WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, part I, Uwe Rosenkranz

WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

BY

Archibald Thomas Robertson

A. M., D. D., LL. D., Litt. D.

Professor of New Testament Interpretation in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of Louisville, Kentucky


 

Broadman Press

Nashville, Tennessee

Volume I, Copyright 1930 by Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention

Volume II, Copyright 1930 by Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention

Volume III, Copyright 1930 by Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention

Volume IV, Copyright 1931 by Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention

Volume V, Copyright 1932, Renewal 1960 by Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention

Volume VI, Copyright 1933, Renewal 1960 by Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention

To

DR. ADOLF DEISSMANN

of Berlin

who has done so much to make the words of the New Testament glow with life

PUBLISHER’S FOREWORD

A. T. Robertson

A. T. Robertson (1863–1934), Professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was one of the leading scholars of New Testament Greek. He was the author of over 40 books, including his major grammatical work, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (1914), which is still useful today. Two well-known works of his are An Introduction to the Textual Criticism (1925) and A Harmony of the New Testament (1930).

Word Pictures of the New Testament

His six-volume exegetical commentary, Word Pictures of the New Testament (1930–33), represents his learned understanding of the many nuances in Koiné Greek usage and semantics. Robertson was keenly aware of how words have a range of meaning, similar to how pictures manifest a breadth and depth of color and shape, hence the title Word Pictures:

These old Greek words in the New Testament are rich with meaning. They speak to us out of the past and with lively images to those who have eyes to see It is impossible to translate all of one language into another. Much can be carried over, but not all. Delicate shades of meaning defy the translator. (I ix–x)

The goal of the commentary was to make the meaning of the original Greek accessible to the non-Greek student. “The readers of these volumes … are expected to be primarily those who know no Greek or comparatively little and yet who are anxious to get fresh help from the study of words and phrases in the New Testament …” (I viii).

Nevertheless, Robertson lamented the neglect of Greek studies among pastors, hoping instead to contribute to a renewed interest in the study of New Testament Greek:

But it is a sad fact that many ministers, laymen, and women, who took courses in Greek at college, university, or seminary, have allowed the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches to choke off the Greek that they once knew. Some, strangely enough, have done it even in the supposed interest of the very gospel whose vivid messages they have thus allowed to grow dim and faint. If some of these vast numbers can have their interest in the Greek New Testament revived, these volumes will be worth while. (I viii)

According to Robertson’s own description, “[t]hese volumes do not claim to be a formal commentary. Nowhere is the whole text discussed, but everywhere those words are selected for discussion which seem to be richest for the needs of the reader in the light of present-day knowledge” (I ix). His discussion includes remarks covering a broad range of considerations, including lexical, grammatical, archaeological, exegetical, and illustrative. The text of Westcott and Hort is followed, “though not slavishly” (I ix).

Greek and Greek Lemmas

In this electronic edition, the Greek phrases have been rendered in the original script. Whereas “[t]he publishers insisted on the transliteration [of all Greek] to cut down on the cost of printing” (I ix), the electronic medium does not suffer the same burden. Thus, both Greek script and transliteration have been included for each phrase, maximizing the work’s usefulness for both Greek and non-Greek students alike. There are over 84,000 Greek words in this commentary.

In addition, for the first time, Greek lemmas have been inserted for about 85% of the all Greek words (over 70,000 lemmas). The Greek lemmas provide a standard lexical form of the word in order to facilitate searching for all forms of a given lexical word. Thus, it is easy to find all discussions of a given lexical word as may be found in the morphological Greek New Testament.

Hebrew and Aramaic words have also been rendered in their original scripts. In addition, as an aid to reading and searching, transliterated forms of all these words have been included, following a modern transliteration system.

Logos Research Systems

Volume I

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK

PREFACE

It has now been forty years since Dr. Marvin R. Vincent wrote his most useful series of volumes entitled Word Studies in the New Testament. They are still helpful for those for whom they were designed, but a great deal of water has run under the mill in these years. More scientific methods of philology are now in use. No longer are Greek tenses and prepositions explained in terms of conjectural English translations or interchanged according to the whim of the interpreter. Comparative grammar has thrown a flood of light on the real meaning of New Testament forms and idioms. New Testament writers are no longer explained as using one construction “for” another. New light has come also from the papyri discoveries in Egypt. Unusual Greek words from the standpoint of the literary critic or classical scholar are here found in everyday use in letters and business and public documents. The New Testament Greek is now known to be not a new or peculiar dialect of the Greek language, but the very lingo of the time. The vernacular Koiné, the spoken language of the day, appears in the New Testament as in these scraps of Oxyrhynchus and Fayum papyri. There are specimens of the literary Koiné in the papyri as also in the writings of Luke, the Epistles of Paul, the Epistle to the Hebrews. A new Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament will come in due time which will take note of the many startling discoveries from the Greek papyri and inscriptions first brought to notice in their bearing on the New Testament by Dr. Adolf Deissmann, then of Heidelberg, now of Berlin. His Bible Studies (Translation by Alexander Grieve, 1901) and his Light from the Ancient East (Revised Edition translated by L. R. M. Strachan, 1927) are accessible to student unfamiliar with the German originals.

There is no doubt of the need of a new series of volumes today in the light of the new knowledge. Many ministers have urged me to undertake such a task and finally I have agreed to do it at the solicitation of my publishers. The readers of these volumes (six are planned) are expected to be primarily those who know no Greek or comparatively little and yet who are anxious to get fresh help from the study of words and phrases in the New Testament, men who do not have access to the technical books required, like Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the New Testament. The critical student will appreciate the more delicate distinctions in words. But it is a sad fact that many ministers, laymen, and women, who took courses in Greek at college, university, or seminary, have allowed the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches to choke off the Greek that they once knew. Some, strangely enough, have done it even in the supposed interest of the very gospel whose vivid messages they have thus allowed to grow dim and faint. If some of these vast numbers can have their interest in the Greek New Testament revived, these volumes will be worth while. Some may be incited, as many have been by my volume, The Minister and His Greek New Testament, to begin the study of the Greek New Testament under the guidance of a book like Davis’s Beginner’s Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Others who are without a turn for Greek or without any opportunity to start the study will be able to follow the drift of the remarks and be able to use it all to profit in sermons, in Sunday school lessons, or for private edification.

The words of the Canterbury version will be used, sometimes with my own rendering added, and the transliterated Greek put in parenthesis. Thus one who knows no Greek can read straight ahead and get the point simply by skipping the Greek words which are of great value to those who do know some Greek. The text of Westcott and Hort will be used though not slavishly. Those who know Greek are expected to keep the Greek text open as they read or study these volumes. The publishers insisted on the transliteration to cut down the cost of printing.

The six volumes will follow this order; Volume I, The Gospel according to Matthew and Mark; Vol. II, The Gospel according to Luke; Vol. III, The Acts of the Apostles; Vol. IV, The Pauline Epistles; Vol. V, The Gospel according to John and the Epistle to the Hebrews; Vol. VI, the General Epistles and the Revelation of John. For purely exegetical and expository development a more chronological order would be required. These volumes do not claim to be formal commentary. Nowhere is the whole text discussed, but everywhere those words are selected for discussion which seem to be richest for the needs of the reader in the light of present-day knowledge. A great deal of the personal equation is thus inevitable. My own remarks will be now lexical, now grammatical, now archaeological, now exegetical, now illustrative, anything that the mood of the moment may move me to write that may throw light here and there on the New Testament words and idioms. Another writer might feel disposed to enlarge upon items not touched upon here. But that is to be expected even in the more formal commentaries, useful as they are. To some extent it is true of lexicons. No one man knows everything, even on his chosen specialty, or has the wisdom to pick out what every reader wishes explained. But even diamonds in the rough are diamonds. It is for the reader to polish them as he will. He can turn the light this way and that. There is a certain amount of repetition at some points, part of it on purpose to save time and to emphasize the point.

I have called these volumes Word Pictures for the obvious reason that language was originally purely pictographic. Children love to read by pictures either where it is all picture or where pictures are interspersed with simple words. The Rosetta Stone is a famous illustration. The Egyptian hieroglyphics come at the top of the stone, followed by the Demotic Egyptian language with the Greek translation at the bottom. By means of this stone the secret of the hieroglyphs or pictographs was unravelled. Chinese characters are also pictographic. The pictures were first for ideas, then for words, then for syllables, then for letters. Today in Alaska there are Indians who still use pictures alone for communicating their ideas. “Most words have been originally metaphors, and metaphors are continually falling into the rank of words” (Professor Campbell). Rather is it not true that words are metaphors, sometimes with the pictured flower still blooming, sometimes with the blossom blurred? Words have never gotten wholly away from the picture stage. These old Greek words in the New Testament are rich with meaning. They speak to us out of the past and with lively images to those who have eyes to see. It is impossible to translate all of one language into another. Much can be carried over, but not all. Delicate shades of meaning defy the translator. But some of the very words of Jesus we have still as he said: “The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). We must never forget that in dealing with the words of Jesus we are dealing with things that have life and breath. That is true of all the New Testament, the most wonderful of all books of all time. One can feel the very throb of the heart of Almighty God in the New Testament if the eyes of his own heart have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit. May the Spirit of God take of the things of Christ and make them ours as we muse over the words of life that speak to us out of the New Covenant that we call the New Testament.

A. T. Robertson

Louisville, Ky.

Contents

Volume I

Title Page

Copyrights

Dedication

Preface

Contents

The Gospel According to Matthew

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII

The Gospel According to Mark

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI

Volume II

The Gospel According to Luke

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV

Volume III

The Acts of the Apostles

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII

Volume IV

The Epistles of Paul

By Way of Introduction

The First Group, a.d. 50 to 51

First Thessalonians

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V

Second Thessalonians

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III

The Second Group, a.d. 54 to 57

First Corinthians

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI

Second Corinthians

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII

Galatians

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI

Romans

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI

The Third Group, probably a.d. 61 to 63 from Rome

Philippians

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV

Philemon

By Way of Introduction

I

Colossians

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV

Ephesians

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI

The Pastoral Epistles, a.d. 65 to 68

By Way of Introduction

First Timothy

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI

Titus

I, II, III

Second Timothy

I, II, III, IV

Volume V

The Fourth Gospel

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI

The Epistle to the Hebrews

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII

Volume VI

The General Epistles

By Way of Introduction

The Epistle of James

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V

The First Epistle General of Peter

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V

The Second Epistle of Peter

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III

The Epistle of Jude

By Way of Introduction

Jude

The First Epistle of John

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V

Second John

By Way of Introduction

2 John

Third John

By Way of Introduction

3 John

The Revelation of John

By Way of Introduction

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII

The Gospel According to Matthew

By Way of Introduction

The passing years do not make it any plainer who actually wrote our Greek Matthew. Papias records, as quoted by Eusebius, that Mattthew wrote the Logia of Jesus in Hebrew (Aramaic). Is our present Matthew a translation of the Aramaic Logia along with Mark and other sources as most modern scholars think? If so, was the writer the Apostle Matthew or some other disciple? There is at present no way to reach a clear decision in the light of the known facts. There is no real reason why the Apostle Matthew could not have written both the Aramaic Logia and our Greek Matthew, unless one is unwilling to believe that he would make use of Mark’s work on a par with his own. But Mark’s book rests primarily on the preaching of Simon Peter. Scholfield has recently (1927) published An Old Hebrew Text of St. Matthew’s Gospel. We know quite too little of the origin of the Synoptic Gospels to say dogmatically that the Apostle Matthew was not in any real sense the author.

If the book is genuine, as I believe, the date becomes a matter of interest. Here again there is nothing absolutely decisive save that it is later than the Gospel according to Mark which it apparently uses. If Mark is given an early date, between a.d. 50 to 60, then Matthew’s book may be between 60 and 70, though many would place it between 70 and 80. It is not certain whether Luke wrote after Matthew or not, though that is quite possible. There is no definite use of Matthew by Luke that has been shown. One guess is as good as another and each decides by his own predilections. My own guess is that a.d. 60 is as good as any.

In the Gospel itself we find Matthew the publican (Matt. 9:9; 10:3) though Mark (2:14) and Luke (5:27) call him Levi the publican. Evidently therefore he had two names like John Mark. It is significant that Jesus called this man from so disreputable a business to follow him. He was apparently not a disciple of John the Baptist. He was specially chosen by Jesus to be one of the Twelve Apostles, a business man called into the ministry as was true of the fishermen James and John, Andrew and Simon. In the lists of the Apostles he comes either seventh or eighth. There is nothing definite told about him in the Gospels apart from the circle of the Twelve after the feast which he gave to his fellow publicans in honor of Jesus.

Matthew was in the habit of keeping accounts and it is quite possible that he took notes of the sayings of Jesus as he heard them. At any rate he gives much attention to the teachings of Jesus as, for instance, the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5 to 7, the parables in 13, the denunciation of the Pharisees in 23, the great eschatological discourse in 24 and 25. As a publican in Galilee he was not a narrow Jew and so we do not expect a book prejudiced in favor of the Jews and against the Gentiles. He does seem to show that Jesus is the Messiah of Jewish expectation and hope and so makes frequent quotations from the Old Testament by way of confirmation and illustration. There is no narrow nationalism in Matthew. Jesus is both the Messiah of the Jews and the Saviour of the world.

There are ten parables in Matthew not in the other Gospels: The Tares, the Hid Treasure, the Net, the Pearl of Great Price, the Unmerciful Servant, the Labourers in the vineyard, the Two Sons, the Marriage of the King’s Son, the Ten Virgins, the Talents. The only miracles in Matthew alone are the Two Blind Men, the Coin in the Mouth of the Fish. But Matthew gives the narrative of the Birth of Jesus from the standpoint of Joseph while Luke tells that wonderful story from the standpoint of Mary. There are details of the Death and Resurrection given by Matthew alone.

The book follows the same general chronological plan as that in Mark, but with various groups like the miracles in 8 and 9, the parables in 13.

The style is free from Hebraisms and has few individual peculiarities. The author is fond of the phrase the kingdom of heaven and pictures Jesus as the Son of man, but also as the Son of God. He sometimes abbreviates Mark’s statements and sometimes expands them to be more precise.

Plummer shows the broad general plan of both Mark and Matthew to be the same as follows:

Introduction to the Gospel: Mark 1:1–13=Matthew 3:1–4:11.

Ministry in Galilee: Mark 1:14–6:13=Matthew 4:12–13:58.

Ministry in the Neighborhood: Mark 6:14–9:50=Matthew 14:1–18:35.

Journey through Perea to Jerusalem: Mark 10:1–52=Matthew 19:1–20:34.

Last week in Jerusalem: Mark 11:1–16:8=Matthew 21:1–28:8.

The Gospel of Matthew comes first in the New Testament, though it is not so in all the Greek manuscripts. Because of its position it is the book most widely read in the New Testament and has exerted the greatest influence on the world. The book deserves this influence though it is later in date than Mark, not so beautiful as Luke, nor so profound as John, Yet it is a wonderful book and gives a just and adequate portraiture of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. The author probably wrote primarily to persuade Jews that Jesus is the fulfilment of their Messianic hopes as pictured in the Old Testament. It is thus a proper introduction to the New Testament story in comparison with the Old Testament prophecy.

The Title

The Textus Receptus has “The Holy Gospel according to Matthew” (το κατα Ματθαιον ἁγιον Εὐαγγελιον [to kata Matthaion hagion Euaggelion]), though the Elzevirs omit “holy,” not agreeing here with Stephanus, Griesbach, and Scholz. Only minuscules (cursive Greek manuscripts) and all late have the adjective. Other minuscules and nine uncials including W (the Washington Codex of the fifth century), C of the fifth century (the palimpsest manuscript) and Delta of the ninth together with most Latin manuscripts have simply “Gospel according to Matthew” (Εὐαγγελιον κατα Ματθαιον [Euaggelion kata Matthaion]). But Aleph and B the two oldest and best Greek uncials of the fourth century have only “According to Matthew” (Κατα Μαθθαιον [Kata Maththaion]) (note double th) and the Greek uncial D of the fifth or sixth century follows Aleph and B as do some of the earliest Old Latin manuscripts and the Curetonian Syriac. It is clear, therefore, that the earliest form of the title was simply “According to Matthew.” It may be doubted if Matthew (or the author, if not Matthew) had any title at all. The use of “according to” makes it plain that the meaning is not “the Gospel of Matthew,” but the Gospel as given by Matthew, secundum Matthaeum, to distinguish the report by Matthew from that by Mark, by Luke, by John. Least of all is there any authority in the manuscripts for saying “Saint Matthew,” a Roman Catholic practice observed by some Protestants.

The word Gospel (Εὐαγγελιον [Euaggelion]) comes to mean good news in Greek, though originally a reward for good tidings as in Homer’s Odyssey XIV. 152 and in 2 Kings 4:10. In the New Testament it is the good news of Salvation through Christ. The English word Gospel probably comes from the Anglo-Saxon Godspell, story or narrative of God, the life of Christ. It was early confused with the Anglo-Saxon godspell, good story, which seems like a translation of the Greek εὐαγγελιον [euaggelion]. But primarily the English word means the God story as seen in Christ which is the best news that the world has ever had. One thinks at once of the use of “word” (Λογος [Logos]) in John 1:1, 14. So then it is, according to the Greek, not the Good News of Matthew, but the Good News of God, brought to us in Christ the Word, the Son of God, the Image of the Father, the Message of the Father. We are to study this story first as presented by Matthew. The message is God’s and it is as fresh to us today in Matthew’s record as when he first wrote it.

Chapter 1

Matthew 1:1

The Book (βιβλος [biblos]). There is no article in the Greek, but the following genitives make it definite. It is our word Bible that is here used, the Book as Sir Walter Scott called it as he lay dying. The usual word for book is a diminutive form (βιβλιον [biblion]), a little book or roll such as we have in Luke 4:17, “The roll of the prophet Isaiah.” The pieces of papyrus (παπυρος [papuros]), our paper, were pasted together to make a roll of varying lengths according to one’s needs. Matthew, of course, is not applying the word book to the Old Testament, probably not to his own book, but to “the genealogical table of Jesus Christ” (βιβλος γενεσεως Ἰησου Χριστου [biblos geneseōs Iēsou Christou]), “the birth roll of Jesus Christ” Moffatt translates it. We have no means of knowing where the writer obtained the data for this genealogy. It differs radically from that in Luke 3:23–38. One can only give his own theory of the difference. Apparently in Matthew we have the actual genealogy of Joseph which would be the legal pedigree of Jesus according to Jewish custom. In Luke we apparently have the actual genealogy of Mary which would be the real line of Jesus which Luke naturally gives as he is writing for the Gentiles. Jesus Christ. Both words are used. The first is the name (Ἰησους [Iēsous]) given by the angel to mary (Matt. 1:21) which describes the mission of the child. The second was originally a verbal adjective (χριστος [christos]) meaning anointed from the verb to anoint (χριω [chriō]). It was used often in the Septuagint as an adjective like “the anointed priest” (1 Kings 2:10) and then as a substantive to translate the Hebrew word “Messiah” (Μεσσιας [Messias]). So Andrew said to Simon: “We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, Christ” (John 1:41). In the Gospels it is sometimes “the Anointed One,” “the Messiah,” but finally just a proper name as here, Jesus Christ. Paul in his later Epistles usually has it “Christ Jesus.” The Son of David, the son of Abraham (υἱου Δαυειδ υἱου Ἀβρααμ [huiou Daueid huiou Abraam]). Matthew proposes to show that Jesus Christ is on the human side the son of David, as the Messiah was to be, and the son of Abraham, not merely a real Jew and the heir of the promises, but the promise made to Abraham. So Matthew begins his line with Abraham while Luke traces his line back to Adam. The Hebrew and Aramaic often used the word son (βην [bēn]) for the quality or character, but here the idea is descent. Christians are called sons of God because Christ has bestowed this dignity upon us (Rom. 8:14; 9:26; Gal. 3:26; 4:5–7). Verse 1 is the description of the list in verses 2–17. The names are given in three groups, Abraham to David (2–6), David to Babylon Removal (6–11), Jechoniah to Jesus (12–16). The removal to Babylon (μετοικεσιας Βαβυλωνος [metoikesias Babulōnos]) occurs at the end of verse 11, the beginning of verse 12, and twice in the resume in verse 17. This great event is used to mark off the two last divisions from each other. It is a good illustration of the genitive as the case of genus or kind. The Babylon removal could mean either to Babylon or from Babylon or, indeed, the removal of Babylon. But the readers would know the facts from the Old Testament, the removal of the Jews to Babylon. Then verse 17 makes a summary of the three lists, fourteen in each by counting David twice and omitting several, a sort of mnemonic device that is common enough. Matthew does not mean to say that there were only fourteen in actual genealogy. The names of the women (Thamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba the wife of Uriah) are likewise not counted. But it is a most interesting list.

Matthew 1:2

Begat (ἐγεννησεν [egennēsen]). This word comes, like some of the early chapters of Genesis, with regularity through verse 16, until the birth of Jesus is reached when there is a sudden change. The word itself does not always mean immediate parentage, but merely direct descent. In verse 16 we have “Joseph the husband of Mary, from whom was begotten Jesus who is called Christ” (τον Ἰωσηφ τον ἀνδρα Μαριας ἐξ ἡς ἐγεννηθη Ἰησους ὁ λεγομενος Χριστος [ton Iōsēph ton andra Marias ex hēs egennēthē Iēsous ho legomenos Christos]). The article occurs here each time with the object of “begat,” but not with the subject of the verb to distinguish sharply the proper names. In the case of David the King (1:6) and Joseph the husband of Mary (1:16) the article is repeated. The mention of the brethren of Judah (1:2) and of both Phares and Zara (1:3) may show that Matthew was not copying a family pedigree but making his own table. All the Greek manuscripts give verse 16 as above save the Ferrar Group of minuscules which are supported by the Sinaitic Syriac Version. Because of this fact Von Soden, whose text Moffatt translates, deliberately prints his text “Jacob begat Jesus” (Ἰωσηφ δε ἐγεννησεν Ἰησουν [Iōsēph de egennēsen Iēsoun]). But the Sinaitic Syriac gives the Virgin Birth of Jesus in Matt. 1:18–25. Hence it is clear that “begat” here in 1:16 must merely mean line of descent or the text has been tampered with in order to get rid of the Virgin Birth idea, but it was left untouched in 1:18–25. I have a full discussion of the problem in chapter XIV of Studies in the Text of the New Testament. The evidence as it now stands does not justify changing the text of the Greek uncials to suit the Sinaitic Syriac. The Virgin Birth of Jesus remains in 1:16. The spelling of these Hebrew names in English is usually according to the Hebrew form, not the Greek. In the Greek itself the Hebrew spelling is often observed in violation of the Greek rules for the ending of words with no consonants save n, r, s. But the list is not spelled consistently in the Greek, now like the Hebrew as in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, now like the Greek as in Judah, Solomon, Hezekiah, though the Hebrew style prevails.

Matthew 1:18

The birth of Jesus Christ (του [Ιησου] Χριστου ἡ γενεσις [tou [Iēsou] Christou hē genesis]). In the Greek Jesus Christ comes before birth as the important matter after 1:16. It is not certain whether “Jesus” is here a part of the text as it is absent in the old Syriac and the Old Latin while the Washington Codex has only “Christ.” The Vatican Codex has “Christ Jesus.” But it is plain that the story of the birth of Jesus Christ is to be told briefly as follows, “on this wise” (οὑτως [houtōs]), the usual Greek idiom. The oldest and best manuscripts have the same word genealogy (γενεσις [genesis]) used in 1:1, not the word for birth (begotten) as in 1:16 (γεννησις [gennēsis]). “It is in fact the word Genesis. The evangelist is about to describe, not the genesis of the heaven and the earth, but the genesis of Him who made the heaven and the earth, and who will yet make a new heaven and a new earth” (Morison).

Betrothed to Joseph (Μνηστευθεισης τῳ Ἰωσηφ [Mnēsteutheisēs tōi Iōsēph]). Matthew proceeds to explain his statement in 1:16 which implied that Joseph, though the legal father of Jesus in the royal line, was not the actual father of Mary’s Son. Betrothal with the Jews was a serious matter, not lightly entered into and not lightly broken. The man who betrothed a maiden was legally husband (Gen. 29:21; Deut. 22:23f.) and “an informal cancelling of betrothal was impossible” (McNeile). Though they did not live together as husband and wife till actual marriage, breach of faithfulness on the part of the betrothed was treated as adultery and punished with death. The New Testament in Braid Scots actually has “mairry’t till Joseph” for “betrothed to Joseph.” Matthew uses the genitive absolute construction here, a very common Greek idiom.

Of the Holy Ghost (ἐκ πνευματος ἁγιου [ek pneumatos hagiou]). The discovery that Mary was pregnant was inevitable and it is plain that she had not told Joseph. She “was found with child” (εὑρεθη ἐν γαστρι ἐχουσα [heurethē en gastri echousa]). This way of putting it, the usual Greek idiom, plainly shows that it was the discovery that shocked Joseph. He did not as yet know what Matthew plainly asserts that the Holy Ghost, not Joseph and not any man, was responsible for the pregnancy of Mary. The problem of the Virgin Birth of Jesus has been a disturbing fact to some through all the ages and is today to those who do not believe in the pre-existence of Christ, the Son of God, before his Incarnation on earth. This is the primal fact about the Birth of Christ. The Incarnation of Christ is clearly stated by Paul (2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:5–11; and involved in Col. 1:15–19) and by John (John 1:14; 17:5). If one frankly admits the actual pre-existence of Christ and the real Incarnation, he has taken the longest and most difficult step in the matter of the supernatural Birth of Christ. That being true, no merely human birth without the supernatural element can possibly explain the facts. Incarnation is far more than the Indwelling of God by the Holy Spirit in the human heart. To admit real incarnation and also full human birth, both father and mother, creates a greater difficulty than to admit the Virgin Birth of Jesus begotten by the Holy Spirit, as Matthew here says, and born of the Virgin Mary. It is true that only Matthew and Luke tell the story of the supernatural birth of Jesus, though John 1:14 seems to refer to it. Mark has nothing whatever concerning the birth and childhood of Jesus and so cannot be used as a witness on the subject. Both Matthew and Luke present the birth of Jesus as not according to ordinary human birth. Jesus had no human father. There is such a thing in nature as parthenogenesis in the lower orders of life. But that scientific fact has no bearing here. We see here God sending his Son into the world to be the world’s Saviour and he gave him a human mother, but not a human father so that Jesus Christ is both Son of God and Son of Man, the God Man. Matthew tells the story of the birth of Jesus from the standpoint of Joseph as Luke gives it from the standpoint of Mary. The two narratives harmonize with each other. One credits these most wonderful of all birth narratives according as he believes in the love and power of Almighty God to do what he wills. There is no miracle with God who has all power and all knowledge. The laws of nature are simply the expression of God’s will, but he has not revealed all his will in the laws that we discover. God is Spirit. He is Person. He holds in his own power all life. John 3:16 is called the Little Gospel because it puts briefly the love of God for men in sending his own Son to live and die for us.

Matthew 1:19

A Righteous Man (δικαιος [dikaios]). Or just, not benignant or merciful. The same adjective is used of Zacharias and Elizabeth (Luke 1:6) and Simeon (Luke 2:25). “An upright man,” the Braid Scots has it. He had the Jewish conscientiousness for the observance of the law which would have been death by stoning (Deut. 22:23). Though Joseph was upright, he would not do that. “As a good Jew he would have shown his zeal if he had branded her with public disgrace” (McNeile). And yet not willing (και μη θελων [kai mē thelōn]). So we must understand και [kai] here, “and yet.” Matthew makes a distinction here between “willing” (θελων [thelōn]) and “wishing” (ἐβουληθη [eboulēthē]), that between purpose (θελω [thelō]) and desire (βουλομαι [boulomai]) a distinction not always drawn, though present here. It was not his purpose to “make her a public example” (δειγματισαι [deigmatisai]), from the root (δεικνυμι [deiknumi] to show), a rare word (Col. 2:15). The Latin Vulgate has it traducere, the Old Latin divulgare, Wycliff pupplische (publish), Tyndale defame, Moffatt disgrace, Braid Scots “Be i the mooth o’ the public.” The substantive (δειγματισμος [deigmatismos]) occurs on the Rosetta Stone in the sense of “verification.” There are a few instances of the verb in the papyri though the meaning is not clear (Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary). The compound form appears (παραδειγματιζω [paradeigmatizō]) in Heb. 6:6 and there are earlier instances of this compound than of the uncompounded, curiously enough. But new examples of the simple verb, like the substantive, may yet be found. The papyri examples mean to furnish a sample (P Tebt. 5.75), to make trial of (P Ryl. I. 28.32). The substantive means exposure in (P Ryl. I. 28.70). At any rate it is clear that Joseph “was minded to put her away privily.” He could give her a bill of divorcement (ἀπολυσαι [apolusai]), the γητ [gēt] laid down in the Mishna, without a public trial. He had to give her the writ (γητ [gēt]) and pay the fine (Deut. 24:1). So he proposed to do this privately (λαθραι [lathrai]) to avoid all the scandal possible. One is obliged to respect and sympathize with the motives of Joseph for he evidently loved Mary and was appalled to find her untrue to him as he supposed. It is impossible to think of Joseph as the actual father of Jesus according to the narrative of Matthew without saying that Matthew has tried by legend to cover up the illegitimate birth of Jesus. The Talmud openly charges this sin against Mary. Joseph had “a short but tragic struggle between his legal conscience and his love” (McNeile).

Matthew 1:20

An angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream (ἀγγελος κυριου κατʼ ὀναρ ἐφανη αὐτῳ [aggelos kuriou kat’ onar ephanē autōi]). This expression (ἀγγελος κυριου [aggelos kuriou]) is without the article in the New Testament except when, as in 1:24, there is reference to the angel previously mentioned. Sometimes in the Old Testament Jehovah Himself is represented by this phrase. Surely Joseph needed God’s help if ever man did. If Jesus was really God’s Son, Joseph was entitled to know this supreme fact that he might be just to both Mary and her Child. It was in a dream, but the message was distinct and decisive for Joseph. He is called “Son of David” as had been shown by Matthew in 1:16. Mary is called his “wife” (την γυναικα σου [tēn gunaika sou]). He is told “not to become afraid” (ingressive first aorist passive subjunctive in prohibition, (μη φοβηθῃς [mē phobēthēis]), “to take to his side” (παραλαβειν [paralabein], ingressive aorist active infinitive) her whom he had planned (ἐνθυμηθεντος [enthumēthentos], genitive absolute again, from ἐν [en] and θυμος [thumos]) to send away with a writ of divorce. He had pondered and had planned as best he knew, but now God had called a halt and he had to decide whether he was willing to shelter Mary by marrying her and, if necessary, take upon himself whatever stigma might attach to her. Joseph was told that the child was begotten of the Holy Spirit and thus that Mary was innocent of any sin. But who would believe it now if he told it of her? Mary knew the truth and had not told him because she could not expect him to believe it.

Matthew 1:21

Thou shalt call his name Jesus (Καλεσιες το ὀνομα αὐτου Ἰησουν [Kalesies to onoma autou Iēsoun]). The rabbis named six whose names were given before birth: “Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Solomon, Josiah, and the name of the Messiah, whom may the Holy One, blessed be His name, bring in our day.” The angel puts it up to Joseph as the putative father to name the child. “Jesus is the same as Joshua, a contraction of Jehoshuah (Num. 13:16; 1 Chron. 7:27), signifying in Hebrew, ‘Jehovah is helper,’ or ‘Help of Jehovah’ ” (Broadus). So Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua (Heb. 4:8). He is another Joshua to lead the true people of God into the Promised Land. The name itself was common enough as Josephus shows. Jehovah is Salvation as seen in Joshua for the Hebrews and in Jesus for all believers. “The meaning of the name, therefore, finds expression in the title Saviour applied to our Lord (Luke 1:47; 2:11; John 4:42)” (Vincent). He will save (σωσει [sōsei]) his people from their sins and so be their Saviour (Σωτηρ [Sōtēr]). He will be prophet, priest, and king, but “Saviour” sums it all up in one word. The explanation is carried out in the promise, “for he is the one who (αὐτος [autos]) will save (σωσει [sōsei] with a play on the name Jesus) his people from their sins.” Paul will later explain that by the covenant people, the children of promise, God means the spiritual Israel, all who believe whether Jews or Gentiles. This wonderful word touches the very heart of the mission and message of the Messiah. Jesus himself will show that the kingdom of heaven includes all those and only those who have the reign of God in their hearts and lives. From their sins (ἀπο των ἁμαρτιων αὐτων [apo tōn hamartiōn autōn]). Both sins of omission and of commission. The substantive (ἁμαρτια [hamartia]) is from the verb (ἁμαρτανειν [hamartanein]) and means missing the mark as with an arrow. How often the best of us fall short and fail to score. Jesus will save us away from (ἀπο [apo]) as well as out of (ἐξ [ex]) our sins. They will be cast into oblivion and he will cover them up out of sight.

Matthew 1:22

That it may be fulfilled (ἱνα πληρωθῃ [hina plērōthēi]). Alford says that “it is impossible to interpret ἱνα [hina] in any other sense than in order that.” That was the old notion, but modern grammarians recognize the non-final use of this particle in the Koiné and even the consecutive like the Latin ut. Some even argue for a causal use. If the context called for result, one need not hesitate to say so as in Mark 11:28; John 9:36; 1 John 1:9; Rev. 9:20; 13:13. See discussion in my Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, pp. 997–9. All the same it is purpose here, God’s purpose, Matthew reports the angel as saying, spoken “by (ὑπο [hupo], immediate agent) the Lord through (δια [dia], intermediate agent) the prophet.” “All this has happened” (τουτο δε ὁλον γεγονεν [touto de holon gegonen], present perfect indicative), stands on record as historical fact. But the Virgin Birth of Jesus is not due to this interpretation of Isaiah 7:14. It is not necessary to maintain (Broadus) that Isaiah himself saw anything more in his prophecy than that a woman then a virgin, would bear a son and that in the course of a few years Ahaz would be delivered from the king of Syria and Israel by the coming of the Assyrians. This historical illustration finds its richest fulfilment in the birth of Jesus from Mary. “Words of themselves are empty. They are useful only as vessels to convey things from mind to mind” (Morison). The Hebrew word for young woman is translated by virgin (παρθενος [parthenos]), but it is not necessary to conclude that Isaiah himself contemplated the supernatural birth of Jesus. We do not have to say that the idea of the Virgin Birth of Jesus came from Jewish sources. Certainly it did not come from the pagan myths so foreign to this environment, atmosphere and spirit. It is far simpler to admit the supernatural fact than try to explain the invention of the idea as a myth to justify the deification of Jesus. The birth, life, and death of Jesus throw a flood of light on the Old Testament narrative and prophecies for the early Christians. In Matthew and John in particular we often see “that the events of Christ’s life were divinely ordered for the express purpose of fulfilling the Old Testament” (McNeile). See Matt. 2:15, 23; 4:14–17; 8:17; 12:17–21; 13:25; 21:4f.; John 12:38f.; 13:18; 19:24; 19:36f.

Matthew 1:23

They shall call (καλεσουσιν [kalesousin]). Men, people, will call his name Immanuel, God with us. “The interest of the evangelist, as of all New Testament writers, in prophecy, was purely religious” (Bruce). But surely the language of Isaiah has had marvellous illustration in the Incarnation of Christ. This is Matthew’s explanation of the meaning of Immanuel, a descriptive appellation of Jesus Christ and more than a mere motto designation. God’s help, Jesus=the Help of God, is thus seen. One day Jesus will say to Philip: “He that has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Matthew 1:24

Took unto him his wife (παρελαβεν την γυναικα αὐτου [parelaben tēn gunaika autou]). The angel had told him not to be afraid to “take to his side” Mary his wife (1:20). So when he awoke from his sleep he promptly obeyed the angel and “took his wife home” (Moffatt). One can only imagine the relief and joy of Mary when Joseph nobly rose to his high duty toward her. I have tried to sketch Mary’s problems in Mary the Mother of Jesus: Her Problems and Her Glory.

Matthew 1:25

And knew her not (και οὐκ ἐγινωσκεν αὐτην [kai ouk eginōsken autēn]). Note the imperfect tense, continuous or linear action. Joseph lived in continence with Mary till the birth of Jesus. Matthew does not say that Mary bore no other children than Jesus. “Her firstborn” is not genuine here, but is a part of the text in Luke 2:7. The perpetual virginity of Mary is not taught here. Jesus had brothers and sisters and the natural meaning is that they were younger children of Joseph and Mary and not children of Joseph by a previous marriage. So Joseph “called his name Jesus” as the angel had directed and the child was born in wedlock. Joseph showed that he was an upright man in a most difficult situation.

Chapter 2

Matthew 2:1

Now when Jesus was born (του δε Ἰησου γεννηθεντος [tou de Iēsou gennēthentos]). The fact of the birth of Jesus is stated by the genitive absolute construction (first aorist passive participle of the same verb γενναω [gennaō] used twice already of the birth of Jesus, 1:16, 20, and used in the genealogy, 1:2–16). Matthew does not propose to give biographic details of the supernatural birth of Jesus, wonderful as it was and disbelieved as it is by some today who actually deny that Jesus was born at all or ever lived, men who talk of the Jesus Myth, the Christ Myth, etc. “The main purpose is to show the reception given by the world to the new-born Messianic King. Homage from afar, hostility at home; foreshadowing the fortunes of the new faith: reception by the Gentiles, rejection by the Jews” (Bruce). In Bethlehem of Judea (ἐν Βηθλεεμ της Ἰουδαιας [en Bēthleem tēs Ioudaias]). There was a Bethlehem in Galilee seven miles northwest of Nazareth (Josephus, Antiquities XIX. 15). This Bethlehem (house of bread, the name means) of Judah was the scene of Ruth’s life with Boaz (Ruth 1:1f.; Matt. 1:5) and the home of David, descendant of Ruth and ancestor of Jesus (Matt. 1:5). David was born here and anointed king by Samuel (1 Sam. 17:12). The town came to be called the city of David (Luke 2:11). Jesus, who was born in this House of Bread called himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the true Manna from heaven. Matthew assumes the knowledge of the details of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem which are given in Luke 2:1–7 or did not consider them germane to his purpose. Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem from Nazareth because it was the original family home for both of them. The first enrolment by the Emperor Augustus as the papyri show was by families (κατʼ οἰκιαν [kat’ oikian]). Possibly Joseph had delayed the journey for some reason till now it approached the time for the birth of the child. In the days of Herod the King (ἐν ἡμεραις ἡρῳδου του Βασιλεως [en hēmerais Hērōidou tou Basileōs]). This is the only date for the birth of Christ given by Matthew. Luke gives a more precise date in his Gospel (2:1–3), the time of the first enrolment by Augustus and while Cyrenius was ruler of Syria. More will be said of Luke’s date when we come to his Gospel. We know from Matthew that Jesus was born while Herod was king, the Herod sometimes called Herod the Great. Josephus makes it plain that Herod died b.c. 4. He was first Governor of Galilee, but had been king of Judaea since b.c. 40 (by Antony and Octavius). I call him “Herod the Great Pervert” in Some Minor Characters in the New Testament. He was great in sin and in cruelty and had won the favour of the Emperor. The story in Josephus is a tragedy. It is not made plain by Matthew how long before the death of Herod Jesus was born. Our traditional date a.d. 1, is certainly wrong as Matthew shows. It seems plain that the birth of Jesus cannot be put later than b.c. 5. The data supplied by Luke probably call for b.c. 6 or 7.

