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Friday, January 1, 2021

Matthew: Introduction - Chapter 1-4 Notes


Everything in the New Testament is written within a century. 

Rome was a relatively young nation in Jesus' time. This New Testament is all about the New Covenant and the Messiah promised to us by the Old Covenant aka Old Testament. 

This is not mythology. It very tied to historical actions and events and people. Jesus exists. The New Testament recounts events that actually happened. 

Exile is expected because of Old Testament prophets to be ended. They expect a new temple to be built that will bring God's glory back and they were waiting for God to return as well and bring back His presence and did in fact think this would take place when this prophesied King/Messiah would come. 

The New Testament is all written in Koine Greek because of Alexander the Great's influence. He was taught by Aristotle, who was taught by Plato, who brought Greek culture and the language to much of the world. 

About 175 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes failed to take Egypt (164 BC) he really failed that time. He goes to Jerusalem and Temple and sacrifices a pig to Zeus there. This is called the Abomination of Desolation and this causes the Maccabean Revolt. They took independence over Jerusalem and defeated Seleuciads. 

Antiochus was about to invade so the Maccabeans allied with Sparta and Rome (a new country). Rome had just finished off Carthage and the Phoenician Empire. They were the new top dogs of the world. Antiochus did not re-invade. Rome then invades Greece and rebuilds Corinth. They are a republic and a senate until Julius becomes the eventual emperor. He is then stabbed to death 27x with his best friend Brutus striking him last. Then a civil war ensued with Marc Antony and Octavian, Antony allied with Cleopatra. [31 BC] Octavian wins and becomes Caesar Augustus, and takes the title of true emperor, sole ruler of Rome. He is also Pontifex Maximus, head priest-king of Rome. He is the secular and religious power. He takes titles of god of gods and takes title of son of God claiming Caesar Julius was a god. Jesus gets all these titles in the NT that the emperor has and this is according to Roman Law treasonous. 

When Jesus is born, Augustus and then Tiberius is Emperor. Herod the Great was ethnarch of the Judean people. You had to earn citizenship in Rome. It wasn't given to you by birth. It was earned. So the majority of Judea were considered non-persona. Jesus of Nazareth had no rights and the Jewish people were essentially considered "livestock". 

Herod was not Jewish. He was an Arab and was unpopular but tried to make himself look good so what he did was rebuild and rennovate the Temple. This wasn't a popular thing. Rome split Judea into four when Herod died. It became a tetrarchy for Rome and Herod's sons became governors. 

The Jews are slave people awaiting a king. There are many groups and sects in this time period of the Jews. The Jewish sects are: 1) Pharisees: They were a group trying to follow the letter to the Law but not the spirit of the Law. Focused heavily on purity and about trying to get God to come back and bring His presence back to the land. 2) Sadducees: They only accepted the Pentatauch, Caesar was their Messiah and they pledged allegiance to him basically the entire time and that is how they got their high priest roles ultimately. 3) Essenes: These people were part of a desert people communes. They hated the Temple and Pharisees did too. The 4th group were Zealots: In 70 AD and Bar Kochba (132-135 AD) things will go down for them (Jews). Only Pharisees and Christians would survive after Bar Kochba and this would result in Early Christianity and see the Pharisees become what is known today as Reform Judaism. 

In the New Testament we have four gospels, then we have works of the Apostles (letters). Acts, letters of Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John's letters and Revelation lastly. 

The Gospels are all written at least 3-6 decades after Jesus, and as the youngest gospel, probably only 30 years. This is not a long time at all. The first mention of Muhammad by comparison is 140 years after Muhammad died while Paul makes a letter within 15-40 years.

Matthew Notes:

[Chapter 1]

Why does Matthew share that Jesus' geneology is all a lot of prostitutes and men who are kings and also whackadoodle? Matthew keeps picking questionable people from the Old Testament. He does this to ensure that he is definitely the Messiah. He lists 14 generations. 14 is two 7's. Jesus is the 7th. 7 days. 70 weeks. Completeness. Jesus is the completeness promised. 

