Stylos is the blog of Jeff Riddle, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in North Garden, Virginia. The title "Stylos" is the Greek word for pillar. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul urges his readers to consider "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar (stylos) and ground of the truth."
Image (left side): Decorative urn with title for the book of Acts in Codex Alexandrinus.
As I continue to preach through Luke’s Sermon in the Plain (Luke 6), I am still pondering the propriety of
taking Luke’s account as an abbreviated doublet of the material in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7) [see this previous post].My tendency, again, is to see these as
records of two independent sermons and not the same event.
The McArthur Study
Bible provides an
example of an evangelical interpretation which argues that Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount and Luke’s Sermon in the Plain are two
presentations of the same event.It acknowledges,
“It is possible … that Jesus simply preached the same sermon on more than one occasion.”Yet it concludes:
It appears more likely, however, that
these are variant accounts of the same event.Luke’s version is abbreviated somewhat, because he omitted sections from
the sermon that are uniquely Jewish (particularly Christ’s exposition of the
law).Aside from that, the two sermons
follow exactly the same flow of thought beginning with the Beatitudes and
ending with the parable about building on the rock.Differences in wording between the two accounts
are undoubtedly owing to the fact that the sermon was originally delivered in
Aramaic.Luke and Matthew translate into
Gr. with slight variances.Of course,
both translations are equally inspired and authoritative (p. 1524).
The problem with this approach is simply that the differences
between the two sermons are much more than “slight variances” resulting from
translation from Aramaic to Greek.For
example, Matthew has eight (or nine) beatitudes (Matthew 5) and no woes, while
Luke has four beatitudes and four corresponding woes (Luke 6).
I am more inclined toward the interpretation of Matthew Poole
in his Luke commentary.Poole begins, “There
are many that think what Luke hath in these verses, and so the end of the
chapter, is but a shorter epitome of what Luke hath in his 5th, 6th,
and 7th chapters, and that both Matthew and Luke mean the same
sermon preached at the same time.”He cites
two points in favor of this opinion:(1)
Matthew says that Jesus was teaching on a mountain, and Luke’s description can
be taken as reference to a mountain plain; (2) There is much overlap in
Nevertheless, Poole concludes, “I can hardly be of that mind.”He cites the following reasons:
(1)He judges Luke’s reference to the
plain is not the same setting as Matthew.
(2)The description of the audience for the sermon
in Luke (see 6:17) is distinct and indicates a unique setting.
(3)“Principally, from the great differences in
the relations of Matthew and Luke.”
many large discourses in Matthew are not covered by Luke (e.g. Christ “true
interpretation of the law” and his teaching about alms, prayer, fasting in
Matthew 6); and (b) differences in the beatitudes (and woes) section.
therefore all to their own judgments, I see no reason to think that this
discourse was but a short copy of the same discourse, referring to the same
time and company.”
I recently began reading through John Carroll’s Luke:A Commentary in the New Testament Library series (Westminster John
Knox Press, 2012).This volume
represents a state of the art commentary from a mainline Protestant, mainstream
In the Introduction, Carroll offers a helpful survey of the
textual witnesses to Luke (see pp. 14-15).Here is a summary of Carroll’s discussion of the Greek textual witnesses
to Luke from earliest to latest, according to the most recent findings of
are five third-century papyrus manuscripts:
of chapters 1-6;
of chapters 6-7 and 9-14;
of chapter 22 (vv. 41, 45-48, 58-61);
small section of chapters 17 (vv. 11-13, 22-23) in fragmentary form;
p75portions of each chapter in
chapters 3-18 [including 9:4—17:15] and also 22:4—24:53 in toto.
2.The earliest uncial witness to
Luke is 0171 (c. 300 A. D.) which contains 22:44-56, 61-64.
3.There are five uncial manuscripts
from the fourth and fifth centuries that offer complete attestation to Luke:
Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D)
are two important uncials that offer partial witness to the text of Luke:
Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C, fifth century)
Zacynthius (xi, sixth century)
5.There are several other later uncials that
offer a complete witness to Luke:
Regius (L, eighth century)
Coridethianus (Theta, ninth century)
Athous Lavrensis (Psi, eighth-ninth century)
6.Important minuscule witnesses:
family 1 and family 13 [Ferrar group]
This discussion might help in the interpretation and
understanding of some of the earlier textual notes from Luke posted on this blog (and future
Carroll notes that his translation and commentary on Luke has
chosen to follow the shorter “Western text,” favoring especially the witness of
Codex D, with its so-called “Western non-interpolations.”
