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Matthew 21:18-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: A Cursed Fig Tree a Lesson in Faith

Matthew 21:18-22 – A Cursed Fig Tree a Lesson in Faith

|| Mark 11:12-14, 20-24

MT21:18 Early in the morning when they were returning to Jerusalem Jesus felt hungry.[1] MT21:19 When he saw a fig tree he went to pick some figs but he found only leaves.[2] Jesus spoke to the fig tree, saying, “No longer will you bear any fruitage[3] to the eon.”[4] And the fig tree withered instantly. MT21:20 Now when the disciples saw this they wondered, asking, “How did the fig tree whither instantly?” MT21:21 But Jesus answered them: “I tell you this truth: If you [disciples][5] have faith and never doubt,[6] you not only can do the same to a fig tree, but also you could tell this mountain, ‘Rise and plunge into the sea!’ – and it will occur. MT21:22 Indeed, everything, anything you request[7] in a prayer of faith – you [disciples] will receive it.”

*

[1] Jesus felt hungry: Something God cannot feel for then He would lack and depend on something else. Though this is the motive given for what follows we suspect something deeper: an object lesson for his disciples. We wonder the reason Matthew includes this and omits the resurrection of Lazarus.

[2] He found only leaves: Mark 11:13 adds, “… for it was not the season of figs.” It is early spring (Passover). We might wonder if Jesus were God he would not have to approach the tree to see if there were figs. A larger lesson is going on.

[3] No longer will you bear any fruitage: Or, RIEU: may you be barren; NEB: you will never bear fruit any more.

[4] To the eon: The Greek is EIS TON AIONA and though some translate this “forever” it would seem Jesus meant for the rest of the life of the tree. See NEB.

[5] If you [disciples]: The Greek is plural and so this is directed to the apostles.

[6] Have faith and never doubt: See the notes on Matthew 17:20. The lesson is faith. We note Jesus does not perform a miracle to produce figs so ease his hunger.

[7] Everything, anything you request: We do not suspect the apostles thought this was a frivolous request but something like a “mountain” related to their commission from their Lord. From a historical retrospective the idea that an unknown carpenter from Nazareth could create such an affect upon mankind would be much larger than any mountain. Throughout his ministry one of the Nazarene’s goals must have been the building of faith among his disciples. They would need a world-changing faith to accomplish the work before them and endure centuries of Holocaust.

 

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Preceding

Matthew 21:1-3 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Sent Ahead for a Donkey

Matthew 21:4-5 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Your King Is Coming upon a Donkey

Matthew 21:6-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Blessed the One Coming in God’s Name!

Matthew 21:10-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Who Is This?

Matthew 21:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Temple Cleansed

Matthew 21:12-14 – From a den of thieves to a house of prayer

Matthew 21:15-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Out of the Mouth of Babes

 

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Further related

  1. Mustard Seed Meditation
  2. Will America join the graveyard of nations?
  3. Matthew 21:22
  4. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer
  5. Faith
  6. Immediate AnswerToday’s Word With Joel & Victoria Osteen – Positioned To ReceivePowerful Generator
  7. Prayer for Restoring Health

Matthew 19:16-24 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Difficulty of Rich Entering the Kingdom

Matthew 19:16-24 – Difficulty of Rich Entering the Kingdom

|| Mark 10:17-25; Luke 18:18-25

MT19:16 And, look! a [young] person[1] approached Jesus, asking, “Teacher, what good shall I do[2] so that I might have everlasting life?”[3] MT19:17 Jesus told him, “Why do you ask me about some ‘good’?[4] [Only] One is ‘good’.[5] But if you wish to enter Life,[6] observe the commandments.”[7] MT19:18 This person answered, “Which [commandments]?” Jesus responded: “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false testimony,’ MT19:19 ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Exodus 20:13-16] MT19:20 The young man told Jesus, “I have guarded myself regarding all of these.[8] What more am I lacking?”[9] MT19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish perfection[10] leave and sell your belongings[11] and give to the poor[12] – then you will have treasure in heaven – and [then] come be my follower.”[13] MT19:22 But having heard this statement the young man departed very depressed,[14] for he had many possessions.[15] MT19:23 Now Jesus told his disciples, “I tell you this truth: Rich people will only enter the Realm of Heaven with great difficulty.[16] MT19:24 In addition I tell you this: It is easier for a camel to enter through a needle’s eye[17] than for rich people to enter the Realm of Heaven.”

