Matthew Henry On the Intertwined Nature of the 4th and 5th Commandments

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 19, verse 3:

“That children be obedient to their parents: “You shall fear every man his mother and his father, v. 3. 1. The fear here required is the same with the honour commanded by the fifth commandment; see Mal. i. 6. It includes inward reverence and esteem, outward expressions of respect, obedience to the lawful commands of parents, care and endeavour to please them and make them easy, and to avoid every thing that may offend and grieve them, and incur their displeasure. The Jewish doctors ask, “What is this fear that is owing to a father?” And they answer, “It is not to stand in his way nor to sit in his place, not to contradict what he says nor to carp at it, not to call him by his name, either living or dead, but ‘My Father,’ or ‘Sir;’ it is to provide for him if he be poor, and the like.” 2. Children, when they grow up to be men, must not think themselves discharged from this duty: every man, though he be a wise man, and a great man, yet must reverence his parents, because they are his parents. 3. The mother is put first, which is not usual, to show that the duty is equally owing to both; if the mother survive the father, still she must be reverenced and obeyed. 4. It is added, and keep my sabbaths. If God provides by his law for the preserving of the honour of parents, parents must use their authority over their children for the preserving of the honour of God, particularly the honour of his sabbaths, the custody of which is very much committed to parents by the fourth commandment, Thou, and thy son, and thy daughter. The ruin of young people has often been observed to begin in the contempt of their parents and the profanation of the sabbath day. Fitly therefore are these two precepts here put together in the beginning of this abridgment of the statutes: “You shall fear, every man, his mother and his father, and keep my sabbaths. Those are hopeful children, and likely to do well, that make conscience of honouring their parents and keeping holy the sabbath day. 5. The reason added to both these precepts is, “I am the Lord your God; the Lord of the sabbath and the God of your parents.”

For more see this link.

Matthew Henry and the Penal Sanctions of the Law

Matthew 15:1-6:

1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” 3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”

“The sanction of this law in the fifth commandment, is, a promise, that thy days may be long; but our Saviour waives that, lest any should thence infer it to be only a thing commendable and profitable, and insists upon the penalty annexed to the breach of this commandment in another scripture, which denotes the duty to be highly and indispensably necessary; He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death: this law we have, Exod. xxi. 17. The sin of cursing parents is here opposed to the duty of honouring them. Those who speak ill of their parents, or wish ill to them, who mock at them, or give them taunting and opprobrious language, break this law. If to call a brother Raca be so penal, what is it to call a father so? By our Saviour’s application of this law, it appears, that denying service or relief to parents is included in cursing them. Though the language be respectful enough, and nothing abusive in it, yet what will that avail, if the deeds be not agreeable? it is but like him that said, I go, Sir, and went not, ch. xxi. 30.”

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Matthew chapter 15…Find it here.

Romans 16:7

We continue our look at verses that cause confusion and downright division in some cases. Up in the rotation next is Romans 16:7. This particular verse has caused some questioning lately upon the campus of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. I may refrain from making a definite statement in the end but for right now I am just going to place the verse and quotations from several commentaries. Then I’ll get into my exegesis of the text. I will also quote six separate translations of separate heritages for diversity’s sake, the reason will become quite evident. So without further ado here is Romans 16:7:

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.(New American Standard Bible)

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives, who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
(New Revised Standard Version)

Greet Androni’cus and Ju’nias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
(Revised Standard Version)

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
(English Standard Version)

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
(New International Version)

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
(King James Version)

If you read carefully there are two particular points where the translations have made decisions pertaining to the text. The first being the proper “gender” of Junia(s) and the second being Andronicus and Junia(s) relationship to Paul and the apostles (Futhermore the question must be asked what does Paul mean by “apostle” in this context? We’ll get into that briefly towards the end.) What is interesting here is that only two of the translations use the term “relatives” instead of kinsmen. Now with the history of the NRSV per gender-neutrality this should be of no surprise, whether rightly or wrongly, it always renders all-encompassing masculine terms in a neutral way, which is fine in my book. Now the NIV is a “dynamic-equivalence” translation and makes no bones about the fact it is not a literal translation. Now in mind of this both the commentaries on this passage by Matthew Henry and Martin Luther render it Junia and make mention that Junia is either Andronicus’ wife or sister. Here is Matthew Henry’s words on the passage:

4. Concerning Andronicus and Junia,v. 7. Some take them for a man and his wife, and the original will well enough bear it; and, considering the name of the latter, this is more probable than that they should be two men, as others think, and brethren. Observe, (1.) They were Paul’s cousins, akin to him; so was Herodion, v. 11. Religion does not take away, but rectifies, sanctifies, and improves, our respect to our kindred, engaging us to lay out ourselves most for their good, and to rejoice in them the more, when we find them related to Christ by faith. (2.) They were his fellow-prisoners. Partnership in suffering sometimes does much towards the union of souls and the knitting of affections. We do not find in the story of the Acts any imprisonment of Paul before the writing of this epistle, but that at Philippi, Acts xvi. 23. But Paul was in prisons more frequent (2 Cor. xi. 23), in some of which, it seems, he met with his friends Andronicus and Junia, yoke-fellows, as in other things, so in suffering for Christ and bearing his yoke. (3.) They were of note among the apostles,Who also were in Christ before me, that is, were converted to the Christian faith. In time they had the start of Paul, though he was converted the next year after Christ’s ascension. How ready was Paul to acknowledge in others any kind of precedency! not so much perhaps because they were persons of estate and quality in the world as because they were eminent for knowledge, and gifts, and graces, which made them famous among the apostles, who were competent judges of those things, and were endued with a spirit of discerning not only the sincerity, but the eminence, of Christians.

I have italicized Henry’s answer to our question on the “gender” of Junia(s). He evidently finds enough disagreement among his brethren concerning his rendering that he makes note of it. Not to get off-topic here but I do think one thing needs mentioned to prevent a side argument from occurring, I will quickly quote Henry’s commentary from his words on Phoebe in verse one and two, “1. He gives a very good character of her. (1.) As a sister to Paul: Phebe our sister; not in nature, but in grace; not in affinity or consanguinity, but in pure Christianity: his own sister in the faith of Christ, loving Paul, and beloved of him, with a pure and chaste and spiritual love, as a sister; for there is neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus, Gal. iii. 28. Both Christ and his apostles had some of their best friends among the devout (and upon that account honourable) women. (2.) As a servant to the church at Cenchrea: diakonon, a servant by office, a stated servant, not to preach the word (that was forbidden to women), but in acts of charity and hospitality.” I also Recommend Dr. J. Ligon Duncan’s Sermon on Romans 16:1-2.

Now I want to take a look at the apostle question quickly. We will look to John Calvin in his commentary on the passage to see his answer (Calvin also renders it Junia, btw).

7. Salute Andronicus Though Paul is not wont to make much of kindred, and of other things belonging to the flesh, yet as the relationship which Junia and Andronicus bore to him, might avail somewhat to make them more fully known, he neglected not this commendation. There is more weight in the second eulogy, when he calls them his fellow-prisoners; for among the honors belonging to the warfare of Christ, bonds are not to be counted the least. In the third place, he calls them Apostles: he uses not this word in its proper and common meaning, but extends it wider, even to all those who not only teach in one Church, but also spend their labor in promulgating the gospel everywhere. He then, in a general way, calls those in this place Apostles, who planted Churches by carrying here and there the doctrine of salvation; for elsewhere he confines this title to that first order which Christ at the beginning established, when he appointed the twelve disciples. It would have been otherwise strange, that this dignity should be only ascribed to them, and to a few others. But as they had embraced the gospel by faith before Paul, he hesitates not to set them on this account before himself.

