As the time drew near for Him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for His arrival. But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because He was on His way to Jerusalem. When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up [as Elijah did]?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. [And He said, “You don’t realize what your hearts are like.][For the Son of Man has not come to destroy people’s lives, but to save them.”] So they went on to another village.Luke 9:51-56
The other link I referred to yesterday is the Elijah link through the Mount of Transfiguration. Remember Moses and Elijah are still fresh in the disciples’ minds from the experience on the mountain and the glory of God descending on them. I think the scene on the Mt of Transfiguration is parallel to the scene at Mt Horeb / Sinai where the original glorification of Moses took place. It is interesting that just as the Israelites waited at the bottom of the mountain for Moses, the crowd were waiting at the bottom of the mountain for Jesus. And if I am right in deducing the mountain involved here is Mt Carmel then again the Elijah story is prominent in their thinking. So when they leave the Mt of Transfiguration and head through the heart of Samaria and pass by Mt Gerazim their thoughts will clearly turn to the Samaritans and the encounter with the idolatry that was in Samaria at the time of Elijah. Hence James and John’s thoughts turn immediately to Elijah calling down fire from heaven and hence their suggestion “we do it again”. Having just been in Elijah’s presence it’s a natural reaction.
There are a number of questions we need to resolve before we can work out what is happening here.
- Why did Jesus send messengers ahead to prepare for His arrival?
- Why was Jesus not welcome because he was on the way to Jerusalem?
- Why does Jesus tell James and John that they don’t know what their own hearts are like?
We need to know the answers to those questions in order to understand the whole situation here. So I am listing the questions for you now so you have time to think about them before we seek to summarize it all in the next Gem.
I told you in the last Gem we would look at the textual issues. I am sure you could see a large chunk of this section is questioned because the elements below in grey are in dispute. They are not found in the older manuscripts (mss). These segments are:
1. [as Elijah did]*
2. [And He said, “You don’t realize what your hearts are like.]*
3. [For the Son of Man has not come to destroy people’s lives, but to save them.”]*
I clipped the excerpts below from several E-Sword commentaries. See Gem 931. Now I will add some explanatory notes to the comments.
even as Elias did; upon the two captains of fifties, with their fifties, as recorded in 2 King 1:9 This clause was wanting in a certain copy of Beza’s, and is not in the Vulgate Latin version; but is in other copies and versions, and by all means to be retained.
Note – Beza’s stands for Codex Bezae or Cantabrigensis [Dea and a series D variants], a Greek Uncial Codex that was found by Theodore Beza and presented to the University of Cambridge after 1582. It is dated around 400 AD.
Especially for those of you who are not mother tongue speakers of English and even for younger mother tongue speakers I feel I need to explain “this clause was wanting in a certain copy of Bezae”. It means it is not found or it is missing from Codex Bezae, one of the earlier Uncial (or capital letter Greek) Codices written on velum or parchments.
And He said, “You don’t realize what your hearts are like. For the Son of Man has not come to destroy people’s lives, but to save them;
so far in this verse, and the latter part of the former verse, are left out in five ancient copies of Beza’s, and in the Ethiopic version, but are in the rest of the Eastern versions, and in other copies, and are rightly retained.
In other words this segment, # 2 and # 3 above are not found in five of Beza’s copies, nor in the Ethiopic version – these represent the Western text family of documents. But these verses are in the Eastern series of Codices. Thus the reading is retained.
The words, You know not of what spirit you are; for the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them, are not found in ABCEGHL, and in many others. Griesbach leaves the latter clause out of the text. It is probable that the most ancient MSS. read the passage thus: “But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not of what spirit ye are. And they went to another village.” See the authorities in Griesbach.
What does this mean? To what do the letters ABCEGHL refer?
Well let me explain with this example of the Text Critical evidence taken for an example I have worked on already for John 7:53–8:11 and the evidence for which of the ancient documents miss out this section.
In listings of the ancient documents which don’t include this section we have the following statement.
Omit 7:53-8:11 — P66 P75 א (A defective but does not leave space) B (C defective but does not leave space) L N T W X Y D Q Y 0141 0211 22 33 157 209 565 1230 1241 1242 1253 1333txt 1424* 2193 2768 pc a f l* q cur sin peshmss harkmss sa pbo ach2 bomss armmss geo goth slav [Origen]vid [Tischendorf]
The bold p‘s in black font with superscripted numbers (e.g. P66 ) are the papyri.
The capital letters in blue font including the Hebrew character א (Aleph) are the series of earlier Uncial Codex which are mss written with capital letters all run together without word breaks. These are the first few. There are too many to list.
The numbers in red font represent the miniscules, the small letter texts which are mainly post 11th century.
The green abbreviated names stand for the ancient versions.
The names in purple at the end, Origen, Tischendorf are the versions of the Greek text which the named people have worked on to give to Christian scholarship ancient attempts at listing the differences in the text. Greisbach is another example of these kinds of resources.
All of this serves to give us a means of tracking which manuscripts (mss) have what reading and allow us to track the changes over time.
It is a wonderful resource to have of all the manuscripts available to us. No one is trying to hide anything from anyone. Christian scholars have been open and honest about the truth of the documentary evidence for our Bibles.
The conclusion we can make about this passage is that while it doesn’t seem to be original Luke, and is not found in א (aleph) A B C etc- namely Alexandrinus, Vaticanus and Ephraemi it is still present in others of the most ancient documents. There is some doubt but it is still preserved in the text because it is undoubtedly an attempt to make the background of this passage clearer. (I hope it worked both when you read the disputed segments again while understanding more of the background and my explanation which I also hope is clear.) It is duly noted as a footnote to suggest to us that it is not in the earliest manuscripts. Such a reading is not normally placed in the main body of the text but relegated to a footnote. In this case though it is retained in the text because it is thought to be important by way of explanation. [It is more complicated than that but in the interests of keeping it simple I opted for a shorter explanation.]
Next Gem we will put all this together.
People will always remember how you treated them in their lowest moments! Always!Rick Godwin
Your test will become your testimony to glorify His greatness.Leticia Sevirenata
When you blame others, you give up your power to change.Dr Robert Anthony
Ask Him to give you an amazement that is appropriate to the fact that we have a God-breathed book.John Piper