Matthew 8:5-13

8.5 Εἰσελθόντος δὲ αὐτοῦ εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ προσῆλθεν αὐτῷ ἑκατόνταρχος παρακαλῶν αὐτὸν 8.6 καὶ λέγων, Κύριε, ὁ παῖς μου βέβληται ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ παραλυτικός, δεινῶς βασανιζόμενος. 8.7 καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Ἐγὼ ἐλθὼν θεραπεύσω αὐτόν. 8.8 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἑχατόνταρχος ἔφη, Κύριε, οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς ἵνα μου ὑπὸ τὴν στέγην εἰσέλθῃς, ἀλλὰ μόνον εἰπὲ λόγῳ, καὶ ἰαθήσεται ὁ παῖς μου. 8.9 καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπός εἰμι ὑπὸ ἐξουσίαν, ἔχων ὑπ᾿ ἐμαυτὸν στρατιώτας, καὶ λέγω τούτῳ, Πορεύθητι, καὶ πορεύεται, καὶ ἄλλῳ, Ἔρχου, καὶ ἔρχεται, καὶ τῷ δούλῳ μου, Ποίησαν τοῦτο, καὶ ποιεῖ. 8.10 ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐθαύμασεν καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς ἀκολουθοῦσιν, Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, παρ᾿ οὐδενὶ τοσαύτην πίστιν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ εὗρον. 8.11 λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι πολλοὶ ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν καὶ δυσμῶν ἥξουσιν καὶ ἀνακλιθήσονται μετὰ Ἀβαὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακὼβ ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν, 8.12 οἱ δὲ υἱοὶ τῆς βασιλείας ἐκβληθήσονται εἰς τὸ σκότος τὸ ἐξώτερον· ἐκεῖ ἔσται ὁ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων. 8.13 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ ἑκατοντάρχῃ, Ὕπαγε, ὡς ἐπίστευσας γενηθήτω σοι. καὶ ἰάθη ὁ παῖς [αὐτοῦ] ἐν τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐκείνῃ.

8.5 As he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him beseeching him 8.6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is laid aside in the house, a paralytic, terribly tortured.” 8.7 And he says to him, “When I come, I will heal him.” 8.8 And the centurion answering said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say by a word, and my servant will be healed. 8.9 For even I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say to this one, ‘Go!’, and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’, and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’, and he does it.” 8.10 And hearing Jesus was astounded and said to those following him, “Truly, I say to you, I have found not even one of with as much belief in Israel. 8.11 And I say to you that many from the east and west will come and recline to eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens. 8.12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast into utter darkness; There will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” 8.13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go, let it be to you as you believed.” And the servant was healed in that very hour.

We are once again greeted in 8:5 with a genitive absolute. I’m afraid I spent an awful time trying to figure out the expression before realizing it was the same as what I had commented on in the last Matthew post. Ah, well.

ἑκατόνταρχος is a variant nominative spelling of ἑκατοντάρχης. It apparently (from everything I can find) has no difference in meaning. Either way, this word is formed by combining the word for “100” with the word for “rule” – someone who “rules 100 men”, a centurion, a captain. This same variant spelling is used throughout this passage.

This centurion approached Jesus, and the text reads παρακαλῶν “beseeching, entreating”. I really wanted to find a more modern or approachable way of rendering this word. “Beseech” and “entreat” both seem so antiquated. The one the centurion is making request for is his παῖς “boy, servant”. It is unclear if this is actually his child or simply a servant in the house, but it is clear that the centurion has deep concern for him. He is willing to come to Jesus, someone he shows great respect for, and considers himself unworthy  of in some respect (οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς “I am not sufficient…”, verse 8:7).

Jesus’ use of ἐγώ “I” comes even before the centurion’s statement of unworthiness. This pronoun is used to stress the subject, and has Jesus stressing that he himself will come. He will not send a disciple or other person to take care of the issue, and he will allow his schedule to be “disrupted” to care for the need. I wonder if the centurion’s response that he is not sufficient is only to indicate respect for Jesus, or if there is below the text a sense that Jesus’ going to the centurion’s house might cause Jesus stress from the religious establishment (not being a Jew, and no comment about him even being a proselyte of any sort). Either way, the centurion’s response is clear indication to Jesus that this man understands what it means to believe on authority – providing a teaching opportunity for those around him.

The centurion also stresses himself in response using ἐγώ “I”. He makes very clear that his belief is based on experience. He knows intimately what it means to be in command. He gives an order and it is accomplished. Simple as that. And he believes that Jesus need only state the word and it will be done. If only we would operate with that much faith in the authority of Christ! Not that we ought be puffed up with some false sense of power, but that we would truly expect Jesus to act in our lives and in the lives of our friends and family – maybe even in our enemies. I think again of the centurion – hated commander among the Roman usurpers and to many a living and breathing example of an enemy of God’s people. I think a warranted thought in light of Jesus’ amazed response.

This whole scene gives Jesus the opportunity to speak to the fact that his message is to a broader audience than just the Jewish nation. Though Jesus direct message will be aimed at Jews, the message will reach out to those in every direction, ending with many sharing in the blessings of fellowship alongside Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These had trusted in God’s promises – they are examples of people in relationship with God quite apart from the legalistic excesses and hypocrisies of the Pharisees. Jesus’ statement was both a smack in the face to these religious leaders, and a hopeful declaration to this centurion that God was well aware of the stark wall between God’s people and covenant and his love and original intent.

The healing was timely and quite in accordance with the belief stated by the centurion!

Jesus, with belief in your authority in mind, I want to ask that you would protect and give life and power to my church family. Not for our own glory, but so that all would see that you are alive and well in the church. The church is not a dead or even dying entity. It is a living body empowered by your own Spirit and directed by your will. Thank you for all you have done in and through it to make me who I am – for helping me to follow you with every breath and thought.

I ask that you would open our mouths to share all that you are doing. You have blessed us with so many things, and you are with us even when we suffer or face dark times. Help us to offer the same kind of compassion to our community, the kind you possess. Shout the message of your love and mercy through us.

God, be our comfort even when we feel lost and confused. All glory to you, God.

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About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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