christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

luke 5-6, chiastic structure (new wine and old wineskins)

Read Luke 5-6 at Bible Gateway.

These two chapters form a complex chiastic structure, with other structures overlapping it:

Luk 5:1-6:17
1a) Luk 5:1-3, The multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God;
1b) Luk 5:4-11, The call of Simon Peter and the fishermen disciples;
1c) Luk 5:12-16, Miraculous healing + multitudes sought Him + He withdrew:
— 1) Luk 5:12-14, Jesus healed a leper;
— 2) Luk 5:15, The report circulated concerning Him and the multitude sought Him to be healed;
— 3) Luk 5:16, He withdrew into the wilderness and prayed;
1d) Luk 5:17-26, Jesus finds a need + the scribes and Pharisees accuse Jesus:
— 1) Luk 5:17-20, Jesus encounters a paralyzed man;
— 2) Luk 5:21, The scribes and Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this who speaks blasphemies?;
— 3) Luk 5:22a, When Jesus perceived their thoughts;
— 4) Luk 5:23-26, He asked them, Which is easier, to say, Your sins or forgiven, or to say, Take up your bed and walk?;
1e) Luk 5:27-29, After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi;
1f) Luk 5:30-35, The Pharisees question His disciples (eating and drinking with sinners) + Jesus answers them;
central axis) Luk 5:36-39, The parable of the unshrunk cloth and the new wine;
2f) Luk 6:2-5, The Pharisees question His disciples (eating on the Sabbath) + Jesus answers them;
2e) Luk 6:6, On a Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught, and a man was there whose right hand was withered;
2d) Luk 6:6-9, Jesus finds a need + the scribes and Pharisees accuse Jesus:
— 1) Luk 6:6, Jesus encounters a man with a withered hand;
— 2) Luk 6:7, The scribes and Pharisees watched Him, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might accuse Him;
— 3) Luk 6:8a, But He knew their thoughts;
— 4) Luk 6:9, He asked them, Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or destroy it?;
2c) Luk 6:10-12, Miraculous healing + Pharisees sought something against Him + He withdrew:
— 1) Luk 6:10, Jesus healed the man with a withered hand;
— 2) Luk 6:11, The Pharisees were enraged, and sought what they might do against Him;
— 3) Luk 6:12, He withdrew to the mountain to pray;
2b) Luk 6:13-16, He called His disciples to Himself;
2a) Luk 6:17-19, Great multitudes came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases.

This is an interesting central axis, which plays a part in a smaller chiastic structure within the larger one:

Luk 5:27-39
1a) Luk 5:27-29, The repentance and conversion of Levi the tax collector;
1b) Luk 5:30-31, Pharisees complain against Jesus’ disciples:
— 1) Luk 5:30, Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?;
— 2) Luk 5:31, Jesus answered and said to them: Those who are well have no need of a physician;
central axis) Luk 5:32, I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance;
2b) Luk 5:33-35, Pharisees question Jesus’ disciples:
— 1) Luk 5:33, Why do the disciples of John + Pharisees fast and make prayers, but Yours eat and drink?;
— 2) Luk 5:34-35, And He answered them, Can you make the friends of the Bridegroom fast while He is with them?;
2a) Luk 5:36-39, The parable of the unshrunk cloth and the new wine.

In this chiastic structure, the conversion of Levi is paired with the parable of the unshrunk cloth, and these events form the outer envelope surrounding the central axis, which can be stated positively without changing its meaning: “I have come to call sinners to repentance.”

The parable is contrasting the unshrunk with the shrunk, and the new with the old. In other words, the old Levi gathered taxes unjustly and made himself rich in the process. He cheated his brethren for Rome’s sake. That is why “tax collectors” were lumped into the same scum of the earth category as “sinners”. But then one day Levi met the Master, and was forever changed. He repented and became a new unshrunk piece of cloth, and a new skin of wine. What Jesus is saying by the parable, in my opinion, is that the old deeds of the old life of sin cannot be blended with the repentance and the new life of the sinner who has been saved. The two natures of the old and the new are incompatible. If there has been repentance, then there has been the discarding of the old for the sake of the new.


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