Jesus comes from lowly stock of people. God is using all of these messy people to bring about his ultimate goal: redemption and salvation for the world. God is fully aware of how screwed up we are. 

Angel tells Joseph that Jesus will be the one to save them all from sins. His name will be Yeshua which is in Greek Iesus which equates to Jesus. 

Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14. The word parthenos is used which means virgin nuns. 2 Maccabees mentions parthenos who were in Temple until they reached puberty and then married off but would continue to live in purity. Mary had this happen too like them. She was betrothed to Joseph so that she could continue to stay dedicated. Matthew looks to the whole Old Testament text. If they quote Isaiah 7:14 they are not doing just quote and verse here. This is shorthand. If he quotes one text he expects you to read all of it. In Isaiah 7, the child who is born will be the one to show them that they are to be delivered and that God is with them. Jesus is that guy on a bigger scale than Isaiah. 

"Did not know her until"... In Greek aparthenos (nun). She remained virgin until the day she died. The word "until" in Greek does not mean that Joseph and her had sexual relations. Joseph was an older man and he passed quickly in the New Testament. 

[Chapter 2]

Herod is Ruler of the People. These guys were expecting a new king to be born. This does not excite Herod because the Messiah is legitimate as king and he is not. 

Bethelehem (Micah 5:2) is where they find Jesus is to be born. David's ancestral home as well. Herod tries to tell the Magi who saw the star two years ago to send for him when they find him (Herod wishes to kill him). They are led by the star and worship him. They give him gold, frankencense (incense) and myrhh (a spice used for burying dead bodies). These are obvious clues and a foreshadowing.

Joseph is not mentioned in the cave for a reason. God is Father of Jesus and Joseph is not his biological father. In Ancient Israel it had a Queen-Mother and she was important to the Old Testament. When crowned King and paid honor, by virtue of Jesus being King, she is the Queen-Mother (1-2 Kings). This is why we have many icons with Mary and Jesus being together. He is King. She is Queen-Mother. Like Bathsheba to Solomon. 

The star: we don't know what it was for sure. The Magi worship the stars. Even as a baby though, probably 2 years old, the stars are guiding these Gentile men to Christ, as a baby they will worship. The Gentiles will worship Christ like the Magi. He is more than just of David's lineage since he is worshipped. He is to be king/messiah of all people. Frankencense (incense) tells us that he will be priestly too. The Magi would have believed that the heavens were a mirror of the earth so they associated different kings and reigns with planets and constellations. This new star is a new king and brings a shift because this someone is important. 

Joseph gets abother angelic dream to depart to Egypt to protect from Herod. Hosea 11 gets quoted. There, it is used to show and direct you to that section of Hosea. In there, his son is Israel and the last straw for God to judge Egypt was the death of the firstborn of Israel. 

Judea is as bad as the world in Hosea 11. This Messiah is to save them just as Egypt was desperate, Herod was also desperate and so he had a mass slaughter take place of children 2 years of age. Matthew quotes Lamentations. Why does he do this? Because a destruction is taking place by the ruler of the people. 

Archaleus would have reigned in Judea if Jesus was born in 4 BC and then 2 years old. When he was 10 they would move back to Nazareth in Galilee. Joseph had four dreams in all. 

[In Coptic tradition and literature, Herod's people were still trying to slay/find them]. 

St James, Jesus' step-brothers leads the donkey in an icon. 

[Chapter 3]

In the desert, John the Baptizer appears and says "repent for the kingdom is at hand". Judgement and things will be set straight for these are the Last Days. In context, Matthew 3's quotation of Isaiah is two-fold. The Jews had gotten back to the Land but the Exile was not over yet. Daniel gives 490 years, crying, "in the wilderness, prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight". Exile from the East. God is coming back and the Exile is ending. The Jews will be restored as a people. 

