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Gospel Questions XI
Take up your cross, greater things than these, who is my neighbor, etc.

Word RTF

Question #1:

On page 103 of his "History of the Christian Church" Walker writes:

That the early Christians - even the Gentiles among them - understood the symbolism of the Passover and attached great significance to it is evident from the way in which Paul insists upon a Christological interpretation of it ("Christ our Passover has been sacrificed), not to mention the emphasis placed by the Fourth Gospel (which in this point differs from the other Gospels) on the fact that Jesus died "on the day of Preparation of the Passover," (John 19:14, 19:31), when the lambs for the celebration were being slaughtered.

Could you comment on the point about John 19:14 and 19:31 suggesting a different time of our Lord's sacrifice? I haven't come across it before.

Response #1:

The timing of the events of passion week is a vexed issue, and one that has occasioned much controversy. We know that the Lord and His disciples ate the Passover on the night before He suffered on the cross, but that that day, a Friday, was the "day of preparation" for "the Passover" – in Judea. My explanation for the apparent discrepancy is the variation of calendars between north and south (something commonplace in the ancient world – and I note that even today Passover, Easter, and "Greek Easter" are usually on different days). You can read more about this at the links:

Dating of events during Passion week

Last Passover and the events of that week

Question #2:

Since the account is continuous until our Lord goes to Gethsemane, at some point in the account one meal must end and the other start - do we know where that is?

Response #2:

The Last supper occurred on a Thursday evening; the crucifixion on a Friday; the Passover of the Jews (the Jerusalem Passover which the rulers were anxious to celebrate (Jn.18:28), that same Friday evening (beginning at sundown and so Saturday according to Jewish reckoning).

Question #3:

With regard to the difference in the calendars, could you explain this point? Didn't the two meals take place in a close proximity and the same part of the country?

Response #3:

They do, but people came from all around to celebrate the festivals (and Galilee was under separate jurisdiction at the time, as we know). Consider the great number of languages spoken at Pentecost in which the Spirit evangelized the assembled crowd. Each group had its own customs, and not everyone could or at least did travel to Jerusalem for the event. Aramaic was mostly spoken in the north; Hebrew in Jerusalem. And some if not most of the Jewish residents of the north were not part of the Babylonian captivity and return having never been forced from the land. The date of celebration is not something that can be fixed with certainty in the absence of a modern calendar, and we can say with some certainty that intercalation was still being practiced at this time when the lunar months got out of sync with the solar year – as was universally the case in all ancient calendars. Sometimes this jiggering with the calendar was done for political reasons, and we know that by this time the priesthood in Jerusalem was an entirely political office. So coming from one tradition in the north, and given the fact that there is no actual "holy" significance to fixing the date on that Thursday or that Friday, it was entirely legitimate for our Lord to celebrate the Passover with His disciples on the northern date instead of assimilating to the southern date – which of course would have been impossible since He was destined to die for us on the following day. It's just speculation, but given the crunch of people flooding into Jerusalem for Passover, and since that celebratory meal is not collective but home by home and group by group, it is entirely possible that the authorities were fine with having there be multiple days on which people observed it for logistical reasons. To use another illustration, in this country we get the Friday or Monday which is closest to Christmas off as a holiday if the day occurs on a weekend. If the government were to proclaim that said Friday or Monday was "Christmas" – even though it was traditionally Saturday or Sunday – I'm sure that many people would still use the traditional date.

Question #4:

What I meant was that Meyer takes the meal description of which starts in John 13 as a different meal than the one described in the synoptics. You explained that there was a disparity between the two calendars, but what I'm still unsure about is how to reconcile the two accounts, since the description of John's meal also leads up to our Lord going to Gethsemane. So my point is that if there were two meals and the one in John is the earlier one, then I would think that at some point this meal ends and the other meal starts (which was eaten according to a different calendar), after which Jesus leaves to Gethsemane. I'm not sure if you see what I mean here, but hopefully so.

Response #4:

On your question, I think the "two meal" theory is ridiculous. John's meal is the last supper and the arrest in Gethsemane as you notice occurs directly afterward that night . . . unless John is a confused person not writing under divine inspiration. When Meyer proclaims the account "irreconcilable" with the other gospels, to me he's just tipping his hand that he doesn't understand what's going on and is analyzing things from a secular point of view: it's very typical of scholars who think they know more about the matter than ancient authors to charge those authors with error rather than to doubt their own understanding. There's no profit in that – not in the case of scripture, that is. Since I don't see any specific biblical evidence for "two meals" – other than Meyer's reluctance to believe scripture – I'm not sure what else to say about this.

Question #5:

Metzger presents an argument that before healing the paralytic in Mark 1:41 our Lord was not "moved with pity", but rather "moved with anger", which has been changed for apologetic reasons. The view presented also assumes Marcan priority and shows that this offensive statement was not copied by Matthew and Luke. I know you disagree with the latter thesis, but is there any substantial textual evidence of orgistheis instead of splagxnistheis?

Response #5:

The only thing that orgistheis, "angered", has going for it is that it is the lectio difficilior, which means it's hard to explain so it might be right; but sometimes the answer is that a mistake was made in one ms. Since the only place of any authority where this reading occurs is one early ms., D, there is almost no chance it's correct in my view just from a text-critical standpoint. Even if one is a backer of the western ms. family, it doesn't appear to occur in any of that family's early papyri.

Question #6:

Mark 14:1 (NASB)
14 Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him;

John 12:1 (NASB)
12 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

NIV SB on Mark 14:3-9:
14:3-9 In John's Gospel this incident is placed before the beginning of Passion Week (see Jn 12:1-11 and note). Matthew and Mark may have placed it here to contrast the hatred of the religious leaders and the betrayal by Judas with the love and devotion of the woman who anointed Jesus.

What is your take on the time of the anointing in different gospels? I know I've asked about this already, but I'm still unsure how to reconcile these verses.

