Bible Query from
Q: In Mt, what are some of the distinctive elements of this gospel?
A: Matthew emphasizes Christ the Promised King, who ushers in the kingdom of God and is the fulfillment of the law. Christ is the fulfilled hope. Of all the gospel writers, Matthew is the one who shows the most how Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in Christ. About 1/3 of Matthew is preaching, and the gospel appears organized around five great discourses.
As far as language goes, Papias, a disciple of the apostle John, said that Matthew was first written in Hebrew/Aramaic. Jesus is the "type" of Israel, and some see Matthew using Midrashic techniques familiar to Jews of this time.
As for false religions, Matthew 20:1-16 is a good passage to explain to Mormons and Jehovahís Witnesses about grace. Matthew 18:21-35 is also good to show Mormons that there is no way we can even begin to pay Jesus back for His grace with our good works.
Q: In Mt, how were some of the prophecies mentioned in this book about Christ?
A: Before answering the question, letís first list a few of the prophecies in question.
1. God calling Israelís children out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15)
2. Rachel weeping for her children at Rama (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18)
3. Prophecy about Zebulun and Naphtali (Isaiah 9:1,2; Matthew 4:15-16)
4. Paying Zechariah 30 silver pieces and giving them to the potter (Zechariah 11:12-13; Jeremiah 32:6-9, Matthew 27:9-10)
The answer: Matthew, more than the other Gospels, was written to a Jewish audience that was familiar with the Old Testament, and with Midrashic methods. The early church writer Papias wrote that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, not Greek. Matthew, in referring to children coming out of Egypt, Rachel weeping for her children, etc. is doing something deliberate here. He is showing how the life of Israelís Messiah parallels the life of the children of Israel. We may think of prophecy just as solitary predicted details that come true, but that is too limited a view. Matthew shows that the life of the children of Israel, in general was a prophecy of Jesus.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.344-345 and Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.168 for more info.
Q: In Mt, unlike other gospels, [allegedly] tries always to describe Jesus as a Lord who is almost glaciated who often hides His emotions, while the rest of the gospels portray Jesus the man with all His emotions and reactions and, seemingly, flaws. Why?
A: The premise of this question is flawed. Jesus is not "glaciated" or hides his emotions when he was lamenting over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-38. That is not "glaciated" at all. I donít see any of the gospels showing any "flaws" of Jesus. Jesus was hungry, He wept, He felt, and Jesus was in agony on the cross. Those were not flaws though, those were being human.
Q: In Mt 1:1-17, what was the point of the genealogy of Josephís ancestry back to David, since Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born?
A: Going back to David was important for establishing Jesus' right to be king over Israel. While Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, Joseph was in every way the legal father of Jesus. Thus, the promises to David were fulfilled in both a legal father/son sense, as well as a biological sense through Maryís ancestry in Luke. Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.780 raises this issue. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.18 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1203-1204 for more info.
Q: In Mt 1:2-17 why are there 27 generations from David to Jesus, while Lk 1:3:23-31 gives 42 generations?
A: While there are not necessarily the exact same number of generations on Josephís and Maryís family tree, Matthew undoubtedly has some gaps. Since "son" can mean male descendants, there is no problem here. Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) reigned about 604 B.C., so there were 14 generations from David to Jeconiah in about 400 years, or 29 years per generation. From 604 B.C. to 4 B.C. one would expect 20 1/2 generations, and Matthew only gives 13, or 46 years per generation.
Perhaps Matthew did not name more than 14 generations after the exile because Matthew did not know the other names, and he only wrote of what he knew. Alternately he was using three sets of fourteen names as a memory device.
The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.69 tells us of the "coincidence" that Davidís name in the Hebrew Masoretic text (dwd) adds up to 4 + 6 + 4 = 14.
Q: In Mt 1:3,5,6, why the mention of four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah's wife (Bathsheba)?
A: First of all, in the ancient world including women in genealogy down through the male line was highly unusual. While we do not know Matthew's, and God's exact reason, we can observe a number of things.
Famous: These four women were "famous" in that they were known to all Jews.
Foreigners: Rahab and Ruth were both aliens (i.e., foreigners) who joined God's people, so this highlights that Jesus was of mixed ancestry. Bathsheba was Jewish, she was married to Uriah, a Hittite.
Embarrassing: Tamar played the part of a prostitute to seduce Jacob. Rahab was a former prostitute. Bathsheba and David committed adultery, and David murder. If God can use these people in the legal ancestry (of Joseph), and all but Bathsheba in the biological ancestry (of Mary), then God can use anyone, no matter how bad they have messed up. On the other hand, Jacob was a deceiver, and Manasseh was a thoroughly wicked king, who later repented.
Curious silence: Now Matthew could have mentioned three distinguished women: Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel, but he passes over them and focuses on these instead.
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.724, The Expositor's Greek New Testament vol.1 p.63, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.66, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.18 for more info.
Q: In Mt 1:5, since Davidís grandmother was Ruth the Moabite, how could David be with the congregation, since Dt 23:3 says a Moabite cannot enter the congregation down to the tenth generation?
A: First what is probably not the answer, and then the answer.
Probably not the answer: Even if David being with the congregation was against Deuteronomy 23:3, the Bible still records that David was with the people and worshipped with them. People could do wrong things out of ignorance. For example, Joshua made a treaty with the Gibeonites, and that was against Godís Law. Once that was done, God wanted them to honor the treaty though. Indeed, God in his providence allowed them to make this error and used the Gibeonites later.
The answer: One can argue that David did not disobey Deuteronomy 23:3 here.
1. People traced their descent from their fatherís side, not their mothers. Thus, is it possible (but not certain) that Deuteronomy 23:3 would be intended to apply to male ancestors.
2. Ruth "changed peoples". She told Naomi that your people will be my people and your God my God. While people today can change citizenship if both they and the people of the new country agree, this was even more dramatic; God permitted her, like Rahab, to become one of the chosen of Israel.
Q: In Mt 1:8, was Joram the father of Uzziah, or was he the great-great-grandfather in 1 Chr 3:11-12?
A: Actually both, given a proper understanding of how the words were used. The Jews understood Father to also mean ancestor (as in Acts 7:19; 1 Kings 15:24; 22:50; 2 Kings 15:38), just as son also meant descendent.
King Joram was the great-great-grandfather of King Uzzah. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.58 and When Critics Ask p.325 for more info.
Q: In Mt 1:9 why was Uzziah the father of Jotham when 2 K 15:1-7 and 1 Chr 3:12 says Azariah was the father of Jotham?
A: Uzziah was another name for Azariah as 2 Kings 15:32,34 and 2 Chronicles 26:1-23; 27:2; Isaiah 1:1; 6:1; 7:1. Many kings had both a personal name and a royal name they acquired later. But for both kings and non-kings, this would not be thought abnormal by: Abram/Abraham, Sarai/Sara, Jacob/Israel, Ben-Oni/Benjamin, Zaphenath-Paneah/Joseph, Hoshea/Joshua, Gideon/Jerubbaal, Ammiel/Eliam, Bathsheba/Bath-shua, Azariah/Uzziah, Abijam/Abijah, Jehoahaz son of Josiah/Shallum, Eliakim/Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah, Zedekiah/Mattaniah, Hananiah/Shadrach, Mishael/Meshach, Azariah/Abednego, Daniel/Belteshazzar, Simon/Peter, Joseph/Barnabas, and Saul/Paul.
See When Critics Ask p.325-326 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.316-317 for more info.
Q: In Mt 1:11,16, why does the genealogy show that Jesus descended through a cursed line of Jeconiah/Jehoiachin, as Jer 22:28-30 Jer 36:30 say? (See also 1 Chr 3:16). Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and his father Jehoiakim were both cursed by God himself, who said that neither of these men would have any descendent on the throne of David. How could Jesus possibly be the Messiah, destined to rule forever on the throne of David, if he descended through either of these men?
A: The genealogy of Joseph in Matthew does in fact show that Joseph was descended from an accursed line. This would be a real problem if Joseph were the biological father, because Jeremiah prophesied that Jehoichin would have no descendants on the throne. However, the genealogy of Mary in Luke shows that Jesus was NOT biologically descended from Jeconiah and Jehoiakim, because Maryís ancestors diverged from the kingly line. Looking back, we can see that David and Solomon were given slightly different promises. Only Joseph was descended from Solomon, and both Joseph and Mary were descended from David.
By the way, in Matthew 1:16 "of whom" at least in English, sounds like it could mean of Mary, or Joseph, or both. But in Greek "of whom is specifically feminine singular, so it means that Jesus was only of Mary.
Historically Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons in Gaul, answered this objection to Josephís genealogy in Matthew in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.21.9 p.453-454, written 182-188 A.D..
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.18 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1204 for more info.
Q: In Mt 1:17, was this really 3 x 14 = 42 generations, or only 41 generations, as an atheist (Capello) and the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.777-778 say?
A: There are three sets of 14 names, but they are not additive, as the first list is Abraham up through and including David, and the second list is David to the exile. Now we might have a problem if Matthew had claimed there were 42 generations, but Matthew never said the sum was 42. Matthew presumably mentioned in passing three sets of 14 names as a memory device. People have also notice that the letters in the name David add up to 14.
The first Christian writer we know of to see these three "mystic intervals" was Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.) in Stromata book 1 ch.21 p.334
See When Critics Ask p.326 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.69 for more info.
Q: In Mt 1:17, how come so many names were left out?
A: Scripture does not say, but a lot of names were omitted. For example, between Nahshon and Hezron were only two names, and the time interval was 400 years. Part of the reason could simply be that Matthew did not know the names. But he could have gotten some more names from 1 Chronicles, if he had desired. Perhaps his intent was not to got lost in the details of every name, but to include enough names to show that Jesus' adopted father was indeed descended from David, and hence Jesus had a natural claim to be king of Israel. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.1 p.64-65 for more info.
Q: In Mt 1:17 and Lk 1, why do the two genealogies diverge after Solomon, but come together again in Shealtiel?
A: The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.939 mentions this. Matthew 1:12 says Jeconiah (Jehoiachin), Shealtiel, and Zerubbabel, while Luke says Neri, Shealtiel, and Zerubbabel. The direct reason for the difference is given in 1 Chronicles 3:17-19. The royal line, which almost always passed from father to son, passed instead from Shealtiel to Zerubbabel, the son of Pedaiah, Shealtielís brother.
The reason is not given, but is presumably Shealtiel did not have any sons, or at least living sons, when he died. Thus, Shealtiel likely adopted his brotherís son. Scholars think either that Pedaiah died and Shealtiel adopted Zerubbabel as an orphan, or else Shealtiel passed the royal line to Zerubbabel simply because he had no sons.
Q: In Mt 1:18-19, why would Joseph consider divorcing Mary if they were not already married?
A: Joseph probably reasoned that either there would be shame on him if others thought they had sexual relations before marriage, or shame on both of them if Joseph would allow Mary to see other men. Thus, one can understand why Joseph would want to terminate the engagement.
But why would they divorce if they were not married yet? Their customs were different from ours. A man and a woman were bonded at their engagement, though they did not have sexual relations until after the wedding. In their culture an engagement could only be officially broken by divorce.
The one year waiting period could prove that the woman was faithful and was not pregnant with a child that was not her husband's. But when the angel appeared to Joseph, Joseph then took Mary into his home right away.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1205, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.20, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.1 p.68-69 for more info.
Q: In Mt 1:18, was Mary impregnated by the Holy Ghost, or was Jesus the fruit of Davidís loins in Acts 2:30?
A: The Virgin Mary was a virgin; the Bible says the Holy Spirit "overshadowed" Mary, not in a sexual way. Joseph was only the legal, adoptive father of Jesus, not the biological father. But Jesus was biologically descended from David though Mary, as Luke 3:23-37 is the genealogy of Mary. Other verses that say Jesus is a son (descendant) of David are Mt 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9,15; Mark 10:47-48; 12:35; Luke 10:41; 18:38-39; John 78:42; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 5:5; 22:16.
Q: In Mt 1:20; 2:12; 2:13; 2:19; 2:22; 27:19, why does Matthew mention dreams and other gospel writers do not, as Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.795 observes?
A: Matthew mentions only four or five dreams:
Three or four in Jesusí infancy: Matthew 1:20 (take Mary as your wife); 2:12 (do not go back to Herod); 2:13 (go to Egypt); 2:19 (return to Nazareth); 2:22 (do not go to Judea). Matthew 2:22 could be a separate dream, or the same dream as Matthew 2:19.
At Jesusí trial, Pilateís wife in Matthew 27:19.
Mark and John do not speak of Christís infancy, so they would not be expected to record these dreams. Since Luke speaks nothing about the Magi and (almost) nothing about Joseph, he could not be expected to record those dreams.
That leaves one instance in Matthew (Pilateís wife) that is a detail not recorded in the other gospels.
Based on this, you cannot conclude that the other writers were against recording dreams, however. In Acts 16:9, at night Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia begging him to come and help them.
Q: Does Mt 1:23 mistranslate Isa 7:14 by using the word "virgin" as the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.781 says?
A: No. Not only can the Hebrew word mean either "virgin" or "young maiden", but Asimov on p.780 himself recognized that the Septuagint translated this word as parthenos meaning virgin. Of course, Asimov does not believe in any miracles of the Bible, so he would not choose to believe that the Isaiah would refer to a virgin.
Q: The name "Emmanuel" in Matthew 1:23, where did it occur in the prophets books or Old Testament books? How is it related to Jesus? And why we don't find it in the rest of the gospels?
A: The title Emmanuel is in the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. Of all the gospel writers, Matthew is the one who emphasizes most the fulfillment of prophecy, so it is not surprising that he would mention this.
The following eight early Christians also wrote about Isaiah 7:14 as Messianic. Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.), Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.), Tertullian (207-220 A.D.), Origen (225-253/254 A.D.), Novatian (250-257/258 A.D.), Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.), Athanasius of Alexandria (c.318 A.D.) and Lactantius (c.303-325 A.D.). See www.biblequery.org/history/churchhistory/WhatEarlyChristianTaught.html (or .doc) for the quotes.
Q: In Mt 1:23 and Lk 1:26-35, how could Jesus, born of a virgin, be descended from David?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph. If he had been, Jeremiah 29:32 would be a false prophecy.
2. Jesus was the son of Joseph in the eyes of the law. Today, a man who marries a woman with a child becomes the father of the child in the eyes of the law, though he is not the biological father.
3. Jesus was the biological son of Mary, a descendant of David.
Jesus was of the house of David in the eyes of the law through Joseph, and Jesus was biologically from David through Mary.
Q: In Mt 1:23, what is so key about Jesus being "Emmanuel", or God with us?
A: This is an important point of this chapter, which is not brought out as prominently in the rest of Matthew. There are two factors here.
God incarnated as a human. Jesus was Emmanuel, "God with us". In a way that nobody on earth can fully define, God choose to lower Himself down to earth and live as fully human (Hebrews 2:6,14,17), with a real human body, which had real human needs (John 19:28), and real human feelings (Luke 22:42). Jesus did not just appear to be human; rather, he was 100% human, just as human as you or me, except that Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Yet, on earth, at the same time, Jesus was still 100% God. Jesus could be tempted, yet would never sin (Hebrews 4:15, Matthew 4:3-12; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2-13). As The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.865 says, Jesus was "deity in a diaper".
Jesus lives within us. Jesus is even now Emmanuel, "God with us". Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, Christ lives in us. God not only tells us what to do and say, but Philippians 2:13 says it is God who works in us. When we came to Christ, God did not pat us on the back and us "good job so far, you are on your own now." Rather it is the start of a relationship closer than even a marriage relationship, forever with the church's bridegroom, Christ.
Q: In Mt 1:25, since Isaiah said He would be called Emmanuel, why did they name Him Jesus?
A: "Jesus" in Hebrew is the same as Joshua, which means, "the LORD saves". Jesus is an appropriate name, but they (and we) call Jesus God with us. A Chinese Christian friend of mine was concerned about this. He had both a Chinese name and an English name. So, I told him his mother named him the Chinese name, but he is called the English name in America. It is not rare for a person to have two names, or a name and a title.
Q: In Mt 1:25, did Mary have any other children?
A: The last phrase of this verse would be both meaningless and misleading if Joseph and Mary never had intimate relations.
In addition to this verse, Matthew 12:46; 13:55-56; Mark 6:3; John 7:3-5; Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 1:19; and (implied) Jude 1 also record that Jesus had brothers. Eusebiusí Ecclesiastical History (318 A.D.) 2:23 and 3:20 also says that Jesusí four brothers were James (called the Just), Joses (or Joseph), Judas, and Simon.
One Catholic answer is that Joseph had children by a prior marriage, but not Mary. However, there is no evidence from church history that Joseph was married before, or that any of Jesusí brothers were not by Mary and Joseph. If Jesus had an older half-brother through Joseph, then the older half-brother would have the right to the throne, not Jesus. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.299 for more info.
Another Catholic answer is that "brothers" in Mediterranean cultures could mean cousins and close relatives of similar age, and not just immediate brothers. However, applying what might be true for later Italians and other peoples to the Israelites is problematic
After the Bible, the earliest known Christian writers to say Mary had children were Hegesippus (170-180 A.D.) Origen (a strange teacher) (225-253/254 A.D.), and Eusebius of Caesarea (318-325 A.D.). Hegesippus gives us an interesting detail: he says that mentions a brother of Jesus named Judas, who "bore for the faith in Christ in the time of Domitian" Five Books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church section 1 p.764. Eusebius of Caesarea (318-325 A.D.) says that Jesusí four brothers were James (called the Just), Joses (or Joseph), Judas, and Simon. Eusebiusí Ecclesiastical History 2:23; 3:20. After Nicea Helvidius/Helvetius (before 383 A.D.) also taught that.
After the Bible, the earliest known Christian writers to say Mary was ever a virgin, or similar, were Hippolytus (225-235/236 A.D.), Peter of Alexandria (306,285-311 A.D.), and implied in Origen (a strange teacher (225-253/254 A.D.) Here is what Origen in 246-248 A.D. says: "Some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter as it is entitled or "The Book of James" that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honour of Mary in virginity to the end,... And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity." Origenís Commentary on Matthew book 10 ch.17 p.424
After Nicea, Athanasius (331 A.D.), Ambrose of Milan (340-397 A.D.) and Jerome (383 A.D.) taught that Mary was always a virgin. However, Ambrose was clear that Jesus needed no assistance to mediate between man and God, and Mary was not to be adored (On the Holy Spirit book 3 ch.11 no.80 381 A.D.). He said, "And let no one divert this to the Virgin Mary; Mary was the temple of God, not the God of the temple. And therefore He alone is to be worshipped Who was working in His temple."
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.81 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1206 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:1-4,9-12, exactly how many magi were there?
A: Scripture never says. People often think three simply because of the song "We Three Kings of Orient Are", and there were three gifts, but it could have been any number of magi. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.865, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.726, The New Unger's Bible Dictionary p.799, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.21 for essentially the same answer.
The idea that there were three kings goes back to Origen (225-253/254 A.D., but most of the other traditions made up about the Magi came in the sixth century and later. Ideas that their names were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, or that they were from Ethiopia, or one was from each race of people, were all later inventions. If they were "Magi", a tribe of Zoroastrian priests, then they would likely be from Persia (modern-day Iran) or Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). However, if Magi simply meant a religious official, then they could be from other places too.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.85, The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.73, and Ulrich Luz's Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.140 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:1, when did the Magi come?
A: Scripture only indicates it was sometimes after the birth. Jesus was born in a stable (which could have been a cave). But by the time the Magi came in Matthew 2:11, they were in a house. Matthew uses the term "young child" paidion, instead of the word "infant" brephos. Since Herod killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem two years or younger, this was before Herod figured out that the Magi were not going to come back to him. So, it could have been months or even a year or so after the birth. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.20 for more info.
As a side note, this practice of bringing gifts for a king was not unheard of. When Nero was emperor of Rome, King Tiridates of Armenia came to Rome in 66 A.D. bearing gifts for Nero. See Ulrich Luz, Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.131 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:1-4,9-12, who were the magi?
A: The Magi were Mideastern religious men who practiced astrology. While the Bible does not specify that there were three Magi, there are three views of who the "Christmas magi" were.
Originally, as the Levites were a tribe of priests among the Israelites, the later Magi were the tribe of priests among the Medes according to Herodotus. This is analogous to the Levites being a tribe of priests among the Israelites. The Magi offered sacrifices before fires, interpreted dreams, and practiced astrology. While we get the English word "magician" from "Magi", except for a passage in Herodotus there is no evidence that they practiced magic. The Medes were polytheistic (not Zoroastrian). When Daniel 5:11 speaks of Magi, it is these Magi.
Later, after a Magi who was called "false Bardiya" took control of the Persian throne for seven months in 522 B.C., King Cambyses replaced many of the Median Magi with Persian Magi. The Persian Magi were Zoroastrians. Zoroastrians believed in equal and opposite divine beings, one good and represented by light and one evil and represented by darkness. During and after the fourth century B.C., Zoroastrians believed in resurrection The Greeks generally said the Magi were Zoroastrians. Clement of Alexandria believed the Magi who came to Bethlehem were Zoroastrians. The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.788 mentions only these as the Magi.
By the time of Christ, the Greeks also called Chaldeans who practiced astrology as Magi too. Many astrologers traveled west to teach, including the Babylonian Berossus, who taught on the Greek island of Cos after 281 B.C. Tacitus says the magi practiced sorcery, and Pliny claims magic started with Zoroaster. The early church writer Origen, among his many criticisms of the heretic Celsus, said Celsus failed to distinguish between the Magi and the Chaldeans in Origen Against Celsus book 1 ch.58 p.422. The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.612 mentions these as the Magi.
Regardless of the precise Mideastern origin of the "Christmas Magi", the Magi practiced astrology. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1067-1068, and especially the chapter on the Magi in Persia and the Bible p.467-491.
Q: In Mt 2:2, were any other rulers claimed to have heavenly signs?
A: A comet was said to have appeared at the time of the birth of Nero (Dec. 15, 37 A.D.) according to Suetonius (de Divinatione 1.47) and king Mithridates of Pontus (135 B.C.). Comets visible to the naked eye occur about 2 to 5 times per century. Haley's comet appears every 75 years, including 87 B.C and 12/11 B.C.. See Ulrich Luz, Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.131 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.83 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:2, what were some heavenly "signs" around this time?
A: Here are some naturally occurring phenomena.
Haley's comet came 12/11 B.C. (Lagrange mentioned this, but this is too early to be relevant.)
A conjunction of the plants Jupiter (representing royalty) and Saturn (representing the Jews) was in 7/6 B.C. Kepler (before 1630 A.D.) was the first to mention this, though he preferred the supernova theory.
A comet or nova mentioned by Chinese astronomers in 5/4 B.C.
However, what appeared to be a star went ahead of them and stopped over the house in Matthew 2:9-10. While the Greek could just mean the town, not the house, according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.88, a planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, and a comet, cannot do that. Regardless of whether or not they initially noticed a conjunction or comet, by the time they came to Palestine an angel was supernaturally using some light to guide them.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.85 and Ulrich Luz Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.132 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:6 why does it say, "not small", since Mic 5:2 says "small" in the Masoretic text and "very small" in the Septuagint?
A: The scribes said this, and although they could have just been mistaken, particularly if they were translating verbally, their meaning was correct here. Micah 5:2 says, "You, Bethlehem Ephratha, being least among the thousands of Judah you, He shall come forth to Me, to become ruler in Israel..." (Greenís Literal Translation) The point of Micah 5:2 is that though Bethlehem was small in size, it will become great in importance. So, the teachers of the law were not mistaken, in that Bethlehem will have a great importance, despite its small size.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.318-319 and When Critics Ask p.327 for complementary answers.
Q: In Mt 2:6, how do you pronounce magi?
A: It is pronounced "MA-ji" with both vowels long according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary.
Q: In Mt 2:6 why does it say "governors/rulers", since Mic 5:2 says "thousands" in the Masoretic text and the Septuagint?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1) Micah 5:2 says, "You, Bethlehem Ephratha, being least among the thousands of Judah you, He shall come forth to Me, to become ruler in Israel..." (Greenís Literal Translation) The point is that though Bethlehem was small in size, it will become great in importance.
2) The Hebrew word for "thousands" (plural) in Micah 5:2 is Ďalapim. The Greek equivalent is chiliasin. The Hebrew word for governors/rulers (plural) is Ďallupe. The Greek equivalent is hegemosin. While the Greek words are totally different, the Hebrew words are almost the same except for the vowels. The Old Testament was originally written with no vowels; they were only added about 700 A.D. This indicates they were not reading from the Greek Septuagint, but either the Hebrew, Aramaic, or possibly another Greek translation.
3) This was spoken by the priests and teachers of the law. They could have made a mistake, or they could have been quoting to Herod a Greek translation besides the Septuagint. More likely though, they could have been translating from Hebrew to Aramaic or Greek verbally as they were going along.
4) Actually though, the priests and teachers of the law did not make a mistake in conveying the meaning: small Bethlehem is NOT least in importance for the ruler who will come from there.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.318-319, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.88, and The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.72 for complementary answers.
Q: In Mt 2:8,12, did God command the wise men to fail to keep their word to Herod, since they were told not to return to Herod?
A: Herod was concerned, as he was never in line to be the king in the first place. His father was an Edomite, his mother was an Arabian, and he was only a convert to Judaism. When he became king in 40 B.C., it took three years and Roman help to crush the revolts against him. When Herod asked the magi to return to him, Herod had apparently already had a plan to destroy this king, and he tried to get the Magi involved in his evil plan. It probably did not occur to Herod that while he was mad at the Magi for tricking him, he had first tried to trick the magi by saying he wanted to worship Jesus too. By the way, Bethlehem was only 5 miles (9 km) south-southeast of Jerusalem. As for the Magi, as the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1207 says, "No one who meets Christ with a sincere heart ever returns the same way."
The tense of the question does not mean "where is he who eventually will become the king of the Jews", but rather "where is he who is now the rightful king of the Jews" according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.86.
Three points to consider in the answer.
1. Matthew 2 never says the Magi promised Herod they would return.
2. Matthew 2 never says the Magi told Herod they intended to return. Even if they did, after the dream, their intention changed.
3. Even if they would have promised Herod, a promise should not necessarily be kept if:
3a) It was promised under deceitful conditions,
3b) You promise something that is directly contrary to Godís will
3c) Keeping your promise means an innocent person will die.
For example, letís if a man asks you to call him when a woman leaves her house because he says he wants to leave flowers on her doorstep, and you promise to do so. Later you find out that the man has robbed a number of houses and intends to rob her house. When you see the woman leave the house, should you call the robber, because that is what you promised? No!
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.21-22, the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1207, Ulrich Luz's Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.136, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.84, and The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.69 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:11, since astrology is wrong, why did the Magi follow the star?
A: First letís learn a bit about the Magi, and then see what this teaches us about God.
The Magi were a tribe of Median priests, somewhat like the Israelite priests came from Levi. You can read more about the Magi throughout the excellent book, Persia and the Bible. The Magi were known to practice astrology.
Prophecy of a star coming out of Judah goes all the way back to Balaam in Numbers 24:17.
Astrology is against the Bible: The Magi most likely did not know that the Old Testament says astrology was wrong (Lev 19:26; 22:27; Dt 18:11-14; 2 Ki 17:16; 21:3,5; 2 Chr 33:3-6). On the other hand, the star did not predict Christís coming, it announced it.
Here is what the early church writer Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) wrote about astrologers in On Idolatry ch.9 (vol.3) p.66. "You know nothing, astrologer, if you know not that you should be a Christian. If you did know it, you ought to have known this also, that you should have nothing more to do with that profession of yours which, of itself, fore-chants the climacteries of others, and might instruct you of its own danger. There is no part nor lot for you in that system of yours. He cannot hope the kingdom of the heavens, whose finger or wand abuses the heaven."
God never said He was restricted to using only good means to draw people to Himself. Sometimes God uses truly wicked means, such as the Babylonian army (Habakkuk 1:6,13). God can use disease, evil people, and even unintentional sin (as with the Magi) to draw people to Himself.
Most strange of all, is that God has used deliberate, willful sin by believers to rescue those same believers. You can read all about this in the narrative of Joseph and his brothers, in Genesis 37 and 50, and especially Genesis 50:20. As a matter of fact, God can work all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and for His purposes (Ephesians 1:11)
In conclusion, as God using kidnapping of Joseph for his purposes does not justify kidnapping, God using astrology for his purposes does not justify astrology.
See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.55 Hard Sayings of the Bible p.353-354, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.317-318, When Critics Ask p.326-327, and When Cultists Ask p.93 for complementary answers.
Q: In Mt 2:11, is there any significance in the gifts?
A: The gifts were worth a lot of money, and that would be important to support them in Egypt for two years. But beyond that, the Bible does not give any significance. Some have speculated that the gold is appropriate because it represents royalty. Frankincense was a part of the formula for incense that the priests used. Myrrh is a bitter substance, valuable in preparing bodies for burial. There are other views too. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.89 and Ulrich Luz's Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.138 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:15 and Hos 11:1, how is "out of Egypt I called my son" a prophecy of Christ?
A: Hosea 11:1 was first used of the Israelite people. Matthew is using not only Hosea 11:1, but many other Old Testament verses to show that the life of Christ paralleled that of the Israelite people (except without the sin.) Matthew is writing to Jews well-versed in the Old Testament, and Matthew apparently is using what Jewish scholars of that time would recognize as Midrashic techniques. Jewish Midrashic interpretation to ferret out the meaning and application behind each word.
As an aside, Philo says there were about a million Jews living in Egypt in his time, around 40 A.D.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.22, the New International Bible Commentary p.1122, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.90,91-92 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:16, is there any other account of King Herod the Great slaughtering children in Bethlehem?
A: Bethlehem was a small town; this could have been only a few dozen babies killed, and that was small compared to other executions Herod was more famous for.
There are many things that we would not know happened, or how they happened, except with a single historical record. For example, we have no record of the Romans conquering Gaul, or how they conquered Gaul Ė except for a single source, the writings of Julius Caesar. Likewise, there are no non-Christian accounts that Jesus was crucified either; only mentioning in passing that Christ was executed (i.e., suffered the extreme penalty).
In this case, apart from the Bible, other writers who mention Herod the Great slaughtering the little children prior to Nicea are:
Justin Martyr in Dialogue with Trypho ch.78 p.238 (c.c.138-165 A.D.) mentions that Magi visiting Herod, and Herod massacring all the children in Bethlehem.
Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.16.4 p.442 (182-188 A.D.) says that [God] "removed those children belonging to the house of David, whose happy lot it was to have been born at that time, that He might send them on before into His kingdom"
Origen (225-254 A.D.) says that Herod slew all the infants in Bethlehem and surrounding areas hoping to kill the King of the Jews. Against Celsus book 1 ch.61 p.423
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) (implied, no mention of Herod) mentions that at Christís birth infants two years old and under were killed for Christ. Letter 55 ch.6 p.349
Peter of Alexandria (306,285-311 A.D.) mentions the infants Herod slaughtered because of Christ. Canonical Epistle Canon 13 p.277
After 325 A.D.
Hegemonius (4th century) says that at the time of Jesus Herod killed "every [infant] male among the Jews." The Disputation with Manes ch.44 p.220
In summary, "It is true that Josephus, our informant about Jewish history, says nothing about the massacre of the innocents; and it is also true that the passages in the works of historians that actually mention this event are so late and so likely to have been derived from the Gospel of Matthew as to possess little value. But the argument from silence is in this case altogether devoid of weight. No doubt, from our point of view, the massacre of young children would be a particularly atrocious form of murder, which would have to be mentioned in any detailed account of current events ó even, perhaps, in Chicago! But in ancient times, when the exposure of infants was a common practice, which is alluded to, for example, in one of the non-literary papyri, in the most casual possible manner as an ordinary feature of the life of that day, and the murder of children would probably not be regarded with any special horror. Moreover, we ought not to exaggerate the number of the infants who would be killed. If Bethlehem was a small village, as it probably was, then the number of male children in it under two years of age would not exceed perhaps twenty or thirty. In the orgies of blood and cruelty that marked the closing years of Herod's reign, the removal of a score of children in an obscure village might well escape the notice of our one historian. But even if Josephus knew of the incident, and even if he thought it in itself worthy of remark, there was in this case a special reason for his silence. The incident involved Jewish Messianic hopes; and without doubt Josephus purposely avoided the mention of such things in the history that he wrote for Roman readers. There is no reason, therefore, for supposing that if the massacre of the innocents had really happened Josephus would necessarily have included it in his historical work.
But something more positive needs also to be said. Although the massacre of the innocents is not directly attested by secular history, it is exactly in accord with what we know of the character of Herod in his declining years. Herod the Great was an able monarch, but in the last years of his reign he entered upon a career of cruelty that reached the verge of madness. His actions in putting to death his own children and his beloved wife, and his plan (interrupted only by his death) of butchering all the leading citizens of Jerusalem in the theatre, possess just exactly that quality of wild and useless bloodthirstiness which appears in the massacre of the innocents at Bethlehem. Never was a story more completely in character than this. In general, we may say that the difficulty which has been found in the silence of secular history about the bloody deed at Bethlehem amounts to nothing at all." J. Greshem Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ ch.10 p.239
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1208 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.94 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:16, apart from killing the babies in Bethlehem, was Herod the Great ever cruel to anyone else?
A: Yes. Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.799 says it is hard to believe Herodís killing ever happened. However, as the allegedly more civilized 20th century has seen Pol Pot of Cambodia, Idi Amin of Uganda, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, it is not hard to believe Herod would do this.
See the previous question for six pre-Nicene writers who wrote of Herod slaughtering the infants. By the way, do not confuse Herod (the Great) who ruled when Jesus was born with Herod (Antipas) whom Jesus say right before He was crucified.
Herod the Greatís character was such that he killed many in the 36 years of his reign. Herod executed or had assassinated his wife Mariamne, and two husbands of his sister Salome. Herod had his brother-in-law drowned in the Jordan, and his mother-in-law Alexandra killed. He killed Hyrcanus, the last of the Hasmonean Dynasty. He killed many Pharisees and many noble families. The Jewish rabbis Jehuda ben Saripha and Mattathias ben Margoloth were burned alive. Herod had his own sons Alexander and Aristobulus killed. He arranged to have hundreds of Jewish leaders killed on the day of his death. Since Herod, like most Jews, did not eat pork, this prompted the Roman Emperor to quip that he would rather be Herodís sow (female pig) than his son. In Greek the word "sow" is huos and the word "son" is huios. Five days before Herod died, he had his son Antipater killed. (Three younger sons, Archelaus, Herod Antipas, and Philip, survived him). There is no question that Herod had the lack of moral fiber to kill the infants. Given all the other "news" Herod produced, killing infants in a small town might seem less newsworthy.
After Herod died in 4 B.C., there was a revolt, and Archelaus sent troops to Jerusalem and killed 3,000 in one day. When Archelaus and Herod Antipas went to Rome, Sabinus, an agent of the Imperial Treasury came to audit the taxes. He took 400 talents out of the Temple Treasury. There was a revolt in 9 A.D., and Syrian troops under Quintilius Varus put that down.
Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews book 17 ch.213 [ix.3] and The Bible as History p.358 says there was an eclipse of the moon when Herod the Great died, which would place the death on March 12/13, 4 B.C.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.23 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.84 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:16, were other kings as bad as Herod?
A: Some could say that Herod was no different than many people today; he had no room for any king but him, and he would use all means at his disposal to ensure that, regardless of who else got hurt.
Some kings were better than others, but some were very evil. For example, the Parthian king Phraates IV murdered his father Orodes II in 37 B.C. The Romans sent him an Italian slave girl named Musa. Phraates had a son by her, Phraataces (= Phraates V). Musa poisoned her husband Phraates IV in 2 B.C. She then married her own son in 2 A.D.. Phraates V was exiled in 4 A.D. This is according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica 1972.
Q: In Mt 2:18, how is Jeremiahís prophecy about Rachel fulfilled in Jesus?
A: In Genesis 35:16-19, Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. At the time Jeremiah wrote these words about Rachel the wife of Jacob, she had already been dead for over 1,000 years. Jeremiahís words do not have two meanings but rather only one meaning with two fulfillments plus a third fulfillment back in Genesis. Jeremiahís meaning is that just as Rachel would be sorrowful over the death and enslavement of her offspring, be it by Egyptians or Babylonians, Rachel would be sorrowful over the death of her offspring by Herodís hand. In Jeremiahís time, the prophet repeated the word to prophesy the same feelings of grief over the loss of the Jews being exiled to Babylonia, near Rachelís tomb.
Matthew likewise uses the same words to show the loss over the death of the baby boys of Bethlehem, which was near Rachelís tomb.
If a skeptic has a problem with Matthew using Jeremiahís words, he might have an equal problem with Jeremiah using words from Genesis. The crux of the problem is this: just as Jews in Jeremiahís time understood the interpretation by saying the captivity would relate to Rachelís sorrow in Genesis, Jews in Jesusí day would understand this type of Midrashic interpretation Matthew used.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.866-867, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.91-92, and The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.75-76 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:22, since sons of Herod the Great reigned in both Judea and Galilee, why would Joseph decide to go to Galilee over Judea?
A: The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.800 provides two helpful observations here.
1. Archelaus, who ruled as a king in Judea starting in 4 B.C., might have heard about Jesus, an infant king and been anxious to kill Him too. Herod Antipas, who was a tetrarch of Galilee, might have had a different attitude.
2. Asimov points out that Archelaus was so antagonistic that Jews and Samaritans, enemies of each other, united in their appeal to Rome to remove Archelaus. When Herod died, Archelaus only ruled 10 years. On the other hand, Herod Antipas ruled peacefully in Galilee for over 40 years.
However, there is a far more obvious reason in Luke 2:39. Joseph was from Nazareth, not Bethlehem. Not only was Joseph going to the land of the milder ruler, but Joseph was also simply returning to where he was from.
Q: In Mt 2:23, archaeologically, is it true there is no evidence of a town of Nazareth, as an atheist claimed?
A: No. Atheist Frank Zindler claimed this in an article "Where Jesus Never Walked", according to The Case for Christ p.102 (p.137-138 in paperback). The Talmud mentioned 63 other Galilean towns (but not Nazareth), and Josephus mentioned 45 other towns in Galilee (but not Nazareth). Nazareth is mentioned at the beginning of the 4th century A.D., and in Jewish literature starting about the 7the century A.D.
However, archaeologists have found remains at Nazareth going back to 900 A.D. (after Solomon started reigning) and going up through Greek Roman and Byzantine periods. In 1962 an inscription was found at Caesarea about the rotation of priests. The inscription has preserved: ". . . Mamliah . . . Nazareth . . . Akhlah . . . Migdal [Magdala]" The Case of Christ p.103 mentions that after Jerusalem in 70 A.D., archaeologist found an Aramaic list of priests who were relocated, and one of them was recorded as having moved to Nazareth. First century Tombs have been discovered just outside of Nazareth. Finally, pre-Christian remains have been found in 1955 under the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth today.
Nazareth was also looked down upon because, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.23, Nazareth housed the Roman garrison for the northern parts of Galilee.
See https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1975/12/nazareth-attested-in-caesarea-fragments and the New International Bible Commentary p.1123 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:23, according to archaeologists, just how large was Nazareth?
A: According to The Case for Christ p.103-104, Nazareth was a very insignificant town. It was about 60 acres, with a maximum population of about 480 at the time Jesus was born.
Q: In Mt 2:23 where is it prophesied that Jesus would be called a Nazarene?
A: First we will give the answer of the early church writer Tertullian (which is probably incorrect) and then the most likely answer.
Lamentations 4:7 (Septuagint) Tertullian in 207 A.D. answered this in his work, Against Marcion book 4 chapter 7. While the Masoretic text of Lamentations 4:7 says, "her princes were whiter than snow", the Septuagint says, "her Nazirites were whiter than snow". Tertullian mentions this as meaning both "Nazirites" (those who take a vow for God to abstain from alcohol, dead bodies, and other uncleanness), and "Nazarenes", those who come from Nazareth.
Tertullian said, "The Christ of the Creator had to be called a Nazarene according to prophecy; whence the Jews also designate us, on that very account, Nazarenes after Him. For we are they of whom it is written, ĎHer Nazirites were whiter than snow;í"
The Branch: The Messiah is referred to as "the branch" in Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:5; and probably Zechariah 3:8; 6:12. The consonants in the word "branch" are identical to those in "Nazarene", and the Hebrew Old Testament was originally written without vowels. In addition, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.23 mentions that "branch" carried the idea of an insignificant beginning, and the Pharisees reaction showed that Nazareth had the same connotation.
See When Critics Ask p.328 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.97 for more info.
Q: Was Mt 2:23 false to claim Jesus being from Nazareth fulfilled the Old Testament (Isa 11:1, Zech 6:12 and other passages), as the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.801-802 says?
A: Not at all. First here is what Asimov says, and then the answer.
The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.801-802 mentions that "Matthew may see a similarity here to ĎNazareneí. (Actually, the two words are identical in Hebrew, since the vowels were not written.) Asimov p.802 says "that Matthew "is indulging in, at best, a play on words, and is not referring to any actual prophecy of the Messiah being an inhabitant of Nazareth."
The answer is that the Old Testament says the Messiah would be called the "branch" without specifying one or more reasons why. Matthew 2:22 does not restrict Jesus from also being Godís "branch" from which His church would grow.
Q: In Mt 3:1-4, how would they think of the wilderness?
A: This was a dry, arid place, but not like the Sahara Desert. You could not grow crops without extensive irrigation, but you could raise sheep and goats if there were places you could water them. This was not a place of comfort and excitement, but empty, lonely places of quiet away from civilization. The Israelites were in the Wilderness as they prepared the next generation to enter the Promised Land. Paul was in the wilderness in Arabia prior to starting his ministry.
Today sometimes God takes believers to the wilderness. It is not a place of excitement but quietness. It might not be a place of active ministry, though in John's case it was a place of ministry, and for the people a place of repentance and dedication. It can be a place of preparation.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.867 for more info.
Q: In Mt 3:4 and Mk 1:6, were the locusts John the Baptist ate clean or unclean food?
A: There were both clean and unclean locusts, and the Gospels do not specifically say. However, we can assume the John, being an obedient Jew, ate the clean variety. Clean animals included "hoppers" with wings with joint legs, including locust and grasshoppers, according to Leviticus 11:21-22 and Deuteronomy 14:21. Unclean animals included "flyers" according to Numbers 11:20,23 and Deuteronomy 14:19. Even today, poorer people would remove kill clean locusts, removed the wings and legs, and boil and eat them.
See The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.80 for more info.
Q: In Mt 3:4 and Mk 1:6, did John the Baptist eat insects called locusts, or does this mean he ate from the locust tree?
A: Here is what ancient and modern sources say about the Greek word for locusts: akrides.
The Ebionites (an ancient heresy) tried to make John a vegetarian. Thus, they said it was honey cakes, egkrides, instead of locusts.
Tatian made a summary of the four gospels called the Diatessaron and said "milk" instead of "locusts".
Theophylact 173 lists a number of possibilities, including the plant melagron.
Various monks have called the Carob tree St. Johnís bread tree, because they thought this was a "locust tree".
Theodore of Mopsuestia, perhaps in response to people saying this was something else, said these were locusts that had wings.
The trouble with these interpretations is there are apparently no Bible manuscripts that say these were anything but "locusts". Early Christians, such as Clement of Alexandria, wrote on Matthew 3:4, and they saw no reason to see the locusts as anything other than insects.
Modern references that say the locusts are insects include The NIV Study Bible p.1445, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.104, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.102, and the New Bible Dictionary p.744.
The information on the alternative views came from Ulrich Luzís book, Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary Augsburg Fortress 1989 and The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.80-81.
Q: In Mt 3:4, Mk 9:3, and Acts 22:20 (KJV), what is "raiment" and what is a "fuller"?
A: Raiment means clothing and a fuller is someone whose job is to wash clothes.
Q: In Mt 3:6, why did John baptize others?
A: It was common that a person would baptize themselves, in a special basin for that purpose, when they converted to Judaism. But this is the earliest that we hear of somebody baptizing someone else. In the Old Testament sprinkling water for purification is mentioned in Ezekiel 36:25-27 and pouring out God's Spirit is mentioned in Ezekiel 39:29 and Joel 2:28.
John said he baptized for repentance, to turn people back to God and make a way for the Messiah. When an earthly king was going to visit a far-off city in his realm, road-workers would go out months before and fix up the road. In a similar way, John was there to fix the path in people's hearts for when the Messiah would come.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.24 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.9 p.286 for more info.
Q: In Mt 3:7-9, why did John speak so harshly to the Pharisees and Sadducees?
A: John was calling people to repentance, to confess and leave their old way of doing things. Though the Pharisees and Sadducees came, he knew most of them were not coming for that purpose. At worst, they were coming to investigate an eccentric teacher and perhaps to find reason to get rid of him. Even at best, they were looking at picking up a few pointers to add to their existing way. John is not saying they just need to add to their knowledge; they need to repent and turn away from their reliance on a place, traditions, their organizations, or their places within their organizations. Before a wildfire snakes will try to flee; it is hard for them to get far though. It is like fleeing from God's wrath without repentance. But John did not say they could not stay and listen. If Pharisees and Sadducees were sincere in wanting to repent, they could choose to be baptized too.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.867-868, The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.82-83, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.103 for more info.
Q: In Mt 3:9, why did John use the phrase "do not say to yourselves", and how do some lie to themselves today?
A: John is addressing a lie, but who is doing the lying? Demons can lie to us, and other people can lie to us, but in addition to that, we often have lies that we tell ourselves. It is still a lie, even if we are the only one hearing the lie. We can lie by saying "that sin is not so bad", or "God understands my staying here" when God is calling us to repent and move. Others are "there is always plenty of time" or "I'm basically a good person, so I don't need to change."
Q: In Mt 3:9, how could God raise up children of Abraham out of stones if He wanted?
A: God Almighty can do anything, even turn inanimate stones into children with copies of Abrahamís genes. Also, there is a play on words here. In both Hebrew and Aramaic, the word for "stones" is very similar to the word for "children".
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.103 for more info.
Q: In Mt 3:10, what was the point of John the Baptist mentioning the axe is laid at the root of the tree?
A: Some things in life are irreversible, such as cutting down a tree. After you start, you cannot undo what has been started. Likewise, this was their last chance before being cut off. Their time was up.
Q: In Mt 3:11, how does John's admission that he is not giving the complete picture apply to our witnessing?
A: John was a necessary forerunner, to turn the people back to God before Jesus came. John did not want the people to believe his words and think that is all they have to do. No, John was just the "appetizer" and Jesus was the "main course". Even then there are a few people in history who ignored John's words here. These people are in the Mandaean religion, believed by marsh Arabs in southern Iraq. They believe John the Baptist was from God, but that Jesus was not.
Today we need to share the gospel with someone where they are at. If they do not believe God exists, or that there is only One God, we need to focus on that. Perhaps sharing other points, that we are all sinners, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that we need to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior come later. But when we have to postpone sharing part of the gospel, either due to time or the place spiritually the person is in, we should tell them that what we said is not the whole story; there is more to come.
Q: In Mt 3:11, how does Jesus baptize Christians with the Holy Ghost and with fire?
A: John's message reminds us of Joel 2:28-29 promising the Holy Spirit, and the purification mentioned in Malachi 3:2-5. Believers are baptized with the Holy Spirit when they first believe in Christ. While the modern phrase "baptism by fire" means a difficult ordeal, that is not the meaning here, because it is Jesus, not persecutors doing the baptizing, and it is with fire, not by fire.
There are three views as to what "fire" means.
(unlikely) A second baptism by the Holy Spirit: There is only one preposition, i.e., it says "by the Holy Spirit and fire" not "by the Holy Spirit and by fire. So, this probably does not refer to a second event.
(unlikely) Pentecost: The apostles had a flame appear on their heads when they preached during Pentecost, and this interpretation would mean John the Baptist was prophesying Pentecost. The Treatise on Rebaptism (c.250-258 A.D.) ch.2 p.668 teaches this view. The NIV Study Bible p.1446 says, "Demonstrated in a dramatic way at Pentecost (Ac 1:5,8; 2:1-13; 11:16), though here Ďfireí may refer to judgment to come (see v.12)." But it likely does not refer to Pentecost for the same reason it did not refer to the first. The Believerís Bible Commentary p.1211 adds this is unlikely because fire is equated with judgment in the next verse.
(unlikely) Cleansing work of the Holy Spirit: The New Geneva Study Bible p.1508 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.727 hold to this view. Origen (225-254 A.D.) also held this view in Commentary on John book 6 ch.16-17 p.366-367. However, this is unlikely as the chaff is burned with unquenchable fire in Matthew 3:12. The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.104-105 says it is this view, because the single preposition in Greek would indicate not two baptisms (Spirit for believers and fire of judgment for unbelievers) but just one baptism (Spirit and cleansing fire)
(unlikely) Fire of judgment for a Christianís work was the interpretation of Basil of Cappadocia (357-378/379 A.D.) in On the Spirit ch.15.36 p.22.
Hellfire for individuals who reject Jesus: See Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.150-152 for the view that this means Jesus will baptize believers with the Holy Spirit, and those who reject Jesus with the fire of judgment. John Chrysostom (died 407 A.D.) taught this view in Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew Homily 11 ch.6-7 p.71-72, emphasizing the continuity with Johnís other warnings on fire. The Expositorís Greek New Testament vol.1 p.84 says that John focused on three things: water, wind/spirit, and fire. John baptized with water, the Messiah would baptize believers with the Spirit, and a baptism of fire would destroy in judgment those not involved with the water and Spirit. Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) uses this verse to speak of Godís judgment of unbelievers in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 ch.4.3 p.466. Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) says that baptism with water is unto salvation, and pretended and weak faith is baptized with fire, unto judgment (On Baptism ch.10 p.674).
Endtimes fire of judgment when Jesus returns. The Believerís Bible Commentary p.1211 holds to this view.
Multiple meanings: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.25 says this refers to both judging and cleansing of believers. Theodotus the probable Montanist p.124 (c.240 A.D.) says that fire is simply the destroying element, cleansing away evil in believers, and (he implies) destroying others.
Not specified: The following quoted this verse but did not mention a particular view.
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) in Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.49 p.219
Hippolytus (222-234/5 A.D.) in The Discourse on the Holy Theophany ch.3 p.235
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) in The Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 12 ch.1.12 p.511
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) discusses this verse but does not mention a particular view (Harmony of the Gospels book 2 ch.12.26 p.117).
See NET Bible footnote on Matthew 3:11 for more on the different views.
Q: In Mt 3:12, how does winnowing work?
A: When you harvest wheat, most of what you harvest is inedible. You have the good seed surrounded by the husk, which is attached to the stalk. First you have threshing, where oxen step on the wheat to separate the seeds, which are denser, from everything else. Then you might have a pitchfork, or a winnowing shovel, also called a winnowing fan, to throw the mixture in the air so that the wind would blow the inedible chaff away from the edible seeds.
The picture here is that harvesting the wheat give you a great amount of material, but only a small fraction of it is actually useful. Yes, cutting the wheat stocks is both important and time-consuming, but separating the wheat from the chaff is just as important and time-consuming. Getting people to have a positive response to the gospel message is important, but that is at most only half the job of making disciples of all nations.
See The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.84, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.868, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.105 for more info.
Q: In Mt 3:14, why would Jesus want to get baptized and why would John want to stop Jesus?
A: Of course, Jesus had no sin to repent of, but Jesus identified with us in all ways. As we follow Jesus' example, Jesus was baptized. Jesus also validated John's ministry here.
But let's look again at these verses from John's perspective. John's guiding purpose in life was to preach repentance, and for people to make a public commitment to repent and follow God by water baptism. John was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth, and John knew that his understanding was correct. He knew that Jesus was the sinless Messiah. So, John was perplexed with Jesus wanting to be baptized.
John's viewpoint was correct, except that it was over-simplified. John saw that Jesus did not need to repent and found it absurd that the mere forerunner should baptized the Messiah Himself. Of themselves, John had valid points. But what John did not see was that in order to fulfill all righteousness, Jesus identified with us in every way. Jesus was greater than John the Baptist; Jesus did not deny that. But Jesus humbled himself, and came to serve, so in verse 15 the Lord essentially commanded John the Baptist to permit Jesus to have the humbler position her.
Something precious about John's heart is revealed here. John, though not 100% correct, saw his only life's mission as to preach to and baptize those who needed to repent. Baptizing Jesus fell outside of John's perception of his life's work. So was serving God by fulfilling what he saw as his God-given purpose the most important, or was following and obeying the Lord wherever He led more important to John. Even though John did not have a clear understanding of everything, at least until later, John chose the latter. We too should not just follow God, but follow God without preconditions.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.868, The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.85-86, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.727, the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1212, and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.107-108 for more info.
