Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts - Lesson 29

Withdrawal from Galilee (Part 3)

In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus gives a sermon on forgiveness and humility. 

Craig Blomberg
Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts
Lesson 29
Watching Now
Withdrawal from Galilee (Part 3)

Public Ministry

Part 11

V. Jesus' Withdrawal from Galilee (part 2)

C. Jesus' Claims in John 5-11

1. "My father is working and I am working." (5:17, cf. v. 18)

2. "I am the bread of life." (6:35)

3. "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." (7:37)

4. "I am the light of the world." (8:12)

5. "Before Abraham was, I AM." (8:58)

6. "I am the light of the world." (9:5)

7. "I am the gate for the sheep…I am the good shepherd." (10:7, 11)

8. "I am the resurrection and the life." (11:25)

D. Jesus Fulfills Jewish Festivals

1. The Sabbath – "My father is working and I am working." (5:1-47)

2. The Passover – "I am the Bread of Life." (6:1-71)

3. Tabernacles – Living water and light of the world (7:1-9:41)

4. Hanukkah (Dedication) – The messianic shepherd. (10:1-42)p

E. Contrasts in John 5-11

1. Jesus as true Sabbath rest vs. performance drivenness (5:1-47)

2. Jesus as bread of life vs. political action (6:1-71)

3. Jesus as living water and light of the world vs. church involvement, religious ritual (7:1-9:41)

4. Jesus as Good Shepherd vs. all other masters, claims on our allegiance (10:1-21)

5. Jesus as true liberation vs. all attempts to bypass the cross (10:22-42)

6. Jesus as resurrection and life vs. everything that would limit our focus to life in this world. (11:1-57)

F. Gospels and Acts (Matthew 10:5-42)

1. Jesus' discourse on mission

2. Instruction just for the Twelve (vv. 5-15)

3. Transitional verse (v. 16)

4. Instructions for all Jesus' followers after his death (vv. 17-42) [N.B.: v. 23 is in this section]

G. Sermon on Humility and Forgiveness (Matthew 18:1-35)

1. On Humility (18:1-14)

a. Disciples' humility (vv. 1-9)

b. God's humility (18:10-14)

2. On Forgiveness (18:15-35)

a. Withheld if no repentance (vv. 15-20)

b. Unlimited if repentance (vv. 21-35)

H. Additional Discussions

1. Luke 11:42

2. Luke 12:16-21

3. Luke 14:25-33d

4. Luke 17-21

5. Summary of Luke

  • Overview of the influences of the Persian, Greek and Roman Empires on the Jewish nation. 

  • A summary of the Jewish political and religious rulers and movements, and the tensions that arose between the Jews and the occupying Roman authorities.

  • Ancient philosophies and religious movements had a significant influence on peoples' beliefs and behavior in the first century. The influence of Rome and Greece was evident throughout the world. 

  • Religious groups like the Pharisees and Sadducees, and teachings of contemporary Judaism about the Messiah affected Jesus' teaching and ministry.


  • One of the major influences in the social structure in Israel during the first century was the relationship and interaction between Jews and Gentiles. Various Jewish groups had differing views on how they should interact among themselves and with Gentiles. (Dr. Blomberg did not provide us with the PowerPoint slides for this lecture.)

  • One of the major influences in the social structure in Israel during the first century was the relationship and interaction between Jews and Gentiles. Various Jewish groups had differing views on how they should interact among themselves and with Gentiles. (Dr. Blomberg did not provide us with the PowerPoint slides for this lecture.)

  • The Gospels are historically reliable documents. Some of the main arguments and pieces of evidence pointing to the historical reliability of the Gospels are given in this lecture.

  • Form criticism, or form history examines how tradition has changed and how it has stayed the same. 

  • The gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke have so many similarities that they are referred to as the "Synoptic Gospels." There is also material in each of these Gospels that make it distinctive from the other two.

