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Matthew 11:7-15 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 3 John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

Matthew 11:7-15 – John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

|| Luke 7:24-28

MT11:7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus started to tell the crowds regarding John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?[1] A breeze rattling some willows?[2] MT11:8 But, what did you go to see? A human dressed in soft clothes? Look! Those who wear soft clothes[3] are in royal houses. MT11:9 But, why did you come out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet.[4] MT11:10 This person is the one about whom it has been written,[5] ‘Look! I am sending forth My messenger[6] before your person. He will prepare your way ahead of you.’ [Isaiah 40:3] MT11:11 I tell you this truth: None generated by women have been raised up who are greater than[7] John the Baptist. But, a lesser person[8] in the Realm of the Heavens[9] is greater than John. MT11:12 From the days of John the Baptist right up until now the Realm of the Heavens is being zealously pursued[10] and those in energetic pursuit are grabbing for it. MT11:13 For the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.[11] MT11:14 And, if you wish to accept it – John is Elijah,[12] the one who was to come. MT11:15 Let the person with ears listen.”[13]

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File:Accademia - St John the Baptist by Titian Cat314.jpg

St John the Baptist by Titian, Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

[1] What did you go out into the wilderness to see: We have learned earlier that all Judea went out into the desert to see this strange prophet who dressed primitively and eat honey and locusts.

[2] A breeze rattling some willows: Possibly a bit of sarcasm? Others render this phrase: KJV: a reed shaken with the wind; RIEU: a reed swaying in the wind; NEB: a reed-bed swept by the wind. As a metaphor John the Baptist could not be characterized like a reed-willow easily blown about (Ephesians 4:14). Rather, he was stalwart and firm – even dogmatic.

[3] Soft clothes: John was dressed roughly in harsh clothing. His clothes and manner must have attracted inquisitive crowds wondering about this strange man. The phrase is rendered by others: WMS: silks and satins; NJB: fine clothes.

[4] More than a prophet: The Bible is fill with “prophets” of the two types: the one foretelling events and the one declaring God’s righteous will. The word “prophet” occurs over 500 times in the Bible. Jesus makes clear the Baptist is more than just a prophet and he now explains what he means. The idea of saying that someone is more or greater than another is something Jesus uses several times. Compare Matthew 12:41, 42; Luke 11:31, 32.

[5] It has been written: Jesus quotes Isaiah 40:3.

[6] My messenger: Literally the Greek is “my angel.”

[7] Who are greater than: John the Baptist is at least equal to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, or Elijah.

[8] A lesser person: The Greek is MICROTEROS and is rendered: KJV: least; ASV: little; PME: humble.

[9] In the Realm of the Heavens: It is possible this phrase is limited to that Realm of Profession, or the territory or domain over which Lord Messiah reigns – his congregation of disciples. In other words: the most humble member of the Christian Church is greater than John the Baptist and therefore greater than all the ancient worshippers of God. See notes in Matthew chapter 13 on identifying the “kingdom of the heavens.” Some also believe this to mean John the Baptist and the ancient patriarchs would not attain to heaven but would be raised in the resurrection of the righteous on earth (John 3:13; Hebrews 11:39, 40; 1 Corinthians 15:20-24).

[10] Zealously pursued: This is a classically difficult text. Most translators tend toward the idea that the kingdom is attacked violently and the violent seize it. However, from John the Baptist to the present of Jesus’ statement there is little evidence of persecution against the King or his realm. The Greek word here is BIAZETAI and its root meaning is “violent.” Jesus repeats the word group in the next phrase (See Acts 2:2). The word is rare in this form. However, there are two verses in Luke which might shed light on the Nazarene’s intent. Luke 13:24 literally means, ‘agonize to enter through the narrow door.’ And, the parallel in Luke to Matthew here is, ‘everyone is violently forcing [BIAZETAI] themselves into (the Kingdom of The God).’ This could mean violent men force themselves violently into the kingdom; or, it could mean the agonizing struggle to enter the realm of profession. This is the first interpretation the New Jerusalem Bible gives in its footnote “f” – “1. The praiseworthy violence, the bitter self-sacrifice, of those who would take possession of the kingdom.” Strong’s (#971, #973) offers “vital activity, energetic.” Thayer’s (page 101) says: “a share in the heavenly Kingdom is sought for with the most ardent zeal and the intense exertion… utmost eagerness.” Thus, the context and the parallel in Luke suggests the possibility that Jesus is describing the agonizing zeal his disciples have demonstrated in their pursuit of the “kingdom” – willing to make any sacrifice, willing to surrender their soul in the process.

William Barclay suggests a possibility: “‘The Kingdom of the Heaven is not for the well-meaning but for the desperate,’ that no one drifts into the Kingdom, that the Kingdom only opens it doors to those who are prepared to make as great an effort to get into it as men do when they storm a city.… Only the man who is desperately in earnest, only the man in whom the violence of devotion matches and defeats the violence of persecution will in the end enter into it.” (Matthew, Volume 2. page 8)

[11] Prophets and the Law prophesied until John: The complete phrase linking the Law and the Prophets is used by Jesus elsewhere (Matthew 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40). There is now to be a great transition. Hebrews 1:1 states that The God used to speak in a variety of ways to the prophets of old, but now speaks to us by means of a Son. With the coming of John the Baptist in the year 29 AD a new season, a new age begins to open up – a Messianic one. Grace and Truth will now come by means of Jesus the Nazarene (John 1:17).