Q: In Mt 3:16 why did "Alas, poor Jesus (peace be upon him) had to mark time for THIRTY YEARS after his birth to obtain his gift of the HOLY GHOST on his baptism at the hands of John the Baptist" when the gift of the Holy Ghost "is so cheap that 75,000,000 "BORN AGAIN" Christians of America are also boasting this possession" and in Lk 1:15 John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost from birth. (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)
A: First as an aside, Mohammed waited FORTY years before claiming he was a prophet. Deedat is confusing free with cheap, and Deedat seems to have forgotten about the Biblical teaching on the deity of Christ. Deedat has never received the gift of the of the Holy Spirit, so He does not know the difference between the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit visibly lighting on Jesus as a dove.
Free but not cheap: The gift was very expensive, it cost the death of Jesus. But God gives it freely to all who will believe in His gospel.
The deity of Christ: "Poor" Jesus did not have to wait thirty years; not only was the grace of God upon Jesus as a child (Luke 2:40), but Jesus is God Himself, and the Father was in Him. Jesus did not need to get filled with the Holy Spirit as we do; the Father and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us.
Holy Spirit lighting on Jesus is not gift of the Holy Spirit: Deedat wrongly reads that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit at His baptism; it does not say Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit at His baptism. Rather, the Holy Spirit lit on Jesus in bodily form visibly as a dove. When Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit does not light on them as a dove, so this is something different.
Finally, letís contrast Jesusí experience with Mohammed.
1. Mohammed, whom the hadiths say, as a prophet, was put under an evil spell.
1a. Labid bin el-Asim the Jew put Mohammed under a spell. Ibn-i-Majah vol.5 no.3435 p.60-61
1b. Mohammed was put under an evil spell according to Sahih Muslim vol.3 book 24 no.5428-5429 p.1192-1193; Sahih Muslim vol.2 book 4 no.1888 p.411. See also Bukhari vol.8 book 73 ch.56 no.89 p.57 and Bukhari vol.8 book 73 ch.59 no.400 p.266
2. Mohammed feared the torment of the grave for himself.
2a. A Jewish woman told Mohammed "May Allah protect you from the torment of the grave." After that, Mohammed prayed for refuge from the torment of the grave. Sunan Nasaíi vol.2 no.1479 p.281-282
2b. "íAíisha reported: The Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) entered my house when a Jewess was with me and she was saying: Do you know that you would be put to trial in the grave? The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) trembled (on hearing this) and said: It is the Jews only who would be put to trial. ĎAíisha said: We passed some nights and then the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Do you know that it has been revealed to me: ĎYou would be put to trial in the graveí? ĎAíisha said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) seeking refuge from the torment of the grave after this." Sahih Muslim vol.1 book 4 no.1212 p.290
2c. Abu Huraira reported: "I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) seeking refuge from the torment of the grave after this (after the revelation)." Sahih Muslim vol.1 book 4 no.1213 p.290
2d. "She (ĎAiíisha) said : Never did I see him (the Holy Prophet) afterwards but seeking refuge from the torment of the grave in prayer." Sahih Muslim vol.1 book 4 no.1214 p.290
2e. "Masruq reported this hadith on the authority of ĎAíisha who said: Never did he (the Holy Prophet) say prayer after this in which I did not hear him seeking refuge from the torment of the grave." Sahih Muslim vol.1 book 4 no.1215 p.291
2f. Mohammed sought refuge from the torment of the grave. Sunan Nasaíi vol.2 no.2065 p.535; vol.2 no.2069 p.537; vol.2 no.2071 p.538
Now a Muslim might agree, disagree, or more likely, not have been aware of what these hadiths say. Regardless though, they are not agreeing or disagreeing with me, for I am simply reporting what the authoritative Sunni hadiths say.
In summary, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us. My hope is that you will be free from being under evil, be free from the fear of the torment of the grave and ask God to receive the Holy Spirit.
Q: In Mt 3:16 and Mk 1:10 who saw the dove?
A: Both Matthew 3:16 and Mark 3:16 say that Jesus saw the dove, and John 1:32 says that John the Baptist also saw the dove. These verses do not specify who else saw the dove, so the crowds might have seen it too.
Q: Many say that "no story about Jesus without theology". So, in the incident of Baptism, for instance, we see Jesus is being baptized, the Spirit like a dove descending upon him and the Heavenly Voice: "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mk 1:11). This incident maybe did not take place as it was written in the gospels, i.e., all at once, but gradually, during the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. So, the Spirit that descended upon Jesus refers to the next age to come. Also, the open heaven, descending of the Spirit, the voice of the Father, and the Messiah present there, indicate that the last days started to dawn and the salvation is close. What do you think about that? Do you think that the Baptism of Jesus was allegorical symbolic? Why? Or why not?
A: First of all, I have never heard "no story about Jesus without theology" The question almost sounds like it accuses the gospel writers of being dishonest and misleading people; I believe it did take place as written in the gospels. I believe the gospel writers gave us true accounts, at the level of precision that was needed. If they claim that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and this happened, then I believe that they were honest and this happened. Telling parables is fine, but if someone presents as a history something that is not true, then, that is misleading, not truth.
The questioner did not give any reason for their wanting to doubt the truthfulness of the gospel writers, so I cannot address the reasons for their doubt if no reasons are given.
Q: Does Mt 3:16-17 support that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate personages, as Mormons have claimed (Talmadge, 1977 p.39-40)?
A: No. This shows they are distinct, but it does not show they are separate. Rather than being against the Trinity, this passage is important the support part of the Trinity, that the three are distinct. This passage does speak against modalism and "Oneness Pentecostalism" though. See When Cultists Ask p.93-95 for more info.
Q: In Mt 4:2, what is so ironic about Jesus' ministry in Matthew?
A: Jesus is hungry here (Matthew 4:2), yet he fed others (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:29-39).
Jesus grew weary (Matthew 8:24) yet Jesus offers rest to others (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus is the Son of King (Matthew 17:24-26), yet He pays taxes (Matthew 17:27).
Jesus is accused of being using power from the devil (Matthew 12:24), yet Jesus casts out demons (Matthew 12:22-23).
Jesus dies the death of a criminal and sinner (Matthew 27:37-38), yet he saves us from our sins (Matthew 1:12).
Jesus is sold for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15) but gives his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
Jesus refuses to turn stones to bread (Matthew 4:4:3-4), but symbolically gives his own body as bread for His people (Matthew 26:26).
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.112 for more info.
Q: In Mt 4:3 and Lk 4:3-4, Jesus was hungry, and the Father had not fed Him, so what would be wrong with Jesus make bread Himself?
A: Jesus had committed to fast, and the Father could sustain Him, as a person must eat within 40 days to live. But Jesus was awfully hungry, and He was able to use His supernatural power to eat if He chose to. But Jesus was not going to use His supernatural power or do anything apart from the will of His Father. And the Father did send angels to minister to Jesus eventually in Matthew 4:11.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.869 and The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.88-89 for more info.
Q: In Mt 4:5-6 and Lk 4:9-12, what was this temptation about?
A: First of all, this demonstrates that Satan knows scripture, and can even try to use it to his advantage in getting people to fall. Since Jesus as the son of God, Jesus knew He would be protected if He jumped off. Geographically, the Temple ordered the Kidron Valley, and the highest point of the temple to the bottom of the Kidron Valley would be about 450 ft.
This temptation is interesting in that it would not break any Old Testament Laws and would actually advance the cause of convincing people that He was the Messiah. So rather than leading to a bad thing, this is a "God-disapproved shortcut" to a good thing. Of course, it would also appeal to Jesus' pride in showing off and increase his popularity. Furthermore, it would be like backing God into a corner, to force his hand to protect you. We know, of course, that God does not want us to do bad things, "the ends do not justify the means" in using shortcuts to do good things. So, if you are late to church, should you speed? If you wish to give more money to ministry, should you cheat on your taxes and use that money? As The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.869 says, "God doesn't need Satan's help to get you where he wants you to go."
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.729 and The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.89-90 for more info.
Q: In Mt 4:8 and Lk 4:6-8, how could Satan offer Jesus the world, since Jesus was God and already owned the world, as an atheist (Cappello) asserts?
A: This is an interesting question. There are four points to consider in the answer.
1. Jesus was still God, but Jesus voluntarily emptied himself when He came to earth, as Philippians 2:7 and John 17:5 show.
2. God does indeed "own" the world as Psalm 24:1 shows. Nevertheless, when Jesus emptied himself of his glory and came to earth, his "own" did not receive him, as John 1:10-11 shows.
3. While God retained ultimate power, God granted mankind rule over this world, according to Genesis 1:28.
4. While God is the rightful owner, since the Fall Satan has temporarily been given a great deal of control over this world as 1 John 5:19 shows. According to 2 Corinthians 4:4, the god of this age is Satan. Satan is the prince of this world in John 12:31; 14:30,16:11; Ephesians 6:12; and Colossians 1:13.
5. Finally, Satan is the great deceiver, so you cannot base any doctrine on what Satan claimed, and thus this verse does not answer the question. While Satan is the ruler of the world, and on that basis one might think that Satna could have delivered this, Satan can do nothing except what God allows, so Satan might not have that freedom. But as demons and temptation have made so many broken promises to people, there is no hint that Satan would "turn honest" here and that the father of lies would even try to deliver what he was promising.
Summary: God has the right of ownership because of both past Creation and eternal Sovereignty. Jesus temporarily gave up the second when He came to earth. But since the Fall, Satan has the rule, though not ultimate control of this world.
See The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.90-91 for more info.
Q: In Mt 4:10 and Mt 12:26, was Satanís rebellion taught only after the Jews were exiled, as the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.779 claims?
A: No. Isaiah 14:12-15, written prior to the Exile, also talks about the rebellion of Lucifer.
Q: In Mt 4:13, how do you pronounce the town of Capernaum?
A: The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary and Crudenís Concordance both pronounce it "ka-PUR-na-um, with the accent on the second syllable. All vowels are pronounced, and all are short except that the first u is pronounced as oo.
Q: In Mt 4:14-16, do Isa 9:1 and Isa 9:2 belong together, or was Matthew incorrect to put these together?
A: They belong together because Isaiah 9:1 is a transition with both sections.
The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.816 says Isaiah 9:1 belongs with the earlier section and is actually called Isaiah 8:23 in modern Jewish Bibles and the New Jerusalem Bible. Isaiah 8:22 and 9:1 do relate, because Isaiah 8:22 speaks of people in darkness and Isaiah 9:1 speaks of no more darkness.
However, Isaiah 8:22 speaks of people who will be driven away into darkness, Isaiah 9:1 says there will be no more darkness for Zebulun and Naphtali, and Isaiah 9:2-7 says how the people who were in darkness will see a great light.
It is interesting that Asimov is trying to say that those who were in gloom but will have it lifted in Isaiah 9:1 do not relate to those who were in darkness and have seen a great light in the very next verse.
See When Critics Ask p.329 for more info.
Q: In Mt 4:15-16, how does the prophecy about Zebulun and Naphtali in Isa 9:1-2 relate to Jesus?
A: It relates in two ways.
Childhood: Jesusí spent most of his childhood was in Galilee, west of the Sea of Galilee.
Early ministry: Jesusí early ministry was in Galilee, primarily west of the Sea of Galilee. This region was the ancestral land of Zebulun and Naphtali.
The Greek word for dawned here, aneteilen, does not mean the light shown somewhere else and then moved to Galilee. Rather, the light first shone brilliantly there. This is according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.117.
Q: In Mt 4:18-22 and Mk 1:16-20, what can we learn from these fishermen?
A: Jesus had been in Galilee awhile, and they were called to salvation earlier, in John 1:35-42. Here they were called to service. These fishermen never stopped fishing. It is just that what Jesus told them to fish for was different. As The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.870 says, if you are not fishing, then you are not following. You might say that you are not called to be an evangelist, can pastor (care for others) because you were not called to full-time ministry. Consider this: every Christian is called to full-time ministry, though not necessarily full-time paid ministry. You might be called, full-time, to care for your mother or your family, to minster to the poor and others around you, to be a godly example, and to lead others in serving.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1214 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:6, should it say "filled" (KJV, NKJV, NRSV, Greenís Literal Translation) vs. "satisfied" (NET, NIV, NASB, RSV, uNASB, Williams)?
A: Strongís Concordance (entry 5526) shows that it can mean either one. It comes from the root for "fodder" and can mean to gorge. The image is a farm animal eating its fill of grass until it can eat no more. So "abundantly satisfied" or "fill" is appropriate. Wuestís Expanded Translation says, "filled so as to be completely satisfied."
Q: In Mt 5:4, what are people to mourn about here?
A: This does not specify mourning over the fate of the lost, mourning over a personal loss, or other mourning. Regardless though, it can refer to being sad about things that sadden the heart of God. The Christian writer A.W. Tozer said, "A fairly accurate description of the human race might be furnished one unacquainted with it by taking the Beatitudes, turning them wrong side out, and saying, 'Here is your human race.'" (The Believer's Bible Commentary p.1216)
Many people have no concept of mourning today; a common phrase, which is not Biblical is "no regrets". Secondly, this and the following commands of Jesus really did not have any place in Pharisaic righteousness.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.29 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.870 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:5, Mt 11:29; Mt 21:5; 1 Pete 3:4, what exactly is meekness?
A: Meekness is related to gentleness, and not insisting on your own way. It is being willing to serve, not just be served. Jesus was meek.
But meekness is not weakness. Think if a wild horse that is "broken-in". The horse is still strong and fast, but instead of just doing whatever it wills, it will obey the rider and consent to be ridden. Usually if a wolf or large cat can get on top of a horse, unless the horse rapidly shakes it off, that is the end of the horse. But the horse as both the trust and obedience to let a person ride it.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.871 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.29 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:6, what are hunger and thirst here?
A: Do you have an appetite, a passion, for spiritual growth? Or do you fail to grow, not because you do not eat, but because you will your stomach with the wrong things.
There are a few ways of looking at this. First, it metaphorically refers to those who have a strong desire for righteousness, for themselves, others, their church, their nation, and the world. Second, it can refer physically to those have to go without food and water to do God's work. Third, it can refer to those who fast for those things. Fasting does not generally refer to not drinking water, so the first is the primary meaning.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.871, the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1216, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.134 and The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.98-99 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:7, what is mercy in this verse?
A: Mercy can mean letting someone escaping from punishment, but here it means helping others who need help and cannot help themselves. See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1217 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:8, 1 Jn 3:2, and Rev 22:4, how will pure people see God, since Ex 33:23 and other verses say that no man can see God and live?
A: Since the Fall, no mortal, sinful man can see God and live. However, we will see God face to face in Heaven. In the meantime, we are to strive hard to live good, and authentic lives on earth. As The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.135 says, "The pure in heart will see God Ė now with the eyes of faith and finally in the dazzling brilliance of the beatific vision in whose light no deceit can exist." See When Critics Ask p.403-404 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.871 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:9, what are some good ways we can be peacemakers today?
A: Peace is needed between individuals, at work, within a group, between groups, politics, and countries. One of the first things is to learn from godly people who are peacemakers. Notice not just what they say, but what they could have said and chose not to. Remind the parties of what they have in common and challenge them whether their differences are so great to separate. Jesus said that the world will know we are His by our love in John 17:21).
Within the body of Christ we have a command (actively) "to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3), while separating from those in persistent sin (1 Corinthians 5:13), and rejecting any teachers who are teaching heresy (1 Timothy 6:5 and 2 Timothy 3:5).
Q: In Mt 5:13, how can Christians be salt?
A: Salt is added to food in small amounts to do one of four things. It is interesting that we are not the salt container, which dispenses the salt of Christ. Rather, we are the salt ourselves. Christians likewise are salt of this world in four areas.
Life - Salt is essential for us to live. In the West African city of Timbuktu, where gold was plentiful, one pound of salt sold for one pound of gold. As Christians have the life of Christ inside of them, they are so display that life to this world. God uses our preaching, love, and service to bring others to Him to give them life.
Flavor - Salt adds flavor to food and makes it taste good. Likewise, we are the aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15-16) to those who are saved. God also looks down and is pleased to see Christians in this world who are following Him.
Preservative - When there is no refrigeration, salt is also important to preserve food by keeping down the bacteria. Christians likewise are to be salt and light in this world by having a preserving effect by standing against sin.
Sacrifice - In Leviticus 2:13 the sacrifices were to be seasoned with salt. We too are to live our lives as a sacrifice for God.
Thirst Ė salt makes people thirsty, and that is why many bars serve salty food. By our lives we should also make people "thirsty" to hear about the hope that is within us: Christ.
As the secular Roman writer Pliny the Elder (died at Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.) said in Natural History 31.102 "Nothing is more useful than salt and sunshine." Many times Roman soldiers were paid monthly in salt. They could use what they wanted and easily sell the rest. Sal is the word for salt in Latin, and their pay was called the salarium, from which we get the English word "salary".
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.872, Now Thatís a Good Question p.248-249, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.430-431, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.29, The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.138, The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.101, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.729, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1217-1218 for more info.
Q: Does Mt 5:13 speak of people who recognize their divinity in themselves and help others to recognize their divinity too, as some New Agers say? (Spangler, 1981, 80).
A: Not at all; salt is not divinity. Saying that we could become as God was only of the oldest lies told to mankind, in the Garden of Eden. We are created to love and serve God forever, not become either separate gods, to be worshipped, or a part of God, and to be worshipped.
This strange view seems to forget that Jesus was Jewish, and Judaism was a monotheistic religion. See the previous question for what salt represents and When Cultists Ask p.95-96 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Mt 5:14a are we the light of the world, or is Jesus the light of the world as John 9:5 says?
A: Both: Jesus brought the light to the world, and we have the responsibility to be reflectors of the light of Jesus. Paul talks of this in 2 Corinthians 4:6-7. Jesus said He was the light of the world "as long as I am in the world" in John 9:5. Jesusí body is now in heaven, not in this world, but Jesusí presence is still in the world through the Holy Spirit in us. What exactly does light do? It does not do anything except shine. But as it shines it illuminates others and gives direction to the path. So be yourself, and shine. See When Critics Ask p.329, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.872, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.29, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1218 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:15, what is the light on the lampstand?
A: It is us and our testimony of Jesus, the light of the world. Unless there is persecution, we are not to hide the fact that we are Christians, and we should always be prepared to share the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15). We are not to hoard the truth for ourselves, but we are to share it with others. Matthew 5:15 does not just say let your light shine, but to let is shine before men. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for believers to find excuses not to share the gospel. We have to be careful not to look for excuses.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1218 and The Expositor's Greek Testament vol.1 p.103 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:17 and Acts 10:10-16, since Jesus said he would not abolish anything in the law, why donít Christians follow the Old Testament dietary laws like Muslims allegedly do?
A: While neither Christians nor Muslims keep the Old Testament dietary laws, Christians do not because they listen to Jesus. Five points to consider in the answer.
At this time, Jesusí followers obeyed the Old Testament dietary laws. Jesus actually said that not one jot or tittle would pass away until all is accomplished.
The fact of Jesusí resurrection fundamentally changed the way God dealt with His children. An angel informed Peter, Jesusí apostle, that God had made all food clean in Acts 10:9-16. Note it does not say these animals were always clean, but rather that God had made them clean.
Even Muslims who bring up this objection, themselves have to agree that some the Old Testament dietary laws are not to be followed. Muslims feel they can eat camel meat (and Mohammed did so), yet Leviticus 11:3-8; Deuteronomy 14:6-8 prohibit eating them.
Listen to Jesus in Matthew 15:10,17-20 and Mark 7:14-15. Jesus said it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean, not what goes in. Mark 7:19 shows that by this Jesus declared all foods clean. If we call Jesus a prophet, we should listen to His words.
A voice from heaven commanded Peter to eat in Acts 10:10-16, showing him that the dietary laws were only in effect until Jesusí sacrifice, not after. We should obey the voice of Godís angel and Jesusí apostle.
In conclusion, we should not ignore what Godís prophets said, but listen to them.
Q: In Mt 5:17, since Jesus said he would not abolish anything in the law, why are the Jewish festival days no longer followed?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. The moral requirements of the Old Testament Law are for all people and are unchanged.
2. The sacrifices can be said to be for all people today in one sense, because Jesus is our high priest, and He performed all the sacrifice that is needed.
3. The festival days, which were for the Jewish people, and involved sacrifices, are not followed since Christís death by non-Jews.
4. If a Muslim brings up this objection, one might ask why Muslims do not follow Godís holidays in the Old Testament either, if they think Christians are to follow Old Testament Jewish holidays.
See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.234-235, When Cultists Ask p.96-98, and When Critics Ask p.329-330 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:18, what is a jot and a tittle?
A: In Hebrew writing, a jot, or yod, is the tenth and smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is basically a dot with a small, curved line coming out the top and a small, curved line coming out the bottom. A tittle is a small in. In English a "tittle" is all that distinguishes a capital F from a capital E, and a P from an R. See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1218 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:20, who are the scribes and Pharisees and what level of righteousness do they have?
A: In Mt 5:20, the scribes were usually with the Sadducee party, while the Pharisees were against them. Politically, Sadducees were among those Jews who favored accommodation with Rome, while the Pharisees were against that. The Pharisees were a small group 5,000 to 6,000, but they were very influential because the people looked up to them. The Sadducees generally denied physical resurrection and said only the first five books were Scripture. Acts 23:8 also says the Sadducees denied the angels and spirits. It is significant that Jesus rebuked the Sadducees for not knowing the scripture nor the power of God. He never rebuked the Pharisees for not knowing scripture.
While the scribes and Pharisees tried to have the appearance of being righteous, Jesus was not validating them or saying they were righteous. Jesus did not say there was no good in them, but rather that they were not good enough. Rather, he said people needed more righteousness than they had to enter the kingdom of Heaven. This implies three things:
a) The scribes and Pharisees did not have the righteousness necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven
b) Jesus' followers were to be more righteous than them
c) Actually, nobody has enough righteousness, on their own, to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus alludes to this more in chapters 6 and 7. The disciples eventually got this point in Mark 10:26-27.
d) If no one is righteous enough, don't look down on people who are sinners because you are a sinner too. To the consternation of the Pharisees, Jesus ate with many tax collectors and sinners in Matthew 9:9-12.
Irenaeus in his work Against Heresies (182-188 A.D.) book 4 ch.13 p.477 gives a complementary answer. Here is a paraphrase of his four points:
1) While the scribes and Pharisees believed in the Father, we are to believe in the Son too.
2) We must not only say, but we must do; for the scribes and Pharisees said but did not.
3) We must not only abstain from evil deeds, but also even from the desires of them.
4) Jesus did not teach us things that opposed the law, but things that fulfilled them. Jesus did not destroy the law, but he fulfilled, extended, and afforded greater scope to it.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.146-147 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:21, why do people kill, animals, criminals, etc., since Jesus said not to kill?
A: The King James Version translated this "kill" when the Greek word phoneuo can mean murder. One who does this, a phoneus is a murderer or assassin, not an executioner or animal butcher. If someone really thought the Old Testament "thou shalt not kill" referred to animals and execution of criminals, their misunderstanding of this word would make the entire Old Testament sacrificial system an unfathomable mystery to them.
Q: In Mt 5:22, why did Jesus say for us not to call anyone a fool, since He and others did in Mt 23:17; Lk 24:25; 1 Cor 15:36; Gal 3:1?
A: Jesus did not say "foolish" or "fool", but actually he used an Aramaic slang term, which means "empty-head", similar to an American slang word "airhead". Jesus also calls people "foolish", "blind guidesí (Matthew 23:16), and even "thieves and robbers" and "vipers". Jesus chose His words carefully and did not denigrate people.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.358-359 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:22 Jesus said, "WHOSOEVER shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire", Yet he himself did so repeatedly, as Mt 23:17, Lk 11:40, and Lk 12:20 show. Shouldnít he be in danger of Hell too? After all, he broke His own law!
A: No for two reasons.
a) We should not let others call us Lord, or allow other people to worship us, and that is proper for Jesus. Thus, what Jesus taught for us is not always applicable to Him. On a more mundane level, when I make a rule for my pet bird, like it can only eat out of a bird feeder, do I have to follow that rule too?
b) Jesus actually did not say "fool" (that is a paraphrase), the actual term was raca which is best translated "empty-head". Jesus called people foolish, in the sense of foolish people in Proverbs, but he did not communicate that their heads (or lives) were not worth anything.
Q: In Mt 5:25-26, why is it often so difficult to settle with your adversary?
A: Oftentimes it means that one or both parties should admit their guilt, or that they were wrong, the pride of people is reluctant to do that.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1220 for more info.
Q: Does Mt 5:26 support the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory as the Catholic teacher Ludwig Ott taught?
A: No for seven reasons.
No mention after death: This does not mention purgatory or even anything after death.
Even some Catholics such as former Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) would disagree. Here is what he said, "Purgatory is not some kind of supra-worldly concentration camp where one is forced to undergo punishments in a more or less arbitrary fashion. Rather it is the inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God [i.e., capable of full unity with Christ and God] and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints" (Ratzingerís book Eschatology (1990) p.230. Part of this is also quoted in When Cultists Ask p.98-99)
Hebrews 10:10-15 teaches two things: 1) Christ has already completed His offering in Hebrews 10-12, and 2) Christ has perfected us forever through His offering in Hebrews 10:13-15. Letís not tell Christ His offering was not good enough, complete enough, or did not finish the job that the Book of Hebrews tells us He finished.
Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...." (NKJV)
2 Peter 1:11 says that after we die we will receive a rich or abundant welcome into Heaven. (Not a warm welcome, or fiery with flames hot welcome). Purgatory would not be a very welcome-looking "porch" to heaven.
2 Corinthians 5:8 says, "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." (NKJV) Likewise Philippians 1:23 says Paul will either stay alive in the flesh, or "depart and be with Christ." We will be with God as soon as we die, not in purgatory with the promise of heaven delayed.
The early Christians, prior to Nicea never heard of purgatory, and certainly did not see anything like purgatory in this verse. In more than 5,235 writings that we have prior to Nicea, this interpretation of Matthew 5:26, and the idea of any kind of fiery purging of believers after death, is totally absent.
See When Cultists Ask p.98-99 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:27-29, how extensive is the prohibition against adultery?
A: It is not just something only a married person can do. Rather, Jesus says "anyone". It is not just committing the act; rather it is even looking with lust at someone, or a picture or video of someone, including but not limited to pornography and strip clubs. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.873 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:29, is Hell conscious torment or just the grave?
A: It is both. The Greek word Hades is analogous to the Hebrew word Sheol. In Matthew 5:29 is obviously a place where you do not want to go to, so the context is "Hell" where those who die apart from God go.
Luke 16:22-23 shows there will be torment (basanois in Greek) (Luke 16:23,28), consciousness (Luke 16:23), and suffering in flame (Luke 16:24,25). Unbelievers are not just there; they are eternally punished there too. Matthew 25:41,46; Revelation 14:9-11; ~19:3; ~22:15
Matthew 13:40-42,50 says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth IN the fiery furnace. (ekei "there" in Greek means there, "at that place", not there "it will occur".
2 Thessalonians 1 teaches this is eternal destruction; shut out from the presence of the Lord and his majestic power
Revelation 14:9-11 those who worship the beast will be tortured with fire and brimstone (burning sulfur) in the presence of the lamb and his angels.
Non-believers have painful consciousness after death (Revelation 20:10; Luke 12:5; 13:28; 16; Ezekiel 32:31-32; Matthew 3:12; 5:21; 13:42,50; 22:13; 25:41; Isaiah 50:11).
Non-believers will perish (Luke 13:3,5; John 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:9) and be destroyed (2 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Peter 3:16; Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 3:17; Philippians 1:28; James 4:12; Revelation 11:18).
See When Cultists Ask p.99-100 and When Critics Ask p.331-332 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:34, why did Jesus emphasize swearing oaths here?
A: The Jews in Jesus' time and later had strange views on oaths. The Mishnah Shebuoth discusses this. The Mishnah Sanhedrin 3.2 and Mishnah Tosephta Nedarim 1 (originally from SBK 1:321-336). Oaths were not binding if swearing "by heaven and earth" "by the gold of the temple" or "by Jerusalem". But there were binding to swear "by the temple" or "toward Jerusalem". Deuteronomy 6:13 says that when taking oaths, take them in God's name. But Jesus is changing that here. Jesus is saying to stop taking oaths at all; let your "yes" should be "yes" and your "no" should be "no". The Essenes also avoided taking oaths.
As an aside, many Greeks also frowned upon taking oaths. Sophocles, Choerilus Epicus, Plutarch, Epictetus (avoid as far as possible), Quintilianus were against taking oaths. Pythagoras said to take oaths only rarely, and later Pythagoreans refused to take oaths. During the Middle Ages and Reformation, Waldensians and many Anabaptists refused oaths. See Ulrich Luz Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.314,316,320 for more info on this.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.153-154 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1222 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:34 are we not to swear, or are we to swear by Godís name in Dt 10:20?
A: When studying the Bible, it is important to know the general context; in this case what is Old Testament and what is New Testament. Jesus explicitly superseded or changed five Old Testament commands and one saying in Matthew 5:21-48. Here is a summary of what Jesus said.
|Verses||Old Testament||But Jesus said|
|Matthew 5:21-26||Do not murder||In addition, do not be angry with your brother or say "you fool"|
|Matthew 5:27-30||Do not commit adultery||In addition, do not look at a woman with lust in your heart|
|Matthew 5:31-32||When divorcing give a certificate||In contrast, do not divorce except for unfaithfulness|
|Matthew 5:33-37||Do not break oaths||In contrast, do not make oaths at all, but simply yes and no|
|Matthew 5:38-42||Eye for an eye||In contrast, turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, etc.|
|Matthew 5:43-48||Love your neighbor and hate your enemy||In contrast, love even your enemies|
Q: In Mt 5:39-40, how are Christians supposed to turn the other cheek?
A: Being struck on the cheek is not only painful, but it is also an insult. The Jewish tract Mishnah Baba Kamma 8:6 discusses this. Yet Christians are not to live naturally but supernaturally. We are to allow ourselves to be vulnerable (but not foolishly trusting evildoers), recognizing that we can trust God to watch over us and our family. Sometimes Muslims and others ridicule this teaching of Jesus. But regardless, we, like this teaching, are supposed to stand out in a vengeful, sinful world.
See Now Thatís a Good Question p.522-524 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.136 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:39, why do Christians resist evil?
A: No verse in the Bible says Christians are not to resist any evil. Rather Matthew 5:39 specifically says not to resist an evil person, who is doing evil to you. We are not to seek revenge or get people back. We are to resist the devil in James 4:7 and 1 Peter 5:9. Like Jeremiah in 7:6 and 22:16, we should speak up for the oppressed. In the Old Testament, Proverbs 28:4 says the righteous "contend" with the wicked who forsake the law. Leviticus 5:1 says it is a sin to refuse to testify in court about an evil we have seen. We are to guard against false teachers (1 John 2:26; 3:7; 4:1; 2 John 7-8; Revelation 2:16; 2 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:28-29. We are to refute false teachers (1 Timothy 1:3; Titus 1:9-11; Jude 3). We are to contend for the faith (Philippians 1:27; 4:3).
See the New International Bible Commentary p.1127 for more info.
Q: In Mt 5:42 and Lk 6:29-30, should Christians give to everyone who asks of them?
A: Yes: this teaching is not hard to understand, but it is challenging to follow. Christians are to consider others as even more important as themselves (Philippians 2:3). We are to love our neighbor as ourselves, so of course we are not to give a person something that would harm them (like drugs), even if they ask for it. But if we see someone in genuine need, we should try to see that their needs are met. This is true regardless of whether the person in need is a fellow Christian or not.
Loving our neighbor as ourselves implies that it is fine to love ourselves too. However, many people are guilty of loving themselves more than others, giving less than they should, not loving themselves too little and giving more than they should.
See When Critics Ask p.332-333 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Mt 5:43, where does it say, "love your neighbor and hate your enemy"?
A: This is not in the Old Testament, and Jesus never said that it was. Love your neighbor is in Leviticus 19:18, but there is nothing about hate your enemy. But Jewish people had often heard it because it was a scribal tradition according to the New Geneva Study Bible p.1513, as well as When Critics Ask p.333, which adds that Jesus did not say it was in the Old Testament for a very good reason: it was not there.
In the Qumran sect, their Manual of Disciple said members had to swear to love the Sons of Light (i.e., the Qumran sect) and to hate for all eternity the Sons of Darkness. See Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls p.165 for more info.
The atheistic philosopher Frederich Nietzsche thought love of enemies was weakness and dishonesty. Sigmund Freud thought love of enemies "is an attempt of the culture superego to change the need of aggression into guilt feelings and so to fight against it, an attempt which was indeed successful but is hostile to happiness." Sigmund Freud "Civilization and its Discontents in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud vol.21 p.57-145. Mao Tse-tung said "We cannot love our enemies, we cannot love social evils, and our aim is to exterminate them." Mao Tse-tung: An Anthology His Writings p.260. These are taken from Ulrich Luz Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.350,351. Some authors did not take too kindly to Jesus' teaching to love your enemies.
Q: In Mt 5:48 can we be perfect?
A: As a diamond shines differently from different sides, the Bible shows four facets to this issue. The simple answers to this broad question are: Yes, Yes, no, and yes.
Yes after death: we should meditate on the truth that we will be sinlessly, perfectly holy in Heaven, We should be looking forward to that, and if you think with regret of leaving behind some of your sins, then there is something wrong with your spiritual walk. After death, and only after death we will fully achieve Matthew 5:48.
Yes judicially: God that Father has pronounced us forgiven and the guilt of sin has been pronounced pardoned by Jesusí death on the cross. Hebrews 10:17 specifically tells us that at the cross Jesus "has perfected" those who are being made holy. Romans 4:17 reminds us that our God calls things that are not, as though they are. Though we have sinned against God and are worthy of Hell, if God promises our forgiveness and sinless life in Heaven, Godís promises are 100% certain. In one sense, all who have trusted in Christ, and His death and body resurrection have been pronounced as achieving Matthew 5:48.
No on earth now, but we still try: we will not be sinlessly perfect on earth, and anyone who thinks he has achieved that is deceiving themselves as 1 John 1:18 says. Not even Paul was perfect in Philippians 3:12. While we will not achieve sinless perfection on earth, we are still to strive to attempt to achieve sinless perfection and Christlikeness, though not to be discouraged when we fall short, as all believers still do. So, Jesusí command in Matthew 5:48 was not simply a future promise, and a pronouncement, but a command we are seriously to try to fulfill today.
Yes we can be perfectly in Godís will: We can be a "perfect" believer, as in being complete and being exactly where God wants us to be. But just as a "perfect" baby is not supposed to remain a baby forever, perfection here is simply "are we hitting the milestone on our path to be more Christlike in this life?" Perfect is used in this sense in 1 John 2:5 and Philippians 3:15. So while we are to try to fully obey Matthew 5:48 in our lives today, and though we will inevitably fall short, we can still have joy and perfect peace abiding in God now.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.33 for more info and When Cultists Ask p.100-101 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Mt 6:1-4, are we to do good works in secret, or let our light shine before men as Mt 5:16 says?
A: Both. We should be diligent in doing good works. However, it should not be our own works, but rather Jesus, the one who lives in us, that others see when they see us. We are to be reflectors of Christ. Our light should shine, not us.
It is a privilege that God chose us to give glory by working through us. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.233-234 for more info.
Q: In Mt 6:1-4, in giving to God, how are Christians not to let their right hand know what their left hand is doing?
A: Just as we are not to make a big deal about our good works toward others, we are not to make a big deal about it before God. Do not break your arm by patting yourself on the back too hard either. ;-) Do not think of how you are doing God a favor. Do not mistakenly thing that you are enriching God, who owns everything anyway, or how fortunate God is to have saved you. We are saved not because of any merit of ours, but because God saw how helpless we were, and in His grace loved us anyway. See Now Thatís a Good Question p.581-582 for a different but complementary answer.
Q: In Mt 6:1-4, since we are not to give alms before men, who do Christians report charity for tax purposes, and why do some have buildings or other monuments in their name?
A: Before men (plural) means before the public, so reporting charity for tax purposes, is OK. However, if someone donates money in order for a building or monument to be built in their name, then they have their reward, on earth. However, if someone builds a monument in someone elseís name, and the first person is either unaware of that, or did nothing to encourage it being built in their name, then this verse does not apply to them.
Q: In Mt 6:5-6, since we are to pray in secret, why do many Christians want public prayer in schools?
A: The Bible gives many examples of private and personal prayer. However, it also gives examples of group prayers, such as Joshua 7:6-9. One can have corporate prayer where only one person is speaking, such as 1 Kings 8:22-53. In these examples of public prayer, everyone is involved in the praying, whether they are speaking or not.
In Acts 16:25-26, Paul and Silas were praying together and singing in a place where others could see. However, being in prison, they had no choice in their location.
Christians could see each other, praying corporately, in Acts 2:42; 12:12; 13:3; 14:23; 20:36, so that is fine.
What we do not see approved is publicly praying for show, or publicly praying where some of the crowd were not participating, perhaps because they do not believe in God.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1224 for more info.
Q: In Mt 6:5-7, Jesus is condemning all public prayer?
A: No, this verse does not say that. Rather He is condemning prayers that are just for show. As a matter of fact, Jesus prayed publicly in John 11:41-42.
In the Old Testament Solomon prayed a very public prayer in 1 Kings 8:22. Jesus is not against public prayer, but against "ostentatious" prayer, i.e., prayer in order to be seen in public. See When Critics Ask p.333-334 for more info.
Q: In Mt 6:7, should we ever repeat prayers?
A: It is OK to repeat prayers, as long as they have meaning for you when you pray them. If you are not praying them with meaning, then do not bother to pray them. Within a prayer or during worship, repetition of a phrase is OK, as was done in some Psalms. See Now Thatís a Good Question p.207-210, and Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.411-412 for more info.
Q: In Mt 6:7-8, are we not to use vain repetition, or should we pray continually as the widow was an example of in Lk 18:5,7?
A: Praying continually does not necessarily mean you have to use repetition. You can say different things in your prayers when you pray.
Jesus did not say repetition was wrong, only if it is vain or meaningless repetition. Some repetition is OK if it is meaningful. As an example, see Psalm 118:1-4. Thus, if a church service uses some of the same things every week, that is OK as long as it is meaningful. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.236-237 for more info.
Q: In Mt 6:7-8, why do many Christians, especially those in more liturgical traditions (Catholics, Episcopal, Anglican, Lutheran, etc.) pray many of the same things over and over every Sunday?
A: Saying the same thing multiple times is OK if it has meaning to them every time. Jesus did not criticize repetition here, but vain (meaningless) repetition. In some Psalms, such as Psalm 136, repetition is used. Jesus warned us that repetition can be meaningless, but that does not mean all repetition is meaningless.
"Hail Mary's are not good prayers, as they are addressed to Mary, not Jesus. But even if we had analogous "Hail Jesus prayers" that would not be good either, and it would presuppose we would get blessing based on the frequency of reciting memorized phrases.
See Ulrich Luz Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.366 for more info.
Q: In Mt 6:9-13 and Lk 11:1-4, what was Jesus teaching in the Lordís prayer?
A: Here is a very brief synopsis.
Our Father: we pray to God the Father. Jesus is God (Hebrews 1:8-9), so prayers to Jesus are OK too, as Stephen did in Acts 7:59.
Who is in Heaven: While God is everywhere at once, never forget that God is transcendent. His throne is farther removed from us than the stars.
Holy be your name: Do not think God is just a buddy or "pal". Remember who God is.
Your kingdom come: This type of prayer is often neglected today. In addition to Praise/Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication for yourself and others, there is praying for Godís Kingdom to come soon. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 is just one verse that shows we are to long for His kingdom. Verses that show we are to be watching and waiting for His Kingdom include 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 2 Peter 3:13 and 1 Peter 4:7.
This phrase does not indicate an uncaring attitude. Rather, with it we express a fervent desire to see Godís kingdom come soon.
Your will be done: We are to pray for Godís will, not just to spend on our selfish desires (James 4:3). When we want what is best for God's Kingdom, who do we think is the best at determining that; us or God?
On earth as it is in Heaven: We do not have to pray that Godís will be done in Heaven, where there is no temptation, but there is a need for us to pray that the desired will of God Almighty be done on earth. Heaven is our standard for how much we want Godís will to be obeyed.
Give us this day: We are to pray to receive our needs, not just our desires. While ungodly rich people may get financially all they need and more without praying, we are to ignore that and pray to God for our needs. (See Proverbs 30:7-9.) Apparently, there is no plan for praying for what we need for the entire week on one day, so that we can neglect to pray at all on the next six days.
Our daily bread: Pray daily for our needs, not our greeds. Do not just pray one time for all the needs for your life but pray daily. Absent from this prayer is a request for our wishes and selfish desires, as James 4:3 shows. This is a prayer for what we legitimately need.
Forgive us our sins: We need forgiveness for the words, actions, and inaction on the outside. In addition, we need forgiveness for our thoughts and cleansing for our sinful desires on the inside. Some falsely say that we should not pray for God to forgive us, once we have become Christians and have already been forgiven. This prayer shows otherwise. James 5:16 also shows praying for a believer so that his sins will be forgiven (future tense). Forgiveness of sins is on the basis of Christís death on the cross, not any of our words, but forgiveness has a past, present, and future aspect which all go back to the cross. According to the New International Bible Commentary p.1127 the best translation here is "sins"; just calling them "trespasses" is not very accurate.
As we forgive those who sin against us: Godís forgiveness for those who repent and turn to Him is complete. That is how our forgiveness to others should be.
As an aside, the Lord's prayer is also quoted in Tatian's Diatessaron section 9:32-41 p.58
and the early Christian writings Origen's On Prayer ch.18.1 p.65 and The Didache ch.8 ANF vol.7 p.379. The Didache adds that it should be prayed three times a day.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1224-1225 and Ulrich Luz Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.369 for more info.
Q: In Mt 6:9-13 and Lk 11:2-4, why should we pray?
A: Prayer is not informing an all-knowing God, empowering the Almighty, or changing the heart for a very loving God. Rather it is a commandment, a privilege to talk to God, and a promise that God will hear our prayers. Prayer is amazing, in that an All-Sovereign God has not only consented, but that He even originated the idea that He allows our prayers to "be effective" (James 5:16) in God changing things.
See Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.299-302 and the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.160 for complementary answers.
Q: In Mt 6:10 and Lk 11:2 can you explain why there are two Ďinís and heaven and earth transposed in the KJV, vs. "on" and "in" the Greek and other translations?
A: Matthew 6:10 in the KJV reads "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
In Matthew 6:10 there are no significant manuscript variants, and the Greek is as you say. In Luke 11:2, there is a manuscript variant, but it is not like the KJV either.
Anyway, the Greek is "in" heaven and "on" earth. It is that way in the NKJV, NIV, Green's Literal translation, and pretty much everything except the KJV. I don't know why the KJV translated "in" for both, though I can speculate that back then "in earth" might have meant the same as "on earth today". I do not know why they were transposed; perhaps the KJV translators thought they words might sound better transposed, but there is no warrant for that in the Greek. While this is a case of the KJV being less precise than it should be, this is not really an error, as the meaning is still clear regardless.
I believe the KJV was a good translation, done by godly men over 400 years ago, but we have better translations today.
Q: In Mt 6:13, why should we pray that God lead us not into temptation, when Jms 1:13 says that God does not tempt anyone?
A: The meaning is better conveyed by the way many British people say this prayer: "save us in our hour of need." God does not tempt us, but God allows us to be tempted, as Jesus was, and as Paul was tempted to despair in 2 Corinthians 1. God tests us, but God does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13a). When we are tempted, and we think we are close to being beyond what we can bear, we can pray to God, and He will find a way for us to escape or a way to strengthen us. See When Critics Ask p.334 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Mt 6:14-15, are we supposed to forgive othersí trespasses, or all their sins?
A: Trespasses here means sins, so there is no difference.
Q: In Mt 6:16-18, should Christians fast?
A: Yes, fasting is a way for believers to communicate the intensity or our feelings toward God.
We should fast for worship (Acts 13:2-3); to pray for help (Isaiah 58:3-9; Acts 14:23; Psalm 35:13; Nehemiah 1:4; Esther 4:3,16; 1 Kings 21:27, Ezra 8:23), and for individual and corporate repentance (Nehemiah 9:1; Daniel 9:3; Joel 1:14; 2:12-15; Jonah 3:5).
We should not fast for tradition (Zechariah 7:5) or show (Matthew 6:16-18).
Dieting to lose weight is fine to do, but that is not fasting since the primary purpose is different. Binge eating, alternating with fasting is not particularly healthy or scriptural.
See Now Thatís a Good Question p.229-230, New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology p.377-378, and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.463-464 for more info.
Q: In Mt 6:19-21, why do Christians have money and other treasures on earth?
A: Giving to God is not optional for believers (Malachi 3:10-12). We should give to the Lordís work (2 Corinthians 8:1-8; 9:6-11; Proverbs 3:9,10; 11:24; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Titus 2:13). It is important for us to help the poor and others to help others (Proverbs 11:24-25; 14:21; 24:11-12; 28:22; 29:7; 31:9,20; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
A large number of verses in the Bible tell us to give to the poor and others: Proverbs 11:24-25; 14:21; 19:9-10,17; 21:13; 22:9; 24:11-12; 29:7; 31:9,20; Psalm 41:1; Isaiah 58:7-8,10; Jeremiah 5:28; 22:16; Matthew 6:2-4; 19:21; Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 6:18-19; James 1:27; Deuteronomy 15:11; Psalm 68:5; Job 29:12-13; 1 John 3:17-19; Acts 4:32-35
However, also recognize that riches can be a blessing from God, according to Proverbs 28:20. For Christians, it is proper to do the following
a) Have personal property (2 Timothy 4:13).
b) We are to provide for our family (1 Timothy 5:4,8; Proverbs 31:13-15; Mark 7:10-13; ~Luke 15:18-30).
c) Provide for our ministers (1 Corinthians 9:4-12; 1 Timothy 5:18; Galatians 6:6)
d) Provide for ourselves (Titus 3:14).
e) Pay your taxes (Matthew 22:17; Romans 13:7).
f) Store for the future (Proverbs 6:6-8; 10:5; 31:16; Luke 15:18-30; Titus 3:14).
g) Leave an inheritance for our children (Proverbs 13:22; 17:2; 19:14; Psalm 17:14).
h) We should take care of our possessions, (which sometimes takes additional money) (Proverbs 12:10,11,27). We should know the condition of our wealth, for it can be lost through neglect (Proverbs 27:23-24).
Yet it is not proper to do things for greed or fear. If you are insured so much, that you can provide better for your family dead than alive, your priorities are messed up. See the discussion on Proverbs 3:9 for a more extensive discussion on proper and improper attitudes and uses of money.
Q: Can Mt 6:22 refer to some kind of spiritual "third eye" as some New Age people claim?
A: No early Christian, or modern one either, ever interpreted this passage this way. If this was what was truly meant, as a few claim, then God failed to communicate in a way that any Christian could understand. When interpreting a passage, we are not to ask, "can I make it mean such and such" but rather, "what did God intend to communicate to us." Many people do the former because there are sins of the intellect as well as sins of the will and heart. See When Cultists Ask p.101 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Mt 6:24, what is Matthew saying about God and money?
A: This is talking about masters. God as a master demands our complete service and obedience. Chasing the money demands complete service to it too.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.178-179, the New International Bible Commentary p.1128, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.33 for more info.
Q: In Mt 6:25-26, why do you think God tells us not to worry about our life?
A: These verses are not telling us never think about our life, or do not plan, but do not worry about it. Birds actually work very hard, making nests, caring for their young, etc., yet they do not worry about it.
Q: In Mt 6:26, since God watching the birds is an example of Godís caring, what can we expect in the way of help from God?
A: This verse does not mean "don't every think about" but rather "don't worry about". God sustains the birds of the air with their active participation in getting food. Here are five points to consider in the answer.
1. Nothing happens except what God allows (Job 1:12; 2:6).
2. We will have troubles (2 Timothy 3:12; James 1:2; John 16:33f), but God will strengthen us and comfort us in our troubles (2 Corinthians 1:4-5).
3. God does not allow believers to be tempted beyond what they can bear. (1 Corinthians 10:11)
4. Some believers will suffer persecution, and some even death. (1 Peter 1:6)
5. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psalm 116:15). Even if we die an unjust painful death, God will still take care of us in Heaven, and our present sufferings are nothing compared to the joys of heaven (see 1 Corinthians 2:9)
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.179, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.876, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1226-1227 for more info.
Q: In Mt 6:33 what is Jesus saying here?
A: Jesus is not saying they have not also been seeking other good things. But Jesus is saying to seek first the Kingdom of God. As The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.867 says, in baseball you can touch second base, third base, and home without being tagged, but if you miss first base, it does not matter; you are out.
Q: Does Mt 6:33 teach that we should make our alleged inner divinity a top priority as some New Age people say?
A: No, we do not have inner divinity. We are made in the image of God, and believers (both male and female) are sons of God, but we have no divinity of our own. This verse says nothing about our divinity, or anything else that is ours. Instead, it teaches us to seek His kingdom and His righteousness. There is no God but the One, as any Jewish monotheist would tell you, and Jesus was Jewish and affirmed that there was only One True God, whose words we are to obey. We are to submit to scripture, rather than twist scripture to submit to our opinions. See When Cultists Ask p.101-102 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Mt 7:1-2, Lk 6:37, Jn 7:24 how are we not to judge others, since we are told to judge in Jn 7:24, 1 Cor 5:12, and 1 Cor 6:25?
A: The Bible approves judging actions, but not sitting in judgment on people. 1 Corinthians 6:5 uses a different Greek word, diakrinai, than the others for judge. It refers to a Christian arbitrator pronouncing judgment on a civil matter between Christians.
The Greek word used in the other passages, krinete, has a range of meaning. Matthew 7:1-2, Luke 6:37 says we are not to judge others (no mention of not judging things or actions). In other words, we are not to judge the value of other people, judge how good a Christian they are, or how bad a sinner they are. Let God do that; we do not need to judge. But while we should remove the plank in our own eye before trying to remove the speck in our brotherís eye, we should still try to remove the speck in our brotherís eye. There are two aspects here. The first is the hypocrisy of worrying about your brotherís speck more than your own plank. The second is that you canít see the speck well enough to take it out if you have a plank in your eye. While Jesus used hyperbole, it is still amazing in real life how people can see a fault in someone else and yet be totally blind to the same fault in themselves.
John 7:24 also uses the word krinete saying, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." (NASB).
It is irresponsible to tell others Matthew 7:1 teaching abdicating all judgment, so as to disobey the rest of Matthew 7. We are to recognize dogs and swine (Matthew 7:6) and we are to be fruit inspectors in Matthew 7:16-20.
Concerning the murdering of others, the Holocaust, people having sex with animals and children, etc., some people might say we should not impose morality, or in essence not judge what is right and wrong. This is not what the Bible teaches.
See Now Thatís a Good Question p.163-164, Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.369-371, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.33, the New International Bible Commentary p.1129, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1227-1228, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.730-731, and the New Geneva Study Bible p.1515 for complementary answers.
Q: In Mt 7:1-5, should Christians not judge, or should we judge as 1 Cor 6:2-5 says?
A: We are not to judge other people, including their worth, but we are to discern good and bad actions as 1 Corinthians 6:2-5 teaches. While some of the words are the same in Greek (from krino), the context is different.
Q: In Mt 7:6, what did Jesus mean by not casting your pearls before swine (pigs)?
A: Do not take what is precious and give it to those who are not appreciative of it and might use it to turn and attack you. This concept of not casting pearls is behind Proverbs 9:7-9, where we are not to try to correct a scoffer or wicked man. Jesus did not do many miracles before unbelieving people. Also, it is better for a person not to know the way of truth, than to know it and turn their back on it, as 2 Peter 2:20-22 says.
Letís look at the side range of possible interpretation, and then narrow it down to determine the best choice or choices are the intended meaning.
Casting could mean:
C1. Do not cast could mean do not force
C2. Do not nag
C3. Do not make any effort to teach
C4. Be very careful to never tell.
Here the verb "cast" is active, so Jesus did not mean hide your pearls, hide that you are a Christian, or do not leave any pearls on the ground. Thus, it is not C4.
Pearls could mean:
P1. Godly teaching
P2. The message of the gospel
P3. Anything of value, special privileges, or participation in sacred things Hard Sayings of the Bible p.370-371 has this view.
P4. It could also mean that when the church is being persecuted, do not expose other Christians by giving their names to just anyone.
Jesus taught moral teaching openly, so it probably does not mean P1.
Before swine could mean:
S1. Those who are not appreciative of these things (Hard Sayings of the Bible p.370-371).
S2. Those not ready to learn (The NIV Study Bible)
S3. Unbelievers who do not actively desire to learn
S4. Unbelievers who refuse to learn
S5. Gentiles (according to the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.833-835) However, Matthew mentions non-Jews who believed, so it does not refer to Gentiles in general.