Wise men from the east (μαγοι ἀπο ἀνατολων [magoi apo anatolōn]). The etymology of Μαγι [Magi] is quite uncertain. It may come from the same Indo-European root as (μεγας [megas]) magnus, though some find it of Babylonian origin. Herodotus speaks of a tribe of Magi among the Medians. Among the Persians there was a priestly caste of Magi like the Chaldeans in Babylon (Dan. 1:4). Daniel was head of such an order (Dan. 2:48). It is the same word as our “magician” and it sometimes carried that idea as in the case of Simon Magus (Acts 8:9, 11) and of Elymas Barjesus (Acts 13:6, 8). But here in Matthew the idea seems to be rather that of astrologers. Babylon was the home of astrology, but we only know that the men were from the east whether Arabia, Babylon, Persia, or elsewhere. The notion that they were kings arose from an interpretation of Isa. 60:3; Rev. 21:24. The idea that they were three in number is due to the mention of three kinds of gifts (gold, frankincense, myrrh), but that is no proof at all. Legend has added to the story that the names were Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior as in Ben Hur and also that they represent Shem, Ham, and Japhet. A casket in the Cologne Cathedral actually is supposed to contain the skulls of these three Magi. The word for east (ἀποανατολων [apoanatolōn]) means “from the risings” of the sun.

Matthew 2:2

For we saw his star in the east (εἰδομεν γαρ αὐτου τον ἀστερα ἐν τῃ ἀνατολῃ [eidomen gar autou ton astera en tēi anatolēi]). This does not mean that they saw the star which was in the east. That would make them go east to follow it instead of west from the east. The words “in the east” are probably to be taken with “we saw” i.e. we were in the east when we saw it, or still more probably “we saw his star at its rising” or “when it rose” as Moffatt puts it. The singular form here (τῃ ἀνατολῃ [tēi anatolēi]) does sometimes mean “east” (Rev. 21:13), though the plural is more common as in Matt. 2:1. In Luke 1:78 the singular means dawn as the verb (ἀνετειλεν [aneteilen]) does in Matt. 4:16 (Septuagint). The Magi ask where is the one born king of the Jews. They claim that they had seen his star, either a miracle or a combination of bright stars or a comet. These men may have been Jewish proselytes and may have known of the Messianic hope, for even Vergil had caught a vision of it. The whole world was on tiptoe of expectancy for something. Moulton (Journal of Theological Studies, 1902, p. 524) “refers to the Magian belief that a star could be the fravashi, the counterpart or angel (cf. Matt. 18:10) of a great man” (McNeile). They came to worship the newly born king of the Jews. Seneca (Epistle 58) tells of Magians who came to Athens with sacrifices to Plato after his death. They had their own way of concluding that the star which they had seen pointed to the birth of this Messianic king. Cicero (De Divin. i. 47) “refers to the constellation from which, on the birthnight of Alexander, Magians foretold that the destroyer of Asia was born” (McNeile). Alford is positive that no miracle is intended by the report of the Magi or by Matthew in his narrative. But one must be allowed to say that the birth of Jesus, if really God’s only Son who has become Incarnate, is the greatest of all miracles. Even the methods of astrologers need not disturb those who are sure of this fact.

Matthew 2:3

He was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him (ἐταραχθη και πασα Ἰεροσολυμα μετʼ αὐτου [etarachthē kai pāsa Ierosoluma met’ autou]). Those familiar with the story of Herod the Great in Josephus can well understand the meaning of these words. Herod in his rage over his family rivalries and jealousies put to death the two sons of Mariamne (Aristobulus and Alexander), Mariamne herself, and Antipater, another son and once his heir, besides the brother and mother of Mariamne (Aristobulus, Alexandra) and her grandfather John Hyrcanus. He had made will after will and was now in a fatal illness and fury over the question of the Magi. He showed his excitement and the whole city was upset because the people knew only too well what he could do when in a rage over the disturbance of his plans. “The foreigner and usurper feared a rival, and the tyrant feared the rival would be welcome” (Bruce). Herod was a hated Idumaean.

Matthew 2:4

He inquired of them where the Christ should be born (ἐπυνθανετο παρʼ αὐτων που ὁ Χριστος γενναται [epunthaneto par’ autōn pou ho Christos gennātai]). The prophetic present (γενναται [gennātai]) is given, the very words of Herod retained by Matthew’s report. The imperfect tense (epunthaneto) suggests that Herod inquired repeatedly, probably of one and another of the leaders gathered together, both Sadducees (chief priests) and Pharisees (scribes). McNeile doubts, like Holtzmann, if Herod actually called together all the Sanhedrin and probably “he could easily ask the question of a single scribe,” because he had begun his reign with a massacre of the Sanhedrin (Josephus, Ant. XIV. ix. 4). But that was thirty years ago and Herod was desperately in earnest to learn what the Jews really expected about the coming of “the Messiah.” Still Herod probably got together not the Sanhedrin since “elders” are not mentioned, but leaders among the chief priests and scribes, not a formal meeting but a free assembly for conference. He had evidently heard of this expected king and he would swallow plenty of pride to be able to compass the defeat of these hopes.

Matthew 2:5

And they said unto him (οἱ δε εἰπαν αὐτῳ [hoi de eipan autōi]). Whether the ecclesiastics had to search their scriptures or not, they give the answer that is in accord with the common Jewish opinion that the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem and of the seed of David (John 7:42). So they quote Micah 5:2, “a free paraphrase” Alford calls it, for it is not precisely like the Hebrew text or like the Septuagint. It may have come from a collection of testimonia with which J. Rendel Harris has made the world familiar. He had consulted the experts and now he has their answer. Bethlehem of Judah is the place. The use of the perfect passive indicative (γεγραπται [gegraptai]) is the common form in quoting scripture. It stands written. Shall be shepherd (ποιμανει [poimanei]). The Authorized Version had “shall rule,” but “shepherd” is correct. “Homer calls kings ‘the shepherds of the people’ ” (Vincent). In Heb. 13:20 Jesus is called “the great shepherd of the sheep.” Jesus calls himself “the good shepherd” (John 10:11). Peter calls Christ “the chief shepherd” (1 Peter 2:25). “The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd” (Rev. 7:17). Jesus told Peter to “shepherd” the lambs (John 21:16). Our word pastor means shepherd.

Matthew 2:7

Then Herod privily called the wise men (τοτε ἡρῳδης λαθραι καλεσας τους μαγους [tote Hērōidēs lathrai kalesas tous magous]). He had manifestly not told members of the Sanhedrin why he was concerned about the Messiah. So he conceals his motives to the Magi. And yet he “learned of them carefully” (ἐκριβωσεν [ekribōsen]), “learned exactly” or “accurately.” He was anxious to see if the Jewish prophecy of the birthplace of the Messiah agreed with the indications of the star to the Magi. He kept to himself his purpose. The time of the appearing star (τον χρονον του φαινομενου ἀστερος [ton chronon tou phainomenou asteros]) is not “the time when the star appeared,” but the age of the star’s appearance.

Matthew 2:8

Sent them to Bethlehem and said (πεμψας αὐτους εἰς Βηθλεεμ εἰπεν [pempsas autous eis Bēthleem eipen]). Simultaneous aorist participle, “sending said.” They were to “search out accurately” (ἐξετασατε ἀκριβως [exetasate akribōs]) concerning the child. Then “bring me word, that I also may come and worship him.” The deceit of Herod seemed plausible enough and might have succeeded but for God’s intervention to protect His Son from the jealous rage of Herod.

Matthew 2:9

Went before them (προηγεν αὐτους [proēgen autous]). Imperfect tense, kept on in front of them, not as a guide to the town since they now knew that, but to the place where the child was, the inn according to Luke 2:7. Justin Martyr says that it was in a cave. The stall where the cattle and donkeys stayed may have been beneath the inn in the side of the hill.

Matthew 2:10

They rejoiced with exceeding great joy (ἐχαρησαν χαραν μεγαλην σφοδρα [echarēsan charan megalēn sphodra]). Second aorist passive indicative with cognate accusative. Their joy was due to the success of the search.

Matthew 2:11

Opening their treasures (ἀνοιξαντες τους θησαυρους αὐτων [anoixantes tous thēsaurous autōn]). Here “treasures” means “caskets” from the verb (τιθημι [tithēmi]), receptacle for valuables. In the ancient writers it meant “treasury” as in 1 Macc. 3:29. So a “storehouse” as in Matt. 13:52. Then it means the things laid up in store, treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:20), in Christ (Col. 2:3). In their “caskets” the Magi had gold, frankincense, and myrrh, all found at that time in Arabia, though gold was found in Babylon and elsewhere.

Matthew 2:12

Warned in a dream (χρηματισθεντες κατʼ ὀναρ [chrēmatisthentes kat’ onar]). The verb means to transact business (χρηματιζω [chrēmatizō] from χρημα [chrēma], and that from χραομαι [chraomai], to use. Then to consult, to deliberate, to make answer as of magistrates or an oracle, to instruct, to admonish. In the Septuagint and the New Testament it occurs with the idea of being warned by God and also in the papyri (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 122). Wycliff puts it here: “An answer taken in sleep.”

Matthew 2:15

Until the death of Herod (ἑως της τελευτης ἡρῳδου [heōs tēs teleutēs Hērōidou]). The Magi had been warned in a dream not to report to Herod and now Joseph was warned in a dream to take Mary and the child along (μελλει ζητειν του ἀπολεσαι [mellei zētein tou apolesai] gives a vivid picture of the purpose of Herod in these three verbs). In Egypt Joseph was to keep Mary and Jesus till the death of Herod the monster. Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 to show that this was in fulfilment of God’s purpose to call his Son out of Egypt. He may have quoted again from a collection of testimonia rather than from the Septuagint. There is a Jewish tradition in the Talmud that Jesus “brought with him magic arts out of Egypt in an incision on his body” (Shabb. 104b). “This attempt to ascribe the Lord’s miracles to Satanic agency seems to be independent of Matthew, and may have been known to him, so that one object of his account may have been to combat it” (McNeile).

Matthew 2:16

Slew all the male children that were in Bethlehem (ἀνειλεν παντας τους παιδας τους ἐν Βηθλεεμ [aneilen pantas tous paidas tous en Bēthleem]). The flight of Joseph was justified, for Herod was violently enraged (ἐθυμωθη λιαν [ethumōthē lian]) that he had been mocked by the Magi, deluded in fact (ἐνεπαιχθη [enepaichthē]). Vulgate illusus esset. Herod did not know, of course, how old the child was, but he took no chances and included all the little boys (τους παιδας [tous paidas], masculine article) in Bethlehem two years old and under, perhaps fifteen or twenty. It is no surprise that Josephus makes no note of this small item in Herod’s chamber of horrors. It was another fulfilment of the prophecy in Jer. 31:15. The quotation (2:18) seems to be from the Septuagint. It was originally written of the Babylonian captivity but it has a striking illustration in this case also. Macrobius (Sat. II. iv. II) notes that Augustus said that it was better to be Herod’s sow (ὑς [hus]) than his son (υἱος [huios]), for the sow had a better chance of life.

Matthew 2:20

For they are dead (τεθνηκασιν [tethnēkasin]). Only Herod had sought to kill the young child, but it is a general statement of a particular fact as is common with people who say: “They say.” The idiom may be suggested by Exodus 4:19: “For all are dead that sought thy life.”

Matthew 2:22

Warned in a dream (χρηματισθεις κατʼ ὀναρ [chrēmatistheis kat’ onar]). He was already afraid to go to Judea because Archelaus was reigning (ruling, not technically king, βασιλευει [basileuei]). In a fret at last before his death Herod had changed his will again and put Archelaus, the worst of his living sons, in the place of Antipas. So Joseph went to Galilee. Matthew has had nothing about the previous dwelling of Joseph and Mary in Nazareth. We learn that from Luke who tells nothing of the flight into Egypt. The two narratives supplement one another and are in no sense contradictory.

Matthew 2:23

Should be called a Nazarene (Ναζωραιος κληθησεται [Nazōraios klēthēsetai]). Matthew says “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets” (δια των προφητων [dia tōn prophētōn]). It is the plural and no single prophecy exists which says that the Messiah was to be called a Nazarene. It may be that this term of contempt (John 1:46; 7:52) is what is meant, and that several prophecies are to be combined like Psa. 22:6, 8; 69:11, 19; Isa. 53:2, 3, 4. The name Nazareth means a shoot or branch, but it is by no means certain that Matthew has this in mind. It is best to confess that we do not know. See Broadus on Matthew for the various theories. But, despised as Nazareth was at that time, Jesus has exalted its fame. The lowly Nazarene he was at first, but it is our glory to be the followers of the Nazarene. Bruce says that “in this case, therefore, we certainly know that the historic fact suggested the prophetic reference, instead of the prophecy creating the history.” The parallels drawn by Matthew between the history of Israel and the birth and infancy of Jesus are not mere fancy. History repeats itself and writers of history find frequent parallels. Surely Matthew is not beyond the bounds of reason or of fact in illustrating in his own way the birth and infancy of Jesus by the Providence of God in the history of Israel.

Chapter 3

Matthew 3:1

And in those days cometh John the Baptist (ἐν δε ταις ἡμεραις παραγινεται Ἰωανης ὁ Βαπτιστης [en de tais hēmerais paraginetai Iōanēs ho Baptistēs]). Here the synoptic narrative begins with the baptism of John (Matt. 3:1; Mark 1:2; Luke 3:1) as given by Peter in Acts 1:22, “from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up from us” (cf. also Acts 10:37–43, Peter’s summary to Cornelius very much like the outline of Mark’s Gospel). Matthew does not indicate the date when John appeared as Luke does in ch. 3 (the fifteenth year of Tiberius’s reign). It was some thirty years after the birth of John, precisely how long after the return of Joseph and Mary to Nazareth we do not know. Moffatt translates the verb (παραγινεται [paraginetai]) “came on the scene,” but it is the historical present and calls for a vivid imagination on the part of the reader. There he is as he comes forward, makes his appearance. His name John means “Gift of Jehovah” (cf. German Gotthold) and is a shortened form of Johanan. He is described as “the Baptist,” “the Baptizer” for that is the rite that distinguishes him. The Jews probably had proselyte baptism as I. Abrahams shows (Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, p. 37). But this rite was meant for the Gentiles who accepted Judaism. John is treating the Jews as Gentiles in demanding baptism at their hands on the basis of repentance.

Preaching in the wilderness of Judea (Κηρυσσων ἐν τῃ ἐρημῳ της Ἰουδαιας [Kērussōn en tēi erēmōi tēs Ioudaias]). It was the rough region in the hills toward the Jordan and the Dead Sea. There were some people scattered over the barren cliffs. Here John came in close touch with the rocks, the trees, the goats, the sheep, and the shepherds, the snakes that slipped before the burning grass over the rocks. He was the Baptizer, but he was also the Preacher, heralding his message out in the barren hills at first where few people were, but soon his startling message drew crowds from far and near. Some preachers start with crowds and drive them away.

Matthew 3:2

Repent (μετανοειτε [metanoeite]). Broadus used to say that this is the worst translation in the New Testament. The trouble is that the English word “repent” means “to be sorry again” from the Latin repoenitet (impersonal). John did not call on the people to be sorry, but to change (think afterwards) their mental attitudes (μετανοειτε [metanoeite]) and conduct. The Vulgate has it “do penance” and Wycliff has followed that. The Old Syriac has it better: “Turn ye.” The French (Geneva) has it “Amendez vous.” This is John’s great word (Bruce) and it has been hopelessly mistranslated. The tragedy of it is that we have no one English word that reproduces exactly the meaning and atmosphere of the Greek word. The Greek has a word meaning to be sorry (μεταμελομαι [metamelomai]) which is exactly our English word repent and it is used of Judas (Matt. 27:3). John was a new prophet with the call of the old prophets: “Turn ye” (Joel 2:12; Isa. 55:7; Ezek. 33:11, 15).

For the kingdom of heaven is at hand (ἠγγικεν γαρ ἡ Βασιλεια των οὐρανων [ēggiken gar hē Basileia tōn ouranōn]). Note the position of the verb and the present perfect tense. It was a startling word that John thundered over the hills and it re-echoed throughout the land. The Old Testament prophets had said that it would come some day in God’s own time. John proclaims as the herald of the new day that it has come, has drawn near. How near he does not say, but he evidently means very near, so near that one could see the signs and the proof. The words “the kingdom of heaven” he does not explain. The other Gospels use “the kingdom of God” as Matthew does a few times, but he has “the kingdom of heaven” over thirty times. He means “the reign of God,” not the political or ecclesiastical organization which the Pharisees expected. His words would be understood differently by different groups as is always true of popular preachers. The current Jewish apocalypses had numerous eschatological ideas connected with the kingdom of heaven. It is not clear what sympathy John had with these eschatological features. He employs vivid language at times, but we do not have to confine John’s intellectual and theological horizon to that of the rabbis of his day. He has been an original student of the Old Testament in his wilderness environment without any necessary contact with the Essenes who dwelt there. His voice is a new one that strikes terror to the perfunctory theologians of the temple and of the synagogue. It is the fashion of some critics to deny to John any conception of the spiritual content of his words, a wholly gratuitous criticism.

For this is he that was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet (οὑτος γαρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεις δια Ἐσαιου του προφητου [houtos gar estin ho rhētheis dia Esaiou tou prophētou]). This is Matthew’s way of interpreting the mission and message of the Baptist. He quotes Isa. 40:3 where “the prophet refers to the return of Israel from the exile, accompanied by their God” (McNeile). He applies it to the work of John as “a voice crying in the wilderness” for the people to make ready the way of the Lord who is now near. He was only a voice, but what a voice he was. He can be heard yet across the centuries.

Matthew 3:4

Now John himself (αὐτος δε ὁ Ἰωανης [autos de ho Iōanēs]). Matthew thus introduces the man himself and draws a vivid sketch of his dress (note εἰχεν [eichen], imperfect tense), his habit, and his food. Would such an uncouth figure be welcome today in any pulpit in our cities? In the wilderness it did not matter. It was probably a matter of necessity with him, not an affectation, though it was the garb of the original Elijah (2 Kings 1:8), rough sackcloth woven from the hair of camels. Plummer holds that “John consciously took Elijah as a model.”

Matthew 3:6

And they were baptized (και ἐβαπτιζοντο [kai ebaptizonto]). It is the imperfect tense to show the repetition of the act as the crowds from Judea and the surrounding country kept going out to him (ἐξεπορευετο [exeporeueto]), imperfect again, a regular stream of folks going forth. Moffatt takes it as causative middle, “got baptized,” which is possible. “The movement of course was gradual. It began on a small scale and steadily grew till it reached colossal proportions” (Bruce). It is a pity that baptism is now such a matter of controversy. Let Plummer, the great Church of England commentator on Matthew, speak here of John’s baptising these people who came in throngs: “It is his office to bind them to a new life, symbolized by immersion in water.” That is correct, symbolized, not caused or obtained. The word “river” is in the correct text, “river Jordan.” They came “confessing their sins” (ἐξομολογουμενοι [exomologoumenoi]), probably each one confessing just before he was baptized, “making open confession” (Weymouth). Note ἐξ [ex]. It was a never to be forgotten scene here in the Jordan. John was calling a nation to a new life. They came from all over Judea and even from the other side of El Ghor (the Jordan Gorge), Perea. Mark adds that finally all Jerusalem came.

Matthew 3:7

The Pharisees and Sadducees (των Φαρισαιων και Σαδδουκαιων [tōn Pharisaiōn kai Saddoukaiōn]). These two rival parties do not often unite in common action, but do again in Matt. 16:1. “Here a strong attraction, there a strong repulsion, made them for the moment forget their differences” (McNeile). John saw these rival ecclesiastics “coming for baptism” (ἐρχομενους ἐπι το βαπτισμα [erchomenous epi to baptisma]). Alford speaks of “the Pharisees representing hypocritical superstition; the Sadducees carnal unbelief.” One cannot properly understand the theological atmosphere of Palestine at this time without an adequate knowledge of both Pharisees and Sadducees. The books are numerous besides articles in the Bible dictionaries. I have pictured the Pharisees in my first (1916) Stone Lectures, The Pharisees and Jesus. John clearly grasped the significance of this movement on the part of the Pharisees and Sadducees who had followed the crowds to the Jordan. He had welcomed the multitudes, but right in the presence of the crowds he exposes the hypocrisy of the ecclesiastics. Ye offspring of vipers (γεννηματα ἐχιδνων [gennēmata echidnōn]). Jesus (Matt. 12:34; 23:33) will use the same language to the Pharisees. Broods of snakes were often seen by John in the rocks and when a fire broke out they would scurry (φυγειν [phugein]) to their holes for safety. “The coming wrath” was not just for Gentiles as the Jews supposed, but for all who were not prepared for the kingdom of heaven (1 Thess. 1:10). No doubt the Pharisees and Sadducees winced under the sting of this powerful indictment.

Matthew 3:8

Fruit worthy of repentance (Καρπον ἀξιον της μετανοιας [Karpon axion tēs metanoias]). John demands proof from these men of the new life before he administers baptism to them. “The fruit is not the change of heart, but the acts which result from it” (McNeile). It was a bold deed for John thus to challenge as unworthy the very ones who posed as lights and leaders of the Jewish people. “Any one can do (ποιησατε [poiēsate], vide Gen. 1:11) acts externally good but only a good man can grow a crop of right acts and habits” (Bruce).

Matthew 3:9

And think not to say within yourselves (και μη δοξητε λεγειν ἐν ἑαυτοις [kai mē doxēte legein en heautois]). John touched the tender spot, their ecclesiastical pride. They felt that the “merits of the fathers,” especially of Abraham, were enough for all Israelites. At once John made clear that, reformer as he was, a breach existed between him and the religious leaders of the time. Of these stones (ἐκ των λιθων τουτων [ek tōn lithōn toutōn]). “Pointing, as he spoke to the pebbles on the beach of the Jordan” (Vincent).

Matthew 3:10

Is the axe laid (ἡ ἀξινη κειται [hē axinē keitai]). This verb κειται [keitai] is used as the perfect passive of τιθημι [tithēmi]. But the idea really is, “the axe lies at (προς [pros], before) the root of the trees.” It is there ready for business. The prophetic present occurs also with “is hewn down” and “cast.”

Matthew 3:11

Mightier than I (ἰσχυροτερος μου [ischuroteros mou]). Ablative after the comparative adjective. His baptism is water baptism, but the Coming One “will baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire.” “Life in the coming age is in the sphere of the Spirit. Spirit and fire are coupled with one preposition as a double baptism” (McNeile). Broadus takes “fire” in the sense of separation like the use of the fan. As the humblest of servants John felt unworthy to take off the sandals of the Coming One. About βασταζω [bastazō] see on Matt. 8:17.

Matthew 3:12

Will burn up with unquenchable fire (κατακαυσει πυρι ἀσβεστῳ [katakausei puri asbestōi]). Note perfective use of κατα [kata]. The threshing floor, the fan, the wheat, the garner, the chaff (ἀχυρον [achuron], chaff, straw, stubble), the fire furnish a life-like picture. The “fire” here is probably judgment by and at the coming of the Messiah just as in verse 11. The Messiah “will thoroughly cleanse” (διακαθαριει [diakathariei], Attic future of ιζω [-izō] and note δια- [dia-]). He will sweep from side to side to make it clean.

Matthew 3:13

Then cometh Jesus (τοτε παραγινεται ὁ Ἰησους [tote paraginetai ho Iēsous]). The same historical present used in 3:1. He comes all the way from Galilee to Jordan “to be baptized by him” (του βαπτισθηναι ὑπο αὐτου [tou baptisthēnai hupo autou]). The genitive articular infinitive of purpose, a very common idiom. The fame of John had reached Nazareth and the hour has come for which Jesus has waited.

Matthew 3:14

Would have hindered (διεκωλυεν [diekōluen]). Rather “tried to prevent” as Moffatt has it. It is the conative imperfect. The two men of destiny are face to face for the first time apparently. The Coming One stands before John and he recognizes him before the promised sign is given.

Matthew 3:15

To fulfil all righteousness (πληρωσαι πασαν δικαιοσυνην [plērōsai pāsan dikaiosunēn]). The explanation of Jesus satisfies John and he baptizes the Messiah though he has no sins to confess. It was proper (πρεπον [prepon]) to do so else the Messiah would seem to hold aloof from the Forerunner. Thus the ministries of the two are linked together.

Matthew 3:16

The Spirit of God descending as a dove (πνευμα θεου καταβαινον ὡσει περιστεραν [pneuma theou katabainon hōsei peristeran]). It is not certain whether Matthew means that the Spirit of God took the form of a dove or came upon Jesus as a dove comes down. Either makes sense, but Luke (3:22) has it “in bodily form as a dove” and that is probably the idea here. The dove in Christian art has been considered the symbol of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:17

A voice out of the heavens (φωνη ἐκ των οὐρανων [phōnē ek tōn ouranōn]). This was the voice of the Father to the Son whom he identifies as His Son, “my beloved Son.” Thus each person of the Trinity is represented (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) at this formal entrance of Jesus upon his Messianic ministry. John heard the voice, of course, and saw the dove. It was a momentous occasion for John and for Jesus and for the whole world. The words are similar to Psa. 2:7 and the voice at the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:5). The good pleasure of the Father is expressed by the timeless aorist (εὐδοκησα [eudokēsa]).

Chapter 4

Matthew 4:1

To be tempted of the devil (πειρασθηναι ὑπο του διαβολου [peirasthēnai hupo tou diabolou]). Matthew locates the temptation at a definite time, “then” (τοτε [tote]) and place, “into the wilderness” (εἰς την ἐρημον [eis tēn erēmon]), the same general region where John was preaching. It is not surprising that Jesus was tempted by the devil immediately after his baptism which signified the formal entrance upon the Messianic work. That is a common experience with ministers who step out into the open for Christ. The difficulty here is that Matthew says that “Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.” Mark (1:12) puts it more strongly that the Spirit “drives” (ἐκβαλλει [ekballei]) Christ into the wilderness. It was a strong impulsion by the Holy Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness to think through the full significance of the great step that he had now taken. That step opened the door for the devil and involved inevitable conflict with the slanderer (του διαβολου [tou diabolou]). Judas has this term applied to him (John 6:70) as it is to men (2 Tim. 3:3; Tit. 2:3) and women (she devils, 1 Tim. 3:11) who do the work of the arch slanderer. There are those today who do not believe that a personal devil exists, but they do not offer an adequate explanation of the existence and presence of sin in the world. Certainly Jesus did not discount or deny the reality of the devil’s presence. The word “tempt” here (πειραζω [peirazō]) and in 4:3 means originally to test, to try. That is its usual meaning in the ancient Greek and in the Septuagint. Bad sense of ἐκπειραζω [ekpeirazō] in 4:7 as in Deut. 6:16. Here it comes to mean, as often in the New Testament, to solicit to sin. The evil sense comes from its use for an evil purpose.

Matthew 4:2

Had fasted (νηστευσας [nēsteusas]). No perfunctory ceremonial fast, but of communion with the Father in complete abstention from food as in the case of Moses during forty days and forty nights (Ex. 34:28). “The period of the fast, as in the case of Moses was spent in a spiritual ecstasy, during which the wants of the natural body were suspended” (Alford). “He afterward hungered” and so at the close of the period of forty days.

Matthew 4:3

If thou art the Son of God (εἰ υἱος εἰ του θεου [ei huios ei tou theou]). More exactly, “If thou art Son of God,” for there is no article with “Son.” The devil is alluding to the words of the Father to Jesus at the baptism: “This is my Son the Beloved.” He challenges this address by a condition of the first class which assumes the condition to be true and deftly calls on Jesus to exercise his power as Son of God to appease his hunger and thus prove to himself and all that he really is what the Father called him. Become bread (ἀρτοι γενωνται [artoi genōntai]). Literally, “that these stones (round smooth stones which possibly the devil pointed to or even picked up and held) become loaves” (each stone a loaf). It was all so simple, obvious, easy. It would satisfy the hunger of Christ and was quite within his power. It is written (γεγραπται [gegraptai]). Perfect passive indicative, stands written and is still in force. Each time Jesus quotes Deuteronomy to repel the subtle temptation of the devil. Here it is Deut. 8:3 from the Septuagint. Bread is a mere detail (Bruce) in man’s dependence upon God.

Matthew 4:5

Then the devil taketh him (τοτε παραλαμβανει αὐτον ὁ διαβολος [tote paralambanei auton ho diabolos]). Matthew is very fond of this temporal adverb (τοτε [tote]). See already 2:7; 3:13; 4:1, 5. Note historic present with vivid picturesqueness. Luke puts this temptation third, the geographical order. But was the person of Christ allowed to be at the disposal of the devil during these temptations? Alford so holds. On the pinnacle of the temple (ἐπι το πτερυγιον του ἱερου [epi to pterugion tou hierou]). Literally “wing:” the English word “pinnacle” is from the Latin pinnaculum, a diminutive of pinna (wing). “The temple” (του ἱερου [tou hierou]) here includes the whole temple area, not just the sanctuary (ὁ ναος [ho naos]), the Holy Place and Most Holy Place. It is not clear what place is meant by “wing.” It may refer to Herod’s royal portico which overhung the Kedron Valley and looked down some four hundred and fifty feet, a dizzy height (Josephus, Ant. XV. xi. 5). This was on the south of the temple court. Hegesippus says that James the Lord’s brother was later placed on the wing of the temple and thrown down therefrom.

Matthew 4:6

Cast thyself down (βαλε σεαυτον κατω [bale seauton katō]). The appeal to hurl himself down into the abyss below would intensify the nervous dread that most people feel at such a height. The devil urged presumptuous reliance on God and quotes Scripture to support his view (Psa. 91:11f.). So the devil quotes the Word of God, misinterprets it, omits a clause, and tries to trip the Son of God by the Word of God. It was a skilful thrust and would also be accepted by the populace as proof that Jesus was the Messiah if they should see him sailing down as if from heaven. This would be a sign from heaven in accord with popular Messianic expectation. The promise of the angels the devil thought would reassure Jesus. They would be a spiritual parachute for Christ.

Matthew 4:7

Thou shall not tempt (οὐκ ἐκπειρασεις [ouk ekpeiraseis]). Jesus quotes Deuteronomy again (6:16) and shows that the devil has wholly misapplied God’s promise of protection.

Matthew 4:8

And showeth him (και δεικνυσιν αὐτῳ [kai deiknusin autōi]). This wonderful panorama had to be partially mental and imaginative, since the devil caused to pass in review “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.” But this fact does not prove that all phases of the temptations were subjective without any objective presence of the devil. Both could be true. Here again we have the vivid historical present (δεικνυσιν [deiknusin]). The devil now has Christ upon a very high mountain whether the traditional Quarantania or not. It was from Nebo’s summit that Moses caught the vision of the land of Canaan (Deut. 34:1–3). Luke (4:5) says that the whole panorama was “in a moment of time” and clearly psychological and instantaneous.

Matthew 4:9

All these things will I give thee (ταυτα σοι παντα δωσω [tauta soi panta dōsō]). The devil claims the rule of the world, not merely of Palestine or of the Roman Empire. “The kingdoms of the cosmos” (4:8) were under his sway. This word for world brings out the orderly arrangement of the universe while ἡ οἰκουμενη [hē oikoumenē] presents the inhabited earth. Jesus does not deny the grip of the devil on the world of men, but the condition (ἐαν [ean] and aorist subjunctive, second class undetermined with likelihood of determination), was spurned by Jesus. As Matthew has it Jesus is plainly to “fall down and worship me” (πεσων προκυνησῃς μοι [pesōn prokunēsēis moi]), while Luke (4:7) puts it, “worship before me” (ἐνωπιον ἐμου [enōpion emou]), a less offensive demand, but one that really involved worship of the devil. The ambition of Jesus is thus appealed to at the price of recognition of the devil’s primacy in the world. It was compromise that involved surrender of the Son of God to the world ruler of this darkness. “The temptation was threefold: to gain a temporal, not a spiritual, dominion; to gain it at once; and to gain it by an act of homage to the ruler of this world, which would make the self-constituted Messiah the vice-regent of the devil and not of God” (McNeile).

Matthew 4:10

Get thee hence, Satan (ὑπαγε, Σατανα [Hupage, Satanā]). The words “behind me” (ὀπισω μου [opisō mou]) belong to Matt. 16:23, not here. “Begone” Christ says to Satan. This temptation is the limit of diabolical suggestion and argues for the logical order in Matthew. “Satan” means the adversary and Christ so terms the devil here. The third time Jesus quotes Deuteronomy, this time 6:13, and repels the infamous suggestion by Scripture quotation. The words “him alone thou shalt serve” need be recalled today. Jesus will warn men against trying to serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24). The devil as the lord of the evil world constantly tries to win men to the service of the world and God. This is his chief camouflage for destroying a preacher’s power for God. The word here in Matt. 4:10 for serve is λατρευσεις [latreuseis] from λατρις [latris] a hired servant, one who works for hire, then render worship.

Matthew 4:11

Then the devil leaveth him (τοτε ἀφιησιν αὐτον ὁ διαβολος [tote aphiēsin auton ho diabolos]). Note the use of “then” (τοτε [tote]) again and the historical present. The movement is swift. “And behold” (και ἰδου [kai idou]) as so often in Matthew carries on the life-like picture. “Angels came (aorist tense προσηλθον [prosēlthon] punctiliar action) and were ministering (διηκονουν [diēkonoun], picturesque imperfect, linear action) unto him.” The victory was won in spite of the fast of forty days and the repeated onsets of the devil who had tried every avenue of approach. The angels could cheer him in the inevitable nervous and spiritual reaction from the strain of conflict, and probably also with food as in the case of Elijah (1 Kings 19:6f.). The issues at stake were of vast import as the champions of light and darkness grappled for the mastery of men. Luke 4:13 adds, that the devil left Jesus only “until a good opportunity” (ἀχρι καιρου [achri kairou]).

Matthew 4:12

Now when he heard (ἀκουσας δε [akousas de]). The reason for Christ’s return to Galilee is given here to be that John had been delivered up into prison. The Synoptic Gospels skip from the temptation of Jesus to the Galilean ministry, a whole year. But for John 1:19–3:36 we should know nothing of the “year of obscurity” (Stalker). John supplies items to help fill in the picture. Christ’s work in Galilee began after the close of the active ministry of the Baptist who lingered on in prison for a year or more.

Matthew 4:13

Dwelt in Capernaum (Κατῳκησεν εἰς Καφαρναουμ [Katōikēsen eis Kapharnaoum]). He went first to Nazareth, his old home, but was rejected there (Luke 4:16–31). In Capernaum (probably the modern Τελλ ὑμ [Tell Hūm]) Jesus was in a large town, one of the centres of Galilean political and commercial life, a fishing mart, where many Gentiles came. Here the message of the kingdom would have a better chance than in Jerusalem with its ecclesiastical prejudices or in Nazareth with its local jealousies. So Jesus “made his home” (κατῳκησεν [katōikēsen]) here.

Matthew 4:16

Saw a great light (φως εἰδεν μεγα [phōs eiden mega]). Matthew quotes Isa. 9:1f., and applies the words about the deliverer from Assyria to the Messiah. “The same district lay in spiritual darkness and death and the new era dawned when Christ went thither” (McNeile). Light sprang up from those who were sitting in the region and shadow of death (ἐν χορᾳ και σκιᾳ θανατου [en chorāi kai skiāi thanatou]). Death is personified.

Matthew 4:17

Began Jesus to preach (ἠρξατο ὁ Ἰησους κηρυσσειν [ērxato ho Iēsous kērussein]). In Galilee. He had been preaching for over a year already elsewhere. His message carries on the words of the Baptist about “repentance” and the “kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 3:2) being at hand. The same word for “preaching” (κηρυσσειν [kērussein]) from κηρυξ [kērux], herald, is used of Jesus as of John. Both proclaimed the good news of the kingdom. Jesus is more usually described as the Teacher, (ὁ διδασκαλος [ho didaskalos]) who taught (ἐδιδασκεν [edidasken]) the people. He was both herald and teacher as every preacher should be.

Matthew 4:18

Casting a net into the sea (βαλλαντας ἀμφιβληστρον εἰς την θαλασσαν [ballantas amphiblēstron eis tēn thalassan]). The word here for net is a casting-net (compare ἀμφιβαλλω [amphiballō] in Mark 1:16, casting on both sides). The net was thrown over the shoulder and spread into a circle (ἀμφι [amphi]). In 4:20 and 4:21 another word occurs for nets (δικτυα [diktua]), a word used for nets of any kind. The large drag-net (σαγηνη [sagēnē]) appears in Matthew 13:47.

Matthew 4:19

Fishers of men (ἁλεεις ἀνθρωπων [haleeis anthrōpōn]). Andrew and Simon were fishers by trade. They had already become disciples of Jesus (John 1:35–42), but now they are called upon to leave their business and to follow Jesus in his travels and work. These two brothers promptly (εὐθεως [eutheōs]) accepted the call and challenge of Jesus.

Matthew 4:21

Mending their nets (καταρτιζοντας τα δικτυα αὐτων [katartizontas ta diktua autōn]). These two brothers, James and John, were getting their nets ready for use. The verb (καταρτιζω [katartizō]) means to adjust, to articulate, to mend if needed (Luke 6:40; Rom. 9:22; Gal. 6:1). So they promptly left their boat and father and followed Jesus. They had also already become disciples of Jesus. Now there are four who follow him steadily.

Matthew 4:23

Went about in all Galilee (περιηγεν ἐν ὁλῃ τῃ Γαλιλαιαι [periēgen en holēi tēi Galilaiai]). Literally Jesus “was going around (imperfect) in all Galilee.” This is the first of the three tours of Galilee made by Jesus. This time he took the four fishermen whom he had just called to personal service. The second time he took the twelve. On the third he sent the twelve on ahead by twos and followed after them. He was teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom in the synagogues chiefly and on the roads and in the streets where Gentiles could hear. Healing all manner of diseases and all manner of sickness (θεραπευων πασαν νοσον και πασαν μαλακιαν [therapeuōn pāsan noson kai pāsan malakian]). The occasional sickness is called μαλακιαν [malakian], the chronic or serious disease νοσον [noson].

Matthew 4:24

The report of him went forth into all Syria (ἀπηλθεν ἡ ἀκοη αὐτου εἰς ὁλην την Συριαν [apēlthen hē akoē autou eis holēn tēn Surian]). Rumour (ἀκοη [akoē]) carries things almost like the wireless or radio. The Gentiles all over Syria to the north heard of what was going on in Galilee. The result was inevitable. Jesus had a moving hospital of patients from all over Galilee and Syria. “Those that were sick” (τους κακως ἐχοντας [tous kakōs echontas]), literally “those who had it bad,” cases that the doctors could not cure. “Holden with divers diseases and torments” (ποικιλαις νοσοις και βασανοις συνεχομενους [poikilais nosois kai basanois sunechomenous]). “Held together” or “compressed” is the idea of the participle. The same word is used by Jesus in Luke 12:50 and by Paul in Phil. 1:23 and of the crowd pressing on Jesus (Luke 8:45). They brought these difficult and chronic cases (present tense of the participle here) to Jesus. Instead of “divers” say “various” (ποικιλαις [poikilais]) like fever, leprosy, blindness. The adjective means literally many colored or variegated like flowers, paintings, jaundice, etc. Some had “torments” (βασανοις [basanois]). The word originally (oriental origin) meant a touchstone, “Lydian stone” used for testing gold because pure gold rubbed on it left a peculiar mark. Then it was used for examination by torture. Sickness was often regarded as “torture.” These diseases are further described “in a descending scale of violence” (McNeile) as “demoniacs, lunatics, and paralytics” as Moffatt puts it, “demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics” as Weymouth has it, (δαιμονιζομενους και σεληνιαζομενους και παραλυτικους [daimonizomenous kai selēniazomenous kai paralutikous]), people possessed by demons, lunatics or “moon-struck” because the epileptic seizures supposedly followed the phases of the moon (Bruce) as shown also in Matt. 17:15, paralytics (our very word). Our word “lunatic” is from the Latin luna (moon) and carries the same picture as the Greek σεληνιαζομαι [selēniazomai] from σεληνη [selēnē] (moon). These diseases are called “torments.”

