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Matthew

Blest or Happy?

There is quite a debate as to whether the Greek word makarios found in many places throughout the Bible should be translated blessed or happy. Notice that we have chosen to translate it as blest, which is an older spelling of the word blessed, to get rid the affected pronunciation that was likely introduced by early preachers (bless-ed). According to Zodhiates' Complete Word Study Dictionary, the word should never translated happy, because happy is derived from the words happen, happening, or happenstance (luck). His reasoning (which we agree with) is that, when someone suffers for the sake of righteous principles, his/her reward isn't just happiness (which can come from any source of good luck or fortune), but rather, it is a joy that comes from gaining a better relationship with God. In other words, there is no exact word in English to use here, but blest seems to be a closer alternative than happy.


No Marriage in the Resurrection?
At Matthew 22:30 Jesus said, ‘In the resurrection, men won't marry nor will women be given in marriage, but they are like the messengers in heaven.' This scripture is often quoted to show that those who are resurrected won't marry (as Jesus said). However, does this apply both to those who receive a heavenly resurrection and to those who receive an earthly resurrection (Matthew 5:5)? Notice what Luke's parallel account says (Luke 20:34-36): ‘The sons of this age marry and are married. But those who have been found worthy of that age and the resurrection from the dead don't marry, nor do they get married. They can't die anymore either, because they are equal to [God's] messengers and they are [also] sons of God, because they are sons of the resurrection.' Luke's account shows that Jesus was referring specifically to ‘God's sons' (gr. uioi eisin Theou - sons are of God), which are thought to be those of the heavenly resurrection (the saints). So, the reference in Luke may not refer to an earthly resurrection. However, the question the Sadducees asked was just about the resurrection (no designation of heavenly or earthly). So, was Jesus sidestepping the question to avoid a common word trap that had been used successfully in Sadducees' arguments against the resurrection in the past, or was he implying that there would be no marrying in either resurrection? We don't know, but the common belief at the time (among the Pharisees in particular) was that there would be a heavenly resurrection. So, there was likely no reason for Jesus to talk about an earthly resurrection. Yet, there may be another explanation of the meaning of what Jesus said, for notice how the words are laid out in Mark 12:24-27; ‘Then Jesus answered, This is why you are so misled. You don't understand the Scriptures or the power of God! When the dead are resurrected, they won't marry or be married, they are as the messengers in heaven. As for the dead who are raised, didn't you read in the book of Moses - in the story about the thorn bush - how God said to him, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? He isn't a God of the dead, but of the living. Yes, you are very misled.'
So, could Jesus have been saying that only those who are dead in God's eyes won't marry, but those He considers among the living will marry? Possibly. For, will children be born after the Battle of Armageddon? If you believe that the prophecy found in Isaiah 65 is talking about that period, then yes. For at Isaiah 65:23 we were told, ‘And My elected won't labor for nothing, nor will they produce children for a curse, for their seed will be blest by God, as well as even their children.'


Fool, Foolish, Moron, or Uncaring?
The Greek word μωραι (pronounced, moe-ra-ai) is often translated foolish or fool in other Bibles. However, μωραι is the word that the English word moron is derived from. The term moron, as used by Jesus and his Apostles, doesn't imply to someone who has no comprehension, as the medical term moron does today. Rather, it meant someone who knows right from wrong but just doesn't care to do what is right. The ten virgins of Jesus' parable in Matthew 25 weren't just ‘foolish' girls; they knew what to do and didn't care enough to do it.


Cross or Pole?
The Greek word stauros simply means pole. So, regardless of popular tradition and doctrine, there is no mention of a pole with a cross piece (cross) in the original Bible. Also, the Greek word staurotheto (which is translated crucified or hung on a cross) is translated impaled (put on a pole or stake) here, because that's what it means. Does any of this really make any difference? No, for whether the Romans used just an upright pole or one with a cross beam as a means of torture and execution is unimportant. However, if one views such a thing as an object of worship, then this is condemned in the Bible as idolatry. And they are also missing the point. For what should be held as sacred to us is the one who gave his life on our behalf, not the disgusting object of his execution.


