A Long and Winding Road: How I Came to be a Calvinistic Christian

Back in the mid-seventies, I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. and one year, well, during our annual rifle requals, my shooting coach was a Sgt. who was a born-again, spirit filled Christian (I hope you Arminians who believe in Calvinists being the “chosen frozen” are paying attention here), he was also a rock solid, hard core Marine.  One day he invited me and some of the guys in my unit to go to church with him at his church in Wilmington, N.C.  I accepted.  I saw in him a glow, a joy that despite the drugs, despite the alcohol, despite screwing every skirt in sight, I was a very unhappy camper.  So,  being as I wanted what he had, that joy and peace, I accepted his invite.

Well after several weeks of attending his church, a Sword of the Lord reading [Sword of the Lord  is a religious paper popular among Fundamentalist, KJV’ers], KJV only, Independent, Fundamental [men don’t wear long hair, women don’t wear pants] Baptist church, I finally joined because I saw other people there with that same glow and joy and peace. I wanted it and figured, well, I guess ya gotta be a “Christian” to get this stuff and be in the church.  So I did believe (in my head) that Christ was God who came to earth, took on humanity, lived a sinless life, was betrayed, tried, crucified, and rose on the third day, so I became a “Christian,” got dunked and everything.
I still didn’t have that peace, that joy.

Weeks went by; Church every Sunday morning and night. Sunday School every Sunday morning. I learned me a lot of Bible.
Still didn’t have that peace, that joy.

Sunday mornings when the preacher preached and choir choired, I would get goosebumps all up and down my arms I was so moved.  But back on base,
I still didn’t have that peace, that joy.

Several months went by, the Sgt. who I only saw now at church, left for a,…. a,…. (shhhhh. quiet) a “Calvinist” church.” It was a major scandal. To hear the deacons or the pastor talking (always in whispers) you’d think he’d joined a satanic cult.  I kept going to church there, faithful every week. Even worked in the bus ministry.
I still didn’t have that peace, that joy.

Well, of course, that’s why, why didn’t I think of it sooner?  I was still drinking, doing drugs, f__king and smoking cigarettes and everyone knows; Christians cuss, don’t drink, they don’t f__k, they don’t do drugs, they don’t smoke. So, I gave up cussing and drinking,
and still didn’t have that peace, that joy,
and f__king,
and still didn’t have that peace, that joy.
I gave up drugs, and yes, even cigarettes! Get back to base
and still didn’t have that peace, that joy.

One day I overheard someone saying how deacon so an so lost his position because they found out he was f__king deacon such and such’s wife. Hmmm. Real Christians don’t f__k huh? That night at base,
I had even less peace..

Shortly after Deacongate, I was cleaning the head of the bus ministry’s bus and what do I find under the dash of the bus? A 3/4 full bottle of Jack Daniels. Hmmmm. Real Christians don’t drink huh… Went back to the base that night and never returned to that church. I had become an enemy of the “Church” and “Christians” bunch of frauds and fakes that they were. The one real Christian who left months earlier (who I did see from time to time on base and was still a real, hard core Marine) they had been bad mouthing for months. And me, I was more miserable than ever because I saw no hope in this religion.

I became such an enemy of Christ and His people that I even beat down a street preacher one day because he dared to be on “my” street interrupting my walk to the bus stop. So I took his white board off of its stand, broke it across his head and beat and kicked him bloody, then told him if I ever saw him there again I would kill him. “Christians” are all just a bunch of fakers anyway, well, except for a few. That night and for years to come,
I was without peace, without joy, and without hope.

The sex, the drugs, the every sin I could find didn’t fill that empty void in my soul.  It was only by God’s sovereign grace, after I had hit rock bottom, in jail facing a minimum of 65 years in prison for Attempted Murder and other charges, and was seriously considering taking a knife and cutting my own throat that I head His voice saying “Come to Me Michael.”

The odd part of what happened next is, the voice I was hearing was that a little Paisa,  Mexican national who had been picked up on a probation violation.  He entered this large cell were I was, maybe 30’ x 10′ with about 20 men in it, all making noise, talking banging on the cell door, etc.  He went and sat down at the other end of the cell, on a bunk next to another paisa and began sharing the Gospel in Spanish.  Now, I’ll admit I know Spanish.  But I’m also hard of hearing.  Despite that, clear over where I was, I hear a Voice, in English
“Come to Me Michael.”

I knew who it was; who it had to be and I said,
“But Lord, I can’t, I can’t I’m not worthy, I’m no good.”
He said, “Come to Me and be My child.”
I said, “But Lord, I cannot, I’m no good. I have nothing to give You.”
He said, “I didn’t ask you for anything except that you come to Me.”
I said, “But Lord, You, You can’t possible want “Me,” I’m no good, I’m a loser, a failure.”
He said, “Come. Just as you are and I will make you My own.”
“But Lord, You don’t know what I’ve done.”
“Yes, I do.”
“But Lord, You don’t know about this, and that, and this other thing.”
“Yes, I know about those things too. I know everything about you Michael. Every sinful thought, word and deed.”
“But Lord, I don’t understand. If You know all that, how could you want me.”
He said, “Son, I have wanted you since before I made the world. I was just waiting for the time when your false pride and willfulness would be broken enough for you to listen, for you to see, that it’s not about what you can give to Me, but about My eternal Love for you.  You see son, you already belong to Me, I paid the price for you long ago. I just want you to come to Me now.”
I finally got wore out and told Him, “Lord, I don’t understand it, but if you want me after all that, then for what it’s worth, I’m Yours.”  At that moment I felt unconditionally and truly loved for the first time in my life.  Someone who knew every dark, dirty little secret of my heart and still loved me, unconditionally.  My life was transformed that day and has never been the same since.  I’m not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I am different.

It was only years and much study later that I learned about the doctrines of God’s Sovereign Grace, a/k/a “Calvinism.”  By then I had already learned them in the Scriptures only afterwards finding out that what I had become in my theology of God’s Salvation was a…., a….. “Calvinist!”  It was at that time I stopped all studies with what I had learned were “Arminian” churches. Oh I’ll still attend one, if there is no Reformed church to attend. But that’s another matter.

The unconditional nature of God’s love towards me, a sinner was something I could not and still have not gotten over. That He had chosen and paid the price to redeem me, long before I was ever born, even knowing then, everything that I would do in this age, impressed me. That His Son’s sacrifice on the cross ensured my salvation assures me yet today. And that He has promised to work in me, to finish the work He began in me gives me assurance and hope for the future.

Folks, I urge y’all, go where the Lord leads you to go, trust Him, and put your faith in Him.

Pro 3:5-8 NKJV
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

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THE DEFECTS IN MAN’S COMMON VIRTUES

From “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination” by Lorraine Boettner, Chapter X “Total Inability,” pages 37-39.

  1. THE DEFECTS IN MAN’S COMMON VIRTUES

The unregenerate man can, through common grace, love his family and he may be a good citizen. He may give a million dollars to build a hospital, but he cannot give even a cup of cold water to a disciple in the name of Jesus. If a drunkard, he may abstain from drink for utilitarian purposes, but he cannot do it out of love for God. All of his common virtues or good works have a fatal defect in that his motives which prompt them are not to glorify God, — a defect so vital that it throws any element of goodness as to man wholly into the shade. It matters not how good the works may be in themselves, for so long as the doer of them in out of harmony with God, none of his works are spiritually acceptable. Furthermore, the good works of the unregenerate have no stable foundation, for his nature is still unchanged: and as naturally and as certainly as the washed sow returns to her wallowing in the mire, so he sooner or later returns to his evil ways.

In the realm of morals it is a rule that the morality of the man must precede the morality of the action. One may speak with the tongues of men and of angels; yet if he Is lacking that inward principle of love toward God, he is become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. He may give all his goods to feed the poor, and may give his body to be burned; yet if he lacks that inward principle. it profits him nothing. As human beings we know that an act of service rendered to us (by whatever utilitarian motives prompted) by someone who is at heart our enemy, does not merit our love and approbation. The Scripture statement that “Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto God,” finds Its explanation in this, that faith is the foundation of all the other virtues, and nothing is acceptable to God which does not flow from right feelings.

