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Saturday, January 2, 2021

Matthew Chapter 5-10 Notes

Continuing from where we left off:

[Chapter 5]

St. Matthew says Christ is preaching on a mountain. Jews and Gentiles are here at this mountain with Him. He is painting a picture of Christ as the New Moses giving out the New Torah (Law) and giving it to a New People. 

Jesus tells us who shall be blessed. 

The "poor in spirit" (humble).

"[T]hose who mourn" (those who have had trial/tribulation for in this culture, the people who suffered were seen as cursed even though they aren't).

"[T]he meek...inherit the land" (not earth). Zealots want to take the land by violence but Jesus says only the peaceful people will be the ones to inherit it. 

"[B]lessed are those who hunger/thirst for justice" - emulate those who have been downtrodden; experienced injustice because they will get justice from God.

"Pure in heart". Inward heart. 

"Peacemakers". Not Zealots. 

Blessed are the persecuted. These are those people who will inherit God's Kingdom. 

Blessed are you when people hate you for doing things for God. 

[Want a sign from God? Following Him will get people to hate you].

5:13 - Jesus shows here that he is not choosing this new people because he likes them better. He is saying he will use them to save and share the world to God. 

5:17 - This is not Plan B because Plan A failed. He is saying that this is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant (the New Covenant). 

Matthew 5:17’s “law or the prophets” is merely a way of referring to the whole Old Testament. Christ says He has “not come to abolish”. We should read Matthew 5:21-48 as well with their correctives in light of Christ’s opening remarks in 5:17-18. 

In fulfilling the Law, Jesus does not alter, replace, or nullify the former commands; rather, He establishes their true intent and purpose in His teaching and accomplishes them in His obedient life.

When He says “until all is accomplished” it means until the full manifestation of God’s Kingdom, for which we are called on to pray for (Matthew 6:10). 

St. Hilary of Poiters says of Matthew 5 that “from the expression, “pass”, we may suppose the constituting elements of heaven and earth will not be annihilated… He [Christ] does not intend to abolish it but to enhance it by fulfilling it. He declares to His apostles they will not enter heaven unless their righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees. Therefore, He bypasses what is laid down in the Law, not for the sake of abolishing it, but for the sake of fulfilling it”.

Prophecy gives people the big picture. It is less about telling the future and can be good or bad. It is all to give the people a way forward. 

"Fulfillment" - the word here is used like "to fill up a glass of water". Christ fulfills the Law. It is taking whaat is in the Law as kernel-form and blossoming it into a beautiful plant. 

Jesus tells them that they have to be better than the Pharisees and Sadducees and then gives examples about how to be. He shows the heart of the Law and Prophets here by telling us to "love God and love people". 

Even if you are angry you are in danger of the fire of Hades. What leads to murder? The thoughts of your murderous spirit. You and I are really no different than the Pharisees and Sadducees. We want to be innocent? We must strive to be pure in heart. 

If there is a broken relationship, not made right, stop and try to remedy it because then you have done all you can to make it right and then you can go make your offerings and prayers to God. 

Jesus forbids divorce here but the Orthodox Church does allow divorce? Why is this? Because life is not black and white like a fundamentalist might tell you. Remarriage for a 2nd time is allowed in the Orthodox Church (but not always and a 3rd re-marriage is often never allowed) as a concession to sin and our human weakness. If possible, you should only marry and keep one marriage throughout your whole life and strive for this goal. 

When Augustus became Caesar he took all the titles but king and would every law through the senate. He claimed pater familia (father of the Roman family). 

[Chapter 6]

Rome was beginning trade with China somewhat but not really, it was in very early infancy. They knew of the lands of the East and of the lands below in Africa but it was relatively unknown and unexplored to Rome as of yet. 

Be humble. Do not make a show of it because God sees it. Hypocrites. Do not be like these somebody's and be more like the nobody's. God knows who you all are.

The Lord's Prayer is intimate. Worship is communal even if you are all alone in the desert. Angels and etc also take part with you in this. 

Paul says when we worship is "when Christ appears" (note that this is not His Parousia or 2nd Coming). Heaven is brought down to earth and it is for most an unseen realm that we cannot see but some who have cultivated their holiness can and have seen the heavenly realm. When we pray we are praying to bring Christ and the godly down to earth. This is one of many reaasons we pray for His Return. 

Forgive others like you forgive yourself. Tells them they can be holy and know God. 

