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Matthew 9:14-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Bridegroom and Fasting

Matthew 9:14-17 – The Bridegroom and Fasting

|| Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39

MT9:14 Then the disciples of John[1] [the Baptist] approached Jesus, asking,

“Why, though we and the Pharisees fast, your disciples do not fast?”[2]

MT9:15 Jesus told them,

“The sons of the bride-chamber[3] cannot possible feel sad[4] while the bridegroom[5] is among them. But the days are coming when the ‘Bridegroom’ will depart[6] from them and then they will fast.[7]

File:A Man Drinking from a Wine Skin; Images of Spain Album, 63 MET DP800218.jpg

A Man Drinking from a Wine Skin; Images of Spain Album, 63

MT9:16 “Nobody sews an unshrunk cloth patch on an old outer garment for the stretching garment will tear it and it becomes worse. MT9:17 Nor do they put new wine[8] into old wine-botas for the wine-botas will tear and burst[9] [Joshua 9:13; Job 32:19] and the wine is spilled and the wine-botas ruined. Rather, they put new wine into new and fresh wine-botas[10] and so both are preserved.”

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[1] Disciples of John: There is a clear difference between the disciples of the two Masters. John’s disciples view themselves as different from those of the Nazarene. Jesus had selected his disciples from among those baptized disciples of John the Baptist. This difference lasts for some years even into the Book of Acts (Acts chapters 18, 19).

[2] Fast: Going without food for religious reasons. The first occurrence of the word “fasting” in the Bible is 1 Samuel 31:13 for a total of 30 times. Jesus does not condemn fasting, indeed, he gives counsel regarding proper fasting in Matthew 6:16. The prophets and teachers in Antioch fasted before making appointments (Acts 13:1, 2). The same fasting occurs before appointments in Acts 14:23.

[3] Sons of the bride-chamber: The literal phrase in Greek. It is variously rendered: KJV: children of the bride-chamber; TCNT: bridegroom’s friends; GDSP: wedding guests; BAS: friends of the newly married; NASB: attendants of the bride-groom.

[4] Feel sad: Or, mourn. The bridegroom’s buddies mourn or feel sad their friend’s affections will now be divided and likely he will not be free to do some of the things he did before.

[5] Bridegroom: The Greek is, interestingly, NYMPHIOS from which the English “nymph” is rooted. Yahweh was viewed as the Husband of Israel. Jesus becomes such to his Church who is likened to a bride (NYMPH) (Revelation 21:2).

[6] Will depart: The Greek is APARTHE and related to EPERTHE of Acts 1:9, HARPAGESOUMETHA at 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and HERPASTHE at Revelation 12:5.

[7] Then they will fast: Compare John 16:20.

[8] New wine: Possibly the teachings of the Nazarene or a new relationship with God. Rather than use the old bota of Israel under the Law the Messiah uses a new bota, his Church to contain new doctrine and relationships. Remember the original context was fasting.

[9] Wine-botas will tear and burst: The language may be an allusion to Joshua 9:13 and Job 32:19.

[10] Wine-botas: Or, wine-skins. Compare Genesis 21:14, 15, 19; Joshua 9:13; Job 32:19.

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Preceding

Matthew 9:9-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Pharisees Accuse When Matthew Is Called

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Related articles

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Nazarene Commentary Matthew 5:17-20 – The Nazarene Rabbi’s Commentary on the Torah

Matthew 5:17-20 – The Nazarene Rabbi’s Commentary on the Torah

MT5:17 “Do not think I came to destroy[1] the Torah[2] or the Prophets. I came not to destroy but to fulfill.[3] MT5:18 For I tell you this truth: Sooner would heaven and earth pass away before one iota or a single dot[4] passes from the Torah and not all of it be fulfilled. MT5:19 So, anyone who breaks the ‘least’ commandment[5] and so teaches men will be called ‘Least’ in the Heavenly Realm. But, anyone who obeys and teaches them[6] will be called Great in the Heavenly Realm. MT5:20 For I am telling you: If your ‘righteousness’[7] does not surpass the Scribes and Pharisees[8] you will not enter the Heavenly Realm

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[1] I came to destroy: Probably a charge waiting to be made by the Nazarene’s opposers, the religious hierarchy which prided itself on the preservation of Moses’ Law.

