The Original Language of the New Testament
The entire original text of the document we have come to know as the New Testament was written by Christ-following Jews (in the ancient sense of the word) in a language that can be best described, not simply as Koine (or Common) Greek, but as “Koine Judeo-Greek.”
First of all what is Koine Greek? Koine Greek (which is different from Classical Greek) was the common multi-regional form of Greek spoken and written during Hellenistic and Roman antiquity. However, I do not think that the kind of Greek we see in the New Testament can be best described ONLY as Koine Greek. There is another component to this Koine Greek and that is its significant Jewish and Hebrew connection. I prefer to call it “Judeo-Greek” (or Judeo Koine Greek).
What is Judeo-Greek? Well… Judeo Greek, like the well-known Judeo-German (Yiddish), Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), and the less familiar Judeo-Farsi, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Italian, and Judean-Georgian languages, is simply a form of Greek used by Jews to communicate. This language retained many words, phrases, grammatical structures, and patterns of thought characteristic of the Hebrew language.
So is Judeo-Greek really Greek? Yes, it is, but it is Greek that inherited the patterns of Semitic thought and expression. In this way, it is different from the types of Greek used by other people groups.
So I disagree that the New Testament was first written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek.
Instead, I think it was written in Greek by people who thought Jewishly, and what is perhaps more important, multi-lingually. You see… the speakers of a variety of languages manage to also think in a variety of languages. When they do speak, however, they always import into one language something that comes from another. It is never a question of “if,” but only of “how much.”
We must remember that the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek by leading Jewish scholars of the day. Legend has it that the 70 individual Jewish sages made separate translations of the Hebrew Bible and when they were completed, all of it matched perfectly. As I said, “it is a legend.” The number 70 is likely symbolic of the 70 nations of the world in ancient Judaism. This translation was not only meant for Greek-speaking Jews, but also for non-Jews so that they too could have access to the Hebrew Bible. You can imagine how many Hebraic words, phrases, and patterns of thought are present on every page of the Septuagint. So, other than the authors of the New Testament thinking Jewishly and Hebraically, we also have the main source of their Old Testament quotations coming from another Jewish-authored document – the Septuagint. So is it surprising that the New Testament is full of Hebraic forms expressed in Greek?!
As a side note, the use of the Septuagint by New Testament writers is actually a very exciting concept. The Jewish text of the Hebrew Bible used today is the Masoretic Text (MT for short). When the Dead Sea Scrolls were finally examined, it turned out that there was not one, but three different families of Biblical traditions in the time of Jesus. One of them closely matched the Masoretic text, one closely matched the Septuagint, and one seems to have connections with the Samaritan Torah. Among other things, this of course shows that the Septuagint quoted by the New Testament has great value, since it was based upon a Hebrew text that was at least as old as the original base text of the later Masoretic Text (MT).
This article originally appeared on Israel Study Center and reposted with permission.
One of Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg's greatest passions is building of bridges of trust, respect and understanding between Christians and Jews, overcoming centuries of difficult, but almost always joined history. He strongly believes that both Hebrew Bible and the New Testament scriptures have much to teach both communities. Outside of his expertise in the ancient languages (Biblical Hebrew, Koine Greek, Syriac and Old Church Slovanic), he has a command of three other modern languages (English, Russian and Hebrew).
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L’Chaim – Choose Life!
Parashah – Re’eh (See) Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:26 –16:17 begins with the following verse:
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse …
רְאֵה אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיּוֹם בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָה.
I have several aquariums. In one of my aquariums I noticed that there was a fish with a huge hole in his side that was so deep that it had exposed its digestive organs. From my research I determined that this fish was infected with a parasite. A parasite that had the real potential to infect the entire tank.
So I had to make a decision to choose between life ( A Blessing) or death (A Curse.) I could simply remove the infected fish and flush it down the toilet which would be a cruel death as well as being inhumane or I could “choose life”, which required that I would do what ever I could to preserve the life of my sick fish.
The requirements for choosing life were: Going to the pet store, buying a tank and medicine. And then setting up a fish hospital which meant finding a place for the new tank, removing the infected fish from the aquarium, and then caring for this fish until it got better. After four days that HUGE HOLE began to disappear, which meant that my fish was in the process of being restored to health. Two weeks later the fish was healed. Subsequently he was returned to the tank to rejoin his brothers and sisters. (All the fish except for the parents were born in that aquarium.)
The above true story is a metaphor for restoring and healing broken relationships. Many people are walking around with deep wounds and open sores that have the potential or have infected their friends and family. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to not be bothered and “choose death” by flushing these troublesome relationships down the toilet.
