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Matthew 11:25-30 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 6 Taking Jesus’ Yoke and Becoming Disciples

11:25-30 – Take My Yoke and Become Disciples

|| Luke 10:21, 22

MT11:25 During that period Jesus gave a response: “I openly confess to You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,[1] because You hide[2] things from sophists[3] and intellectuals[4] and reveal them to babies. MT11:26 Yes, Father, because to do it this way is by your good will.[5] MT11:27 Everything has been given me[6] by my Father. No one perfectly knows[7] the Son but the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father perfectly but the Son; and whom ever the Son wishes to unveil [Him].[8] MT11:28 Come to me all those burdened by toil[9] and I will refresh you.[10] MT11:29 Pick up my yoke[11] and learn from me,[12] because I am meek and humble in heart,[13] and you will find refreshment for your souls. MT11:30 For my yoke is kind[14] and my load is light.”[15]

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Matthew 11:30: For my yoke is kind and my load is light.

[1] Lord of heaven and earth: The Father is “Lord of heaven and earth,” and thus the Lord of Jesus. Compare Psalm 110:1 KJV. The designation is only used of the Father of the Son (Luke 10:21; Acts 17:24).

[2] Hide: The Greek is EKRYPSAS.

[3] Sophists: The Greek is SOPHON and may be rendered KJV: wise; WEY: sages. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:27.

[4] Intellectuals: The Greek is SYNETON and may be rendered: IB: cunning; KJV: prudent; STR: understand, discerning (1 Corinthians 1:19 = BER: keenness of the sagacious; TAY: the most brilliant).

[5] To do it this way is by your good will: Or, KJV: so it seemed good in thy sight; WEY: for such has been Thy gracious will; BECK: for wanting it to be that way.

[6] Everything has been given me: This is explained in John 5:19-47. God could not have everything given to Him for He already possesses everything.

[7] Perfectly knows: The Greek is a heightened form of knowing, EPI-GINOSKEI – not just an intellectual understanding but a perfect relationship. Note the “holy spirit” is absent from this formula. Others render the word: RHM: fully knoweth. Compare John 1:18.

[8] And whom ever the Son wishes to unveil [Him]: The Holy Spirit is absent here. Why does the Son not include the Holy Spirit in the formula? Does the Son reveal the Father to the Holy Ghost? The word “unveil” is from the Greek APEKALYPSAS and related to the word for the Book of Revelation. Others render this: KJV: reveal; AMP: make Him known; KIT: uncovered.

[9] Burdened by toil: Or, KJV: labour and are heavy laden; WEY: toiling and burdened; PME: weary and over-burdened; NEB: those who work hard, whose load is heavy (Isaiah 55:2).

[10] I will refresh you: Or, KJV: give you rest; WMS: lead you into rest. A person who comes to the Nazarene is not further burdened but feels a sense of relief and liberation.

[11] Pick up my yoke: Some effort is required. Others render this: NEB: bend your necks to my yoke. Compare Galatians 5:1.

[12] Learn from me: Two things are required: a yoke and an effort to learn. This course of discipleship is not without a yoke, nor without effort to learn the teachings of the Master. BAS: let me be your teacher.

[13] I am meek and humble in heart: Or, TCNT: gentle and lowly-minded. Despite his credentials and authority as stated in verse 27 the Messiah is not arrogant or puffed up with self-importance. One feels the simple, poor, and lowly felt free to approach Jesus freely with their pain and problems. Though Moses is described as “the meekest of men” Jesus is clearly the meekest of all who have ever lived (Numbers 12:3).

[14] My yoke is kind: Or, KJV: easy. Though the disciple is under a yoke – indicating this is not a freedom from work – this yoke fits well and is shared with the strongest shoulders known among men. The law forbade the yoking of two animals of different strengths and yet here we have exactly that. NOR: my yoke fits so easily.

[15] Load is light: There is a load though it is described as light. Others render this: KJV: my burden light.

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Preceding

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

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

Matthew 11:16-19 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 4 Impossibility of Pleasing Everyone

Matthew 11:20-24 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 5 Reproached Cities a Lesson for Judgment Day

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  9. The Right Load
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Hellenistic influences

The early days of Christianity

2.1. Hellenistic influences

An ingenious and learned school, formed at Alexandria, had contrived, by a system of allegorical interpretation, to infuse Platonism into the Old Testament, the school at Jerusalem had been growing increasingly rigid, and interdicted any such daring exegesis.

In the first centuries of our current calendar the influence of the Greek culture in the Roman Realm was still noticeable and guarded Greece its cultural inheritance one of the most important universities of the Roman Realm which stood in Athens.

At the Athenian schools also Christians, like Prohæresios, the sophist, were found under its members.

