Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Days are coming

This phrase is commonly associated with “better days are coming.” Jeremiah uttered “days are coming” 15 times and more frequently than all the other prophets combined. It represents a more positive view of humanity being accountable to God than “day of the Lord.” This assessment is apparently based upon this verse from Jeremiah 31:31 which offered these encouraging words:

"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,....”

It is the subject matter today because Luke is the only NT writer to use this phrase, “the days are coming.”

Luke 17:22

And he said to the disciples, "The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and you will not see it.

Luke 23:29

For behold, the days are coming when they will say, `Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!'

Perhaps, the phrase should read: “the days of accountability are coming.”

Bock indicates that the text in Luke 17:22 “warns disciples not to be impatient if the kingdom does not come as they wish it.” The son of man will eventually come. The interpretation of this verse is consistent with my comments last February 27th in “Happy is the man who waits.”

In Luke 23:29, Jesus gives the Daughters of Jerusalem a reason not to weep for him. “Behold, the days are coming” indicates a key period of God’s activity is approaching. The people are being judged so harshly that having no children or family is a blessing. “Behold, the days are coming” probably alludes to a host of judgment imagery from Jeremiah for those individuals who have rejected God’s commandments.

Copyrighted 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Paul cited the Gospel of Luke as scripture

Paul on occasion speaks of his message as "my gospel" (Rom. 2:16; II Tim. 2:8). The mindset, that Paul could not possibly be alluding to any writing when he used the expressions “my gospel” and “our gospel”, is one that needs to be addressed.

Lee Dahn reminds me that Paul, said in 1 Timothy 5:18, for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages” and that Luke 10:7 states: “And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house.” You will note the Greek phrase for “the laborer deserves his wages” is the same but I have having trouble posting the Greek.

According to Michael Pahl, “Paul consistently uses "receive" (paralambanō) and "deliver" (paradidōmi) language in "transfer of information" contexts to refer to humanly mediated teaching or tradition (Rom 6:17; 1 Cor 11:2; Gal 1:9; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 2:13; 4:1; 2 Thess 3:6). This usage parallels contemporary Pharisaic and later Rabbinic "receive" and "deliver" language in reference to humanly mediated teaching or tradition (see e.g. Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript, 288-291).”

Copyrighted 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Words of accountability

There are numerous words and phrases used by Luke that are metaphors of accountability evoking future eschatological ideas without using any of the standard terminology. The “wrath to come”; “days are coming”; “visitation”; and “days of vengeance” all come together in the expression “day of the Lord.”

The “wrath to come” phrase intrigues me because it only appears in Luke 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and Matthew 3:7. I have not checked the Septuagint. Luke is the only NT writer to use “days are coming”; “visitation”; and “days of vengeance.”

I plan to discuss this further but we be celebrating the graduation of The Son Also Rises this weekend with extended family and close friends.

Copyrighted 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

All that is written

In Luke 21:22, we read: for these are days of vengeance, to fulfil all that is written. Luke used the same Greek phrase that appears in Joshua 1:8; 23:6; 1 Chronicles 16:40; 2 Chronicles 34:21; and 2 Kings 22:13 to express the words “all that is written.” This Greek phrase appears nowhere else in the New Testament.

The readings appear below:

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

Joshua 23:6 Therefore be very steadfast to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left,

1 Chronicles 16:40 to offer burnt offerings to the LORD upon the altar of burnt offering continually morning and evening, according to all that is written in the law of the LORD which he commanded Israel.

2 Chronicles 34:21 "Go, inquire of the LORD for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book."

2 Kings 22:13 "Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us."

Clearly Luke intended to allude to all of these readings because they collectively indicate that the wrath of the Lord is incurred when the people do not obey the Law of Moses. When the wrath of the LORD is incurred, the days of vengeance begin. “All that is written” also includes words of accountability.

Copyrighted 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Son also rises

Yesterday, my son graduated from Pennsylvania State University. While at Penn State, among his many activities, he was in charge of the help desk in one of the residential dorms where he and his staff assisted students with their computer problems. He has now joined me as a member of the largest college alumni organization in the USA. My son now has to decide this week end which job offer he will accept.

