, and thus be perfect as He is perfect!

1. A reference to the practice of taking unusable salt and casting it in the courtyards of the Temple during winter.

2. A common misunderstanding from reading this verse is that Jesus means He has come to keep the Law for us so that we are freed from the responsibility. While this is true to a degree, Mosely, Stern, and others point out that the proper understanding of the word “fulfill” would be in the sense of correctly walking in and teaching the Torah, while the word “destroy” is better understood as to reject the Torah or to teach it incorrectly. Their interpretation fits the context of the chapter very well. That noted, the ultimate truth is that Christ fulfils everything the Law points to, and once that happens, the Law completes its purpose and passes into history.

3. The words “till all be fulfilled” can be interpreted at least a couple of different ways:

Jesus is saying that the Law will be in force perpetually, and that everyone should keep it in every age. Thus, the Law is an eternal covenant that can never end nor be superseded. The person with this view would point to passages like Isaiah 2:3, Zechariah 14:16 and Ezekiel 43:18, which seem to indicate that even in the Messianic Age the Torah will be the Law of the Land, and the Gentile nations will keep the Jewish Festivals at a Millennial Temple that will conduct animal sacrifice. The problem with this view is that it would be at variance with the totality of Paul’s writings, the ruling in Acts 15 absolving Gentiles from having to become circumcised and convert to Judaism and its Law, the Book of Hebrews’ denunciation of the Mosaic covenant and its animal sacrifice; and Galatians 4’s affirmation there are two separate covenants, the one from Sinai being superseded by the covenant based on faith.

A more valid view is that Jesus, knowing that the Jewish leaders will irrevocably break that covenant by rejecting Him, is saying that the Law remains in force until He, as its fulfillment, completes the entire work of redemption through the Crucifixion. At that point, certain parts are cast by the wayside (such as the sacrificial system), and what remains of the Law thereafter is useful only as a basis for godly living, or as a tool to help the Jews to retain their cultural identity as a people. Thus, the Torah, as a covenant, is superseded by the New covenant in Christ’s blood which is based on better promises than what the Old covenant provided. The Old Testament passages cited earlier might thus be viewed as what would have happened had Israel accepted the Messiah and seen the Messianic Kingdom ushered in when Christ presented Himself to the people. (Note that some theologians hold that the prophecies were actually fulfilled in the 2nd Temple period.)

4. Again, Jesus’ words here can be understood from two different perspectives: Anyone, in any generation, who teaches that some point of Mosaic Law need not be obeyed is “least” in comparison to a “great” man who teaches they all should be kept; or, Jesus is actually clarifying His own personal affirmation that He would never overturn any point of the Law--while the Law is still in effect as a covenant! As we know and will be seeing in later chapters, the religious leaders regularly criticize Jesus because He is less strict than they in His understanding of Torah observance. This may have caused Him in verse 17 to correct a misunderstanding that his views equate to an endorsement of loosening up restrictions in Mosaic Law. As a Messiah operating under the Mosaic covenant, Jesus is thus showing the people what proper keeping of Mosaic Law entails, which is vastly different from what the Pharisees and Sadducees believe. In the dispensation of the Mosaic covenant, not even the slightest commandment can be ignored, and this explains Jesus’ strong affirmation that every commandment is critical, and great men will teach others to observe them all.

However, Israel is soon headed for a train wreck by its ultimate rejection of the Mosaic covenant as a consequence of its rejection of Christ as king under that covenant. Once that happens and the religious leaders irrevocably abrogate the covenant of Sinai, a New covenant--something in God’s ultimate plan--is instituted and offered not just to Israel, but to all people.

As Paul writes in Gal. 3: 17, the ultimate covenant between God and man is the Abrahamic covenant which existed entirely outside of the later Mosaic covenant. The later covenant, however holy and glorious it may have been, cannot modify, cancel, or replace the older, more important covenant instituted between God, Abraham, and his descendants on the basis of faith only! Thus, while the Sinai covenant is ‘waxing old and ready to vanish away’ because of Israel’s impenitent heart, that covenant--whether in force or not--has no bearing on the fulfillment of the more important Abrahamic covenant that is based solely on faith, and not on obedience to commandments! Thus, in a dispensation where the Mosaic covenant is in force and retains the potential to see a Messianic kingdom established within its defined parameters, teachers of truth will extol all points of the Law including the minutiae. But once that covenant is rejected for the final time by the generation to whom the Messiah has come--that covenant passes away for good, leaving the greater Abrahamic covenant of faith intact through the atonement of Messiah’s sacrifice.

5. Here, Jesus begins to cause his listeners to question their traditional understanding of righteousness. Across the board, the Pharisees were understood as the most fanatic followers of both the written and oral Torahs to a degree the average person could not likewise devote himself. Jesus now shows that even the fanatical observance of the Torah by the Pharisees is insufficient to grant sufficient righteousness to earn a place in heaven with God. Thus, as important as the Law may be, only a greater righteousness than a man is capable of obtaining through obeying its commandments will suffice to save him from hell--i.e. the ultimate righteousness that comes not through Law, but through faith alone.

6. A word meaning an idiot, but in context here referring to the rashim, the wicked who were hell-bound. In the culture, the wicked were to be scorned, treated with contempt, and shunned.

7. A word related in idea to rasha/rashim, but going a step further to an early Pharisee Calvinistic-like doctrine of predestination that held some of the sinners were so far gone that God had predestined them for hell, and they were incapable of repentance. Jesus is thus saying that one who makes a proclamation that an individual is predestined for hell is in danger himself of hellfire. Although this stretches credulity, another option is that Jesus is confirming a rabbinic belief that one of the three sorts of people who must spend eternity in hell without hope of leaving is a man who calls a Jew a bad name. (The others are someone who cohabits with a married woman, and someone who shames another Jew in public.)

8. One of only two points in which Jesus appears to hold a view in agreement with the school of Shammai, for the followers of Shammai held that a sinful thought constituted sin, whereas the Hillelites believed that sin occurred only in carrying out the act.

9. A probable reference to sexual self-gratification, for which the Talmud likewise encourages cutting off of the hand that “reaches below the navel” (Niddah 13a). Otherwise, it could be an idiomatic reference to thievery.

10. The second point on which Jesus sides with Shammai, for the school of Hillel was very liberal on divorce, permitting it for a wide variety of reasons, while the school of Shammai generally forbade it except for adultery or Scripturally illicit marriages.

11. A Middle Eastern saying referring to being insulted, and not to a literal slap across the face. The Tosefta (Baba Kamma 9:29f) also encourages one “struck on the cheek” to forgive even an unrepentant person. Paul uses the term in this manner in 2 Cor. 11:20.

12. Referring to the fact that a Roman soldier could compel a civilian in an occupied territory to carry his goods for up to one mile.

13. A criticism of Essene teachings in their Rule of the Community.

14. Although referring to Deut. 18:13, which calls on the Jews to be “perfect,” Jesus is not literally commanding the listeners to live in sinless perfection (which we may infer by the fact that no one departs in offense as in John 6:60). Rather, He is encouraging them to adopt God’s heart and attitudes toward others, reflecting the holiness and righteousness of the Father in heaven.

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 6

1 Take heed that ye do not your alms1 before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet2 before thee, as the hypocrites3 do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have4 their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet5, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions6, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily7 bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23 But if thine eye be evil8, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?9

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

1 Make sure that you never do a good deed publicly--to be praised by others--or your Father in heaven will not reward you!

2 When you give alms, (don’t do it publicly) as the hypocrites do, sounding a trumpet so that everyone in synagogues and the streets knows about it and thinks well of you! Those who do their good deeds publicly can count on nothing more than public praise as their only reward.

3 When you do something charitable, (do it as secretly as you can), and then never give it another thought.

4 If you do things in secret, the day will come when your Father, who sees things done in secret, rewards you openly, before everyone.

5 Also, when you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who pray loudly and call attention to themselves in the synagogues and the street corners so people marvel at how religious they are! I tell you truly, they have all the reward they will ever get.

6 So when you pray to your Father, go do so in a private place, and shut the door so no one knows. Then your Father, who sees everything done in secret, shall reward you openly.

7 Also, when you pray, don’t be like the pagans who compose an hour-long monologue, thinking God will hear them because of all their words.

8 Don’t be like them--your Father knows what your needs are before you even ask!

9 Pray simply, like this: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

14 Remember--if you forgive men who do wrong to you, God will forgive your own sins that do wrong to Him!

15 But if you refuse to forgive those who wrong you, your Father will not forgive your wrongs either!

16 Also, when you undertake a fast, don’t be like the hypocrites who go around looking weak and sickly so everyone can see how religious they are. I want you to know that’s the only reward they’ll get!

17 So when you fast, (do it in such a way that you look perfectly normal),

18 So no one but your Father will know what you’re doing--and your Father, who sees everything done in secret, shall reward you openly.

19 Don’t set your sights on hoarding earthly wealth and possessions that can break, wear out, or be lost to thieves.

20 But set your sights on heaven (and the eternal), and store your treasure up there, where it can never be lost, stolen, or waste away.

21 For where your treasure is, your heart will be.

22 The body has good light to see by when a man has good eyesight. But a blind man can’t do anything but stumble around in darkness.

23 In the same way, if you have a (greedy, covetous heart), you are trapped in the darkness of spiritual blindness, and are much worse off than a simple blind man.

24 No man can be a slave to two masters; he must choose between them, and love the one while hating the other. So you cannot serve God (who wants you to be a giver), while at the same time you give in to the greedy acquisition of wealth (Satan) tempts you with.

25 This is why I tell you not to worry about your life, wondering what you’ll eat or drink; or worry about your body and what you will clothe it with. Isn’t life meant to be more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds of the air--they don't buy and sell, or invest and profit. But your heavenly Father feeds them just the same. Don't you think you're more important than birds to Him?

27 Which of you, by worrying about it, can add even one hour to your life?

28 And why are you so worried about your clothing? Look at the beauty of the wild lilies growing around us--they don’t work for a living, nor do they spin cloth.

29 But I tell you, even King Solomon, in all his wealth and glory, wasn’t clothed in garments any more beautiful than the petals of these flowers (which God clothed them with).

30 So if God is concerned enough to clothe the grass in the field, which is here one day and used as kindling the next, why do you have no faith to believe He will clothe you without your minds constantly worrying about money, you doubters?

31 Therefore, stop worrying and saying things like, “What shall we eat?” “What shall we drink?” Or, “What shall we wear?”

32 For those are the sorts of things the pagans spend all their time worrying about! Your Father in heaven already knows you need these things.

33 But make your primary emphasis that of finding your part in God’s kingdom, and following after His righteousness. Then He will see to it you have all these other things.

34 So don’t spend your time worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow is coming whether you worry about it or not. (God will help you deal with each day’s problems as they come.)

1. Better understood as: ‘Acts of charity.'

2. A probable reference to a series of 13 trumpet-shaped collection boxes within the Court of Women at the Temple. The shape caused coins deposited in the receptacles to make a loud noise, bringing attention to the act. The truly humble could deposit their alms secretly in the Chamber of Secrets (or Silence), a room of the Temple, and this is probably part of what Jesus is talking about.

3. The first instance in the New Testament where “hypocrites” are mentioned. This fact has been the root cause of much anti-Semitism--and little wonder, for virtually no reasonable counter-balance to the impression conveyed by the Gospels is given in the Scriptures. But if the New Testament, secular, and Jewish history are all fundamentally correct, the only conclusion is that this was a low point in the history of Israel when the priesthood was corrupt, and the most influential members of the Pharisee movement were rife with hypocrisy. As mentioned in What you never knew about the Pharisees, I trace this widespread hypocrisy to one group of powerful Pharisees who followed the teachings of Shammai. With the fall of the School of Shammai in 70 AD, such hypocrisy largely died with it as the school of Hillel gained ascendancy. In fact, the Talmud, written by the descendants of the school of Hillel, is honest and critical about hypocrisy, listing seven sorts of Pharisees, only one of which is righteous:

The shikmi Pharisee: One who either converts because he is forced to (as in the case of the Shechemites in Genesis 34), or one who advertises his religious obligations.

The nikpi Pharisee: One who walks with an exaggerated humility.

The kizai Pharisee: The Pharisee who willfully commits a sin believing that a good deed atones for it.

The ‘pestle’ Pharisee: One who walks around with his head bowed like a pestle in a mortar.

The Pharisee who constantly asks, “What is my duty that I may perform it?” (A possible dig at the Shammaiites.)

The Pharisee who is one because of a love for God.

The Pharisee who is one out of fear.

The Talmud (Sotah 22b) also records the king Alexander Jannaeus on his deathbed warning his wife to, “Fear not the Pharisees and the non-Pharisees, but the hypocrites who mimic the Pharisees.” Thus, from all sources, it is apparent that indeed there was an influential group of hypocrites within the Pharisee movement, and it is these hypocrites with whom Christ strove throughout His ministry.

4. The word “have” is a strong verb referring to one who can expect nothing beyond what he has been given.

5. Not necessarily referring to where you hang your clothes, but a possible exhortation to pull up one’s prayer shawl around him to cover his face.

6. This is either a warning against saying codified prayers in the belief that this act gets God’s attention (for instance, mechanically rattling off 10 Rosaries, thinking God is impressed); or else it is a criticism of overly lengthy prayers in which the petitioner argues with God, trying to convince Him, through logic and reasoning, to grant his request. The latter is more likely since codified prayers were a staple of Judaism, and Jesus Himself institutes the Lord’s Prayer, which is a codified prayer.

7. This is a unique word (epiousios) unknown in the Greek language, and its meaning is a matter of speculation.

8. To have an “evil eye” in that culture referred to a greedy person. As a point of interest, a stingy Jew in the time of Christ was one who only tithed 40% of his goods. (The pious tithed 60%.)

9. The actual translation is not talking about height, but rather adding time to one’s life.

 

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 7

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.1

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?2

5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 3

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

1 Don‘t act as your own judge and jury, lest judgment came back upon you!

2 For God will judge you exactly the same way, and to the same degree, that you judge others!

3 And why do some of you think you can see a splinter in the eyes of your brother when you don’t realize there is actually a log in your own eye?!

4 How can you say to a brother in the community, “Let me pull that splinter out of your eye, friend,” when there’s a log in your own?!

5 You hypocrite--worry about removing the log of your own faults from your eye before you concern yourself with removing the splinter of your brother’s!

6 (Don’t give holy things--like the wisdom or oracles of God--to profane people who think they know it all, lest they trample them down and turn on you like a pack of hungry pigs!)

7 (Regarding prayer:) Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.

8 For everyone who asks shall receive, and everyone who seeks shall find; and the door will be opened to him who knocks.

9 What man of you, for instance, if his son asked him for some bread would give him a rock to eat?

10 Or if he wanted a broiled fish, would hand him a snake?

11 If you fathers, being evil in comparison to your Father in heaven, bless your own children with good things--how much more is your Father wanting to bless with good things His own children who ask things of Him?

12 Therefore, treat everyone with the same goodness and respect you’d want them to treat you with, for this is whole point of the Law and the Prophets.

13 Enter through the small, narrow gate that is often ignored in favor of the wide, easy-to-pass-through gate, for the wide gate leads to destruction and many go through it.

14 You see, the way to life is through the narrow gate, and it is hard, so there are few who find and enter that gate.

15 Beware of false prophets who seem sincere and meek--like sheep--but inwardly are actually ravening wolves.

16 You’ll know them by the fruit of what they say and do. Men don’t pick Grapes off thorn bushes, nor do they pick figs from thistles, do they?

17 Likewise, good trees bring forth good fruit, and rotten trees bring forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot sprout bad fruit, and a rotten tree cannot sprout good fruit.

19 And rotten trees are cut down and burned up, because their fruit is good for nothing.

20 Thus, by the fruit of what they do, you shall know the good ministers from the bad.

21 Not everyone who pays lip service to me, saying, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of heaven--but only the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.

22 At the Last Judgment, many (who thought they were proclaiming my Word, but actually perverting it), and some who even cast out demons or worked miracles, thinking it was with me behind them, will say to me, “Lord! Lord! Haven’t we (proclaimed what you wished us to), and cast out demons, and worked many miracles in your name?!”

23 But I will say back to them, “(I had no part with you!) Get out of my sight, you workers of iniquity!”

24 Thus, whoever hears, understands, and obeys my teachings, is like a wise man who built his house upon solid bedrock.

25 Rains, floods, and winds could not move the house because it was built on the perfect foundation.

26 But anyone who hears my teachings and ignores them is like a fool who built his house on a sandy flood plain.

27 The rain, floods, and winds came against the house and washed it away, and not a trace of it was left!

28 At the conclusion of Jesus’ speech, the people were amazed at his doctrines he taught.

29 For he taught with the assurance of someone with absolute authority (whose word was not subject to debate), rather than the Torah teachers (who would say this rabbi taught this, while that rabbi taught that, leaving the people to try to decide whose opinion was the right one).

1. This is the only verse of Scripture most agnostics know. It would be good to note a more complete verse given in John 7:24 about judging actions and motivations: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Even so, John 7 is said in a different context than this verse here. If, however, we look at the fuller context of this verse provided in Luke 6, we see Jesus is not so much talking about judging actions or motivations, but He is warning the people not to act as their own judge, and retaliate for wrongs done to them by others, something that Paul reaffirms in Romans 12:19! Thus, the verse absolutely does not mean Christians are forbidden to confront the world about its sin and declare it as such; and the non-Christian who quotes this verse as a warning against someone’s criticizing his unbiblical lifestyle shows his ignorance.

2. A midrashic saying Jesus is quoting. “It is written in the days when they judged the judges, that is, in the generation which judged their judges, When any (judge) said to another, Cast out the mote out of thine eye; he answered, Cast you out the beam out of your own eye.”

3. Jesus here paraphrases the great Hillel who, in turn, was paraphrasing Tobit 4:14-15 (“Watch yourself, my son, in everything you do, and be disciplined in all your conduct. And what you hate, do not do to any one.”) and applying the axiom as a summation of the heart of the Torah. The Talmud records the incident as follows:

A certain heathen (Gentile) came to Shammai, and said to him, “Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Thereupon, Shammai drove him off with the builder’s rod that was in his hand. When he went to Hillel, Hillel said to him, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn.” --Shabbat 31a, Jerusalem Talmud.

Also, the term Law & the prophets didn’t necessarily refer to the written Torah of Moses and men like Isaiah or Jeremiah, but was a term most often referring to the written and oral Torahs. Part of the oral Torah of the Jews, the Takkanot (extraneous religious laws), and Gezeirah (rules that go beyond the Torah to keep the Jews from even accidentally violating some part of it) are the “traditions” Jesus so rebuked the Pharisees for.

4. I never knew you” is an idiomatic way of saying something along the lines of: “I never approved of you and what you were doing,” “I had no part in this,” etc.

 

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 8

1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped1 him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,

6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

8 The centurion answered, and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down2 with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

12 But the children of the kingdom3 shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant4 was healed in the selfsame hour.

14 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid5, and sick of a fever.

15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.

19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.6

22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked7 the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.

34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

1 When Jesus descended the mountain, great crowds followed him.

2 Then a man whose skin was stricken with psoriasis or leprosy ran up and knelt at his feet, saying: Lord, if you want to, you can cleanse me of this defiling disease!

3 Jesus reached out and touched the man, saying: I want to--be cleansed from this ailment! And his skin disease was cleansed.

4 Then Jesus told him: See that you don’t tell anyone about this miracle, but go to the High Priest and offer up the Gift of Thanksgiving mandated for it in the Law of Moses. That will be a testimony to the Sadducees (about who I am, and that God does indeed do miracles--unlike what they have come to believe).

5 When Jesus entered into the city of Capernaum, a chief Roman centurion who’d heard of him urgently sought him out,

6 Saying: Lord, my slave lies gravely ill in my house, paralyzed and in anguish.

7 Jesus said to him: I will come and heal him.

8 But the centurion answered: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter into my house. Just command the healing be done, and my slave will be healed.

9 For I am a man under authority, with other soldiers under me, and when I give an order to someone there is no question of its being carried out--I know it will be done. I say, “Go!” and one goes; or “Come!” and one comes; or “Do this!” to a servant, and he obeys.

10 When he heard this, Jesus couldn’t believe his ears, and exclaimed to those following along: Truly I say that I have yet to find a Jew in Israel with faith this strong!

11 And I say to you that many (Gentiles) shall come from the east and the west, and rest alongside Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Messianic Kingdom.

12 But the children for whom the Kingdom was created will be cast out of God’s presence into outer darkness where they shall weep and gnash their teeth.

13 Jesus then said to the centurion: Go your way--as you have believed, it will be done! And the (boy) was healed in the same hour!

14 Now when Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw the mother of Peter’s wife in bed, sick with a bad fever.

15 He touched her hand, and immediately the fever vanished. Then the woman got up and prepared food for them.

16 When the sun went down, they brought many people to the house that were plagued by demons, and he cast them out by his command and healed all the people who were sick.

17 This fulfilled a prophecy by Isaiah the prophet: Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

18 When Jesus saw what a commotion was being made over him by the crowd, he told the disciples they should all cross to the other side of the lake.