Matthew 4:25

Great multitudes (ὀχλοι πολλοι [ochloi polloi]). Note the plural, not just one crowd, but crowds and crowds. And from all parts of Palestine including Decapolis, the region of the Ten Greek Cities east of the Jordan. No political campaign was equal to this outpouring of the people to hear Jesus and to be healed by Jesus.

Chapter 5

Matthew 5:1

He went up into the mountain (ἀνεβη εἰς το ὀρος [anebē eis to oros]). Not “a” mountain as the Authorized Version has it. The Greek article is poorly handled in most English versions. We do not know what mountain it was. It was the one there where Jesus and the crowds were. “Delitzsch calls the Mount of Beatitudes the Sinai of the New Testament” (Vincent). He apparently went up to get in closer contact with the disciples, “seeing the multitudes.” Luke (6:12) says that he went out into the mountain to pray, Mark (3:13) that he went up and called the twelve. All three purposes are true. Luke adds that after a whole night in prayer and after the choice of the twelve Jesus came down to a level place on the mountain and spoke to the multitudes from Judea to Phoenicia. The crowds are great in both Matthew and in Luke and include disciples and the other crowds. There is no real difficulty in considering the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and the Sermon on the Plain in Luke as one and the same. See full discussion in my Harmony of the Gospels.

Matthew 5:2

Taught them (ἐδιδασκεν [edidasken]). Inchoative imperfect, began to teach. He sat down on the mountain side as the Jewish rabbis did instead of standing. It was a most impressive scene as Jesus opened his mouth wide and spoke loud enough for the great throng to hear him. The newly chosen twelve apostles were there, “a great number of disciples and a great number of the people” (Luke 6:17).

Matthew 5:3

Blessed (μακαριοι [makarioi]). The English word “blessed” is more exactly represented by the Greek verbal εὐλογητοι [eulogētoi] as in Luke 1:68 of God by Zacharias, or the perfect passive participle εὐλογημενος [eulogēmenos] as in Luke 1:42 of Mary by Elizabeth and in Matt. 21:9. Both forms come from εὐλογεω [eulogeō], to speak well of (εὐ, λογος [eu, logos]). The Greek word here (μακαριοι [makarioi]) is an adjective that means “happy” which in English etymology goes back to hap, chance, good-luck as seen in our words haply, hapless, happily, happiness. “Blessedness is, of course, an infinitely higher and better thing than mere happiness” (Weymouth). English has thus ennobled “blessed” to a higher rank than “happy.” But “happy” is what Jesus said and the Braid Scots New Testament dares to say “Happy” each time here as does the Improved Edition of the American Bible Union Version. The Greek word is as old as Homer and Pindar and was used of the Greek gods and also of men, but largely of outward prosperity. Then it is applied to the dead who died in the Lord as in Rev. 14:13. Already in the Old Testament the Septuagint uses it of moral quality. “Shaking itself loose from all thoughts of outward good, it becomes the express symbol of a happiness identified with pure character. Behind it lies the clear cognition of sin as the fountain-head of all misery, and of holiness as the final and effectual cure for every woe. For knowledge as the basis of virtue, and therefore of happiness, it substitutes faith and love” (Vincent). Jesus takes this word “happy” and puts it in this rich environment. “This is one of the words which have been transformed and ennobled by New Testament use; by association, as in the Beatitudes, with unusual conditions, accounted by the world miserable, or with rare and difficult” (Bruce). It is a pity that we have not kept the word “happy” to the high and holy plane where Jesus placed it. “If you know these things, happy (μακαριοι [makarioi]) are you if you do them” (John 13:17). “Happy (μακαριοι [makarioi]) are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). And Paul applies this adjective to God, “according to the gospel of the glory of the happy (μακαριου [makariou]) God” (1 Tim. 1:11. Cf. also Tit. 2:13). The term “Beatitudes” (Latin beatus) comes close to the meaning of Christ here by μακαριοι [makarioi]. It will repay one to make a careful study of all the “beatitudes” in the New Testament where this word is employed. It occurs nine times here (3 to 11), though the beatitudes in verses 10 and 11 are very much alike. The copula is not expressed in either of these nine beatitudes. In each case a reason is given for the beatitude, “for” (ὁτι [hoti]), that shows the spiritual quality involved. Some of the phrases employed by Jesus here occur in the Psalms, some even in the Talmud (itself later than the New Testament, though of separate origin). That is of small moment. “The originality of Jesus lies in putting the due value on these thoughts, collecting them, and making them as prominent as the Ten Commandments. No greater service can be rendered to mankind than to rescue from obscurity neglected moral commonplaces” (Bruce). Jesus repeated his sayings many times as all great teachers and preachers do, but this sermon has unity, progress, and consummation. It does not contain all that Jesus taught by any means, but it stands out as the greatest single sermon of all time, in its penetration, pungency, and power. The poor in spirit (οἱ πτωχοι τῳ πνευματι [hoi ptōchoi tōi pneumati]). Luke has only “the poor,” but he means the same by it as this form in Matthew, “the pious in Israel, for the most part poor, whom the worldly rich despised and persecuted” (McNeile). The word used here (πτωχοι [ptōchoi]) is applied to the beggar Lazarus in Luke 16:20, 22 and suggests spiritual destitution (from πτωσσω [ptōssō] to crouch, to cower). The other word πενης [penēs] is from πενομαι [penomai], to work for one’s daily bread and so means one who works for his living. The word πτωχος [ptōchos] is more frequent in the New Testament and implies deeper poverty than πενης [penēs]. “The kingdom of heaven” here means the reign of God in the heart and life. This is the summum bonum and is what matters most.

Matthew 5:4

They that mourn (οἱ πενθουντες [hoi penthountes]). This is another paradox. This verb “is most frequent in the LXX for mourning for the dead, and for the sorrows and sins of others” (McNeile). “There can be no comfort where there is no grief” (Bruce). Sorrow should make us look for the heart and hand of God and so find the comfort latent in the grief.

Matthew 5:5

The meek (οἱ πραεις [hoi praeis]). Wycliff has it “Blessed be mild men.” The ancients used the word for outward conduct and towards men. They did not rank it as a virtue anyhow. It was a mild equanimity that was sometimes negative and sometimes positively kind. But Jesus lifted the word to a nobility never attained before. In fact, the Beatitudes assume a new heart, for the natural man does not find in happiness the qualities mentioned here by Christ. The English word “meek” has largely lost the fine blend of spiritual poise and strength meant by the Master. He calls himself “meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29) and Moses is also called meek. It is the gentleness of strength, not mere effeminacy. By “the earth” (την γην [tēn gēn]) Jesus seems to mean the Land of Promise (Psa. 37:11) though Bruce thinks that it is the whole earth. Can it be the solid earth as opposed to the sea or the air?

Matthew 5:6

They that hunger and thirst after righteousness (οἱ πεινωντες και διψωντες την δικαιοσυνην [hoi peinōntes kai dipsōntes tēn dikaiosunēn]). Here Jesus turns one of the elemental human instincts to spiritual use. There is in all men hunger for food, for love, for God. It is passionate hunger and thirst for goodness, for holiness. The word for “filled” (χορτασθησονται [chortasthēsontai]) means to feed or to fatten cattle from the word for fodder or grass like Mark 6:39 “green grass” (χορτος χλωρος [chortos chlōros]).

Matthew 5:7

Obtain mercy (ἐλεηθησονται [eleēthēsontai]) “Sal win pitie theirsels” (Braid Scots). “A self-acting law of the moral world” (Bruce).

Matthew 5:8

Shall see God (τον θεον ὀψονται [ton theon opsontai]). Without holiness no man will see the Lord in heaven (Heb. 12:14). The Beatific Vision is only possible here on earth to those with pure hearts. No other can see the King now. Sin befogs and beclouds the heart so that one cannot see God. Purity has here its widest sense and includes everything.

Matthew 5:9

The peacemakers (οἱ εἰρηνοποιοι [hoi eirēnopoioi]). Not merely “peaceable men” (Wycliff) but “makkers up o’ strife” (Braid Scots). It is hard enough to keep the peace. It is still more difficult to bring peace where it is not. “The perfect peacemaker is the Son of God (Eph. 2:14f.)” (McNeile). Thus we shall be like our Elder Brother.

Matthew 5:10

That have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake (οἱ δεδιωγμενοι ἑνεκεν δικαιοσυνης [hoi dediōgmenoi heneken dikaiosunēs]). Posing as persecuted is a favourite stunt. The kingdom of heaven belongs only to those who suffer for the sake of goodness, not who are guilty of wrong.

Matthew 5:11

Falsely, for my sake (ψευδομενοι ἑνεκεν ἐμου [pseudomenoi heneken emou]). Codex Bezae changes the order of these last Beatitudes, but that is immaterial. What does matter is that the bad things said of Christ’s followers shall be untrue and that they are slandered for Christ’s sake. Both things must be true before one can wear a martyr’s crown and receive the great reward (μισθος [misthos]) in heaven. No prize awaits one there who deserves all the evil said of him and done to him here.

Matthew 5:13

Lost its savour (μωρανθῃ [mōranthēi]). The verb is from μωρος [mōros] (dull, sluggish, stupid, foolish) and means to play the fool, to become foolish, of salt become tasteless, insipid (Mark 9:50). It is common in Syria and Palestine to see salt scattered in piles on the ground because it has lost its flavour, “hae tint its tang” (Braid Scots), the most worthless thing imaginable. Jesus may have used here a current proverb.

Matthew 5:15

Under the bushel (ὑπο τον μοδιον [hupo ton modion]). Not a bushel. “The figure is taken from lowly cottage life. There was a projecting stone in the wall on which the lamp was set. The house consisted of a single room, so that the tiny light sufficed for all” (Bruce). It was not put under the bushel (the only one in the room) save to put it out or to hide it. The bushel was an earthenware grain measure. “The stand” (την λυχνιαν [tēn luchnian]), not “candlestick.” It is “lamp-stand” in each of the twelve examples in the Bible. There was the one lamp-stand for the single room.

Matthew 5:16

Even so (οὑτως [houtōs]). The adverb points backward to the lamp-stand. Thus men are to let their light shine, not to glorify themselves, but “your Father in heaven.” Light shines to see others by, not to call attention to itself.

Matthew 5:17

I came not to destroy, but to fulfil (οὐκ ἠλθον καταλυσαι ἀλλα πληρωσαι [ouk ēlthon katalusai alla plērōsai]). The verb “destroy” means to “loosen down” as of a house or tent (2 Cor. 5:1). Fulfil is to fill full. This Jesus did to the ceremonial law which pointed to him and the moral law he kept. “He came to fill the law, to reveal the full depth of meaning that it was intended to hold” (McNeile).

Matthew 5:18

One jot or one tittle (ἰωτα ἑν ἠ μια κερεα [iōta hen ē mia kerea]). “Not an iota, not a comma” (Moffatt), “not the smallest letter, not a particle” (Weymouth). The iota is the smallest Greek vowel, which Matthew here uses to represent the Hebrew yod [yôḏ; י] (jot), the smallest Hebrew letter. “Tittle” is from the Latin titulus which came to mean the stroke above an abbreviated word, then any small mark. It is not certain here whether κερεα [kerea] means a little horn, the mere point which distinguishes some Hebrew letters from others or the “hook” letter Vav [wāw; ו]. Sometimes yod [yôḏ; י] and vav [wāw; ו] were hardly distinguishable. “In Vay. R. 19 the guilt of altering one of them is pronounced so great that if it were done the world would be destroyed” (McNeile).

Matthew 5:19

Shall do and teach (ποιησῃ και διδαξῃ [poiēsēi kai didaxēi]). Jesus puts practice before preaching. The teacher must apply the doctrine to himself before he is qualified to teach others. The scribes and Pharisees were men who “say and do not” (Matt. 23:3), who preach but do not perform. This is Christ’s test of greatness.

Matthew 5:20

Shall exceed (περισσευσῃ πλειον [perisseusēi pleion]). Overflow like a river out of its banks and then Jesus adds “more” followed by an unexpressed ablative (της δικαιοσυνης [tēs dikaiosunēs]), brachylogy. A daring statement on Christ’s part that they had to be better than the rabbis. They must excel the scribes, the small number of regular teachers (5:21–48), and the Pharisees in the Pharisaic life (6:1–18) who were the separated ones, the orthodox pietists.

Matthew 5:22

But I say unto you (ἐγω δε λεγω ὑμιν [egō de legō humin]). Jesus thus assumes a tone of superiority over the Mosaic regulations and proves it in each of the six examples. He goes further than the Law into the very heart. “Raca” (Ρακα [Raka]) and “Thou fool” (Μωρε [Mōre]). The first is probably an Aramaic word meaning “Empty,” a frequent word for contempt. The second word is Greek (dull, stupid) and is a fair equivalent of “raca.” It is urged by some that μωρε [mōre] is a Hebrew word, but Field (Otium Norvicense) objects to that idea. “Ρακα [Raka] expresses contempt for a man’s head=you stupid! Μωρε [Mōre] expresses contempt for his heart and character=you scoundrel” (Bruce). “The hell of fire” (την γεενναν του πυρος [tēn geennan tou puros]), “the Gehenna of fire,” the genitive case (του πυρος [tou puros]) as the genus case describing Gehenna as marked by fire. Gehenna is the Valley of Hinnom where the fire burned continually. Here idolatrous Jews once offered their children to Molech (2 Kings 23:10). Jesus finds one cause of murder to be abusive language. Gehenna “should be carefully distinguished from Hades (ᾁδης [hāidēs]) which is never used for the place of punishment, but for the place of departed spirits, without reference to their moral condition” (Vincent). The place of torment is in Hades (Luke 16:23), but so is heaven.

Matthew 5:24

First be reconciled (πρωτον διαλλαγηθι [prōton diallagēthi]). Second aorist passive imperative. Get reconciled (ingressive aorist, take the initiative). Only example of this compound in the New Testament where usually καταλλασσω [katallassō] occurs. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 187, New Ed.) gives a papyrus example second century a.d. A prodigal son, Longinus, writes to his mother Nilus: “I beseech thee, mother, be reconciled (διαλαγητι [dialagēti]) with me.” The boy is a poor speller, but with a broken heart he uses the identical form that Jesus does. “The verb denotes mutual concession after mutual hostility, an idea absent from καταλλασσω [katallassō]” (Lightfoot). This because of δια [dia] (two, between two).

Matthew 5:25

Agree with (ἰσθι εὐνοων [isthi eunoōn]). A present periphrastic active imperative. The verb is from εὐνοος [eunoos] (friendly, kindly disposed). “Mak up wi’ yere enemy” (Braid Scots). Compromise is better than prison where no principle is involved, but only personal interest. It is so easy to see principle where pride is involved.

The officer (τῳ ὑπηρετῃ [tōi hupēretēi]). This word means “under rower” on the ship with several ranks of rowers, the bottom rower (ὑπο [hupo] under and ἠρεσσω [ēressō], to row), the galley-slave, then any servant, the attendant in the synagogue (Luke 4:20). Luke so describes John Mark in his relation to Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:5). Then it is applied to the “ministers of the word” (Luke 1:2).

Matthew 5:26

The last farthing (τον ἐσχατον κοδραντην [ton eschaton kodrantēn]). A Latin word, quadrans, ¼ of an as (ἀσσαριον [assarion]) or two mites (Mark 12:42), a vivid picture of inevitable punishment for debt. This is emphasized by the strong double negative οὐ μη [ou mē] with the aorist subjunctive.

Matthew 5:27

Thou shalt not commit adultery (οὐ μοιχευσεις [ou moicheuseis]). These quotations (verses 21, 27, 33) from the Decalogue (Ex. 20 and Deut. 5:1) are from the Septuagint and use οὐ [ou] and the future indicative (volitive future, common Greek idiom). In 5:43 the positive form, volitive future, occurs (ἀγαπησεις [agapēseis]). In 5:41 the third person (δοτω [dotō]) singular second aorist active imperative is used. In 5:38 no verb occurs.

Matthew 5:28

In his heart (ἐν τῃ καρδιᾳ αὐτου [en tēi kardiāi autou]). Not just the centre of the blood circulation though it means that. Not just the emotional part of man’s nature, but here the inner man including the intellect, the affections, the will. This word is exceedingly common in the New Testament and repays careful study always. It is from a root that means to quiver or palpitate. Jesus locates adultery in the eye and heart before the outward act. Wunsche (Beitrage) quotes two pertinent rabbinical sayings as translated by Bruce: “The eye and the heart are the two brokers of sin.” “Passions lodge only in him who sees.” Hence the peril of lewd pictures and plays to the pure.

Matthew 5:29

Causeth thee to stumble (σκανδαλιζει σε [skandalizei se]). This is far better than the Authorized Version “Offend thee.” Braid Scots has it rightly “ensnare ye.” It is not the notion of giving offence or provoking, but of setting a trap or snare for one. The substantive (σκανδαλον [skandalon], from σκανδαληθρον [skandalēthron]) means the stick in the trap that springs and closes the trap when the animal touches it. Pluck out the eye when it is a snare, cut off the hand, even the right hand. These vivid pictures are not to be taken literally, but powerfully plead for self-mastery. Bengel says: Non oculum, sed scandalizentem oculum. It is not mutilating of the body that Christ enjoins, but control of the body against sin. The man who plays with fire will get burnt. Modern surgery finely illustrates the teaching of Jesus. The tonsils, the teeth, the appendix, to go no further, if left diseased, will destroy the whole body. Cut them out in time and the life will be saved. Vincent notes that “the words scandal and slander are both derived from σκανδαλον [skandalon]. And Wyc. renders, ‘if thy right eye slander thee.’ ” Certainly slander is a scandal and a stumbling-block, a trap, and a snare.

Matthew 5:31

A writing of divorcement (ἀποστασιον [apostasion]), “a divorce certificate” (Moffatt), “a written notice of divorce” (Weymouth). The Greek is an abbreviation of βιβλιον ἀποστασιου [biblion apostasiou] (Matt. 19:7; Mark 10:4). Vulgate has here libellum repudii. The papyri use συγγραφη ἀποστασιου [suggraphē apostasiou] in commercial transactions as “a bond of release” (see Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary, etc.) The written notice (βιβλιον [biblion]) was a protection to the wife against an angry whim of the husband who might send her away with no paper to show for it.

Matthew 5:32

Saving for the cause of fornication (παρεκτος λογου πορνειας [parektos logou porneias]). An unusual phrase that perhaps means “except for a matter of unchastity.” “Except on the ground of unchastity” (Weymouth), “except unfaithfulness” (Goodspeed), and is equivalent to μη ἐπι πορνειᾳ [mē epi porneiāi] in Matt. 19:9. McNeile denies that Jesus made this exception because Mark and Luke do not give it. He claims that the early Christians made the exception to meet a pressing need, but one fails to see the force of this charge against Matthew’s report of the words of Jesus. It looks like criticism to meet modern needs.

Matthew 5:34

Swear not at all (μη ὀμοσαι ὁλως [mē omosai holōs]). More exactly “not to swear at all” (indirect command, and aorist infinitive). Certainly Jesus does not prohibit oaths in a court of justice for he himself answered Caiaphas on oath. Paul made solemn appeals to God (1 Thess. 5:27; 1 Cor. 15:31). Jesus prohibits all forms of profanity. The Jews were past-masters in the art of splitting hairs about allowable and forbidden oaths or forms of profanity just as modern Christians employ a great variety of vernacular “cuss-words” and excuse themselves because they do not use the more flagrant forms.

Matthew 5:38

An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth (ὀφθαλμον ἀντι ὀφθαλμου και ὀδοντα ἀντι ὀδοντος [ophthalmon anti ophthalmou kai odonta anti odontos]). Note ἀντι [anti] with the notion of exchange or substitution. The quotation is from Ex. 21:24; Deut. 19:21; Lev. 24:20. Like divorce this jus talionis is a restriction upon unrestrained vengeance. “It limited revenge by fixing an exact compensation for an injury” (McNeile). A money payment is allowed in the Mishna. The law of retaliation exists in Arabia today.

Matthew 5:39

Resist not him that is evil (με ἀντιστηναι τῳ πονηρῳ [me antistēnai tōi ponērōi]). Here again it is the infinitive (second aorist active) in indirect command. But is it “the evil man” or the “evil deed”? The dative case is the same form for masculine and neuter. Weymouth puts it “not to resist a (the) wicked man,” Moffatt “not to resist an injury,” Goodspeed “not to resist injury.” The examples will go with either view. Jesus protested when smitten on the cheek (John 18:22). And Jesus denounced the Pharisees (Matt. 23) and fought the devil always. The language of Jesus is bold and picturesque and is not to be pressed too literally. Paradoxes startle and make us think. We are expected to fill in the other side of the picture. One thing certainly is meant by Jesus and that is that personal revenge is taken out of our hands, and that applies to “lynch-law.” Aggressive or offensive war by nations is also condemned, but not necessarily defensive war or defence against robbery and murder. Professional pacifism may be mere cowardice.

Matthew 5:40

Thy coat … thy cloke also (τον χιτωνα σου και το ἱματιον [ton chitōna sou kai to himation]). The “coat” is really a sort of shirt or undergarment and would be demanded at law. A robber would seize first the outer garment or cloke (one coat). If one loses the undergarment at law, the outer one goes also (the more valuable one).

Matthew 5:41

Shall compel thee (ἀγγαρευσει [aggareusei]). The Vulgate has angariaverit. The word is of Persian origin and means public couriers or mounted messengers (ἀγγαροι [aggaroi]) who were stationed by the King of Persia at fixed localities, with horses ready for use, to send royal messages from one to another. So if a man is passing such a post-station, an official may rush out and compel him to go back to another station to do an errand for the king. This was called impressment into service. This very thing was done to Simon of Cyrene who was thus compelled to carry the cross of Christ (Matt. 27:32, ἠγγαρευσαν [ēggareusan]).

Matthew 5:42

Turn not thou away (μη ἀποστραφῃς [mē apostraphēis]). Second aorist passive subjunctive in prohibition. “This is one of the clearest instances of the necessity of accepting the spirit and not the letter of the Lord’s commands (see vv. 32, 34, 38). Not only does indiscriminate almsgiving do little but injury to society, but the words must embrace far more than almsgiving” (McNeile). Recall again that Jesus is a popular teacher and expects men to understand his paradoxes. In the organized charities of modern life we are in danger of letting the milk of human kindness dry up.

Matthew 5:43

And hate thine enemy (και μισησεις [kai misēseis]). This phrase is not in Lev. 19:18, but is a rabbinical inference which Jesus repudiates bluntly. The Talmud says nothing of love to enemies. Paul in Rom. 12:20 quotes Prov. 25:22 to prove that we ought to treat our enemies kindly. Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies and did it himself even when he hung upon the cross. Our word “neighbour” is “nigh-bor,” one who is nigh or near like the Greek word πλησιον [plēsion] here. But proximity often means strife and not love. Those who have adjoining farms or homes may be positively hostile in spirit. The Jews came to look on members of the same tribe as neighbours as even Jews everywhere. But they hated the Samaritans who were half Jews and lived between Judea and Galilee. Jesus taught men how to act as neighbours by the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29ff.).

Matthew 5:48

Perfect (τελειοι [teleioi]). The word comes from τελος [telos], end, goal, limit. Here it is the goal set before us, the absolute standard of our Heavenly Father. The word is used also for relative perfection as of adults compared with children.

Chapter 6

Matthew 6:1

Take heed (προσεχετε [prosechete]). The Greek idiom includes “mind” (νουν [noun]) which is often expressed in ancient Greek and once in the Septuagint (Job 7:17). In the New Testament the substantive νους [nous] is understood. It means to “hold the mind on a matter,” take pains, take heed. “Righteousness” (δικαιοσυνην [dikaiosunēn]) is the correct text in this verse. Three specimens of the Pharisaic “righteousness” are given (alms, prayer, fasting). To be seen (θεαθηναι [theathēnai]). First aorist passive infinitive of purpose. Our word theatrical is this very word, spectacular performance. With your Father (παρα τῳ πατρι ὑμων [para tōi patri humōn]). Literally “beside your Father,” standing by his side, as he looks at it.

Matthew 6:2

Sound not a trumpet (μη σαλπισῃς [mē salpisēis]). Is this literal or metaphorical? No actual instance of such conduct has been found in the Jewish writings. McNeile suggests that it may refer to the blowing of trumpets in the streets on the occasion of public fasts. Vincent suggests the thirteen trumpet-shaped chests of the temple treasury to receive contributions (Luke 21:2). But at Winona Lake one summer a missionary from India named Levering stated to me that he had seen Hindu priests do precisely this very thing to get a crowd to see their beneficences. So it looks as if the rabbis could do it also. Certainly it was in keeping with their love of praise. And Jesus expressly says that “the hypocrites” (οἱ ὑποκριται [hoi hupokritai]) do this very thing. This is an old word for actor, interpreter, one who personates another, from ὑποκρινομαι [hupokrinomai] to answer in reply like the Attic ἀποκρινομαι [apokrinomai]. Then to pretend, to feign, to dissemble, to act the hypocrite, to wear a mask. This is the hardest word that Jesus has for any class of people and he employs it for these pious pretenders who pose as perfect. They have received their reward (ἀπεχουσιν τον μισθον αὐτων [apechousin ton misthon autōn]). This verb is common in the papyri for receiving a receipt, “they have their receipt in full,” all the reward that they will get, this public notoriety. “They can sign the receipt of their reward” (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 229). So Light from the Ancient East, pp. 110f. Ἀποχη [Apochē] means “receipt.” So also in 6:5.

Matthew 6:4

In secret (τῳ κρυπτῳ [tōi kruptōi]). The Textus Receptus added the words ἐν τῳ φανερῳ [en tōi phanerōi] (openly) here and in 6:6, but they are not genuine. Jesus does not promise a public reward for private piety.

Matthew 6:5

In the synagogues and in the corners of the streets (ἐν ταις συναγωγαις και ἐν ταις γωνιαις των πλατειων [en tais sunagōgais kai en tais gōniais tōn plateiōn]). These were the usual places of prayer (synagogues) and the street corners where crowds stopped for business or talk. If the hour of prayer overtook a Pharisee here, he would strike his attitude of prayer like a modern Moslem that men might see that he was pious.

Matthew 6:6

Into thy closet (εἰς το ταμειον [eis to tameion]). The word is a late syncopated form of ταμιειον [tamieion] from ταμιας [tamias] (steward) and the root ταμ- [tam-] from τεμνω [temnō], to cut. So it is a store-house, a separate apartment, one’s private chamber, closet, or “den” where he can withdraw from the world and shut the world out and commune with God.

Matthew 6:7

Use not vain repetitions (μη βατταλογησητε [mē battalogēsēte]). Used of stammerers who repeat the words, then mere babbling or chattering, empty repetition. The etymology is uncertain, but it is probably onomatopoetic like “babble.” The worshippers of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 8:26) and of Diana in the amphitheatre at Ephesus who yelled for two hours (Acts 19:34) are examples. The Mohammedans may also be cited who seem to think that they “will be heard for their much speaking” (ἐν τῃ πολυλογιᾳ [en tēi polulogiāi]). Vincent adds “and the Romanists with their paternosters and avast.” The Syriac Sinaitic has it: “Do not be saying idle things.” Certainly Jesus does not mean to condemn all repetition in prayer since he himself prayed three times in Gethsemane “saying the same words again” (Matt. 26:44). “As the Gentiles do,” says Jesus. “The Pagans thought that by endless repetitions and many words they would inform their gods as to their needs and weary them (‘fatigare deos‘) into granting their requests” (Bruce).

Matthew 6:9

After this manner therefore pray ye (οὑτως οὐν προσευχεσθε ὑμεις [houtōs oun proseuchesthe humeis]). “You” expressed in contrast with “the Gentiles.” It should be called “The Model Prayer” rather than “The Lord’s Prayer.” “Thus” pray as he gives them a model. He himself did not use it as a liturgy (cf. John 17). There is no evidence that Jesus meant it for liturgical use by others. In Luke 11:2–4 practically the same prayer though briefer is given at a later time by Jesus to the apostles in response to a request that he teach them how to pray. McNeile argues that the form in Luke is the original to which Matthew has made additions: “The tendency of liturgical formulas is towards enrichment rather than abbreviation.” But there is no evidence whatever that Jesus designed it as a set formula. There is no real harm in a liturgical formula if one likes it, but no one sticks to just one formula in prayer. There is good and not harm in children learning and saying this noble prayer. Some people are disturbed over the words “Our Father” and say that no one has a right to call God Father who has not been “born again.” But that is to say that an unconverted sinner cannot pray until he is converted, an absurd contradiction. God is the Father of all men in one sense; the recognition of Him as the Father in the full sense is the first step in coming back to him in regeneration and conversion.

Hallowed be thy name (ἁγιασθητω το ὀνομα σου [hagiasthētō to onoma sou]). In the Greek the verb comes first as in the petitions in verse 10. They are all aorist imperatives, punctiliar action expressing urgency.

Matthew 6:11

Our daily bread (τον ἀρτον ἡμων τον ἐπιουσιον [ton arton hēmōn ton epiousion]). This adjective “daily” (ἐπιουσιον [epiousion]) coming after “Give us this day” (δος ἡμν σημερον [dos hēmn sēmeron]) has given expositors a great deal of trouble. The effort has been made to derive it from ἐπι [epi] and ὠν [ōn] (οὐσα [ousa]). It clearly comes from ἐπι [epi] and ἰων [iōn] (ἐπι [epi] and εἰμι [eimi]) like τῃ ἐπιουσῃ [tēi epiousēi] (“on the coming day,” “the next day,” Acts 16:12). But the adjective ἐπιουσιος [epiousios] is rare and Origen said it was made by the Evangelists Matthew and Luke to reproduce the idea of an Aramaic original. Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary say: “The papyri have as yet shed no clear light upon this difficult word (Matt. 6:11; Luke 11:3), which was in all probability a new coinage by the author of the Greek Q to render his Aramaic Original” (this in 1919). Deissmann claims that only about fifty purely New Testament or “Christian” words can be admitted out of the more than 5,000 used. “But when a word is not recognizable at sight as a Jewish or Christian new formation, we must consider it as an ordinary Greek word until the contrary is proved. Ἐπιουσιος [Epiousios] has all the appearance of a word that originated in trade and traffic of the everyday life of the people (cf. my hints in Neutestamentliche Studien Georg Heinrici dargebracht, Leipzig, 1914, pp. 118f.). The opinion here expressed has been confirmed by A. Debrunner’s discovery (Theol. Lit. Ztg. 1925, Col. 119) of ἐπιουσιος [epiousios] in an ancient housekeeping book” (Light from the Ancient East, New ed. 1927, p. 78 and note 1). So then it is not a word coined by the Evangelist or by Q to express an Aramaic original. The word occurs also in three late MSS. after 2 Macc. 1:8, τους ἐπιουσιους [tous epiousious] after τους ἀρτους [tous artous]. The meaning, in view of the kindred participle (ἐπιουσῃ [epiousēi]) in Acts 16:12, seems to be “for the coming day,” a daily prayer for the needs of the next day as every housekeeper understands like the housekeeping book discovered by Debrunner.

Matthew 6:12

Our debts (τα ὀφειληματα ἡμων [ta opheilēmata hēmōn]). Luke (11:4) has “sins” (ἁμαρτιας [hamartias]). In the ancient Greek ὀφειλημα [opheilēma] is common for actual legal debts as in Rom. 4:4, but here it is used of moral and spiritual debts to God. “Trespasses” is a mistranslation made common by the Church of England Prayer Book. It is correct in verse 14 in Christ’s argument about prayer, but it is not in the Model Prayer itself. See Matt. 18:28, 30 for sin pictured again by Christ “as debt and the sinner as a debtor” (Vincent). We are thus described as having wronged God. The word ὀφειλη [opheilē] for moral obligation was once supposed to be peculiar to the New Testament. But it is common in that sense in the papyri (Deismann, Bible Studies, p. 221; Light from the Ancient East, New ed., p. 331). We ask forgiveness “in proportion as” (ὡς [hōs]) we also have forgiven those in debt to us, a most solemn reflection. Ἀφηκαμεν [Aphēkamen] is one of the three k aorists (ἐθηκα, ἐδωκα, ἡκα [ethēka, edōka, hēka]). It means to send away, to dismiss, to wipe off.

Matthew 6:13

And bring us not into temptation (και μη εἰσενεγκῃς εἰς πειρασμον [kai mē eisenegkēis eis peirasmon]). “Bring” or “lead” bothers many people. It seems to present God as an active agent in subjecting us to temptation, a thing specifically denied in James 1:13. The word here translated “temptation” (πειρασμον [peirasmon]) means originally “trial” or “test” as in James 1:2 and Vincent so takes it here. Braid Scots has it: “And lat us no be siftit.” But God does test or sift us, though he does not tempt us to evil. No one understood temptation so well as Jesus for the devil tempted him by every avenue of approach to all kinds of sin, but without success. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus will say to Peter, James, and John: “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luke 22:40). That is the idea here. Here we have a “Permissive imperative” as grammarians term it. The idea is then: “Do not allow us to be led into temptation.” There is a way out (1 Cor. 10:13), but it is a terrible risk.

From the evil one (ἀπο του πονηρου [apo tou ponērou]). The ablative case in the Greek obscures the gender. We have no way of knowing whether it is ὁ πονηρος [ho ponēros] (the evil one) or το πονηρον [to ponēron] (the evil thing). And if it is masculine and so ὁ πονηρος [ho ponēros], it can either refer to the devil as the Evil One par excellence or the evil man whoever he may be who seeks to do us ill. The word πονηρος [ponēros] has a curious history coming from πονος [ponos] (toil) and πονεω [poneō] (to work). It reflects the idea either that work is bad or that this particular work is bad and so the bad idea drives out the good in work or toil, an example of human depravity surely.

The Doxology is placed in the margin of the Revised Version. It is wanting in the oldest and best Greek manuscripts. The earliest forms vary very much, some shorter, some longer than the one in the Authorized Version. The use of a doxology arose when this prayer began to be used as a liturgy to be recited or to be chanted in public worship. It was not an original part of the Model Prayer as given by Jesus.

Matthew 6:14

Trespasses (παραπτωματα [paraptōmata]). This is no part of the Model Prayer. The word “trespass” is literally “falling to one side,” a lapse or deviation from truth or uprightness. The ancients sometimes used it of intentional falling or attack upon one’s enemy, but “slip” or “fault” (Gal. 6:1) is the common New Testament idea. Παραβασις [Parabasis] (Rom. 5:14) is a positive violation, a transgression, conscious stepping aside or across.

Matthew 6:16

Of a sad countenance (σκυθρωποι [skuthrōpoi]). Only here and Luke 24:17 in the N. T. It is a compound of σκυθρος [skuthros] (sullen) and ὀψ [ops] (countenance). These actors or hypocrites “put on a gloomy look” (Goodspeed) and, if necessary, even “disfigure their faces” (ἀφανιζουσιν τα προσωπα αὐτων [aphanizousin ta prosōpa autōn]), that they may look like they are fasting. It is this pretence of piety that Jesus so sharply ridicules. There is a play on the Greek words ἀφανιζουσι [aphanizousi] (disfigure) and φανωσιν [phanōsin] (figure). They conceal their real looks that they may seem to be fasting, conscious and pretentious hypocrisy.

Matthew 6:18

In secret (ἐν τῳ κρυφαιῳ [en tōi kruphaiōi]). Here as in 6:4 and 6 the Textus Receptus adds ἐν τῳ φανερῳ [en tōi phanerōi] (openly), but it is not genuine. The word κρυφαιος [kruphaios] is here alone in the New Testament, but occurs four times in the Septuagint.

Matthew 6:19

Lay not up for yourselves treasures (μη θησαυριζετε ὑμιν θησαυρους [mē thēsaurizete humin thēsaurous]). Do not have this habit (μη [] and the present imperative). See on Matt. 2:11 for the word “treasure.” Here there is a play on the word, “treasure not for yourselves treasures.” Same play in verse 20 with the cognate accusative. In both verses ὑμιν [humin] is dative of personal interest and is not reflexive, but the ordinary personal pronoun. Wycliff has it: “Do not treasure to you treasures.” Break through (διορυσσουσιν [diorussousin]). Literally “dig through.” Easy to do through the mud walls or sun-dried bricks. Today they can pierce steel safes that are no longer safe even if a foot thick. The Greeks called a burglar a “mud-digger” (τοιχορυχος [toichoruchos]).

Matthew 6:20

Rust (βρωσις [brōsis]). Something that “eats” (βιβρωσκω [bibrōskō]) or “gnaws” or “corrodes.”

Matthew 6:22

Single (ἁπλους [haplous]). Used of a marriage contract when the husband is to repay the dowry “pure and simple” (την φερνην ἁπλην [tēn phernēn haplēn]), if she is set free; but in case he does not do so promptly, he is to add interest also (Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary, etc.). There are various other instances of such usage. Here and in Luke 11:34 the eye is called “single” in a moral sense. The word means “without folds” like a piece of cloth unfolded, simplex in Latin. Bruce considers this parable of the eye difficult. “The figure and the ethical meaning seem to be mixed up, moral attributes ascribed to the physical eye which with them still gives light to the body. This confusion may be due to the fact that the eye, besides being the organ of vision, is the seat of expression, revealing inward dispositions.” The “evil” eye (πονηρος [ponēros]) may be diseased and is used of stinginess in the LXX and so ἁπλους [haplous] may refer to liberality as Hatch argues (Essays in Biblical Greek, p. 80). The passage may be elliptical with something to be supplied. If our eyes are healthy we see clearly and with a single focus (without astigmatism). If the eyes are diseased (bad, evil), they may even be cross-eyed or cock-eyed. We see double and confuse our vision. We keep one eye on the hoarded treasures of earth and roll the other proudly up to heaven. Seeing double is double-mindedness as is shown in verse 24.

Matthew 6:24

No man can serve two masters (οὐδεις δυναται δυσι κυριοις δουλευειν [oudeis dunatai dusi kuriois douleuein]). Many try it, but failure awaits them all. Men even try “to be slaves to God and mammon” (Θεῳ δουλευειν και μαμωνᾳ [Theōi douleuein kai mamōnāi]). Mammon is a Chaldee, Syriac, and Punic word like Plutus for the money-god (or devil). The slave of mammon will obey mammon while pretending to obey God. The United States has had a terrible revelation of the power of the money-god in public life in the Sinclair-Fall-Teapot-Air-Dome-Oil case. When the guide is blind and leads the blind, both fall into the ditch. The man who cannot tell road from ditch sees falsely as Ruskin shows in Modern Painters. He will hold to one (ἑνος ἀνθεξεται [henos anthexetai]). The word means to line up face to face (ἀντι [anti]) with one man and so against the other.