A moral act is to be judged by the standard of love to God, which love is, as it were, the soul of all other virtue, and which is bestowed upon us only through grace. Augustine did not deny the existence of natural virtues, such as moderation, honesty, generosity, which constitute a certain merit among men; but be drew a broad line of distinction between these and the specific Christian graces (faith, love and gratitude to God, etc.), which alone are good in the strict sense of the word, and which alone have value before God. This distinction is very plainly illustrated in an example given by W. D. Smith. Says he: “In a gang of pirates we may find many things that are good in themselves. Though they are in wicked rebellion against the laws of the government, they have their own laws and regulations, which they obey strictly. We find among them courage and fidelity, with many other things that will recommend them as pirates. They may do many things, too, which the laws of the government require, but they are not done because the government has so required, but in obedience to their own regulations. For instance the government requires honesty and they may be strictly honest, one with another, In their transactions, and the division of all their spoil. Yet, as respects the government, and the general principle, their whole life is one of the most wicked dishonesty. Now, it is plain, that while they continue in their rebellion they can do nothing to recommend them to the government as citizens. Their first step must be to give up their rebellion, acknowledge their allegiance to the government, and sue for mercy. So all men, in their natural state, are rebels against God, and though they may do many things which the law of God requires, and which will recommend them as men, yet nothing is done with reference to God and His law. Instead, the regulations of society, respect for public opinion, self-interest, their own character in the sight of the world, or some other worldly or wicked motive, reigns supremely; and God, to whom they owe their heart and lives, is forgotten; or, if thought of at all, His claims are wickedly rejected, His counsels spurned, and the heart, in obstinate rebellion, refuses obedience. Now it is plain that while the heart continues in this state the man is a rebel against God, and can do nothing to recommend him to His favor. The first step is to give up his rebellion, repent of his sins, turn to God, and sue for pardon and reconciliation through the Savior. This he is unwilling to do, until he is made willing. He loves his sins, and will continue to love them, until his heart is changed.”

The good actions of unregenerate men, Smith continues, “are not positively sinful in themselves, but sinful from defect. They lack the principle which alone can make them righteous in the sight of God. In the case of the pirates it is easy to see that all their actions are sin against the government. While they continue pirates, their sailing, mending, or rigging the vessel and even their eating and drinking, are all sins in the eyes of the government, as they are only so many expedients to enable them to continue their piratical career, and are parts of their life of rebellion. So with sinners. While the heart is wrong, it vitiates everything in the sight of God, even their most ordinary occupations; for the plain, unequivocal language of God is, ‘Even the lamp of the wicked, is sin,’ Proverbs 21:4.”

It is this inability which the Scriptures teach when they declare that “They that are in the flesh cannot please God,” Romans 8:8; “Whatsoever Is not of faith in sin,” Romans 14:23; and “Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing to Him,” Hebrews 11:6. Hence even the virtues of the unregenerate man are but as plucked and fading flowers. It was because of this that Jesus said to His disciples, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And because those virtues are of this nature, they are only temporary. The one who possesses them is like the seed which falls on the stony soil, which perhaps springs up with promise of fruitage, but soon withers in the sun because it has no root in itself.

It follows also from what has been said that salvation to ABSOLUTELY AND SOLELY OF GRACE,—that God Is free, in consistency with the infinite perfections of His nature, to save none, few, many, or all, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His will. It also follows that salvation is not based on any merits in the creature, and that it depends on God, and not on men, who are, and who are not, to be made partakers of eternal life. God acts as a sovereign in saving some and passing by others who are left to the just recompense of their sins. Sinners are compared to dead men, or even to dry bones in their entire helplessness. In this they are all alike. The choice of some to eternal life is as sovereign as if Christ were to pass through a graveyard and bid one here and another there to come forth, the reason for restoring one to life and leaving another in his grave could be found only in His good pleasure, and not in the dead themselves. Hence the statement that we are foreordained according to the good pleasure of His will, and not after the good inclinations of our own; and in order that we might be holy, not because we were holy (Ephesians 1:4, 5). “Since all men alike deserved only God’s wrath and curse the gift of His only begotten Son to die in the stead of malefactors, as the only possible method of expiating their guilt, is the most stupendous exhibition of undeserved favor and personal love that the universe has ever witnessed.”33

URL: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/boettner/predest.html

Author(s):

Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Eerdmans, 1932 (copyright not renewed during 1959-61 and has

expired)

Print Basis:

Rights: Public Domain

Date Created: 2004-05-25

CCEL Subjects: All; Theology

‘The Love Chapter’

Here is a very good analysis of God’s word to the Corinthians of old, and to us today. Mike Snow captures well the conflict between what is portrayed wrongfully as love by the world and what God says is love.

TextsInContext

Sad to say, most Christians read a great passage like “The Love Chapter” as if it stands alone, oblivious to the fact that Paul wrote a letter not chapters. First Corinthians, like the rest of the New Testament, stood without chapter divisions for over a millennium….

 

To divorce the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians from the rest of

the letter is to do violence to God’s word. This clouds our

understanding because it betrays the context. Regarding rules for

study, Haddon Robinson on Radio Bible Class is fond of quoting one of

his seminary colleagues: “Context is king.”

 

So, let us look at the context of love in First Corinthians.

Paul describes some of the qualities of love in verse four of

chapter thirteen: long-suffering, kind, absence of envy and

of parading itself, not puffed up. Being puffed up described

the Corinthians themselves (5:4). This attitude allowed them

to…

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A Work in Progress

ImageJust a reminder, this blog is a work in progress.  I am new to this format and am still learning how to do things.  In time, I hope to learn to enable links within each post to end notes and to other posts that are connected.  For now, bear with me and just scroll down to the appropriate end note in whatever document you’re in.

Thank you.

Michael.

Meditations on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Chapter 6

Adapted from manuscript notes written from 2003 to 2010

By

Michael Fernandez

Posted Sunday, March 23, 2014

A detailed commentary on Matthew’s Gospel adapted from manuscript notes originally written between 2003-2010 and updated with newer information and improved references as the transcription process continues.  All Scriptures cited are from the New King James Version (NKJV/NKJ) unless otherwise noted.

MATTHEW CHAPTER 6 COMMENTARY

6:1-6    Motives

Jesus addresses our motives for what we do.  He tells us here (and also in verses 16-18) to not do things “to be seen” by men, but rather, do them unto God.

Compare Ephesians 6:5-7; Colossians 3:17, 22-23[i][END NOTES].

6:6       Prayer

See notes to 6:1-6 above for the general context of this verse.

I have heard some people attempt to use this verse, which is within the general context of verses 1-6, to say that we are sinning whenever we engage in public prayer (e.g., saying grace in a restaurant, group prayer, etc.)

This cannot be the case.  Jesus Himself – our example to follow – engaged in public prayer!

So, what does this apply to?  The key lies in the motivation not the method of prayer.  Notice, Jesus previously addressed motive as the key factor for why we should not pray before men to be seen; that motive is pride, cf. 6:1, 5.  The point being, to examine our own motives for anything we do (cf. 1st Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged; 2nd Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified).

6:7       Prayer II

“Do not use vain repetitions,” is a reference to the types of prayers practiced in the Oriental world and common to a number of pagan religions, e.g., the use of prayer beads (as in a rosary), prayer wheels, etc., with a number of prayers repeated for each bead or turn of the wheel.  These practices are still common in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Roman Catholicism.

6:9-13   The Lord’s (so-NAMED) Prayer

This prayer is misnamed; it is not the “Lord’s” prayer.  The Lord had no need to ask for forgiveness!  This is, however, a model prayer given to us by the Lord.  He gave us this example of prayer (cf. Luke 11:2-4[ii]) in response to the disciples’ request that He teach them (how) to pray (cf. Luke 11:1).

For the ultimate Lord’s Prayer, as recorded in Scripture, read John Chapter 17[iii].

6:10      Thy Will Be Done

A.W. Pink (1886-1952), in his book The Sovereignty of God, makes a very interesting and, I believe, valid observation regarding this verse and the petition involved.  Pink writes in the 11th Chapter:

“For example, it has been asked, If what we see in the world today is but the outworking of God’s eternal purpose, if God’s counsel is NOW being accomplished, then why did our Lord teach His disciples to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”?  Is it not a clear implication from these words that God’s will is not now being done on earth?  The answer is very simple.  The emphatic word in the above clause is “as.”  God’s will is being done on earth today, if it is not, then our earth is not subject to God’s rule, and if it is not subject to His rule then He is not, as Scripture proclaims Him to be, “The Lord of all the earth” (Josh. 3:13).  But God’s will is not being done on earth as it is in Heaven.  How is God’s will “done in Heaven”?—consciously and joyfully.  How is it “done on earth”?  For the most part, unconsciously and sullenly.  In Heaven the angels perform the bidding of their Creator intelligently and gladly, but on earth the unsaved among men accomplish His will blindly and in ignorance.  As we have said in earlier pages, when Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus and when Pilate sentenced Him to be crucified they had no conscious intentions of fulfilling God’s decrees yet, nevertheless, unknown to themselves they did do so!” (Pink, 1930, pp. 143-144)

The above was a response to the objection to the doctrine of the “Sovereignty of God in Operation” in the world of Pink’s day, shortly after the horrors of WWI, and the subsequent worldwide Depression of that began in 1929.

6:22-23Dark Light?

Compare with Luke 11:34-36[iv].

As Jesus is teaching a spiritual lesson here and not biology or physics lesson, the main point is a spiritual one.  It is summed up here in the question, “If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness?”