19 As he was departing, a certain Torah teacher came up, and said: Master, I will follow you wherever you go.

20 But Jesus replied: Foxes have dens, birds of the air have nests--but the Son of Man has not so little as a tent to sleep in. (Are you really prepared for the cost of following me?)

21 Another disciple said: Lord--let bury my father first, and then I will come.

22 But Jesus told him: Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead!

22 (Alternate reading--Aramaic): But Jesus told him: Follow me, and let the town bury the dead!

23 Then Jesus entered a boat, and his disciples followed.

24 After they departed, a great storm arose in the Sea of Galilee that threatened to swamp the ship. But Jesus was asleep through it.

25 So the disciples awakened him and cried out: Lord--we’re going to drown! Save us!

26 Jesus replied: Why are you afraid, you doubters? Then he stood up in the boat, rebuked the wind and waves, and everything became completely calm.

27 Those aboard were dumbfounded, and said: What sort of man is this that he commands even (the forces of nature)?!

28 And when he crossed over to the region of the Gergesenes, he encountered two demon-possessed men coming out of the tombs, who haunted the graveyards like ghouls, and no one dared travel near them.

29 The demons in them shouted out: What are you here for, Jesus, Son of God? Are you come here to torment us before the time (of the final Judgment)?

30 Now in the distance was a huge herd of pigs feeding.

31 So the demons implored Jesus, saying: If you cast us out, at least send us into those (unclean) pigs (instead of casting us into perdition)!

32 Jesus to them: Go. So the demons left the men and possessed the herd of pigs, driving them off a cliff and into the lake where they drowned.

33 The flock’s keepers ran away and spread word of what happened at the nearby town--how that the two demon-possessed men had been delivered, and the herd of pigs sent into the lake.

34 And the whole city (--afraid--) came out to meet Jesus. But when they saw him, they urged him to go somewhere else and leave them alone.

1. The word here means to do obeisance, not that he worshipped in the way one would worship God.

2. The word translated as: “sit down” actually means to recline as Jesus does during the Last Supper.

3. Meaning the Jews, most of whom ultimately will not believe in God's Messiah, and thus be damned.

4. The “servant” is probably his son through an unofficial marriage. See the commentary in Luke 7 for more details.

5. In a near comatose state.

6. The man may be asking Jesus to permit him to wait until his father’s actual death before leaving home. Otherwise, his father may have already died and been buried, and the son is going through the year-long process of grieving and saying kaddish--prayers for the dead--since some Jews, then and now, had a Purgatory-like belief in which prayers for the dead were thought to be either help the deceased, or else aid the living to do deeds of atonement for the loved one’s sins. Jesus here would be understood as overturning those concepts by showing what is done is done, and thus the living can do no good for the dead. Lamsa also noted that Jesus’ words in the Aramaic text could also be understood as the alternate reading renders it, which actually makes more sense than the Greek.

7. The word here is epitimao, a word used throughout the New Testament in the context of rebuking/exorcising an evil spirit, which suggests that the whirlwind that caused this sudden and intense storm may have had a demonic origin.

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 9

1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.1

2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.2

4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive3 sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,)

Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

7 And he arose, and departed to his house.

8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom:4 and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans5 and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?6

12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners7 to repentance.

14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.

17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler8, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.

20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:9

21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.

22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith10 hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

23 And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,11

24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.

25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.

26 And the fame thereof went abroad into all that land.

27 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us.

28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.

29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.

30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.

31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.

32 As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.

33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.

34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.

35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;

38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest12, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

1 So Jesus returned to the boat and crossed back to Capernaum.

2 Some people there brought up an infirmed man confined to a bed, hoping Jesus would heal him. Noting their faith, Jesus looked at the man, and said: Cheer up, Son--the sins that caused this disease are forgiven.

3 This statement was an affront to some of the Torah teachers who were present, and they thought to themselves, This man is a blasphemer (to put himself in the place of God, and forgive someone’s sins)!

4 Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he asked: Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?

5 Is it any easier [--or any less the province of God--] to tell someone his sins are forgiven, than it is to tell an infirmed man, “Get up, and walk”?

6 But that you may know that I, the Son of Man (--the bar Enash prophesied of by Daniel--) have the authority on earth to forgive sins, I say to this sick man: Arise, and carry your bed back home!

7 So the man got up and went home!

8 When the people saw this miracle they were amazed, and rejoiced that God had visited them in such a manner, and given such power to men.

9 Now as Jesus passed the city gates, he saw a tax collector named (Matthew) sitting at the collection table, and he told him: Follow me! So (Matthew) left his table behind and followed him.

10 Jesus spent the night at (Matthew’s) house, and when dinner was served, many of the tax collectors under (Matthew’s) control--and many non-religious friends of his as well--sat down with Jesus and his disciples.

11 But when some Pharisees saw this, they asked the disciples: Why is your rabbi eating with these turncoat tax collectors and those other sinners?!

12 When Jesus heard that, he replied: The healthy aren’t the ones who need a doctor--it’s the sick!

13 Go and learn what the Scripture means when God says: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. You see, I’m not here to call righteous men to repentance; I’m here to reach the sinners!

14 Then some of John the Baptist’s followers asked Jesus: Why do we and the Pharisees fast (and afflict our souls) regularly, but your disciples do not?

15 Jesus answered: Do groomsmen mourn at a wedding when the bridegroom is present? But eventually the bridegroom will be taken away from them and then they will fast (and mourn).

16 Also, no one sews a patch of brand new cloth on an old article of clothing, for the mixture of old and new cannot survive the process of washing, and will come apart.

17 Nor do men put fermenting wine in a stiff old wineskin that can crack and spill the contents out. You put new wine into a new wineskin and this keeps both safe.

18 While Jesus was speaking, a head of the local synagogue rushed up and knelt down, saying: My daughter has died, but come touch her, and she will live.

19 So Jesus got up and followed the man back to his house along with his disciples.

20 But as he went, a woman who had suffered a uterine discharge for twelve years hurried up from behind and touched the hem of his prayer shawl.

21 For she said to herself, If I can only touch his clothing, I will be made whole!

22 Jesus turned and saw her. Then he said: Daughter, don’t be afraid (of what you have risked by touching me in the state you are in). Your faith has cured you! And indeed, the woman was made whole from that very hour.

23 Jesus finally made it to the synagogue leader’s house where a loud mourning party of minstrels and others had assembled.

24 He said to the people: Move out! This girl is not dead, but only asleep. But the people laughed in derision.

25 So Jesus had the mourners expelled from the house, then he went inside and took the child by the hand, and she arose.

26 And the tale of this miracle spread throughout the region.

27 When Jesus left the house, a couple of blind men followed along behind, crying out: Son of David--have mercy on us!

28 After Jesus returned to (Matthew’s) house, the two came inside and Jesus asked them: Do you believe I am able to restore your sight? They said: Yes, Lord!

29 He touched each man’s eyes, and said: Let it be done to you as you have believed.

30 Then they could see again, and Jesus sternly ordered them: Don’t tell anyone about this miracle!

31 But the two couldn’t contain their excitement, and after leaving spread word throughout the region what had happened.

32 (Things got so chaotic that Jesus and the disciples left town.) As they were departing, someone brought a man to be healed who had been struck dumb by a demon.

33 After Jesus cast the demon out of him the man was able to speak, and the crowds were amazed once again. They said: Israel has never seen anything like this!

34 But the Pharisees said: He is casting out demons because Beelzebub, Prince of demons, is empowering him!

35 Jesus went everywhere, teaching in the synagogues the good news that the Messianic Kingdom had come, and healing every sickness he came upon.

36 When Jesus saw the vast host of people, he was moved with compassion because they were so desperate to see him that they were getting sick from hunger and lack of water, like sheep with no shepherd to watch after them.

37 He told the disciples: The harvest is rich, but there aren’t enough workers to harvest the crops!

38 Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send workers to bring His harvest in!

1. Capernaum.

2. Their thoughts, at this point in time, are entirely correct--for who but God can forgive sin?! It is this fact--that God in the flesh stands before them-- which the Jews, whom Christ has come to redeem, will never accept.

3. A point can be made here that the forgiveness is in the sense of remitting the temporal penalty for sins. Since Christ has yet to be crucified, the ultimate atonement and washing away has yet to occur. But prior to this, Jesus is exercising divine authority to remit the temporal consequences of sin.

4. In Israel, there were two sorts of tax collectors, the gabbai, who collected taxes on produce, along with an income and “head tax” on all who were teenagers or older; and the mokhsa, who had greater authority, and could levy fees at will when the occasion called for it: Taxing goods, charging tolls, enacting tariffs, and so on. If the first sort of tax-gatherer was hated by the people, the latter was despised. Matthew may have been a mokhsa. Zaccheus, in Luke’s Gospel, certainly was. If necessary, they could use torture to collect. (Note Clement of Alexandria claimed that Zaccheus was another name for Matthias, chosen in Acts to replace Judas.)

5. Possibly the gabbaim who were under Matthew’s authority.

6. The attitude represents the feelings of not only the Pharisees, but also the Jews in general. Racial and cultural prejudice of the time created a myriad of barriers between Jews and the rest of the world, and even between the Jews and the Jews--but on this point everyone could agree: the tax collectors were fit only for scorn and shunning.

7. On the surface, meaning the am ha aretz, the “people of the soil,” the average person who needed to come into full compliance with the Torah. On a spiritual level, Christ is showing that He is the savior of those who know they are sinners in need of a savior, for the man who believes he is living a life of sufficient goodness to be acceptable to God has no place in Him.

8. Jairus, the president of the local synagogue.

9. The woman touched the tassels of his prayer shawl, the traditional poncho-like garment of a pious man. (What people today mistakenly view as a prayer shawl--and what is often pawned off by some ministers using Christian witchcraft in association with it-- was not invented until after 135 AD!) In the Torah (Num. 15:37-41 and Duet. 22:12), is a commandment to wear “fringes” on the corners of garments. The fringes are known as tzit tzit. There are 613 threads, representing the 613 commandments in the Torah, which are wound into tassels. David Stern points out that in this passage, and in the episode of healing the daughter that follows, Jesus overturns the traditional, and even Scriptural fact that impurity defiles the pure, for rather than Christ being defiled, the impure woman is healed, and the dead body of the child, rather than defiling Him, is restored to life! The woman is justifiably afraid, for to willingly touch, and thereby defile a man with her impurity, was a stoning offense.

10. A very problematic verse for those who are offended at the certain teaching of “faith principles.” Here the woman, apparently because of her own faith, and without the conscious consent of Christ, in effect pulls a miracle out of Him!

11. As is the custom in other countries of the region, when someone died, a group of flute players and mourners would form a procession for the burial.

12. Possibly the only place in the New Testament showing a prayer to the Holy Spirit--whom Acts 13:2 shows is the one who calls forth laborers into ministry--although most presume the prayer is to the Father.

 

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 10

1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;

4 Simon the Canaanite1 and Judas Iscariot2, who also betrayed him.

5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles3, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,

10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.

12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.

13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.4

24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.

25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.

27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.

42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

1 And when Jesus called his twelve disciples to him, he gave them authority against demonic spirits, to cast them out, and also gave them the power to heal all manner of sickness and disease.

2 These were the names of his twelve apostles: First was Shimon, who is also called Peter. Then Andrew his brother; and James and John, the sons of Zebedee;

3 Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew the tax collector, James, son of Alphaeus, Lebbaeus (Jude), who is surnamed Thaddeus,

4 Simon the Cananean, and finally Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

5 Jesus sent these twelve out, telling them: Don’t go into any Gentile areas or Samaritan cities.

6 Go instead, he said, to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.

7 As you go, preach: The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!

8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. Take no money for what you do, for freely you have received, so freely give!

9 Don’t even take any money with you when you start out,

10 Nor take a sack, extra clothing, shoes or staffs on your journey, for the laborer deserves his pay. (Your needs will be met as they arise.)

11 Whatever city you enter, ask around until you find a just family of good reputation to lodge with, and stay there until you move on.

12 When you enter a house, (pronounce a blessing of peace upon it).

13 And if the household is worthy let your blessing remain. If it is not worthy, let your blessing of peace return to you.

14 And if anyone doesn’t allow you into their home or their city, or if they reject what you say, shake the dust off your shoes as you leave.

15 Believe me--God will show more mercy to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than He will to that town!

16 I am sending you out as sheep marching toward waiting wolves, so use your heads and be wise as serpents, but also be gentle as doves.

17 Watch out for (unbelieving) men, for they will haul you before religious tribunals, and have you beaten in their synagogues.

18 You will also be brought in front of the chief rulers of both the Jews and the Gentiles because of your commitment to me, and then you will testify of me to them.

19 But when this happens, don’t plan out your strategy for answering the charges that will be brought against you, for the words you will need to say will be provided to you at the right time.

20 They will come from the Spirit of your Father in heaven, and not from your own mind.

21 (Over me,) brother will betray brother to death, father will betray child, and children will betray their parents and cause them to be put to death.

22 Everyone will hate you because of who and what I am, and what I stand for--but he that endures to the end will be saved.

23 When they persecute you in one city, flee to another, for you will not have time to reach every city in Israel before the Son of Man arrives!

24 A student is not greater then his teacher, nor is a slave greater than his master.

25 It is enough that the student be like his master, and the slave like his lord. If they call the Master “Beelzebub,” how much more will they denigrate those of his household in the same way?

26 But don’t fear them (--since you will be vindicated, and they condemned, in the end: for the truth behind all men’s deeds and motivations will be shown clearly for what they are).

27 What I tell you in secret, speak openly. What I whisper to you, shout from the housetops.

28 Don’t fear those who can only kill your body, but not your soul--fear only God, who can destroy body and soul in hell!

29 Aren’t a couple of sparrows sold for pocket change? But your Father knows when one of them falls from the sky, and dies.

30 God knows you so well that He can even tell you how many hairs are on your head.

31 So don’t worry, for you mean more to God than many sparrows.

32 If someone admits he is one of mine before men, I will admit he is one of mine to my Father in heaven.

33 But if someone denies he is one of mine to men, I will deny he is one of mine to my Father in heaven.

34 Don’t assume I’m here to bring forth the universal peace to the earth you’ve been taught the Messianic Age will see. (For now,) I am not here to bring peace, but to wield a sword!

35 For I am come to set a son against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a wife against her husband’s mother.

36 Because of me, a man’s greatest enemies will live in his own house with him!

37 But he who loves his father or mother, or son or daughter more than me is unworthy of me.

38 And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me (--enduring the persecution of standing for me--) is unworthy of me.

39 He who compromises, and finds some way to save his life, shall in the end lose it. And he who gives his life up for me shall find true life.

40 Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and if he welcomes me he welcomes Him who sent me.

41 He who welcomes a prophet because of what he is receives the same reward as the prophet he honors. He who shows hospitality to a righteous man gains the reward of a righteous man.

42 Any disciple who does so little as give a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers shall in no way lose his reward.

1. A mistranslation. It should be Simon the Cananaean. The Cananaeans were a sect of the Zealots, fanatical revolutionaries who advocated violent overthrow of the Romans. Galileans, by the way, was yet another slang term for Zealots, going back to Judas the Galilean who formed the Zealots in the early part of the 1st century.

2. The first mention of Judas. The meaning of his surname is a mystery. Possible interpretations are:

Ish Kerioth--the most common belief is that Judas was a man from the city of Kerioth, near Hebron. But since Judas was probably the son of Simon the leper, mentioned in Matthew 26:6 and John 12:4, this may not be true.

Iskortya--referring to an apron worn by tanners that had pouches sewn into them into which could be placed money, and so the reference could be understood as referring to the fact that Judas was the group’s treasurer.

Sheqarya--an Aramaic word meaning a liar.

Ha Sicarii--meaning Judas may have been a member of the infamous Sicarii, a particularly violent group of Zealots who figured prominently in the revolt of 66 AD, and whose last stand was at Masada. The problem with this idea is that the Sicarii aren’t really known by this name yet.

3. The Gospel must first be presented to the Jews, who were heirs to the promise. Only after the leaders of the Jews reject it is the way truly open for the Gentiles to be adopted into the family of God through faith, apart from converting to Judaism.

4. An odd statement that appears to suggest the apostles will not have the time to preach the Gospel in all the cities of Israel before the return of Christ. Possibly Jesus is speaking both in the immediate sense, and also prophesying about the future. He thus is saying the apostles will not reach all of Israel before the Crucifixion; and in the years subsequent to this, they will undergo the persecutions He warns of.

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 11

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.

2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,

3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? 1

4 Jesus answered, and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:

5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.

10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist:2 notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.3

13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.4

14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation?5 It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,

17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.

19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:

21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.6

22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

25 At that time Jesus answered, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.

27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy7, and my burden is light.

1 Having commissioned his twelve disciples, Jesus departed to teach and preach in their various Galilean cities.

2 Meanwhile John, who was locked up in prison, heard about the things the Messiah was doing (along with his teachings against violence), and so he sent two of his disciples.

3 They said to Jesus: John asks whether you are the only Messiah, or whether we should look for another Messiah coming after you (who will actually be the one to usher in the complete fullness of the Messianic Kingdom).

4 Jesus answered in reply: Go and tell John what you’ve seen and heard:

5 That the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.

6 And blessed is he who does not stumble (if I don’t do what he wants or expects me to).

7 As they left, Jesus began to say to the multitudes about John: What did you expect when you went into the wilderness to see John? (Someone whose word would change with the shifting winds of popular opinion like a reed shaking back and forth in the wind?)

8 Or some man dressed in expensive, comfortable attire? No--people who dress like nobles live in kings’ castles.

9 But what was it that you went out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you--and much more than a prophet!

10 For John was the one Malachi foretold of when he wrote: Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

11 I tell you truly, of every child ever born to a woman, there has never been a more important one than John the Baptist. Even so, the lowest-ranking person in the Messianic Kingdom is greater than he is (--and this is how much greater the covenant about to be instituted is than even the covenant under which John functions).

12 (And from the time of John’s appearance to now, Satan has done all he can to keep the Messianic Kingdom from taking root, but it has forcefully sprouted just the same.)

13 For all the prophets and the Law of Moses pointed to and foretold the day John would arrive and herald the Kingdom.

14 And if you can accept it, John is Elijah, who was expected to appear before the Messiah himself.

15 If you can understand what I am saying, good!

16 Yet to what can I liken those of this generation who have heard the Message? They are like childish brats in the marketplace, whining out to each other:

17 “You didn’t dance to our wedding march, so we played a funeral dirge, and you wouldn’t mourn in response to that either. (What’s your problem?)”

18 For John was (a Nazirite,) living a Spartan existence and avoiding food and wine, and they said, “He is (insane)!”

19 But then the Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and yet they complain, “He is a gluttonous drunkard who wants to get in good with tax collectors and sinners!” As wise people show what they are by what they say and do, so witless people do likewise!

20 Then he began to criticize the cities where he had done most of his miraculous deeds, because they would not repent:

21 Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented to a man in goatskin and ashes (and their cities would have been spared).

22 I say to you that the sinners of Tyre and Sidon will see less punishment than you will at the Day of Judgment!

23 And you, Capernaum--will you be exalted up to heaven? No, you will be brought down to hell, because if the same things had been done in Sodom it would be standing to this day!

24 I promise you that the land of Sodom will get off easier than you will on the Day of Judgment!

25 At that time Jesus prayed, saying: I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you hid these truths from the intellectuals and the clever, revealing them instead to the simple.

26 Yes, Father, for it seemed good in Your sight to do so.

27 The Father has given me (all power and authority), but none of you really knows who or what the Son is, but the Father does. And none of you knows who or what the Father is but the Son, and whoever else the Son chooses to reveal Him to.

28 Come to me, all you who work and are wearied--and I will give you rest.

29 Cast off your single-ox yoke, and take my double-ox yoke upon you, and learn from me--for I am gentle and humble in heart (and will do all the heavy work, that your soul may find rest).

30 Because my burden is not one where you do the work; I am the one who shoulders the burden for you, and thus my yoke is a pleasure to bear!

1. Just what John is asking is open to interpretation. The possibilities follow:

John, sitting in jail, is beginning to lose faith as Jesus seems to be taking a passive role in reaching out to the masses. Rather than coming forth as a conquering Messiah who will free the people, He seems to be rejecting overt kingship over Israel and instead only preaches repentance, love, and forgiving one’s enemies. In order to satisfy himself, John sends representatives to ask specifically if Jesus is the promised Messiah. David Stern holds this opinion, proposing that John was surreptitiously asking for confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah, backing up his contention by pointing out that Jesus’ surreptitious answer in verse 15 quotes from the text of Isaiah listing several miraculous things only the Messiah will do: Make the blind to see (Isaiah 29 and 35); the lame to walk (Isaiah 35 and 61); cleanse the leprous (Isaiah 61); open the ears of the deaf (Isaiah 29 and 35); raise the dead (Isaiah 11); and preach to the poor (Isaiah 61). Matthew may actually affirm this notion by going out of his way to call Jesus “Christ” (Messiah) in verse 2.

