There are three other instances where intermarriage may be in view in Luke-Acts. In the 16th chapter of Acts, we learn that Paul circumcised Timothy whose father was Greek but his mother was Jewish. The question presented is not whether Paul circumcised Timothy but whether Timothy was considered Jewish because his mother was Jewish. The story is presented to demonstrate that Paul had respect for Jewish customs and therefore circumcised someone he believed to be Jewish. The evidence as to whether or not Jews of Diaspora accepted this matrilineal principle in the 1st century is inconclusive. This story demonstrates that intermarriage between Jews and Greeks who were not Jewish did occur and that it was an unresolved issue.
In the 21st chapter of Acts, Paul is arrested based on the allegation that he had brought Greeks into the Temple with him when he performed his Nazarite vows. It is considered to be a pious act to pay for the expenses of a Nazirite, which included offering the obligatory animal sacrifices at the conclusion thereof, who is not rich enough.
Many writers have noted that Luke's view of the activities of Paul is different than Paul's description of his own activities. The commentators have also said Paul could not have performed a Nazarite vow with its obligation to offer an animal for sacrifice. These writers have drawn the erroneous conclusion that Luke is inaccurate. Daniel Boyarin is one of several Talmudic scholars who have recently examined Paul's writings. Boyarin concludes “Paul lived and died convinced that he was a Jew living out Judaism,” thus lending credence to Luke's account.
Ironically, Paul is arrested for allegedly defiling the Temple while undergoing ritual purification. Luke explains that the crowd has seen Paul with Trophimus earlier in the day and thought that he had brought him into the Temple in violation of the prohibition. Foreigners were forbidden on penalty of death to enter beyond the balustrade into the two inner courts. This is confirmed by both literary (Philo, Embassy to Gaius 31 § 21; Josephus, Antiquities 12.145; War 5. 193-94) and archaeological evidence. The inscription posted in Greek and Latin reads “Let no one of another nation penetrate beyond the balustrade and into the inner precincts around the sanctuary. Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for what ensues: death.”
Although, according to the inscription those of another nation were prohibited entry, some Jews born in the Diaspora were permitted to enter the Temple precincts. This illustrate that the boundary lines defining who was permitted entry were not always clear. Although the issue of intermarriage in this pericope and that in Acts 6 is not apparent, it is undisputed that the demarcation lines of Jewish identify were in flux in the first century. This should be clarified by the final instance.
The third instance is the controversy saying in the 16th chapter wherein the Lucan Jesus states, inter alia, “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” We have demonstrated that Luke used Nehemiah 9 as a source for Stephen’s Sermon. However this instance requires us to examine Luke’s use of Ezra and its significance for the controversy saying.
Immediately preceding the controversy sayings, Luke tells the Parable of the Unjust Steward containing an allusion to the Book of Ezra. Ezra was a priest and scribe, a direct descendant of Aaron through Eleazar (Ezra 7:1-5). His father was Seraiah, the last High Priest to serve in the First Temple (2 Kings 25:8-21). What we know about Ezra is found in Ezra chapters 7 to 10, and Nehemiah chapters 8 to 10, where he led the second group of exiles that returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. Ezra is the only person in the Bible described as “skilled in the law of Moses” [Ezra 7:6 RSV].
Ezra was a man of extraordinary learning who educated his people. “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel” [Ezra 7:10]. Ezra is credited with reviving an interest in the study of scripture. Ezra led the reform of post-exilic Judaism.
The temple at Jerusalem had been rebuilt and dedicated but more priests were needed to carry on its services. There was a pressing need of men of God to act as teachers of the people. Therefore Ezra issued a second appeal to the Levites, sending them an urgent invitation to unite with his company. To emphasize the importance of quick action, he sent with his written plea several of his "chief men" and "men of understanding." Ezra 7:28; 8:16.
Ezra 8:24: Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests: Sherebi'ah, Hashabi'ah, and ten of their kinsmen with them.
25: And I weighed out to them the silver and the gold and the vessels, the offering for the house of our God which the king and his counselors and his lords and all Israel there present had offered;
26: I weighed out into their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels worth a hundred talents, and a hundred talents of gold,
27: twenty bowls of gold worth a thousand darics, and two vessels of fine bright bronze as precious as gold.
