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Monday, October 27, 2008

A L L † S A I N T S † S U N D A Y † 2008

Lexegete™ | Year A | Matthew

ALL SAINTS November 1, 2008
All Saints may be transferred to Sunday, November 2.
Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22 (9)
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12

November 2, 2008 (Lectionary 31)
or All Saints may be observed.
Complementary Series
Micah 3:5-12
Psalm 43 (3)
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Matthew 23:1-12

Semicontinuous Series
Joshua 3:7-17
Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37 (8
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Matthew 23:1-12

1a. CONTEXT: Matthew 5:1-12

This is the Gospel appointed in the Roman and Sarum Missals, with the
second half of verse 12 added. It is, of course, the beginning of the
Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), including the so-called Beatitudes
(5:3-11). The parallel passage in the Third Gospel (Luke 6:20-23) has only
four Beatitudes, and none of these is identical with any one of Matthew's
nine. It will be convenient to notice these differences in the Analysis
below, rather than to consider them here. The few parallels found in the
Coptic Gospel of Thomas will also be noted in the Analysis.

The Beatitudes cannot be regarded as a catalogue of virtues: "The
describe the humble men [and women!] of pure heart who are persecuted
unjustly because of their love of righteousness and sorrow over the evil of
the world. They present us a picture of that oppressed class of pious Jews
from who our Lord and the earliest disciples sprang--the 'saints' of the
New Covenant." (M.H. Shepherd)

1b. TEXT: Matthew 5:1-12


The Sermon on the Mount

5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

The Beatitudes

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [1] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

[1] 5:9 Greek huioi; see preface
[2] 5:22 Some manuscripts insert without cause
[3] 5:22 Greek says Raca to (a term of abuse)
[4] 5:22 Greek Gehenna; also verses 29, 30
[5] 5:26 Greek kodrantes, Roman copper coin (Latin quadrans) worth about 1/64 of a denarius (which was a day's wage for a laborer)
[6] 5:37 Or the evil one
[7] 5:40 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin
[8] 5:47 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters


1iδων δε τους οχλους ανεβη εις το ορος: και καθισαντος αυτου προσηλθαν αυτω οι μαθηται αυτου: 2και ανοιξας το στομα αυτου εδιδασκεν αυτους λεγων, 3μακαριοι οι πτωχοι τω πνευματι, οτι αυτων εστιν η βασιλεια των ουρανων. 4μακαριοι οι πενθουντες, οτι αυτοι παρακληθησονται. 5μακαριοι οι πραεις, οτι αυτοι κληρονομησουσιν την γην. 6μακαριοι οι πεινωντες και διψωντες την δικαιοσυνην, οτι αυτοι χορτασθησονται. 7μακαριοι οι ελεημονες, οτι αυτοι ελεηθησονται. 8μακαριοι οι καθαροι τη καρδια, οτι αυτοι τον θεον οψονται. 9μακαριοι οι ειρηνοποιοι, οτι αυτοι υιοι θεου κληθησονται. 10μακαριοι οι δεδιωγμενοι ενεκεν δικαιοσυνης, οτι αυτων εστιν η βασιλεια των ουρανων. 11μακαριοι εστε οταν ονειδισωσιν υμας και διωξωσιν και ειπωσιν παν πονηρον καθ υμων [ψευδομενοι] ενεκεν εμου: 12χαιρετε και αγαλλιασθε, οτι ο μισθος υμων πολυς εν τοις ουρανοις: ουτως γαρ εδιωξαν τους προφητας τους προ υμων.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 5:1-12

Matthew 5:1-2 - Idon de tous ochlous anegei eis to oros, kai kathisantos
autou proselthan auto hoi mathetai autou - This introductory passage with
its reference to the mountain is a creation of the Evangelist some brief
introductory phrase, naming the disciples as the audience, doubtless
existed in Q (cf. Luke 6:20).

5:3-11 - makarioi: "Blessed" (KJV,RSV; "blest" NEB) is a better one-word
equivalent for makarios than "happy" (Phillips,et alia). Epicurus uses it
for the happiness enjoyed by the gods, free from human cares and
suffering; Plato uses it for the dead who are specially venerated, and
Aristotle applies it only to the gods. It occurs commonly in "beatitudes" in
non-Biblical Greek, in epitaphs, eulogies, and brief panegyrics. There are
many beatitudes in the Old Testament, principally in the Psalms and in the
Wisdom Literature; all have the typical form familiar to us from the
Sermon on the Mount. Many beatitudes are also found in the New
Testament, apart from those in Matthew 5:1-12 and the parallels in Luke.

In almost all of these makarios refers to the "distinctive religious joy"
that rightfully belongs to those who "share in the salvation of the kingdom
of God" (F. Hauck, in TDNT). In the Pauline letters we may mention Romans
4:7f.; 14:22; and 1 Cor. 7:40; the Book of Revelation has no less than seven:
1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14.

