Thinking about Matt 4:21......

by jula71 35 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • gumby
    To me that just does not make sense that God would kill people that truly believe they are doing the right thing

    Well get used to it Julia. God killed millions of Cannanites, he killed millions in the flood, and he's gonna kill billions of Muslims, Hindu's, Budhists in the near future, because all these sincere believers don't know christ.

    The bible god has never been too understanding of those who didn't want to join in with a bunch of desert dwellers who ate manna for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and lived in tents, and buried their own poop, and didn't follow their god who made himself known only to them.


  • hmike

    When a major cigarette manufacturer, whose product has been shown to cause cancers and heart disease, contributes money to help public education, battered women, or the homeless, does that make everything alright?

    Or when a crime boss sends flowers and arranges for an elaborate memorial and sends money to the widow of a man he had bumped off, does that make everything alright?

    Or is it alright when a televangelist conducts healing and exorcisms in public while committing sexual abuse, misreporting income, cheating employees of pay, and having someone killed to keep them quiet?

    Does doing things that help people override or excuse blatant, intentional harm? That's what it looks like we are talking about here, or actually, does doing acts of faith override or excuse a sinful lifestyle?

    This passage in Matthew comes at the end of what is called the "Sermon on the Mount." In this section of Chapters 5-7, Jesus gives his disciples guidelines for living according to God's will. Just before this particular passage, in 7:15-20, Jesus warns his audience about false teacher--the wolves in sheep's clothing. Basically, Jesus tells them that a wolf can be dressed in a sheepskin, but its actions will give it away as a wolf, although he puts it in terms of a tree and its fruit. In the early church, false teachers did actually infiltrate the church, as we read in the books of 2 Peter and Jude. Peter writes about them:

    "With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed--an accursed brood." (II Pet. 2:14, NIV)

    Maybe they were the same group referred to in the book of Romans that believed the grace of God and liberty in Christ gave them the license to do whatever their fleshly nature wanted. In any case, all the NT writers clearly point out that there is accountability of how to live--not according to ceremonial laws, but according to a love of God and others. The people Jesus rejected at the judgment apparently had no regard for the desire of God, or the real benefit of others in spite of what they claimed.

    By the way, in this passage of Matthew, these people CLAIMED to have done miraculous works in the name of Jesus, but did they really? We don't know. Neither do we know their motives behind the works, but remember, earlier in Chap.6, Jesus states that some people do acts of righteousness for show--to gain praise from others, and he says that praise is the only reward they will get. So, we don't know the full story behind these people Jesus has rejected, but Jesus didn't reject people who committed to him if they slipped up. After all, Peter denied him three times, and Jesus didn't write him off.

    Paul addressed this kind of issue his own way in I Cor. 13:1-3 when he wrote that even if someone could perform great acts of faith, without love this person really had nothing. So, it isn't being able to perform the acts of faith that one should value.

  • Narkissos

    A Paduan,

    Narkissos - do you have any particular reason for the inclusiveness of that statement in your hypothosis ?

    What exact statement are you referring to?

  • jula71
    One must do what God wants as expressed in his Law and as explained by Jesus; those who don't do so, including both Jews who follow the Law incorrectly and Christians who don't follow the Law at all, are destined for destruction.

    Interesting thought, seems to be a hold over from the days of ancient Israel. Times when God seemingly would kill thousands of "law breakers" in one fatal swipe. I have seen many conflicting verses, for example, Jesus said, to be saved, one only had to believe. Meanwhile many in the 1 st century still held onto pretty rigid laws held over. Which is the proper course of action? One problem I feel is trying to equate the ancient language, cultures, and customs into modern terms. This is why many of us have a hard time understanding or believing the bible. For example scourge brought onto Israel by God. Modern evidence is pointing to an outbreak of disease possibly smallpox or a form of Ebola. Both could be common to the area, spread fast and kill fast. But even we, today are taught they were brought by God to punish. I can see that a primitive culture without modern medical advances would think that, simply not knowing any better. But are we supposed to believe that in today's age?

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan
    Jesus says that he has not come to abolish the Law (contrary to Colossians 2:14-18 and especially the deutero-Pauline Ephesians 2:15 which says that Jesus "abolished in his flesh the Law with its commandments and regulations")

    • abolished the law in his flesh
    • having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands

    ie. The law is spiritual, but those who were delivering it enacted a literal application of the same - appling the law as instruction of the flesh.

    • We know that the law is spiritual
    • real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal.
    • Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

    The law is not debunked, but differently understood.

