Matthew 8:14-17

8.14 Καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Πέτρου εἶδεν τὴν πενθερὰν αὐτοῦ βεβλημένην καὶ πυρέσσουσαν· 8.15 καὶ ἥψατο τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῆς, καὶ ἀφῆκεν αὐτὴν ὁ πυρετός, καὶ ἠγέρθη καὶ διηκόνει αὐτῷ.

8.16 Ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δαιμονιζομένους πολλούς· καὶ ἐξέβαλεν τὰ πνεύματα λόγῳ καὶ πάντας τοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντας ἐθεράπευσεν. 8.17 ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος, Αὐτὸς τὰς ἀσθενείας ἡμῶν ἔλαβεν καὶ τὰς νόσους ἐβάστασεν.

8.14 And having come into the house of Peter, he saw his mother-in-law in bed with a fever. 8.15 And he took hold of her hand, and the fever left her and she rose and served him.

8.16 And when evening had come, the people brought to him many who were afflicted by demons and he cast the spirits out with a word and healed all who were sick. 8.17 In this way the word of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled, saying, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.”

Comments

In 8:15, I knew that ἥψατο referred to touching, but I wanted to know more specifically what the dictionary said. Interestingly, I couldn’t find it! Ah, me, I looked all over, but failed to find the entry for ἅπτω. I then turned to blueletterbible.org to find the reference. Returning to the lexicon in my reader, it was there all the time. I’m amused that blueletterbible lists the word under its middle voice, while my Greek reader lists it under the active voice (PP1). The particular use is of course middle, which has a distinct (though related) application from the active. The active has the idea of kindling or lighting – while the middle is to hold, fasten oneself to, cling to, touch. Though the NLT says Jesus “touched” her, I prefer the image of him grasping the hand – and so I rendered it, “he took hold of her hand”.

I remember Carman (back in the day) had a joke referring to this particular passage: Peter is preaching at Pentecost and recounting the works of Jesus. The power and authority, the compassion and healing… He says that Jesus healed his mother-in-law and then adds, under the breath, “…a blessing I did not ask him for…” But I digress.

8:15 also makes use of διηκόνει, and struggled to pick the right word. I knew it was “to serve”, as long as one means “wait upon”, or “attend to”, etc. It has the idea of meeting table needs, caring for guests. So I originally decided to write “served”. Then I second-guessed and changed it to “waited on”. But then I thought that that might just be read as she sat there waiting for Jesus to do something else, so I changed it back. Regardless, it is apparent that Peter’s mother-in-law felt well enough to get up and take care of Jesus’ needs.

I’m not fond of my rendering of 8:17, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.” There are two matching pairs of words that have to be considered. The first set is ἔλαβεν to take, to take to oneself and ἐβάστασεν to take in ones hands, bear, bear off, carry away. The other pair is ἀσθενείας weaknesses, illnesses, infirmities and νόσους diseases, sicknesses (think nausea). My problem is that that concise rendering loses a lot. We have a progression from a simple act of taking (which can have the connotation of taking to oneself), to a bearing away, a carrying of a burden by another; the emphasis here being on the fact that the burden is no longer carried by the one who originally possessed it.

Based on recent conversations going on over at Pisteuomen, I have been a little more deliberate in my thinking as I approached ὅπως πληρωθῇ, thus was fulfilled, in verse 8:17. I definitely find myself reading this as Jesus actually fulfilling the words of Isaiah, and not just exemplifying them. I find it hard to read this as Matthew simply “applying” the words of Isaiah in order to grant Jesus more weight in the telling of the message. Maybe that is the case – I was not there. But that is not the way I see it. Jesus is the one who Isaiah had in mind, as God showed him that one was coming who would live a life of little-renown (at the time) and who would carry the infirmity and sickness of the people. That infirmity was here recognized as the sickness of the people, whether fevers or demons, but would eventually include his more complete act of bearing our sin. I would say that the focus is more on the person Jesus who fulfilled these words of Isaiah, more than the event. The event is indicative of his overall strength, message and authority – not that this one healing evening was the complete fulfilling of a “prediction”, as if that was all that was in view.

So I guess my view has been nuanced a bit. And that does help me better grasp how this one verse in Isaiah can be applied to both his life – during the healings – and his sacrificial death. When we see that the use of the prophetic words is to point to Jesus in both cases, then all the events that occurred are being brought together and viewed together. The event itself is only incidental – though without all the events I would still see something lacking in the fulfillment.

More in Matthew to come… and hopefully with a little more regularity than of late!

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About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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2 Responses to Matthew 8:14-17

  1. Nathan Stitt says:

    Welcome back! 8)

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