  • It can be helpful to examine, from a literary perspective, the passages that record the encounters that Jesus had with Nicodemus, and the Samaritan woman.

  • In order to understand the message of the Gospel of Mark, it is helpful to understand who the author is, the approximate date it was written, the audience to whom it was written, and the major themes of the book. The content of the book can be divided into the first 8 chapters that focus on the life and ministry of Jesus and the last 8 chapters that focus on His death and resurrection.

  • In order to understand the message of the Gospel of Matthew, it is helpful to understand who the author is, the approximate date it was written, the audience to whom it was written, and the possible sources on which Matthew relied when he was writing. Matthew begins by recording genealogy of Jesus and some of the events surrounding his infancy. Jesus' public ministry began with HIs baptism by John the Baptist, temptation in the wilderness and calling of the disciples. His preaching included the Sermon on the Mount and parables which Matthew grouped together in the Gospel.

  • Examining the outline and structure of the Gospel of Luke reveals the main points and the focus of Luke's Gospel and the book of Acts. Luke and Matthew have some similarities as well as some elements that are distinctive.

  • Much of the material of the Gospel of John is unique, compared to the other 3 Gospel accounts. Some of John's account alternates between recording a sign that Jesus performs with a discourse about a certain subject. Chapter 12 to the end of the Gospel covers the final days of Jesus' life on earth.

  • Some scholars belief that historical evidence supports the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, some think the historical evidence supports the inauthenticity of the Gospel accounts, and some think that the historical evidence is irrelevant. The different conclusions are due mainly to different presuppositions. It is possible to propose a probable time line of Jesus' life.

  • The Gospel accounts of Jesus' birth and early years of life show how He accurately fulfilled specific OT prophecies made hundreds of years earlier, and how His life was intertwined with that of John the Baptist. The beginning of John's Gospel is a testimony to Jesus' nature as being both fully God and fully human.

  • Locations in present day Israel that are related to Jesus' infancy and the beginning of His public ministry.

  • John the Baptist began his ministry before Jesus's public ministry. For a while their public ministries overlapped, then Jesus conducted the remainder of His public ministry without John the Baptist on the scene.

  • Turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana was one of the first miracles Jesus performed in His public ministry. He also had conversations with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, and healed the nobleman's son.

  • The Sermon on the Mount is one of the main passages showing how Jesus defines the "Kingdom of God." He also calls the disciples, redefines the family, performs healings and exorcisms, and uses parables and pronouncements to teach about who God is and how He relates to humans.

  • Images of locations in present day Israel related to Jesus' early Galilean ministry.

  • The Sermon on the Mount shows how the teachings of the Kingdom of God relate to the OT Law. It also includes additional NT teachings and a model prayer.

  • Pictures of places in present day Israel related to Jesus' early Galilean ministry.

  • Understanding parables as a literary form helps us interpret them accurately. Jesus performed miracles in various contexts for specific purposes.

  • Locations in present day Israel related to parables Jesus said and places He performed miracles.

  • Jesus' ministry in Galilee took place in locations like Nazareth, Cana, the Sea of Galilee and other nearby towns and areas. As Jesus was departing from Galilee, he performed miracles and taught at specific places along the way.

  • One of the themes in John chapters 5-11 is how Jesus fulfills the Jewish festivals. He also uses metaphors, saying that he is the, “bread of life,” “light of the world,” “gate for the sheep” and others.

  • In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus gives a sermon on forgiveness and humility. 

  • Locations in present day Israel related to Jesus' ministry.

  • Does the Bible teach that we are to marry or that we are not to marry?

  • Passion Week in the life of Jesus includes his anointing in Bethany, triumphal entry into Jerusalem, cleansing of the temple, celebrating Passover, prayer and arrest in Gethsemane, crucifixion and resurrection.

  • Chronological order of the events of the Passion week of the ministry of Jesus.

  • The death and resurrection of Jesus are significant both historically and theologically.

