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The Interpretation to the Gospel of Matthew, written by the great teacher of the faith, Apostolos Makrakis (1830-1905), originally appeared as part of a two-volume series back in 1949. Makrakis was a pious intellectual, a remarkable theologian and philosopher, and a prolific writer whose deep-rooted faith was poured out through powerful and uncompromising sermons and works which stirred the very soul of the young modern Greek nation.
This verse-by-verse Orthodox Christian Commentary of the Gospel of Matthew is taken from the larger Commentary on the Entire New Testament, by Apostolos Makrakis, the teacher of Christianity. It is an original work and presents an Eastern Orthodox interpretation of the New Testament such as has never appeared in print, because it follows the author’s own method of hermeneutics. The New Testament is the covenant entered into through Jesus Christ between God and believers in Christ. This Commentary on the New Testament points out the true meaning of the divine Covenant, and it exposes the misinterpretations of heterodox Christian denominations and their distortions of the terms and statements in the divine Covenant. It thus offers them a very great benefaction in that it enables them to see the opposite point of view, and, abandoning their delusion, to return to the dogmas of the united Church of the seven Ecumenical Councils, from which they originally strayed. A clear interpretation that genuinely interprets the divine words of Scripture enlightens all readers to true knowledge of the divine works, enables them to discern misinterpretations and false statements, and saves them from being led astray and from heresy and unbelief. Such is this Commentary on the Entire New Testament – one of great benefit to the learned as well as the unlearned, to those who know and those who do not know. Clarity is wise, but not unclearness, said our ancestors, who spoke to men with clearness and logic. All of the gospel and epistle books of the New Testament are therefore expounded scientifically by Makrakis for the enlightenment of the entire Christian world, in which misinterpretations and perversions of the Holy Scriptures have for many centuries kept divided and virtually at war with itself. Makrakis sheds light on many of the obscure passages and parables in the scriptures. The errors of the heterodox are scientifically exposed, analyzed and refuted through logical interpretation of the entire New Testament.
The Mind and Spirit of the Entire New Testament
A knowledge of the mind and spirit of the entire New Testament can interpret each of its books and all together rightly and sanely, flawlessly and infallibly; whereas a lack of knowledge concerning these two becomes the cause of misinterpretations and pernicious heresies. The possessor of the mind and the spirit of the entire New Testament owns the criterion of the true interpretation as well as of the misinterpretation of every passage and of the entire context, and distinguishes between the genuine conception of the text and the spurious and adulterated. But what is the mind of the entire New Testament and what is its spirit? This question we shall answer as follows:
The mind of every word, book, or literary work is the ultimate desire and purpose toward which the word was uttered, or the book or literary work was produced. While its spirit is a full knowledge of the word, or book, or literary work which looks to the mind, unites with it, proceeds from it and clarifies as well as develops it. For the spirit of the word bears the same analogy to the mind of the word, of the book, or of the literary work, as the light bears to the lamp, from which it comes, and with which it unites. And the intensity of the glow of the lamp, is equal to that of the light given by it. According to these definitions of the mind and the spirit, the mind of the entire New Testament is considered its ultimate aim toward which the entire New Testament was written; whereas its spirit is considered the full knowledge which is conducive to and explanatory of its ultimate aim; and which by uniting with the mind constitutes an indivisible whole. Moreover, the mind of the entire New Testament is contained in and expressed by the word which the perfect mind uttered from heaven, when the only begotten Son and Logos or Word was baptized in Jordan by John the Baptist, saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him”; whereas the spirit of the entire New Testament is contained in and expressed by all its other words and passages. For all that is written in all the books of the New Testament toward the knowledge and understanding of the Son of God, aims at obedience to Him, on the part of those who know Him, though which they assume the likeness and nature of God and become His children, and the inheritors of His eternal kingdom and glory. The spirit of the entire New Testament is equal to its entire mind expressed through a single passage; and the entire mind is likewise, equal to the entire spirit which clarifies and explicates the entire mind, and renders it conceivable and manifest through all its utterances. The mind of the entire New Testament is analogous to the bright light of the sun, which pours forth everywhere, and illuminates every eye seeing the light and the Sun, and through them everything that is visible. And as the clear and healthy eye, illuminated by the Sun and its rays, sees clearly all that is visible, and is not deceived, or obscured, so the man of pure soul, enlightened by the mind and spirit of the entire New Testament, understands and interprets clearly all that is written, and is neither deceived nor bedarkened by the spirit of perversion and distortion of the divine words. Furthermore, he who has fully grasped, through scientific definition, the nature of the mind and the spirit of the entire New Testament, understands unerringly and interprets faithfully every passage of it, and is able to summarize and recapitulate the meaning of everything within one mind by means of scientific collaboration and harmonization of the various concepts; while on the other hand he can easily criticize every misinterpretation, and, by means of sound concepts, expose the spurious and alien interpretations of the text. Conversely, he who neither knows nor understands the mind, or the spirit of the entire New Testament, will walk Iike a blind man walking without guide in the darkness, stumbling and falling at every step. Such then must be the interpretation of the entire New Testament, which we proclaim, logical, scientific, unerring, and which by means of the true spirit interprets its true mind, and by means of the true mind distinguishes between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood and delusion, and excludes everywhere misinterpretation and heresy through the sound interpretation which was made of two faithful witnesses of truth, that is, the mind and the spirit of the entire New Testament. Such an interpretation clearly differentiates between the orthodox and true Church of Christ, and the heretical factions, and solves the question regarding the union of the now divided Christians, thus illumining all toward the abandonment of delusion, and a union with truth.
