July 6 2014 Gospel lection; Comments on the Greek text of Matt 11:16ff.

Mt 11:16 Τίνι δὲ ὁμοιώσω τὴν γενεὰν ταύτην; ὁμοία ἐστὶν παιδίοις καθημένοις ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς[A] ἃ προσφωνοῦντα τοῖς ἑτέροις But to what shall I compare this generation?  It is like children, sitting in the marketplace, who call out to the others,
Mt 11:17 λέγουσιν[B]· Ηὐλήσαμεν ὑμῖν καὶ οὐκ ὠρχήσασθε· ἐθρηνήσαμεν καὶ οὐκ ἐκόψασθε·[C] saying, “We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we sang [a dirge] and you did not beat [the breast].
Mt 11:18 ἦλθεν γὰρ Ἰωάννης μήτε ἐσθίων μήτε πίνων, καὶ λέγουσιν· Δαιμόνιον ἔχει· For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon.”
Mt 11:19 ἦλθεν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων, καὶ λέγουσιν· Ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος φάγος καὶ οἰνοπότης, τελωνῶν φίλος καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν. καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῆς.[D] The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Behold a person [who is] a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”  And wisdom is justified from her deeds.
Mt 11:25 Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· Ἐξομολογοῦμαί[E] σοι, πάτερ κύριε τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅτι ἔκρυψας ταῦτα ἀπὸ σοφῶν καὶ συνετῶν,[F] καὶ ἀπεκάλυψας αὐτὰ νηπίοις[G]· In that time, answering Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you hid these things from [the] wise and understanding, and revealed them to infants.
Mt 11:26 ναί[H], ὁ πατήρ, ὅτι οὕτως εὐδοκία ἐγένετο ἔμπροσθέν σου. Indeed, Father, for [all this] happened before you in this way as [your] good pleasure.
Mt 11:27 Πάντα μοι παρεδόθη ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρός μου, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐπιγινώσκει[I] τὸν υἱὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ, οὐδὲ τὸν πατέρα τις ἐπιγινώσκει εἰ μὴ ὁ υἱὸς καὶ ᾧ ἐὰν[J] βούληται[K] ὁ υἱὸς ἀποκαλύψαι. All things were handed over to me by my Father, and no one recognizes the Son except the Father, neither does anyone recognize the Father except the Son, and [the one] to whom the Son chooses to make a revelation.
Mt 11:28 Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς.[L] Come to me, all who toil and are burdened, and I will refresh you.
Mt 11:29 ἄρατε τὸν ζυγόν μου ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς καὶ μάθετε[M] ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ, ὅτι πραΰς εἰμι καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ,[N] καὶ εὑρήσετε ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς[O] ὑμῶν· Take my yoke upon y’all and learn from me, because I am gentle and lowly [in] heart, and you will find rest for your lives.
Mt 11:30 ὁ γὰρ ζυγός μου χρηστὸς[P] καὶ τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν. For my yoke is easy [to wear], and my load is light.


[A] The open area in the center of town where things are bought and sold.

[B] Could be either present indicative 3rd singular (they say), or dative plural neuter participle (saying).  The form is the same.

[C] Hence you do not want to play at all, either happy or sad games.

[D] Most commentators think that God’s wisdom is in view here, and the “works” of wisdom refer to the contradictory responses outlines just above.  This is illustrated in the woes which follow (vss. 20-24), but which are excluded from this lection.  Cf. a similar motif in v. 26.

[E] Literally “I confess to you,” though that meaning seems less likely here.

[F] Cf. 1 Cor 1:19.

[G] A term for younger children than the παιδία mentioned above in v. 16.

[H] Literally “yes.”

[I] Or just “knows,” though the preposition attached to the verb strengthens the force to some extent.

[J] This probably goes with the preceding pronoun, broadening its meaning (“to whomever”), rather than meaning “if” in this context.

[K] Or “wills”

[L] A remarkably generous verse, particularly after the exclusiveness of the previous verse.

[M] The verbal cognate for the noun disciple (μαθητής)

[N] Hence not inclined to dominate and control.

[O] The word does not carried the disembodied sense that often accompanies the English word “souls.”

[P] Or “good” or “kind.”