Religious Titles
Understand that (at Matthew 23:8-11) Jesus is telling his followers not to take any honorary titles to themselves, for he said: ‘But not you! Don't [have people] call you rabbi, for you have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. And don't address anyone on earth as Father, because there's just One who is your Father, the Heavenly One. Nor should you be called leaders, for you have but one Leader, the Anointed One. However, the greatest among you must be your servant. So, whoever promotes himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be promoted.' Of course, he wasn't talking about titles of office such as apostle, elder or servant, just the honorifics that people might use, such as ‘Father' or ‘Rabbi.' However, this command has bothered people throughout the centuries, especially those who feel that they deserve such titles. As the result, most have either they tried to find ways to sneak around Jesus' words, or they have ignored them altogether.
One of the ‘sneaky' ways that people have used to take honorary titles for themselves is by simply avoiding the use of the specific titles that Jesus mentioned. So, while some Priests keep on having people call themselves ‘Father,' those in religious orders distorted the meaning of Jesus' words and had people tack the titles ‘Brother' or ‘Sister' onto the fronts of their names. After the Protestant Reformation, other sneaky tricks to employ honorifics were tried. For example, the honorifics ‘Reverend,' even ‘Pastor' have been used for centuries, and those with adequate college degrees like to be called ‘Doctor,' as a religious title. This trend of adding titles ahead of names has reached throughout ‘Christian' society today, to the point where we would be hard-pressed to tell of one group that isn't in violation of Jesus' command. If they don't have other titles for their leaders, they tack ‘Brother' or ‘Sister' onto the front of each other's names. Is it wrong to give each other ‘titles of respect' such as Brother or Sister? Notice that Jesus didn't say that his followers should call each other Brother, but that they are brothers (gr: hymeis adelphoi este). Jesus wasn't giving a dissertation on which honorifics are bad and which ones are okay, he was showing that Christians are all equals, and that they should share a loving relationship as members of the same family. So, adding a title ahead of a name (whether Brother, Sister, or Minister) also appears to be a dodge to get around the import of Jesus' words. Nevertheless, adding the title Brother or Sister before one's name has become a common practice among most religious groups (as well as among many trade-union and club memberships today). Some people even (presumptuously, arrogantly, and in error grammatically) introduce themselves with the title preceding their own name (‘My name is Brother...'), presuming to have a relationship with new acquaintances and even total strangers. While it's true that early Christians lovingly referred to their fellows as my brother (or sister), or our brothers, there is little indication that the term brother was ever commonly applied as an honorific title that people added in front of names in the First Century Congregation. How did that work out among early Christians? Well, the Bible tells us that Paul was just called Paul; Peter was called Peter, etc. Only Jesus was given titles of respect, such as Lord, the Anointed One, etc. Even the title ‘Apostle' was never added in front of a name in the Bible (as in ‘the Apostle Peter'), but that's a common practice among many religions, when speaking of the Apostles today.


Judgment Day
Throughout the Bible, we read of a Judgment Day. Does this refer to some random time in the future when individuals will meet their own judgment, or to a specific ‘day' (or period) when all will be judged? At Matthew 10:15, for example, Jesus spoke of the ‘hemera chriseos' (Day of Judgment or Crisis) and each of the succeeding references seems to be talking about this same ‘day' or time. When will that period start? Well, it must be sometime after the ‘great time of difficulty' (see Matthew 24:21), and following ‘the war of the great day of the Almighty God' (see Revelation 16:14), because Jesus spoke of people being resurrected when he talked about the Judgment Day. However, although Psalm 1:1 tells us that the irreverent, impious, or ungodly (gr. asebe) won't be raised in the Judgment, Paul said (at Acts 24:15) that both the righteous and the unrighteous will be resurrected. So, how can we resolve this discrepancy?
Remember that the word unrighteous doesn't necessarily refer to those who are deliberately bad, but to those who simply weren't righteous. On the other hand, the irreverent are those who know of God and simply choose to disobey Him, and apparently, for this reason they are found unworthy of a resurrection.


Did Jesus have fleshly brothers and sisters?

Yes he did, for Matthew 12:46-50 makes this very clear. In this case, he was apparently indoors speaking, as his mother (Mary) and his brothers (James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas) stood outside waiting to talk to him. But when he was told that his mother and brothers were outside, he pointed out that his disciples were his true mother and brothers.

 
Minister or Servant?
For centuries, the proper translation of this word has bothered people who wish to create levels of authority within the Christian Congregation. So, to add weight to this office, the Greek word diakonos has been translated into many words in attempts to blur what it really means in English, servant. Words such as ‘deacon' (from diakonos), minister, and even the redundancy ‘ministerial servant' have been employed. However, what they were called in the First-Century Congregation was just servants. These qualified men handled the work and odd jobs that were necessary in running the day-to-day affairs of the congregation.
A later position of responsibility that was spoken of by Paul was the appointment of ‘elders' or ‘overseers' in the emerging Christian congregations. Elders (as was true of all servants) were always males, and their job was to shepherd and teach the congregations. However, elders were also just servants - that is, servants with a small ‘s.' The Scriptures show that such men were to meet high standards of conduct and reputation. And although Paul didn't mention it specifically, they were expected to be able to make wise decisions and to show signs of having God's Breath. Notice that these were the qualifications for all servants in the Christian Congregation, for Acts 6:3 says; ‘So, brothers, find seven qualified men among you who are filled with wisdom and the Breath [of God].'


Three Kings, Unnumbered Astrologers, or Magi?
There is more myth than fact to most people's ideas of just who these men were - and how many there were - that brought gifts to Jesus and his family. As common myth has it (and as all the Christmas songs say), there were 1. three 2. kings that brought gifts to Jesus while he was 3. in the manger in BethLehem... probably wrong on all three counts. Let's take a close look at all three beliefs:
1. Go back and re-read Matthew 2:1-12 and you will see that the account doesn't say how many Priests there were. All we do know is that they brought three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
2. The Bible doesn't say they were ‘kings' or ‘astrologers' (as some Bibles say). It simply says (in Greek) magoi. Magoi doesn't mean king; it means a ‘Priest of Babylon.' Actually, it's the word that we get the English word ‘magician' from, so there may be some extended meaning to the term, but that is just speculation. However, others have argued for the use of the word Zoroastrian to translate magoi.
3. Then go back and reread Matthew 2:11. It clearly says that they went to the house (oikian), not the stable. So Jesus wasn't lying in the manger when they arrived. However, the rest of the account does indicate that this house was in BethLehem (where Joseph had gone to register), so this obviously happened after Jesus' birth.