Swine was a derogatory term, so it is very likely the intended meanings include those who refuse to learn.
So, the best choice may be C1 + C2 + C3, and P2 + P3, and S1 + S2 + S3 + S4.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.370-371 and Now Thatís a Good Question p.585-586 for complementary answers.
Q: In Mt 7:7-11, why donít people get all they want?
A: God is much more than merely a cosmic Santa Claus. People do not always get what they want least five reasons.
1. People do not ask for them (James 4:2)
2. Must pray to God, not another. (~Deuteronomy 5:6-7)
3. Must pray in the spirit and name of Jesus (Colossians 3:17; John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:26).
4. God does not hear the wicked (Proverbs 15:29; 1 Peter 3:12; Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 11:14; 14:12; Micah 3:4).
5. They fight against Godís people (Psalm 18:41. 1 Samuel 22:16-17; 28:6).
See also the answer to the next question.
Q: Since Mt 7:7-8 says he who asks receives and he who seeks finds, why in Am 8:12 do they seek the word of the LORD and not find it?
A: First what is not the answer and then the answer.
Not the answer: Jesus said these words centuries after Amos, and things are different in New Testament times than before. Also, there was a 400-year period of silence, where no scripture was given, right before Jesus came. Finally, the knowledge that Jesus gave us was not available even to godly people who lived before Jesus. But while these three statements are all true, they miss the timeless truth, and the warning, that are the main point of Amos 8:12-14.
The answer: There are two levels of the answer.
Specifically, Amos 8:12-14 referred to those (mainly Samaritans) in the land [of Israel] who went after the idols of the northern kingdom as well as God. As long as they tried to follow both, they would not find the word of God.
Generally, Amos 8:12-14 is a warning for all people. Matthew 7:7-8 does not mean to ask just anybody; it means you have to ask the One True God. If you want to combine the truth of God with the falsehood of idols and other religions, you will have a famine of truth, not a fulfilling of truth. You have to seek God with all your heart, not part of your heart seeking God and part of your heart seeking idols.
Q: In Mt 7:7-11, why donít Christians always get what they pray to God for in the name of Jesus?
A: God answers some prayers, as "yes", some as "no", and some as "wait". When there is no answer, or not the answer we want, it is good to think why. We cannot know every specific case, but in general there are at least 21 reasons dealing with us, circumstances, and God.
1. Praying to the wrong God, an idol. 1 Kings 18:26-29
2. Requests should not be for spending on our passions. James 4:3
3. Requests must be for good things. Matthew 7:11
4. It is not Godís will to have them. Mark 14:36
5. We have to wait. Daniel 10:12-14
6. Our prayers are simply vain repetition. Matthew 6:7
7. Yet we have to [meaningfully] persist. Luke 11:5-10, 18:1-7
8. We cherish sin in our hearts (Psalms 66:18-19), turn a deaf ear to the poor (Proverbs 21:13), or are wicked (Proverbs 15:29, Isaiah 59:1-3). God does not hear us when we choose not to hear God (Zechariah 7:11-14 and implied in Proverbs 28:9).
9. We need self-control. 1 Peter 4:7
10. We have sinned, such as divorce. Malachi 2:13-14
11. We ignore God and His law. Zechariah 7:13; Proverbs 28:9
12. We ignore the cry of the poor. Proverbs 21:13
13. We are inconsiderate of our wives. 1 Peter 3:7
14. God will not hear if they are still worshipping idols too. Ezekiel 8:8-18
15. Their hands are filled with blood. Isaiah 1:15
16. God knows what trials are best. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
17. God disciplines us. 2 Samuel 12:16-18;22-24
1. In his time, God might grant the prayer, but now is not yet the right time. Habakkuk 2:3
2. It might be that we need to change in some way, or that someone else needs to change. 1 Samuel 1:10-12; Exodus 2:23-24
1. God might be answering our prayer as "no"
2. God might be allowing us to be tested.
Sometimes, as the book of Job and Daniel 10:2-3,12-14 show, we have absolutely no idea of everything that is going on behind the scenes. But we do know that our patience and persistence glorify God.
Q: In Mt 7:12a, what are examples of the golden rule?
A: Notice that this does not say "brothers" i.e., fellow believers, but neighbors, both believers and non-believers. In business treat vendors, customers, co-workers, supervisors, and reports the way you would want and expect to be treated if the situation was reversed. For competitors, you can be a tough competitor, but still a fair and honorable one too. When a situation, sale, or transaction is completed, would you be at ease telling the other party you are a Christian, or embarrassed and ashamed to tell them you are a Christian.
The golden rule was given, in a negative way by Hillel a hundred years before, Philo of Alexandria, Tobit 4:15 and by Confucius (Legge, Chinese Classics, 1 p.191f).
See the New International Bible Commentary p.1129, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1229, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.731, and The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.131-132 for more info.
Q: In Mt 7:13-14, why do you think the gate is broad that leads to destruction, and narrow that leads to eternal life?
A: The two gates lead to different destinations. Satan leads the world down one path, that is ultimately self-serving and destructive. But God has a different path, and we need to choose whether to follow the crowd or follow God.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.34, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1229, and Ulrich Luz Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.435 for more info.
Q: Does Mt 7:20 tell us how to show which religious group is the true religion?
A: Yes and no. In every religion there are people who claim to be of that religion, but do not follow what it says. There are many cultural Christians, cultural Muslims, cultural Hindus, etc. This passage says it is addressing individuals, especially false teachers. So, this verse is applicable to the founders of a cult or religion. See When Cultists Ask p.103 for a different answer.
Q: In Mt 7:21-23, how can some think themselves saved and yet still go to hell?
A: There is an important concept called "counterfeit conversion". People can not only fool others, they can also fool themselves. Nothing here indicates they had heretical teachings. But if the fruit of their faith and life donít line up with what the New Testament teaches, then they should examine their own faith, as Paul says to do in 2 Corinthians 13:6 says. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.878, the New International Bible Commentary p.1129, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1229-1230, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.34, and Ulrich Luz Matthew 1-7 : A Commentary p.442 for more info.
Q: In Mt 7:24-29, how does this apply to our lives?
A: Tony Evans give the illustration that he had a crack in his wall that he fixed many times, but it always came back. The problem was not the wall; no it was more serious. The problem was with the foundation. If there is a crack in our life, spiritually, that keeps coming back, perhaps donít look to the crack as the root cause. The root cause might be something wrong with the foundation. Technically this parable is not about two foundations; rather, it is where to build your foundation. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.878, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1230, The Expositorís Greek New Testament p.135-136, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.34,36 for more info.
Q: Does Mt 7:24-29 show that only those who recognize their alleged "inner divinity" can withstand the storms of life as Spangler and some other New Agers say?
A: No, see the answer on Matthew 6:33. In this passage there is no mention of our divinity; New Agers are reading that into the passage. Rather, the issue is whether our life (our house) is built upon Godís foundation or sand. See When Cultists Ask p.103 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:2, why did the leper phrase his question this way?
A: The leper had doubts about Jesusí ability to make him clean. The leper was unsure of Jesusí willingness to make him clean.
Leprosy is also a good metaphor for sin. It looks gross, spreads on the person, is infectious to others, and was humanly incurable.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1231 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:4, why was the leper to make the sacrifice as a testimony to the priests?
A: This would serve as a testimony to show the priests he was miraculously cleansed, and it also would be a testimony to the priests that Jesus was still upholding the law. Probably very few lepers went to the priest asking to be examined since they were healed now. The priest, if he were on the ball, might investigate who this healer was; however, there is no mention that the priest looked into this further. This might have been the reason why Jesus "tested the priest" by having him be the first to examine the man.
Another reason was that Jesus wanted restoration in the society for the man as well as physical healing. If the priest had heard second-hand that this man was "clean" despite not having gone to the priest like the Mosaic Law said, then out of spite the priest might have refused to pronounce him clean.
Later, some of the Pharisees became Christians, according to Acts 15:5. For all of their many faults, many of the Pharisees still had the virtues of taking Godís word seriously, and believing what God said about resurrection and afterlife.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1231, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.138, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.36-37 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:5-13 did the centurion come to Jesus himself, or did he send others as Lk 7:1-10 says?
A: There are two possible answers.
1) The centurion sent others ahead, and then came himself.
2) When the centurion "came", that does not necessarily mean he came in person. For example, when John 19:1 says that Pilate whipped Jesus, that does not mean Pilate did it with his own hands.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.174-175 and When Critics Ask p.334 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:10 and Lk 7:9, why did Jesus marvel at the centurion?
A: Jesus marveled at the comparison He observed. The centurion was not Jewish, and he had not been brought up in the Law all of his life, yet the centurion had more faith than many Jews. The centurion thought that Jesus could order about disease similar to how he ordered about his soldiers. Having faith is not simply based on your environment and upbringing. The centurion might have said he was undeserving either because of Jewish customs or, more likely, because he recognized Jesusí power and authority. The centurion might have been aware of the earlier healing in John 4:46-54 and that gave him hope and courage to approach Jesus.
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.731-732, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.139, the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1130, and the Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.878-879 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:12, does this refer to temporary punishment or eternal punishment?
A: The verse itself does not say. However, "weeping and gnashing of teeth" elsewhere refers to not only agony, but honor, privilege, and joy that is permanently lost, so this most likely refers to eternal punishment.
Q: In Mt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30 is Hell a place of darkness, or a place of fire in Rev 20:14; Mk 9:48?
A: Both. First a short answer, then a longer answer.
Short answer: This fire is no mere earthly fire, and God could make this fire however He wishes. God is describing to us something we have not ever seen on earth, and while we do not know how similar or different earthly fire is from Hellfire, it is similar enough for God to use this as a descriptive metaphor.
Long answer: Scientifically fire is bright because it emits light photons in the visible spectrum (red through violet). It feels hot because it radiates us with light photons in other parts of the spectrum too, mainly infrared from fire, while the sunlight through the atmosphere has more ultraviolet rays. How would you describe the something that just gives off mainly x-rays or gamma rays? This could fry something a whole lot quicker, but it would look dark to the visible eye. Leaving photons, a neutron star would have most of its energy emitted as neutrons which an atomic bomb gives off, but it would be dark if there were few photons. Now we do not know whether Hell is hot because of photons, neutrons, or something entirely else, but these earthly observations simply show there are many possibilities of what darkness and fire of Hell could be like.
See When Cultists Ask p.104-105 and When Critics Ask p.335 for other answers.
Q: In Mt 8:13, what is the significance of Jesusí phrasing here?
A: It is not recorded that Jesus said this to anyone else. The centurion had such great faith, that Jesus should say this and his daughter would be healed.
Q: In Mt 8:14 and 1 Cor 9:5, does Peter being married prove wrong the Catholic practice that priests cannot marry?
A: Speaking as a Protestant, this particular verse neither proves nor disproves this point. Peter was married before he became a disciple. In like manner, there have been married Episcopalian priests in the twentieth century who converted to Catholicism, and the Catholic church let them continue to be married Catholic priests and continue as before in their marriage.
Q: In Mt 8:15, what is interesting about the healing of the fever here?
A: Usually when someone gets over a fever, they are weak and need time to recover. Being sick from a fever was not uncommon, due to malaria. Peterís mother-in-law needed no time at all to recover before she started serving them.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.37, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1232, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.204, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.140-141, and the New International Bible Commentary p.1158-1159 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:17, does Isa 53:4 refer to suffering for us, or healing us?
A: Isaiah 53:4 could refer to both.
The Messiah will be hurt: As Isaiah 53:5 shows, this passage refers to the Messiah (the Suffering Servant) suffering for our sake. Similarly, Isaiah 53:6 says that the LORD laid upon the suffering servant our iniquity.
Godís people will be healed. Isaiah 53:5 as well as 53:4 show that a benefit of the Messiah will be our healing. Nothing in Isaiah 53 specifies this is only spiritual healing or physical healing. Certainly, God used the examples of physical healing to point beyond themselves to the greater importance of spiritual healing made possible through the cross.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.204-206 for a more extensive discussion.
Q: In Mt 8:20 and elsewhere, could Jesus be referring to someone besides Himself when He says, "Son of Man"?
A: No, Mark 14:41b shows that Jesus meant Himself. At the Garden of Gethsemane, right before His arrest, Jesus in Matthew 14:41b says, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough of that! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us go. Look! My betrayer is approaching!" (NET Bible). See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.209-213 for an extensive discussion of the term "son of man".
Q: In Mt 8:20 and elsewhere, why does Jesus often call Himself the Son of Man?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1) Jesus thought this term was very significant. Jesus used this phrase 32 times in Matthew, 14 times in Mark, 26 times in Luke and 12 in John.
2) While the title Son of God is used to emphasize Jesusí divinity, "Son of Man" emphasizes Jesusí full humanity too. But just as Son of Man implies Jesusí full humanity, Son of God emphasizes Jesusí full divinity.
3) Daniel 7:13-14 prophetically speaks of the Son of Man. Jesus probably wanted them to go back and read this passage. It says, "I was watching I the night visions, ĎAnd with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty. All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him. His authority is eternal and will not pass away. His kingdom will not be destroyed." (NET Bible)
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.322-324, When Critics Ask p.335-336, When Cultists Ask p.105-106 and the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1130-1131 for more extensive answers.
Q: In Mt 8:21-22, why did Jesus tell the man to let the dead bury their own dead?
A: Jesus was saying there were plenty of spiritually dead people around to bury the dead, and do not be tied up in things of no eternal significance. The problem was with the manís request, "Lord ... let me first".
There is no indication that the manís father had already died. The man might have been saying, wait until my elderly father dies, and maybe until he gets the inheritance, and then I will follow you. So the man wanted to follow Jesus, but he wanted to do it with his own timing. Jesus turned him down. In sharp contrast to this, when Matthew, the author of the gospel, was asked to follow Jesus, Matthew left immediately and followed Him in Matthew 9:9.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.324, When Critics Ask p.336, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1232-1333, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.38, the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1130 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.879 for more extensive answers.
Q: In Mt 8:24-25, how could Jesus sleep through this great storm?
A: The Greek word here, seismos, can refer to an earthquake, but here it refers to a violent "shaking" of the sea. Jesus had conquered human sicknesses, and He had no fear of natural elements either. There are two possibilities.
Natural: Jesus was tired after His preaching and slept very soundly. Back then they had no microphones or sound systems, so a public speaker had to speak very loudly. Remember also that Jesus had no anxiety about reaching the other side. If Jesus could normally sleep in a small boat, then He is simply sleeping when there are higher waves and wind.
Supernatural: If the storm were so great that nobody could sleep through it, then perhaps the Father had Jesus be in a very deep sleep to test the discipleís faith in God keeping Jesus safe.
See the Evangelical Bible Commentary p.732 and The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.143 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:24-27, what can we apply from this to our lives?
A: Everyone has storms, some so serious they could swamp our boat. However, Jesusí view of the storm, and our view of a storm might be radically different. The disciples were fishermen, and they knew that fishermen could die in storms like this. As Matthew henry says, Jesus did not chide them for waking Him to ask for help, but rather for their fears and lack of faith. The disciples did not realize that they should have no fear that their boat would sink, with Jesus in it. The disciples had faith, but they did not have a faith they could rely on. The storm was genuinely fierce, but the thing to do was have Jesus quell the storm. We can have storms in our life that not only appear to be fierce, but really are fierce. We need to ask Jesus to quell the storm.
Jesus had two rebukes here: one for the wind and waves, and one for the disciples for their little faith. It is as if they did not fully realize, or really remember, who was in the boat with them. Perhaps we need to repent when we forget who is in the boat of our life with us. One good thing about trials in our life, is that they introduce us anew to a better understanding of who Jesus is.
Finally, when the wind stops, the water is still very choppy for a while. But the disciples were astonished because Matthew 8:26 says not only the wind but also the waves were calm. A boat would not be safe until the waves were calm, so God made the waves calm too.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.38-39, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.215, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1233, and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.880 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:28, were there two demon-possessed men in the country of the Gergesenes, or just one according to Mk 5:1-4; Lk 8:26-33?
A: While there possibly could be two different events, it is more likely it was the same event, and there was a scribal error in Matthew. Papias, a disciple of John the apostle, wrote that Matthew originally wrote his Gospel in Hebrew/Aramaic. When Critics Ask p.337 adds that if there two men, then both accounts are correct, because There is a very fundamental mathematical law ... - wherever there are two, there is always one. There are no exceptions!" We would have a problem if Mark and Luke said there was only one man, but the word "only" is not there.
Q: In Mt 8:28, exactly what town was near the demon-possessed man?
A: It would either be in Gadara or Gerasa. The difficulty is that there were three towns with rather similar names. On top of that, if this was transcribed from Hebrew, the Hebrew letters for "r" and "d" are very similar.
Gergesenes (of Gergesa), modern Khersa, is town named in the majority of manuscripts. It is on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and the hills slope suddenly to the sea.
Gadarenes (of Gadara), modern Um Qeis, was only 5 to 8 miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee, and the "land of the Gadarenes" did reach the Sea of Galilee as proved by Josephus mentioning this and a coin of Gadara showing a ship. Vaticanus, the text of Ephraem Rescriptus, and some copies of the Diatessaron have this town.
X Gerasenes (of Gerasa) (modern day Jerash) it is about 30 miles from the Sea of Galilee so it would not be that town. This name is only in Italic manuscripts, the Vulgate, the margin (not the text) of the Harclean Syriac, and Sahidic Coptic.
X Gersa in Gilead is 20 miles east of the Jordan River
X Gaxarenes is not a town that existed. This obvious misspelling is only in the original Siniaticus, and a later scribe corrected it in the Sinaiticus manuscript to Gergasenes.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.324-326, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.373, When Critics Ask p.336-337, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.122, Aland et al.ís The Greek New Testament p.29, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.144-145, and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.219-220 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:28-29, what can we see from this in our lives?
A: First of all, the tombs should be a quiet place, with nothing living around there. But in the realm of the dead is where demons operate. The demoniacs should not have been there; they should have lived with everyone else. We donít know why they were there; because they chose to avoid people, because people drove them out, to do grave robbing, to rob or kill those who came, or some other reason. But it would be surprising for someone to pay respects to the grave of someone and then, all of a sudden, these two demon-possessed men show up.
In our life and the lives of others around us, there might be dead things in our past that should not be revisited, brought up, or even voluntarily remembered. But suddenly, for whatever reason, something that should no longer be there shows up anyway. We should be firm that this cannot be; that has to be cast out, in the Name of Jesus. We are a new creation; part of that means what is old and sinful needs to die, - and stay dead.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.880 for more info.
Q: In Mt 8:29, what did the demons mean by "torment us before the time"?
A: The demons knew they would be sent to the abyss (Jude 6; Revelation 20:1-2) and later to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15).
Q: In Mt 8:32, why did Jesus grant the demonsí request to go into the pigs?
A: Scripture does not say. But it seems that it did not do the demons any good to go into pigs that drowned right away. It is interesting that the townspeople were more concerned about the 2,000 pigs that drowned than the two demoniac people. The value financial loss more than spiritual gain. See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1233, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.219, and the Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.880 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:1, Mk 6:45, and Jn 6:17, why did Jesus spend time here in Capernaum, which Luke calls "his own city"?
A: Remember, the people of Nazareth (about 20 miles away) had tried to kill Jesus in Luke 4:29-31, and the Gergesenes specifically asked Jesus to leave after 2,000 pigs were drowned, so Jesus made Capernaum is home. It is very likely the modern Tell Hum about 2.5 miles southwest of where the Jordan River enters the Sea of Galilee, on the northwest shore. Simon Peter, Andrew, and Philip were all originally from Bethsaida as was Philip (John 1:44, 12:21), which was very close by. As adults they worked in the lakeside town of Capernaum, along with James, John, and Matthew (Mark 1:29). See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.66,226,310 and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1234 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:2-6, what would be considered wrong with Jesus forgiving sins?
A: People sinned against God, and they correctly reasoned Jesus would have to be God to forgive sins against God. Notice that Jesus did not say "God authorized or approved me to say that your sins forgiven". Rather, Jesus simply pronounced, "your sins are forgiven". While the Jews were supposed to be expecting a Messiah, they would not expect the Messiah himself to forgive sins. Both forgiving sins and healing diseases are pointed out in Psalm 103:3, but both are specifically the LORDís job.
Naturally speaking telling the man "your sins are forgiven" would be just as ridiculous as commanding a crippled man to walk.
See the New International Bible Commentary p.1131, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.732, Believerís Bible Commentary p.1234, and The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.148 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:9 (KJV), what does "receipt of custom" mean?
A: It means collecting taxes.
Q: In Mt 9:9-10 what is the background on Matthew and his friends?
A: Matthew (meaning gift of God or possibly faithful) is the same person known as Levi in Mark. Both are Hebrew names. This was outside of Capernaum, where a Roman garrison was. A tax collector there would need to be fluent in both Aramaic and Greek, though Latin would also help. We donít know the for sure main language spoken at the banquet, or even if Aramaic was spoken hardly at all. Regardless, no Pharisees or self-respecting Jews would be seen there, eating with "sinners".
The tax collectors were despised because they collected taxes for the Roman occupiers. Also, they were expected to charge more than the government required and keep the difference. There would be so much opportunity to charge even more and take advantage of others, it would be a hard temptation to resist.
Since there were a lot of guests, perhaps Matthewís house was large, or the dinner might have been in an outdoor courtyard of the house. Probably at the dinner the guests were invited to become disciples too. (Jesus had a lot of disciples besides the inner circle of the twelve.) As the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1234 says of Matthew "He lost a comfortable job, but he found a destiny. He lost a good income but he found honor. He lost a comfortable security, but he found an adventure the like of which he had never dreamed." Imagine if Matthew had said "no" when Jesus had asked him. Matthew would not have been an apostle, would not have written the gospel, and instead would just have lived out his days as a purposeless, fairly well-off but despised and later forgotten anonymous man.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.39, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.223-224, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.150-151, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.733 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:12, what did Jesus mean that only the sick need a physician?
A: All are sick, but only those that realize they are sick seek out a doctor. So, in one sense the charge they accused Jesus of was absolutely true. But by eating with the Pharisees, or with anyone else for that matter, Jesus would eat with sinners too! Since Jesus had just proved that He could forgive the sins of the paralytic, Jesus could forgive sins of tax collectors too. If someone says they donít want to go to church because it is filled with people who are imperfect and sin, tell that that should not stop them, because the church always has room for one more! See Believerís Bible Commentary p.1234-1235 and The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.152 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:13, why did Jesus mention God desiring mercy and not sacrifice?
A: Jesus is referring to Hosea 6:6. While God commanded sacrifice as well as to be merciful, God was more interested in us having a heart of mercy than sacrifice. Just as in Hoseaís time, some religious people in Jesusí time cared less for others and were more concerned with being with the "right kind" of people. Jesus was concerned for the lost tax collectors and sinners and rebuked them for not recognizing that all are sinners before God, and they had no reason to feel themselves better than other sinners. The scribes and Pharisees showed their heart because they never accused Jesus of being a tax collector or sinner, but of associating with them. See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.118-119 and The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.152 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:14, why did the disciples not fast?
A: Jesus did not say his disciples would never fast, but rather they did not need to fast while Jesus was still with them in the flesh. For the proper purposes of fasting, see the discussion on Matthew 6:16-18. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.226-227 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:16-17 and Mk 2:21-22, what is the point of the analogies of the clothes and the wineskins?
A: Even in the natural world one cannot always gradually ease into something new. Sometimes you need to "break the mold", shift paradigms, or have a new beginning. Jesus was saying here to accept His teaching, the break was so radical, you have to be born again (John 3:5-7) and become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:16-17). See also the discussion on Mk 2:21-22.
Unfortunately, in ancient times people Paul spoke against in Galatians, called Judaizers, were trying exactly that; to mix grace and Jesusí teachings with the law and Old Testament commands. In a different way, some Seventh Day Adventists do that too.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.227, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.40, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.153, and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1235-1236 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:20, what is special about the hem of a garment?
A: It was probably tassels on the edge of the garment. These might have been thought a more holy part of a garment because tassels with a blue thread in the middle were commanded in Numbers 15:38f; Deuteronomy 22:12.
The lady seemed very secretive about this. According to Leviticus 15:19-33, her continual flow of blood would have made her unclean, so she should not have mingled in the crowd in close quarters to get to Jesus in the first place.
See the New International Bible Commentary p.1131, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.154, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.733 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:20-22, Mk 5:27-34, and Lk 8:43-49, why did Jesus publicly call out the woman with the flow of blood?
A: Physical healing was not the reason Jesus came to earth. Jesus was more concerned about the womanís faith than just the physical malady. As one pastor quipped about this public miracle, "At the end of our rope is the hem of Jesusí robe."
Q: In Mt 9:20-22 and Mk 5:27-34 does the amount of faith we have determine whether our prayers are answered?
A: It is a factor. For prayers that are in Godís will, we need to have faith when we pray. James 1:6-7 says that we must ask without doubting because a double-minded person will not get what he or she is asking for. However, if we believe, but still have some doubts, we can ask, while still honestly acknowledging our unbelief as the man did in Mark 9:24, and God will honor our prayer. It is also nice to know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in prayer in Romans 8:26-27.
Of course, even if we ask something with more faith than anyone has ever asked for anything before, and it is not Godís desire to give it to us, then God will not, as James 4:3 shows. This is a piece of a large question: when does God answer prayer, and when does scripture say He does not. See the discussion on Matthew 7:7-11 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.419-421 for more info.
See the Gospels section for questions on Jairusí daughter.
Q: In Mt 9:23-26, why have professional mourners?
A: Paid mourners were common, so that you would have time to attend to all the guests for the funeral. According to M Ketuboth 4:4 even a poor family would have to pay for two flute players and one professional wailing woman. Some have called this "synthetic grief". Dying is big business, then and now. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.231 and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1236 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:28-31, why did these two blind men, who had the faith to believe in Jesus, not have the obedience to refrain from broadcasting this to others?
A: This is an interesting issue. These blind men "saw" that Jesus was the Son of David, i.e., the Messiah, better than most of those with sight. These men had the faith to turn to Jesus when there was no other alternative. Yet, though they turned to Jesus in faith for the big things, they did not obey Him on this small thing. Perhaps they thought that broadcasting this at this time would be helpful, and they presumptuously thought they knew more about what was helpful than Jesus did.
Here is the interesting but sad situation of spiritually discerning people, who had great faith in Jesus, then choosing to directly disobey Jesus. Wisdom and faith are not good for much without obedience. Yes, they received their vision, but Jesus did not receive obedient servants here.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1236-1237 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.232-233 for more info.
Q: In Mt 9:38, should we pray for more workers for the harvest today?
A: Yes, this is an often-neglected prayer. We pray for the harvest, that is for people to come to Christ and become His disciples, but we should also pray for more harvesters that God would use to evangelize Christians, because Jesus says the laborers will be few, meaning too few. Sometimes when times are rough and economic conditions are hard, even those who pastor and work in the mission field can feel discouraged and want to leave. Workers are sent out by God, but they should stay sent out until God calls them to do something else. See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1237 for more info.
Q: In Mt 10:1, could the disciples heal before this?
A: Regardless of if they did heal some diseases before this, here Jesus was giving them the power over every disease. By the way, Matthew 10:2 is the first time they are called apostles.
Q: In Mt 10:3 (KJV), who is "Lebbaeus"?
A: This is the same as Thaddeus.
Q: In Mt 10:4 and Mk 3:18, how could Simon the Cananaean be one of Jesusí disciples, since Simon [allegedly] was not a Jew?
A: The KJV and NKJV say "Canaanite", with the NKJV having a footnote saying the majority text is "Cananaean". The NASB and NRSV say "Canaanean".
Whether Simon was not at all a Jew or partly Jewish is not the point. Jesus could call disciples from any nationality. As a side note, many from the Gentile towns of Tyre and Sidon came to see Jesus in Mark 3:8. Tyre was about 35 miles from the Sea of Galilee, and Sidon was 25 miles from Tyre.
However, the Greek word Kananaios could be a transliteration of the Aramaic qanían which means zealot. Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13 call him "Simon the Zealot". The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 8 p.237,239 and Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.840, and The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.158 say the same. But this brings up an interesting point. If one of Jesusí disciples used to be a zealot, and another, Matthew, a tax collector, they would have been diametrically opposite politically, at least before coming to Christ. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.734 for more on this.
Q: In Mt 10:4; Mk 3:19; Lk 6:16; Jn 6:71, what does "Iscariot" mean?
A: Judasí father is named Simon in John 6:71 and 13:26, so it is not his fatherís name. There are two views of what Iscariot meant.
1. Iscariot could mean "man of the dagger".
2. It could mean man (ish) from Kerioth, which was the name of two towns in Judah. See various sources, including the Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land p.212 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.239 for more info.
Q: In Mt 10:5-6, why did Jesus explicitly command His disciples not to go into the Samaritan villages?
A: This was a matter of timing, as Jesus explicitly did command them to go into Samaria in Acts 1:8.
Jesus was sent first to Israel, and then to the rest of the world. The apostles first went to Judea, then Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. When Paul went to a new town, he too followed the pattern of preaching first at the synagogue. In many things today there might be timing that God wants us to follow, too.
Q: In Mt 10:5-6 what of the Ahmadiyya Muslim claim that they will pay $20,000 to anyone who can find proof that Jesus came for all people and not just the Jews?
A: The Bible, from the Old Testament to Revelation, is consistent that Jesus is the Savior for all people, not just the Jews. Imagine for a second that Jesusí message was not for the Gentiles. Then would you have tell all of the half million or so Christians for the first three centuries after Christ, "you are not supposed to follow Jesusí teaching; God wants you to go back to worship your pagan idols!" Ė of course not, that is silly! Ė as is this question. But letís examine it in detail anyway.
On one hand we can distinguish between Jesusí ministry prior to His crucifixion, Jesusí message, and Jesus after His resurrection. But in all three cases, Jesus was not just for the Jews. During His earthly ministry Jesus Himself went primarily (but not exclusively) to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24). He announced His salvation first primarily to the Jews. But also:
a) The Old Testament prophesied Jesus was for all people.
b) Jesus went to the Samaritans, who were half-Jews
c) Jesus was for Gentiles (non-Jews) too, He even traveled to see Gentiles outside of Israel.
d) Jesus said His message was for all, not just the Jewish nation.
e) Jesus never said His gospel was limited to Jews.
f) Finally Jesus apostles would be in the best position to understand what Jesus taught.
Here is the evidence.
a) God in the Old Testament said the Messiah was for all people
Isaiah 9:1-7 is a famous Messianic prophecy. In Isaiah 9:1b it says, "but now he brings honor to the way of the sea, the region beyond the Jordan and Galilee of the nations."
Isaiah 42:1-9 is a messianic prophecy. Isaiah 42:6 says, "I, the LORD, officially commission you; I take hold of your hand. I protect you and make you a covenant mediator for people, and a light to the nations [Gentiles], to open blind eyes, to release prisoners from dungeons, those who live in darkness from prison."
Isaiah 49:1-7 is Messianic too, but look especially at Isaiah 49:6 "he says, ĎIs it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant, to reestablish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of Israel? I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth."
b) Jesus went to half-Jewish Samaritans
In John 4:1-42 Jesus preached not only to the woman at the well, but the other Samaritan villagers too. The Samaritans asked Jesus to stay with them, so Jesus stayed with them two days. "and because of his word many more believed. They said to the woman, Ďno longer do we believe because of your words, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this one really is the Savior of the world.í"
But Luke 17:11-18 shows that Samaritans were still considered foreigners and not Jews.
c) Jesus traveled to Gentiles east and north of Israel
Mark 7:24-30 Jesus traveled to the region of Tyre (north of Israel in Phoenicia) and healed the daughter of a woman. Now the woman was not a Jewish woman living outside of Israel. Rather, the text explicitly says she was Greek, of Syro-Phoenician origin. Since the claim was Jesus was only for Jews, and not just primarily for Jews, this one case alone disproves the "only" claim.
Matthew 9:28-34 Jesus healed the Gadarene demoniacs. The land of the Gadarenes was on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, in the non-Jewish Greek-speaking, pig-raising region called the Decapolis. See also Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39. Just like the Syro-Phoenician woman, these were not non-Jews who happened to be present also. Jesus deliberately traveled outside of Israel to preach and give His message of salvation to these non-Jews.
Mark 7:31-37 Jesus publicly did a miracle in the Decapolis, which is Greek for "ten cities. It was a region of Greek settlers in modern-day Syria and Jordan; no part of the Decapolis was in Israel.
Mark 8:1-10 After Jesus fed the crowd of five thousand in Israel, Jesus later crossed the Sea of Galilee, east to the Gentile side, and fed the four thousand. This also was in the Decapolis, ten cities of Greek colonists.
d) Jesusí gospel for was for all nations
Jesus told His disciples to spread His message to "all nations", not just the Jewish nation.
Luke 24:45-47 "Then he [Jesus] opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures, and said to them, ĎThus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." This does not just say "in all nations", but rather "to all nations".
Matthew 28:18-20 "Then Jesus came up and said to them, ĎAll authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.í" This does not just say "make disciples in all nations" but rather "make disciples of all nations".
Matthew 8:11-12 After Jesus healed the centurionís servant Jesus said, "I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.". See also Luke 7:1-10 for the centurionís servant and Luke 13:28-30 for others sharing in the banquet. Jesus is NOT just saying that Jewish people will come from other lands, because the sons of the kingdom are the Jews, and the non-sons from east and west will come.
Mark 3:7b-8 "And from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan River, and around Tyre and Sidon a great multitude came to him when they heard about the things he had done." If someone tried to say that it had to be only Jews from these places that came, (or else the "only" argument falls), Jesus preaching His message to the Greek Syro-Phoenician woman in Tyre disproves that.
Luke 2:32 When Jesus was an infant, the prophet Simeon prophesied of Jesus that he would be "a light, for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." While the last clause shows that Jesus was for the Jews also, the underlined clause shows Jesus was a "revelation" to the Gentiles, and Gentiles are non-Jews.
Luke 3:14 Roman soldiers asked Jesus what they should do, and Jesus told them. Why would Jesus command these non-Jewish occupiers what to do if He was not for them.
John 1:4 "In him [the Word] was life, and the life was the light of mankind." John could have used the word "Jews" here, but he did not; John used the word "mankind".
John 1:9-12 "The true light, who gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. But to all who have received him Ė those who believe in his name Ė he has given the right to become Godís children."
John 1:29 "On the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ĎLook, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John could have said "takes away the sins of the Jews, but he said, "takes away the sin of the world."
John 3:15b-17 "so that everyone who believes in him [the Son of Man] may have eternal life. For this is the way God loved the world: He gave is one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him."
e) Jesus showed His gospel was not just for Jews
It must be understood that at first Jesus said wait in Jerusalem, but then said to go out to the world.
Acts 1:4-5 "While he [Jesus] was with them, he declared, ĎDo not leave Jerusalem, but wait there for what my Father promised, which you heard about from me. For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." But then in Acts 1:8 Jesus said, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth."
Matthew 25:31-46: When Jesus returns in glory, all the nations will assemble before Him, and Jesus will separate the people into the sheep and the goats. The sheep metaphorically fed, gave drink, invited, and clothed Jesus, while goats metaphorically did not.
In John 5:22-23 Jesus is speaking. "Furthermore, the Father does not judge anyone, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him."
Matthew 21:43: Jesus said, "For this reason I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit."
Matthew 12:50: Jesus said, "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." See also Mark 3:34-35. Jesus did not say "the Jews who do the will of my Father", but "whoever does the will of my Father"
Matthew 16:25 "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
John 8:12a "I [Jesus] am the light of the world." Did Jesus make a false claim by saying He was the light of the world, if He was only a light for the Jews? No, Jesus did not mislead us!
John 10:16 Jesus said, "I have other sheep that do not come from this sheepfold. I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd."
John 12:32 "íAnd I [Jesus], when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.í (12:33) (Now he said this to indicate clearly what kind of death he was going to die.)" Did Jesus then say, "Just kidding! I am only going to draw the Jews"? Ė of course not.
John 12:46 "I [Jesus] have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness." Just how many times does Jesus have to repeat that His light or His message is for everyone, before we start to take seriously that it is for everyone?
John 14:6 "Jesus replied, ĎI am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." How many other ways did God make for people to come to Him, apart from Jesus. By the way, Christians say that godly people prior to Christ went to paradise too through Jesus. Though they did not know what we know about Jesus, they looked forward to the coming Messiah, having animal sacrifices that temporarily covered over their sins, while we look backward to the Messiah, who by His sacrifice permanently atoned for our sins.
John 17:20 "I [Jesus] am not praying only on their [the disciplesí] behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony." So, if a non-Jew believed in the testimony of the apostles, (as all Christians have), then they are included in those Jesus is praying for. While it is true that many Jews were among the first Christians, from the time of Stephen the martyr on, more and more non-Jews became Christians too.
John 18:37 Jesus is speaking "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Listening, or not listening, to Jesus voice, His message, His gospel is very serious. Jesus did not say, "only the Jews who belong to the truth listen to my voice, the Gentiles who belong to the truth will not hear me." No, Jesus said that "everyone" who belongs to the truth listens to His voice.
f) What Jesusí disciples said about His ministry
Peter said in Acts 4:12 "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved." While it is true Peter was speaking to Jewish people, Peter told them there is no other name 1) under heaven), 2) given among people.
1 John 2:1b-2 "Jesus Christ the Righteous one, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world."
Why did John the apostle go to Asia Minor, Thomas go east, probably as far as India, Andrew go to Scythia, and other apostles go other places, to share the gospel with non-Jews. They, of all people, would know whom Jesus wanted His message preached to, and they preached the message throughout the world.
It is not right to fail to read, or otherwise ignore, all of these verses, given at different times, and look only at a single verse given for a specific time period. You cannot use Matthew 15:24 that Jesus, the light of the world, was only to the lost sheep of Israel at that time in Jesusí ministry any more than you can use Matthew 16:20 "Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ." (Christ means Messiah). Jesus meant they should not tell anyone He was the Christ AT THAT TIME, because later He told them to go out into all the world, and that is what they understood. Likewise, Jesus was sent primarily to the lost sheep of Israel AT THAT TIME (prior to his crucifixion), and He not only went to some Gentiles then, but told the disciples to spread His message throughout the world.
The evidence that Jesus came for all people is consistent, cumulative, and overwhelming. By any legal standard (preponderance of the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, etc.), the testimony of the Bible and history proves that Jesus came for all peoples. Only a biased judge or jury could find otherwise.
All quotes are from the NET Bible. See When Critics Ask p.339 for more info.
Q: In Mt 10:5-6; 15:24-26, was Jesus a racist who came only for the Jews? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat claimed this.)
A: Not at all, as we can see reading these 24 passages. Matthew 2:1; 3:9-10; 4:15-16; 5:13-16; 8:1-13; 8:18-28; 10:18; 21:43; 24:14; 25:31-46; 28:16-20; Mark 7:24-30; 7:31-37; 8:1-10 (east side of the Sea of Galilee); Luke 8:22-33; 24:45-47; John 1:9,29; 3:17; 10:16; 12:46; 14:6; 17:20; 18:27; Acts 1:7-8. However, Jesus had a sense of timing.
Prior to His Resurrection, Jesus announced the gospel to Godís people, the Jews, first. Even in Acts 1:8, Jesus gave the order of being His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. Nevertheless, prior to Jesusí death and resurrection, not only did Jesus minister to the Syro-Phoenician woman in Matthew 15:24-26, but he ministered to the Samaritans in John 4:1-42, as well as those Gentiles east of the Sea of Galilee.
After His Resurrection in Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." The message was re-emphasized by God in Acts 10.
As a side note, Ahmadiyya Muslims also have claims that Jesus came only for Jewish people.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.244-245 for more info.
Q: In Mt 10:10, Mk 6:8, Lk 9:3, 22:35,36, and 1 Sam 17:40 (KJV), what is a "scrip"?
A: This King James Version expression means a bag or purse, usually containing money.
Q: In Mt 10:12 (KJV), what does "salute a house" mean?
A: This King James Version expression means to ask Godís blessing on the house and those in it.
Q: In Mt 10:13, what does this mean of the disciplesí blessing setting on a house or else returning to them?
A: The "house" here refers to those residing in the house. They were not to worry about "accidentally" blessing someone who do not really welcome them. The blessing comes from God, not any magic of their words.
Q: In Mt 10:14 and Mk 6:11, why were the disciples to shake the dust off their feet at those that would not welcome them?
A: This was a testimony against them. That is, the inhospitable people might reconsider their ways after seeing this rebuke. Also, it would be a testimony to God against those who rejected His message.
Q: Do Mt 10:14 and Mk 6:11 mean that we should never debate with anyone but just leave?
A: No for a number of reasons: you have look at all of the special commissioning at this time for the twelve, and it does not say to leave if someone opposes them. Rather, to shake the dust off their feet as a sign WHEN they leave if no one welcomes them. Finally, the apostles Peter and Paul debated others, and Apollos, a non-apostle debated too.
Special Commissioning At This Time:
Matthew 10:5-20 is probably the same event as Mark 6:11, and you have to look at the entire passages, not just part of one verse. The twelve disciples were not to take a staff, any money, and stay in someone elseís house. This is not the pattern for all evangelism after that. The fact that they were not to stay in one place and discuss and debate (unlike as Paul later did at the Hall of Tyrannus in Acts 19:9-10) is reasonable as they were initially spreading the message.
Even then they were not to leave if someone opposes them. Rather, they were to stay in someoneís house who would welcome them. If no one in the town would welcome them, then they would leave, shaking the dust off of their feet.
Shake the Dust Off WHEN They Leave
The Greek here does not actually tell them to leave. Rather it says to shake the dust of their feet WHEN they leave. Both they, future Christians, and us, would have situations where in the same place some people opposed them and others supported them. In 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 Paul says, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)
Jesus disputing with others
Jesus disputed with the Pharisees using questions in Matthew 22:41-46 and other places.
Then Jesus changed and used heavy, heavy rebuke in Matthew 23:1-37.
Jesus told the Pharisees they could commit the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in Matthew 12:22-33.
Jesus used named calling! He called those Jews "a wicked an adulterous generation" in Matthew 12:39-41. He called the people opposing Him "sons of Hell" in Mathew 23:15.
Jesus explicitly told the Sadducees they were in error because they did not know the scriptures or the power of God in Matthew 22:29-32.
Peter, Paul, Stephen, and Apollos debated with others
Besides Jesus, Paul was proving that Jesus was the Christ in Antioch in Acts 9:19-25. He was having both success and opposition. He did not leave until the Jews tried to kill him.
When Elymas opposed Paul in Acts 13:8-12, Paul rebuked him, and Paul did not leave.
When there was a riot in Ephesus against Paul, Paul wanted to speak with them in Acts 19:30.
In Jerusalem, Paul spoke to the hostile crowd in Acts 22:2-22.
Peter debated with non-believers in Acts, and Paul even more frequently debated with non-believers. Lest someone say this was only what apostles should do, Apollos was not an apostle, and he debated. However, it is not correct to assume that every single believer is equipped to debate with others.
Early Pre-Nicene Christians
The early pre-Nicene Christians, whom God used to transform the Roman world, used persuasion and argument extensively in their witnessing. They ranged from a friendly and lengthy dialogue between Justin Martyr and Trypho the Jew, to others such as Aristides, Theophilus of Antioch, Epistle to Diognetus, and Tertullian, detailing the alleged shameful acts of Greco-Roman deities, to Irenaeus and Hippolytus extensively refuting all the many varied schools of Gnosticism. Arnobius used very humorous ridicule of Greco-Roman paganism. Lactantius showed why Greek philosophy was wrong. You can see a list at
www.BibleQuery.org/History/ChurchHistory/WhatEarlyChristiansTaught.html. Search starting at "r1" in lower case.
Finally, if you disagree with me and others who live in the same city, and you still think you should not persuade or discuss with people who disagree with you but instead leave the city, I can call a moving truck for you if you want. ;-)
Seriously, this actually raises two good questions: how did Jesus and early Christians dispute with people who disagree with them, and at what point should we stop disputing and leave? The next two questions address those topics.
Q: In Mt 10:14 and Mk 6:11 when should we stop debating with a non-Christian and just leave?
A: There are at least three considerations.
If your life, the lives of your family, or the lives of other Christians are in immediate danger because of your presence, you might want to consider if God wants you to leave. Paul fled Antioch when they tried to kill him, and Christians fled frequently when they were persecuted. On one hand, we should be willing to die for Christ, but on the other hand God might want us to live a while longer to share the gospel more, and our fleeing might be the chosen means God has for preserving us.
Diminishing Return vs. Other Opportunities
I have reached the point where I am not able to put all the time I possibly could into witnessing as much as possible to every person who emails me, and still have time to sleep, be with my family, and regular work. With some people, I may give them only quick answers, or decline some ministry opportunities, in order to have time to do things that I think are more important for me to do. Once Paul went to a town, and some people had accepted Christ. Paul could have chosen to do a good thing and spend the rest of his life in that one town trying to convert everybody else there. But instead, Paul moved on to other towns. Don't let doing good things keep you from doing great things.
On the other hand, I have continued disputing with people in cults whom I had extremely little hope that they would repent. I did this because there were other non-Christians there and I wanted them to be warned not to join.
If your disputing or preaching would be harmful or close people's ears
I hesitate to mention this because most people have the opposite problem, not being bold enough in preaching the Gospel. Jesus said to pray for more workers for the harvest, and Paul in Philippians 1:14 was glad his sufferings encouraged other believers to preach more courageously and fearlessly. Furthermore, 2 Corinthians 2:15 says that (if we are doing things right) we WILL smell of the aroma of death to those who are perishing. The Gospel is offensive, and if our words never offend, we are not doing our job. However, as offensive as the gospel is to some, we are not to add to the offense. We are to speak the truth in love in Ephesians 4:15. Especially in modern culture, we can speak the truth in an obnoxious or insensitive way and turn people off unnecessarily. We can share the gospel so frequently to the same people, that our nagging can be annoying. We donít want to add to the offense of the gospel, but we donít want to take away any of the offense of the gospel either.
Q: In Mt 10:14-15, 40-42, why did Jesus teach that receiving a righteous person was so important?
A: Receiving a righteous person entailed many things. It not only meant welcoming him, but giving the righteous person help, aid, and in the coming decades, shelter from pursuing authorities. Receiving a righteous person also implied accepting his teaching, and being willing to learn from him. It also would entail letting him have a platform to teach others.
Q: In Mt 10:15, why will it be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for those who did not welcome the disciples into their homes?
A: Scripture does not say, but God judges people based on what they were able to know (Romans 4:15; 5:13). While the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were very wicked, they knew very little of God. People who are not as wicked but know a great deal about God, but still reject Godís disciples, will have to face serious judgment.
Q: In Mt 10:16, how are they (and we) to be wise as serpents yet innocent as doves?
A: Very simply, we are to be aware of the schemes and potential traps that others could do, but we are never to do evil schemes ourselves.
Q: In Mt 10:19, how does the Holy Spirit give Christians the words to say when they are under persecution?
A: Whether a Christian is under persecution at a particular time or not, sometimes the Holy Spirit just pops into a personís mind the words to say. Secondarily, God can have you see or hear everyday things around you that relate to the message you are to give. For example, right before speaking to the Athenians, Paul saw many idols, plus an altar to an unknown god. Also, we are reminded of truth through our reading of the Bible. Even if a Christian knew every story and every teaching in the Bible perfectly, it would still be important to read the Bible to be reminded of truth.
Q: In Mt 10:19-20, when the Holy Spirit is giving Christians the words to say, does that mean that at that time, the words are inerrant (with no error), or infallible (without significant theological error)?
A: Unless the Holy Spirit were giving exact words, and it could be certain that the person heard the words without error, then it is possible that an obedient Christian can still speak with error.
Q: In Mt 10:21-22, 35-36, why would members of a Christian household rise up against a Christian?
A: It is evil that family members of a worshipper of God would rise up against him or her. I have been told of an Algerian boy who converted from Islam to Christianity. When he refused to recant, his own mother put rat poison in his food.
Q: In Mt 10:23, why did Jesus tell Christians to flee persecution, since God is protecting them?
A: God can protect us any way He wishes, and one way to protect us is telling us when to flee.
On one hand, there is no shame in fleeing, as many Christians did after Stephen was stoned in Acts 8:1-8. On the other hand, there are times when God does not want us to flee but to stand and suffer for Him. At different times, both Jesus and Paul deliberately went to Jerusalem, knowing what awaited them there.
Q: In Mt 10:23, did Jesusí coming never materialize since He would come before they went over all the cities of Israel? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)
A: No, because in their fleeing they would not flee through every city in Israel before Jesus came, and they never fled through every city of Israel. This future event will most likely happen during the tribulation.
Q: In Mt 10:23, what does this mean that Jesus will come before they finish going through all the towns of Israel?
A: First what is not the answer, then some facts, and finally the answer.
Not the answer: It says that Jesus will "come" so it cannot refer to His ascension where Jesus went away. Some think it refers to Jesusí coming judgment of the destruction of Jerusalem, but nothing about a temple is mentioned here.
Some facts: We have no evidence of the disciples suffering persecution before Jesus was crucified. While the destruction of the temple was in 70 A.D., if Jesus came secretly and invisibly then, nobody in the early church had a clue about that. In fact after 70 A.D., around 14 early Christians wrote of Christís return as a future event.
Two points in the answer: First, Jesus is not talking about preaching the gospel in Matthew 10:21-22, but going from town to town to flee persecution. So, running from persecution "starts the clock" so to speak. At that time Christians will not run out of towns to flee to before Christ returns. This will be in the future, likely during the tribulation.
Second, regardless of when this occurs, there is no evidence that the apostles were able to go through every town in Israel, so this has not happened yet.
See When Critics Ask p.339-340 for more info.
Q: In Mt 10:23 will the gospel be preached in every town, or will it not be preached in Mt 24:14?
A: It is important to read verses carefully to not misunderstand what they are saying. Matthew 24:14 says the gospel will be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations. That does not mean every individual is forced to listen; but with TV, radio, and the internet, the gospel today has been preached to almost the whole world, except for perhaps some isolated tribal areas.
Matthew 10:23 is silent on whether every town in Israel will be preached to or not. Rather, it is speaking of fleeing persecution, and a Christian will not run out of towns in Israel to flee to before Christ returns.
Q: In Mt 10:25, Mk 3:22, and Lk 11:15-19, who is "Beelzebub"?
A: This is the name of a demon that was known by that name to the Jews. "Beelzebub" came from Baal which means Lord and zebub which means "flies".
Q: In Mt 10:26, what does it mean that nothing is hidden that will not be revealed?
A: In the end everything will be revealed. Specifically, in the Last judgment, God will judge every action (Revelation 20:13), every idle word (Matthew 12:36-37), and even know all our thoughts (Psalm 139:2,4).
Q: In Mt 10:28, is it God or Satan who should be feared for destroying both body and soul in Hell?
A: This passage refers to God.
Q: In Mt 10:28, how are physical bodies destroyed in Hell?
A: The Greek word here is Gehenna, which refers to Hell, but that word also refers to a large trash heap just south of Jerusalem. Regardless of where a wicked personís first body is destroyed, their resurrection body goes to the Lake of Fire and is destroyed because they refuse to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Q: In Mt 10:33, if a Christian in a moment of weakness denied Christ before men, would that Christian be denied by Jesus and go to Hell?
A: Peter did that, but Peter was forgiven. Denying Christ and repenting is not an unforgivable sin, because no sin is unforgivable, except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31,32; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10-11).
Q: In Mt 10:34, how did Jesus, the prince of peace, come not to bring peace but a sword?
A: Jesus did not wield a sword at anyone (at least not until His second coming), yet families divided, and many Christians have been killed because of the name of Jesus. Jesus is saying here, that even though He is the Prince of Peace, donít assume He is here to bring peace on earth yet, though Jesus does bring peace now to the hearts of believers, according to Ephesians 2:14-17 and Philippians 4:6-7. See When Critics Ask p.340, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.378-379, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.883, and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1241 for more info.
Q: In Mt 10:37, why do we have to love God more than our own family?
A: In Mark 12:29-30 Jesus said loving God was the first commandment. God created us and loves us, more than anyone, and it is to God we should have our highest allegiance.
Q: In Mt 10:41, how do we receive a prophet or righteous personís reward by welcoming a prophet or righteous person?
A: This is true in at least two ways.
1. When a person welcomes them and receive their message, a person can convert to Christianity and become a righteous person too.
2. When we receive a Christian in Jesusí name, that is a righteous act, and it is as if we are receiving Jesus, as Matthew 25:33-40 says.
Q: In Mt 11:3, why did John ask Jesus if He was the promised Messiah, since he saw the Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove in Jn 1:32? (The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.967 asks this.)
A: John the Baptist was in prison in the fortress of Machaerus by the Dead Sea according to Josephusí Antiquities of the Jews book 18 ch.119(v.2). Perhaps John had not heard of the miracles and ministry of Jesus. Or perhaps John was wondering if Jesus was going to supernaturally free him from prison. There are at least four complementary possibilities:
Doubt: Perhaps John was having a moment of doubt here. The early church writer Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) was the first to suggest this.