The Significance of the Words GOSPEL and NEW TESTAMENT
The New Testament, as is well known, is also called the Evangel. However the meaning of the word Evangel is not identical to that of the term Testament; therefore we should point out the difference between these two words, which designate one and the same thing, but from a different view point.
The New Testament is called the The Evangel for those to whom it brings, the good message about the coming of the Savior, who promises mankind freedom and relief from all the evils they suffer, and provision of every good thing, as well as eternal life and blessedness. And all those who upon hearing believe in this Evangel, are baptized, enter into a covenant with God, and inherit the blessings promised them, if they observe the covenant terms, which they have sworn to keep, and according to which they promised to live and govern themselves throughout their entire life; however if they violate the terms of the covenant, they are condemned, and punished much more severely than those who did not believe nor enter God’s Covenant; for making a covenant with God and then violating the covenant is punished much more severely than disbelief and failure to enter into a covenant. Therefore, Peter too, in his second Catholic epistle writes concerning the violators of God’s Covenant:
“For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they had known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”
The term New Testament therefore refers to those who have believed in the preaching of the Gospel, and entered into a covenant with God, thus obligating themselves to live and govern themselves according to the conditions and laws of the New Testament; whereas the term Evangel refers to those who are ignorant about the Savior, and who are enlightened concerning Him by those who are well informed, and who proclaim their information. All the nations of the earth are evangelized so that they might enter the Covenant of God and partake of the blessings that God promises those who have believed and entered a covenant with Him, on condition that they observe the moral obligations they have assumed. But the disbelievers are left without the Covenant, and under the inevitable condemnation to eternal perdition because of their sins, and their disbelief in the Gospel of God. And of all the evangelized nations, our own first believed in the Gospel, and after being baptized, and anointed, entered God’s Covenant, thus becoming God’s especial people, a Kingly priesthood and a holy nation. Now, the first obligation that our own nation assumed through its covenant with God was to read and understand the terms of the covenant, and to govern itself in accordance with them; the second was to evangelize the other nations with regard to God’s salvation, and to persuade them to enter the Covenant of God. Today, however, the Greek nation is fulfilling neither the first nor the second obligation. It unfortunately has forgotten the Covenant of God, and it lives and governs itself in an ungodly and lawless fashion, violating the moral obligations it has toward God; and before divine justice it deserves a more severe punishment than the nations, that know nothing about God and the New Testament, and have not heard the voice of the Gospel. And the true reason for the disintegration and devitalization of the nation is none other than forgetfulness of the moral obligations, which it assumed through its covenant with God, and its failure to fulfill them. And the antidote to this forgetfulness is the interpretation of the entire New Testament, through which the nation can recover the consciousness of its own worth, and the realization of its duties before God and know what to do in order to deliver itself from the evils it is suffering, and to acquire the blessings of both this life and the next. And may this interpretation become like the voice of the trumpet arousing the sleeping, and as a gleaming torch guiding each and all on the path of duty, toward freedom and the glory of the children of God, and toward the impregnable kingdom of Christ which is inseparable from life eternal and the blessedness longed for by all.
After this introductory knowledge concerning the unerring interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, and the cause of their misinterpretation, and the Testaments of God, both Old and New and the meaning of the words Evangel and New Testament, we shall with God’s help undertake the interpretation of the entire New Testament, beginning with the Gospel of St. Matthew, the first of its books.
Written in the Philosophical and Educational Institute of the Logos in Athens.
September 19, 1891 by the Interpreter