Matthew 6:25

Be not anxious for your life (μη μεριμνατε τῃ ψυχῃ ὑμων [mē merimnate tēi psuchēi hūmōn]). This is as good a translation as the Authorized Version was poor; “Take no thought for your life.” The old English word “thought” meant anxiety or worry as Shakespeare says:

“The native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”

Vincent quotes Bacon (Henry VII): “Harris, an alderman of London, was put in trouble and died with thought and anguish.” But words change with time and now this passage is actually quoted (Lightfoot) “as an objection to the moral teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, on the ground that it encouraged, nay, commanded, a reckless neglect of the future.” We have narrowed the word to mere planning without any notion of anxiety which is in the Greek word. The verb μεριμναω [merimnaō] is from μερις, μεριζω [meris, merizō], because care or anxiety distracts and divides. It occurs in Christ’s rebuke to Martha for her excessive solicitude about something to eat (Luke 10:41). The notion of proper care and forethought appears in 1 Cor. 7:32; 12:25; Phil. 2:20. It is here the present imperative with the negative, a command not to have the habit of petulant worry about food and clothing, a source of anxiety to many housewives, a word for women especially as the command not to worship mammon may be called a word for men. The command can mean that they must stop such worry if already indulging in it. In verse 31 Jesus repeats the prohibition with the ingressive aorist subjunctive: “Do not become anxious,” “Do not grow anxious.” Here the direct question with the deliberative subjunctive occurs with each verb (φαγωμεν, πιωμεν, περιβαλωμεθα [phagōmen, piōmen, peribalōmetha]). This deliberative subjunctive of the direct question is retained in the indirect question employed in verse 25. A different verb for clothing occurs, both in the indirect middle (περιβαλωμεθα [peribalōmetha], fling round ourselves in 31, ἐνδυσησθε [endusēsthe], put on yourselves in 25). For your life (τῃ ψυχῃ [tēi psuchēi]). “Here ψυχῃ [psuchēi] stands for the life principle common to man and beast, which is embodied in the σωμα [sōma]: the former needs food, the latter clothing” (McNeile). Ψυχη [Psuchē] in the Synoptic Gospels occurs in three senses (McNeile): either the life principle in the body as here and which man may kill (Mark 3:4) or the seat of the thoughts and emotions on a par with καρδια [kardia] and διανοια [dianoia] (Matt. 22:37) and πνευμα [pneuma] (Luke 1:46; cf. John 12:27 and 13:21) or something higher that makes up the real self (Matt. 10:28; 16:26). In Matt. 16:25 (Luke 9:25) ψυχη [psuchē] appears in two senses paradoxical use, saving life and losing it.

Matthew 6:27

Unto his stature (ἐπι την ἡλικιαν αὐτου [epi tēn hēlikian autou]). The word ἡλικιαν [hēlikian] is used either of height (stature) or length of life (age). Either makes good sense here, though probably “stature” suits the context best. Certainly anxiety will not help either kind of growth, but rather hinder by auto-intoxication if nothing more. This is no plea for idleness, for even the birds are diligent and the flowers grow.

Matthew 6:28

The lilies of the field (τα κρινα του ἀγρου [ta krina tou agrou]). The word may include other wild flowers besides lilies, blossoms like anemones, poppies, gladioli, irises (McNeile).

Matthew 6:29

Was not arrayed (οὐδε περιεβαλετο [oude periebaleto]). Middle voice and so “did not clothe himself,” “did not put around himself.”

Matthew 6:30

The grass of the field (τον χορτον του ἀγρου [ton chorton tou agrou]). The common grass of the field. This heightens the comparison.

Matthew 6:33

First his kingdom (πρωτον την βασιλειαν [prōton tēn basileian]). This in answer to those who see in the Sermon on the Mount only ethical comments. Jesus in the Beatitudes drew the picture of the man with the new heart. Here he places the Kingdom of God and his righteousness before temporal blessings (food and clothing).

Matthew 6:34

For the morrow (εἰς τεν αὐριον [eis ten aurion]). The last resort of the anxious soul when all other fears are allayed. The ghost of tomorrow stalks out with all its hobgoblins of doubt and distrust.

Chapter 7

Matthew 7:1

Judge not (μη κρινετε [mē krinete]). The habit of censoriousness, sharp, unjust criticism. Our word critic is from this very word. It means to separate, distinguish, discriminate. That is necessary, but pre-judice (prejudgment) is unfair, captious criticism.

Matthew 7:3

The mote (το καρφος [to karphos]). Not dust, but a piece of dried wood or chaff, splinter (Weymouth, Moffatt), speck (Goodspeed), a very small particle that may irritate. The beam (την δοκον [tēn dokon]). A log on which planks in the house rest (so papyri), joist, rafter, plank (Moffatt), pole sticking out grotesquely. Probably a current proverb quoted by Jesus like our people in glass houses throwing stones. Tholuck quotes an Arabic proverb: “How seest thou the splinter in thy brother’s eye, and seest not the cross-beam in thine eye?”

Matthew 7:5

Shalt thou see clearly (διαβλεψεις [diablepseis]). Only here and Luke 6:42 and Mark 8:25 in the New Testament. Look through, penetrate in contrast to βλεπεις [blepeis], to gaze at, in verse 3. Get the log out of your eye and you will see clearly how to help the brother get the splinter out (ἐκβαλειν [ekbalein]) of his eye.

Matthew 7:6

That which is holy unto the dogs (το ἁγιον τοις κυσιν [to hagion tois kusin]). It is not clear to what “the holy” refers, to ear-rings or to amulets, but that would not appeal to dogs. Trench (Sermon on the Mount, p. 136) says that the reference is to meat offered in sacrifice that must not be flung to dogs: “It is not that the dogs would not eat it, for it would be welcome to them; but that it would be a profanation to give it to them, thus to make it a σκυβαλον [skubalon], Ex. 22:31.” The yelping dogs would jump at it. Dogs are kin to wolves and infest the streets of oriental cities. Your pearls before the swine (τους μαργαριτας ὑμων ἐμπροσθεν των χοιρων [tous margaritas hūmōn emprosthen tōn choirōn]). The word pearl we have in the name Margarita (Margaret). Pearls look a bit like peas or acorns and would deceive the hogs until they discovered the deception. The wild boars haunt the Jordan Valley still and are not far removed from bears as they trample with their feet and rend with their tusks those who have angered them.

Matthew 7:9

Loaf—stone (ἀρτον—λιθον [arton—lithon]). Some stones look like loaves of bread. So the devil suggested that Jesus make loaves out of stones (Matt. 4:3).

Matthew 7:10

Fish—serpent (ἰχθυν—ὀφιν [ichthun—ophin]). Fish, common article of food, and water-snakes could easily be substituted. Anacoluthon in this sentence in the Greek.

Matthew 7:11

How much more (ποσῳ μαλλον [posōi mallon]). Jesus is fond of the a fortiori argument.

Matthew 7:12

That men should do unto you (ἱνα ποιωσιν ὑμν οἱ ἀνθρωποι [hina poiōsin hūmn hoi anthrōpoi]). Luke (6:31) puts the Golden Rule parallel with Matt. 5:42. The negative form is in Tobit 4:15. It was used by Hillel, Philo, Isocrates, Confucius. “The Golden Rule is the distilled essence of that ‘fulfilment’ (5:17) which is taught in the sermon” (McNeile). Jesus puts it in positive form.

Matthew 7:13

By the narrow gate (δια της στενης πυλης [dia tēs stenēs pulēs]). The Authorized Version “at the strait gate” misled those who did not distinguish between “strait” and “straight.” The figure of the Two Ways had a wide circulation in Jewish and Christian writings (cf. Deut. 30:19; Jer. 21:8; Psa. 1). See the Didache i–vi; Barnabas xviii–xx. “The narrow gate” is repeated in verse 14 and straitened the way (τεθλιμμενη ἡ ὁδος [tethlimmenē hē hodos]) added. The way is “compressed,” narrowed as in a defile between high rocks, a tight place like στενοχωρια [stenochōria] in Rom. 8:35. “The way that leads to life involves straits and afflictions” (McNeile). Vincent quotes the Πιναξ [Pinax] or Tablet of Cebes, a contemporary of Socrates: “Seest thou not, then, a little door, and a way before the door, which is not much crowded, but very few travel it? This is the way that leadeth unto true culture.” “The broad way” (εὐρυχωρος [euruchōros]) is in every city, town, village, with the glaring white lights that lure to destruction.

Matthew 7:15

False prophets (των ψευδοπροφητων [tōn pseudoprophētōn]). There were false prophets in the time of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus will predict “false Messiahs and false prophets” (Matt. 24:24) who will lead many astray. They came in due time posing as angels of light like Satan, Judaizers (2 Cor. 11:13ff.) and Gnostics (1 John 4:1; 1 Tim. 4:1). Already false prophets were on hand when Jesus spoke on this occasion (cf. Acts 13:6; 2 Pet. 2:1). In outward appearance they look like sheep in the sheep’s clothing which they wear, but within they are “ravening wolves” (λυκοι ἁρπαγες [lukoi harpages]), greedy for power, gain, self. It is a tragedy that such men and women reappear through the ages and always find victims. Wolves are more dangerous than dogs and hogs.

Matthew 7:16 and 20

By their fruits ye shall know them (ἀπο των καρπων αὐτων ἐπιγνωσεσθε [apo tōn karpōn autōn epignōsesthe]). “From their fruits you will recognize them.” The verb “know” (γινωσκω [ginōskō]) has ἐπι [epi] added, fully know. The illustrations from the trees and vines have many parallels in ancient writers.

Matthew 7:21

Not—but (οὐ—ἀλλʼ [ou—all’]). Sharp contrast between the mere talker and the doer of God’s will.

Matthew 7:22

Did we not prophesy in thy name? (οὐ τῳ σῳ ὀνοματι ἐπροφητευσαμεν; [ou tōi sōi onomati eprophēteusamen?]). The use of οὐ [ou] in the question expects the affirmative answer. They claim to have prophesied (preached) in Christ’s name and to have done many miracles. But Jesus will tear off the sheepskin and lay bare the ravening wolf. “I never knew you” (οὐδεποτε ἐγνων ὑμας [oudepote egnōn hūmās]). “I was never acquainted with you” (experimental knowledge). Success, as the world counts it, is not a criterion of one’s knowledge of Christ and relation to him. “I will profess unto them” (ὁμολογησω αὐτοις [homologēsō autois]), the very word used of profession of Christ before men (Matt. 10:32). This word Jesus will use for public and open announcement of their doom.

Matthew 7:24

And doeth them (και ποιει αὐτους [kai poiei autous]). That is the point in the parable of the wise builder, “who digged and went deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock” (Luke 6:48).

Matthew 7:25

Was founded (τεθεμελιωτο [tethemeliōto]). Past perfect indicative passive state of completion in the past. It had been built upon the rock and it stood. No augment.

Matthew 7:26

And doeth them not (και μη ποιων αὐτους [kai mē poiōn autous]). The foolish builder put his house on the sands that could not hold in the storm. One is reminded of the words of Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon in 5:19 about the one “who does and teaches.” Hearing sermons is a dangerous business if one does not put them into practice.

Matthew 7:28

The multitudes were astonished (ἐξεπλησσοντο οἱ ὀχλοι [exeplēssonto hoi ochloi]). They listened spell-bound to the end and were left amazed. Note the imperfect tense, a buzz of astonishment. The verb means literally “were struck out of themselves.”

Matthew 7:29

And not as their scribes (και οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεις αὐτων [kai ouch hōs hoi grammateis autōn]). They had heard many sermons before from the regular rabbis in the synagogues. We have specimens of these discourses preserved in the Mishna and Gemara, the Jewish Talmud when both were completed, the driest, dullest collection of disjounted comments upon every conceivable problem in the history of mankind. The scribes quoted the rabbis before them and were afraid to express an idea without bolstering it up by some predecessor. Jesus spoke with the authority of truth, the reality and freshness of the morning light, and the power of God’s Spirit. This sermon which made such a profound impression ended with the tragedy of the fall of the house on the sand like the crash of a giant oak in the forest. There was no smoothing over the outcome.

Chapter 8

Matthew 8:2

If thou wilt (ἐαν θελῃς [ean thelēis]). The leper knew that Jesus had the power to heal him. His doubt was about his willingness. “Men more easily believe in miraculous power than in miraculous love” (Bruce). This is a condition of the third class (undetermined, but with prospect of being determined), a hopeful doubt at any rate. Jesus accepted his challenge by “I will.” The command to “tell no one” was to suppress excitement and prevent hostility.

Matthew 8:5

Unto him (αὐτῳ [autōi]). Dative in spite of the genitive absolute εἰσελθοντος αὐτου [eiselthontos autou] as in verse 1, a not infrequent Greek idiom, especially in the Koiné.

Matthew 8:6

Grievously tormented (δεινως βασανιζομενος [deinōs basanizomenos]). Participle present passive from root βασανος [basanos] (see on Matt. 4:24). The boy (παις [pais]), slave (δουλος [doulos], Luke 7:2), was a bedridden (βεβληται [beblētai], perfect passive indicative of βαλλω [ballō]) paralytic.

Matthew 8:7

I will come and heal him (ἐγω ἐλθων θεραπευσω αὐτον [egō elthōn therapeusō auton]). Future indicative, not deliberative subjunctive in question (McNeile). The word here for heal (θεραπευσω [therapeusō]) means first to serve, give medical attention, then cure, restore to health. The centurion uses the more definite word for healing (ἰαθησεται [iathēsetai] 8:8) as Matthew does in 8:13 (ἰαθη [iathē]). Luke (9:11), like a physician, says that Jesus healed (ἰατο [iato]) those in need of treatment (θεραπειας [therapeias]), but the distinction is not always observed. In Acts 28:8 Luke uses ἰασατο [iasato] of the miraculous healings in Malta by Paul while he employs ἐθεραπευοντο [etherapeuonto] (Acts 28:9) apparently of the practice of Luke the physician (so W. M. Ramsay). Matthew represents the centurion himself as speaking to Jesus while Luke has it that two committees from the centurion brought the messages, apparently a more detailed narrative. What one does through others he does himself as Pilate “scourged Jesus” (had him scourged).

Matthew 8:9

For I also am a man under authority (και γαρ ἐγω ἀνθρωπος ὑπο ἐξουσιαν [kai gar egō anthrōpos hupo exousian]). “Also” is in the text, though the και [kai] here may mean “even,” even I in my subordinate position have soldiers under me. As a military man he had learned obedience to his superiors and so expected obedience to his commands, instant obedience (aorist imperatives and aoristic present indicatives). Hence his faith in Christ’s power over the illness of the boy even without coming. Jesus had only to speak with a word (8:8), say the word, and it would be done.

Matthew 8:10

So great faith (τοσαυτην πιστιν [tosautēn pistin]). In a Roman centurion and greater than in any of the Jews. In like manner Jesus marvelled at the great faith of the Canaanitish woman (Matt. 15:28).

Matthew 8:11

Sit down (ἀνακλιθησονται [anaklithēsontai]). Recline at table on couches as Jews and Romans did. Hence Leonardo da Vinci’s famous picture of the Last Supper is an anachronism with all seated at table in modern style.

Matthew 8:12

The sons of the kingdom (οἱ υἱοι της βασιλειας [hoi huioi tēs basileias]). A favourite Hebrew idiom like “son of hell” (Matt. 23:15), “sons of this age” (Luke 16:8). The Jews felt that they had a natural right to the privileges of the kingdom because of descent from Abraham (Matt. 3:9). But mere natural birth did not bring spiritual sonship as the Baptist had taught before Jesus did.

Into the outer darkness (εἰς το σκοτος το ἐξωτερον [eis to skotos to exōteron]). Comparative adjective like our “further out,” the darkness outside the limits of the lighted palace, one of the figures for hell or punishment (Matt. 23:13; 25:30). The repeated article makes it bolder and more impressive, “the darkness the outside,” there where the wailing and gnashing of teeth is heard in the thick blackness of night.

Matthew 8:14

Lying sick of a fever (βιβλημενην και πυρεσσουσαν [biblēmenēn kai puressousan]). Two participles, bedridden (perfect passive of βαλλω [ballō]) and burning with fever (present active). How long the fever had had her we have no means of knowing, possibly a sudden and severe attack (Mark 1:30), as they tell Jesus about her on reaching the house of Peter. We are not told what kind of fever it was. Fever itself was considered a disease. “Fever” is from German feuer (fire) like the Greek πυρ [pur].

Matthew 8:15

Touched her hand (ἡψατο της χειρος αὐτης [hēpsato tēs cheiros autēs]). In loving sympathy as the Great Physician and like any good doctor today.

Ministered (διηκονει [diēkonei]). “Began to minister” (conative imperfect) at once to Jesus at table in gratitude and love.

Matthew 8:16

When even was come (ὀψιας γενομενης [opsias genomenēs]). Genitive absolute. A beautiful sunset scene at the close of the Sabbath day (Mark 1:21). Then the crowds came as Jesus stood in the door of Peter’s house (Mark 1:33; Matt. 8:14) as all the city gathered there with the sick, “all those who had it bad” (see on Matt. 4:24) and he healed them “with a word” (λογῳ [logōi]). It was a never to be forgotten memory for those who saw it.

Matthew 8:17

Himself took our infirmities and bare our diseases (αὐτος τας ἀσθενειας ἐλαβεν και τας νοσους ἐβαστασεν [autos tas astheneias elaben kai tas nosous ebastasen]). A quotation from Isa. 53:4. It is not clear in what sense Matthew applies the words in Isaiah whether in the precise sense of the Hebrew or in an independent manner. Moffatt translates it: “He took away our sicknesses, and bore the burden of our diseases.” Goodspeed puts it: “He took our sickness and carried away our diseases.” Deissmann (Bible Studies, pp. 102f.) thinks that Matthew has made a free interpretation of the Hebrew, has discarded the translation of the Septuagint, and has transposed the two Hebrew verbs so that Matthew means: “He took upon himself our pains, and bore our diseases.” Plummer holds that “It is impossible, and also unnecessary, to understand what the Evangelist understood by ‘took’ (ἐλαβεν [elaben]) and ‘bare’ (ἐβαστασεν [ebastasen]). It at least must mean that Christ removed their sufferings from the sufferers. He can hardly have meant that the diseases were transferred to Christ.” Βασταζω [Bastazō] occurs freely in the papyri with the sense of lift, carry, endure, carry away (the commonest meaning, Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary), pilfer. In Matt. 3:11 we have the common vernacular use to take off sandals. The Attic Greek did not use it in the sense of carrying off. “This passage is the cornerstone of the faith-cure theory, which claims that the atonement of Christ includes provision for bodily no less than for spiritual healing, and therefore insists on translating ‘took away’ ” (Vincent). We have seen that the word βασταζω [bastazō] will possibly allow that meaning, but I agree with McNeile: “The passage, as Mt. employs it, has no bearing on the doctrine of the atonement.” But Jesus does show his sympathy with us. “Christ’s sympathy with the sufferers was so intense that he really felt their weaknesses and pains.” In our burdens Jesus steps under the load with us and helps us to carry on.

Matthew 8:19

A scribe (εἱς γραμματευς [heis grammateus]). One (εἱς [heis])=”a,” indefinite article. Already a disciple as shown by “another of the disciples” (ἑτερος των μαθητων [heteros tōn mathētōn]) in 8:21. He calls Jesus “Teacher” (διδασκαλε [didaskale]), but he seems to be a “bumptious” brother full of self-confidence and self-complacency. “Even one of that most unimpressionable class, in spirit and tendency utterly opposed to the ways of Jesus” (Bruce). Yet Jesus deals gently with him.

Matthew 8:20

Holes (φωλεους [phōleous]). A lurking hole, burrow. Nests (κατασκηνωσεις [kataskēnōseis]). “Roosts, i.e. leafy, σκηναι [skēnai] for settling at night (tabernacula, habitacula), not nests” (McNeile). In the Septuagint it is used of God tabernacling in the Sanctuary. The verb (κατασκηνοω [kataskēnoō]) is there used of birds (Psa. 103:12).

The Son of man (θο υἱος του ἀνθρωπου [tho huios tou anthrōpou]). This remarkable expression, applied to himself by Jesus so often, appears here for the first time. There is a considerable modern literature devoted to it. “It means much for the Speaker, who has chosen it deliberately, in connection with private reflections, at whose nature we can only guess, by study of the many occasions on which the name is used” (Bruce). Often it means the Representative Man. It may sometimes stand for the Aramaic barnasha, the man, but in most instances that idea will not suit. Jesus uses it as a concealed Messianic title. It is possible that this scribe would not understand the phrase at all. Bruce thinks that here Jesus means “the unprivileged Man,” worse off than the foxes and the birds. Jesus spoke Greek as well as Aramaic. It is inconceivable that the Gospels should never call Jesus “the Son of man” and always credit it to him as his own words if he did not so term himself, about eighty times in all, thirty-three in Matthew. Jesus in his early ministry, except at the very start in John 4, abstains from calling himself Messiah. This term suited his purpose exactly to get the people used to his special claim as Messiah when he is ready to make it openly.

Matthew 8:21

And bury my father (και θαψαι τον πατερα μου [kai thapsai ton patera mou]). The first man was an enthusiast. This one is overcautious. It is by no means certain that the father was dead. Tobit urged his son Tobias to be sure to bury him: “Son, when I am dead, bury me” (Tobit 4:3). The probability is that this disciple means that, after his father is dead and buried, he will then be free to follow Jesus. “At the present day, an Oriental, with his father sitting by his side, has been known to say respecting his future projects: ‘But I must first bury my father!’ ” (Plummer). Jesus wanted first things first. But even if his father was not actually dead, service to Christ comes first.

Matthew 8:22

Leave the dead to bury their own dead (ἀφες τους νεκρους θαψαι τους ἑαυτων νεκρους [aphes tous nekrous thapsai tous heautōn nekrous]). The spiritually dead are always on hand to bury the physically dead, if one’s real duty is with Jesus. Chrysostom says that, while it is a good deed to bury the dead, it is a better one to preach Christ.

Matthew 8:24

But he was asleep (αὐτος δε ἐκαθευδεν [autos de ekatheuden]). Imperfect, was sleeping. Picturesque scene. The Sea of Galilee is 680 feet below the Mediterranean Sea. These sudden squalls come down from the summit of Hermon with terrific force (σεισμος μεγας [seismos megas]) like an earthquake. Mark (4:37) and Luke (8:23) term it a whirlwind (λαιλαψ [lailaps]) in furious gusts.

Matthew 8:25

Save, Lord; we perish (Κυριε, σωσον, ἀπολλυμεθα [Kurie, sōson, apollumetha]). More exactly, “Lord, save us at once (aorist), we are perishing (present linear).”

Matthew 8:27

Even the winds and the sea obey him (Και οἱ ἀνημοι και ἡ θαλασσα αὐτῳ ὑπακουουσιν [Kai hoi anēmoi kai hē thalassa autōi hupakouousin]). A nature miracle. Even a sudden drop in the wind would not at once calm the sea. “J. Weiss explains that by ‘an astonishing coincidence’ the storm happened to lull at the moment that Jesus spoke!” (McNeile). Some minds are easily satisfied by their own stupidities.

Matthew 8:28

The country of the Gadarenes (τεν χωραν των Γαδαρηνων [ten chōran tōn Gadarēnōn]). This is the correct text in Matthew while in Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26 it is “the country of the Gerasenes.” Dr. Thomson discovered by the lake the ruins of Khersa (Gerasa). This village is in the district of the city of Gadara some miles southeastward so that it can be called after Gerasa or Gadara. So Matthew speaks of “two demoniacs” while Mark and Luke mention only one, the leading one. “The tombs” (των μνημειων [tōn mnēmeiōn]) were chambers cut into the mountain side common enough in Palestine then and now. On the eastern side of the lake the precipitous cliffs are of limestone formation and full of caves. It is one of the proofs that one is a maniac that he haunts the tombs. People shunned the region as dangerous because of the madmen.

Matthew 8:29

Thou Son of God (υἱε του θεου [huie tou theou]). The recognition of Jesus by the demons is surprising. The whole subject of demonology is difficult. Some hold that it is merely the ancient way of describing disease. But that does not explain the situation here. Jesus is represented as treating the demons as real existences separate from the human personality. Missionaries in China today claim that they have seen demons cast out. The devil knew Jesus clearly and it is not strange that Jesus was recognized by the devil’s agents. They know that there is nothing in common between them and the Son of God (ἡμιν και σοι [hēmin kai soi], ethical dative) and they fear torment “before the time” (προ καιρου [pro kairou]). Usually τα δαιμονια [ta daimonia] is the word in the New Testament for demons, but in 8:31 we have οἱ δαιμονες [hoi daimones] (the only example in the N. T.). Δαιμονιον [Daimonion] is a diminutive of δαιμων [daimōn]. In Homer δαιμων [daimōn] is used synonymously with θεος [theos] and θεα [thea]. Hesiod employed δαιμων [daimōn] of men of the golden age as tutelary deities. Homer has the adjective δαιμονιος [daimonios] usually in an evil sense. Empedocles considered the demons both bad and good. They were thus used to relieve the gods and goddesses of much rascality. Grote (History of Greece) notes that the Christians were thus by pagan usage justified in calling idolatry the worship of demons. See 1 Cor. 10:20f.; 1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 9:20; 16:13f. In the Gospels demons are the same as unclean spirits (Mark 5:12, 15; 3:22, 30; Luke 4:33). The demons are disturbers (Vincent) of the whole life of man (Mark 5:2; 7:25; Matt. 12:45; Luke 13:11, 16).

Matthew 8:32

Rushed down the steep (ὡρμησεν κατα του κρημνου [hōrmēsen kata tou krēmnou]). Down from the cliff (ablative case) into the sea. Constative aorist tense. The influence of mind on matter is now understood better than formerly, but we have the mastery of the mind of the Master on the minds of the maniacs, the power of Christ over the demons, over the herd of hogs. Difficulties in plenty exist for those who see only folk-lore and legend, but plain enough if we take Jesus to be really Lord and Saviour. The incidental destruction of the hogs need not trouble us when we are so familiar with nature’s tragedies which we cannot comprehend.

Matthew 8:34

That he would depart (ὁπως μεταβῃ [hopōs metabēi]). The whole city was excited over the destruction of the hogs and begged Jesus to leave, forgetful of the healing of the demoniacs in their concern over the loss of property. They cared more for hogs than for human souls, as often happens today.

Chapter 9

Matthew 9:1

His own city (την ἰδιαν πολιν [tēn idian polin]). Capernaum (Mark 2:1; Matt. 4:13).

Matthew 9:2

They brought (προσεφερον [prosepheron]). Imperfect, “were bringing,” graphic picture made very vivid by the details in Mark 2:1–4 and Luke 5:17. “Lying on a bed” (stretched on a couch), perfect passive participle, a little bed or couch (κλινιδιον [klinidion]) in Luke 5:19, “a pallet” (κραβατος [krabatos]) in Mark 2:4, 9, 11. Thy sins are forgiven (ἀφιενται [aphientai]). Present passive indicative (aoristic present). Luke (5:21) has ἀφεωνται [apheōntai], Doric and Ionic perfect passive indicative for the Attic ἀφεινται [apheintai], one of the dialectical forms appearing in the Koiné.

Matthew 9:3

This man blasphemeth (οὑτος βλασφημει [houtos blasphēmei]). See the sneer in “this fellow.” “The prophet always is a scandalous, irreverent blasphemer from the conventional point of view” (Bruce).

Matthew 9:6

That ye may know (ἱνα εἰδητε [hina eidēte]). Jesus accepts the challenge in the thoughts of the scribes and performs the miracle of healing the paralytic, who so far only had his sins forgiven, to prove his Messianic power on earth to forgive sins even as God does. The word ἐξουσια [exousia] may mean either power or authority. He had both as a matter of fact. Note same word in 9:8. Then saith he to the sick of the palsy (τοτε λεγει τῳ παραλυτικῳ [tote legei tōi paralutikōi]). These words of course, were not spoken by Jesus. Curiously enough Matthew interjects them right in the midst of the sayings of Jesus in reply to the scorn of the scribes. Still more remarkable is the fact that Mark (2:10) has precisely the same words in the same place save that Matthew has added τοτε [tote], of which he is fond, to what Mark already had. Mark, as we know, largely reports Peter’s words and sees with Peter’s eyes. Luke has the same idea in the same place without the vivid historical present λεγει (ειπεν τῳ παραλελυμενῳ) [legei (eipen tōi paralelumenōi)] with the participle in place of the adjective. This is one of the many proofs that both Matthew and Luke made use of Mark’s Gospel each in his own way. Take up thy bed (ἀρον σου την κλινην [āron sou tēn klinēn]). Pack up at once (aorist active imperative) the rolled-up pallet.

Matthew 9:9

At the place of toll (ἐπι το τελωνιον [epi to telōnion]). The tax-office or custom-house of Capernaum placed here to collect taxes from the boats going across the lake outside of Herod’s territory or from people going from Damascus to the coast, a regular caravan route. “Called Matthew” (Μαθθαιον λεγομενον [Maththaion legomenon]) and in 10:3 Matthew the publican is named as one of the Twelve Apostles. Mark (2:14) and Luke (5:27) call this man Levi. He had two names as was common, Matthew Levi. The publicans (τελωναι [telōnai]) get their name in English from the Latin publicanus (a man who did public duty), not a very accurate designation. They were detested because they practised graft. Even Gabinius the proconsul of Syria was accused by Cicero of relieving Syrians and Jews of legitimate taxes for graft. He ordered some of the tax-officers removed. Already Jesus had spoken of the publican (5:46) in a way that shows the public disfavour in which they were held.

Matthew 9:10

Publicans and sinners (τελωναι και ἁμαρτωλοι [telōnai kai hamartōloi]). Often coupled together in common scorn and in contrast with the righteous (δικαιοι [dikaioi] in 9:13). It was a strange medley at Levi’s feast (Jesus and the four fisher disciples, Nathanael and Philip; Matthew Levi and his former companions, publicans and sinners; Pharisees with their scribes or students as on-lookers; disciples of John the Baptist who were fasting at the very time that Jesus was feasting and with such a group). The Pharisees criticize sharply “your teacher” for such a social breach of “reclining” together with publicans at Levi’s feast.

Matthew 9:12

But they that are sick (ἀλλα οἱ κακως ἐχοντες [alla hoi kakōs echontes]). Probably a current proverb about the physician. As a physician of body and soul Jesus was bound to come in close touch with the social outcasts.

Matthew 9:13

But go ye and learn (πορευθεντες δε μαθετε [poreuthentes de mathete]). With biting sarcasm Jesus bids these preachers to learn the meaning of Hos. 6:6. It is repeated in Matt. 12:7. Ingressive aorist imperative (μαθετε [mathete]).

Matthew 9:14

The disciples of John (οἱ μαθηται Ἰωανου [hoi mathētai Iōanou]). One is surprised to find disciples of the Baptist in the role of critics of Christ along with the Pharisees. But John was languishing in prison and they perhaps were blaming Jesus for doing nothing about it. At any rate John would not have gone to Levi’s feast on one of the Jewish fast-days. “The strict asceticism of the Baptist (11:18) and of the Pharisaic rabbis (Luke 18:12) was imitated by their disciples” (McNeile).

Matthew 9:15

The sons of the bride-chamber (οἱ υἱοι του νυμφωνος [hoi huioi tou numphōnos]). It is a late Hebrew idiom for the wedding guests, “the friends of the bridegroom and all the sons of the bride-chamber” (Tos. Berak. ii. 10). Cf. John 2:9.

Matthew 9:16

Undressed cloth (ῥακους ἀγναφου [rhakous agnaphou]). An unfulled, raw piece of woollen cloth that will shrink when wet and tear a bigger hole than ever. A worse rent (χειρον σχισμα [cheiron schisma]). Our word “schism.” The “patch” (πληρωμα [plērōma], filling up) thus does more harm than good.

Matthew 9:17

Old wineskins (ἀσκους παλαιους [askous palaious]). Not glass “bottles” but wineskins used as bottles as is true in Palestine yet, goatskins with the rough part inside. “Our word bottle originally carried the true meaning, being a bottle of leather. In Spanish bota means a leather bottle, a boot, and a butt. In Spain wine is still brought to market in pig-skins” (Vincent). The new wine will ferment and crack the dried-up old skins. The wine is spilled (ἐκχειται [ekcheitai]), poured out.

Matthew 9:18

Is even now dead (ἀρτι ἐτελευτησεν [arti eteleutēsen]). Aorist tense with ἀρτι [arti] and so better, “just now died,” “just dead” (Moffatt). Mark (5:23) has it “at the point of death,” Luke (8:42) “lay a dying.” It is not always easy even for physicians to tell when actual death has come. Jesus in 9:24 pointedly said, “The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth,” meaning that she did not die to stay dead.

Matthew 9:20

The border of his garment (του κρασπεδου του ἱματιου [tou kraspedou tou himatiou]). The hem or fringe of a garment, a tassel or tuft hanging from the edge of the outer garment according to Numbers 15:38. It was made of twisted wool. Jesus wore the dress of other people with these fringes at the four corners of the outer garment. The Jews actually counted the words Jehovah One from the numbers of the twisted white threads, a refinement that Jesus had no concern for. This poor woman had an element of superstition in her faith as many people have, but Jesus honours her faith and cures her.

Matthew 9:23

The flute-players (τους αὐλητας [tous aulētas]). The girl was just dead, but already a crowd “making a tumult” (θορυβουμενον [thoruboumenon]) with wild wailing and screaming had gathered in the outer court, “brought together by various motives, sympathy, money, desire to share in the meat and drink going at such a time” (Bruce). Besides the several flute-players (voluntary or hired) there were probably “some hired mourning women (Jer. 9:17) praeficae, whose duty it was to sing naenia in praise of the dead” (Bruce). These when put out by Jesus, “laughed him to scorn” (κατεγελων [kategelōn]), in a sort of loud and repeated (imperfect) guffaw of scorn. Jesus overcame all this repellent environment.

Matthew 9:27

As Jesus passed by (παραγοντι Ἰησου [paragonti Iēsou]). Associative instrumental case with ἠκολουθησαν [ēkolouthēsan]. It was the supreme opportunity of these two blind men. Note two demoniacs in Matt. 8:28 and two blind men in Matt. 20:30. See the same word παραγων [paragōn] used of Jesus in 9:9.

Matthew 9:29

Touched their eyes (ἡψατο των ὀφθαλμων [hēpsato tōn ophthalmōn]). The men had faith (9:28) and Jesus rewards their faith and yet he touched their eyes as he sometimes did with kindly sympathy.

Matthew 9:30

Were opened (ἠνεῳχθησαν [ēneōichthēsan]). Triple augment (on οι = ῳ, ε [oi = ōi, e] and then on preposition ἀν=ην [an=ēn]). Strictly charged them (ἐνεβριμηθη αὐτοις [enebrimēthē autois]). A difficult word, compound of ἐν [en] and βριμαομαι [brimaomai] (to be moved with anger). It is used of horses snorting (Aeschylus, Theb. 461), of men fretting or being angry (Dan. 11:30). Allen notes that it occurs twice in Mark (1:43; 14:5) when Matthew omits it. It is found only here in Matthew. John has it twice in a different sense (John 11:33 with ἐν ἑαυτῳ [en heautōi]). Here and in Mark 1:32 it has the notion of commanding sternly, a sense unknown to ancient writers. Most manuscripts have the middle ἐνεβριμησατο [enebrimēsato], but Aleph and B have the passive ἐνεβριμηθη [enebrimēthē] which Westcott and Hort accept, but without the passive sense (cf. ἀπεκριθη [apekrithē]). “The word describes rather a rush of deep feeling which in the synoptic passages showed itself in a vehement injunctive and in John 11:33 in look and manner” (McNeile). Bruce translates Euthymius Zigabenus on Mark 1:32: “Looked severely, contracting His eyebrows, and shaking His head at them as they are wont to do who wish to make sure that secrets will be kept.” “See to it, let no one know it” (ὁρατε, μηδεις γινωσκετω [horate, mēdeis ginōsketō]). Note elliptical change of persons and number in the two imperatives.

Matthew 9:32

A dumb man (κωφον [kōphon]). Literally blunted in tongue as here and so dumb, in ear as in Matt. 11:5 and so deaf. Homer used it of a blunted dart (Iliad xi. 390). Others applied it to mental dulness.

Matthew 9:34

By the prince of the devils (ἐν τῳ ἀρχοντι των δαιμονιων [en tōi archonti tōn daimoniōn]). Demons, not devils. The codex Bezae omits this verse, but it is probably genuine. The Pharisees are becoming desperate and, unable to deny the reality of the miracles, they seek to discredit them by trying to connect Jesus with the devil himself, the prince of the demons. They will renew this charge later (Matt. 12:24) when Jesus will refute it with biting sarcasm.

Matthew 9:35

And Jesus went about (και περιηγεν ὁ Ἰησους [kai periēgen ho Iēsous]). Imperfect tense descriptive of this third tour of all Galilee.

Matthew 9:36

Were distressed and scattered (ἠσαν ἐσκυλμενοι και ἐριμμενοι [ēsan eskulmenoi kai erimmenoi]). Periphrastic past perfect indicative passive. A sad and pitiful state the crowds were in. Rent or mangled as if by wild beasts. Σκυλλω [Skullō] occurs in the papyri in sense of plunder, concern, vexation. “Used here of the common people, it describes their religious condition. They were harassed, importuned, bewildered by those who should have taught them; hindered from entering into the kingdom of heaven (23:13), laden with the burdens which the Pharisees laid upon them (23:3). Ἐριμμενοι [Erimmenoi] denotes men cast down and prostrate on the ground, whether from drunkenness, Polyb. v. 48.2, or from mortal wounds” (Allen): This perfect passive participle from ῥιπτω [rhiptō], to throw down. The masses were in a state of mental dejection. No wonder that Jesus was moved with compassion (ἐσπλαγχνισθη [esplagchnisthē]).

Matthew 9:38

That he send forth labourers (ὁπως ἐκβαλῃ ἐργατας [hopōs ekbalēi ergatas]). Jesus turns from the figure of the shepherdless sheep to the harvest field ripe and ready for the reapers. The verb ἐκβαλλω [ekballō] really means to drive out, to push out, to draw out with violence or without. Prayer is the remedy offered by Jesus in this crisis for a larger ministerial supply. How seldom do we hear prayers for more preachers. Sometimes God literally has to push or force a man into the ministry who resists his known duty.

Chapter 10

Matthew 10:1

His twelve disciples (τους δωδεκα μαθητας αὐτου [tous dōdeka mathētas autou]). First mention of the group of “learners” by Matthew and assumed as already in existence (note the article) as they were (Mark 3:14). They were chosen before the Sermon on the Mount was delivered, but Matthew did not mention it in connection with that sermon.

Gave them authority (ἐδωκεν αὐτοις ἐξουσιαν [edōken autois exousian]). “Power” (Moffatt, Goodspeed). One may be surprised that here only the healing work is mentioned, though Luke (9:2) has it “to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” And Matthew says (10:7), “And as ye go, preach.” Hence it is not fair to say that Matthew knows only the charge to heal the sick, important as that is. The physical distress was great, but the spiritual even greater. Power is more likely the idea of ἐξουσια [exousia] here. This healing ministry attracted attention and did a vast deal of good. Today we have hospitals and skilled physicians and nurses, but we should not deny the power of God to bless all these agencies and to cure disease as he wills. Jesus is still the master of soul and body. But intelligent faith does not justify us in abstaining from the help of the physician who must not be confounded with the quack and the charlatan.

