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Jesus and Pharisees

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In Matthew 23:13-33 Jesus delivers 7 ‘woes’ to the scribes and Pharisees.  My Bible (NASB) refers to 8 woes in its sub-title, but the woe in v. 14 is absent in the earliest manuscripts.  7 woes makes good sense.  7 is a symbol of fullness, or completeness.  Matthew would like his readers to see these woes as full, complete, and impact-full.  These woes then lead into Matthew 24, where Jesus teaches about the coming destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.).

A    The first 2 woes involve other people (people are kept from entering the kingdom of God; a proselyte is turned into a ‘son of hell’), and end with a reference to Gehenna (~hell).

B    The middle 3 woes call the scribes and Pharisees “blind guides” (2 times), “blind men” (2 times), and “blind” (once), and are highly chiastic.

A’   The last 2 woes refer to “tombs”, and end with a reference to Gehenna (~hell).

The third woe (vs 16-22) contains 3 chiasmi.  It’s the only ‘woe’ which begins with “Woe to you, blind guides …” rather than “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites …”.  It’s a nice chiasmus.  Its basic outline is:  temple … altar … altar … temple (A B B’ A’).  It contains 2 ‘smaller’ chiasmi within it – in A and B.  I like the way the end builds from altar (B’) to temple (A’) to heaven (C).  This ‘building’ at the end should be contrasted to the ‘diminishing’ of similar terms in the explanatory passage, Matthew 5:33-37:

33  “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWSBUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’  34  But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,  35  or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING.  36  Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  37  But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

Combining 5:33-37 with 23:20-22 you get a list that diminishes and then expands, with ‘heaven’ forming an inclusion (bookends):  (diminishing:) heaven, earth, Jerusalem, ‘your head’ … (expanding:) altar, temple, heaven.  Combined you get a lengthy list of things a person should not swear by.  It is better to simply have your yes mean yes, and your no mean no (5:37).   Jesus’ simplifies the topic.

To understand Jesus’ reference to the scribes and Pharisees as “blind guides”, see Matthew 15:14:  “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”  The references to blindness in the 3rd to 5th woes fittingly follow the first two woes, which refer to potential followers of the scribes and Pharisees.  It’s fitting that the last 2 woes refer to tombs.  Tombs refer to ‘the end’ (at least our end ;-), and in this case, ominously lead into Jesus’ prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

Here are the 7 woes, with 6 chiasmi:

__________

13  “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.   

[Verse 14 deleted]

15  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

16  “Woe to you, blind guides, who say,

A

a    ‘Whoever swears by the templethat is nothing;

b    but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 

c    17  You fools and blind men!  Which is more important?

b’    the gold

a’    or the temple that sanctified the gold? 

B

a    18  And, ‘Whoever swears by the altarthat is nothing,

b    but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ 

c   19  You blind men!  Which is more important?

b’    The offering,

a’    or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 

—–

B’    20  Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 

A’   21  And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 

C    22  And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

23  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  

A    For you tithe mint and dill and cummin,

B    and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness

B’    but these are the things you should have done

A’    without neglecting the others

24  You blind guides,

A    who strain out

B    a gnat

B’    and a camel

A’    swallow!

25  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

A    For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish,

B    but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 

  26  You blind Pharisee,

B’    first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish,

A’    so that the outside of it may become clean also.

27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  28  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,  30  and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’  31  So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  32  Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.  33  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

34  “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,  35  so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  36  Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”

37  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.  38  Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 

39  “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’”

24:1  Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.  2  And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” …  …  …

 

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St Pauls Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral – Dome

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“Photographer Peter Li uses panoramic photography to introduce a new perspective to the already breathtaking architecture of churches from around the world. By capturing the entirety of the ceiling and supporting columns, Li allows the viewer to get the chance to feel what it is like to stand at the center of these grand buildings, while also achieving a viewpoint that is impossible to get without digital intervention.”

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More of Peter Li’s work can be found here.

 

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Jude

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A number of chiasmi have been suggested for the epistle of Jude – many of which can be found on the net.

Following is my attempt.

Here’s the breakdown:

A/A’:  Jude’s intro and benediction.

B/C/DD’C’B’:  Words of blessing and encouragement regarding ‘mercy, love, faith … faith, love, mercy’.  (Note the chiastic reversal of the word order.  This is a nice, clear beginning/end clue that the entire book of Jude may have been written as a chiasmus.  When you see something like this, the possibility of an overall chiasmus is worth checking out.)

E/E’:  The overall problem is introduced.  E:  Ungodly persons have crept in “who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ”.  E’:  This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it was spoken of previously by the apostles: “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts”.

F/F’This is Jude’s ‘main body’!  It addresses the problem directly.  It gives examples of disobedience and promises judgment.

F and F’ have 2 parts each:  F (1 and 2) … F’ (1 and 2).  And each of the 1 and 2 parts can be divided into an additional 2 parts (a and b):  F1 (a and b), F2 (a and b);  F’1 (a and b), F’2 (a and b).

Note:  this a/b pattern is continued in E’.

I hope that’s not too difficult to follow.  Anyway, continuing …

Both F1a and F’1a give 3 Old Testament examples of misbehavior and/or error.

Both F2a and F’2a refer to extra-Biblical pseudepigraphical texts (Assumption of Moses, Book of Enoch, respectively).  F2a mentions Michael the archangel.  F’2a refers to the Lord coming with “many thousands of His holy ones (angels)”, with presumably, though not stated specifically, Michael at the lead (see 1 Thess. 4:16).

The final a section in F’ gives the strongest warning.  Jesus will return with many angels and execute judgment!

Note how all the b sections in F through E’ use the word ‘these’ to refer to those in the church who are causing problems.  It’s interesting to read all these b sections in order.  It gives a nice description of the trouble makers.

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A   1  Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:  

B   2  May mercy

C   and peace and love be multiplied to you.  

D   3  Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  

E   4  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.  

F

1

a   5  Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.  6  And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,  7  just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.  

b   8  Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.  

2

a   9  But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”  

b   10  But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.  

F’

1

a   11  Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.  

b   12  These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;  13  wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.  

2

a   14  It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,  15  to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”  

b   16  These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.  

E’

a   17  But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,  18  that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.”  

b   19  These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.  

D’   20  But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith

C’   praying in the Holy Spirit,  21  keep yourselves in the love of God, 

B’   waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.  22  And have mercy on some, who are doubting;  23  save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

A’   24  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,  25  to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

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