Jesus’ lesson here is set within a series of lessons regarding the focus of our affections, e.g., whether earthly minded or spiritually minded, the former being condemned, the latter praised.  Jesus compares the function of the eyes in conveying information of the surrounding world to the mind, so that reasonable, rational decisions can be made in regard to what actions or direction to take, and the problems physical blindness cause in those functions, with something considerably worse, spiritual blindness mistaken for spiritual sight.  Of the two, the latter is the more dangerous as often the one suffering this type of blindness is not even aware that he is blind.  A good example of this blindness confused for sight, is that of the Pharisees, of whom Jesus called, “Blind leaders of the blind.”  See Matthew 15:14and note: “Blind Leading the Blind[v].”

            Practical Application

As with the rest of Scripture, which is “Profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” cf. 2nd Timothy 3:16, there are practical applications of this teaching such as follows:

That the entire section in which it is found, verses 19-34, is a warning against worldliness and worldly-mindedness in the areas of money and what it supposedly represents – security.

A more general warning against the religiosity or false religion, spirituality.  Consider the fact that the Lord’s most scathing denunciations were reserved not for the run of the mill, average, screwed-up sinner who knew he was screwed-up, but for the Scribes, Pharisees, priests, and other such who made a big production of how “holy” they acted, but inside they were spiritually dead.  That is what Isaiah warned against when he wrote, “Woe to those who…put darkness for light and light for darkness.”  cf. Isaiah 5:20.

A warning against false assurances of salvation.  This is found in noting of the fact that, as here, the Scriptures are full of warnings against loving the world or the things of the world, against being carnally minded.  Compare 1st John 2:15-16; Romans 8:5-6[vi].

As Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves…”  (2nd Corinthians 13:5, ellipsis added.)

Here is one area of importance to check; what is the focus of your affection?  The world and those things of the world, or the Lord and His kingdom?  See also, 6:24; 6:25-34 and related notes following.

6:24      Only One

You can’t serve two masters!  Period, end of discussion.

6:25-34Don’t Worry

Worry is sin.  How?  Because it is rooted in unbelief and is an act of disobedience to Jesus’ own command to not worry.

Unbelief itself is rooted in the “pride of life.”  See 1 John 2:15-17[vii] for more on this.

In light of these and other passages, cf. Luke 12:22-29; Philippians 4:6[viii], it is clear that to “worry” is to sin; it is an act of unbelief, of a lack of trust/faith in God, not to mention the fact that it is a waste of time and can cause physical illness(es) related to stress.

 END NOTES:


[i] Ephesians 6:5-7; Colossians 3:17, 22-23

Ephesians 6:5-7

(5)  Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;

(6)  not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

(7)  with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

Colossians 3:17, 22, 23

(17)  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

(22)  Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.

(23)  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

 

[ii]Luke 11:1-4

(1)  Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

(2)  So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

(3)  Give us day by day our daily bread.

(4)  And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

 

[iii]John 17:1-26  Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,  (2)  as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  (3)  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  (4)  I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.  (5)  And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.  (6)  “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.  (7)  Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.  (8)  For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.  (9)  “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.  (10)  And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.  (11)  Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.  (12)  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  (13)  But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.  (14)  I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  (15)  I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.  (16)  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  (17)  Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  (18)  As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  (19)  And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.  (20)  “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;  (21)  that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  (22)  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  (23)  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.  (24)  “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.  (25)  O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.  (26)  And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

 

[iv] Luke 11:34-36.

(34)  The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.

(35)  Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.

(36)  If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.”

As Jesus is teaching a spiritual lesson here and not biology or physics lesson, the main point is a spiritual one.  It is summed up here in the question, “If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness?”

 

[v]Matthew 15:14

(14)  Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”

15:14     Blind Leading Blind

●             Why did Jesus refer to the Pharisees as, “the blind leading the blind”?  (Bold added).

It was certainly not because they did not have the Word of God available to them, to give light to their eyes.  No, it was because they did not heed that Word, putting their own traditions and customs before God’s Word, cf. 15:1-9.  Thus, they were the (spiritually) blind leading those poor lost (spiritually blind) souls into the pits of hell instead of into the light of God’s love as they expected.

Matthew 15:1-9

(1)  Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,

(2)  “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

(3)  He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?

(4)  For God commanded, saying, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO CURSES FATHER OR MOTHER, LET HIM BE PUT TO DEATH.’

(5)  But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”–

(6)  then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.

(7)  Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

(8)  ‘THESE PEOPLE DRAW NEAR TO ME WITH THEIR MOUTH, AND HONOR ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME.

(9)  AND IN VAIN THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.’ “

 

[vi] 1st John 2:15-16; Romans 8:5-6

1 John 2:15-16

(15)  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

(16)  For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world.

Romans 8:5-6

(5)  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

(6)  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

 

[vii]1 John 2:15-17

(15)  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

(16)  For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world.

(17)  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

2:15-17Don’t Love the World

•             The three temptations – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are the same three the devil used in the Garden of Eden.  Compare:

1.            Lust of the flesh – “saw that it was good for food” (cf. Genesis 3:6.)

2.            Lust of the eyes – “saw… that it was pleasant to the eyes”

3.            Pride of life – “and…desirable to make one wise.”

•             The devil has been using the same trifecta ever since.  Truly there is “nothing new under the sun” cf. Ecclesiastes 1:9, just new variations on old themes.  With all our modern science and technology, the “wisdom of the world” cf. 1st Corinthians 1:20-21; 3:19, we have not achieved peace, happiness, joy, but have only continued to distance ourselves from our Creator, advancing only in ways to sin against Him.

 

[viii] Luke 12:22-31; Philippians 4:6

Luke 12:22-31

(22)  Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.

(23)  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

(24)  Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?

(25)  And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

(26)  If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?

(27)  Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

(28)  If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

(29)  “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.

(30)  For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.

(31)  But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Philippians 4:6

(6)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

 

END NEND NOTES

O

Meditations on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Chapter 3

Adapted from manuscript notes written from 2003 to 2010

By

Michael Fernandez

Posted Friday, March 14, 2014

A detailed commentary on Matthew’s Gospel adapted from manuscript notes originally written between 2003-2010 and updated with newer information and improved references as the transcription process continues.  All Scriptures cited are from the New King James Version (NKJV/NKJ) unless otherwise noted.

MATTHEW CHAPTER 3 COMMENTARY

3:2       REPENT!

●          Throughout the Gospel, the message “Repent” has been preached.

●          In the New Testament, beginning with John the Baptist and concluding with Christ and the Apostles, we are called to repentance.

●          Here the word is μετανοειτε G3340 V-PAM-2P (metanoeite- from metanoeo, which in turn is from two words, meta “after” and noeo “to perceive” or “to understand”, and implies a change of mind and/or purpose).

 

            REPENT(ANCE) NOT, “DO PENANCE!”

●          Throughout the NT, four Greek words are used and translated in the Bible as repent, repented, and/or repentance.  They are:

1.         #278 ἀμεταμέλητος, ametamelētos – which means the opposite, to not repent/change.  This is found only twice in the NT Scriptures: Romans 11:29; 2nd Corinthians 7:10[i].

2.         #3338 μεταμέλλομαι, metamellomai – an emotional change, dealing with specifics.[ii]

3.         #3340 μετανοέω, metanoeō – a change of choice or overall attitude/lifestyle.[iii]

4.         #3341 μετάνοια, metanoia – after thought, change of mind, repentance; especially with regard to sin or evil.[iv]

 

            THE KINGDOM OF…

●          Matthew repeatedly uses the expression, “The kingdom of heaven,” where Mark refers to, “The kingdom of God.”  (As do Luke and John).

Many use the above distinction to justify the belief that Matthew was writing principally to/for Jews, while Mark and the others, were writing for a broader audience (see note to 1:1 part 1 above).  In either case, the expressions are synonymous, cf. Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9; John 3:3.[v]

 

3:3       PREPARE THE WAY

●          John the Baptist fulfills the prophetic role of Isaiah 40:3[vi].

 

3:6       BELIEVER’S BAPTISM

●          The people were baptized in the River Jordan, confessing their sins.

●          The term used here and in verse 11 following, in reference to baptism is the Greek word βαπτίζω, baptizō.  In the context of this passage and in general, the term signifies immersion in water.  Only twice is the term used in Scripture for ceremonial washings (ablutions) of the hands: Mark 7:4; Luke 11:38[vii].

●          In each case in Scripture, where the baptismal process is described, the individual being baptized is described as being in the water or coming out of, or from the water.  This would indicate that the latter practices of some faith communities of sprinkling or pouring water over the baptizee have their origins outside of the Scriptures as such, possibly  due to some more mundane, practical (at the time and place) consideration(s) e.g., no standing body of water of sufficient size  to allow for immersion.  In any case, these do not appear to have been the practice in the early church.

●          The other key word here – ἧν, en, is, depending on the context, translated as: in, with, or by.  Of the three, the context clearly calls for “in.”

●          Finally, that those being baptized were “confessing their sins,” indicates that they were of an age to understand and act upon their understanding of the fact that they were sinners who needed some kind of cleansing from their sins.  They were not infants or very young children without any personal understanding.

●          This supports the doctrine of “Believer’s Baptism” as contrasted with that of “Infant Baptism,” practiced by some.  It does not, however, prohibit, or in any other way deny the validity of infant baptism, in a covenantal sense as practiced by some faith groups, e.g., Lutherans, Presbyterians, et al.