Matthew 10:2

The names of the twelve apostles (των δωδεκα ἀποστολων τα ὀνοματα [tōn dōdeka apostolōn ta onomata]). This is the official name (missionaries) used here by Matthew for the first time. The names are given here, but Matthew does not say that they were chosen at this time. Mark (3:13–19) and Luke (6:12–16) state that Jesus “chose” them, “appointed” them after a night of prayer in the mountain and came down with them and then delivered the Sermon (Luke 6:17). Simon heads the list (πρωτος [prōtos]) in all four lists including Acts 1:13f. He came to be first and foremost at the great Pentecost (Acts 2 and 3). The apostles disputed a number of times as to which was greatest. Judas Iscariot comes last each time save that he is absent in Acts, being already dead. Matthew calls him the betrayer (ὁ παραδιδους [ho paradidous]). Iscariot is usually explained as “man of Kerioth” down near Edom (Josh. 15:25). Philip comes fifth and James the son of Alphaeus the ninth. Bartholomew is the name for Nathanael. Thaddaeus is Judas the brother of James. Simon Zelotes is also called Simon the Canaanean (Zealous, Hebrew word). This is apparently their first preaching and healing tour without Jesus. He sends them forth by twos (Mark 6:7). Matthew names them in pairs, probably as they were sent out.

Matthew 10:5

These twelve Jesus sent forth (τουτους τους δωδεκα ἀπεστειλεν ὁ Ἰησους [toutous tous dōdeka apesteilen ho Iēsous]). The word “sent forth” (ἀπεστειλεν [apesteilen]) is the same root as “apostles.” The same word reappears in 10:16. Way of the Gentiles (ὁδον ἐθνων [hodon ethnōn]). Objective genitive, way leading to the Gentiles. This prohibition against going among the Gentiles and the Samaritans was for this special tour. They were to give the Jews the first opportunity and not to prejudice the cause at this stage. Later Jesus will order them to go and disciple all the Gentiles (Matt. 28:19).

Matthew 10:6

The lost sheep (τα προβατα τα ἀπολωλοτα [ta probata ta apolōlota]). The sheep, the lost ones. Mentioned here first by Matthew. Jesus uses it not in blame, but in pity (Bruce). Bengel notes that Jesus says “lost” more frequently than “led astray.” “If the Jewish nation could be brought to repentance the new age would dawn” (McNeile).

Matthew 10:7

As ye go, preach (πορευομενοι κηρυσσετε [poreuomenoi kērussete]). Present participle and present imperative. They were itinerant preachers on a “preaching tour,” heralds (κηρυκες [kērukes]) proclaiming good news. The summary message is the same as that of the Baptist (3:2) that first startled the country, “the kingdom of heaven has drawn nigh.” He echoed it up and down the Jordan Valley. They are to shake Galilee with it as Jesus had done (4:17). That same amazing message is needed today. But “the apprentice apostles” (Bruce) could tell not a little about the King of the Kingdom who was with them.

Matthew 10:9

Get you no gold (μη κτησησθε [mē ktēsēsthe]). It is not, “Do not possess” or “own,” but “do not acquire” or “procure” for yourselves, indirect middle aorist subjunctive. Gold, silver, brass (copper) in a descending scale (nor even bronze). In your purses (εἰς τας ζωνας ὑμων [eis tas zōnas hūmōn]). In your girdles or belts used for carrying money.

Matthew 10:10

No wallet (μη πηραν [mē pēran]). Better than “scrip.” It can be either a travelling or bread bag. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 108f.) shows that it can mean the beggar’s collecting bag as in an inscription on a monument at Kefr Hanar in Syria: “While Christianity was still young the beggar priest was making his rounds in the land of Syria on behalf of the national goddess.” Deissmann also quotes a pun in the Didaskalia=Const. Apost. 3, 6 about some itinerant widows who said that they were not so much χηραι [chērai] (spouseless) as πηραι [pērai] (pouchless). He cites also Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida III. iii. 145: “Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back, wherein he puts alms for oblivion.” For the labourer is worthy of his food (ἀξιος γαρ ὁ ἐργατης της τροφης αὐτου [axios gar ho ergatēs tēs trophēs autou]). The sermon is worth the dinner, in other words. Luke in the charge to the seventy (10:7) has the same words with μισθου [misthou] (reward) instead of τροφης [trophēs] (food). In 1 Tim. 5:18 Paul quotes Luke’s form as scripture (ἡ γραφη [hē graphē]) or as a well-known saying if confined to the first quotation. The word for workman here (ἐργατης [ergatēs]) is that used by Jesus in the prayer for labourers (Matt. 9:38). The well-known Διδαχη
[Didachē] or Teaching of the Twelve (xiii) shows that in the second century there was still a felt need for care on the subject of receiving pay for preaching. The travelling sophists added also to the embarrassment of the situation. The wisdom of these restrictions was justified in Galilee at this time. Mark (6:6–13) and Luke (9:1–6) vary slightly from Matthew in some of the details of the instructions of Jesus.

Matthew 10:13

If the house be worthy (ἐαν ᾐ ἡ οἰκια ἀξια [ean ēi hē oikia axia]). Third class condition. What makes a house worthy? “It would naturally be readiness to receive the preachers and their message” (McNeile). Hospitality is one of the noblest graces and preachers receive their share of it. The apostles are not to be burdensome as guests.

Matthew 10:14

Shake off the dust (ἐκτιναξατε τον κονιορτον [ektinaxate ton koniorton]). Shake out, a rather violent gesture of disfavour. The Jews had violent prejudices against the smallest particles of Gentile dust, not as a purveyor of disease of which they did not know, but because it was regarded as the putrescence of death. If the apostles were mistreated by a host or hostess, they were to be treated as if they were Gentiles (cf. Matt. 18:17; Acts 18:6). Here again we have a restriction that was for this special tour with its peculiar perils.

Matthew 10:15

More tolerable (ἀνεκτοτερον [anektoteron]). The papyri use this adjective of a convalescent. People in their vernacular today speak of feeling “tolerable.” The Galileans were having more privileges than Sodom and Gomorrah had.

Matthew 10:16

As sheep in the midst of wolves (ὡς προβατα ἐν μεσῳ λυκων [hōs probata en mesōi lukōn]). The presence of wolves on every hand was a fact then and now. Some of these very sheep (10:6) at the end will turn out to be wolves and cry for Christ’s crucifixion. The situation called for consummate wisdom and courage. The serpent was the emblem of wisdom or shrewdness, intellectual keenness (Gen. 3:1; Psa. 58:5), the dove of simplicity (Hosea 7:11). It was a proverb, this combination, but one difficult of realization. Either without the other is bad (rascality or gullibility). The first clause with ἀρνας [arnas] for προβατα [probata] is in Luke 10:3 and apparently is in a Fragment of a Lost Gospel edited by Grenfell and Hunt. The combination of wariness and innocence is necessary for the protection of the sheep and the discomfiture of the wolves. For “harmless” (ἀκεραιοι [akeraioi]) Moffatt and Goodspeed have “guileless,” Weymouth “innocent.” The word means “unmixed” (α [a] privative and κεραννυμι [kerannumi]), “unadulterated,” “simple,” “unalloyed.”

Matthew 10:17

Beware of men (προσεχετε ἀπο των ἀνθρωπων [prosechete apo tōn anthrōpōn]). Ablative case with ἀπο [apo]. Hold your mind (νουν [noun] understood) away from. The article with ἀνθρωπων [anthrōpōn] points back to λυκων [lukōn] (wolves) in 10:16.

To councils (εἰς συνεδρια [eis sunedria]). The local courts of justice in every Jewish town. The word is an old one from Herodotus on for any deliberative body (κονκιλιυμ [konkilium]). The same word is used for the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. In their synagogues (ἐν τοις συναγωγαις αὐτων [en tois sunagōgais autōn]). Here not merely as the place of assembly for worship, but as an assembly of justice exercising discipline as when the man born blind was cast out of the synagogue (John 9:35). They were now after the exile in every town of any size where Jews were.

Matthew 10:19

Be not anxious (μη μεριμνησητε [mē merimnēsēte]). Ingressive aorist subjunctive in prohibition. “Do not become anxious” (Matt. 6:31). “Self-defence before Jewish kings and heathen governors would be a terrible ordeal for humble Galileans. The injunction applied to cases when preparation of a speech would be impossible” (McNeile). “It might well alarm the bravest of these simple fishermen to be told that they would have to answer for their doings on Christ’s behalf before Jewish councils and heathen courts” (Plummer). Christ is not talking about preparation of sermons. “In that hour” (ἐν ἐκεινῃ τῃ ὡρᾳ [en ekeinēi tēi hōrāi]), if not before. The Spirit of your Father will speak to you and through you (10:20). Here is no posing as martyr or courting a martyr’s crown, but real heroism with full loyalty to Christ.

Matthew 10:22

Ye shall be hated (ἐσεσθε μισουμενοι [esesthe misoumenoi]). Periphrastic future passive, linear action. It will go on through the ages. For my name’s sake (δια το ὀνομα μου [dia to onoma mou]). In the O. T. as in the Targums and the Talmud “the name” as here stands for the person (Matt. 19:29; Acts 5:41; 9:16; 15:26). “He that endureth to the end” (ὁ ὑπομεινας εἰς τελος [ho hupomeinas eis telos]). Effective aorist participle with future indicative.

Matthew 10:23

Till the Son of man be come (ἑως ἐλθῃ ὁ υἱος του ἀνθρωπου [heōs elthēi ho huios tou anthrōpou]). Moffatt puts it “before the Son of man arrives” as if Jesus referred to this special tour of Galilee. Jesus could overtake them. Possibly so, but it is by no means clear. Some refer it to the Transfiguration, others to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, others to the Second Coming. Some hold that Matthew has put the saying in the wrong context. Others bluntly say that Jesus was mistaken, a very serious charge to make in his instructions to these preachers. The use of ἑως [heōs] with aorist subjunctive for a future event is a good Greek idiom.

Matthew 10:25

Beelzebub (βεεζεβουλ [beezeboul] according to B, βεελζεβουλ [beelzeboul] by most Greek MSS., βεελζεβουβ [beelzeboub] by many non-Greek MSS.). The etymology of the word is also unknown, whether “lord of a dwelling” with a pun on “the master of the house” (οἰκοδεσποτην [oikodespotēn]) or “lord of flies” or “lord of dung” or “lord of idolatrous sacrifices.” It is evidently a term of reproach. “An opprobrious epithet; exact form of the word and meaning of the name have given more trouble to commentators than it is all worth” (Bruce). See Matt. 12:24.

Matthew 10:26

Fear them not therefore (μη οὐν φοβηθητε αὐτους [mē oun phobēthēte autous]). Repeated in verses 28 and 31 (μη φοβεισθε [mē phobeisthe] present middle imperative here in contrast with aorist passive subjunctive in the preceding prohibitions). Note also the accusative case with the aorist passive subjunctive, transitive though passive. See same construction in Luke 12:5. In Matthew 10:28 the construction is with ἀπο [apo] and the ablative, a translation Hebraism as in Luke 12:4 (Robertson, Grammar of the Greek N. T. in the Light of Historical Research, p. 577).

Matthew 10:28

Destroy both soul and body in hell (και ψυχην και σωμα ἀπολεσαι ἐν γεεννῃ [kai psuchēn kai sōma apolesai en geennēi]). Note “soul” here of the eternal spirit, not just life in the body. “Destroy” here is not annihilation, but eternal punishment in Gehenna (the real hell) for which see on 5:22. Bruce thinks that the devil as the tempter is here meant, not God as the judge, but surely he is wrong. There is no more needed lesson today than the fear of God.

Matthew 10:29

Two sparrows (δυο στρουθια [duo strouthia]). Diminutive of στρουθος [strouthos] and means any small bird, sparrows in particular. They are sold today in the markets of Jerusalem and Jaffa. “For a farthing” (ἀσσαριου [assariou]) is genitive of price. Only here and Luke 12:6 in the N. T. Diminutive form of the Roman as, slightly more than half an English penny. Without your Father (ἀνευ του πατρος ὑμων [aneu tou patros hūmōn]). There is comfort in this thought for us all. Our father who knows about the sparrows knows and cares about us.

Matthew 10:31

Than many sparrows (πολλων στρουθιων [pollōn strouthiōn]). Ablative case of comparison with διαφερετε [diapherete] (our differ).

Matthew 10:32

Shall confess me (ὁμολογησει ἐν ἐμοι [homologēsei en emoi]). An Aramaic idiom, not Hebrew, see also Luke 12:8. So also here, “him will I also confess” (ὁμολογησω κʼαγω ἐν αὐτῳ [homologēsō k’agō en autōi]). Literally this Aramaic idiom reproduced in the Greek means “confess in me,” indicating a sense of unity with Christ and of Christ with the man who takes the open stand for him.

Matthew 10:33

Shall deny me (ἀρνησηται με [arnēsētai me]). Aorist subjunctive here with ὁστις [hostis], though future indicative ὁμολογησει [homologēsei] above. Note accusative here (case of extension), saying “no” to Christ, complete breach. This is a solemn law, not a mere social breach, this cleavage by Christ of the man who repudiates him, public and final.

Matthew 10:34

I came not to send peace, but a sword (οὐκ ἠλθον βαλειν εἰρηνην, ἀλλα μαχαιραν [ouk ēlthon balein eirēnēn, alla machairan]). A bold and dramatic climax. The aorist infinitive means a sudden hurling of the sword where peace was expected. Christ does bring peace, not as the world gives, but it is not the force of compromise with evil, but of conquest over wrong, over Satan, the triumph of the cross. Meanwhile there will be inevitably division in families, in communities, in states. It is no namby-pamby sentimentalism that Christ preaches, no peace at any price. The Cross is Christ’s answer to the devil’s offer of compromise in world dominion. For Christ the kingdom of God is virile righteousness, not mere emotionalism.

Matthew 10:35

Set at variance (διχασαι [dichasai]). Literally divide in two, διχα [dicha]. Jesus uses Micah 7:1–6 to describe the rottenness of the age as Micah had done. Family ties and social ties cannot stand in the way of loyalty to Christ and righteous living.

The daughter-in-law (νυμφην [numphēn]). Literally bride, the young wife who is possibly living with the mother-in-law. It is a tragedy to see a father or mother step between the child and Christ.

Matthew 10:38

Doth not take his cross (οὐ λαμβανει τον σταυρον αὐτου [ou lambanei ton stauron autou]). The first mention of cross in Matthew. Criminals were crucified in Jerusalem. It was the custom for the condemned person to carry his own cross as Jesus did till Simon of Cyrene was impressed for that purpose. The Jews had become familiar with crucifixion since the days of Antiochus Epiphanes and one of the Maccabean rulers (Alexander Jannaeus) had crucified 800 Pharisees. It is not certain whether Jesus was thinking of his own coming crucifixion when he used this figure, though possible, perhaps probable. The disciples would hardly think of that outcome unless some of them had remarkable insight.

Matthew 10:39

Shall lose it (ἀπολεσει αὐτην [apolesei autēn]). This paradox appears in four forms according to Allen (1) Matt. 10:39 (2) Mark 8:35=Matt. 16:25=Luke 9:24 (3) Luke 17:33 (4) John 12:25. The Wisdom of Sirach (Hebrew text) in 51:26 has: “He that giveth his life findeth her (wisdom).” It is one of the profound sayings of Christ that he repeated many times. Plato (Gorgias 512) has language somewhat similar though not so sharply put. The article and aorist participles here (ὁ εὑρων, ὁ ἀπολεσας [ho heurōn, ho apolesas]) are timeless in themselves just like ὁ δεχομενος [ho dechomenos] in verses 40 and 41.

Matthew 10:41

In the name of a prophet (εἰς ὀνομα προφητου [eis onoma prophētou]). “Because he is a prophet” (Moffatt). In an Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 37 (a.d. 49) we find ὀνοματι ἐλευθερου [onomati eleutherou] in virtue of being free-born. “He that receiveth a prophet from no ulterior motive, but simply qua prophet (ut prophetam, Jer.) would receive a reward in the coming age equal to that of his guest” (McNeile). The use of εἰς [eis] here is to be noted. In reality εἰς [eis] is simply ἐν [en] with the same meaning. It is not proper to say that εἰς [eis] has always to be translated “into.” Besides these examples of εἰς ὀνομα [eis onoma] in verses 41 and 42 see Matt. 12:41 εἰς το κηρυγμα Ἰωνα [eis to kērugma Iōnā] (see Robertson’s Grammar, p. 593). Unto one of these little ones (ἑνα των μικρων τουτων [hena tōn mikrōn toutōn]). Simple believers who are neither apostles, prophets, or particularly righteous, just “learners,” “in the name of a disciple” (εἰς ὀνομα μαθητου [eis onoma mathētou]). Alford thinks that some children were present (cf. Matt. 18:2–6).

Chapter 11

Matthew 11:1

He departed thence to teach and preach (μετεβη ἐκειθεν του διδασκειν και κηρυσσειν [metebē ekeithen tou didaskein kai kērussein]). In five instances (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1) after great discourses by Jesus “the transition to what follows is made with the formula, ‘And it came to pass when Jesus had ended’ ” (McNeile). This is a wrong chapter division, for 11:1 belongs with the preceding section. “Commanding” (διατασσων [diatassōn], complementary participle with ἐτελεσεν [etelesen]), means giving orders in detail (δια- [dia-]) for each of them. Note both “teach and preach” as in 4:23. Where did Jesus go? Did he follow behind the twelve as he did with the seventy “whither he himself was about to come” (Luke 10:1)? Bruce holds with Chrysostom that Jesus avoided the places where they were, giving them room and time to do their work. But, if Jesus himself went to the chief cities of Galilee on this tour, he would be compelled to touch many of the same points. Jesus would naturally follow behind at some distance. At the end of the tour the apostles come together in Capernaum and tell Jesus all that they had done and that they had taught (Mark 6:30). Matthew follows the general outline of Mark, but the events are not grouped in chronological order here.

Matthew 11:2

John heard in the prison (ὁ δε Ἰωανης ἀκουσας ἐν τῳ δεσμωτηριῳ [ho de Iōanēs akousas en tōi desmōtēriōi]). Probably (Luke 7:18) the raising of the son of the widow of Nain. The word for prison here is the place where one was kept bound (Acts 5:21, 23; 16:26). See Matt. 4:12. It was in Machaerus east of the Dead Sea which at this time belonged to the rule of Herod Antipas (Jos. Ant. XVIII. v. 2). John’s disciples had access to him. So he sent word by (δια [dia], not δυο [duo] as in Luke 7:19) them to Jesus.

Matthew 11:3

He that cometh (ὁ ἐρχομενος [ho erchomenos]). This phrase refers to the Messiah (Mark 11:9; Luke 13:35; 19:38; Heb. 10:37; Psa. 118:26; Dan. 7:13). Some rabbis applied the phrase to some forerunner of the kingdom (McNeile). Was there to be “another” (ἑτερον [heteron]) after Jesus? John had been in prison “long enough to develop a prison mood” (Bruce). It was once clear enough to him, but his environment was depressing and Jesus had done nothing to get him out of Machaerus (see chapter IX in my John the Loyal). John longed for reassurance.

Matthew 11:4

The things which ye do hear and see (ἁ ἀκουετε και βλεπετε [ha akouete kai blepete]). This symbolical message was for John to interpret, not for them.

Matthew 11:5

And the dead are raised up (και νεκροι ἐγειρονται [kai nekroi egeirontai]). Like that of the son of the widow of Nain. Did he raise the dead also on this occasion? “Tell John your story over again and remind him of these prophetic texts, Isa. 35:5; 61:1” (Bruce). The items were convincing enough and clearer than mere eschatological symbolism. “The poor” in particular have the gospel, a climax.

Matthew 11:6

Whosoever shall find none occasion of stumbling in me (ὁς ἀν μη σκανδαλισθῃ ἐν ἐμοι [hos an mē skandalisthēi en emoi]). Indefinite relative clause with first aorist passive subjunctive. This beatitude is a rebuke to John for his doubt even though in prison. Doubt is not a proof of superior intellect, scholarship, or piety. John was in the fog and that is the time not to make serious decisions. “In some way even the Baptist had found some occasion of stumbling in Jesus” (Plummer).

Matthew 11:7

As these went their way (τουτων πορευομενων [toutōn poreuomenōn]). Present participle genitive absolute. The eulogy of Jesus was spoken as the two disciples of John were going away. Is it a matter of regret that they did not hear this wondrous praise of John that they might cheer him with it? “It may almost be called the funeral oration of the Baptist, for not long afterwards Herodias compassed his death” (Plummer). A reed shaken by the wind (καλαμον ὑπο ἀνεμου σαλευομενον [kalamon hupo anemou saleuomenon]). Latin calamus. Used of the reeds that grew in plenty in the Jordan Valley where John preached, of a staff made of a reed (Matt. 27:29), as a measuring rod (Rev. 11:1), of a writer’s pen (3 John 13). The reeds by the Jordan bent with the wind, but not so John.

Matthew 11:9

And much more than a prophet (και περισσοτερον προφητου [kai perissoteron prophētou]). Ablative of comparison after περισσοτερον [perissoteron] itself comparative though meaning exceeding (surrounded by, overflowing). John had all the great qualities of the true prophet: “Vigorous moral conviction, integrity, strength of will, fearless zeal for truth and righteousness” (Bruce). And then he was the Forerunner of the Messiah (Mal. 3:1).

Matthew 11:11

He that is but little (ὁ μικροτερος [ho mikroteros]). The Authorized Version here has it better, “he that is least.” The article with the comparative is a growing idiom in the vernacular Koiné for the superlative as in the modern Greek it is the only idiom for the superlative (Robertson, Grammar of the Greek N. T., p. 668). The papyri and inscriptions show the same construction. The paradox of Jesus has puzzled many. He surely means that John is greater (μειζων [meizōn]) than all others in character, but that the least in the kingdom of heaven surpasses him in privilege. John is the end of one age, “until John” (11:14), and the beginning of the new era. All those that come after John stand upon his shoulders. John is the mountain peak between the old and the new.

Matthew 11:12

Suffereth violence (βιαζεται [biazetai]). This verb occurs only here and in Luke 16:16 in the N. T. It seems to be middle in Luke and Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 258) quotes an inscription “where βιαζομαι [biazomai] is without doubt reflexive and absolute” as in Luke 16:16. But there are numerous papyri examples where it is passive (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary, etc.) so that “there seems little that promises decisive help for the difficult Logion of Matt. 11:12=Luke 16:16.” So then in Matt. 11:12 the form can be either middle or passive and either makes sense, though a different sense. The passive idea is that the kingdom is forced, is stormed, is taken by men of violence like “men of violence take it by force” (βιασται ἁρπαζουσιν αὐτην [biastai harpazousin autēn]) or seize it like a conquered city. The middle voice may mean “experiences violence” or “forces its way” like a rushing mighty wind (so Zahn holds). These difficult words of Jesus mean that the preaching of John “had led to a violent and impetuous thronging to gather round Jesus and his disciples” (Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 26).

Matthew 11:14

This is Elijah (αὐτος ἐστιν Ἐλειας [autos estin Eleias]). Jesus here endorses John as the promise of Malachi. The people understood Malachi 4:1 to mean the return of Elijah in person. This John denied as to himself (John 1:21). But Jesus affirms that John is the Elijah of promise who has come already (Matt. 17:12). He emphasizes the point: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Matthew 11:17

Children sitting in the market places (παιδιοις καθημενοις ἐν ταις ἀγοραις [paidiois kathēmenois en tais agorais]). This parable of the children playing in the market place is given also in Luke 7:31f. Had Jesus as a child in Nazareth not played games with the children? He had certainly watched them often since. The interest of Christ in children was keen. He has really created the modern child’s world out of the indifference of the past. They would not play wedding or funeral in a peevish fret. These metaphors in the Gospels are vivid to those with eyes to see. The ἀγορα [agora] was originally the assembly, then the forum or public square where the people gathered for trade or for talk as in Athens (Acts 17:17) and in many modern towns. So the Roman Forum. The oriental bazaars today are held in streets rather than public squares. Even today with all the automobiles children play in the streets. In English the word “cheap” (Cheapside) meant only barter and price, not cheap in our sense. The word for mourn (ἐκοψασθε [ekopsasthe]) means to beat the heart, direct middle, after the fashion of eastern funeral lamentations.

Matthew 11:19

Wisdom is justified by her works (ἐδικαιωθη ἀπο των ἐργων αὐτης [edikaiōthē apo tōn ergōn autēs]). A timeless aorist passive (Robertson, Grammar, p. 836f.). The word “justified” means “set right” Luke (7:35) has “by all her children” as some MSS. have here to make Matthew like Luke. These words are difficult, but understandable. God’s wisdom has planned the different conduct of both John and Jesus. He does not wish all to be just alike in everything. “This generation” (verse 16) is childish, not childlike, and full of whimsical inconsistencies in their faultfinding. They exaggerate in each case. John did not have a demon and Jesus was not a glutton or a winebibber. “And, worse than either, for φιλος [philos] is used in a sinister sense and implies that Jesus was the comrade of the worst characters, and like them in conduct. A malicious nickname at first, it is now a name of honour: the sinner’s lover” (Bruce). Cf. Luke 15:2. The plan of God is justified by results.

Matthew 11:20

Most of his mighty works (αἱ πλεισται δυναμεις αὐτου [hai pleistai dunameis autou]). Literally, “His very many mighty works” if elative as usual in the papyri (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 79; Robertson, Grammar, p. 670). But the usual superlative makes sense here as the Canterbury translation has it. This word δυναμις [dunamis] for miracle presents the notion of power like our dynamite. The word τερας [teras] is wonder, portent, miraculum (miracle) as in Acts 2:19. It occurs only in the plural and always with σημεια [sēmeia]. The word σημειον [sēmeion] means sign (Matt. 12:38) and is very common in John’s Gospel as well as the word ἐργον [ergon] (work) as in John 5:36. Other words used are παραδοξον [paradoxon], our word paradox, strange (Luke 5:26), ἐνδοξον [endoxon], glorious (Luke 13:17), θαυμασιον [thaumasion], wonderful (Matt. 21:15).

Matthew 11:21

Chorazin (Χοραζειν [Chorazein]). Mentioned only here and in Luke 10:13. Proof of “the meagreness of our knowledge of Judaism in the time of Christ” (Plummer) and of the many things not told in our Gospels (John 21:25). We know something of Bethsaida and more about Capernaum as places of privilege. But (πλην [plēn], howbeit) neither of these cities repented, changed their conduct. Note condition of the second class, determined as unfulfilled in verses 21 and 23.

Matthew 11:25

At that season Jesus answered and said (ἐν ἐκεινῳ τῳ καιρῳ ἀποκριθεις εἰπεν [en ekeinōi tōi kairōi apokritheis eipen]). Spoke to his Father in audible voice. The time and place we do not know. But here we catch a glimpse of Jesus in one of his moods of worship. “It is usual to call this golden utterance a prayer, but it is at once prayer, praise, and self-communing in a devout spirit” (Bruce). Critics are disturbed because this passage from the Logia of Jesus or Q of Synoptic criticism (Matt. 11:25–30=Luke 10:21–24) is so manifestly Johannine in spirit and very language, “the Father” (ὁ πατηρ [ho patēr]), “the son” (ὁ υἱος [ho huios]), whereas the Fourth Gospel was not written till the close of the first century and the Logia was written before the Synoptic Gospels. The only satisfying explanation lies in the fact that Jesus did have this strain of teaching that is preserved in John’s Gospel. Here he is in precisely the same mood of elevated communion with the Father that we have reflected in John 14 to 17. Even Harnack is disposed to accept this Logion as a genuine saying of Jesus. The word “thank” (ὁμολογουμαι [homologoumai]) is better rendered “praise” (Moffatt). Jesus praises the Father “not that the σοφοι [sophoi] were ignorant, but that the νηπιοι [nēpioi] knew” (McNeile).

Matthew 11:26

Wellpleasing in thy sight (εὐδοκια ἐμπροσθεν σου [eudokia emprosthen sou]). “For such has been thy gracious will” (Weymouth).

Matthew 11:27

All things have been delivered unto me of my Father (παντα μοι παρεδοθη ὑπο του πατρος μου [panta moi paredothē hupo tou patros mou]). This sublime claim is not to be whittled down or away by explanations. It is the timeless aorist like ἐδοθη [edothē] in 28:18 and “points back to a moment in eternity, and implies the pre-existence of the Messiah” (Plummer). The Messianic consciousness of Christ is here as clear as a bell. It is a moment of high fellowship. Note ἐπιγινωσκει [epiginōskei] twice for “fully know.” Note also βουληται [boulētai]=wills, is willing. The Son retains the power and the will to reveal the Father to men.

Matthew 11:28

Come unto me (δευτε προς με [deute pros me]). Verses 28 to 30 are not in Luke and are among the special treasures of Matthew’s Gospel. No sublimer words exist than this call of Jesus to the toiling and the burdened (πεφορτισμενοι [pephortismenoi], perfect passive participle, state of weariness) to come to him. He towers above all men as he challenges us. “I will refresh you” (κʼαγο ἀναπαυσω ὑμας [k’ago anapausō hūmas]). Far more than mere rest, rejuvenation. The English slang expression “rest up” is close to the idea of the Greek compound ἀνα-παυω [ana-pauō]. It is causative active voice.

Matthew 11:29

Take my yoke upon you and learn of me (ἀρατε τον ζυγον μου ἐφʼ̔υμας και μαθετε ἀπʼεμου [arate ton zugon mou eph’humas kai mathete ap’emou]). The rabbis used yoke for school as many pupils find it now a yoke. The English word “school” is Greek for leisure (σχολη [scholē]). But Jesus offers refreshment (ἀναπαυσιν [anapausin]) in his school and promises to make the burden light, for he is a meek and humble teacher. Humility was not a virtue among the ancients. It was ranked with servility. Jesus has made a virtue of this vice. He has glorified this attitude so that Paul urges it (Phil. 2:3), “in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself.” In portions of Europe today people place yokes on the shoulders to make the burden easier to carry. Jesus promises that we shall find the yoke kindly and the burden lightened by his help. “Easy” is a poor translation of χρηστος [chrēstos]. Moffatt puts it “kindly.” That is the meaning in the Septuagint for persons. We have no adjective that quite carries the notion of kind and good. The yoke of Christ is useful, good, and kindly. Cf. Song of Solomon 1:10.

Chapter 12

Matthew 12:1

On the sabbath day through the cornfields (τοις σαββασιν δια των σποριμων [tois sabbasin dia tōn sporimōn]). This paragraph begins exactly like 11:25 “at that season” (ἐν ἐκεινῳ τῳ καιρῳ [en ekeinōi tōi kairōi]), a general statement with no clear idea of time. So also 14:1. The word καιρος [kairos] means a definite and particular time, but we cannot fix it. The word “cornfields” does not mean our maize or Indian corn, but simply fields of grain (wheat or even barley).

Matthew 12:2

Thy disciples do (οἱ μαθηται σου ποιουσιν [hoi mathētai sou poiousin]). These critics are now watching a chance and they jump at this violation of their Pharisaic rules for Sabbath observance. The disciples were plucking the heads of wheat which to the Pharisees was reaping and were rubbing them in their hands (Luke 6:1) which was threshing.

Matthew 12:3

What David did (τι ἐποιησεν Δαυειδ [ti epoiēsen Daueid]). From the necessity of hunger. The first defence made by Christ appeals to the conduct of David (1 Sam. 21:6). David and those with him did “what was not lawful” (ὁ οὐκ ἐξον ἠν [ho ouk exon ēn]) precisely the charge made against the disciples (ὁ οὐκ ἐξεστιν [ho ouk exestin] in verse 2).

Matthew 12:6

One greater than the temple (του ἱερου μειζον [tou hierou meizon]). Ablative of comparison, του ἱερου [tou hierou]. The Textus Receptus has μειζων [meizōn], but the neuter is correct. Literally, “something greater than the temple.” What is that? It may still be Christ, or it may be: “The work and His disciples were of more account than the temple” (Plummer). “If the temple was not subservient to Sabbath rules, how much less the Messiah!” (Allen).

Matthew 12:7

The guiltless (τους ἀναιτιους [tous anaitious]). So in verse 5. Common in ancient Greek. No real ground against, it means ἀν [an] + αἰτιος [aitios]. Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 here as he did in Matt. 9:13. A pertinent prophecy that had escaped the notice of the sticklers for ceremonial literalness and the letter of the law.

Matthew 12:9

Lord of the Sabbath (κυριος του σαββατου [kurios tou sabbatou]). This claim that he as the Son of Man is master of the Sabbath and so above the Pharisaic regulations angered them extremely. By the phrase “the Son of man” here Jesus involves the claim of Messiahship, but as the Representative Man he affirms his solidarity with mankind, “standing for the human interest” (Bruce) on this subject.

Matthew 12:10

Is it lawful? (εἰ ἐξεστιν [ei exestin]). The use of εἰ [ei] in direct questions is really elliptical and seems an imitation of the Hebrew (Robertson, Grammar, p. 916). See also Matt. 19:3. It is not translated in English.

Matthew 12:12

How much then is a man (ποσῳ οὐν διαφερει ἀνθρωπος [posōi oun diapherei anthrōpos]). Another of Christ’s pregnant questions that goes to the roots of things, an a fortiori argument. “By how much does a human being differ from a sheep? That is the question which Christian civilization has not even yet adequately answered” (Bruce). The poor pettifogging Pharisees are left in the pit.

Matthew 12:13

Stretch forth thy hand (ἐκτεινον σου την χειρα [ekteinon sou tēn cheira]). Probably the arm was not withered, though that is not certain. But he did the impossible. “He stretched it forth,” straight, I hope, towards the Pharisees who were watching Jesus (Mark 3:2).

Matthew 12:14

Took counsel against him (συμβουλιον ἐλαβον κατʼ αὐτου [sumboulion elabon kat’ autou]). An imitation of the Latin concilium capere and found in papyri of the second century a.d. (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 238). This incident marks a crisis in the hatred of the Pharisees toward Jesus. They bolted out of the synagogue and actually conspired with their hated rivals, the Herodians, how to put Jesus to death (Mark 3:6=Matt. 12:14=Luke 6:11). By “destroy” (ἀπολεσωσιν [apolesōsin]) they meant “kill.”

Matthew 12:15

Perceiving (γνους [gnous]). Second aorist active participle of γινωσκω [ginōskō]. Jesus read their very thoughts. They were now plain to any one who saw their angry countenances.

Matthew 12:17

That it might be fulfilled (ἱνα πληρωθῃ [hina plērōthēi]). The final use of ἱνα [hina] and the sub-final just before (verse 16). The passage quoted is Isa. 42:1–4 “a very free reproduction of the Hebrew with occasional side glances at the Septuagint” (Bruce), possibly from an Aramaic collection of Testimonia (McNeile). Matthew applies the prophecy about Cyrus to Christ.

Matthew 12:18

My beloved (ὁ ἀγαπητος μου [ho agapētos mou]). This phrase reminds one of Matt. 3:17 (the Father’s words at Christ’s baptism).

Matthew 12:20

A bruised reed (καλαμον συντετριμμενον [kalamon suntetrimmenon]). Perfect passive participle of συντριβω [suntribō]. A crushed reed he will not break. The curious augment in κατεαξει [kateaxei] (future active indicative) is to be noted. The copyists kept the augment where it did not belong in this verb (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1212) even in Plato. “Smoking flax” (λινον τυφομενον [linon tuphomenon]). The wick of a lamp, smoking and flickering and going out. Only here in N. T. Flax in Ex. 9:31. Vivid images that picture Jesus in the same strain as his own great words in Matt. 11:28–30.

Matthew 12:23

Is this the Son of David? (μητι οὑτος ἐστιν ὁ υἱος Δαυειδ; [mēti houtos estin ho huios Daueid?]). The form of the question expects the answer “no,” but they put it so because of the Pharisaic hostility towards Jesus. The multitudes “were amazed” or “stood out of themselves” (ἐξισταντο [existanto]), imperfect tense, vividly portraying the situation. They were almost beside themselves with excitement.

Matthew 12:24

The Pharisees (οἱ δε Φαρισαιοι [hoi de Pharisaioi]). Already (Matt. 9:32–34) we have had in Matthew the charge that Jesus is in league with the prince of demons, though the incident may be later than this one. See on 10:25 about “Beelzebub.” The Pharisees feel that the excited condition of the crowds and the manifest disposition to believe that Jesus is the Messiah (the Son of David) demand strenuous action on their part. They cannot deny the fact of the miracles for the blind and dumb men both saw and spoke (12:22). So in desperation they suggest that Jesus works by the power of Beelzebub the prince of the demons.

Matthew 12:25

Knowing their thoughts (εἰδως δε τας ἐνθυμησεις αὐτων [eidōs de tas enthumēseis autōn]). What they were revolving in their minds. They now find out what a powerful opponent Jesus is. By parables, by a series of conditions (first class), by sarcasm, by rhetorical question, by merciless logic, he lays bare their hollow insincerity and the futility of their arguments. Satan does not cast out Satan. Note timeless aorist passive ἐμερισθη [emeristhē] in 26, ἐφθασεν [ephthasen] in 28 (simple sense of arriving as in Phil. 3:16 from φθανω [phthanō]). Christ is engaged in deathless conflict with Satan the strong man (29). “Goods” (σκευη [skeuē]) means house-gear, house furniture, or equipment as in Luke 17:36 and Acts 27:17, the tackling of the ship.

Matthew 12:30

He that is not with me (ὁ μη ὠν μετʼ ἐμου [ho mē ōn met’ emou]). With these solemn words Jesus draws the line of cleavage between himself and his enemies then and now. Jesus still has his enemies who hate him and all noble words and deeds because they sting what conscience they have into fury. But we may have our choice. We either gather with (συναγων [sunagōn]) Christ or scatter (σκορπιζει [skorpizei]) to the four winds. Christ is the magnet of the ages. He draws or drives away. “Satan is the arch-waster, Christ the collector, Saviour” (Bruce).

Matthew 12:31

But the blasphemy against the Spirit (ἡ δε του πνευματος βλασφημια [hē de tou pneumatos blasphēmia]). Objective genitive. This is the unpardonable sin. In 32 we have κατα του πνευματος του ἁγιου [kata tou pneumatos tou hagiou] to make it plainer. What is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? These Pharisees had already committed it. They had attributed the works of the Holy Spirit by whose power Jesus wrought his miracles (12:28) to the devil. That sin was without excuse and would not be forgiven in their age or in the coming one (12:32). People often ask if they can commit the unpardonable sin. Probably some do who ridicule the manifest work of God’s Spirit in men’s lives and attribute the Spirit’s work to the devil.

Matthew 12:34

Ye offspring of vipers (γεννηματα ἐχιδνων [gennēmata echidnōn]). These same terrible words the Baptist had used to the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to his baptism (Matt. 3:7). But these Pharisees had deliberately made their choice and had taken Satan’s side. The charge against Jesus of being in league with Satan reveals the evil heart within. The heart “spurts out” (ἐκβαλλει [ekballei]) good or evil according to the supply (treasure, θησαυρου [thēsaurou]) within. Verse 33 is like Matt. 7:17–19. Jesus often repeated his crisp pungent sayings as every teacher does.