Response #6:

I don't see these two verses as being in conflict since the first is referring to the conspiracy of the elite in Jerusalem and the second to our Lord's arrival in Bethany; both can be accurate without conflicting. For the events of passion week as I have been able to reconstruct them please see the link: The Last Passover

Question #7:

When providing interpretations of Papias' view that Matthew "composed Logia in Greek", Thiessen considers the last view presented the most likely (p.134):

Papias was right as to an Aramaic original, but Matthew also wrote our Greek Matthew. This hypothesis, though comparatively recent in origin, is very plausible, for it reconciles the declarations of the Fathers concerning an original Hebrew (Aramaic) Matthew with the evidence that our present Matthew was written in Greek. Gloag mentions Bentgel, Olshausen, Thiersch, Schaff, Townson, Horne, Lee, and Ellicott as holding this view. It is evident that when the Greek Matthew had once become current in the Church, the Aramaic edition of it dropped out. Josephus wrote his Wars of the Jews in Aramaic and secured the help of Greek writers in freely reproducing and improving it in the Greek language. The greek edition alone has come down to us. We believe that in the same manner, though perhaps without the assistance of Greek writers, Matthew reproduced his Gospel in Greek.

What do you think of this?

Response #7:

Whether Josephus actually did write this one work of his first in Aramaic is in my opinion debatable. He makes many other claims in his works which we know cannot be true. There is no record of any such work other than his say-so, and it would certainly give this work more cachet to be taken from something earlier in another language (at least one can see why he might have thought so).

We have some statements in Eusebius which he claims come from this Papias – but no one knows anything else about this person and whether he had any idea what he was talking about, even if Eusebius has the quote right. As I have also pointed out elsewhere, E's writing (whether directly from P or not) is sufficiently ambiguous to give any serious scholar serious pause before jumping to the sort of conclusions we find almost universally, sadly. In sum, there was never any Hebrew or Aramaic gospel of Matthew. He wrote it in Greek and that is what we have; and we have what we have (in all manner of forms and witnesses dating back to very early times) exclusively in Greek because that is how he wrote it – along with all other NT writers. Scholars just love to advance these sorts of theories; prudent Christian exegetes should be able to tell the difference between a theory without any evidence and a massive amount of evidence with nothing at all to put in the balance against it.

Question #8:

On page 154 Thiessen writes:

We have tried to show that none of the Gospels is dependent on another canonical Gospel, in our treatment of the Synoptic Problem, and refer the reader to that chapter for our views on this point.

Do you not think that some fragments which are nearly identical in some gospels could have been taken by one author from another?

Response #8:

Luke tells us that he researched everything carefully. Since the other two gospels already in existence were inspired, I don't see any problem with the Spirit having him use portions of them when it suited the purpose. Did he do so? Luke says he did his research anothen . . . which means "from above"; so the Spirit guided him meticulously and was certainly able to give him (as well as the other writers) the precise message that He wanted. That is what He did, regardless of whatever intermediate helps for the authors He may or may not have made us of. This is called "the composition question", and the only reason to engage in it for those of us who believe is so as to be able to give an effective apologetic response to those who doubt divine inspiration. Anyone who delves into this "problem" as if there were "layers" and "alternative sources" and the like ipso facto does not believe in divine inspiration.

Question #9:

Understood and I agree that the "composition question" are very muddy waters. How about Mark and Matthew - do you think Mark could have used Matthew at all, keeping of course divine inspiration as a given?

Response #9:

I think that is very possible; I don't think it's knowable for certain.

Question #10:

On page 159 Thiessen discusses the gospel of Luke presenting our Lord as the redeemer and provides Leviticus 25:23-55 as one of the references:

Leviticus 25:23-55 gives the law concerning the Redeemer. He must be a kinsman; no one else can take his place. He redeems the inheritance (vs 25) and the persons (47-50), and he executes judgment on his enemies (Numbers 35:19-21; Deuteronomy 19:12). The book of Ruth gives us a striking picture of the work of the Kinsman-Redeemer (2:1, 3:12); compare also the work of Jeremiah in redeeming a field (Jeremiah 32:6-8). In other words, Luke is occupied with Christ as one of kin to us in the work of redemption.

Do you agree with this view and with founding it on Leviticus 25:23-55?

Response #10:

The whole notion of redemption in the OT is of course a shadow of the ultimate Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ who bought us out of slavery to sin with His own blood. I have never seen this theme as being any more pronounced in Luke than it is elsewhere in the NT. I would have to consider the proofs T uses for that.

Question #11:

Thiessen proposes that John's gospel was written about 85-90. I know you prefer a much earlier dating - what are the reasons for the difference?

Response #11:

The apostle John wrote the gospel of John and he died ca. 70 AD – which would have complicated his penning of the gospel two decades later. As one student remarked about Socrates: "After his death his career suffered a dramatic decline". Also, Revelation was written no later than 68 A.D. (because Nero is the king who now "is" (Rev.17:5), and it seems clear to me from the impression I get from the internal evidence of reading the Johannine works that the gospel was written first, then the epistles, then Revelation (so we need to back up probably another decade from John's death, pace T's suggestion). No doubt T has an influence-hangover from liberal scholars who have always wanted to put the gospels centuries later (and did so until papyri finds exploded their false theories).

Question #12:

Do you think that originally the ending of Mark's gospel may have been longer?

Response #12:

No. The fact that so many have been upset by the abruptness of the ending (as they have seen it) and as a result have from the early days of the church proposed a multitude of fill-ins (which are demonstrable not genuine) is actually convincing evidence that if there were a genuine, longer ending we would know about it.

Question #13:

Guthrie gives a considerable amount of space to Papias' statement regarding Matthew's logia, discussing a range of theories on the meaning and validity of the statement. Which view is the most likely in your opinion?

Response #13:

As mentioned above, I discount Papias because 1) his statements as recorded by Eusebius are ambiguous; and 2) we have no reason to believe that P' had any actual information beyond rumors, false traditions, and personal speculation; we know nothing about him, so why are we elevating him to have equal testimony to the scriptures which we can actually hold in our hands?