[12] John is Elijah: Jesus explains this to his own disciples elsewhere (Matthew 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13). Compare Luke 1:17. Elijah’s name (My God is Yah) occurs 100 times in the Bible and most importantly at Malachi 4:5 where the prophet is foretold to appear before the Day of Yehowah. The end of the Jewish Temple Age is upon that generation. The name Elijah only occurs twice outside the Gospels (Romans 11:2; James 5:17). Note Elijah is missing by name in the Book of Revelation. He is alluded to at Revelation 11:5, 6.

[13] Let the person with ears listen: This becomes in Revelation a phrase identified with Jesus (Revelation 2:7). PME: the man who has ears to hear must use them.

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Preceding

Matthew 11– Intro to The Nazarene’s Commentary: Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities

Matthew 11:1 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 1 Twelve Sent out to Teach

Matthew 11:2-6 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 2 Imprisoned Baptist Encouraged

Teachings, prophets, wolves in sheep’s covering and a narrow gate

Matthew 7: 13-14 {NWT}+ {Ref B.}:13 “Go in through the narrow gate,+ because broad is the gate and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are going in through it; 14 whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are finding it.+

  • Luke 13:24: 24 “Exert yourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow door,+ because many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be able.
  • Isaiah 55:6: Search for Jehovah while he may be found.+ Call to him while he is near.+
  • Philippians 3:12-14: 12 Not that I have already received it or am already made perfect, but I am pressing on+ to see if I may also lay hold on that for which Christ Jesus selected me.*+ 13 Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having taken hold of it; but one thing is certain: Forgetting the things behind+ and stretching forward to the things ahead,+ 14 I am pressing on toward the goal for the prize+ of the upward call+ of God by means of Christ Jesus.
  • 1 Timothy 6:12: 12 Fight the fine fight of the faith; get a firm hold on the everlasting life for which you were called and you offered the fine public declaration in front of many witnesses.
  • Acts 14:22: 22 There they strengthened the disciples,*+ encouraging them to remain in the faith and saying: “We must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations.”+
  • 1 Peter 4:18: 18 “And if the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, what will happen to the ungodly man and the sinner?”+

Matthew 7:15-20 {NWT}+ {Ref.B}: 15 “Be on the watch for the false prophets+ who come to you in sheep’s covering,+ but inside they are ravenous wolves.+ 16 By their fruits you will recognize them. Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they?+ 17 Likewise, every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit.+ 18 A good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce fine fruit.+ 19 Every tree not producing fine fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.+ 20 Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.+

  • Matthew 24:11: 11 Many false prophets will arise and mislead many;+
  • 2 Peter 2:1: However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you.+ These will quietly bring in destructive sects, and they will even disown the owner who bought them,+ bringing speedy destruction upon themselves.
  • 1 John 4:1: Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired statement,*+ but test the inspired statements* to see whether they originate with God,+ for many false prophets have gone out into the world.+
  • Luke 6:26: 26 “Woe whenever all men speak well of you,+ for this is what their forefathers did to the false prophets.
  • Acts 20:29, 30: 29 I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you+ and will not treat the flock with tenderness, 30 and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.+
  • Matthew 12:33: 33 “Either you make the tree fine and its fruit fine or make the tree rotten and its fruit rotten, for by its fruit the tree is known.+

Acts 20:29-30:  29 I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you+ and will not treat the flock with tenderness, 30 and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.+

  • 2 Thessalonians 2:3: Let no one lead you astray* in any way, because it will not come unless the apostasy+ comes first and the man of lawlessness+ gets revealed, the son of destruction.+

2 Timothy 2:18: 18 These men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred,+ and they are subverting the faith of some.

1 Corinthians 11:19: 19 For there will certainly also be sects among you,+ so that those of you who are approved may also become evident.

  • 1 Timothy 4:1: 4 However, the inspired word* clearly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired statements*+ and teachings of demons,

Matthew 5:3:“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need,*+ since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.

 

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Preceding articles

Matthew 7:13-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #1 The Narrow Gate and the way to destruction

Matthew 7:15-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #2 False prophets and fruitage

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #3 Matthew 7:21-23 The ones Jesus never knew

False teachers and false prophets still around

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 Further reading

  1. What Does It Mean to be Ready in Season?
  2. Guarding against cults and false teachers – teach what it means to be saved
  3. How do we guard against false teaching?
  4. Guarding against cults and false teaching – know what baptism is
  5. The Consequences of Following False Teachers and Prophets
  6. Mail Call #8: How much should “associations” factor into my assessment of whether a teacher is false or not?
  7. Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers
  8. Who are those guys?
  9. Beware of the Enemy in the Camp
  10. The Rise of a Counterfeit Christianity
  11. Heresy Isn’t All Bad
  12. Things That Matter – Unity above Doctrine?
  13. Sound Doctrine. Sound Faith.
  14. An exhortation about false teaching from Jeremiah
  15. Denial of God Among Christians Today (Part 1)
  16. What Is Idolatry, and Do I Practice it?
  17. 7 False Teachers in the Church Today“How Can We Distinguish a Good Shepherd from a Bad One?”Discernment is rooted in maturity in Christ
  18. Guard the Treasure and Avoid the Trash
  19. All “Faith Healers” Today Are False
  20. 5/21/17 ~ On Guard
  21. Run For Your Life

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