Matthew 12:36

Every idle word (παν ῥημα ἀργον [pan rhēma argon]). An ineffective, useless word (α [a] privative and ἐργον [ergon]). A word that does no good and so is pernicious like pernicious anaemia. It is a solemn thought. Jesus who knows our very thoughts (12:25) insists that our words reveal our thoughts and form a just basis for the interpretation of character (12:37). Here we have judgment by words as in 25:31–46 where Jesus presents judgment by deeds. Both are real tests of actual character. Homer spoke of “winged words” (πτεροεντα ἐπεα [pteroenta epea]). And by the radio our words can be heard all round the earth. Who knows where they stop?

Matthew 12:38

A sign from thee (ἀπο σου σημειον [apo sou sēmeion]). One wonders at the audacity of scribes and Pharisees who accused Jesus of being in league with Satan and thus casting out demons who can turn round and blandly ask for a “sign from thee.” As if the other miracles were not signs! “The demand was impudent, hypocritical, insulting” (Bruce).

Matthew 12:39

An evil and adulterous generation (γενεα πονηρα και μοιχαλις [genea ponēra kai moichalis]). They had broken the marriage tie which bound them to Jehovah (Plummer). See Psa. 73:27; Isa. 57:3ff.; 62:5; Ezek. 23:27; James 4:4; Rev. 2:20. What is “the sign of Jonah?”

Matthew 12:40

The whale (του κητους [tou kētous]). Sea-monster, huge fish. In Jonah 2:1 the LXX has κητει μεγαλῳ [kētei megalōi]. “Three days and three nights” may simply mean three days in popular speech. Jesus rose “on the third day” (Matt. 16:21), not “on the fourth day.” It is just a fuller form for “after three days” (Mark 8:31; 10:34).

Matthew 12:41

In the judgment (ἐν τῃ κρισει [en tēi krisei]). Except here and in the next verse Matthew has “day of judgment” (ἡμερα κρισεως [hēmera kriseōs]) as in 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36. Luke (10:14) has ἐν τῃ κρισει [en tēi krisei]. They repented at the preaching of Jonah (μετενοησον εἰς το κηρυγμα Ἰωνα [metenoēson eis to kērugma Iōna]). Note this use of εἰς [eis] just like ἐν [en]. Note also πλειον [pleion] (neuter), not πλειων [pleiōn] (masc.). See the same idiom in 12:6 and 12:48. Jesus is something greater than the temple, than Jonah, than Solomon. “You will continue to disbelieve in spite of all I can say or do, and at last you will put me to death. But I will rise again, a sign for your confusion, if not for your conversion” (Bruce).

Matthew 12:44

Into my house (εἰς τον οἰκον μου [eis ton oikon mou]). So the demon describes the man in whom he had dwelt. “The demon is ironically represented as implying that he left his victim voluntarily, as a man leaves his house to go for a walk” (McNeile). “Worse than the first” is a proverb.

Matthew 12:46

His mother and his brothers (ἡ μητηρ και οἱ ἀδελφοι αὐτου [hē mētēr kai hoi adelphoi autou]). Brothers of Jesus, younger sons of Joseph and Mary. The charge of the Pharisees that Jesus was in league with Satan was not believed by the disciples of Jesus, but some of his friends did think that he was beside himself (Mark 3:21) because of the excitement and strain. It was natural for Mary to want to take him home for rest and refreshment. So the mother and brothers are pictured standing outside the house (or the crowd). They send a messenger to Jesus.

Matthew 12:47

Aleph, B, L, Old Syriac, omit this verse as do Westcott and Hort. It is genuine in Mark 3:32=Luke 8:20. It was probably copied into Matthew from Mark or Luke.

Matthew 12:49

Behold my mother and my brothers (ἰδου ἡ μητηρ μου και οἱ ἀδελφοι μου [idou hē mētēr mou kai hoi adelphoi mou]). A dramatic wave of the hand towards his disciples (learners) accompanied these words. Jesus loved his mother and brothers, but they were not to interfere in his Messianic work. The real spiritual family of Jesus included all who follow him. But it was hard for Mary to go back to Nazareth and leave Jesus with the excited throng so great that he was not even stopping to eat (Mark 3:20).

Chapter 13

Matthew 13:1

On that day (ἐν τῃ ἡμεραι ἐκεινῃ [en tēi hēmerai ekeinēi]). So this group of parables is placed by Matthew on the same day as the blasphemous accusation and the visit of the mother of Jesus. It is called “the Busy Day,” not because it was the only one, but simply that so much is told of this day that it serves as a specimen of many others filled to the full with stress and strain. Sat by the seaside (ἐκαθητο παρα την θαλασσαν [ekathēto para tēn thalassan]). The accusative case need give no difficulty. Jesus came out of the stuffy house and took his seat (ἐκαθητο [ekathēto], imperfect) along the shore with the crowds stretched up and down, a picturesque scene.

Matthew 13:2

And all the multitude stood on the beach (και πας ὁ ὀχλος ἐπι τον αἰγιαλον ἱστηκει [kai pas ho ochlos epi ton aigialon histēkei]). Past perfect tense of ἱστημι [histēmi] with imperfect sense, had taken a stand and so stood. Note accusative also with ἐπι [epi] upon the beach where the waves break one after the other (αἰγιαλος [aigialos] is from ἁλς [hals], sea, and ἀγνυμι [agnumi], to break, or from αἰσσω [aissō], to rush). Jesus had to get into a boat and sit down in that because of the crush of the crowd.

Matthew 13:3

Many things in parables (πολλα ἐν παραβολαις [polla en parabolais]). It was not the first time that Jesus had used parables, but the first time that he had spoken so many and some of such length. He will use a great many in the future as in Luke 12 to 18 and Matt. 24 and 25. The parables already mentioned in Matthew include the salt and the light (5:13–16), the birds and the lilies (6:26–30), the splinter and the beam in the eye (7:3–5), the two gates (7:13f.), the wolves in sheep’s clothing (7:15), the good and bad trees (7:17–19), the wise and foolish builders (7:24–27), the garment and the wineskins (9:16f.), the children in the market places (11:16f.). It is not certain how many he spoke on this occasion. Matthew mentions eight in this chapter (the Sower, the Tares, the Mustard Seed, the Leaven, the Hid Treasure, the Pearl of Great Price, the Net, the Householder). Mark adds the Parable of the Lamp (4:21=Luke 8:16), the Parable of the Seed Growing of Itself (4:26–29), making ten of which we know. But both Mark (4:33) and Matthew (13:34) imply that there were many others. “Without a parable spake he nothing unto them” (Matt. 13:34), on this occasion, we may suppose. The word parable (παραβολη [parabolē] from παραβαλλω [paraballō], to place alongside for measurement or comparison like a yardstick) is an objective illustration for spiritual or moral truth. The word is employed in a variety of ways (a) as for sententious sayings or proverbs (Matt. 15:15; Mark 3:23; Luke 4:23; 5:36–39; 6:39), for a figure or type (Heb. 9:9; 11:19); (b) a comparison in the form of a narrative, the common use in the Synoptic Gospels like the Sower; (c) “A narrative illustration not involving a comparison” (Broadus), like the Rich Fool, the Good Samaritan, etc. “The oriental genius for picturesque speech found expression in a multitude of such utterances” (McNeile). There are parables in the Old Testament, in the Talmud, in sermons in all ages. But no one has spoken such parables as these of Jesus. They hold the mirror up to nature and, as all illustrations should do, throw light on the truth presented. The fable puts things as they are not in nature, Aesop’s Fables, for instance. The parable may not be actual fact, but it could be so. It is harmony with the nature of the case. The allegory (ἀλληγορια [allēgoria]) is a speaking parable that is self-explanatory all along like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. All allegories are parables, but not all parables are allegories. The Prodigal Son is an allegory, as is the story of the Vine and Branches (John 15). John does not use the word parable, but only παροιμια [paroimia], a saying by the way (John 10:6; 16:25, 29). As a rule the parables of Jesus illustrate one main point and the details are more or less incidental, though sometimes Jesus himself explains these. When he does not do so, we should be slow to interpret the minor details. Much heresy has come from fantastic interpretations of the parables. In the case of the Parable of the Sower (13:3–8) we have also the careful exposition of the story by Jesus (18–23) as well as the reason for the use of parables on this occasion by Jesus (9–17). Behold, the sower went forth (ἰδου ἠλθεν ὁ σπειρων [idou ēlthen ho speirōn]). Matthew is very fond of this exclamation ἰδου [idou]. It is “the sower,” not “a sower.” Jesus expects one to see the man as he stepped forth to begin scattering with his hand. The parables of Jesus are vivid word pictures. To understand them one must see them, with the eyes of Jesus if he can. Christ drew his parables from familiar objects.

Matthew 13:4

As he sowed (ἐν τῳ σπειρειν αὐτον [en tōi speirein auton]). Literally, “in the sowing as to him,” a neat Greek idiom unlike our English temporal conjunction. Locative case with the articular present infinitive. By the wayside (παρα την ὁδον [para tēn hodon]). People will make paths along the edge of a ploughed field or even across it where the seed lies upon the beaten track. Devoured (κατεφαγεν [katephagen]). “Ate down.” We say, “ate up.” Second aorist active indicative of κατεσθιω [katesthiō] (defective verb).

Matthew 13:5

The rocky places (τα πετρωδη [ta petrōdē]). In that limestone country ledges of rock often jut out with thin layers of soil upon the layers of rock. Straightway they sprang up (εὐθεως ἐξανετειλεν [eutheōs exaneteilen]). “Shot up at once” (Moffatt). Double compound (ἐξ [ex], out of the ground, ἀνα [ana], up). Ingressive aorist of ἐξανατελλω [exanatellō].

Matthew 13:6

The sun was risen (ἡλιου ἀνατειλαντος [hēliou anateilantos]). Genitive absolute. “The sun having sprung up” also, same verb except the absence of ἐξ [ex] (ἀνατελλω, ἐξανατελλω [anatellō, exanatellō]).

Matthew 13:7

The thorns grew up (ἀνεβησαν αἱ ἀκανθαι [anebēsan hai akanthai]). Not “sprang up” as in verse 5, for a different verb occurs meaning “came up” out of the ground, the seeds of the thorns being already in the soil, “upon the thorns” (ἐπι τας ἀκανθας [epi tas akanthas]) rather than “among the thorns.” But the thorns got a quick start as weeds somehow do and “choked them” (ἀπεπνιξαν αὐτα [apepnixan auta], effective aorist of ἀποπνιγω [apopnigō]), “choked them off” literally. Luke (8:33) uses it of the hogs in the water. Who has not seen vegetables and flowers and corn made yellow by thorns and weeds till they sicken and die?

Matthew 13:8

Yielded fruit (ἐδιδου καρπον [edidou karpon]). Change to imperfect tense of διδωμι [didōmi], to give, for it was continuous fruit-bearing. Some a hundredfold (ὁ μεν ἑκατον [ho men hekaton]). Variety, but fruit. This is the only kind that is worth while. The hundredfold is not an exaggeration (cf. Gen. 26:12). Such instances are given by Wetstein for Greece, Italy, and Africa. Herodotus (i. 93) says that in Babylonia grain yielded two hundredfold and even to three hundredfold. This, of course, was due to irrigation as in the Nile Valley.

Matthew 13:9

He that hath ears let him hear (ὁ ἐχων ὠτα ἀκουετω [ho echōn ōta akouetō]), So also in 11:15 and 13:43. It is comforting to teachers and preachers to observe that even Jesus had to exhort people to listen and to understand his sayings, especially his parables. They will bear the closest thought and are often enigmatical.

Matthew 13:10

Why speakest thou unto them in parables? (δια τι ἐν παραβολαις λαλεις αὐτοις [dia ti en parabolais laleis autois]). Already the disciples are puzzled over the meaning of this parable and the reason for giving them to the people. So they “came up” closer to Jesus and asked him. Jesus was used to questions and surpassed all teachers in his replies.

Matthew 13:11

To know the mysteries (γνωναι τα μυστηρια [gnōnai ta mustēria]). Second aorist active infinitive of γινωσκω [ginōskō]. The word μυστηριον [mustērion] is from μυστης [mustēs], one initiated, and that from μυεω [mueō] (μυω [muō]), to close or shut (Latin, mutus). The mystery-religions of the east had all sorts of secrets and signs as secret societies do today. But those initiated knew them. So the disciples have been initiated into the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. Paul will use it freely of the mystery once hidden, but now revealed, now made known in Christ (Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:7, etc.). In Phil. 4:12 Paul says: “I have learned the secret or been initiated” (μεμυημαι [memuēmai]). So Jesus here explains that his parables are open to the disciples, but shut to the Pharisees with their hostile minds. In the Gospels μυστηριον [mustērion] is used only here and in the parallel passages (Mark 4:11=Luke 8:10).

Matthew 13:13

Because seeing (ὁτι βλεποντες [hoti blepontes]). In the parallel passages in Mark 4:12 and Luke 8:10 we find ἱνα [hina] with the subjunctive. This does not necessarily mean that in Mark and Luke ἱνα=̔οτι [hina=hoti] with the causal sense, though a few rare instances of such usage may be found in late Greek. For a discussion of the problem see my chapter on “The Causal Use of Hina” in Studies in Early Christianity (1928) edited by Prof. S.J. Case. Here in Matthew we have first “an adaptation of Isa. 6:9f. which is quoted in full in v. 14f.” (McNeile). Thus Matthew presents “a striking paradox, ‘though they see, they do not (really) see’ ” (McNeile). Cf. John 9:41. The idiom here in Matthew gives no trouble save in comparison with Mark and Luke which will be discussed in due turn. The form συνιουσιν [suniousin] is an omega verb form (συνιω [suniō]) rather than the μι [mi] verb (συνιημι [suniēmi]) as is common in the Koiné.

Matthew 13:14

Is fulfilled (ἀναπληρουται [anaplēroutai]). Aoristic present passive indicative. Here Jesus points out the fulfilment and not with Matthew’s usual formula (ἱνα [hina] or ὁπως πλωρηθῃ το ῥηθεν [hopōs plōrēthēi to rhēthen] (see 1:22). The verb ἀναπληροω [anaplēroō] occurs nowhere else in the Gospels, but occurs in the Pauline Epistles. It means to fill up like a cup, to fill another’s place (1 Cor. 14:16), to fill up what is lacking (Phil. 2:30). Here it means that the prophecy of Isaiah is fully satisfied in the conduct of the Pharisees and Jesus himself points it out. Note two ways of reproducing the Hebrew idiom (infinitive absolute), one by ἀκοῃ [akoēi] the other by βλεποντες [blepontes]. Note also the strong negative οὐ μη [ou mē] with aorist subjunctive.

Matthew 13:15

Is waxed gross (ἐπαχυνθη [epachunthē]). Aorist passive tense. From παχυς [pachus], thick, fat, stout. Made callous or dull—even fatty degeneration of the heart. Dull of hearing (τοις ὠσιν βαρεως ἠκουσαν [tois ōsin bareōs ēkousan]). Another aorist. Literally, “They heard (or hear) heavily with their ears.” The hard of hearing are usually sensitive. Their eyes they have closed (τους ὀφθαλμους αὐτων ἐκαμμυσαν [tous ophthalmous autōn ekammusan]). The epic and vernacular verb καμμυω [kammuō] is from καταμυω [katamuō] (to shut down). We say shut up of the mouth, but the eyes really shut down. The Hebrew verb in Isa. 6:10 means to smear over. The eyes can be smeared with wax or cataract and thus closed. “Sealing up the eyes was an oriental punishment” (Vincent). See Isa. 29:10; 44:18. Lest (μηποτε [mēpote]). This negative purpose as a judgment is left in the quotation from Isaiah. It is a solemn thought for all who read or hear the word of God. And I should heal them (και ἰασομαι αὐτους [kai iasomai autous]). Here the LXX changes to the future indicative rather than the aorist subjunctive as before.

Matthew 13:16

Blessed are your eyes (ὑμων δε μακαριοι οἱ ὀφθαλμοι [humōn de makarioi hoi ophthalmoi]). A beatitude for the disciples in contrast with the Pharisees. Note position of “Happy” here also as in the Beatitudes in Matt. 5.

Matthew 13:18

Hear then ye the parable (ὑμεις οὐν ἀκουσατε την παραβολην [humeis oun akousate tēn parabolēn]). Jesus has given in 13:13 one reason for his use of parables, the condemnation which the Pharisees have brought on themselves by their spiritual dulness: “Therefore I speak to them in parables” (δια τουτο ἐν παραβωλαις ἀντοις λαλω [dia touto en parabōlais antois lalō]). He can go on preaching the mysteries of the kingdom without their comprehending what he is saying, but he is anxious that the disciples really get personal knowledge (γνωναι [gnōnai], verse 11) of these same mysteries. So he explains in detail what he means to teach by the Parable of the Sower. He appeals to them (note position of ὑμεις [hūmeis]) to listen as he explains.

Matthew 13:19

When anyone heareth (παντος ἀκουοντος [pantos akouontos]). Genitive absolute and present participle, “while everyone is listening and not comprehending” (μη συνιεντος [mē sunientos]), “not putting together” or “not grasping.” Perhaps at that very moment Jesus observed a puzzled look on some faces. Cometh the evil one and snatcheth away (ἐρχεται ὁ πονηρος και ἁρπαζει [erchetai ho ponēros kai harpazei]). The birds pick up the seeds while the sower sows. The devil is busy with his job of snatching or seizing like a bandit or rogue the word of the kingdom before it has time even to sprout. How quickly after the sermon the impression is gone. “This is he” (οὑτος ἐστιν [houtos estin]). Matthew, like Mark, speaks of the people who hear the words as the seed itself. That creates some confusion in this condensed form of what Jesus actually said, but the real point is clear. The seed sown in his heart (το ἐσπαρμενον ἐν τῃ καρδιᾳ αὐτου [to esparmenon en tēi kardiāi autou], perfect passive participle of σπειρω [speirō], to sow) and “the man sown by the wayside” (ὁ παρα την ὁδον σπαρεις [ho para tēn hodon spareis], aorist passive participle, along the wayside) are identified. The seed in the heart is not of itself responsible, but the man who lets the devil snatch it away.

Matthew 13:21

Yet hath he not root in himself (οὐκ ἐχει δε ῥιζαν ἐν ἑαυτῳ [ouk echei de rhizan en heautōi]). Cf. Col. 2:7 and Eph. 3:18 ἐρριζωμεμοι [errizōmemoi]. Stability like a tree. Here the man has a mushroom growth and “endureth for a while” (προσκαιρος [proskairos]), temporary, quick to sprout, quick to stumble (σκανδαλιζεται [skandalizetai]). What a picture of some converts in our modern revivals. They drop away overnight because they did not have the root of the matter in them. This man does not last or hold out.

Tribulation (θλιψεως [thlipseōs]). From θλιβω [thlibō], to press, to oppress, to squeeze (cf. 7:14). The English word is from the Latin tribulum, the roller used by the Romans for pressing wheat. Cf. our “steam roller” Trench (Synonyms of the N. T., pp. 202–4): “When, according to the ancient law of England, those who wilfully refused to plead, had heavy weights placed on their breasts, and were pressed and crushed to death, this was literally θλιψις [thlipsis].” The iron cage was στενοχωρια [stenochōria].

Matthew 13:22

Choke the word (συνπνιγει τον λογον [sunpnigei ton logon]). We had ἀπεπνιξαν [apepnixan] (choked off) in 13:7. Here it is συνπνιγει [sunpnigei] (choke together), historical present and singular with both subjects lumped together. “Lust for money and care go together and between them spoil many an earnest religious nature” (Bruce), “thorns” indeed. The thorns flourish and the character sickens and dies, choked to death for lack of spiritual food, air, sunshine.

Matthew 13:23

Verily beareth fruit (δη καρποφορει [dē karpophorei]). Who in reality (δη []) does bear fruit (cf. Matt. 7:16–20). The fruit reveals the character of the tree and the value of the straw for wheat. Some grain must come else it is only chaff, straw, worthless. The first three classes have no fruit and so show that they are unfruitful soil, unsaved souls and lives. There is variety in those who do bear fruit, but they have some fruit. The lesson of the parable as explained by Jesus is precisely this, the variety in the results of the seed sown according to the soil on which it falls. Every teacher and preacher knows how true this is. It is the teacher’s task as the sower to sow the right seed, the word of the kingdom. The soil determines the outcome. There are critics today who scout this interpretation of the parable by Jesus as too allegorical with too much detail and probably not that really given by Jesus since modern scholars are not agreed on the main point of the parable. But the average Christian sees the point all right. This parable was not meant to explain all the problems of human life.

Matthew 13:24

Set he before them (παρεθηκεν [parethēken]). So again in 13:31. He placed another parable beside (παρα [para]) the one already given and explained. The same verb (παραθειναι [paratheinai]) occurs in Luke 9:16. Is likened (ὡμοιωθη [hōmoiōthē]). Timeless aorist passive and a common way of introducing these parables of the kingdom where a comparison is drawn (18:23; 22:2; 25:1). The case of ἀνθρωπῳ [anthrōpōi] is associative instrumental.

Matthew 13:25

While men slept (ἐν τῳ καθευδειν τους ἀνθρωπους [en tōi katheudein tous anthrōpous]). Same use of the articular present infinitive with ἐν [en] and the accusative as in 13:4. Sowed tares also (ἐπεσπειρεν τα ζιζανια [epespeiren ta zizania]). Literally “sowed upon,” “resowed” (Moffatt). The enemy deliberately sowed “the darnel” (ζιζανια [zizania] is not “tares,” but “darnel,” a bastard wheat) over (ἐπι [epi]) the wheat, “in the midst of the wheat.” This bearded darnel, lolium temulentum, is common in Palestine and resembles wheat except that the grains are black. In its earlier stages it is indistinguishable from the wheat stalks so that it has to remain till near the harvest. Modern farmers are gaining more skill in weeding it out.

Matthew 13:26

Then appeared also (τοτε ἐφανη και [tote ephanē kai]). The darnel became plain (ἐφανη [ephanē], second aorist passive, effective aorist of φαινω [phainō] to show) by harvest.

Matthew 13:29

Ye root up the wheat with them (ἐκριζωσητε ἁμα αὐτοις τον σιτον [ekrizōsēte hama autois ton siton]). Literally, “root out.” Easy to do with the roots of wheat and darnel intermingled in the field. So συλλεγοντες [sullegontes] is not “gather up,” but “gather together,” here and verses 28 and 30. Note other compound verbs here, “grow together” (συναυξανεσθαι [sunauxanesthai]), “burn up” (κατακαυσαι [katakausai], burn down or completely), “bring together” (συναγετε [sunagete]).

Matthew 13:30

My barn (την ἀποθηκην μου [tēn apothēkēn mou]). See already 3:12; 6:26. Granary, storehouse, place for putting things away.

Matthew 13:31

Is like (ὁμοια ἐστιν [homoia estin]). Adjective for comparison with associative instrumental as in 13:13, 44, 45, 47, 52. Grain of mustard seed (κοκκῳ σιναπεως [kokkōi sinapeōs]). Single grain in contrast with the collective σπερμα [sperma] (17:20). Took and sowed (λαβων ἐσπειρεν [labōn espeiren]). Vernacular phrasing like Hebrew and all conversational style. In Koiné.

Matthew 13:32

A tree (δενδρον [dendron]). “Not in nature, but in size” (Bruce). “An excusable exaggeration in popular discourse.”

Matthew 13:33

Is like unto leaven (ὁμοια ἐστιν ζυμῃ [homoia estin zumēi]). In its pervasive power. Curiously enough some people deny that Jesus here likens the expanding power of the Kingdom of heaven to leaven, because, they say, leaven is the symbol of corruption. But the language of Jesus is not to be explained away by such exegetical jugglery. The devil is called like a lion by Peter (1 Pet. 5:8) and Jesus in Revelation is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). The leaven permeates all the “wheaten meal” (ἀλευρου [aleurou]) till the whole is leavened. There is nothing in the “three measures,” merely a common amount to bake. Dr. T.R. Glover in his Jesus of History suggests that Jesus used to notice his mother using that amount of wheat flour in baking bread. To find the Trinity here is, of course, quite beside the mark. The word for leaven, ζυμη [zumē], is from ζεω [zeō], to boil, to seethe, and so pervasive fermentation.

Matthew 13:35

I will utter (ἐρευξομαι [ereuxomai]). To cast forth like a river, to gurgle, to disgorge, the passion of a prophet. From Psa. 19:2; 78:2. The Psalmist claims to be able to utter “things hidden from the foundation of the world” and Matthew applies this language to the words of Jesus. Certain it is that the life and teaching of Jesus throw a flood of light on the purposes of God long kept hidden (κεκρυμμενα [kekrummena]).

Matthew 13:36

Explain unto us (διασαφησον ἡμιν [diasaphēson hēmin]). Also in 18:31. “Make thoroughly clear right now” (aorist tense of urgency). The disciples waited till Jesus left the crowds and got into the house to ask help on this parable. Jesus had opened up the Parable of the Sower and now they pick out this one, passing by the mustard seed and the leaven.

Matthew 13:38

The field is the world (ὁ δε ἀγρος ἐστιν ὁ κοσμος [ho de agros estin ho kosmos]). The article with both “field” and “world” in Greek means that subject and predicate are coextensive and so interchangeable. It is extremely important to understand that both the good seed and the darnel (tares) are sown in the world, not in the Kingdom, not in the church. The separation comes at the consummation of the age (συντελεια αἰωνος [sunteleia aiōnos], 39), the harvest time. They all grow together in the field (the world).

Matthew 13:41

Out of his kingdom (ἐκ της βασιλειας αὐτου [ek tēs basileias autou]). Out from the midst of the kingdom, because in every city the good and the bad are scattered and mixed together. Cf. ἐκ μεσου των δικαιων [ek mesou tōn dikaiōn] in 13:49 “from the midst of the righteous.” What this means is that, just as the wheat and the darnel are mixed together in the field till the separation at harvest, so the evil are mixed with the good in the world (the field). Jesus does not mean to say that these “stumbling-blocks” (τα σκανδαλα [ta skandala]) are actually in the Kingdom of heaven and really members of the Kingdom. They are simply mixed in the field with the wheat and God leaves them in the world till the separation comes. Their destiny is “the furnace of fire” (την καμινον του πυρος [tēn kaminon tou puros]).

Matthew 13:43

Shine forth (ἐκλαμψουσιν [eklampsousin]). Shine out as the sun comes from behind a cloud (Vincent) and drive away the darkness after the separation has come (cf. Dan. 12:3).

Matthew 13:44

And hid (και ἐκρυψεν [kai ekrupsen]). Not necessarily bad morality. “He may have hid it to prevent it being stolen, or to prevent himself from being anticipated in buying a field” (Plummer). But if it was a piece of sharp practice, that is not the point of the parable. That is, the enormous wealth of the Kingdom for which any sacrifice, all that one has, is not too great a price to pay.

Matthew 13:46

He went and sold (ἀπελθων πεπρακεν [apelthōn pepraken]). Rather eagerly and vividly told thus, “He has gone off and sold.” The present perfect indicative, the dramatic perfect of vivid picture. Then he bought it. Present perfect, imperfect, aorist tenses together for lively action. Ἐμπορῳ [Emporōi] is a merchant, one who goes in and out, travels like a drummer.

Matthew 13:47

A net (σαγηνῃ [sagēnēi]). Drag-net. Latin, sagena, English, seine. The ends were stretched out and drawn together. Only example of the word in the N. T. Just as the field is the world, so the drag-net catches all the fish that are in the sea. The separation comes afterwards. Vincent pertinently quotes Homer’s Odyssey (xxii. 384–389) where the slain suitors in the halls of Ulysses are likened to fishes on the shore caught by nets with myriad meshes.

Matthew 13:48

Vessels (ἀγγη [aggē]). Here only in the N. T. In Matt. 25:4 we have ἀγγεια [aggeia].

Matthew 13:52

Made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven (μαθετευθεις τῃ βασιλειᾳ των οὐρανων [matheteutheis tēi basileiāi tōn ouranōn]). First aorist passive participle. The verb is transitive in 28:19. Here a scribe is made a learner to the kingdom. “The mere scribe, Rabbinical in spirit, produces only the old and stale. The disciple of the kingdom like the Master, is always fresh-minded, yet knows how to value all old spiritual treasures of Holy Writ, or Christian tradition” (Bruce). So he uses things fresh (καινα [kaina]) and ancient (παλαια [palaia]). “He hurls forth” (ἐκβαλλει [ekballei]) both sorts.

Matthew 13:54

Is not this the carpenter’s son? (οὐχ οὑτος ἐστιν ὁ του τεκτωνος υἱος; [ouch houtos estin ho tou tektōnos huios?]). The well-known, the leading, or even for a time the only carpenter in Nazareth till Jesus took the place of Joseph as the carpenter. What the people of Nazareth could not comprehend was how one with the origin and environment of Jesus here in Nazareth could possess the wisdom which he appeared to have in his teaching (ἐδιδασκεν [edidasken]). That has often puzzled people how a boy whom they knew could become the man he apparently is after leaving them. They knew Joseph, Mary, the brothers (four of them named) and sisters (names not given). Jesus passed here as the son of Joseph and these were younger brothers and sisters (half brothers and sisters technically).

Matthew 13:57

And they were offended in him (και ἐσκανδαλιζοντο ἐν αὐτῳ [kai eskandalizonto en autōi]). Graphic imperfect passive. Literally, “They stumbled at him,” “They were repelled by him” (Moffatt), “They turned against him” (Weymouth). It was unpardonable for Jesus not to be commonplace like themselves. Not without honour (οὐκ ἐστιν ἀτιμος [ouk estin atimos]). This is a proverb found in Jewish, Greek, and Roman writers. Seen also in the Logia of Jesus (Oxyr. Papyri i. 3).

Matthew 13:58

Mighty works (δυναμεις [dunameis]). Powers. The “disbelief” (ἀπιστιαν [apistian]) of the townspeople blocked the will and the power of Jesus to work cures.

Chapter 14

Matthew 14:1

Herod the tetrarch (ἡρῳδης τετρααρχης [Hērōidēs tetraarchēs]). Herod Antipas ruler of Galilee and Perea, one-fourth of the dominion of Herod the Great. The report concerning Jesus (την ἀκουην Ἰησου [tēn akouēn Iēsou]). See on 4:24. Cognate accusative, heard the hearing (rumour), objective genitive. It is rather surprising that he had not heard of Jesus before.

Matthew 14:2

His servants (τοις παισιν αὐτου [tois paisin autou]). Literally “boys,” but here the courtiers, not the menials of the palace. Work in him (ἐνεργουσιν [energousin]). Cf. our “energize.” “The powers of the invisible world, vast and vague in the king’s imagination” (Bruce). John wrought no miracles, but one redivivus might be under the control of the unseen powers. So Herod argued. A guilty conscience quickened his fears. Possibly he could see again the head of John on a charger. “The King has the Baptist on the brain” (Bruce). Cf. Josephus (War, I. xxx. 7) for the story that the ghosts of Alexander and Aristobulus haunted the palace of Herod the Great. There were many conjectures about Jesus as a result of this tour of Galilee and Herod Antipas feared this one.

Matthew 14:3

For the sake of Herodias (δια ἡρῳδιαδα [dia Hērōidiada]). The death of John had taken place some time before. The Greek aorists here (ἐδησεν, ἀπεθετο [edēsen, apetheto]) are not used for past perfects. The Greek aorist simply narrates the event without drawing distinctions in past time. This Herodias was the unlawful wife of Herod Antipas. She was herself a descendant of Herod the Great and had married Herod Philip of Rome, not Philip the Tetrarch. She had divorced him in order to marry Herod Antipas after he had divorced his wife, the daughter of Aretas King of Arabia. It was a nasty mess equal to any of our modern divorces. Her first husband was still alive and marriage with a sister-in-law was forbidden to Jews (Lev. 18:16). Because of her Herod Antipas had put John in the prison at Machaerus. The bare fact has been mentioned in Matt. 4:12 without the name of the place. See 11:2 also for the discouragement of John ἐν τῳ δεσμωτηριῳ [en tōi desmōtēriōi] (place of bondage), here ἐν τῃ φυλακῃ [en tēi phulakēi] (the guard-house). Josephus (Ant. xviii. 5. 2) tells us that Machaerus is the name of the prison. On a high hill an impregnable fortress had been built. Tristram (Land of Moab) says that there are now remains of “two dungeons, one of them deep and its sides scarcely broken in” with “small holes still visible in the masonry where staples of wood and iron had once been fixed. One of these must surely have been the prison-house of John the Baptist.” “On this high ridge Herod the Great built an extensive and beautiful palace” (Broadus). “The windows commanded a wide and grand prospect, including the Dead Sea, the course of the Jordan, and Jerusalem” (Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus).

Matthew 14:4

For John said unto him (ἐλεγεν γαρ Ἰωανης αὐτῳ [elegen gar Iōanēs autōi]). Possibly the Pharisees may have put Herod up to inveigling John to Machaerus on one of his visits there to express an opinion concerning his marriage to Herodias (Broadus) and the imperfect tense (ἐλεγεν [elegen]) probably means that John said it repeatedly. It was a blunt and brave thing that John said. It cost him his head, but it is better to have a head like John’s and lose it than to have an ordinary head and keep it. Herod Antipas was a politician and curbed his resentment toward John by his fear of the people who still held (εἰχον [eichon], imperfect tense) him as a prophet.

Matthew 14:6

When Herod’s birthday came (γενεσιοις γενομενοις του ἡρῳδου [genesiois genomenois tou Hērōidou]). Locative of time (cf. Mark 6:21) without the genitive absolute. The earlier Greeks used the word γενεσια [genesia] for funeral commemorations (birthdays of the dead), γενεθλια [genethlia] being the word for birthday celebrations of living persons. But that distinction has disappeared in the papyri. The word γενεσια [genesia] in the papyri (Fayum Towns, 11420, 1158, 11930) is always a birthday feast as here in Matthew and Mark. Philo used both words of birthday feasts. Persius, a Roman satirist (Sat. V. 180–183), describes a banquet on Herod’s Day. Danced in the midst (ὠρχησατο ἐν τῳ μεσῳ [ōrchēsato en tōi mesōi]). This was Salome, daughter of Herodias by her first marriage. The root of the verb means some kind of rapid motion. “Leaped in the middle,” Wycliff puts it. It was a shameful exhibition of lewd dancing prearranged by Herodias to compass her purpose for John’s death. Salome had stooped to the level of an ἀλμἑ [almeh], or common dancer.

Matthew 14:7

Promised with an oath (μετα ὁρκου ὡμολογησεν [meta horkou hōmologēsen]). Literally, “confessed with an oath.” For this verb in the sense of promise, see Acts 7:17. Note middle voice of αἰτησηται [aitēsētai] (ask for herself). Cf. Esther 5:3; 7:2.

Matthew 14:8

Put forward (προβιβασθεισα [probibastheisa]). See Acts 19:33 for a similar verb (προβαλοντων [probalontōn]), “pushing forward.” Here (Acts) the Textus Receptus uses προβιβαζω [probibazō]. “It should require a good deal of ‘educating’ to bring a young girl to make such a grim request” (Bruce). Here (ὡδε [hōde]). On the spot. Here and now. In a charger (ἐπι πινακι [epi pinaki]). Dish, plate, platter. Why the obsolete “charger”?

Matthew 14:9

Grieved (λυπηθεις [lupētheis]). Not to hurt, for in verse 5 we read that he wanted (θελων [thelōn]) to put him to death (ἀποκτειναι [apokteinai]). Herod, however, shrank from so dastardly a deed as this public display of brutality and bloodthirstiness. Men who do wrong always have some flimsy excuses for their sins. A man here orders a judicial murder of the most revolting type “for the sake of his oath” (δια τους ὁρκους [dia tous horkous]). “More like profane swearing than deliberate utterance once for all of a solemn oath” (Bruce). He was probably maudlin with wine and befuddled by the presence of the guests.

Matthew 14:10

Beheaded John (ἀπεκεφαλισεν Ἰωανην [apekephalisen Iōanēn]). That is, he had John beheaded, a causative active tense of a late verb ἀποκεφαλιζω [apokephalizō]. Took his head off.

Matthew 14:11

She brought it to her mother (ἠνεγκεν τῃ μητρι αὐτης [ēnegken tēi mētri autēs]). A gruesome picture as Herodias with fiendish delight witnesses the triumph of her implacable hatred of John for daring to reprove her for her marriage with Herod Antipas. A woman scorned is a veritable demon, a literal she-devil when she wills to be. Kipling’s “female of the species” again. Legends actually picture Salome as in love with John, sensual lust, of which there is no proof.

Matthew 14:12

And they went and told Jesus (και ἐλθοντες ἀπηγγειλαν τῳ Ἰησου [kai elthontes apēggeilan tōi Iēsou]). As was meet after they had given his body decent burial. It was a shock to the Master who alone knew how great John really was. The fate of John was a prophecy of what was before Jesus. According to Matt. 14:13 the news of the fate of John led to the withdrawal of Jesus to the desert privately, an additional motive besides the need for rest after the strain of the recent tour.

Matthew 14:13

In a boat (ἐν πλοιῳ [en ploiōi]) “on foot” (πεζῃ [pezēi], some MSS. πεζῳ [pezōi]). Contrast between the lake and the land route.

Matthew 14:14

Their sick (τους ἀρρωστους αὐτων [tous arrōstous autōn]). “Without strength” (ῥωννυμι [rhōnnumi] and α [a] privative). Ἐσπλαγχνισθη [Esplagchnisthē] is a deponent passive. The verb gives the oriental idea of the bowels (σπλαγχνα [splagchna]) as the seat of compassion.

Matthew 14:15

When even was come (ὀψιας γενομενης [opsias genomenēs]). Genitive absolute. Not sunset about 6 p.m. as in 8:16 and as in 14:23, but the first of the two “evenings” beginning at 3 p.m. The place is desert (ἐρημος ἐστιν ὁ τοπος [erēmos estin ho topos]). Not a desolate region, simply lonely, comparatively uninhabited with no large towns near. There were “villages” (κωμας [kōmas]) where the people could buy food, but they would need time to go to them. Probably this is the idea of the disciples when they add: The time is already past (ἡ ὡρα ἠδη παρηλθεν [hē hōra ēdē parēlthen]). They must hurry.

Matthew 14:16

Give ye them to eat (δοτε αὐτοις ὑμεις φαγειν [dote autois hūmeis phagein]). The emphasis is on ὑμεις [hūmeis] in contrast (note position) with their “send away” (ἀπολυσον [apoluson]). It is the urgent aorist of instant action (δοτε [dote]). It was an astounding command. The disciples were to learn that “no situation appears to Him desperate, no crisis unmanageable” (Bruce).

Matthew 14:17

And they say unto him (οἱ δε λεγουσιν αὐτῳ [hoi de legousin autōi]). The disciples, like us today, are quick with reasons for their inability to perform the task imposed by Jesus.

Matthew 14:18

And he said (ὁ δε εἰπεν [ho de eipen]). Here is the contrast between the helpless doubt of the disciples and the confident courage of Jesus. He used “the five loaves and two fishes” which they had mentioned as a reason for doing nothing. “Bring them hither unto me.” They had overlooked the power of Jesus in this emergency.

