For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds

Matthew 5:1-12; The Beatitudes (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

In Matthew 5:3-9, Jesus describes seven characteristics of people who are blessed. According to theologian, Herschel Hobbs, those descriptions symbolized “the nature of the kingdom citizen.” He interpreted them as follows:

  • The Poor in Spirit. “Those who recognize that they are sinners, who possess nothing which merits their approach to God.”
  • Those Who Mourn. People who feel deep sorrow “as for the dead” over their own sins and the sinfulness of others.
  • The Meek. “The teachable ones who submit themselves to God.”
  • Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness. People who are “never satisfied with their achievements,” but who instead constantly desire to see God’s perfect will on display in life.
  • The Merciful. A person who is able to figuratively “get inside another’s skin so as to see his needs as one’s own.”
  • The Pure in Heart. Those who are “clean, sincere…with nothing between the soul and the Savior.”
  • The Peacemakers. Those who work toward reconciliation and harmony “between God and man, and between man and man.”

 

Works Cited:

[ILJ, 89-90]

 

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Matthew 5:1-12; The Beatitudes (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

The longest recorded sermon of Jesus begins with a repetitive theme word: “Blessed.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are they that mourn…Blessed are the meek…”

Historically, that word was understood to mean “happy”—or in the literal Hebrew translation, “how happy!” The Greek equivalent, used in Matthew’s record of Jesus’ sermon, is makarios, and it mirrors King David’s use of the Hebrew term in Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…” Additionally, in pagan writings, makarios indicated a heavenly “state of happiness and well-being,” and Christ seemed to communicate that meaning here as well.

Still, in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ repetitive emphasis on the word “blessed” seems hard to understand. For instance, his exhortation in Matthew 5:4 could be literally interpreted, “How happy are those who are sad!” For his original hearers, and for us today, that kind of statement seems to make very little sense.

It appears that Christ intended, and therefore divinely assigned, a broader interpretation of what it truly means to be “blessed,”—that being blessed by God is not simply enjoying a circumstantial, happy feeling. As a result, today we understand makarios to communicate much more than perhaps Christ’s original hearers would have understood.

Blessed, in Jesus’ usage, carries many shades of meaning, all wrapped up like a gift for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. It includes the idea of “approval”—as in both the approval of God and people. It implies that one is “lucky,” not so much in the sense of random luck, but in the sense that God orchestrates seemingly random coincidences to deliver happiness in a person’s life. And, uniquely, it is a congratulatory term, as in “Congratulations for being chosen to endure sorrow! You will one day understand with great happiness what it means to be comforted by God.”

In this sense, then, Jesus’ proclaimed that even in the worst of circumstances, we can be happy … approved … lucky … and congratulated. We are blessed, simply because God himself has determined to make it so, both here and in eternity to come.

 

Works Cited:

[ID1, 201; SOM, 22]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

If we don’t count resurrections (there were three of those), Scripture records 23 specific, miraculous healings performed by Jesus. Among those healings were supposedly incurable diseases, such as blindness, leprosy, deafness, muteness, crippling lameness, withered or appendages, paralysis and more. According to Matthew, those 23 stunning miracles were just a small fraction of Christ’s true healing ministry. He reports that Jesus “healed every disease and sickness” among the large crowds that followed him. (4:23).

Why did Christ do that?

Compassion, obviously, was a motivating factor for Jesus, but healing also meant more than that to those who saw it and/or experienced it.

Jesus’ medical miracles gave proof that his teaching was from God, and endorsed his credibility as God’s Son and Israel’s Messiah (see John 3:2, 7:31). Miraculous healing, one theologian explains, “was performed not as broadcast philanthropy…but as a sign…The purpose of the miracles was to show God was at work in a new way.”

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick

Works Cited:

[ZP3, 55]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Geographical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

The Decapolis referenced in Matthew 4:25 was not a single city or country.

Much as we collectively refer to the northeastern states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as “New England,” people in Jesus’ day used Decapolis as a collective reference to a political league of 10 predominately Greek towns in eastern Palestine. Those communities comprised: Damascus, Raphana, Kanatha, Philadelphia, Gerasa, Pella, Scythopolis, Gadara, Dion, and Hippos.

The town of Hippos lay just across the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum, Christ’s home base. It was likely a place where fishermen like Peter and John sold fish. Additionally, the man suffering from a “Legion” of demons was from Gadara in the Decapolis, and thus was the first to spread the news of Christ into the Gentile world (see Mark 5:1-20).

Because of cultural similarities found in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, some commentators also speculate that the “far country” where the son squandered his fortune was based on one or more towns found in the Decapolis.

 

Hebrew map of The Decapolis

Hebrew map of The Decapolis

Works Cited:

[ZP2, 81, 84]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Previous Posts

Matthew 5:1-12; The Beatitudes (Symbolism)
In Matthew 5:3-9, Jesus describes seven characteristics of people who are blessed. According to theologian, Herschel Hobbs, those descriptions symbolized “the nature of the kingdom citizen.” He interpreted them as follows: The Poor in Spirit. “Those who recognize that they are sinners, who

posted 12:00:02pm Jul. 28, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 5:1-12; The Beatitudes (Word Study)
The longest recorded sermon of Jesus begins with a repetitive theme word: “Blessed.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are they that mourn…Blessed are the meek…” Historically, that word was understood to mean “happy”—or in the literal Hebrew translation, “how happy!

posted 12:00:52pm Jul. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Theological Commentary)
If we don’t count resurrections (there were three of those), Scripture records 23 specific, miraculous healings performed by Jesus. Among those healings were supposedly incurable diseases, such as blindness, leprosy, deafness, muteness, crippling lameness, withered or appendages, paralysis and mor

posted 12:00:53pm Jul. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Geographical Background)
The Decapolis referenced in Matthew 4:25 was not a single city or country. Much as we collectively refer to the northeastern states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as “New England,” people in Jesus’ day used Decapolis as a collective reference

posted 12:00:01pm Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Cultural Commentary)
Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee by “teaching in their synagogues” and healing people there (Matthew 4:23). According to the tradition at the time, a synagogue could form wherever there were 10 adult men, so chances are good that many of these dotted the cities and towns of Galilee.

posted 12:00:33pm Jul. 18, 2014 | read full post »


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