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Matthew 16:5-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

Matthew 16:5-12 – Watch Out for the Leaven of False Teaching

|| Mark 8:14-21; Luke 12:1

MT16:5 Now the disciples arrived on the other side of the lake and they forgot to bring loaves of bread with them. MT16:6 So, Jesus told them, “Watch and pay attention regarding the leaven[1] of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” MT16:7 The disciples now carried on a dialogue among themselves, “We brought no loaves of bread.” MT16:8 Realizing what they were talking about, Jesus said to them, “Men of very small faith,[2] why are you having this dialogue just because you did not bring loaves of bread? MT16:9 Do you not perceive[3] or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many surplus baskets you gathered? MT16:10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many surplus baskets you gathered? MT16:11 Why do you not realize that I was not speaking about loaves of bread? Rather, be alert regarding[4] the ‘leaven’ of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” MT16:12 Then the disciples finally got the point that Jesus was not talking about the leaven of loaves but rather the teaching of[5] the Pharisees and Sadducees.

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[1] Leaven: Compare Mark 8:15 where Jesus includes the party followers of Herod; and, Luke 12:1 where “hypocrisy” is included. See notes on Matthew 13:33.

[2] Men of very small faith: See notes on Matthew 8:26.

[3] Do you not perceive: One gets the feeling that the miracle of feeding the crowds was more of an object lesson for the apostles.

[4] Be alert regarding: Jesus believed in Biblical Truth and made no effort to compromise his teachings with others. He wanted his disciples to pay close attention to what others taught and view as ‘leaven’ (or corrupt doctrines) those teachings or manners which did not line up with his own teachings.

[5] The teaching of: Jesus has mentioned three groups in this context. Regarding the Pharisees (self-righteous conservatives) Josephus records: “And so great is (the Pharisees’) influence with the masses that even when they speak against a king or high priest, they immediately gain credence.” [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 288 (x, 5)] “They believe that souls have power to survive death and that there are rewards and punishments under the earth for those who have led lives of virtue or vice: eternal imprisonment is the lot of evil souls, while the good souls receive an easy passage to a new life.” (Jewish Antiquities, XVIII, 14 [i, 3]) “Every soul, they maintain, is imperishable, but the soul of the good alone passes into another body, while the souls of the wicked suffer eternal punishment.… [The Pharisees] attribute everything to Fate and to God; they hold that to act rightly or otherwise rests, indeed, for the most part with men, but that in each action Fate co-operates.” [The Jewish War, II, 162, 163 (viii, 14)]

            Sadducees (liberal free-thinkers) ‘denied the workings of fate, maintaining that an individual, by his own actions, was solely responsible for what befell him.’ [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 172, 173 (v, 9)] They ‘rejected the many oral traditions observed by the Pharisees and also Pharisaic belief in the immortality of the soul and in punishments or rewards after death. In their dealings with one another, the Sadducees were somewhat rough. They were said to be disputatious. According to Josephus, their teachings appealed to the wealthy.’ [Jewish Antiquities, XIII, 298 (x, 6); XVIII, 16, 17 (i, 4); The Jewish War, II, 162-166 (viii, 14)]

            Herodians (political) are unknown in secular history but much involved in the politics of Jesus’ homeland. Compare Matthew 12:9-14; Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 20:21-26.

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Preceding

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

Matthew 13:33 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Fermented Whole

Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Matthew 16 Calvin’s view

Matthew 16 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 16:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Signs of the Times

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Politics and power first priority #3 Elevation of Mary and the Holy Spirit

In the previous articles we have seen that churchmen of the late third and early fourth centuries, such as Athanasius, reflected this influence as they formulated ideas that led to the Trinity. Their own influence spread, so that Morenz considers “Alexandrian theology as the intermediary between the Egyptian religious heritage and Christianity.”

The early days of Christianity

2.2.3. Politics and power first priority #3 Elevation of Mary and the Holy Spirit

Cybele, Ankara Museum

Montanus (? born in Ardaban (Misia) not for from Phrygia – 195) was first a priest of the Anatolian Earth Goddess Cybele.  Phrygia‘s State deity was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor, and spread from there to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies from around the 6th century BCE. In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater (“Great Mother”). The Roman State adopted and developed a particular form of her cult, and claimed her conscription as a key religious component in their success against Carthage during the Punic Wars.