Confusion: Perhaps John saw the prophecies of the first coming being fulfilled and was wondering about the prophecies of the Second Coming.
Impatience: William Hendrickson says that "Perhaps Johnís difficulty was not his faith, but his patience. John made a very wise decision when, instead of keeping his difficulty regarding Jesus to himself, or talking it over with others but not with the right person, he took it to Jesus." (The Gospel of Matthew 1973 p.84)
Prodding Jesus: Similarly, perhaps John was prodding Jesus to show more power, or both.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.261, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1242-1243, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.43-44, and The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.169-170 for more info.
Q: In Mt 11:3-6, why did Jesus just not say yes or no?
A: It is an easy thing to claim to be the Messiah. It is another thing to back up the claim by providing miraculous evidence. Jesus was reminding both John and Jesusí listeners of the evidence Jesus provided.
Q: In Mt 11:3, have there been times in your life where you were witnessing and living for God, and you have been confused or disappointed?
A: John the Baptist preached the word boldly, followed God faithfully. For his persevering effort, John ended up going from the freedom of the wilderness to the confined prison, where he would later be executed. But he did this for the great Messiah, who would do spectacular things and very soon reveal Himself in power. Ė except that that did not seem to be happening, at least on Johnís expected timeline. John the Baptist was confused, and he just wanted to double-check that everything he worked at and suffered was not for nothing.
Rather than rebuking John, privately or publicly, for having some doubt, Jesus sent to John to tell John things were coming, and he could look at the miracles now, using the language of Isaiah 35:5-6. Then he publicly affirmed John, despite his doubt.
John might have been confused, but there are times where we can be confused too. Sometimes change for the good does not happen on our timeline. Sometimes it can look like everything we did was all for naught. Sometimes, like Job, we have no clue why we are following God faithfully and yet so many bad things happen to us.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.261-263 for more info.
Q: Do Mt 11:11 and Lk 7:28 teach that John the Baptist went to Hell, as Rev. Moonís Divine Principle p.161 teaches?
A: No. John 10:41-42 shows that Johnís testimony led many to believe in Jesus. We should be cautious in condemning a martyr who died for God as failing and offending God. Jesus saying the one who is least in the kingdom heaven is greater than [John the Baptist] refers to the fact that Jesus had not opened the way to heaven, and John the Baptist was actually the last prophet under the old covenant. Also, if John the Baptist failed in his teaching, then why in Matthew 21:32 did Jesus say the people were to believe John the Baptist? See also the next question for more info.
Q: In Mt 11:11 and Lk 7:28, what does it mean that he who is least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than John the Baptist?
A: This is not saying John was not saved or a bad guy, because he highly praised John in the first part of the verse, and as the chosen forerunner, John had a place that no one else in history had. But the kingdom of heaven had not yet come on the earth, so John the Baptist was killed before he could be a part. Moreover, the spiritual insight of believers would be greater than John the Baptist had.
There are also three additional viewpoints, and all of which might be true.
Hebrew Idiom: This expression is very similar to a rabbinic saying of Johanan ben Zakkai, one of the most respected scholars of the first century, being the "least of" Hillelís eighty disciples; this saying was not meant to diminish Johnís status but to increase that of his contemporaries.
None until Jesus: Even John the Baptist was not in the kingdom of Heaven yet. No one was, until Jesus opened the way through His death and resurrection.
Relative position in Heaven: Remember that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from before birth. A speculation is that perhaps believers in Heaven, who had to be regenerated after they were born will have a higher position than one who did not have to go through this.
See the Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.973, the IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament 1993 p.76 the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1394, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.815, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.459-460, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.264-265, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.223 for more info.
Q: In Mt 11:12-13, how did the kingdom of Heaven suffer violence?
A: From the time of John the Baptistís imprisonment (and later execution) until now, there is and will be violence done against the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said this after John the Baptist, currently imprisoned by Herod, sent him a message. Many consider the violence and violent/forceful men are not positive but negative as per The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.44. However, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.173 considers this a positive.
See When Critics Ask p.340-341, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.265-268, and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1243 for more info.
Q: In Mt 11:12-13, since New Testament times, how have forceful men advanced, or tried to advance the kingdom of God?
A: Within 50 years after the Council of Nicea I, the people in the church was persecuting others to advance the church. It might be a surprise to some Christians that Satan and the demons are NOT putting all their effort in trying to destroy the church. Why destroy something if you can take much of it over and use it as a tool for their evil purposes? Destroying is only one of Satanís tactics; infiltration is another one. While the Spanish inquisition is the most well-known example, there are countless crusades and persecutions against Waldenses, Jews, Protestants, and others.
Q: In Mt 11:14; 17:12; Mk 9:11-13; and Lk 1:15, how was John the Baptist in the Spirit and power of Elijah? Was he Elijah reincarnated?
A: No. He came in the spirit and power of Elijah, but John was not Elijah reincarnated. In Jesusí first coming, John had the purpose and the mission of Elijah. Of course, Elijah (not John) himself appeared briefly at the transfiguration. Many think Elijah will be one of the two witnesses right before the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:3-12.
The first writer known to have addressed this verse is Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.), who noticed that the concept of one having anotherís spirit is not unique to Elijah and John the Baptist. God promised that Joshua would have the spirit of Moses. (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew ch.49 p.220) Also Elisha had a double portion of the spirit of Elijah in 2 Kings 2:9-10.
John opened the way for Jesus, then he got out of the way for Jesus.
See When Cultists Ask p.106-107 and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1243 for more info.
Q: In Mt 11:16-17 and Lk 7:32, how was that generation like fussy children in the marketplace?
A: Children can listen poorly, have short memories, and be very unreasonable at times. They can have difficulty seeing any perspective except their own. Jesus explains why he said this in Luke 7:33-35 On one hand, they criticized John the Baptist for not drinking wine or eating regular food, and then they turn around and criticize Jesus for drinking wine and eating regular food.
I saw a similar situation in Salt Lake City ministering to Mormons. Mormons would ask if I were ever a Mormon, and I would answer "no". Since I was never a Mormon, how could I understand what they were teaching. They would ask ex-Mormon Christians the same question, and they would answer "yes". How could they listen to someone who was apostate and left their church. Apparently, there is no getting through to some people.
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.735, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.884, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.44 for more info.
Q: In Mt 11:20, why did Jesus denounce these cities by name?
A: The Greek word for denounce here, oneidizein, means a very strong rebuke or indignation. Jesus was not just saying that if they donít accept Him as the Messiah they would be lost. But even stronger, Jesu sis saying that in the final judgment it will be better for evil, wicked cities like Sodom and Gomorrah than it will be for these cities. The degree of punishment takes into account opportunity. Second, Jesus was outraged that they would not believe He was from God, even after He did those miracles in their towns.
As a side note, we are not certain where Korazin is, but it was probably the site of modern Kirbet Keraze, which his two miles northeast of Capernaum.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.272-273 for more info.
Q: In Mt 11:23-24, why would Sodom be willing to repent here?
A: Jesus is using hyperbole here to say that if the people of Sodom had the knowledge of God the Jews had, they would have not been so wicked as to be destroyed. Even the Assyrians repented when Jonah came to them, but some of the people of Galilee would not repent even when God Himself came to them.
Q: In Mt 11:25-26, why did Jesus thank the Father for hiding truth from the so-called wise?
A: Wouldnít it be strange if the more intelligent, and those who could afford more education, were by their knowledge alone more pleasing to God or closer to Heaven? It is not that way; there is a level playing field with regards to intelligence and education. Those who are willing to acknowledge to God their own helplessness are close to God, as the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector shows.
Q: In Mt 11:25-26, what are some ways God keeps people from figuring out His wisdom?
A: People who were so smart that they think they can figure out life independent of God. Being wise is not bad but trusting in your own wisdom instead of God is. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.884 for more info.
Q: In Mt 11:25-26, should we ever thank God for hiding the truth?
A: It is better simply to thank God for the truth and how He revealed it. Jesus is saying that more intelligent people have no advantage over less intelligent people in finding the truth about God. The truth was hidden in such a way that people cannot find it by their own wisdom apart from God. Yet paradoxically, for those who want to know the truth, they will find it, even if they are just little children.
Q: In Mt 11:27, how are all things delivered to Jesus?
A: All things are delivered to Jesus in a number of ways. All will bow to Jesus, Jesus will judge people, and Jesus saved us.
However, the main point Jesus is making here is not that Jesus is "a" savior, but rather that there is no salvation except through Jesus saving us. A modern adult, baby, or a person who died in earlier times before Christ was known to them either goes to Heaven through Jesus, or they do not go at all.
Q: In Mt 11:27, how does no one know the Father, except the Son and those to whom the Son reveals the Father?
A: This is true in not just one but two ways.
Knowledge: If God had so willed, He could have hidden Himself, such that we would be unable to know much about Him at all. God choose to reveal Himself, partially through Abraham and through the prophets, but the fullest revelation of Himself came through Jesus Christ coming to earth.
Salvation: All who were saved, and everyone who will be saved, are saved through the Messiah, Jesus. Even people who followed the True God before Jesus was born, and did not know the name Jesus, are saved through Jesus. Acts 4:12 says salvation is found no where else. Philippians 2:9-11 says that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.379-380 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Mt 11:27, why does Jesus say that no one knows the Father except the son, and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him, since Ps 145:18 says God is near to all who call unto Him?
A: The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism p.86-87 brings this up. There are three points to consider in the answer.
All whom Jesus chooses: Jesus never said that He alone would know the Father. Rather, Jesus said that only He and those whom Jesus chooses will know the Father.
Time period: Jesus did not specify whether this was in the future at the last judgment, present, past, or all of the above. This statement is true in the future, because in the end all will stand before Christ who is our judge, as John 5:22-23 shows. Jesus words were also true in His time, as Jesus told the Jews in John 8:24 that if they rejected Him, they would indeed die in their sins. This might seem unfair to someone who thought going to Heaven was merely reading scripture and relying on words, rather than obedience. However, Jesus said in John 14:6 that He was the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one would come to the Father except through Him. However, in one sense Jesusí words were also true before His time too. Not only was He with the Israelites in the Wilderness according to 1 Corinthians 10:4, but his crucifixion and resurrection, which brought life to all believers, living both before and after Christ, was planned from the foundation of the world in Acts 2:23.
Special Relationship: All the previous being said, Jesus and the Holy Spirit do have a special relationship to the Father that no one else has.
Q: In Mt 11:28, how does Jesus give us rest?
A: We can apply this truth to our lives in at least five ways.
Freedom from fear: God will take care of us, and nothing will happen to us except what God allows. 1 Peter 1:6-9 and 1 Corinthians 2:9 show that the glories of Heaven will make the sufferings we endure on earth seem small.
Freedom from anxiousness and worry: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus specifically emphasizes our value to God, and both the undesirability and uselessness of worrying. Philippians 4:6-7 says that we are not to be anxious about anything but take our requests before God.
Freedom from our own work, goals, and ambitions: When we become Christians, our measure of success is redefined. Success is not only accomplishing what God wants you to accomplish, but being everything God wants you to be. It is nothing more. We no longer need to worry about being successful in the eyes of others, or living up to cultural ideals.
Freedom from worrying about the Judgment: On the Day of Judgment, Christians can stand unafraid. Christ will judge Christians on their rewards (or loss of rewards) but Christians can have assurance of salvation and escaping the Lake of Fire.
Freedom everlasting: our freedom starts right now on earth, in a limited way. But we will have the freedom as sons of the King in Heaven, forever.
When Critics Ask p.342 sums it up well: "The life of a believer is Ďeasyí in that it brings Ďrest for you soulsí (Matt. 11:29), but it is hard on the Ďfleshí, which often needs the disciplining hand of God to keep it in line. Salvation brings Ďpeace with Godí (Rom. 5:1), but it also brings conflict with the world (1 John 2:15-17; Gal 5:17)."
Q: In Mt 11:29-30, what is the difference between a yoke and a burden?
A: A yoke pulls a cart, which carries a burden. A yoke is pulled with others. A yoke, and the burden it is used to pull, can be light or heavy, and Jesus says His yoke is light.
A farmer has to make sur ethe yoke fits correctly, any padding is in the right place, etc. Sometimes one wonders if it is easier or harder for a farm to yoke oxen together or God to yoke Christian together. If an ox is dead or refuses to move, it does not help the farmer to yoke it. If God gives Christians an opportunity by yoking them together, but if a Christian refuses to move, because God does not meet their expectations, it does not help the other Christians they are yoked to. Or even worse, if the Christian decides to go off in a different direction than God wants to plow, then it can be hard.
Sometimes Christians expect that if they follow and obey God, that will bring the most blessing and prosperity to their life. God never promised that. Stoning and beating can tend to cripple a person, and Paulís beatings and stonings did not bless him physically. Paul probably could have been more prosperous if he had spent more time making tents, and less time doing "financially wasteful things" like preaching the gospel. If Paul could not expect to be better physically and financially by following God, then neither can we. Godís goal is showing His glory on earth, not our highest comfort. Godís glory includes us sharing the gospel, discipling others, living a worthy life (Mt 10:37-38; Lk 20:35; Php 1:27; 2 Th 1:5,11), but not necessarily our continual enjoyment. An ox might not know about plowing in concentric circles; it only knows to follow the lead of its master. If we can drop our own expectations of what God ought to do for us, and simply follow His lead, then we will be easier for God to yoke.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1246-1247 for more info.
Q: Does Mt 11:29 somehow support yoga, as taught by Mark and Elizabeth Prophet in The Lost Teachings of Jesus 3 (1988) p.273-274?
A: Not at all. Jesus says to take my "yoke" not "yoga" upon you. The Greek word here, zugon, meant yoking oxen to serve in the field, and has the implication of serving Jesus, not doing special physical activities or controlling breathing. See When Cultists Ask p.107 for more info.
Q: In Mt 11:29-30, how do we take up the yoke of Jesus today?
A: Submit to Christís will, and turn over all of your life to Him, Be trained by Jesus, be gentle and lowly like Jesus. See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1246-1247 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:1, Mk 2:23, and Acts 7:12 (KJV), why does it refer to ears of corn?
A: 400 years ago, corn meant grain, not just maize from the Americas.
Q: In Mt 12:1-5 did Jesusí disciples break the Jewish Sabbath or not?
A: They did not break the Sabbath in the Mosaic Law here, though they did break the Phariseesí interpretation of it. While Exodus 34:21 prohibited harvesting on the Sabbath, but they had no sickle and just had a few heads of grain. Plucking ears of grain, without a sickle, was allowed Deuteronomy 23:25.We have no record of the disciples or Jesus breaking the Mosaic Law while Jesus ministered on earth prior to His resurrection. Note that the disagreement was not over varying interpretations of the law, but the fundamental approach to the law.
It is interesting that Jews themselves were not agreed that plucking grain on the Sabbath was wrong. "Reaping grain" was one of thirty-nine kinds of work forbidden in the Mishnah Shabbath 7.2.9.c under their traditions. However, it also granted exceptions for temple service. Exception is also granted when life is at stake in Mishnah Yoma 8:6; Mek Exodus 22:2; 23:13). Mishnah Shabbath 10.2 does not deal with casually picking grain. In a later period, the Gemara specifically allows picking grain by hand; it only forbids using a tool.
See the New International Bible Commentary p.1134, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.280,284, The Expositorís Greek Testament p.181, When Critics Ask p.342, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.736 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:1-8 and Mk 2:27, is what Jesus said here about the Sabbath a change in Godís Law, or was Jesus saying how they should have practiced it in the Old Testament times, too?
A: Jesus is not making any changes here. Plucking heads of grain was already specifically allowed in the Law. While the Law said people could not work on the Sabbath, you could pluck grain to eat, as long as you were not harvesting by putting it in a bag.
Jesus was pointing out that you have to look at the whole Law, for the Law also made a special provision for the priests. Also, Jesus points out that during Davidís emergency, his staying alive and ahead of Saul took precedence over the showbread. How much more should the Messiah take precedence over Pharisaic traditions.
Finally, Jesus said something greater than Godís Temple was here. One thing greater than Godís temple is God Himself.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.885 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.45 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:3-5 and Mk 2:25-27, why was it OK to take the showbread, and how does this relate to keeping the Sabbath?
A: The key principle here is a hierarchy of commands, and their ultimate obedience was supposed to be to God, not the Sabbath. Only the priests were supposed to eat the showbread, and David and his men were on a mission for God, they had an emergency situation (being on the run from Saul), and after discussing it with the priests they ate in 1 Samuel 21:3-6.
For the Pharisees, the Sabbath actually became their idol! It was not because the Sabbath was somehow bad, but rather they were more concerned about the Sabbath than they were about God. They were men of rules, but not men of God.
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) wrote, "David had been appointed as a priest by God, although Saul persecuted him. For all of the righteous possess the sacerdotal [priestly] rank. And all the disciples of the Lord are priests, for they inherit her neither lands nor houses. Rather, they serve God and the altar continually ... His disciples had a priesthood of the Lord. So, for them it was lawful when hungry to eat the ears of corn." Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 ch.8.3 p.471
See The Expositorís Greek Testament p.182 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:5, how did the priests blamelessly profane every Sabbath?
A: The Law instructed the priests to do what was not lawful for others to do on the Sabbath they were supposed to work. Jesusí point was not that priests should stop doing what God commanded them to do. Rather, Jesusí point was that if you look at Godís instructions while ignoring the context, you can have all sorts of problems. A legalist is one who looks at laws without looking at the context.
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) in Five Books Against Marcion book 4 chapter 12 p.362-363 has an interesting point on the primacy of obeying God vs. ritualistically following the Sabbath. The first example of all the people breaking the Sabbath yet still obeying God was when God commanded them to march around Jericho. God commanded the Israelites to march around Jericho for eight days straight, they were marching on the Sabbath. So, this too is an example of Godís direct command overruling the Sabbath.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.885 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.45 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:5, when Jesus said, "Or havenít you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?" (NIV), why wasnít this a quote from the Law?
A: Jesus did not claim this as a quote of anything. Jesus was making the logical deduction that according to the Law, the priests did their priestly work on the Sabbath and that was still proper and pleasing to God.
Q: In Mt 12:3-8 and Mk 2:25-28, what was the point of these illustrations?
A: Following God is not only rules, but also priorities. Following Jesus as your Lord is what obedience is about, not just rules, even Godís rules. Other passages show that more than rules and priorities are involved in following God, but Jesus was being elementary here. Jesus had the patience in giving a simple explanation to the hostile Pharisees, and praise God that He is patient with us, too.
Q: In Mt 12:8 and Mk 2:28, what does it mean that the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath?
A: We were made for God, not for a law and not for the Sabbath. The command to rest on the Sabbath was given to help man, not to hinder him. God is Lord of His law.
Q: In Mt 12:8,12, when, if ever, should we break the letter of the law today?
A: There occasionally can be situations where we should. Our number one goal is not obeying "the" or "a" law. It is not evangelism either. Our number one goal is to glorify and please God. That includes obeying Him, including His command to share the gospel and many other things. We should be careful about breaking what God has commanded us in the New Testament, because all too often it can just become an excuse for sinning, escaping persecution, or taking the easy way out. But that being said, as Jesus taught here, there are times where obedience to God is following a rule. For a simple example, if you have a friend in your care who is about to die, and you are racing to get them to the hospital, should you make sure not to drive above the speed limit? If a government passes a law that you are to report on what your neighbors do (like in North Korea), and some neighbors are having a Bible study, should you report that to the government?
Finally, Jesus shows us that this idea that God desires some things more than sacrifices or other laws is not a new teaching He gave but is implied in the Old Testament in Hosea 6:6, which Jesus quotes in Matthew 12:7.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.282 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:10-14 and Mk 3:3-6, what would the Pharisees consider wrong with healing on the Sabbath?
A: The Pharisees would consider healing a creative act, and thus work. However, first-century Jews themselves discussed what was allowed in tending the sick in Mishnah Eduyoth 2:5 and Mishnah Shabbath 6:3; Mek Exodus 22:2; 23:13.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.283 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:10-14, why did Jesus answer the Pharisees this way?
A: Jesus was pointing out their inconsistency. Imagine the strange humor of the situation. Here were some men, teaching their own additions to Godís word as Godís word, telling God Himself He could not do something. Since the miracle came from God, they might as well tell God that He had to take back that miracle!
Q: Is Mt 12:18 a reference to the Trinity?
A: Yes once you understand that the Servant is God. The Servant is sent ,and Godís Spirit is put in Him. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.46 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:31,32, Mk 3:28-30, and Lk 12:10-11, what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
A: Jesus did not often defend His authority to do things, but Jesus thought it important to defend His authority here when He was accused of operating by Satan. The context indicates it is seeing the direct miraculous working of God, rejecting the Gospel, and saying these are of Satan. It is normally fine to ask questions or scrutinize something, but when they are disputing the obviously indisputable, they are really rejecting what they know to be true.
It is not just asking the Holy Spirit to get out of their life. I know a Christian college student who asked God to get out of her life. After a month or so she felt so miserable, she repented and came back to Christ. If someone committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, they would not ever want to come back to Christ.
See Now Thatís a Good Question p.69-70, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.414-417, The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.93-94, 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.52, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.46, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.736, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1418 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:31,32, Mk 3:28-30, and Lk 12:11, why is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit much more serious than blasphemy against Jesus?
A: Jesus did not specifically say. However, if someone rejects Jesus, the spirit can work so that they change their mind and later accept Jesus. However, if someone permanently does not want the Holy Spirit within their life, and the Holy Spirit honors that desire, they will never come to Christ and go to Heaven.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1250-1251 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:31-32, does blasphemy against the Holy Spirit mean detesting the light by denying Godís manifestations (such as Bahaíuíllah) as Bahaiís teach in Some Answered Questions p.127-128?
A: No, this is begging the question by assuming the claim that Bahaíuíllah is the light proves that Bahaíuíllah was the light. However, even for Jesus, notice that Matthew 12:31 he said that those who speak against Jesus will be forgiven, so speaking against a prophet of God is NOT blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Q: In Mt 12:32, does this not being forgiven in this life for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit somehow support the belief in purgatory, as the Catholic writer Ludwig Ott has said?
A: No, even the New Catholic Encyclopedia vol.11 p.1034 says "the doctrine of Purgatory is not explicitly stated in the Bible." Matthew 12:31-32 does nothing to support purgatory for three reasons:
1) Catholic teaching is that Purgatory cleanses a believer of venial (smaller) sins, not mortal (more serious, or fatal) sins, and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is considered a mortal sin.
2) Jesus is not talking about believers, but about the scribes and Pharisees who rejected Him.
3) This verse says nothing about duration, severity, type, or place of punishment or cleansing; it says nothing about punishment or cleansing at all. Rather it speaks about not being forgiven by God.
See When Cultists Ask p.107-108 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:34, what is Jesus saying about some people?
A: He is not just saying they are a brood of vipers, or that they are speaking evil things. Rather, Jesus is describing an if-then condition. Given that they are a brood of vipers, and evil, then only evil things can come out. This is true for some people today. For some, given where their heart is, they are not capable of saying anything good about something, only bad. The amazing thing is that, like the Pharisees, they themselves are usually blind that they have an evil heart. It is not because they are not smart enough to figure that out, but that they have never thought to question where their heart is.
It is not actually as though the Pharisees did not understand. Rather, it is that they did not want to understand. Jesus got in the way and made their "great" program look bad.
Of course, as believers, we should make sure we are not the same way. Sometimes if a person uses bad language that might make the excuse: "sorry, that just slipped out." Well, why was it ever inside in the first place! We need to make sure we donít have "unquestioned" parts of our heart that are evil too. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says we are to examine ourselves. But letís get help! In Psalm 139:23-24, the Psalmist asked God to search His heart, and to reveal to him anything that was wicked in his heart.
Unfortunately, some people were not changed, even in Jesusí direct presence. Some will not change no matter what we say to them; but we can move on to people who will listen.
See The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.190 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:38-39 and Mt 16:1-4, when the Pharisees asked for a sign, did Jesus say they would only have the sign of Jonah, or was there no sign as Mk 8:11-13 says?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. They already just saw a sign; they were really asking for "yet another sign". But what good would another sign do, since they say Jesus casting out the demon, and they declared that to be a sign from Hell. What good would any sign do if they would just say it was from Satan? Remember, in Matthew 12:14, they were already just started plotting on how to destroy Jesus.
2. Matthew 12:38-39 was the first demand for a sign, and Matthew 16:1-4 and Mark 8:11-13 was the second demand for a sign.
3. In all cases, Jesus either said they would see no sign from Heaven, or that they would only see the sign that Jonahís hearers saw.
4. Jonahís hearers never saw any miraculous sign, only the prophet Jonah. Jonah never performed any miracle that was recorded in the Bible.
See The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.191 and the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.362-363 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:38-39; Lk 11:30, were the verses about the sign of Jonah inauthentic, and probably added in the seventh century A.D. as Stendahl, Peake; G. Schmitt, "Das Zeichen Jona ZNW  [p.123-120] claim?
A: No. The Diatessaron section 16:1-4 p.68 quotes these verses and it was written c.172 A.D. These verses are referred to by Justin Martyr (138-165 A.D.), Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.), Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.). The Bible manuscripts Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) and Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) quotes this. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.295 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:39-40, how can a generation be wicked and adulterous?
A: Jesus is not saying it is just some Pharisees and teachers of the law, but the entire culture of Jewish people in that particular time period. People tend to follow their culture, and their culture, at that time, had no room for a Messiah. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.295 for more info.
Q: In Mt 12:45 what is Jesus teaching about people and demons?
A: Jesus is teaching two points.
Specifically, when a demon is made to leave a person, if the person maintains a spiritual vacuum the demon can return, with other worse demons.
Generally, people do not remain in a spiritual vacuum very long. If they are not filled with God, demons will come and fill them, their culture, and their society.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1252 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.298 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:1, why did Jesus sit on a ship and speak to the people?
A: Jesus probably spoke from a ship because on a calm day, the sound of His voice would carry well over the water. Theis is the one of the five major discourses in Matthew addressed to the crowds, and it would be good for amplification for the crowds to hear him. There is no hint of any subtle meaning, apocalyptic or otherwise, according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.300.
Q: In Mt 13:1-23, what is different, the seed or the soil, and how does this relate to us today?
A: The seed, (the gospel message) was the same. But the ability of the soil to first of all take in the seed, and then to have it grow was what was different. Some people cannot take in the gospel message. Others can take it in, but it will not have enduring growth in them. But the gospel is not something where we should selectively only sow it on what we think is good soil. We should sow it everywhere, and the soil will take it, if it can. But we should not be deluded into thinking that if we only share the gospel with the world, then the whole world will turn to Christ. Finally, this parable would leave the reader pondering, "in Godís eyes, what kind of soil am I?" See the New International Bible Commentary p.1136, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.305,310 and Believerís Bible Commentary p.1256 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:1-58, what is unusual about these parables?
A: According to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.10, David Wenham was the first modern scholar to recognize that Matthew 13:3-52 is a chiasm. However, it is not a perfect chiasm.
13:1-2 Jesus came
-13:3-9 Parable of the sower, addressed to the crowds
-- 13:10-12 The disciples ask and Jesus answers
--- 13:10-17 The purpose of parables (for outsiders)
----13:18-23 Interpretation of the parable of the sower
-----13:24-33 Three more parables addressed to the crowds "The kingdom of Heaven is like..." (tares, mustard seed, yeast)
--- 13:34-35 The purpose of parables (for disciples)
---- 13:36-43 Interpretation of the parable of the wheat and the tares
end of digression
-----13:44-48 Three more parables addressed to the disciples "The kingdom of Heaven is like..." (treasure, pearl, net)
---- 13:49-50 Explanation
-- 13:51 Jesusí asks and the disciples answer
- 13:52 Parable of new treasure and old
13:53 Jesus left
Within this structure, Matthew 13:13-17 is also a chiasm, as The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.306 shows.
Q: In Mt 13:6-7, what is the difference between the path, the second, rocky soil, and the third, thorny soil?
A:The first soil had sufficient depth, and it did not have any thorns blocking the sunlight. But it simply would not accept the seed in the first place. The seeds sprouted in the other three soils, but they did not even get a chance to sprout in the first soil.
The seed in both the second and third soils spring up and look good at first. But plants cannot have healthy roots in soil with no depth. When the weather is dry, they cannot find water to sustain them in the dried-out soil on the surface. They had good access to the sun, but there just was not sufficient depth of soil for those plants to continue.
For the third soil, the soil was good, perhaps as good as the fertile soil. However, there was so much extra, with the thorns, that the plants were blocked from getting the sunlight. Even the second soil heard with joy, but not the overloaded third soil. The third soil had sufficient depth, but there was just too much else going on that blocked their access to the sun. Also, while some thorn plants can be obvious others can be subtle. One might not see the thorns right away.
The fourth soil is not special or "magical". Rather, it is really no different from the best features of the second and third soils combined. A John Chrysostom (died 407 A.D.) was the first to point out, there is not one road to destruction; there are multiple roads to destruction.
The difference in the results is not due to the seed, but the soil. How fertile does God find your heart?
As an aside, the path here is a footpath, such as between fields, not a highway.
See The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.195, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament p.50, and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.314 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:10-13, why did Jesus explain this parable to His disciples and not to the crowd?
A: The answer is found in Matthew 13:14-15. Jesus had many disciples (including the 70) and not just the twelve. The crowds at this time were given a taste of Jesusí teaching, in such a way that they might be thirsty to find out more. Jesus was exclusive here; He only gave the explanation to His disciples. Of course, people in the crowds could choose to become Jesusí disciples too. Also, this fulfilled Isaiah 6:9-10.
The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.309 points out that it is wrong to think the purpose of these parables "so that everyone might more easily grasp the truth" Likewise, today we might want to say some things that only those who want to know the truth will get.
See When Cultists Ask p.108-110 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.49 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:10-11, to what extent should our gospel presentation have a mysteriousness about it?
A: A mystery was something secret, hidden, or veiled in the Old Testament that was revealed later. Jesus did not talk about mysteries until the Jewish nation had rejected Him.
Jesus and the Gospel that would be things that humankind would never have been able to figure out unless God had revealed them to us. We should not take for granted that God could have left us in the dark, but He chose to enlighten us. The Passion and Godís story in general are dramatic, and we should showcase the drama when we retell about them.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.49 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.307-308 for more info.
Q: What does Mt 13:10-16 mean?
A: Those who do not have a love of truth are not entitled to the light of truth. In fact, the "birds" might take away the light they already have. There are a number of important points in this passage.
13:10 After Jesus gave the parable of the sower (really the parable of the soils) in Matthew 13:1-9, the disciples came and asked why he spoke in parables. The question was not limited to the parable of the sower, but why Jesus spoke in parables in general.
13:11 Most people would not have or retain the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven.
13:12 Those who have the knowledge would grow in their knowledge. Those who do not have the knowledge, even the little knowledge they have would be taken away.
13:13 Why would Jesus speak to the people in parables, and not explain everything like He did to his disciples? Letís look at 2 Peter 2:21 and Romans 4:15; 5:13 for the answer. If someone chooses not to follow the truth about God that they have, then the less they know the better it will be for them in the final judgment.
13:14 shows that the people would actually hear all of the truth, but they would not understand it. This does NOT mean you have to be real intelligent to be a Christian; that would be against 1 Corinthians 1:26-28. Rather, their problem with understanding among even intelligent and highly learned Pharisees is that they have no room for Jesus' word (John 8:37), and the message of the cross is simply foolishness to those who are wise with the wisdom of this world (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). I have seen clever people come up with clever, ingenious excuses for why they do not want to believe what is plainly in the Bible.
13:15 This shows a hardening of the people. Christians have debated over whether God was responsible for Pharaoh's heart being hard against Moses and the Israelites or Pharaoh was. The Bible says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart in eight places, and that God hardened it in eight places. One judgment of God against people hardening their hearts is that their hearts are hardened even more.
Finally, the same working of God can have opposite effects on two different people. One church writer explained it this way: "wax being melted and mud being dried by the same heat; so the same operation, which was performed through the instrumentality of Moses, proved the hardness of Pharaoh on one hand, the result of his wickedness, and the yielding of the mixed Egyptian multitude who took their departure with the Hebrews." Rufinus (374-406 A.D.) translating Origenís de Principiis (225-254 A.D.) book 3 ch.1.11 p.311.
13:16 By the way, while Jesus had 12 specially appointed disciples, Jesus did not just have 12 disciples; He also had a broader group of 70, and other disciples too. The disciples of Jesus were blessed both by the privilege of knowing these truths, and the fact that they did not earn or merit learning these truths. God could have chosen just to hide everything from us; but God wanted to reveal these things to us.
13:17 goes further and says that even godly prophets in Old Testament times wanted to learn these things, but God did not teach them yet; God waited to reveal them until Jesus came.
Sometimes people wrongly think God owes it to us to try as hard as He can to teach everyone the truth. Actually though, if someone rejects the truth about God that they already have, God is not under any obligation to try to force more truth into them. In fact, the less they know of the truth the better off for them (2 Peter 2:21). But for those who want to follow the truth, God delights in showing us more and more.
Exactly how do people not hear and lose the truth? Jesus explains that in Matthew 13:18-23.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1255, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.887, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.738 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:12, was God unfair to take from those who had not and give to those who had?
A: God was not unjust, but you have to look at the interplay between consequence and subsequent purpose. There are three contrasts to consider: justice vs. equality, wages vs. gifts, and meeting needs vs. giving rewards
Justice vs. equality: God is just towards all, but God is not required to treated everyone identically, as Romans 9:6-18 illustrates.
Wages vs. gifts: In this parable if the king failed to pay out the good things that he owed someone, that would be unjust. But when you invest your employerís money, the employer does not owe you all of that money; the employer only owes you your salary and what he has contracted to give. The king in the parable did not owe any of his servants any cities. When he gave the one with the most more cities, that was a free, gracious gift, and the king (and God) can do whatever He wants.
Q: In Mt 13:15, is this rather hard-hearted of God, to not soften their hearts and open their eyes?
A: Not at all. God is saying that if they were to turn to God, the Lord would certainly heal them. However, they bear the responsibility for their heart being dull, leading to the result that they will not turn to God.
God opens the eyes of the blind, but He does not usually open the eyes of those who are shutting their eyes tight. God softens peopleís hearts, but He is under no obligation to soften the heart of anyone who has already decided to harden their heart.
Q: In Mt 13:24, how is the kingdom of heaven like this situation, since Heaven is perfect?
A: The kingdom of heaven is not like the man, but like the situation. The answer to this question is part of Jesusí main point. The kingdom of heaven is not just something perfect that we go to after we die. The kingdom of heaven is something that is also in our hearts as believers right now. In the kingdom of heaven in this world, the wheat and tares grow next to each other.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.316-317 for more info.
Q: Does Mt 13:28-30 mean we should allow heretics to remain in the church?
A: Not at all. In Matthew 13:38 the "field" is not the church but the world. There will be heretic churches, but we should excommunicate those have heretical teaching or evil practices, unless and until they repent. Saying we should allow people with heretical doctrine, or ungodly, unrepentant actions in our churches is against Godís teaching in 1 Timothy 1:3-4; 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 2:16-17; 3:1-5; 2 John 10 and on practice in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 and Revelation 2:20. Unfortunately, Augustine of Hippo, in To the Donatists, was one of the first who mixed up the church and the world. For those who are sinning (in practice or teaching), should be rebuked in the presence of all according to 1 Timothy 5:20.
In summary, if you incorrectly interpret something in a parable one way(the church), when Jesus specifically said something else (the world), you can really get lost in the weeds!
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.316-317,324-325, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.50, and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1258 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:30, what exactly are the tares Jesus is referring to?
A: These were well known to Jesusí readers. There are four types of tares, and the "tares" here are almost certainly a weed called bearded darnel (lolium temulentum), that looks like wheat when it is young, and sometimes the roots can be intertwined, so you really cannot pull up one plant without pulling up another. Curiously both darnel and wheat can no longer grow well by wild spreading but need a farmer to scatter the seeds. Rabbis knew is a corrupt wheat, and in some places it is called "false wheat", and around 2000 10% of the wheat harvest of Ethiopia was actually darnel. Modern sorting machines are good at separating out wheat seeds from darnel though. Darnel is frequently infected with a fungus, that when people eat the seeds of infected plants it makes them high. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.316, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1256, the New International Bible Commentary p.1136, The New Ungerís Bible Dictionary p.1340, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1372-1373, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.200, and https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/wheats-evil-twin-has-been-intoxicating-humans-for-centuries for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:30, what is the significance of the tares gathered before the wheat?
A: In agriculture it makes sense to weed a field before harvesting it. The Judgment weeds out the ungodly from Heaven. It is not that we are taken out of the universe where the tares naturally belong. Rather, the tares are taken out of Godís universe, where Godís children supernaturally belong. When the disciples were listening with the crowds to the parable of the wheat and the tares, I wonder what Judas Iscariot was thinking?
See The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.199 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:32 and Mk 4:30-34, how is the mustard seed the least of all seeds?
A: First of all, there were two types of mustard seeds in Palestine: black mustard which people planted, and wild mustard. Jesus meant black mustard, because he is only speaking of seeds that are planted, and they did not plant any seeds smaller than mustard seeds in Palestine. Also, in the Jewish rabbinical work M Niddah 5:2 (cf. SBK 1:669) the mustard seed was proverbial for smallness.
The mustard seed is insignificant in size, and the smallest seed of all the crop seeds in the land of Palestine. One black mustard bush can produce 1,200 seeds. Jesus was communicating to the people mentioning crop seeds in their land.
However, for people who like details, the Greek word for least in both Matthew 13:32 and Mark 4:30-34 is, microteron, which can mean small in size or figuratively dignity. The word for seed in both passages, spermaton, can mean that which is sown. Regardless of whether Jesus was speaking Aramaic or Greek, He was still referring to seeds that were sown.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.381-382, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.329, When Critics Ask p.345, and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.317 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:32 and Mk 4:30-34, how can a mustard plant hold a birdís nest?
A: While a bird can build a nest in a small bush if it has to, that is not the answer. A mustard seed can grow into a tree up to ten feet tall, which is certainly large enough for a bird to build a nest. In other words, present size does not correlate with future greatness. Jesus is not as much emphasizing the kingdomís future greatness as much as its tiny beginnings on earth. See When Critics Ask p.345 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:33, what is the significance of yeast here?
A: Jesus said that yeast in this parable is good for it represents the kingdom of Heaven, while in other parables yeast is bad. The important interpretative principle to learn here is that you cannot necessarily take the meaning of a symbol in one parable and apply the same meaning to that symbol in all other parables.
Some wrongly see the yeast, and birds, as bad, which changes the entire meaning of the parable, because as a symbol yeast is bad or worldly in all other places in the Bible. Some dispensational writings hold to this. The Believerís Bible Commentary p.1257 even goes to far as to identify the woman in the parable with the false prophetess Jezebel in Revelation 2:20. However, the Dispensational The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.51 mentions with even-handedness that some view the birds and yeast as evil, and others as a good bounty.
The yeast is good in this parable. There is no indication in this chapter that it is bad, and it is parallel with the other parables in this chapter. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.319, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.201, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.738 for more info and this view.
The New International Bible Commentary p.1136 has a third view. It views the parables of the mustard tree and yeast as very general, and the birds and yeast as neutral.
Summary: the kingdom of heaven is good, not bad. Matthew 13:34 says the yeast represents the kingdom of heaven, so yeast in this parable is good. While the conclusion is not as obvious for birds, it is commendable that the mustard plant can provide a nest.
Q: In Mt 13:33, in this parable, why did the woman in this parable hide the leaven in three measures of meal?
A: Three loaves of wheat meal is a full meal for a family. Three measures (or satas in Greek) is equivalent to an Old Testament ephah, and it is a lot of dough, about 56 pounds or 23 liters. It is the amount Sarah made for the three visitors in Genesis 18:6 and what Gideon gave to the angel in Judges 6:19 It only takes a very small bit of leaven to change the nature of all the meal. The point is that the Jews themselves knew that just a tiny bit of yeast can cause to rise even a large amount of dough. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1136 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.319-320 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:34 how did Jesus speak only in parables since in other places such as the Sermon on the Mount Jesus did not use any parables?
A: Matthew 13:34 qualifies this as when Jesus was speaking to the multitudes. When addressing His disciples Jesus explained everything. While the multitudes listened too, the Sermon on the Mount was addressed to the disciples. Furthermore, Matthew 13:34 refers to Jesusí teaching at this time, not necessarily before or after this period in His ministry. See When Critics Ask p.345-346 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:38, is everyone a child of the Kingdom?
A: No. As this verse shows, prior to coming to Christ we are not a child of the Kingdom. Ephesians 2:3 says that we (including Paul), were children of wrath prior to coming to Christ.
Q: In Mt 13:44, in the parable why wouldnít the man in the field just secretly dig up and take away the treasure?
A: According to Jewish law, if someone dug up a treasure in a field, the treasure belonged to the owner of the field according to Derrett (Law p.1-16). Of course, if the treasure were buried by the owners, and known to them, they would not sell the field cheaply. But if the treasure was not theirs, as shown by their being unaware of it, then the workman could buy the field and get the treasure. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.328 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:44, who is the man and what is the treasure?
A: First what is not the answer and then the answer:
Not the answer: Jesus and the Jews. Some dispensational writings, including the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1258-1259 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.51, say that Jesus is the man, and the treasure is the remnant of the Jews in the endtimes. However, Jesus did not give everything He had (divinity, etc.), die on the cross only for the remnant Jews. Second, nobody hearing the parable would have understood it that way, so if this were the true meaning, nothing of the true meaning was communicated.
The answer: every individual and salvation in the Kingdom of heaven. A person should be willing to give up everything they have to obtain such a precious treasure as Jesus is offering. These parables are all about the kingdom of heaven according to Matthew 13:52. Buying the field is a decision the man must make, or else no treasure for him. See the Dispensational commentary The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.888 for a good explanation of this answer.
Q: In Mt 13:45-46, what is the meaning of the parable of the pearl?
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.
Not the answer: Jesus is the merchant and the pearl is the Church. However, again, did Jesus "sell" everything including His divinity, for the pearl, and whom did He sell it too? The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.50 gives this view.
The answer: Every individual seeking God is the merchant, and the pearl is salvation. Christian scholars generally agree that the workman and merchant in both parables are the same, and the treasure and the pearl are the same.
Both parables share the same point. Jesus said in Matthew 13:52 that both these parables were about the kingdom of heaven. However, while the man recognized the treasure, this parable really highlights that the merchant have to recognize the value of this pearl vs. other pearls, and not pursue the other pearls in order to pursue only this one.
Q: In Mt 13:47, what is the meaning of the parable of the dragnet?
A: This would be a very large net that is either pulled between two boats or else attached to the short and one boat. It is very similar to the parable of the wheat and the tares. All the fish are a part of the world, but in the end of the age there will be a separation between the good fish and the bad. Are you a good fish?
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1259 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.888 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:51, were the disciples right to say "yes" the understood these parables?
A: Yes and no. Yes, the disciples understood the basic parables and the symbolism behind them. However, they would have no clue as to all the ramifications in history of the wheat and tares and mustard seed. But they were correct in saying yes, because they correctly understood what Jesus was meaning for them to understand at this time.
Q: In Mt 13:51, are there times where you are confident and correct that you have a basic understanding of something God is teaching you, but subsequently found out that you had no idea what that would entail?
A: One simple example might be marriage. You might think you know who you are going to marry, and know that you want to marry them. However, as the years go by, you found out that you had known very, very little about them compared to what you know now. Hopefully, your surprises have mostly been pleasant.
Similarly, if God calls you to do a work of ministry for Him, you might have a basic understanding of what He wants and you want to do it. But as you do the ministry, you find that you had almost no idea of what doing that ministry would entail, and even how it would change you.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.52 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:52, why did Jesus mention a scribe having new treasures as well as old?
A: This was a gracious way of saying they should still value the previous truth they learned as well as the new things Jesus said. "Scribes" here are not a special class of Christians. Rather, a scribe here is a positive reference to any believer who is a serious student of scripture. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.331-333 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.888 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:52, how is our heart like a storeroom of treasure?
A: The storeroom here (thesauros in Greek) It is a holding place for memories, decisions, emotions, and values that we feel are important, regardless of whether or not God views them as good or important.
It says a whole storeroom of treasure, not just a box or chest for storing one item in the dark. A storeroom can have many treasures, and they can be seen, not just made to disappear in a box.
Two tasks for a Christian to do are a) identify and throw away things in our storeroom that God does not want there, and b) fill our storeroom with good things that God teaches us. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.332-333 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:53-58, was Jesus not a prophet, because Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry. During the time of Ezra (circa 300 BCE), when the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets -- Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi." (A Jewish person brought up this objection)
A: That is wrong for three reasons:
1) There is no verse in the Bible verse that says that; this rule is made up.
2) Daniel and Ezekiel were prophets during the exile. The majority of the worldís Jewry did not live in Palestine then. In fact, Daniel and Ezekiel were prophets who lived outside of Israel, though Daniel lived in Judah as a youth.
3) We should not try to tell God Almighty what we say He can and cannot do!
Ignoring the fact that many of the Jews did live in Palestine during the time of Christ (whether a majority or not I don't know), it doesn't matter, because God Almighty can send a prophet whenever He wants to.
The Bible (both Old and New Testament) says a number of things God does not do (change His mind in Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29, etc.) but there are only four things in the entire Bible it says God CANNOT do. (You have to look in the New Testament to read these though.) These four things are: God cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13), God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18) God cannot swear by anyone greater than Himself (Hebrews 6:13), and God cannot disown/deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Other than that, I am not going to say what God cannot do, I will only look in the Bible to humbly learn what God chose to do, and what He chose not to do.
Q: In Mt 13:54-58, Jesusí teaching was polarizing; so when should our teaching be polarizing?
A: Jesusí teaching seemed to divide people into two camps; those who followed Him and those who strongly opposed Him. We do not see anyone listening to Jesusí message and saying, "not bad, just so-so". We should not just share the gospel and teach Godís truth in the same way one might teach mathematics or ancient history. We should also teach the importance of the gospel to their eternal destiny and the urgency of the gospel to not procrastinate in believing. If we find that we are less popular with some when we do so, then that just means we are doing our job.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.335 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:55 how could Jesus have brothers and sisters, since (according to the Catholic Church) Mary was always a virgin?
A: Matthew 1:25 answers this succinctly: "but [Joseph] did not have marital relations with her [Mary] until she gave birth to a son, whom he named Jesus." (NET Bible). So, Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born, but Mary and Joseph had other children afterwards.
Catholics generally respond that in many Mediterranean cultures cousins can be called brothers and sisters too.
However, there is no place in the Bible that teaches that Mary was always a virgin. In contrast to this, there are other places where Jesusí brothers or sisters are mentioned: John 7:5; Galatians 1:19; Mark 3:31; John 2:12; and Acts 1:14. It would be strange that if they were only cousins, that "cousins" was not the word used in at least one of the six places.
As a historical note, the only two places prior to Nicea where Mary is called very virgin are:
Hippolytus bishop of Portus (225-235/6 A.D.) called Mary ever-virgin. Against Beron and Helix fragment 8 p.234
Peter of Alexandria (306,285-311 A.D.) "of God, and Ever-Virgin, and, of a truth, of Mary the Mother of God;" Fragment 5.7 p.282
Mary was officially said to be "always a virgin" at the Council of Constantinople II (553 A.D.) ch.2 p.312. The same year Pope Vigilius said the same in his letter p.322.
See When Critics Ask p.346 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:55, what exactly did a carpenter do?
A: Carpenters built buildings. So, they worked with stone as well as wood. At this time, the Romans were building a new city, primarily for Gentiles, call Sepphoris, just south of Nazareth, so there would be a lot of work at that time for carpenters. So when Jesus discussed building on a good foundation in Luke 6:49 and 14:29, He might have had practical experience with foundations.
Q: In Mt 13:55-56, why was a prophet not honored in his hometown?
A: Remember that the last time Jesus spoke in His hometown, they wanted to throw Him off a cliff. Jesus was not giving a command or a prophecy but rather making an observation here. Prophets were not highly esteemed among the people they grew up with. For one who grew up in the same place, and had many of the same experiences, it can be hard to believe that God can use common people in an uncommon way. Unfortunately, there is some truth to the saying that "familiarity can breed contempt." The Greek writer Pindar had a similar adage of fame fading at the family hearth. (Odes of Pindar Ode 12:3)
A related point is that they seemed more concerned with a homeboyís fame and popularity instead of caring to listen to what Jesus actually had to say. A characteristic of human nature is that it is all too easy for people in general, us included, to be focused on peripheral or trivial things, and miss the important main point.
See The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.205, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.53 and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1260 for more info.
Q: In Mt 13:58, how did the peopleís lack of faith restrict Jesusí mighty works?
A: This verse does not say that God Almighty was incapable of doing a miracle here. Rather, Jesus chose not to do any miracles here because of their lack of faith. It is not that Jesus could not do any miracles, after all, Jesus walked on water, raised Lazarus, rose from the dead, etc., without anyone believing Jesus would do those things. Rather, why would Jesus bless people when they had no desire to be blessed by him? See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.336, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1260, and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.888 for more info.
Q: In Mt 14, why is the death of John the Baptist placed where it is in Matthew?
A: While it does not say, and Matthew could have placed this flashback anywhere, perhaps the reason he placed it here is to imply why Jesus wanted to withdraw from the public at this time. Jesus knew they would come to kill Him, and Jesus wanted to wait until He had accomplished the other things before being crucified. Also, from this point on, Matthew and Mark have the same order of events that are in both. See The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.205 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.408 for more info.
Q: In Mt 14:3-4, why exactly did John the Baptist denounce Herod Antipas?
A: First the genealogical background and then the answer.
Herod Antipas (= Herod the Tetrarch): son of Herod the Great and Malthace, one of his ten wives. Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea under Rome from 4 B.C. to 39 A.D. He wanted to be styled a king, which got him into trouble with Emperor Caligula.
Aretas IV the Nabataean: Herod Antipas was married to the daughter, Phasaelis, of Aretas IV, king of the Nabataean Arabs in modern-day Jordan. It was a political landmine to divorce her and marry Herodias, but at least he was living with Herodias. Later, there was fighting between Herod Antipas and King Aretas, with Aretas was winning until the Romans intervened.
Philip: son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II.
(Philip lived in Rome, and should not be confused with another son of Herod the Great, named Philip the Tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis in Luke 3:1)
Aristobulus: son of Herod the Great and Mariamne I.
Herodias: daughter of Aristobulus and his wife Berenice. She divorced her first husband to be with Herod Antipas.
The answer: Herod Antipas was the half-uncle of Herodias, but that was OK according to Leviticus 18:1-17 and 20:12,14. Divorcing a wife was OK in Old Testament times. The problem was that Leviticus 18:16 specifically forbids marrying your brotherís wife, and Herodias was the wife of Philip, the brother of Herod Antipas, and Philip was still alive.
As The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.670 puts it, "Herodias knew that Ďthe only place where her marriage certificate could be safely written was on the back of the death warrant of John" (from T.W. Manson, The Servant Messiah p.40).
Later, when the Nabataeans defeated Herodís army in 30 A.D, Josephus wrote in Antiquities of the Jews book 18 ch.119.2 that the Jews thought it was punishment from God on Herod Antipas. (See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.671 for more info.)
See also The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.338, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.53 and the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.814-815 all say the same.
Q: In Mt 14:6-12, why is this gruesome account in the Bible?
A: Sometimes people can have an artificially rosy view of life on earth. Life sometimes is gruesome when evil people are in control. We can learn here that even believers such as John the Baptist can suffer unjust consequences in this life.
Second, contrast the bravery of John the Baptist in denouncing the ruler, vs. Herodís cowardice in not wanting to either free John or execute Him. Herod seems a bit like king Ahab, who was both wicked and weak.
After this event you see a change in Jesusí ministry here. Jesus focused on instructing the disciples for after his death, and we do not have recorded anything else Jesus did to convince the Jewish rules and people that He was the Messiah.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.53 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.739 for more info.
Q: In Mt 14:6-12, wouldnít it spoil the festive mood to bring in a severed head?
A: Some have accused Matthew and mark of being false for reporting this. However, this is typical of the gruesome lives of royalty. For example, Cicero politically opposed Mark Antony. When the head of Cicero the orator was brought to Fulvia, wife on Mark Antony, she spat on it and pierced the tongue with a pin. A second example is when Alexander Jannaeus had a public feast with his concubines, he ordered 800 rebels to be crucified, killing their wives and children first, publicly. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.339 for more info.
Q: In Mt 14:13 (KJV), how did Jesus go into the desert by ship?