*

[1] A [young] person: Revealed in verse 20.

[2] Teacher, what good shall I do: Mark 10:17 adds, “… a certain man ran up and fell upon his knees before him and put the question to him: ‘Good Teacher, what must I do…’” He addresses Jesus as “Good Teacher.” Luke 18:18 adds, “… a certain (religious) ruler.” Therefore, a young rabbi. The Received Text (KJV) has, “Good Teacher.”

[3] Everlasting life: The Greek is ZOEN AIONION. Or, KJV: eternal life; RHM: life age-abiding; TCNT: immortal life; BECK: everlasting life. See word studies else where by researching AION or everlasting life.

[4] Why do you ask me about some ‘good’: This response has resulted in much commentary. If Jesus were “God” one wonders why he would resist a title with the word “good” in it. The Lesson of Eden is that only Yehowah can determine what is ‘good’ and this is not the responsibility of Messiah. Research the word good or AGATHOS (from which the name Agatha comes). Note that the Nazarene’s response is to point to the Ten Commandments and the Law. He does not originate his own philosophy.

[5] [Only] One is ‘good’: Or, KJV: none is good but one, that is, God; ASV: One there is who is good; KNX: God is good, and he only; WMS: there is only one who is perfectly good; ABUV: One is the Good. The subject is absolute or ultimate Good. No one would argue that Jesus was no a “good man.” Note John 7:12. Compare also how others are described as “good.” (2 Samuel 18:27; Proverbs 14:14) Jesus recognizes there are good people (Matthew 12:35; Luke 6:45; Romans 5:7). Surely Jesus refers to his Father, Yehowah.

[6] To enter Life: It may be argued that “Life” here is something like John 5:24 and 1 John 3:14. Thus “Life” means the new Life within the Realm of Heaven – the Church. Others will limit it to that future Life though both may be include.

[7] Observe the commandments: It is possible Jesus speaks to a young Jewish rabbi. Note the commandments Jesus lists. It will startle some what he has omitted in a list of his own choosing: the Name and the Sabbath. Jesus goes on to quote Exodus 20:13-16 then skipping back to Exodus 20:12. He also quotes what he calls late the Second Greatest Commandment: Leviticus 19:18.

[8] I have guarded myself regarding all of these: The KJV version adds: “… from my youth up.” Or, ASV: all these things have I observed; WEY: carefully obeyed.

[9] What more am I lacking: Or, NEB: where do I still fall short; BER: how do I still fall behind; WEY: what more is required. One wonders if there is some self-righteous hypocrisy here. However, Paul himself claims such rigorous righteousness or obedience to the law (Philippians 3:6).

[10] If you wish perfection: Or, KNX: if thou hast a mind to be perfect; NEB: if you wish to go the whole way; NASB: to be complete. To the Nazarene spiritual perfection will involve charity. See notes on Matthew 5:48. – Perfect: This is the Greek word TELEIOI from TELOS (= “end”) and may be rendered “complete, mature, fulfilled.”

[11] Leave and sell your belongings: Or, RHM: withdraw! sell thy substance; go and sell your possessions. Note how in Luke 12:32, 33 Jesus tells his “little flock” the same thing. Note their response in Acts 2:44, 45; Acts 4:34-37.

[12] Give to the poor: The man could divest himself of his possessions in any manner of ways: giving it to his family, hiding investments. Jesus gives no hint that he expects the man to contribute to him though never was there a poorer man on earth (2 Corinthians 8:9). The young rabbi must say goodbye to all his belongings – strip himself from material attachment and desire.

[13] And [then] come be my follower: Note he must do this before becoming a follower or disciple of Jesus. It is possible “follower” means a member of the Nazarene’s private entourage of apostles.

[14] The young man departed very depressed: Or, KJV: he went away sorrowful; NASB: he went away grieved; KNX: sad of heart; RIEU: in gloom; WMS: in deep distress; PME: crestfallen. We watch our Lord’s eyes as he follows the young man as he leaves and we note a slight expression of pity. We would like to know the future of this young rabbi. Did he follow later, become an angry opposer screaming for crucifixion, or merely indifferent. We wonder at his death what thoughts he must have had.

[15] Many possessions: Or, NASB: owned much property; NEB: a man of great wealth; BECK: very rich.