Question #14:

Guthrie mentions a criticism aimed at Mark for "confused references to the Herodian family (6:17)". He later writes: There may be some confusion about Herodias, who according to Luke was Philip's wife, which seems to conflict with Josephus, unless there were two Philips, Philip the tetrarch, husband of Salome, and Herod Philip, former husband of Herodias.

Could you briefly comment on this? I looked at the commentaries and the issue does seem quite entangled. I looked at commentaries but I'm still at loss.

Response #14:

What Luke says is correct. As mentioned before, Josephus was a self-serving and somewhat sensationalist dilettante of a historian. We know for certain that he was wrong or deliberately lying in numerous places; so why would we blame Luke if he doesn't agree with Josephus?

Question #15:

A lot of space is devoted to the discussion of the Q hypothesis. Having read this complex section I find it hard to believe that Q existed in the first place. What is your take on this and, if Q did not exist, how should we explain parallel sections in Matthew and Luke?

Response #15:

There is no Q – except in the fantasies of those who write about it. As mentioned above, Luke wrote after Matthew and most likely had a copy of the gospel; he wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit so that he could either have 1) used certain sections verbatim with the Spirit's approval, or 2) had these reproduced for him by the Spirit, or 3) a combination of the two.

Question #16:

On page 125 Thiessen writes:

We hold, then, that the writers of the Synoptic Gospels probably availed themselves to some extent of the oral tradition current in their day and that this fact accounts for the linguistic similarities and dissimilarities of the several Gospels.

What is your take on this? Do you think that the differences in the gospels stem from the differences in the oral tradition?

Response #16:

No.  Matthew was there when these things happened. Mark was in Rome when he wrote, most likely. Luke does say he spoke with eye-witnesses (but that is something different from what T is talking about). And John was a first hand source too.

Question #17:

On page 254 Guthrie cites an argument regarding John 21:24 that "it is less natural for the author to use ekeinos of himself than for another to use it of him", but on the other hand "the elusive character of the statement is more probable if the witness is the author than if the is another person, for in that case the testimony would have been more weighty if the author had named his source". I take it we should probably subscribe to the second view?

Response #17:

John is speaking of himself here. John uses houtos, the near demonstrative, not ekeinos, the far demonstrative, in this context.  He is "this disciple"; had he said "that disciple", he would have been referring to someone else.

Question #18:

John 13:1 (NASB):
Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

How should we understand the words "to the end"? Some say "to the end of His life", others "loved them perfectly".

Response #18:

I don't think they are mutually exclusive.

Question #19:

Meyer concludes that it's the devil's heart that is meant in John 13:2, which admittedly the Greek does seem to allow, but I'm not sure if that's a correct interpretation: As the heart of God may be spoken of (Acts 13:22), so also the heart of the devil.

Response #19:

Meyer is wrong, confused, it seems, by the admittedly difficult Greek word order; "that he might betray Him" is a parenthesis in Greek (i.e., an actual parenthesis but without orthographic signs to denote it).  In English we would put this phrase at the end of the sentence; Greek puts it in an "unfortunate" place for those who cannot get past modern word order. This sort of thing happens a good deal in Paul as well.

Question #20:

Do the words "knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands" refer to the glory that would follow the crucifixion?

Response #20:

Yes, that most certainly is included. It's a good example of how even our Lord – who is our ultimate role model – motivated Himself in His humanity by looking to the glories ahead, just as we should do:

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2 NASB

Question #21:

Hi Brother

Hope your keeping well and fighting the good fight of faith.

Does this passage have anything to say to today's Christian?

Ezekiel 3:18-21
18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. 20 "Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul."

Is there any relationship between the above passage and the parable of the Talents?

Matthew 25:14-30
14 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ 26 "But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

God Bless

Response #21:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I quote both passages all the time. As Paul says, "all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" (2Tim.3:16 NASB), and " whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom.15:4 NASB).

What these two passages have in common is the need to "do one's job" for the Lord, whatever that may be. Ezekiel was a prophet with a very special "watchman" responsibility: "to whom much is given, much is demanded" (Lk.12:48). So my main take-away from that passage for the rest of us is that we certainly do still have free will in this life, and that is a good thing for the wicked, since they may still repent; for the righteous, it does mean we cannot take salvation for granted, but it also does mean that we have a new opportunity every day to fight for the Lord and increase our eternal reward. The parable of the talents, covered at the link in CT 6 under "The Judgment and Reward of the Church", shows both features as well: the talent represents our lives and the free will we have therein; using this most precious resource for the Lord results in disproportional eternal reward; failing to even respond to Him in faith results in condemnation.

With you, I am "fixing my hope" on that future day and looking forward to a decent reward – and to cheering you on when you receive yours as well.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Just one more thought regarding the reconciliation of John 1:31 and Matthew 3:14 – what is your take on an interpretation according to which John's words from John 1:31 and 1:33 simply refer to not knowing our Lord physically? If we translate "know" rather than "recognize" (I'm not sure if this is correct, although oida is used here, so maybe that's permissible), then all may actually be quite simple – John knew the prophecies, but having lived in the wilderness, he didn't know the appearance of our Lord. What do you think? Have they met before Jesus' baptism?

Response #22:

It's possible that they had not met, but unlikely in my view. As to "know" meaning that John didn't until this time recognize that our Lord was "appearing" (by which is meant that He is about to start His ministry?), that seems a bit of a stretch. I prefer to understand that John did not "get" that Jesus was indeed the Messiah until he saw with His own eyes the miraculous descent of the Spirit which confirmed for him Jesus' Messiahship (after all, when he had been in prison a few years he also began to entertain doubts about this fact).