A: While there were some dry places by the Sea of Galilee, that is not the point here. What the KJV calls "the desert" is more accurately a "deserted place" (NKJV), "a solitary place" (NIV), or "a secluded place" (uNASB). Williams New Testament says, "a quiet place". Wuestís Expanded Translation says, "an uninhabited place apart".
Q: In Mt 14:15, since this was a desert, why was there grass in verse 19?
A: This was not dry desert, but a deserted place. Also, Palestine has two seasons: wet and dry, and this was likely during the wet season. The wet season did not have monsoons like Southeast Asia has, but the Jordan River was too large to cross at that time and there would be a lot of green grass in places that would look to us like desert during the dry season.
Also, the Greek word opsios, translated as evening, is any time between mid-afternoon to just after sunset, according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.339 and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1261.
Q: In Mt 14:24-32, how should Christians brave storms?
A: This passage is instructive on how to brave storms and how NOT to brave storms.
1. Do not be terrified when God does an unexpected work (14:25-26).
2. When Jesus tells us to take courage, we need to take courage and work bravely (14:27-28).
3. We need to obey Jesus, knowing that He is not only greater than the dangers around us, but also than our fears, doubts, and weaknesses (14:29).
4. Look to Jesus, not the wind and waves, or other possible dangers (14:30). The dangers are not imaginary, but look to Jesus anyway.
5. When we have made a mistake or we do doubt, we should cry to Jesus to save us (14:30-32).
6. After we are safe, do not forget to worship God (14:33).
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1261-1262 for more info.
Q: In Mt 14:25, when was the fourth watch in the night?
A: While the ancient Hebrews divided the night into just three watches, the Romans divided the night into four watches, and the fourth watch would be approximately from 3 am to 6 am. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.344 for more info.
Q: In Mt 14:29-31 why was Peterís faith so strong, and then so weak?
A: Peter was willing to obey for a moment, and Peterís faith was strong enough in that moment to believe, look at Jesus, and get out of the boat. But when that faith needed to continue in waking on water, then there was that wavering.
Q: In Mt 15:1-3, was Jesus against washing hands?
A: No. While Jesus was not against hygiene, Jesus was against elevating washing hands to a religious ceremony. Today, other healthful things, such as good diet, herbs, and exercise are fine, but they too can become idols if people worship their health instead of God.
Q: In Mt 15:3-6, where did the idea of qorban/corban (Greek korban) originate?
A: The word itself, and the concept of devoting something to God, are found in Leviticus 1:2-3, 2:1, 3:1, Numbers 7:12-17. However, the Pharisees allowed someone to abdicate responsibility to take care of their parents by dedicating the help they would give to their parents to God.
The Pharisees here had mixed-up priorities. Allowing someone to dedicate things to God was given a higher priority than doing what God desired, which includes taking care of your parents. This can happen when people are more concerned with obeying a tradition than with obeying God.
See the New International Bible Dictionary p.232 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.379 for more info.
Q: In Mt 15:7, what exactly is a hypocrite?
A: This originally was not a bad term. It was a Greek term for an actor in a play. All actors put on masks, and they played their part in a comedy, tragedy, or whatever the script called for at the time. This is the first time Jesus called the Pharisees and teachers of the law hypocrites. Jesus uses this in a bad way, saying people are putting on a mask for being devoted to God, but inwardly they are just putting on a show.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.349 for more info.
Q: In Mt 15:8, why do people choose to draw near to God with their lips, when their hearts are far from Him?
A: People come to religion, and nominally to God, for all kinds of reasons, and not all of them are the best. Some come for the praise of others, some are in it for the money, and some to find a husband or wife.
Some want a career where they can help others, and that is their main purpose, and not because they have a love for God. When that is the case, there are many fine charities, such as the Red Cross, peace corps, Goodwill, or UNICEF. They should join those, and not misrepresent themselves as loving God by wanting to work through a Christian church.
As a side note, the Bible says that Christians are to help the poor, disadvantaged, orphans, etc. This does not mean we should give money only to Christian organizations. It is good to support benevolent community organizations not associated with a religion also.
Q: In Mt 15:9, when are traditions of men good, and when are they bad?
A: Traditions transmit former beliefs and opinions to doctrines and laws of succeeding generations. The can be good, or bad if they camouflage the Word of God. There are four points to consider in the answer.
Evil: If the past tradition was wrong or bad, then error and perhaps sins are being learned and copied. The Bible speaks of sinful traditions such as the Queen of Heaven in Jeremiah 44:17-19.
Hollow: Tradition more commonly is simply worthless (Colossians 2:16-19). Taken seriously, these traditions can dilute devotion to God. The Bible speaks of hollow and deceptive traditions in Colossians 2:8 and 1 Timothy 1:4.
Corban: Even if the past opinion or practice was not anti-Scriptural, people have a way of equating human tradition with Scripture, and what was once human opinion now becomes in peopleís eyes, "God says" and human practice, perhaps very appropriate for a particular time and circumstances, becomes allegedly "Godís Law" for all times and circumstances. Tradition even overrides Godís word for some people, such as those who practiced "Corban" in Mark 7:10-13.
Law of God: We should follow what God has commanded, such as water baptism and the Lordís Supper. However, we should not follow it because it is Christian tradition, but because God want us. We should be careful not to elevate the symbol above the reality. We are not just to follow rules (Mark 7:6-7), but we serve in the new way of the spirit, not the old way of the written code (Romans 7:6; 2:29; Colossians 2:14).
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.890-891 for more info.
Q: In Mt 15:10-20 and Mk 7:15-23, why did Jesus invalidate the Old Testament dietary commands here?
A: Jesus did not invalidate the Old Testament dietary commands, He superseded them. There are four points to consider here.
1. While Jesus and His disciples sometimes broke the man-made traditions of the Pharisees, they themselves lived in obedience to the Old Testament Law.
2. Even under the Old Testament, God was concerned with their obedience, and their diet was just one way, but not the only way, for them to demonstrate their obedience.
3. After Jesusí resurrection launched a new period, the disciples did not choose to eat all kinds of meat. An angel of God came down and instructed a reluctant Peter to eat in Acts 10:11-16. Who was Peter to argue with an angel from Heaven?
4. Muslims should not have any problem with this answer, as Mohammed allegedly did the same thing. He spoke of abrogated laws, (though abrogation is a little different concept from the New Covenant through Jesus). Also, he showed that Muslims could eat camel meat, and the Old Testament views camel meat just like pig meat (Leviticus 11:4,7,26; Deuteronomy 14:7,8).
Q: In Mt 15:11,17-18, how is it only what comes out that defiles?
A: The context here is given in Matthew 15:20, where the Pharisees were concerned with eating with unwashed hands and Jesus was concerned with being pure on the inside.
If you were cooking something in a vessel, and liquid was slowly being added and slowly being drawn out, would you sample the inlet or the outlet to see whether the inside was the right temperature and on spec? Of course, you should sample the outlet. Likewise, Jesus was saying do not be too hung up on diet, because it is what comes out of you that can be defiling.
Q: In Mt 15:12, wouldnít it be strange for some of the Pharisees to go out from Jerusalem to find Jesus just to ask his opinions on personal hygiene?
A: That was not what it was about. The question was just a pretext to try to trap Jesus. The issue was not personal hygiene; they did not have a germ theory of disease. Rather it was about their additions to rules on ceremonial washings. They saw Jesus as a threat to their pre-eminence in telling people what Godís will for them was.
Q: In Mt 15:12, why was Jesus not concerned about making the Pharisees feel bad?
A: Jesus was aware, but Jesus was more interested in getting the truth out than what the Pharisees thought. But beyond that, Jesus was concerned; He wanted them to feel bad. In Matthew 23 in particular, Jesus strongly rebuked them for two distinct reasons. Since they heard the rebuke, perhaps some would stop, think about Jesusí words, and repent. Second, regardless of the repentance of the Pharisees, the crowds would hear and know not to trust the Pharisees who rejected Jesus.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.891 for more info.
Q: In Mt 15:14, why does God sometimes allow the blind to be led by the blind?
A: As one person said, there is none so blind as those who refuse to see. God allows people to go where they want to go. A better question is, why do the blind allow, or even prefer, themselves to be led by the blind?
Q: In Mt 15:21-29 and Mk 7:24, why did Jesus go to Tyre and Sidon?
A: At first glance these non-Jewish towns do seem way out of Jesusí way. Subsequent verses show that He had a demon to cast out (Mark 7:29), and that many people from the Phoenician coast listened to Jesus. Tyre was about 35 miles from the Sea of Galilee, and Sidon was 25 miles from Tyre.
Q: In Mt 15:21-29 and Mk 7:24, why did Jesus go to Tyre and Sidon?
A: At first glance these non-Jewish towns do seem way out of Jesusí way. Subsequent verses show that He had a demon to cast out (Mark 7:29), and that many people from the Phoenician coast listened to Jesus. Tyre was on the coast about 35 miles (56 km) from the Sea of Galilee, and Sidon was also on the coast 25 miles (40 km) from Tyre and 60 miles (96 km) north by northwest of the Sea of Galilee. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.55 for more info.
Q: In Mt 15:24, was Jesus only for the Jews and not for everyone?
A: No. Jesus went to the sheep of Israel first, but He also said He had other sheep, not of this fold, in John 10:16. Jesus went far outside of Israel, to the region of Tyre and Sidon, when He spoke Matthew 15:24, to visit a Syro-Phoenician woman. Also many Samaritans believed Jesus in John 4:39-42. Jesus later preached to and fed those non-Jews on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Later Jesus said that He would draw all men unto Himself in John 12:32. The way Jesus initially preached to the Jews first was also followed by Paul, who generally spoke the Word of God to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles.
Q: In Mt 15:21-28, when the "woman of Canaan" asked Jesus to have mercy on her, Jesus said: "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel". Why do we find it only in Matthew? Also the command of Jesus to His disciples: "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt 10:5-7)? Are these two sayings by Jesus really, although they contradict with His universal salvation message? Or they are a fabrication or creation by the early church communities?
A: No, there is no reason doubt God, and think that God allowed His word to be "replaced" with fabrications or creation by early church communities. These two things actually fit clearly with Jesusí ministry. Before His crucifixion, the Jewish people were presented with the opportunity to accept their Messiah and lead the way for all the Gentiles. Even in Paulís ministry Paul would go to the Jewish synagogue first, and then afterwards to the Gentiles.
However, if you look on a map, the region of Tyre and Sidon is well outside of the land of Israel. So, Jesus went way out of His way visit that Canaanite (or Syro-Phoenician) woman. So by visiting the woman Jesus showed that His message was going to be for non-Jews too.
Q: In Mt 15:21-22 and in the gospels in general, we find Jesus promises all people with salvation without any differentiation or discrimination between them, whether they were Jews or nations or pagans, but in Matthew we find the focus is on the Jews for salvation. What do you think?
A: Look at the timetable. There are three points to see.
1) In all the gospels, not just Matthew, prior to the crucifixion, Jesus preached primarily to the Jews, to give the Jewish people the opportunity to accept the Messiah.
2) After the resurrection of Jesus, the gospel was to be preached to all the Jews and Gentiles. The order Jesus gave in Acts 1:8 was "Jerusalem, then all Judea (where Jews were), then Samaria (half-Jews), and then to the ends of the earth.
3) However, even though the Gentiles and Samaritans were not the primary groups to reach before the crucifixion, Jesus still shared with them as He came across them. For example, not only the woman from Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7:24-30), the Gerasene demonic on the east (non-Jewish, pig-raising) side of the Sea of Galilee in Mark 5:1-20. Jesus fed 5,000 on the Jewish (west) side of the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:8-12, and Jesus had a second feeding of 4,000 on the non-Jewish (east) side of the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 15:32-38 and Mark 8:2-9.
But now we are to share the gospel with everyone, regardless of if they are Jews, Arabs, Europeans, Asians, or anyone else.
Q: In Mt 15:21-22, with the Canaanite woman, was Jesus apparently saying that they were only to love Jews and those who worshipped God in the approved manner, as the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.944 claims? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat also brings this up.)
A: No, that is hard to sustain, since Jesus went way out of his way to go to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
Jesus was sent first to the lost sheep of Israel, but He later crossed the Sea of Galilee (multiple times). The significance of this is that mainly Jews lived on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, but Gentiles, included pagan pig herders, lived on the east side. Even prior to this though, the Samaritans did not worship God in the approved manner, and Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman early in His ministry.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.892 and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1264 for more info.
Q: In Mt 15:24-26 was Jesus a racist for comparing the Canaanite (Syro-Phoenician) woman to dogs? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up)
A: Letís ask one question in return. Where was Jesus when He said He was just sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel? The answer is that he had left Israel, and walked over 30 miles (as the crow flies) over or around mountains to travel to Tyre, which was not and had never been an Israelite city. Jesus went there to talk with, not a Jewish woman living outside of Israel, but with a woman distinctly identified as Gentile. But having gone the extra mile (or 30 actually), Jesus wanted her to be sure that she did not think she was getting something she was entitled to, but something out of grace. By the way Greek word for "dog" here in Matthew 15:26 it has the meaning of "puppy" or "lap dog", and not wild dog.
See The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.217, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.892,
the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1264, and the NET Bible footnote for more info.
Q: In Mt 15:21-29 and Mk 7:27-29, what exactly were Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician woman saying?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. After Jesus traveled to the Phoenician coast, the woman asked Jesus one thing, to get the demon out of her daughter. Note there was no evidence this ethnic Syro-Phoenician woman, who was called a Greek, had converted to Judaism, or even believed in the true God.
2. After Jesus walked all this way, miles outside of Israel, Jesus bluntly informed her that Godís message came through the Jews, who should be healed first (Mark 7:27). In other words, Jesus was not going to grant her request without her committing to believe Godís message, as delivered to the Jews.
3. She humbly consented to come to Jesus on his terms, not any other terms. We too need to have faith in Godís grace.
4. While both Gentiles and dogs were not regarded very highly by Jews, Jesus did not use the usual term for dog here. This word is better translated as "doggie" or "puppy". Romans and Greeks did regard dogs highly. Jesus used a "double entendre" of low regard by the Jews, combined with high regard and affection by the Gentiles in comparing her to an affectionate pet. However, Jesus still made it clear that His message was to the Jews first. See Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.240-241 and The NIV Study Bible p.1465 for more on this point. If God has greatly blessed someone else, and not us, we should still be happy for the blessings God has given to us.
In summary, Jesusí long walk, combined with Jesusí curt words, beautifully illustrate the paradox that Jesus will travel great distances to reach us, but we have to come to Him without pride on His terms, not ours.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1264 for more info.
Q: In Mt 15:24 are these "lost sheep of Israel" refer to people who allegedly migrated from Israel to America around the time of the Exile as taught by the Mormon Joseph Fielding Smith in Doctrines of Salvation 1975 vol.3 p.214?
A: No. That interpretation was totally unknown to any Jews or Christians. Jesus was not speaking of people who were geographically lost, but those who were spiritually lost. Jesus was a savior, not a GPS. Jesus told his disciples to "Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel..." (Matthew 10:6-7), and they fulfilled that in the following days by going through Israel not getting on an airplane and flying to America. See When Cultists Ask p.110 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:1,4, why was it wrong to ask Jesus for a sign from Heaven?
A: To the disciples, it must have seemed strange for the Pharisees and Sadducees to ask for a sign just after Jesus had performed all these miracles, many of them in the presence of Pharisees and Sadducees. Apparently they were trying to say that all the previous signs and miracles were not good enough, but just one more, might possibly meet their standard. The Greek word for "test" here, in that they wanted to test Jesus, is the same word Matthew 4:1 uses for Satan tempting Jesus. Jesusí miracles had already helped the lame, blind, and demon-possessed, and the Pharisees asked for a sign from Heaven, that would not help anyone. Jesus refused to perform on demand for them.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.56 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.741 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:2-4, what does the cycle of evening and morning have to do with the signs of the times?
A: The predictable cycle of day and night is a very simple truth even children can observe. Jesus is saying there are other cycles too, such as the signs of His coming, followed by His coming. Jesus will come a second time, and many of the signs just prior to the first coming will also be present before the second coming. Jesus was not saying the Pharisees and Sadducees were blind here, or that they were not intelligent. In fact, he complimented their being able to see the weather and put 2 and 2 together for a weather forecast. But these same people could not put 2 and 2 together spiritually with the signs of the times. Either they could not, or else perhaps, they just would not.
Q: In Mt 16:3-4, what are some other times where someone can see all the facts and details, but yet be blind to the significance and conclusions?
A: One is example is that given the frequent revolts, the general populationís discontent with the Roman rulers, and the callousness of the emperors, the Sadducees and Pharisees still had no idea that the end of Judea as they knew it was near. In 70 A.D. the entire population of Jerusalem was killed or enslaved. Within fifteen years after that, the Sadducees were extinct.
Another example is the big tsunami off the west coast of Malaysia. When the ocean waters withdrew many animals did not understand what was going on, and they fled inland. But some tourists, who should be smarter than animals, were out there with cameras taking pictures of the withdrawn ocean.
During the category 5 hurricane in Florida, a man had two expensive cars, together worth $500,000 US. He had a week to evacuate the cars, but instead simply left them in a garage. The garage was destroyed the cars were flipped over, and destroyed.
One question to ask ourselves is this: if someone else were observing our life, perhaps 30 years later, what might they be surprised to find out that we could see all the signs of, but had no clue would happen? This can be physically, (diet, lack of exercise), relationally (how we treat our spouse), or spiritually (how lightly we take some of the responsibilities God has given us).
Q: In Mt 16:4, what exactly was the sign of the prophet Jonah?
A: The point was there was no miraculous sign except the testimony of this godly man.
Q: In Mt 16:7-11 and Mk 6:52, what was the significance of the five loaves and 5,000, and the 7 loaves and the 4,000?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
Jesus is the Bread of Life. Since He could feed so many, they do not have to worry about if they took any loaves or not.
In general, Jesus has taken care of them, and they should have no fear that God will be unable or unwilling to take care of them in the future.
Reteaching the same lesson since Mark says the disciples did not understand the point of the feeding the first time. The Life & Times Historical Reference Bible p.1343-1344 has this view.
Two messages might be intended here: one that God feeds the Jews, and also that God feeds the Gentiles.
Many poorer people worried about how they would get food every day. If a fisherman, working six days a week, did not catch any fish one day, that would be no money that day. Yet even after they saw Jesus feed the 5,000, and then the 4,000, they were still worried about having enough food. Sometimes old habits and patterns, such as scarcity or hurt, still play in our head, even when times are different. This shows a lack of trust that things are different with Jesus, and that God can change things. "Little is much if God is in it" as the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1266 says. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.740 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:7-11 and Mk 8:19-20, what is Jesus saying is the significance of these numbers?
A: Some might see mystical significance in the five loaves, 5,000, and the five books of the law for Jews at the first feeding, and 7 loaves (a perfect number) and 4,000 (4 representing the four corners of the earth perhaps) for the second feeding of primarily Gentiles.
However, there is a much simpler explanation. With Jesus, a very small number of loaves of bread can feed a very large number of people.
Q: In Mt 16:8, why did Jesus say they had little faith here?
A: They were not anxious about their food because of their limits of knowledge, given all that they saw. Rather, they were focused on their short-term problems, and lost sight of what God can do.
Sometimes today Christians can be anxious, not because they have not learned enough, but they are so concentrated on their problems that they lose their focus on God.
Q: In Mt 16:11-12, how is the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees like yeast in bread?
A: It can be a very small additive, yet have a large effect through the whole loaf. Likewise, some teaching can be a small additive, but have a large negative effect.
Undoubtedly the Pharisees and Sadducees taught some good things; both believed in only one God, and that He created all things, for example. But the bad part could so permeate their teaching, that Jesus did not say distinguish between good and bad, take the good and leave the bad. Rather, even the small "yeast" in their teaching was such that Jesus said to stay away from them altogether.
The Sadducees had some truth because they accepted the Torah. However, one who learned from the Sadducees would tend to doubt Godís word, because the Sadducees denied the rest of the Old Testament, and according to Acts 23:8 they denied the resurrection, angels, and spirits.
Q: Does Mt 16:11-12 indicate a late authorship, as the writer could not distinguish between the Pharisees and Sadducees?
A: Contrary to the assertions of some liberal critics, it does no such thing. The Sadducees disappeared as a group within 15 years after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. A writer would like only refer to Sadducees if he was familiar with events prior to then. If Matthew had never referred to the Sadducees, actually not mentioning them would point to a late authorship. While we only have at most a few pages in all literature describing the Sadducees, Matthew would be familiar with them and would know if they made common cause against the Pharisees against Jesus, sort of like in much later times when Romans and Vandals made common cause against the Huns, or Catholics and Protestants made common cause against the Turkish army. Matthew also writes about them in Matthew 3:7; 16:1,6,11,12. Saying to beware of the teaching of two groups does not mean the writer was unable to distinguish between the two groups. Politically today, we should beware the teachings of the far left and the far right. But that does not mean they are the same. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.360 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:13-14 and Mk 8:27-29, why did Jesus want to know who others said He was?
A: Jesus did not bother asking who the Pharisees and Sadducees thought Jesus was; there was no point in that. Rather, Jesus asked who the people in the crowds though He was. The place where He asked the disciples was Caesarea Philippi, a town built north of Galilee in modern-day Syria on a plain directly south of Mt. Hermon, about 25 north of the Sea of Galilee and 5 miles east of the Jordan River. There were two towns named Caesarea, and this one was in the territory rule by Herod Philip, the brother or Herod Antipas. This Caesarea had a religious temple honoring the late Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. If the people there honored Augustus, an ordinary man who did not miracles, as a god, what were people saying about Jesus? This is called the Socratic method of teaching, by asking questions. It is often useful to ask a question that you already know the answer. It can tell you what the responder thinks, and even aid the responder in organizing his thoughts. When Jesus asked who do "you" say that I am, it is you plural, so Jesus was asking all the disciples together. We only know that Peter answered though. See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.893, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.741, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1266, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.57 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:16-17, how did Peter only know this by the Holy Spirit?
A: Apparently, Peter did not hear Jesus explicitly claim this yet. Peter did not say, "I think..." or "I hope..." but Peter knew for certain. Furthermore, it would be one thing for someone to tell Peter this claim, and another for Peter to believer this for himself.
Q: In Mt 16:18, what can Roman Catholics and Protestants agree upon in this verse?
A: There are seven things Catholics and Protestants should all be able to agree on.
1) Peter is a rock upon which the church is built. The church certainly is built on the "rock" of this apostle; after all the church is built on the foundation of all the apostles and prophets according to Ephesians 2:20a. Peter is a main foundation of the church, but he is not the only main foundation, as Revelation 21:14 says there are twelve foundations of the city of the New Jerusalem, and they represent the twelve apostles of Jesus.
2) There are no successors to Peter here. Matthew 16:16-18 says nothing about any successors to Peter. In fact, no Bible verse says anything about successors to Peter.
3) Jesus, not Peter, is the cornerstone. Peter is not a more important "rock" than Jesus Himself, the cornerstone, as Ephesians 2:20b states. As one rock firmly placed on top of another, Peter told us himself that the rock or cornerstone is Jesus in Acts 4:10-11 and 1 Peter 2:6-7, as does Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:4. Peter never wrote that he was a "rock" or cornerstone himself, but Paul said all the apostles were the foundation in Ephesians 2:20, though Christ was the cornerstone. However, while Jesus is the cornerstone, Jesus is not talking about Himself as the rock here in Matthew 16:16-18.
4) Peter was not flawless in what He said or did, either before the resurrection (Matthew 16:22-23) or after (Galatians 2:11-14).
5) Nevertheless, Peter spoke with authority as an apostle (1 Peter 1:1 and Acts 1:15-22) and we are to acknowledge his teaching as such. Like the early Christians, we are to devote ourselves to the teaching of the apostles in Acts 2:42.
6) Peter was given the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, of binding and loosing in Matthew 16:19. Indeed all of the apostles and the church were given the same power of binding and loosing in Matthew 18:18.
7) No doctrine of Christianity can be any more foundational than the confession Peter made here. If a person does not acknowledge that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and if they do not acknowledge Jesus dying for our sins and rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-11), then their faith is in vain and will not get them to heaven.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1267 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.742 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:18, what or who is the rock here?
A: Many people miss the point that Peter is related with a "rock" not just once but twice in Matthew 16. In Matthew 16:18 Peter is associated with a "good", rock, a foundation stone. In Matthew 16:23 Peter is associated with a "bad" rock (an "offense" in some translations), but literally a stumbling block. How could Peter be both? - these are metaphors. There are two main views, and both could be true.
The rock is Peterís confession of Christ. There were not one but two different Greek words for rock here. Simon was called Peter "rock" because he first gave the confession that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus spoke to Peter in second person "you", but "this rock" is in third person. Jesus and the disciples, being from Galilee, most likely spoke Greek. Regardless of a Christianís interpretation of this particular verse, 1 John 4:1-3 and 2 John 7-10 show that any who do not recognize that Jesus has come in the flesh should not be accepted or welcomed. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 shows that any who do not believe that Jesus died for our sins and physically rose from the dead believe in vain. 1 Corinthians 12:3 teaches that no one says that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. Practically speaking, the church is built on the confession of Jesus Christ.
The rock is Peter himself. Jesus and the disciples undoubtedly knew Aramaic, and so Jesus might have spoken Greek here. The two words are different in Greek because one is feminine, and the other a masculine personal name. However, Aramaic does not have masculine, feminine, and neutral endings. Also, Papias, a disciple of the apostle John, says that Matthew was first written in Hebrew [perhaps meaning Aramaic] and later translated into Greek. In Aramaic, the identical word kepha would be used. Catholics generally have the view that the rock here is Peter, as they believe it supports the church being founded on Peter. Then, they add that Peter transferred being Pope to successors. While there is no hint of this last part in the Bible, there is not a problem for Protestants also to interpret Peter as the rock here. Regardless of a Christianís interpretation of this verse, good foundations are made of rock, and all of the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church in Ephesians 2:20. Practically speaking, the church is built on the Bible, which is the teaching of the apostles and prophets.
Since Peter is associated with two kinds of rocks, a non-Roman Catholic would easily see that both aspects are true and important. Peter is a foundation stone of the church, and the innovation that popes are Peterís successors have been a stumbling block to Roman Catholics.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.377, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.383-386 and When Critics Ask p.347 for complementary answers.
Q: What does Mt 16:18 not say?
A: There are at least eight important things it does NOT say.
1. It does not say the cornerstone upon which the church was built was Peter. If it did, then it would contradict Christ being the cornerstone in Ephesians 2:20f.
2. It does not exclude Peter, and the other apostles, from being a rock upon which the church is built. If it did, it would contradict the church being built on the foundation (rocks) of the apostles and prophets in Ephesians 2:20a, and go against Revelation 21:14.
3. It does not indicate Peter had any successors as an apostle, nor does it mention a Pope. Indeed, even at Nicea, there were four main churches recognized, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Rome, and Alexandria.
4. While it says the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church, it does not say Satan would not succeed at bringing corruption into church. Indeed, Pope Fortunatus was put on trial for heresy, after his death, by the subsequent pope, and convicted. These popes were put on trial:
a) Sabellian heresy popes Zephyrinus and Callistus I
b) Stephen VI (896-897) and the cadaver synod. De-fingered the corpse of Pope Formosus. He was later murdered.
c) Celestine V (1294-1296) Nearly all of his official acts nullified by his successor, the ruthless Boniface VIII. Celestine was murdered after resigning. Boniface ordered a crusade against the Colonna family.
d) Boniface VIII (1294-1303) involved in many wars. He wrote the Unum Sanctum. He died of "chagrin" shortly after his imprisonment.
e) Benedict XI (1303-1304) reversed Boniface VIII's 1302 papal bull Unam Sanctam.
f) Clement V (1305-1314) tried Boniface VIII for heresy and sodomy.
g) 1328 French king Louis deposes Pope John XXII for heresy
h) 1328- Marsilius of Padua, later archbishop of Milan, persecutes Catholic clergy loyal to John XXII
5. It does not promise that a succession of Roman bishops would be unbroken. One pope was from the party that murdered the previous pope. If that does not break papal succession, then papal succession is meaningless.
The following three are according to the Roman Catholic Karl Keating.
6. The wrong person would not become pope The Francis Feud p.82-83. Read on Alexander VI, Boniface VIII, Julius II, who attacked cities in Italy, or Benedict IX who sold the office of pope.
7. Bad examples: violent, wicked, immoral, nepotistic men would not lead as pope
8. Popes failed in supporting correct teaching Catholicism and Fundamentalism p.227
Q: In Mt 16:18, was Jesus essentially saying that Peter was the first Pope, as the Catholic church claims?
A: This was first used to support papal succession by Pope Damasus in 382 A.D. As Dave Hunt writes in A Woman Rides the Beast p.101 "One of the earliest examples of multiple popes was created by the simultaneous election by rival factions of Popes Ursinus and Damasus. The formerís followers managed, after much violence, to install him as pope. Later, after a bloody three-day battle, Damasus, with the backing of the emperor, emerged the victor and continued as vicar of Christ for 18 years (366-384). So "apostolic succession" by an "unbroken line from Peter" operated by armed force? Really?"
From the same book, p.135-136, Bishop Joseph Hefele of Rottenberg says, "ĎBut in all those documents [history and teachings of the church] I have never seen the doctrine [of papal infallibility from a credible source].í... Von Dollinger, one of that dayís great authorities on church history, agreed entirely with Hefele. His book (banned by Rome) warned of Pius IXís coming attempt to push through the dogma of infallibility and reminded the bishops who would gather to deliberate this vital decision: None of the ancient confessions of faith, no catechism, none of the patristic writings composed for the instruction of the people, contain a syllable about the Pope, still less any hint that all certainty of faith and doctrine depends on him.í"
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) said, "On this rock, therefore, He [Jesus] said, which thou has confessed, I will build my Church. For the Rock (petra) is Christ; and on this foundation was Peter himself built." Then Augustine goes on to quote 1 Corinthians 3:11, and says that the church representatively is in Peter the rock. (On the Gospel of John Tractate 124 ch.21.5 vol.7 p.450.)
Q: In Mt 16:18, how was "the rock" the most significant pun in all of history?
A: The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.856 states, "It was the most influential pun in all history." In one sense Asimovís observation is correct, as these words were used for centuries to support the popes.
However, while it should be agreed by all that Jesus intended for Peter and the other apostles to have the highest authority on earth over the church, Jesus never said anything about alleged successors. Thus, it was not the words themselves, but the unwarranted extension of them to the Popes that made them the most influential pun in all of history.
However, if Jesus spoke in Aramaic, kephas/cephas (massive rock), was not an usual first name, but it does not work as a pun here.
By the way, one reader contributed that the pun might have been in Hebrew and NOT Greek. In Hebrew it might have been "stone" Ďeben and "I will build" ebneh. For example, George Howard points to a 14th-century Hebrew treatise written by a rabbi named Shem-Tob Ben Shaprut, whose Hebrew text has "You are a stone (eben) and, upon you I will build (ebneh) my house of prayer." See www.jerusalemperspective.com/Default.aspx?tabid=27&ArticleID=1859 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.366 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:18, has the name Peter been found at Qumran among the Dead Sea Scrolls?
A: No. There was a report in a translation of a transcription by John Allegro in what is now called scroll 4Q432. However, Martin Abeg of Trinity Western University in an email says that it is not in 4Q432.
Q: In Mt 16:18, what three complementary things could this verse mean about the gates of Hades?
A: There are three different contexts here, and in all three cases, the Gates of Hades will not overcome the church.
At the resurrection, when Christ rose, He took Old Testament saints to heaven with Him, as Ephesians 4:8-10.
On earth now, the Gates of Hades cannot stop the spread of the kingdom of God.
At the rapture, Godís people will be resurrected and their bodies will not remain in the grave.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.370 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:19, what is this binding and loosing?
A: Imagine Christians today trying to discern cultists from mistaken Christians, and strange teaching from godly teaching, if they had no New Testament. That was the situation in the early church. God gave the apostles the ability to discern and the authority to pronounce what was good teaching. The authority to bind and loose given to Peter in Matthew 16:19 is given to all the church in Matthew 18:18. Something, like this binding and loosing, of having sins forgiven or retained, is given by Jesus to all the apostles in John 20:23. In a sense the apostles do this today, in written form, through the New Testament. But before we had the New Testament all written down, this was very important that they do directly.
The NIV Study Bible p.1466 says it was not to determine guilt or innocence, but to announce it, as Peter announced Ananias and Sapphira guilty of lying to the Holy Spirit in Acts 5:1-10.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.385-386 says that the terms "binding" and "loosing" were familiar terms from rabbinical Judaism. These terms meant ruling authorizing or forbidding various types of activities.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.364 and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1267 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:19, what exactly were the keys of the kingdom of Heaven?
A: First of all, note that it says the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, not the church. Multiple keys are mentioned, and Hades is mentioned as having multiple gates. There is no metal, or physical object involved here. It could either be the message of the gospel, of Peter unlocking the door of the gospel for the Jews (Acts 2) and later for the Gentiles in Acts 10, as The NIV Study Bible p.1466 says.
Jesus also said the scribes and Pharisees shut the kingdom of Heaven in menís faces in Matthew 23:13. In Luke 11:52, the experts in the law took away the key to knowledge.
See The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.225 and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.894 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:19, could these keys of the kingdom of Heaven be passed on?
A: Scripture never even hints that any "keys" could be passed on, except that Jesus gave these to all the apostles. However, Jesus telling the apostles, metaphorically that they have the "keys" does not mean Jesus gave up having the keys himself, for Jesus still has "the keys to death and Hades" in Revelation 1:18.
Hypothetically speaking, even if an early Pope having these keys and being able to pass them on would not mean papal succession if the succession was broken. a Pope taking the keys by the previous Pope being deposed sounds ridiculous. If a Pope were totally immoral, such as Alexander VI (1492-1503 A.D.) that would also break Papal succession. Of course from that point on, one cannot pass on what one never had.
How bad were some Popes? According to Austinís Topical History of Christianity, p.148,
"Then [after 904] began the so-called "pornocracy," during which Theodora and her two daughters, Theodora the Younger and Marozia, virtually controlled Rome and the church itself. Enticing harlots, these women had sold their bodies for positions, titles, and land, giving them widespread power. Marozia had an illicit affair with Pope Serius III, from which was born a son who later became Pope John XI. When Marozia sought to have herself crowned empress, her younger son Alberic kidnapped and imprisoned his mother, incarcerated his half-brother, the pope, and became emperor himself. He reigned from 932 to 954, exercising absolute control over the papacy. After Albericís death, his son Octavian was elected as Pope John XII, and proved to be the most odious member of this depraved family.
b. The Otto Regimes. In 962, the wicked John XII crowned the German king Otto I as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Thinking he had an ally in depravity, John soon found the new emperor to be a man of character and devoted to restoring the papacy to decency and honor. When Otto assembled a synod to discuss deposing John, the pope threatened them all with excommunication, but they deposed him anyway. Three months later John called another synod which rescinded what Ottoís synod had done. Therefore Otto decided upon force to rid the papacy of its evil ruler.
... The next forty-two years [after 1004] of papal history were filled with intense rivalry, expedient mediocrity, spiritual impotence, vice, and corruption. It seemed to reach its lowest depth with the election of a degenerate twelve-year-old boy, Pope Benedict IX (1032-1045) who after shameful debauchery and erratic administration, sold the holy tiara (i.e., office of the Pope) to the highest bidder. He was known as Gregory VI (1045-1046)....
The Catholic seminary professor Pacwa and other Catholics have an answer that would stun many Protestants. They agree with Protestants that many Popes were ungodly men, and probably went to hell. Since they were Popes though, we are to obey them anyway.
If a Pope is forcibly imprisoned and deposed, then does the new, hostile Pope have the authority and right of succession from the old Pope? Should Christians back then have feared Gregoryís threat of excommunication? Should Christians have supported Ottoís preparing for war against the Pope? Under what circumstances is someone who purchases the title of Pope a successor of St. Peter? Certainly, someone who was compared to Simon in Acts 8:13-25 should not be obeyed if he bought the office of Pope???
Q: In Mt 16:20 and Mk 8:30, why did Jesus not want the disciples to tell others He was the Christ (meaning Messiah) at this time?
A: First note that Jesus never told them to lie and deny he was the Messiah, only not to tell about it. There are at least two possible reasons.
1. At this point in His ministry, Jesus wanted them to hear His words before deciding whether or not He was the Messiah. It is sometimes better to let hearers of the Gospel hear Jesusí words themselves than to spend too much time "contextualizing" and "contemporizing" the Gospel.
2. As Matthew 16:21 shows, the disciples first had to be crystal clear on who Jesus was before they told others.
Jesus publicly announced this by the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday. Of course, after the resurrection, Jesus later told them to tell the entire world in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8.
See When Critics Ask p.348 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:21 and Mk 29, why was Peterís confession a major turning point in Jesusí ministry?
A: From the point of recognition that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus started teaching them that he had to go to Jerusalem to die. They had to believe who Jesus was before they could understand why Jesus had to die for their sins.
The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.856, also recognizes this as a turning point of the gospel of Matthew.
Q: In Mt 16:21 and Mk 8:31, at this exact time in His ministry, and not earlier, why did Jesus start telling them that He would suffer and be rejected?
A: Jesus did not say he would suffer and be killed until at least one of His disciples recognized and believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
Q: In Mt 16:21, why would Jesus wait until now to tell his disciples He would suffer, die, and be raised from the dead?
A: It was important for the disciples to recognize that He was the Messiah, the Son of God first. But as soon as they saw that, then Jesus went to the next step: the Messiah would have to suffer, die, and rise again. Jesus might also have not wanted them to jump to any false conclusions about the Messiah triumphing over Rome now. Jesus alluded to His death before, in Matthew 9:15; 10:38; 12:40; Jn 2:19; 3:14), but the first time Jesus openly declared it. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.376, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1268 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.743 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:21; 17:22; 20:19; Mk 8:31, since Jesus would rise after three days or on the third day, does that mean He was dead at least 24 X 3 = 72 hours?
A: No, since Luke 24:21 says that the day of resurrection was the third day. Jesus died Friday afternoon, and rose Sunday around dawn. After three days was a known Hebrew idiom meaning part or all of three days. Here are four other examples of the "three-day idiom". Since English rendering differ, all these quotes are taken from Greenís Literal translation.
1. In Genesis 42:17, Joseph imprisoned his brothers for three days. But in verse 18 he released ten of them on the third day.
2. Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles 10:5 told the people "three days return to me". Yet in 2 Chronicles 10:12, the people returned "on the third day, as the king commanded".
3. In 1 Samuel 30:12 a sick Egyptian slave told David he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights. Yet a person could not survive outside in the desert with no water at all for 72 hours. Undoubtedly the slave meant part of three days.
4. In Esther 4:16 Esther says to fast for her, "for three days, night and day" and she would do the same. Yet Esther 5:1 says it happened "on the third day" Esther had a banquet, so this is an equivalent time.
5. In referring to Christís death and resurrection, Jesus himself said in Matthew 12:40 says "three days and three nights", Mark 8:31 says "the third day he will rise up", Mark 14:58 says "through three days", John 2:19 says "in three days", and Luke 24:21 says "This third day comes today".
In summary, we have proven this Hebrew idiom can mean within three days, and this expression was recognizable from the time of Rehoboam to the time of Jesus. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.192, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.380-381, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.327-328, and Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.176-177 for more info. See When Critics Ask p.343-344 for a timeline for what happened each day.
Q: In Mt 16:22-23 and Mk 8:32-33, why did Jesus rebuke Peter here, saying "get thee behind me Satan"?
A: Peter had in mind the things of men, not God. Satan used Peter, Jesusí close friend, to tempt Jesus. However, Jesus recognized the temptation for what it was. Jesus was not saying Peter was demon-possessed, or controlled by Satan. Rather, Jesus recognized that behind the suggestion was Satan. When God wants us to do something for Him, and we have or think of a suggestion to the easy road instead, we should recognize that for what it is: a temptation from Satan. Even if the person is well-meaning and a fellow believer, we should recognize that they could still give you a suggestion that is a temptation of Satan. Satan in the wilderness, and Peter here, both suggested that Jesus could have the kingship without the suffering. Today if we try to make Jesus our King and Savior, without the cross or without the need for it, we are undermining Godís message of salvation.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.894-895, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.377, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1268, The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.226, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.58-59 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:22-23 and Mk 8:33, how could Peter have the boldness to correct and rebuke Jesus?
A: Jesus chose a bold disciple when He chose Peter. Boldness of itself is neither good nor bad. Boldness in following God is good, but boldness to go your own way is usually not.
Q: In Mt 16:22, why was Peter foolishly rebuking Jesus here?
A: Peter thought that Jesus needed correction and advice. Even today, some can have the attitude that they knew better than God.
Q: In Mt 16:23 and Mk 8:33, what are ways people today can be having in mind the things of man instead of the things of God?
A: We can substitute manís wisdom for Godís wisdom. We can decide to do things our way when it is counter to Godís way. We can forget that our hope is in God, not in our strength or wisdom. We can use our own earthly methods. Finally, we can be so eager to do our "duties" quickly, that we do not enjoy being in Godís presence as much, and would prefer a "fast-food" type of worship to being devoted to God.
You have not wholeheartedly said "yes" to God unless you have also said "no" to yourself.
See The Tony Evans Bible Commentary p.895 for more info.
Q: In Mt 16:24, why did Jesus mention a cross here, prior to telling His disciples He would be crucified?
A: Jesus knew He would be crucified prior to telling this to His disciples. They all knew about crucifixion already, as the Romans often crucified rebels and robbers. Crucifixion would be an incentive to others to remain in line. As the Zealot revolutionaries risked crucifixion for a small, earthly cause, the disciples should be willing to risk crucifixion for a Heavenly cause that was more worthwhile. In the end, every one of the twelve apostles was martyred for their faith, except for John, who was exiled to Patmos and died a natural death.
Q: In Mt 16:27, will Jesus come in the Fatherís glory, or in His own glory as Jn 1:14 says?
A: John 1:14 says they saw some of Jesusí glory. For example, they saw some glory at Pentecost. Matthew 16:27 refers to an event in the distant future, when Jesus comes again. In other words, you have not seen anything yet!
Q: In Mt 16:27, does this refer not to the end of the earth, but the supreme manifestation of Bahaíuíllah, as Bahaíis teach in Bahaíuíllah and the New Era p.268-269?
A: No, read the verse more carefully. It says the son of man will come in his Fatherís glory with his angels, and reward each person according to what he has done. People did not see any angels with Bahaíuíllah, and Bahaíuíllah did not reward either the faithful Bahaíis who were exiled or died, nor the Muslims who persecuted him.
Q: In Mt 16:28 and Mk 9:1, what did Jesus mean that some would not taste death until they saw the kingdom of God come with power?
A: First here is what the answer is not, and then what it is.
X1. There is no evidence that Jesus taught the disciples would stay alive for a long time. Actually, from church history we know that 11 of the 12 apostles died martyrís death. Only one, John died a natural death. He still suffered exile on the Island of Patmos, though.
X2. It does NOT refer to the millennial Kingdom in Revelation 20:1-6.
X3. It cannot refer to reincarnation, before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. Not only is reincarnation not true, but even if reincarnation were true, people who are reincarnated would still see death.
X4: The NIV Study Bible p.1466 favors it being the transfiguration, which had already happened. When in 2 Peter 1:16-18 Peter speaks of being eyewitnesses of his majesty, 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.299-300 says this indicates Peter understood it this way.
The Answer: It refers to when Jesus "won" His kingdom by the crucifixion as proved by the resurrection. He came into His kingdom after triumphing over Satan. Christians disagree on whether the staring day was the resurrection, or Pentecost, but that is a very minor point.
Matthew has a special emphasis on the kingdom of Heaven. The kingdom of heaven would start out visibly small like a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31), like yeast it would not be visible but its effects would be visible in the dough of the world (Matthew 13:33), but in the end angels will weed out of the kingdom of heaven everything that causes sins and all who do evil (Matthew 13:41-42). The kingdom of Heaven is like a buried treasure that one secretly finds (Matthew 13:44), but it is extremely valuable like a merchant who sells all to buy a fine pearl (Matthew 13:45-46). So as the parable of the net shows in Matthew 13:47-50, the Kingdom of heaven is something in this life with both good and bad fish, but it also has its ultimate fulfillment at the end of the age. The kingdom of God was within us (Lk 17:21).
Peter in Matthew 16:19, and the other apostles later were given the keys of the kingdom.
At the Last Supper, Jesus said he would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until He drank it anew with them in the Fatherís Kingdom. Matthew 26:29. Jesus ate and drank with the disciples after His resurrection.
Summary: The disciples, who lived ordinary lifespans, say the kingdom of Heaven came to earth after Jesusí resurrection. While the Jews might have looked for a military kingdom that would overthrow the Romans, Jesus taught the kingdom was like a mustard seed, yeast, or a pearl of great price. It was small, hard to see at first, of great value, and would have great effects.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.428-430, When Critics Ask p.349-350, and Now Thatís a Good Question p.46-47 for more info.
Q: In Mt 17:1-8, why was Jesus transfigured?
A: While Scripture does not say, it could be for a combination of reasons, relating to both the disciples and also to Jesus Himself.
1. For the disciples this revelation was a sign to confirm their faith, and encourage and strengthen the three disciples who witnessed it. Perhaps it would be good to strengthen the faith of these three before the crucifixion.
2. It set apart the three disciples as leaders of the rest.
3. The Father and Spirit could have used this event to instruct Jesus and strengthen Him and what to do leading up to the crucifixion, and what to do between being crucified and rising from the dead.
4. It could be a testimony that Jesus had "passed" as the perfect, sinless man, and now the subsequent conversation was about his crucifixion.
Jesus had already given a lot of evidence of His power prior to this. But all of those miracles are what Jesus did, or was capable of doing, not simply who He was. Sometimes we need to take a break from doing ministry, and doing other things, and just have a time alone with the lord, focusing on who He is.
Of course, God is not required to explain to us the reasons for everything. See The NIV Study Bible p.1466 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1139 for complementary answers.
Q: In Mt 17:1, which mountain did Jesus take them up to?
A: It was probably Mt. Meron at about 3,926/3,963 feet or 1,204 meters. It was probably not Mt. Hermon (9,232 ft), which was snow-capped and it would not make sense to send the night there. They probably did not go to the top of Mt. Tabor (1,900 ft, as Cyril of Jerusalem and Jerome thought), because it had a Roman fort on its top.
Mt. Meron is a five to eight-hour hike of moderate difficulty. There is often some snow on top during the winter, but not the rest of the year.
See The Expositorís Greek Testament vol.1 p.228-229, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.743, and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.384 for more info.
Q: In Mt 17:1-8, was the transfiguration a resurrection or a vision?
A: It was not precisely either one. Moses and Elijah were actually present, at least in spirit, talking with Jesus. Scripture does not say if their appearance was with a body or not. Moses and Elijah came in a bright cloud, and then they left. Elijah went to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:1), and though Moses died, his body was never found (Deuteronomy 34:6), and the devil contended with Michael the archangel about the body of Moses (Jude 9).
Q: In Mt 17:2 and Mk 9:3, why did Jesusí clothes become so white?
A: Scripture does not say why the clothes became white (or shone brightly) when the glory was displayed. Other examples of white clothing in glory are angels who appeared.
Q: In Mt 17:3-4 and Mk 9:4, how did Matthew and Mark know this was Moses and Elijah?
A: Probably because Peter, or James, and John told him. How would the Peter, James and John know? Either they heard Jesus addressing them by name, or Jesus told them afterwards, or the Father communicated it to them directly.
Q: In Mt 17:9 and Mk 9:9, why did Jesus specifically not want the disciples to tell anyone about the transfiguration until Jesus rose from the dead?
A: Many of the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah; how would they ever believe the transfiguration? It is essential to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. It was not essential to know about or believe secondary issues such as the transfiguration. If someone did not accept Jesus as the Messiah after seeing the miracles, it is unlikely they would believe because of a report about the transfiguration. After Jesus rose from the dead, someone who did believe in Jesus would have no difficulty in accepting the transfiguration.
Likewise, when we speak to others about Christ, especially the first time, of all the things we could speak about, make sure you spend that precious time speaking about what is most important.
Peter, James, and John could have gone around telling everyone about the transfiguration, and perhaps more people might question their sanity than believe them. But this second-hand evidence would not be very significant compared to the resurrection happening soon. Sometimes where we share with others, we do not want to mention "slightly convincing" things about Christianity instead of "strongly convincing" things.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.388 for more info.
Q: In Mt 17:11-13, how was John the Baptist the Elijah who was to come?
A: First we will discuss Elijah, and then John the Baptist.
Elijah himself was present in the transfiguration. In Matthew 17:11, Jesus says Elijahís restoring all things is future tense, and Elijah himself will appear before Jesusí Second Coming. Some think Elijah is one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:1-2.
John the Baptist came in the Spirit and power of Elijah, and it is John the Baptist Jesus is metaphorically referring to in Matthew 17:12-13.
In a drama, someone can stand in for an actor during a rehearsal, and the actor himself appears during the performance.
Conclusion: during the First Coming John the Baptist came in the role of Elijah, but that does not restrict Elijah himself from appearing before the Second Coming.
Q: In Mt 17:12 and Mk 9:11-13, how did John the Baptist fulfill the prophecy of Elijah? Was he Elijah reincarnated?
A: No, because reincarnation is wrong, as Hebrews 9:27 and Romans 9:11 show. In Jesusí first coming, John had the purpose and the mission of Elijah. Of course, Elijah (not John) himself appeared briefly at the transfiguration. Many think that Elijah will be one of the two witnesses right before the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:3-12. When Jesus came (the first time), it was not because Elijah and Moses were not there that the kingdom was not fully inaugurated on earth at that time. They showed up. See When Cultists Ask p.106-107 and When Critics Ask p.341 for more info.
Q: In Mt 17:14-16 and Lk 9:37-39, why do demons often hurt the people they possess?
A: Perhaps for a similar reasons as evil people often hurt those who have helped them. For a logical, actually cruelly logical explanation of this, Machiavelliís rotten book The Prince speaks of cases where a mercenary leader is dangerous while he is serving a prince, and even more dangerous if he defects. He wrote that the safest thing is often assassination, even if the person proved to be always loyal in the past! If someone cavorts with evil, they should not be surprised when evil is done to them by those they were helping.
Q: In Mt 17:15-21, Mk 9:17-18,28-29, and Lk 9:40, why could the disciples not cast out this demon?
A: It was not because of who the disciples were, nor any limit of Godís power. Rather, they took being able to cast out demons for granted at this time, and they did not pray or fast, perhaps from pride or complacency. Today, some Christians do not see the results they should because they do not spend the time to pray and fast.
Q: In Mt 17:15-21, Mk 9:17-18,28-29, and Lk 9:40, should we lay hands when casting out of demon, or is this just a form of action?
A: Our hands are not magic. But just as it can aid us in prayer to pray in various positions, it is fine and Biblical to lay hands on a demon-possessed person. It is not necessary to be done, such that "the demon cannot be cast out if we cannot lay hands".
Q: In Mt 17:15-21, will the evil spirit that cast out turn back and attack the weaker person in the team that is trying to cast out the demon?
A: Demons do not posses a true believer, but they can oppress a believer, and in that way attack a believer through greater temptations, fear, depression, and other ways to take their eyes off of Jesus. So, team members should have a close walk with the Lord.
By the way, there is one another danger in casting out demons. If the person whom the demon is cast out does not want to have Christ in her heart, then the demons and come back, and even bring more with them. See Matthew 12:43-45 and Luke 11:24-26.
Q: In Mt 17:15-21, some churches practice that the family must bring the demon processed person to the church, and not to go to the home. Is this because it is safer for casting demon in church that in someoneís house?
A: I think either church or home is fine. But if possible, I would not do it in a home that had idols (Buddhas, etc.) or astrology or fortune-telling in it.
Q: In Mt 17:15-21, if a non-Christian woman is possessed by the evil spirit, and the husband is not against if initially. But after 2-3 visits, the husband changes his mind and does not welcome the team, or stop the team to come, and the wife is still open, what is our position? Must she obey her husband?
A: That is a difficult situation. Wives are supposed to obey their husbands, but they are to obey God first. Thus if the husband commands the wife to do something unbiblical, the wife must disobey the husband on this point. She should still obey on other points though. However, if the wife wants the Christians to come, I do not think she is possessed by a demon; she could be under attack by a demon though. Is the wife willing to come visit the church? If the husband does not want the wife associating with believers, and Hebrews 10:25 commands us not to forsake meeting together, the wifeís duty is to obey God first.
Q: In Mt 17:15-21, what if the possessed victim hurt herself or jumped out of a window during ministering time, and the family member decides to launch a complaint or file a court case to the team leader or the team, what is the churchís position?
A: That can be a possibility; people can file lawsuits blaming others for practically anything. Regardless though, church members should take precautions for the safety of the person being involved.