However, I think that John is asking for clarification whether Jesus will fulfill the roles of both the Messiah ben Joseph (the “suffering Messiah”) and the Messiah ben David (the “conquering Messiah”). Keep in mind that many Jews believed two Messiahs were coming: One who would minister spiritually to the Jews, and the greater Messiah who would usher in the Messianic Age. Since his followers are telling John that Jesus isn’t saying or doing anything suggesting His imminent seizure of the throne of David, John asks if there is “another” Messiah yet to come who will fulfill the rest of the prophecies.

2. A problematic verse for Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who exalt Mary as being second only to Christ in favor and authority. Here, Jesus excludes His mother from such a lofty position and instead exalts His cousin as being the ‘greatest’ person born.

3. One of the most difficult New Testament verses. This very liberal paraphrase may help one to understand the idea better:

And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the demons have fought to hold back the Kingdom of heaven, but the righteous press forward and enter in, and by this advance the Kingdom on earth.”

The paraphrase otherwise makes another attempt at rendering this odd verse into English.

4. Meaning that the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies was culminated with the coming of Christ, who was presented by John to the masses.

5. Jesus now rebukes the religious leaders and points out that their selfish motives, more than an honest lack of theological understanding, prevent them from receiving the Kingdom, for they rejected John as mad (“hath a demon” can be a reference to madness) since he lived a Spartan lifestyle, and yet they reject Christ for living too extravagantly. It should also be noted that Christ’s words about ‘wisdom being justified by her children’ are rather difficult to understand in our culture, and the paraphrase departs from the text in an attempt to clarify the meaning more clearly. “Children” should probably have been translated as: “Deeds,” or “Actions.”

6. An interesting verse showing that a prime purpose for miracles is to show the reality of God to the sinner in hope of encouraging repentance.

7. This is hard for many of us to comprehend, but the Greek word denotes not just an “easy,” but “enjoyable” burden!

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 12

1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.

2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.1

3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;

4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?2

6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.

7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:

10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.3

11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.4

13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.

14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;

16 And charged them that they should not make him known:

17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.

19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.

20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.

23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.

28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man?5 and then he will spoil his house.

30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.6

33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.7

39 But he answered, and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.8

44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren9 stood without, desiring to speak with him.

47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

48 But he answered, and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?

49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

1 Shortly thereafter, Jesus and his disciples happened to pass through a wheat field on a day that happened to be a Sabbath (for the Feast of Unleavened Bread). The disciples being hungry, they (--but not Jesus--) began to pick some kernels of wheat to snack on.

2 When some Pharisees saw this, they accosted Jesus, and said: Look there--your disciples are violating the Sabbath by harvesting grain!

3 But Jesus answered: Did you never read what David did when he and his men were running from King Saul and were hungry?

4 How he entered into the Tent Tabernacle and ate the shewbread, which was unlawful for him and his men to eat, but was supposed to be for the priests only? (And was God mad at that?)

5 Or have you not read in the Torah how the priests in the Temple must work on the Sabbath, attending to their duties, but yet are blameless for that?

6 But I say to you that someone greater than even the Temple is here before you.

7 And again, if you understood the verse--I desire mercy, not sacrifice--you would not have criticized those who have not done wrong in God's eyes.

8 For the Son of Man is even Lord of the Sabbath (and can authoritatively declare what is and is not permissible on that day).

9 Now after leaving, he entered into a synagogue under control of these (Shammaiite) Pharisees.

10 A man was present who had a deformed hand, and the Pharisees asked Jesus: Is it Lawful to heal non-life-threatening disease on the days of Rest? They hoped to have something to use against him if he answered yes.

11 But Jesus replied: Which among you, if he has a sheep fall into a pit on the Sabbath, won’t break the Sabbath by lifting it out (even though lifting or carrying a burden is a violation of the Sabbath laws)?

12 How much more precious is a human than a sheep? Thus, it follows that to do a good deed on the Sabbath (--like healing--) does not violate it.

13 Then he said to the man: Stretch out your hand! The man did, and it was restored whole, just like the other one.

14 (Enraged at this,) the Pharisees then went out and held a meeting, debating how to destroy Jesus.

15 But when word reached Jesus about it, he left the area and the multitudes went with him--and he healed them all.

16 He told them, however, not to spread word of what he was doing.

17 This was to fulfill a prophecy of Isaiah’s:

18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.

19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.

20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

22 Then a man who had been struck dumb and blind by a demon was brought to him, and Jesus healed this mute blind man to the extent that he could speak and see!

23 And all the people were amazed, and said: Is this not the Messiah ben David?!

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they responded: This man casts out demons only because Beelzebub, the Prince of demons, is enabling him to!

25 But Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said to them: Every nation divided by civil war and infighting will fall. Every city or family divided against itself will not stand.

26 If Satan is casting his own demons out, then he is at war with his own forces, so how can his kingdom possibly survive?

27 And if my power comes from Beelzebub, where does your (Pharisee Movement‘s) power come from? (In other words, when is the last time any of you cast out a demon by God‘s power? The answer is, of course, that you can‘t cast demons out at all!) So these fleeing demons are showing who really is, and is not, of God!

28 And if I therefore am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is apparently before you right now.

29 Otherwise, how can someone go into the house of a strong man and rob his goods unless he first overpowers and ties the man up, leaving him free to strip the house clean?

30 Anyone who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me is helping to scatter the harvest.

31 Because of this (--because you are either helping or opposing me--) I say to you that God will forgive all sorts of sin and blasphemous words. But to (knowingly denounce the redeeming power of God as Satanic) will not be forgiven men!

32 And whoever curses or speaks out against the Son of Man--it will be forgiven him. But whoever curses and opposes God’s Spirit shall not find forgiveness in this Age or the next!

33 Either make the tree of your heart good, and its fruit good; or make the tree of your heart evil and its fruit evil, for the tree is revealed by its fruit.

34 O you generation of snakes! How can anyone ever hope to hear anything edifying come out of you and your movement? The mouth speaks what is in the heart (and all you have in your hearts is venom)!

35 A good man with a good heart brings forth good things, just as an evil man with an evil heart brings forth evil things as the fruit of what lives inside of him.

36 I want you to know that at the Last Judgment, a man will give account for every offhand word he ever spoke.

37 For your words either will justify or condemn you!

38 Then some other Torah teachers and (Hillelite) Pharisees spoke up in response, saying: Teacher, we would see a sign from you (proving that you really speak for God).

39 But he answered: An evil and spiritually-defiled generation wants a sign, and the only sign it will get is that of the prophet Jonah.

40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the fish’s belly (and then came out), the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (and will then come out).

41 The (Gentile) men of Nineveh will rise at the resurrection and condemn this generation, for they all repented at Jonah’s preaching--and one greater than Jonah stands before you now!

42 The Queen of Sheba (--a Gentile--) shall rise up at the Last Judgment and condemn this generation, because she traveled all the way from Ethiopia to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and yet one greater than Solomon is here before you.

43 (Learn a lesson from demons!) When a demon is gone from a man, it wanders the deserts, hoping to find some place of rest. But finding none,

44 He says to himself, “I’ll go back to the one I left!” So he returns and finds the man he once possessed cleansed from his presence.

45 Then the demon goes and finds seven demons even more wicked than himself to come and possess the man, bringing him under their total domination and making him worse off than he ever was before! I therefore warn you that this wicked generation shall be just as controlled by Satan (because it wants to believe a lie instead of the truth)!

46 While Jesus was talking to the people like this, his mother and brethren were outside trying to get near enough to speak to him.

47 Someone told Jesus: Your mother and brethren are outside, and want to speak to you.

48 But Jesus answered: Who is my mother and brethren?

49 Then he gestured toward his disciples, and said: Here is my mother and brethren!

50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, my sister, and my mother!

1. The Pharisees here are accusing the disciples of harvesting grain, which is forbidden on the Sabbath. However, in Luke 6:1’s account of this event, additional information is given that the group were rolling the corn in their hands to loosen the kernels for eating. At the time, there was a dispute between the Galileans, who felt this was a technically permissible way to obtain grain to eat on the Sabbath, and the Judeans who disagreed. The Talmud (Shabbat 128a) confirms that a man may eat a few morsels of animal fodder on the Sabbath, but restricts it otherwise. Jesus here is moving past the argument over a technicality and instead teaching the greater principle that the Sabbath is not meant to enslave men to it, but rather to benefit mankind. Thus, if necessity arises for a man to profane the Sabbath in order to legitimately satisfy a physical need, God is not offended. Even the rabbis of antiquity used a similar argument to justify the concept that the reasonable needs for preserving life, along with good deeds, were permitted on the Sabbath, likewise citing David’s eating the shewbread (Y’lomm’denu, Yalkut II, par. 130, Tosefta Shabbat 15b) to justify it! As a final note, Luke’s record of the same event implies that this was actually the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

2. Referring to the fact that there is a variety of ‘work’ (including circumcising children on the Sabbath) that the priests must do to keep the Temple running, or to fulfill other commandments, and that they are not condemned for this. The reason they aren’t is that Judaism teaches that if two commandments--one negative and the other positive--conflict with each other the positive commandment takes precedence. This is why, for example, the Ark of the Covenant was decorated with two cherubim, although the Torah forbids making an image of a heavenly creature.

3. It is very likely that these are Pharisees from the school of Shammai. The Jewish Tosefta (which contains additions to the Mishna) records a difference of opinion between the two schools on praying for the sick on the Sabbath: The school of Shammai forbade this as work, whereas the school of Hillel approved of it. It thus is probable that the Pharisees who seek to find fault on Christ’s healing on the Sabbath are followers of Shammai’s teachings.

4. A view entirely consistent with the teachings of Hillel, as opposed to Shammai, who taught stringent obedience to the commandments above all else.

5. The “strong man” is Satan himself.

6. Here, Jesus begins to define the “Unforgivable sin” as consciously attributing to the devil the power of God. Keep in mind that at this point in time the Holy Spirit is not viewed as a separate part of the Trinity but rather as the power or inspiration of God. Thus, blaspheming the Holy Spirit in this context is not knowingly speaking against a part of the Trinity, but refers to viewing the acts and power of God, and with full knowledge that they are from God, denying that and attributing them to the devil. The reference to “the world to come” is not speaking of the Jewish/Catholic notions of Purgatory, but refers to the Messianic Age to come. (The word aion, translated as “world,” is equally, and better translatable here, as “age.”)

7. The change in tone from one of hostility to one of respect (“master”), and the fact that the text makes the distinction that these are “certain” of the scribes and Pharisees, suggests these are a different set of Pharisees--probably from the school of Hillel--who exhibit the stumbling block that will dog Judaism throughout the ministry of Christ: Ignoring the plain evidence before them, they demand a supernatural sign (probably a heavenly voice) to prove Jesus is the Messiah. And even this, as shown by the Talmud, is insufficient of itself to be the determining factor, for a majority vote of the Sanhedrin or the rabbis is still required for a decision to be binding, and the authority of this vote is such that it even outweighs the opinion of God, if God’s opinion is contrary! (See Steinsaltz’ commentary on Bava Metzia 59B.) You’ll note that Jesus’ answer, while not overly positive, is distinctly less hostile than his retort to the group of Shammaiites, whom He has just called “vipers.”

8. This jump to the subject of demonology, apparently out of nowhere, is puzzling. The paraphrase attempts to explain it by expanding on what Jesus’ point may have been.

9. Just who the “brethren” are is debatable, for there is no way to know for certain, and there are also problems with all the possibilities:

These are brothers born to Joseph and Mary after Jesus. The problem is that Jesus on the cross gives Mary over to John, who takes care of her from that point. Such an act is unthinkable if Mary has other male children. The word used (adelphos) however, does technically refer to brothers born to the same mother, not the same father!

These are cousins. While possibly the best answer, suggenes or anepsios would be better words to use for a cousin than adelphos, which, as mentioned, is more proper for an actual brother.

These are stepbrothers from an earlier marriage of Joseph. This notion was popular among early commentators, but if this is the case, a problem arises in that the birthright would have passed to one of Jesus’ elder brothers. A possible reconciliation of the problem could lie in that Joseph’s line alone had been disqualified from passing the birthright of the throne of David without adding to it the line from Mary (see the note in Chapter 1, verse 11 which deals with the subject). But yet another problem is that James, the “brother” of Jesus, seems too young to have been a grown man at Jesus’ birth, which he would have been since Joseph begins his life with Mary apparently without any other children.

These were children of other relatives adopted by Joseph and Mary, for whatever reason, at some point after the birth of Jesus. There is no evidence to support this contention.

 

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 13

1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

11 He answered, and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27 So the servants of the householder came, and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

37 He answered, and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.

54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

56 And his sisters1, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?

57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

1 The same day, Jesus left the house he was staying at and sat down by the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

2 Hosts of people crowded around him, and he had to sit in a boat and speak from a few yards out in the water as the crowd stood on the shore.

3 Much of his teaching was in telling stories with a moral, such as this one: A farmer went out to sow some seed in a field.

4 As he cast it forth, some seeds fell outside the tilled ground and the birds ate the seeds up.

5 Some fell on rocky ground, and they did initially grow, but they had no deep roots because of the shallow soil.

6 When the sun got hot they withered up because their roots were so shallow.

7 Other seeds fell into thorny weeds and were choked by thorn bushes.

8 But some seeds fell into the tilled soil, grew, and eventually gave good fruit. Some had bountiful fruit; some had a lot of fruit; and some had a little fruit.

9 He who is able to understand, let him understand.

10 Later, the disciples came and asked him: Why do you talk to the people in stories (instead of just speaking plainly)?

11 He answered back: Because you are the ones who have been appointed to hear and understand the mysteries of the Messianic Kingdom in a clear, unambiguous manner. The crowds haven’t been given this privilege.

12 For whoever is able to understand will see his enlightenment continue to grow, while anyone who does not understand will lose what little understanding he may already have.

13 Thus, I speak to the crowds in stories (to illustrate that their stubbornness and spiritual blindness makes them unable to understand my words).

14 In these people is fulfilled what Isaiah prophesied about when he said: By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they can see, and blessed are your ears, for they can hear.

17 For truly I tell you that many prophets and righteous men of history looked for the day when the things you see and hear would arrive, but they died without seeing it.

18 So now I will tell you what this parable of the Sower meant:

19 When anyone hears the Message of the Kingdom, but does not understand it, (the devil) comes and takes away the seed of truth that started to grow in his heart. This represents the seeds that fell on the hard ground instead of the tilled soil.

20 The seed that fell onto rocky ground represents people who initially hear the Gospel and enthusiastically respond to it,

21 But they have no strong commitment, and when trials or persecution arise in opposition to the Message they quickly fall away.

22 The seed that fell into the thorn bushes are those who hear the Gospel but still make wealth and having a good life their priority, and thus they never grow any spiritual fruit in their lives because the Message is choked off by their greed.

23 The seeds that fell into the tilled soil represent people who hear and understand the Gospel, making a commitment to it. People like this always bear spiritual fruit, whether bountiful, a lot, or a little.

24 Jesus then spoke another parable: The Kingdom of heaven can be likened to a man who sowed wheat seed in a field.

25 But while everyone was asleep one night, his enemy secretly came and sowed darnel (--which looks like wheat--) in the same field, then went on his way.

26 When the wheat grew and bore fruit, the darnel did likewise.

27 So the field hands came to their master, and said, “Sir, didn’t you sow wheat in this field? Where did the darnel come from?”

28 He replied, “An enemy must have done this (trying to spoil the harvest).” The servants then asked, “Do you want us to go pluck up the weeds?”

29 But he said, “No--lest you pull up some of the wheat along with the weeds.

30 “Let both grow together until harvest time, then I’ll tell the reapers to pull the bad plants up and tie them into bundles to be burned up. The wheat can then be gathered and stored in the granary.”

31 Jesus spoke another parable: The Kingdom of heaven is likened to a single mustard seed that a man sowed in his field.

32 Even though a mustard seed is one of the smallest of all seeds, it is one of the largest herb plants, and when mature becomes a tree that birds may nest in.

33 This was yet another parable: The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman mixed into three cups of flour (until the dough grew so large it practically overflowed the bowl)!

34 All these points of spiritual truth Jesus imparted to the crowds in parables, and without using parables he did not speak.

35 So that it fulfilled what the prophet said in the Psalms: I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

36 Then Jesus dismissed the crowds and went back into the house. The disciples then came to him, saying: Explain to us the story about the darnel in the wheat field.

37 He answered them: The man who sowed the good seed of wheat in the field represents me, the Son of Man.

38 The field itself is the world, and the good seed the children of God’s Kingdom. The darnel are the children of (Satan, masquerading as true wheat).

39 The enemy that sowed the darnel is the devil. The harvest spoken of is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels.

40 As in real life darnel is bundled up and cast into the fire, so it will be at the end of this world.

41 The Son of Man will send forth his angels to remove everything in his Kingdom that causes men to stumble, and all those who live in unrepentant sin,

42 And they shall be cast into the furnace of hell’s fire, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

43 After that, the righteous shall shine as bright as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. If anyone can understand--then understand!

44 Again, the Kingdom of heaven is also like a pot of gold buried in a field that a man happened to stumble upon. Elated, he reburied the gold and sold everything he owned to buy the field and keep the treasure.

45 It’s also like a jeweler who sought quality pearls,

46 Who--when he found a flawless pearl of utter perfection--sold everything he had to acquire it.

47 The Kingdom of heaven is also like a net that was cast into the ocean, and gathered up a wide variety of fish.

48 When it was full, they drew the net to shore and began sorting the catch, tossing the good fish into baskets while throwing the bad fish away.

49 It will be likewise at the end of the world: The angels shall come out and separate the bad men from the good,

50 And will cast the bad into the furnace of hell’s fire, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

51 Jesus asked: Have you understood what I have been teaching in all this? The disciples answered: Yes, we have, Lord.

52 Jesus said: Every Torah teacher who adds my teachings to the knowledge he already has about God’s Kingdom is like a man with a warehouse in which are stored precious commodities both old and new.

53 After Jesus had finished these parables, he left the area.

54 When he returned to Nazareth, he taught at the synagogue and everyone was astounded, asking: Where did this man get all this ability to preach? And what about these miracles they say he does?

55 Isn’t he the same Jesus whose father was a carpenter (or stone mason)? Isn’t his mother named Miriam, and doesn’t he have kinsmen here--James, Joses, Simon, and Jude?

56 Don’t his sisters live hereabouts? So how did he gain such knowledge, ability, and notoriety?

57 And they were offended (at his presumption to speak with such apparent authority). Jesus noted: A prophet is honored everywhere but in his own town amongst his own acquaintances and family.

58. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

1. Now we have mention of Jesus’ sisters. As these women are mentioned at all (an oddity for the culture), the most reasonable belief is that they are literally the children of Mary and Joseph.

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 14

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,

2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.1

3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.

4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.

5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias2 danced before them, and pleased Herod.

7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.

8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.

9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.

10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.

12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went, and told Jesus.

13 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.

17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.

18 He said, Bring them hither to me.

19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28 And Peter answered him, and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.3

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?4

32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.5

34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.

35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;

36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

1 It was about this time that Herod Antipas heard the commotion about Jesus,

2 And he said to his staff: This must be John the Baptist risen from the dead, and that’s why such miracles are coming forth from him!

3 For Herod had chained and imprisoned John earlier because the Baptist had denounced him for marrying Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife (after the woman used Roman law to divorce her husband).

4 John pointed out: The Law of Moses does not permit a man to marry a woman who divorces her husband through Gentile law!

5 Though Herod would have silenced John for good, he was afraid of sparking a revolution because the multitude revered the Baptist as a prophet.

6 But when Herod was celebrating his birthday, Salome, the daughter of his wife Herodias (and Salome’s uncle Boethus/Philip) did an erotic dance that pleased Herod,

7 Who blurted out a vow that he would give her anything she asked for.

8 Having been instructed earlier on what to say by her mother, she told Herod: Give me John the Baptizer’s head on a platter!

9 Herod was immediately sorry for his blunder, but to keep from losing face before his court as they dined with him, he did as she asked, and commanded John’s head be brought and given to the girl.

10 So he had John’s head cut off down in the dungeon.

11 His head was brought to court on a platter and given to the adolescent girl, who passed it on to her mother.

12 John’s disciples came for his body and then buried it. Afterward, they came, and told Jesus what had happened.

13 When Jesus heard that John was dead, he took a boat to an isolated spot, but the people heard about it and left the cities to walk to where he was.

14 Going forth, Jesus saw the host of desperate people, and compassionately healed their sick.

15 As the sun was going down, the disciples came to him, and said: It’s getting late and this is a wilderness. Dismiss the crowd, so they can go to the local villages and buy food.

16 But Jesus replied: They need not leave--you feed them!

17 They said back: But we have only five barley loaves, and a couple of fish!

18 Jesus said: Bring them over to me.

19 Then Jesus had the crowd sit in the field, and he took up the five loaves and two fish. Looking up to heaven, he then blessed God and broke the loaves up, distributing the pieces to the disciples who, in turn, handed them out to the people.

20 There was enough for all, and everyone ate until they were full. The leftovers even filled twelve baskets!

21 The crowd numbered five thousand men, not counting women and children!

22 Just after this, Jesus had the disciples depart by boat while he sent the crowds away.

23 After dismissing the crowds, Jesus went up alone into the hills to pray for part of the night.

24 But a storm was arising and the boat with the disciples was having a hard time on the Sea of Galilee, for the wind was against them.