June 29, 2014 Epistle and Gospel lections; comments on the Greek text

Ro 6:12 Μὴ οὖν βασιλευέτω[A] ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐν τῷ θνητῷ ὑμῶν σώματι εἰς[B] τὸ ὑπακούειν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις αὐτοῦ, Therefore sin must not reign in your mortal bodies resulting in obeying its passions.
Ro 6:13 μηδὲ παριστάνετε[C] τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν ὅπλα[D] ἀδικίας τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, ἀλλὰ παραστήσατε ἑαυτοὺς τῷ θεῷ ὡσεὶ ἐκ νεκρῶν ζῶντας καὶ τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν ὅπλα δικαιοσύνης τῷ θεῷ. And stop offering your body parts [as] tools of unrighteousness to sin, but offer yourselves to God as alive from [the] dead, and your body parts [as] tools of righteousness to God.
Ro 6:14 ἁμαρτία γὰρ ὑμῶν οὐ κυριεύσει[E], οὐ γάρ ἐστε ὑπὸ νόμον ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ χάριν. For sin will not rule you, for you are not under law, but under grace.
Ro 6:15 Τί οὖν; ἁμαρτήσωμεν[F] ὅτι οὐκ ἐσμὲν ὑπὸ νόμον ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ χάριν;[G] μὴ γένοιτο· What then?  Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?  No way!
Ro 6:16 οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ᾧ παριστάνετε ἑαυτοὺς δούλους εἰς ὑπακοήν, δοῦλοί ἐστε ᾧ ὑπακούετε, ἤτοι ἁμαρτίας εἰς θάνατον ἢ ὑπακοῆς εἰς δικαιοσύνην;[H] Don’t you know that to whom[ever] you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, either [slaves of] sin [which leads] to death or of obedience [which leads] to righteousness?
Ro 6:17 χάρις[I] δὲ τῷ θεῷ ὅτι ἦτε δοῦλοι τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὑπηκούσατε δὲ ἐκ καρδίας εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον[J] διδαχῆς, But thanks [be] to God that you were slaves of sin, but you obeyed from [the] heart [the] pattern of teaching into which you were handed over.
Ro 6:18 ἐλευθερωθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἐδουλώθητε[K] τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ· And having been freed from sin, you were enslaved to righteousness.
Ro 6:19 ἀνθρώπινον[L] λέγω διὰ τὴν ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν· ὥσπερ γὰρ παρεστήσατε τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν δοῦλα τῇ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ καὶ τῇ ἀνομίᾳ εἰς τὴν ἀνομίαν, οὕτως νῦν παραστήσατε τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν δοῦλα[M] τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ εἰς ἁγιασμόν. I am speaking humanly because of the weakness of your flesh; for just as you presented your body parts [as] slaves to impurity and to lawlessness resulting in lawlessness, so now present your body parts [as] slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Ro 6:20 Ὅτε γὰρ δοῦλοι ἦτε τῆς ἁμαρτίας, ἐλεύθεροι[N] ἦτε τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with respect to righteousness.
Ro 6:21 τίνα οὖν καρπὸν[O] εἴχετε τότε ἐφ’ οἷς νῦν ἐπαισχύνεσθε; τὸ γὰρ τέλος[P] ἐκείνων θάνατος· What result were you having then, because of which [things] you are now ashamed?  For the end of those [things] is death.
Ro 6:22 νυνὶ δέ, ἐλευθερωθέντες ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας δουλωθέντες δὲ τῷ θεῷ, ἔχετε τὸν καρπὸν ὑμῶν εἰς ἁγιασμόν, τὸ δὲ τέλος ζωὴν αἰώνιον. But now, having been freed from sin, and having become enslaved to God, you have your result [moving] into sanctification, and [its] end, eternal life.
Ro 6:23 τὰ γὰρ ὀψώνια τῆς ἁμαρτίας[Q] θάνατος, τὸ δὲ χάρισμα[R] τοῦ θεοῦ ζωὴ αἰώνιος ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν. For the compensation paid by sin is death, but the gift of God is life eternal in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Mt 10:40 Ὁ δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς ἐμὲ δέχεται, καὶ ὁ ἐμὲ δεχόμενος δέχεται τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με. The one who welcomes you welcomes me, and the one who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.
Mt 10:41 ὁ δεχόμενος προφήτην εἰς ὄνομα προφήτου[S] μισθὸν προφήτου λήμψεται, καὶ ὁ δεχόμενος δίκαιον εἰς ὄνομα δικαίου μισθὸν δικαίου λήμψεται. The one who welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and the one who welcomes a righteous person  in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of a righteous person.
Mt 10:42 καὶ ὃς ἂν ποτίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ποτήριον ψυχροῦ μόνον εἰς ὄνομα μαθητοῦ, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ ἀπολέσῃ[T] τὸν μισθὸν αὐτοῦ. And whoever gives a drink [of] a cup of cold [water to] one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, he [or she] will surely not lose his [or her] reward.