Q: In Mt 17:15-21, must we inform and seek approval from pastors before visiting a demon-possessed person?
A: I would strongly advise making your pastor aware of this. Hebrews 13:17 says that we are to obey them that rule over us, and this is referring to pastors/elders.
Q: In Mt 17:25-27, why did Jesus say the sons are exempt from taxes, yet Jesus still paid taxes?
A: It seems almost comical for the Creator and Lord of the earth to pay taxes. Nonetheless, Jesus graciously did so, without complaint in order not to give offense.
Besides this example, Romans 13:6-7 also commands believers to pay taxes to the government, even a government as corrupt as the Roman Empire.
Some people might wrongly interpret Jesusí words as being vague, because Jesus was saying that hypothetically while everyone that should go to Caesar should be given to him, actually nothing should go to the Romans. However, as Hard Sayings of the Bible p.443-445 points out, if this were what Jesus meant, having them produce a Denarius would be either pointless, or worse misleading people.
Q: In Mt 18:5 and Mk 9:35-37, how is welcoming a child in Jesusí name like welcoming Jesus?
A: Jesus was emphasizing the lack of distinction between warmly receiving Him in the flesh and receiving others in Jesusí name. In ancient times, an emissary of a king was treated royally as the representative of the king.
Q: In Mt 18:8 and Mk 9:43,47, should we cut off our hand or gouge out or eye if it makes us sin?
A: No, for the simple reason that our hands and eyes do not make us sin. Jesus is saying that sin is so serious, that it would be better not to have these limbs than to sin.
Q: In Mt 18:9 and Mk 9:43-44,48, do the references to unquenchable fire here prove eternal punishment?
A: They imply the truth of eternal punishment, but they do not prove it, for it could be that the fire was eternal, but people surviving in it was not. Of course, in that case, the fire have some other fuel or means of being sustained.
Q: In Mt 18:11, does God the Father have a face?
A: No. One would not expect Jesus to give a detailed teaching on closeness and angelic perception in the dimensions of Heaven here. Rather, Jesus simply used a metaphor to say that the angels watching over these little ones had direct access to the Father. However, nothing says that other angels also do not have direct access to the Father too.
Q: In Mt 18:14, since God is not willing that any of the little ones perish, why do people perish?
A: This is two questions in one: why do babies die, and why do people go to Hell.
Babies die, as we all eventually die, as a consequence of us being a part of a fallen race. We live in an world with much evil and injustice, and God will set everything right on Judgment Day.
Babies and fetuses have a sinful nature, but that a fetus dies does not prove the fetus is guilty of sin any more than a kitten dying proves it was guilty of sin.
People go to Hell, according to 2 Thessalonians 1:7, which says those who do not obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ will be condemned, so the gospel is something we all are responsible for obeying. Jesusí death on the cross was sufficient for all. Yet God still permits people who reject the One True God to bear the consequences of the choices for which they were responsible.
Q: Does Mt 18:15-18 mean we should never criticize a Christian leaderís doctrine?
A: Not at all. Matthew 18:15-18 deals with behavior and not public preaching of falsehood or heresy. While it is good to contact a person privately, to attempt to win them over before going public, if the falsehood was publicly preached, then the falsehood needs to be publicly corrected. If it is corrected by the person who made and formerly believed the false statements, then all the better. But if not, then it needs to be corrected by someone else. But this should not be done with a spirit of animosity or hatred towards the person who spoke the error, but in love and for a desire to show the truth.
See When Cultists Ask p.118 for more info.
Q: In Mt 18:18 what does binding and loosing mean?
A: Bind means to stop, restrict, or forbid, and loose means to allow to proceed. The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.249-250 says that "binding" and "loosing" were Jewish idioms for what is announced on earth had already been predetermined beforehand in heaven. This power of binding and loosing was given to all of the apostles.
Q: In Mt 18:21-22, how does Jesusí generosity in telling people to forgive others seventy times seven times compare with other teaching?
A: The Sadducees taught you only had to forgive your brother three times. However, it is not really generous at all for someone such as Jesus to tell someone else to forgive. What was extremely generous was Jesus forgiving us, those who nailed him to the cross (Luke 23:34), and dying for our sins.
Q: In Mt 18:32-35, does God ever uncancel or unforgive sins?
A: The debt was not renewed, rather the forgiveness was unapplied. The master forgave the servantís debt, but when the wicked servant took another servant by the throat to repay his debt, the master was angry at this injustice and reapplied the debt. God freely and graciously forgave our sins, though we were undeserving, but whether or not the forgiveness is applied depends on our response. Hebrews 4:2 says that the gospel did not profit some because they did not combine it with faith. Romans 11:29 says that Godís gifts and call are irrevocable.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.386-388 and When Cultists Ask p.120 for more info.
Q: In Mt 18:32-35, could this parable mean the master sent the wicked servant to jail for subsequent debts, instead of reapplying the old debt?
A: No, that is not the point, because the parable indicates that the master turned the wicked servant over to the jailers was due to the wicked servantís lack of mercy.
Q: In Mt 18:35, are some works, such as forgiving our brothers, required for salvation?
A: Neither forgiving others nor any other work will help a person get salvation. Rather, if a person has salvation they will be able to forgive others for whatever they have done. It they have experience the great mercy of God, it is a much small thing for us to forgive others.
Q: In Mt 19:3-9, Mk 10:11-12, under what circumstances is divorce permitted?
A: In Old Testament times (Dt 24:1-4, etc.) divorce was permitted for almost any reason because peoplesí hearts were hard, but Jesus took away this reason. Divorce is not OK except in the following circumstances:
1. The unbelieving spouse desires to leave (1 Corinthians 7:12-15).
2. It is permitted when one has committed adultery (Matthew 5:31-32).
3. Many Christians see divorce as inevitable in the case of desertion, because one spouse has in effect "divorced" already.
4. Of course we are to follow the rest of Godís word too, and many Christians see a case for divorce if the life of a spouse or child is in danger from the other spouse.
Chuck Swindoll in his pamphlet Divorce, sees only three circumstances where it is OK for a Christian to remarry after divorce:
4a. Marriage and divorce prior to salvation
4b. An immoral and unrepentant partner
4c. Desertion/divorce by an unbeliever
Note that death of a spouse is not divorce, and Romans 7:3 teaches that remarriage is OK after the death of a spouse.
These verses say not to divorce, except for these reasons, but what if you don't but the spouse divorces you? Just like death of a spouse, nothing prevents remarriage when it was the spouse that divorced, according to the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1221-1222.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.247-248, Now Thatís a Good Question p.401-402, 404-406, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.431-435 for more info.
Q: In Mt 19:8,9 does Jesus changing the laws on divorce imply that God inspired scripture He did not agree with?
A: Under the Old Covenant Jesus said divorce was permitted because their hearts were hard. This shows that God permits things He does not desire, for a period of time. However, under the New Covenant, a man should not divorce his wife, except for adultery.
Q: In Mt 19:9, why does a man who divorces his wife and marries another commit adultery, since polygamy was allowed?
A: No, polygamy is not adultery. Jesusí teaching here is the same regardless of monogamy or polygamy. There are five points to consider in the answer.
Godís view on divorce is plainly stated in Malachi 2:16: God hates it. In the time of the Mosaic Law God only permitted it because their hearts were hard, according to Matthew 19:8. In the New Testament, it is not permitted to divorce your spouse, except for adultery.
However, if an unbelieving spouse insists on divorcing you, God commands us to allow this since God has called us to peace, as 1 Corinthians 7:15 says. Obeying Godís command to allow [reluctantly] a spouse to divorce you, is Biblically different than disobeying Godís command by choosing to divorce your spouse.
Godís view on polygamy. Adam and Eve were a model of two (not multiple) becoming one flesh (1 Corinthians 6:16). Polygamy was permitted in both the Old and New Testaments. However, in the New Testament, it frowned upon, since church leaders cannot be polygamous.
More primary than Godís model for monogamous marriage is Godís command on divorce. When Christian missionaries preach among primitive peoples, they tell polygamous men not to divorce their wives, because that would deprive the wives of financial support; however, they do discourage the husbands from marrying more wives.
Therefore, it was choosing to break the marriage vow that was the cause of the adultery, not the polygamy. Regardless of whether a man had more than one wife or not, if a man sinfully chooses to divorce, which God hates, then God does not want him to marry again.
Q: In Mt 19:9 are there any manuscripts that do not have "except for fornication"?
A: All manuscripts that Aland et al. (3rd edition) records say either "except for the cause of fornication" or "if not for fornication" except for manuscript 1574. Manuscript 1574 was written in the 14th century, just before the end of the Middle Ages.
Also, Tertullian, writing 198-220 A.D., wrote that divorce is not allowed except for fornication both in Tertullian To His Wife book 2 ch.2 p.45 and On Modesty ch.16 p.92. So, this clause was not an addition after Tertullianís time. There is no evidence to doubt that the phrase was originally present.
Q: In Mt 19:12 why did the NIV translate this as "renounced marriage"?
A: An atheist, Cappello, falsely charges the NIV with being deceitful here. The literal Greek here says "eunuch for the kingdom of God". However, Jesus and his listeners knew the law said a castrated man could not enter the Temple, it is the practice and not the surgery that is intended. The NIV here is a paraphrase with the correct interpretation. See the next question for the interpretation.
Q: In Mt 19:12, briefly does this teach that a man could make himself a eunuch for the kingdom of God as an atheist (Capello) says?
A: No. Letís examine both possibilities. Since surgical castration would also mean celibacy, the issue is whether this verse refers only to celibacy, or else to celibacy via castration. Agreed?
Since physical castration goes against Deuteronomy 23:1, interpreting it as celibacy is very similar to 1 Corinthians 7:2,7, and early Christians universally understood this as celibacy, we should interpret it consistent with the Old Testament, New Testament, and how Christians have uniformly interpreted it. See the next question for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Mt 19:12, Jesus states ".....and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heavenís sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." Here we [allegedly] have Christís endorsement of self-castration. I wonder how many Christian men would prove their allegiance to God by doing this? Curiously, this endorsement of castration contradicts Dt 23:1.
A: This speaks about celibacy, not castration. But letís examine both possibilities.
Celibacy: Jesus was comfortable using hyperboles in speech (you mean I gouged out my eye and cut off my hand for nothing!), and apparently was not concerned that these Jews who knew the law would misunderstand. The Sadducees and Pharisees criticized Jesus for many things, but Jesus was not criticized on this, as the hyperbole was understood.
Physical castration: If this verse refers also to physical castration, it would go against the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 23:1, and nothing in Scripture or the early church writings indicates that Jesus taught anything contrary to the Old Testament Law, except for diet where He was less restrictive, and divorce and love, where Jesus had a higher standard.
If Jesus really intended castration, then there would be no difference in this verse between those being made eunuchs by men, and those who chose celibacy/castration for the kingdom of God.
Also, this teaching of Jesus is very similar to the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:2,7 where Paul is clearly speaking of celibacy (by both men and women) for the kingdom of God.
Finally, we should ask not how people 2,000 years later might interpret this verse in modern culture, but how the early Christians would read this verse. Justin Martyr his First Apology chapter 14 quotes this verse, and speaks of those who are twice married. While it is arguable whether Justin is speaking of polygamy, remarriage after divorce, or remarriage after death of a spouse, regardless Justin is speaking of celibacy, not castration. Tertullian in On the Resurrection of the Flesh chapter 27 uses this verse and speaks of "the bright beauty of the unwedded flesh" (i.e., celibacy in general).
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.388-389 gives a more extensive discussion on why the words should not be taken at face value, any more than the words about gouging out the eye or cutting off the foot if they led you to sin.
In summary, those who look to the Bible to guide their lives, whether living in the second century or twenty-first, can figure out what this means.
Q: In Mt 19:14, how does the kingdom of Heaven belong to little children?
A: This could be true in multiple ways.
a) We have to acknowledge our childlike dependency on God to be saved. God helps those who acknowledge to Him their helplessness.
b) God takes care of children who die before the age of accountability. The Bible implies they are in Heaven, though without any rewards.
Q: In Mt 19:14, does Calvinism, to be consistent, teach all who die as babies go to Hell?
A: No, this is a false accusation I have heard. While Augustine, Prosper of Aquitaine and some others taught that all unbaptized babies who die go to Hell, they were not Calvinists but Augustinians.
Calvinists believe the Biblical view that ultimately it is God who has the power to save; it is not baptism, our works, our faith. God can choose to save through Christ however He wishes. Here is what Calvinists themselves say.
"All of those dying in infancy are among the elect.", according to Lorraine Boettner in The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination p.148,149. The Second Scots Confession (1580 A.D.) says, "We abhor and detest his [the popeís cruel judgment against infants dying without baptism." C.H. Spurgeon, appealing (incorrectly) to Ezekiel 16:21 believed that infants who die go to Heaven. Other Calvinists who agreed with this include Charles Hodge, W.G.T. Shedd, and B.B. Warfield. The Calvinist Curt Daniel in his dissertation The History and Theology of Calvinism p.336-339 has a section entitled "Dying Infants are Saved".
Here is what Calvin himself said in the Institutes of the Christian Religion book 4 chapter 16 p.2:541 says, "But how, they ask, are infants regeneration, when not possessing a knowledge of either good or evil? We answer, that the work of God, though beyond the reach of our capacity, is not therefore null. Moreover, infants who are to be saved (and that some are saved at his age is certain) must, without question, be previously regenerated by the Lord. For if they bring innate corruption with them from their motherís womb, they must be purified before they can be admitted into the kingdom of God.... But to silence this class of objectors [critics] God gave, in the case of John the Baptist, ... a proof of what he might do in others."
Q: In Mt 19:16-17, was Jesus denying that He was good, or that He was God?
A: No, see the discussion in the gospels on Mt 19:16-17 for the answer.
Q: In Mt 19:17, what is good?
A: In Genesis 1 and 2, God pronounced all creation as good before the Fall of humankind. Jesus said in Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 that no one is good except God alone. God is the source of goodness, but as Thomas Aquinas pointed out, defining God as good only because God is the source of good, is no more valid than defining God as a physical body because God is the source of all physical bodies.
For us, goodness is that which matches the character and desired will of God. We are commanded to do good in 1 Tim 6:18, so we can be good in a limited sense. God is good in a higher way, because 1) He is the source of all goodness, which He provides to us 2) He is the standard by which goodness is seen, 3) and nothing is totally good except Him (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19).
Q: In Mt 19:23, is it true that rich people cannot go to heaven?
A: No, or else Abraham would be in trouble, and Paul, James, and the writer of Hebrews, not to mention Jesus, would be wrong to hold Abraham up as a hero of the faith. Rather, it is the love of riches, and trusting in them that makes it hard for a person to go to Heaven. A person could have great wealth, like Abraham, and not love or trust in their wealth.
Q: In Mt 19:23, Mk 10:25, and Lk 18;25, what did Jesus mean by a camel going through the eye of a needle?
A: Some think "the needle" was a nickname for a narrow gate in Jerusalem. However, according to Hard Sayings of the Bible p.437-439, and Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.138 while Jerusalem and other cities did have some very narrow gates, no gate of called "the needleís eye" is known to us. The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 8 p.425 also says that attempts to make this hyperbole refer to a gate in Jerusalem are misguided.
Q: In Mt 19:28 and Lk 22:28-30, since the disciples will sit on twelve thrones, will Judas Iscariot sit too? (Bart Ehrman brings this up in (Jesus, Interrupted p.159)
A: No. First of all, Luke 22:28-30 does not mention twelve thrones, only twelve tribes. Actually Matthew 19:28 does NOT say the twelve disciples will sit on twelve thrones. Rather, it says, "... you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (NIV) So it says there will be twelve thrones, but does not say the twelve disciples will sit on them. Rather, Jesus only promised this to "you who have followed me." Judas did not continue to follow Jesus and deserted his place as a disciple after betraying Jesus, as Acts 1:20 says. In Matthew 19:28, Jesus only promised this to "you who have followed me."
Q: In Mt 19:29, how will people have 100 times more fathers, mothers, etc. in this life?
A: First of all, the NKJV says "and eternal life", Wuestís Expanded Translation says "life eternal", while the NIV says "in this life". This is somewhat of a moot point, because this verse applies both in this life and the life to come. Imagine having homes all over the world that are open to welcome you, and people of all the races of the world who are your dear brothers and sisters. This is what we have, or should have in the Christian community we call the church. In addition, in Heaven we will have in perfected form what we have in imperfect form on earth.
Q: In Mt 19:30, Mk 10:31, and Lk 13:30, in what ways are those who are first going to be last and vice versa?
A: In at least four ways:
Pride: Those who were proud in this life will be humbled, and the humble will be lifted up (James 4:6; Luke 2:51-52).
Wealth: Generally speaking, many people with a lot of money do not see much need to come to God, as Proverbs 30:8-9 implies, and Luke 16:19-21 gives an example. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 that not many of the Corinthian church were wise by worldly standards, or influential. James 2:5 shows this was true in most of the early churches. See also Luke 2:53 and James 5:1-6.
Rewards: God will judge believers based on what they were given. To those who were given much, much is demanded. See When Critics Ask p.351-352 for more info on this point.
Servanthood: The greatest believers, in Godís eyes, are the servants of others, as Mark 9:35-37, Luke 9:46-48, and Matthew 18:1-4 show.
Q: In Mt 20:1-16 is the Master fair in this parable?
A: The Master represents God, and God is fair by His standards. I cannot answer if He is unfair by your standards because some people have very strange ideas of fairness. God is teaching us that His standard of fairness still allows for special generosity.
God is just, and He correctly paid each laborer what He promised. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.389-391 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Mt 20:1-16, does everyone get the same rewards in Heaven?
A: No. while Matthew 20:1-16 indicates that they do not, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 explicitly teaches we are not to think all get the same rewards in Heaven. See When Critics Ask p.351-352 and When Cultists Ask p.121-122 for more extensive answers.
Q: In Mt 20:17-19, how can Almighty God permit His prophet Jesus to be turned over to the Gentiles to be mocked and killed?
A: Sometimes it takes being willing to appear initially defeated to achieve the ultimate victory.
Q: In Mt 20:20-28, since great Christians are the servants, not rulers over others, why do some Christian leaders seem to forget this?
A: Power can corrupt, and many ungodly men called themselves believers. You can read about some of the sad examples God taught us about in the books of Kings and Chronicles.
Q: In Mt 20:30, was it two blind men, or one blind man named Bartimaeus as Mark 10:46-52 says?
A: It could be two events, as all the blind men in Jericho would want to see Jesus. However, since in both gospels the words "Son of David, have mercy on me/us" were shouted, it is more likely it was one event. Bartimaeus then would be the name of one of the two blind men. Mark, who most likely heard this from Peter was only aware of one blind man but knew his name. Matthew, who was there, saw both blind men.
Q: In Mt 20:32, why did Jesus ask the obviously blind man what he wanted Jesus to do?
A: There could be two distinct reasons.
First, Jesus wanted the man to verbally ask before the gift of sight was given Him, and Jesus was giving the man the opportunity to do so.
Second, not everyone who is disabled wants to be made well. There have been cases of people in leper colonies deliberately infecting their children so their children could be supported for the rest of their life.
Q: In Mt 21:1-3, Mk 11:2-3, Lk 19:30-31, why did Jesus tell his disciples to take a donkey?
A: When a king entered a city, he would enter on a horse, an animal for battle, to symbolize that he was a conqueror. When a king or judge entered on a donkey, this symbolized he came in peace, without his army. This also fulfilled Zechariah 9:9-10.
Q: In Mt 21:12-13, Mk 11:12-19, and Luke 19:43-48, why was Jesus angry at the moneychangers?
A: These people were in Godís House with no intention of worshipping God. They were both a distraction and a discouragement to those who came to worship God. God takes our worship very seriously.
Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.56-57 also says that the Jewish Mishnahs record incidents of price-gouging for animals. (The earliest Mishnahs were written around 200 A.D.) If a person had to bring an animal to sacrifice at the Temple, and the prices were unfairly high to purchase an animal, then the poor would be locked out of worshipping God properly.
Q: In Mt 21:16-17, since we are only suppose to worship God, why did Jesus accept praise?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. Jesus not only accepted compliments and praise, Jesus accepted worship in John 9:38. (The Greek word proskuneo here implies much more than just thanks or respect.)
2. It is good to give godly leaders honor and praise (but not worship), as Philippians 2:29 shows. However, worship only God (Matthew 4L9-10; Luke 4:7-8; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9)
3. Not only men (Matthew 2:2), but angels worship Jesus as God in Hebrews 1:6.
4. Jesus is God (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:8,9), and Jesus is our Lord and our God (John 20:28-29).
Q: In Mt 21:18-19, Mk 11:14,20-21, why did Jesus seem to be so cruel as to cause a non-thinking fig tree to wither?
A: This is almost like asking how many wheat plants were cruelly murdered to that you could eat your slice of bread. The answer is none, because non-thinking plants cannot be cruelly murdered.
Jesus was not concerned about the plantís non-existent feelings. Rather, Mark 13:28-29 Jesus tells us to observe the parable of the fig tree. When the branches and leaves come out, then summer is near. Likewise, when the Messiah comes to Jerusalem, the redemption of man is near.
After Jesus did this, He used the illustration of a fig tree in Matthew 24:32.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.441-442, taking information from an article called "The Barren Fig Tree" by W.M. Christie, provides more details. It says that toward the end of the month of March leaves begin to appear on fig trees, and small knobs called taqsh in Palestinian Arabic, the size of green almonds, grow. These drop off, as they are not real figs, but peasants eat these when they are hungry. However, if the fig leaves appear with no taqsh, then there will be no figs.
Q: In Mt 21:21-22 and Mk 11:24, since we can ask for anything in prayer, why donít Christians ask for, and get everyone becoming a Christian? Also, I have a long wish list....
A: God can do anything (except lie, be tempted by evil, deny Himself, or swear by anyone greater than Himself), but a logical impossibility is not a thing. God cannot create people who freely choose to love and obey Him without them being able to freely choose to love and obey Him.
Even Jesus Himself wept over Jerusalemís rejection of Him in Matthew 23:37-39. Even the Pharisees were permitted to "reject Godís purpose for themselves" in Luke 7:30.
As to the long wish lists, see the discussion on Matthew 7:7-11 for how God, like a wise Father, gives us only the good things that we ask for the right way. Praise God He does not always say "Yes" to us!
Q: In Mt 21:21-22 and Mk 11:24, when you pray and believe, are you guaranteed to always get what you pray for?
A: No, this verse says you have to really believe what you ask for. If you cherish sin in your heart (Psalm 66:18), turn a deaf ear to the poor (Proverbs 21:13), are wicked (Proverbs 15:29; Isaiah 59:1-3), refuse to hear God (Zechariah 7:11-14 and implied in Proverbs 28:9), or pray to spend on your selfish desires (James 4:3), God, like a wise Father, will not give it to you. See When Cultists Ask p.136-137 and When Critics Ask p.373-374 for more info.
Q: In Mt 21:23, how large was the temple courtyard?
A: Prior to Jesusí ministry, Herod the Great had enlarged the Temple courtyard to about 330 yards by 500 feet (300 meters by 460 meters) according to The NIV Study Bible p.1477.
Q: In Mt 21:23-24, why didnít Jesus just answer their question about Him being the Messiah?
A: The answer was obvious to those who wanted to know. Yet, even after all the miracles, it was not possible to give an answer they would accept, since they had stubbornly refused to believe. So, Jesus spoke such that if they would honestly answer His question, they would also answer their own. Unfortunately, when the questioners were themselves questioned, they looked for the most expedient answer, not the true one.
Q: In Mt 21:24-27, Mk 11:33, and Lk 20:7-8, why did Jesus refuse to tell them by what authority He did these things?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. Jesus was under no requirement to answer a personís question, especially questions asked not to find out the truth, but to entrap Him.
2. They already knew the answer. Jesus already claimed to be from God in doing these things. They just wanted a plain statement at that time in His words.
Since we share the truth we are not to lie, but it is OK to decline to answer sometimes, especially if the questioners donít want to know the truth, they only want to try to entrap you.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.485-486 for more info.
Q: In Mt 21:33-41, since God is symbolized by the landlord, does He sometimes not know what is going on?
A: The landlord does symbolize God, but He does know what is happening, as proved by Jesus telling this parable. God is soooo patient and long-suffering, this parable shows us He is even willing to permit continued disobedience and injustice, and even the death of His Son, for the sake of the lost. This is in order that they might come to Him. Godís tolerance does have an end though, at Judgment Day, when all will be set right.
Q: In Mt 21:46, was Jesus really a prophet or did the people just consider Him a prophet?
A: The fact that "they considered Him a prophet" does not show whether He was really one or not. He was from God, spoke Godís Words, and predicted the future, so He was a prophet, and many considered Him as such.
Q: In Mt 22:13-14, how is God all-loving, to turn someone out and throw them into darkness?
A: Who said God is all-loving? The Bible does not. As Romans 11:22 says, consider both the kindness and sternness of God. God is the most loving being in the universe. But, He is not loving as some define loving, if their definition contradicts His other attributes of holiness, justice, and wrath.
Q: In Mt 22:14 does the phrase "many are called, few are chosen" refer to variations and degrees of faith and assurance, as Bahaíis teach in Some Questions Answered p.129-131?
A: No. If you read the entire parable in Matthew 22:1-14, it puts people in two categories: those who enter in to the wedding banquet and those who do not. Many are called but few are chosen refers to those invited to enter but who refused, and a man who wanted to enter in with improper clothes.
There is a lesson for everyone here. You cannot just read a single verse of the Bible, ignoring what is written before or after, and expect to correctly interpretation the meaning.
Q: In Mt 22:29, why did Jesus tell the Sadducees, who had obviously studied scripture, they were in error because they knew not the Scriptures nor the power of God?
A: The Sadducees believed only the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis through Deuteronomy) to be scripture, not the rest of the Bible, according to the early Christian writers. Josephus also said they only observed what was in the Torah. Acts 23:8 says the Sadducees denied the resurrection, angels, and spirits. Even today, people can read and study the Bible, but still choose to be ignorant of Godís power and what it means to believe scripture.
Q: Does Mt 22:30 mean we will not have physical bodies in heaven, since we will be like the angels and angels are spirits (Heb 1:14)?
A: No. The comparison is with marriage. It is not saying we will be like angels in every way, only in this way. See When Critics Ask p.355 for more info.
Q: In Mt 22:30, Mk 12:25, and Lk 20:34-35, does this mean there are no marriages in Heaven, or merely that there are no new marriage ceremonies, but some earthly marriages remain in Heaven?
A: We know there are no marriages in heaven by reading Romans 7:2. A woman could not be married to more than one man. However, if the man dies, she is free from the marriage and can marry again. Thus she is not still married in Heaven.
As a side note, the false religion of Mormonism believes that some "Temple marriages" are eternal. However, if the husband dies, the wife can remarry. It is just she cannot have two Temple marriage for time and all eternity. From a Mormon perspective, what would the man in Mormon Heaven be thinking while his wife was "fooling around" with a regular marriage after he died?
Q: In Mt 22:30, does this somehow support sex outside of marriage, as the cult call the Family of Love (formerly the Children of God) maintain?
A: Not at all. Saying that we will not have a marriage relationship in heaven, simply means what Jesus said it means, that there will be no need for marriage in Heaven. It does not say on earth we should either be sexually promiscuous, or totally celibate without marriage. This type of claim is interesting to see just how far some might go in attempting to read into the Bible their own views, which are not there in the Bible. See When Cultists Ask p.122 for more info.
Q: In Mt 22:30, Mk 12:25, and Lk 20:34-35, Hello. my dad just passed away. My mother is taking it very hard and wants to know if she will still be married to him in Heaven. I don't know how to answer her question. I know that Matthew 16:19 says that what is bound on Earth will be bound in Heaven and what is loosed on Earth will be loosed in Heaven. However, I have heard it said that "there is no marriage in Heaven." I don't have a verse to back this up, but I have heard it said. Can you help me understand?
A: My condolences to you and your family on your Dad. I do not think Matthew 16:19 was intended to relate to marriage, but rather being free to go to heaven. Matthew 22:23-32 do relate though. The Sadducees, who denied resurrection, thought to discredit both Jesus and the Pharisees by saying that if marriages are in heaven as they are on earth, then what about a woman who becomes a widow multiple times?
In Matthew 22:30 Jesus answered that people do not marry or are given in marriage in heaven but are like the angels of God, and angels presumably are always unmarried. Some have tried to make this mean there are no weddings in heaven, but people who were married stay married. However, this is not a valid interpretation of this verse, because if that is all the Jesus meant, then the Sadducee's argument would not be refuted. In modern terms, if a widow were to marry again, then would
1) Her first husband in heaven just have lost a wife, or
2) She would have two husbands in heaven, or
3) If she was not sure about the salvation of her husband, she would not know if she were still married or unmarried until she died, since presumably someone in heaven would not be married to someone in Hell.
No, as the marriage vows usually say, "till death to us part." If your mother later were to choose to remarry, there is nothing wrong with that, as Paul teaches in Romans 7:1-3. It might even feel weird to you at first, to see her with another man, but you would need to get used to it, what God has specifically pronounced OK we should not say is wrong.
All this being said, does not mean she cannot spend thousands upon thousands of years with her former husband, as dear friends in heaven. I would expect that in heaven when we are perfect, her husband will love her even more than he loved her and earth, and she likewise. Of course, both of them will love God even more.
Q: In Mt 22:31-32 and Mk 12:26, is Jesus justified in making this point based on the tense of the verb "am"?
A: Apparently so, because the Sadducees did not argue with Jesus about the tense of the Hebrew word.
Furthermore, there would be no point in mentioning Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob if they are non-existent, and if God were going to abandon others when they die.
Q: In Mt 22:35-36 and Mk 12:28-29, why did Jesus not rebuke this question like He did the previous question on marriage?
A: The previous question on the woman who had seven husbands was not intended to find truth but to trap Jesus. This question was because the questioner genuinely wanted to listen to what Jesus had to say. Respectfully asking any question of God is OK, as long as we are asking in order to know the truth and follow it.
Q: In Mt 22:37-40 and Mk 12:30, did Jesus actually add to Deuteronomy 6:4, or did He paraphrase it without adding to it?
A: The gospels often paraphrase what Jesus said, and do not necessarily give the exact words. Matthew 22:37-40 says heart, soul, and mind. Mark 12:30 says heart, soul, mind, and strength. The Masoretic text of the Old Testament says heart, soul, strength, but according to The NIV Study Bible p.1475, some Septuagint manuscripts add the word "mind", so Jesus was not the first to add mind. (The writings of Philo the Jew we have preserved do not reference Deuteronomy 6:4. Dead Sea Scroll 4Q43 (=4QDt(p)) contains Dt 6:4-11, but I have not seen its translation.)
Q: In Mt 22:37, for the greatest commandment, is it just "heart, soul, and mind", or is it strength also as Mk 12:29-30 says?
A: There are two possible answers.
1. Jesus could have said it different ways, so it could be both.
2. The Gospel accounts record what God had the evangelists remember. There is no problem with having a conservative interpretation of scripture and saying that Matthewís memory was imprecise here, because he forgot "strength".
Which of the two answers is true? It really does not matter, as the answer to the next question shows.
Q: In Mt 22:37, why did a Sovereign God allow the "greatest commandment" to be preserved imprecisely, in two different ways, as "heart, soul, and mind" in Mt 22:37, and as "heart, soul, mind, and strength" in Mk 12:29-30?
A: The reason God deliberately allowed this might be given in 2 Timothy 2:14. It is all too easy for people to get hung up on the exact words, and neglect believing and doing the main point.
The Bible is all accurate and true, but it was not written and preserved as precisely as possible. Given that the Bible was written and transmitted with all the preciseness that God required (and it is extremely precise in parts), then the imprecisions we see in the Bible are of greater importance in the eyes of some people than they are to God.
God could have preserved this commandment and other parts of the Bible more precisely, but it is likely the imprecisions were deliberate on Godís part. God emphasized how seriously we are to obey scripture, but when we start arguing over the imprecisions, we are starting not to obey scripture in 1 Timothy 6:4 and 2 Timothy 2:14.
Q: In Mt 22:40, how do all the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments?
A: All of the law concerned how we please and relate to God, and how we love and relate to other people. Of course, the Law had other beneficial effects, such as reducing disease, a more hygienic camp, stronger families, etc. but the Israelites would not necessarily know all the helpful effects.
Q: In Mt 22:41-45, was Matthew disproving Jesus being the son of David by referring to Ps 110, as the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.866 claims?
A: Not at all, since Matthew specifically referred to Jesus being the Son of God in Matthew 4:3,6; 8:29; 14:33; 16:16; 26:63; 27:40,43,54. Also Jesus is implied as the Son of God in Matthew 2:15; 3:17; 17:5; 22:45. Jesus was called the son of David in Matthew 1:1; 9:27; 15:22; 20:30,31; 21:9,15; 22:42. Jesus was giving the Pharisees a riddle, to which they would have no answer until they accepted Him. The fact that Jesus agrees with and quotes Psalm 110 as showing that this person is Davidís Lord, does not negate the fact that Jesus agreed with and quoted Psalm 110 that this person was a son of David too.
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) answered this Bardasene objection by giving other examples where questions were raised. "the 'how' is not a denial but an inquiry. In fact, this word occurs in the Scriptures, not once, but often to express not denial but an inquiry. For instance: 'How can one chase a thousand [Dt 32:30 LXX]. Again, 'How has the faithful city Sion become a prostitute?' [Isaiah 1:21 LXX]. And, 'How has Lucifer fallen from heaven, who used to rise in the morning?' [Isaiah 14:12]. Christ did not say 'how' to deny but to make an inquiry." Dialogue on the True Faith Fifth part F13 p.164.
Q: Does Mt 22:42 prove reincarnation by showing that Jesus, son of David, was the reincarnation of David, as the (falsely named) Unity School of Christianity claims?
A: No. The term "son of" can mean both immediate son of and descendant of. Jesus was an ancestor of David. There is no evidence of reincarnation in Scripture, but there is teaching against reincarnation. Hebrews 9:27 says it is appointed to man to die once, and then face judgment. Furthermore, the idea that we try over and over, perhaps until we get it "right", goes totally counter to the doctrine of people dying and then going to Heaven or Hell.
The early Christian writer Minucius Felix (210 A.D.) sums it up well. He says that menís souls returning in beasts is the "ribaldry of buffoons" The Octavius of Minucius Felix ch.34 p.194
See When Cultists Ask p.123-124 for more info.
Q: In Mt 23, was Jesus right to be so argumentative?
A: While debating is OK (as Paul did), Jesus is not debating in this chapter. He is simply telling it like it is, and strongly rebuking the Pharisees. If the idea of Jesus strongly rebuking someone is foreign to your theology, perhaps your theology needs to change to match what Jesus would do.
Q: In Mt 23:9, briefly, since we should call no man father, can we call our earthly father that?
A: Yes. Jesus was not against referring to the direct physical and ancestral relationship of a father, as Jesus used that word Himself in this context in Luke 11:47; John 6:58. Jesus was against using the religious titles of father, master, teacher, rabbi, as the Jews did.
Q: In Mt 23:9, what does Jesus mean when he says "call no man father?". Obviously, we can call our biological dads "father." Also, we can call our spiritual leaders -- pastors -- "father." Paul himself referred to spiritual leaders as "father." 1 Cor 4:15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your FATHER in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Acts 7:2 And Stephen said: "Brethren and FATHERS, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran,". In light of these Scriptures, are the Roman Catholics right to call their priests "father"?
A: Yes, Catholics run afoul of this verse to call priests fathers. However, if the Catholic Church were to simply rename "father" to "feather", that alone would not solve anything. I think there are some more fundamental ways they do not follow this verse.
This is a good question that touches on a very important subject in Christianity: exactly how is God our Father, in a way that no human could ever be? First letís see what it is not the answer, and then the answer.
Matthew 23:9 does NOT mean three things
Biological or adopted relationship is not to be denied. The Bible said so-and-so was the father of so-and-so, using father both for a direct father and ancestor as in Isaiah 38:5. Jesus spoke of biological relationship when He specifically spoke of peopleís earthly father and mother in Matthew 10:37.
Family responsibilities cannot be dodged. 1 Timothy 5:8 says that if anyone does not provide for his relatives, especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. In Mark 7:11 Jesus affirmed this by speaking of the sin of calling help one would otherwise give his family as corban or devoted to God.
Someone who brought you to Christ. Paul probably did not adopt Timothy, rather it is much more likely Paul called Timothy his son because of bringing him to Christ (1 Timothy 1:2,18; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:2; Philippians 2:22). This is also the sense of 1 Corinthians 4:15-17. There is a point here that some Christians may have forgotten. Just as you would not drop a literal baby, donít spiritually "drop" new babes in Christ either. As far as it is possible, see that they get plugged in to a Bible-believing Church. Help them theologically, and materially if needed, and make sure they are well fed on the milk of Godís word.
Matthew 23:9 does apply to four things:
In authority and role, do not ascribe to any man on earth the role of God the Father. He is ultimately our source of salvation, our source of truth, and our ultimate source of authority. While some Jews thought it was Moses who provided the manna, bread from heaven, Jesus had to remind them that it was NOT Moses, but God who gave them heavenly nourishment in John 6:32. When Critics Ask p.356 adds that we should not take any mere human being as our infallible spiritual master, but it is fine to have human mentors we understand are fallible.
In relationship, God is the source of salvation, and not any mortal man. Our becoming a child of God is not caused by natural descent or human means, but we are born of God in John 1:13. One Christian has said "God has no grandchildren. You are either a direct child or God or not (1 John 3:1-2), but you cannot merely be a grandchild of God. If you could have a couple of powerful saints standing before God for you, would it save you? Jeremiah 15:1 says that even if the prophets Moses and Samuel stood before God for the Jewish people, it would not save them. Nobody can get a person to Heaven except God, and there is no way to go to heaven except by knowing God.
In contrast, look at the very high regard Jewish disciples would have for their rabbis, and do not view your human religious teachers that high. The Jews had their hopes set on Moses (John 5:45-46). Now Moses was a great and godly man, but even so, our hope should only be in God.
In name, our being able to call God Father is a precious privilege in Ephesians 3:14. A few verses to look at among the many that call God our Gather are Malachi 1:6; 2-10 and Isaiah 63:16. The Jews called themselves Abrahamís children in John 8:39a. Jesus did not deny genealogical facts in John 8:39b-40, but Jesus in effect denied that ancestral relationships guarantee spiritual relationships. John the Baptist said to the Pharisees and Sadducees, "And do not think you can say to yourselves, ĎWe have Abraham as our father.í I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." (Mt 3:9-10 NIV)
When Critics Ask p.356 sums it up well when it says that besides God and His Word we have no mortal infallible spiritual masters, but we do acknowledge fallible spiritual mentors.
But What about...
Job 29:16 says "I was a father to the poor." It does not just imply that Job necessarily helped them spiritually, but rather he stepped in to fill family financial obligations, for those he was not related to. Likewise, Psalm 68:5 shows we are to be a father to the fatherless.
Isaiah 51:2 says to look to Abraham your Father, and Sarah who gave your birth? Abraham and Sarah together show this refers to ancestral relationship. God is saying to look back to these ancestors, whom you admire, and emulate their faith, and see how they were blessed. Nothing in Isaiah 51 suggests that Abraham (or Sarah) could do anything for them now though; it is God who saves us.
2 Kings 2:12 Elisha called after Elijah, "my father, my father". This probably does not just indicate a close discipling relationship. Though many (including the Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.540) see that Elisha considered Elijah his spiritual father, Jesus in Matthew 23:9 says we are not to view people that way today.
1 Cor 4:15-17 "Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel." (16) Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (17) For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord." This refers to Paul bringing them to Christ, not a role. Paul was an apostle in the church, there was not role in the church of "father". For roles in the church see 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; Acts 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9.
In Acts 7:2 when Stephen addressed them as brothers and fathers, there are two possibilities. One is that Stephen was merely respecting his elders in that society, without affirming their beliefs. A second view was that Stephen was wrong to address them this way here.
In 1 John 2:12,13,18 John addresses his readers as "children" and "my dear children" in 1 John 2:1. John was an old man to address them as children. Hebrews 13:17 says that leaders in the church do have authority, and they will have to give an account of their overseeing to God. So, while nothing in 1 John says anyone called John "father", John looked upon people he ministered to as his children.
1 John 2:13,14 addresses "fathers" in conjunction with young men and children. While this poetic passage can also refer to relationships in bringing people to Christ, this passage does not support a church role of father unless there is also a church role of "young man" and "child".
In conclusion, Catholics are wrong to call priests father, but letís not quibble about words. The real issue is trusting in fallible priests over Godís inerrant Word, and holding to the authority of sometimes very evil popes and church councils over God Himself in His word.
Caveat: Finally, do not think seeing a truth of the Bible means you can stop looking for other truths in the Bible. The entire passage of Matthew 23:5-13 shows how church leaders are to practice servant-leadership, in contrast to the Pharisees and others who lorded over others.
See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.394-395 for more info.
Q: In Mt 23:13-33; 21:45; 16:4 why did Jesus have invectives against the elders of His people? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up)
A: Before answering this question, letís make it even harder. Not only did Jesus rebuke the Pharisees, experts in the law, and other religious leaders who rejected Him, He warned them they were going to Hell. Jesus did not stop with just words though. He even used a whip and overturned the table of the moneychangers in the temple twice. It is obvious He publicly rejected the authority of those who allowed the moneychangerís tables on the temple grounds in the first place.
The answer has three parts.
1) Jesus had an authority greater than theirs. Even if they were obediently following God, (which they were not) Jesus as the Messiah and God the Son could tell them what He wanted done. God has the right to change and mess up our plans whenever and however He wants. Why did God sometimes rebuke religious leaders? - God has the right to do so. Jesus asserted He had the right to do so too, and He did, - if He was God.
2) Jesus specifically rejected the authority of those who were not only going to Hell, but leading others to Hell too in Matthew 23:15. In contrast to this, while Jesus was greater than Abraham, Moses, and the Old Testament, Jesus specifically upheld the authority and respect of them.
3) Today we are commanded to pay not attention to those in authority who reject the truth (Titus 1:14). We are to reject those who are divisive in Titus 3:9-10. In fact, one problem throughout history has been that many have been too willing to follow someone who is ungodly, just because they are a religious leader. But in contrast to this, the Bible also tells us to obey and be under the authority of godly leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12-23; 1 Peter 5:2-5; Hebrews 13:17)
Q: In Mt 23:14 and Mk 12:40, how did the scribes devour widowsí houses?
A: Perhaps in a similar way false teachers do today. When they tell people to give to their ministry, for selfish motives of receiving back in this life, they can be telling people to give to a ministry that God might not want them to contribute.
Q: In Mt 23:17, why did Jesus call people fools, since He told us not to in Mt 5:22?
A: Two points to consider in the answer, though the second point is more important.
The word for "fool" in Matthew 5:22, raca, is a derogatory slang term that literally means "empty-head". The English expression "airhead" is very similar. Jesus did not derogatorily ridicule people using this word in Matthew 23:17 and we are not to call people that. Jesus used a word for fool that was descriptive but not a slang word: meroi. Furthermore, we are to view people as of great value, made in the image of God, and not worthless.
See When Critics Ask p.357 for a different answer.
Q: In Mt 23:35 and Lk 11:51, briefly who was Zechariah (or Zacharias)?
A: This was not Zechariah the prophet. Rather, this was Zechariah the priest, whom Joash killed in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21. 2 Chronicles was the last book in the Old Testament in the order of Hebrew Bibles, so when Jesus referred to the martyrs from Abel to Zechariah, Jesus was mentioning the first martyr to the last in the Old Testament. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.237, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.337-338, and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1416 for more info.
Q: In Mt 23:35, was the Zechariah who died the son of Berechiah, or the son of Jehoiada who was killed between the temple and the altar in 2 Chr 24:41?
A: The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.869-870 mentions this. First are four views Christians have, and then the facts that support each view.
1. Zechariah son of Jehoiada
This view is consistent with everything, understanding that the phrase "son of Berechiah" is a scribal addition
Believerís Bible Commentary p.1291
Calvinís Commentaries volume 17 p.104. (But could have had two names also)
The Expositorís Greek Testament volume 1 p.286
The NIV Study Bible p.1477.
Ungerís Bible Dictionary p.1181 (probable)
Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1837
2. Zechariah son of Berechiah
This view is consistent with everything, understanding that Christ is giving us new information on how the prophet Zechariah died. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.337-338 and When Critics Ask p.357-358 have this view.
3. Jehoiada had two names: Berechiah could be a nickname meaning blessed by God. Calvinís Commentaries volume 17 p.104 says this view goes back to Jerome (373-420 A.D.).
4. Ancestor: The Nelson Study Bible p.1620 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 8 p.485-486 say that perhaps the Zechariah son of Jehoiada was the grandfather/ancestor of Zechariah and they were the same person.
Facts Supporting Various Views:
Zechariah son of Berechiah ministered from 520-480 B.C. He was one of the last writers in the Old Testament chronologically, and the Old Testament does not record how he died.
Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest was killed around 800 B.C., prior to the exile. His father Jehoiada lived 130 years and was buried with the kings in Jerusalem according to 2 Chronicles 24:15-16. Because of the dates, there is no possibility that these two Zechariahs are the same individual.
The Septuagint calls Jehoiadaís son "Azarias the son of Jodae the priest", and the writer of the book "Zecharias son of Barachias the son of Addo the prophet". Thus the Septuagint does not show any difference here, except the pronunciation of the names.
The Targum of Lamentations 2:20 and John Chrysostom say the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah was killed between the temple and the alter. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1837 mentions this and says they were mistaken. (I have not been able to independently confirm that John Chrysostom on this though.)
Zechariahís tomb was a prominent landmark in Jerusalem in the time of Christ.
Zechariah was a common name. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1837-1839 and The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1082-1083 mention 32 different individuals in the Bible named Zechariah.
Outside of the Bible, a Zechariah son of Baruch/Baris/Bariscaeus was killed by two zealots according to Josephus in The Jewish Wars 4:334-344. The New Geneva Study Bible p.1545 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 8 p.485 both say he was killed in the temple area, but probably not between the temple and the altar, so this is a false lead, especially since the Jewish Wars were after the time of Christ.
2 Chronicles was the last book in the order of the Jewish Old Testament. While the son of Jehoiada was not the last martyr chronologically, mentioning Abel to Zechariah son of Jehoiada was sort of like a Christian saying "from Genesis to Revelation" according to The New International Bible Commentary p.1145 and The NIV Study Bible p.1477.
Luke 33:50 does not have the phrase "son of Berechiah".
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) in Against Heresies book 5 ch.14.1 p.541 quotes Matthew 23:35 saying "Zecharias the son of Barachias". Thus if this were a scribal addition, it was still there prior to Irenaeusí writing. Tatianís Diatessaron (c.172 A.D.) also has Zechariah son of Berechiah (section 41). There is apparently one Greek manuscript prior to Sinaiticus and Vaticanus that has Matthew 23:35. It is p77 (mid to late second century) and it also has son of Barachiah. Thus, if "son of Berechiah" were an addition, it would have to have been added very early, before about 170 A.D.
Origen (225-254 A.D.) also refers to this verse and mentions Zecharias the son of Barachiah in Origen to Africanus ch.9 p.389.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.75 also mentions these various views.
Q: In Mt 23:35, is it just that the Pharisees will be punished for the sins of their fathers, since Ezek 18 and Dt 24:16 say people will not be guilty for their fatherís sins?
A: People are not held guilty for what their fathers did. However, if they a) do not disapprove of their fathersí sins, and b) do the same sins themselves, then they will be punished because of their own guilt for doing the same sins as their fathers.
Q: In Mt 23:37-40, since Jesus wanted to gather Jerusalem, why did this not happen, since God [allegedly] is Almighty, All-knowing, and All-loving?
A: God is not all-loving. God being loving does not mean that God is nothing but love, or that God is all-loving, any more than God being wrathful means that God is nothing but wrath, or that God is all-wrathful. Ditto for gentle or jealous. God is the most loving being in the universe, but Godís love is not to the exclusion of His other attributes.
God chose to create us with a will, and when they rejected Christ, with its eternal consequences, God chose not to coerce them to accept Christ, but to abide by their decision, though it was with Jesusí tears.
Q: Does Mt 24:3-44 show that Jesus returned invisibly in 1914, as Jehovahís Witnesses have taught?
A: No. The Greek word here, parousia, can mean "coming" or "presence", and the Jehovahís Witness New world Translation takes it as "presence." If Christ were to have returned in 1914, nobody saw Him, it affected nothing, and it contradicted both Revelation 1:7 where every eye will see Him, and Acts 1:11. Before Jesus really comes there will be many false claims of Christ coming first, according to Matthew 24::5. While the Jehovahís Witnesses did not actually say "they were Christ", claims of people who said they were Christ, such as Rev. Moon, Guru Maharaj Ji, Jim Jones, etc. all happened after this time. See When Cultists Ask p.125 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Mt 24:19-20, why will this be especially dreadful for pregnant women and nursing mothers?
A: One reason might be seen in the Christian movie A Distant Thunder. Those who have not received the mark of the beast will have a difficult time.
In the end times, there will be people who are not believers, and before they receive the mark of the beast, they will have a choice to make.
Q: In Mt 24:20, why should we pray for any future event, since God already knows what will happen?
A: See the discussion on 1 Timothy 2:1 for the answer.
Q: In Mt 24:20, what difference does it make if this flight is on the Sabbath?
A: Note when this will happen. In the end times, many Jews will come to Christ, as Zechariah 12:10-12 and Romans 11 says. The Jews will still obey the Old Testament laws still observe the Sabbath.
Q: In Mt 24:20, are we therefore supposed to keep the Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) today?
A: Christians have two answers.
1. There are a small number of genuine Christians, such as Seventh-Day Baptists for example, who say Yes.
2. A second answer is no, because this verse refers to Jews who are seeking God. The rapture might already have occurred by this time.
Q: In Mt 24:22, how can God "cut short" future days?
A: This does not mean days will have less than 24 hours, but rather shorter periods of time, or fewer days, for this time of severe persecution.
Q: In Mt 24:23-27, why would God allow people seeking Christ to be deceived by a false Christ?
A: Sometimes people claim to be seeking an answer, but they will only accept one of the predetermined answers they had already decided on.
This question would be difficult to answer if God had never provided any possible way to distinguish the true Christ from false Christs. God has provided at least seven ways to discern if a religious group is a spiritual counterfeit or not.
1. Do they accept and teach what God says in the Bible, or do they go against it? Now if a group is not correct on every single minor point, that does not mean they are a spiritual counterfeit, as Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8:9-11 prove. But, if they are wrong on what Paul called the primary things, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, or if they deny that Jesus the Messiah has come in the flesh (1 John 4:1-3), or if they preach a different Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:1-15), or have a different Gospel (Galatians 1:6-10), then keep you and your family away from them.
2. Related to this, do they not so much deny the Bible as refuse to affirm the important things it teaches? 2 Timothy 3:5-7 says we are to have nothing to do with those who have the form of godliness but deny its power.
3. Is their religious experience either non-existent or weird? Do they spend time in prayer and reading Godís word. Do they have strange religious practices not found in the Bible?
4. Do they live their lives in accordance with what the Bible teaches? If someone claims to be a Christian, yet lives their life contrary to God in some keys areas, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10,14 say we should not be with them.
5. Would joining with them religiously be a clear case of "worshipping with devils" or being yoked with unbelievers. 1 Corinthians 10:20 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 warn us against and tell us to come out of this.
6. If someone claims to be Christ returned, did they really come from Heaven in the clouds, rapture the Christians, and fulfill the prophecies in the Gospels and Revelation?
7. Believers can also pray to the true God, and He will help us see what is right. A Christian friend of mine told me that right after he first believed, some Mormon missionaries came to talk to him. He recognized that given his limited Bible knowledge at that time, he had no idea if the Mormons were right or wrong. So, he prayed to God to help him, then he opened the Bible to read. On the very first page he turned, he read Matthew 7:15! It says in the KJV, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheepís clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
Q: In Mt 24:23-27, if someone followed a false Christ or other spiritual counterfeit, and through innocent ignorance did not know how to tell if it were false, why would God allow this?
A: There are two complementary answers.
God is active: He can order events so that a Christian can be in contact with that person to show them the truth. Then the person has to decide if he or she loves their organization more, or if they love truth more. Any god that is not the God of truth is not worth serving. I have heard of missionaries in Africa and Asia, who have been approached by people saying that God spoke to them and told them the missionary was from God. We do not need to be concerned about God not caring or God not being active. We do need to encourage Christians to be caring and active though.
God is just: God judges people based on what they know (Romans 4:15; 5:13), and sin is not counted where there is no law. Anyone today who genuinely had no opportunity to hear the Gospel might be in a similar situation as a Gentile prior to Christ who never heard the Gospel, or a baby who died.
Q: Does Mt 24:23-24 teach that we each have a "cosmic Christ" within us, as some New Agers say?