 

            PRACTICAL APPLICATION

●          As the act of baptism has no saving effect/power in itself; the mode: immersion, sprinkling, pouring, etc., is irrelevant.

●          As for the “sacrament” of infant baptism and its relation with “believer’s baptism,” I believe that one, who was baptized as an infant/small child, need not be re-baptized.  They may be, should they so desire and doing so may serve as a good public testimony of one’s new faith.  I do not, however, believe it is necessary for salvation.

 

3:8       WALK THE WALK

●          “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.”

○          First of all, this is something no one can do on their own.  One bears fruit that conforms to one’s nature.  Just as with natural trees, each bearing its own type of fruit: apple trees bearing apples, orange trees bearing oranges, a good, i.e., healthy tree will bear good fruit and a bad tree, bad fruit.  This is a natural example of a spiritual reality.  The natural, unregenerate man bears the fruit of his fallen sinful nature.  The godly, born-again man bears the fruit of the Spirit.

○          Second.  The above having been said; this is a classic command to, “Walk the walk,” and not just, “talk the talk.”

●          Related to the first point above; it must be understood that this bearing of good or bad fruit is not necessarily saying, in fact does not say, that the unregenerate man does not ever do things that are inherently “good.”  Evil men have often been known to do “good things” or perform kind acts, etc.  The problem is that these inherently good deeds/acts, are themselves sin in the eyes of God (cf. Isaiah 64:6  “We have become like one who is unclean, and righteous deeds are like a polluted garment .  We fade like a leaf, and iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”  ESV).

 

3:9       GOD’S POWER DECLARED

●          Compare with Ezekiel’s “dry bones,” in Ezekiel 37:1ff[viii].

3:10-12 ETERNAL INSECURITY??

●          In these verses which speak of the coming Judge of Israel, John speaks of the axe being, “[L]aid to the roots of the trees,” and that, therefore, “every tree which does not bear good fruit (cf. v8) is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  NKJV

Q. – Does this indicate or teach that a believer can lose his/her salvation by a lack of diligence in producing “good fruit”?

A. – A casual or surface reading of this passage, compared with a similar seeming passage in the Gospel of John, cf. John 15:1-10[ix], (and related notes) could give that impression.

●          First.  Let’s look at the context of this passage.

John (the Baptist) is speaking to those coming to hear him and be baptized in preparation for the coming Messiah, who would also be the Judge of Israel –  the “Day of the Lord” and its graphic images of world-wide, as well as local judgment being a principle theme of prophecy, especially the books of the prophets: Isaiah – Malachi.

John speaks of the axe, a symbol of judgment, “[E]ven now being laid to the root of the trees [plural].”  (Bracketed material added), and that those trees which do not have “good fruit” would be “cut down and thrown into the fire.”  Fire is yet another symbol of judgment and/or purification.

In verse 12, John uses a parallel illustration of a farmer and a winnowing fan, who sorts out the wheat from the chaff, to store the wheat and burn (destroy) the chaff to reinforce his illustration in verse 10.  (See notes to 3:12 following, “Two and Only Two” which follows.)  Clearly, verse 12 speaks of those who are saved (wheat=believers) and those who are not saved (chaff=unbelievers).  Therefore, verse 10, which verse 12 is reinforcing, must also be talking about saved (believers who bear “good fruit”) and unsaved (unbelievers who do not bear “good fruit”).  The fire, in both cases being that unquenchable fire found in the lake of fire, into which the unsaved, unbelievers will eventually be cast, cf. Revelation 20:11-1[x]5, (and note).

●          Second.  What of the similarity here to John 15:1-10, which speaks of believers?

In the Johannine passage, there are references to those who are common branches of a single vine plant, the vine being Jesus.  In verse 2, there is reference to “Every branch in” Christ that does not bear fruit being taken away (cut out?), without any reference to their final disposition.

In verse 6, there is a reference to the one (branch) which “[D]oes not abide in” Christ, being cast out and burned (destroyed?  Cf. 1st Corinthians 3:9-15[xi]) in the fire.

○          It is the similarity of language and image between the Matthean and Johannine passages (lack of fruit, thrown into fire) that give the impression of a believer being, in the end, lost.  But that impression is not necessarily correct.

First.  John 15:2 does not address the ultimate disposition of the fruitless believer.  The “taken away” could simply refer to the physical loss of life (cf. 1st Corinthians 5, re: the incestuous church member[xii]); or, to the loss of communion and peace.

Second.  John 15:6, regarding the one who does not abide in Christ, does not address the reason why he does not.  In light of the many passages which speak directly of perseverance in salvation, this passage need not be interpreted as speaking of a believer falling away, i.e., not abiding, but may instead be seen as one who never was a branch of the same vine.  A vine branch amongst the Vine’s branches, but not of the same Vine.

○          The Johannine passage then, because it does not necessarily require that the non-abiding branch of verse 6 represent a believer, is inconclusive, and therefore, should not be used to advance any doctrine of “insecurity” for genuine believers.

●          Conclusion:

This passage does not teach anything at all regarding the subject of “Eternal Security” or the lack thereof.  The “trees” are to (national) Israel, as the wheat and tares are to the visible church.  Membership in either does not constitute salvation i.e., being a genuine, as contrasted with professing believer.  Compare Romans 9:5ff[xiii], re: How not all Israelites (according to the flesh) being the “Israel of God.”  There are both good and bad trees in the orchard that is “national Israel.”  Externally they seem to be the same, but inside, they are not.

 

            TWO AND ONLY TWO

●          Over and over and over again, the Scriptures tell us there are only two possible destinies for men: Heaven or hell; barn or burn.

●          As stated elsewhere, God does not repeat Himself just because He likes to hear the sound of His own voice.  No.  God repeats Himself to emphasize the importance of something; and the more often something is repeated, the more important it is for us to pay attention.

●          Some of the additional passages which teach that there are but two final ends, two types of people are the following:

Matthew 7:13-14————————-    Wide Gate/Narrow Gate

Matthew 7:24-27————————-    Wise/Foolish Builders

Matthew 12:30—————————-   With/Against Christ

Matthew 13:38—————————-   Sons of God/Sons of the Devil

Matthew 13:40-43———————–     Burn/Shine

Matthew 25:1-13————————-    In/Out

●          The above (see related notes) are those found only in Matthew[xiv].  There are a number of other similar passages in Scripture (some repeating Matthew) which also teach the principle that there are only two destinies possible, not one, not three or more, two.  There is no Purgatory, no reincarnation, and no mandatory heaven for all.

●          See also, 1st Corinthians 1:18[xv]; Exodus 8:23 (and note to same: “God’s Sovereignty in Election.”).[xvi]

 

3:13-14 Our Need

●          No matter how holy or dedicated a life we may lead, when compared to that of Jesus, “[A]ll our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6)[xvii].

●          John the Baptist, who was dedicated from the womb to the Lord’s service, saw in Jesus, someone whose life far outshone his own.  Moreover, he saw this before Jesus even began His ministry – v14.

3:15      His Example

●          Jesus did not need to be baptized for repentance of sin; He had none.  Yet, He did submit to baptism as an example for us of submission to God.

3:16-17 The Trinity

●          The three Persons of the Godhead are present here, interacting together with one another: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  See also, Mark1:9-11 (and note)[xviii]; Luke 3:22 (and note)[xix].

 

END NOTES:


[i] Romans 11:29; 2nd Corinthians 7:10

Romans 11:29 NKJV

(29)  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Romans 11:29 KJV+

(29)  ForG1063 theG3588 giftsG5486 andG2532 callingG2821 of GodG2316 are without repentance.G278

Romans 11:29 GNT-TR+

(29)  αμεταμεληταG278 A-NPN  γαρG1063 CONJ  ταG3588 T-NPN  χαρισματαG5486 N-NPN  καιG2532 CONJ  ηG3588 T-NSF  κλησιςG2821 N-NSF  τουG3588 T-GSM  θεουG2316 N-GSM 

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV

(10)  For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10 KJV+

(10)  ForG1063 godlyG2596 G2316 sorrowG3077 workethG2716 repentanceG3341 toG1519 salvationG4991 not to be repented of:G278 butG1161 theG3588 sorrowG3077 of theG3588 worldG2889 workethG2716 death.G2288

(10)  ηG3588 T-NSF  γαρG1063 CONJ  καταG2596 PREP  θεονG2316 N-ASM  λυπηG3077 N-NSF  μετανοιανG3341 N-ASF  ειςG1519 PREP  σωτηριανG4991 N-ASF  αμεταμελητονG278 A-ASF  κατεργαζεταιG2716 V-PNI-3S  ηG3588 T-NSF  δεG1161 CONJ  τουG3588 T-GSM  κοσμουG2889 N-GSM  λυπηG3077 N-NSF  θανατονG2288 N-ASM  κατεργαζεταιG2716 V-PNI-3S

[ii] G3338 (Meyer, 1769)