  • Narration describing slide photographs of locations of events that took place during Passion Week.

  • Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Jewish Messiah. He was both fully God and fully man. Jesus taught about the kingdom of God and showed compassion to the people who were outcasts in society.

  • Acts was written as a continuation of the Gospel of Luke to record what the Holy Spirit was doing through the lives of followers of Christ in the early church. The gospel spread ethnically from Jews to Gentiles, and geographically from Jerusalem to the rest of the world.

  • Stephen challenged the Jewish leaders to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Paul's conversion was a key event in the history of the early church.

  • The discussion in the Jerusalem council in Acts chapter 15 was how Jews and gentiles could function together as the body of Christ.

  • Narrative describing pictures relating to places that were significant in the early church.

  • The book of Acts records events that happened during Paul's travels as he preached the gospel and established churches throughout Asia Minor and Europe.

In this class, Dr. Blomberg covers the introduction for the four Gospels and Acts, and, using the English New Testament, provides a harmonistic study of the life of Christ with a focus on his essential teachings, the theology of evangelism, and the planting of the church as recorded in Acts.


Dr. Craig Blomberg

Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts


Withdrawal from Galilee (Part 3)

Lesson Transcript


This is the 29th lecture in the online series of lectures for understanding the Gospels and Acts, in complement with the textbook by Craig Blomberg’s Jesus and The Gospels: an Introduction and Survey


(This lecture is a continuation of Part 2a and pacifically the student exercise that began near the end of the lecture 2a.)


This is the second unique discourse from Matthew’s central section for discussion by students. Matthew 10:23 is one of the passages discussed in whether Jesus predicted his return in the life time of his followers. The verse reading, ‘I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes,’ may well be looking far beyond Jesus reuniting with the twelve disciples here or even his coming again at the resurrection of giving of the Spirit at Pentecost, but due to history, the cities of Israel and locations, indeed, of Jewish communities anywhere in the world will not have been fully evangelized by the end. 


In response, Matthew 18:21-22 commands us to forgive others without limit, even if it goes against the grain of our human nature and modern society which always consists of demanding one’s rights. A husband who has frequently abandoned his family keeps coming home coming to be forgiven; the family must do so, however, how often it happens. There are a number of ways that this invites discussion. One could make it more pointed and use an example of domestic violence or abuse. The overall chapter context in Matthew 18 is a sermon on humility and forgiveness which focuses primarily on humility in the first fourteen verses, demonstrated positively in entering the Kingdom like a little child. And then more negatively, a warning against causing any of these little ones, whether little children or Jesus’ spiritual children, to sin. The necessary humility on part of the disciples is then juxtaposed with the parable of the lost sheep which can be seen without much of a stretch; it would appear to reflect God’s willingness to humble himself and seek and save that which is lost. As we move to the immediate context of verses 21–22, Jesus turns more to the issue of forgiveness and the most significant observation from the next PowerPoint slide is that these two verses teach unlimited forgiveness is sandwiched inside two dramatic passages that at first glance would appear to involve withholding forgiveness. 


Verses 15–20 introduce the issue of church discipline and a series of mandated steps in the hopes of producing repentance and reconciliation where two parties are estranged. The worth case scenario, if no moves toward repentance occur at all, it ultimately creates a lack of fellowship. Verses 18-20, often taken out of context, would appear to be affirming heavens ratification of believers following God’s ordained process for confrontation. Then on the other side of verses 21-22 comes the parable of the unforgiving servant, which the climax of the parable could be viewed as teaching unlimited forgiveness even without repentance. But in the context of one who has claimed to have repented or at least begs for a delay for the calling in of his debts. He never demonstrated the forgiveness of a small sum owed to him by a fellow subordinate as shown in the passage which had been bestowed upon him. So how do we put this altogether? The very short parallel in Luke 17:3-4 would confirm our conviction that there indeed is to be unlimited forgiveness whether or not there is repentance. But we need to be reminded as the parable of the unforgiving servant; professions of repentance are vacuous without some change of behavior. Without, as John the Baptist said earlier in his ministry, the fruits there is no repentance. 