Striking is Carroll’s conclusion:
Nevertheless, I recognize that the “Luke”
known to many readers of the Gospel, both ancient and modern, has included the
longer form of the text.In the absence of
the earliest text as composed by Luke (a state of affairs that will never be
remedied), any text that is presented
as a basis for interpretation will be an artificial construct and thus only
approximate a complex textual reality that was fluid for some centuries and
therefore cannot be captured with precision (p. 15).
Carroll’s statement does indeed reflect the current state of
modern text criticism which has abandoned any hope of constructing an
authoritative “original” text but instead is content to speak of multiform “texts”
of Scripture, each holding a weight of significance in its own right. Indeed, from this perspective, any such text is merely "an artificial construct." It is clear that modern evangelicals are
following a path toward this same conclusion (as reflected in the textual
decisions of various evangelical English Bible translation; e. g., see the text
notes on Mark 16:9-20 in the ESV).The question
is whether or not traditional, confessional Christians will also follow this
path or hold out in defense of the traditional, consensus text of the
are entering the New Year at CRBC by continuing to work our way through Luke’s
account of The Sermon in the Plain
(Luke 6:17).Last Sunday we meditated on
Jesus’ command to love our enemies (Luke 6:27-36).Here are some notes from the exposition of
Luke 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your
enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray
for them which despitefully use you.
How are Christians to love their enemies? Jesus offers three practical commands:
First:Do good to
them which hate you (v. 27b).
Here Jesus urges the returning of bad actions with
good deeds.Note the extreme force of
the language.Jesus is not saying, “Do
good to those who do good to you,” or “Do good to those who like you,” or even
“Do good to those who mildly dislike you and do you no good,” but “Do good to
those who hate (miseo) you and [the
implication is] who do bad things to you.”This is strong language.Most of
us have a hard enough time doing good to those who love us and who seek our
good, much less to those who hate us and who act against us.
Second:Bless (eulogeo) them that curse you (v. 28a).
Here Jesus urges the returning of bad words with
good words.In Biblical times there was
much more a sense of the power of words.To give someone a blessing was to convey spiritual and even material
riches upon that person.Consider
Isaac’s blessing of Jacob.Likewise, to
offer someone a curse was a powerful detriment.See Balaam’s effort to curse Israel. It conveyed spiritual and material deprivation
upon the person who was cursed.Wrap
your mind now around what Jesus is telling his disciples.When men use their words to curse you, you
are to respond by speaking words of blessing to them.
them which despitefully use you (v. 28b).
Here we move from actions (v. 27b), to words (v.
28a), to intercession (v. 28b).The
response of Christians to those who intercede with others to do them harm is to
be that they are to intercede for them with the Father.Have you ever discovered that someone who
dislikes you has gone to someone else (a family member, a co-worker, a church
member) for the purpose of speaking ill of you, spreading unfounded gossip, or maliciously
attacking you?Jesus is saying that when
you hear someone has been interceding against you (despitefully using you) your
response should be to fall on your knees and to intercede with the Father for
the good of that person.Pray for them.
I am not saying that this is easy to do.Jesus never promised that following him would
be easy, but he did promise that it would be the most rewarding thing we might
Last Sunday, I began preaching through Luke's record of Jesus' sermon "in the plain" (Luke 6:17-49). One question that arises is the relationship of this teaching and the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5--7. Here are some of my notes on that question:
the so-called Lukan version of the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:17-49; paralleled
in Matthew 5—7).One of the key
interpretive questions is whether Matthew and Luke are describing the same
message from Jesus on the same occassion.They follow a
similar pattern.Both begin with beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12//Luke 6:20-26)
and end with the parable of the building on the rock (Matthew 7:24-27//Luke 6:47-49).But there are also significant
differences.Matthew’s sermon is much longer
and the wording of the two sermons is not always the same. It appears to be
just as plausible that Jesus taught many of the same types of messages on
multiple occasions, and so Matthew and Luke’s records might well reflect two
different presentations of Christ’s teaching on two distinct occasions.