25 Around 3 AM, Jesus came out to the boat, walking upon the water!

26 When the disciples saw this, they panicked and screamed out in fear: It’s a ghost!

26 When the disciples saw this, they screamed out in fear: “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus immediately shouted to them: Don’t worry--it’s me, so don’t be afraid!

28 Peter shouted back: Lord, if it’s really you, bid me to come walk out on the water to you!

29 Jesus said: Come on then! So Peter swung his legs over the side of the boat and began to walk out to Jesus.

30 But when the shrieking wind caused him to become afraid, he started to sink down into the waves and cried out: Lord, save me!

31 Instantly, Jesus came and pulled him back up, saying: O you man of little faith! Why did you stop believing, and let doubt defeat you?

32 When they got back to the ship, the wind ceased.

33 Then those aboard the ship did obeisance, and said: Of a truth, you are (the Messiah and king of Israel)!

34 When they reached shore, they were again in the land of Gennesaret.

35 This time, when people thereabouts found out, everyone brought the sick and diseased.

36 And these came, wanting just to touch the tassels of his prayer shawl, and everyone who did that was completely healed and restored to vigor.

1. A verse confirming that the greater ministry of Jesus, in which His miracle power is displayed on a grand scale, was very brief in length, for apparently Herod hasn’t heard of Him before John was martyred. Irenaeus (Against Heresies 2:22:5) claimed that Jesus’ ministry only lasted a year from His baptism, which would jibe with the parable in Luke 13:8.

2. Whose name was Salome, the product of an earlier marriage of Herodias to her own uncle Philip (actually named Boethus), the brother of Antipas. The Torah did not forbid marrying an uncle; John’s complaint is based on Herodias using Roman law to get a divorce. By the way, Salome was an adolescent, not a seductive teenager. (See the commentary for Mark 6:22.)

3. The first example of Peter’s talking without thinking.

4. There is actually a double miracle here. Peter walks upon the water twice--the second time, after starting to sink.

5. Meaning the Messiah.

6. As mentioned before, this would be touching the fringes representing the 613 commandments.

 

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 15

1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,

2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.1

3 But he answered, and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.2

7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.3

10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.4

12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?5

13 But he answered, and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.6

14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

15 Then answered Peter, and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

24 But he answered, and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.7

25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

26 But he answered, and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.8

27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

28 Then Jesus answered, and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

29 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:

31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?

34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.9

1 Then some Pharisees and Torah teachers from Jerusalem (--who followed the teachings and traditions of Shammai--) came up to Jesus, saying:

2 Why do your disciples transgress rabbinic tradition by not performing the ceremonial hand washing before they eat bread?!

3 But Jesus shot back: Why do you transgress the commandments of God with your rabbinic tradition?

4 For God commanded: See to the needs of your father and mother; and, Anyone who curses his father or mother must be stoned.

5 But your oral rulings on the Law say: If a man donates his money and goods to the Temple (remaining only an overseer of them),

6 He is absolved from the responsibility of using his resources to aid his parents if they need it. Thus, the commandment (--which is far more important than your traditions--) is nullified.

7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

10 Jesus then called the multitude, and said: Listen and understand!

11 (It’s not things like eating food that isn’t prepared according to strict rabbinic requirements, or eating without first saying this prayer or that, which really defile a person!) What defiles a person is what comes out of him, not what goes into him!

12 Then the disciples came up, and said: Don’t you realize the Pharisees were offended when they heard you say those things?

13 But Jesus answered: Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be plucked up by the roots!

14 Let those Pharisees be--they are blind leaders leading blind followers, and when the blind lead the blind they both fall into a ditch.

15 Then Peter spoke to Jesus, saying: Tell us what you meant by what really defiles a person.

16 Jesus replied: Do you all still lack understanding?

17 Do you not comprehend by now that anything you eat passes through your body and eventually goes out into the sewer?

18 But the words that come out of a man are from what lives in his heart--and it’s the words someone speaks that can make a man impure in God’s eyes.

19 For it’s from the heart that evil thoughts, murder, sexual sin, thievery, lies, and blasphemous speech come--

20 And these are what really make a man impure. But to eat without saying a blessing and performing a ritual hand washing does not make a man impure.

21 Then Jesus departed into the area of Tyre and Sidon.

22 There, a Canaanite woman followed after Jesus, crying out: Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! A demon has grievously vexed my little girl!

23 Jesus ignored her, but eventually the disciples became irritated with her and urged Jesus, saying: Tell her to get lost--she’s driving us crazy by following along, begging us!

24 So Jesus answered the woman, and said: I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (and not to the Gentiles).

25 Then the woman fell down in obeisance at Jesus’ feet, and begged: Lord, help me!

26 But Jesus answered: It is not appropriate to take the children’s food and toss it to the puppies to eat.

27 She said in response: That may be true, Lord--but even the puppies are fed a few scraps from their master’s table!

28 Then Jesus answered: O woman, you have great faith! Let your request be granted. And the woman’s daughter was made whole from that very hour.

29 Jesus then left the area and returned to the Sea of Galilee where he selected a mountain to sit at.

30 Great multitudes of people came to him with the lame, the blind, the mute, the maimed, and many others that they laid at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them.

31 He healed so many that the multitudes were amazed at seeing mute people speak, maimed people with their limbs back, lame people walking, and blind people recovering their sight. And they glorified the God of Israel.

32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him, and told them: I am worried for the people because they have been with me for three days without food. I don’t want to send them away hungry, lest they get sick on the way home.

33 The disciples answered: Where would we get enough bread out here in the wilderness to feed so many?

34 Jesus asked: How many loaves have you? They answered: Seven, and some small fish.

35 So Jesus commanded the people to sit down.

36 Then he took the loaves and fish, blessed God, then handed them out to the disciples who took the food to the people.

37 And everyone ate until they were full, and they had seven basketfuls left over!

38 This crowd consisted of four thousand men, not counting women and children!

39 After Jesus sent the crowds away, he got in a boat and went to (the notorious city of) Magdala, and the region around it.

1. Once again, we can know these are Pharisees from the school of Shammai by this statement and Jesus’ reply! The notion of rtitually washing the hands before taking up a cup of wine and breaking bread traces itself to one of Shammai’s 18 edicts, and will be detailed in the commentary under Luke 11. Jesus’ reply, which includes rebuking these same Pharisees for dedicating their goods to the Temple as a means of absolving them from seeing to the needs of their parents, is a direct assault against a practice followed by the Shammaiites that even the followers of Hillel criticized them for.

2. Aged fathers would sometimes give their sons their inheritances while still alive. Some of the more hypocritical Pharisees of both groups may have gone through the process of dedicating their goods to the Temple to avoid the responsibility of seeing to the needs of their parents until they died, whereupon they went through the absolution process to negate the vow and retrieve the property.

3. A criticism against the takkanot of the Pharisees: Extraneous ritual religious laws with no true Scriptural basis imposed on the people to legislate piety on threat of damnation or excommunication. At least some correlation can be made with some of the extra-Biblical doctrines of the Catholic or Orthodox Churches: Abstaining from meat on Fridays, fasting during Lent, forbidding priests to marry, etc. Some modern-day Protestant denominations are equally guilty, forbidding women to wear pants, or requiring men to have hair of a legalistically approved short length as two examples.

4. Meaning that the words a man speaks out of the treasure of his heart are what defile him in God’s eyes as Jesus goes on to explain.

5. The disciples are justifiably concerned, for these are the leaders of the nation with the authority to approve or reject the ministry of Christ on not just a personal level, but also an official one.

6. An interesting verse, probably with a double meaning: Jesus first of all is referring to the school of Shammai itself, which officially did fall from its position of leading the Pharisee movement in 70 AD after a heavenly voice called upon the rabbis to acknowledge the teachings of Hillel over Shammai in matters of doctrine. Secondly, Jesus is referring to the Pharisee movement as a whole--for, as shown in Luke 7:30, the Pharisees rejected the plan God actually had intended for them by rejecting John’s ministry even before rejecting Jesus’ ministry. While the movement exists to this day in the form of rabbinic Judaism, ultimately Judaism based on the Pharisaic (Talmudic) teachings of those who rejected Christ will be overturned by Christ in the Messianic Age.

7. The Gospel must first be preached to the Jews, and only after they reject it (on an official level by the religious leaders) may it go forth equally to the Gentiles.

8. Not as strong an insult as it seems. The word is better understood as “puppies.”

9. Although not mentioned, it is probably at this point that Mary Magdalene joins the group. The claim that she was a prostitute is based on no evidence other than tradition, and the fact that Magdala* was known to be a large center of prostitution catering to the Romans in nearby Tiberius--a city that the Jews avoided because of a cemetery within it that caused ritual defilement.

* It should be noted that there were also other cities named Magdala in Israel.

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 16

1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.1

2 He answered, and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.2

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered, and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered, and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.3

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.4

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan5: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.6

1 The Pharisees, now joined by some Sadducee priests from the Temple, approached Jesus, challenging him to show a sign from heaven (to prove his legitimacy).

2 He answered them: If the sky at sundown is red, you say there will be good weather the next morning.

3 If it’s red and overcast at dawn, you say the weather will be bad. You hypocrites! You can read the signs in the sky to know what is in store, but are you so utterly incapable of understanding the signs of the times you’re in?

4 A perverted and spiritually-defiled generation wants a sign. Well, the only sign you will get is the sign of the prophet Jonah! Having spoken, Jesus then got in a boat, and departed.

5 When they reached the other side of the lake the disciples realized they had forgotten to bring bread with them.

6 Then Jesus noted: Watch out! Beware of bread yeasted by either the Pharisees or the Sadducees!

7 The disciples didn’t understand, and assumed Jesus was making some comment about bread baked by Pharisees or Sadducees, so they muttered among themselves: He said that because we forgot to bring bread with us.

8 When Jesus realized that, he said: O you men of little faith--why are you muttering among yourselves like I’m talking about food?

9 Do you not understand and recall how I fed five thousand people with five loaves, and how many baskets of leftovers you collected afterwards?

10 Did you forget the seven loaves that fed four thousand, and how many baskets you collected from that?

11 How then can you think I’m referring to baked bread when I warn you about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees?

12 Then they understood that Jesus was not talking about normal bread yeast, but the spiritual yeast of the doctrines both these groups held.

13 Now when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked the disciples: Who are the people saying that I, the Son of Man, am?

14 They responded: Some think you’re John the Baptist; others think you must be Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other ancient prophets returned to the earth.

15 He said to them: But what do you say about who I am?

16 Shimon Peter spoke up, saying: You are the Messiah--Son of the living God!

17 Jesus answered Peter: Blessed are you, Shimon, son of Jonah, for no one told you this, nor did you figure it out on your own--but my Father in heaven gave you this revelation!

18 And I also say to you, that you are Peter (--a rock--) and upon this rock I will erect my church, and the gates of death (will neither stop me, nor will they overcome the church I build)!

19 And I will give to you first (--not to the Pharisees or Sadducees--) the keys of authority over the Messianic Kingdom in matters of church discipline and doctrine. Whatever you permit shall be permitted, and whatever you deny shall be denied.

20 Then he charged the disciples to tell no one he was affirming that he was Jesus the Messiah.

21 From that point, Jesus now began warning the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer badly at the hands of the religious leaders, the chief priests, and the Torah teachers--and that he would die, rising again on the third day.

22 Then Peter took him aside and began sharply rebuking him, saying: God forbid, Lord--this will not happen to you!

23 But he turned his back to Peter and spoke (a saying by Abraham when Satan tried to stop him from taking Isaac to the place of sacrifice): “Get behind me, Satan!” You are an obstacle to me because you are not thinking God’s way, but man’s!

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man wants to be my follower, let him deny his own wants and wishes and take up the cross of following mine.

25 For whoever saves his life will lose it in the end, and whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it in the end.

26 For what is the good of gaining everything on earth only to lose your soul in hell? Or, what price can a man put on his immortal soul?

27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father and His angels; and he will give every man what is coming to him, be it reward or punishment, accoridng to his works.

28 And truly I say to you that there are some here who will not die until they glimpse the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom!

1. Again, the elders desire to hear a “heavenly voice.” Also, whether verses 2 and 3 were in the original Gospel is debated.

2. How much of the beliefs of the Pharisees and Sadducees that constituted “leaven” is hard to know for certain. In the case of the Sadducees, their false beliefs were widespread: Denial of a Messiah, denial of a resurrection, rejection of all the books of the Bible except for the five books of Moses, etc. Conversely, the best of the Pharisees’ core beliefs were not vastly different from the teachings of Christ, but were distorted and polluted by a lack of true love, their covetousness, and their belief that the path to experiencing and becoming pleasing to God was not through faith, love, and self-sacrifice, but through obeying commandments and observing religious ritual.

3. Here, of course, is the verse that causes so much controversy between Catholicism and Protestantism. What is Jesus saying?

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter...

Jesus first of all renames Peter from Shimon (a reed) to Kepha (stone).

...and upon this rock I will build my church...

In Aramaic, the word kepha is directly used for “rock,” but one meaning it also has in the culture is as a statement of fact, or a proclamation. Thus, most evangelicals hold that Jesus is saying that His church will be built upon the foundation of Peter’s revelation that Christ is the Messiah, “the Son of the Living God.” Catholics agree, but also believe that Jesus was referring to Peter personally. Now while the statement to this point could indeed be understood as referring to Peter personally as the rock upon which Christ will build...

...and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

This last part of the verse could suggest that the statement is to be understood as referring to resurrection. The word used here for “hell” is Hades (from the Hebrew Sheol), the abode of the dead, not Gehenna, the flames of hell as we think of them. The translation in English therefore leaves us with a bit of a misconception of what’s really being referred to, since it’s the grave, and not perdition, that Christ is speaking of. Thus, if the subject of the verse is less Peter, and more Jesus Himself, then in the last part of the verse, Jesus is actually prophesying that He (and by extension the church) will not be prevailed against by the “gates” of death and the grave. This notion is certainly one possible understanding of Christ’s words given the fact that some theologians believe that the “rock” Jesus says He will build on is not necessarily Peter’s profession of faith, but rather Jesus Himself, who is the “chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20).

But most of Protestantism, as noted, holds that Jesus is saying: “Upon this rock (Peter’s profession of faith) I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (my church). That is certainly the most natural understanding of His words, and in ancient times the gates of a city were where judges often held court and exercised authority. Thus, the “gates” would be speaking of the authority of the demonic realm that would not be able to “prevail” (meaning to overcome or overpower) against the church Christ has established. It’s not impossible that the verse may actually have been intended by Jesus to have more than one meaning, for all the views of the verse I’ve noted are all equally true.

4. Jesus here is referring to matters of church discipline, declaring that Peter (“thee” is singular), but later all the apostles, according to Matt. 18:18, will have the authority to determine halakhot--that is, to make decisions in His name regarding the operation of the church and clarification to the peripheral beliefs that will fall within the core essentials of truth He has already been teaching. An example is the ruling by the council of Acts 15 that permitted Gentiles to enter the church without converting to Judaism.

5. Jesus is almost certainly referring to an ancient Jewish folktale in which Satan caused a river to try to hold back Abraham from taking Isaac to the place of sacrifice, which Abraham rebuked with similar language. He may also be employing the word “Satan” in its normal Hebrew usage--that of an adversary, and so he would be telling Peter to “fall in line behind” with what he needs to do; or Christ may be rebuking Peter for speaking the will of the devil in trying to oppose His predetermined destiny.

6. Probably not referring to the next episode in which Jesus is transfigured, but to possibly John’s eventual vision of the Second Coming in the Book of Revelation. Others would hold that this prophecy came to pass on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles.

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 17

1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses1 and Elias talking with him.

4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.2

6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.3

10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?4

11 And Jesus answered, and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.5

12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

17 Then Jesus answered, and said6, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.7

21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.8

22 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:

23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.9

1 Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John apart from the other disciples to a high mountain.

2 Then Jesus was transfigured before their eyes, his face shining like the sun and his clothing like pure white light!

3 Moses and Elijah then appeared and began speaking with him.

4 Peter cried out to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here! If you want us to, let us go build three shelters--one for you, Moses, and Elijah--to stay in!

5 While he was speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice spoke out of it that said: This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. All of you heed what he says!

6 At hearing the voice, the disciples fell face down on the ground, cringing in terror.

7 Then Jesus came over and touched them, saying: Get up, and don’t be afraid.

8 When they looked up, the vision was gone and they saw only Jesus.

9 As they descended the mountain, Jesus commanded: Don’t tell anyone about this vision until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.

10 His disciples asked him: Why then do the Torah teachers say Elijah must come back to earth (before the Messiah appears and sets up the Kingdom)?

11 Jesus answered: Elijah will indeed come and restore all things (to set the stage for this).

12 But I point out that he already came but they didn’t realize it, and did to him as they wished. Likewise, the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.

13 Then the disciples realized he was speaking of John the Baptist.

14 When they returned to the waiting multitudes, a certain man came and knelt down to him, saying:

15 Lord, have mercy on my son. He is vexed (with epileptic fits), often falling down onto the fire or into the water.

16 I brought him to your disciples but they couldn’t cure him.

17 Then Jesus answered, and said: O faithless and perverse generation--how long do you think I will be here with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring the boy over to me!

18 Jesus then rebuked the demon, which left, and the child was cured right then!

19 Later, the disciples came to Jesus without the crowds, and asked: Why couldn’t we cast it out?

20 Jesus replied: Because you didn’t have faith. I tell you truly, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you could even say to this mountain here, “Up and go elsewhere,” and it would do as you say, for nothing is impossible to those with faith.

21 Even so, this demon is the sort that will not go unless the one casting him out has been spending time in intense prayer (and fasting).

22 Now while they were staying in the region of Galilee, Jesus told them: The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.

23 They shall kill him, and on the third day he will be raised up again. Hearing this, the disciples were very grieved at these words.

24 When they reached Capernaum, representatives of the Temple, who collected the yearly head tax, came to Peter, and said: Doesn’t your teacher pay the tax?

25 Peter said: Yes, he does. Now when he was coming into the house, Jesus stopped him, saying: What do you think, Shimon? Whom do the kings of the earth collect taxes from--their own children, or strangers?

26 Peter answered: From strangers! So Jesus said: Then the children are the ones who are free from debt!

27 But so that we don’t offend them, go out to the lake and cast out a hook, and the first fish you catch will have a coin in its mouth. Use it to pay our tax to the Temple.

1. Right here, the Sadducee-like belief of teachers who deny the immortality of the soul is overturned, for Moses, long dead, comes to speak with Jesus together with Elijah. This fact also demolishes the doctrine of “Soul sleep,” since Moses' spirit is seen.

2. This is the bat kol, the heavenly voice the religious leaders constantly demand of Jesus to prove His legitimacy.

3. What a test of obedience! Keeping the fact from the rest of their friends that the group had actually seen Moses and Elijah must have required extraordinary obedience and self-control.

4. The apostles understand that the prophet Elijah must come to earth to prepare the way for the Messiah (Malachi 4:5), and question Jesus on the subject.

5. Jesus here may be saying that Elijah will literally return during the events of the tribulation as one of the two witnesses of Rev. 11. But for the present, John the Baptist, who came in the spirit of Elijah, has fulfilled the role of Elijah.

6. This rebuke is directed toward the apostles.

7. A debate rages on how literal Jesus is being here. Many theologians mock those within the Faith movement for taking this verse literally, but these are the words of Christ, and unless He was wildly exaggerating, there must be a core truth here that sufficient faith can accomplish the miraculous. Paul, in 1 Cor. 13:2, seems to admit one theoretically could move a mountain if he had enough faith (although love is far more important). There is also a ‘gift’ of faith in 1 Cor. 12:9, presumably as a tool to manifest the power of God in a supernatural manner. Finally, there is an ancient tradition in Egypt that a Christian literally moved a mountain through his faith, and thus proved the reality of the power of God and faith in Christ.

8. Jesus is teaching that the power of some demons is such that one’s authority to cast them out must be reinforced by sufficient faith. Based on the word here for unbelief, which means a lack of confidence, the apostles saw this demon causing the boy to contort and froth at the mouth, and they may have thought it might be too powerful to cast out, but they’d try it anyway. That, or they may have been afraid of it. With such weak faith, they failed. A lifestyle of prayer is thus shown by Christ to be the means of keeping one insulated from the cancer of doubt and unbelief. Note that the reference to fasting is commonly thought to be an addition from later centuries, although it is a good idea in any event. The 2nd century Diatesseron, however, has “fasting” in its text here.

9. The coin found was a tetradrachm, equivalent to a Jewish shekel, which was sufficient to pay the Temple tax for two people. If indeed that tax spoken of is the yearly Temple tax, Jesus here is showing that He agrees with the Essenes that such a tax should be paid once in a lifetime, not yearly--but to keep from showing a rebellious example, He and Peter pay it. As a point of interest, tradition dubs the tilapia, also known as St. Peter’s fish as the creature that provided the tax payment. This Galilean fish carries its young around in its mouth, and is known to pick up shiny objects as a means of weaning its young away from it.