But as ministers of reconciliation – Yeshua has appointed us to “choose life” and care for the wounded and infected so that our broken relationships would be restored and transformed into healthy relationships.
As it is written:
Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation — the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new! 18 And it is all from God, who through the Messiah has reconciled us to himself and has given us the work of that reconciliation.– 2 Corinthians 5:17-18a
לָכֵן מִי שֶׁהוּא בַמָּשִׁיחַ בְּרִיָּה חֲדָשָׁה הוּא הָרִאשׁׂנוֹת עָבָרוּ הִנֵּה (הַכּׂל) נַעֲשׂוֹוֹ חֲדָשׁוֹת׃ וְהַכּׂל מֵאֵת הָאֱלׂהִים הַמְרַצֶּה אׂתָנוּ לְעַצְמוֹ עַל־יְדֵי יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ וַיִּתֶּן־לָנוּ שֵׁרוּת הָרִצּוּי׃
My Brothers and Sisters – In all of your relationships “choose life” because this is the will of God in Messiah Yeshua concerning You!
Yosef Koelner was born in Chicago and raised in a Jewish home that his parents characterized as “Orthodox”. At birth he was given two first names, an English one, Harvey, and a Hebrew name, Yosef, which was given to him in remembrance of his mother’s deceased brother, Chaim Yosef. Rabbi Yosef’s education includes but is not limited to a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Illinois State University and a MA in Jewish Studies from Gratz College as well as a Doctor of Practical Ministry from Wagner Leadership Institute. He also graduated from Ulpan Alef (Hebrew language studies) Katsrin, Israel. Additional studies include The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and an Orthodox Yeshivah in Tzfat Yisrael. His ministry spans four decades and he is currently the Rabbi of Kehilat Bet Avinu. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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Revealing Yeshua’s Mystery Bride in 12 Steps
“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
Hebrews 12:14 … Holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
1) Weddings generally have one bridegroom and one bride, along with many guests. The Marriage of King Priest Yeshua to His Bride, His Wife, will be no exception to this pattern. Revelation 11:18; 19:7, 8
2) The Church is not Yeshua’s Bride! The Church is Yeshua’s Body! Ephesians 1:22, 23 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Yeshua deeply Loves each person in His Body!) Colossians 1:17-20, 24 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is Head of the Body, the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His Body, which is the Church …
Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head, Messiah, from whom the whole Body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the Body for the edifying of itself in love.
1st Corinthians 12:27-31 Now you are the Body of Messiah, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the Church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way …
1st Corinthians 13:1-13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails! But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom! John 3:29
3) But within Yeshua’s Body you will find Yeshua’s Mystery Bride!
The Bridal position in Yeshua’s Body is one of Great Grace and also works! This Bridal position is open to all believers. God’s heart knows those who really desire this intimate closeness with their Bridegroom Lover! Living daily within the very Heart of Yeshua, in real intimacy, holiness, surrender, servanthood, obedience, honor, sacrifice, perseverance, faithfulness, love, and humility. Yeshua’s true disciples are His best soldiers. They put Him first in all things; prefer others above themself, giving their lives for others.
Matthew 23:11 “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”
4) Yeshua gave us only one parable about His Bride, Matthew 25:1-10; in verse 10, five out of the ten virgins were ready to go into the Marriage. Revelation 19:7, 8 Yeshua’s Wife was ready in fine linen, by righteous acts.
Almost all of Yeshua’s other Wedding parables were about Guests at the Marriage Supper, the Wedding Banquet. Matthew 25:11, the five virgins who were not ready; Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 12:34-44 (verse 36 “And you ourselves be like men who wait for their Master, when He will return from the Wedding.”); Luke 14:8-33; Luke 19:13; Matthew 10:22; Revelation 19:9,
“Blessed are those who are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” This Banquet Celebration will be held in Jerusalem after Yeshua returns.
5) All believers in Yeshua’s Body are priests in the Melchi Zedek Priesthood, under our King and Great High Priest Yeshua. However Yeshua’s Bride, those who have made it into the very Heart of God are being trained as kings and high priests in the Melchi Zedek priesthood. Yeshua is our Great King, the King of Glory, the KING of kings and the LORD of Lords, and Yeshua is also our Great High Priest, Melchi Zedek (my King of Righteousness)!
6) There is a major difference between a Marriage Ceremony (the Wedding), and the Marriage Supper or Banquet Celebration (where the food is served).