Hypocrite
Hypocrite is a Greek word that is just spelled a little differently than it is in English (hypocritai). However, we give the English word a nuance that isn't implied in Greek. The first part of the Greek word, hypo, means under, and the second part, critai, means judge (it's what we get critical and criticize from). So, in the Bible a hypocrite is a ‘lesser judge,' or one who is very judgmental of the actions or conduct and others. This differs from the meaning in English, which is, someone who doesn't follow his own advice. The Scribes and Pharisees were referred to as Hypocrites in the Bible, because they condemned the actions of others. And like anyone who tends to be critical of others, they likely failed in the same ways that they condemned others, which would make them also fit the English definition. However, the Bible meaning is ‘judgmental.' Being too judgmental is a very serious flaw, which is common to those who think they are very righteous. It is reported that the Pharisees especially thought of themselves as more righteous than others, and it was their opinion that they would be the only ones to be found righteous and worthy of a resurrection by God. Notice what Jesus said would happen to those who are judgmental (Matthew 7:1): ‘Don't judge [others], so you won't be judged. For, the [rules] that you use to judge others, are the rules that will be used to judge you, and the standards you are setting for them, are the standards that they'll set for you.'


Prayer
James wrote (at James 5:16), ‘So, admit your sins to each other and pray that each one of you will be healed, because prayer has a lot of power when it's working through a righteous man.'
From these words, we learn never to underestimate the powers of righteousness and prayer. If you continue reading that account (verses 17, 18), you will find the wonderful example that James used to prove his point... where he spoke of what the Prophet EliJah was able to accomplish through the power of prayer. Why doesn't prayer always work? As James pointed out, the more righteous the person really is, the more likely it is that his/her prayers will be answered. Also, as Jesus taught us in ‘the Lord's Prayer,' God's Will is involved. In other words, what a person is asking for can't be out of harmony with God's purposes and direction. For example: In the past, certain prominent religious leaders have declared ‘Holy Years' when all Christians were asked to pray for world peace. Yet, Jesus told us (at Matthew 24:7) that the signs of when he would be ‘near' are: ‘Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many places.' So, it appears as though it is God's will that the world is not to be granted peace. For, world war must happen before the promised end. And as the result, prayers for world peace have just gone unheeded by God. And rather, it would seem to be a far better and more positive action on the part of such religious leaders if they would just tell their members not to go to war. For, prayers work much better whenever you work in harmony with (not against) what you're asking for. In Matthew the Sixth Chapter, Jesus set out some important guidelines regarding prayer. Noteworthy are his words found at Matthew 6:6, ‘When you pray, go into your private room and after shutting the door, pray to your Father in secret. Then your Father who watches secretly will repay you.' This instruction specifically covers prayers that are said in public places (whether said silently or aloud) which draw attention to ones self, because praying in public draws attention to the piety of the one who is praying. For example, we often note people praying openly (and sometimes audibly) in restaurants, thanking God for their food. If that happens, Jesus says that such conspicuousness is the person's total reward before God. In other words, his/her prayer won't be answered.
Another important warning against improper prayers are Jesus' words that are found at Matthew 6:7, ‘When praying, don't babble the same expressions repeatedly (gr. de me battalogesete - not you multiply words) as people of the nations do, because they think that by [repeating] them they will be heard.' Memorized words that are often repeated have been the staple of pagan religions throughout the millennia. However, Jesus is indicating that expressions that come from the heart are what God approves of. In view of what he had just said, obviously what is called the Lord's or the Our Father Prayer (at Matthew 6:9, 10) wasn't suggested by Jesus as something to be memorized and then spoken to God. Rather, he was simply listing important subjects for prayer. These included:
· Clearing God's Name of any accusations made by the Slanderer
· The coming of the Kingdom
· The fulfillment of God's purposes regarding heaven and earth
· Asking for our daily needs
· Asking for the forgiving our sins (with the reminder that we also need to forgive others)
· Asking for protection against the Wicked One.
You will notice that this Prayer of Jesus, as translated here, doesn't end with the words, ‘For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the glory forever. Amen.' Why not? Because, examination of ancient Bible texts reveals that these words, which are found in a few other Bibles, were added hundreds of years after Matthew wrote this book. And if you think about it, those words don't make any sense anyhow. Why? Well, why would Jesus say ‘For thine is the Kingdom,' when he had just said to pray for ‘your (or thy) Kingdom to come?' And notice from the context that Jesus wasn't really praying, he was teaching his disciples what to pray for. So, saying amen would have been inappropriate. In fact, if you search the Christian Era Scriptures, you won't find the Hebrew word Amen said at the end of any prayer (but it was likely said).


The Ransom
Throughout the Bible, we read of ‘the ransom' (gr. lytron) that Jesus paid. Exactly what does this term refer to? At Matthew 20:28, Jesus said, ‘This is how the Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve and to give his living body as a ransom for many.' Romans 5:12, 14 says, ‘Sin entered this world through one man and this sin resulted in death. So, death spread to all men because everyone has sinned. However, death reigned from [the time of] Adam down to Moses, even over those who didn't sin in the same way that Adam did. And [Adam] was a prototype of the one who would come. 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22 says, ‘Since death came through a man, resurrection from the dead also comes through a man. And as all are dying because of Adam, all will be made alive in the Anointed One.' So, from the above, we must conclude that Adam lost the hope of ‘life' for himself and all his descendents, because of his sin in Eden. However, Jesus came and paid the ‘ransom price' to God, to redeem us from the sin of Adam, so that we could once again have the hope of ‘life in the age' and a resurrection of the living.


