Does Jesus Deny that He is Good in Mark 10:18?


#1

The New American bible says “Jesus repudiates the term “good” for himself”
But all the Catholic commentary that I can find says the opposite.
Is there any more authoritative commentary on this point ?

Mark 10:17-18
“ … and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments…”

New American Bible notes:

  • [10:18] Why do you call me good?: Jesus repudiates the term “good” for himself and directs it to God, the source of all goodness who alone can grant the gift of eternal life; cf. Mt 19:16–17.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea (Golden Chain)
Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 63: Because however he had come to Christ as he would to a man, and to one of the Jewish doctors, Christ answered him as Man.
Wherefore it goes on: “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but the One God.”
In saying which He does not exclude men from goodness, but from a comparison with the goodness of God.

Bede: But by this one God, Who is good, we must not only understand the Father, but also the Son, who says, “I am the good Shepherd;” [John 10:11] and also the Holy Ghost, because it is said, “The Father which is in heaven will give the good Spirit to them that ask him.” [Luke 11:13] For the One and Undivided Trinity itself, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is the Only and One good God. The Lord, therefore, does not deny Himself to be good, but implies that He is God; He does not deny that He is good Master, but He declares that no master is good but God.
Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.
Ver. 18. None is good. Of himself, entirely and essentially, but God alone: men may be good also, but only by a participation of God’s goodness. (Challoner)

**Luke 18:18-19
**“ And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20 You know the commandments …”

**New American Bible notes:

**
-* [19:17] By Matthew’s reformulation of the Marcan question and reply (Mk 10:17–18) Jesus’ repudiation of the term “good” for himself has been softened. Yet the Marcan assertion that “no one is good but God alone” stands, with only unimportant verbal modification.

AMBROSE; That ruler tempting Him said, Good Master, he ought to have said, Good God. For although goodness exists in divinity and divinity in goodness, yet by adding Good Master, he uses good only in part, not in the whole. For God is good altogether, man partially.

AMBROSE; He does not deny that He is good, but points to God. None is good then except he be full of goodness. …For how is He not good who is born from good? A good tree brings forth good fruits. How is He not good, seeing that the substance of His goodness which He took to Him from the Father has not degenerated in the Son which did not degenerate in the Spirit. …

TITUS BOST. … And then He sends him to His Father, saying, Why call you me good? not that He was not good, for He was the good branch from the good tree, or the good Son of the good Father.


#2

Continued …

**Matthew 19:16-17
**“And behold, one came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

Jerome: But because he had styled Him Good Master, and had not confessed Him as God, or as the Son of God, He tells him, that in comparison of God there is no saint to be called good, of whom it is said, “Confess unto the Lord, for he is good; [Ps. 118:1] and therefore He says, “There is one good, that is, God.”
But that none should suppose that by this the Son of God is excluded from being good, we read in another place, “The good Shepherd layeth down his life for his sheep.” [1 John 10:11]
Aug., de Trin., i, 13… “Why askest thou me concerning good,” calling me in respect of what you see in me, Good Master? This form of the Son of Man shall appear in the judgment, not to the [p. 664] righteous only, but to the wicked, and the very sight shall be to them an evil, and their punishment. But there is a sight of My form, in which I am equal to God. That one God therefore, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is alone good, because none see Him to mourning and sorrow, but only to salvation and true joy.
Jerome: For Our Saviour does not reject this witness to His goodness, but corrected the error of calling Him Good Master apart from God. *See Ambose comments of passage from Luke]
Chrys.: … He leads him by degrees, and teaches him to lay aside false flattery, and rising above the things which are upon earth to cleave to God, to seek things to come, and to know Him that is truly good, the root and source of every good.
Origen: Christ also answers thus, because of that He said, “What good thing shall I do? For when we depart from evil and do good, that which we do is called good by comparison with what other men do. But when compared with absolute good, in the sense in which it is here said, “There is one good,” our good is not good.
But some one may say, that because the Lord knew that the purpose of him who thus asked Him was not even to do such good as man can do, that therefore He said, “Why askest thou me concerning good?” as much as to say, Why do you ask me concerning good, seeing you are not prepared to do what is good. But after this He says, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Where note, that He speaks to him as yet standing without life; for that man is in one sense without life, who is without Him who said, “I am the life.” …

Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.
Ver. 17. Why askest thou me concerning good?[4] In the ordinary Greek copies, why dost thou call me good? (Witham) — One is good, &c. God alone, by his own nature, is essentially, absolutely, and unchangeably good; at the same time, he is the source of all created goodness, as all goodness is a mere emanation from his. The person here addressing our Saviour, appears not to have believed that Christ was God: wherefore our Saviour, to rectify his misconception, tells him that God alone is good, insinuating thereby, that he should believe him to be God, or cease to address him by the title of good. (Tirinus) — The sense is, that only God is good necessarily, and by his own nature. The Arians bring this place to shew, that Christ is not truly and properly God: but by this way of speaking, Christ does not deny that he is good, even by his nature, and consequently God; but seems to speak in this manner, to make the man know who he was. (Witham)

Catechism Of The Catholic Church
2052 “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” To the young man who asked this question, Jesus answers first by invoking the necessity to recognize God as the “One there is who is good,” as the supreme Good and the source of all good. Then Jesus tells him: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” …”

Matthew 5:16
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”


#3

It was one of those questions in which Jesus knew the answer, but He wanted to see if the person knew. Noticed he called Jesus Teacher. Jesus, I believe, wanted the person to think about why he is calling Jesus Good. A good commentary on this is in Brant Pitre’s book The Case for Jesus.


#4

I do not rely on the notes in either the NAB or the NABRE. Portions of them are distinctly modernist and tend to suppress the tradition of the Church as well as the supernatural aspects of the faith. From the Haydock Commentary on Mark 10:18 and Matthew 19:17:

“The man had addressed Jesus as Good Master, merely using a title of respect or perhaps a flattering greeting in order to win a favorable answer. Our Lord does not refuse absolutely the attribute implied in the word good, but He obscurely inculcates the true reason why He has a right to this attribute.”

“Why askest thou me concerning good?[4] In the ordinary Greek copies, why dost thou call me good? (Witham) — One is good, &c. God alone, by his own nature, is essentially, absolutely, and unchangeably good; at the same time, he is the source of all created goodness, as all goodness is a mere emanation from his. The person here addressing our Saviour, appears not to have believed that Christ was God: wherefore our Saviour, to rectify his misconception, tells him that God alone is good, insinuating thereby, that he should believe him to be God, or cease to address him by the title of good. (Tirinus) — The sense is, that only God is good necessarily, and by his own nature. The Arians bring this place to shew, that Christ is not truly and properly God: but by this way of speaking, Christ does not deny that he is good, even by his nature, and consequently God; but seems to speak in this manner, to make the man know who he was. (Witham)”

Others have said that the question was a rabbinical technique intended to elicit a response from the young man, much like John the Baptist sending his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one, or if they should look for another. In both cases, the substance of the question was directed at those being addressed. The young man used a term normally and properly reserved for God, and the baptist’s disciples were sent to ponder what John had told them as well as our Lord’s answers.


#5

Hi, John!

…there are a lot of passages that seem to lend to confusion on this very issue… does Jesus deny that He is God or is He redirecting the issue: “Only God is Good, do you mean to express your belief that I Come from/AM God?”

…there are so many hidden values in Scriptures… take the “God” issue:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=],32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

(St. John 10:31-33)
…did Jesus seek to clarify that it was a total misunderstanding… that He did not mean to insinuate anything as blasphemous as that?

No! Jesus actually called them on Scriptures… did He, God, not state that you are gods? Jesus urges them to lift themselves from the low understanding… if they, to whom the Word of God has been addressed, are part of God how is He, Who Comes from God, not God?

