Sermon 15-8-30 Moicheia in Mark 7


Mark 7:

[1] Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. [2] And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. [3] For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash [their] hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. [4] And [when they come] from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. [5] Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? [6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

[14] And when he had called all the people [unto him], he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one [of you], and understand: [15] There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

[21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Well it is good to wash your hands before eating, but sunshine can kill germs also. But what really can defile a man is what may come out of the heart (verses 21 & 22), ‘evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:’

Evil thought keep us from peace with God, murder, theft, these are pretty clear. Covetousness, isn’t that what we teach children at our schools these days? To have big dreams, to fight economically, only the strongest shall survive? Isn’t the moral basics of modern economics anti – Christian? Does anybody thoughtful really believe that the principle of survival of the fittest can bring about a peaceful world with happy people? Love thy neighbour as you love thyself!

Now the items in list of offences become less and less severe. Some might object, blasphemy is a major offence, but the Ancient Greek word blasphemia just means railing or reviling, not what it means to us. It is still an offence against other people, while pride and foolishness are mainly offences against the sinner himself! So what is at the beginning of the list? Evil Thoughts. Well, that is a general introduction, the next two are adulteries and fornications, followed by murder, which is an offence against another human being.

The importance of the order of the commandments is discussed in Greetings from Paradise in the chapter, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’.

Here let us just classify the offences, the first two adultery and fornication are offences against God himself, the following are against neighbours and the last two are the sinner sinning against himself!

So let us look at the first two. The Greek word which has been translated as adultery is moicheia.. The Gesenius Lexicon says about the related verb moicheuein, that it is derived from Hebrew where it ‘is used of those who at a woman’s solicitation are drawn away to idolatry, i.e. to the eating of things sacrificed to idols!’ This is the greatest offence a person could ever do. It violates the first commandment, the most important one, not to have other gods besides God! Not a bull with an image standing outside the Wall Street Stock Exchange and not any Ancient gods of which many were worshipped by sexual acts (See: Where did Abraham’s Servant Put his Hand?)

Now the second Offence is just as bad, it is just more specific. The Greek word for fornication is porneia. The porneia was an Ancient Greek love festival in honour of Aphrodite Pornae, the Ancient Greek goddess of physical love. Her most famous temple stood in Corinth, a fact which needs to be kept in mind when reading the letter to the Corinthians. Today we would call this temple a brothel. However, it is very unlikely that Jesus actually used the word porneia. Jesus is reported to have spoken Aramaic, a Middle Eastern language. He probably spoke of a love festival in the Middle East and since his words were recorded in Ancient Greek, the most famous love festival in honour of an Ancient Greek goddess was translated for the festival of the Middle Eastern goddess. Maybe it was Astarte.

In any event these two most severe offences, moicheia and porneia, had to do with sex, but sex was not the offence, but the worship of a god or goddess other than God! That was the offence!