28: And I said to them, "You are holy to the LORD, and the vessels are holy; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the LORD, the God of your fathers.
29: Guard them and keep them until you weigh them before the chief priests and the Levites and the heads of fathers' houses in Israel at Jerusalem, within the chambers of the house of the LORD."
30: So the priests and the Levites took over the weight of the silver and the gold and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God.
As a special precaution in safeguarding the treasure, Ezra "separated twelve of the chief of the priests," men whose faithfulness and fidelity had been proved “and weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counselors, and his lords, and all Israel there present, had offered.” These men were solemnly charged to act as vigilant stewards over the treasure entrusted to their care. "Ye are holy unto the Lord," Ezra declared. Ezra also stated "the vessels are holy also; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering unto the Lord God of your fathers. Watch ye, and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the Lord." 8:24, 25, 28, 29. Ezra appointed faithful officers to act as stewards. These people by the first century had become known as treasurers of the temple.
There are no details provided about what happened during the five month journey of the second wave of repatriates led by Ezra. In his memoirs Ezra writes "I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way; since we had told the king 'The hand of our God is for good upon all that seek Him'..." Fasting and prayer thus secured safe passage (Ezra 8:22ff.) The contents of chapters seven and eight indicate concern for Temple cult and personnel played a primary role in the organization of the journey.
Thus it is apparent that the Book of Ezra has described how Ezra appointed twelve trustworthy chief priests to act in a role which could easily be described as treasurers of the temple. Is there any Second Temple literature confirming the existence of temple treasurers? Josephus told how when Ezra arrived in Jerusalem he “presented the sacred money to the treasurers, who were of the family of the priests.” Josephus also stated in describing the custody of the vestments of the high priest during a particular period: “Before that time they were kept under the seal of the high priest, and of the treasurers of the temple.”
The Talmud preserves a lamant of Abba Joseph ben Hanan, who lived during the era of Herod's temple; he conveys the plight of the common person under the high-priestly families:
Woe to me because of the house of Boethus,
woe is me because of their staves.
Woe to me because of the house of Hanan,
woe is me because of their whispering.
Woe to me because of the house of Kathros, woe is me because of their pens.
Woe to me because of the house of Ismael ben Phiabi, woe is me because of their fists.
For they are high priests, and their sons are treasurers, and their sons-in-law are trustees, and their servants beat people with staves. Babylonian Talmud Pesahim, 57a; Tosephta Menahoth 13:21 cited by Menahem Stern, 'Aspects of Jewish Society: The Priesthood and Other Classes,' in Jewish People, ed. Safrai and Stern, 2:602-3.
The significance of this first century lament is that the sons of the High Priests were treasurers providing further proof of the existence of this temple position. Does the Greek word οἰκονόμος in the Parable of the Unjust Steward refer to a person connected with the temple? The answer is a qualified yes. Thayer’s Lexicon notes that the word can mean “the superintendent of the city's finances, the treasurer of a city (or of treasurers or quaestors of kings)” and the entry under Strong for this word includes a fiscal agent (treasurer).
We now come to the verse which Lee Dahn believes is an allusion to a verse in the Book of Ezra. Note that in Luke 16:6-7, the owed amounts are 100 baths of oil and 100 measures/cors of wheat. In Ezra 7:22, we read “up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors of wheat, a hundred baths of wine, a hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.” The Greek words appearing in the Book of Ezra (LXX) match the Greek words in the Gospel of Luke. In verse 21, we read the King decreed these quantities of silver, wheat, wine and oil were to be turned over to Ezra as a gift for the temple in Jerusalem. Josephus describing this same gift to the temple stated, inter alia, “And that God may not be at all angry with me, or with my children, I grant all that is necessary for sacrifices to God, according to the law, as far as a hundred cori of wheat.” Thus the treasurer of the temple, translated in the parable as steward, had each debtor reduced the quantity of the item owed to the temple. In several other verses, these items, but in different quantities, are mentioned in temple transactions.