The impressive form of beatitudes makes them ideally suited to the
expression of sacred paradoxes (cf. 1 Peter 3:14,4:14; Rev. 14:13). The
familiar Beatitudes that introduce the Sermon on the Mount are,
fundamentally, statements "about those who may regard themselves as
citizens of the kingdom of God. The power of the statements lies in their
reversal of all human values" (Hauck). The Lucan Beatitudes (Luke 6:20f.)
are promises of eschatological consolation to those in certain concrete
circumstances: the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the hated;
corresponding threats ("woes") to the rich, the sated, and the laughing
appear in Luke 6:24f. In Matthew the connection between right conduct and
heavenly reward is emphasized, and the "woes" are omitted.

5:3 - Makarioi hoi ptochoi to pneumati, hoti auton estin he Basileia ton
ouranon - As indicated above, Luke's version (Makarioi hoi ptochoi, hoti
humetera estin he Basileia tou Theou) is more primitive; it is an address
TO the poor, not a statement about them, and it has in view not the poor
"in spirit" but those actually in want (contrast Luke 6:24 - ouai humin tois
plousiois), By adding to pneumati Matthew has introduced a unifying
thought: those who are "poor in spirit" are the pious in Israel (M'Neile). Cf.
James 2:5, where tous ptochous to kosmo are further defined as plousious
en pistei. Matthew's basileia to ouranon may reflect Jewish reluctance to
use the Divine Name: the usage is in any case peculiar to Matthew, who
has the phrase 32 times. Whether in this phrase or in the corresponding

Basileia tou Theou (4 times in Mt., 15 in Mk., 32 in Lk.), basileia should
probably be rendered "sovereignty" or "kingship." [A detailed treatment of
this word can be found in the Theological Dictionary of the New
Testament, vol. 1, pp. 579-590.] Logion 54 of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas
reads like a conflation of Matthew and Luke: Blessed are the poor, for
yours is the kingdom of heaven.

5:4 - makarioi hoi penthountes, hoti autoi parakletheisontai - Luke 6:21b
makarioi hoi klaiontes nun, hoti gelasete. Luke's insertion of nun here and
in 21a shows that the verbs are strictly future (M'Neile). The contrasting
Lucan "woe" (6:25b) runs, ouai, hoi gelontes nun, hoti pentheisete kai

5:5 - makarioi hoi praeis, hoti autoi kleronomeisousin tein gen - This
Beatitude is based on Psalm 36 [37]: 11 - hoi de praeis kleronoomeisousin
gen. Praeis expresses the attitude of the "poor in spirit" toward God.

5:6 - makarioi ho peinontes kai dipsontes tein dikaiosynen, hoti autoi
chortasthesonta - Once more the Lucan version is more direct and
concrete: makarioi hoi peinontes, hoti chortasthesesthe - A debased
version of this Beatitude appears in Logion 69b of the Coptic Gospel of
Thomas: "Blessed are they who are hungry, that the belly of him who
desires may be satisfied."

5:7 - makarioi hoi eleimones, hoti autoi eleithesontai - MERCY, like
righteousness, is a divine attribute, and ,hence, a special aspect of the
"poor in spirit." As in the case of righteousness, those who practice mercy
shall receive it in the coming kingdom. Cf. Prov. 17:5; Jas. 2:13; 1 Clem.

5:8 - makarioi hoi katharoi tei kardia, hoti autoi ton theon opsontai - As
C.S. Lewis pointedly says, Only the pure in heart would WANT to see God."

No one else could bear it. This Beatitude is, of course, related to the
foregoing: those who inherit the Kingdom of Heaven will be those who see

5:9 - makarioi hoi eienopoioi, hoti autoi huioi theou klethesontai - God Is
the "author of peace and over of concord" (Book of Common Prayer); in his
Kingdom those who have sought to establish peace in the world will be
revealed as God's sons, because they share this nature.

5:10 - makarioi hoi dediogmenoi eneken dikaiosynes, hoti auton estin he
basileia ton ouranon - The Coptic Gospel of Thomas has (Logion 69a) -
Blessed are those who have been persecuted in their hearts; these are they
that have known the Father in truth. This has an almost Johannine ring: to
know the Father is to have eternal life (Jn. 17:3), which is the Johannine
equivalent of the Kingdom of Heaven.

5:11 - makarioi este hotan oneidisosin humas kai dioxosin kai eiposin pan
poneron kath' humon [pseudomenoi] eneken emou - The Lucan parallel seems
more developed in this instance: makarioi este hotan misesosin humas hoi
anthropoi kai hotan aphorisosin humas kai oneidisosin kai ekbalosin to
onoma humon hos poneron eneka tou huiou tou anthropou - As with the
Logion 69b (see above) the Gospel of Thomas seems to have lost whatever
point this Beatitude may have originally had (Logion 68): "Blessed are you
when you are hated and persecuted, and no place will be found where you
have been hated and persecuted."