Matthew 14:19

To sit down on the grass (ἀνακλιθηναι ἐπι του χορτου [anaklithēnai epi tou chortou]). “Recline,” of course, the word means, first aorist passive infinitive. A beautiful picture in the afternoon sun on the grass on the mountain side that sloped westward. The orderly arrangement (Mark) made it easy to count them and to feed them. Jesus stood where all could see him “break” (κλασας [klasas]) the thin Jewish cakes of bread and give to the disciples and they to the multitudes. This is a nature miracle that some men find it hard to believe, but it is recorded by all four Gospels and the only one told by all four. It was impossible for the crowds to misunderstand and to be deceived. If Jesus is in reality Lord of the universe as John tells us (John 1:1–18) and Paul holds (Col. 1:15–20), why should we balk at this miracle? He who created the universe surely has power to go on creating what he wills to do.

Matthew 14:20

Were filled (ἐχορτασθησαν [echortasthēsan]). Effective aorist passive indicative of χορταζω [chortazō]. See Matt. 5:6. From the substantive χορτος [chortos] grass. Cattle were filled with grass and people usually with other food. They all were satisfied. Broken pieces (των κλασματων [tōn klasmatōn]). Not the scraps upon the ground, but the pieces broken by Jesus and still in the “twelve baskets” (δωδεκα κοφινους [dōdeka kophinous]) and not eaten. Each of the twelve had a basketful left over (το περισσευον [to perisseuon]). One hopes that the boy (John 6:9) who had the five loaves and two fishes to start with got one of the basketsful, if not all of them. Each of the Gospels uses the same word here for baskets (κοφινος [kophinos]), a wicker-basket, called “coffins” by Wycliff. Juvenal (Sat. iii. 14) says that the grove of Numa near the Capenian gate of Rome was “let out to Jews whose furniture is a basket (cophinus) and some hay” (for a bed). In the feeding of the Four Thousand (Matthew and Mark) the word σφυρις [sphuris] is used which was a sort of hamper or large provisions basket.

Matthew 14:21

Beside women and children (χωρις γυναικων και παιδιων [chōris gunaikōn kai paidiōn]). Perhaps on this occasion there were not so many as usual because of the rush of the crowd around the head of the lake. Matthew adds this item and does not mean that the women and children were not fed, but simply that “the eaters” (οἱ ἐσθιοντες [hoi esthiontes]) included five thousand men (ἀνδρες [andres]) besides the women and children.

Matthew 14:22

Constrained (ἠναγκασεν [ēnagkasen]). Literally, “compelled” or “forced.” See this word also in Luke 14:23. The explanation for this strong word in Mark 6:45 and Matt. 14:22 is given in John 6:15. It is the excited purpose of the crowd to take Jesus by force and to make him national king. This would be political revolution and would defeat all the plans of Jesus about his kingdom. Things have reached a climax. The disciples were evidently swept off their feet by the mob psychology for they still shared the Pharisaic hope of a political kingdom. With the disciples out of the way Jesus could handle the crowd more easily, till he should send the multitudes away (ἑως οὑ ἀπολυσῃ τους ὀχλους [heōs hou apolusēi tous ochlous]). The use of the aorist subjunctive with ἑως [heōs] or ἑως οὑ [heōs hou] is a neat and common Greek idiom where the purpose is not yet realized. So in 18:30; 26:36. “While” sometimes renders it well. The subjunctive is retained after a past tense instead of the change to the optative of the ancient Attic. The optative is very rare anyhow, but Luke uses it with πριν ἠ [prin ē] in Acts 25:16.

Matthew 14:23

Into the mountain (εἰς το ὀρος [eis to oros]). After the dismissal of the crowd Jesus went up alone into the mountain on the eastern side of the lake to pray as he often did go to the mountains to pray. If ever he needed the Father’s sympathy, it was now. The masses were wild with enthusiasm and the disciples wholly misunderstood him. The Father alone could offer help now.

Matthew 14:24

Distressed (βασανιζομενον [basanizomenon]). Like a man with demons (8:29). One can see, as Jesus did (Mark 6:48), the boat bobbing up and down in the choppy sea.

Matthew 14:25

Walking upon the sea (περιπατων ἐπι την θαλασσαν [peripatōn epi tēn thalassan]). Another nature miracle. Some scholars actually explain it all away by urging that Jesus was only walking along the beach and not on the water, an impossible theory unless Matthew’s account is legendary. Matthew uses the accusative (extension) with ἐπι [epi] in verse 25 and the genitive (specifying case) in 26.

Matthew 14:26

They were troubled (ἐταραχθησαν [etarachthēsan]). Much stronger than that. They were literally “terrified” as they saw Jesus walking on the sea. An apparition (φαντασμα [phantasma]), or “ghost,” or “spectre” from φανταζω [phantazō] and that from φαινω [phainō]. They cried out “from fear” (ἀπο του φοβου [apo tou phobou]) as any one would have done. “A little touch of sailor superstition” (Bruce).

Matthew 14:28

Upon the waters (ἐπι τα ὑδατα [epi ta hudata]). The impulsiveness of Peter appears as usual. Matthew alone gives this Peter episode.

Matthew 14:30

Seeing the wind (βλεπων τον ἀνεμον [blepōn ton anemon]). Cf. Ex. 20:18 and Rev. 1:12 “to see the voice” (την φωνην [tēn phōnēn]). “It is one thing to see a storm from the deck of a stout ship, another to see it in the midst of the waves” (Bruce). Peter was actually beginning to sink (καταποντιζεσθαι [katapontizesthai]) to plunge down into the sea, “although a fisherman and a good swimmer” (Bengel). It was a dramatic moment that wrung from Peter the cry: “Lord, save me” (Κυριε, σωσον με [Kurie, sōson me]), and do it quickly the aorist means. He could walk on the water till he saw the wind whirl the water round him.

Matthew 14:31

Didst thou doubt? (ἐδιστασας; [edistasas?]). Only here and 28:17 in the N. T. From δισταζω [distazō] and that from δις [dis] (twice). Pulled two ways. Peter’s trust in the power of Christ gave way to his dread of the wind and waves. Jesus had to take hold of Peter (ἐπελαβετο [epelabeto], middle voice) and pull him up while still walking on the water.

Matthew 14:32

Ceased (ἐκοπασεν [ekopasen]). From κοπος [kopos], toil. The wind grew weary or tired, exhausted itself in the presence of its Master (cf. Mark 4:39). Not a mere coincidence that the wind ceased now.

Matthew 14:33

Worshipped him (προσεκυνησαν αὐτῳ [prosekunēsan autōi]). And Jesus accepted it. They were growing in appreciation of the person and power of Christ from the attitude in 8:27. They will soon be ready for the confession of 16:16. Already they can say: “Truly God’s Son thou art.” The absence of the article here allows it to mean a Son of God as in 27:54 (the centurion). But they probably mean “the Son of God” as Jesus was claiming to them to be.

Matthew 14:34

Gennesaret (Γεννησαρετ [Gennēsaret]). A rich plain four miles long and two broad. The first visit of Jesus apparently with the usual excitement at the cures. People were eager to touch the hem of Christ’s mantle like the woman in 9:20. Jesus honoured their superstitious faith and “as many as touched were made whole” (ὁσοι ἡψαντο διεσωθεσαν [hosoi hēpsanto diesōthesan]), completely (δι- [di-]) healed.

Chapter 15

Matthew 15:1

From Jerusalem (ἀπο Ἰεροσολυμων [apo Ierosolumōn]). Jerusalem is the headquarters of the conspiracy against Jesus with the Pharisees as the leaders in it. Already we have seen the Herodians combining with the Pharisees in the purpose to put Jesus to death (Mark 3:6=Matt. 12:14=Luke 6:11). Soon Jesus will warn the disciples against the Sadducees also (Matt. 16:6). Unusual order here, “Pharisees and scribes.” “The guardians of tradition in the capital have their evil eye on Jesus and co-operate with the provincial rigorists” (Bruce), if the Pharisees were not all from Jerusalem.

Matthew 15:2

The tradition of the elders (την παραδοσιν των πρεσβυτερων [tēn paradosin tōn presbuterōn]). This was the oral law, handed down by the elders of the past in ex cathedra fashion and later codified in the Mishna. Handwashing before meals is not a requirement of the Old Testament. It is, we know, a good thing for sanitary reasons, but the rabbis made it a mark of righteousness for others at any rate. This item was magnified at great length in the oral teaching. The washing (νιπτονται [niptontai], middle voice, note) of the hands called for minute regulations. It was commanded to wash the hands before meals, it was one’s duty to do it after eating. The more rigorous did it between the courses. The hands must be immersed. Then the water itself must be “clean” and the cups or pots used must be ceremonially “clean.” Vessels were kept full of clean water ready for use (John 2:6–8). So it went on ad infinitum. Thus a real issue is raised between Jesus and the rabbis. It was far more than a point of etiquette or of hygienics. The rabbis held it to be a mortal sin. The incident may have happened in a Pharisee’s house.

Matthew 15:3

Ye also (και ὑμεις [kai hūmeis]). Jesus admits that the disciples had transgressed the rabbinical traditions. Jesus treats it as a matter of no great importance in itself save as they had put the tradition of the elders in the place of the commandment of God. When the two clashed, as was often the case, the rabbis transgress the commandment of God “because of your tradition” (δια την παραδοσιν ὑμων [dia tēn paradosin hūmōn]). The accusative with δια [dia] means that, not “by means of.” Tradition is not good or bad in itself. It is merely what is handed on from one to another. Custom tended to make these traditions binding like law. The Talmud is a monument of their struggle with tradition. There could be no compromise on this subject and Jesus accepts the issue. He stands for real righteousness and spiritual freedom, not for bondage to mere ceremonialism and tradition. The rabbis placed tradition (the oral law) above the law of God.

Matthew 15:5

But ye say (ὑμεις δε λεγετε [hūmeis de legete]). In sharp contrast to the command of God. Jesus had quoted the fifth commandment (Ex. 20:12, 16) with the penalty “die the death” (θανατῳ τελευτατω [thanatōi teleutatō]), “go on to his end by death,” in imitation of the Hebrew idiom. They dodged this command of God about the penalty for dishonouring one’s father or mother by the use “Corban” (κορβαν [korban]) as Mark calls it (7:11). All one had to do to evade one’s duty to father or mother was to say “Corban” or “Gift” (Δωρον [Dōron]) with the idea of using the money for God. By an angry oath of refusal to help one’s parents, the oath or vow was binding. By this magic word one set himself free (οὐ μη τιμησει [ou mē timēsei], he shall not honour) from obedience to the fifth commandment. Sometimes unfilial sons paid graft to the rabbinical legalists for such dodges. Were some of these very faultfinders guilty?

Matthew 15:6

Ye have made void the word of God (ἐκυρωσατε τον λογον του θεου [ekurōsate ton logon tou theou]). It was a stinging indictment that laid bare the hollow pretence of their quibbles about handwashing. Κυρος [Kuros] means force or authority, ἀκυρος [akuros] is without authority, null and void. It is a late verb, ἀκυροω [akuroō] but in the LXX, Gal. 3:17; and in the papyri Adjective, verb, and substantive occur in legal phraseology like cancelling a will, etc. The moral force of God’s law is annulled by their hairsplitting technicalities and immoral conduct.

Matthew 15:7

Well did Isaiah prophesy of you (καλως ἐπροφητευσεν περι ὑμων Ἐσαιας [kalōs eprophēteusen peri hūmōn Esaias]). There is sarcasm in this pointed application of Isaiah’s words (Is. 29:13) to these rabbis. He “beautifully pictured” them. The portrait was to the very life, “teaching as their doctrines the commandments of men.” They were indeed far from God if they imagined that God would be pleased with such gifts at the expense of duty to one’s parents.

Matthew 15:11

This defileth the man (τουτο κοινοι τον ἀνθρωπον [touto koinoi ton anthrōpon]). This word is from κοινος [koinos] which is used in two senses, either what is “common” to all and general like the Koiné Greek, or what is unclean and “common” either ceremonially or in reality. The ceremonial “commonness” disturbed Peter on the housetop in Joppa (Acts 10:14). See also Acts 21:28; Heb. 9:13. One who is thus religiously common or unclean is cut off from doing his religious acts. “Defilement” was a grave issue with the rabbinical ceremonialists. Jesus appeals to the crowd here: Hear and understand (ἀκουετε και συνιετε [akouete kai suniete]). He has a profound distinction to draw. Moral uncleanness is what makes a man common, defiles him. That is what is to be dreaded, not to be glossed over. “This goes beyond the tradition of the elders and virtually abrogates the Levitical distinctions between clean and unclean” (Bruce). One can see the pettifogging pretenders shrivel up under these withering words.

Matthew 15:12

Were offended (ἐσκανδαλισθησαν [eskandalisthēsan]). First aorist passive. “Were caused to stumble,” “have taken offence” (Moffatt), “have turned against you” (Weymouth), “were shocked” (Goodspeed), “War ill-pleased” (Braid Scots). They took umbrage at the public rebuke and at such a scorpion sting in it all. It cut to the quick because it was true. It showed in the glowering countenances of the Pharisees so plainly that the disciples were uneasy. See on 5:29.

Matthew 15:14

They are blind guides (τυφλοι εἰσιν ὁδηγοι [tuphloi eisin hodēgoi]). Graphic picture. Once in Cincinnati a blind man introduced me to his blind friend. He said that he was showing him the city. Jesus is not afraid of the Pharisees. Let them alone to do their worst. Blind leaders and blind victims will land in the ditch. A proverbial expression in the O. T.

Matthew 15:15

Declare unto us the parable (φρασον ὑμιν την παραβολην [phrason hūmin tēn parabolēn]). Explain the parable (pithy saying) in verse 11, not in verse 14. As a matter of fact, the disciples had been upset by Christ’s powerful exposure of the “Corban” duplicity and the words about “defilement” in verse 11.

Matthew 15:16

Are ye also even yet without understanding? (Ἀκμην και ὑμεις ἀσυνετοι ἐστε [Akmēn kai hūmeis asunetoi este]). Ἀκμην [Akmēn] is an adverbial accusative (classic αἰχμη [aichmē], point (of a weapon)=ἀκμην χρονου [akmēn chronou] at this point of time, just now=ἐτι [eti]. It occurs in papyri and inscriptions, though condemned by the old grammarians. “In spite of all my teaching, are ye also like the Pharisees without spiritual insight and grasp?” One must never forget that the disciples lived in a Pharisaic environment. Their religious world-outlook was Pharisaic. They were lacking in spiritual intelligence or sense, “totally ignorant” (Moffatt).

Matthew 15:17

Perceive ye not? (οὐ νοειτε [ou noeite]). Christ expects us to make use of our νους [nous], intellect, not for pride, but for insight. The mind does not work infallibly, but we should use it for its God-given purpose. Intellectual laziness or flabbiness is no credit to a devout soul.

Matthew 15:18

Out of the mouth (ἐκ του στοματος [ek tou stomatos]). Spoken words come out of the heart and so are a true index of character. By “heart” (καρδιας [kardias]) Jesus means not just the emotional nature, but the entire man, the inward life of “evil thoughts” (διαλογισμοι πονηροι [dialogismoi ponēroi]) that issue in words and deeds. “These defile the man,” not “eating with unwashed hands.” The captious quibblings of the Pharisees, for instance, had come out of evil hearts.

Matthew 15:22

A Canaanitish woman (γυνη Χαναναια [gunē Chananaia]). The Phoenicians were descended from the Canaanites, the original inhabitants of Palestine. They were of Semitic race, therefore, though pagan. Have pity on me (ἐλεησον με [eleēson me]). She made her daughter’s case her own, “badly demonized.”

Matthew 15:23

For she crieth after us (ὁτι κραζει ὀπισθεν ἡμων [hoti krazei opisthen hēmōn]). The disciples greatly disliked this form of public attention, a strange woman crying after them. They disliked a sensation. Did they wish the woman sent away with her daughter healed or unhealed?

Matthew 15:24

I was not sent (οὐκ ἀπεσταλην [ouk apestalēn]). Second aorist passive indicative of ἀποστελλω [apostellō]. Jesus takes a new turn with this woman in Phoenicia. He makes a test case of her request. In a way she represented the problem of the Gentile world. He calls the Jews “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” in spite of the conduct of the Pharisees.

Matthew 15:27

Even the dogs (και τα κυναρια [kai ta kunaria]). She took no offence at the implication of being a Gentile dog. The rather she with quick wit took Christ’s very word for little dogs (κυναρια [kunaria]) and deftly turned it to her own advantage, for the little dogs eat of the crumbs (ψιχιων [psichiōn], little morsels, diminutive again) that fall from the table of their masters (κυριων [kuriōn]), the children.

Matthew 15:28

As thou wilt (ὡς θελεις [hōs theleis]). Her great faith and her keen rejoinder won her case.

Matthew 15:29

And sat there (ἐκαθητο ἐκει [ekathēto ekei]). “Was sitting there” on the mountain side near the sea of Galilee, possibly to rest and to enjoy the view or more likely to teach.

Matthew 15:30

And they cast them down at his feet (και ἐριψαν αὐτους παρα τους ποδας αὐτου [kai eripsan autous para tous podas autou]). A very strong word, flung them down, “not carelessly, but in haste, because so many were coming on the same errand” (Vincent). It was a great day for “they glorified the God of Israel.”

Matthew 15:32

Three days (ἡμεραι τρεις [hēmerai treis]). A parenthetic nominative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 460). What to eat (τι φαγωσιν [ti phagōsin]). Indirect question with the deliberative subjunctive retained. In the feeding of the five thousand Jesus took compassion on the people and healed their sick (14:14). Here the hunger of the multitude moves him to compassion (σπλαγχνιζομαι [splagchnizomai], in both instances). So he is unwilling (οὐ θελω [ou thelō]) to send them away hungry. Faint (ἐκλυθωσιν [ekluthōsin]). Unloosed, (ἐκλυω [ekluō]) exhausted.

Matthew 15:33

And the disciples say to him (και λεγουσιν αὐτῳ οἱ μαθηται [kai legousin autōi hoi mathētai]). It seems strange that they should so soon have forgotten the feeding of the five thousand (Matt. 14:13–21), but they did. Soon Jesus will remind them of both these demonstrations of his power (16:9 and 10). They forgot both of them, not just one. Some scholars scout the idea of two miracles so similar as the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand, though both are narrated in detail by both Mark and Matthew and both are later mentioned by Jesus. Jesus repeated his sayings and wrought multitudes of healings. There is no reason in itself why Jesus should not on occasion repeat a nature miracle like this elsewhere. He is in the region of Decapolis, not in the country of Philip (Τραχονιτις [Trachonitis]).

Matthew 15:34

A few small fishes (ὀλιγα ἰχθυδια [oliga ichthudia], diminutive again).

Matthew 15:35

On the ground (ἐπι την γην [epi tēn gēn]). No mention of “grass” as in 14:19 for this time, midsummer, the grass would be parched and gone.

Matthew 15:36

Gave thanks (εὐχαριστησας [eucharistēsas]). In 14:19 the word used for “grace” or “blessing” is εὐλογησεν [eulogēsen]. Vincent notes that the Jewish custom was for the head of the house to say the blessing only if he shared the meal unless the guests were his own household. But we need not think of Jesus as bound by the peccadilloes of Jewish customs.

Matthew 15:39

The borders of Magadan (εἰς τα ὁρια Μαγαδαν [eis ta horia Magadan]). On the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee and so in Galilee again. Mark terms it Dalmanutha (8:10). Perhaps after all the same place as Magdala, as most manuscripts have it.

Chapter 16

Matthew 16:1

The Pharisees and Sadducees (οἱ Φαρισαιοι και Σαδδουκαιοι [hoi Pharisaioi kai Saddoukaioi]). The first time that we have this combination of the two parties who disliked each other exceedingly. Hate makes strange bedfellows. They hated Jesus more than they did each other. Their hostility has not decreased during the absence of Jesus, but rather increased. Tempting him (πειραζοντες [peirazontes]). Their motive was bad. A sign from heaven (σημειον ἐκ του οὐρανου [sēmeion ek tou ouranou]). The scribes and Pharisees had already asked for a sign (12:38). Now this new combination adds “from heaven.” What did they have in mind? They may not have had any definite idea to embarrass Jesus. The Jewish apocalypses did speak of spectacular displays of power by the Son of Man (the Messiah). The devil had suggested that Jesus let the people see him drop down from the pinnacle of the temple and the people expected the Messiah to come from an unknown source (John 7:27) who would do great signs (John 7:31). Chrysostom (Hom. liii.) suggests stopping the course of the sun, bridling the moon, a clap of thunder.

Matthew 16:2

Fair weather (εὐδια [eudia]). An old poetic word from εὐ [eu] and Ζευς [Zeus] as the ruler of the air and giver of fair weather. So men today say “when the sky is red at sunset.” It occurs on the Rosetta Stone and in a fourth century a.d. Oxyr. papyrus for “calm weather” that made it impossible to sail the boat. Aleph and B and some other MSS. omit verses 2 and 3. W omits part of verse 2. These verses are similar to Luke 12:54–56. McNeile rejects them here. Westcott and Hort place in brackets. Jesus often repeated his sayings. Zahn suggests that Papias added these words to Matthew.

Matthew 16:3

Lowring (στυγναζων [stugnazōn]). A sky covered with clouds. Used also of a gloomy countenance as of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:22. Nowhere else in the New Testament. This very sign of a rainy day we use today. The word for “foul weather” (χειμων [cheimōn]) is the common one for winter and a storm. The signs of the times (τα σημεια των καιρων [ta sēmeia tōn kairōn]). How little the Pharisees and Sadducees understood the situation. Soon Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Jewish state overturned. It is not always easy to discern (διακρινειν [diakrinein], discriminate) the signs of our own time. Men are numerous with patent keys to it all. But we ought not to be blind when others are gullible.

Matthew 16:4

Same words in 12:39 except του προφητου [tou prophētou], a real doublet.

Matthew 16:5

Came (ἐλθοντες [elthontes]). Probably=”went” as in Luke 15:20 (ἰρε [ire], not venire). So in Mark 8:13 ἀπηλθεν [apēlthen]. Forgot (ἐπελαθοντο [epelathonto]). Perhaps in the hurry to leave Galilee, probably in the same boat by which they came across from Decapolis.

Matthew 16:7

They reasoned (διελογιζοντο [dielogizonto]). It was pathetic, the almost jejune inability of the disciples to understand the parabolic warning against “the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (verse 6) after the collision of Christ just before with both parties in Magadan. They kept it up, imperfect tense. It is “loaves” (ἀρτους [artous]) rather than “bread.”

Matthew 16:8

Jesus asks four pungent questions about the intellectual dulness, refers to the feeding of the five thousand and uses the word κοφινους [kophinous] (14:20) for it and σφυριδας [sphuridas] for the four thousand (15:37), and repeats his warning (16:11). Every teacher understands this strain upon the patience of this Teacher of teachers.

Matthew 16:12

Then understood they (τοτε συνηκαν [tote sunēkan]). First aorist active indicative of συνιημι [suniēmi], to grasp, to comprehend. They saw the point after this elaborate rebuke and explanation that by “leaven” Jesus meant “teaching.”

Matthew 16:13

Caesarea Philippi (Καισαριας της Φιλιππου [Kaisarias tēs Philippou]). Up on a spur of Mt. Hermon under the rule of Herod Philip. He asked (ἠρωτα [ērōtā]). Began to question, inchoative imperfect tense. He was giving them a test or examination. The first was for the opinion of men about the Son of Man.

Matthew 16:14

And they said (οἱ δε εἰπαν [hoi de eipan]). They were ready to respond for they knew that popular opinion was divided on that point (14:1f.). They give four different opinions. It is always a risky thing for a pastor to ask for people’s opinions of him. But Jesus was not much concerned by their answers to this question. He knew by now that the Pharisees and Sadducees were bitterly hostile to him. The masses were only superficially following him and they looked for a political Messiah and had vague ideas about him. How much did the disciples understand and how far have they come in their development of faith? Are they still loyal?

Matthew 16:15

But who say ye that I am? (ὑμεις δε τινα με λεγετε εἰναι; [hūmeis de tina me legete einai?]). This is what matters and what Jesus wanted to hear. Note emphatic position of ὑμεις [hūmeis], “But you, who say ye that I am?”

Matthew 16:16

Peter is the spokesman now: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Συ εἰ ὁ Χριστος ὁ υἱος του θεου του ζωντος [Su ei ho Christos ho huios tou theou tou zōntos]). It was a noble confession, but not a new claim by Jesus. Peter had made it before (John 6:69) when the multitude deserted Jesus in Capernaum. Since the early ministry (John 4) Jesus had avoided the word Messiah because of its political meaning to the people. But now Peter plainly calls Jesus the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Son of the God the living one (note the four Greek articles). This great confession of Peter means that he and the other disciples believe in Jesus as the Messiah and are still true to him in spite of the defection of the Galilean populace (John 6).

Matthew 16:17

Blessed art thou (μακαριος εἰ [makarios ei]). A beatitude for Peter. Jesus accepts the confession as true. Thereby Jesus on this solemn occasion solemnly claims to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God, his deity in other words. The disciples express positive conviction in the Messiahship or Christhood of Jesus as opposed to the divided opinions of the populace. “The terms in which Jesus speaks of Peter are characteristic—warm, generous, unstinted. The style is not that of an ecclesiastical editor laying the foundation for church power, and prelatic pretentions, but of a noble-minded Master eulogizing in impassioned terms a loyal disciple” (Bruce). The Father had helped Peter get this spiritual insight into the Master’s Person and Work.

Matthew 16:18

And I also say unto thee (κʼαγω δε σοι λεγω [k’agō de soi legō]). “The emphasis is not on ‘Thou art Peter’ over against ‘Thou art the Christ,’ but on Καγω [Kagō]: ‘The Father hath revealed to thee one truth, and I also tell you another’ ” (McNeile). Jesus calls Peter here by the name that he had said he would have (John 1:42). Peter (Πετρος [Petros]) is simply the Greek word for Cephas (Aramaic). Then it was prophecy, now it is fact. In verse 17 Jesus addresses him as “Simon Bar-Jonah,” his full patronymic (Aramaic) name. But Jesus has a purpose now in using his nickname “Peter” which he had himself given him. Jesus makes a remarkable play on Peter’s name, a pun in fact, that has caused volumes of controversy and endless theological strife. On this rock (ἐπι ταυτῃ τῃ πετρᾳ [epi tautēi tēi petrāi]) Jesus says, a ledge or cliff of rock like that in 7:24 on which the wise man built his house. Πετρος [Petros] is usually a smaller detachment of the massive ledge. But too much must not be made of this point since Jesus probably spoke Aramaic to Peter which draws no such distinction (Κηφα [Kēphā]). What did Jesus mean by this word-play? I will build my church (οἰκοδομησω μου την ἐκκλησιαν [oikodomēsō mou tēn ekklēsian]). It is the figure of a building and he uses the word ἐκκλησιαν [ekklēsian] which occurs in the New Testament usually of a local organization, but sometimes in a more general sense. What is the sense here in which Jesus uses it? The word originally meant “assembly” (Acts 19:39), but it came to be applied to an “unassembled assembly” as in Acts 8:3 for the Christians persecuted by Saul from house to house. “And the name for the new Israel, ἐκκλησια [ekklēsia], in His mouth is not an anachronism. It is an old familiar name for the congregation of Israel found in Deut. (18:16; 23:2) and Psalms (22:3–6), both books well known to Jesus” (Bruce). It is interesting to observe that in Psalm 89 most of the important words employed by Jesus on this occasion occur in the LXX text. So οἰκοδομησω [oikodomēsō] in 89:5; ἐκκλησια [ekklēsia] in 6; κατισχυω [katischuō] in 22; Χριστος [Christos] in 39, 52; ᾁδης [hāidēs] in 49 (ἐκ χειρος ᾁδου [ek cheiros hāidou]). If one is puzzled over the use of “building” with the word ἐκκλησια [ekklēsia] it will be helpful to turn to 1 Pet. 2:5. Peter, the very one to whom Jesus is here speaking, writing to the Christians in the five Roman provinces in Asia (1 Pet. 1:1), says: “You are built a spiritual house” (οἰκοδομεισθε οἰκος πνευματικος [oikodomeisthe oikos pneumatikos]). It is difficult to resist the impression that Peter recalls the words of Jesus to him on this memorable occasion. Further on (2:9) he speaks of them as an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, showing beyond controversy that Peter’s use of building a spiritual house is general, not local. This is undoubtedly the picture in the mind of Christ here in 16:18. It is a great spiritual house, Christ’s Israel, not the Jewish nation, which he describes. What is the rock on which Christ will build his vast temple? Not on Peter alone or mainly or primarily. Peter by his confession was furnished with the illustration for the rock on which His church will rest. It is the same kind of faith that Peter has just confessed. The perpetuity of this church general is guaranteed. The gates of Hades (πυλαι ᾁδου [pulai hāidou]) shall not prevail against it (οὐ κατισχυσουσιν αὐτης [ou katischusousin autēs]). Each word here creates difficulty. Hades is technically the unseen world, the Hebrew Sheol, the land of the departed, that is death. Paul uses θανατε [thanate] in 1 Cor. 15:55 in quoting Hosea 13:14 for ᾁδη [hāidē]. It is not common in the papyri, but it is common on tombstones in Asia Minor, “doubtless a survival of its use in the old Greek religion” (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary). The ancient pagans divided Hades (α [a] privative and ἰδειν [idein], to see, abode of the unseen) into Elysium and Tartarus as the Jews put both Abraham’s bosom and Gehenna in Sheol or Hades (cf. Luke 16:25). Christ was in Hades (Acts 2:27, 31), not in Gehenna. We have here the figure of two buildings, the Church of Christ on the Rock, the House of Death (Hades). “In the Old Testament the ‘gates of Hades’ (Sheol) never bears any other meaning (Isa. 38:10; Wisd. 16:3; 3 Macc. 5:51) than death,” McNeile claims. See also Psa. 9:13; 107:18; Job 38:17 (πυλαι θανατου πυλωροι ᾁδου [pulai thanatou pulōroi hāidou]). It is not the picture of Hades attacking Christ’s church, but of death’s possible victory over the church. “The ἐκκλησια [ekklēsia] is built upon the Messiahship of her master, and death, the gates of Hades, will not prevail against her by keeping Him imprisoned. It was a mysterious truth, which He will soon tell them in plain words (verse 21); it is echoed in Acts 2:24, 31″ (McNeile). Christ’s church will prevail and survive because He will burst the gates of Hades and come forth conqueror. He will ever live and be the guarantor of the perpetuity of His people or church. The verb κατισχυω [katischuō] (literally have strength against, ἰσχυω [ischuō] from ἰσχυς [ischus] and κατ- [kat-]) occurs also in Luke 21:36 and 23:23. It appears in the ancient Greek, the LXX, and in the papyri with the accusative and is used in the modern Greek with the sense of gaining the mastery over. The wealth of imagery in Matt. 16:18 makes it difficult to decide each detail, but the main point is clear. The ἐκκλησια [ekklēsia] which consists of those confessing Christ as Peter has just done will not cease. The gates of Hades or bars of Sheol will not close down on it. Christ will rise and will keep his church alive. Sublime Porte used to be the title of Turkish power in Constantinople.

Matthew 16:19

The Keys of the kingdom (τας κλειδας της βασιλειας [tas kleidas tēs basileias]). Here again we have the figure of a building with keys to open from the outside. The question is raised at once if Jesus does not here mean the same thing by “kingdom” that he did by “church” in verse 18. In Rev. 1:18; 3:7 Christ the Risen Lord has “the keys of death and of Hades.” He has also “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” which he here hands over to Peter as “gatekeeper” or “steward” (οἰκονομος [oikonomos]) provided we do not understand it as a special and peculiar prerogative belonging to Peter. The same power here given to Peter belongs to every disciple of Jesus in all the ages. Advocates of papal supremacy insist on the primacy of Peter here and the power of Peter to pass on this supposed sovereignty to others. But this is all quite beside the mark. We shall soon see the disciples actually disputing again (Matt. 18:1) as to which of them is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven as they will again (20:21) and even on the night before Christ’s death. Clearly neither Peter nor the rest understood Jesus to say here that Peter was to have supreme authority. What is added shows that Peter held the keys precisely as every preacher and teacher does. To “bind” (δησῃς [dēsēis]) in rabbinical language is to forbid, to “loose” (λυσῃς [lusēis]) is to permit. Peter would be like a rabbi who passes on many points. Rabbis of the school of Hillel “loosed” many things that the school of Schammai “bound.” The teaching of Jesus is the standard for Peter and for all preachers of Christ. Note the future perfect indicative (ἐσται δεδεμενον, ἐσται λελυμενον [estai dedemenon, estai lelumenon]), a state of completion. All this assumes, of course, that Peter’s use of the keys will be in accord with the teaching and mind of Christ. The binding and loosing is repeated by Jesus to all the disciples (18:18). Later after the Resurrection Christ will use this same language to all the disciples (John 20:23), showing that it was not a special prerogative of Peter. He is simply first among equals, primus inter pares, because on this occasion he was spokesman for the faith of all. It is a violent leap in logic to claim power to forgive sins, to pronounce absolution, by reason of the technical rabbinical language that Jesus employed about binding and loosing. Every preacher uses the keys of the kingdom when he proclaims the terms of salvation in Christ. The proclamation of these terms when accepted by faith in Christ has the sanction and approval of God the Father. The more personal we make these great words the nearer we come to the mind of Christ. The more ecclesiastical we make them the further we drift away from him.

Matthew 16:20

That they should tell no man (ἱνα μηδενι εἰπωσιν [hina mēdeni eipōsin]). Why? For the very reason that he had himself avoided this claim in public. He was the Messiah (ὁ Χριστος [ho Christos]), but the people would inevitably take it in a political sense. Jesus was plainly profoundly moved by Peter’s great confession on behalf of the disciples. He was grateful and confident of the final outcome. But he foresaw peril to all. Peter had confessed him as the Messiah and on this rock of faith thus confessed he would build his church or kingdom. They will all have and use the keys to this greatest of all buildings, but for the present they must be silent.

Matthew 16:21

From that time began (ἀπο τοτε ἠρξατο [apo tote ērxato]). It was a suitable time for the disclosure of the greatest secret of his death. It is now just a little over six months before the cross. They must know it now to be ready then. The great confession of Peter made this seem an appropriate time. He will repeat the warnings (17:22f. with mention of betrayal; 20:17–19 with the cross) which he now “began.” So the necessity (δει [dei], must) of his suffering death at the hands of the Jerusalem ecclesiastics who have dogged his steps in Galilee is now plainly stated. Jesus added his resurrection “on the third day” (τῃ τριτῃ ἡμερᾳ [tēi tritēi hēmerāi]), not “on the fourth day,” please observe. Dimly the shocked disciples grasped something of what Jesus said.

Matthew 16:22

Peter took him (προσλαβομενος αὐτον ὁ Πετρος [proslabomenos auton ho Petros]). Middle voice, “taking to himself,” aside and apart, “as if by a right of his own. He acted with greater familiarity after the token of acknowledgment had been given. Jesus, however, reduces him to his level” (Bengel). “Peter here appears in a new character; a minute ago speaking under inspiration from heaven, now under inspiration from the opposite quarter” (Bruce). Syriac Sinaitic for Mark 8:32 has it “as though pitying him.” But this exclamation and remonstrance of Peter was soon interrupted by Jesus. God have mercy on thee (ἱλεως [hileōs]. Supply εἰη [eiē] or ἐστω ὁ θεος [estō ho theos]). This shall never be (οὐ μη ἐσται σοι τουτο [ou mē estai soi touto]). Strongest kind of negation, as if Peter would not let it happen. Peter had perfect assurance.

Matthew 16:23

But he turned (ὁ δε στραφεις [ho de strapheis]). Second aorist passive participle, quick ingressive action, away from Peter in revulsion, and toward the other disciples (Mark 8:33 has ἐπιστραφεις [epistrapheis] and ἰδων τους μαθητας αὐτου [idōn tous mathētas autou]). Get thee behind me, Satan (ὑπαγε ὀπισω μου, Σατανα [Hupage opisō mou, Satanā]). Just before Peter played the part of a rock in the noble confession and was given a place of leadership. Now he is playing the part of Satan and is ordered to the rear. Peter was tempting Jesus not to go on to the cross as Satan had done in the wilderness. “None are more formidable instruments of temptation than well-meaning friends, who care more for our comfort than for our character” (Bruce). “In Peter the banished Satan had once more returned” (Plummer). A stumbling-block unto me (σκανδαλον εἰ ἐμου [skandalon ei emou]). Objective genitive. Peter was acting as Satan’s catspaw, in ignorance, surely, but none the less really. He had set a trap for Christ that would undo all his mission to earth. “Thou art not, as before, a noble block, lying in its right position as a massive foundation stone. On the contrary, thou art like a stone quite out of its proper place, and lying right across the road in which I must go—lying as a stone of stumbling” (Morison). Thou mindest not (οὐ φρονεις [ou phroneis]). “Your outlook is not God’s, but man’s” (Moffatt). You do not think God’s thoughts. Clearly the consciousness of the coming cross is not a new idea with Jesus. We do not know when he first foresaw this outcome any more than we know when first the Messianic consciousness appeared in Jesus. He had the glimmerings of it as a boy of twelve, when he spoke of “My Father’s house.” He knows now that he must die on the cross.

Matthew 16:24

Take up his cross (ἀρατω τον σταυρον αὐτου [aratō ton stauron autou]). Pick up at once, aorist tense. This same saying in 10:38, which see. But pertinent here also in explanation of Christ’s rebuke to Peter. Christ’s own cross faces him. Peter had dared to pull Christ away from his destiny. He would do better to face squarely his own cross and to bear it after Jesus. The disciples would be familiar with cross-bearing as a figure of speech by reason of the crucifixion of criminals in Jerusalem. Follow (ἀκαλουθειτω [akaloutheitō]). Present tense. Keep on following.

Matthew 16:25

Save his life (την ψυχην αὐτου σωσαι [tēn psuchēn autou sōsai]). Paradoxical play on word “life” or “soul,” using it in two senses. So about “saving” and “losing” (ἀπολεσει [apolesei]).

Matthew 16:26

Gain (κερδησῃ [kerdēsēi]) and profit (ζημιωθῃ [zēmiōthēi]). Both aorist subjunctives (one active, the other passive) and so punctiliar action, condition of third class, undetermined, but with prospect of determination. Just a supposed case. The verb for “forfeit” occurs in the sense of being fined or mulcted of money. So the papyri and inscriptions. Exchange (ἀνταλλαγμα [antallagma]). As an exchange, accusative in apposition with τι [ti]. The soul has no market price, though the devil thinks so. “A man must give, surrender, his life, and nothing less to God; no ἀνταλλαγμα [antallagma] is possible” (McNeile). This word ἀνταλλαγμα [antallagma] occurs twice in the Wisdom of Sirach: “There is no exchange for a faithful friend” (6:15); “There is no exchange for a well-instructed soul” (26:14).

Matthew 16:28

Some of them that stand here (τινες των ὁδε ἑστωτων [tines tōn hode hestōtōn]). A crux interpretum in reality. Does Jesus refer to the Transfiguration, the Resurrection of Jesus, the great Day of Pentecost, the Destruction of Jerusalem, the Second Coming and Judgment? We do not know, only that Jesus was certain of his final victory which would be typified and symbolized in various ways. The apocalyptic eschatological symbolism employed by Jesus here does not dominate his teaching. He used it at times to picture the triumph of the kingdom, not to set forth the full teaching about it. The kingdom of God was already in the hearts of men. There would be climaxes and consummations.