    • love is the fulfilling of the law
  • gumby

  • Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
  • Maybe you better make a quick trip to the auction yard a paduan, and get ya some livestock and pigeons so you can "uphold the law" and make your animal sacrifices to god. And oh.........don't forget to buy yourself a big bull for your sin offering. I think you can pick one up for under $500.


  • Leolaia

    PP....A book I found helpful in picturing the social setting of Matthew is David Sims' Apocalyptic Eschatology in the Gospel of Matthew (Cambridge: 1996). Here is part of the blurb in the abstract: "Apocalyptic eschatology can be boardly defined as a comprehensive world view which emphasizes the final judgment and its aftermath within a dualistic and deterministic framework. This distinctive and often vengeful vision of reality was vigorously adopted by Matthew and dominates his gospel. Sociological analysis of apocalypticism in Judaism and early Christianity has shown that such a world view was adopted by minority or sectarian groups which were undergoing great crises, and Dr. Sim looks at the social setting of the Matthean community, which reveals that after the first Jewish War against Rome, it came into conflict with the Jewish and gentile worlds and the larger Christian church. The gospel of Matthew was held in high regard in the early church but may repel the modern reader with its division of humanity into righteous and wicked, and its emphasis on the fires of hell. But by understanding the social circumstances of the evangelist and his community, we can see that Matthew wrote not simply to condemn but out of an acute need to protect and enhance his community's sense of distinctiveness, and from pastoral concern for his troubled church".

    A Paduan....As a believer, you are certainly entitled to accept the gospels as perfectly and faithfully preserving the actual words of Jesus, but historians need to critically examine their literary sources and approach them as compositions reflecting the views and goals of the authors. No historian accepts the speeches of Thucydides as verbatim transcripts of what was really said in those specific situations; stylistically and lingusitically, they are clearly the work of the author of the overall work. Of course, such compositions may contain some material derived from the author's sources and possibly from actual historical situations, and many Bible scholars over the past century have tried to distinguish what may be redactional and what may be traced to the "historical Jesus". But in doing historical research, it is always safer to start with what is uncontested and known factually (e.g. that there was a gospel of Matthew which expressed a certain world view of its author) rather than uncritically accept the book's claims as a prima facie assumption. That is to say, we know for sure that there was a community and author who believed the things expressed in the book. We don't know if these same things were really expressed in such a manner by the person the evangelist claimed to represent. In fact, in many respects they almost certainly don't go back to an original Jesus because many ideas are distinctive to Matthew alone (just as John is filled with ideas not found in the other gospels) and reflect the historical situation after the fall of Jerusalem (AD 70). And in the case of the synoptic gospels, we can often discern things that the author of Matthew added or altered himself because we have one of his source materials extant: the gospel of Mark (90% of which was utilized by Matthew).

    Ephesians 2:15 does not say that the Law has been merely redefined and understood differently as grace; it says that the Law (nomon) and especially its "commandments" (entolón) and "decrees" (dogmasin) are now "abolished" or "nullified" (katargésas). Colossians 2:14-18 similarly states that Jesus' death on the cross has "wiped out" (exaleipsas) the handwritten "decrees" (dogmasin), and rather than being subject to halacha, the author tells his brothers to "never let anyone decide what you should eat or drink, or whether you are to observe annual festivals, New Moons, or sabbaths". In contrast, Matthew 23:3 says that Christians are to continue to "practice and observe all the things" (panta poiésate kai téreite) the Pharisees decree, and Matthew 5:17-19 claims that Jesus did not come to "destroy" (katalusai) the Law (nomon); in fact, those who break just "one of the commandments" (mian tón entolón) and teach others to do so will have the least reward in the kingdom. These are two very different perspectives here, almost tho not exactly opposite. The deutero-Pauline epistles moreover seem to express a more uncompromising position than in the earlier Pauline writings.

    jula71....Even Paul expresses the same OT view of divine punishment for sins, as you describe. Check out what he says in 1 Corinthians 11:29-32:

    "A person who eats and drinks [the Lord's Supper] without recognizing the Body is eating and drinking his own condemnation. In fact, that is why many of you are weak and ill and some of you have died. If only we recollected ourselves, we should not be punished like that. But when the Lord does punish us like that, it is correct us and stop us from being condemned from the world".