5:12 - chairete kai agalliasthe, hoti ho misthos humon polus en tois
ouranois outos gar edioxan tous prophetas tou pro humon - Compare
Romans 5:3f.; Jas. 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6,4:13; Rev. 22:12 (this last may be
understood as a threat as well as a promise).

The idea of reward is very prominent in the teaching of Jesus; a reward
may be represented as a sort of quid pro quo affair: cf. 5:7 above, and 6:14;
10:32,41f.; 25:29; or it may be offered as a compensation for loss (10:39).
To these traditional and somewhat crude quantitative notions Jesus added

a new qualitative dimension: Service is a duty and does not merit reward
(Lk. 17:9f.) and moreover, even the opportunities for service are given by
God (25:14-46). The idea of "reward" is thus replace by the concept of
free, unmerited grace, bestowed upon all equally (20:1-16). The Kingdom
of Heaven belongs to all those for whom it is prepared (20:23; 25:34),
not only for those whose exemplary virtue or piety has made them fit to
enter it: the only person who is fit for the Kingdom is the King.

3. STRATEGY: The Beatitudes

All Saints' Day is a time to remind people of the original meaning of
SANCTIFIED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD. In both the Olt and New Testaments the
word "saints" refers to all the people of God, not just to some special
class of believers distinguished for piety or probity. It is true, of course,
that some saints are in various ways more "noteworthy" than others, and
because of this they may provide us with more obvious examples to
" all virtuous and godly living" (Book of Common Prayer). Such
specially noteworthy saints need not be discovered only in the Bible or in
the first Christian centuries.

Newer Calendars adopted by several Churches include
the names of saints closer to our own time whose lives amply manifest the
continuing activity of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The biographies of
some of these men and women could be profitably studied by a whole
congregation or, at least, by small groups; an All Saints' Day sermon might
include brief summaries of the careers of one or two of the most
remarkable: from the calendar of the Episcopal Church the lives of Samuel
Isaac Joseph Schereschewski and John Coleridge Patteson are of special
interest in view of their connection with the missionary enterprise in the
"Third World'" (they were respectively bishops of China and Melanesia).
The LBW calendar in the newly formed Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America (merging the ALC, AELC and LCA) includes names like those of

Nicholas Copernicus and Leonhard Euler(May 24) . This is a salutary and
much needed reminder that scientists were and are Christians, including
astronomers and mathematicians of the first rank.


Aland, Kurt. SYNOPSIS QUATTUOR EVANGELIORUM. Stuttgart: Deutsche
Bibelstiftung, 1976. 9th Ed. The Coptic Gospel of Thomas is given in an
appendix (in Latin, German, English).

Marsh. Oxford: Blackwell, 2nd ed., 1968.

Johnson,S.H. "The Gospel of Matthew," in THE INTERPRETER'S BIBLE,vol. 7.

New York: Abingdon, 1951.

Kittel, Gerhard,ed. "Basileia" and "Makarios" in the THEOLOGICAL
DICTIONARY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, transl. Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand
Rapids,MI: Eerdmans, 1963.


York: Oxford University Press, 1950.


There is a great abundance of fine hymnody appropriate for All Saints' Day.

Foremost (and most familiar) of these is FOR ALL THE SAINTS (HB 287,
LBW 174; tune- SINE NOMINE by Ralph Vaughan Williams); also excellent is
WHO ARE THESE LIKE STARS APPEARING? (HB 286) which has a parallel in
the Norwegian hymn WHO IS THIS HOST ARRAYED IN WHITE? (LBW 314).

Other Suggestions:




For a children's hymn, I SING A SONG OF THE SAINTS OF GOD (HB 293)

is hard to beat.

Exegete: Eugene V.N. Goetchius, PhD,ThD

Exegete: Eugene Van Ness Goetchius, Ph.D., Th.D. was
Professor Emeritus of the New Testament and Biblical
Languages, and Lecturer in Greek at Episcopal Divinity
School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His publications
include: The Language of the New Testament.
New York: Charles Schribner's Sons, 1965.


November reflection usually brings to mind America’s Thanksgiving traditions and
the early arrival of Pilgrims in Plymouth, MA (only a year after slaves began to be brought into the New World). A recent volume of writings on American saints and pilgrims does a wonderful job of rounding out our picture of sainthood today:

A Year with American Saints

By Scott Cady and Christopher Webber

Church Publishing Inc., 2006.