Then there are hidden values within hidden values:

21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

(St. Luke 5:21-24)
…the religious are witnesses of Jesus’ “blasphemous” acts… He blatantly takes God’s Authority and grants forgiveness of sin… this of course is God’s alone!

…did Jesus attempt to clarify a misunderstanding?

…nope; not only that but we have a hidden episode… the Pharisees were merely thinking that Jesus was claiming God’s Authority–Jesus knowing their thoughts (who knows man’s thought but man… and God Alone?) did not coward down but insisted: I have the Authority of God!

Clearly, we cannot find Scriptures where Jesus states I am God–but the preponderance of passages do indicate that Jesus did Reveal Himself to Be God!

Maran atha!

Angel

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#6

Hi Angel,
Thanks for your and everyone else who posted on this thread.
Yes, I agree with you that Jesus was helping the man to see that Jesus was (and is) God.

The NAB claim that Jesus was rejecting the term “good” for Himself has to be in error. Jesus could not be denying the rightness of a duty that we owe Him. It is not possible that Jesus could have done or said something that was wrong.


#7

Hi, John!

…I think that too many times people (including scholars and theologians) tend to complicate matters because they focus on a particular through; in this case the fact that Scriptures attest that Jesus, the Eternal Word, at His Incarnation, emptied Himself of His Divinity so that He may become as man, in everything but sin.

If this is the case, I can see how all interpretation of Jesus’ expressions or activity would always be understood through that particular visor.

However, there are too many passages that demonstrate that Jesus did not run away from His Divinity–the very first incident happened at age twelve when He declared that He had to be involved in His Father’s Business.

While arguing with JW’s I have cited the fact that when Jesus is Worshipped/Adored in the New Testament He does not correct the acts and warns them, as the Apostles and the angel in Apocalypse, that only God should be Worshipped!

So yes, there are very specific passages where Jesus makes statements to redirect the Attention to the Father… but, when His Divinity is challenged, Jesus does not coward down but insist that He is Who He is. At one time Jesus queries the Jews, if God called man a “god” (man being elevated by God) why would they doubt Him, Who Comes from and is Sent by God?

This is a progressive theme in the New Testament–the Jews are so defensive of their understanding of God that they attribute Jesus’ acts (Ministry: Doctrine and Signs) to the Devil; clearly, Jesus must have understood what was going on… these poor monotheistic folks could not accept His proclamations… so did Jesus seek to dispel an erroneous interpretation? No, Jesus confronted them with the Truth:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God

, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”. (St. John 8:54-58)
True, Jesus does not come out “point-blank:” I am God! God knew that even the Disciples could not handle the Fullness of Revelation (St. John 16:7-15); instead of shock and awe, Christ Revealed just enough to stir man’s mind and spirit towards the Fullness of Truth:

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

(St. John 4:21-24)
Maran atha!

Angel

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#8

Jesus is saying, “Why are you ascribing to me that which rightfully belongs to God? Are you ready to acknowledge who I AM?”

The man who called Jesus “Good Teacher” was probably simply flattering Jesus to get Him to answer his question, but in doing so, he inadvertently stumbled upon a deep truth about who Jesus is without realizing it.

I like to think that Jesus was amused by this and was simply having fun with the guy who didn’t realize who he was really talking to. :stuck_out_tongue:


#9

Hi, Randy!

…I think that there’s something deeper going on…

…it’s as the Revelations given by the man that was born blind… so subtle were they that they occurred almost unperceived:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

(St. John 917, 29-33)
Through nature God allows Himself to be known… the man, who is normally religious, recognizes that Jesus is God’s Prophet while the religious are bent on legalism: “Sabbath!”

…after continued pressure the man engages the religious, they declare having knowledge of Moses and of the authority given to Moses… but they do not recognize the Shepherd that is walking within their midst–the blind man marvels at the fact that Jesus’ Origin is unknown to the religious and he espouses that with the fact that Jesus Comes from God!

The Pharisees burn at the man’s scolding (teaching) and they exercise their power to physically remove him from their presence… the Corner Stone is Rejected by the builders!

Maran atha!

Angel

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