This directive to the unjust steward to “give an account” is reminiscent of the instructions of Ezra to the twelve. This directive is also comparable to the demand required prior to initiating legal proceedings in a collection case. In this instance it appears the unjust steward falsified an account which, under the modern criminal laws, is one of the elements of a theft by a fiduciary. The falsification was necessary to conceal missing funds. What is missing is that the rich man is not the real owner. The high priestly families owned and controlled a lot of real estate. In the original scheme of things, the priests were not to own any land but were supposed to be solely dependent upon contributions. What the high priests did was seize the land of persons who had defaulted on their loans obtained from the Temple. In the process the high priests took for themselves the collateral that should have been owned by the Temple. This economic fraud committed has never been fully developed within the context of the Lucan parables.
The crime of a fiduciary falsifying an account is a modern concept. When money was transferred to a person who was supposed to transfer it to a third person and the person in the middle stole the money it was not viewed as a crime but a business problem to be sorted out in civil court. In one Pennsylvania case cited by the Model Penal Code draftsmen as an example of the confusion in this area, an employer-defendant was acquitted of fraudulent conversion because his failure to pay a grocer on behalf of employees who had authorized him to deduct from their wages the amounts of their grocery bills was not seen as involving any money technically belonging to the employees. Hence, the only wrongdoing found by the Pennsylvania court was civil breach of contract. In fact it is still viewed this way when the executor of an estate or trustee steal a little bit of money. The Pennsylvania statute and the statutes of other jurisdictions adopting the Model Penal Code now criminalize conduct where the actors in question are “merely conduits for the transmission of money to persons designated by the real owner of the money.” With this background it easy to understand why first century people did not consider the steward of the Parable of the Unjust steward to be walking away with the temple treasury since he was stealing it from the people making the donations and or stealing the sums being used to pay rent or to pay off the temple loans made from the sacred money.
There was a surprising response to the conduct of the unjust steward in falsifying his account. The verb ἐπαινέω expresses praise for the manager’s prudence. It also reflects the official act of approval or ratification of the account. We are shocked that the master in the words of the RSV “commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness.” The approval of the account makes sense if the “steward” was really the one of treasurers of the temple and the goods belonged to the temple. The Lucan Jesus understood and perhaps the phrase “and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much” is best understood in this context.
This parable may in fact represent one of the strongest attacks on the temple establishment issued by the Lucan Jesus. However, it is not until we reach the Lucan Parable of the Wicked Tenants do we appreciate against whom the attack is directed. It is, like the original Song of the Vineyard, directed against those who have accumulated excessive wealth at the expense of the peasants. These individuals are identified by Luke as the chief priests and scribes, the religious aristocracy of the Temple.
Luke seems to emphasize contrasts, such as the thankful vs. thankless lepers, the repentant and unrepentant thieves, the Samaritan and the Pharisees, and the rich man and Lazarus. The author also contrasts high and low, proud and humble, and the rich and poor. This is a characteristic of the wisdom literature. If Luke is using wisdom literature as a model or source, one should expect to see parallelism, vivid words, and examples from life, metaphors, comparisons and contrasts.
Contrasts are presented in a number of different forms and methods. For instance, Luke may place two words, phrases, concepts, incidents and/or individuals in juxtaposition to create comparisons and contrasts. When the outline is set forth in this manner, it is easy to see how the Book of Ezra could be a source.
After Ezra and his company arrived in Jerusalem, Ezra was informed that some of the Jerusalem priests have married foreigners. Ezra directed that a genealogy be prepared of everyone. Apparently approximately 100 priest and 10 laymen had married foreigners. Ezra assembled the community, read the Book to them and directed that the 110 priests and laymen divorce their spouses forthwith. Ezra and his community believed that intermarriage resulting in children constituted a defilement of the “holy seed” that corrupted the holy land and had to be eliminated to protect the land of Israel.
Ezra and the “men of understanding” were scribes and teachers of the law. By the time of the Maccabees, they were linked to the Hasideans. The Hasideans as advocates of Torah and covenant led Jewish resistance to Hellenism. Kampen concluded that it may be that the origin of Pharisaism is within the scribal circle of Hasidim. The Pharisees, like the pre-Maccabean party of scribes, assiduously cultivated a strictly legalistic piety, holding themselves aloof from the world. Josephus considered the Pharisees to be the most accurate interpreters of the laws. The name, Pharisees, means “separated ones.”