Calvin, as is nearly unanimous in the commentaries I checked, makes a distinction between the use of “Apostles” as Paul and others use it to describe the original 12 Apostles in Acts and the Gospels and Paul’s use of it here and other places in his letters. We must take note that the word apostle in Greek can mean several different things. Danker’s Greek-English lexicon gives five different meanings for the New Testament and contemporary Greek use. 1) “Messengers without extraordinary status”, (Phil 2:25). 2) “Messengers with extraordinary status” (Epictetus 2, 22, 23 of Cynic wise men). 3) “Of prophets” (Luke 11:49, Rev. 18:20). 4) “Of Christ” (Hebrews 3:1). 5) “A group of highly honored believers with a special function as God’s envoys” (Romans 1:1, 11:13, Acts 14:14, Rom 16:7, Gal 1:19) and 5a) “Then especially of the 12 Apostles” (Matt 10:2, Mark 3:14, Luke 22:14)

This all being said it is not the purview of this post to go into anymore detail per the use of the word “apostle” in the New Testament and elsewhere other than to say it certainly is ambiguous in this context and nearly unanimous in the commentaries that Paul uses the word apostle in this place with the first meaning given by Danker in mind, that of a “messenger without extraordinary status”. Feel free to disagree but given the context and the way Paul uses the word to describe himself and those gathered at the Jerusalem Council it is very unlikely that he was using “apostle” to mean anything other than just a “messenger” of the Gospel.

Now I think this has given us plenty to discuss and ponder. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

The Magnificat

Primarily due to the overwhelming excesses of the Roman Catholic Church Mary has been kind of left by the wayside. Protestants like to point out Christ’s discussion of who his family is in Matthew 12 to downplay the veneration of the mother of Christ. However I’d like to take the time in this third installment of our discussion of the Gospel of Luke to have a Protestant look that while falling short of veneration still gives Mary a fair hearing.

Protestants have a tendency to forget about what Elizabeth says about Mary when she visits in Luke Chapter 1 and Elizabeth has this to say about her:

46 And Mary said:
“(My soul exalts the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
54 “He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.

How are we to take this? I’d like to hear some thoughts from the blogosphere…

The Tabernacle and the New Testament Church

It is a hallmark of Reformed Worship that we believe that when two or more are gathered in the Name of the Father, Christ is with us. What we often fail to realize though when expressing this truth is how this ties directly into the relationship between the Israelite tabernacle and the New Testament, post-Easter and Ascension Church. Paul teaches us in 1st Corinthians 10:1-6 that God in Christ dwelled among us now as He did with the Jews in Sinai, in the Wilderness. Just as God fed the Israelities with spiritual food and spiritual drink God today feeds us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Tabernacle was God’s house in the wilderness of Sinai. He commanded the Israelites to build this house as he instructed them so that God may have a proper place to dwell with his people. Just as God dwelled in the tabernacle of Sinai in the time of Moses, we are today still in the wilderness and God through and in and by his Church dwells among us. The Church can expect the presence of God, manifesting himself in Worship if we properly conduct ourselves in his Worship. But how do we do that?
Well first before I answer that question we have to ask ourselves what is the Church? Well the Church at its most basic is the bride of Christ. And what does Scripture say is one of the duties of the Bride to their Groom? To submit themselves to his authority and to serve him in love and gratitude. This use of the motif of the Bride and Groom is deeply rooted in Paul’s theology and in the imagery Christ uses when describing his own relationship to the Church and his disciples. For example Jesus in the questions from Matt 9:14-16 to those who wondered why John’s disciples fasted and the Pharisees fasted says,

“The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with
them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from
them, and then they will fast.”

So here we have an example of Christ using this archetype for the Church by comparing his disciples, those who follow him (i.e.- Christians), to his Bride-to-be. Now that Christ has died and arisen from the grave and ascended into Heaven his “marriage” to the Church has been consumated in this act. So we are to look at worship primarily as the relationship between Christ and his Bride, the Church.

In this context we look at the ancient Tabernacle as being the example of what the particular church should be, not just a place of wood and stone (it is worth noting that a storefront or Middle School Gym is just as much a Tabernacle as a 15th Century cathedral or a sanctuary built in 1953) but a place where God comes to dwell with His people. The Church is God’s special dwelling place, just as the Tabernacle was for the ancient Israelites.