The Hebrew concept behind the verb: shub, to repent, expresses a radical change of mind toward sin and implies a conscious moral separation from sin and a decision to forsake it and agree with God. It is to turn around and walk in a different direction. The Greek word for repent: metanoeó, comes from a root that means to change one’s mind, thus means a change of behavior. However falteringly, demonstrating at least the first steps towards a full-fledged transformation in one’s life must be present to constitute true repentance. Behavior that simply repeats over and over again and the same sins without seeking intervention, without acknowledgement that the process is not working or effecting change without the help of fellow believers, perhaps where they are available and professionally trained. Believers cannot be called repentant and just continue with business as usual. To be around such a person is what counselors call enabling, which in God’s eyes, makes matters worse rather than better because it supports and perpetuates the offender in a cycle of inappropriate behavior. 


Now let’s turn to the Gospel of Luke and our final PowerPoint slide for this lecture. Once again, it reminds us of the overall map of Israel or Palestine in New Testament times, as you’ve noted before when we were looking at the line graphs of each Gospel. Luke is the Gospel that actually deletes the withdrawal from Galilee, including the theological withdrawal that proceeds it to form what source critics often calls, ‘his great omission’. And this is probably, for geographical reasons, because of his hour glass or extended Chiastic outline of Luke/Acts and Jesus’ departure from Galilee and the north and the east would have created a disruption of this inverse parallelism. But beginning in Luke 9:15, it is also noticed in that introduction in Luke’s Gospel and carrying on to the middle of chapter 18 is a section largely unparalleled in Mark. It is primarily comprised of the teachings of Jesus, though not exclusively. All set under the shadow of the cross by the theological headline of Luke 9:51 in which Luke as narrator writes, ‘as the time approached to be taken up into heaven, Jesus resolutely sat out for Jerusalem.’ This is scarcely a straight line journey. It is not even necessarily a chronologically narrated journey. 


Paradoxically, there are fewer references to time and place in these nine chapters than in any other significant multiple chapter sections of the four Gospels.  A strange phenomenon for that which has been called a travel narrative and for that very reason some scholars simply prefer to refer to this part of the Gospel as Luke’s central section. But the two references that do appear, one inputs Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, though it is only from John’s account that we learn that it took place in Bethany. This was virtually a suburb of Jerusalem as we might call it today and then again in Luke chapter 17:11 where Jesus is travelling on the border between Galilee and Samaria. Much closer to the end of the central section but now apparently back far closer to Jesus’ home in Nazareth and Capernaum. Just as he seems to be on the verge of venturing into Jerusalem very early in the central section, a further clue that Luke has most likely ranged his material topically to hit key themes. And we have even suggested with the chart in the textbook that Luke may have created a topical sequence based on an underlining core source of a collection of Jesus’ parables, unique to Luke’s central section. This initial parable source, chiastic sequenced though Luke has not preserved the chiasm through his additional material or at least preserved its visibility clearly. But he used the core parables as spring boards for the themes which he wishes to form in the major topical divisions of this central section. 


