Monday, January 1, 2024

Saying 10


Jesus said, ‘I have thrown fire on the world, and look, I am guarding it until it burns.’


The Gospel of Luke contains a very similar saying. Its generally divisive nature, with little in the way of hidden meaning, indicate Saying 10 may belong to the oldest version of the book. The Gospel of Mark depicts John the Baptizer as contrasting his baptism of water with Jesus’ upcoming ‘baptism of holy spirit’. Matthew and Luke each expand this with the detail that Jesus would baptize ‘with holy spirit and fire’. Luke later makes a callback to this statement in an attempt to interpret the present saying; the ‘fire’ which Jesus wishes ‘were already kindled’ is that baptism with holy spirit. However, the saying is immediately followed by other statements which stress that Jesus is a source of contention. In Mark, Matthew, and Luke, ‘fire’ is most frequently the (literal) fire of divine punishment that will come on evildoers in the final judgment. It is likely that Saying 10 originally conveyed that Jesus was pressuring his followers to recognize the eschaton was imminent and that they needed to act accordingly. In modern idiom, he was lighting a fire under their feet because the end times were near.



12.49 ‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!’

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