Before discussing the controversy sayings, it should be stated that Luke has contrasted the “men of understanding” of Ezra 8:16 with the lack of understanding in Luke 2:50; 8:10; 18:34 and 24:45; Acts 7:25; 28:26-27. There are several other examples in Luke-Acts that may be allusions to the Book of Ezra that have been overlooked. The following words, phrases and concepts appearing in the chapters of the Book of Ezra describing Ezra and his accomplishments can be found in Luke-Acts: “law of Moses”, Luke 2:22; 24:44; “set his face” may allude to “set his heart” and “chosen vessel,” Act 9:15 may allude to “You are holy to the LORD, and the vessels are holy.” The fact that there are a number of allusions in Luke-Acts to the Book of Ezra is confirmation that the allusions are intended as part of a common theme.
The first thing we realize about the controversy sayings of is that the response is directed to the Pharisees who had scoffed at Jesus. In Ezra 10:11, we read “separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” In the four verses preceding the reaction of the Pharisees to what Jesus said in commenting on the Parable of the Unjust Steward, we read: “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The word “faithful” appears four times.
In Ezra 9:2, we read “For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons; so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.” Thus it appears that Luke has compared the “faithlessness of the officials and chief men” with the unjust steward and contrasted them with the faithful steward of Luke 12:42. Luke has also contrasted the 12 appointed by Ezra who weighted-in with the steward who was directed to give an account because of allegations of dishonesty. This word steward οἰκονόμος in the Parable of the Unjust Steward should probably be translated as “treasurer of the temple.”
When the Pharisees scoffed at the sayings of Jesus he responded with 4 verses: “But he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void. Every one who divorces his wife and marries commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”
The last verse talks about divorce which is most interesting for this article because Ezra had directed about 110 Jewish men to divorce their wives. Jesus is addressing his comments to the Pharisees who like Ezra are skilled in the law and Jesus sees a dilemma that Ezra also faced. When two prohibitions seemingly conflict, which controls? Ezra said the prohibition on intermarriage controls. Jesus said the divorce and subsequent remarriage was tantamount to adultery. The penalty for adultery was death by stoning. Therefore Jesus addressed it differently and in so doing followed Malachi who rebukes Israel for profaning the Mosaic covenant (Mal 2:10-16). One example is the breaking of the marriage covenant by divorcing ("breaking faith with") the wives "of their youth" (v. 14).
In Ezra 9-10, intermarriage with foreigners is viewed as a defilement of the holy race and as unfaithfulness to God (9:2; 10:2, 10). Thus the Lucan Jesus has again contrasted the “unfaithfulness to God” with “breaking faith.” The Lucan Jesus talks about the faithful steward in Chapter 12 and says in effect, by the way unfaithful also means when an unfaithful husband commits adultery when he divorce and marries another.
The Pharisees, being skilled in the law, were certainly well versed in scripture and would recognize when Jesus used a rare word such as βάτους [Lk 16:6] and that it only appeared in Ezra 7:22. This is purpose of the description of the two quantities of wheat and oil using the word βάτους and κόρους copied in Greek from Ezra with the same exact quantities. A κόρους was a Hebrew dry measure for grain of between 10-12 bushels. 100 cors of wheat was a large amount of wheat, representing the yield of about 100 acres. In Luke, these items represent either rent owed to the Temple or payment on loans made from the Temple. Luke alludes to Ezra because he wants us to realize that in both instances the intended recipient is the Temple. The second occurrence of an unusual word form in Luke 16:12 must have caused a reaction in that Luke used the word ἀλλοτρίῳ translated in Luke as belonging to another. Ezra used this same word translated in Ezra as “alien” seven times in Chapter 10 in addressing the problem of intermarriage. Thus the scene is set for the use of the word βδέλυγμα translated in Ezra and Luke 16:15 as abomination.