Mammon - person of substance - wealth, influence, etc. Also is the name of a god that was worshipped. Sometimes this was in the form of Pluto who was the ruler of hell and money. We cannot serve God and Mammon/Pluto.

We see the apostles want to convert people to Christ. Nowhere do they try to force people to live this way trough the Law either. 

The gods - forces of nature in Greek culture and religion do not and did not care about you. 

The god of Yahweh, the One True God, who is not a demon masquerading as a deity, does care about all people. This is why the Early Church was full of women, children, and slaves. Because to God, they are just as important as Caesar who is considered the highest and most powerful person of authority on earth at the time. The lowly slave is equal to Caesar for God's love. 

[Chapter 7]

We need to be critical and judge ourself before we go trying to put our house in order. 

7:6 - Dogs and swine are heathen peoples (Phil. 3:2; Rev 22:15) but also are about Jews who do not practice virtue. 

If we are following God, He will take care of us and give us what we need truly. If you seek righteousness, God will respond: "Ask and you will receive". 

Any position of authority that we get is from God and accept responsibility because we will be judged at a higher standard than others. 

Whoever hears My (God's) sayings and does them, God will protect His followers, not based off of being of Abraham's biological people. 

[Chapter 8]

Why does Jesus keep telling people not to tell about His miracles? This man with "leprosy" likely had what's known today as Hanson's Disease, a disease that causes your body's tissues to die. It becomes a necrotic tissue problem. The "leper" had faith and is bold to ask Christ for this because he could be stoned for coming up to someone and exposing them to disease like this. Christ heals him by touching this man however. In the same way that Christ purified the water at His baptism, His touch purifies the man. Jesus does this in front of a large group of people. Jesus just wants him not to say to people He is the Messiah and also doesn't do these healings for the glory because He is humble and that means God is humble. 

This leper could now go back to his community after seeing the high priest and getting the okay to come back. He would also be restored to be able to worship God again. This grace was given as a calling so the leper could live differently and do what he was called to do.

8:5-13 - The centurion is a Gentile of faith. The servant is healed. A Gentile (Roman soldier), a centurion who is in charge of 100 men, who is actively oppressing Judea by order of the governors and emperor, has a slave who is sick and asks this Jew for help. He does it. 

Jesus has now healed a leper, a slave of a Gentile who is also a Roman soldier, and up next will be an elderly woman (Peter's mother-in-law). Capernaum is a coastal town where Peter has been previously before Jesus worked since he had a boat and a house. 

This Roman Centurion was perhaps what was called a "god-fearer". In the 1st Century AD, there were some Greco-Roman people who were fascinated with Judaism as an ancient religion. Jews only have one Temple and some synagogues to read Scripture (the OT) and pray a bit. The idea that they only prayed "in mind" was fascinating to the pagans because they always had to be active and do something outwardly to try and get a "reaction" from the pagan gods or try to strike bargains. This happened a lot back then and Pompey actually went into the Holy of Holies and found nothing but an empty room and then annexed Judah (Judea) as a province for Rome. 

Jewish people hated Paul along with the Early Church after his conversion because there were people (donors) like this centurion who might join his cause of Christianity and then they would lose donations. 

The first two examples of healing are the unclean and the enemy instead of being a ruler. He says there will be many Gentiles and etc. who will sit and feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, while unfaithful Jews will fail and not be. The condition necessary is faith. 

Faith makes you a child of Abraham (a part of Israel). 

Matthew 8:16-17 quotes Isaiah 53:4. When Jesus heals, he doesn't get their sickness or infirmities. He purged them and cleansed and purified them. Isaiah 53 in context is about righteousness. 

JustifiedL cleansed and purified. 

It is fulfilled as He does these things in Matthew 8. He doesn't even say their sins are forgiven here. Isaiah 53 is also not about some courtroom scene. The entirety of Matthew 8 would not make sense otherwise. The leper, demons, centurion, etc. need to be cleansed and made clean, not to be driven out. He turns enemies into friends and sinners here to saints. 

8:18-22 - "Scribe" - rabbis. A law of Moses guy. They would come to Jesus and says that he would like to follow Jesus so Jesus essentially tells him "I'm homeless" to tell him that this shall be a hard road, something the scribe isn't going to be accustomed to. Christ refers to himself here as Son of Man (a term found in Ezekiel-Psalms-etc. also called Son of Adam, Son of the Dirt, not a term of glorification but the opposite). 