The phrase “I came” is the only intimation that the Nazarene was sent by God. Jesus confesses in John chs 5-8 that he speaks nothing of his own originality but rather those things taught to him by his Father. Here Christ comes from the Celestial Realm. He has the brilliance and vocabulary to say anything he wants. The Mountain Teachings are the first public sermon of the Nazarene.

[2] Torah: Or, the “law” referring mainly to that of Moses but including non-Biblical views expressed by the Ancients. Here begins possibly what the crowd and the Nazarene’s disciples wanted to know: where did Jesus stand on the subject of the Law? Virtually the rest of the sermon is a commentary on the law or Torah with a famous summation of it in Matthew 7:12.

[3] Fulfill: Various renderings: GDSP: enforce; KNX: bring them to perfection. First, the Nazarene as Christ ‘comes’ to set an example of how to follow the Law perfectly. Next, he fulfills all those elements of the Law which are “shadows” of realities (Hebrews 10:1). Paul writes, ‘Christ is the end of the Law.’ By Christ, the Nazarene Saint is ‘released from the Law.’ (Romans 7:1-5) Paul echoes the Nazarene later when he writes, ‘For all the Law is fulfilled in one statement: “You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.”’ (Galatians 5:14) Jesus words may be illustrated by a normal human contract with another: there is a difference between arbitrarily and unilaterally ‘destroying’ or breaking the contract and fulfilling your end of the agreement (Galatians 3:14).

The words “I came” are the only hint in the sermon which indicate his overall mission from God (John 4:25).

[4] Dot: The Greek word is IOTA. These words are best understood if one watches a skilled Jewish copyist painstakingly copying every ‘dot and tittle’ of the Hebrew manuscript. Such efforts (Romans 3:1) will not go unfulfilled until everything purposed by God in the Law and Prophets is realized.

[5] ‘Least’ commandment: The commandments have degrees. Here is described a person who not only violates one of these ‘least’ commands but also teaches others to do so. Such is verging on apostasy from the Law of Moses for which Paul was accused (Acts 21:21). As far as individuals are concerned there are degrees of “great” and “least” in the “kingdom.” This is something the disciples were aware of, for two of them got their mother to approach Jesus asking him to see to it that they sat at his right and left in the Kingdom. Note Matthew 11:11 where the ‘least’ in the Kingdom is still greater than John the Baptist. Can the Nazarene mean that a person who breaks even a small law and teaches others to do so will be in the “kingdom” of the heaven, that is, the Father’s Kingdom? Or, does he mean, in the Realm of Profession, the Kingdom/Church? (Matthew 13:41)

[6] Teaches them: It would appear that “teaching” is a prerequisite for being among the ‘great’ in the Realm of Profession (Hebrews 5:12).

[7] Righteousness: Is this a tongue in cheek sentence? This subject of “righteousness” is key to both Paul and John. Paul warns of self-righteousness or that righteousness of the Law; and, John writes of the true righteousness. “Righteousness” means the state of being “right” or correct in attitude, speech and action.

Deutsch: Christus im Hause des Pharisäers, Jac...

Jesus Christ in the house of the pharisees – Jacopo Tintoretto, Escorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[8] Pharisees: Much the butt of Jesus’ censure and condemnation. Jesus never condemns righteousness itself, but that hypocritical self-righteousness which characterizes religious hierarchies of any kind.

 

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Preceding

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 5:1-12 Nazarene Mountain teachings: Blessed and legal commentaries

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 5:13-16 Salt and Light shining bright

Next: Nazarene Commentary Matthew 5:21-26 – 1. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 20:13

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