[A] A third-person imperative.  We don’t have this in English, so it’s hard to render.  “Don’t let sin reign” sounds like a command that is given to us, but that’s not what the text is saying.  My translation is an attempt to get at the sense.

[B] This preposition with an infinitive usually expresses purposes, but result seems to make more sense here, and is grammatically possible.

[C] A negative with a present imperative usually suggests ceasing an action that is already underway, usually in a continuous, repeated, or habitual manner.

[D] The more generic “tools” seems to fit better than a focus on military usage with “weapons.”

[E] Note it’s a future, not an imperative.  A simple statement of fact!

[F] Deliberative aorist subjunctive.

[G] Apparently a fairly common question Paul had to deal with!  It seems to be the concern dominating this whole section.

[H] A radically different anthropology from our culture’s idolization of individual freedom!

[I] See BDAG section 5 for this meaning.

[J] See BDAG section 4 for this meaning.  It’s interesting that the obedience of faith does not focus centrally on particular forms of obedience, but rather on a pattern of teaching.

[K] In this sense, at least, radical freedom is not a possibility.

[L] Neuter accusative singular form indicates adverbial usage.

[M] In other words, your body parts don’t make decisions on their own—they serve some larger purpose.  The only question is which purpose they will serve?

[N] (Apparently) free in the sense that there was no understood or lived-out obligation with respect to righteousness.

[O] Literally “what fruit?”

[P] “end” in the sense of goal or target toward which they are moving.  It’s important to recognize these two basic categories—actions have “fruit” or “results” in the near term, and an “end” or “goal” in the long run.

[Q] My translation reads this as a genitive of source.

[R] Note the central contrast here between compensation and gift.  This remains a core reality, despite the passage’s critique of absolute notions of freedom.

[S] Most commentators read “in the name of a prophet” in the sense of “because he or she is a prophet,” or “as a prophet.”  And similarly below.

[T] οὐ μὴ + aorist subjunctive = emphatic future denial.

June 15, 2014 Gospel and Epistle lections; Comments on the Greek text.

Getting ahead a little bit again.  Both the epistle and the gospel lection are short this week, so I’ve included both of them here.

2Co 13:11 Λοιπόν[A], ἀδελφοί, χαίρετε, καταρτίζεσθε[B], παρακαλεῖσθε[C], τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖτε[D], εἰρηνεύετε, καὶ ὁ θεὸς τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ εἰρήνης ἔσται μεθ’ ὑμῶν. As for the rest, brothers [and sisters], rejoice, mend your ways, be encouraged, have the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with y’all.
2Co 13:12 ἀσπάσασθε ἀλλήλους ἐν ἁγίῳ φιλήματι.[E] ἀσπάζονται ὑμᾶς οἱ ἅγιοι πάντες. Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the saints greet you.
2Co 13:13 ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἡ κοινωνία τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος[F] μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit [be] with all of you.
Mt 28:16 Οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μαθηταὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν εἰς τὸ ὄρος οὗ ἐτάξατο[G] αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, But the eleven disciples made their way into the Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus [had] instructed them.
Mt 28:17 καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν προσεκύνησαν, οἱ δὲ[H] ἐδίστασαν[I]. And seeing him, they worshiped, but some wavered.
Mt 28:18 καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων· Ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς· And coming forward, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on the earth was given to me.
Mt 28:19 πορευθέντες[J] οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη,[K] βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς[L] εἰς τὸ ὄνομα[M] τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος, As you go, therefore, disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mt 28:20 διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν·[N] καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ μεθ’ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος. teaching them to keep everything which I commanded you.  And look!  I am with you all the days—until the consummation of the age.

[A] The accusative of respect.  Literally “with respect to the rest.”

[B] “Mend your ways” is the suggestion of the BDAG lexicon for this text.  It could also be rendered “set yourselves in order.”

[C] Or one could render this in the middle voice:  “encourage yourselves.”