Question #23:

Follow up on a questions about "who is my neighbor". What I meant here is that the priest and the Levite didn't show mercy and so, if I understand it correctly, are not "neighbours". And since they are not neighbours, they don't qualify for what Jesus says early in His reply:

And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
Luke 10:27, NASB

And if they don't "qualify" for what the love that a Christian owes to his neighbour, then we don't need to act towards them as if they were our neighbours, even if we are still obliged to act in accordance with what the scripture teaches (hence my question about "loving enemies"). That was the heart of the question, h0pefully I articulated it clearly this time.

Response #23:

I would say that this doesn't help the Levite or the priest; they were supposed to be God's people but they acted out of selfishness and did not act out of love. That is an indication (even if it is not absolutely proof) of spiritual deadness. Genuinely good works such as those of the Samaritan are an indication of a heart which is close to God, while the opposite is an indication of the opposite.

Question #24:

It's true that this doesn't help either the Levite or the priest, but I'm trying to work out whether the whole point of the parable lies elsewhere.

In Luke 10:27 the lawyer mentions loving our neighbour as ourselves:

Lk.10:27: And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

Our Lord accepts lawyers answer as correct, but then the lawyer tries to justify himself and asks the question about who is his neighbour:

Lk.10:28-29: And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live." 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

Then our Lord tells the parable of the good Samaritan which ends with a question to the lawyer about whom he sees as a neighbor based on the story told:

Lk.10:36-37: Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" 37 And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."

So the question about the neighbour from verse 27 is answered here – Samaritan is the neighbour that we should love. It seems that this passage is often interpreted that the wounded man is the neighbour of the Samaritan, but it seems to me that our Lord is making the opposite point here – it's the Samaritan who is the neighbour. So if it is the Samaritan who is the neighour, then the parable could be interpreted as meaning that we ought to love our neighbours (and our neighbours, based on the parable, are those who act like Samaritan acted), but might not be required to love others to the same degree.

Response #24:

In my view the key to understanding the point of the story is what our Lord says, "Go and do likewise"; so by being merciful to the helpless, we fulfill this rule of "loving our neighbor as ourselves"; we do this, in other words, by doing as the Samaritan did (not as the priest and Levite did who used legalistic justifications to exempt themselves from doing what God clearly wanted them to do).

(13) For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  (14) For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13-14 NKJV

As the passage above indicates, every believer, "one another" is our neighbor.

Question #25:

In Peter's Epistles #28 you explain angelic interest in believers who share in Christ's suffering. What is the true meaning of "taking up our cross" (Matt 10:39; 16:24; Mk 8:34; Lk 9:23; 14:27)? How is that manifested in the behaviour and application of our Christian walk?

From my limited understanding, I take it to be the daily commitment in walking faithfully with our Lord by reading, understanding, believing and applying His Word both to our lives and then subsequently to other people's lives according to the ministries Christ Jesus has assigned us to. Accompanied with this is daily prayer and substantive Bible teaching from well-prepared Bible teachers. As I have learnt from your studies and emails, I can understand how this spiritual investment into the Word is the only real way to spiritual maturity – for even our Lord prepared for ministry following this process (with perfect application) despite all His infinite power and wisdom (Phil 2:6-8; Luke 2:52). I also understand that after having achieved spiritual maturity (and inherited the crown of righteousness to be bestowed upon us on that wondrous Day of days) we will be tested in order to prove the genuineness of our faith. Providing we pass that testing successfully, we shall be pruned in order to produce the fruit for God's glory. Have I interpreted this "carrying our cross daily" correctly?

Response #25:

Regarding taking up the cross, this is a metaphor used by our Lord to indicate the suffering that will come to believers who want to follow Him and are willing to do so. If we go our own way, we can expect that the road will not be "uphill" or difficult; but if we are intent upon pleasing our Lord, there will be a burden to take on, and a big part of bearing up under what that burden brings about is suffering – sharing the suffering of Christ, as scripture calls it (Rom.8:17; 2Cor.1:5; Phil.1:29-30; 3:10; Col.1:24; 1Pet.4:12-13; cf. Matt.10:38; 16:24; Mk.8:34; Lk.9:23; 14:27; Acts 5:41; 2Cor.4:10-11; Gal.6:17; 1Thes.1:6; 2Thes.1:4-5; 2Tim.3:12). Again, I think your understanding of this as expressed here is excellent. There is a cost to biblical discipleship – which unlike the pseudo-discipleship movements in evangelicaldom means actually following Jesus Christ by doing what He wants us to do in growing by, progressing in and ministering through the Word of God.

"And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."
Luke 14:27-33 NIV

Question #26:

Could you help with this the part "greater works than these shall he do" list of Jesus works? teaching healings and so on . I'll be thankful for your help. God Bless

John 14:12
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Response #26:

Here is something I have written about this before:

Jesus' words at John 14:12 , "greater things", must mean that ministering the completed Word is greater than performing miracles. That is not the perspective of the immature, but the more we advance the more we realize that nothing is more powerful or more important than the truth. And, after all, even during our Lord's ministry (and also in those of the apostles), the purpose of miracles and signs is to call attention to and gain a hearing for the truth. That in most cases even so the truth was not received is telling. But for those of us who are open to it, it is more powerful than any miracle our eyes could ever behold.

Obviously, no one will ever do greater miracles than our Lord. But we do have the entire scripture, the "mind of Christ", and ministering that Word of God is greater than any collection of miracles – just as our Lord Jesus intended it to be (and predicted it to be in this passage).

Yours in our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Good evening Dr. I hope all is well with you and your family. Like always you, your family and this ministry are always in my thoughts and prayers. I am reading your Christology series and I am on the part where you mentioned Luke 23:34 is a "forgery". Using that word implies that the bible is errant? Your thoughts and why use such a harsh word. If the bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit how could it have any "forgery". I will search for your articles on biblical inerrancy of the bible for more insights.

2nd email: As a follow-up, I don't think this passage implied that Jesus forgave them their sins and therefore the cross was unnecessary. To me this passage was the forgiveness given by Christ because if their ignorance on what they have done. The reason O say that is because immediately after Christ's death, the Centurion who also mocked Jesus and ridiculed, acknowledged He was the Son Of God (Matt. 27:54), at that point he became saved.