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 18

1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?1

2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.2

11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.3

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.4

19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.5

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came, and told unto their lord all that was done.

32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:

33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.5

1 While they were there in Galilee, the disciples asked Jesus: Who (of us) is the most important in the Kingdom of heaven?

2 In response, Jesus called a small child to him and set him in their midst.

3 He said: I assure you that if you do not change your way of thinking, and become like little children (--who could care less about such things--) you won’t even enter the Kingdom of heaven!

4 Whoever humbles himself like this small child is truly the greatest person in the Kingdom of heaven.

5 And anyone who receives one such child as my representative is receiving me as well.

6 But whoever causes a child who believes in me to stumble would be luckier to have an (anchor) tied to his neck, and to be thrown into the sea to drown.

7 Woe to world because of its offenses. Life is full of trials and temptations, but the one who is the cause of it will pay!

8 So again: If your hand or foot causes you to stumble into sin, cut them off and throw them away, for it is better to enter into life crippled or maimed than to be cast into eternal hellfire with all your limbs.

9 Likewise, if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away, for it is better to enter into life with one eye than to be cast into eternal hellfire with two eyes.

10 Take heed that you don’t scorn children (--as is common in our society, including new converts who are also called “children”--) for I assure you that their guardian angels always have access to my Father in heaven (and may bring charge against you for this).

11 You see, the Son of Man came to save those who are lost.

12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine others who are fine, and head into the mountains to find the stray?

13 And if he does find it, he rejoices more over it than he does over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.

14 Even so, it is the will of your Father in heaven that not one of these children perish.

15 Moreover, if your brother commits wrong against you, speak to him alone about it. If he hears you, you are reconciled.

16 But if he rejects you, take one or two others with you (since the Torah says that two or three witnesses are accepted to establish a fact in court).

17 If he ignores them too, bring your case before the church, and if the church agrees with you and he still refuses to repent--treat him like a pagan or a tax collector!

18 Truly I say that you (have the right to make binding decisions regarding matters of the church).

19 Again, if two of you on earth agree on something, your request shall be granted by my Father in heaven.

20 (For where two or three of my representatives meet, regarding an issue, my authority is there with them.)

21 Then Peter came to him and asked: Lord, just how many times must I forgive my brother? Is seven times enough?

22 Jesus answered: You should forgive not just seven times, but seventy times seven times!

23 I say that because the Messianic Kingdom can be likened to a king who called some of his servants to account for money they owed him.

24 When he started the accounting, a man was brought forth who owed him a million dollars.

25 But since the man was broke, the king ordered everything that man owned to be sold. Then he ordered the man and his family sold off as slaves.

26 Hearing this, the servant fell on his face pleading: “Lord--be merciful, and give me more time. I’ll pay you all that I owe!”

27 The king was so moved with compassion that he unshackled him and forgave the debt altogether.

28 But that same servant went out and found another servant who owed him ten dollars, and he grabbed the man by the throat, saying, “Pay what you owe me!”

29 His fellow servant fell at his feet and cried out: “Have patience with me, and I’ll pay you every cent!”

30 But the man wouldn’t listen, and had his fellow servant tossed into Debtor’s Prison, where he would stay until the debt was somehow paid off.

31 Other servants were very grieved at seeing this, and they went, and told the king what had happened.

32 Then the king called that man back, and said to him: “You evil servant! I had mercy on you and forgave the whole of your debt because you begged for mercy!

33 “Shouldn’t you have had the same compassion on the man who owed you money as I had for you?!”

34 So the king angrily handed the man over to be tortured until such time as he could find some way to pay off the million dollars that he owed (from behind bars).

35 So will my heavenly Father do to you if you do not fully and sincerely forgive every brother who sins against you.

1. Interestingly, the Gospels record numerous instances of the apostles arguing over which of them is the most important. Even at the Last Supper, as Jesus is about to be betrayed and crucified, the twelve get into an argument over who loves Jesus more, and whom is most important of the group.

2. A verse clearly showing that angels play a part in intercession for believers. Protestants who rebuke Catholics and Eastern Orthodox for the questionable idea of praying to dead saints for intercession should bear in mind that since angels can be shown to intercede for humanity, the idea of dead saints doing so, while not really substantiated in Scripture,* is only one step beyond what Scripture does show.

* The practice also exists somewhat in Judaism, for Jewish women over the centuries have been known to pray at Rachel’s tomb, for instance, asking her to intercede with God for them in hope of getting pregnant.

3. An interesting verse. While Jesus has just outlined several attempts to be reconciled to one’s brother before treating him as a heathen (meaning to break fellowship with him), in verse 22 He goes on to show that forgiveness is to be granted at any possible opportunity. However, Luke 17:3 suggests that this unlimited forgiveness is based upon the offender’s repenting.

4. As in Matt. 16:19, this often-misunderstood verse has nothing whatever to do with binding the devil or loosing angels, prosperity, etc. “Binding” and “loosing” were rabbinic terms dealing with making halakhic decisions and clarifications regarding the operation of the church. Jesus is saying that the apostles have the right to guide the Christian faith in matters of church discipline, and to interpret Scripture authoritatively for the faith. An example of Jewish usage of the terms can be seen in these quotes from the Talmud:

They do not send letters by the hand of a heathen on the eve of a Sabbath, no, nor on the fifth day of the week. Yea, the school of Shammai binds it, even on the fourth day of the week; but the school of Hillel looseth it.

Concerning the moving of empty vessels (on the Sabbath), of the filling of which there is no intention; the school of Shammai binds it, the school of Hillel looseth it.

Concerning gathering wood on a feast-day scattered about a field, the school of Shammai binds it, the school of Hillel looseth it.

5. Again, misunderstood to be some sort of reference to Jesus being ‘with’ two or three member of the laity who run into each other on the street and perhaps pray or worship together. On some level that is doubtless true, but the direct context here ties in with verse 18 on deciding matters of church discipline, and refers to the authority of a beit din (a quorum of 3 leaders--or perhaps the authority of the President of the synagogue and the Chazan, or chief elder--of the synagogue having the right to make decisions for that synagogue). As to the preceding verse which talks about God granting requests made in prayer, insufficient details are given to fully explain and clarify on what level this refers to: personal and/or corporate.

6. The verse seems to suggest that if we do not forgive the wrongs done us, God may “unforgive” sins He has previously forgiven us for! Also, see the commentary for Acts 7:10 for more information.

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 19

1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;

2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?1

4 And he answered, and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement2, and to put her away?

8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another3, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.4

10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

15 And he laid his hands on them5, and departed thence.

16 And, behold, one came, and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?6

17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle7, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

27 Then answered Peter, and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

1 Now after Jesus had finished these teachings he left Galilee and headed into northern Judea beyond Jordan (where he made camp).

2 Hosts of people followed, and he healed them there.

3 Some Pharisees (who followed Hillel’s teachings on divorce) also came and challenged him on the subject, asking: Do you agree that the Law of Moses permits an easy divorce if a man believes he has a good reason?

4 Jesus answered: Have you not read that God in the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, Because of this, a man shall leave his parents and cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh?

6 Thus, they are no longer two individuals, but one flesh in God’s eyes. It is not for man, at his own whim, to thereafter break up a covenantal relationship recognized by God.

7 They answered: Well, then why did Moses allow a man to write up a Bill of Divorce, and put his wife away?

8 Jesus replied: Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts (--but it was not in God’s original plan).

9 So I want you to know that a man who divorces his wife for any reason other than for adultery--and then marries someone else--stands guilty of adultery; and the divorced woman will cause anyone she subsequently marries to be guilty of adultery as well.

10 The disciples concluded after hearing this: If that’s how things are between a married couple, it’s better to stay single!

11 But Jesus answered: (Not everyone is given the grace to be able to live a celibate lifestyle.)

12 For some are born to be celibate for physical reasons, some become eunuchs or are denied wives in order to serve a master, and some make the choice of celibacy to devote themselves wholly to God and the furtherance of His Kingdom. Whoever can live in that state should do so.

13 Then some mothers brought small children to him to lay hands on and pray over, but the disciples complained ,and tried to stop it.

14 But Jesus said: Let the little children come, and don’t stop them--for the Kingdom of heaven is made up of children!

15 So Jesus laid hands on them (and blessed them). Then he departed.

16 At one point, someone came up, asking: Good Master, what good thing must I do to be absolutely sure of having eternal life?

17 Jesus replied: Why would you call any man “good”? Only God is good. But to answer your question, if you would enter into eternal life, keep the commandments.

18 The man then asked: Which commandments do I have to keep? Jesus replied: Don’t murder; don’t commit adultery; don’t steal or kidnap for ransom; don’t lie about others;

19 Honor and take care of your parents; and love your neighbor as you do yourself.

20 The young man said in response: I’ve done all these from my youth. What am I missing?

21 Jesus replied: Since you would be perfect, go and sell what you have and give it to the poor, storing up treasure in heaven; then come, and follow me.

22 But when the young man heard that, he was very disturbed and left in sorrow since he was extremely wealthy (and could not let go of his possessions).

23 Then Jesus told the disciples: I tell you truly that a rich man shall enter heaven only with great difficulty.

24 I say it again--it is easier for a rope to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.

25 When the disciples heard that, they were dumbfounded (because the rich are thought by many to be favored by God), so they asked: Who can be saved, then?

26 Jesus looked over, saying: With men, this is impossible--but with God all things are possible.

27 Then Peter spoke up, and said to him: Look at us--we’ve given up everything to follow you. What will be our reward?

28 Jesus answered: Truly I say that you who have followed me--when everything is re-created, and the Son of Man sits upon his throne of glory in the Messianic Kingdom--will sit on twelve thrones with me, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

29 And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, parents, children or lands for the sake of following me shall receive them back a hundredfold, and inherit everlasting life.

30 But many who are great and important in this life shall be insignificant in the next; and many who are insignificant in this life shall be great and important in the next.

1. This is an interesting event showing a rare episode where Pharisees from the school of Hillel come to ‘tempt’ Christ with a loaded question. As has been pointed out, the school of Shammai was very strict on divorce, whereas the school of Hillel was very liberal. It seems clear from verse 7 that these are Hillelites appealing to Mosaic Law to justify their liberality toward divorce. Even so, note that Jesus is tempered in His remarks, omitting the sharp rebukes He repeatedly directs toward the Shammaiites.

2. A Sefer Keritut or Get.

3. Best understood as saying that a man who divorces his wife so he can marry someone else is guilty of adultery.

4. This is a hard verse. In the strictest sense, Jesus seems to be saying that someone who marries a divorced woman is committing adultery. However, since Jesus Himself grants leave to divorce on the grounds of adultery (reiterated by Paul, who adds abandonment to the list), remarriage is permitted in some cases, and so He may be limiting the adultery to marrying a woman who has been “put away” under the liberal laws allowed by the school of Hillel at that time, which were so loose as to permit divorce if a wife did no more than burn a meal.

5. The blessing Jesus spoke probably consisted of saying the names of God over the children.

6. This is a sincere man who obviously desires to enter God’s Kingdom. He perfectly represents the thinking of the time that will be so hard for Judaism to change, for he believes he’ll ultimately get to heaven by “doing” something. Jesus is not confirming his theology by listing commandments for him to obey, but is repeating what was believed by the Jews and others today: If one obeys God’s commandments, he goes to heaven. The man then confirms he knows something is missing from the mix, for he has been obedient from his youth. Jesus then calls on him to forsake all and follow Him--but as we see, the man’s wealth was a stumbling block for him. Had he followed Christ, he would have been led to the understanding that it is ultimately by faith one is saved, and he possibly would have been the man who would have had Paul’s ministry. There is also a common false teaching that, “Jesus told him to keep the Ten Commandments to gain eternal life!” In fact, Jesus quoted from the whole of the Law, and not simply the Ten Commandments! Five of these commandments are indeed found in the Ten, but the last, and most important of them, is not!

Finally, nearly all false Christian cults (including many Messianic Jews) shipwreck on this verse, wrongly thinking that Jesus intends to teach, “Keep the commandments to go to heaven,” when He is really showing that no one will gain heaven by keeping commandments, because even the best man will always fall short of God’s actual standard of righteousness (Matt. 5:27-30). This man, in fact, was knee deep in idolatry, violating the first, and most important, commandment by having his wealth before God in his heart.

7. There is a common myth that there was a gate in Jerusalem called “the Needle,” and that camels could pass through it only by first having their packs removed and then entering without their burdens. No such gate existed in the time of Christ.

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 20

1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil1, because I am good?

16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,

18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,

19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.2

22 But Jesus answered, and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.

30 And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.

31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.

32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?

33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.

34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.

1 For the Messianic Kingdom is like a farmer who went out early one morning to hire grape-pickers for his vineyard.

2 He found some laborers, each of whom he promised to pay a silver penny for a day’s work; and he sent them out into the vineyard.

3 About nine in the morning, the farmer saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

4 And he told them, “You also go work in my vineyard, and I’ll pay you a fair wage.” So off they went.

5 At noon and three o’clock, he did the same thing.

6 About five PM, he found some others standing around idle, and so he asked, “Why have you been standing around all day, doing nothing?”

7 They answered, “Because no one has hired us today.” So the farmer told them, “You also head out into my vineyard, and I’ll pay you a fair wage.”

8 When the sun began to go down, the man said to his overseer, “Call in the pickers and pay them off, starting with those who have been here the least amount of time.”

9 When the ones hired at five PM came up, they were paid a silver dime.

10 But when the first group came up for payment, they expected more, yet got the same silver piece for their work.

11 Then, when they were paid the same silver piece, they complained to the farmer,

12 Saying, “Look here--these men came along in the last hour, and didn’t endure any of the heat like we did for you, yet you paid them the same wages as you did us?!”

13 But the farmer replied to one of them, “Friend, I didn’t cheat you. Didn’t you agree to work for a silver piece?

14 “Take your money, and go. I choose to pay the last group the same price I paid you.

15 “Aren’t I allowed to do that with my own money? Why are you stingy with my money because you think me too generous?”

16 So the last will be first, and the first shall be last. For many are called, but few are chosen.

17 And Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart on the road, and spoke to them:

18 Look--we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be handed over to the chief priests and the Torah teachers, and they shall condemn him to death.

19 They will hand him over to the Gentiles to mock him, whip him, and crucify him--but on the third day he will rise again!

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, came up with them and knelt before Jesus, desiring a favor.

21 He said to her: What is it that you wish? She answered: Grant that my two sons will be the most important officials of your kingdom, sitting at your right and left hands!

22 But Jesus answered back: You two don’t know what you’re asking for! Are you able to drink the cup I must drink, and endure the baptism I must endure? The pair said: Yes, we can!

23 So Jesus answered: Well, you will indeed partake of my cup and my baptism. But to rule at my right and left hands is not mine to give. My Father will decide who will have that honor.

24 When the ten others heard about this, they were furious at the two brothers.

25 But Jesus called them over, and said: Gentile rulers are the ones who lord it over people, and they who are important exercise authority over those under them.

26 But among you, that’s not how it should be. Whoever wants to be important among you should do that by serving the others.

27 And whoever wants to be the greatest among you should do that by being the greatest servant,

28 Just as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

29 As they departed from Jericho, a great host of people followed along.

30 Now there were two men sitting by the road. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out: Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!

31 The crowds tried to hush them up, but they cried out all the louder: Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!

32 But Jesus halted and called them up, asking: What do you want me to do for you?

33 They answered: Lord, we want our sight restored!

34 So Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. When he did that, immediately they could see, and they followed him.

1. Remember that an “evil eye” in that culture referred to a greedy person.

2. The woman here is thought by some to be Jesus’ aunt, who has come to Him to use her position to convince Him to give His cousins the two highest positions in His kingdom. The rest of the apostles are understandably angry.

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 21

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,

2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.

3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.

4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,

5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.1

6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,

7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.

9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?

11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.2

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased,

16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?3

17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.4 And presently the fig tree withered away.

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

21 Jesus answered, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?

24 And Jesus answered, and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.

25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?

26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.

29 He answered, and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered, and said, I go, sir: and went not.

31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.

39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.5

44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.

46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

1 Now when they neared Jerusalem and reached Bethphage, which is at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,

2 Telling them: Go into that village there, and the first thing you’ll see is an ass tied up with her foal. Untie them and bring them to me.

3 If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, “The Lord has need of them, and will send them right back.”

4 All this was done to fulfill a prophecy of Zechariah:

5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

6 So the disciples went out and did as Jesus had ordered them.

7 They brought the ass and her foal, spread their cloaks upon them, then sat Jesus upon the donkey.

8 Many of the people strewed their garments before Jesus, while others cut and laid down tree branches.

9 And a huge multitude went before and followed behind, crying out: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!

10 When Jesus reached entered Jerusalem, the whole city was intrigued, and asked: Who is this man?

11 The multitude shouted back: This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee!

12 Jesus, meanwhile, went into the Temple of God and drove out those who transacted business there. He also overturned the tables of the money-changers and the chairs of those who sold sacrificial doves.

13 He said to them: It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves!

14 The blind and crippled then came to him in the Temple, and Jesus healed them.

15 But when the chief priests and Torah teachers saw the great miracles, and the children (who served the High Priest) crying out in the Temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were enraged.

16 And they said to Jesus: Do you hear what these are saying?! But Jesus said in response: Yes--and have you never read (in the Septuagint): Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

17 Then he left them and departed the city for Bethany, where he spent the night.

18 The next morning, as he returned to the city, Jesus was hungry.

19 When he saw a good-looking fig tree near the road, he went over to it and found no fruit, but only leaves. So he cursed it, saying: Let no fruit ever grow on you again! And the tree immediately withered away.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed, and said: How did the tree wither away so quickly?

21 Jesus answered, and said to them: I tell you truly, if you have faith, and do not give in to doubt, you can not only do what you have seen done to this fig tree, but you can also say to this mountain, “Get up, and be cast into the sea!” and it will be done.

22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing--you will receive!

23 When Jesus arrived at the Temple, the chief priests and the local religious authorities came up while he was teaching, and demanded to know: By what authority do you do these things, and who gave you this authority?!

24 Jesus replied: I’ll ask you one thing, and if you can answer it, I will likewise answer by what authority I do these things:

25 John’s baptism (and ministry)--was it from God, or was it his own invention? Having been asked this, the group reasoned how to answer, saying: If we say God gave it to him, he will ask, “Then why didn’t you believe him?”

26 But if we say, “John made it up on his own,” we’ll have an angry mob upon us, for the people hold John to be a prophet.

27 So their answer was: We don’t know. Thus, Jesus said back to them: Then I will not tell you by what authority I do these things!

28 But what do you think about this? A man had two sons, and he went to the first, and told him, “Son, go work in my vineyard today.”

29 The son answered, “I will not.” But after he thought about it, he changed his mind and did go.

30 The man said likewise to the second son who answered, “I will, Sir!” But he later changed his mind and did not go work.

31 Of the two, which did the will of his father? The group answered: The first. Jesus then said: I assure you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will go into the Kingdom of God before you will!

32 For John came, living and teaching the way of true righteousness, yet you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him, and when you saw them repenting, you would not repent yourselves, and believe him.

33 Now listen to this parable: There was a certain farmer who planted a vineyard, made a fence around it, dug a winepress, set up a watchtower, and leased the vineyard out to sharecroppers while he left for a far-off country.

34 When the time to gather the proceeds arrived, he sent his representatives to the sharecroppers to collect his portion.

35 But the sharecroppers beat, murdered, and stoned his representatives.

36 He sent more representatives to them, and they did this again.

37 Finally, he sent his own son, saying to himself, “They will certainly honor my son!”

38 But when the sharecroppers saw the son, they said to themselves, “Here comes the heir to the estate--let’s kill him, and then we’ll take his inheritance for ourselves!”

39 So they grabbed hold of him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

40 When the owner of the vineyard comes himself, what will he do to the sharecroppers?

41 The leaders answered: He will utterly destroy those wicked men, and lease the vineyard to more trustworthy sharecroppers who will give the owner the fruits he has a right to expect when harvest time comes!

42 Jesus said in conclusion: Well, have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

43 Therefore, I tell you that the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a people who will bring forth the fruits of it.

44 And whoever falls on this stone shall be broken (and used in building), but whomever the rock falls upon will be ground into dust.

45 When the chief priests and Pharisees heard his parables, they realized Jesus was talking about them.

46 But when they debated taking him into custody, they feared the multitude because they believed him to be a prophet.

1. Jewish tradition held that if the people were righteous at the coming of the Messiah, he would ride into Jerusalem on a horse. If the people were unrighteous, he would enter on a donkey. You’ll note in Rev. 20 that Jesus returns to the earth a second time on a horse, showing that the Jews will be righteous--meaning that they have been purified by turning to Christ during the tribulation.

2. As the Gospels will show, Jesus actually drives out the money-changers twice. It should also be kept in mind that there was nothing intrinsically wrong about their function. Indeed, it was necessary to purchase animals for sacrifice, and to redeem non-kosher foreign money--engraved with the images of Roman emperors, for example--for kosher coinage. The problem was that these concessions were controlled by the family of Annas, who charged exorbitant rates for their services, creating a profit that they used to bribe Roman officials for the position of High Priest. They were also showing disrespect by sitting down in a court other than the Court of Women, and this is why the Gospels make mention of the fact that Jesus overturns their seats.

