Greek Reading: Matthew 7:13-29

13Εἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης: ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν, καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι δι’ αὐτῆς: 14τί στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωήν, καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν. 15Προσέχετε ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν, οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασιν προβάτων, ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσιν λύκοι ἅρπαγες. 16ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς: μήτι συλλέγουσιν ἀπὸ ἀκανθῶν σταφυλὰς ἢ ἀπὸ τριβόλων σῦκα; 17οὕτως πᾶν δένδρον ἀγαθὸν καρποὺς καλοὺς ποιεῖ, τὸ δὲ σαπρὸν δένδρον καρποὺς πονηροὺς ποιεῖ: 18οὐ δύναται δένδρον ἀγαθὸν καρποὺς πονηροὺς ποιεῖν, οὐδὲ δένδρον σαπρὸν καρποὺς καλοὺς ποιεῖν. 19πᾶν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται. 20ἄρα γε ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς. 21Οὐ πᾶς ὁ λέγων μοι, Κύριε κύριε, εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, ἀλλ’ ὁ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. 22πολλοὶ ἐροῦσίν μοι ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Κύριε κύριε, οὐ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι ἐπροφητεύσαμεν, καὶ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δαιμόνια ἐξεβάλομεν, καὶ τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι δυνάμεις πολλὰς ἐποιήσαμεν; 23καὶ τότε ὁμολογήσω αὐτοῖς ὅτι Οὐδέποτε ἔγνων ὑμᾶς: ἀποχωρεῖτε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν. 24Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ἀκούει μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ ποιεῖ αὐτοὺς ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ φρονίμῳ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν. 25καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέπεσαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ οὐκ ἔπεσεν, τεθεμελίωτο γὰρ ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν. 26καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ μὴ ποιῶν αὐτοὺς ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ μωρῷ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν ἄμμον. 27καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέκοψαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἔπεσεν, καὶ ἦν ἡ πτῶσις αὐτῆς μεγάλη. 28Καὶ ἐγένετο ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς λόγους τούτους ἐξεπλήσσοντο οἱ ὄχλοι ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ: 29ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν.
I have a lexical comment, then a theological one. At first I had trouble figuring out what the τί at the beginning of v. 14 was doing. Normally that’s an interrogative pronoun meaning who? what? or why? After tinkering with my hit highlighting on Bibleworks, I came to find out that it occassionally functions as an exclamatory, perhaps rendered into English as “how!”. I will never cease to be amazed at the breadth and flexibility of words. A thorough lexicon, not some memorized gloss, and a keen eye for context are the foreign language reader’s best friends.

Regarding the theology of this section, I believe that many contemporary evangelicals would prefer if the end of v. 21 read more like “αλλʼ  ̔ο πιστευων εις με χωρις των εργων” (but the one who believes in me apart from works).  Likewise, perhaps that “καὶ ποιεῖ αὐτοὺς” in v. 24 could be changed to “και πιστευει αυτοις.” Anytime works and salvation are mentioned in the same passage, evangelicals can get a bit twitchy. I have two responses to this tendency. First, we Protestants ought to remember that the early Protestant theologians were arguing for justification apart from works, not salvation. Works and salvation are (usually) inextricably connected. Several passages in Scripture attest that one of the purposes of salvation is to produce those good works flowing from faith that are impossible for the unregenerate (1 Thess. 1:9; Eph. 2:10). Likewise, the Bible assumes that sanctification is the normal and necessary action of God in believers, preparing them for heaven (Heb. 12:14). So, although we are not saved because of our works, and only in a temporal sense through our good works, we are certainly saved along with our good works. Unbelievers, on account of their lack of faith, have no comparable good works (Heb. 11:16). Thus, Jesus can speak of those who do good works as those who will be saved and not compromise in any way the principle of justification by faith alone.

A second point is that these words of Jesus once again reinforce the severity of the law and the need for gospel. Who can do all the things Jesus said? Who can obey these things? Certainly not I. None of my good works is so pure as to be able to stand up under God’s searching examination. This is why Calvin, in Institutes 3.17.8-10, puts forth the idea that even our good works are in need of justification, and that Christ’s blood does indeed cover the imperfections in them and present them faultless to the Father. Because of Christ, God can accept my attempts at righteousness, defective though they are in knowledge, execution, and intention.

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Published in: on March 21, 2010 at 4:40 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Sorry I haven’t kept up with the posts too well. Life has been hectic.

    Very interesting note about τί. I certainly wasn’t sure what it was doing there either.

    Regarding your first theological point…It’s interesting that the connection is made back to τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν. The discussion about fruits is in the context of those who would come in and say things other than what Jesus said. Surely ὁ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός is the one who makes the confession with Peter in 16:18, “You are the Christ.” Thus faith and works, as you’ve intimated, are inextricably linked.


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