This phrase is found especially in Daniel. The one like a son of Adam (human being) on a cloud who comes before the Father (Ancient of Days). In context, he is telling this scribe that if he wants to follow Him it is not going to be like he thinks it will be. It will be much different than the road he thinks this is going to go. 

8:21-22 - Another follower says he will come but first wants to bury his father. Jesus says this life he calls them to is radical and that their former concerns are meaningless. Where we are going as a New People is much different. 

8:23-27 - Storm happens. Jesus is asleep. The disciples wake him up and so Jesus calms the storm and gives them a critique about their faith. Jesus here controls the elements. Jupiter, Zeus, etc. of the pagan pantheon are in control of the elements in Greco-Roman religion. Baal is a storm god who beats Yam, god of the sea. What does Jesus do here? He calms the seas and the thunderstorms. He is God-Incarnate, stronger than all the gods/goddesses (fallen angels) combined. This Messiah is more powerful than the apostles expected and he has control over the elements. This is the first indication to the Apostles that this is actually God Himself Incarnated. 

8:28-34 - Gergesene is where they head to and they come across a demon-possessed man. They come from the other side of the Galilee into Gentile territory (at best there may be Samaritans here). They find 2 demon possessed men who are blocking the road. 

In Greek, the daemon was an "ancestral spirit". The Greeks had different ranks of or levels of demons. Apollo was a daemon in Greek-Roman religion for example but there were lower beings as well who worked for Apollo. You spoke to the "gods" by 1) idols or 2) possession (which the Oracles of Delphi did often). The Gentiles did not see this as bad and did this all the time. They also understood the differences between possession by a "god" and a mental illness. Socrates wrote he had a daemon that whispered things to him in his mind. This was common. The Roman emperor's "divine spirit" was what was worshipped, not him (usually). The two people were "touched by the gods" (demons) and they likely (the townspeople) saw them as being oracles or gurus in some sense. Ones gifted by the gods with spiritual wisdom of some sort. 

The demons in the men recognize Jesus as Son of God. We got earlier the calming of the storms and now he is called Son of THE GOD, a title Augustus Caesar used is given by demons to Jesus as a title. Caeasr was seen as son of the god Jupiter. 

They ask if he has come to torment them before the time of judgment. These spirits are expecting one day to be judged by Yahweh. He is going to judge the nations and spirits, the nations worship demons rather than the Creator and the Lord of Lords. They ask Jesus why he is here and beg for mercy. The enemy is not mankind but the demons who have taken God's people captive. They ask to be put into the swine because they have no power on their own without a human to try and influence. 

They are begging to be put in pigs because they want to stay in the world for a while longer instead of go to Gehenna. The pigs then go and jump into the sea and drown. Evil is just like a parasite. The demons hate creation and end up going to Gehenna anyways since they can only destroy. The act of mercy given to them was short lived obviously. These people obviously see it and freak out about Jesus after having seen it. They probably realize he is God or a god and it is a lot like Isaiah's experience in Isaiah 6 where he is freaking out about experiencing God. Jesus leaves when asked to go away but he does not abandon these people because in Matthew 28 he will send the disciples back here. 

[Chapter 9]

The people think that is blasphemy when Jesus says "your sins are forgiven" and heals the paralytic. He is saying and showing them that the real problem is sin, not being sick or disabled. Even the prophets however did not forgive sins. Only God can do this. Big hint that Jesus is God Incarnate right there. Rather than condemn creation, Christ calls them to repentance. 

9:9-13 - Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners. They are despised and Jesus is with them. He tells Matthew (Levi) to follow Him. He eats with them in the tax office house. The Pharisees get super pissed off at this because they think that He should be trying to get rid of these people because they are considered undesirables, traitors to Judea, traitors to Jews, and evil and good for nothings that do not cleanse or purify the land so God can return and get them out of Exile. Jesus is here however for these people. The healthy do not need doctors after all. It is sad too that the Pharisees cannot recognize God is right there standing in front of their own very eyes either. 

9:14 - John's disciples ask Jesus: "Why do your disciples not fast?"