In Lk 16:15, Luke is using the same Greek word Ezra used in describing the intermarriage, “abomination.” In Ezra 9:1 we read, inter alia, “The people of Israel and their priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites.” In using the word, abominations, Ezra was asserting that intermarriage was absolutely the worst thing that the people could do. Luke has equated intermarriage with unspecified certain conduct of the Pharisees using the same Greek word, βδέλυγμα . Actually Ezra has a compound word containing this word with letters added at the end translated as “their abominations.” Neither Plummer, Marshall nor Bock have recognized that βδέλυγμα is used in Ezra 9:1. This word is usually used to denote detestation amounting to idolatry and nothing has indicated that idolatry is in issue in the Gospel of Luke but Acts does have a minor idolatry theme. However, Ezra uses this word in conjunction with intermarriage. This would not be significant but for the last verse in the four verse response to the Pharisees.
The divorce verse now has new significant. What is it?
The Lucan Jesus has implicitly criticized the Ezran concept of exclusiveness instituted by a mass divorce and by a direction to live apart within the land. This is also an implied criticism of the Pharisees, the “separated ones.”
"That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." Position, wealth, education, popularity, religiosity, the esteem of men -- these are abomination in the sight of God. However this list is not conclusive as can be seen from reviewing the various passages: Lev 18:18-30; Lev 20; Deut 24:1-4; 25:13-16; Proverbs 3:31-32; 6:16-9; 11:1; 17:15; 20:10; 24:9 and 28:9.
Each of these examples of allusions to Ezra depends on a single word. Birger Gerhardsson discussed the use of a catch-word as a memory device where the use of the word would allude to a passage of scripture. He gives the example of the “thorn-bush” periscope in Exodus 3:1 and Luke 20:37 implying Luke was aware of this memory technique and used it in his gospel. These examples seem to suggest that Gerhardsson is correct. Those in the audience had followed in the traditions of the men of learning and knew their scripture so well they knew that Jesus had alluded by word and concept to the Book of Ezra.
In my study of Luke 3:8, I recognized that Luke may be alluding to Ezekiel 33:24, where the prophet contends with the self-confidence of those Israelites who dwelt among the ruins of the land by citing their pride in being heirs of Abraham. Ezekiel then asks a series of rhetorical questions. One such question is whether when they commit abominations such as adultery becoming impure thereby, do they presume to inherit the land? Consequently, I am convinced that Luke has equated the Ezran intermarriages and the adultery of Ezekiel’s day with the Pharisees of Luke’s day by using the word βδέλυγμα to link the them together, much like preachers used to cite the multiple marriages of the Hollywood stars as equivalent to adultery. I suspect only Ezra, Ezekiel and Malachi use this word βδέλυγμα in this manner. All the other writers are talking about idolatry.
Lee Dahn speculated that the abominations may relate to the widows. With this thought in mind, I read the 44th chapter of Ezekiel where the various priestly regulations are set forth. Ezekiel tells the priest they may not marry Israelite widows or divorcees but may marry Israelite virgins. The priests shall instruct the people regarding the differences between the sacred and the profane and the pure and impure. The priests are not to receive a landed inheritance. Ezekiel 44:22 permits the priests to marry widows of priests. Ezekiel is a restatement of the priestly regulations of Lev 21:7. It contains no provision about priests marrying the widows of priests.
Since Ezra, Ezekiel and Malachi all use abomination in the same sense, that is, not in a cultic sense as in idolatry, is the Lucan Jesus criticizing this aspect of Ezekiel so that in the controversy sayings of chapter 16 he is criticizing both Ezra and Ezekiel?
After Jesus made his comments on the unjust dishonest steward and the importance of being faithful, “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they scoffed at him.” In response, Jesus in 5 verses made a number of controversy sayings ending with "Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Lk. 16:18). Jesus is in fact saying that the Pharisees, who perhaps are offended by the allegations against the temple priests, have also deviated from right or moral principles or conduct.
In Judaism, sin was viewed as an impurity. There are two kinds of impurity: ritual or moral. Klawans has shown that the concern of Ezra about Gentiles was moral impurity. I do mean to suggest that Jesus is in fact saying that the Pharisees, who perhaps are offended by the allegations against the temple priests, have also deviated from right or moral principles by their conduct and/or teachings on divorce. This is perhaps the only way to understand the parables about the corrupt temple establishment and the seemingly out of place sayings between the parables in Chapter 16. Lee Dahn has suggested that the divorce saying of Jesus is to be contrasted with the directive of Ezra.