μεταμέλλομαι

metamellomai

Total KJV Occurrences: 6

repent, 3

2nd Corinthians 7:8 (2), Hebrews 7:21

repented, 3

Matthew 21:29, Matthew 21:32, Matthew 27:3

 

[iii] G3340 (Meyer, 1769)

μετανοέω

metanoeō

Total KJV Occurrences: 34

repent, 21

Matthew3:2 (2), Matthew4:17, Mark  1:15, Mark  6:12, Luke 13:3, Luke 13:5, Luke 16:30, Luke 17:3-4 (2), Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19, Acts 8:22, Acts 17:30, Acts 26:20, Revelations 2:5 (2), Revelations 2:16, Revelations 2:21-22 (2), Revelations 3:3, Revelations 3:19

repented, 11

Matthew11:19-21 (3), Matthew12:41, Luke 10:13, Luke 11:32, 2nd Corinthians 12:21, Revelations 2:21, Revelations 9:20-21 (2), Revelations 16:9, Revelations 16:11

repenteth, 2

Luke 15:7, Luke 15:10

 

[iv] G3341 (Meyer, 1769)

μετάνοια

metanoia

Total KJV Occurrences: 24

repentance, 24

Matthew3:8, Matthew3:11, Matthew9:13, Mark  1:4, Mark  2:17, Luke 3:3, Luke 3:8, Luke 5:32, Luke 15:7, Luke 24:47, Acts 5:31, Acts 11:18, Acts 13:24, Acts 19:4, Acts 20:21, Acts 26:20, Romans 2:4, 2nd Corinthians 7:9-10 (2), 2nd Timothy 2:25, Hebrews 6:1, Hebrews 6:6, Hebrews 12:17, 2nd Peter 3:9

 

[v] Mark 1:15; Luke 10:9; John 3:3

Mark 1:15

(15)  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Luke 10:9

(9)  And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

John 3:3

(3)  Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

 

[vi] Isaiah 40:3

(3)  The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.

 

[vii] Mark 7:4; Luke 11:38

Mark 7:4

(4)  When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.

Luke 11:38

(38)  When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner.

 

[viii] Ezekiel 37:1-14

(1)  The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.

(2)  Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry.

(3)  And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.”

(4)  Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

(5)  Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.

(6)  I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” ‘ “

(7)  So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone.

(8)  Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

(9)  Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ‘ “

(10)  So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

(11)  Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’

(12)  Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

(13)  Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.

(14)  I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ “

 

[ix] John 15:1-10

(1)  “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

(2)  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

(3)  You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

(4)  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

(5)  “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

(6)  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

(7)  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

(8)  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

(9)  “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

(10)  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

 

15:1-10 ABIDING IN CHRIST

•             “Abide in Me” says the Lord Jesus Christ (v4).

•             9 times in these verses, Jesus directly addresses our need to abide, remain in Him.  He does so in exhortation, and in admonition or warning.

•             v4 – The command to abide in Him is coupled with a warning of inability to produce fruit unless one does abide in Him (see Fruit, following).

•             v5 – Here we have a dual abiding – the Believer in Him and Him in the Believer.  The result of such a relationship being “much fruit.”

•             v6 – Here we have a very strong warning, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out… burned.”

•             v7 – Presents a conditional aspect of prayer.  See Prayer, following.

•             vv9-10 – The final 3 exhortations Jesus puts in relation to love.  This is parallel to what Jesus had said earlier (John 14:15-24 and related notes below).  Again Jesus equates obedience “keep my commandments” with “love.”

 

FRUIT

•             What is the fruit of which Jesus speaks in these verses?  Is it converts to Christ or Christianity as is popularly taught today?  Or is it something else?

•             It is something else and this can be seen by comparing Scripture with Scripture where one finds that “fruit” in a Believer’s life is the “fruit of the Spirit” which is described in Galatians 5:22-23 which corresponds to verses 2-6 here which speak of the fruit of abiding in Christ and Christ abiding in the Believer.  This is especially so as the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ are one and the same; see John 14:18 and note below.

•             Nowhere is the fruit of the Believer described in terms of “converts to the faith.”  On the other hand, converts are described as the work of God – 1st Corinthians 3:5-8 describes evangelism in agricultural terms and it is God who gives the increase, where believers are portrayed as gardeners.  This image corresponds in turn to that given by Jesus in passages such as Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:2-3, etc., where clearly, souls are the harvest to be brought in and believers the workers who are to bring it in.  But again, notice that the “harvest,” i.e., ready to be brought in “fruit” is not produced by the workers but merely brought into the barn.

•             Comparing passages such as John 15:1-6 here with Galatians 5:22-23 and others such as Matthew 3:7-8; 7:17-19; 12:33; Ephesians 5:9; Hebrews 12:11, etc., one sees that the fruit that should be produced in the life of a believer is not “converts” but rather, righteousness, holiness, the very life of Christ.

 

PRAYER

•             Note in v7 the conditional nature of answered prayer:

1.            Abiding in Christ and,

2.            Christ’s Word abiding in you.

•             One of the main aspects of abiding in Christ is union; a spiritual unity of mind and purpose.  Scripture shows us this in Christ’s own repeated references to His own being in the Father (cf. 14:10-11; 17:21) combined with His statements of doing only those works which He saw His Father do (5:19; 8:38) what His Father sent Him to do, (5:36), what His Father willed for Him to do (Matthew 26:39-42), which works are themselves evidence of the unity He proclaimed to have with the Father (10:25, 32).

•             Without this union, the promise of receiving what one asks for are not in effect.  That does not mean one will not receive what one asks, but without that abiding, without that obedience, there is no promise, no guarantee.

•             Additionally, this dual abiding will have a particular impact on what one does ask for – namely, one will ask according to the Father’s will as unity with God produces change in what a person desires.  This is the second part – Christ’s Word abiding in you, changing your heart and therefore the desires of it, cf. Psalms 119:9, 11; Ezekiel 36:26-27.

 

John 15:15-24

(15)  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

(16)  You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

(17)  These things I command you, that you love one another.

(18)  “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

(19)  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

(20)  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

(21)  But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.

(22)  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.

(23)  He who hates Me hates My Father also.

(24)  If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.

 

15:24     UNIQUE MIRACLES

•             Adapted from “Notes: Unclassified” MS pp. 21-22, written 9-15-05.

•             Jesus’ own statement about the uniqueness of the miracles He performed is clear, they were miracles “which no one else did.” (NASB, 1988)

This is in contrast to many other super [or not] natural signs and wonders performed either by the devil and his followers or simply by the power of suggestion.  Compare Exodus Chapters 7-8 where the Egyptian magicians performed the same first 3 miracles of Moses, rod to snake, water to blood, and frogs.

•             Jesus’ miracles over nature and sickness were also unique.  No “faith healer” past or present [with the exception of the Twelve Apostles] has ever performed the types of miracles Jesus performed, neither in quantity or quality.  Compare:

1.            Matthew 8:2 Healing – leprosy immediately.

2.            Matthew 9:20 healing – a hemorrhaging woman.

3.            Matthew 9:27 healing – a “withered” hand.

4.            Matthew 12:22 healing – a demon possessed deaf-mute.

5.            Matthew 20:30 healing – two blind men.

6.            Mark 7:31 healing – a deaf-mute.

7.            Mark 8:22 healing – a blind man.

8.            Luke 22:51 healing – by restoring a severed ear.

9.            John 5:1 healing – a long time cripple.

10.          John 9:1 healing –a man born blind.

11.          John 11:43 healing – death itself, raising a man who had been dead for 4 days!

The above are not all the miracles of Jesus; they are only those that in no way can be attributed to fakery or to the healing of psychosomatic illness or by power of suggestion (as is done today by using placebos, i.e., sugar pills.

•             In today’s age of televangelists who allegedly heal many people, not one documented case exists of a genuine, verifiable “miraculous” cure of a “genuine” physical illness, e.g., deformities [birth defects or resulting from accidents] blindness, etc.

 

John 14:18

(18)  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

 

14:18     THE SPIRIT OF GOD/CHRIST

•             Here we have another indication of the unity of the godhead.  Having just promised to send the “Helper,” the “Holy Spirit” cf. v26 and following, He then goes on to say, “I will … come to you.”

Granted this promise by the Lord Jesus Christ is not conclusive proof by itself of any specific unity between Christ and the Spirit.  However, when compared with other passages that clearly connect the Holy Spirit with God [the Father] and/or with Christ, it

 

[x] Revelation 20:15

(15)  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

20:14-14              THE SECOND DEATH

Death and Hades and all whose names are not in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire, the “second death.”

[xi] 1 Corinthians 3:9-15

(9)  For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.

(10)  According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.

(11)  For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

(12)  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

(13)  each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

(14)  If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.

(15)  If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

 

[xii] 1 Corinthians 5:1-5

(1)  It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles–that a man has his father’s wife!

(2)  And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.

(3)  For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.