    He earlier said in the same letter: "We must never fall into sexual immorality; some of them did, and twenty-three thousand met their downfall in one day. We are not to put the Lord to the test: some of them did, and they were killed by snakes. You must never complain: some of them did, and they were killed by the Destroyer" (10:8-10). Here Paul is alluding and quoting the OT stories of divine punishment in Numbers 17:6-15, 21:5-6, 25:1-9, and indicates their relevance to the present day. Another example can be found in Romans 1:18-32 which claims that people who have denied God and participated in idolatry were punished by God's wrath into becoming consumed by passion and lust.

  • peacefulpete
    PP....I believe the answers are like a rehearsed type of jw response. Someone asked a question regarding opinion on Jesus' words - and the particular responses were a diversion to history. Are you saying that Jesus did not speak those words, and if so, what was he saying ? Your answer to that appears to be "there were factions of pharisee like people who wrote it" - but regardless, did Jesus not say it? If he did say that, would it matter if the hairbears repeated it?

    Paduan... I don't really understand your comment, we obviously think on different wavelengths. jula71 asked for ideas about what Matt 7 was saying, we responded in the best way we could. I'm most certain that the JWs would never have answered using a doctrinal question with texual analysis and historical critical method. Their answer would consist of simply giving the WT spin on the verses or attempted to harmonize it with other texts without regard for the evidence. Also what I meant by the book being patent Pharisee was that a study of the real Pharisee teaching of the day reveals that the role they play as foils for the Jesus character in Matt is artificial. Most all the debates Jesus has with Pharisees would not have happened as the words of Jesus were drawn from Pharisee sources. This shows that the author did not know the Pharisees or a second hand adjusted the characters so as to villify the dominant Jewish sect after 70.

    Leolaia..Thanks for the recommendation

  • hmike
    Also what I meant by the book being patent Pharisee was that a study of the real Pharisee teaching of the day reveals that the role they play as foils for the Jesus character in Matt is artificial. Most all the debates Jesus has with Pharisees would not have happened as the words of Jesus were drawn from Pharisee sources. This shows that the author did not know the Pharisees or a second hand adjusted the characters so as to villify the dominant Jewish sect after 70.

    Pete, I think Jesus didn't have a problem with what the Pharisees taught, but rather with their heart attitudes and how they lived (Matt. 23:1-7). They were more interested in looking good and keeping man-made traditions and understandings of the Law than in extending compassion to the less privileged. I'm sure there were some Pharisees who would have supported Jesus, but the ones hostile to Jesus seem to have held the power and intimidated the others. This is much like what we would have today when church leaders live in luxury and private sin while isolating themselves from people in need.

  • peacefulpete

    hmike..the greater value of love and compassion was in fact the very opinion of the Pharisee Rabbis. It is only the progressively anti-Pharisee editing that has created this very wrong impresssion of who and what the Pharisees were.

    It is complicated but try for a moment to imagine that many of the sayings attributed to Jesus were in fact rabbinic/Pharisaic expressions. For example the two sayings that were said to have stunned his Pharisee opposers were in fact Pharisee shemas that were used in the very same way as Jesus was alledged to have done, namely Deut's " Love your God with whole heart...strength" and Lev's "Love your neighbor as yourself". So much does the overall message of Mark's Jesus align with the Pharisee theology that it is commonly supposed that if there were an historical Jesus he would have had to be a Pharisee. However the Pharisees were the sect that survived the Roman wars and were left as the only Jewsih rival to Christianity during the decades in which the Gospel traditions were being formed and edited. When Christianity asserted that it was the true church they broke away from their first cousins the Pharisees. Animosity developed and this growing hatred entered the Gospel tradition. It is easy to see this process by comparing Mark with Matt for example. While mark already has antiPharisee elements it is more fully developed in Matt. Compare Mark 12:38 were "a certain lawyer" serves as the foil for the famous love commandments mentioned above by asking a well mannered and sincere question. Yet Matt changed it to a gathering of "Pharisees" one of whom challenges Jesus in an adversarial way.(Matt 22:34-40).

    It was only later Christians that misinterpreted the intent of Mark and Matt that supposed an historical Jesus was dispensing with the Law in favour of a new law of love, which would have naturally have estranged him from the Pharisees. The resulting impression of hypocrisy and merciless legalism of the Pharisees is a gross misrepresentaion of the sect and it's leaders done by Christian writers at a time when the two groups had become rivals. I oversimplfied/misspoke before by suggesting that Matt as a book was perhapos edited to appear antiPharisee, in fact it seems most likely that Matt had this bias all along and has added to this bias by rewording his key source Mark.

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