Explanation of Scripture read by Orthodox Christians on the 10th Tuesday after Pentecost Matthew 21:23-27, 1 Corinthians 15:29-38

Scripture read by Orthodox Christians
10th Tuesday after Pentecost
Matthew 21:23-27, 1 Corinthians 15:29-38


"And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?" Matt 21:23)

What are "these things" which the question refers to?
By what authority did Christ do the things he did?







Jesus had just cast the peddlers out of the temple, and the Jewish leaders were angry about this. No doubt, they profited greatly from making His fathers house a "house of merchandise".

Jesus, the God-man, did "these things" by authority of God, which was Himself.



What was the intent of the question of the chief priests and elders?







The Jewish authorities were angry with Jesus and wanted to get rid of Him, any way they could, so they resorted to sophistry. If Jesus answered their loaded question by saying that He did these things by His own authority, they would accuse Him of insurrection, and this would be a substantial pretext to put him to death. If He answered that He did these things by God's authority, and not His own, they would denounce Him before the people, and only a servant, and belittle His authority, hoping to draw the people away from Him.



"And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? {24} And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things." Matt 21:23-24)

What does Jesus teach about answering insincere question related to the faith?







We should not "throw our pearls before swine", and answer those who ask with malicious intent. See Blessed Theophylact.



According to Blessed Theophylact, Jesus teaches us another virtue by his simple and humble answer. What?







We should not extol ourselves. Jesus was able to answer the question plainly, but demurred, to teach us humility.



In previous times , the Jewish authorities plainly accused Jesus of doing some of His works by a disreputable authority. What were the works, and who was the authority they cited?







"Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. {23} And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? {24} But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils." ((Mat 12:22-24)



"Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" (1 Cor 15:29)

What is "baptism for the dead"? Does the church do this? If not, what was the purpose of St. Paul mentioning it?







"Baptism for the dead" is a false practice wherein a living person acts as a proxy for a dead person, and is baptised in their stead. this is a silly abberation, since after death there is not repentance.

The church never practiced this silly bit of nonsense, but St Paul mentions it here because some of the Corinthians, no doubt still affected by their pagan upbringing, were practicing it. He shows the absurdity of even this false belief, if they also, at the same time doubted the resurrection from the dead, since baptism for the dead who stay dead has no good effect anyway.

What then is that which he means? Or will ye that I should first mention how they who are infected with the Marcionite heresy pervert this expression? And I know indeed that I shall excite much laughter; nevertheless, even on this account most of all I will mention it that you may the more completely avoid this disease: viz., when any catechumen departs among them, having concealed the living man under the couch of the dead, they approach the corpse and talk with him, and ask him if he wishes to receive baptism; then when he makes no answer, he that is concealed underneath saith in his stead that of course he should wish to be baptized; and so they baptize him instead of the departed, like men jesting upon the stage. So great power hath the devil over the souls of careless sinners. Then being called to account, they allege this expression, saying that even the Apostle hath said, "They who are baptized for the dead. Seest thou their extreme ridiculousness?" (St John Chrysostom, Homily XL, on 1 Corinthians)



What heretical, large religious group practices "baptism for the dead"?







the Mormons believe in baptism for the dead, and because of this, they possess the most complete geneological records in the world.



I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. (1 Cor 15:31)

What does St Paul mean by "I die daily"?







St Paul is referring to his daily struggles and temptations in his ministry. He is trying to show the Corinthians that he would not struggle so much if there was really no resurrection - such struggle would be pointless.



"let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die."

From whence does St Paul take this expression?







"This word, be sure, is spoken in mockery: wherefore neither did he bring it forward of himself, but summoned the prophet of loftiest sound, Isaiah, who discoursing of certain insensible and reprobate persons made use of these words, "Who slay oxen and kill sheep to eat flesh and drink wine; who say, Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. These things are revealed to the ears of the Lord of Hosts, and this iniquity shall not be forgiven you, till ye die." (Isaiah chapter 22, verse 13 and Isaiah chapter 22, verse 14. LXX.)" (St John Chrysostom, Homily XL, on 1 Corinthians)



"Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." (vs. 1 Cor 15:36)

What is another saying similar to this, and by whom is it spoken?







Jesus Christ says: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12: 24)


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