The Pharisees
During the earthly life of Jesus, no religious group was more castigated by him that the Jewish sect of the Pharisees. The name, Pharisees, literally means ‘the Separated Ones,' which could refer to their belief that they were separate from (and superior to) the common people of Israel. They also believed that they would be the only ones to be ‘saved' when God brings retribution on the wicked. The Pharisees actually set the pattern for many modern-day so-called ‘Christian' beliefs (although the group predated Jesus), for they also seem to have taught that souls don't die, and that bad people suffer eternal punishment.
The Pharisees fasted twice each week, they were conscientious about receiving tribute or taxes, and they believed in the resurrection. They took pride in their ‘righteousness,' and they obviously looked down on the common people. They had detailed rules about what could and couldn't be done on a Sabbath, and because these rules went beyond the spirit of God's Laws, they hated Jesus when he exposed their foolishness by healing the sick on Sabbath days. To impress their peers with their righteousness, the Pharisees made the cases that they carried the Scriptures in larger than normal; and they made the fringes of the bottoms of their robes a little longer. They also prayed aloud and fasted in public. Most were relatively well to do, and they enjoyed the privileges of being viewed as ‘holy people.' So, why was Jesus so opposed to them and their teachings? In addition to the fact that many of their teachings were out of line with what was written in the Scriptures, the problem was that they were self-righteous and they were constantly turning Bible principles into laws. They told people what they should be doing, and then made up rules to allow themselves exceptions to God's Laws. Does any of this sound familiar? A common human failing when people are trying to live righteous lives, is to look down on others who aren't trying as hard. Another such failing, is when such people take the rules of conscience that they have created for themselves and turn them into laws for others to live by. This is a constant problem among zealous religious groups, because as Jesus pointed out, such attitudes aren't pleasing to God. An example of this bad attitude and the way that it affects religious rule making, is seen in the case where the Pharisees objected to the fact that the Apostles (and Jesus, in Luke's account) failed to wash their hands before eating. Although there is nothing in God's Law that required washing before eating, the Pharisees had elevated the principle of ‘being a clean people' into a law, which they used to even condemned the holy. As you can see, whenever any person or religious group steps beyond the black-letter law of the Bible, they step into the shoes of the Pharisees.


Separating the Sheep and the Goats
At Matthew 25:31-33 Jesus said, ‘When the Son of Man arrives in his glory along with all the messengers, he will sit down on his glorious throne, and all nations will be led before him. Then he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he'll put the sheep on his right, but the goats on his left.' A common misconception about the separating of the sheep and the goats mentioned in these verses, is that it is speaking of Jesus separating the righteous from the unrighteous for what Revelation 16:16 refers to as the Battle of Armageddon. However, that doesn't appear to be the case here, for no battle is mentioned. And according to Revelation 16:13, 14, that great battle is fought against the kings and armies of this world.
Rather, you may notice that these words of Jesus seem to be part of a quotation from the prophecy of Ezekiel 34:17 (LXX), which says: ‘And from among you, My sheep;' says God the Lord, ‘{Look!} I'll separate sheep from the sheep among you, and the rams from the goats.' Then the Prophecy goes on to say (in verses 20-23): ‘Because of this,' says God the Lord, ‘{Look!} I'll separate the strong from the weak. For you pushed them away with your shoulders and sides, and the weak you gored with your horns... you squeezed them out and pushed them aside! So, I will rescue My sheep, and no more will they serve as [your] plunder, for I will judge between ram and ram. I will raise a shepherd for them, and he (My servant David) will tend them... he'll care for them and be their shepherd.' So, this prophecy clearly seems to be speaking of the time when Jesus (My servant David) does this separating work, which Jesus spoke of at Matthew 25:31-33. Then what are some of the other features of this prophecy? Well, notice God's words that precede the description of the separating work in Ezekiel 34; for in verse 13 we read: ‘Then I will lead them out of the nations, and gather them from many regions, then bring them [back] to their land. And upon the mountains of Israel I'll graze them... in the ravines and homes of the land.' So, the separating of the sheep from the goats doesn't appear to be a separating of worldly nations, but of those within the lost sheep of Israel... and one could conclude that this is a separating of those calling themselves Christians (for more information on who are considered Judah and Israel,
Notice that the reward for those who are found to be sheep is that they would ‘Inherit the Kingdom that has been prepared for [them] from the founding of the world'. And the outcome for those found to be ‘goats' is to be ‘cursed into the fire of the ages that was prepared for the Opposer and his messengers'
What is the basis of the judgment that determines who the ‘sheep' are and who the ‘goats' are? As Jesus said, it all depends on how they treat his ‘brothers.' And just who are Jesus' brothers? He said (at Matthew 12:49): ‘Whoever does all that my Father in heaven wishes is my brother, sister, and mother.'