Another analogy is similar to my experience where I mocked Christ in words and deed prior to being born again. Thanks to our merciful and gracious God he can forgive us for all our "stupidity and ignorance" we did against Christ after our salvation. Another great example is the Apostle Paul and his conversion.

Like always would like your exegesis to guide me biblically if I am in error.

God bless Dr.

Response #27:

Good to hear from you, my friend. I pray daily for your deliverance.

Let me see if I can explain this one to your satisfaction. I don't think this second email really needs to be discussed, because what we are dealing with in this portion of the verse you ask about is not really "in" the Bible. The Bible is the inspired Word of God, and it is absolutely accurate and inerrant in its original form. That original "autograph", of course, has not survived, but the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts we have are exceptionally good – better by far than anything else which has survived from the ancient world. Suffice it to say that somewhere around 99%+ of the text of scripture is absolutely clear to the point that there are no serious disagreements among scholars, whether believers or unbelievers, about what was the original text. However, there are places where the art and science of textual criticism must be brought to bear. That is true of the text of Thucydides, e.g., and any other ancient author because of the way that ancient manuscripts were reproduced. In the case of Luke 23:34, the forgery is not part of the Bible. That is to say, it was not really written by Luke. Rather, it is an interpolation (the technical name) which was placed there after the fact by a person or persons unknown for reasons we can only guess (there is speculation in BB 4A about the likely origin). Please understand: this "passage" is not in all of the biblical manuscripts that have come down to us from antiquity. If it were, then it would be hard to argue merely on content that this inserted passage is not scripture. But it is an insert, and not scripture. That is what the weight of the evidence clearly proves. In my opinion as a scholar who has spent his life doing this there is no question about it. That is why it is fruitless to debate the hows and whys of the meaning of these words . . . because they are not actually a part of the Bible. Therefore the best a person could do is to minimize the potential damage that treating this insertion as part of the Bible might do. But all adding to the Word of God does damage (as does all subtracting from it).

Consider also that the English translations upon which almost all believers in this country rely are also not "the Bible" per se, but translations of the Bible. So when an English Bible includes these inserted words (or the pericope about the woman caught in adultery in John chapter eight) or anything else that is demonstrably not scripture, they do a great disservice to the Church of Christ – because, obviously, anyone who has to rely on translations (and who does not have some bona fides in textual criticism even if they know Greek), will naturally assume that this passage is "part of the Bible" when they read it in their English version. It is not. The Bible is inerrant, but the Bible is the complete inspired text in the original language without insertions or omissions. And Luke 23:34 is not scripture.

I hope that this explains the issue. Christians can be confident, as I say, that most English versions are "very good" if not perfect renderings of the original, and that they are based upon a mostly common text which is also "very good" if not perfect. However, this is another reason why no member of the Church is independent, and all of us need to rely on a good, solid, orthodox teaching ministry to get past a certain point in spiritual growth (even those with the gift of pastor-teacher until they get to the point of being able to feed themselves daily).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Hi Dr. Bob,

I hope all is well with you and your family. I am continuing to pray for you, your family and this ministry.

I have a question about Luke 10:25. How did the "scribe" or lawyer tested Jesus by asking him the question about eternal life? Why was this a trick or "test" question? Even if he was not sincere in asking, how was a it a trick question? I can understand the question about the adulterous woman being a test or try to trip up Christ but not this one.

Here is the verse by verse from ESV version:

Luke 10:25 "And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying , "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

Thank you like always in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ

Response #28:

Thanks for your prayers – I'm keeping you and yours in mine day by day as well.

As to your question, it says in verse 29 that he asked the additional question for a reason: "seeking to justify himself"– which I take to mean, "seeking to make sure that what our Lord had just said applied to himself fully, and that therefore by keeping the Law in the way he was willing to keep it he was saved". Of course our Lord explodes this idea by telling the story of the good Samaritan. Even if we were this "good" once in a while, no way we could ever be this good on every single occasion in our lives. So this is not a trick, but an effort on this fellow's part to maintain his self-serving application of the Law and feel safe about it, namely, that by "doing" the Law as he saw it and had been taught it that he would have life eternal – when in fact the Law is merely a way to show us all that we are not perfect and therefore not safe or saved . . . apart from the sacrifice of Christ and our embracing of it through faith.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Hello Professor,

Thank you for your prompt reply. Just one more question from that set which I didn't write clearly enough:

They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, "What were you discussing on the way?" 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." 36 Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 "Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me."
Mark 9:33-37 (NASB)

I'm not sure how our Lord's words regarding the child from verses 36 and 37 are linked to the rest. Children are mentioned also in what seem parallel verses in Matthew 18:1-4, but there it is much easier to reconcile Jesus' point about the child with the rest of the discourse ("Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven"), than here ("Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me"). You wrote:

I think the common thread is that of humility. Very young children naturally believe and follow their elders in authority over them (more so than when they reach, e.g., teenage years, at any rate). If we are acting in that manner, responding to the authority of our heavenly Father and that of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will naturally put aside all such worldly concerns and be concerned instead with pleasing them - rather than in defending and advancing our own worldly authority.

I'm still not quite sure why it's the act of receiving that our Lord emphasizes here?

Response #29:

The point is that we have to have a childlike non-skeptical faith to come to Christ. We can't put any conditions to it or demand proof or entertain mental reservations – the kind of things we learn to do as adults after being burned by unscrupulous human beings. We have to be pure in our accepting of the truth from the Spirit (cf. 1Thes.2:13).

Question #30:

My point here is that I don't know why our Lord emphasises the act of receiving the child. I understand the importance of child-like humility and non-skeptical faith that we should imitate, but Jesus here says "whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me", so he stresses the fact of receiving the child. He could have said "you need to receive me like a child should - without skepticism and in complete faith", but here the thrust seems to be "you need to receive this child, which receives me without skepticism and in complete faith". So it may look as if our Lord was not referring to belief itself, but rather to accepting a fellow believer. Hopefully this makes my doubt clear.