(4)  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

(5)  deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

 

[xiii] Romans 9:6-8

(6)  But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,

(7)  nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “IN ISAAC YOUR SEED SHALL BE CALLED.”

(8)  That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.

 

9:6-9      BIOLOGICAL VS. SPIRITUAL

•             “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel…”

•             This statement by Paul negating mere physical descent as a factor in salvation parallels what God revealed through Moses in Genesis 24:36 in which Isaac, as the child of the promise (cf. Genesis 18:10) is the one who inherits all that Abraham had.  Likewise, it is the spiritual children of God, those whom God has chosen, who will inherit eternal life.

 

[xiv]

Matthew 7:13-14————————-             Wide Gate/Narrow Gate

Matthew 7:24-27————————-             Wise/Foolish Builders

Matthew 12:30—————————-            With/Against Christ

Matthew 13:38—————————-            Sons of God/Sons of the Devil

Matthew 13:40-43———————–             Burn/Shine

Matthew 25:1-13————————-             In/Out

Matthew 7:13-14

(13)  “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

(14)  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

 

7:13-14 TWO WAYS

●             Two ways!  There are only 2.  Two ways; two gates; two kinds; two destinies.

●             Two ways/gates – broad, by which many go; narrow, by which few go.  The way to God; the way to condemnation, cf. John 14:6

●             Two kinds (of people), sheep, and goats, spiritually alive and spiritually dead.  See also note to Matthew 3:12 preceding.

●             Two destinies/futures – eternal life and blessing, or death and cursing, cf. Deuteronomy 30:19.

               NARROW/DIFFICULT

●             In verse 14, the Greek term translated “narrow” (KJV, NASB, NV, 1599 GSB) is the term τεθλιμμενη, from Strong’s #2346, θλίβω, which is translated “narrow” only once.  Elsewhere, in the A.V., it is translated as “afflict” 3xs, “trouble” 4xs, “throng,” “suffer,” “tribulation” 1x each.  In the NKJV and the HCSB, it is rendered “difficult,” and in the NRSV, “hard.”

●             Tom Schaff, in his commentary on this verse, notes that it is the “way” that is being acted upon, that is to say, “the way is being afflicted.”  He then compares this with Jesus’ declaration that He is the way, cf. John 14:6, which then changes the focus from teaching that the way itself is difficult or that believers will have difficulty in the way (it is and they will, as is taught elsewhere), but rather, this teaches that it is through the affliction of Christ (the Way) that salvation is found and so, many do not find salvation because of their unbelief in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  The A.B. supports this idea, translating verse 14 as follows:

<< But the gate is narrow (contracted k by pressure) and the way is straightened and compressed that leads to life, and few there are who find it.  [Deuteronomy 30:19; Jeremiah 21:8]… k Alexander Souter, Pocket Lexicon.  >>

 

Matthew 7:24-27

(24)  “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

(25)  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

(26)  “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:

(27)  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

 

7:24-27 WISE OR FOOLISH

●             The wise man heeds the word of God; the foolish man does not.

 

Matthew 12:30

(30)  He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

 

12:30     TWO WAYS

●             You are with Him or against Him, whether by active or passive actions.  Cf. Matthew 3:12; 7:13 and related notes above.

 

               JESUS; GUILTY OF A “THINKING ERROR”?

●             According to today’s “psycho-babblers,” Jesus is guilty here of committing what they call a “Thinking Error;” the so-called error of “polarized” or “black or white” thinking.  They say that there is no such thing as only two and only two ways, i.e., for or against, when it comes to interpersonal relations/dynamics.  According to the psycho-babblers, such “all or nothing” thinking, as described here, is a thinking error, something that needs to be corrected, not believed.  With Paul, I say, let God be true and everyman a liar.

●             This type of thinking, e.g., “always”, “never,” “everybody,” etc., is also referred to as “over generalization.”

●             See also, Topical Notes, “Psycho-[Heresy]-logy.”

 

Matthew 13:38

(38)  The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.

 

Matthew 13:40-43

(40)  Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.

(41)  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,

(42)  and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

(43)  Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

 

13:38-43              TWO ONLY

●             Once again, Jesus teaches that there are only two kinds of people with only two possible destinies:

(1)          Sons of heaven (i.e., God), and sons of the wicked one (i.e., the Devil).

(2)          Shine with righteousness, or burn in fire.

 

Matthew 25:1-13

(1)  “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

(2)  Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

(3)  Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,

(4)  but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

(5)  But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

(6)  “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’

(7)  Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.

(8)  And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

(9)  But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’

(10)  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

(11)  “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’

(12)  But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

(13)  “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

 

25:1-13 PARABLE TO THE CHURCH

•             In this parable, told to His disciples, Jesus gives a warning not only to them, but to us in the Church today:  Be ready!

•             This parable is, in reality, to and about the Church.  The ten virgins represent organized Christianity, i.e., the visible church.  Five of the virgins represent the invisible Church, that is, those real Christians within the organized/visible church.  The other five represent those who are Christians in name only.

 

[xv] 1 Corinthians 1:18

(18)  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

 

 

[xvi] Exodus 8:23

(23)  I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.” ‘ “

 

8:23       GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IN ELECTION

•             By making a distinction between His people and the Egyptians, God is doing two things:

1.            He is exercising His sovereignty over mankind in election of one people over another

2.            He is teaching the spiritual truth that there are in fact only two kinds of people in the world – God’s people and the rest; saved/unsaved, elect/non-elect, sheep/goats, children of God/children of the devil.

•             See also Matthew 3:12 and note – “Two and Only Two.”

 

[xvii] Isaiah 64:6

(6)  But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

 

64:6       FILTHY RAGS

  • ALL our Righteousnesses, “all,” our “Righteousnesses,” plural, the best of the best that we can do on our own is nothing but filthy, disgusting, bloody, vile, putrid rags in His sight.  They are less than useless.  Oh, and for the record, Isaiah was speaking of the rags used before the days of modern tampons and/or feminine pads, of the rags used to bind the often gangrenous sores of lepers; today’s equivalent to the “filthy rags” of Isaiah would be “used” tampons.

 

[xviii] Mark 1:9-11

(9)  It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

(10)  And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.

(11)  Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

 

1:9-11    JESUS’ BAPTISM – WHY?

•             Why was Jesus Baptized if He was without sin?

If we compare Matthew’s account (Matthew 3:13-17) we find that Jesus answered John the Baptist’s very same question by saying, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  (Matthew 3:15).  Now John obviously knew what Jesus meant by that because he then proceeded to baptize Jesus.  But for us today, especially those of us of a “Gentile” (i.e., non-Jewish) background; it still begs the question, why?

The answer lies in the Old Testament; specifically in Leviticus, chapter 8, verse 6, the consecration of Aaron and his sons, as priests (cf. Exodus 20:1ff; 40:1-15) to serve the Lord as the representatives of the people.  – Note the role of priests was to act as “representatives of the people” not “representatives of God.”

•             Christ’s baptism is the fulfillment of this Old Testament type or shadow.  As Aaron and his sons’ consecrations as priests began with their ceremonial washing, so too with Christ; at the beginning of His ministry (at the age of 30, in conformance with the Law, see Numbers 4) Christ was baptized (ceremonially washed) and anointed by the Holy Spirit (cf.  Luke 4:18), this also in fulfillment of the Old Testament type (cf. Leviticus 8:10-12).  Thus, as our High Priest (cf. Hebrews 4:14) He fulfilled all righteousness.

Trinity

•             At Jesus’ baptism, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all present together.  Compare Matthew 3:16-17 and note; Luke 3:22.

Exodus 29:1-35

(1)  “And this is what you shall do to them to hallow them for ministering to Me as priests: Take one young bull and two rams without blemish,

….

(35)  “Thus you shall do to Aaron and his sons, according to all that I have commanded you. Seven days you shall consecrate them. (Ellipsis added for brevity.

 

Luke 4:18

(18)  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

 

Leviticus 8:10-12

(10)  Also Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them.

(11)  He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the laver and its base, to consecrate them.

(12)   And he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him.

 

Hebrews 4:14

(14)  Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

 

[xix] Luke 3:22

(22)  And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”.

 

3:22       THE TRINITY PRESENT

●             All three Persons of the Godhead were present at Jesus’ baptism; the Father, speaking from heaven, the Son in the water, and the Holy Spirit descending from heaven in the form of a dove.

●             This negates the heresy of modalism, that God is a trinity in mode not persons; that is to say, that there is one God who manifests in three different “modes” or “forms” but there is no distinction between them, the “modes” appearing or operating one at a time.

 

A copy of Chapter 3 of Matthew’s Gospel can be read by opening this link. 

