Zeteo’s Weekly update

The Gospel according to Matthew 

The gospel text below is from The Anchor Bible Matthew, intro, translation and notes by W.F. Albright and C. S. Mann.


46 – Controversy Over the Law (12:1-15a)

      1  At that time Jesus passed through the grain fields on the sabbath; and his disciples, being hungry, began to pluck ears of grain to eat. On seeing this, the Pharisees said to him, “Look, your disciples are committing an unlawful act on the Sabbath.” He replied, “Have you not read what David did, when he and his companions were hungry? How he went into God’s house and ate the bread of the Presence, which was not permitted for him or his companions for food, but was reserved for the priests only. Or have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbath priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are without guilt? But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here, and if you had known what this means, ‘I wish for mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless, since The Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
     Going on from there, he went into their synagogue, 10 where there was a man with a withered hand. They demanded of him, “Is it permitted to heal  on the Sabbath?”–so that they might have grounds to accuse him. 11 But he said to them, “What man is there among you, possessing a single sheep, who will you not lay hold of it and haul it out, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath; ? 12 And how much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is permitted to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 He then said to the man, “Put out your hand,” and he held it out, and it was restored, made whole like the other. 14 The Pharisees, however, consulted about how to destroy him. 15a Jesus, being aware of this, withdrew from the place.
2-5 – Jesus counters the criticism of the Pharisees by appealing to (1st) the disciples’ hunger being like that of David’s companions (I Sam 12:L1-6); and the rebuttal that the charge is not based on written law, which permitted plucking grain which is not theirs (Deut 23:25); (2nd) the example of the temple clergy is not really analogous to what the disciples were doing.

Here follow typical examples of the opposition to the Messiah.

47 – Healings, Exorcisms, Challenges (12:15b-37)

     15b Many followed him, and he healed them all, 16 ordering them not to make him known. 17 So was fulfilled what was said by Isaiah the prophet:

18 “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen,
    my beloved, with whom I am delighted.
   I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he shall proclaim judgment to the Gentiles.
19 He will neither dispute nor shout aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20 He will not break a bruised reed
    or quench a smoldering wick
   until he makes judgment victorious.
21   And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

     22 Then a blind and dumb demoniac was brought to him, and he cured him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. 23 All the crowds were astonished, and said, “Can this be David’s son?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they declared, “This man casts out demons—but only through the agency of Beelzebul, ruler of demons.” 25 Jesus, knowing the inflamed state of their minds, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself falls into ruin, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 If, therefore, Satan exorcises Satan, he is thereby divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 If I exorcize demons by Beelzebul, through whom do your sons do it? Therefore, so they must be your judges. 28 But if I exorcize demons through the agency of God’s Spirit, then without doubt the kingdom of God is upon you. 29 How is it possible enter a strong man’s house to plunder his effects, unless one first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
   30 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not bring men together scatters. 31 So then I tell you that every sin and blasphemy may be forgiven to men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 If anyone utters a word against The Man it will be forgiven, but whoever utters a word against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
     33 “Either produce a sound tree, and sound fruit too, or produce a rotten tree and rotten fruit with it, for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! Being evil, how can you speak what is good? For it is from the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. 35 A good man, out of his store of goodness, produces good things, while an evil man produces evil things out of his store of evil. 36 I tell you that on the day of judgment men  will render account for every harmful word they utter, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
13b-21 – Matthew’s justification for the Messianic Secret
24 – Gr. Beelzebul – Baal the Prince
29 – house can also mean family or clan.
28, 32 – Unforgivable blasphemy – word against the exorcizing Spirit.
31-32 – Ethical dualism of most NT language is typical of the age: cp. Qumran, Johannine pairs: truth, falsehood; light, darkness; good, evil; etc. –

48 – Demand for a Sign (12:38-45)

     38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
    39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks eagerly for a sign, and no sign will be given to it apart from that of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was in the monster’s body three days and three nights so The Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. 41 The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation, and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And something more than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the boundaries of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon. And  something more than Solomon is here.
     43 “When an unclean spirit has left a man, he wanders through dry places, looking for a resting place, but it finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will go back to the house that I left,’ and when returns he finds it vacant, cleaned and in order. 45 He therefore goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and take up residence. The last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
39 – adulterous – equivalent of idolatrous: Idolatry all through the OT and in the time of Jesus was always identified with sexual excess of all kinds.
39-42 – Sign of Jonah, uttering the word of God  ~ dawning of the Kingdom.
43 – dry places, where it was believed evil spirits lived and scapegoats went.

The theme of this and the preceding section is the division within Israel – between the emergent Messianic Kingdom and the kingdom of Satan that has seized the scribes and Pharisees.

49 – The Mother and Brothers of Jesus (12:46-50)

     46 While he was talking to the crowds, his mother and brothers were outside, wishing to speak to him. 47 Someone said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, wishing to speak to you.” 48 He answered his informant, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And The gesturing with his hand to his disciples, he said, “See–my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven ithat person s my brother, sister, and mother.”
46 –his mother and his brothers were outside – a house or a crowd?
This is the only occasion in Matthew where Jesus’ mother appears.
50 – Obedience to the Father’s will is the foundation of the Messianic Community.


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