In our Lord,

Response #30:

To me it's just the point that we as Christians are to manifest our love to the entire world and be willing to accept into fellowship anyone at all who is in turn willing to accept Christ. That is, we are not to make distinctions when ministering the Word of God when it comes to any parties desirous of receiving it, for example. I believe our Lord used a child because children were of even less account in ancient Jewish culture than women or old people (cf. Lev.27:1-7). Not that they didn't love their own children (certainly they did), but children were last on the "respect list"; we are to receive anyone even of the lowest order who is truly interested in being a disciple of Christ (cf. Rom.12:15; Jas.2:1-10).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31:

"Job 9:8 teaches that only God can tread on the waves, and after Jesus had just completed the feeding of the five thousand (which would have recalled God’s supernatural provision of manna for the Hebrews) they should have seen the significance of this miracle."

Do you see a connection?

Response #31:

Between the bread and the manna? Certainly. This is a key part of the discussion in John chapter six.

Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
John 6:32-33 NIV

In our dear Lord Jesus who is the very Bread of Life.

Bob L.

Question #32:

Hello Professor,

I have started now and, although I've got a very long way to go, I cannot hide from you that joy deep in my heart that it's a foreshadowing of a future ministry. Although my circumstances haven't changed and I'm still looking forward to things hopefully changing in a few months time, I have to say that the study has been going well - with God's help and no doubt thanks to your prayers also. This now serves as another motivation to run this race the best I can.

You mentioned, Professor, that Metzger's title on the canon is now what you would start with - what would you recommend? It's one of the areas I wanted to know more about.

Also Professor, I don't wish to flood you with emails and take up too much of your very precious time, but could I forward you my responses for you to read and verify? This is all about the truth, I'm not even a teacher yet, rather a trainee-toddler and so your guidance would be much appreciated - of course you can reply at your convenience. That's one of the questions I've been sent and my reply to it.

Question 1a:

How does John 8:7 speak to the Deuteronomical idolatry laws?

Answer 1a:

John 7:53-8:11 is not a part of the scripture. It's missing from all the best and oldest manuscripts and had probably been inserted during the Middle Ages. Since manuscripts containing this pericope formed the basis of the King James Version, it has since been accepted by most English translations, but evidence against it is overwhelming. Even the translations which include it should at least have it marked.

Despite the passage being among the most popular and frequently quoted, as can be expected from what is not an inspired word of God, it introduces a false teaching which stands in direct opposition to other scriptures. The meaning of the story is that since we are sinners, the adulterous woman shouldn't be condemned either. The comfort that can be derived from this teaching is perhaps the key reason behind its popularity – the words "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" are for many the favourite, if not the only, verse in their biblical repository.

But it's a false comfort. If God proclaims a judgment, as He has done (Leviticus 20:10), then the judgment is righteous and stands, regardless of the spiritual status of those who execute it. God knows we are all sinners (1 Kings 8:46, Romans 3:23) and we will all be judged justly (Psalm 7:11, 9:8, 96:13). This seems the main problem here and the main contradiction with the other scriptures – God's righteous judgment is not executed on the guilty party because of the sinfulness of those who were to execute it, which amounts to their sin essentially absolving the sin of the adulteress. So rather than teaching the truth that God hates sin (Psalm 5:5), that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and all who commit adultery are justly judged, it teaches the exact opposite – that there is no judgment.

I imagine that taking part in the stoning must have been a truly horrifying and emotionally devastating experience, despite it being, under circumstances discussed, a procedure approved by God. But that was no doubt part of the purpose – to teach God's condemnation of sin, the severity and inevitability of judgment for it and, consequently – the fear of God. John 8:1-11 is a passage that has been widely used with exactly the opposite purpose, and much sin has been justified by it – but only in people's eyes.

In our Lord,

Response #32:

I'm thrilled at the prospect as well, and look forward to following your ministry with joy!

Since you ask my opinion on this latest one, the passage itself is not part of the Word of God. For me, that is sufficient. I'm always reluctant to comment on things that are not actually part of the Word, except to point out as briefly as possible how they are deficient on their face (as they always seem to be). In this case, the passage attributes to our Lord an attitude of considering sinfulness unimportant (when He had to die for the sins of the world); while on the other hand it suggests that we might as well sin as much as we want since we are all sinners (analogous to the false position that Paul debunks in Romans):

Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is just!
Romans 3:8 NIV

So I would be reluctant to bring stoning into a discussion of this interpolation (or to use this interpolation in any way in a discussion regarding stoning).

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #33:

Hi Bob,

I was corresponding with a mainline denomination pastor (Disciples of Christ), who is mostly conservative in his theology but somewhat liberal on a handful of issues (pro-gay, strongly amillennial and calls all millennialists "Darbyists"), but nonetheless extremely theologically well-versed and very Christ-like in living. Here is how he interprets Judas' actions:

