Friday, 4 May 2012

How does the Bible commentate on itself? (1)

It has often been said that ‘the Bible is the best commentary on itself’.  How does this work?
One of the main keys to commentary is Word and Phrase Association.

For example, in Luke 19.10 Jesus said:
The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost

There are clear Word and Phrase Associations with Ezekiel 34 in the underlined words in verses 11 and 16:
34.11 I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.
34.16 I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away

But there is more to the commentary than the initial Word and Phrase Association.  It was the custom in the first century to use these Associations to point to the whole passage in which they occur, not just to the specific Associations.

Therefore, in the case of Luke 19.10, Jesus is referring to the whole of Ezekiel chapter 34 in which there are three Prophecies which describe the ‘bad’ shepherds, and what the LORD proposes to do about them:

34.2-3 Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! …You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.…..

34.10-11 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; …  ‘For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.’

34.20-23 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD to them: ‘Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them; My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.

34.31You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God,’ says the Lord GOD.

At the end of the third Prophecy we can identify additional Associations to John 10:

10.9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

10.16 Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

From these Associations we can see that Ezekiel 34 provides an expanded commentary on some comments of Jesus in Luke 19and John 10.

It seems that Ezekiel 34 was one of Jesus’s favourite chapters because there are other references to this chapter elsewhere in the Gospels….and there are many Associations between this chapter and other OT Prophecies, particularly Jeremiah 31.

The references below in red are in the OT, and those in blue are in the Gospels.

Which red references match with which blue references? 

You already have the answer that F matches with M

Enjoy matching the others! The answers will be posted in the next blog.

A. Deuteronomy 2.14                    K.  Matthew 8.27

B. Isaiah 43.25                               L.  John 6.14

C. Job 9.8                                       M.  Luke 19.10

D. Deuteronomy 18.15                   N.  Matthew 14.33

E. Psalm 107.28-29                        O.  John 5.5

F.  Ezekiel 34.11,16                        P.   Matthew 9.6

G. Jeremiah 17.13                          Q.   Matthew 3.7

H. Isaiah 40.3                                  R.   John 14.6

I.  Zephaniah 1.14-18                      S.   Matthew 3.1

J.  Psalm 119.1,50,142,151            T.   John 8.6,8

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