One of the
things that skeptics sometimes seize upon is Luke’s mention that Jesus gave
this teaching “in the plain” (Luke 6:17) in contrast to Matthew 5:1 which says, “he went up
into a mountain.”Again, these might be
two different contexts, but even if they are the same, this is not a
contradiction.Luke might simply mean
that Jesus went to a level place on the mountain (v. 17 reads epi topou pedinou, literally upon a
level place).Some likewise seize upon
Luke’s mention of Jesus having “stood” (histemi)
there (v. 17) as opposed to Matthew 5:1’s reference to his giving the sermon on
the mount while sitting (kathizo).But
the verb in Luke 6:17 can simply mean to stop or to settle and may not be referring
to a standing posture.Again, this is
not necessarily a contradiction.
the thing:If you go looking for
supposed errors you usually find them; if, however, you go looking for
agreement and harmony you can find that in abundance.
In Luke 6:20 Jesus begins his teaching with four
beatitudes (vv. 20-23).I am
inclined to think that the sermon Luke records is not the same as the one
Matthew records.Here are some
(1) Matthew has eight
beatitudes and Luke has only four;
(2) Matthew’s wording is different:“Blessed are the poor in spirit” rather than
Luke’s simpler “blessed are ye poor”;
(3) Matthew’s beatitudes are in the third
person (e.g., "Blessed are the poor in spirit" [Matthew 5:3a]) while Luke’s are in the second person (e.g., "Blessed be ye poor" [Luke 6:20]); and
(4) Luke also has four “woes” (vv. 24-26)
which Matthew does not record.
Unless we are willing to forfeit any semblance of the historical reliability and verbal accuracy of the canonical Gospels, we must conclude that Jesus delivered similar messages on various occassions. The material in Luke 6 and Matthew 5--7 was part of the basic discipleship teaching of Jesus to his followers. Matthew accurately records a summary of Christ's teaching on one occassion, Luke another.
It’s been on the blog shelf for a while, but I thought I’d
add another installment to the ongoing “Evangelism Series" (for past posts in this series click the label below).So far, we have seen that the Biblical terms
for evangelism (euangelizo and kerusso euangelion) relate specifically
to the public proclamation of the gospel (see parts two, three, and four).Furthermore, Jesus was engaged in the task of preaching the gospel
(evangelizing), and he gave this responsibility to the apostles as
extraordinary officers, then to ordinary officers, such as elders, pastors, and
Again, in the vast majority of cases, the work of evangelism
(i.e., preaching the gospel) is done publically and corporately.There are also, however, Biblical examples of
evangelizing that is done privately and personally.The old path men used to refer to this as the
minister’s “personal work.”For a more
recent description of this task, see Fred Malone’s chapter, “Do Personal Work”
in Tom Ascol, Ed. Dear Timothy:Letters on Pastoral Ministry (Founders,
2004):pp. 169-181.Though personal work might refer to private teaching, instruction,
admonition, counseling, prayer, or discipleship with a particular individual or
small group of individuals (like a family), when the ministers engages in personal
work with nonbelievers his primary objective is to evangelize them.
The model for personal work is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ
himself.Examples abound in the
canonical Gospels.To name but a few,
Jesus engages in personal work in his conversations with Nicodemus (John 3),
the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), and the rich young ruler (Matthew
19:16-29; Mark 10:17-30; Luke 18: 18-23).The latter of these examples is a reminder that not everyone who hears
the gospel, even from Jesus himself, will be converted.
Examples from Acts
This model is then followed by the apostles.In Acts, in particular, not only do the
apostles publically preach the gospel, but they also engage in personal
conversations, dialogues, and reasoning sessions in which the gospel is
Here are three examples
of personal work in Acts:
1.Philip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian
Eunuch (Acts 8):
The Spirit directs Philip to approach the Ethiopian as he
rides along in his chariot, reading from the book of Isaiah.Philip asks, “Understandest thou what thou
readest?” (v. 30).The man responds, “How
can I except some man should guide (hodegeo:to lead, guide) me?”He then invites Philip to come up and sit
with him and to be his guide in interpreting the Scriptures.When the Eunuch asks, in particular, about
the identity of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, Luke records, “Then Philip
opened his mouth and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus”
(v. 35).This is the only explicit NT example
of preaching (euangelizo) in a private
setting.Given the important
governmental role of the Ethiopian Eunuch (see v. 27 which says he “had the
charge of all her treasure”), however, it is likely that he was accompanied by
an entourage of some sort who also would have heard Philip’s preaching.In other words, this may not necessarily have
been an isolated one-on-one conversation.
