Category Archives: GobbledeeGreek

Ekballo – Sent out or Cast Out??

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defines the Greek compound verb ‘‘ as meaning ‘to cast, drive, expel, send or thrust out of’. The word is a composite of 2 Greek words, namely, the preposition ‘‘ meaning ‘of’ or ‘from’ and the verb ‘‘ meaning ‘cast, drive etc’. The verb ending here is presented in the first person singular. Nevertheless, once the various personal endings have been accounted for, the verb occurs 81 times in the Greek New Testament.

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Matthew Ch 1 – The Genealogy Of Jesus [pt 3]

In the opening verse, Matthew strikes a note which seems to resound throughout his gospel. He is concerned, almost with a singular focus, upon portraying Jesus as the Jewish messiah descended directly from the royal house of King David, and of the seed of the patriarch Abraham, unto whom the divine promises were first given [Gen 12]. The primary aim of ‘the book of the genesis‘ [see part 1 below], is to fully demonstrate that Jesus was no arbitrary man of wisdom, no accident of the time but someone who may only be fully understood and appreciated in terms of who and what had preceded him.

‘Meticulous Matthew’ then, fully immersed in rabbinical patterns of thought, portrays a wonderful symmetry of numbers. He divides his genealogy of Jesus into three groups – from Abraham to David; from David to the Babylonian Captivity [ie. the end of the monarchy] and from the period of the Babylonian Captivity to Jesus. Matthew informs his readers that each of these three groups contains 14 generations. [It is interesting to note that the second group omits 3 generations – see 1 Chron 1-2 for details].

What then is the significance of these numbers, the three groups of fourteen? One suggestion is that the name ‘David’ comprises three Hebrew consonants –דוד [dalet, vav, dalet]. The letters of the Hebrew language also function not dissimilarly to Roman Numerals, in that each letter also holds a numerical value. Dalet is the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet whilst Vav is the sixth. Simple arithmetic will quickly conclude that dalet, vav, dalet may be presented numerically as four, six, four which when added together equals fourteen. Matthew therefore is likely to be using a further allusion here to the ‘Davidic’ nature of Jesus.

There is a further mathematical implication which may be apparent in Matthew’s opening chapter. Jewish sacred arithmetic often calculated the future by reference to Jeremiah’s prophecy of God’s salvation after seventy weeks. In Daniel we find this interpreted as seventy weeks of years [490 years]. Here in Matthew then, these methods are perhaps also utilised. The period from the promise to Abraham to the birth of the Messiah is figured as three times seventy weeks of years, or three times fourteen generations which is the same thing. Thus at the exact fit time of prophecy and moreover of the lineage of David – Jesus who is called Messiah is born.

Such mathematical/rhetorical devices were highly valued in first century Mediterranean societies.

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Matthew Ch 1 – The Genealogy of Jesus [pt 2]

The author of the first of the four canonical gospels has occasionally been referred to as ‘meticulous Matthew’. He regularly displays intentional precision in his account of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry. This he does in order to accentuate truths that are both relevant and vital to the believer’s life and doctrine. This precision is very apparent in the genealogy Matthew constructs to present Jesus as the Christ at the beginning of his gospel. Consideration has already been given in part 1 [below] to the punning allusions of a ‘new scripture’ etc. Here then are some further considerations.

When Matthew constructs his genealogy of Jesus he says ‘….and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ’. [Matt 1:16, NIV]. To whom do the italicised words ‘of whom’ refer? Is it to Joseph as father? Mary as mother? Both Joseph & Mary as parents?

Clearly it is possible for the English word ‘whom’ to fit any of the 3 above possible meanings. Behind the English words ‘of whom’ however, stands the Greek relative pronoun h|s. The feminine gender of the relative pronoun points specifically to Mary as the one from whom Jesus was born. The genealogy regularly emphasises the male who fathers a child, but here ‘meticulous Matthew’ delivers a precise statement of the relationship of Jesus Christ to Joseph & Mary. While the genealogy establishes that Joseph is the legal father of Jesus, Matthew emphasises that Mary is the biological parent ‘of whom’ Jesus was born. Further, the passive voice of the verb ‘egennhqh‘ [was born] – the only passive among the forty occurrences of the verb gennaw in the genealogy – prepares for Matthew’s emphasis upon divine action in the conception and birth of Jesus [1:18-25]

The feminine gender of the pronoun then, prepares for the virgin birth by empathically shifting the attention from Joseph to Mary. He intentionally stresses that Mary is the mother of Jesus, and later will clarify that the conception is miraculous, brought about by the Spirit of God. Jesus Christ is indeed the son of David, the son of Abraham [1:1] but he is also the Son of God, Immanuel, ‘God with us’ [1:23]. This is no ordinary man in the line of David. This is our Saviour and Lord – fully man and fully God. Amen.

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Deliver Us From Evil????

Adjectives have a theological importance which is sometimes hard to rival. They are able to modify a noun [attributive], assert something about a noun [predicate], or even stand in the place of a noun [substantival]. Often it is difficult to discern which of the above three roles a particular adjective is performing within a given sentence.

Consider the above Greek word – tonhrou: [evil]. It makes an appearance in Matthew 6:13 within what is traditionally considered to be the Lord’s Prayer. The King James Version of the Bible [together with many other modern translations] translates this as ‘but deliver us from evil’. In this instance however the adjective tonhrou:, is preceded by a modifying article, that is [tou] hence tou tonhrou:. This indicates that the adjective is performing substantivally, ie. It should be translated as ‘the evil one’ rather than just ‘evil’. The prayer must then be modified to read ‘but deliver us from the evil one’.

Is this just pedantry gone mad? Does it make any real difference? Surely it makes not a jot of difference doctrinally or theologically? Actually Job believes it makes a world of difference. Our Father in heaven does not always keep his children from danger or the effects of evil, whether self inflicted or not. We are more often than not exposed to the temporal consequences of our sin and the disasters and ugliness of the world. In short, God does not always deliver us from evil as a concept. He does however, deliver us from the evil one. This text then is not teaching that God will provide a ‘bed of roses’ as a lifestyle for His children, but that He will protect us from the evil one, the devil himself.

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