The Marriage of the Lamb will be in Heaven on Yom Teruah! John 14:3; 17:24; Revelation 11:15,18 Then after a one year Honeymoon in Heaven (Deuteronomy 24:5) where Yeshua’s Wife learns more about ‘as it is in Heaven, so be it on the earth’, Yeshua will return to earth with His armies, as He destroys all His enemies on the Feast of Battle, on Yom Kippur.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb will then be held in Jerusalem with His Guests on Yeshua’s Birthday, Succoth, Feast of Tabernacles. This begins His Millennial Reign. (Isaiah 25:6-10; Matthew 22:7; Revelation 19:9, 14)
7) Yeshua is the fulfillment of the First Fruits of barley harvest during the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread. Yeshua’s Wife (Bride) will be the fulfillment of First Fruits of wheat harvest, Shavuot. These two feasts of God are always connected by the counting of the omer for 50 days. There are three harvest feast seasons each year in Israel: the barley harvest, during the time of Passover and Unleavened Bread, followed by the spring wheat harvest, first fruits of wheat, Shavuot, and then the great fall wheat harvest celebration, which is held on Succoth, the Feast of Tabernacles.
8) Passover has unleavened bread, matzah. Whereas Shavuot is a two loaf offering of leavened bread. The two loaves can be seen in Revelation 7:1-8, 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel, and in Revelation 14:1-5; the 144,000, redeemed from all nations of the earth. (Song of Solomon 6:13 : two camps)
The first Shavuot began at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) with the sounding of the Shofar of God, when God announced His Marriage Betrothal Covenant with Israel and with the nations. Exodus 12:28 and Deuteronomy 29:9-15;
And then God divorced Israel. (Jeremiah 3:1-8) But God still cried out for Israel to return to Him, saying, “I am Married to you.” (Jeremiah 3:12-14) For your Maker is your Husband, the LORD of hosts is His name. Isaiah 54:5 God told Israel and Judah that He was a Husband to them. (Jeremiah 31:32)
Then in Acts 2:1-6, in the the Upper Room on Shavuot, God re-entered into His Marriage Betrothal call to Israel, but now through God’s New Covenant.
God’s One New Man, Jew and Gentile, were called for Marriage Betrothal.
9) There is no pre mid or post Tribulation Rapture of Yeshua’s Bride! These are all just Church theories which are all missing Biblical keys found in the Mystery Shofar of God: the 10 places where Yeshua sounds the Shofar in the Bible. These places are actually two different events, the first one at Mount Sinai, which is called the First Trump. Exodus 19:16-19 The other event are different scenes of the Last Trump, called the Great Trumpet! 1st Corinthians 15:51-54; Isaiah 18:3; Isaiah 27:13; Zechariah 9:14-16; 1st Thessalonians 4:16-17; Ephesian 1:10; Matthew 24:30, 31; Mark 13:26, 27; Leviticus 25:8-10; Micah 2:12, 13; Psalm 50:4, 5; [Revelation 1:10 and 4:1].
10) The Fullness of Yeshua’s Bride will be taken to Heaven at the Midnight Hour. For the last 2000 years all true believers who have died have been taken up to Heaven. For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. 2nd Corinthians 5:8 And among this group are Yeshua’s Bride. But there will come a time when the completion of Yeshua’s Bride will be taken to Heaven; it will happen exactly when Yeshua said, at the Midnight Hour! So then what is the Midnight Hour? It is just before the release of God’s Wrath onto the earth & for one year (Isaiah 34:8; Isaiah 65:14) in the Day of the LORD! This occurs late in the 7 Tribulation years. (Matthew 24:13-(22)–31) Revelation 6:15-17; 11:15-19; Isaiah 13:5-11; & Joel 2:1-11;
When we talk about Rapture, is this the Rapture of Yeshua’s Bride?
Or is this the Rapture when Yeshua sounds the Great Shofar, when He is returning to earth with all His Armies? This causes all the rest of His Body to be instantly gathered together to Himself in the air! (seen in 7 places; # 9)
11) Yeshua’s Bride is sealed in her forehead! See Ezekiel 9:4-6; Revelation 3:7-12; Revelation 7:3, 4; Revelation 14:1, 3, 4; Rev 21:9, 10 & Rev 22:3, 4
12) Is there another place in Scripture where we see Yeshua’s Bride being taken up into Heaven, besides in Matthew 25:10? Perhaps in Psalm 50:4, 5. Also Revelation 10:1-7. This will be on Shavuot! And it will happen when the Mighty Messenger, which is Yeshua Himself, roars like a Lion! I also believe that this roar is the key that catalysts the Marriage of the Lamb of God, Yeshua, which, after a preparation time like Ester had, then this event will be held a few months later on Yom Teruah, (Rosh HaShanah), when the seventh angel sounds the seventh silver trumpet. Revelation 11:15, 18 For I believe this Mystery of God (Revelation 10:7) is Yeshua’s Marriage!