Here, in a volume of 758 pages, Rev. Scott Cady of Manchester, CT, and Christopher L. Webber of Sharon, CT, have profiled a broad and inclusive cross section of American pilgrims of the faith, some very famous, others less well-known men and women from all periods of America's history and all major Christian faith traditions. From the pre-revolutionary era to the twentieth century, their accomplishments and spiritual journeys are examples of perseverance, courage, and holiness. From Robert Hunt, first chaplain of the Jamestown colony in Virginia, who gave pastoral care and support to settlers who were far from home and struggling with disease and hardship, to Rosa Parks, whose quiet, dignified resistance to segregation signaled a dramatic change in the Civil Rights movement, A Year with American Saints encompasses the joy and drama of the Christian story in America.

The book is chronologically arranged throughout the year with one person described for each day of the year. Descriptions include the person’s denomination, birth and death dates, biographic summary and a selected reading. Two help indexes list the saints by their birth dates, and alphabetically by name. For an excerpt, see Fr. Webber’s excellent website-→

Three other brief and older books on "saints" in various senses of the word--
both ancient and modern--are useful in preparation for this Feast:

Forrest, Diane. THE ADVENTURERS. Nashville: Upper Room, 1983.

Subtitled "ordinary people with special callings," this brief book
fleshes out the meaning of "sainthood" through the exciting real life stories of nine adventurous people: Francis of Assisi, William Wilberforce, Elizabeth Fry, Father Damien, Mary Slessor, Harriet Tubman, Eric Liddell, Bob McClure and Mother Teresa. This slim volume is vividly illustrated with vivid sketches and portraits and extremely readable. For this reason, it could be used as a brief adult study series or
even more appropriately with elementary school children in search of role
models, AKA "superheroes."

Newland, Mary Reed. THE SAINT BOOK. Minneapolis: Seabury, 1979.

Although aimed at both adults and children, this book has a much more
"hagiographic" tone than THE ADVENTURERS. It is in the best sense from
the genre of "lives of the saints." Even the author's excellent drawings
seem more drawn from traditional icons of martyrs and saints, monks and
nuns. Rather than sketch out the adventures of noteworthy Christians, the
author has selected more than fifty important saints from the history of
the church catholic and the nearly 200 in the liturgical calendars, and
adding a few others for good measure.

The calendar begins with January 4th (Elizabeth Seton) and continues
through December 23rd, John of Kanty. Along the way one encounters the
richness and diversity of church history in the lives of the people of God.
This book makes especially good reading for Protestants, who may be
familiar with Anselm and Teresa, but have only the vaguest knowledge of
St. John Vianney or Anthony of Padua --even though one may live within
walking distance of a parish by those names. But the real strength of this
book is in its clear, concise approach and the fact that Mary Newland is
able to cover so many lives so beautifully in less than 200 pages.

Finally (though hard to find these days), is Glenway Westcott’s CALENDAR OF SAINTS FOR UNBELIEVERS. New Haven: Leete's Island Books,1932 (1976).

Much more whimsical in tone than the above, this delightful
slip-cased volume is both entertaining and illuminating, for it contains
virtually every saint (real or imaginary) who ever walked the face of the
earth. Replete with colorful legends, it is not (as the title warns) for the
credulous among us! A healthy antidote to saint-worship and
relic-mongering! (May be out of print: try writing Leete's Island Books,
Box 1131, New Haven, CT 06505 for more information.)



Dartmouth,MA 02747

Monday, October 13, 2008

P E N T E C O S T - X X I I I

Lexegete ™ | Year A | Matthew



October 19, 2008 (Lectionary 29)

Complementary Series

Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm 96:1-9 [10-13] (7)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22
Color: Green

Semicontinuous Series

Exodus 33:12-23
Psalm 99 (5)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22

1a. CONTEXT: Matthew 22:15-22

All the evangelists (See also Mark 12:13-17 and Luke 20:20-26)
provide a dramatic political context for Jesus' saying, "Render to Caesar..."
(v. 21) by setting this passage during Jesus' final week in Jerusalem.
Presumably the Jewish authorities do not arrest him while he is teaching
because to do so could cause a riot; better to take him, as they eventually
do, at night. If, however, the crowds could be won away from him, Jesus
would be entirely at their mercy. Those authorities, therefore, seek
either to alienate Jesus from his popular following or provoke him into
making statements that would brand him as an immediate threat to the

Paying taxes, besides being onerous (the provinces of Judea and
Syria pleaded for relief from the tribute in A.D. 17 on grounds of fiscal
exhaustion) represented acceptance of Roman rule. The Jewish
authorities, who owed their position to the Romans, supported paying
them. The Zealots opposed paying taxes, following the tradition of Judas
the Galilaean, a rebel, who in A.D. 6, urged the Jews not to pay tribute to

the Romans or to acknowlege any mortal masters. The utterly dispicable
reputation of tax collectors, whom Jesus himself, in a passage shortly
before this one, mentions in the same breath with harlots (Matt: 21:32),
shows how intensely the people hated the Roman tax. Most people paid the
taxes out of necessity, but we may presume that they favored the Zealot
position and would consider Jesus a mere temporizer if he advocated