A: Not at all. This verse teaches there will be many who falsely claim to be Christ. Jesus is the Christ, and while we are to strive to live more like Christ, nothing in this verse, or anywhere else in the Bible, says we are to try to take the glory and honor that belongs to Christ and claim it for ourselves. Christians will dwell with God forever in glory, but we will not become God, or even little gods. See When Cultists Ask p.125-126 for more info.
Q: In Mt 24:24 how could the elect (people destined for Heaven) be deceived?
A: -Quite easily. Elect means both those who are saved, and those who are not yet saved but are going to be saved. A number of Christians are ex-Mormons, ex-Jehovahís Witnesses, and former members of other spiritual counterfeits.
Q: In Mt 24:27, does lightning flashing from east to west have to do with the Bahaíi Messiah, called Baíhaullah, and the telegraph appearing the same year (1863)?
A: No. While Bahaíis have told me that the telegraph fulfills this prophecy in Matthew, this is wrong for at least five reasons.
1. A telegraph would not even be as close a fulfillment as thunder, electricity, a nuclear blast, or something visible. Note that Matthew 27:24 (NIV) says, "For as the lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west..."
2. The real Christ will visibly return in the clouds (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7), and the Baíhaullah did not stand or come on any clouds, unless you count foggy thinking. ;-)
3. Also, the Baíhaullah is not Christ returned, because his teaching calls Christís teaching a lie. The true Christ said there was no other way to the Father except through Him.
4. Furthermore, the prophecies of Christ returned, including the rapture of Christians, one quarter of the world being killed by sword, famine and plague, and the other events in the Book of Revelation were not fulfilled yet.
5. Matthew 24 also says that before the real Christ comes again, there will first be many false Christs.
Q: In Mt 24:28 and Lk 17:37, what does it mean about where there is a carcass the vultures will gather?
A: To be graphic, as vultures can find dead carcasses no matter where they may lie, Godís vengeance will find those who reject God and are spiritually dead. It is interesting that Jesus uses the analogy of birds, here; birds are also mentioned in Revelation 19:17-21. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.292 for more info.
Q: In Mt 24:29, how can the sun be darkened and the stars fall from the sky?
A: While God has the power to change the light given off by the sun and to make the stars move or be destroyed, this could instead refer to the sun being darkened and the stars becoming invisible to observers on earth. Many things can cause this, such as pollution, volcanoes, burning oil wells, and nuclear explosions.
Q: In Mt 24:30 are clouds things that are contrary to the ways and desires of men as Bahaíis teach in Bahaíuíllah and the New Era p.280-281?
A: No. Not only will everyone see Jesus, when he returns in the clouds, and the peoples of the earth mourn because of him (Revelation 1:7), but the same Jesus will return in the clouds exactly the same way as He left according to Acts 1:9-11.
Q: In Mt 24:31, what is your personal view of the rapture? (a Christian asked me this)
A: I am for it. ;-) Seriously, let me give you the common positions Christians have on the timing of the rapture, and then at the end my position.
Pre-Wrath: The rapture occurs during the tribulation, but just prior to the wrath of God being poured out. The main support for this view is an inference: obedient believers often have to suffer the wrath of man, but they never have to suffer the wrath of God. Marvin Rosenthal wrote a book advocating this view. He was a former pre-trib.
Pre-trib: The rapture occurs just prior to the start of the tribulation. In addition to the support for the previous view, the church is not mentioned in the book of Revelation after the letters to the seven churches. Pre-trib people believe the rapture occurs in Revelation 4:1, when God says to John "come up here".
Since no man will know the hour in Matthew 24, and if people knew when the tribulation started, then believers could figure out when the rapture would occur, if post-trib were true.
A favorite phrase of pre-trib is "The next event on the prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church." Their main support is that 1 Thessalonians 5:2 says that the Lord will come as a "thief in the night". However, against this view 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 says that the "gathering" will not occur until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed. Thus the next two events on the prophetic calendar are the rebellion and the revealing of the man of lawlessness, NOT the rapture. (Of course, pre-trib can counter that the rapture could be immediately after these things occur, and the tribulation not start until then.)
Mid-trib believes the rapture occurs perhaps a bit before pre-wrath, with similar support.
Post-trib believes the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation. Their main support is 1 Corinthians 15:52, where it shows that we will be changed "at the last trump". However, other views say this is the last trump that believers hear, not the last trumpet given.
No-trib: Many preterists believe there will not be any tribulation at all. The have to interpret Matthew 24:31 and most of Revelation very symbolically. But be very wary of this any type of interpretation that makes passages of the Bible either meaningless, or says that an ordinary person reading a Bible passage will generally be led astray by what they read.
Pan-trib: God can cause the rapture to occur whenever He wishes, and He does not clearly say in scripture when that will be. A person can say they are "pan-trib" if it will all pan out in the end.
I lean toward pre-wrath, but I am still pan-trib. For different perspectives, you might read The Rapture Pre-,Mid-, or Post-Tribulational, and The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church.
Q: In Mt 24:31, 1 Thess 4:16, and 1 Cor 15:52, which trumpet call is the last trumpet?
A: 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says a loud trumpet, but 1 Corinthians 15:52 equates this with the "last trumpet" of God. Seven trumpets sound in Revelation 8:6-9,21; 10:8,15, but as 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.270-271 says, there is no need to require the "last trumpet" to be one of the seven trumpets, it could be another one.
Q: In Mt 24:32, what does the fig tree represent?
A: The NIV Study Bible p.1577 says perhaps this was an analogy of judgment, with the fig tree that provides no fruit representing Israel, which would wither.
Now Thatís a Good Question p.582-583 says that you cannot look at every detail of a parable and give it a separate distinctive meaning. The meaning of the fig tree parable is to watch and be alert for the future, and Jesus "uses the fig treeís propensity for blooming and bearing fruit as a positive indication for looking to the future".
Q: In Mt 24:34 and Mk 13:30, since "this generation" will not pass away until Jesus comes, how can this be? (The liberal humanitarian Albert Schweitzer raised this objection)
A: Christians have three different answers.
a) The Greek word for generation, genea itself can imply race. According to Thayerís Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, (p.112), genea meant:
a1) men of the same stock, or a family: Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 51.1 (written about 93-94 A.D.), Septuagint Genesis 31:3, etc.
a2) successive descendants: Philo
a3) an age: Herodotus 2,132, Heraclitus in Plutarch, Acts 14:16.In 1 Qp (Pesher) Habakkuk 2:7; 7:3 the term "last generation" means several lifetimes, according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.8 p.752.
b) There is only a one-letter difference between this and a similar Greek word that can only mean race, gonea, so this might be a typographical error. However, all New Testament manuscripts we currently have say genea.
c) The Greek word for all these things, ponta touta, means that this generation was the generation that saw the preceding signs. (Difficulties in the Bible p.173-174, Now Thatís a Good Question p.495-496)
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.132, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.338-339, and When Critics Ask p.358-359 for more info.
Q: Do Mt 24:34 and Mk 13:30 mean that all these things will happen within one generation of 1914, as the Jehovahís Witness Watchtower vol.15 February 1986 p.5 taught?
A: No. Jehovahís Witnesses have taught that Jesus Christ returned invisibly in 1914, and the things in Matthew 24 would happen within a generation of that. However, if the basic assumption, that Jesus returned in 1914, is flawed, then their argument is flawed. This is an example of what is called eisegesis, or reading the meaning you want into scripture, instead of "exegesis" which is getting out of scripture what it says. See When Cultists Ask p.126-127 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Mt 24:36 and Mk 13:32, since God is All-knowing, why did Jesus have no knowledge of the hereafter, as Ahmad Deedat asserts?
A: Deedat is not being truthful here. While Jesus was on earth, this verse says that Jesus did not know the day of His return. It is a lie to declare this verse said Jesus had no knowledge of the hereafter. Did Deedat really believe that Jesus in the gospels had no knowledge of heaven, hell, and absolutely "no knowledge of the hereafter"? I double that Deedat himself even really believed his own words here.
Q: In Mt 24:36 and Mk 13:32, since God is All-knowing, and Jesus is God, how come Jesus did not know the day of His return?
A: Jesus emptied Himself of the many of the attributes of God while on earth as Philippians 2:6-8 and John 17:5 show. Thus, even if this phrase were not in Matthew, it would be reasonable for Jesus not to know everything while on earth. Nevertheless, in Heaven, as part of the Trinity, Jesus is All-knowing.
Athanasius (331 A.D.) says that Jesus as God knew all things, but in His humanity, Jesus bore ignorance, and knew not according to the flesh. As Jesus grew in knowledge according to the flesh, Jesus in His humanity did not know this yet. Four Discourses Against the Arians Discourse 3 ch.28.42-58 p.416-425.
Athanasius also writes, "And He [Jesus] knew where Lazarus lay, and yet he asked; for the All-holy Word of God, who endured all things for our sakes, did this, that so carrying our ignorance, He might vouchsafe to us the knowledge of His own only and true Father, and of Himself..." Four Discourses Against the Arians Discourse 3 ch.27.38 p.414.
Here is what the Christian bishop Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.) wrote: "The deeds of God therefore are beyond the understanding of our human nature and do not fit in with our rational process of thought because the operation of a limitless eternity demands an infinite comprehension of measuring things. So, it is not a conclusion of reason but a limitation of power when God became man, when the Immortal dies, when the Eternal is buried. Again, on the other hand it does not depend on our manner of thinking but on omnipotence that He appears as God from a man, as immortal from one who is dead, and as eternal from one who is buried. Hence we are revivified by God in Christ through his death." On the Trinity book 1 ch.13 p.44
See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.107-108, When Critics Ask p.374, and When Cultists Ask p.138-139 for more info.
Q: In Mt 24:36, very briefly, did the Holy Spirit know when Jesus would return?
A: While Christians agree that Jesus on earth at this time did not know this information, Christians have two views on the Holy Spirit's knowledge of this. I think the second view is the correct one.
1) The Holy Spirit did/does not know
God in Trinity knows everything, and the Holy Spirit Himself knows everything except for this one fact. The predestined date of the return is known only to the Father at this time.
2) The Holy Spirit is not in view here.
Words like "all" (in Romans 3, etc.) and "no one" in the Bible refer to people except where the context indicates otherwise. Thus if the angels were not mentioned, it would be unknown if the angels knew or not. Jesus had not taught about the Holy Spirit yet, and so the Holy Spirit is not mentioned here. So, this verse does not mention the Holy Spirit as not knowing or knowing. For a similar situation look at Matthew 11:27. It says that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son. The Holy Spirit knows the Father and the Son, but the Holy Spirit is not in view here.
Q: In Mt 24:36, did the Holy Spirit at that time know the time of Jesusí return or not? (A Christian asked this.)
A: First letís understand the question. There is a manuscript variation on this phrase, but the evidence is that the standard reading, which has "nor the son" is the correct one. Jesus, who emptied himself (Philippians 2:7) and gave up His glory (John 17:5) did not know while on earth. This verse does not address whether Jesus and the Holy Spirit know now. But the question is specifically, did the Holy Spirit know at the time Jesus made the statement.
Letís look at all three possibilities.
Yes the Holy Spirit did know:
Y1: Therefore: "no one ... nor the son" refers to all creatures and Jesus, but not the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had not taught about yet, and they did not understand as distinct from the Father.
Y2: The Holy Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God as 1 Corinthians 2:10 says.
Y3: God knowing everything means each member of the Trinity, in Heaven, knows everything.
No the Holy Spirit did not know:
N1: "No one but the Father" includes the Holy Spirit too.
N2: Therefore God knowing everything only means that at least one member of the Trinity knows everything. This view would have to acknowledge that it is possible for the Father to know something and the others to not know it until later.
N3: The Holy Spirit searches all things, but it searches rather than knows all at once. It did not complete a search for this fact at this time.
Does not say:
D1: Jesus was speaking of creatures, the Father, and Himself; the Holy Spirit was not in view here.
D2: This could just be a wrong manuscript variation anyway.
D3: Therefore it could be Yes or no.
Conclusion: Nobody walking on the earth knew when Jesus would return. One should not base a doctrine about the Holy Spirit on a simple absence in one verse. This is one of those things we can find out when we get to heaven.
Q: In Mt 24:42, why did Jesus say, "on what day your Lord will come" instead of "on what day I will come"?
A: We do not know the exact words of Jesus, because the Gospel writers paraphrased what Jesus said. Mark 13:34-36 gives these words in the context of a short parable, and so of course it would be in third person. In Luke 21:36, Jesus used the term "son of man", which He often used to refer to Himself, again in the third person.
Q: In Mt 24:42, since we do not know when Jesus will come back, why do we look for the signs of His coming?
A: Two reasons.
1. Unfortunately, many people falsely think they can pinpoint when Jesus will return.
2. The Bible indicates we can see signs to know the "season" of Jesusí return. By seeing how things do not match up is one way of recognizing false Christs. See also the discussion on Revelation 22:6,7,10,12,20.
Q: In Mt 24:45-47 does the faithful and discreet servant refer to the Jehovahís Witness Watchtower Organization as their book Reasoning from the Scriptures p.205 (1989) claims?
A: No. The faithful and discreet servant is all genuine Christians, who obediently follow Christ and wait for His return. It certainly would not refer to an organization that has made many false prophecies. See When Cultists Ask p.127-128 for more info.
Q: In Mt 24:51, does a loving God really "cut people to pieces"?
A: God is even more severe than this metaphor; He throws people into Hell. For more info, see the page "The Just Wrath of God" www.BibleQuery.org/Doctrine/WrathOfGod/TheJustWrathOfGod.html.
Q: In Mt 25:1, since Christians are supposed to share, were the five wise virgins right not to share with the five foolish ones?
A: Christians are supposed to share, but not in the following situations:
1. Things we are not capable of sharing, such as righteousness and holiness.
2. Materials things with those who refuse to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
3. Welcome our take into our house a false teacher who does not have God.
4. Teaching with people who would trample truth as swine (Matthew 7:6).
You cannot make every detail of a parable have a specific meaning, but in this case the foolish virgins asked for what the wise ones could not give, allegorically speaking.
Q: In Mt 25:1-13, are the five foolish virgins Christians who were not obedient and thus missed the rapture?
A: No. All believers will participate in the rapture. Now the five might be people who thought themselves Christians, though. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.276-277 for more info.
Q: In Mt 25:24-26, how is God a "hard man" who harvests where He has not sown?
A: God is being compared to the rich man in this parable. Some people might think God is a hard person because
1. God gives people different amounts of "talents"
2. God expects us to work with what He has given us, and His kingdom will reap the benefits of our hard work. (Of course any good thing we can do, we do because God has enabled us. However, this would be overlooked by someone who asks why God benefits from our labor.)
3. God has no compunction about taking from believers, or others, that which they do not use, misuse, or use selfishly.
If someone wants to define a being that does these things as "a hard man" in the parable, then God is like a hard man.
Q: In Mt 25:26-27 and Lk 19:23, in the parable of the ten servants and ten minas, why was the man with one talent told to put it in the bank and collect interest, since the Israelites were commanded not to collect interest from each other?
A: Three points in the answer.
1) It was just a parable, and Jesus was not commanding us to be either like the lazy servant or the master.
b) The parable never said the master or servant were Jewish. In Palestine there were many Gentiles in Jesusí time.
c) Israelites were not to charge interest to their people, but they could loan with interest to others.
Q: In Mt 25:28-29, is God just to take the talent from the one with few and give it to the one with the most?
A: Sure, God is just here. God loaned all of them the talents in the first place. Even today, an investment manager would take money out of non-performing investments and place them in better-performing ones. Sometimes we forget that God has "loaned us talents". They are not our permanent possession, and we do not have the right to use them as we wish.
Q: In Mt 25:31-46, It appears that the only distinction between the sheep and the goats is what they did and did not do. Is this true?
A: No. Donít ignore the fact that the sheep were sheep and the goats were goats. Jesus pointed out the "sheep-like" things the sheep did and the goats failed to do, demonstrating that the sheep were sheep. At the judgment they were not turned to sheep and goats, but recognized as sheep and goats.
Q: In Mt 25:31-46, since the key [allegedly] was helping others, wonít everyone who helps others go to Heaven?
A: No. They were acts of compassion done for Jesus through helping others. If it were not done for Jesus, then it is not for Jesus. For example, "even sinners love those who love them" in Luke 6:32-34. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says that even if we gave everything we had to the poor, but did not have love, it would gain us nothing.
Q: Does Mt 25:46 show there is no conscious punishment for the wicked, as Jehovahís Witnesses have taught?
A: Not at all. Jehovahís Witnesses taught this in The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived section 111 (1991). They believe the phrase "eternal punishment" is better translated "cutting off". There are two points in the answer.
The Greek word is punishment. Our mortal bodies are just a shell, and whether something happens to our body after we die is not a punishment. Jehovahís Witnesses believe that evil people are annihilated, and there is no more punishment for something that does not exist.
The Jehovahís Witness interpretation goes completely against Jesusí teaching of conscious existence of both the godly and ungodly in Luke 16:22-28. People would be weeping and gnashing their teeth in Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 24:51; and 25:30, so why would they worry about when they no longer existed.
When Cultists Ask p.128-129 also makes a convincing observation. Basically, since the Beast and False Prophet are thrown "alive" into the Lake of fire at the beginning of the thousand years in Revelation 19:20, and since they still existed, and were even let out after the thousand years ended, then at least some beings still exist while they are in the Lake of Fire. Do you agree? And if some beings are proven to exist in the Lake of Fire, and there is no scripture that says beings in the Lake of Fire no longer exist, then there is no necessity that people in the Lake of Fire no longer exist.
It also adds what would be the point of having eternal unquenchable fire in Mark 9:43-48 and other places, where the bodies of the wicked will not die (Luke 12:4-5) with no souls there.
Q: What do we know about the alabaster in Matthew 26:7; Mark 14:3 and Luke 7:37?
A: In ancient times two different minerals were called alabaster.
Alabaster itself is soft (hardness = 2) and can be scratched with a thumbnail. It is good for carving, and is a form of gypsum. It is light in color but can be mottled with various colors. It is usually formed in caves.
Marble was also called alabaster. It is a little harder to carve (hardness = 3) is actually calcite or aragonite. It is recrystallized limestone.
See The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.657-658 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1122 for more info.
Q: In Mt 26:7-11, when the woman poured the expensive perfume on Jesusí head, was Jesus too self-considerate? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up)
A: Before answering Deedatís question, letís make the question even harder. Not only did Jesus commend her actions here, but Jesus accepted worship as God from angels and people in heaven (Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:12). Jesus also accepted worship as God from people (Matthew 21:15-16; 28:9; John 9:38).
You might be surprised to hear that we go part way in agreeing with Deedat on this one. We can see that Deedatís view of Jesusí importance and Jesusí view of His importance are very different. In accepting having the expensive jar of perfume on His head, an act of worship, as well as accepting worship, when all Jews knew that only God should be worshipped, would be going too far Ė UNLESS JESUS WAS GOD.
Q: In Mt 26:11 was Jesus not always going to be with them, or will Jesus be with the always, even to the end of the age as Mt 28:20 says?
A: Both. They would not have Jesus physical presence with them, so that is why it was fitting that the woman anoint Jesus while He was still physically with them. But Jesus would be with them spiritually even after He ascended to Heaven. See When Critics Ask p.359 for more info.
Q: In Mt 26:27; Mk 14:23; Lk 22:17,22; and 1 Cor 11:25, must all use the same communion cup?
A: They all reclined (not sat) at one table, in a group of twelve plus Jesus, with a traitor in their midst. Just as we do not need to do these things today, we do not need to use the same cup.
I know of one pastor, whom I believe is a genuine Christian, who thinks all must use the same cup at communion. However, one has to distinguish between the ceremony we are to follow, and the non-important aspects done at that time, such as all reclining at one table.
Q: In Mt 26:28 and Mk 14:24, should the word covenant/testament have "new" in front of it?
A: Probably not. In modern translations, the NASB, NET Bible, RSV, NRSV, uNASB, Williams, Jerusalem Bible, and Wuestís Expanded Translation do not have "new". (NRSV has a footnote saying "Other ancient authorities add Ďnewí")
The NKJV has "new" but says the majority text does not have it. Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.769 says new was not present in the earliest versions but seems to have been added to emphasize the fresh turn of things with the coming of Jesus.
In Matthew 26:28
"New" is present in Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.), Ephraemi Rescriptus (5th century), Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Freer Gospels, Sahidic Coptic (3/4th century), Bohairic Coptic (3/4th century), the Byzantine Lectionary, f1 family, f13 family, Armenian, Ethiopic, etc.
"New" is absent in p37 (middle 3rd century), Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.), Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.), etc.
In Mark 14:24
"New" is present in Alexandrinus, Sahidic Coptic, Diatessaron, Byzantine Lectionary, f1 family, f13 family, Armenian, Ethiopic, etc.
"New" is absent in Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Bezae Cantabrigiensis, Freer Gospels, Bohairic Coptic, etc.
In general, these two manuscripts are interesting to illustrate two trends on correlation between variants.
1. Alexandrian manuscripts, including Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Coptic, etc. in general are shorter than the Byzantine variants.
2. There is not much correlation indicating theological trends. For example, Bezae Cantabrigiensis, the Freer Gospels, Ephraemi Rescriptus and Bohairic Coptic do not correlate with these variants, while the others do.
Q: In Mt 26:39,42, since Jesus is God and has the mind of God, how could He pray "My Father if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me?"
A: Philippians 2:6-7 shows that Jesus voluntarily emptied Himself of many of His divine powers and attributes when He came to earth. For example, Jesus got tired (John 4:6), and Jesus learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8), which presumably He had no reason to know about in Heaven. Also on earth Jesus did not know everything, as He did not know the day or hour of His return in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32.
In this case, Jesus is not saying He knows another way. Rather Jesus is seeing that the road ahead is going to be so very painful, and that He is asking God the Father if the Father sees any other way.
This question was answered back in 246-265 A.D., when Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria gave essentially the same answer in Exegetical fragment 3 in The Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.6 p.108
Q: In Mt 26:52 is Jesus against all war and capital punishment (execution)?
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.
Not the answer: When Jesus returns He taught that He will slay those who were against Him in Matthew 24:5-7,31; Mark 13:7-8; and Revelation 19:15,17-21. However, this does not address the question, because what God does and what we are commanded to obey, do not have to be the same.
The answer: No for four reasons.
1) Jesus could not be implying that believers should never carry a sword; else why just a few hours prior to this did Jesus say that those who have no sword should go buy one in Luke 22:36-38? Furthermore, after the apostles said they had two swords, Jesus did not tell them to get rid of them, but said "that is enough."
2) Jesus was speaking to Peter in this situation, just after he struck the salve of the high priest, not to strike anyone else with his sword.
3) Jesus spoke of those who "live by the sword", not all who have swords. This can mean both those who make their living by killing people, and those who look at killing people as the solution to their problems.
4) The second part of the verse is an observation, not a command.
Other verses that show that swords are OK are Romans 13:1-4; Luke 14:31; 19:27; 20:14-16; Acts 25:11; 1 Corinthians 9:7. When soldiers asked John the Baptist what they should do in Luke 3:14; John had the perfect opportunity to tell them to leave the army, but John did not do so. Likewise in Acts 10 the centurion Cornelius was a devout man. Executing murderers was not only allowed but commanded in Old Testament times in Numbers 35:31,33 and prior to the Mosaic Law in Genesis 9:4.
Other verses that say or imply we are not to live by the sword are: 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Matthew 5:25; John 18:36; and Romans 12:17.
While Jesus in Luke 22:36 and the New Testament in general teach defensive use of the sword, and use of the sword by the state in Romans 13:1-4, it never advocates aggressive use of the sword, or use of the sword by the church. No early Christian advocated use of the sword by the church. Historically, this unbiblical doctrine was first taught around 386 A.D., by Augustine of Hippo.
See When Critics Ask p.360-361 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.341-344 for more info.
Q: In Mt 26:64, how could Jesus speak before the Sanhedrin, since Isa 53:7 says the Messiah would not open his mouth?
A: This does not mean Jesus would be born unable to speak his whole life. Rather, Isaiah 53 qualifies this by saying "like a sheep that is silent before its shearers". Jesus did speak on that day, but when his accusers spoke against him before Pontius Pilate, Pilate was amazed and astonished that Jesus did not speak then or answer a single charge, as Matthew 27:17 and Mark 15:4-5 say.
The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 6 p.303 summarizes this as "Meekly and without protest the Servant accepts sentence to death and suffers execution...."
Q: In Mt 26:64, how would Caiaphas see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven?
A: Revelation 1:8 says that every eye will see Christ return in the clouds, including those who pierced Him. So even those who had already died will be able to see this event. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.34 also adds that Jesus spoke this to Caiaphas officially as his role as high priest representing the nation of Israel, not just individually. So, all Israel will see this too.
Q: In Mt 26:69-75, how could Peter, Jesusí apostle, lie out of fear?
A: Peter sinned here, as he himself bitterly realized in Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72; and Luke 22:62. Peter hoped in Jesus, and even though Jesus forewarned them, the apostles fled with fear when Jesus was arrested. Jesus specifically forgave Peter for denying him three times in John 21:15-19.
Q: In Mt 26:73 and Mk 14:70, what were the characteristics of a Galilean accent?
A: While we do not know for sure, many Greeks and Greek-speaking Jews lived in Galilee and nearby Decapolis, and perhaps it was characteristics taken from the Greek language. In addition to the pronunciation of words, it could also include idioms and choice of words.
Q: In Mt 26:74 and Mk 14:71, why did Peter curse here?
A: While Scripture does not say, it could have been for two reasons.
Fear: It might have been because Peter was afraid.
For effect: It might have been to try to "prove" to the Jews that he was not a disciple of Jesus.
Regardless, Peterís cursing, just like Peterís denial, is not an example for us to follow today. We are not to use foul language according to Ephesians 5:4, and we will be judged for every idle word according to Matthew 12:36.
Q: In Mt 27:5, did Judas hang himself, or did his body burst open as Acts 1:18-19 says?
A: Acts 1:18-19 says Judas fell headlong onto a field, which would imply a fall from at least some height. Putting these verses together gives two possibilities. In both scenarios, Judas hung himself, most likely from a tree, possibly overhanging a cliff.
The hanging failed: While Judas was still alive, the rope broke, and he fell headlong down onto the field, and his body burst open.
The hanging succeeded, and Judas died from being hung. However, if nobody would go up to take him down, sooner or later the body would come down, one way or another.
Either way, there was a hanging, a broken rope, and a split open body.
See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.56, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.511-512, When Critics Ask p.361, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.344 for more info.
Q: In Mt 27:7 and Acts 1:18, did the priests or Judas Iscariot buy the field?
A: Judas was already dead, so the priests performed this transaction as Judasí agents using "his" 30 pieces. In a macabre way, Judas personally took possession of the field. In Matthew 27:6, the priests did not want the 30 pieces of blood money to go back into the temple treasury.
Q: In Mt 27:9-10, how is this a fulfillment of Jeremiah, since Jeremiah said only part of this, and Zechariah said part of this?
A: The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.887-888 points this out as an unapt quotation. Christians have five answers.
Copyist error, no prophet specified Ė Augustine Hippo said that many manuscripts do not have the name of a prophet, though he thought the best manuscripts had "Zechariah". (Augustineís Harmony of the Gospels book 3 ch.7.30-31 p.191-192
Copyist error for Zechariah Ė A few Greek manuscripts do say Zechariah instead of Jeremiah.
Translation error: Papias, a disciple of John the Apostle, records that Matthew originally wrote his gospel in Hebrew. If this is true, and it was translated into Greek, this detail might have been changed then.
An unrecorded prophecy of Jeremiah. Zechariah 1:4 itself quotes Jeremiah 18:11. Zechariah 7:7 mentions he is saying words from former prophets. Difficulties in the Bible p.139 mentions this.
A testimonia chain: One Midrashic practice was to quote different prophecies and relate them together in what we call a "testimonia chain". Mark 1:1 is likely also is a testimonia chain. As Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.168 says by way of example, that if a work has two authors, and there is only a brief allusion to the second author, it is common to just mention the first author. Testimonia chains (also called catenas) were common, not just in the bible but in early Christian writings too. It is common to mention just the more famous author, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.345 says that we should look at ancient literature by their practices, not ours.
Q: In Mt 27:11 and Mk 15:2, when Jesus said "you say so", was Jesus affirming that He was the King of the Jews?
A: Yes. It can also be translated "It is as you say" which is what the NKJV says for Matthew 27:11. Greenís literal translation says "You say it", and the NET Bible says, "You say so." The KJV says "Thou sayest". The NASB and uNASB say "It is as you say." The NIV says, "Yes, it is as you say". Wuestís Expanded Translation says, "As for you, you said it." Williams Translation, which is written to be an accurate but readable translation, simply says "Yes".
Q: In Mt 27:15 and Mk 15:6, why did Pilate release one prisoner at the festival?
A: Apparently, this was his personal custom. Apparently, he thought the Jews would consider him more just or humane if he did so. Obviously, his ideas of justice and mercy differ from ours today, and the Bible does not approve of his ideas.
Q: In Mt 27:19, what else do we know about the wife of Pontius Pilate?
A: The Bible says nothing else. According to Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.890, church tradition said her name was Claudia Procula, she later became a secret Christian, and the Greek Orthodox Church considers her a saint.
Q: In Mt 27:22; Mk 15:14; Lk 23:23; and Jn 19:14, did Jesus have to die a slow painful death on the cross, or could He have died less painfully by the sword or disease? (My wife wondered about this)
A: Scripture only says what happened, and not the whole range of possibilities of what could have happened. When Satan led the people to kill Jesus, apparently Satan gave Jesus the most painful death men knew how to inflict at that time. Jesus took the very worst punishment, to bring us the very best gift.
Q: In Mt 27:25, why would they want Jesusí blood on them and their children?
A: There are four points to consider in the answer.
1. Pilate at least appeared to be very reluctant to take the responsibility, and the crowd might have thought Pilate might not pronounce the death sentence against Jesus if they had not shown themselves willing to take responsibility.
2. Also, while Pilateís wife warned him to have nothing to do with the death of this man, Pilate had shown himself eager to shed blood on other occasions outside of the Bible. Regardless, Pilate would want to have the crowd say they would take responsibility, thus sort of relieving him of sole responsibility for putting Jesus to death. Pilate might just have been baiting the crowd to cover himself, so that the crowds words would justify his decision if Jews or Romans questioned the decision later.
3. Parents cannot chose whether or not to place their own personal guilt on their children or descendants. Most unfortunately, Hitler and other Nazis called the Jews of their time "Christ-killers", and used that phrase to try to justify their horrible crimes. Hitler himself ordered the disappearance of many Catholic priests and other Christians. Of course the Romans were Italian, and Hitler allied himself with Italy. Yes the sins of the Romans and Jews put Jesus on the cross, but the sins of all of us are what really put Jesus on the cross.
4. Ultimately, those who are covered by the blood of Jesus have their sins washed away, but of course, this is not what the crowd meant here.
Q: In Mt 27:28-29, was Jesusí robe scarlet, or was it purple as in Jn 19:2-3?
A: There are two different answers, and both might be true.
Reddish-purple: In English reddish-purple can be considered a kind of purple or scarlet. In ancient Greek, there is greater uncertainty over the exact range of the light spectrum of each color. When Hebrew/Aramaic is translated into Greek, as Papias indicates Matthew way, there is more uncertainty.
Multi-colored: It would indeed be strange if an expensive kingís robe was only one color. Ancient colored drawings of people in Egypt show multiple colors. Robes of many colors were available to common people at least as far back as Josephís time, 1900 years before Jesus.
On a lighter note, while this answer is not black-and-white, one does not have to look through rose-colored glasses to see that either possibility is very reasonable.
Q: In Mt 27:32 and Mk 15:21, why did Simon of Cyrene have to carry Jesusí cross?
A: Jesus was too weak to do so, and the Romans did not want to carry it themselves. The Romans had no pretense of being fair here.
Q: In Mt 27:32, was Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross the same Simon the leper in Mt 26:6?
A: This is possible, but highly unlikely. Simon was a very common name.
Q: In Mt 27:34,48 and Mk 15:36, why did someone put vinegar on a sponge to give to Jesus?
A: Jesus said he was thirsty. The NIV Study Bible p.1487 says that a tradition is that the women of Jerusalem put gall, a pain-killing narcotic in the vinegar.
Q: In Mt 27:46-47 and Mk 15:36, why did someone say Jesus was calling Elijah?
A: People in the crowd spoke Latin, Greek, Aramaic/Hebrew, and probably a few other languages. When Jesus was saying "Eli, Eli", some thought Jesus might be saying "Elijah. Remembers that both Hebrew and Roman Latin did not have the "j" sound.
Q: In Mt 27:46 and Mk 15:34, what did Jesus mean by saying, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me"?
A: As Now Thatís a Good Question p.49-51 mentions, this was not a calm theological question, it was a cry of agony. This was a cry of emotional, not just physical pain. In a way that perhaps we cannot fully understand, the Father turned His back on Jesus, who bore the weight of all our sin on his shoulders. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.451-453 for a different answer.
Q: In Mt 27:46 and Mk 15:34, does this show that Jesus is not God, as the false religious leader Rev. Moon teaches?
A: No. First here is what the false Messiah Rev. Moon said, and then the refutation.
Divine Principle (fifth edition 1977) p.210-212 "....Jesus, as a man having fulfilled the purpose of creation, is one body with God. ... Nevertheless, he can by no means be God Himself. ... Jesus, being one body with God, may be called a second God (image of God), but he can by no means be God Himself. ... Jesus was a man who had perfected the purpose of creation, and does not signify that he was the Creator Himself. ... Furthermore, when we find that Jesus said on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" it becomes clear that Jesus is not God Himself."
However, Jesus is God according to Hebrews 1:8,10 and Titus 2:13, he has the fullness of deity in Colossians 1:19. Other verses that show Jesus is God are Romans 9:5, John 5:23, and 1 John 5:20. The disciple Thomas addressed Jesus as "my God" in John 20:28. John 1:3,10,11,14 and Colossians 2:16 shows that Jesus was not just a perfected man, as all things in heaven and earth were created through Jesus and was for Jesus.
The confusion may arise in that God is used in more than one sense in the Bible. Certainly, at least on earth, the Father served in the role as Jesusí God, as Jesus on earth learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8).
Q: In Mt 27:51 and Mk 15:38, what was the significance of the Temple curtain ripping in two?
A: The curtain separated the very holy place of God from the rest of the Temple. The rip signified the obsolescence of the temple ritual and the law governing it. The rip showed that because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, the barrier was broken and we could have a close relationship with God.
Also, since the Jewish authorities and religious leaders rejected Jesus, that temple would not be visited by god anymore.
Q: In Mt 27:51, is there any extra-Biblical evidence of the temple veil being torn?
A: There is something similar in b Yoma 39b. (p.580). It says the temple doors opened of their own accord.
Q: In Mt 27:51 is it true that there is no evidence for this earthquake outside of Matthew?
A: No, this is false. Either skeptics are right and Matthew made up a story with an inspiring point, which the early church was duped into believing was factual, or else there really was an earthquake, tombs were broken open, some dead people arose, and presumably went up to Heaven after Jesusí resurrection.
The statement that no one ever mentioned this outside of Matthew is incorrect. We have modern geological studies, two extra-Biblical non-Christian sources and four extra-Biblical Christian sources that mention these events.
Modern geology: Twenty foot deep cores of sediment from three locations around the Dead Sea have been studied. Earthquake layers show up and were matched to historical earthquakes. There is an unknown first century earthquake recorded. Researchers counted the yearly layers from the documented earthquake of 31 B.C. and came to a date for the first century earthquake of 31 A.D. +/- 5. The earthquake is listed as "33 A.D." in several technical research papers. For more info see: "High resolution geological record of historic earthquakes in the Dead Sea basin" (Institute of Earth Sciences, The Hebrew University Jerusalem; Department of Geophysics, Tel Aviv University): Journal of Geophysical Research, vol.106, no.B2, pp.2221-2234, 2001. "Table 3...33 A.D. Reports were from Judea region. The Temple in Jerusalem was damaged.
"An early first-century earthquake in the Dead Sea", International Geology Review, DOI:10.1080/00206814.2011.639996.
Visible not only in core samples but in the gullies near the Dead Sea. For a picture of the layer left by the earthquake of 33 AD. http://logosresearchassociates.org/Documents/Austin_33%20AD%20Seismite%20Ze'elim.pdf figure 13. (June 14, 2013)
Phlegon was a Greek writer from Caria (in Asia Minor), who wrote soon after 137 A.D. that in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad [33 A.D.]. that there was "the greatest eclipse of the sun" and that "it became night in the sixth hour of the day [12:00 noon] so that no star even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicea." (The Case for Christ p.111.) Origen Against Celsus book 2 ch.14 p.437, book 2 ch.33 p.445; book 2 ch.59 p.455.
Thales (or Thallus) was a Palestinian historian referenced by Julius Africanus (writing 232-245 A.D.) Julius says, "This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun." (The Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 6 p.136.) The context is Julius discussing how the time from Artaxerxesí decree to Christís crucifixion, fulfilled Daniel 9. (We do not have any evidence that Thales mentioned an earthquake though.)
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.), in "Fragments from the Lost Writings" ch.28 p.573 (in the Ante-Nicene Fathers), mentions that "when Jesus descended, many souls ascended and were seen in their bodies." He also writes, in Against Heresies book 4 ch.34 p.512 says, "And the points connected with the passion of the Lord, which were foretold, were realized in no other case. For neither did it happen at the death of any man among the ancients that the sun set at mid-day, nor was the veil of the temple rent, nor did the earth quake, nor were the rocks rent, not did the dead rise up, nor was any one of these men [of old] raised up on the third day, nor received into heaven... Therefore the prophets spake not of any one else but of the Lord, in whom all these aforesaid tokens concurred."
Ignatius (before 116 A.D.), a disciple of the apostle John, in his Letter to the Magnesians, chapter 9, mentions those whom Jesus raised.
Clement of Alexandria in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 6 ch.6 p.491 says "But those who had fallen asleep, descended dead, but ascended alive.í The Gospel says, Ďthat many bodies of those that slept arose - plainly as having been translated to a better state. There took place, then, a universal movement and translation through the economy of the Savior."
These early writers were either "tricked and fooled" into thinking this occurred, according to the thinking of some skeptics. Likewise for other miracles, including the resurrection, either the early Christians were tricked and fooled into thinking this really happened or they were not. We do not have additional eyewitnesses, so either we trust what the gospel writers said, or we do not. That goes for Paul too, who said in 1 Cor. 15:13-19 that if the resurrection did not occur, then Paul said his preaching was useless, he would be a false witness, our faith is futile, and Christians should be pitied more than all men. Like the Apostle Paul, I do not see any middle ground.
Origen (225-254 A.D.) mentions the darkness over the land, and the tombs split open in Against Celsus book 2 chapter 33 p.445.
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) mentions the earthquake in Matthew. Letter to the Bishop Basilides canon 1 p.94.
To summarize, we have reason to take the account of selected individuals being resurrected because
1. Our trust in the Gospel writers and their reporting of other things.
2. The early church writers did mention this
3. This would be impossible for someone who did not know the deceased person to verify anyway, so Jewish and Roman writers would not know of this.
4. Jewish writers would have no incentive to mention this,
5. The event of resurrected people would be overshadowed by the resurrection of Jesus.
I halfway agree with what you said on earthquakes. But rather than saying that gospel writers use these cataclysmic events to symbolize the enormous importance and consequences of Godís intervention, I believe that God used these cataclysmic events. In addition to the gospels, do not forget the earthquakes in Revelation, or when Uzziah died in Isaiah 6. Also, in church history, when John Chrysostom was exiled from Constantinople in 403 A.D., there was an earthquake then. It would not be expected that early writers would record minor earthquakes. As for minor earthquakes occurring in this region, I only have details for Greece and Turkey. The Encyclopedia Britannica reports for Greece and Turkey that:
Between 1902 and 1946 there were 58 quakes
Between 1947 and 1966 there were 82 quakes
Between 1967 and 1976 there were 45 quakes
Between 1977 and 1981 there were 9 quakes
One other note is that archaeology at Qumran shows there was a damaging earthquake in 31 B.C. (before Christ), and yet no ancient writers record this event.
Conclusion: There seem to be two choices (and no middle ground)
1. No earthquake: The Gospel writers might be right in their fine moral teaching, but they reported earthquakes that did not occur. We cannot trust what they say, at least relating to real world events.
2. Earthquake: The Gospel writers can be trusted on what they say, and they reported earthquakes that did occur.
Q: In Mt 27:52-53, how could the dead people come out of their tombs?
A: God Almighty has the power to do anything He chooses, including raising dead people to life. Some skeptics say this would break the laws of nature; well God made the laws of nature.
Angels in Heaven must look upon the skepticsí words somewhat similar to how we look on the words of many skeptics in the time of the Wright brothers, who said "man can never fly". Aerodynamic lift can supersede the law of gravity, or how much more is the Creator able to supersede the laws of His creation!
Q: In Mt 27:52-53, when people came out of their graves at Jesusí resurrection, does this show the probability of Mary being bodily raised to Heaven, as one Catholic writer teaches?
A: No. Ludwig Ott offered this, not a proof, but as a supporting argument in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (1960) p.209. The only way This does not even support Mary being bodily raised to heaven for two reasons:
a) It is unclear whether the people who came out of their tombs were resuscitated in mortal bodies (like Lazarus was) or resurrected.
b) Mary was still alive when died and rose from the dead, so she would not be included in this group.
See When Cultists Ask p.129 for more info.
Q: In Mt 27:65, how do we know that "take a guard" means 4-16 Roman soldiers, instead of Temple soldiers?
A: The Greek could be either way.
Indicative: you already have a guard - as the meaning in the Vulgate, KJV, NKJV, uNASB, NRSV, and Wuestís Expanded Translation.
Imperative: take this Roman guard that I grant you - as the NIV and NRSV footnote translate, or "Take the military guard" as Williams Translation. Here are the three possible interpretations, and the pos and cons of each.
You already have your own temple guard: In favor of this was that it was temple guards who arrested Jesus. The New International Bible Commentary p.1153 says that since the body of the crucified criminal was now Roman property, they had to ask Pilate for permission to guard the body. Against this view is the fact that the seal of the Jewish priests would mean little, while the seal of the Roman Empire, made of cord and wax, which would be hard to tamper with. It would mean death to whoever broke it.
You already have a Roman guard assigned to you: Perhaps a Roman guard was already assigned to the priests
Take a Roman guard: According to The Expositorís Greek Testament volume 1 p.335, against this view there is no clear example of the use of echein in the sense of "to take" occurs in either classical or Hellenistic Greek.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.1311 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.92 for more info.
Q: In Mt 28:9, did Jesus appear first to Mary Magdalene, or first to Peter (Cephas) as Paul implies in 1 Cor 15:5?
A: Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus, but Peter was the first apostle to see Jesus. Actually Paul did not say Peter was the first person Jesus appeared to. Of the people Paul listed, Peter was the first in his list to see the risen Jesus, followed by the other disciples, then over 500. On one hand, perhaps Paul deliberately did not mention the women because in a law court at the time a womanís testimony was discounted, as When Critics Ask p.365-367 says. On the other hand, perhaps could have simply forgotten about the women being before Peter. Either way there is no contradiction though, as Paul never said nobody saw Jesus prior to Peter.
Q: In Mt 28:19, since there is only One God, how can Jesus be God, and how can the Trinity be true?
A: There can be a "pluralness" to the One God without there being separate gods. Even in the Qurían, when Allah speaks, the word "we" (Nahnu), and "I" is used.
God is not subject to manís limitations, and God can reveal Himself to us however He wants.
There is a threeness in Scripture: Matthew 28:19; 1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 2:18; Revelation 4:8; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 15:26.
There is only One inseparable God. Deuteronomy 4:35-39; 6:4; Isaiah 43: 10-2; 44:6,8; 45:5-6,14,21; 46:9; 1 Timothy 1:17;6:15-16.
Three distinct persons: Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:1;6:38;14:31;15:26; 16:28; 17:5; Acts 5:31-32; Mark 10:38-40
Jesus is God. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:6-9; John 9:38; 2 Corinthians 11:3; John 20:28-29; Revelation 5:8-9; 22:20
The Spirit is God. Romans 8:9-16; Luke 1:35; 1 John 4:12-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16 vs. 1 Corinthians 6:19; Acts 5:4;
They are equal in nature, glory, and honor. John 5:18; 5:23; Colossians 2:9-10; (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:8 vs. Revelation 1:17-18; 22:13)
They differ in role and rank. 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 15:25-28; Matthew 12:18; Ephesians 1:3,17; John 1:33; 14:16,26,28; Romans 8:26-27.
By the way, Jesus being in the Trinity does not mean Jesus is one-third God, any more than the height of a table is one-third of the table. You cannot explain God with mathematics, but if you tried, the Trinity would not be 1 + 1 +1 = 1, but 1 times 1 times 1 = 1.
See When Critics Ask p.367 for more info.
Q: In Mt 28:19, Mt 24:36, and Mt 3:16-17, what is modalism, and why is it wrong?
A: The Trinity teaches there is one inseparable God in three distinct persons. Modalism, teaches One God who is both inseparable and one person. There are actually two kinds of modalism. Patripassianism says that the Father is the son who is the Spirit. Dynamic modalism says the Father became the son, who became the Spirit. Both kinds of Modalism are wrong for the following reasons.
1. Jesus said "the Father is greater than I" in John 14:28. While Jesus had emptied himself of His glory on earth when He said this, the fact remains that if the Father was greater than Him, then there is a distinction between the Father and the Son.
2. If modalism were true, Jesus must have been a ventriloquist, a magician, and ultimately, a liar at His baptism (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:10-12; Luke 3:21-22). While on earth, Jesus was subject to the Father (Hebrews 5:7-8). This would be meaningless if there was no one else to whom Jesus to be subject.
3. Likewise, Jesus did what the Father commanded (John 14:31). Jesus learned obedience to the Father in Hebrews 5:8.
4. Matthew 24:36 says that no one knows the day or hour that Christ would return, not even the son, but only the Father. Thus, at least while Jesus was on earth, there was a difference between what the Father knew and what Jesus knew. While some Greek manuscripts do not have "nor the son", the best Greek manuscripts, and the majority of the Greek manuscripts have "nor the son".
5. Jesus was sent by someone else, if John 5:36-37;6:29,38 have any meaning. Heaven was not empty when Jesus came.
6. Since the Father granted something to the Son, and gave the Son authority in John 5:22,26,27, this shows the Father and Son are distinct.
7. Why would Jesus pray to the Father, or ask something of the Father, in John 17:5, John 14:16, 26,28, and other places, if Jesus were just talking to Himself. Furthermore, since Jesusí prayers were represented as talking with someone else, the Bible would be misleading if there were no one else to whom Jesus was talking.
8. Who is the One the Spirit is interceding for us in Romans 8:26-27?
9. If Jesus were a servant, who was Jesus a servant of in Matthew 12:18?
10. Who was it that forsook Jesus at Calvary in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46.
11. Other verses that show the distinctness are John 1:33; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:25-28; Ephesians 1:3,17; Hebrews 1:9
Here are some quotes from Witness Lee, who founded the local church. The local church has student groups called "Christians on Campus." Typically their churches are named "The Church in [city name]",.
"Thus the three Persons of the Trinity become the three successive steps in the process of Godís economy." W. Lee. The Economy of God Living Stream 1968 p.10.
"Likewise, the Father, Son, and Spirit are not three Gods, but three stages of one God for us to possess and enjoy." W. Lee. Concerning the Triune God Living Stream no date p.31
"In the heavens, where man cannot see, God is the Father; when He is expressed among men, He is the Son; and when He comes into men, He is the Spirit. The Father was expressed among men in the Son, and the Son became the Spirit to come into men. The Father is in the Son, and the Son became the Spirit--the three are just one God." W. Lee. Concerning the Triune God Living Stream no date p.8-9
After death and resurrection He [the Son] became the Spirit breathed into the disciples. W. Lee. Concerning the Triune God Living Stream no date p.8
"...the Son became the Spirit for us to drink in as the water of life...." W. Lee. Concerning the Triune God Living Stream no date p.8
"...We know the Lord is the Son and that He is also called the Father... Now we read that He is the Spirit. So, we must be clear that Christ the Lord is the Spirit, too." W. Lee. The All-Inclusive Spirit of Christ Living Stream 1969 p.4,6,8
"Thus, the three Persons of the Trinity become the three successive steps in the process of Godís economy." W. Lee. The Economy of God Living Stream p.10
Note that this is refuted by the verses given at the beginning of this answer. See also When Cultists Ask p.130-131 for more on why modalism is wrong.
Q: In Mt 28:19, what exactly does "in the name of" mean?
A: The New Testament was written in Greek, with the exception that Papias said that Matthew was written in the language of the Hebrews. So, we have to ask what this term meant in those languages.
In Greek literature, "in the name of" is a financial or accounting firm, such as "this money is deposited in the name of the account holder.
In Hebrew literature has a much broader range of meaning than the Greek, though it also includes the Greek meaning. In Hebrew it establishes a relationship with something or someone. For example, when a Jewish person bought a slave, they were sometimes baptized "in the name of slavery". If a Jewish person freed a slave, they were baptized "in the name of freedom." To the Jews, what would be the difference between just slaughtering an animal versus sacrificing an animal to God. They would kill the animal "in the name of the burnt offering" (or sine offering, or other type of offering), "in the name of the altar fires", "in the name of the sweet savor", "in the name of God", or "in the name of the good pleasure of God".
So, when a believer was baptized these are equivalent
"in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19)
"in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38; 10:48),
"in the name of the Lord Jesus". (Acts 19:5)
"into Christ" (Galatians 3:27)
"into Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:3-4)
See the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters p.60-61 for more info.
Q: In Mt 28:19, since Modalism is wrong, yet the Father and Son are very close, just how close are they?
A: While Scripture does not give many details, here are six things we can say.
1. As Jesus is In the Father, We Are In Jesus, and Jesus Is In Us
There is a connection between these relationships: Father-Jesus, Jesus-Us, Us-Jesus. John 14:20; 17:23; 6:57
Nevertheless, there is more to the Trinity than just this analogous relationship. Matthew 28:19; John 1:1,18; Philippians 2:6-7; Colossians 1:15
The Father, Jesus, and us all share some things, like eternal life. John 16:13-15
The Father and Jesus "own" all in common. John 16:15;17:10. The Holy Spirit reveals this to us. John 16:14-5
Nevertheless, the Father does not have some things we share with Jesus after His human birth. Hebrews 1:6-10; 2:14; 7:3
2. As the Father and Jesus are One, We are to Be One
We are to be one with each other in some ways similar to the Father and Jesus. John 17:11,21-22
Nevertheless, They are One in some ways we cannot be one. John 5:23
3. The Father lives in Jesus
On earth the Father lived in Jesus. John 10:38;14:10-11. Jesus was filled with the Spirit. Luke 4:1,18
If you really know Jesus, then you know the Father and have seen the Father. John 14:7-9
Nevertheless, the Father did not become, progress, or turn into Jesus. Hebrews 13:8; 1:9; John 14:10,24,26; 15:1; 16:27-8,32; 17:5
4. Jesus lives in the Father
On earth Jesus was in the Father. John 10:38; 14:11
Nevertheless, they are distinct; Jesus was not a ventriloquist. Matthew 3:16; John 8:18. Jesus was forsaken at Calvary. Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46
No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. John 14:6; 6:45; Acts 3:12
Nevertheless, as close as they were on earth, Jesus still would be going to the Father. John 14:12; Mark 16:19; John 20:11
Jesus is called Everlasting Father, which may refer to being the source of everlasting life. Isaiah 9:6
Nevertheless, Jesus did not become, progress, or turn into the Father. Hebrews 13:8; John 20:17; 14:10,24,26; 15:1
5. God/Father/Christ/the Spirit is in Us
People see God through us and in us.
Nevertheless, God does not live solely in us, any more than stars exist solely in telescopes. 1 Timothy 6:16; Jeremiah 23:24; Revelation 19:11
Father/Jesus/the Spirit also actually dwells/makes their home in every believer. John 14:17,23; 17:26; Romans 8:9-11; Galatians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 John 4:15-16; 2 Timothy 1:14
Nevertheless, God/Father/Christ/Spirit did not become us, or turn into sinful man. James 1:13; Hebrews 4:15: 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5
God works and acts in us and through us. Philippians 2:13; examples:1 Corinthians 15:10; Romans 15:18-19
Godís people, the church, are together Christís body. 1 Corinthians 6:15; 10:17; 12:27; Ephesians 4:12; Colossians 1:24.
