You can be very happy at what you are witnessing. Yes! I want you to know that many of God’s messengers looked forward longingly to what you are witnessing and would have given anything to experience what you are experiencing, but were not so fortunate as you.
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Our study of the variants βασιλεῖς and δίκαιοι, which are found in the parallel Lukan and Matthean versions of the Blessedness of the Twelve saying, has shown the importance of examining even the smallest details in the Synoptic Gospel accounts of the life and words of Jesus. Back-translating the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels to Hebrew provides a satisfactory explanation of how the present text of the canonical Gospels came into being. Somehow, either in the process of copying the Hebrew text or in the course of translation, the Hebrew word מַלְאָכִים (mal’āchim) was confused with the Hebrew word מְלָכִים (melāchim). This common mistake, which could not have happened in Greek, accounts for the otherwise unattested parallelism between “prophets and kings” in Luke 10:24. Positing a Hebrew background to the Synoptic Gospels provides a reasonable explanation for the otherwise strange pairing of “prophets and kings” (in Luke) or “prophets and righteous persons” (in Matthew).
We have also gained a new understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ saying by comparing his statement with rabbinic parallels. From this comparison, it emerges that Jesus’ saying about the blessedness of the Twelve probably refers to their seeing and hearing the Kingdom of Heaven. As they witnessed miracles of restoration being performed and as they heard the good news of God’s reign being proclaimed, the disciples were literally seeing and hearing the Kingdom of Heaven being realized in their midst. Like the Israelites at the Red Sea at the time of the first redemption, the disciples were privileged to see the manifestation of God’s reign in a way that not even God’s ancient prophets and messengers had been able to witness. The messianic era of redemption had finally dawned.
We could paraphrase Jesus’ lengthy Hebrew saying in just one succinct English sentence: “How privileged you are to witness the long-awaited events of the Kingdom of Heaven.” It would be difficult to find a more exciting or powerful statement in the teachings of Yeshua than the “blessedness of the Twelve” statement.
 This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source. ↩
Today when we hear the word “gospel” we tend to think of a message about Jesus that tells people how to “get saved.” But in the ancient world in which Jesus lived the word “gospel” was applied to “good news” of a certain type. When people in the ancient world heard the word “gospel” they understood it to mean a royal proclamation that someone had become king.
Explore this fascinating topic with Joshua Tilton in his new eBook “Jesus’ Gospel.”
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