Any interpretation of the saying must take seriously the context
the evangelists provide for it in a deadly political game. In that context,
what caused Jesus' interlocutors to marvel (v. 22), is not its intrinsic
wisdom, the but fact that it finesses a tricky question, turning it back on
those who ask it. In this regard, it is like Jesus' answer to the question
about the resurrection in the scene that follows (Matt. 22:23-33). Shortly
before, we find Jesus himself effectively posing such a question when he
asks the religious authorities to say where John the Baptist received his
authority (Matt> 21:23; see also Paul's manoeuvre in Acts 23:6-10).
Traditionally, v. 21 has been interpreted in terms of a dualistic
understanding of human identity. Origen allegorized Jesus' saying as
advice to give the body (the realm of Caesar) its due even as one dedicated
the spirit to God. This fateful distinction underlies Luther's highly
influential interpretation of "Render to Caesar": "The soul is not under the
authority of Caesar; he can neither teach it nor guide it, neither kill it nor
give it life, neither bind it nor loose it, neither judge it nor condemn it,
neither hold it fast nor release it. All this he would have to do, had he the
authority to command it and impose laws upon it. But with respect to the
body, property, and honor he has indeed to do these things, for such
matters are under his authority." (LUTHER'S WORKS, 46:111)
For Luther, the state is God's provision for earthly order. As such,
it can legitimately demand submission in all temporal matters.
Christians, whom Luther envisions, in terms of his own historical
situation, as free citizens rather than as oppressed subjects of foreign
domination, should actively support the state.

Luther's interpretation, in which Jesus is assigning the state
authority in secular matters and God authority in spiritual matters, was,
until fairly recently, taken for granted as the plain sense of the passage.
This is no longer so; modern interpreters recognize that Jesus does not say
where Caesar's legitimate rights stop and God's begin. In 1956 J. Spencer
Kennard argued that Jesus cleverly sidestepped the issue of paying tribute,
leaving his followers infer that they should NOT pay it. Most modern
interpreters find Kennard's argument unpersuasive but agree with him that
"Jesus' answer did not imply any dualism between material and spiritual
values." (J. Spencer Kennard, RENDER TO CAESAR, p. 122)
If we wish to find guidance from it, Matthew 22:21 must be seen
in the light of, "We must obey God rather than men," (Acts 6:29) and the
radical judgment on the Roman state in the Revelation to John (cf. Rev.
18), on the one hand, and of, "There is no authority except from God....For
the same reason you must pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of
God, attending to this very thing." (Rom. 13:1,6) and "Be subject for the
Lord's sake to every human institution (1 Peter 1:13), on the other. If, in
the preceding pericope, Matthew is careful to prevent us from identifying
the Kingdom with the church, here he wishes to prevent our identifying it,
in Roman or in Zealot fashion, with the state.

Oscar Cullmann provides a nuanced and pastorally helpful
contemporary interpretaion of the passage: "Jesus' whole position toward
the State is clearly circumscribed, precisely in the duality it entails
throughout. On the one hand, the State is nothing final. On the other, it
has the right to demand what is necessary to its existence--but no more.
Every totalitarian claim of the state is thereby disallowed. And the double
imperative logically follows: on the one hand, do not let the Zealots draw
you into purely political martial action against the existence of th Roman
State; on the other, do not give to the State what belongs to God! In the
background we hear the challenge: if ever the State demands what belongs
to God, if ever it hinders you in the proclamation of the Kingdom of God,
then resist it. The whole leitmotiv of the complex New Testament
attitude toward the State Jesus formulates here in this saying." (Oscar

1b. TEXT: Matthew 22:15-22


< Paying Taxes to Caesar >

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.
16 And they sent
their disciples to him, along with the Herodians,
saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true
and teach the way of God truthfully,
and you do not care about anyone's opinion,
for you arenot swayed by appearances.
[1] 17 Tell us, then, what you think.
Is it lawful to pay taxes to
Caesar, or not?”
18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said,
“Why put me to the test, you
hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.”
And they brought him a denarius.
[2] 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness
and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar's.”
Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar
the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things
that are God's.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled.
And they left him and went away.