[16] Rich people will only enter the Realm of Heaven with great difficulty: Perhaps of all the teachings of the Nazarene this is the one most disliked by western capitalist society. While the world struggles to be rich Jesus warns of the great difficulty in such conflicting lifestyles and ideals. Compare the notes on Matthew 5:42 and Matthew 6:25. Or, KJV: a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven; ASV: it is hard for a rich man; MON: a rich man will find it difficult. Though the celestial realm of God is the final goal, Jesus makes it clear that it will be very hard for a rich person to become a Christian and gain membership in the Realm of Profession. Note Paul’s counsel to the rich at 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Throughout the Gospel Age there have been wealthy Christians who gave all to help others, while others used their riches to forward the Gospel message. Research the words rich and riches. In Bible terms “rich” means having a surplus (Mark 12:44; 2 Corinthians 8:14).

[17] Camel to enter through a needle’s eye: The Lamsa translation of the Aramaic has this ‘a rope through the needle’s eye.’ Some understand it is the difficulty a camel has in crawling through a very narrow gate to enter a city. It must get on its knees and move forward with difficulty. The Nazarene does not say it is impossible nor does he rule it out altogether. He just says it will be difficult for a rich person to give attention to discipleship while torn over riches. The conflict between love and greed is the struggle between self and others.

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Preceding

Matthew 19:1-2 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: From Galilee to Judah

Matthew 19:3-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Grounds for Divorce

Matthew 19:3-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Grounds for Divorce – additional verses

Matthew 19:10-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Celibacy

Matthew 19:13-15 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Kingdom Belongs to Child-like

Matthew 13:18-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Seed and Soil

Matthew 13:18-23 – Parable of the Seed and Soil

|| Mark 4:13-20; Luke 8:11-15

MT13:18 “So, you [disciples], listen [to the meaning] of the parable[1] of the Sower. MT13:19 Anyone hearing the kingdom message[2] and failing to understand,[3] the Evil One[4] comes and steals[5] those things sown in the heart[6] – this is the seed sown beside the road. MT13:20 Now, the seed sown on the gravel – this is a person who at first hearing accepts [the message] with joy.[7] MT13:21 But, because of having no inner roots nothing lasts,[8] for as soon as oppression or persecution[9] occurs because of the message[10] the person stumbles.[11] MT13:22 Now, the one sown among thorns – this is the person who hears the message[12] but the anxieties of that Period[13] and deceptive riches[14] choke the message[15] and the person is unproductive.[16] MT13:23 However, the seed sown in good soil – this is the person who hears the message and understands and actually is productive:[17] one person a hundred times, another person sixty times, and another thirty times.”

*

[1] Listen [to the meaning] of the parable: Or, WEY: I will explain the parable. Evidently only directed to his disciples.

[2] Kingdom message: TCNT: the Message of the Kingdom; KNX: the word by which the kingdom is preached. This is the “word” (LOGOS) about the Realm of Heaven: the opportunity for membership within the realm of profession.

[3] Failing to understand: Or, NJB: without understanding; KIT: not comprehending; NWT: does not get the sense of. It is difficult to accept that the literal words carry the exact meaning. It is possible the Nazarene’s intent is: ‘hearing the message without attempting to understand it.’ Mark 4:15 omits the part about failing to understand. Luke 8:12 merely has “heard.”

[4] Evil One: The Greek is PONEROS. Or, KJV: wicked one.

[5] Steals: The Greek is HARPAZEI which means to “snatch” or “grab.” Or, GDSP: robs him; KJV: catcheth away; ASV: snatcheth away. The word is related to that one in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and the Rapture. Compare also Philippians 2:6.

[6] Things sown in the heart: GDSP: sown in his mind. Something has germinated but likely this person only shows a cursory interest without the inner person being moved to further effort. There is an initial interest but for a variety of self-rationalizations the kingdom theme does not strike a cord in the heart.

[7] At first hearing accepts [the message] with joy: Or, KJV: and anon with joy receiveth it; TCNT: at once accepts it joyfully; MOF: with enthusiasm. There is some follow through by this person who hears and “receives” the kingdom message – but without conviction. Luke 8:12, “they may not believe and be saved.” There may be a degree of interest resulting in joyful gladness. How far this disciple matures is not explained (Luke says there is no belief) but it appears this is a neophyte about to face realities.