This encounter also provides a prototypical example of
examination and confession of those who might present themselves for baptism in
v. 37 (appearing in the traditional text but omitted in the modern critical
text).When the Eunuch requests baptism,
Philip responds, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.”To which, the Eunuch responds, “I believe
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”Here is a model confession.
2.Paul the Apostle and Silas, his apostolic
associate (also indentified as a prophet in Acts 15:32), and the Philippian
Jailer (Acts 16):
Paul and Silas have been praying and singing praises to God
in the hearing of their fellow prisoners and, no doubt, the jailer, as well (v.
25).When an earthquake miraculously
opens the prison door and loosens the bonds of the inmates, the jailer is ready
to take his own life until Paul intervenes, saying, “Do thyself no harm:for we are all here” (v. 28).
With trembling, the jailer brings a light and falls down
before Paul and Silas (v. 29), asking them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
(v. 30).They respond, “Believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (v. 31).
3.Paul the Apostle before Agrippa
and Bernice (Acts 25—26):
Though technically this passage might better be called an
example of witness bearing when under trial, it also offers a compelling description
of evangelistic personal work.Paul is
brought by the Roman governor Festus to be examined by King Herod Agrippa and
Bernice (cf. 25:13-14, 22-23).Paul
addresses the court audience, recounting the circumstances of his conversion to
Christ, his calling to become an apostle, and his arrest in Jerusalem (see 26:1-21).Near the close of his speech, Paul offers a
Christian interpretation of the Scriptures “that Christ should suffer and that
he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light
unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (26:23).Festus dismisses him by saying, “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning
doth make thee mad” (v. 24).Paul, however,
ignores Festus and makes a direct appeal to the conscience of Festus.He declares that he is not mad but that he
speaks “words of truth and soberness” (v. 25).Most striking is his direct appeal to Agrippa, as Paul calls him (out)
by name:“King Agrippa, believest thou
the prophets?I know that thou believest”
(v. 27).To which Agrippa responds:“Almost thou persuades me to be a Christian”
When reflecting on these examples, one begins to get the
sense that Luke has recorded these, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
to provide something like model scripts to be followed, as well as adjusted and
adapted to shifting circumstances, in evangelistic conversations.
As the minister engages in a private Bible study with a
willing inquirer he can follow the model of Philip by asking, “Do you
understand what you are reading?”He can
then preach the Jesus of the Bible to the inquirer, proclaiming him as the
fulfillment of OT scriptural prophecy.
As the minister examines a new convert who desires baptism,
he can say with Philip, “If you believe with all your heart you may.”And he can listen for a confession that lines
up with that of the Ethiopian:“I
believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
As the minister counsels the despondent seeker who asks
despairingly, “What must I do to be saved?” he might respond as did Paul and
Silas to the jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
As the minister meets with one willing to hear a witness for
Christ, though with skepticism and perhaps even hostility, he may probe that
person’s conscience, by saying, as Paul did to Agrippa, “I know that you
believe the Bible is an inspired book?Will you not believe what the Bible says to you about Jesus?”
The book of Acts, indeed, provides the most profitable
training manual for the personal work of the minister in evangelism.
Personal Work or
There is yet another question to be asked here:Who is depicted in the NT (Acts, in
particular) as engaged in these private evangelistic encounters?As with public proclamation, the model practitioners
of personal work are church offers (i.e., Philip the Evangelist, Paul the
Apostle, Silas the apostolic associate and Prophet).This seems to be a factor that is overlooked
in much of the modern revivalistic-influenced construal of “personal evangelism”
which universalizes and democratizes the duties and responsibilities of the
Even some who would agree that public preaching of the gospel
should only be undertaken by designated church officers (God called and church
approved) insist that a somewhat looser standard is in place with regard to informal
or private communication (i.e., “preaching”) of the gospel.An obvious logical challenge to this
approach, however, would be simply to ask whether the size of the audience
(whether a congregation of a 1000 people, a gathering of 100 people, a home
Bible study of 25 people, a private family counseling session with 5 people, or
an evangelistic conversation with 1 person) makes any difference in the
standards for who is Biblically sanctioned to preach the gospel (evangelize).One might also ask where such a distinction
is taught or modeled in Scripture?When
James wrote, “My brethren, be not many masters (didaskaloi:teachers),
knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 4:1), was he
referring only to a prohibition against all Christians being “formal” public
teachers or is his warning also germane to those who would undertake “informal”
private teaching who are not church officers?
