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Two Foundations

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Hearing

ἀκούω - The ability to hear and perceive; to, in this case, understand and do.

  • There are several nuances to this concept of hearing
  • Mainly in this passage, while the actual perception of hearing should not be disregarded, it is teh ability to perceive that is in view. This is confirmed in Luke's Gospel by the very fact that Jesus denotes those who act on his words.
  • This markedly different, but in keeping with Jewish thinking concerning Divine Revelation. It was something that could be seen, but the emphasis is almost always on the word and what is heard. In fact, seeing too much; contrary to other, ancient religious thought; carried with it mortal implications, cit. Isaiah 6:5

Where there are accounts of seeing God, they simply provide the setting for the revelation of the Word (Is. 6:1 ff.; Ez. 1 f.; Am. 9:1 ff.; cf. also Ex. 3:1 ff.). When God appears, it is not for the sake of the theophany, but in order to send the prophet that he may pass on His Word, and consequently in order to cause Himself to be heard either indirectly or directly. The decisive religious statement is: “Hear the Word of the Lord” (Is. 1:10; Jer. 2:4; Am. 7:16); “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord speaketh” (Is. 1:2). The decisive accusation is that of failure or unwillingness to hear (Jer. 7:13; Hos. 9:17). Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (1:218). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Hearing, rather than seeing, brings emphais to the instrinsically action oriented nature of belief while de-emphasising raw knowledge. Instruction is given to mankind to search, appraise as good, and observe the command of God as in Jeremiah 29:13. Man is preoccupied with enlightenment, but the one who fears God is preoccupied with obedience based on what he knows and learns through the word of God. Hearing, for the believer, is somewhat internalized to the inner ear of knowledge through exposure to the Bible.

Observe that although the word “hear” in these verses cannot indicate that full “hearing” which it sometimes connotes (ch. 10:14), yet it seems to mean more than merely listening, and to imply both a grasp of what is intended by the statements made and at least some acquiescence in their truth (Acts 2:22; Rev. 1:3; John 5:24).

According to the above explanation, it will be seen that in the imagery the rock represents practice; the sand, mere sentiment. There is thus a partial correspondence with the works insisted on by St. James in contrast to a bare orthodox faith (Jas. 2:24). Assent is insufficient; there must be action.

The Pulpit Commentary: St. Matthew Vol. I. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (286). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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