[D] Literally “think the same thing.”  Cf. the same phrase in Rom 15:5,  Phil 2:2, 4:2.

[E] A command occurring five times in the NT.  In addition to this one, see  Rom 16:16, 1 Cor 16:20, 1 Thess 5:26, 1 Peter 5:14.

[F] Note the Trinitarian reference, both here and in the Matt lection (v. 19)

[G] Or “to the mountain which Jesus [had] appointed for them.”

[H] This might also be rendered, “but they wavered,” indicating not just some of them wavered, but all of them.  Either is possible grammatically.  In either case, this verse has always struck me as one of the most interesting in the gospel of Matthew—that uncertainty can even fill moments like this one!  From an exegetical point of view, the next verse could easily be read as a response to this “wavering.”  Some kinds of uncertainty are only resolved by mission.

[I] “doubt,” “waver” or “hesitate.”

[J] Or one could read the participle as having imperatival force:  “Go, therefore . . .”

[K] The more typical translation “make disciples of all the nations” is an interpretation, but I have tried to translate more literally here.  There is no partitive sense—“of”—in the text itself.  Remember too, of course, that the same Greek word can be translated either “nations” or “gentiles,” though the translation “nations” arises here from the fact that the usage is in the neuter, rather than in the masculine gender.

[L] now we switch to the masculine gender, focusing more on persons than on nations.

[M] A single name belongs to all three!

[N] Interesting that it doesn’t say “teaching them to remember all that I taught you!”

Gospel lection for April 13 2014 Palm Sunday; Matthew 21:1-11; Comments on the Greek text


Mt 21:1 Καὶ ὅτε ἤγγισαν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ ἦλθον εἰς Βηθφαγὴ εἰς τὸ Ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν, τότε Ἰησοῦς ἀπέστειλεν δύο μαθητὰς And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,
Mt 21:2 λέγων αὐτοῖς· Πορεύεσθε εἰς τὴν κώμην τὴν κατέναντι ὑμῶν, καὶ εὐθέως εὑρήσετε ὄνον δεδεμένην καὶ πῶλον[A] μετ’ αὐτῆς· λύσαντες ἀγάγετέ μοι. saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey, tied up, and a colt with her.  Having untied [them,] bring [them] to me.
Mt 21:3 καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ τι, ἐρεῖτε[B] ὅτι Ὁ κύριος αὐτῶν χρείαν ἔχει[C]· εὐθὺς δὲ ἀποστελεῖ αὐτούς. And if anyone says anything to you, you will say ‘The Lord has need of them, and he will send them [back] immediately.’”
Mt 21:4 Τοῦτο δὲ γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου[D] λέγοντος· This happened so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, when he said,
Mt 21:5 Εἴπατε τῇ θυγατρὶ Σιών· Ἰδοὺ ὁ βασιλεύς σου ἔρχεταί σοι πραῢς καὶ ἐπιβεβηκὼς ἐπὶ ὄνον καὶ ἐπὶ πῶλον υἱὸν ὑποζυγίου[E]. “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your king is coming to you, humble and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the son of a pack animal.’”
Mt 21:6 πορευθέντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ καὶ ποιήσαντες καθὼς συνέταξεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς And having gone, the disciple also did just as Jesus [had] directed them.
Mt 21:7 ἤγαγον τὴν ὄνον καὶ τὸν πῶλον, καὶ ἐπέθηκαν ἐπ’ αὐτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια, καὶ ἐπεκάθισεν ἐπάνω[F] αὐτῶν. They led the donkey and the colt, and the put garments on them, and he sat above them.
Mt 21:8 ὁ δὲ πλεῖστος[G] ὄχλος ἔστρωσαν ἑαυτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια[H] ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, ἄλλοι δὲ ἔκοπτον κλάδους ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων καὶ ἐστρώννυον ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ. And the biggest crowd spread their own garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and they were spreading [them] in the road.
Mt 21:9 οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι οἱ προάγοντες αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἔκραζον λέγοντες· Ὡσαννὰ[I] τῷ υἱῷ Δαυίδ· Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου· Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.[J] And the crowd that was going ahead of him, and those who were following, were crying out saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is the one who comes in [the] name of [the] Lord; Hosanna in the highest!”
Mt 21:10 καὶ εἰσελθόντος αὐτοῦ εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ἐσείσθη[K] πᾶσα ἡ πόλις λέγουσα· Τίς ἐστιν οὗτος; And when he entered into Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up saying, “Who is this?”
Mt 21:11 οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι ἔλεγον· Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ προφήτης Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲθ τῆς Γαλιλαίας. And the crowds began to say, “This is the prophet Jesus, the [one] from Nazareth of the Galilee.”