Judas was trying to get Jesus off the hook. He told Jesus about his plan in advance, and Jesus couldn't dissuade him. Judas' plan was to betray Jesus to the Temple authorities. He figured they would convict Him of blasphemy, which is a capital offense, but under the terms of the Roman occupation, they couldn't carry out the sentence without Roman permission. And here is the genius of the plan, so he thought: the Romans had a hands-off-religion policy and wouldn't have anything to do with it. So Jesus would go off scot free. He told Jesus about his plan. Jesus said it wouldn't work, but Judas trusted in his own wisdom too much to listen. When Jesus told them about the destruction of the Temple, he sighed, looked at Judas and said, "Well, at least some of you will still be alive when this happens." Judas didn't get the hint. Judas was going to set his plan in motion at the Last Supper, and coordinated it with Jesus. At the dinner, Jesus said, "one of you will betray me," they all asked Him, "am I the one?" Judas didn't flinch. Jesus warned Judas indirectly that if he went through with his plan, he'd wish he had never been born. Judas, however, was resolute. Jesus wearily told Judas to go do what he'd decided to do. Judas left. No one noticed anything out of the ordinary, so Judas had not reacted, he just left as though he were sent on an errand, which is what he thought was going on. After he left, Jesus adjourned the dinner to the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas left before the Last Supper ended and went to the Temple authorities to carry out the betrayal, which he still thought would save Jesus' hide. They paid him the usual fee to redeem a hostage, and he thought he had outwitted them. He got them to pay him for an execution they'd never be able to carry out—or so he thought. Maybe he was going to pay back the money he stole from the group's treasury. Get Jesus off the hook and undo the damage he had done all at once. Meanwhile Jesus and the Eleven were in the Garden. Jesus was praying. Now notice this: they stayed there way too long. They were there so late that the disciples began to fall asleep. Jesus was waiting for Judas to arrive. Judas knew where they were, because Jesus told him before the Last Supper. There's no other way for him to know. Judas arrived very late because Temple authorities had outwitted him. They had already made arrangements with the Romans. Judas' demeanor had changed because he knew he was in over his head; he came not just with the Temple authorities, but Roman soldiers also. He didn't want to go through with it, but it was too late to stop. Jesus even had to prompt him to identify Him to the authorities. They took Jesus away. Meanwhile, Judas was filled with remorse. He went back to the Temple and tried to give back the money, but they refused it. He threw it on the ground. If he had intended this course of events, he would have kept the money and he would have sat cackling with the Temple authorities. He could not go back to the disciples, because he was ashamed of what he had done. He couldn't go here or there, and there was no middle, so he committed suicide. Unbearable remorse.

Response #33:

It's dangerous -- not to mention pointless -- to try and apologize for Judas. I think what our Lord had to say is clear enough and sufficient to render inert any question of plans or motives: this was a betrayal, and the consequences dire:

"The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."
Matthew 26:24 NIV

A couple of links on this:

Judas and the Betrayal of Christ

Judas Iscariot

A Question about Judas

Was Judas Saved?

In Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #34:

All of the twelve disciples betrayed Christ. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones." (Zechariah 13:7) Judas did not do the right thing, nor was he a believer, but Christ is all-loving, and did not desire for Judas (or any of the apostles that betrayed him) to perish.

Response #34:

The other eleven abandoned Him and Peter denied Him three times. But Judas betrayed Him, handing Him over to His enemies for money. That is significantly different, and that is why scripture treats it as significantly different (Judas is the only one who is said by scripture to have betrayed our Lord). God wants all to be saved. That doesn't change the fact that many are not – as a result of their own free will (as in the case of Judas).

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #35:

So going AWOL would not be considered betrayal of your fatherland in the military? Because that's essentially what the disciples did.

Response #35:

Going AWOL ("absent without leave" = leaving your post when you shouldn't) is certainly bad (that's what the eleven did), but it's nothing like treason; going over to the enemy and helping them for money is treason (that's the betrayal with which Judas is charged by our Lord Himself).

Question #36:

Hi Bob,

The text almost certainly reads "Jesus Barabbas" instead of "Barabbas," and I think your Matthew special should be updated accordingly. I can think of two very good reasons to support this thesis:

(1) It's difficult to explain why a scribe would spuriously insert the name of "Jesus," but it's very easy to explain why a scribe would remove the name of "Jesus": the idea of giving the name "Jesus" to such a murderer would be seen as blasphemy, so in order to respect the person of Jesus the scribe would have removed the name. Of course, in first century Judaea Jesus was an extremely common name, not only possessed by our Lord and Savior, but this point could have easily been lost among Greek Christian scribes, who were already far removed from the original milieu of Matthew.

(2) If the original didn't have "Jesus Barabbas," then Pilate's distinguishing of "Jesus, who is called the Messiah" in Matthew 27:17 doesn't make sense anymore (but it does make sense why he would distinguish between two "Jesus"es if, in fact, there really were two "Jesus"es)


Response #36:

It's definitely not in the text. Not even Metzger and co. think so (they rate it a "C") – and they love their "Western" witnesses.

Question #37:

So why would a scribe make it up?

Response #37:

Metzger: "the word Iesoun could have been accidentally added or deleted by transcribers owing to the presence of hymin before it" (i.e., nu, the last two letters in "to you" is also the way Iesoun is abbreviated (first and last letters of frequently occurring divine names, here in the acc.)."  I.e., IN was read as "Jesus" instead of realizing that it was the end of another word; a common enough textual error in Greek mss.

Question #38:

Hi Bob,

Before, I didn't care much for Mark because so much of its content is similar to Luke and Matthew, but I recently came to develop a new appreciation for it. What is the reason and significance for our Lord to name James and John "Boanerges"?


Response #38:

The word boanerges means "sons of thunder" and refers, apparently, to a behavioral characteristic of James and John – namely, that they had noticeably volatile tempers (cf. Judas being called by our Lord the "son of perdition": Jn.17:12). That may not come through from their description in the gospels, but then we don't see a lot of individuated behavior of the disciples therein (Peter being a notable exception). There is this passage, however:

And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village.
Luke 9:52-56

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #39:

Hi Bob,

Skeptics of the gospel have no unifying counter-thesis to the veracity of the gospels. Allow me to clarify what I mean by this:

(*) Some skeptics say that Jesus was a magician because of the inclusion of Aramaic magic phrases in the Gospel of Mark, while simultaneously claiming that Jesus was actually trying to hide his divinity (but these are contradictory).

(*) Some skeptics say that Mark was the earliest gospel because it has no resurrection accounts, while simultaneously claiming that because of the bereavement vision hypothesis of the resurrection that therefore the bereavement accounts must have been in the original (which would put either Matthew or Luke as the earliest gospel).

There's no unified thesis or explanation behind gospel skepticism, so we can immediately know that there's no intellectually honest basis for gospel skepticism.