[1] 22:16 Greek for you do not look at people's faces

[2] 22:19 A denarius was a day's wage for a laborer


15τοτε πορευθεντες οι φαρισαιοι συμβουλιον ελαβον οπως αυτον
παγιδευσωσιν εν λογω.
16και αποστελλουσιν αυτω τους μαθητας αυτων μετα των
ηρωδιανων λεγοντες, διδασκαλε, οιδαμεν οτι αληθης ει και την οδον
του θεου εν αληθεια διδασκεις, και ου μελει σοι περι ουδενος, ου
γαρ βλεπεις εις προσωπον ανθρωπων.
17ειπε ουν ημιν τι σοι δοκει: εξεστιν δουναι κηνσον καισαρι η ου;
18γνους δε ο ιησους την πονηριαν αυτων ειπεν, τι με πειραζετε,
19επιδειξατε μοι το νομισμα του κηνσου. οι δε προσηνεγκαν αυτω
20και λεγει αυτοις, τινος η εικων αυτη και η επιγραφη;
21λεγουσιν αυτω, καισαρος. τοτε λεγει αυτοις, αποδοτε ουν τα
καισαρος καισαρι και τα του θεου τω θεω.
22και ακουσαντες εθαυμασαν, και αφεντες αυτον απηλθαν. -- Online Text:

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London.

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 22:15-22

Matthew 22:15 - sumboulion elabon hopos auton pagideusosin in logoi -
Only Matthew explicitly mentions a conspiracy.
22:16 - meta ton Heroidianon - The inclusion of the Herodians, open
supporters of Rome who would immediately report any subversive
statement, makes clear the questioners' hypocrisy. According to Luke,
Jesus was actually accused of "forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar" in
his trial before Pilate (Luke 23:2).
- ou gar blepeis eis prosopon anthropon - On not showing partiality
as a divine attribute see Acts 10:34 and Rom. 2:11.
- exestin dounai kenson - Where Matthew and Mark have kenson,
"tax," Luke has phoros, "tribute," which may have more political overtones.
22:21 - Apodote - Notice that the word Jesus used in his answer, apodote,
"return," differs from dounai, "give," in the question; those who carry about
Caesar's money may as well return it to him.

3. STRATEGY: Matthew 22:15-22

The gospel invites a sermon on the role of Christians as citizens or
the Christian attitude toward the state. The preacher may want to address
current appeals for Christians to exercise tax resistance. Unless we
unthinkingly accept an unwarranted dualism and interpret, "Render to
Caesar," as giving the state blanket authority over temporal affairs, such
appeals must be taken seriously; God demands our first allegiance.
Jesus' response implies that Caesar and God both have legitimate
claims on our allegiance. What is not clear is how those claims are to be
negotiated; Jesus did not spell out what is Caesar's and what is God's, but
we must. This is, perhaps, just as well, since the issue for us is different
from what it was in Jesus' or Luther's day. In our context, Luther's
interpretation of, "Render to Caesar," is as commanding a Christian's
active support of the state as God's means of temporal governance may
have greater relevance for us than it did for him. American Christians are
not simply more or less willing subjects or citizens, but participants in a
democracy in which all ultimately make choices about public policy. A
sermon on, "Render unto Caesar, " could remind churchgoers that the
responsible exercise oftheir franchise in November can be, not simply a
civic duty, but a Christian ministry. Voting may not just be "rendering to
Caesar" but also "rendering to God."


Cullmann, Oscar. THE STATE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1956.

PASSAGE. New York: Oxford University Press, 1950.

Luther, Martin. ON TEMPORAL AUTHORITY, tr. by J.J. Schindel, rev. by
Walther J. Brandt in LUTHER'S WORKS 46.

Exegete: Joseph W. Trigg is Rector of Christ Church Episcopal in La Plata,
MD ( He is an expert on Origen, and author of Origen: The Early
Church Fathers (Routledge, 1998) and Biblical Interpretation (H.P.A., 1988) and
other writings in Church History.




© 2008

Tischrede Software

Dartmouth, MA 02747-1925


Sunday, October 5, 2008



October 12, 2008 (Lectionary 28)
Complementary Series
Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 23 (5)
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

Semicontinuous Series
Exodus 32:1-14
Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23 (4)
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

October 13, 2008
Deuteronomy 8:7-18
Psalm 65
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Luke 17:11-19

October 18, 2008
Isaiah 43:8-13 or Isaiah 35:5-8
Psalm 124 (8)
2 Timothy 4:5-11
Luke 1:1-4; 24:44-53

1a. CONTEXT - Matthew 22:1-14

This proper, the parable of the wedding feast, consists of two
originally unconnected parables (22:1-10 and 11-13) reinterpreted and
incompletely harmonized, concluded by an independent logion (22:14) that
first appears to be a non sequitur.