[A] Of course, the presence of two animals in the story is unique to Matthew, and constitutes one of the major interpretative challenges of this text.

[B] A somewhat surprising future, where one would have expected an imperative.

[C] Hence presupposing an arrangement already made?  Not much explanation seems to be needed here.

[D] This verse and the next are unique to Matthew, along with the two animals.

[E] Two comments here.  First, most commentators think that the citation from Zech 9:9 is meant to be Hebrew parallelism—two different ways of saying the same thing, but Matthew seems to be taking both literally.  Secondly, the word ὑποζυγίου, translated “pack animal” commonly means “donkey” or “ass,” but it’s noteworthy that it’s not the same word in the original as the initial phrase (ὄνον), underscoring that in Zech 9:9, this is a parallel expression, and not the foal of the first animal, as Matthew assumes.

[F] A surprising preposition that I have rendered “above,” where one might have expected the simpler επι “on.”  Matthew leaves it somewhat undetermined exactly how Jesus sat on them.  There is also exegetical debate about whether the text is saying that Jesus sat on both animals, or whether “them” refers to the garments.  That’s a legitimate debate, but one still has to reckon with the unusual επανω here.

[G] Literally, “the mostest crowd”!

[H] So some garments are on the animals, and some on the road.

[I] Most commentators translate this Aramaic word as “save, we pray.”  The following dative is a bit harder to render.  Is the prayer directed to the Son of David, or should we render this “Save [us], we pray, by the Son of David?”  (Though the dative would be a bit grammatically unusual for such an interpretation.)  Or perhaps Matthew sees this simply as a general form of acclamation directed to the Son of David.  That would be confirmed by the next clause.  It’s also worth noting that “to the Son of David” is unique to Matthew and not in the synoptic parallels, nor is it in the original Psalm 118:25.  That would also suggest that Matthew sees “Hosanna” as a form of acclamation, rather than as a prayer.

[J] Either a reference to where the prayer is directed ([to the one] in the highest [heaven]), or else adverbial, indicating how the prayer is offered “in the highest [degree/to the greatest extent].”

[K] Cf. two other uses of this verb in 27:51 & 28:4.

Gospel Lection for March 9 2014; Matthew 4:1-11, comments on the Greek text

Gospel Lection for March 9 2014

Matthew 4:1-11, comments on the Greek text

Mt 4:1   Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀνήχθη εἰς τὴν ἔρημον ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος, πειρασθῆναι[A] ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. Then Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil.
Mt 4:2   καὶ νηστεύσας ἡμέρας[B] τεσσεράκοντα καὶ νύκτας τεσσεράκοντα ὕστερον[C] ἐπείνασεν. And after having fasted forty days and nights, later he was hungry.
Mt 4:3   καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ πειράζων εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Εἰ[D] υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰπὲ ἵνα οἱ λίθοι οὗτοι ἄρτοι γένωνται. And coming forward, the tempter said to him, “If you are the Son of God, speak, so that these stones may become bread.”
Mt 4:4   ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν· Γέγραπται· Οὐκ ἐπ’ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι ἐκπορευομένῳ διὰ[E] στόματος θεοῦ. But he said in response, “It is written, the human shall not live on bread alone, but on every work proceeding through [the] mouth of God.”
Mt 4:5   Τότε παραλαμβάνει[F] αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν πόλιν, καὶ ἔστησεν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ, Then the devil takes him into the holy city, and stood him on the pinnacle of the temple.
Mt 4:6   καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, βάλε σεαυτὸν κάτω· γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι[G] Τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ καὶ ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἀροῦσίν σε, μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου. And he says to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and on [their] hands they will carry you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Mt 4:7   ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Πάλιν γέγραπται· Οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου. Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not test [the] Lord your God.’”
Mt 4:8   Πάλιν παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν, καὶ δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν Again the devil takes him to an exceedingly high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
Mt 4:9   καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Ταῦτά σοι πάντα δώσω, ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς[H] μοι. And he said to him, “All these things I will give to you, if falling [down] you worship me.”
Mt 4:10 τότε λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ὕπαγε, Σατανᾶ· γέγραπται γάρ· Κύριον τὸν θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις καὶ αὐτῷ μόνῳ λατρεύσεις[I]. Then Jesus says to him, “Go [away], Satan.  for it is written, ‘You shall worship [the] Lord your God, and him alone shall you serve.’”
Mt 4:11 τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελοι προσῆλθον καὶ διηκόνουν[J] αὐτῷ. Then the devil leaves him, and look, angels came and began to serve him.