Yeshua’s Bride are being trained as high priests in prayer and intercession & as kings in use of divine authority in many areas, i.e. over demonic forces.
Yeshua will be returning to earth in the Year of Jubilee! Leviticus 25:8-10
Are you Ready to meet King Yeshua … really longing for your Lover? Revelation 3:10; Luke 21:34-36; Malachi 3:16
For Yeshua’s Wife (His Bride) is making Herself ready! Revelation 19:7
RIchard has served the Lord full-time from Jerusalem since 1998, having made Aliyah to Israel in 1995. He been a writer for the Lord Yeshua since 1982. All of his books, including the newest one, ‘King Priest Yeshua from the Seed of David and Aaron’, along with other writings are free to read and download from his website.
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Parables of the Hidden Treasure and of the Pearl
Mt 13:44-45 Yeshua’s explanation of the field, the good seed, the tares, the enemy, the harvest, the reapers; “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
After speaking to the multitude, Jesus explains to His disciples the meaning of the parable of the tares, and then begins to speak the final three parables to His disciples only. Let us remember that the first parable of the sower is key to the others (Mk 4:13), and that Jesus – the Teacher, the Rabbi (Mt 23:8-10)—is building upon what He has been speaking to everyone as He continues to teach us about God’s Kingdom. He is not teaching randomly, but purposefully and systematically. The first parables indicate that the reality which the Lord is presenting remains until the harvest at the end of the age: there will be no “millennial kingdom” in the world without the actual literal physical return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I think it is fair to say that these parables of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, with the Beatitudes and the Lord Yeshua’s evaluation of the seven churches in the Revelation, together give a foundation and a structure by which we should live our life as believers, guarding our hearts in the fear of God as we look forward to the full redemption.
Just as YHVH God gave Moses and Israel the true record of things previously unknown — such as the creation; unbelief and disobedience and their consequences; the flood; the covenant with and through Abraham – so here, Jesus is revealing to the Church the truth of the present evil age within God’s created order, and the hope of redemption by the sovereignty of God. “Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous people desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Mt 13:16-17)
The parable of the hidden treasure:
According to the pattern of the parables, it becomes clear that neither the hidden treasure nor the pearl of great price is the Messiah/Christ, just as the mustard tree is not the Church nor is the leaven the gospel.
Jesus already explained to His disciples that the “field” is the world, and the “man” is Him, the Son of Man. Is Christ hidden in the world? Yeshua says that He is hidden in Heaven! (Jn 16:10) We are not told to buy the world, but to give it up for something even better! (Lk 18:22-30) We can not buy salvation, but it is a free gift! (Rom 6:23; Is 55:1; Rev 22:17) We do not buy Messiah, but He has purchased us! (1Cor 6:19-20) Do we again hide Jesus when we ‘find’ Him? No, but we proclaim Him to all! (Mt 28:18-20)
Who/What is the “treasure hidden in the field/world”? I think it could be said to be a someone/something which God looked for and found favor with. The whole Earth belongs to YHVH, but the devil deceived Eve and Adam disobeyed the Word of God, and gave their authority over God’s Earth to Satan. As time went on, evil increased until at the Tower of Babel God confused the languages and separated man both from Himself and from each language-nation group. Then YHVH God found a man through whom He promised blessings for him, for his descendants, and for all the families of the Earth. He found Abram/Abraham, and through Isaac and Jacob, God created a nation – Israel. God calls Israel to be His special treasure above all peoples, because the whole Earth is YHVH’s. (Ex 19:5; Ps 135:4) The Earth is YHVH’s both through creation and through redemption. (Gen 14:19; Heb 9:23-26) We can say that the Earth belongs to Jesus/Yeshua, the Heir of all things which are the Father’s. (Jn 16:14-15; Ps 2:7-8)
In creating Israel (Is 43:15) YHVH God hid a treasure/a people in the world, and Messiah, in order to have them, bought the whole field – which includes the treasure — with His blood. He “sold all that He has” to buy that field, and gave up, as it were, many other people whom He loves in order to have His treasure. (Gen 17:18-20 – Ishmael; Is 43:3-4 – Egypt, Ethiopia, Seba) Israel is still ‘hidden’ in the world among the Gentile nations: many (most?) people do not recognize the special qualities which God has given to Israel already, and what He has destined them for, even as the Lord continues His marvelous plan to bring glory to His Holy Name and to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This will be so until the time of redemption and the restoration of all things.(Acts 3:20-21; Eph 1:14) This will be when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. (Rom 11:25) Then will the joy of this Wise Investor be full as He rejoices over His people with gladness in His love. (Zeph 3:17; Is 44:23) Praise God, who sees the end from the beginning – and He will be satisfied with His purchased possession, when ‘all Israel’ is saved and is forever restored in love and holiness to the Father and to the Son! (Is 53:11a)