[8] Having no inner roots nothing lasts: Literally, this may read: “but he has no root in himself but is transitory.” (UBSInt) Or, KJV: hath not root in himself; GDSP: takes no real root; NEB: strikes no root. Whatever initial joy the person had in the kingdom message no serious effort was forthcoming to cause the “word” to take hold. Some take up Christian discipleship but within a short time run out of enthusiasm. “Nothing lasts” may also be rendered: KJV: dureth for a while; TCNT: stands for only a short time; RIEU: he cannot hold out long. Mark 4:15 has it, “they continue for a time.” And, Luke 8:12, “they believe for a season.” The Christian walk is not a sprint but a marathon. It has been observed that many Christians “last” only three years before slowing down with some grinding to a halt. Consider word studies on endurance.

[9] Oppression or persecution: The Greek for “oppression” is THLIPSEOS (Matthew 24:20, 21) and here related to “persecution.” Or, WEY: when suffering comes. Luke 8:13 has this, “a season of testing.” From the very beginning Christianity knew only persecution and oppression. Despite the joy of accepting the kingdom message the high cost of discipleship takes its toll.

[10] Because of the message: The reason for the oppression or tribulation is not that caused by Life itself. The difficulties are related to the kingdom message.

[11] The person stumbles: Or, KJV: is offended; WEY: turns against it; MOF: at once repelled; RIEU: promptly recants; NOR: at once gives it up. The Greek is SCANDALIZETAI. Luke 8:13 has it, “they fall away (or, stand off).” A word study, stumble or stumblingblock.

[12] Hears the message: This disciple listens but will come against other problems.

[13] The anxieties of that Period: The Greek may also mean “overly concerned.” The word “period” is rendered from the Greek AIONOS which is also rendered: KJV: world; RHM: age; TCNT: life. Each age or period of human history and existence has its own particularly anxieties or concerns. Those of Jesus’ period may not be the same as in the modern period. On the matter of anxiety or being overly concerned see notes on Matthew 6:20-33. GDSP: the worries of the time. Luke 8:14 has it, “by being carried away by anxieties.”

[14] Deceptive riches: Or, KJV: the deceitfulness of riches; TCNT: the glamour of wealth; LAM: the deception caused by riches; MOF: the delight of being rich; RIEU: the lure of riches. The word “rich” describes that person with a surplus and the leisure time that goes with it. Jesus uses the words often and it is worthy of a word study on rich, riches, or, money. The word “rich” is also an interesting one to explore in an unabridged dictionary. Compare 1Timothy 6:17-19. Luke 8:15 adds, “pleasures of this life.” And, Mark 4:18 includes, “the desires for the rest of the things.” (Compare 1 John 2:15-17)

[15] Choke the message: Or, strangle, smother; BAS: put a stop to.

[16] The person is unproductive: Or, KJV: unfruitful; TCNT: it gives no return. Compare John 15:1-10; 2 Peter 1:5-8. What fruit or produce is Jesus expecting? Surely the main emphasis is on what a person does with the kingdom message regarding others. It would seem likely that it would also involve “fruitage of the spirit” and its manifestations (Galatians 5:22, 23).

[17] Hears the message and understands and actually is productive: There are three parts here: listening to the kingdom message, achieving some understanding or comprehension, and then bearing fruitage or evidence the message has taken root. Or, TCNT: really yields a return; BECK: goes on producing good things. Note, however, that this production or fruitage is not the same for all genuine Friends of the Nazarene (John 15:14). Like the “widow’s mite” it depends on individuality and circumstances, as well as a heart driven by faith. Perhaps one of the most outstanding examples of producing a hundred-fold is the apostle Paul (Romans 1:13). Paul defines Christian fruitage: Sharing (Romans 15:27, 28; Philippians 1:22); holiness (Romans 6:21); goodness, righteousness, truth (Ephesians 5:9); good work ad knowledge (Colossians 1:10); praise and charity (Hebrews 13:15).

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Preceding

Matthew 5:38-42 – 5. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 21:24

Matthew 13 – Parables on Kingdom mysteries

Matthew 13:1-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable: the Soil and the Seed

Matthew 13:10-15 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Why Speak in Parables?