9:15-17 - Jesus answers them that they will fast when He leaves. Jesus is referring with the wineskins some 1st Ce. books that they would have all been aware of. One of these is 4 Ezra. In 4 Ezra, there is one vision of a bridegroom. A festival is about to start in it and this bridegroom is the king also. In the vision, he is fixing to consummate the marriage with his bride and then drops dead. All go into mourning and despair. This is 4 Ezra where there is a prophecy about the Destruction of the Temple as well. Jesus references this a LOT (and this isn't about Herod's Temple but Him, Christ). Jesus references this a lot because this consummation promised NEVER happened in the Old Testament (Old Covenant) but will in the New Covenant. Jesus here is also declaring Himself to be the Temple too. 

They are not fasting because they are in a transition that is going on here with the Old and New Covenant. Something better and new is coming. The New Covenant. 

9:18-26 - the ruler was basically like the Head of the Council. The guy who helps keep the synagogue in shape. 

A woman with a blood issue (she has been unclean for 12 years and sick; anemic) touches Jesus' clothes and is healed and cleansed. She technically if Christ had sin, would have been counted unclean but he is not and instead purifies her. 

Jesus goes to this rulers' house and saw the rich ruler of the synagogues' funeral-people, crowds, and professional wailers. He tells them the girl is sleeping. They mock him of course because it sounds ridiculous. She, the daughter however is resurrected. (Note: We will find later in Mark that this girl is also 12 and there is a connection going on there). 

9:27-31 - He went to another house and these two blind men pursue Him on the way there. "Son of David:. King of Judah - Messiah. They are blind but can "see" that Jesus is Messiah. Pharisees meanwhile are following him around and can't see. Jesus asks "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" The blind men have faith and we see Isaiah 35:5 fulfilled here. 

9:30-31 - He tells them again to not say anything but they tell everyone. This is humility of Christ. 

9:32-35 - He casts a demon out of someone. Man was mute and now can speak. the Pharisees are blind and trying to make excuses as to why not to follow Christ. They don't like what he's doing. There is no repentance from them. The Pharisees know they will lose their whole corrupt way of life if they follow this Jesus of Nazareth. They'd have to lose hate too because the only way Rome is going to be defeated as an enemy is through love and making Rome a friend of God. 

9:36-38 - Jesus looks at all the people. The harvest is great but the number of laborers are few. Israel he is showing here is weary and scattered because of their worthless cowardly leaders who don't care. He also says this with compassion knowing that these wicked rulers will be the ones to crucify and kill him. 

[Chapter 10]

The Center is Christ. Peter, James, John are his 3 in his inner circle. Then it is His 12. Then it is 70 disciples. Then there are 120 disciples who stick with him all the way through. These are His main groups. A lot of the 120 are former John the Baptist followers. 3 James are mentioned: James who is Joseph's son, Jesus' adopted father (also Jesus' step-brother, Bishop of Jerusalem, and the one that would be martyred by being thrown off the Temple); James of Alphaeus, the Lesser; and James of Zebedee. James of Alphaeus would be the one to take off after the Resurrection to preach to Syria and other parts of the East, kind of like St. Thomas when he will go to India. These 12 follow Jesus at all times mostly. They are basically His apprentices. He turns them, grooms them into becoming His Apostles and representatives of the New People. He also it must be noted gives Judas power and authority to cast out demons. There is no justification for his betrayal and we should look at ourselves in Judas for we are like him in so many ways. 

10:4-15 - This is the first sending out. He tells them to to Israel and Jews first. Jesus was homeless and went from house to house and depended on people to help and feed him, all of this done out of kindness and charity (10:4-10). 

Those who do not accept the message will face judgement worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. Turning away from salvation is the result (v. 11-15).

10:16-23 - All of them except John get killed and martyred. The message will bring tribulation and martyrdom. God through the Spirit will give them all the words to say. If they endure they will be saved. This applies to us today as well. 

10:24-42 - v. 28 - hell equals Gehenna. This shows there is an immortal soul. God knows all about us and cares. His message however is not a peaceful one. To follow God is to wage war against oneself and the demonic and many will not and do not want to sign up for this. We must however for the sake of our salvation, take up the Cross (crucifixion). It is to be a torture. Around a year ago at Passover, it was possible for them all to have been crucified because, in order to preserve peace, Pontius Pilate would crucify Jews at random, to make the point of people not causing trouble in Jerusalem. It would be like telling someone of color to tie the noose around your neck in modern day is what Jesus is saying essentially. 

10:23 - You can refer to my notes in this blog but this is obviously not about the 2nd Coming as some silly preterists claim. 

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