Posted by: chuckbumgardner | October 25, 2015

No father

Now, that’s interesting. I’m reading Joe Hellerman’s When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community (Nashville: B&H, 2009). He discusses Mark 10:28-30:

Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

I’ve thought of this passage often, and how “in this time” indicates that what followers of Jesus are said to receive is not merely heavenly, but very much here-and-now, and happens through association with the church, God’s new family. What I had never noticed is something that Hellerman points out: every item that a follower of Jesus might leave finds its counterpart in what that disciple receives in plentitude in the present time. Every item, that is, except “father.”

left . . . mother or father or children . . .

will receive . . . mothers and children . . .

How very intriguing! Hellerman’s take on the reason:

There is going to be no “father” figure in the family Jesus is putting together—no human father figure, at any rate. In light of Matthew 23[:8-12], the reason is quite clear: God—and God alone—is to occupy the paternal role in the family of God.

France suggests that the absence of “father” “may reflect the theological scruple that the disciple has only one heavenly Father (Mt. 23:9; cf. the omission of ‘father’ in the family list at 3:35)” (The Gospel of Mark, NIGTC, 407). Likewise, Lane: “The omission of a reference to the father in verse 30 is undoubtedly intentional since God himself is the head of the new spiritual family” (The Gospel According to Mark, NICNT, 372).


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