John is eating locusts and honey and using old camel hair. He is kind of gross and scary and definitely a stinky guy telling people to repent. Many people are congregating and getting baptized at the River Jordan. Before you met God, you needed a physical/spiritual cleaning. John is doing his ministry to prepare a new people/ for God because Judea is corrupted. God is going to judge the land so John is creating and preparing a new people for a New Israel. He may have originally been an Essene but we do not know for sure. The people claiming to be leaders (the Pharisees and Sadducees) come and he asks confrontationally, "What are you doing here? Repent and prove it and then I will baptize you". This New Israel is not biological and doesn't need biological Jews. 

3:11-12 - Messiah is to judge and the evil will burn. God is already chopping a tree down. 

3:13-17 - The Trinity is shown here. Jesus is an adult here now and John is also an adult. John is perplexed by Jesus showing up to be baptized because he knows that he is the one that needs Jesus/God to baptize and purify him. Jesus is baptized however because John is to pass the torch/ministry to Jesus. This is symboliism here of Moses passing the torch to Joshua in the Old Testament for Joshua was the one who led them through the Jordan. Jesus, is the New Moses and the New Joshua ultimately but here the imagery as a New Joshua is shown here as he will be the one to do the same and lead the people as Messiah. Jesus does not need to be purified for He is already pure. Jesus in fact purifies the water and blesses it. Creation is under the influence of sin and when we bless and sanctify anything, we make it be restored to God's original intention. What God intended, He is reclaiming it. Christ starts His reclamation of the world by starting with the River of Jordan. All who Christ touches are blessed and turned back to the right intent and path. 

3:16-17 - Trinity reference. The Father, Son, and Spirit are shown. The work of God begins. The Jordan River has been redeemed and reclaimed by God Incarnate. 

[Chapter 4]

Jesus goes 40 days and 40 nights to be tempted then in the desert. He does so like Israel, who wandered in the desert for 40 years. St. Matthew shows us Jesus succeeds and will succeed in the mission that Israel failed at. "Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil". Like Israel who were led by God out to the wild. Jesus also fasts at night to shoiw he truly fasted. Christ shows the willingness to die for God and obey Him because that is faith and trust in God even if that means bad things are to happen. The Devil we find can quote Scripture too. Satan uses it against Jesus like he did Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan gives all the same tests that Israel had given it. 

Something to note too: Satan CAN give Jesus all these nations here. He is the prince of the world and knows Jesus is here to conquer him and will take away his sufferings. Israel and all Christians are chosen to follow God and the world tries to make us join "Gog" and be the same while the choice should be God and His Kingdom. Satan tries and is determined here to undermine Jesus' faith. Jesus is successful and Satan fails to tempt Christ.

Jesus starts His ministry in the worst part (Nazareth) after John the Baptist was in prison. He goes to Capernaum to fulfill Isaiah 9. He preaches to "repent, for the kingdom is at hand". He is teaching that God's judgement is about to happen; it is beginning in other words. Peter, Andrew, James, and John, he says "Follow me..." (give up everything to become my disciples). If you had a boat as a fisherman, you were doing well, as did the sons of Zebedee. Galilee was a poor place and you were doing very well if you owned a boat. As they were mending the nets, Jesus tells them to give this boat up and follow Him. This means giving up financial security and their livelihood and is a serious commitment. 

They then go and baptize and demand repentance while Jesus is also healing these people and exorcizing demons. He is fulfilling the role Isaiah says he, the Messiah, will do. People all over are following him from around the world but the Jews are not. From the beginning of the Gospel, all of the Gentiles see he is the Messiah promised and follow after Him and are coming to Christ.

At this point, Christ really is delivering people and exorcizing real demons and evil spirits. There is no reason to believe otherwise. The Greco-Roman world of Jesus' day is pagan and the fallen angels are demons who people of paganism worship as gods/goddesses. They possess people too. To interact with the "gods/goddesses", these people (pagans) would usually 1) make a statue to have Athena for example be present and possess the statue or 2) take human possession. We find this in the Oracles of Delphi where the priestess through ritual would be possessed by Apollo, the sun-god. Festivals like the ones to Bacccheus, the Baccanalia, they would drink and have sex, orgies, and vandalize. They wanted spirits and this was part of the culture. Many people purposely would try to go and do these things to inherit and become possessed by a spirit.

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