[A] The verb can have a neutral connotation (“tested”) or a negative one (“tempted.”)  It’s a bit ambiguous which is intended here.  The infinitive does not express purposes quite as strongly as a ινα clause would here.

[B] Accusative case with expressions of time indicates duration, answering “how long?”

[C] The aorist case of νηστεύσας already indicates that the fasting took place before the action of the main verb, but this word emphasizes this temporal sequencing.  Cf. the accounts in both Mark and Luke, where the temptation occurs throughout the 40 days of fasting.

[D] The most natural reading of this word is that it assumes the truth of what is being postulated.  “Since” would also be a possible rendering.  The text is not conveying that the Devil is trying to get Jesus to prove to a skeptic that he is the Son of God.

[E] “Through” is a much more commonly attested meaning here than “from,” which the translations tend to prefer (relying more heavily on the previous ἐκπορευομένῳ).  The text here follows the Septuagint of Deut. 8:3.

[F] As happens frequently in Greek narrative, the tense switches to the present for the sake of vividness.  I have translated literally here and throughout this passage.

[G] Here ὅτι is introducing a direct, rather than in indirect quotation (i.e., using “that”).  In Greek, both are possible.

[H] The verb carries the connotation of prostrating oneself before another.

[I] Serve in a cultic or worshipful sense.

[J] An inchoative imperfect, indicating the beginning of continuing action.  The word is commonly used of waiting tables, and carries the connotation of bringing him food.

Feb. 23, 2014 Gospel Lection; Matthew 5:38-48; Comments on the Greek text

Feb. 23, 2014 Gospel Lection

Matthew 5:38-48

Mt 5:38 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· Ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ[A] ὀφθαλμοῦ καὶ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος. You heard that it was said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
Mt 5:39 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ἀντιστῆναι τῷ πονηρῷ[B]· ἀλλ’ ὅστις σε[C] ῥαπίζει εἰς[D] τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα, στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην· But I tell you not to oppose the evil one, but whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him also the other [one].
Mt 5:40 καὶ τῷ θέλοντί σοι κριθῆναι καὶ τὸν χιτῶνά[E] σου λαβεῖν, ἄφες[F] αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον[G]· And to the one who wants to go to court with you and to take your tunic, allow him also the cloak.
Mt 5:41 καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει[H] μίλιον ἕν, ὕπαγε μετ’ αὐτοῦ δύο. And whoever compels you [to go] one mile, go with him two.
Mt 5:42 τῷ αἰτοῦντί[I] σε δός, καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανίσασθαι μὴ ἀποστραφῇς.[J] Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away the one seeking to borrow from you.
Mt 5:43 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου καὶ μισήσεις τὸν ἐχθρόν σου. You heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and you shall hate your enemy.”
Mt 5:44 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε[K] τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν καὶ προσεύχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν διωκόντων ὑμᾶς· But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Mt 5:45 ὅπως γένησθε[L] υἱοὶ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς, ὅτι τὸν ἥλιον αὐτοῦ ἀνατέλλει ἐπὶ [M]πονηροὺς καὶ ἀγαθοὺς καὶ βρέχει ἐπὶ δικαίους[N] καὶ ἀδίκους. So that you may become sons [and daughters] of your father who is in [the] heavens.  Because he causes the sun to rise on [the] wicked and [the] good, and he sends rain on [the] righteous and unrighteous.
Mt 5:46 ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε[O] τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς, τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν; For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same thing?
Mt 5:47 καὶ ἐὰν ἀσπάσησθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν μόνον, τί περισσὸν[P] ποιεῖτε; οὐχὶ[Q] καὶ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν; And if you greet only your brothers [and sisters], what are you doing [that is] remarkable?  Do not even the gentiles do the same thing?
Mt 5:48 Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι[R] ὡς ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν. Therefore, you shall be complete, as your heavenly Father is complete.

[A] Literally “in place of.”