3. Like 70% of the Old Testament quotes in the New Testament, this is from the Septuagint, which uses somewhat different wording than the Hebrew text. (In the Hebrew, it is “strength,” not “praise.”) The children were probably the attendants of the High Priest, a group of boys who grew up in Temple isolation and assisted him because of their presumed purity and isolation from sin. Hearing them praise Jesus would have driven the Sadducees, from the High Priest on down, into a near-berserk rage.

4. The significance of Jesus cursing the fig tree--which represents Israel and Judaism--cannot be minimized, for it is a direct refutation to the deceptive movement of Messianic Judaism! “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever” makes it clear: The Law and religion of Judaism will never--repeat, never--be used of God to reach humanity again!

.

* He does not “Curse” the Law or Judaism because either are “bad,” but because the Law and its covenant was not “faultless” (Heb. 11:7), due to man’s frailty, and thus a new covenant must be instituted to accomplish what God seeks to do, and the Law can never be a part of it! Thus, no fruit from the Law and its covenant can ever be eaten from it again in God’s plan for men.

.

5. Better understood as being given to a “people,” not a “nation,” meaning the Gentiles, who will receive the Messiah, while the rulers of the Jews will reject Him.

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 22

1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,

2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good1: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?2 And he was speechless.

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

16 and they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,

24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:

26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.

27 And last of all the woman died also.

28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

29 Jesus answered, and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,

32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.3

33 And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.

34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,

42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.

43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,

44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?4

46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions

1 Jesus continued talking in parables, saying:

2 The Kingdom of heaven is like a king who held a marriage for his son.

3 He sent forth his servants to call the invited guests to the feast, but they would not come.

4 So he sent more servants with the message to those invited: I’ve prepared the banquet! The meat is cooked and ready. Come to the marriage banquet!

5 But they didn’t take it seriously, and went about their normal activities, one to his farm and another to his business.

6 The rest disrespected the king’s servants, and killed them.

7 When word reached the king, he was so furious that he sent his armies to kill those murderers and burn their city to the ground.

8 He said to his servants: The wedding is ready, but those who were invited to it weren’t worthy of the invitation!

9 So go out onto the roads and invite anyone you see to the marriage feast.

10 These servants did as they were told, and brought in as many people as they could find on the roads, bad people as well as good. And the wedding was full of guests.

11 But when the king arrived to see the guests, he spotted a man who did not have on a new robe (which was handed out freely to anyone who came in through the gate).

12 So the king said, “Friend, how did you get in here without the wedding garment (provided for you at the gate)?” But the man was speechless.

13 Then the king said to the servants: “Bind up this party-crasher hand and foot, and cast him forth into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth! (For he would have been welcome if he had come in through the same gate as everyone else, instead of sneaking in through some other way!)”

14 You see, many are invited, but few are sought out and personally escorted in.

15 Then the Pharisees held a meeting to discuss how to trap Jesus in his own words.

16 So they sent their own representatives, together with some from the Herodian party (who supported returning the Herods to full authority over Judea), and they said: Teacher, we know you are sincere, and always teach the way of God truthfully, since man’s approval means nothing to you.

17 Give us your opinion on this issue: Is it within the Law of Moses that taxes should be paid to Caesar, or not?

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said: Why do you try to trick me, you hypocrites?

19 Show me the money of the Roman tax! So they brought him a Roman coin.

20 He took it, and said: Whose image and name is on this coin?

21 They answered: Caesar’s. So he said in response: Then give to Caesar what he has a right to expect, but give to God what He has a right to expect!

22 When they heard these words, they marveled and left him, going their own way.

23 The same day, some Sadducees, who deny there is (an immortal soul or) a resurrection of the body, came up and asked:

24 Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies childless, his brother must marry his wife, and provide him an heir so his bloodline doesn’t die out.

25 Now we know of seven brothers, and the first--after marrying the woman he was betrothed to--died childless. So his oldest brother married her, but had no children either.

26 Then he died, and the next brother married her, and this pattern continued until all seven men died without the woman’s ever having a child.

27 Finally, the woman died.

28 So at the resurrection of the dead, which of the seven will be her husband since they were all married to her?

29 Jesus answered: You’re wrong from the beginning since you don’t even know or understand the Scriptures or the power of God!

30 In the resurrection, people aren’t married, nor are they given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven.

31 But as touching whether there even is (an immortal spirit or) a resurrection of the dead, have you never read what God Himself spoke for your benefit when He said:

32 I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God could not be the Lord of three dead men in the grave with no consciousness! (Those men had to be conscious for God to be their Lord, wherever they may have been, and so they will rise in resurrection!)

33 When the crowds heard this, they were amazed at Jesus’ doctrine.

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they huddled together,

35 And one of them, who was an expert in the whole of Mosaic Law, asked him a trick question:

36 Master, what is the most important commandment in the Law?

37 Jesus replied: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and most important commandment!

39 The second is just as critical: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments (hang all the written and oral Law)!

41 While the Pharisees happened to be gathered together, Jesus asked them:

42 What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he? They said: David’s, of course!

43 He said back: If that’s true (in the way you think), why did David, under the inspiration of the Spirit, write in the psalms that the Messiah is his Lord (when a son is always in a lesser position than his father in our culture)?

44 For he wrote, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

45 If David calls the Messiah his “Lord,” how is the Messiah his son?

46 None of them could answer that, and from that day on, no one dared try to trick Jesus with questions.

1. The point being that both the righteous and unrighteous are invited into the Kingdom of God, and one need only accept the free invitation without “earning” it.

2. Jesus here continues the teaching, emphasizing that it is only the host who can make those who come to the feast acceptable. In the culture, a king or wealthy host of a wedding feast provided garments for all those invited, akin to the way gowns are provided for bridesmaids.The analogy is talking about being invited into the Kingdom of God, and the garment represents the righteousness we obtain through faith in Christ. The man who arrived in his own garment represents a person who relies on being accepted by God through his own efforts at obedience and good works. Some attempt to harmonize this passage with Rev. 19:8, which talks about those at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb being attired in white linen that presumably represents the good deeds of the saints. While good works in that context is a permissible interpretation of the word used for “righteousness” in that passage, there are problems with the overall idea equating both passages as the same exact feast. First, you then have a conflict with applying the garment mentioned in Revelation with that of the one mentioned in Matthew. In Revelation, according to works theology, the Bride has made herself ready by deeds of righteousness and obedience, and thus the Bride has woven her own garment. In the passage in Matthew, the allegory outlined is that of a king who provides the garment! The man who came in with no garment isn’t shown to have arrived naked, but merely failed to take the garment offered by the king, and arrived in his own clothing (i.e. his own works and righteousness). Rev. 3:18 itself shows the deception of such a theology when it reveals that one must obtain his garment of righteousness through Christ when it says, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” Zephaniah 1:7-8 reiterates the fate of groups who attempt to enter the presence of God in the “strange apparel” of their own righteousness when it warns: “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall be in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.”

Beyond this, these are two different events. In the first, the king rejects those who were originally called to the feast and instead seeks out those who were never invited and previously did not know of it to enter. In Revelation, the Bride is well aware of who her husband is, was previously espoused to that husband, and in conscious anticipation of the marriage has done whatever she can to ready herself. But she already knew the groom before doing these things! Thus, to equate both passages as teaching that various works must be added to the “gift” of salvation in order to complete the process of having one’s sins forgiven is unwarranted, and is actually spiritual cyanide that will cause one to end up with the same fate as those who refused to come to the feast at all--the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth! The first passage is thus an allegory about salvtion and being called into the Kingdom; the second is talking about the reward of those already in the Kingdom.

Finally, this parable, and the symbolism of Christ’s righteousness as the wedding garment guaranteeing one’s place at the banquet, could be the basis of Paul’s admonition in Romans 13:14 to “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

3. Jesus’ statement in our language isn’t that impressive. But in the original language it would have been understood more along the lines of God’s saying: “I am continuing to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Thus, the Sadducees are taken aback by a statement from Scripture that seems to suggest that the dead, whom they mistakenly believe have no consciousness or continued existence, still consciously are acknowledging God. Jesus would undoubtedly repeat the same argument to denominations that believe that once one dies he stays dead unless God revives him at the Last Judgment. Such groups rely on a misunderstanding verses like Ecclesiastes 9:5 that “the dead know not anything” to validate the false doctrine of “Soul Sleep.”

4. Jesus here points out that the (logical) understanding that the Messiah would be an anointed human man descended from David cannot be true in the way they believe, for in the Jewish culture a man never holds authority over his father, but always acknowledges his father's authority over him. Yet David calls the Messiah his “Lord,” which is not consistent if the Messiah is a physical descendant of his, and nothing beyond that. Thus, Jesus starts to show that the basis upon which David can call his own descendant his “Lord” must be that the descendant is somehow God Himself, for the only men David, in the culture, could show such deference to would be his own father or related elders, a king with authority over him,* or God!

* Some who deny that Jesus is the Messiah, or that the Messiah is God in the flesh, might try to take the position that the Messiah is David’s Lord because he is a greater king, in the general sense of the word, than David was, with greater mortal authority than David had. The problem with this is that God in the Old Testament (Psalm 89:4, and elsewhere) promised David that his own throne would be everlasting--and since the promise was that David’s throne would be everlasting, David is given pre-eminence over the Messiah on one level since it is David’s throne, and not the Messiah’s, that God has initially decreed will be everlasting. Yet the Messiah, who sits on the throne of David, is still superior to David and is David’s “Lord.” Thus, the only way for the Messiah to simultaneously sit on David’s own throne as David’s own lord is for the Messiah to be God!

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 23

1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.1

4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,

7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.2

12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.3

16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!4

17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?

18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.

19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?

20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.

21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.

22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise5 and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.6

25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.7

26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres8, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,

30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.9

32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias10, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.10

39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.12

1 Jesus now spoke to both the crowd and his own disciples.

2 He said: The Torah teachers and the Pharisees have come to sit in Moses’ throne of authority.

3 So you must do all that they require you to do. But don’t do it with the same attitudes they have, for they talk a good talk, but they do not walk a good walk.

4 They lay hosts of their own tortuous commandments on the backs of the people to shoulder, and will not lift a finger to remove them.

5 But everything they do is done for them to look pious in the eyes of others. They wear big phylacteries on their heads, and fringes on their prayer shawls that reach down to their ankles.

6 They love to be invited to the best seats at banquets, and to have the choice seats in the synagogues.

7 They love men in the marketplace to greet them by calling them “Rabbi” or “Teacher.”

8 But don’t you take the title of rabbi to yourself (thinking to make followers of your own). You have but one Lord and rabbi--me! And all of you are equally brothers in my sight.

9 And don’t call any earthly man your “father” (in the sense that the Pharisees do teachers like Hillel and Shammai, or some do the High Priest). Your one true Father is in heaven!

10 Nor should you consider yourselves to be masters, for the Christ is the only master.

11 But whoever would be the most important of you must be as the lowest slave.

12 And whoever will advance his own position and agenda within the community will be brought down, and the humble one shall instead be exalted.

13 But woe to you Torah teachers and Pharisees! You hypocrites do all you can to stop people from entering into the Kingdom of heaven that you, yourselves, reject!

14 Woe to you hypocritical Torah teachers and Pharisees! You throw penniless widows into the street, while you stand outside the door in the sight of others and pretend to pray like pious men! Thus, you will receive greater punishment in hell than most sinners!

15 Woe to you hypocrite Torah teachers and Pharisees for the fact that you’ll travel over land and sea to make one convert to your brand of Judaism, then turn him into twice the child of hell that you are!

16 Woe to you blind guides who absolve a man invoking the Temple as witness when he swears an oath--unless the oath is one pertaining to a (business transaction with the Temple)!

17 Blind fools--what is greater? The Temple itself, or the gold housed inside of it that the Temple makes holy?

18 If a person swears by the altar, he can change his mind. Oh, but if he swears by a gift upon the altar (that is promised to the Temple), then he is bound!

19 Blind fools--what is more important? The gift? Or the altar that makes the gift holy?

20 Whoever swears by the altar, swears by its holiness and all it represents!

21 Whoever swears by the Temple, swears by its holiness and Him who dwells in it!

22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and God who sits on that throne.

23 Woe to you hypocrite Torah teachers and Pharisees! (You Shammaiites tithe to the last kernel of grain), but when it comes to what truly matters in the Law--justice, mercy, faithfulness--you act like you never heard of these! You should have done all with equal zeal!

24 But no--you are blind guides who make sure you strain out a tiny unclean gnat from the water you drink, while you gulp down an unclean camel without even noticing!

25 Woe to you hypocrite Torah teachers and Pharisees! You ritually wash the cup and the plate to make whatever is served upon them holy, but there is nothing but corruption within you, yourselves!

26 Blind (Shammaiite) Pharisee--worry about cleaning what’s inside the cup and plate of your own soul, and then the outside will take care of itself!

27 Woe to you hypocritical Torah teachers and Pharisees! You are like painted tombs that look good on the outside, but inside are filled with dead bones that cause defilement and corruption to anyone they come into contact with!

28 In the same way, you look righteous on the outside, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and unrepentant sin.

29 Woe to you hypocritical Torah teachers and Pharisees! You build monuments to the prophets and the righteous dead,

30 And say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined in persecuting and slaying the prophets!”

31 So you admit you’re descended from the murderers of the prophets!

32 Walk in their footsteps, and show the ultimate fruit of what your fathers were then!

33 You snakes! You generation of vipers! What hope is there for you to escape damnation in hell?

34 I’ll send prophets, wise men, and teachers to you. Some you’ll murder or crucify, and some you’ll lash in the synagogues, drive out, and persecute from city to city.

35 Upon your heads, therefore, will come the final responsibility for the blood of every righteous man ever slain, from Abel (in the first scroll of the Scriptures), to Zechariah ben Berechiah (in the last scroll of the Scriptures) who was slain between the Temple and the altar!

36 I tell you truly that the punishment for all this will fall on the heads of this generation!

37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem--the city that kills the prophets and stones all who are sent to you--how often would I have gathered your children together like a hen gathers her chicks under her wing, but you refused!

38 Look now--your Temple is left desolate to you!

39 For I say that you will not see me (--your Messiah--) again until you say (of me,) “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”!

1. It is noteworthy that Jesus--at least to this point--accepts the authority of the Sanhedrin over Judaism. The authority will ultimately be lost upon the Sanhedrin’s rejecting Christ, and will pass to the early disciples who eventually set up a Christian Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. (See Acts 1:15 which contrasts the number of believers as 120--duplicating the Anshei Knesset ha Gedolah, a Jewish quorum of the 2nd Temple period that issued rabbinic pronouncements and assembled parts of the Old Testament--with Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 15:6 that Jesus appeared to 500 believers. Acts is speaking of the elders of the infant church, whereas Paul is including lay members as well.)

2. In the following verses, Jesus hasn’t spoken against having titles in the church, but is warning against allowing oneself to seek followers for their own glory. The problem is shown by the Pharisees, many of whom identified themselves primarily as the followers of their teachers,  Shammai and Hillel. Jesus is pointing out that a true man of God comes to serve those under him.

3. The precise meaning of this verse is unclear. It could be that Jesus is making a blanket indictment against the Pharisee movement as a whole. Falk suggests this was directed solely at the school of Shammai, and Jesus here is rebuking their attempts to convert Judaism to their particular way of thinking.

4. This is possibly alluding to the fact that a Jew, from the High Priest, or in the presence of three witnesses, could be absolved from any oaths made. However, if something was promised to the Temple, the agreement in most cases was binding.

5. This is yet another indication Jesus is specifically rebuking Pharisees from the school of Shammai, for dill was one of the things required for tithing by Shammai (Maaserot 1.1 cf. 4.6; Eduyyot 5.3; Demai 1.3).

6. A sad rebuke, showing the great flaw in Judaism--for to this day, the religion and its founders have written whole libraries on the intricacies of the Torah and the traditions surrounding it, yet have never been able to see that the whole purpose of the Torah and the Old Testament was to point to Jesus Christ.

7. This verse offers some further evidence that Jesus is restricting his rebuke to the Shammaiites, for the Talmud (Berekhot 51b) records that there was a difference of opinion between the two schools on the ritual before eating. Both schools of the Pharisees began their meals with a ceremonial cup of wine, but the school of Shammai believed that there should be a ritual hand washing before drinking the wine, lest the cup be defiled, whereas the school of Hillel disagreed and held the hand washing later in the meal, before breaking bread.

8. It was custom to whitewash tombs with chalk mixed in water in order to mark them so no one came into contact with them and became defiled (Num. 5:2 and 9:6-10).

9. It is commonly thought that Jesus is here referring to the death of the Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, who was placed in a log and sawn in two by Manasseh. That is certainly possible, but taking the past few verses in the context of being a rebuke against the school of Shammai, a different meaning may emerge: In the early years of the 1st century when the school of Shammai was instituting its infamous “18 measures” meant to force the Jews to separate from the Gentiles, the school of Hillel vehemently opposed the idea. Things become so hot that the Zealots (who were apparently affiliated with the school of Shammai as early as 6 AD, and on through the fall of Jerusalem) murdered a number of Hillel’s disciples over the dispute, whom the Talmud call “prophets.” Some of those Jesus was rebuking may literally have been the sons of Shammaiites involved in the murders.

10. Further evidence that this could be a tirade against the school of Shammai is provided in this verse, which is commonly understood as Jesus referring to the prophet Zechariah who, although the son of Berechiah, is not known to have died in this manner, whereas another Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, is recorded in 2nd Chronicles 24 as indeed being killed at the Temple. Some make the claim that Zechariah ben Jehoiada was known in Jesus’ time as Zechariah ben Berechiah according to the Targums. If so, Jesus would be referring to the first murder recorded in first book of the Bible; and the last, which in the Jewish canon of Scripture is in the book of Chronicles, which ends the canon.  Josephus lists a Zechariah ben Berechiah as a righteous man murdered by Zealots on the Temple grounds, but his dating of the event does not seem to jibe with the statement.

11. A prophecy that the Temple would be destroyed, for “the House” was a slang term for the Temple.

12. Another prophecy that Jesus will not return until the Jews themselves cry out to Him. The prayer of, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” from Psalm 118 is made each Passover by Orthodox Jews. Jesus would be understood to mean that only when the Jews, as a people, finally acknowledge Him in that prayer will He return.

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 24

1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.1

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?2

4 And Jesus answered, and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

8 All these are the beginning of sorrows3.

9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.

10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:

18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day4:

21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

22 And except those days should be shortened5, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

25 Behold, I have told you before.

26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.6

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.7

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.8

37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.9

41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.10

45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;

49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

1 Jesus left the Temple court, and the disciples directed his attention to some of the magnificent structures of the Temple complex.

2 But Jesus said in response: You see all these things? Truly I say to you, there won’t be so little as two stones left cemented together of these buildings--they’ll all be thrown down in rubble!

3 Later, as Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him without the crowds and asked: Tell us--when will the Temple be thrown down? And what will the sign be of your ushering in the Kingdom, and the end of this age (before the Messianic Age begins)?

4 Jesus replied: Don’t let anyone trick you!

5 Many false messiahs will come, claiming to be the Messiah, and hosts will be deceived by them.

6 And you will hear about wars and rumors of war coming. Don’t worry, for these things must happen, but that will not signal the end yet.

7 For race will rise up against race, and nation against nation; and there will be famines, pestilence, and earthquakes in different places.

8 These are only the start of the Birthpangs of the Messiah.

9 Then you will be delivered over to torture and death because of your testimony for me. All nations will hate you because of who and what I am.

10 And many shall (lose their faith and) stumble, betraying each other and hating each other.

11 And many false teachers will arise, deceiving hosts of people.

12 And because of all the sin on the earth, people’s love (and fear of God) will wane.

13 But he who endures to the end will be saved!

14 And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness to all peoples, and then shall the end come.

15 So when you see the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the Holy of Holies,

16 Let everyone in Judea run for the hills!

17 Don’t even stop to take anything out of your house!

18 Let anyone working in the field not even return home to get anything!

19 Woe to pregnant and nursing women at that time!

20 And pray that your time to flee doesn’t fall in the cold of winter or on the Sabbath (when you are commanded not to travel).

21 For at that time shall be a great tribulation, the like of which has never been seen, nor ever will be seen again.

22 And unless God intervenes to halt things, no one will survive. But for the sake of His elect people, God will intervene and cut things short.

23 In those days, if any man says, “The Messiah may be found in this place or that”--don’t believe him!

24 For false Messiahs and false prophets will arise and do great signs and wonders that would fool even the true followers of God if that were possible.

25 Remember I’ve told you this before:

26 If they say the “real” Messiah is in the desert, don’t go! If they say the “real” Messiah is hidden in some secret place--don’t believe it!

27 For the Son of Man’s coming shall be as fast as lightning flashing from east to west!

28 For, “Where the body is, the vultures gather.”

29 Just after the tribulation period, the sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the demonic powers of the heavens will be shaken (and thrown down).