Mary from Magdala
Much has been said and written about this woman, with no basis, because the only record of her is in the Bible, and it tells us very little. What we do know is that her name wasn't Magdalene, as most Bibles indicate, because surnames were seldom used in Bible times. Rather, her name was just Mary, and she was referred to as the Magdelean to differentiate her from other Marys who were also Jesus' disciples (there are six Marys mentioned in the Bible). This term may have referred to her coming from the town of Magdala or Magadan, which was on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee about halfway between Capernaum and Tiberias. Jesus expelled seven demons from Mary, and this is likely why she was so devoted to serving him. We find the first mention of her in the second year of Jesus' preaching, as he and his Apostles were traveling from city to city proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom. There the Bible tells us that she and several other faithful women traveled among the crowd of Jesus' disciples and they served the needs of Jesus and his Apostles from their possessions. And finally, she was also among the large crowd of people who traveled with Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem and witnessed his death on the pole... followed by seeing him in his resurrected form. Thereafter, there is no mention of her in the book of Acts. Could she have possibly been Jesus' wife, as some have claimed? No, for the busy nomadic life of Jesus would have made him a poor provider and husband. And thereafter, she isn't mentioned by Paul, James, Peter, or Jude... which would be strange if she had held such an important position in Jesus' life. Actually, if Jesus had taken Mary as a wife, he would have disqualified himself for his high position before God, for notice what was to be true of him (Hebrews 3:1): ‘Let's consider this Apostle and High Priest who we confess, Jesus.' As God's Highest Priest, Jesus could have never chosen Mary (with her reputed unsavory past) as his wife, for notice God's own requirements for His Priests (Leviticus 21:10-14): ‘And the Priest who is the chief one among his brothers ... may only take a wife who is a virgin and from his own tribe... not a widow, a divorcee, someone who has been violated, or a whore. He may only take a virgin from his own people as a wife.'


Spiritually Impoverished
While most people think that, what are called ‘the Beatitudes' (Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount) are quite simple and straight forward, some of the things he said there are very complicated and difficult to translate accurately. A good example is the words found at Matthew 5:3, which we most recently translated as ‘The spiritually impoverished are blest, because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.' In the Greek text this reads, ‘Makarioi oi ptochoi to pneumati, hoti auton e Basilea ton ouranon,' or, ‘Blest the poor/ones to/the breath that of/them is the Kingdom of/the heavens.' And in Aramaic it reads, ‘Tuwâyhon Lmiskéné Brukh. D-dheelhonee mâlkutha dâshmây-ya,' or, ‘Blest are they; the people poor in the breath of life. For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.' The first translating problem that arises here is with the word that is translated as breath or spirit (pneumati in Greek). For, both the Greek and Aramaic words used there just mean breath, wind, or unseen force... which is what the Latin word spirit also means. And notice that in the Aramaic text it is referred to as the ‘breath (spirit) of life,' which seems to imply the life force that God once breathed into Adam. So, much greater things may be implied here than most suspect. And regardless of the meanings of the words, the question we must next ask is; Why would those who don't have much ‘spirit' or ‘breath' be given the Kingdom of the heavens? Wouldn't such a reward require a great depth of spirituality?
Well, while most Bibles render the words ‘ptochoi to pneumati' as ‘poor in spirit,' one Bible translates it as ‘conscious of their spiritual need,' which seems to make some sense to those who think Jesus was speaking of a requirement for life in heaven, but these words just aren't in the original text. And we once translated it as ‘who beg for [God's] Breath,' implying that they are poor and begging for more of His Spirit, which also makes some sense (since the word ptochoi could refer to a beggar or supplicant). However, we no longer think that is what Jesus meant. After much discussion among our contributors and advisors, we have concluded that our latest rendering (that the ‘spiritually impoverished' would receive the ‘Kingdom of heaven') is most likely correct. But if this conclusion is true, then what did Jesus mean? Well, while most people think of Jesus' famous sermon as just good words to live by (that's why they call them Beatitudes, which means Happinesses), he apparently didn't say them for that reason. Rather, if you read the next verse, for example, you'll notice that he was actually foretelling a change in opportunities. For it says there, ‘The sad are blest because they will be comforted.' Now, Jesus wasn't implying that all sad people would be blest, nor was he saying that all those who are spiritually impoverished would be blest. Rather, he was telling the common people who listened to him that their lives could be changed if they listened to his words and became his followers. And if they did that, their spiritually impoverished condition would be changed to a life of total spirituality (the Kingdom of the heavens), and they would receive comfort for their reasons for sadness. So, it doesn't appear as though Jesus was speaking of different types of people and the different rewards they would receive at Matthew 5:1-10, as some have taught. Rather, it seems that Jesus was opening opportunities for poeople to have a part in that Kingdom, and all ten verses of Matthew Five were an admonishment to the common people to seek the Kingdom of Heaven, because (as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus teaches us), things were about to change. This didn't necessarily mean that they had the hope of going to heaven, but that they would receive the benefits of the heavenly Kingdom, and that they would receive an inheritance of land on the earth.


Seismos
The Greek words seismos and seismoi are usually thought of as meaning earthquake and earthquakes, for the modern study of earthquakes is called seismology. Therefore, when Jesus was speaking about the signs of his being near and said one of the signs would be seismoi (Matthew 24:7), most have assumed that this referred just to a greater frequency of earthquakes (which we have seen). However, the Greek word seismos appears to actually refer to a shaking or disturbance, which doesn't necessarily imply just earthquakes. For, Matthew used the word (at Matthew 8:24) to describe an agitated sea when Jesus was on a boat with his disciples. Then at 2 Kings 2:11, when the Prophet EliJah was taken into the sky in a flaming chariot, the word that was used to describe the storm that took him, was once again seismos. So, Jesus' use of the word at Matthew 24:7 implies more than just earthquakes. It could imply a plethora of natural wind and water disasters, such as the earth has recently experienced. It has also been recently brought to our attention that seismos could be translated as turmoil or unrest. So, could Jesus have implied even more than natural disasters in that single word? The signs of our times would indicate this is probably so.