[B] Ambiguous in the Greek alone as to whether this is The Evil One, or just someone who is evil.

[C] Note the prominence of the singular “you” throughout this text, which focuses here on the individual response.

[D] Literally “strikes you into the right cheek.”

[E] The bottom layer worn against the skin

[F] The focus here is not so much on active giving as on non-resistance.

[G] An outer garment.

[H] Cf. Matt 27:32, where the same verb occurs.

[I] Should we emphasize the present tense (“give to the one who continually asks you”)?

[J] One form for prohibitions in Greek is μὴ + the aorist subjunctive, as we see here

[K] Note both imperatives in this verse are present tense, indicating continuous, repeated, or habitual action that is commanded.  Note also that from this point onward, we have commands using you-plural, rather than the singular, as in the earlier verses.

[L] “Be” or “become” here?  Is love for enemies the means by which we become children of God, or the means by which our identity as children of God is made evident?  The Greek could be translated either way, though the verb is stronger than the regular form of the verb “to be” (εἰμί).

[M] The absence of definite articles gives a generalizing force here.

[N] Or “just and unjust.”

[O] Love in the sense of devotion and loyalty.

[P] Literally, “What more are you doing (than anyone else)?”

[Q] And the expected answer, of course, is “yes.”

[R] Not easy to translate, but “perfect” doesn’t quite do it.  The focus is not on the absence of defect, but rather on the full actualization  of all that is required.

Matthew 5:21-37 Gospel Lection Feb. 16, 2014

Feb 16, 2014-01-29

Matthew 5:21-37

Comments on the Greek Text

Mt 5:21 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις· Οὐ φονεύσεις[A]· ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει[B]. You heard that it was said to the ancient ones, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.”
Mt 5:22 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ· Ῥακά[C], ἔνοχος ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ[D]· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ· Μωρέ[E], ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς τὴν γέενναν[F] τοῦ πυρός. But I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.  Whoever ways to his brother, “Idiot,” will be liable to the Sanhedrin.  And whoever says, “Moron” will be liable to the Hell of fire.
Mt 5:23 ἐὰν οὖν προσφέρῃς τὸ δῶρόν σου ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον κἀκεῖ μνησθῇς ὅτι ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἔχει τι κατὰ σοῦ[G], So if you are offering your gift on the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you,
Mt 5:24 ἄφες ἐκεῖ τὸ δῶρόν σου ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου καὶ ὕπαγε πρῶτον διαλλάγηθι τῷ ἀδελφῷ σου, καὶ τότε ἐλθὼν πρόσφερε τὸ δῶρόν σου. leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then coming [back], offer your gift.
Mt 5:25 ἴσθι εὐνοῶν[H] τῷ ἀντιδίκῳ[I] σου ταχὺ ἕως ὅτου εἶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, μήποτέ σε παραδῷ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῷ κριτῇ, καὶ ὁ κριτὴς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ, καὶ εἰς φυλακὴν βληθήσῃ·[J] Make friends with your adversary quickly during the time you are with him in the road, lest the adversary hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the assistant, and you are thrown into jail.
Mt 5:26 ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν ἕως ἂν ἀποδῷς τὸν ἔσχατον κοδράντην.[K] Truly I tell you, you will surely not go out from there until you pay back the last penny.
Mt 5:27 Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· Οὐ μοιχεύσεις. You heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”
Mt 5:28 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς[L] τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν ἤδη ἐμοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ.[M] But I tell you that everyone who looks at a woman for the purpose of desiring her [lustfully] already committed adultery [with] her in his heart.
Mt 5:29 εἰ δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ὁ δεξιὸς σκανδαλίζει[N] σε, ἔξελε αὐτὸν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ, συμφέρει γάρ σοι ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μελῶν[O] σου καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ σμά σου βληθῇ εἰς γέενναν. And if your right eye causes you to sin, take it out and throw it [away] from you.  For it is better for you that one of your body parts is destroyed, and your whole body is not thrown into Hell.
Mt 5:30 καὶ εἰ ἡ δεξιά σου χεὶρ σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔκκοψον αὐτὴν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ, συμφέρει γάρ σοι ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μελῶν σου καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου εἰς γέενναν ἀπέλθῃ. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw [it away] from you, for it is better for you that one of your body parts is destroyed, and your whole body does not depart into Hell.
Mt 5:31 Ἐρρέθη δέ· Ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα[P] αὐτοῦ, δότω αὐτῇ ἀποστάσιον. It was said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.”
Mt 5:32 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ παρεκτὸς λόγου[Q] πορνείας[R] ποιεῖ αὐτὴν μοιχευθῆναι, καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσῃ μοιχᾶται. But I tell you that everyone who divorces his wife (apart from a case of sexual immorality) makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced [woman] commits adultery.
Mt 5:33 Πάλιν ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις· Οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις[S], ἀποδώσεις[T] δὲ τῷ κυρίῳ τοὺς ὅρκους σου. Again, you heard that it was said to the ancient ones, “You shall not make a false vow, but you shall give back to the Lord your vows.”
Mt 5:34 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν μὴ ὀμόσαι ὅλως· μήτε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὅτι θρόνος ἐστὶν τοῦ θεοῦ· But I tell you not to take an oath at all,  neither by heaven, since it is the throne of God,
Mt 5:35 μήτε ἐν τῇ γῇ, ὅτι ὑποπόδιόν ἐστιν τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ· μήτε εἰς[U] Ἱεροσόλυμα, ὅτι πόλις ἐστὶν τοῦ μεγάλου βασιλέως· nor by earth, since it is the footstool of his feet, nor toward Jerusalem, since it is the city of the great king.
Mt 5:36 μήτε ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ σου ὀμόσῃς, ὅτι οὐ δύνασαι μίαν τρίχα λευκὴν ποιῆσαι ἢ μέλαιναν. Neither shall you take an oath by [i.e. invoking] your head, since you can’t make one hair white or black.
Mt 5:37 ἔστω δὲ ὁ λόγος[V] ὑμῶν ναὶ ναί, οὒ οὔ· τὸ δὲ περισσὸν τούτων ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ[W] ἐστιν. Let your “yes” statement be “yes,” and your “no” be “no.”  What is beyond these [statements] is from the evil [one].