Sophists (sophistēs, meaning “wise-ist, one who does wisdom,” and σοφός, sophós means “wise man”) were a category of traveling teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arete — excellence, or virtue — predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. As itinerant intellectuals they taught courses in various subjects, speculated about the nature of language and culture and employed rhetoric to achieve their purposes, generally to persuade or convince others which could be of good use for the youngsters to be able to have their say in the official meetings or ekklèsia (Ecclesia)

Many sophists’ questioned the existence and roles of traditional deities and investigated into the nature of the heavens and the earth, which prompted a popular reaction against them. The attacks of some of their followers against Socrates prompted a vigorous condemnation from his followers, including Plato the most famous student of Socrates, and Xenophon. The sophists became considered greedy instructors who used rhetorical sleight-of-hand and ambiguities of language in order to deceive, or to support fallacious reasoning. according to some the sophist was not concerned with truth and justice, but instead looked for power.

File:PopesixtusII.jpg

The martyrdom of Saint (Pope) Sixtus II and his deacons. Martyre de saint Sixte II et de ses diacres. Cote: Français 185 , Fol. 96v . Vies de saints, France, Paris – 14th century. – Richard de Montbaston et collaborateurs

Sixtus II, or Xystos, who suffered martyrdom in Rome about 258 C.T., also may have studied in Athens and is called “the son of an Athenian philosopher”. But the most noted men who frequented the schools here were Basil from Kæsareia, and Gregory from Nazianzos, about the middle of the fourth century. These schools of philosophy kept paganism alive for four centuries, but by the fifth century the ancient religion of Elevsis and Athens had practically succumbed. In the Council of Nikæa there was present a bishop from Athens. In 529 the schools of philosophy were closed. From that date Christianity had no rival in Athens.[1]

Jesus clearly taught that Jehovah is “the only true God” and that the human soul is mortal. (John 17:3; Matthew 10:28) Yet, with the death of the apostles and the weakening of the organizational structure, such clear teachings were corrupted as pagan doctrines infiltrated Christianity.

A key factor was the subtle influence of Greek philosophy. Explains The New Encyclopædia Britannica: “From the middle of the 2nd century AD Christians who had some training in Greek philosophy began to feel the need to express their faith in its terms, both for their own intellectual satisfaction and in order to convert educated pagans.” Once philosophically minded persons became Christians, it did not take long for Greek philosophy and “Christianity” to become inseparably linked.
As a result of this union, pagan doctrines such as the Trinity and the immortality of the soul seeped into tainted Christianity. These teachings, however, go back much farther than the Greek philosophers. The Greeks actually acquired them from older cultures, for there is evidence of such teachings in ancient Egyptian and Babylonian religions. As pagan doctrines continued to infiltrate Christianity, other Scriptural teachings were also distorted or abandoned.

File:HermesTrismegistusCauc.jpg

Hermes Trismegistus

The question how the Son was related to the Father (Himself acknowledged on all hands to be the one Supreme Deity), gave rise, between the years 60 and 200 C.T. to a number of Theosophic systems, called generally Gnosticism, and having for their authors Basilides, Valentinus, apologist and ascetic Tatian the Syrian or the Assyrian , writer of the Diatessaron (a  prominent Gospel harmony) and other Greek speculators.[2] According to some, it was through Gnosticism that pagan influences slipped into Christian worship. Gnosticism, they assert, served somewhat as a bridge between paganism and Christianity.[3] The Gnostic systems revealed more theosophy than theology and in the Jewish Kabbala is found a theosophy mixed with various forms of magic and occultism. The Kabbalah, which includes the tracts named Sefer Yetzirah, The Zohar, Pardes Rimonim, and Eitz Chaim, seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realisation.
The Hellenistic main source is the Corpus Hermeticum or the Hermetic Corpus, a collection of texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which became again of importance in the New Age. Therein astrology and other occult sciences and spiritual renewal are addressed. Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

Alexandria was full of Jews, the literary as well as commercial centre of the East, and the connecting link between the East and the West. There the largest libraries were collected; there the Jewish mind came into close contact with the Greek, and the religion of Moses with the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. There Philo wrote, while Christ taught in Jerusalem and Galilee, and his works were destined to exert a great influence on Christian exegesis through the Alexandrian fathers.

During the fourth century Egypt was going to give to the church the Arian heresy, the Athanasian orthodoxy, and the monastic piety of St. Antony and St. Pachomius, which spread with irresistible force over Christendom.

The theological literature of Egypt was chiefly Greek. Most of the early manuscripts of the Greek Scriptures — including probably the invaluable Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. — were written in Alexandria. But already in the second century the Scriptures were translated into the vernacular language, in three different dialects. What remains of these versions is of considerable weight in ascertaining the earliest text of the Greek Testament.

To the Jews, that were the mostly receptive for Hellenic influences, belonged the priests. For many of them meant the accepting of the Hellenism a manner to have Judaism going with its time.