Response #39:

It's a good point. And, by the way, none of these sorts of objections would work for any other literary work which is as well documented as to time and place of production and veracity of text as in the case of the gospels. In other words, it takes an a priori rejection of the gospels – their authenticity, reliability, and spiritual veracity – in order to engage in these repudiations. That is the essence of biased, circular argumentation.

Question #40:

Hi Bob,

"On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary [Other ancient authorities read "son of the carpenter and of Mary"] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him."
Mark 8:2-3

Which is the correct reading? Notice that if we expect Mark to have been copied from Matthew, then we should anticipate that the original edition of Mark to have "son of a carpenter." And yes, I am aware that the Greek word in question is not semantically limited to modern-day carpentry.

In Jesus,

Response #40:

Each reading is correct in its own gospel. Both are well documented with no serious questions about the text. As to "Mark copying from Matthew", scripture says it happened in this way:

For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2nd Peter 1:21 NKJV

There was good reason for the Spirit to have put it these two different ways as well. If we only had Matthew 13:55, we would know that Joseph was an artisan (not necessarily a carpenter; see the Q/A #2 at the link), but not that our Lord in fulfilling His earthly responsibilities to His family had been apprenticed in and had taken over the business (no doubt when Joseph died), as indicated by Mark 6:3.

Nor is there any contradiction in the passages inasmuch as both things can clearly be true; the fact that Mark records the people saying one thing and Matthew another is also not contradictory because no doubt they said many things not recorded (cf. Jn.21:25). These "two things" are actually almost indistinguishable from the contemporary cultural perspective, moreover, because it was expected that the eldest son would take over the family business/farm. And this passage, therefore, does demonstrate that Mark did not merely copy from Matthew but was guided in the process of composition by the Holy Spirit, just as Peter attests for us above.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #41:

Hi Bob,

According to John, Jesus did so many unique events that all the books in the world couldn't hold them. Why, then, do the Synoptics cluster around the same small sliver of Jesus' miracles?

In Jesus,

Response #41:

I'm only partially in agreement with the premise. There are important events which all four gospels treat; some of which the synoptics all treat but not John, some which are in one, two or three but left out in one of the synoptics. And of course there are unique features to all of the gospels. So while one might get the impression by reading the gospels that this is a fair characterization, a closer look would suggest that it's not all that way.

Why did the Spirit focus on the events He focused on? I certainly have always found value in every single passage in the gospels (and in all of scripture, for that matter); I accept that what we have is perfect. If there were something else we needed to know the Spirit would have included it; if something is repeated, it is because the repetition (and variation, often) is important for some reason.

Blessedly, the gospels present the perfect picture of our Lord's earthly ministry and victory at the cross. It would always be nice to have more, but we could, as the final verse of John assures us, easily be overwhelmed by more than we had time or capacity to process – and might in that case not be able to pick out what was most important. The Spirit has done that for us. And after all it's not as if almost all of us couldn't spend more time in the Bible we actually have.

Finally, this desire to "know more" (rather than to know what we do have better) is no doubt the origin of so many pseudo-gospels (demand generating supply).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #42:

Hi Bob,

John is filled with parenthetical statements that allude to the Synoptics. What is your interpretation of them?

John 1:15 versus Mark 1:7

John 3:24 versus Mark 6:17

John 4:44 versus Mark 6:4

John 6:10 versus Mark 6:44

John 11:2 versus Mark 14:3

John 18:10 versus Mark 14:47

Actually, these parenthetical statements almost follow the chronology of Mark exactly.

Response #42:

Parenthesis marks are modern inventions (parenthetical remarks/phrases are common enough in Greek but are rarely ever marked as such by particular sigla). In ancient Greek, there is very little punctuation (and it is haphazard and non-systematic when it does occur. Greek uses conjunctions and particles in place of such signs. By the time of the NT, punctuation was beginning to be developed and was occasionally used, but there wasn't any agreed upon system (beyond the fact that a wide variety of markings were used to indicate a break in the flow). They didn't have parentheses in our sense. Four authors writing a history of any important event would no doubt all include similar things, because in any important event or period, some key things would have to be discussed. Any history of WWII, for example, would be likely to at least mention the Battle of Britain, and most would probably have at least a short quote from Churchill's famous "We shall fight them on the beeches" speech. All of the passages you cite are important to providing the proper background for the narrative in order for John's gospel to be a "stand alone" composition – as all the gospels are (even though of course they supplement and complement one another):

1) John 1:15 versus Mark 1:7: John the baptist's prophecy of "One more powerful than I"; all four gospels have this; Mark's language is slightly different from John's which has more in common with Matthew here.

2) John 3:24 versus Mark 6:17: The three synoptics all have the explanation of John being put in prison by Herod; John's gospel merely states, in the context of Jesus' disciples baptizing, that "this was before John was put in prison" – in order to show why it was that there should be any disagreement between the followers of the two.

3) John 4:44 versus Mark 6:4: The passage about a "prophet has no honor" in his own country is placed here by John just after explaining that our Lord had left for Galilee, His "home country", in order to explain ahead of time the disrespect He encounters in the next section.

4) John 6:10 versus Mark 6:44: The feeding of the 5,000 is a key miracle inaugurating the final "year of opposition" and symbolizing the millennial bounty which will obtain under the Messiah's reign; John gives the number earlier than Mark to explain the logistics of the groupings of those who partook.

5) John 11:2 versus Mark 14:3: John explains who this "Mary" is, and to do so gives a brief account of the breaking of the pouring of the perfume on our Lord's head; he does so in order that we may be able to make the connection (which, given how common the name "Mary" was at the time, is very helpful in order for us to make an absolutely certain identification).

6) John 18:10 versus Mark 14:47: John merely adds the name of the servant whose ear Peter cut off.

So I think this is just a case of John helping the reader keep oriented in the narrative. The parentheses found in English versions are used by translators to make their English rendition more clear.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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