When Montanus converted to  Christianity, at Ar­daoau he fell into a trance and began to “prophesy under the influence of the Spirit.” He was soon joined by two young women, Prisca, or Priscilla, and Maxirnilla, who also began to prophesy. He got the message that Christ would soon return and that the Holy Spirit would reign now.
As a prophet of God convinced that the Paraclete spoke through him Montanus proclaimed the towns of Pepuza and Tymion in west-central Phrygia as the site of the New Jerusalem, making the larger Pepuza his headquarters. His followers, the Montanists awaited, the coming of the Holy Ghost to take the place of the Son and announce a more perfect Gospel, made Him the object of an exclusive worship, which the Church had to repress.

Giving the Holy Spirit such an important place in adoration was as such not such a bad teaching to bring forth the third person in the godhead. The idea to transpose the function of Anatolian Mother Goddess  Cybele to Mary as mother of Christ, was very convenient, because now Mary could also be seen as the Magna Mater (“Great Mother”) or mother of God and could be adored. She now could belong to other figures to be but apart or made “holy” (‘set apart’ as sacred.[1])

More and more artefacts where used to bring adoration or placed in worship spaces. God detests statues or artefacts given shape by man for worship. In the Old Testament, votive offerings, the re­turn of which to profane use was strictly banned; such objects, destined for destruc­tion, thus became “accursed” as well as con­secrated. [2] The apostle Paul also considered such statues or stone carvings an abomination which should be ruled out. He spoke about something’s to be “denounced” [anathema] or accursed but also being “offered up to God”. Praying to statues was considered a crime for the first Christians.

Those who showed their love to pictures or statues did do something against the commandments of God and showed that they did not love Elohim the Most High God but were objects of loathing and execration to all holy beings. For the first Christians they were unrepentant of a crime that merits the severest condemnation and as such should not be considered any more as part of the ecclesia. They were exposed to the sentence of “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” for they did “not embrace saving beliefs, as was the sentence of all mankind before the atonement, justification and sanctification of the blood of Christ that allowed for the redemption of sins”. [3]

The use of the word “anathema” to signify a curse and forced expulsion from the com­munity of Christians was taken over and became the standard term in the church after St. Cyril of Alexandria pronounced his 12 anathemas against the heretic Nestorius (in 413 CE). In the 6th cen­tury, anathema came to mean the severest form of excommunication that formally sepa­rated a heretic completely from the Christian Church and condemned his doctrines; minor excommunications, while prohibiting free reception of the sacraments, obliged the sinner to rectify his sinful state through the sacra­ment of Penance.

File:Svenskaya.jpg

SS. Anthony and Theodosius with the Theotokos Panachrantos, an 11th-century icon from the Svensky Monastery. Tretyakovkaja Gallery. – 11 Century

In the 4° century they liked the idea of the adoration of the Holy Spirit and the Magna Mater or Theotokos, the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include ‘God-bearer ‘ and ‘the one who gives birth to God’. The Council of Ephesus decreed, in opposition to those who denied Mary the title Theotokos (“the one who gives birth to God”)[4] but called her Christotokos (“the one who gives birth to Christ”). Athanasius of Alexandria in 330, Gregory the Theologian in 370, John Chrysostom in 400, and Augustine all used theotokos.[5]

Next to the incarnation of God now the Spirit would also come onto the earth and could be adored or worshipped. In 380 the anathemas [6]pronounced by Pope Damasus, in the Fourth Council of Rome, condemned whosoever should deny that the Holy Ghost must be adored like the Father and the Son by every creature (Denzinger, Enchiridion, n. 80). These anathemas were renewed by Celestine I and Virgilius, and the ecumenical council of 381 in its symbol, which took its place in the liturgy, formulated its faith in the Holy Ghost, “Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.” These expressions indicate the unity of the adoration of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; that is, that one or the other Person of the Trinity may be adored separately but not to the exclusion of the other two.