While many Jews accepted the Hellenism, a new group calling themselves Hasidim or Chassidim — devout people (literally “loving kindness”, diverted of the Hebrew חסידות (chassidoet), meaning “piety”) — encouraged people to keep stricter obedience to the Law of Moses. The first group of Hasidim, also called the Assideans or Hasideans (the Anglicized form, derived through the Greek asidaioi, of the Hebrew Hasidim, “the pious”, men endowed with grace (Psalm 39:5; 148:14)), were an ancient Jewish sect that developed between 300 B.C.E. and 175 B.C.E. They were the most rigid adherents of Judaism in contradistinction to those Jews who were beginning to be affected by Hellenistic influences. The Hasidim led the resistance to the Hellenizing campaign of Antiochus IV of Syria, and they figured largely in the early phases of the revolt of the Maccabees or Machabees, Jewish family of the 2d and 1st cent. B.C.E. that brought about a restoration of Jewish political and religious life. They are also called Hasmoneans or Asmoneans after their ancestor, Hashmon. Their ritual strictness has caused some to see them as forerunners of the Pharisees. Throughout the Talmudic period numerous figures were referred to as Hasidim. [4]

The Hellenization of the Jews in the pre-Hasmonean period was not universally resisted. Generally, the Jews accepted foreign rule when they were only required to pay tribute, and otherwise allowed to govern themselves internally. Nevertheless, Jews were divided between those favoring Hellenization and those opposing it, and were divided over allegiance to the Ptolemies or Seleucids. When the High Priest Simon II died in 175 BCE, conflict broke out between supporters of his son Onias III (who opposed Hellenization, and favored the Ptolemies) and his son Jason (who favored Hellenization, and favored the Seleucids). A period of political intrigue followed, with priests such as Menelaus bribing the king to win the High Priesthood, and accusations of murder of competing contenders for the title. The result was a brief civil war. The Tobiads, a philo-Hellenistic party, succeeded in placing Jason into the powerful position of High Priest. He established an arena for public games close by the Temple. (Ginzberg, Lewis. “The Tobiads and Oniads.”. Retrieved 2007-01-23. Jewish Encyclopedia.) Author Lee I. Levine notes, “The ‘piece de resistance’ of Judaean Hellenization, and the most dramatic of all these developments, occurred in 175 BCE, when the high priest Jason converted Jerusalem into a Greek polis replete with gymnasium and ephebeion (2 Maccabees 4). Whether this step represents the culmination of a 150-year process of Hellenization within Jerusalem in general, or whether it was only the initiative of a small coterie of Jerusalem priests with no wider ramifications, has been debated for decades.” (Levine, Lee I. Judaism and Hellenism in antiquity: conflict or confluence? Hendrickson Publishers, 1998. pp. 38–45. Via “The Impact of Greek Culture on Normative Judaism.”)

The ordinary people were disgusted by the Hellenised priests and chose more and more party for the Chassidim. There broke a period of martyrdom when Jews in the whole country were forced to go along or to settle with pagan happenings and offerings or to die.[5]

A gold multiple of “Unconquered Constantine” with Sol Invictus, struck in 313. The use of Sol’s image appealed to both the educated citizens of Gaul, who would recognize in it Apollo’s patronage of Augustus and the arts; and to Christians, who found solar monotheism less objectionable than the traditional pagan pantheon

Constantine (C., Flavius Valerius Constantinus) was during the decline period of the Roman Realm the Big Emperor (306–337 C. T.) and tried to merge Christianity with particular pagan customs and doctrines. He undertook the first steps to make this merger religion as the official state religion. Accordingly Greece became a part of Christendom. He moved the capital of the realm of Rome to Byzantium, which he named in honour of himself Constantinople.

In 321 C. T. Constantine ordained that the Sunday (Lat.: dies Solis, an old title that was connected with astrology and sun worshipping, not Sabbatum [Sabbath] or dies Domini [day of the Lord]) would be a day of rest for everybody, except for the farmers. Constantine moreover placed Sunday under the protection of the State. Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun as the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas.

The winged sun was an ancient (3rd millennium BC) symbol of Horus, later identified with Ra

Belief in the old polytheism had been shaken; in more stolid natures, as Roman Emperor Diocletian, it showed its strength only in the form of superstition, magic, and divination. Probably many of the more noble-minded recognized the truth contained in Judaism and Christianity, but believed that they could appropriate it without being obliged on that account to renounce the beauty of other worships. Such a man was the Emperor Alexander Severus; another thus minded was Aurelian, whose opinions were confirmed by Christians like Paul of Samosata. Not only Gnostics and other heretics, but Christians who considered themselves faithful, held in a measure to the worship of the sun. Constantine cherished this mistaken belief.[6]


[1] Christian Athens, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[2] Arianism., Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[3] Notion and characteristics, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[4] In the 18th Century Eastern Europethis movement would be taken up again for the third time by Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer (1698-1760) also known asIsrael Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism.

[5] S. Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1962); S. G. Kramer, God and Man in the Sefer Hasidim (1966); A. L. Lowenkopf, The Hasidim (1973).

[6] The original Catholic Encyclopedia

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Some Jews are known to have engaged in non-surgical foreskin restoration in order to join the dominant cultural practice of socializing naked in the gymnasium, where their circumcisionwould have been a social stigma.

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Previous: The early days of Christianity 1.2. Considered as a danger 1.2.2. Minimizing the power of God’s Force the Holy Spirit

Next: The early days of Christianity 2.2.1. Politics and power first priority

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