Nevertheless, we are not Christís physical body. Colossians 1:22. God is not limited to acting through us. Genesis 1; Acts 9:1-6; Revelation
Helping/Not helping us is the same as to Jesus Christ. Matthew 25:35-45; John 13:20; Acts 9:4-5; 22:7-8; 26:14-15
Nevertheless, people can praise or revile God directly without doing things to believers. Romans 1:18-32; Revelation 9:20-21
6. We Live in God/Father/Christ/the Spirit
We are in Jesus and the Father. John 17:21; Colossians 2:6,12; 3:3-4; 1 John 4:12,15-16; 5:20.
We must remain in Jesus Christ and in His love. John 15:1-9; 1 John 2:27
Nevertheless, we are not fully with God now; we still need to go and be with God. 2 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Philippians 1:23
Because Jesus lives, we will live. John 14:19; Colossians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 15:12-22
Nevertheless, we do not become, progress, evolve, or turn into God or Christ; rather we become godly and Christ-like. Isaiah 42:8; 43:10; Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:21
Weíre new creations in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17. Weíve the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16.
Nevertheless, we do not become zombies; we are still to have our own (renewed) minds and personalities. 1 Corinthians 6:2-6; 11:13; 13:11+14:20; Romans 14:5-6
Q: In Mt 28:19, was this verse corrupted at the time of the Council of Nicea, since Eusebius quotes it 18 times prior to Nicea without mentioning the Trinity, and Eusebius only quotes it with the Trinitarian formula after Nicea? Victor Paul Wierwille, founder of The Way, claimed in his book Jesus Christ is Not God (1981) p.19-20.
A: This argument from silence is bogus for a couple of reasons. While Eusebius of Caesarea was primarily a historian, not so much a theologian, even Wierwille admits that Eusebius quotes this after Nicea.
Second, and most important, many Christian writers centuries before Eusebius quoted this verse in full.
The Didache (c.60-120 A.D.) ch.7 p.379 quotes it as, "Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. [i.e., running water]. But if thou have not living water, baptize into other water; and if thou canst not in cold, in warm. But if thou have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit."
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) quoted it as "Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.17.1 p.444)
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) slightly paraphrases this verse as follows: "He [Jesus] commanded the eleven others, on His departure to the Father, to Ďgo and teach all nations, who were to be baptized into the Father, and into the Son, and into the Holy Ghost." On Prescription Against Heretics ch.20 p.252.
Tertullian says it slightly differently in On Baptism ch.13 p.676 "God, He [Jesus] saith, Ďteach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) quotes it as "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Against the Heresy of One Noetus ch.14 p.228
A Treatise Against Novatian (254-256 A.D.) ch.3 p.658 "Go ye and preach the Gospel to the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That is, that that same Trinity which operated figuratively in Noahís days through the dove, now operates in the Church spiritually through the disciples."
Treatise on Re-Baptism (c.250-258 A.D.) ch.7 p.671 "Go ye, teach the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Seventh Council of Carthage (258 A.D.) p.567 Munnulus of Girba said, "... even especially in the Trinity of baptism, as our Lord says, ĎGo ye and baptize the nations, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Seventh Council of Carthage (258 A.D.) p.569 Vincentius of Thibaris said, "Go ye and teach the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Victorinus of Petau (-307 A.D.) quotes it as "He [Jesus] sent forth the apostles, saying: ĎGo ye, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Commentary on the Apocalypse from the first chapter no.15 p.345
So why then, does Wierwille try to cloud the issue by quibbling about the dates of when Eusebius quoted which parts when we have all these other earlier writers who were very clear?
Finally, see the next question for other things early Christians said about the Trinity.
See When Cultists Ask p.131-132 for more info.
Q: In Mt 28:19, what was some of the early church teaching on the Trinity?
A: Here are some of them.
To Diognetus (c.130-200 A.D.)
"As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so sent He Him; as God(1) He sent Him; as to men He sent Him; as a Saviour He sent Him,..." ch.7 The footnote (1) says "God" here refers to the person sent.
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.)
"for when we give out some word, we beget the word; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word [which remains] in us, when we give it out; and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same;... The Word of Wisdom, who is Himself this God begotten of the Father of all things, and Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Begetter, will bear evidence to me..." Dialogue with Trypho ch.61. Actually, all of chapters 57-63 discuss the divinity of Jesus.
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.)
"In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries [sun, moon, and stars] are types of the Trinity (Greek triad), of God, and His Word, and His wisdom." To Autolycus book 2 ch.15 p.101.
Theophilus bishop of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.)
"For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son?" Theophilus to Autolycus book 2 ch.22 p.103
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.)
"But that He [Jesus] is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have obtained to even a small portion of the truth." (Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.19.2 p.449).
"Know thou that every man is either empty or full. For if he has not the Holy Spirit, he has no knowledge of the Creator; he has not received Jesus Christ the life; he knows not the Father who is in heaven;..." (Irenaeus Against Heresies 3:16)
"She [the church] also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul.... For the churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different nor do those in Spain nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East nor those in Egypt nor those in Libya, nor ..."
Clement of Alexandria spoke of "the Holy Trinity" in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 5 ch.14 p.468.
Tertullian (c.213 A.D.)
"The Word, therefore, is both always in the Father, as He says, ĎI am in the Father;í and is always with God, according to what is written, ĎAnd the Word was with God;í and never separate from the Father, or other than the Father, since ĎI and the Father are one.í" Against Praxeas chapter 8.
Hippolytus (170-235/6 A.D.) after quoting part of John 1:1
"If, then the Word was with God and was also God what follows? Would one say that he speaks of two Gods? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods but of one; of two Persons however and of a third economy (disposition), viz., the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One but there are two Persons because there is also the Son; and then there is the third the Holy Spirit. The Father decrees, the Word executes and the Son is manifested, through whom the Father is believed on. The economy of the harmony is led back to one God; for God is One. It is the Father who commands and the Son who obeys and the Holy Spirit who gives understanding; the Father is above all, and the Son who is through all and the Holy Spirit who is in all. And we cannot otherwise think of one God, but by believing in truth in Father and Son and Holy Spirit." Against the Heresy of One Noetus chapter 14.
Athanasius (296-373 A.D.)
"United without confusion, distinguished without separation. Indivisible and without degrees." Sermon on Luke 10:22 "For it is only on the cross that a man dies with his hands spread out. Whence it was fitting for the Lord to bear this also and to spread out His hands that with the one He might draw the ancient people, and with the other those from the Gentiles and unite both in Himself." Incarnation 25:3
Basil of Cappadocia (329-379 A.D.)
"when all the while they ought to confess that the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, as they have been taught by the divine words,..." Letter 7 to Caesareans (p.116)
Hilary (355-367/368 A.D.)
"The deeds of God therefore are beyond the understanding of our human nature and do not fit in with our rational process of thought because the operation of a limitless eternity demands an infinite comprehension of measuring things. So it is not a conclusion of reason but a limitation of power when God became man, when the Immortal dies, when the Eternal is buried. Again, on the other hand it does not depend on our manner of thinking but on omnipotence that He appears as God from a man, as immortal from one who is dead, and as eternal from one who is buried. Hence we are revivified by God in Christ through his death." On the Trinity book 1 ch.13 p.44
"Since unless things are of the same nature they are never accorded equal honor, and equality of honor does not bring about a separation in those who are being honored. But the mystery of the birth demands equality of honor." (on John 5:23)
Gregory of Nyssa (335-394 A.D.)
"When we say that the Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is one, and yet forbid men to say Ďthere are three Godsí?" On "Not Three Gods"
Ambrose of Milan (340-397 A.D.)
"These words, then, are written with regard to God, of which Name the dignity and truth are common to [both the Father and] the Son." Of the Christian Faith 3:3:17.
The church did not have non-Trinitarians. Gnostics, Arians, and other heretics were excluded from the church. The doctrines of Jehovahís Witnesses, Mormons and others are modern inventions.
Q: In Mt 28:19, what did the early church believe about the Trinity?
A: The following church leaders of the early and post-Nicene church taught the doctrines of the Trinity. It is interesting to note that the Jehovah Witness Watchtower publication Can You Believe the Trinity? quotes most of these early church writers to attempt to show they did not believe in the Trinity.
|Leader||References||Statements and Beliefs|
|Ignatius: disciple of John the Apostle died 107 or 116 A.D.||17 places: Letter to Polycarp chapter 3 Ephesians 7||"Jesus is God" "God Incarnate"|
|Anon. c.130 A.D.||To Diognetus ch.7||Christ sent as King, God, man, and savior.|
|Justin Martyr c.138-165 A.D.||Dialogue with Trypho ch.55-56,59,61-64,66,74-78||"Deserving to be worshipped as God and Christ." Erred in thinking a time before Christ existed.|
|Theophilus of Antioch 168-181/188 A.D.||To Autolycus book 2 ch.22||what else is this voice [in the Garden of Eden] but the Word of God, who is also His Son? (He was the first we know of to use the term Trinity)|
|Irenaeus: disciple of John the Apostle. 182-188 A.D.||Against Heresies book 3 ch.19.2 p.449||"Jesus is Himself in His own right, ...God, & Lord, ..."|
|Clement of Alexandria wrote 193-217/220 A.D.||Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 5 ch.14, The Instructor||"the Holy Trinity" Hymn in praise of Jesus: "Lord of all time and space; Jesus Savior of our race;"|
|Tertullian c.213 A.D.||Entire book Against Praxeas||Second writer known to have used the term Trinity.|
|Hippolytus disciple of Irenaeus 225-235/6 A.D.||Against the Heresy of One Noetus||"Son of God who, being God became man.". After quoting John 1:1-3 says "We accordingly see the Word incarnate, and we know the Father by Him, and we believe in the Son, (and) we worship the Holy Spirit."|
|Origen of Alexandria wrote 225-254 A.D.||de Principis book 1 ch.3.8 Origen was very controversial in his time, but his views on the Trinity were not questioned.||"the power of the Trinity is one and the same." Origin erred on pre-existence of souls and eventual human universalism|
|Novatian 210-280 A.D.||Treatise on the Trinity||32 chapter book on the Trinity|
|Athanasius 296-373||Sermon on Luke 10:22||United without confusion, distinguished without separation, Indivisible without degrees|
|Basil of Cappadocia 357-379 A.D.||Letter 8 to the Caesareans, On the Spirit||The Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God. Discusses Arian controversy|
|Gregory of Nyssa 335-394 A.D.||On Not Three Gods, Against Eunomius||nature of the Father & Son is the same|
|Hilary 355-367/368 A.D.||Wrote a book on The Trinity||Enough said.|
|Ambrose of Milan 340-397 A.D.||On the Christian Faith||Holy, Holy, Holy in Rev 4:8 referred to the Trinity.|
|John Chrysostom 392-407 A.D.||Homily 3 on John 1:1||Wordís eternity as a person; uncreated|
|Augustine of Hippo 354-430 A.D.||Book: On the Trinity||Did not accept any difference in rank|
|Nestorius: Council of Ephesus 431 A.D.||Started Nestorian Christianity||His belief that Jesus was God was never criticized|
|Cyril of Alexandria 431-444 A.D.||Nestoriusí main opponent at the Council of Ephesus||Started emphasis on Mary the mother of God. (unfortunately)|
|Patrick of Ireland c.389-461 A.D.||did not write much. He wrote Letter to Corticus.||famous cloverleaf analogy of the Trinity|
Q: In Mt 28:19, since the word Trinity is not in the Bible, so how can the Trinity be Biblical and thus true?
A: Neither are the words Old and New Testaments, rapture, missions, discipleship, or evangelism found in the Bible. Merely giving labels to Biblical concepts does not make them any more or less true. What do you call the Three who share the common Name in which we are to be baptized?
For Muslims, while the word "trinity" is not in the Bible, the word to have unity, tawhid is not in the Qurían either. For Latter-Day Saint Mormons, the words "eternal progression" are not in the Book of Mormon either.
Q: In Mt 28:19, why can I not picture the Trinity in my head?
A: You are not supposed to picture this. You cannot picture God being Almighty, being everywhere, or eternity either, but mankindís inabilities do not restrict God. Would you expect to comprehend completely everything about the Infinite God? We can understand what God has revealed about Himself, though.
Admittedly, the Trinity can be confusing for three reasons.
1. Godís truth is often confusing to the unsaved.
2. False teachers have added to the confusion. For example, Jehovahís Witnesses do not accept the Trinity, but they themselves often either misrepresent the Trinity they reject, or do not even know what the Trinity that they reject is. While some Mormons say they reject the Trinity, I have met many Mormons who say they accept the Trinity. However, the ones I talked with did not know what it is. The Trinity is much more than the three simply being one in love, spirit, and purpose.
3. We cannot just blame the cults. Many Genuine Christians themselves are ill-equipped to clearly explain the Trinity.
Q: In Mt 28:19, the Trinity just does not fit my image of God.
A: You must choose to follow God, regardless of your own preconceptions, or to not follow any but your own image or idol or god.
Q: In Mt 28:19, if the Trinity is True, is Jesus 1/3 God?
A: No, this misrepresentation of the Trinity is human reasoning, and not even very good human reasoning at that. The height of a desk is not 1/3 of a desk.
Jesus has the fullness of God according to Colossians 2:9. Just as it is ridiculous to say that since the sun gives light it cannot give heat, Jesus having the fullness of God does not mean the Father and Spirit cannot have the fullness of God also.
Q: In Mt 28:19, did the concept of the Trinity comes from Babylonian and Assyrian religions, which had triads of gods?
A: No. When, Jesus said to baptize in the ____ of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Jesus said "Name", not "names". A triad is polytheism with three separate beings and three separate gods. The Trinity is One inseparable God and three distinct beings.
On the other hand, if they were just three parts of one being, the Greek could have said "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" but it actually does not. It has "name" as singular emphasizing their oneness, but it also has the word "the" before Father, Son, and Spirit emphasizing their distinctness. See When Cultists Ask p.129-130 for more info.
Q: In Mt 28:19, why shouldnít we refuse to worship any father that sent his own boy to be tortured and die instead of himself, as a Oneness Pentecostal preacher said?
A: It is a pity if you refuse to worship God, except on your own terms. The Father not only sent Jesus to die voluntarily for us, He also asked Abraham if he would be willing to sacrifice Isaac.
Q: In Mt 28:19, was the Nicene Creed first formulated at Nicea in 325 A.D.?
A: Actually, it was earlier. Many people are not aware of this, but according to the Apostolic Fathers volume 7 p.524, the Nicene Creed at Nicea was a slight emendation of the old Creed of Jerusalem. It is also very similar to the Creed of Neocaesarea.
Q: In Mt 28:19, were there any additions to the Nicene Creed?
A: Yes. Here is the original Nicene Creed from 325 A.D. (Translation taken from the Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 7 p.524.
Original at Nicea signed by 318 bishops in 325 A.D.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things, visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only begotten, that is, of the substance of the Father,
By whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things in earth:
Who for us men and for our salvation came down, and was incarnate, and was made man:
He suffered, and rose again the third day:
And ascended into heaven:
And shall come again to judge the quick [alive] and the dead.
And in the Holy Ghost.
And those who say There was a time when He was not, or that Before He was begotten He was not, or that He was made out of nothing; or who say that The son of God is of any other substance, or that He is changeable or unstable, - these the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes.
Addenda authorized at the Council at Constantinople 381 A.D. and ratified at the Council of Ephesus (421 A.D.)
Of heaven and earth.
Begotten of the Father before all worlds.
By the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary.
Was crucified also for us, under Pontius Pilate,
And was buried.
Sitteth on the right hand of the Father,
Whose kingdom shall have no end.
The Lord, the Giver of life,
Who proceedeth from the Father;
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
Who spake by the prophets:
In one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
And the life of the world to come. Amen.
[The anathema was absent]
According to the Creeds of Christendom volume 1 p.24-29, some of the phrases were found in the two creeds of Epiphanius and the creed of Cyril of Jerusalem in 350 A.D.
A second change to the Creed was the insertion of "and the Son", saying the Holy Ghost was sent from the Father and the Son. This was first seen in the Third Council of Toledo in 589 A.D. It was formally added to the Creed by the Catholic Church, and was the occasion of a formal split with the Orthodox Church under the Orthodox Patriarch Photius around 879 A.D.
Q: In Mt 28:19, since "them" in "disciple/teach all nations, baptizing them" refers to nations, and nations cannot be immersed in water, does this mean this cannot be understood as a reference to baptism with water?
A: No. A "nation" cannot be discipled/taught either, but "nations" refers to the people of the nations. This was self-evident to the early Christians, as they understood Matthew 28:19 to refer to water baptism. Here is the evidence.
Didache (c.125 A.D.) ch.7 p.379 "baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if thou have not living water, baptize into other water; and if thou canst not in cold, in warm. But if thou have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."
Tertullian (198-220 AD.) has an entire work called On Baptism. In one place Tertullian says, "But now that faith has been enlarged, and is become a faith which believes in His nativity, passion, and resurrection, there has been an amplification added to the sacrament, viz., the sealing act of baptism; the clothing, in some sense, of the faith which before was bare, and which cannot exist now without its proper law. For the law of baptism has been imposed, and the formula prescribed: ĎGo,í He saith, Ďteach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit.í" On Baptism ch.13 p.676
Hippolytus bishop of Portus (222-235/6 A.D.) says to baptize in the name of the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He briefly mentions Cornelius. Against the Heresy of One Noetus ch.14 p.228
Treatise Against Novatian (254-257 A.D.) ch.3 p.658 says to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Treatise on Re-Baptism (254-257 A.D.) "baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." ch.7 p.671
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) "For the Lord after His resurrection, sending His disciples, instructed and taught them in what manner they ought to baptize, saying, ĎAll power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.í He suggests the Trinity, in whose sacrament the nations were to be baptized. Does Marcion then maintain the Trinity? Does he then assert the same Father, the Creator, as we do? Does he know the same Son, Christ born of the Virgin Mary, who as the Word was made flesh, who bare our sins, who conquered death by dying, who by Himself first of all originated the resurrection of the flesh, and showed to His disciples that He had risen in the same flesh? Widely different is the faith with Marcion, and, moreover, with the other heretics nay, with them there is nothing but perfidy, and blasphemy, and contention, which is hostile to holiness and truth. How then can one who is baptized among them seem to have obtained mission of sins, and the grace of the divine mercy, by his faith, when he has not the truth of the faith itself?" Letters of Cyprian Letter 72 ch.3 p.380-381
Q: In Mt 28:19, did it originally say, "baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit?
A: One web site claims it did not. It offers as support an unnamed Coptic manuscript, and the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. The Ebionite version is a different worked that is a shortened version of the Gospel of Matthew.
Against this, here is the evidence that it was in the original.
The Didache (c.60-120 A.D.) vol.7 ch.7 p.379 quotes it as, "Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. [i.e., running water]. But if thou have not living water, baptize into other water; and if thou canst not in cold, in warm. But if thou have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit."
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) "And again, giving to the disciples the power of regeneration unto God, He [Jesus] said to them, ĎGo and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.í" Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.17.1 p.444.
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) slightly paraphrases this verse as follows: "He [Jesus] commanded the eleven others, on His departure to the Father, to Ďgo and teach all nations, who were to be baptized into the Father, and into the Son, and into the Holy Ghost." On Prescription Against Heretics ch.20 p.252.
Tertullian says it slightly differently in On Baptism ch.13 p.676 "God, He [Jesus] saith, Ďteach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) quotes it as "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Against the Heresy of One Noetus ch.14 p.228
A Treatise Against Novatian (254-256 A.D.) ch.3 p.658 "Go ye and preach the Gospel to the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. That is, that that same Trinity which operated figuratively in Noahís days through the dove, now operates in the Church spiritually through the disciples."
Treatise on Re-Baptism (c.250-258 A.D.) ch.7 p.671 "Go ye, teach the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Seventh Council of Carthage (258 A.D.) p.567 Munnulus of Girba said, "... even especially in the Trinity of baptism, as our Lord says, ĎGo ye and baptize the nations, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Seventh Council of Carthage (258 A.D.) p.569 Vincentius of Thibaris said, "Go ye and teach the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Victorinus of Petau (-307 A.D.) quotes it as "He [Jesus] sent forth the apostles, saying: ĎGo ye, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Commentary on the Apocalypse from the first chapter no.15 p.345
From Nicea to Ephesus (325-431 A.D.)
Athanasius (325-373 A.D.) discusses that Orthodox Christians baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit while Arians do not. Four Discourses Against the Arians Discourse 2 ch.18.42 p.371
There are others too.
Q: What evidence is there that Matthew wrote Matthew?
A: The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.772 says "there is no evidence beyond tradition." That is like saying there is no evidence besides what early Christians wrote. Admittedly we donít have any videotapes, but writing is the most we can have.
The early church universally accepted that Matthew the apostle wrote the Gospel of Matthew. Actually there is a lot of evidence.
Papias (95-110 A.D.) refers by name to the books of Matthew and Mark. Fragment 6 from Eusebiusí Ecclesiastical History book 3 ch.39.
Claudius Apollinaris (160-180 A.D.) mentions Matthew, the Gospels, and the law. Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.8 ch.772
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) quotes Mt 1:1 as by Matthew. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.16.2 p.440
Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.) "And in the Gospel according to Matthew, the genealogy which begins with Abraham is continued down to Mary the mother of the Lord." Stromata book 1 ch.21 p.334
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) says, "I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew Ė whilst that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peterís whose interpreter Mark was. For even Lukeís form of the Gospel men unusually ascribe to Paul. And it may well seem that the works which disciples publish belong to their masters." Tertullian Five Books Against Marcion book 4 ch.5 p.350
Tertullian wrote, "...that the Evangelical Testament has apostles for its authors, ... apostolic men also ... Of the apostles therefore, John and Matthew first instill faith in us; whilst of apostolic men, Luke and Mark renew it afterwards." Five Books Against Marcion book 4 ch.2 p.347
Julius Africanus (232-245 A.D.) mentions "the Evangelist Matthew" and "Luke" in comparing the two genealogies of Jesus in his Letter to Aristides ch.3 p.126
Origen (225-254 A.D.) mentions Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Origen Against Celsus book 5 ch.56 p.568.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) mentions "The Gospel according to Matthew" quoting Matthew 5:23,24 in Treatises of Cyprian - Testimonies ch.3 p.533. See also The Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 12 the third book 1.40.
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) "It was Ďin the end of the Sabbath,í as Matthew has said; it was "early, when it was yet dark," as John writes; it was "very early in the morning," as Luke puts it; and it was "very early in the morning, at the rising of the sun," as Mark tells us. Thus no one has shown us clearly the exact time when He rose." Letter 5 to the bishop Basilides p.94
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) "Will you agree if I show from the Gospels that they are not fabrications?" ... "The disciples of Christ wrote them: John and Matthew; Mark and Luke. Dialogue on the True Faith First Part "b 5" p.41
Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) mentions Psalm, Matthew, Isaiah, Daniel Commentary on the Creation of the World p.342
After 325 A.D.
Hegemonius (4th century) "The Spirit in the evangelist Matthew is also careful to give note of these words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Take heed that no man deceive you: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. But if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false apostles, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: if they shall say, Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not." Disputation with Manes ch.35 p.209
Q: When Papias refers to the Gospel of Matthew, is there "no certainty that Papias ... is referring to the one we now have" as Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.771 states?
A: Asimov knew more about chemistry than he does church history. Besides the preceding people, who both said it was by Matthew and quoted verses from Matthew, We also have quotes from the Gospel Matthew from the following early authors, and they are all quoting the same book we have today, though they did not say who it was by. Clement of Rome and The Epistle of Barnabas were both earlier than Ignatius.
Clement of Rome 96-98 A.D.
Epistle of Barnabas c.70-130 A.D.
Polycarp bishop of Smyrna, disciple of John c.150 A.D.
To Diognetus c.130-200 A.D.
Shepherd of Hermas c.115-155 A.D.
Justin Martyr c.138-165 A.D.
Athenagoras c.177 A.D.
Theophilus of Antioch 168-181/188 A.D.
So, if the ancient quotes match the book, early Christians said it was by Matthew, and they did not have anything else called the Gospel of Matthew, there is no evidence given to doubt what the early church knew.
Q: When was the Gospel of Mt written?
A: All we can say is that the Gospel of Matthew was written after 33 A.D. and a very high probability before 70 A.D. First here is what we know, and then what various scholars think.
Known facts on Gospel dating
Luke: In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quoted from the books of Deuteronomy [Dt 25:4] and Luke [Lk 10:7], calling them both Scripture. 1 Timothy was written in 63 A.D. according to most scholars. (However, Mark White dates 1 Timothy as "? ca. 100-125)"
The Lukan manuscript in Paris (p4) containing parts of Luke 1 to 6 is dated by Philip Comfort to around 100 A.D. Of course, the Gospel of Luke was written prior to Acts. More on this is in the book by Thiede, Carsten P. and Matthew díAncona, Eyewitness to Jesus: Amazing New Manuscript Evidence About the Origin of the Gospels (NY Doubleday 1996 206 pp.). However, while Thiede and díAncona date this as "not much later than 68 A.D., Philip Comfort is more cautious, dating this at 100 A.D. John: The ancient church historian Eusebius of Caesarea records that Papias, a disciple of the apostle John, mentions that Matthew and Mark wrote their gospels. He said that Matthew first wrote his gospel in Hebrew (Aramaic?). Some think this could mean only in a Hebrew literary style though this is highly doubtful.
We have a fragment of the Gospel of John (the John Rylands manuscript, written 117-138 A.D. John is usually thought to be the last Gospel written.
What Various Scholars Think
The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 8 p.20-21 says 66-100 A.D., and "perhaps the sixties are the most likely decade for its composition. It also adds that Gundry says 40-100 A.D., since he says Luke is based on Matthew, and Luke-Acts was completed not later than 63 A.D.
The NIV Study Bible p.1439 says some think it written as early as 50 A.D., and others even after 70 A.D.
The New Geneva Study Bible p.1503 says that while some people date Matthew as extreme as 50 A.D. and 100 A.D., an appropriate date is 64-70 A.D. On p.1558 The New Geneva Study Bible it says that "It is generally thought that Matthew and Luke were written about A.D. 80-90. It also mentions that Luke and Acts might have been finished around 62 A.D., and some argue that all the books of the New Testament were written before 70 A.D.
Q: In Mt, how do we know that what we have today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: There are at least three good reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; and Matthew 24:35.
2. Evidence of the early church. Many writers quoted or referred to the gospel of Matthew. Some of the earliest are as follows.
Clement of Rome (96-98 A.D.) quotes Matthew 6:12-15; 7:2; 15:8. Though Matthew 15:8 (ch.5 p.9) is the same as Mark 7:6 and Isaiah 29:13.
Ignatius in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans 1:1 (90-116 A.D.), Letter to Polycarp ch.2 p.94 quotes Matthew 10:16b.
The Didache (= The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) (120-150 A.D.) ch.8 p.379 quotes the Lordís Prayer from Matthew 6:5,9-13. It is definitely from Matthew and not Luke according to footnote 24.
2 Clement (120-140 A.D.) ch.3 p.252 quotes Matthew 10:32 as by Jesus and also alludes to Matthew 22:37.
2 Clement (120-140 A.D.) ch.4 p.252 paraphrases Matthew 7:21.
2 Clement (120-140 A.D.) ch.5 p.252 quotes Matthew 5:28 as by Jesus.
2 Clement (120-140 A.D.) ch.9 p.253 paraphrases Matthew 12:50 as by Jesus
The Epistle of Barnabas (c.70-130 A.D.) chapter 5 quotes from Matthew 20:16 (also 22:14). The Ante-Nicene Fathers footnote on p.139 says this is the first citation preceded by the authoritative formula "it is written".
Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians ch.2 p.33 (110-155 A.D.) quotes all of Matthew 7:1 "but be mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching: ĎJudge not, that ye be not judged;í"
Polycarp quotes Matthew 6:13a in Polycarpís Letter to the Philippians ch.7 p.34-35
Polycarp quotes Matthew 26:41b in Polycarpís Letter to the Philippians ch.7 p.34-35
The Epistle to Diognetus ch.9 p.28 (c.130 A.D.) alludes to Matthew 6:25 says that the Savior taught us to trust in ... so that we should not be anxious concerning clothing and food.
The Epistle to Diognetus ch.8 p.28 (c.130 A.D.) alludes to Matthew 19:17
Papias (95-110 A.D.) was an early writer who spoke personally with Peter, James, John, Matthew, and others (according to fragment 1). In fragment 6 he said that Matthew collected the oracles [of Jesus] in the Hebrew language.
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) relies on references to Matthew (almost 38 times), which is more than he relies on the other gospels. See the Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 1 p.591 for comparing this to Justinís references to other gospels. Bear in mind that a number of the references in Luke are common between Luke and Matthew. He quotes or paraphrases Matthew 1:21; 3:11-12,17; 4:9,10; 5:20,28,29,32; 3:34,37,44,45,46; 6:1,16,19,20,21,22,25,26,33,41; 7:15,16,19,21,22; 8:11; 9:13; 10:28; 11:12-15,27; 12:38f; 13:3,42; 15:22-28; 16:21,26; 17:12; 19:6,12,17,26,28; 21:13; 22:17,19-21,37; 23:15,23,24,27; 24:11; 25:41; 26:39
The Muratorian Canon mentions the Gospel of Matthew (c.170 A.D.) along with the other three gospels.
Shepherd of Hermas (c.160 A.D.) book 1 Fourth Vision ch.2 p.18 quotes one-fourth of Matthew 26:24 "better were it for them not to have been born."
Shepherd of Hermas (c.160 A.D.) book 2 ch.6 p.30 alludes to part of Matthew 10:28. "fear Him who has all power, both to save and destroy,"
The heretic Tatian (c.172 A.D.) wrote a harmony of the four gospels called the Diatessaron. In it he refers to 839.12 verses in Matthew, counting by fractions of verses. That is 78.4% of the entire gospel.
Claudius Apollinaris (160-180 A.D.) mentions Matthew, the Gospels, and the law. Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.8 ch.772
Apollonius of Ephesus (c.210 A.D.) quotes Matthew 10:9 as by the Lord in Concerning Montanism ch.4 p.776. He also quotes Matthew 12:33 in Concerning Montanism ch.4 p.776
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) quotes Matthew 5:28 as "the voice of the Gospel" in Theophilus to Autolycus book 3 ch.3 p.115
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) uses many references to all four gospels, but he too uses Matthew the most. He quotes all or part of 223 verses in Matthew. Irenaeus says this gospel was by Matthew in Against Heresies book 3 ch.16 p.441. Here is a list of verses he quotes or paraphrases in the first nine chapters of Matthew: 1:1,12-16,18,20,23; 2:15,16; 3:3,7,9-12,16; 4:3,7,9,10; 5:5,8,13a,14a,16,18,20-28,33-35,41,44,45; last 1/3 of 5:12 and the middle 1/3 of 7:7; 6:12a,19,24,27; 7:1-2,5; 8:9,11-13; 9:2a,6,8,29
Irenaeus also alludes to Matthew 2:16; 5:39; 7:15,19,25; 9:17 11:9; 12:18,31; 13:25,38,44; 17:3,7,27
I have not yet double-checked all of Irenaeusí references to Matthew chapters 10 and beyond.
Clement of Alexandria in Stromata book 1 ch.21 p.334 (193-202 A.D.) "And in the Gospel according to Matthew, the genealogy which begins with Abraham is continued down to Mary the mother of the Lord." He quotes from many other places in Matthew also.
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) stresses the authorship of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Revelation, and many of Paulís Letters in Five Books Against Marcion book 4 ch.5 p.350. He quotes from many verses in Matthew.
Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) quotes Matthew 7:21 and Matthew 21:31 as by the Savior. Refutation of All Heresies book 5 ch.3 p.54. He quotes from many other verses in Matthew too.
Theodotus the probable Montanist (c.240 A.D.) quotes Matthew 12:50 as by the Lord. Excerpts from Theodotus ch.20 p.25
Julius Africanus (232-245 A.D.) mentions "the Evangelist Matthew" and "Luke" in comparing the two genealogies of Jesus in his Letter to Aristides ch.3 p.126
Origen (225-254 A.D.) quotes extensively from Matthew, for he has an entire commentary on the book of Matthew. Origenís quotes include Matthew 24:23-27.
Novatian (257 A.D.) in On the Trinity ch.8 p.617 quotes Matthew 10:29-30 saying it is by Jesus. In chapter 12 he also quotes Matthew 27:20 saying it is by Jesus. Novatian quotes from Matthew 1:23 (p.635); 5:8 (p.639-640); 10:28a (p.636) 10:29,30 (p.617); 12:32b (p.641); 16:16 (p.637); 16:16 (p.637); 28:20b (p.621)
A Treatise Against Novatian quotes from four verses of Matthew: 7:2a (p.661); 7:22,23 (p.659), 10:33 (p.659), 23:12a (p.661); possibly others
Treatise on Re-Baptism (c.250-259 A.D.) quotes from Matthew 3:11b (ch.2 p.668) 9:2b (ch.18 p.677); 10:32 (ch.11 p.673), 12:37 as "in the Gospel" (ch.13 p.675), 16:22,23 (ch.9 p.672); 24:4,23,24 (ch.12 p.674), 26:70 (p.672), 28:19 (ch.7 p.671)
Cyprian bishop of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) "In the Gospel according to Matthew: ĎWhoever shall say a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come.í" Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 3 ch.28 p.542
Cyprian bishop of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes Matthew 5:43-45, mentioning what Jesus says "in His Gospel" in Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 10 ch.15 p.495.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes Matthew 15:13 as by "the Lord in His Gospel" Letter 48:4 p.326
Moyses et al. to Cyprian (Letter 25) ch.4 p.303 (250-251 A.D.) quotes Matthew 10:37-38 as by "our Lord, as with the trumpet of His Gospel"
Cornelius to Cyprian (c.246-256 A.D.) quotes Matthew 5:8 as "the evangelical word" Letter 45 ch.2 p.323
Firmilian of Caesarea to Cyprian (256 A.D.) quotes Matthew 16:9 as by Jesus. (Letter 74 ch.16 p.394)
At the Seventh Council of Carthage (258 A.D.) Lucius of Castra Galbae said, "Since the Lord ion His Gospel said, ĎYe are the salt of the earth: but if the salt should have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be saltedí" p.566
Gregory Thaumaturgus (240-265 A.D.) quotes part of Matthew 15:11 as by the Savior. Canonical Epistle canon 1 p.18
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) "It was Ďin the end of the Sabbath,í as Matthew has said; it was "early, when it was yet dark," as John writes; it was "very early in the morning," as Luke puts it; and it was "very early in the morning, at the rising of the sun," as Mark tells us. Thus no one has shown us clearly the exact time when He rose." Letter 5 to the bishop Basilides p.94
Anatolius of Alexandria (270-280 A.D.) refers to Matthew 26:17; in his Paschal Canon ch.8 p.148, and Matthew 26:38 as by "the Lord Himself" in ch.10 p.149
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) "Will you agree if I show from the Gospels that they are not fabrications?" ... "The disciples of Christ wrote them: John and Matthew; Mark and Luke. Dialogue on the True Faith First Part "b 5" p.41
Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) mentions Psalm, Matthew, Isaiah, Daniel Commentary on the Creation of the World p.342
Peter of Alexandria (306,285-311 A.D.) quotes Matthew 21:6 and 6:24 as by the Lord in Canonical Epistle canon 12 p.276-277. He also alludes to Matthew 2:13-16 in Canon 13 p.277, and quotes Matthew 2:22-23 in Canon 13 p.277
Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.) "Now the whole spiritual mediation of the Scriptures is given to us as salt which stings in order to benefit, and which disinfects, without which it is impossible for a soul, by means of reason, to be brought to the Almighty; for Ďye are the salt of the earth,í said the Lord to the apostles." [Matthew 5:13] The Banquet of the Ten Virgins book 1 discourse 1 ch.1 p.311
Theophilusí Martyrdom of Habib the deacon quotes Matthew 10:39; and Matthew 7:6 both as "Scripture" on p.694.
Athanasius of Alexandria (c.318 A.D.) did not refer to Matthew in Against the Heathen. However, in Incarnation of the Word he referred to Matthew 19:4 (ch.2.6 p.37), Matthew 1:23 (also Isaiah 7:14) (ch.33.3 p.54), Matthew 11:13 (ch.40.4 p.57-58); Matthew 26:64 (ch.56.4 p.66). While Athanasius did not refer to any other verses in Matthew prior to 325 A.D., he referred to many other verses in Matthew after that time.
Alexander of Alexandria (321 A.D.) quotes Matthew 11:27b as by the Savior. Epistles on the Arian Heresy ch.5 p.293
Alexander of Alexandria (321 A.D.) quotes Matthew 3:17 as "in the Gospel". Epistles on the Arian Heresy ch.8 p.294.
Alexander of Alexandria (321 A.D.) quotes Matthew 11:12 as "uttered by Christ" Epistles on the Arian Heresy ch.12 p.295
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) alludes to Matthew 14:22-26 in discussing Jesus walking on the water. The Divine Institutes book 4 ch.15 p.116. Lactantius also alludes to Matthew 5:44; 7:15; 18:7; and chapters 14, 19, 21. He quotes from Isaiah 7:14 as by Isaiah which is also Matthew 1:23.
Eusebius of Caesarea (318-325 A.D.) quotes all of Mt 5:38-40 in Demonstration of the Gospel book 1 ch.6 p.11
See the next question for which verses and fractions of verses were quoted and which were not.
Juvencus (329 A.D.) wrote an epic poem combining the four gospels.
Eusebiusí Ecclesiastical History (318 A.D.) book 3 ch.24 p.152 discusses the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.1 p.152
Aphrahat the Syrian (337-345 A.D.) Select Demonstrations
Hegemonius (4th century) "The Spirit in the evangelist Matthew is also careful to give note of these words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Take heed that no man deceive you: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. But if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false apostles, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: if they shall say, Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not." Disputation with Manes ch.35 p.209
Athanasius (367 A.D.) lists the books of the New Testament in Festal Letter 39 p.552
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.) authoritatively refers to John, Luke, Matthew, and Mark. On the Trinity book 10 ch.43 p.193
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century) mentions Matthew as part of the New Testament. It quotes all of Matthew 1:1.
The schismatic Lucifer of Cagliari (370/371 A.D.) refers to Matthew 5:22,44,47; 7:13,24; 16:8,12; 18:7,15,21; 21:39; 22:10; 23:23; 27:4,5
Ephraem the Syrian (350-378 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-378/379 A.D.) quotes Matthew 23:19 as "taught by the words of the Lord in the Gospel" Letter 52 ch.3 p.156
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.)
Cheltenham Canon (=Mommsen Catalogue) (ca.360-370/390 A.D.) refers to each of the four gospels.
Synod of Laodicea (in Phrygia) (343-381 A.D.) canon 60 p.159 lists the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Canon 59 p.158 says only the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments may be read in church.
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.)
Gregory Nanzianzen (330-391 A.D.)
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.)
Gregory Nyssa (c.356-396 A.D.)
Didymus the Blind (378 A.D.)
Amphilochius (-397 A.D.) quotes from Matthew in Iambi ad Seleucum
Syriac Book of Steps (Liber Graduum) (350-400 A.D.) refers to Matthew 25:24 as The LORD says" Memra 3 ch.4 p.26
Syrian Catalogue of St. Catherineís (ca.400 A.D.)
Petilianus (4th/5th century) refers to Matthew 10:25
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.)
Rufinus (374-406 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (-407 A.D.)
Jerome (317-420 A.D.) mentions each of the four gospels by name in letter 53.9 p.101.
Sozomenís Ecclesiastical History (370/380-425 A.D.)
Sulpicius/Sulpitius Severus (pupil of Martin) (363-420 A.D.)
Council of Carthage (218 bishops) (393-419 A.D.)
Niceta of Remesianus (366-c.415 A.D.)
Orosius/Hosius of Braga (against Priscillian) (414-418 A.D.)
Augustine of Hippo (388-8/28/430 A.D.)
John Cassian (Semi-Pelagian) (419-430 A.D.)
Nilus (c.430 A.D.) refers to Matthew 6:4,25
Marcus of Eremita (after 430 A.D.) refers to Matthew 6:33
Council of Ephesus vs. Nestorians (200 bishops) (Jun-Sep 431 A.D.)
Vincent of Lerins (c.434 A.D.)
Socratesí Ecclesiastical History (c.400-439 A.D.)
Hesychius of Jerusalem (-450 A.D.) (Pronounced HESS-us) refers to Matthew 7:14
Euthalius of Sulca -put most of New Testament in sections (ca.450 A.D.)
Eucharius, Instructiones (ca.424-455 A.D.)
Theodoret of Cyrus (bishop and historian) (423-458 A.D.)
Evidence of heretics and spurious books
The Encratite heretic Tatian (c.172 A.D.) wrote a harmony of the four gospels called the Diatessaron, which means "through [the] four". In it he refers to 839.12 verses in Matthew. That is 78.4% of the entire Gospel of Matthew.
Manichaean heretic Faustus-Milevis (383-400 A.D.) quotes Matthew 1:1 as by Matthew. Augustineís Reply to Faustus the Manichaean book 23 ch.1 Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers First Series vol.4 p.313
The heretic Pelagius (416-418 A.D.)
The Pelagian heretic Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.)
Nestoriusí Bazaar of Heracleides (451/452 A.D.)
3. Earliest manuscripts we have of Matthew small manuscript variations, but zero theologically significant errors.
p1 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2) Mt 1:1-9,12,14-20; (not 2:14) (c.200 A.D.) Alexandrian text
Here are published dates for this manuscript
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
3rd century - 1975 - Aland 3rd edition
3rd century - 1990 - Comfort, Early Manuscripts & Modern Translations of the New Testament
3rd century - 1998 - Aland 4th revised edition
Middle 3rd century, similar to p69 - 1999 - Comfort, The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts
There is a cover with writing. While OíCallaghan thinks it might be Matthew 2:14, Philip Comfort in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.29 says it is not because it is in a different hand and there is a greater margin about the three broken lines than the rest of Matthew. This text might have been a subhead descriptor or title.
The Text of the New Testament (1968) p.245 says this also includes 1:23, but other sources do not include this verse. A photograph of part of p1 is in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.29.
p19 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 9) Mt 10:32-11:5
Mainly Western Text
Fourth or fifth century - 1968 The Text of the New Testament
p21 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 10 ) Mt 12:24-26, 31-33 (Agrees with Bezae Cantabrigiensis and corrected Sinaiticus)
Fourth or fifth century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
p25 (=Papyrus 16388, now lost It was in Berlin prior to World War II) Mt 18:32-34; 19:1-3, 5-7, 9-10
End of 4th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament. Western Text
p35 Mt 25:12-15,20-23 (3rd century)
Possibly 4th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament. Between Alexandrian and Western text
p37 (=Ann Arbor 1570) Mt 26:19-52 (middle 3rd century) The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of part of p37 on p.130. It is in two pieces and was purchased in Cairo Egypt in 1924. The handwriting is similar to letters of Heroninos (256 and 260 A.D.)
Third/fourth century - 1969 - The Text of the New Testament.
p44b Mt 17:1-3,6-7; 18:15-17,19; 25:8-10 also John 9:3-4; 12:16-18 (6th to 7th century)
The Text of the New Testament p.251 also says it has verses 10:8-14.
6th to 7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
p45 Chester Beatty I (all four gospels and Acts) (100-150 A.D.) (formerly thought to be late 2nd or early 3rd century A.D.) (Mt 20:24-32; 21:13-19; 25:41-26:39, parts of Mark, Luke, and John) The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph showing part of p45 on p.146. On p.150-151 it says that the copy was a loose paraphrase, where he tries to bring out the thought of each phrase. A General Introduction to the Bible p.389 says the original scroll was about 220 leaves, of which we have 30 leaves. 2 of those 30 leaves are from Matthew.
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
3rd century - 1975 - Aland et al. Third Edition
3rd century - 1998 - Aland et al. Fourth Revised Edition
Late 2nd or early 3rd century - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
p53 (= Papyrus Michigan Inv. 6652) Mt 26:29-40 and Acts 9:33-38; 3 letters of the 124 letters in 9:39; 9:40-10:1. (c.260 A.D.) The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph showing part of p653 on p.360. The date is based on similarities to letters of Heroninos date c.260 A.D. It is a mixed text.
Third century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
p64 (Magdalen Papyrus), p67 ca.200 A.D. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph showing part of p64 on p.32, and part of p67 on p.34. p4 (containing much of Luke 1-6), p64, and p67 are all part of the same manuscript. Papyrus p64 has preserved Matthew 26:7, fewer than half the letters of verse 8; 26:10,14-15,22-23,31-33 (on three fragments). P64 was purchased in Egypt in 1901, but not made available to scholars until 1953. P67 has preserved Matthew 3:9,15; 5:20-22,25-28.
c.200 A.D. - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament Does not say it has verse 8
125-150 A.D. - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts. Says it has verse 8.
p70 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 24) Mt 2:13-16; 2:22-3:1; 11:26-27; 12:4-5; 24:3-6,12-15. (3rd century) The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph showing part of p70 on p.464. It only mentions verses 11:26-27; 12:4-5. It says it had a distinctly different epsilon, and the handwriting looks similar to P. Medici 13 (of Ecclesiastes) from the 3rd century.
3rd century - 1968 The Text of the New Testament.
p71 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2385) contains Mt 19:10-11,17-18 (4th century)
4th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament. Agrees with Vaticanus
p73 contains Mt 25:43; 26:2-3 (7th century) Mixed text.
no date - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament mentions this but gives no date.
p77/p103 contains Mt 23:30-39 (p77); 13:55-57; 14:3-5 (mid to late 2nd century)
p83 contains Mt 20:23-25,30-31; 23:39;24:1,6 (6th century)
p86 Mt 5:13-16,22-25 (c.300 A.D.)
p101 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4401) third century contains Mt 3:10-12; 3:16-4:3
p102 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4402) c.300 A.D. Mt 4:11-12, 22-23
p103 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4403) contains Mt 13:55-57; 14:3-5 (2nd to 3rd century)
p104 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4404) (early to middle second century) contains Mt 21:34-37, 43, 45?
p105 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4406) contains Mt 27:62-64,28:2-5 (5th/6th century)
p110 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4494) contains Mt 10:13-14,25-27 (4th century)
pAntinoopolis 2.54 third century, contains the Lordís Prayer. Mt 6:10-12. It appears that this manuscript originally was only the Lordís prayer.
0171 (c.300 A.D.) contains Mt 10:17-23, 25-32
Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.) and Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.) contain all of Matthew. A photograph of a page of the Gospel of Matthew from the Codex Sinaiticus is in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.2004.
Alexandrinus [A] c.450 A.D. has preserved only Matthew 25:7 to the end.
The Washington Codex (4th/5th century) has all of Matthew.
Freer Gospels [W] Cambridge 5th/6th century
Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century
Sahidic Coptic [Sah] 3rd/4rth century
Peshitta Syriac [Syr P] 400-450 A.D.
Ephraemi Rescriptus [C] 5th century
Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Georgian [Geo] from 5th century
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
Gothic 493-555 A.D.
Fayyumic Coptic [Fay] 4th-7th century
Chester Beatty Ms 814 early 7th century has Matthew 5:28-42 in Sahidic Coptic
See www.BibleQuery.org/Matthew Manuscripts.html for more on early manuscripts of Matthew.
Q: In Mt, what verses, and fractions of verses, were quoted by Pre-Nicene writers (prior to 325 A.D.)?
A: Prior to 325 A.D. church writers quoted about 87.1% of the verses in Matthew. That is 932.52 verses. In other words, every one of the 1071 verses in the Gospel of Matthew are quoted except for 138.48 verses. The verses and fractions of verses not quoted are: Matthew: 1:2-154 1:17a (4/29 words)4 1:25f (6/14 words), 3:14 4:1m (not 7 3 not 4 words)4 4:9m (not 2 1 not 8 words); 4:254 7:2m (not 6 1 not 6 words); 7:8, 8:2a (8/13 words), 8:3m (7 not 2 6 words); 8:4m (11 not 3 1 not 5 4 words); 8 f (16/30 words); 8:15a (7/15 words); 8:21a (8/17 words); 8:22m (not 7 1 not 7 words); 8:23; 8:24f (10/18 words); 8:26f (8/22 words); 8:28a (21/30 words); 8:29a (4/17 words); 8:30-34; 9:2a (20/24 words); 9:4a (8/15 words); 9:7; 9:9a (6/23 words); 9:10-11; 9:12a (4/14 words); 9:13f (12/17 words); 9:14-15; 9:18a (23/27 words); 9:20-21; 9:22m (10 not 5 8 words); 9:25; 9:34; 9:37a (8/13 words); 10:1f (10/21 words); 10:2a (15/23 words); 10:3-4; 11:7a (5/21 words); 11:12m (not 11 4 not 3 words); 11:16a (1/10 words); 11:25a (8/28 words); 12:2f (2/17 words); 12:9f (4/8 words); 12:13f (4/15 words); 12:31; 13:1a(7/13 words); 13:11a (6/19 words); 13:18a (1/7 words); 13:57a (9/23 words); 14:6-11; 14:13f (10/23 words); 14:14m (1 not 19 4 words); 14:17-18; 14:20f (3/32 words); 14:23m (4 not 7 6 words); 14:34; 14:36a (8/16 words); 15: 5a (11/18 words); 15:6; 15:16a (3/7 words); 15:17a (7/17 words); 16:9-10; 16:23a (6/23 words); 16:24f (13/24 words); 17:3; 17:5m (not 15 1 not 11 words); 17:11; 18:2f (4/8 words); 18:7f (9/20 words); 18:12; 19:1m (not 9 6 not 8 words); 19:15f (2/7 words); 19:16a (8/14 words); 19:23a (7/19 words); 19:25; 19:26a (6/16 words); 19:27a (6/17 words); 19:30a (2/8 words); 20:17-19; 20:21f (23/29 words); 20:22; 20:23m (10 not 4 5 words); 20:24-27; 20:29a (5/9 words); 20:30-31; 20:32a (13/20 words); 20:33; 20:34f (3/14 words); 21:3 (11/17 words); 21:18; 21:19a (9/34 words); 21:20a (6/11 words); 21:21a (22/35 words); 21:27; 22:3f (4/15 words); 22:22; 22:25f (3/22 words); 22:26; 23:13m (not 7 9 not 9 words); 24:3a (15/30 words); 24:33m (not 8 2 not 3 words); 24:36; 24:40-41; 26: 1a (4/14 words); 26:6; 26:7m (4 not 3 7 words); 26:8; 26:11; 26:13; 26:14a (9/12 words); 26:17f (7/18 words); 26:19; 26:21; 26:24a (10/31 words); 26:25a (7/15 words); 26:30; 26:35; 26:36a (11/21 words); 26:45a (14/26 words); 26:47m (not 4 1 not 21 words); 26:50a (9/20 words); 26:%1a (13/23 words); 26:52a (5/21 words); 26:57; 26:59a (12/15 words); 26:60f (3/9 words); 26:67; 26:69; 27:70a (6/10 words); 26:71a (5/18 words); 26:&3a (16/23 words); 27:2; 27:11f (19/25 words); 27:12m (not 5 5 not 2 words); 27:17a (6/19 words); 27:23; 27:26m (5 not 4 3 words); 27:31m (4 not 10 6 words); 27:33; 27:35; 27:37-38; 27:46a (17/24 words); 27:55; 27:57-29; 27(60a (13/22 words); 27:61; 28:8f (8/16 words); 28:11a (4/17 words)
Tatianís Diatessaron alone refers to 839.12 of the 1071 verses of Matthew.
Q: Are there any earlier dates for manuscripts of Mt that still exist today?
A: The dating of the Magdalen Manuscript (p64 + p67) is disputed.
Most agree is was written before the 3rd century A.D., because of its style on papyrus, which was not done after the start of the 3rd century.
Earlier date (c.50-64/65 A.D.) This is the view of Carsten Thiede, a German papyrologist. There are three points to support this view.
1) Uncial: The Magdalen papyrus was an "uncial" (in all caps) papyrus, which was used up to the mid-first century A.D.
2) Handwriting comparison to mid-first century texts found at Pompey and Herculaneum
3) Speculatively, perhaps Christians who wanted to preserve their scriptures started using codices earlier.
This was in Time Magazine (January 23, 1995). See The Real Jesus p.78 for discussion, but not necessarily endorsement, of this.
Later date (2nd century A.D.) New Testament manuscript. The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 8 p.20 says that the view is now in the ascendancy that Matthew was written between 80 and 100 A.D.
Codex: It appears to have come from a codex (book) and scribes switched from using scrolls to books during the 2nd century.
Speculatively, perhaps some uncials like this were made later. Burton Mackís skeptical book, Who Wrote the New Testament? p.9-10, while being very critical of Thiedeís dating, says uncial writings might have been made as late as 85 C.E. This statement is hard to understand, as Aland et al.ís The Greek New Testament 4th revised edition shows uncial manuscripts used even as late as the 9th century. much later. Perhaps Mack meant the particular style of uncial on papyrus.
Conclusion: While we do not know when the first codices were made, even most conservative scholars hold to a mid-first century date.
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