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%203&version=NKJV

A Review of “Psyho-Heresy: The Psychological Seduction of Christianity”

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1244469.PsychoHeresy&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”PsychoHeresy: The Psychological Seduction of Christianity” border=”0″ src=”https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1387713672m/1244469.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1244469.PsychoHeresy”>PsychoHeresy: The Psychological Seduction of Christianity</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/304612.Martin_Bobgan”>Martin Bobgan</a><br/> My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/878841664″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br /> I first came across this book in 1995 or 96.  For some time I had been finding… conflicts, no not at first, more like little bothersome somethings that I couldn’t put my fingers on between what the Word of God said and what the “Christian” psychologists were saying. As time progressed and I became more versed in the Word, I began to come across genuine conflicts.  I knew early on, as a Christian, that Christians shouldn’t go to “worldly” psychologists/counselors (cf. Psa. 1:1 and elsewhere) but that “Christian” psychologists and counselors were different, they had been especially trained in the Word and psychology.  I had been told that “Christian” psychologists simply took the best of the truths about us that the “world” had discovered and used that as an “addition” to Scripture to counsel Christians who had mental illnesses.  Yeah, right.  Anyway, I had been finding more and more that the “counsel” offered by “Christian” psychologists/counselors based on theories devised by godless psychologists was more and more in conflict with that of God’s counsel through the Word by the Spirit.  It was after I came across this book that I had in one place all that I had been discovering piecemeal and more besides, things I had never yet considered.<br><br>I highly recommend any Believer to obtain this book (it’s available free from the PsyhoHeresy Awareness Ministries’ website, <a href=”http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>psychoheresy-aware.org</a>.  There are also a number of other Free books and resources available there for the person who is interested in a godly alternative to psychology and psychotherapy. <br/><br/> <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/20115092-michael-fernandez”>View all my reviews</a>

Meditations on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Chapter 2

Adapted from manuscript notes written from 2003 to 2010

By

Michael Fernandez

Posted Sunday, March 9, 2014

A detailed commentary on Matthew’s Gospel adapted from manuscript notes originally written between 2003-2010 and updated with newer information and improved references as the transcription process continues.  All Scriptures cited are from the New King James Version (NKJV/NKJ) unless otherwise noted

MATTHEW CHAPTER 2 COMMENTARY

2:1-6    BETHLEHEM

●          The scribes and priests knew the prophecies about the coming King/Messiah, but they had hitched their wagon, so to speak, to Herod’s train, denying their true Lord.  In this they proved the truth of God’s Word in Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Romans 3:10-12.[i]

A MESSIANIC PROPHECY FULFILLED

Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was prophesied in Micah 5:2[ii], sometime before the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC.

TIMELINE

●          Note the “in the days of Herod the king,” places Jesus’ birth not later than 4 BC, as that is the year that Herod died.

●          See notes to Matthew 1:25 [Previous post https://sovereigngracebroadcaster.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/meditations-on-the-gospel-according-to-saint-matthew-chapter-1/ and below][iii].

Additional Historical Note, cf. Luke 2:1-3[iv].  Cyrinius [a/k/a Quirinius] was made governor in 4BC according to some archeological findings.

2:11      Worship Him

●          As the Magi did, so we should do; fall on our knees and worship Christ the Lord.

●          That Scripture records this in a positive light is an argument for the deity of Christ, as only God is to be worshiped[v].

2:11 cont.         Fiction vs. Truth

●          Unlike the mythical image portrayed in most “Nativity scenes,” by the time of the Magi’s’ visit, Jesus was no longer in a manger “when they had come into the HOUSE [not “stable” or “manger”], they saw the YOUNG CHILD” [not “baby” or “infant”]; Jesus was a “young child,” possibly as old as 2 (cf. 2:16).  Joseph had found a place for his family to live by this time.

2:11 cont.         Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh & God’s Providential Care

●          Not only were the gifts of the wise-men, gifts appropriate for a king, but the timing of such valuable gifts is also worthy of note.  This is especially so in light of their coming just prior to Joseph and Mary having to flee to Egypt with their young son.

●          This is an excellent example of God’s providential care and direction of events in the lives of men.

Joseph, being a carpenter, would not normally have been a wealthy man (and he was in the norm here, cf. Luke 2:24 and note “Not Rich.”[vi]).  The sudden need to pack off his family and flee would have been a financial hardship, even staying within the same country where he might have received some help from friends and/or family.  Fleeing to another country, where they would have been complete strangers, would have been an economic disaster.  Yet God, in His wisdom, sent the Magi with the necessary provision for the coming journey.

●          God’s providence in directing the actions of the Magi, even to the choice of gifts to bring, is an example of God’s sovereignty in the affairs of man.

●          See also, Notes- Cross References, “The Sovereignty of God in…” [Future]

●          Note that though only 3 specific gifts are identified, this does not necessarily mean that they were the only gifts; more importantly however, it does not, in any way, state that there were only 3 wise men.  That is part of the mythology that has grown up around the Christmas tradition, much as the visit and gifts being presented to the Holy Family in the manger.  (See note above.)

2:15      A Messianic Prophecy Fulfilled

●          The return of Jesus and His family from Egypt fulfills Hosea 11:1[vii].

2:16      Murder Most Foul

●          Herod orders the murder of all male children born in Bethlehem and surrounding districts.  Compare this with Pharaoh’s order in Exodus 1:16, 22[viii].

●          Timing is everything.  At this time, Herod was the undisputed king of Israel.  Granted, Israel had been conquered by the Romans, under Pompey, some forty years earlier.  Nonetheless, under Roman policy, those conquered kingdoms which were inclined to be cooperative, retained a great deal of independence in managing their internal affairs.  Thus, Herod was able to give this despicable order to kill off any potential rivals to his throne; just so long as it had no effect on any Roman citizen or Roman policy/policies in general.

●          Had Christ been born as little as twenty years later, this event could not have happened, as the local rulers in Judea, then called Tetrarchs or governors, no longer had the right to exercise capital punishment without Roman approval, let alone order the mass murder of a bunch of children.  (See John 18:31 and note.[ix])

●          On a historical note:  A number of Bible commentators of the past, if they even mention the number, put the number around 15-30 slain.  This includes the surrounding region.  The lack of mention by Josephus is not surprising for a number of reasons; his being a zealous Jew, he would not normally make a big issue of something important to the “Christian” church, unless of course it was a really big deal.  This event, in light of many greater atrocities committed by Herod, is rather insignificant in the numbers involved.  Robinson’s Word Pictures entry is pretty much representative of what is written[x].

2:17-18 Prophecy Fulfilled

●          Herod’s actions bring the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:15[xi].

2:19      Herod’s Death

●          Herod died in 4 BC.

●          Due to an error when creating the “Christian” calendar we now use, the beginning of the calendar was off.  Rather than beginning with the year of Christ’s birth as year 1, it begins after.  How much after is a matter of debate.  We know that Jesus was born while Herod was alive, not later than 4 BC.  With Herod’s order to kill all male children 2 years of age and under, we have a lower limit of 6 BC.  So, while we cannot, with certainty, say when Jesus was born, Herod’s death and prior actions allows us to place His birth between 6-4 BC.

2:23      A Nazarene

●          This reference is to an unspecified, unrecorded prophecy.

●          Tom Schaff, in his commentary (see note to 1:1[xii]) suggests that this may be a reference to the Hebrew word nazir, meaning “separated,” cf. Deuteronomy 33:16[xiii].  This would certainly describe Jesus in His earthly life and ministry.  Separated from His family who did not believe (cf. John 7:5[xiv]), to save them like Joseph, cf. Genesis 42:6[xv]; and from the rest of humanity when He was alone on the cross.

ENDNOTE(S):


[i] The Depravity of man or man’s utter sinfulness will be a separate topical study published in the future.

Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Romans 3:10-12

Psalms 14:1-3

(1)  To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.

(2)  The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.

(3)  They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

Psalms 53:1-3

(1)  To the Chief Musician. Set to “Mahalath.” A Contemplation of David. The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.

(2)  God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.

(3)  Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

Romans 3:10-12

(10)  As it is written: “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE;

(11)  THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD.

(12)  THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; THEY HAVE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO, NOT ONE.”

[ii] Micah 5:2

(2)  “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

[iii] Matthew 1:25

(25)  and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

1:25 JESUS’ BIRTH – TIMING OF
● See also, Luke 2:1-2; 2:8 and related notes, for a more detailed discussion of the “when” of Christ’s birth.
● Compare also, John 18:31-32 and note, “Prophecy Fulfilled,” (below) regarding the timing of His advent.
● See also, note “Timeline” at 2:1-6 following.

TILL
● Joseph “did not know [have sexual relations with] her till she brought forth her firstborn Son.”
Joseph and Mary did have relations after Jesus’ birth. True, the Scriptures do not say so in so many words, but it is there for those who look. Compare Matthew 27:55-56 and note that the James listed there is the same “James the Lord’s brother: of Galatians 1:19.
● Had Mary remained a virgin her entire life, as is taught by the Roman Catholic church, the above statement would have been either incorrect, at the worst or, misleading, at the best.
○ The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Joseph was an older man who brought his own children into his marriage with Mary, making James and the others “stepbrothers,” not “half-brothers” of Jesus. They deny that he and Mary ever had sexual relations. Though that does seem, on the surface, to be a reasonable interpretation of what happened; it is incorrect nonetheless.
○ This is seen in the choice of the words, “till” and “firstborn” in relation to Joseph and Mary’s sexual relationship. Till, implies that there were relations later. Firstborn indicates-
a) That there were other children born to Mary, as if she had no others, “only” would have been a better, clearer term. And,
b) Is the limiting term defining the “when” to which the “till” refers.
● Where the Bible is silent, we had best, if not be silent, then, not be dogmatic. The Bible does not directly say that Joseph and Mary had relations, nor does it directly state that she remained a virgin her entire life. Both conclusions are based on how one interprets the Scripture passages relating to them. While I believe that the Reformed churches (Protestant) have the correct understanding, this is not an area in which brethren should divide. One is not saved or lost based on whether Mary did or did not have sexual relations with her husband after the birth of Jesus. Both Protestant and Catholic agree that she was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit as is expressly stated in Scripture.