Congratuations Eric.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

According to my gospel

Eusebius wrote: “It is actually suggested that Paul was in the habit of referring to Luke’s gospel whenever he said, as if writing of some gospel of his own: ‘According to my gospel.’” [Rom 2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim. 2:8].

When Paul says in Romans 2:16 “on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” he in fact is discussing the Lucan understanding of the function and role of the Son of man as the eschatological judge at the end of days. According to Paul, Jesus “judges the secrets of men” by “searching the hearts of men.” This same idea is expressed by Luke as the beginning of his gospel: “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.’” Lk 2:34-35.

In Romans 16:25, Paul at the end of his letter made a second “my gospel” allusion to Luke 22:31-32 and Luke 8:10, 17 by stating: "Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages."

The first allusion, using the words "able to strengthen you", refers to Jesus telling Simon Peter that he "prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." The Lucan Jesus urged Simon Peter to strengthen his brethren. Paul reminds his audience by identifying the Lucan “preaching of Jesus Christ” that Jesus is able to strengthen them.

The second part of verse 25 "according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages" is an allusion to the Lucan explanation of the Parable of the Sower. Jesus states in 8:10 "To you has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Although Paul could be alluding directing to Psalm 78, it is more likely since he uses the phrase “according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ” that he is alluding to explanation provided by the Lucan Jesus. Paul could not be alluding to the Matthean version since Matthew has according to Gundry quoted Acts 28:26-27. Only Luke utilized Deuteronomy 30:11.

Luke (in the 24th chapter) is the only one of the four that records the revelation of the mystery by Jesus to the disciples from the Old Testament prophetic Scriptures. Paul indicated that my Gospel and Jesus Christ's preaching was the source of this revelation of the mystery.

Paul stated plainly, in his defense before Agrippa, that his Gospel was entirely contained within the Old Testament prophetic Scriptures. "To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles."

These two examples provide support for the statement made by Eusebius.

The third citation provided by Eusebius comes from 2 Tim. 2:8 which states: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel.”

The statement of Paul that Jesus Christ is "descended from David" is an allusion to Lk 2:4 which states: “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David.”

There are three problems with this third citation. Second Timothy is not one of the undisputed writings of Paul. Plummer does not believe 2 Timothy quotes Luke but does not address the possibility of an allusion. One could easily argue that the author of 2 Timothy is alluding to John 7:42 which states: “Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”

However, there are two additional allusions that strengthen the “my gospel” claim.

The early Christian kerygma of 1 Cor. 15:4 is based upon the Lucan focus on the third day which is unique to Luke among the Synoptic resurrection portrayals. This is a key kergmatic phrase not because it is persuasive but because it proclaims the resurrection.

In addition, Jesus' command, “this do in remembrance of me,” quoted by Paul, was recorded in Luke's Gospel alone. And Paul stated the source of this history, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you...” and then immediately gave the account including the Lord's command, “this do in remembrance of me.”

“On the third day” is a statement of faith and is the essence of the gospel. Therefore its proclamation by Paul means that Luke's Gospel was essentially what Paul preached.

This is a major rewrite of “According to my gospel” first posted February 25, 2006

Copyrighted 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fishers of Men

The message on the sign in front of the church was directed to those driving by but I was wondering about its applicability to the first century audience. The sign said:

We are called to be fishers of men
We catch them
God cleans them

In the first century, all factions of Judaism were concerned about purity: purity in the temple and purity of the people. All sides were zealous in their cause. Men such as Saul and Paul were advocates. All sides issued condemnations directed to the other sides. They did so because they believed that the conduct of the other sides created impurity that would bring the wrath of God on them if they such conduct were not strongly condemned and properly corrected.

We see evidence of this conflict in the Pauline epistles and Acts of the Apostles.

The message on the sign could have been posted in the first century.

Copyrighted 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Word Count

According to Robert M. Grant, “In the Gospel of Luke there are 19,400 words and, in Acts, 13,380. The vocabulary of the Gospel includes 2,055 words; that of Acts, 2,038. In the Gospel there are 261 words not found elsewhere in the New Testament; in Acts, 413. (Taking the two books together, their vocabulary consists of 2,700 words.)”