With this background, let’s see what you would do with the remaining snippets of exegesis in this exercise. First, look at Luke 11:42 where Jesus castigates the Pharisees for tithing every crop they raise but neglect ‘justice and the love of God.’ Clearly their priorities were misplaced, nevertheless he says they were right not to neglect tithing and therefore tithing is mandatory for Christians today. Whatever else one says about this passage in light of our introduction to this central section, we need to be reminded that this is Jesus’ teaching before the Cross. Teaching under the shadow of the Cross but during the period in which the Mosaic Law was still in force as a requirement for Jewish people and those who want to become rightly related to God through Judaism. And thus, he says the theology is impeccable, tithing is an Old Testament mandate though tithing even small spices takes a backseat considerably to the major moral theme to the Hebrew Scriptures. But nothing in a rebuke to the Jewish leaders about commands for their age and era being broken proves anything one way or the other for how Jesus would want his followers to live after the Cross after the shift of the ages with the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost.  And it is significant to observe that post Pentecost there are no commands to tithing, no commands for giving ten percent as a law to the Lord’s work. It’s worth noting that even in the Old Testament, when this law was enforced; it amounted to three tithes averaging twenty three and a third percent annually. Someone insists that the Old Testament laws of tithing are still enforce. Make sure that they give twenty three and a third percent with three and a third percent designated to the poor, ten percent designated for the festivals in Jerusalem and ten percent designated for the Levites and the upkeep of the Temple, for whatever they might see corresponding to analogies in the Christian era referring to. But I’ll leave the reader to reflect on my comments of 2nd Corinthians 8-9 in the next study of the Epistles and Revelation for further detail. 


Another snippet of exegesis, at first glance, is the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21 which seems to condemn the man for being rich. In verse 21, it becomes clear that his problem was that he was not rich toward God; he was not a true believer. As it is accessible for Christians to accumulate all the wealth they want as long as they continue a vibrant relationship with Jesus. This is a subtle paragraph. It is very easy to fall off the tightrope on either of two sides in the text like this one and other similar ones. There is no passage in either Testament that teaches salvation or damnation by socioeconomic standings. And both Testaments are clear that it is safe in Yahweh, revealed at the time of Jesus to be now incarnate, in Christ; this is what saves a person. And it is also clear in both Testaments that genuine salvation brings genuine spiritual transformation, how be it, in fits and starts with lapses that jumps forward and backward, probably detailed in unique fashion for every individual believer who has ever lived. So the first part of this snippet of exegesis is accurate, despite what the opening five verses of the parable might appear to say. Verse 21 does make it clear that ultimately the man was condemned because he had no relationship with the God of Israel. 


But the second and final portion of the snippet does not follow; accumulating all the wealth that someone wants may be in fragrant disobedience to what the Spirit of Christ is trying to get a person to do with their wealth, however much they feel they have a vibrant relationship with Jesus. There may be abuses of their wealth that are inappropriate. It is striking that the Greek pronoun ‘I’ or its corresponding verbal suffix appears eight times in this short parable. ‘I will do this, I will do that,’ with no thought of anyone else though the story is set is a world where seventy to eighty percent of all Israelites were at the poverty line or barely above or even below. If our response to the previous snippet of exegesis is not to say that because tithing is no longer mandatory in the New Testament age, people may give to the Lord’s work less than generously. But insist that at times generous or sacrificial giving may well require giving far beyond ten percent. Then it certainly can’t be true that Christians can simply accumulate wealth endlessly without giving generously and sacrificially from their surplus. (2nd Corinthians 8-9) 


Two more brief points for thought: Luke 14:25-33 are not verses to be preached in any evangelistic message. These are verses for the mature Christian. To an unsaved world, we must stress the free grace of Christ. Salvation is an entirely undeserved gift, and then once a person is saved we can gradually explain the demands of the Gospel, little by little as they are able to handle them. To tell unbelievers that they must count the cost of coming to Christ (Verse 28) or using the harsh language of this passage about hating parents and surrendering all, risks confusing them greatly and making them think that they can or must earn their salvation. We see that from the outset as Luke makes it clear that Jesus’ audience here is the crowds. In fact, a careful study of Luke’s central section discloses that Luke carefully alternates in blocks of teaching material between Jesus in front of the crowd and Jesus alone with his disciples. Many in the crowds would not have been true followers of his. So these teachings are by no means in their original context limited for their audience to his most devoted followers. What actually confuses an unsaved world than those who respond and come to salvation are often even more confused at a later date in so stressing the free grace of Christ that we refuse to include the demands of the Gospel. We accept Jesus as both Savior and Lord recall Luke 2:11 and compare Romans 10:9-10. 