Matt. 22:1-10 seems to be an altered version of the parable in Luke
14:15-24 paralleled in the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of Thomas uses
the parable to condemn those involved in business (who decline the
invitation), concluding with the words, "The buyers and merchants shall
not come into the places of my Father." Luke is most likely to reproduce
the original, dominical version. There the parable is about a man who gave
a great supper. When those originally invited provide excuses, the
frustrated host sends his servant into streets and lanes of the city to
invite the poor, the maimed, the blind, and the lame. When there is still
room left over, he sends him out into the highways and hedges to compel
people to come in. Luke puts the parable of the great supper in the context
of sayings of Jesus in which those on the margins of society (in this case
the actual guests) are preferred to respectable citizens (those originally

Matthew's editing transforms this parable by applying it to the
displacement of the Jews by the gentiles as God's people, placing it in the
context of sayings about God's rejection of most Jews. It immediately
follows the parable of the vineyard (Matt. 21:33-46), which interprets
Jesus' crucifixion as the final act of disobedience on the part of a
rebellious people. This reinterpretation destroys the parable's
verisimilitude. In Matthew, a king gives a wedding feast for his son. Some
of the invited guests make light of the invitation and go about their own
business, but others actually kill the king's servants. Only after the king
has sent his troops to destroy the murderers and burn their city (while the
feast is waiting prepared and ready!) does he send his servants out into the
streets to gather in guests so that his feast may be full.

Vv. 11-13, originally a separate parable, is not entirely compatible
with vv. 1-10. Those invited off the street could scarcely be expected to
come in festal garments, and the word for servant used in v. 13 (diakonos)
differs from that used four times in vv. 1-10 (doulos). The reference to
"both bad and good" in v. 10 is an attempt to harmonize the two. The
source of vv. 11-13 was probably the Jewish parable variously attributed
to Jochanan ben Zakkai and Judah haNasi. In it, a king proclaims a wedding
feast but does not specify the time. The wise procure wedding garments,
but the foolish go about their ordinary business. When the king does
suddenly proclaim the feast, the wise are ready and come in, but the
foolish are excluded. Thus it was a parable of vigilance like that of the
wise and foolish virgins in Matt. 25:1-13.

This parable has also been reinterpreted. It has become a parable,
like that of the wheat and the tares in Matt. 13:36-43, about the
coexistence of both good and bad in the church until God's final judgment.
This thought, along with the verbal similarity of kletoi in v. 14 to
keklemenoi in v. 3 ("called" and "invited" are the same in Greek), probably
suggested concluding the newly joined parables with the saying, "Many are
called, but few are chosen." Even so, v. 14 contrasts oddly with vv. 11-13,
where only ONE guest is rejected; presumably the "many" called but not
chosen must include the unresponsive and murderous invitees of vv. 1-10.

Matthew's heavily redacted passage is cumbersome but coherent.
Matthew's reinterpretation of the first parable to refer to God's rejection
of the Jews in favor of the Christians could easily tempt Christians to
adopt an attitude of complacent superiority. By incorporating the
reinterpreted parable of the unworthy guest, Matthew suggests that they
would do better to adopt the attitude Paul commends in Romans 12:23, "If
God did not spare the original branches, neither will he spare you." Alfred
Loisy may have been right when he wrote that Jesus proclaimed the
Kingdom, and it was the church that came, but Matthew does not want us
to identify the church with the Kingdom. Brevard Childs' words (THE NEW
TESTAMENT AS CANON: AN INTRODUCTION, p. 78) could apply specifically to
this parable: "Matthew assigns no place of special privilege to the church
in regard to the coming day of judgment. There is never a single
identification between the church and the kingdom of heaven, but the
church stands under the constant warning, along with all persons, before
the great divine reckoning."

"Many are called, but few are chosen" is thus a word of warning
for Christians in the church, who are to look upon God's judgment upon
Israel as an object lesson.

1a. TEXT - Matthew 22:1-14

ESV: The Parable of the Wedding Feast

22:1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants [1] to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