Copyrighted 2007

Monday, May 07, 2007

Language of Election in Luke

“Loved by God and called to be saints” expresses the concept of election we find in Paul. Luke retained a collective concept expressed in the Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge in these words: “And will not God vindicate his ἐκλεκτῶν, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?” The Greek word for elect appears only once in Luke-Acts.

Earlier however, the Lucan Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes: yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.” The mission of the seventy had been a success. Jesus rejoiced because God has chosen individuals whose eyes will be opened.

The language of election is not an importance concern in the writings of Luke.

The last two chapters of Isaiah do not distinguish between Israel and the nations nor did Malachi. The distinction seems to be between the servants of YHWH and YHWH’s enemies who are also identified as brothers and sisters so the enemies are not the nations or gentiles. The enemies have not listened to the divine call and have not done evil in God’s sight. The servants of YHWH, according to Isaiah, will constitute the community of the end time.

Reiser, commenting on Isaiah’s use of the “chosen”, indicates that “the idea of election is transferred from Israel as a whole to one or several groups within the people. . . .” They are called the chosen for the first time in Isaiah 65:9, 15, 22. Reiser further states that the significance of this usage “can scarcely be overestimated.”

Isaiah concludes his book by stating the purpose of YHWH’s coming: "For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them.” The missionaries will bring the dispersed people back to Zion to participate in worship at the Temple. Some of the dispersed people will even participate as priests and Levites.

Luke tells us many priest and Levites joined the followers of Jesus.

If the enemies are, as identified by Hanson, the Zadokite priestly circles, then certain allusions of the Lucan Jesus become especially pointed when spoken in the presence of the Temple establishment. This is particularly true when we recognize that Luke has used Isaiah as an important source and may have adopted the Isaianic idea of election as “transferred from Israel as a whole to one or several groups within the people. . . .”

Yet I am left wondering why is it that Luke did not use the word ἐκλεκτῶν more frequently in his writings. Is it because he was writing to most excellent Theophilus and not to a community of the elect?

Copyrighted 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Zephaniah 1:15

My study of Zephaniah 1:15 began when I realized that this verse is cited in discussions about “tribulation.” This verse contains many words that are included in the “language of divine speech.” Many of these words are used by Luke throughout the 21st chapter. Zephaniah 1:15 (RSV) states:

A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness,

NETS (provisional)

That day will be a day of wrath,
a day of affliction and anguish,
a day of untimely fate and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and fog,

ἡμέρα day; during the day, by day; Luke 6:13; 9:12; 21:34; 22:7; 22:66; 23:54; 24:29.

ὀργῆς anger; #3709; properly, desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), i.e. (by analogy), violent passion (ire, or (justifiable) abhorrence); by implication punishment; Luke 3:7; Luke 21:23, noun; ὀργὴ.

θλίψεως tribulation, pressure, persecution; # 2347; Acts 11:19; no occurrence Luke; Matthew; Mark; John; Acts.

γενομένης verb, become, be, happen; # 1096; to cause to be (gen-erate), i.e. (reflexively) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (literal, figurative, intensive, etc.); Luke 4:42; 6:48.

ἀνάγκης (6) noun, force, constraint, necessity; # 318; constraint (literally or figuratively); by implication, distress; ἀνάγκη; Luke 21:23; ἀνάγκην; Luke 14:18.

ἀωρίας (2) noun, untimely, unseasonable.

ἀφανισμοῦ (6) noun, vanishing, disappearing, destruction; Hebrew 8:13; NT hapax.

σκότους (31) noun; darkness, gloom; # 4655; Luke 22:53.

γνόφου (5) noun; darkness; # 1105; Hebrew 12:18; NT hapax.

νεφέλης (31) noun; a cloud; # 3507; Luke 9:35; νεφλ (16) noun, Luke 21:27.

ὁμίχλης (2) noun; a mist, fog; 2 Peter 2:17; NT hapax.

A number of these words warrant further study.

Copyrighted 2007