Gehenna or Garbage Dump?
The Greek word Gehenna is often translated Hell Fire. Yet, the word simply means the Valley (heb. ga) of Hinnom. The Valley of Hinnom (also referred to as ‘the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom') was a garbage dump that was located along one of Jerusalem's outer walls. It was a beautiful park before Jerusalem's conquest by Babylon, but it was defiled when apostate Jews offered their children as sacrifices on an altar to the God Molech there (see 2 Chronicles 28:3). Then, after the repatriation to Jerusalem, the valley was used in a disrespectful way. As a garbage dump, it was customary to keep the garbage burning to reduce the stench and to limit vermin, so sulfur and brimstone was frequently poured into the dump to keep the fires burning hot. This is why Jesus, when using the term, spoke of the fire as not being put out. Also, because worms (maggots) bred along the edges of the dump, he could say that the worms don't die there. But there is no indication that he was talking about humans here. The only cases where humans were actually thrown into Gehenna provides an insight into what Jesus was talking about when he referred to people going there: The dead bodies of particularly vile condemned criminals were thrown into Gehenna's fires whenever the population felt that they were undeserving of a decent burial.
As you read the Scriptures, you will notice the importance that Hebrews placed on being ‘laid to rest with their ancestors.' So when Jesus spoke of people being thrown into Gehenna, he was obviously referring to unrepentant sinners being thrown into the ‘garbage dump.' In other words, in the eyes of God they were unworthy of a resurrection. This same fate (of no resurrection) is implied by the death of the wicked Queen JezeBel, whose body was eaten by dogs. This outcome for the willfully wicked is also referred to in other places in Matthew's account as the fire of the age. Why was that term used? Because fire destroys, and this destruction is for the ages.


Peter
One of the most common religious myths is the teaching that Peter was the first ‘Pope' or ‘Father' of the Christian Church, and that he ruled from (and died in) Rome. There is no Bible substantiation of these teachings and they are most likely false. Why? Notice what Paul wrote at Galatians 2:9, ‘When they came to know the care that was shown to me, James, Cephas (Peter), and John (the ones who seemed to be pillars) gave BarNabas and I their approval to go to the nations, while they would go to the circumcised.' So, it is clear from Paul's words that there was no earthly ‘head of the Christian congregation' at that time. There were three ‘pillars' - or those who seemed to be taking the lead, Peter (Cephas), James, and John - and they were living in Jerusalem (not Rome) at the time. Also, notice that Peter's responsibility was not that of being the head of the congregation, but he was spoken of by Paul as being an ‘Apostle (sent one) to the circumcised' (the Jews), as were James and John. Then, if you read the next few verses in Galatians 2, you will see how Paul then reprimanded Peter for separating himself from Gentile converts, which isn't something that anyone would do to the ‘infallible' head of the Christian Church. However, Peter did travel to visit far away Christian congregations, as both Paul and the book of Acts tell us. But, as ‘the Apostle to the circumcised,' his home was in Jerusalem and his travel was limited primarily to large Jewish settlements, such as was true of the ancient city of Babylon, which is where he wrote a letter (the book of First Peter). Notice how he ended this letter (at 1 Peter 5:13), ‘I send greetings from the woman who was also chosen along with you, and Mark (my son), from Babylon.' Now, while the City of Babylon may not have been inhabited by the time of Peter, the city that replaced it (Seleucia) was, and the area was know to be heavily populated by Jews (those to whom Peter was an Apostle). Also notice that this greeting comes from Peter's wife, ‘the woman who was also chosen along with you' (see Matthew 8:14) and from Peter's close associate, the Gospel writer Mark. Jesus' words to Peter, found at Matthew 16:18, 19, don't indicate that Peter would be the head of his ‘Church.' For, notice exactly what he said there, ‘I also tell you this: You are Peter, but I will build my congregation on this bedrock so the gates to the grave won't overpower it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you make binding on earth will be bound in the heavens. And whatever you set free on earth will be set free in the heavens.' In Greek, verse 18 reads, ‘su ei Petros kai epi taute te petra oikodomeso mou ten ecclesian,' or, ‘you are Bedrock, but on this and bedrock (I will) build my the congregation.'
Notice that Jesus didn't say, ‘I will build my Church on you,' he said ‘I will build my congregation on this bedrock.' What was ‘this bedrock' that Jesus was referring to? Was it Peter? We find a description of this congregation and its construction at Revelation 21:14, which says, ‘The city wall also had twelve foundation stones, and the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb were written on them.' So, we can see that Peter was just one of the twelve foundation stones, not the primary foundation or bedrock. Rather, what Jesus appears to be saying (at Matthew 16:18) is that; as Peter's name meant Bedrock, Jesus' body (by his death) would serve as the bedrock or foundation of the Christian Congregation (or Church). In other words, the ‘bedrock' that the Congregation would be built on, was the body of Jesus, not on Peter. For, notice what Peter himself said at 1 Peter 2:4-6, ‘Approach him (Jesus) as though he were a living block of stone (who for a fact was rejected by men but was chosen as precious by God), [upon whom] you as living blocks are being built into a spiritual house, into a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God, through Jesus the Anointed. For the Scripture says, {Look!} I am laying a block that I selected in Zion, a precious primary cornerstone. Anyone who believes in it will never be ashamed.' The sentence structure at Matthew 16:18 shows our conclusion to be true (that Jesus was simply using a play on Peter's name when he spoke of the bedrock that he would build his congregation on). Notice the structure, ‘su ei Petros kai epi taute te petra.' Use of the word te before petra indicates that petra was used as a parallel to Petros, or that this was a play on words. Te is not a common Bible word. It is what is referred to as an ‘enclitic particle,' which is often translated as and, but is used to couple parallel thoughts. The Greek word that is normally translated as and, is kai. According to The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, ‘te is employed generally when something is subjoined which does not thus directly and necessarily follow.' So, ‘te' might be better translated as ‘but.' There is certainly no indication in any other part of the Bible that Peter ever took the principal lead in governing the Congregation. In fact, when the matter of Gentile circumcision was raised before the governing body in Jerusalem, the decision was given by (Jesus' half-brother) James, not Peter. As to Peter's being given ‘the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven,' this refers to the leading role that Peter would play in identifying and explaining the outpouring of God's Holy Breath, first on the Jews at Pentecost (see Acts 2:14-39) and then the acceptance and conversion of the first Gentiles (see Acts Chapter 10). All of this had to do with opening the opportunity to rule (first to Jews, then to Gentiles) in the ‘Kingdom of heaven.' Where did Peter die? Well, we do know that he died violently for his faith, since that is what Jesus foretold at John 21:18, 19. But, since Peter apparently died before the Roman attack on Jerusalem (66-70 C.E.), he was likely murdered by the Jews in Jerusalem, or possibly in Babylon. There is no Bible (or authenticated historical) record of his ever traveling to or being killed in Rome.