[1] - 22:3 δουλους − Greek bondservants; also verses 4, 6, 8, 10


1και αποκριθεις ο ιησους παλιν ειπεν εν παραβολαις αυτοις λεγων, 2ωμοιωθη η βασιλεια των ουρανων ανθρωπω βασιλει, οστις εποιησεν γαμους τω υιω αυτου. 3και απεστειλεν τους δουλους αυτου καλεσαι τους κεκλημενους εις τους γαμους, και ουκ ηθελον ελθειν. 4παλιν απεστειλεν αλλους δουλους λεγων, ειπατε τοις κεκλημενοις, ιδου το αριστον μου ητοιμακα, οι ταυροι μου και τα σιτιστα τεθυμενα, και παντα ετοιμα: δευτε εις τους γαμους. 5οι δε αμελησαντες απηλθον, ος μεν εις τον ιδιον αγρον, ος δε επι την εμποριαν αυτου: 6 οι δε λοιποι κρατησαντες τους δουλους αυτου υβρισαν και απεκτειναν. 7 ο δε βασιλευς ωργισθη, και πεμψας τα στρατευματα αυτου απωλεσεν τους φονεις εκεινους και την πολιν αυτων ενεπρησεν. 8 τοτε λεγει τοις δουλοις αυτου, ο μεν γαμος ετοιμος εστιν, οι δε κεκλημενοι ουκ ησαν αξιοι: 9πορευεσθε ουν επι τας διεξοδους των οδων, και οσους εαν ευρητε καλεσατε εις τους γαμους. 10 και εξελθοντες οι δουλοι εκεινοι εις τας οδους συνηγαγον παντας ους ευρον, πονηρους τε και αγαθους: και επλησθη ο γαμος ανακειμενων. 11εισελθων δε ο βασιλευς θεασασθαι τους ανακειμενους ειδεν εκει ανθρωπον ουκ ενδεδυμενον ενδυμα γαμου: 12και λεγει αυτω, εταιρε, πως εισηλθες ωδε μη εχων ενδυμα γαμου; ο δε εφιμωθη. 13τοτε ο βασιλευς ειπεν τοις διακονοις, δησαντες αυτου ποδας και χειρας εκβαλετε αυτον εις το σκοτος το εξωτερον: εκει εσται ο κλαυθμος και ο βρυγμος των οδοντων. 14πολλοι γαρ εισιν κλητοι ολιγοι δε εκλεκτοι.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 22:1-14

Matthew 22:2 - homoiothe he basileai ton ouranon anthropoi basilei,
hostis epoiesen gamous toi huioi autoi - "human king" (anthropoi basilei) is
the Greek equivalent of Midrashic Hebrew phrase "king of flesh and blood."
Besides clarifying the historical reference, the transformation of the
"great feast" of Luke 14:16 into the feast for the king's son evokes a
powerful image of consummation most memorably expressed in Rev. 19:9,
"Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb."

22:7 - pempsas ta strateumata autou apolesen tous phoneis ekeinous kai
ten polin auton evepresen - This is apparently a reference to the fall of
Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The implication that the Roman army is God's army
is consistent with the prophetic description of foreign powers as God's
instruments of chastisement in, for example, Isaiah 10:5, where Assyria is
the rod of God's anger.

22:11, 12 - enduma gamou - The "wedding garment" probably alludes to the
"robe of righteousness" of Isaiah 61:10 and symbolizes a new, righteous
life in Christ. Compare Gal. 3:27, "For as many of you as were baptized
into Christ have put on [evedusasthe] Christ;" Rev. 19:8, "it was granted to
[the Bride] to be clothed with linen, bright and pure--for the fine linen is
the righteous deeds of the saints;" and 7:14, "they have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

22:14 - Polloi gar eisin kletoi, oligoi de eklektoi - In the mystery of grace
what appears to be our choice to respond to God is more adequately
expressed as God's choice of us. For the contrast between many and few,
compare 2 Esdras 8:1, "The Most High made the world for the sake of many,
but the world to come for the sake of few," and 8:3, "Many have been
created, but few shall be saved."

3. STRATEGY: Matthew 22: 1-14

The passage raises serious questions for the preacher: how much of
the redactional background, if any, do we want to mention? Do we find in
Matthew's version of the parable, with its anti-Jewish sentiments, a
message for a contemporary Christian congregation? How do we reconcile
judgment and grace? Given the extent to which the original meaning of the
parables is obscured, it may be best to take our cue from the canonical
approach to biblical interpretation advocated by Brevard Childs and preach
on the redacted text as it stands. In this case, though, the redaction is so
rough that it poses serious questions. Any parishioner who has listened at
all carefully to the gospel read will wonder why the poor guest without a
wedding garment should be treated so harshly. It would help such a person
to know that we can trace Matthew's version to two earlier parables.

Ironically, Matthew's inclusion of vv. 11-14 brings the whole
passage closer to the spirit of the presumably original parable in which
the respectable people invited first are displaced by the poor, the maimed,
the blind, and the lame. The rejection of the Jews and their replacement
as God's chosen people by gentile Christians in vv. 1-10 is, by itself,
scarcely an edifying topic for a contemporary Christian congregation.
Viewed in th larger context provided by vv. 11-14, however, God's
rejection of those Jews who failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and
put him to death (a rejection expressed, in the language of grace, as THEIR
rejection of HIM), becomes an object lesson in how we cannot rely on God's
grace as something that is ours by right any more than an invitation we
make light of; we in the church are not yet the Kingdom. It provides an
opportunity to discuss how grace evokes in us, not only an initially
favorable response, but new life in Christ.


Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.

Exegete: Joseph W. Trigg is Rector of Christ Church Episcopal in La Plata, MD ( He is an expert on Origen, and author of Origen: The Early Church Fathers
(Routledge, 1998) and Biblical Interpretation (H.P.A., 1988) and other writings in Church History.


© 2008

MacAdemia, Dartmouth, MA 02747