30 Then shall the sign of the Son of Man appear in the sky, and all the nations on earth will mourn as they see him coming with the hosts of heaven in all of his power and great glory!

31 And he shall send out his angels with the blast of a shofar, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

32 Now learn a lesson from the fig tree: When the branches are green and full of leaves, you know that summer is at hand.

33 So when you see these signs appearing, know that what has been prophesied is close, and even at the doors!

34 I tell you truly, the generation that sees these things will not die out before what I prophesied comes to pass.

35 The universe and the earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away!

36 But as for the (Rosh Hashanah) that will see the culmination of these things, no one knows when it will be--not man, not angel, but my Father alone.

37 But as the days of Noah were, so will the days be when the Son of Man returns.

38 In the days before the flood they were going about life as usual: Eating, drinking, marrying, and so on, up to the point Noah entered the ark (and God shut the door).

39 They didn’t realize what was happening until the flood swept them away. So will the Son of Man’s coming be!

40 At that time, two shall be working in a field--one will be accepted and taken, and the other will be rejected and left.

41 Two women will be grinding flour at a mill--one will be accepted and taken, and the other will be rejected and left.

42 Watch then, for you don’t know just when your Lord will return!

43 And keep in mind that if the owner of a mansion had known what time of night a thief was coming, he would have stayed awake, waiting--and his house wouldn’t have been burgled!

44 So be likewise vigilant, for in such an hour that you’re not expecting it, the Son of Man will come!

45 Who is a faithful and wise steward the master can leave in charge to feed those in the household while he is away?

46 The steward who does that will be blessed when his master comes and sees him being faithful in doing these things.

47 Truly I say to you, that master will elevate him to overseer over all he has.

48 But if an evil steward says to himself, “My master isn’t going to return for a long time,”

49 And beats his underlings, and then goes out to party with the drunkards,

50 The master will return on a day and hour the steward doesn’t expect,

51 And cut him into pieces and throw him out into the same place of punishment as the hypocrites--a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

1. Herod’s Temple was one of the great wonders of the ancient world, and was unsurpassed in its beauty, being built of white and green marble. (According to Lawrence Stager in Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2000, originally the Temple grounds were even filled with fruit trees in the courts to duplicate the Garden of Eden.) Skeptics often claim Jesus made a false prophecy since the Wailing Wall is still standing. However, the Temple was technically the small building housing the Holy Places, whereas the massive complex were additional buildings constructed according to the whims of Herod the Great. Also, the Wailing Wall was only a retaining wall and was not a part of the true Temple. Finally, it should be noted that technically cement was not used in the Temple’s construction, but the paraphrase uses the word for ease of understanding.

2. In the minds of the apostles, they have asked one question because they see all these things coming in one event. In actuality, they have asked three separate questions, and Jesus responds to each question.

3. This word is translated as “sorrows,” but “birthpangs” is the correct meaning. In Jewish eschatology, there was a seven-year period of travail called the Chevlei shel Moshiach, or the “Birthpangs of the Messiah,” a seven-year period of tribulation corresponding to Daniel’s 70th week, that would culminate in the Messiah’s arrival to rule. The seven-year birthpangs were thought to be the first seven years of the Messianic Age. This corresponds to the Christian Great Tribulation.

4. This verse is a major problem for Christians who think Gentile Christianity has replaced Israel, for what Christian would be hindered from escaping danger on the Sabbath? Very clearly, Jesus is addressing ultra-Orthodox Jews whose commitment to Torah is such that they refuse to travel on the Sabbath even to save their own lives. Although Judaism as a whole accepts that one may profane the Sabbath to save his life, there are examples in history of Orthodox Jews refusing to compromise--and dying for their commitment. It may thus be that Jesus here is referring only to the events around the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and His words are not specifically referring to the great tribulation, for Jews of 70 AD would have been more reluctant to travel on a Sabbath than Jews of today.

5. Probably meaning that God will have to intervene to shorten the tribulation or the whole earth will be destroyed.

6. This is one of the most difficult to understand verses in the New Testament. Many scholars believe Jesus is quoting a proverb, but its meaning is unknown. Stern suggests the vultures (“eagles” is a mistranslation) are demons who gather around the Antichrist to deceive the world and carry out his bidding.

7. In the Greek, Jesus’ words are most reasonably understood as speaking of the generation present at the earth at that time. This is not as problematic as some make it, for 40 years later Jerusalem fell, and the Temple was destroyed. It is perfectly reasonable to presume that the prophecy has a double reference--one for the time of the apostles, and the greater at the end of the tribulation.

8. First of all, Jesus seems to be making a direct reference that His eventual coming will be on the Jewish Festival of Rosh Hashannah, the equivalent of New Year’s Day, which takes place in September. “The day and the hour” is a term associated with that Festival, and Jesus’ language would be akin to if I were to tell an American: “No one knows just when you’ll be carving the turkey when I return.” This would immediately reveal to you I am talking about the Thanksgiving season, and Jesus likewise is making a direct reference to fulfilling the prophetic implications of Rosh Hashannah, which prefigures the coronation of the Messiah.

During Rosh Hashannah (the Feast of Trumpets), the shofar is blown in a series of blasts, (one of which is known as the last trump) to announce the arrival of God to make a preliminary judgment of the people of the earth before the final judgment of Yom Kippur; and the books of the Righteous, the Sinners, and the Unrighteous are opened. Each person's name is then written in one of the three. (Some Jewish legends also hold that the resurrection of the dead will occur on Rosh Hashannah.)

Rosh Hashannah is celebrated as a two-day Festival to guarantee that the forthcoming Yom Kippur does not fall on the 1st or 6th days of the week (based on a lunar calendar). Thus, even if a person knew precisely which Rosh Hashannah Jesus would return on, he still couldn’t know which of the two days that would take place on, nor could he know the hour. Because we know that Jesus’ life perfectly fulfilled the symbolism of the Festivals on the correct days (for instance, dying on Passover, resurrecting on First Fruits, sending the Holy Spirit on Pentecost), the symbolism of Rosh Hashannah is a key indicator in supporting a pre- tribulation Rapture theory and revealing that the return of Christ for His church will be on a Rosh Hashannah of some year.

9. This verse, and a parallel verse in Luke 17:34-35, is debated amongst theologians. Those who hold a post-tribulation Rapture theory claim the event takes place at the end of the world, and the one “taken” is the sinner whisked off to judgment, while the one “left” is the righteous. There is a problem in this view, for the words here seem to mean the opposite of what the post-tribber believes. Let us look at the verse: “the one shall be taken....” The word here for “taken” is paralambano. Paralambano is a compound word comprised of para (“beside,” or “alongside”) and lambano (“take”). It is therefore a stronger word than to merely grab something, and is used in the sense of taking a person to oneself in a manner one would a friend or relative, although the word can be used in the sense of compelling a person to go someplace as in the case where the devil “taketh” (paralambano) Jesus to the top of a high mountain. However, paralambano is the same word translated as “receive” in John 14: 3, where Jesus says He is going to prepare a place for the disciples, and that He will come back to “receive” (paralambano) them to Himself. The problem does not end there, for the next line poses another major problem to the post-trib. Rapture doctrine: “…and the other left.” The word here for “left” is aphiemi. Overwhelmingly, aphiemi conveys the opposite feeling of paralambano. Paralambano in such a context is a word used to convey acceptance, while aphiemi conveys rejection in the sense of: divorce, rejection, lack of concern, abandonment, and so on. Both words placed together make it difficult to understand the verse as saying anything other than that Christ accepts the one “taken” but rejects the one “left.” No matter what one’s view on when the Rapture takes place, the one “taken” most reasonably seems to be the Christian, for only by ignoring the practical Greek applications of these words being placed together, and creating the theology from an ambiguous English translation of the text, can the opposite point be made without having some issues to deal with.

10. This can be inferred as yet another problem for those promoting the post-trib. Rapture theory, for if the coming of Christ is at a time of universal catastrophe and calamity, at the end of a hellish tribulation--there would be no surprise. If the choice were between Christ’s return and the destruction of the earth, of Christianity, or of the Jewish people on a worldwide scale--it would be obvious to any remaining believers that Christ must come immediately. In fact, verses 40 and 41, which we have dealt with, seem to show the return of Christ for the church will be at a relatively benign time when people seem to be leading normal, carefree lives--working in the fields, grinding in homes, sleeping in bed, etc., rather than panicking, hiding, fleeing, and so on, as go with the post- tribber’s beliefs that the church will be persecuted to the point of death before Christ comes for it. Jesus, in earlier verses, has shown that there will be great catastrophes occurring at the end, but the fact that He also shows a rather normal world when some are “taken” and “left” fits fine with the notion of a pre-tribulation gathering of the saints with the return of Christ to the earth at the end, when all agree the world will indeed be in great turmoil.

None of the three views on when the Rapture takes place are conclusively “provable” from Scripture, but in coming to a decision on which view to accept, one should at least be as honest in interpreting the Scriptures as possible. Now if one only goes from the Scriptures, in my opinion a slightly stronger (but still inconclusive) case can be made for a post-trib. position. However, if one goes beyond trying to decipher the Scriptures, which do not answer the question conclusively, and then look to the symbolism within Judaism’s Festivals and culture for additional clarification, the balance, in my opinion, shifts greatly to a pre-trib. Rapture position, for the Jewish wedding ceremony and honeymoon show the symbolism of that view.

For a start, once the engagement commences, the prospective bridegroom leaves the bride with these words: “I go to prepare a place for you, and I will return for you” (the same words Jesus will use during the Last Supper with His disciples). The bridegroom then prepares the place where the two will eventually live. The bride, meanwhile, is to expectantly await the coming of the bridegroom since he can return at any time. When the bridegroom does return, he comes with a shout of, “Behold, the bridegroom comes,” and a trumpet is sounded. He then takes the bride in a procession and the two undergo the marriage ceremony. The couple then go to the bridal chamber where they spend the next seven days (note the symbolism) together. After this, they return to the original house of the bride for the marriage supper and take up their normal life together.

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 25

1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered, and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 And unto one he gave five talents1, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

22 He also that had received two talents came, and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

24 Then he which had received the one talent came, and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26 His lord answered, and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.2

30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant3 into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

1 When that happens, the Messianic Kingdom will be likened to ten virgins who took oil lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom.

2 Five of these were wise, and five were foolish.

3 The foolish brought lamps, but no spare oil.

4 The wise brought spare oil flasks with their lamps.

5 The bridegroom took his time and didn’t immediately appear, so they fell asleep waiting (and their lamps went out).

6 Then, at midnight, someone cried out: “The bridegroom is coming--go out and meet him!”

7 Then the virgins arose and began to ready their lamps.

8 The foolish said to the wise, “Loan us some oil--our lamps went out!”

9 But the wise replied, “We can’t, lest we run out of oil ourselves. Go and buy some oil for yourselves from a vendor!”

10 So the foolish went to buy some, but the bridegroom came in the meantime and the wedding party went into the house, and the door was shut behind them.

11 Finally, the foolish virgins returned. They tried to enter, calling out, “Lord! Lord! Open up the door for us!”

12 But he answered from behind the door, “I tell you in truth, I don’t know you!”

13 So keep watch, for you do not know ‘The Day and the Hour’ that the Son of Man will return.

14 For the Messianic Kingdom is like a man who was going on a long trip to a faraway country, who called his servants and assigned some money to them for investment.

15 He gave five ounces of gold to one, two ounces to another, and one ounce to a last, according to how wise he thought they were. Then he left on his journey.

16 The man with five ounces of gold did some buying and trading, and he doubled the money.

17 The one with two ounces of gold did likewise.

18 But the one with only an ounce of gold simply went out and buried his lord’s money in the ground.

19 After a long time, the lord of the servants returned and called them to account for what they had done.

20 The one with five ounces of gold brought back ten, saying, “Lord, I’ve turned the five ounces of gold you gave me into ten!”

21 His lord said, “Well done, you good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things--now I will make you ruler over many things. (Come rejoice with me, and take on new, more important duties!)”

22 The one with two ounces of gold came up, and said, “Lord, I have turned your two ounces of gold into four ounces!”

23 His lord said, “Well done, you good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things--now I will make you ruler over many things. (Come rejoice with me, and take on new, more important duties as well!)”

24 But the servant with only one ounce of gold came up, and said, “Lord, I know you are a stern man who lets others take the risks for him and keeps whatever profits they make.

25 “I was afraid of what you’d do if I lost your money so I hid your gold in a hole. Here it is!”

26 His lord was furious, and answered, “You wicked, lazy servant--so you know I let others take the risks, and then take the profits they make?!

27 “Then you should have at least loaned the money out so I could get some interest on what I gave you. (Instead, you did nothing with it, and took no risks at all, showing you to be utterly useless!)

28 “Take that ounce of gold from him and give it to the servant with ten ounces of gold!”

29 “For everyone who has (understanding) shall be rewarded with much more. But he who has not (understanding) will lose what little he may have had!

30 “So cast that useless servant into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth!”

31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the holy angels, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.

32 And before him will be gathered all peoples of the earth, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd does with sheep and goats (which are never allowed to be in the same flock).

33 He will set the sheep on his right hand but the goats on his left.

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, blessed of my Father, and inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,

35 “For I was hungry, and you fed me; thirsty, and you gave me water; homeless, and you took me in;

36 “Naked, and you clothed me; sick, and you came and aided me; in prison, and you visited me!”

37 Then the righteous will answer: “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry, and fed you? Or thirsty, and gave you water?

38 “Or homeless, and took you in? Or naked, and gave you clothing?

39 “Or when did we see you sick or in prison, and come visit you?”

40 And the King will answer: “I tell you that when you did such things to even the least of these who are my brothers, you did it to me, personally!”

41 Then the King will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you accursed ones! Go forth into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels!

42 “For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me; thirsty, and you gave me no water;

43 “A homeless stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you gave me no clothes; in prison, and you didn’t visit me.”

44 These shall also answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a homeless stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t aid you?”

45 And he will answer them, “I say to you that any time you did not help the least of these, you rejected helping me as well!”

46 So these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.

1. A “talent” was actually an enormous amount of gold--up to 75 pounds--and one point being made is that Christ has given us an unlimited amount of resources (through faith and the Spirit) to accomplish His work on earth. The man who did nothing can be said to have ignored the opportunity to use the nearly unlimited resources that were available to him. Note, however, that to make things a bit more comprehensible to the reader, the author has reduced this staggering amount of gold from pounds to ounces of gold in the Gospel paraphrases. Even a humble ounce of gold would have been a near fortune to a normal person of the time, and still makes the point adequately.

2. Jesus' words here often puzzle readers, but Matthew 13:11-12 reveals He is talking about having understanding.

3. As a point of interest, Eusebius noted that his Aramaic copy of Matthew actually had this parable written differently. In that, the man who hid the gold was the one who was praised, and the others cursed!

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 26

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,

2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,

4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.

5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper1,

7 There came unto him a woman2 having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.

8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?

9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.

11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.

13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,

15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.3

16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?

18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man4, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.

19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.

20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.

21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

23 And he answered, and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.

24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered, and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

30 And when they had sung an hymn5, they went out into the mount of Olives.

31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.6

33 Peter answered, and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock7 crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me8: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.

44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.

48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him.

51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear.

52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council9, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,

61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?

63 But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered, and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said10: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

65 Then the high priest rent his clothes,11 saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

66 What think ye? They answered, and said, He is guilty of death.

67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,

68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.

70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.

72 And again he denied with an oath12, I do not know the man.

73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee.

74 Then began he to curse and to swear13, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

1 Now when Jesus finally completed all these comments, he told the disciples:

2 As you know, in a couple of days will be the Passover. The Son of Man will then be betrayed to be crucified.

3 At this time, the chief Sadducee priests, along with some hostile Torah teachers and assorted religious and city leaders, met at the palace of the High Priest who was named Caiaphas.

4 They debated how to trick Jesus into being captured so they could kill him in a safe manner (that would avoid a public riot).

5 They said: It must not be on the Feast day, lest the people rise up and make trouble.

6 Jesus, meanwhile, retired to Bethany, and happened to be eating dinner in the house of Simon the leper (father of Judas).

7 While he was there, a woman came into the house with an alabaster container filled with costly ointment. She poured it upon his head as he reclined at the table.

8 But when the disciples saw this, they were disgusted, and said: Why this waste?!

9 This ointment could have been sold for a lot of money that could have been given to the poor!

10 When Jesus knew what they were saying, he answered them: Why are you troubling this woman? She has performed a good work upon me.

11 You will always have the poor with you, but I won’t always be here.

12 She has anointed my body like this in preparation for my burial.

13 And I want you to know that wherever in the world the Gospel is preached, what she did will be remembered and preached about too.

14 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief Sadducee priests.

15 He said to them: What price would you pay for me to deliver Jesus into your hands? They agreed to pay him thirty silver coins.

16 From that time, Judas waited for an opportunity to betray him.

17 Now on the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked: Where do you want us to prepare a Passover seder for you?

18 Jesus answered: Go into Jerusalem to a certain man you will meet, and tell him, “My time is at hand. I, and my disciples, will observe the Passover at your house.”

19 The disciples did as Jesus commanded, and they prepared the seder.

20 Now when the evening came, Jesus reclined with the twelve.

21 As they ate, Jesus said: Truly I tell you, that one of you will betray me.

22 They were all very sorrowful, and each began to ask him: Lord--is it I?

23 Jesus replied: He who dips his hand in the dish with me is the same who will betray me.

24 The son of Man will go to what awaits him as the Scripture foretells--but woe to the man responsible for it! It would be better for him to have never been born!

25 Then Judas, who was the one to betray him, said (quietly): Rabbi, is it I? Jesus answered (quietly as well): You have said it.

26 As they continued the meal, Jesus took unleavened bread, said a blessing, and broke it, handing out pieces to his disciples. He said: Take and eat, for this is my body.

27 Then he took the cup, said a blessing, and gave it to the disciples, saying: Drink this, all of you.

28 This is the New covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for many so that their sins will be forgiven.

29 I tell you that I will not drink fruit of the grapevine again until I drink it new with you in the Kingdom of my Father.

30 And after they had sung one of the Hymns of Ascent, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

31 Jesus said to them: All of you will stumble tonight because of me, for it is written: I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

32 But after I rise again, I will wait for you in Galilee.

33 Peter spoke up, saying: Even if all these other men stumble because of you--I never will!

34 Jesus said back to him: Truly I tell you, Peter, that before the “rooster” crows, you will deny me three times.

35 Peter assured him: Even if I have to die at your side, I will not deny you! The other disciples also said things like this.

36 Then Jesus and the rest arrived at an (olive press) called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to the disciples: Sit here, while I go pray over there.

37 Jesus took Peter, along with Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, a few yards away. Then he began to be very sorrowful and troubled in spirit.

38 He said to them: This is almost more than I can bear. Wait here, and keep watch with me.

39 Jesus went a little farther and fell on his face, praying: O my Father--if it is possible, let me not have to drink this cup that awaits me. But not my will be done, but Yours!

40 He came back to the disciples and found them asleep, so he awakened Peter, and said: What--you couldn’t watch with me for one hour?!

41 Watch and pray, lest you fall to temptation. Your spirit may be willing, but your flesh is weak!

42 Jesus went back, and for the second time prayed: O my Father, if this cup cannot pass from me unless I must drink from it, Your will be done!

43 Again, Jesus went back to find the disciples asleep, for they had become very tired.

44 So he left them alone and went back, praying likewise for the third time.

45 Then he returned to the disciples, saying: Go ahead, and sleep. The hour is come, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

46 Get up--let us go on to what awaits. See--the one who is betraying me has arrived!

47 While he was yet speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived at the head of a great crowd armed with swords and clubs that had been sent by the chief priests and Jewish elders.

48 The traitor had told them beforehand to watch for his signal: The one I go up and kiss is Jesus--take him into custody.

49 So he came right up to Jesus, and said: Hail, master! And he kissed him.

50 Jesus said: Why are you here, “friend”?! Then they came up, laid hold on Jesus, and took him away.

51 Now Peter, at seeing all this, drew out a sword and swung it, cutting off an ear of a servant of the High Priest.

52 Jesus told him: Sheath your sword, for those who live by the sword will die by the sword.

53 Don’t you think I could ask to my Father and He would instantly send twelve legions of angels to help me?

54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must be this way.

55 Jesus then said to the crowd: Why do you come with swords and clubs to take me into custody like I’m some kind of bandit? I sat in the Temple daily, and taught in your presence--and you did not take me then, did you?

56 But all this was done so that what the prophets foretold in the Scriptures would be fulfilled. It was then that the disciples abandoned him and ran for their lives.

57 Meanwhile, the ones who had hold of Jesus led him away to the palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the Torah teachers and assorted religious leaders had assembled.

58 Peter, meanwhile, followed from a safe distance and finally made his way into Caiaphas’ palace where he mingled with some of the servants in the courtyard, hoping to see what would happen.

59 Now the chief Sadducee priests, other religious leaders, and all the members of the (city) Sanhedrin, looked for pairs of liars who would falsely swear that Jesus had done something worthy of death.