[A] This is the same word that is used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible used in Jesus’ day, and it tends to have the more specific connotation of murder.  Greek has another word that is more generic for any sort of killing:  ἀποκτείνω.  But that’s not what we have here.

[B] The word can have either a neutral connotation (“judgment”) or a negative one (“condemnation”).

[C] The Aramaic word here literally connotes “empty” or “empty-headed.”

[D] The word can also connote a more generic council, rather than the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, though in light of Jesus’ love of hyperbole, I wonder whether that more specific reference is in view.

[E] The Greek word for “fool.”

[F]Literally the valley of Hinnom, a ravine south of Jerusalem where God’s final judgment was supposed in some texts to take place.   In the gospels, this is commonly used of the place of punishment in the next life—Hell.

[G] Note that it’s the perpetrator, not the victim, who is in view here.  The other side comes into view in Matthew 18:15ff., when the one who is sinned against is called to initiate the reconciliation process.

[H] Literally “be of a good mind.”

[I] Adversaries are not usually among the folks we are most inclined to make friends with!

[J] Again here, the assumption is that the person addressed is the perpetrator, not the victim.

[K] An interesting prudential sort of argument:  reconciliation will make your life easier than it would be otherwise.

[L] προς with the infinitive commonly expresses purposes in Greek.

[M] Hence the inclination to a sinful act is as culpable as the sinful act itself.  This is one of the things that makes me quite hesitant about the way in which so many want to distinguish between same-sex orientation (OK) and same-sex behavior (not OK).  I don’t think Jesus lets us get away with that sort of distinction.

[N] Often in Matthew, this verb is used of people inappropriately taking offense at Jesus.  But cf. 18:6ff. for another strong rejection of anything which genuinely causes another to stumble.

[O] Literally “members” which in English doesn’t always still carry the connotation of “body parts.”

[P] The same Greek word can mean “wife” or “woman,” depending on context.

[Q] The word is flexible enough to mean either “case” or “charge.”

[R] A general word for sexual immorality of a variety of sorts.  Cf. Mark 10:11 which lacks this exception clause.  Some commentators say that Mark simply presupposes this.  Others argue that Matthew softens Jesus’ strong convicting statement to make it more practical in a community seeking to implement this teaching in difficult circumstances.

[S] Or “swear falsely,” “perjure oneself.”

[T] Could be either “give back” or “pay back.”

[U] Note the shift in pronoun with this last clause.

[V] Or more literally, “Let your yes-word be yes.”

[W] or “from an evil [motive].”