How Are We Saved?
Although the term ‘getting saved' is used throughout the Bible, we gain a real sense of the meaning of this term from Acts 16:29, where we read of a jailer who was unfamiliar with Christianity and its terms, when he asked Paul and Silas, ‘Lords, what do I have to do to get saved?' That's when Paul and Silas told him, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.' Was simple ‘belief in Jesus' all that was required for salvation? In this case, there was a lot more that he needed to understand, because, as a virtual pagan (Roman or Greek), there was a world of things for him to learn about monotheism, Christian conduct, the resurrection, and of God's Kingdom. So, much more than just belief in Jesus was required for salvation. This is why the account continues with the words, ‘Then they told him and all those in his house about the Word of God.'
Unfortunately, many people profess to believe in Jesus today, but they don't understand Christian living - Jesus' instructions on morality and love, for example. So, notice what Jesus himself said at Matthew 7:22, 23, ‘In that day, many will say to me, Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and perform many great works in your name? Then I'll admit to them: I never knew you! Get away from me you lawbreakers.' So, more than simple belief is required. To keep from being a ‘lawbreaker' and in order to be ‘known' by Jesus, a person must believe in him and everything he taught, including his instructions on how to live a life as one of his followers.
And who will actually be saved? Jesus answered this question himself when he said what was recorded at Matthew 24:13, ‘But he who endures to the end will be saved.' So, from the above, we must conclude that while belief in Jesus is required for salvation, knowledge of how to live a Christian life is also required. And to continue in this saved condition, one must maintain a clean relationship with God until ‘the end.' That is, until the end of their lives or until the coming of Jesus.


Matthew 25:1
Aramaic and other ancient texts include " and the bride " at the end of verse one. And although these words would seem to be a foregone conclusion, many believe that the virgins in the parable are the bride, and these words that indicate the bride came with the bridegroom clearly shows that the virgins were not the bride, but that they were simply guests at the wedding banquet. Now, for a fact, it is possible that these words may not have been written by Matthew, but they likely were, so we have included them. And other facts, such as the number of the virgins (many brides?), and that some were not allowed into the banquet (rejected brides?), indicates that they are in fact not the bride.
Recognize that in ancient Hebrew society, it was customary to take the bride from her home (which was the marriage), and then they would go to a wedding banquet where friends and guests were invited, but no marriage ceremony was performed there. So, the fact that the virgins were invited to the celebration (not the wedding) shows that they were not the bride class. It would seem strange indeed for a man to marry and thereafter come along the road to invite some of his brides to the party, while not allowing the rest to enter. Does this conclusion then mean that the hope of the ‘faithful, sensible slave,' and the ‘three slaves' of Jesus other parables in Matthew 24, 25 may not be heavenly? Yes it does. For more information, see the linked document The Faithful and Sensible Slave.


Matthew 28:19
The words found at Matthew 28:19, ‘baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and [God's] Holy Breath,' are not found in the ancient Shem Tob Hebrew manuscript, so they are likely spurious (words that were added to the Bible). And this begs the question: Does the Bibles really command that we be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Many churches use the words found at Matthew 28:19, 20 when baptizing, which say: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all the things that I commanded you.' (This has been called the Trinity Formula, since it contains the three-person Godhead). At present, we don't have any complete Greek manuscripts of Matthew prior to the 4th Century, and all existing Greek and Latin manuscripts written thereafter contain this phrase. However, there is evidence that this reading is a later corruption of the original text. For example: The early Church historian Eusebius appears to quote from a different manuscript than any we presently have, for eighteen times (between the years 300 and 325-C.E.) he cited Matthew 28:19, 20 as saying: ‘Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you.' And it's interesting that the traditional Trinitarian reading of Matthew 28:19 doesn't appear in Eusebius' writings until after the Council of Nicaea, when the Trinity began to formally be held as official doctrine. In his work "A Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels, Vol. 1 - Matthew" by WIELAND WILLKER (Bremen, online published 5th edition 2007) he wrote: "Eusebius uses a form of Mt 28:19 29 times and cites it in three different forms:
Form 1: Go ye and make disciples of all nations (7 times)
Form 2. Go ye and make disciples of all nations in my name (17 times)
Form 3. The traditional form (5 times).'
Also Willker noted: "Note that the Eusebian form does not contain the [Latin] word baptizo, so [Matthew 28:19 is not a reference to baptism at all." So, evidence strongly indicates that this is a spurious scripture inserted by later Trinitarians, in the same vein as 1 John 5:7-8. However, this finding may prove to cut both ways for some; for while it breaks apart the only mention of the Trinity trio, it does seem to prove what many Trinitarians have said all along; that baptisms should only be done in the name of Jesus. So, since there may be no true mention of baptizing into the Father and Holy Breath (Spirit), the only other instructions in the Bible on how to baptize people say:
Acts 2:38, ‘Repent, and each of you get baptized in the name of Jesus the Anointed One, so your sins can be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Breath.