Matthew 13:16-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Happy Eyes and Ears

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Related

  1. Spiritual Plague-the blindness of mechanical religion
  2. Are You Too Busy?

Matthew 12:31-32 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Blasphemy against the Pneuma

Matthew 12:31-32 – Blasphemy against the Pneuma

|| Luke 12:10

MT12:31 “Because of this I tell you: Every human sin[1] and blasphemy[2] will be canceled,[3] but blasphemy against the Pneuma[4] will not be canceled. MT12:32 And so whoever speaks a word against the Son[5] of Humankind – it will be canceled. However, anyone who speaks against the Holy Pneuma,[6] it will not be canceled – not in this Age,[7] nor in the New Age.[8]

*

[1] Every human sin: This is the first case of the word “sin” from Jesus’ mouth. The word occurs only 3 times in Matthew (See Matthew 18:15, 21).

In cartoons and comics, profanity is often depicted by substituting symbols for words (“grawlixes” in the lexicon of cartoonist Mort Walker)

[2] Blasphemy: The Greek is BLASPHEMIA and is also rendered: RHM: profane speaking; TCNT: slander; GDSP: abusive speech; WEY: impious word.

[3] Canceled: The Greek is APHETHESETAI. See the notes on Matthew 6:12. Often translated “forgive.” In the case of judgment it means: Not Guilty; or, Guilty. Strong’s’ No. 863; aphiemi {af-ee’-ay-mee} Word Origin: from 575 and hiemi (to send, an intens. form of eimi, to go); Word Usage in KJV: leave, 52; forgive, 47; suffer, 14; let, 8; forsake, 6 let alone, 6; misc, 13.

[4] Blasphemy against the Pneuma: Note, the Nazarene says nothing about ‘blasphemy against God.’ How could one sin against Jesus (if he were The God) and not against the holy spirit? Jesus uses Pneuma as the unseen power of God. It is the same as sinning against God Himself. It is abusive speech against God’s way of doing things and those upon whom He has placed His Pneuma. Note the words of the Pharisees: they accuse of Jesus’ work as that of the Devil! Many have pained themselves out of dread they have sin against the spirit. If some so condemn themselves, it is likely they have not sinned so. Those who have blasphemed God have no repentance (Hebrews 6:4ff).

[5] Speaks a word against the Son: Note what comes later about how a person’s words either justify or condemn. Even abusive speech against the Son may be forgiven. Many have used “Jesus Christ” as a profane curse or “swear word.” Jews throughout the age have spoken against Jesus and cursed his name. Even this is forgiven.

[6] Speaks against the Holy Pneuma: Note what the Pharisees have done: they have called someone anointed with the spirit as demonized – under the influence of Satan. The speech is not against the Pneuma directly but that agent of God’s unseen spiritual pressure that accomplishes His will. This is very similar to Matthew 5:22 – addressing a genuine servant of God as an “apostate.” See notes on Matthew 5:22.

[7] Age: The Greek is AIONI. The closest English word is eon, aeon. So the closest would be, “this eon or that to come.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines it as, 1) for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity; 2) the worlds, universe; 3) period of time, age. The word occurs many times with a wide range of meaning. Other renderings are: KJV: this world; TCNT: present age; NWT: system of things. There are two ages from Jesus’ standpoint: this one, and the next.

[8] New Age: Inferred. Or, KJV: world to come; TCNT: the age to come.

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Preceding

Matthew 12:1-8 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Something Greater than the Temple

Matthew 12:9-21 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Is It Lawful to Cure on the Sabbath?

Matthew 12:22-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: the Charge of Demonism

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Additional reading

  1. There can only be hope when there is a will to be and say “I am”
  2. Icons and crucifixes
  3. Americans their stars, pretension, God, Allah and end of times signs #1 Abrahamic religions

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Related

  1. You Have Just Learned the Secret of All of Life, and Seen into Infinity
  2. On Purpose
  3. Jesus is the one!
  4. New Age Quackery?
  5. Wednesday 5/2 ~ People are asking, “Who is the Higher Power?”.
  6. The Search for Truth
  7. Have You Committed the Unpardonable Sin?
  8. Matthew 12, Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath,blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the sign of Jonah, Jesus’ brothers and sisters.
  9. Blasphemy
  10. On blasphemy
  11. The root of blasphemy
  12. The Status Quo as Blasphemy of the Spirit
  13. Jesus and Beelzebub
  14. Wednesday 3/28 ~ The Holy Spirit is what?
  15. Blasphemy is an offence in a part of the UK!

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