On the one hand, it is perfectly appropriate to champion and work hard to preserve the notion that no action in a life style of following Christ ever by themselves or in combination somehow completing an unfinished an act at the time of a person’s salvation merit that person’s justification in Christ sight. On the other hand, as we have already noticed in the context of the parable of the rich fool and elsewhere, genuine repentance bears genuine fruit. Good works do flow inevitably and inexorably in different ways in different people from saving faith and the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is perfectly appropriate therefore to use all kinds of illustrations and dramatic language and hyperbole to stress that it is possible that one who comes to Christ may have to give up everything, even life itself, as the countless who have by martyred throughout church history have come to learn. If one, in principle, is unwilling to accept the notion of total surrender, if one consciously holds back certain areas of one’s life and says, ‘sure, I will accept the free gift but don’t ask me to turn my life over to Jesus as full Lord,’ then one is not becoming a saved person. 


And finally, the footnote in the RSV of Luke 17-21 says that this verse could be translated, ‘the Kingdom of God is within you.’ The NIV actually prefers this reading and puts this in their footnote. So it seems likely that Jesus was saying that the present aspect of the Kingdom was entirely internal and invisible, probably equivalent today what we would call Christ’s reign in our hearts. Every outward and invisible manifestation of the Kingdom still awaits his future return. Whatever else, one might want to say here in the immediate context, paying attention to one’s audience as we did in the last passage, is the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders who are not Christ’s followers and therefore it would be highly unlikely that Jesus would say to them, the Kingdom of God, God’s dawning messianic reign, his kingly power, his domination is within these hostile Jewish leaders as if they were somehow truly Jesus’ followers. But in the context of all of the miracles and signs Jesus has worked, being compared and contrasted in your mist makes very good sense.  The cosmic signs will come later, they are not for now, but there is plenty within the first coming of Jesus and not merely these spectacular miracles but also his teachings and his remarkable demeanor that should point out the present inaugurated Kingdom. 


But notice how the solutions to all of these examples from Luke take on an even greater pungency and unity in theme when seen as part of the central section as Jesus travelling under the shadow of the Cross looming ever larger on the horizon, if not literally but at least spiritually. One understands justice in the love of God rather than laws about tithing, one would know about the need for the Cross. One would know about the need to give sacrificially to the poor rather than exalting oneself materially. One would realize about the potential cost that has to be counted if one is to follow in one’s master’s footsteps. One would recognize that in contrast to any equivocal signs that can only be interpreted so as to point to Jesus as King. It may be the very equivocal and paradoxical signs of Jesus’ willingness to go to the Cross that most demonstrate the beginnings of God’s Kingdom on earth, not yet in all of his triumphant fullness. 


There are countless other teachings in Luke’s central section. At some point or another in a brief set of survey lectures like this one, there are entire passages that we simply must skip. We have, however, talked about a method for interpreting parables and parables do dominate large sections of Luke’s central section if our theory of a Chiastic parable sources is right, they form the very structural backbone of this portion of Luke’s Gospel. And then in the other teachings of Jesus that are so-called ‘Q’ tradition. Therefore finds parallels in Matthew in other contexts that we either have already discussed or will discuss later. Our textbook goes on to comment on a number of the other unique Luke section of the travel narrative although quite briefly. But we would recommend to readers who want to follow up on passages otherwise untreated. The series of commentaries at three different levels and formats on Gospel of Luke by Darrel Boch, long time professor of New Testament at Dallas Seminary and now research professor of both New Testament and Spiritual Formations. His large two volume commentary will answer any question anyone might have about any text in this Gospel and for those who require something more brief, is IVP New Testament commentary succeeds and the NIV Application Commentary which is also offered on the Gospel of Luke, summarizes an even briefer compass of the original meaning of Luke’s text but then goes into very helpful and considerable detail as do all volumes in that series on issues of bridging from ancient into the modern context and then on to contemporary significance.