For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds

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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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.

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

posted by Mike Nappa

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. The local synagogue was more than simply a religious place of worship. In that society, it served as a church, a weekday school, and as a local governing council of sorts. Through the synagogue, community elders oversaw their Jewish neighborhoods, exercising authority over both civil and religious affairs—including even the power to scourge (beat and whip) those they considered lawbreakers.

It was the chief elder who ruled each synagogue. As such, he led worship services and chose a man from the community to preach at each meeting. It appears that Jesus was a popular choice for a synagogue speaker in Galilee at this time. That was, no doubt, at least partly due to the fame he was gaining from performing so many miracles in that area.

 

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick

Ancient Synagogue at Masada

Works Cited:

[IB7, 277]

 

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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 (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 »

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Personality and Character Study)
Much has been written about Peter, Andrew, James, and John, but what of Zebedee, the man they left behind to follow Jesus? Here’s what we know: Zebedee was a successful businessman, running a fishing operation on that sea of Galilee that employed his sons, their partners (Peter and Andrew) as w

posted 12:00:32pm Jul. 16, 2014 | read full post »


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