Acts 8:15, 16, ‘They went [to the Samaritans] and prayed for them to receive the Holy Breath, because it hadn't come to any of them yet, although they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.'
Acts 10:48, ‘So he commanded that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus the Anointed One.'
Acts 19:5, ‘When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.'
Also, notice the Description that Luke gave of the parting words of Jesus, as found at Luke 24:47. ‘Then, in his (Jesus') name, [the message of] repentance for forgiveness of sins is to be preached in all the nations, starting from Jerusalem.' As you can see, the Trinitarian formula isn't found there either.


The Missing Ancestor of Jesus
If you've ever taken the time to count them, you'll notice that there seems to be a generation missing in the genealogy of Jesus in most Bibles, for we read at Matthew 1:17, ‘So, there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen generations from David until the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to [the coming of] the Anointed.' Yet, the account of names after the deportation to Babylon shows only thirteen names. What accounts for this? Well, a study of Aramaic texts indicates that Joseph the son of Jacob wasn't Mary's husband, but her father, which makes fourteen generations. Yes, she did marry a man who was also named Joseph, but apparently he isn't mentioned in the text at Matthew 1:16. You will notice that Mary's husband Joseph was not the son of Jacob, but of Heli (see Luke 3:3).
Then why does the genealogy of Luke's account differ? Because he lists the family line of Joseph, Mary's husband, while Matthew is discussing the genealogy of Mary.


Jesus' Last Words
According to the Greek text, Jesus' last words at Matthew 27:46 were, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' That is, ‘My God, my God, why have you let me down?' These words have long bothered many Christians, because they imply that his Father disappointed Jesus. However, a study of ancient Aramaic texts reveals that Jesus may have been saying something quite different, which was lost in translation. Aramaic scholars say that Matthew didn't actually translate his gospel into Greek, because he wrote to the people who spoke the language he was writing, Aramaic. And it seems probable that the man who translated Matthew into Greek (they say his name was Zorba) mixed the Hebrew words with Aramaic when he translated them into Greek. They point out that sabachthani is not the same as the Hebrew word that is used in the prophecy at Psalm 22:1, for there it uses the word sjebaqtani. And if Jesus had said forsaken, he would have said, ‘Eli, Eli, lema azab-thani?' So they claim that Jesus really said, ‘My God, my God, why have you spared me?' The point being, that Jesus was willing to suffer even more, but God in His mercy cut short his misery. However, others say that it actually means, ‘My God, my God, for this I was kept,' or, ‘this was my destiny... for this I was born.'


Adultery
According to The Complete WordStudy Dictionary, the true meaning of Matthew 5:32 (as well as similar verses in Mark and Luke) is often misconstrued due to poor translating. For, most Bibles render the words there as reading, ‘But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.' As you can see, the implication is that any divorced woman, regardless of whether she is actually innocent of committing adultery, is deemed an adulteress when she is divorced. And anyone who thereafter marries her is then termed an adulterer. However, the dictionary mentioned above points out that these conclusions are incorrect, for they fail to recognize the subject of the sentence, which is the need to provide a rejected wife with a certificate of divorce. And when such a certificate is not given upon dismissal, it implies that she has been an adulteress. And thereafter, anyone who marries her is assumed to be an adulterer. Notice that the Greek word often translated as divorcing, is apoluon, which simply means to loose or unbind, and it doesn't necessarily imply a legal (certificated) divorce.
Please note the following definitions:
Fornication (gr. porneia, pronounced Por-neh-ee-ah) means, ‘that which is sold,' and it refers to the types of illicit services that are sold by (male and female) prostitutes. So, it covers a wide range of lewd acts that one may engage in outside the marriage arrangement (but not masturbation).
Adultery (gr. moicheia, pronounced moh-ee-keh-ee-ah) refers to an act of unfaithfulness or betrayal (not necessarily fornication).
Moicheia is a Greek word, not a Christian word. And in a male-dominated society, it was generally used to describe an unfaithful wife. However, Jesus expanded the term to include husbands who were unfaithful to their wives, and to those men who would marry someone else's unfaithful wife. So, what Jesus appears to be saying at Matthew 5:32 (and we're not being dogmatic here), is that legal (certificated) divorce (though not God's way) is the end of a marriage contract. So, if the faithful but legally released wife chooses to remarry, being given a divorce certificate frees her from the social stigma of being called an adulteress. While admitting that our view of these scriptures may be wrong (and we don't wish to mislead), the problem we have with the customary translation of these verses (and the reason why we have done further research on the meanings of these words) is that such an apparent law is the only one that we are aware of in the Bible, which identifies the victim (a faithful wife who has been unfairly released) as a sinner.

 

 

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