My inclination would be to conclude that the examples cited
above from Acts are most applicable to the personal work of church officers as
opposed to generic models of what is today called “personal evangelism.”This takes us back to one of our original lines
of questioning (now expanded):If evangelism is primarily presented in the
Bible as done through preaching and the personal work of ministers, what then
is the general duty of all believers in evangelism?In fact, I do believe that evangelism is the
duty of the whole church (and not just the ministers alone).Hopefully, we will eventually come to expand
and explain this point in this series.
The main question here is the whether the verse should
include the adjective deuteroprotos
in modification of the noun “sabbath.”The traditional text includes the word and the modern critical text
omits it.A comparison of English
translations reflects this textual difference:
AV (following the traditional text):“And it came to pass on the second sabbath
after the first [egeneto de ev sabbato
RSV/ESV (following the modern critical text):“On a sabbath [egeneto de en sabbato]….”
So, did Luke specifically say that when Jesus and his
disciples walked through the grain fields it was “the second sabbath after the
first,” or did he more generically say that this event happened “on a sabbath”?
Again, the textual evidence follows similar lines as we have
seen in previous studies of textual matters in the opening chapters of Luke.
The traditional reading is supported by codices Alexandrinus,
C, D, R, Theta, Psi, family 13 (with negligible variations), and the vast
majority of extant Greek manuscripts.It
also appears in the Old Latin and Syriac Harclean versions.In addition it appears in Epiphanius of
Constantia (d. 403 A. D.).
The modern critical reading is supported by p4, Sinaiticus,
Vaticanus, L, W, family 1, 33, and 1241.Among the versions it appears in some Old Latin manuscripts and the
The inclusion of deuteroproto
is obviously the more difficult reading.Modern commentators are still unsure as to its precise meaning.One can easily see how scribes might have
desired to omit the word in order to make the sense more readily
intelligible.We can see reasons why it
might have been omitted, but an explanation as to why it might have been added if
not original is much cloudier.
Nevertheless, the modern critical text omits the disputed
word, while the UBS Committee gave their text here only a “C” rating.Metzger’s note in his Textual Commentary indicates the committee’s division and
defends its decision despite the obvious methodological
In the opinion of a majority of the
Committee, although sabbato deuteroproto
is certainly the more difficult reading, it must not for that reason be
adopted.The word deuteroprotos occurs nowhere else, and appears to be a vox nulla that arose accidentally
through a transcriptional blunder (p. 139).
This statement, however, smacks of special pleading.In the absence of any hard evidence, the
accusation of a “transcriptional blunder” in
including the word might just as well lead one to speculate that such a
blunder occurred in excluding the
word.Perhaps in acknowledgement of the
weakness of the argument here, Metzger adds this parenthetical note:
(Perhaps some copyist introduced proto as a correlative of en hetero sabbato in ver. 6, and a
second copyist, in view of 4:31, deuteron,
deleting proto by using dots over the
letters—which was the customary way of cancelling a word.A subsequent transcriber, not noticing the
dots, mistakenly combined the two words into one, which he introduced into the
text.) (p. 139).
The operative word to consider in this ingenious explanation
is the first word, “Perhaps.”This
explanation is a pure speculation.There
is no extant text with proto written
in the margin as an accommodation to Luke 4:31; 6:6, nor is there an extant
text with two dots over proto and deuteron added!It is a fascinating speculation, but it
remains only what it is—a speculation.
This variant appears to be an egregious example
of the modern critical text’s tendency to follow the reading of Sinaiticus and
Vaticanus (a la the pioneering Westcott and Hort), even when that reading
violates the so-called “canons” of modern text criticism.