The idea of a Trinity, which, since the Council of Nice, and especially through Basil the Great (370), had become the Catholic dogma was of course not only regarded by Jews as antagonistic to their monotheistic faith . Real students of the Bible found no reason to go into such a teaching. For them the Bible was clear with words like the ‘son of God’. It became even worse when certain Christians took this Three-Une God, ‘God the son’ ‘God the Father’ together with “the Holy Ghost [”Ruaḥ ha-Ḳodesh”] as conceived of as a female being,” having their parallels in all the heathen mythologies.[7]


[1] In this sense the form of the word was once (in plural) used in the Greek New Testament, in Luke 21:5, where it is rendered ‘gifts.’

[2] Old Testament descriptions of reli­gious wars call both the enemy and their be­seiged city anathema inasmuch as they were destined for destruction.

[3] Alternatively, the Apostle Paul could be suggesting that those who do not love the Lord should be offered up to God.

[4] For some Mary gave birth to Jesus, who would be the god of eternity, being both God and man, divine and human and therefore the child born ‘tokos’ from God ‘Theos’ or Theotokos.

[6] Offerings or precious Gifts made to God

[7] As has been shown by many Christian scholars, such as Zimmern, in his “Vater, Sohn, und Fürsprecher,” 1896, and in Schrader’s “K. A. T.” 1902, p. 377; Ebers, in his “Sinnbildliches: die Koptische Kunst,” 1892, p. 10; and others.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=489&letter=C&search=Christianity

  • The Doctrine Of The Trinity (justsimplyinlove.wordpress.com)
    Christians regards their religion as monotheistic, since Christianity teaches the existence of one GodYahweh, the God of the Jews. It shares this belief with two other major world religions, Judaism and Islam.
  • Advent Series 2012, Pt. 4 | Mary: The Mother of God (thereformedwesleyan.com)
    She was a simple and frail human being just like the rest of us. I think that there are some within the Christian family that have gone too far in seeking to praise Mary for her role in the Christmas story. However, I do believe that those of us on the other side of the family do not go far enough in recognizing the remarkable fact that Mary was the one chosen for this sacred task.
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    The first characteristic Mary demonstrated was humility.
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    The second characteristic that Mary demonstrated in this short exchange was acceptance.
  • Mary & Joseph (findingchristinchristmas.wordpress.com)
    In real life we see out-of-wedlock births all the time. Plus, we witness all the consequences thereafter to one extent or another.But, how miraculous that God chose Jesus to be born this way.
  • Fatherhood: One Reason the Holy Trinity Matters (gregoryccochran.com)
    The Holy Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, operating in complete unity of will and purpose (though 3 distinct, divine persons)–is unique to Christian theology. The Trinity belongs to no other religion, and, thus, no other religion can explain the complexities of the universe.
  • YOUCAT(38) Who is the “Holy Spirit”? (mycubao.org)
    When we discover the reality of God in us, we are dealing with the working of the Holy Spirit.
  • Advent: The First Baby Shower Unites Women on the Margins (wholeness4all.wordpress.com)
    In America, baby showers are times for women to come together and celebrate new life; presents are exchanged, advice given, and games played. Mary and Elizabeth celebrated the new life within them by exchanging presents of joy, encouragement, song, and prophecy. Both women were carrying children of promise: one would pave the way and the other would be the way.
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    during this season of Advent, let us remember that the Gospels included everyday people who God used in extraordinary ways.
  • Charles Stanley: 10 Ways to Know You’re Following the Holy Spirit (promisebook.net)
    Not sure if you’re being led by the Spirit? Here are a few key Scriptures to help discern.
  • Hail Mary, Full of Grace – Advent Meditation (mccatholic.com)
    There is a tendency in Protestant and many Anglican circles to overlook Mary.  We see her in Nativity scenes and on Christmas cards.  We sometimes hear the Ave Maria sung or played at this time of year, but there is often such a fear of treading on ground that is considered Roman Catholic that many Christians miss out on the great lessons that the Mother of our Lord and the Mother of the Holy Church has to teach us.  Many of us have been brought up in circumstances and backgrounds that, if not directly, then indirectly, lead us to feel that any honor or veneration paid to Mary was an act of worship and therefore wrong and sinful.

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