The parable of the Pearl of great price:
The Church — purchased redemption (1Cor 6:20); Yeshua’s inheritance, praise to His glory (Eph 1:3-22) called out from every nation, including from His treasure Israel (Rom 1:16-17; 1Cor 10:32)
–even ‘sold/leased Israel’[into dispersion and a ‘curse’ under Gentiles] for the pearl (Mt 21:41-43)
–sold the whole habitable world (tevel), including the field with the Treasure, to buy the pearl: Kingdom of God not of this present world (olam) order
–The Bride, the Body of Messiah, Who is the Head (Eph 5:25-32; Rev 21:1-5,9-14)
–a city is made up of people
–both the names of the tribes of Israel and the names of the of the Israeli Jewish apostles – the first-fruits of the Church – are memorialized forever in the New Jerusalem
–very personal and individual, while also being a corporate body/bride, in our relationship with God in Christ. (This is different from the merely Jewish understanding of a corporate identity only.)
As for the Hidden Treasure, which is Israel, so for the Pearl of Great Price, which is the Church: God sees the end from the beginning, and has invested everything – including His reputation – to not only show His love for us while others may not esteem us, but to have us with Him forever.
This is part six in a seven-part series of articles on the parables in Matthew 13.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, November 20, 2010, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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Sinners and Tax Collectors
The disciples of the sages often criticized our Master for eating with, associating with, and even teaching “the tax collectors and the sinners.” The Pharisees and Torah scholars implied that Yeshua was guilty by association. His behavior puzzled them. He claimed to be a prophet of God sent by God, but rather than rebuking the sinners, He seemed to rebuke the righteous. They reasoned, “If He eats with sinners and fellowships with sinners and even takes sinners for His disciples, then He must be a sinner.”
Yeshua always seemed to aim sharp criticisms at the religious and the faithful while at the same time generously offering warmth, acceptance, and gentle teaching to the irreligious and lawless of society. It seemed like Yeshua denounced those who strove to live their lives according to God’s Torah while sympathizing with those who lived in open rebellion to God. He was a friend to tax collectors, terrorist-like zealots, fallen women, and sinners—that is to say, the secular Jews of His day.
Yeshua explained to the Pharisees that He had business with sinners and tax collectors in the same way that a doctor has business with sick people. He told them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).
This explains why Yeshua sharply criticized the pious people of His day. He regarded them as the healthy and the righteous of Israel. Therefore, He held them to a much higher standard than the secular Jews, and he was quick to point out hypocrisy and pretense. He did not level His criticisms as a rejection of the religious, rather He sought to bring correction.
On the other hand, when He taught among irreligious people, He did not rebuke them as He did the Pharisees and Teachers of Torah. The irreligious stood outside of the domain of Torah. It does no good to rebuke someone for disobeying a law in which they do not believe. He sought to first entice the sinners and tax collectors to repent and return to the Torah. He needed to bring them into the kingdom before holding them up to the standards of the kingdom. The Pharisees and Torah scholars interpreted this behavior as hostility toward themselves and love for lawlessness. They criticized Him saying, “He hangs out with bad company.”
To better explain the two different approaches, the Master told a series of three thematically linked parables: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the lost son. The three parables describe His goals and illustrate the reason for His friendship with sinners. His focus on the sinners and the secular did not imply an endorsement of sin or secularism, nor did His strict manner with the religious imply a rejection of piety. The three parables communicate the heart of His mission: calling the lost sheep of Israel to repentance.
This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion, and reposted with permission.
First Fruits of Zion specializes in the study and teaching of Scripture from its historical, linguistic, and cultural context. Using the latest scholarship, ancient Jewish sources, and extra-biblical literature, we present a Messianic Jewish reading of the Bible and early Jewish-Christianity. We do this by publishing books, ebooks, magazines, journals, study programs, audio and audio-visual resources, and presenting new material through seminars, conferences, and guided Israel tours.