The traditional text of Luke 6:1 (including deuteroprotos) has ancient and
widespread textual support.It is the
more difficult reading.There is a
reasonable explanation as to why some scribes might have intentionally
attempted to omit it.It was difficult
to understand (see this previous post), and scribes might have attempted to
harmonize v. 1 with v. 6 which begins, “And it came to pass also on another
sabbath [egeneto de en hetero sabbato]….”It is much harder to understand why any
scribe would have included the word if it were not part of the original
(Metzger’s creative attempt to do so notwithstanding).The traditional reading, therefore, is to be
Note: In preaching Sunday before last on Luke 6:1-11, I was intrigued by Luke's reference to "the second sabbath after the first." Here are some notes from the exposition:
We begin in
v. 1:“And it came to pass on the second
sabbath after the first, that he went throught the corn fields....” And we come
immediately to a notorious place of difficulty in translation and
interpretation of the text.The question
is what is meant by “the second Sabbath after the first” (in Greek there appears the adjective deuteroprotos, a term that appears only
here in all the NT).One interpreter notes that there are at least half a score different interpretations of what
Luke meant by this and, in the end, no one really knows for sure precisely what
he meant (see Godet, pp. 183-184).In the modern critical text
the word is simply omitted--probably because it was so difficult to interpret—and
so it does not even appear in modern translations.
The best answer is that this “second Sabbath
after the first” refers to some “technical expression of the Jewish calendar”
(as cited by Geldenhuys, Luke, p.
201).It might, for example, mean the
second Sabbath after the Passover had taken place.The only thing we can really be sure about is
that it was not essential that we know the precise meaning of this calendar
term, though it was God’s perfect will for this term to appear in the text.
One commentator suggests that it is a mark of “the originality and antiquity of
[Luke’s] sources of information” (Godet, p. 183).If this did not come from Luke’s source
(perhaps an eyewitness) it is not something that he would have invented.
is that it suggests from the beginning the penchant of some of the Jewish
spiritual leaders—like the Pharisees—to introduce extra-biblical customs and
practices, including the designation of Sabbaths in terms that did not come
from clear Biblical mandate.The Sabbath
is mentioned in the OT, but not the “second Sabbath after the first.”There is, then, foreshadowing of the conflict
which is to come over the Sabbath and extra-biblical strictures attached to it.
What do we glean from the two Sabbaths in Luke
1.Jesus did not
teach the abrogation of or doing away with the moral law of God, including the
Notice that Jesus did not in any way shape or form
do away with the Sabbath.In v. 6, in
particular, even after his confrontation with judgmental Pharisees, observe how
Jesus is back in the synagogue on the Sabbath.This tells us that there are still Ten Commandments in the moral law of
God.God has ordained that in his
universe one day in seven in to be given over to rest in him and worship of
him.It has been this way since the
creation.Human beings function best
when one day in seven is given over to the God and the things of God.The Sabbath is designed to give glory to God
and blessing to man.We ignore this
aspect of God’s law to our peril.
There’s a bluegrass song by Ricky Skaggs called “A Simple Life” where the chorus says, “A simple life is the life for me, a man
and a wife and a family, and the Lord up above he knows I’m trying to live a
simple life in a difficult time.”One of
the verses says, “I work six days and I rest for one, ‘cause the old rat race
ain’t never been won.” That song gets it right.
taught the centrality of Biblical
obedience to the law of God, including the fourth commandment.
The problem with the Pharisees was that in their
zeal to keep the law they went beyond what was written and introduced
extra-biblical, man-made rules. The danger is that we can do the same.There is a warning against that in this
3.Jesus taught the
positive rather than the negative aspects of obedience to God’s law, including
the keeping of the sabbath (see especially v. 9).
Perhaps the best evaluative question to ask is not,
“What must I avoid that is wrong?” but “What may I do that is right and
pleasing to God?”
With regard to the Sabbath, we can hardly improve
on the wisdom of the Puritan fathers who in the catechism ask, “How is the Sabbath
to be sanctified?” and answer:
The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all
that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on
other days, and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of
God’s worship, except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and
Notice, by the way, that the two exceptions:necessity and mercy derive from our
passage.To eat is a necessity and so it
is lawful to eat on the Sabbath and to do anything else that is necessary for
life and well being.To help another
human being or creature as an act of mercy is likewise lawful on the Sabbath.
himself to be equal with God.
We see this in the declaration of v. 5:“And he said unto them, That the Son of man
is Lord also of the sabbath.”Who
created the world including the Sabbath as a creation ordinance?The God of the Bible.So what is Jesus saying when he declares that
he is Lord also of the Sabbath?He is
declaring himself to be equal in essence, power, and glory with the Father.He is the one who made men’s hands, and he
is the one who can restore them when they are twisted and withered (vv. 6-10).He is the one who made men’s hearts and men’s
lives, and he can restore them when they are twisted and withered.
There are only two responses to that.Either we believe and obey or we react with
an irrational fury, a madness that drives us even further from him (v. 11).How will you respond?