[b-greek] Re: the intent of Mk. 14:38

From: Glenn Blank (glennblank@earthlink.net)
Date: Wed May 30 2001 - 14:26:45 EDT

Paul wrote on Tue, 29 May 2001 22:57:31 -0700-

>I have serious doubts whether PEIRASMON refers to "subjecting God to a
>testing of his faithfulness" rather than to the temptation of the
>disciples. In the immediate context it appears Christ serves as an
>example of praying so that He Himself would not enter into temptation (v.
>36). In fact, this is the second time Christ prayed so He would not
>enter temptation, the first time being when He had prayed and fasted for
>40 days, and Satan came to tempt Him (1:13).
>No, the normal interpretation here seems contextually preferrable.
>Christ prayed so He would not enter into temptation and He encouraged His
>disciples to do the same. He knew that even though we may mean well (in
>spirit), our tired and weak flesh if unchecked by prayer will lead us
>into temptation and sin. Such indeed was the case with the disciples who
>failed to pray, fell asleep, and fell away with fear when the Master was

I agree. In addition to the immediate context of Christ praying so as to
not succumb to temptation, the recent interchange between Peter and Jesus in
29-31 adds significance to this understanding of PEIRASMON as "temptation"
and not "subjecting God to testing." It is as if Jesus is saying, "I know
you think will never deny me, but you don't understand just how weak your
flesh is."

Hence, while there is possibly a hint of allusion to Psalm 78:38 in Mark
14:38c, one need not look so far afield for its relevance to the exhortation
to watch: Peter's self-confidence in in v 29 against the backdrop of the
disciples' complacency in v 37a would provide all the motivation necessary
for adding v 38c to his exhortation.

Wayne wrote,

>I would think that your suggestion of rhetorical warning should be at the
top of the
>list. If it is a warning, I would think that it would be a warning not to
>give in to the weakness of the flesh, and hence succumb to temptation.

I think rather than a warning against succumbing to temptation that it is a
warning against their own ability to resist temptation. I think they
understood that it would be a bad thing to succumb to temptation, and had no
intention of succumbing to temptation (hence, Peter's pronouncement in v
29). What they did *not* understand was how likely they were to fall into
temptation. Hence, Jesus added 14:38c in order to make them understand that
their good intentions were not enough: tapping into God's power through
prayer is also necessary.

I am not sure I am saying anything significantly different from Wayne, just
refining the focus perhaps, and in doing so, clarifying (perhaps) the
relevance of v 38c's "rhetorical function."

Thanks for raising the question, Jeffrey.

glenn blank
Pensacola FL

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