After Ezra and his company arrived in Jerusalem, Ezra was informed that some of the Jerusalem priests have married foreigners. Ezra directed that a genealogy be prepared of everyone. Apparently approximately 100 priest and 10 laymen had married foreigners. Ezra assembled the community, read the Book to them and directed that the 110 priests and laymen divorce their spouses forthwith. In Ezra 9-10, intermarriage with foreigners is viewed as a defilement of the holy race and as unfaithfulness to God (9:2; 10:2, 10). Ezra and his community believed that intermarriage constituted a defilement of the “holy seed” that corrupted the holy land and had to be eliminated to protect the land of Israel.
Linnemann has asserted that “a firmly established result of recent parable interpretation is that the parables of Jesus refer to the historical situation in which they are told.” After Jesus made his comments on the unjust dishonest steward and the importance of being faithful, “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they scoffed at him.” Consequently in response, Jesus must have been aware that some of the Pharisees in his audience were urging those who had married foreigners to divorce their spouse but unlike Ezra he said: "Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Lk. 16:18). I say must be aware because the only way one can compare the corruption of the temple priests to the corruption of the Pharisees is to point out that their advocacy of divorce of those married to foreigners is just as bad as stealing from the Temple. No group in Judaism had ever suggested that divorce or divorce and remarriage created an impurity that corrupted the holy land. Yet, this is the sense of the radical statement made by the Lucan Jesus.
When two prohibitions seemingly conflict, which controls? Ezra said the prohibition on intermarriage controls. Malachi rebukes Israel for profaning the Mosaic covenant (Mal 2:10-16). One example is the breaking of the marriage covenant by divorcing the wife of their youth. The MT translates the 14th verse as: “Because the Lord was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.” The Septuagint has “whom you abandoned.” Jesus said the divorce and remarriage was tantamount to adultery. The penalty for adultery was death by stoning.
Jesus was able to make this statement in Luke 16:18 using a pesher “This directly stands for that” argument before a Jewish audience, which we find elsewhere in Luke with the “finger of God,” because he had already commented on the faithful steward in chapter 12. Jesus was now suggesting that the faithful unfaithful analogy can also be applied to the unfaithful husband (MT) who divorces his wife and marries another thus committing adultery.
The pesher argument is possible if one understands the comparison using the MT text. Several verses later the famous passage from Malachi (MT), “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face” appears in Luke 7:27. Therefore it seems reasonable to base the pesher argument on the MT text of Malachi 2:14. Not only does the Book of Ezra solve a translation problem in the Parable of the Unjust Steward, it also assists us in understanding the pesher argument utilized by Jesus.
Jesus has recognized that as a result of the corruption, including impurity caused by divorce and remarriage, the Temple no longer existed as a House of God. Jesus in effect adopted the viewpoint of the Books of Joel, Ruth, Jonah and Malachi which were a reaction to the reforms and visions of Ezra and Nehemiah of separateness of the people of Judah from the other people of the world.
As Krodel stated “Luke never says everything at once, but expands and unfolds earlier themes as he moves step by step from one episode to another.” Consequently we need to recognize that the dispute in Acts 6 is merely one step in the step progression utilized by Luke. Waiting on tables has demonstrated the accuracy of Krodel’s observation by discussing other instances in Luke-Acts where intermarriage is in view.
In the 1st century, Judaism and its Temple establishment excluded Jews with blemishes from participating in the rituals of the Temple. These blemishes constituted impurities that polluted the land and the Temple. Ezran ideology condemned intermarriage. The Lucan Jesus demonstrated, using accepted methods of Jewish hermeneutics, that divorce was an impurity and remarriage constituted adultery. They, the audience in Chapter 16, were unfaithful with respect to temple goods and the wives of their youth. The compelling logic of the argument crushed the opposition. It is no wonder they crucified Jesus and stoned Stephen. If the longest speech in Acts is the most important and it has used Nehemiah 9 as a model and source and if the controversy saying alludes to Ezran ideology, then intermarriage must be the provocative issue that provoked the reaction.
Gospel of Luke