60 But they found none who could get their stories straight, until one last pair of false witnesses came up,

61 Who declared: This man said, “I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and rebuild it in three days.”

62 Caiaphas, hearing this, arose and spoke: You have no answer to this? The comments these men say you

made--what did you mean?

63 But Jesus remained silent. The High Priest, irritated, finally said to him: I demand, by the Living God, that you tell us whether you claim to be the Messiah and (King of Israel)!

64 Jesus now answered: You have said it! Nevertheless, I say to you all, that the day will come when you see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of “The Power,” and coming in the clouds of heaven!

65 Then the High Priest tore his robes (disqualifying himself from making the Passover sacrifice for the people), saying: He has blasphemed God! Who needs more witnesses? You all heard his blasphemy!

66 What is your verdict? They answered: He is guilty, and must die!

67 Then they spit in his face and struck him; and others slapped him in the face with their palms,

68 Saying: Prophesy to us, Messiah! What is the name of the man who struck you?

69 While this was going on, Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came up who said: You were with Jesus of Galilee too!

70 But he denied it to the crowd, saying: I don’t know what you’re talking about!

71 He left, and eventually found his way near the gate to the street where another female servant caught sight of him, and told the others: This man was also with Jesus of Nazareth!

72 Then Peter swore: I don’t know the man!

73 A while later, others standing around came up, saying: You must be one of them--you have a Galilean accent!

74 Peter then unleashed a stream of profanity, swearing an oath, saying: I don’t know that man! And as he did, the “rooster” cried out.

75 Then Peter remembered the words of Jesus: “Before the ‘rooster’ crows, you will deny me three times.” And he left, weeping bitterly.

1. Probably the father of Judas (John 13:2). The point must also be addressed that a heresy has arisen amongst certain Messianic groups that this verse “proves” the Greek Scriptures are unreliable, and that only by redacting the Greek into Hebrew--which sometimes gives a vastly different meaning to the text on major issues--can we know the truth of the New Testament. As the claim goes, because a leper is forbidden by the Torah to live in a city, the Greek word for a leper can supposedly be traced back to a Hebrew word that means a jar-maker. Therefore, the Greek is wrong when it says Simon was a leper, for he must have been a jar-maker! Well, whether it is from lack of knowledge of the Torah, or else intent to deceive by omitting historical fact, lepers were banned only from walled cities. Bethany is an unwalled city, and so a leper would certainly be permitted to dwell there if he had the resources. It might also be speculated that Simon was a former leper whom Christ or one of the disciples had healed at some point. Since he was (probably) the father of Judas, Judas himself may have healed him during Christ’s days of ministry.

2. The woman is Mary, sister of Lazarus.

3. Just what the basis is of Judas’ betrayal cannot be known. About all we can surmise is that he did not do it for the money as 30 shekels would hardly cover the cost of a nice set of clothes in that time. Even if we redefine the coinage as some other denomination, the amount is still insignificant, especially in light of the fact that Judas had been the group’s treasurer, and had been lifting money for himself for quite some time (John 12:6). Either Judas felt humiliated and betrayed Christ for that reason, or perhaps he did it to force Jesus into a position of having to use His power to destroy His enemies and set up the Kingdom.

4. Possibly the father of Mark.

5. The Psalms of Ascent sung during the Festivals (Psalms 120-134).

6. It is interesting to note that the apostles will disobey this order of Christ to meet Him in Galilee after hearing He has risen, and instead will remain hiding in Jerusalem.

7. This is not talking about a rooster! Roosters were banned in Jerusalem because they were among the animals whose dung smelled without being stepped on. (There was also a superstition involved with the way they scratch the ground.) The “cock” spoken of here was a temple officer known as a gever, akin to a town crier, who would call for the various priests to take their stations as dawn neared. A slang term for him was a cock or rooster. Because of the proximity of Caiaphas’ house to the Temple, he would have been able to be heard in the courtyard where Peter was.

8. Jesus is not praying to avoid crucifixion, but is asking if there is a way to keep from 'becoming sin' upon the cross.

9. Just who made up this assembly is unclear. It may have been a meeting of the Sanhedrin called by Caiaphas, or it may have been a sub-council of Sadducees and elders that had some level of control over Jerusalem’s affairs or those of the Temple. Gamaliel, president of the Sanhedrin, seems to be missing from this assembly, for certainly the book of Acts would not praise him as it does if he is among those condemning Christ. Also, if this is a meeting of the true Sanhedrin, there are several problems, not the least of which is that Mark says “all” the council (Mark 15:64) condemned Jesus. If this is true, it contradicts Luke (Luke 24:50-51) who says that Nicodemus “did not” agree with the council. It may thus be that this “council” is not the actual Sanhedrin but some sort of sub-body. (In fact, there is some evidence that there was a Sadducee council of 23 elders called the Council of the Chief Priest.) In any event, if Mark is correct that “all” the members of this council voted to condemn Jesus, it cannot possibly be the Great Sanhedrin that made this vote, for the Sanhedrin is not permitted to pass a death sentence on a unanimous vote! The Sanhedrin was also required to pass a death sentence in a special place in the Temple called the Chamber of Hewn Stone, which it had been boycotting in protest over the Romans keeping charge over the High Priest’s vestments. Thus, I suggest this was not an official meeting of the Sanhedrin proper, but a hastily assembled meeting of elders, including some people from the Sanhedrin, illegally passing judgment on Jesus and handing Him over to the Romans. Josephus, in Antiquities 20. 9.1 199-203, relates that the High Priest Ananus formed a similar council to try James.

10. In the Greek, this is a strong statement more along the lines of, “You said it!” It is also an Eastern way of saying, “You’re right!”

11. By this act, a point can be made that Caiaphas has disqualified himself as High Priest, for he is forbidden by the Torah (Lev. 10:6) to rend his garments. (Judaism, however, limits this only to rending garments in mourning for a relative, and would thus excuse Caiaphas.) Rabbinic tradition, however, required: When witnesses speak out the blasphemy which they heard, then all hearing the blasphemy, are bound to rend their clothes.

12. This is not saying that he was cussing, but rather saying something along the lines of, “I swear I don’t know him!”

13. At this point, he is cussing--and making an oath as well!

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 27

1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:

2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.1

3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself2, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.

5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple3, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.4

7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.

8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.

9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;

10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.4

11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.

13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?

14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.

16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.6

17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?

18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

21 The governor answered, and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.

22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.

28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.

29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!

30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,

34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.7

35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

36 And sitting down they watched him there;

37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.8

38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,

40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,

42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.9

44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.10

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.

48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.

49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.11

51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom12; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,13

53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:

56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:

58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.

59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,

60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.

62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.

66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.14

1 At dawn, the chief Sadducee priests and the religious leaders of the people debated how to put Jesus to death.

2 After they had tied his hands together, they led him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator (who had come from Caesarea to Jerusalem because of the Passover Festival).

3 Then Judas, who had betrayed him, when he saw that Jesus was condemned by the religious authorities, regretted what he had done, and brought back the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and elders.

4 He said: I have sinned in betraying an innocent man to you. They answered: That’s your problem, not ours!

5 Then Judas threw down the silver in the Holy Place of the Temple, and left to go hang himself.

6 The chief Sadducee priests took back the silver, but said: This is blood money, and the Torah does not allow it to go into the treasury to be used for holy purposes.

7 So they debated, and wound up using it for a public work: They purchased a field from a potter and used it as a place to bury foreigners in.

8 That‘s why the field is called the Field of Blood, even to this day.

9 This fulfilled a prophecy in the books categorized under the Jeremiah scroll: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;

10 And gave them for the potter‘s field, as the Lord appointed me.

11 When Jesus stood before the Procurator, Pilate asked him: Are you the King of the Jews? Jesus replied: You said it!

12 But when the religious leaders who brought him made accusations, Jesus did not reply to them.

13 Then Pilate said: Do you hear all the crimes they accuse you of?

14 But Jesus said nothing, which caused thr Procurator to be amazed.

15 Now at the Passover (and other) Festivals, the Procurator had a habit of releasing to the people a prisoner chosen by them (as a measure of good will).

16 There happened to be a notorious criminal named bar Abbas (--meaning Son of the Father--) in jail.

17 Thus, with a crowd handy, Pilate asked: Whom do you wish released to you--bar Abbas? Or Jesus, who is called ‘the Anointed One’?

18 Pilate, you see, knew the priests had brought Jesus to him out of petty jealousy.

19 Beyond that, when he had taken the Judgment Seat, he had received an urgent letter from his wife that read: Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man! I’ve been troubled all day over a horrible dream about him!

20 But the Sadducees and other religious leaders, meanwhile, had persuaded the crowd to ask for bar Abbas, and to demand Jesus be slain.

21 So when the Procurator asked which of the two they wanted released, they shouted out: bar Abbas!

22 Pilate then said: So what shall I do with Jesus, who is called ‘the Anointed One’? The crowd shouted back: Let him be crucified!

23 And the Procurator said: Why? For what evil does he deserve this? But they cried out all the louder: Let him be crucified!

24 When Pilate saw the crowd was getting riotous, and would not be persuaded by him he called for a bowl of water and washed his hands before them, saying: I am innocent of this guiltless person’s blood! You see to it!

25 Then all the crowd answered: Fine--his blood be on us and our children then!

26 So Pilate released bar Abbas to the crowd; then he had Jesus flogged, and ordered him to be crucified.

27 The legionnaires then took Jesus into their barracks and gathered round with their fellows.

28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him.

29 When they had woven a crown from a thorny vine, they placed it on his head and stuck a reed stick in his right hand. Then they mockingly got on their knees before him, shouting: Hail, King of the Jews!

30 And they spat on him, and hit him over the head with the stick.

31 After they tired of this, they took the robe off him and put back on his own clothing, then led him away to be crucified.

32 As they were going out of the city, they found a man--Simon of Cyrene--whom they ordered to help Jesus carry his cross.

33 And when they had come to a place outside the city called Golgotha, which means, Place of the Skull,

34 They offered him some vinegar mixed with gall to drink--but when Jesus tasted it, he would not drink it down.

35 And they crucified him, then cast dice for his clothing, so that which was spoken by the prophet could be fulfilled: They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

36 Then they sat down to watch the spectacle.

37 A sign nailed over Jesus‘ head read: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

38 Two thieves were also crucified with Jesus, one at his right hand, and the other on his left.

39 Those that passed by wagged their heads and cursed Jesus, saying:

40 You who can destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days--if you are the Son of God, come down from that cross (and prove it)!

41 The Sadducee priests, the Torah teachers, and other religious elders of Israel also mocked, saying:

42 He saved others, but he can’t save himself! If he is the King of Israel, let him come down off that cross now, and we will believe him!

43 He trusted in God, so let God deliver him now if He wants him! He said, after all, ‘I am the Son of God‘!

44 The thieves crucified with him likewise railed in his face.

45 Now from noon to 3 PM, there was a great darkness over all the area.

46 About 3 in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani, which in Aramaic means: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

47 (Because the words for My God and the name of Elijah in Aramaic are both pronounced “Eli,”) some thought Jesus was calling for Elijah.

48 And immediately one of them ran, took a sponge, and dipped it in non-kosher vinegar wine. Then he put it on a stick and lifted it up to Jesus’ lips to drink.

49 The rest said: Leave him alone, and let’s see if Elijah comes to save him!

50 Jesus, when he cried out again in a loud voice, gave up the ghost.

51 When he did, the great curtain sealing off the Holy of Holies was split in two from the top to the bottom, and the rocks split from a great earthquake!

52 And some of the graves opened up, and many righteous people who had been asleep in death arose,

53 And for a time after Jesus’ resurrection, they went into the holy city of Jerusalem and appeared to many people (before returning to their graves).

54 Now when the centurion and some of his men watching Jesus saw the earthquake and what was happening, they were greatly afraid, and said: Truly this was the son of God!

55 Many women were at the scene, watching from a distance. These were women from Galilee who were followers of Jesus, and had ministered to him.

56 Among these was Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children, James and John.

57 When dusk approached, there came a rich man from Arimathaea named Joseph who was a disciple of Jesus,

58 He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate agreed, and gave permission for him to take the body.

59 After Joseph received the body, he wrapped it in clean linen,

60 And laid it in his own new tomb that had been carved out of the rock, rolling a large stone over the door. Then he departed.

61 And Mary of Magdala, and the other Mary (--mother of James, Joses, and Salome--) sat and watched over against the tomb.

62 The next day, which followed Preparation Day, the chief Sadducee priests and the Pharisees came in a group to Pilate.

63 They said: Sir--we recall that this deceiver said, while he was still alive, “After three days, I will rise again.”

64 Command that the tomb be sealed and watched until after three days pass, lest his followers come by night and steal the body, saying to the people, “He has risen from the dead!” Then this last lie will be even worse than all the others!

65 Pilate said in response: You have your own Temple guards--use them and secure the tomb yourselves!

66 So they went and sealed the tomb, setting some guards to watch over it.

1. Note that the group handing Jesus over to Pilate is not made up of the common Jewish people, but the religious leaders and their cronies.

2. As discussed earlier, the word for “repented” here is not metanoia but metameloai, meaning Judas was moved by emotion and regret over the circumstances he was in, not that he had come to a heartfelt repentance.

3. Judas may have been trying to undo the “sale” of Jesus by attempting to return the money to the Temple. Leviticus 25:29-30 illustrates a concept in the Torah that a man who sells a house in a walled city can rescind the sale within one year after purchase by returning the money. If he couldn’t find the purchaser (who would often hide), then he was permitted to deposit the money with the Temple treasury, and thus rescind the transaction. Otherwise, this verse is interesting in that it indicates Judas cast the money into the actual Holy Place, outside the Holy of Holies. Only a priest would have been able to come this close to the true Temple, suggesting that Judas was from a priestly background.

4. Blood money, according to the Law, could only be used for public works, hence the reason the potter's field is purchased.

5. Skeptics point out this is a paraphrase of Zec. 11:12-13, not Jeremiah. However, this paraphrase, combined with the idea of purchasing a field, does relate to Jer. 32:6-15, and the fact the Jeremiah spoke of potters who lived in this area (where the dead were buried) in Jer. 18 and 19, may have caused Matthew to relate this prophetically to Jeremiah. Some have otherwise speculated that a few of the books of the prophets were grouped together with Jeremiah’s long book, and Zechariah was among these. (It was custom in such a case to list the name of the most prominent prophet even if referring to the writings of a lesser prophet.) Thus, Matthew would be referencing the overall body of work within the scroll containing Jeremiah and some of the minor prophets.

6. There is no historical evidence outside of Christian sources that such a custom existed. However, the 2nd century Diatesseron--the first harmony of the Gospels, which has some additional ancient information the regular Gospels do not contain--indicates this custom was followed at all the major Feasts, not just Passover.

7. This may have been offered to Jesus by the women followers of His who were present at the Crucifixion, for the Talmud records that the women of Jerusalem would offer wine and myrrh to condemned criminals to lessen their pain. Jesus refuses, as He must retain all His faculties during the Crucifixion.

8. John 19:19 records that this sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. In his book, The Rod of an Almond Tree in God’s Master Plan, author Peter Michas makes an interesting speculation that the actual wording of this sign in Hebrew would have been:

Yeshua Hanatzri Vemelech Hayehudim

(Jesus the Nazarene and king of the Jews)

If true, the first letter of each word would have spelled out YHVH, the name of God!

9. Although not in the Protestant canon, the apocryphal Book of Wisdom has an extraordinary prophecy that seems to have a direct tie-in to Matthew’s Gospel:

Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous; because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings: he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education.

He professeth to have the knowledge of God: and he calleth himself the child of the Lord.

He was made to reprove our thoughts.

He is grievous unto us even to behold: for his life is not like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion.

We are esteemed of him as counterfeits: he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness: he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his father.

Let us see if his words be true: and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him.

For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies.

Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience.

Let us condemn him with a shameful death: for by his own saying he shall be respected.

Such things they did imagine, and were deceived: for their own wickedness hath blinded them.

--Wisdom 2:12-21

10. Apparently, one of the thieves repented (Luke 23:40). Otherwise, there are different theories offered to explain why Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospels show the thieves as mocking Christ, while Luke’s shows one of them repentant. Among them is speculation that a couple of Zealots were crucified with Him which Matthew and Mark refer to, while Luke instead refers only to a couple of thieves, a theory that does not seem credible. The only reasonable scenarios are that one thief repented, or that Matthew--who was not there--was relating what he incorrectly believed to have happened. Mark then picked this up and repeated it in his own Gospel. Of course, the latter theory calls into question the inerrancy of Scripture, and so most Christians will adhere to the first theory. Since none of us was there, no one can make an infallible claim that one of the thieves could not have repented during the six hours he was on his cross.

11. The “9th hour” was 3 PM--the same time as the Passover Lamb was by the High Priest.

12. There is a common misconception that there was a single thick curtain covering the Holy of Holies. In fact, there were two, juxtaposed to each other, and the High Priest passed through them in a zigzag pattern. The curtains were so large and heavy that it took 300 priests to handle them during ritual immersions for purification! The word here for “veil” refers to the inner curtain closest to the Holy of Holies. While Jewish history does not record the tearing of the veil, it does record that in 30 AD the doors of the Temple swung open of their own accord, which was taken as a bad omen (although this could be an altered version of what the Gospels record--or even an additional fact the Gospels omit--for, in both cases, one could view the event as symbolic that the way had been opened for God to now come down to dwell with mankind).

More ominously, it had been the practice during Yom Kippur to tie a scarlet woolen thread to the horns of the Azazel goat, which carried off the sins of the people into the wilderness (though the goat was actually pushed off a cliff to its death). According to tradition, the scarlet thread would turn white to show that the sins of the nation had been cleansed. However, as the Gemara (Yoma 39b) records in its statement regarding both incidents...

The rabbis taught that forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the lot never came up in the right hand, the red wool did not become white, the western flame did not burn, and the gates of the Temple opened of themselves. This would have been 30 AD, the probable year of the Crucifixion. Apparently, from that point on, the scarlet thread never turned white again!

13. An incredible, yet puzzling, statement. Only in Matthew's Gospel is this miracle recorded, and it stretches credulity to imagine the other Gospel writers would omit the event. There is no good corroboration of this miracle from any other source, but the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus identifies two of those who arose as the sons of Simeon the just, who blessed the baby Jesus, and adds that those in this temporary resurrection returned to their graves three days later. However, there is no question as to its legitimacy, though some false teachers try to relegate it to a lie by claiming it is merely apocalyptic language, and thus not an actual occurrence. However, this real event is the basis of Paul's statement in 2 Tim. 2:18 that some equally false teachers of his day were claiming the resurrection had already occurred.

14. These were probably Temple guards, not Roman soldiers. Levitical guards would have had no authority outside the Temple, thus needing Pilate’s permission to set up a watch. The penalty for sleeping on duty for Romans was beheading, and it is doubtful the High Priest could have influenced Pilate in sparing any of his own men who had committed an unforgivable breech of military discipline.

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 28

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered, and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee1; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.2

17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.3

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19 Go ye therefore4, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

1 Early Sunday morning at the Sabbath’s end, Mary of Magdala, and Mary (--mother of James, Joses and Salome--) went to see the tomb.

2 And a great earthquake happened, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled the stone away from the tomb. Then he sat down upon it.

3 His face was like lightning, and his garment was white as snow,

4 And the terrified guards fainted dead away at sight of him.

5 Then the angel said to the women: Don’t be afraid! I know you seek Jesus, who was crucified.

6 He is gone, for he is risen as he said he would! Come and see where the Lord was laying,

7 Then go quickly to his disciples, and tell them that he has risen from the dead and is waiting for them in Galilee, where they will see him. Lo, I have told you!

8 The women ran in awe and great joy from the place, intending to report to the disciples what they had been told.

9 But as they went to tell the disciples, Jesus met them, and said: Greetings to you all! And they fell down and held him by his feet, reverencing him.

10 Then Jesus said: Don’t be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, where they will see me.

11 Now as the women departed, some of the guards awakened and went into Jerusalem to tell the chief Sadducee priests what had happened.

12 Then the tribunal was hastily assembled once more, and after a discussion decided to pay a great deal of money to the guards,

13 Saying: Make sure your story is that you fell asleep, and Jesus’ disciples stole the body in the night.

14 If any heat comes down to you from Pilate, we’ll back you up, and intercede for you.

15 So the men took the bribe and proclaimed this story, which is believed and claimed by the Jews to this day.

16 Eventually, the eleven disciples made it to a mountain in Galilee where Jesus awaited them.

17 When they saw him, they did obeisance to him, but some (weren’t certain what to think).

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying: All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth.

19 As you go to the nations of the earth, teach the Gospel to them, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:

20 Teach them to observe all the things I have taught you, and remember--I will be with you always, even to the end of the world! Amen.

1. Once again, Jesus desires the apostles to leave Jerusalem and meet Him in Galilee, a command they’ll ignore in unbelief.

2. After Jesus appears to them in Jerusalem, and reproaches them for their unbelief.

3. The word here for “doubted” means that some were uncertain.  (Probably over whether it was really Jesus they were seeing.) Quickly enough, their doubt would disappear as He ascended into heaven.

4. The actual translation is better rendered: “As you go.

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