John 18:31-32 and note, “Prophecy Fulfilled,”

(31)  Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,”

(32)  that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.

[iv] Luke 2:1-3

(1)  And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

(2)  This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.

(3)  So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

[v] ONLY GOD

Following are but a few of the many passages teaching that “worship” belongs only to God, that is to say Yahweh, Jehovah, God (as contrasted with “god” or “a god”), the Triune [Father, Son, Holy Spirit] God of the Bible and no one and nothing else.  Bear in mind, if God teaches something as being true one time, it is true and it is important that we take it serious and respond accordingly.  When God repeats His words on any given subject, that doesn’t make it “more” true, but it does mean that we need to be especially prudent in paying heed because it is doubtful that He repeats Himself just because He likes the sound of His own voice, but to get it through our thick skulls.That God would repeat this teaching about worshipping only Him is vitally important as it impacts a number of areas.

Exo_34:14  (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),

Mat_4:10  Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.’ ”

Luk_4:8  And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.’ ”

Rev_19:10  And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

That no one confuses the angel here [19:10]  and again in  22:8ff with Jesus who appeared first in n Rev_1:13  “and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.”  One must make note that the angel here [19:10] is “another angel” and not the Lord, cf. Rev_18:1  “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.”  And it is that angel who speaks with John throughout until the end of the vision with exception of 21:5-8 where the Lord is speaking, Beginning again at 21:5, John is in the company of the angel introduced in 18:1.

Rev_22:9  Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”  [See comment above to Rev 19:10]

[vi] Luke 2:24

(24)  and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.” (CAPS added for emphasis).

NOT RICH

●             Jesus did not come from a wealthy background as many “prosperity” preachers teach; His parents were so poor, they could only offer the minimum sacrifice mandated by law as the sacrifice for Mary’s cleansing.  Compare Exodus 13:2, 12, 15; Leviticus 12:8.

Exodus 13:2, 12, 15

(2)  “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.”

…..

(12)  that you shall set apart to the LORD all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the LORD’s.

…..

(15)  And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’

Leviticus 12:8

(8)  ‘And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons–one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’ ”

[vii] Hosea 11:1

(1)  “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.

[viii] Exodus 1:16, 22 NKJV

(16)  and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live…..  (22)  So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.”

[ix] John 18:31-32 NKJV

(31)  Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,”

(32)  that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.

18:31-32              PROPHECY FULFILLED

•             Two prophecies are fulfilled in Christ’s death at the hands of the Romans.

I.             The first involves the timing related to the coming of the Messiah [regarding which, I just saw an ad for a book by popular Pastor John Hagee in which he denies that Jesus came to be the Messiah, the book proves, “that Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah” (39 sec. mark http://mywordlikefire.com/2014/03/07/john-hagee-says-jesus-did-not-come-to-earth-to-be-the-messiah/).  Yeah, right.  And anyone who believes that, I have a bridge for sale in Boston].  Regarding the timing is this prophecy from Genesis.

•             Genesis 49:10

•             (10)  The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; ….

•             The “scepter” which is symbolic of ruling authority came to Judah in the time of King David and there it remained in one form or another throughout the kingdom years, the Babylonian exile – even those remaining behind were governed by their fellow Judahites – through the post-exile years until 6AD when Judah went from being an “independent associate kingdom” subject to Rome, to becoming a Roman province governed by a Roman Procurator or Governor according to Roman Law.  Judah thus lost the right to inflict capital punishment without prior approval from the Roman governor “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.”

•             Thus, the first prophecy of Genesis 49:10 limits the timing of the first Advent of the Messiah to a date prior to 6AD.  Jesus was born in 6-4BC.

•             The Second prophecy, related to the first was told by Jesus of how He would be killed by being crucified cf. John 8:18; 12:32-33.  This form of execution, while having its origins in the Persian practice of nailing or otherwise fastening the victim to a wagon wheel and torturing them to death, was taken and refined by the Romans into the form then practiced of lifting up the victim, fastened to an upright post (generally capped with a cross-piece in the form of a T or a t hence the term “cross”) where they were left to die.

•             Jesus’ “prophecy” spoken to the Disciples was not so much an original prophetic statement, but a reiteration of what He had revealed centuries earlier to King David. Compare Psalm 22, esp. vv14-18, and Isaiah 53, esp. vv.5-12 where death by [Roman style] crucifixion is described.

•             Just as prophesied a 1000 years earlier and again during His ministry, Jesus was “lifted up.”

[x] Robinson’s Word Pictures Entry

Matthew 2:16

Slew all the male children that were in Bethlehem (aneilen pantas tous paidas tous en Bēthleem). The flight of Joseph was justified, for Herod was violently enraged (ethumōthē lian) that he had been mocked by the Magi, deluded in fact (enepaichthē). Vulgate illusus esset. Herod did not know, of course, how old the child was, but he took no chances and included all the little boys (tous paidas, masculine article) in Bethlehem two years old and under, perhaps fifteen or twenty. It is no surprise that Josephus makes no note of this small item in Herod’s chamber of horrors. It was another fulfilment of the prophecy in Jer_31:15. The quotation (Mat_2:18) seems to be from the Septuagint. It was originally written of the Babylonian captivity but it has a striking illustration in this case also. Macrobius (Sat. II. iv. II) notes that Augustus said that it was better to be Herod’s sow (hus) than his son (huios), for the sow had a better chance of life.

[xi] Jeremiah 31:15

(15)  Thus says the LORD: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.”

[xii] Note to Matthew 1:1

1:1 PURPOSE

● Matthew’s apparent purpose in writing his gospel appears to be to reach the Jews. To show them Jesus as the prophesied Messiah, King of Scripture. This would account for his emphasis, from the start, on Jesus’ descent from the Patriarch Abraham and King David. There is also, his heavy emphasis on fulfilled prophecies. Matthew refers to and cites more Old Testament Scriptures than any of the other Gospel writers.

● Author Tom Schaff believes that the generally accepted view (above) is in error. He suggests the following alternative:

○ Matthew’s early reference to Jesus as being the Son of David and the son of Abraham are simply to establish His bona fides as the legitimate heir to the throne of God’s people and the one through whom the blessing promised to all the world through Abraham’s seed came.

○ Matthew’s heavy use of O.T. Scripture may have merely been an attempt to educate Gentile readers to the fact that this same Jesus is the One of whom the Scriptures spoke. As Schaff points out, Paul’s epistle to the Romans is full of O.T. Scripture quotations and references yet it was not addressed to Jewish believers but Gentile. All the Gospels record Jesus going almost exclusively to the Jews and only on a few occasions being involved with Gentiles. Additionally, the entire Gospel, as contained in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures, is for all people.

○ Matthew’s (need for) explaining the meaning of Hebrew words argues against a primary emphasis on the Jews (cf. Matthew 1:23; Matthew 27:33, 46).

○ The Bible itself says no such thing as that the Gospel of Matthew is or was intended primarily for Jewish readers. Therefore, as Schaff points out, any such conclusion is “a pointless exercise in conjecture.” Further, he writes, and I must agree, “we cannot say as fact things upon which the Bible is silent.”

[xiii] Deuteronomy 33:16 KJV+

(16)  And for the precious thingsH4480 H4022 of the earthH776 and fulnessH4393 thereof, and for the good willH7522 of him that dweltH7931 in the bush:H5572 let the blessing comeH935 upon the headH7218 of Joseph,H3130 and upon the top of the headH6936 of him that was separatedH5139 from his brethren.H251

“Separated” H5129 – נזר  /  נזיר

nâzı̂yr  /  nâzir

Total KJV Occurrences: 18

nazarite, 9

Num_6:2, Num_6:13, Num_6:18-21 (4), Jdg_13:5, Jdg_13:7, Jdg_16:17

nazarites, 3

Lam_4:7, Amo_2:11-12 (2)

undressed, 2

Lev_25:5, Lev_25:11

vine, 2

Lev_25:5, Lev_25:11

separate, 1

Gen_49:26

separated, 1

Deu_33:16

[xiv] John 7:5 NKJV

(5)  For even His brothers did not believe in Him.

[xv] Genesis 42:6 NKJV

(6)  Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth.

Chapter 2 of Matthew’s Gospel can be read by following this link: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%202&version=NKJV