Chapter 17

Matthew 17:1

After six days (μεθʼ ἡμερας ἑξ [meth’ hēmerās hex]). This could be on the sixth day, but as Luke (9:28) puts it “about eight days” one naturally thinks of a week as the probable time, though it is not important. Taketh with him (παραλαμβανει [paralambanei]). Literally, takes along. Note historical present. These three disciples form an inner group who have shown more understanding of Jesus. So at Gethsemane. Apart (κατʼ ἰδιαν [kat’ idian]) means “by themselves” (alone, μονους [monous], Mark has it) up (ἀναφερει [anapherei]) into a high mountain, probably Mount Hermon again, though we do not really know. “The Mount of Transfiguration does not concern geography” (Holtzmann).

Matthew 17:2

He was transfigured before them (μετεμορφωθη ἐμπροσθεν αὐτων [metemorphōthē emprosthen autōn]). The word is the same as the metamorphoses (cf. Ovid) of pagan mythology. Luke does not use it. The idea is change (μετα- [meta-]) of form (μορφη [morphē]). It really presents the essence of a thing as separate from the σχημα [schēma] (fashion), the outward accident. So in Rom. 12:2 Paul uses both verbs, συνσχεματιζεσθε [sunschematizesthe] (be not fashioned) and μεταμορφουσθε [metamorphousthe] (be ye transformed in your inner life). So in 1 Cor. 7:31 σχημα [schēma] is used for the fashion of the world while in Mark 16:12 μορφη [morphē] is used of the form of Jesus after his resurrection. The false apostles are described by μετασχηματισομαι [metaschēmatisomai] in 2 Cor. 11:13–15. In Phil. 2:6 we have ἐν μορφῃ [en morphēi] used of the Preincarnate state of Christ and μορφην δουλου [morphēn doulou] of the Incarnate state (2:7), while σχηματι ὡς ἀνθρωπος [schēmati hōs anthrōpos] emphasizes his being found “in fashion as a man.” But it will not do in Matt. 17:2 to use the English transliteration μεταμορφωσις [metamorphōsis] because of its pagan associations. So the Latin transfigured (Vulgate transfiguratus est) is better. “The deeper force of μεταμορφουσθαι [metamorphousthai] is seen in 2 Cor. 3:18 (with reference to the shining on Moses’ face), Rom. 12:2″ (McNeile). The word occurs in a second-century papyrus of the pagan gods who are invisible. Matthew guards against the pagan idea by adding and explaining about the face of Christ “as the sun” and his garments “as the light.”

Matthew 17:3

There appeared (ὠφθη [ōphthē]). Singular aorist passive verb with Moses (to be understood also with Elijah), but the participle συνλαλουντες [sunlalountes] is plural agreeing with both. “Sufficient objectivity is guaranteed by the vision being enjoyed by all three” (Bruce). The Jewish apocalypses reveal popular expectations that Moses and Elijah would reappear. Both had mystery connected with their deaths. One represented law, the other prophecy, while Jesus represented the gospel (grace). They spoke of his decease (Luke 9:31), the cross, the theme uppermost in the mind of Christ and which the disciples did not comprehend. Jesus needed comfort and he gets it from fellowship with Moses and Elijah.

Matthew 17:4

And Peter answered (ἀποκριθεις δε ὁ Πετρος [apokritheis de ho Petros]). “Peter to the front again, but not greatly to his credit” (Bruce). It is not clear what Peter means by his saying: “It is good for us to be here” (καλον ἐστιν ἡμας ὡδε εἰναι [kalon estin hēmās hōde einai]). Luke (9:33) adds “not knowing what he said,” as they “were heavy with sleep.” So it is not well to take Peter too seriously on this occasion. At any rate he makes a definite proposal. I will make (παιησω [paiēsō]). Future indicative though aorist subjunctive has same form. Tabernacles (σκηνας [skēnas]), booths. The Feast of Tabernacles was not far away. Peter may have meant that they should just stay up here on the mountain and not go to Jerusalem for the feast.

Matthew 17:5

Overshadowed (ἐπεσκιασεν [epeskiasen]). They were up in cloud-land that swept round and over them. See this verb used of Mary (Luke 1:35) and of Peter’s shadow (Acts 5:15). This is (οὑτος ἐστιν [houtos estin]). At the baptism (Matt. 3:17) these words were addressed to Jesus. Here the voice out of the bright cloud speaks to them about Jesus. Hear ye him (ἀκουετε αὐτου [akouete autou]). Even when he speaks about his death. A sharp rebuke to Peter for his consolation to Jesus about his death.

Matthew 17:7

And touched them (και ἁψαμενος αὐτων [kai hapsamenos autōn]). Tenderness in their time of fear.

Matthew 17:8

Lifting up their eyes (ἐπαραντες τους ὀφθαλμους αὐτων [eparantes tous ophthalmous autōn]). After the reassuring touch of Jesus and his words of cheer. Jesus only (Ἰησουν μονον [Iēsoun monon]). Moses and Elijah were gone in the bright cloud.

Matthew 17:9

Until (ἑως οὑ [heōs hou]). This conjunction is common with the subjunctive for a future event as his Resurrection (ἐγερθῃ [egerthēi]) was. Again (Mark 9:10) they were puzzled over his meaning. Jesus evidently hopes that this vision of Moses and Elijah and his own glory might stand them in good stead at his death.

Matthew 17:10

Elijah must first come (Ἐλειαν δει ἐλθειν πρωτον [Eleian dei elthein prōton]). So this piece of theology concerned them more than anything else. They had just seen Elijah, but Jesus the Messiah had come before Elijah. The scribes used Malachi 4:5. Jesus had also spoken again of his death (resurrection). So they are puzzled.

Matthew 17:12

Elijah is come already (Ἐλειας ἠδη ἠλθεν [Eleias ēdē ēlthen]). Thus Jesus identifies John the Baptist with the promise in Malachi, though not the real Elijah in person which John denied (John 1:21). They knew him not (οὐκ ἐπιγνωσαν αὐτον [ouk epignōsan auton]). Second aorist active indicative of ἐπιγινωσκω [epiginōskō], to recognize. Just as they do not know Jesus now (John 1:26). They killed John as they will Jesus the Son of Man.

Matthew 17:13

Then understood (τοτε συνηκαν [tote sunēkan]). One of the three k aorists. It was plain enough even for them. John was Elijah in spirit and had prepared the way for the Messiah.

Matthew 17:15

Epileptic (σεληνιαζεται [selēniazetai]). Literally, “moonstruck,” “lunatic.” The symptoms of epilepsy were supposed to be aggravated by the changes of the moon (cf. 4:24). He has it bad (κακως ἐχει [kakōs echei]) as often in the Synoptic Gospels.

Matthew 17:17

Perverse (διεστραμμενη [diestrammenē]). Distorted, twisted in two, corrupt. Perfect passive participle of διαστρεφω [diastrephō].

Matthew 17:20

Little faith (ὀλιγοπιστιαν [oligopistian]). A good translation. It was less than “a grain of mustard seed” (κοκκον σιναπεως [kokkon sinapeōs]). See 13:31 for this phrase. They had no miracle faith. Bruce holds “this mountain” to be the Mount of Transfiguration to which Jesus pointed. Probably so. But it is a parable. Our trouble is always with “this mountain” which confronts our path. Note the form μεταβα [metaba] (μετα [meta] and βηθι [bēthi]).

Matthew 17:23

And they were exceeding sorry (και ἐλυπηθησαν σφοδρα [kai elupēthēsan sphodra]). So they at last understood that he was talking about his death and resurrection.

Matthew 17:24

They that received the half-shekel (οἱ τα διδραχμα λαμβανοντες [hoi ta didrachma lambanontes]). This temple tax amounted to an Attic drachma or the Jewish half-shekel, about one-third of a dollar. Every Jewish man twenty years of age and over was expected to pay it for the maintenance of the temple. But it was not a compulsory tax like that collected by the publicans for the government. “The tax was like a voluntary church-rate; no one could be compelled to pay” (Plummer). The same Greek word occurs in two Egyptian papyri of the first century a.d. for the receipt for the tax for the temple of Suchus (Milligan and Moulton’s Vocabulary). This tax for the Jerusalem temple was due in the month Adar (our March) and it was now nearly six months overdue. But Jesus and the Twelve had been out of Galilee most of this time. Hence the question of the tax-collectors. The payment had to be made in the Jewish coin, half-shekel. Hence the money-changers did a thriving business in charging a small premium for the Jewish coin, amounting to some forty-five thousand dollars a year, it is estimated. It is significant that they approached Peter rather than Jesus, perhaps not wishing to embarrass “Your Teacher,” “a roundabout hint that the tax was overdue” (Bruce). Evidently Jesus had been in the habit of paying it (Peter’s).

Matthew 17:25

Jesus spake first to him (προεφθασεν αὐτον ὁ Ἰησους λεγων [proephthasen auton ho Iēsous legōn]). Here only in the N. T. One example in a papyrus b.c. 161 (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary). The old idiomatic use of φθανω [phthanō] with the participle survives in this example of προφθανω [prophthanō] in Matt. 17:25, meaning to anticipate, to get before one in doing a thing. The Koiné uses the infinitive thus with φθανω [phthanō] which has come to mean simply to arrive. Here the anticipation is made plain by the use of προ- [pro-]. See Robertson’s Grammar, p. 1120. The “prevent” of the Authorized Version was the original idea of praevenire, to go before, to anticipate. Peter felt obliged to take the matter up with Jesus. But the Master had observed what was going on and spoke to Peter first. Toll or tribute (τελη ἠ κηνσον [telē ē kēnson]). Customs or wares collected by the publicans (like φορος [phoros], Rom. 13:7) and also the capitation tax on persons, indirect and direct taxation. Κηνσος [Kēnsos] is the Latin census, a registration for the purpose of the appraisement of property like ἡ ἀπογραφη [hē apographē] in Luke 2:2; Acts 5:37. By this parable Jesus as the Son of God claims exemption from the temple tax as the temple of his Father just as royal families do not pay taxes, but get tribute from the foreigners or aliens, subjects in reality.

Matthew 17:26

The sons (οἱ υἱοι [hoi huioi]). Christ, of course, and the disciples also in contrast with the Jews. Thus a reply to Peter’s prompt “Yes.” Logically (ἀραγε [arage]) free from the temple tax, but practically not as he proceeds to show.

Matthew 17:27

Lest we cause them to stumble (ἱνα μη σκανδαλισωμεν αὐτους [hina mē skandalisōmen autous]). He does not wish to create the impression that he and the disciples despise the temple and its worship. Aorist tense (punctiliar single act) here, though some MSS. have present subjunctive (linear). “A hook” (ἀγκιστρον [agkistron]). The only example in the N. T. of fishing with a hook. From an unused verb ἀγκιζω [agkizō], to angle, and that from ἀγκος [agkos], a curve (so also ἀγκαλη [agkalē] the inner curve of the arm, Luke 2:38). First cometh up (τον ἀναβαντα πρωτον ἰχθυν [ton anabanta prōton ichthun]). More correctly, “the first fish that cometh up.” A shekel (στατηρα [statēra]). Greek stater=four drachmae, enough for two persons to pay the tax. For me and thee (ἀντι ἐμου και σου [anti emou kai sou]). Common use of ἀντι [anti] in commercial transactions, “in exchange for.” Here we have a miracle of foreknowledge. Such instances have happened. Some try to get rid of the miracle by calling it a proverb or by saying that Jesus only meant for Peter to sell the fish and thus get the money, a species of nervous anxiety to relieve Christ and the Gospel of Matthew from the miraculous. “All the attempts have been in vain which were made by the older Rationalism to put a non-miraculous meaning into these words” (B. Weiss). It is not stated that Peter actually caught such a fish though that is the natural implication. Why provision is thus only made for Peter along with Jesus we do not know.

Chapter 18

Matthew 18:1

Who then is greatest (τις ἀρα μειζων ἐστιν [tis ara meizōn estin]). The ἀρα [ara] seems to point back to the tax-collection incident when Jesus had claimed exemption for them all as “sons” of the Father. But it was not a new dispute, for jealousy had been growing in their hearts. The wonderful words of Jesus to Peter on Mount Hermon (Matt. 16:17–19) had evidently made Peter feel a fresh sense of leadership on the basis of which he had dared even to rebuke Jesus for speaking of his death (16:22). And then Peter was one of the three (James and John also) taken with the Master up on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter on that occasion had spoken up promptly. And just now the tax-collectors had singled out Peter as the one who seemed to represent the group. Mark (9:33) represents Jesus as asking them about their dispute on the way into the house, perhaps just after their question in Matt. 18:1. Jesus had noticed the wrangling. It will break out again and again (Matt. 20:20–28; Luke 22:24). Plainly the primacy of Peter was not yet admitted by the others. The use of the comparative μειζων [meizōn] (so ὁ μειζων [ho meizōn] in verse 4) rather than the superlative μεγιστος [megistos] is quite in accord with the Koiné idiom where the comparative is displacing the superlative (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 667ff.). But it is a sad discovery to find the disciples chiefly concerned about their own places (offices) in the political kingdom which they were expecting.

Matthew 18:2

Called to him (προσκαλεσαμενος [proskalesamenos]). Indirect middle voice aorist participle. It may even be Peter’s “little child” (παιδιον [paidion]) as it was probably in Peter’s house (Mark 9:33). Set him (ἐστησεν [estēsen]). Transitive first aorist active indicative, not intransitive second aorist, ἐστη [estē]. In the midst of them (ἐν μεσῳ αὐτων [en mesōi autōn]). Luke adds (9:47) “by his side” (παρʼ ἑαυτῳ [par’ heautōi]). Both are true.

Matthew 18:3

Except ye turn and become (ἐαν μη στραφητε και γενησθε [ean mē straphēte kai genēsthe]). Third-class condition, undetermined but with prospect of determination. Στραφητε [Straphēte] is second aorist passive subjunctive and γενησθε [genēsthe] second aorist middle subjunctive. They were headed in the wrong direction with their selfish ambition. “His tone at this time is markedly severe, as much as when He denounces the Pharisaism in the bud He had to deal with” (Bruce). The strong double negative οὐ μη εἰσελθητε [ou mē eiselthēte] means that they will otherwise not get into the kingdom of heaven at all, let alone have big places in it.

Matthew 18:4

This little child (το παιδιον τουτο [to paidion touto]). This saying about humbling oneself Jesus repeated a number of times as for instance in Matt. 23:12. Probably Jesus pointed to the child by his side. The ninth-century story that the child was Ignatius is worthless. It is not that the child humbled himself, but that the child is humble from the nature of the case in relation to older persons. That is true, however “bumptious” the child himself may be. Bruce observes that to humble oneself is “the most difficult thing in the world for saint as for sinner.”

Matthew 18:5

In my name (ἐπι τῳ ὀνοματι μου [epi tōi onomati mou]). For “one such little child” (any believer in Christ) Luke (9:48) has “this little child” as a representative or symbol. “On the basis or ground of my name,” “for my sake.” Very much like εἰς ὀνομα [eis onoma] in 10:41 which does not differ greatly from ἐν ὀνοματι [en onomati] (Acts 10:48).

Matthew 18:6

These little ones (των μικρων τουτων [tōn mikrōn toutōn]). In the same sense as “one such little one” above. The child is the type of believers. A great millstone (μυλος ὀνικος [mulos onikos]), literally, “a millstone turned by an ass.” The upper millstone was turned by an ass (ὀνος [onos]). There were no examples of the adjective ὀνικος [onikos] (turned by an ass) outside the N. T. until the papyri revealed several for loads requiring an ass to carry them, stones requiring an ass to move them, etc. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 81) notes it also in papyri examples about the sale of an ass and tax for an ass’s burden of goods. The depth of the sea (τῳ πελαγει της θαλασσης [tōi pelagei tēs thalassēs]). “The sea of the sea.” Πελαγος [Pelagos] probably from πλησσο [plēsso], to beat, and so the beating, splashing waves of the sea. “Far out into the open sea, a vivid substitute for εἰς την θαλασσαν [eis tēn thalassan]” (McNeile).

Matthew 18:7

Through whom (δἰ οὐ [di’ ou]). Jesus recognizes the inevitableness of stumbling-blocks, traps, hindrances, the world being as it is, but he does not absolve the man who sets the trap (cf. Luke 17:1).

Matthew 18:8

In verses 8 and 9 we have one of the dualities or doublets in Matthew (5:29–30). Jesus repeated his pungent sayings many times. Instead of εἰς γεενναν [eis geennan] (5:29) we have εἰς το πυρ το αἰωνιον [eis to pur to aiōnion] and at the end of verse 9 του πυρος [tou puros] is added to την γεενναν [tēn geennan]. This is the first use in Matthew of αἰωνιος [aiōnios]. We have it again in 19:16, 29 with ζοη [zoē], in 25:41 with πυρ [pur], in 25:46 with κολασιν [kolasin] and ζοην [zoēn]. The word means ageless, without beginning or end as of God (Rom. 16:26), without beginning as in Rom. 16:25, without end as here and often. The effort to make it mean “ἀεονιαν [aeonian]” fire will make it mean “ἀεονιαν [aeonian]” life also. If the punishment is limited, ipso facto the life is shortened. In verse 9 also μονοφθαλμον [monophthalmon] occurs. It is an Ionic compound in Herodotus that is condemned by the Atticists, but it is revived in the vernacular Koiné. Literally one-eyed. Here only and Mark 9:47 in the New Testament.

Matthew 18:10

Despise (καταφρονησητε [kataphronēsēte]). Literally, “think down on,” with the assumption of superiority. Their angels (οἱ ἀγγελοι αὐτων [hoi aggeloi autōn]). The Jews believed that each nation had a guardian angel (Dan. 10:13, 20f.; 12:1). The seven churches in Revelation (1:20) have angels, each of them, whatsoever the meaning is. Does Jesus mean to teach here that each little child or child of faith had a special angel who appears in God’s presence, “see the face of my Father” (βλεπουσιν το προσωπον του πατρος μου [blepousin to prosōpon tou patros mou]) in special intimacy? Or does he simply mean that the angels do take an interest in the welfare of God’s people (Heb. 1:14)? There is comfort to us in that thought. Certainly Jesus means that the Father takes special care of his “little ones” who believe in Him. There are angels in God’s presence (Luke 1:19).

Matthew 18:12

Leave the ninety and nine (ἀφησει τα ἐνενηκοντα ἐννεα ἐπι τα ὀρη και πορευθεις ζητει το πλανωμενον; [aphēsei ta enenēkonta ennea epi ta orē kai poreutheis zētei to planōmenon?]). This is the text of Westcott and Hort after BL, etc. This text means: “Will he not leave the ninety and nine upon the mountains and going does he not seek (change to present tense) the wandering one?” On the high pastures where the sheep graze at will one has wandered afield. See this parable later in Luke 15:4–7. Our word “planet” is from πλαναομαι [planaomai], wandering (moving) stars they were called as opposed to fixed stars. But now we know that no stars are fixed. They are all moving and rapidly.

Matthew 18:14

The will of your Father (θελημα ἐμπροσθεν [thelēma emprosthen]). Observe that Westcott and Hort read μου [mou] here rather than ὑμων [hūmōn] after B Sahidic Coptic. Either makes good sense, though “your” carries on the picture of God’s care for “each one of these little ones” (ἑν των μικρων τουτων [hen tōn mikrōn toutōn]) among God’s children. The use of ἐμπροσθεν [emprosthen] with θελημα [thelēma] is a Hebraism like ἐμπροσθεν σου [emprosthen sou] in 11:25 with εὐδοκια [eudokia], “before the face” of God.

Matthew 18:15

If thy brother sin against thee (ἐαν ἁμαρτησῃ ἀδελφος σου [ean hamartēsēi adelphos sou]). Literally, commit a sin (ingressive aorist subjunctive of ἁμαρτανω [hamartanō]). Aleph B Sahidic do not have “against thee” (εἰς σε [eis se]). Shew him his fault (ἐλεγξον [elegxon]). Such private reproof is hard to do, but it is the way of Christ. Thou hast gained (ἐκερδησας [ekerdēsas]). Aorist active indicative of κερδαινω [kerdainō] in conclusion of a third-class condition, a sort of timeless aorist, a blessed achievement already made.

Matthew 18:16

Take with thee (παραλαβε μετα σου [paralabe meta sou]). Take alone (παρα [para]) with (μετα [meta]) thee.

Matthew 18:17

Refuse to hear (παρακουσῃ [parakousēi]). Like Isa. 65:12. Many papyri examples for ignoring, disregarding, hearing without heeding, hearing aside (παρα- [para-]), hearing amiss, overhearing (Mark 5:36). The church (τῃ ἐκκλησιᾳ [tēi ekklēsiāi]). The local body, not the general as in Matt. 16:18 which see for discussion. The problem here is whether Jesus has in mind an actual body of believers already in existence or is speaking prophetically of the local churches that would be organized later (as in Acts). There are some who think that the Twelve Apostles constituted a local ἐκκλησια [ekklēsia], a sort of moving church of preachers. That could only be true in essence as they were a band of ministers and not located in any one place. Bruce holds that they were “the nucleus” of a local church at any rate.

Matthew 18:18

Shall be bound in heaven (ἐσται δεδεμενα ἐν οὐρανῳ [estai dedemena en ouranōi]). Future passive periphrastic perfect indicative as in “shall be loosed” (ἐσται λελυμενα [estai lelumena]). In 16:19 this same unusual form occurs. The binding and the loosing is there addressed to Peter, but it is here repeated for the church or for the disciples as the case may be.

Matthew 18:19

Shall agree (συμφωνησωσιν [sumphōnēsōsin]). Our word “symphony” is this very root. It is no longer looked at as a concord of voices, a chorus in harmony, though that would be very appropriate in a church meeting rather than the rasping discord sometimes heard even between two brethren or sisters. Of my Father (παρα του πατρος μου [para tou patros mou]). From the side of, “by my Father.”

Matthew 18:20

There am I (ἐκει εἰμι [ekei eimi]). This blessed promise implies that those gathered together are really disciples with the spirit of Christ as well as “in his name” (εἰς το ἐμον ὀνομα [eis to emon onoma]). One of the Oxyrhynchus Sayings of Our Lord is: “Wherever there are (two) they are not without God, and wherever there is one alone I say I am with him.” Also this: “Raise the stone and there thou shalt find me, cleave the wood and there am I.” See Mal. 3:16.

Matthew 18:21

Until seven times? (ἑως ἑπτακις; [heōs heptakis?]) Peter thought that he was generous as the Jewish rule was three times (Amos 1:6). His question goes back to verse 15. “Against me” is genuine here. “The man who asks such a question does not really know what forgiveness means” (Plummer).

Matthew 18:22

Until seventy times seven (ἑως ἑβδομηκοντακις ἑπτα [heōs hebdomēkontakis hepta]). It is not clear whether this idiom means seventy-seven or as the Revised Version has it (490 times). If ἑπτακις [heptakis] were written it would clearly be 490 times. The same ambiguity is seen in Gen. 4:24, the LXX text by omitting και [kai]. In the Test. of the Twelve Patriarchs, Benj. vii. 4, it is used in the sense of seventy times seven. But it really makes little difference because Jesus clearly means unlimited forgiveness in either case. “The unlimited revenge of primitive man has given place to the unlimited forgiveness of Christians” (McNeile).

Matthew 18:23

Make a reckoning (συναραι λογον [sunārai logon]). Seen also in 25:19. Perhaps a Latinism, rationes conferre. First aorist active infinitive of συναιρω [sunairō], to cast up accounts, to settle, to compare accounts with. Not in ancient Greek writers, but in two papyri of the second century a.d. in the very sense here and the substantive appears in an ostracon from Nubia of the early third century (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 117).

Matthew 18:24

Ten thousand talents (μυριων ταλαντων [muriōn talantōn]). A talent was 6,000 denarii or about a thousand dollars or 240 pounds. Ten thousand times this is about ten or twelve million dollars, an enormous sum for that period. We live today in the age of national debts of billions of dollars or even of pounds sterling. The imperial taxes of Judea, Idumea, and Samaria for one year were only 600 talents while Galilee and Perea paid 200 (Josephus, Ant. xi. 4). But oriental kings were free in the use of money and in making debts like the native kings of India today.

Matthew 18:25

Had not wherewith to pay (μη ἐχοντος αὐτου ἀποδουναι [mē echontos autou apodounai]). There is no “wherewith” in the Greek. This idiom is seen in Luke 7:42; 14:14; Heb. 6:13. Genitive absolute though αὐτον [auton] in the same clause as often in the N. T. To be sold (πραθηναι [prathēnai]). First aorist passive infinitive of πιπρασκω [pipraskō]. This was according to the law (Ex. 22:3; Lev. 25:39, 47). Wife and children were treated as property in those primitive times.

Matthew 18:27

The debt (το δανιον [to danion]). The loan. Common in the papyri for a loan. The interest had increased the debt enormously. “This heavy oriental usury is of the scenery of the parable” (McNeile).

Matthew 18:28

A hundred pence (ἑκατον δηναρια [hekaton dēnaria]). A denarius was worth about eight and a half pence. The hundred denarii here were equal to some “fifty shillings” (Bruce), “about 4 pounds” (McNeile), “twenty pounds” (Moffatt), “twenty dollars” (Goodspeed), “100 shillings” (Weymouth). These are various efforts to represent in modern language the small amount of this debt compared with the big one. Took him by the throat (ἐπνιγεν [epnigen]). “Held him by the throat” (Allen). It is imperfect, probably inchoative, “began to choke or throttle him.” The Roman law allowed this indignity. Vincent quotes Livy (iv. 53) who tells how the necks were twisted (collum torsisset) and how Cicero (Pro Cluentio, xxi.) says: “Lead him to the judgment seat with twisted neck (collo obtorto).” What thou owest (εἰ τι ὀφειλεις [ei ti opheileis]). Literally, “if thou owest anything,” however little. He did not even know how much it was, only that he owed him something. “The ‘if’ is simply the expression of a pitiless logic” (Meyer).

Matthew 18:30

And he would not (ὁ δε οὐκ ἠθελεν [ho de ouk ēthelen]). Imperfect tense of persistent refusal. Till he should pay (ἑως ἀποδῳ [heōs apodōi]). This futuristic aorist subjunctive is the rule with ἑως [heōs] for a future goal. He was to stay in prison till he should pay. “He acts on the instinct of a base nature, and also doubtless in accordance with long habits of harsh tyrannical behaviour towards men in his power” (Bruce). On imprisonment for debt among the Greeks and Romans see Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, pp. 270, 330.

Matthew 18:31

Told (διεσαφησαν [diesaphēsan]). Made wholly clear to their own lord. That is the usual result in the long run. There is a limit to what people will put up with.

Matthew 18:33

Shouldst thou not? (οὐκ ἐδει σε; [ouk edei se?]) “Was it not necessary?” The king fits the cap on this wicked slave that he put on the poor debtor.

Matthew 18:34

The tormentors (τοις βασανισταις [tois basanistais]). Not to prison simply, but to terrible punishment. The papyri give various instances of the verb βασανιζω [basanizō], to torture, used of slaves and others. “Livy (ii. 23) pictures an old centurion complaining that he was taken by his creditor, not into servitude, but to a workhouse and torture, and showing his back scarred with fresh wounds” (Vincent). Till he should pay all (ἑως [̔ου] ἀποδῳ παν [heōs [hou] apodōi pan]). Just as in verse 30, his very words. But this is not purgatorial, but punitive, for he could never pay back that vast debt.

Matthew 18:35

From your hearts (ἀπο των καρδιων ὑμων [apo tōn kardiōn hūmōn]). No sham or lip pardon, and as often as needed. This is Christ’s full reply to Peter’s question in 18:21. This parable of the unmerciful servant is surely needed today.

Chapter 19

Matthew 19:1

He departed (μετηρεν [metēren]). Literally, to lift up, change something to another place. Transitive in the LXX and in a Cilician rock inscription. Intransitive in 13:53 and here, the only N. T. instances. Absence of ὁτι [hoti] or και [kai] after και ἐγενετο [kai egeneto], one of the clear Hebraisms in the N. T. (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1042f.). This verse is a sort of formula in Matthew at the close of important groups of λογια [logia] as in 7:28; 11:1; 13:53. The borders of Judea beyond Jordan (εἰς τα ὁρια της Ἰουδαιας περαν του Ἰορδανου [eis ta horia tēs Ioudaias peran tou Iordanou]). This is a curious expression. It apparently means that Jesus left Galilee to go to Judea by way of Perea as the Galileans often did to avoid Samaria. Luke (17:11) expressly says that he passed through Samaria and Galilee when he left Ephraim in Northern Judea (John 11:54). He was not afraid to pass through the edge of Galilee and down the Jordan Valley in Perea on this last journey to Jerusalem. McNeile is needlessly opposed to the trans-Jordanic or Perean aspect of this phase of Christ’s work.

Matthew 19:3

Pharisees tempting him (Φαρισαιοι πειραζοντες αὐτον [Pharisaioi peirazontes auton]). They “could not ask a question of Jesus without sinister motives” (Bruce). See 4:1 for the word (πειραζω [peirazō]). For every cause (κατα πασαν αἰτιαν [kata pasan aitian]). This clause is an allusion to the dispute between the two theological schools over the meaning of Deut. 24:1. The school of Shammai took the strict and unpopular view of divorce for unchastity alone while the school of Hillel took the liberal and popular view of easy divorce for any passing whim if the husband saw a prettier woman (modern enough surely) or burnt his biscuits for breakfast. It was a pretty dilemma and meant to do Jesus harm with the people. There is no real trouble about the use of κατα [kata] here in the sense of προπτερ [propter] or because of (Robertson, Grammar, p. 509).

Matthew 19:5

Shall cleave (κολληθησεται [kollēthēsetai]). First future passive, “shall be glued to,” the verb means. The twain shall become one flesh (ἐσονται οἱ δυο εἰς σαρκα μιαν [esontai hoi duo eis sarka mian]). This use of εἰς [eis] after εἰμι [eimi] is an imitation of the Hebrew, though a few examples occur in the older Greek and in the papyri. The frequency of it is due to the Hebrew and here the LXX is a direct translation of the Hebrew idiom.

Matthew 19:6

What therefore God hath joined together (ὁ οὐν ὁ θεος συνεζευξεν [ho oun ho theos sunezeuxen]). Note “what,” not “whom.” The marriage relation God has made. “The creation of sex, and the high doctrine as to the cohesion it produces between man and woman, laid down in Gen., interdict separation” (Bruce). The word for “joined together” means “yoked together,” a common verb for marriage in ancient Greek. It is the timeless aorist indicative (συνεζευξεν [sunezeuxen]), true always. Bill (βιβλιον [biblion]). A little βιβλος [biblos] (see on 1:1), a scroll or document (papyrus or parchment). This was some protection to the divorced wife and a restriction on laxity.

Matthew 19:8

For your hardness of heart (προς την σκληροκαρδιαν ὑμων [pros tēn sklērokardian hūmōn]). The word is apparently one of the few Biblical words (LXX and the N. T.). It is a heart dried up (σκληρος [sklēros]), hard and tough. But from the beginning it hath not been so (ἀπʼ ἀρχης δε οὐκ γεγονεν οὑτως [ap’ archēs de ouk gegonen houtōs]). The present perfect active of γινομαι [ginomai] to emphasize the permanence of the divine ideal. “The original ordinance has never been abrogated nor superseded, but continues in force” (Vincent). “How small the Pharisaic disputants must have felt in presence of such holy teaching, which soars above the partisan view of controversialists into the serene region of ideal, universal, eternal truth” (Bruce).

Matthew 19:9

Except for fornication (παρεκτος λογου πορνειας [parektos logou porneias]). This is the marginal reading in Westcott and Hort which also adds “maketh her an adulteress” (ποιει αὐτην μοιχευθηναι [poiei autēn moicheuthēnai]) and also these words: “and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery” (και ὁ ἀπολελυμενην γαμησας μοιχαται [kai ho apolelumenēn gamēsas moichatai]). There seems to be a certain amount of assimilation in various manuscripts between this verse and the words in 5:32. But, whatever reading is accepted here, even the short one in Westcott and Hort (μη ἐπι πορνειᾳ [mē epi porneiāi], not for fornication), it is plain that Matthew represents Jesus in both places as allowing divorce for fornication as a general term (πορνεια [porneia]) which is technically adultery (μοιχεια [moicheia] from μοιχαω ὀρ μοιχευω [moichaō or moicheuō]). Here, as in 5:31f., a group of scholars deny the genuineness of the exception given by Matthew alone. McNeile holds that “the addition of the saving clause is, in fact, opposed to the spirit of the whole context, and must have been made at a time when the practice of divorce for adultery had already grown up.” That in my opinion is gratuitous criticism which is unwilling to accept Matthew’s report because it disagrees with one’s views on the subject of divorce. He adds: “It cannot be supposed that Matthew wished to represent Jesus as siding with the school of Shammai.” Why not, if Shammai on this point agreed with Jesus? Those who deny Matthew’s report are those who are opposed to remarriage at all. Jesus by implication, as in 5:31, does allow remarriage of the innocent party, but not of the guilty one. Certainly Jesus has lifted the whole subject of marriage and divorce to a new level, far beyond the petty contentions of the schools of Hillel and Shammai.

Matthew 19:10

The disciples say unto him (λεγουσιν αὐτῳ οἱ μαθηται [legousin autōi hoi mathētai]). “Christ’s doctrine on marriage not only separated Him τοτο καελο [toto kaelo] from Pharisaic opinions of all shades, but was too high even for the Twelve” (Bruce). The case (ἡ αἰτια [hē aitia]). The word may refer to the use in verse 3 “for every cause.” It may have a vague idea here=ρες [res], condition. But the point clearly is that “it is not expedient to marry” (οὐ συμφερει γαμησαι [ou sumpherei gamēsai]) if such a strict view is held. If the bond is so tight a man had best not commit matrimony. It is a bit unusual to have ἀνθρωπος [anthrōpos] and γυνη [gunē] contrasted rather than ἀνηρ [anēr] and γυνη [gunē].

Matthew 19:11

But they to whom it is given (ἀλλʼ οἱς δεδοται [all’ hois dedotai]). A neat Greek idiom, dative case of relation and perfect passive indicative. The same idea is repeated at the close of verse 12. It is a voluntary renunciation of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. “Jesus recognizes the severity of the demand as going beyond the capacity of all but a select number.” It was a direct appeal to the spiritual intelligence of the disciples not to misconceive his meaning as certainly the monastic orders have done.

Matthew 19:13

Rebuked them (ἐπετιμησεν αὐτοις [epetimēsen autois]). No doubt people did often crowd around Jesus for a touch of his hand and his blessing. The disciples probably felt that they were doing Jesus a kindness. How little they understood children and Jesus. It is a tragedy to make children feel that they are in the way at home and at church. These men were the twelve apostles and yet had no vision of Christ’s love for little children. The new child world of today is due directly to Jesus.

Matthew 19:14

Suffer (ἀφετε [aphete]). “Leave them alone.” Second aorist active imperative. Forbid them not (μη κωλυετε [mē kōluete]). “Stop hindering them.” The idiom of μη [] with the present imperative means just that. Of such (των τοιουτων [tōn toioutōn]). The childlike as in 18:3f.

Matthew 19:16

What good thing (τι ἀγαθον [ti agathon]). Mark (Mark 10:17) has the adjective “good” with “Teacher.” May have (σχω [schō]). Ingressive aorist subjunctive, “may get,” “may acquire.”

Matthew 19:17

Concerning that which is good (περι του ἀγαθου [peri tou agathou]). He had asked Jesus in verse 16 “what good thing” he should do. He evidently had a light idea of the meaning of ἀγαθος [agathos]. “This was only a teacher’s way of leading on a pupil” (Bruce). So Jesus explains that “One there is who is good,” one alone who is really good in the absolute sense.

Matthew 19:20

What lack I yet? (τι ἐτι ὑστερω; [ti eti husterō?]) Here is a psychological paradox. He claims to have kept all these commandments and yet he was not satisfied. He had an uneasy conscience and Jesus called him to something that he did not have. He thought of goodness as quantitative (a series of acts) and not qualitative (of the nature of God). Did his question reveal proud complacency or pathetic despair? A bit of both most likely.

Matthew 19:21

If thou wouldest be perfect (εἰ θελεις τελειος εἰναι [ei theleis teleios einai]). Condition of the first class, determined as fulfilled. Jesus assumes that the young man really desires to be perfect (a big adjective that, perfect as God is the goal, 5:48). That thou hast (σου τα ὑπαρχοντα [sou ta huparchonta]). “Thy belongings.” The Greek neuter plural participle used like our English word “belongings.” It was a huge demand, for he was rich.

Matthew 19:22

Went away sorrowful (ἀπηλθεν λυπουμενος [apēlthen lupoumenos]). “Went away grieved.” He felt that Jesus had asked too much of him. He worshipped money more than God when put to the test. Does Jesus demand this same test of every one? Not unless he is in the grip of money. Different persons are in the power of different sins. One sin is enough to keep one away from Christ.

Matthew 19:23

It is hard (δυσκολως [duskolōs]). With difficulty. Adverb from δυσκολος [duskolos], hard to find food, fastidious, faultfinding, then difficult.

Matthew 19:24

It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye (εὐκοπωτερον ἐστιν καμηλον δια τρηματος ῥαφιδος εἰσελθειν [eukopōteron estin kamēlon dia trēmatos rhaphidos eiselthein]). Jesus, of course, means by this comparison, whether an eastern proverb or not, to express the impossible. The efforts to explain it away are jejune like a ship’s cable, καμιλον [kamilon] or ῥαφις [rhaphis] as a narrow gorge or gate of entrance for camels which recognized stooping, etc. All these are hopeless, for Jesus pointedly calls the thing “impossible” (verse 26). The Jews in the Babylonian Talmud did have a proverb that a man even in his dreams did not see an elephant pass through the eye of a needle (Vincent). The Koran speaks of the wicked finding the gates of heaven shut “till a camel shall pass through the eye of a needle.” But the Koran may have got this figure from the New Testament. The word for an ordinary needle is ῥαφις [rhaphis], but, Luke (18:25) employs βελονη [belonē], the medical term for the surgical needle not elsewhere in the N. T.

Matthew 19:25

Were astonished (ἐξεπλησσοντο [exeplēssonto]). Imperfect descriptive of their blank amazement. They were literally “struck out.”

Matthew 19:26

Looking on them (ἐμβλεψας [emblepsas]). Jesus saw their amazement.

Matthew 19:27

What then shall we have? (τι ἀρα ἐσται ἡμιν; [ti ara estai hēmin?]) A pathetic question of hopeless lack of comprehension.

Matthew 19:28

In the regeneration (ἐν τῃ παλινγενεσιᾳ [en tēi palingenesiāi]). The new birth of the world is to be fulfilled when Jesus sits on his throne of glory. This word was used by the Stoics and the Pythagoreans. It is common also in the mystery religions (Angus, Mystery Religions and Christianity, pp. 95ff.). It is in the papyri also. We must put no fantastic ideas into the mouth of Jesus. But he did look for the final consummation of his kingdom. What is meant by the disciples also sitting on twelve thrones is not clear.

Matthew 19:29

A hundredfold (ἑκατονπλασιονα [hekatonplasiona]). But Westcott and Hort read πολλαπλασιονα [pollaplasiona], manifold. Eternal life is the real reward.

Matthew 19:30

The last first and the first last (οἱ ἐσχατοι πρωτοι και οἱ πρωτοι ἐσχατοι [hoi eschatoi prōtoi kai hoi prōtoi eschatoi]). This paradoxical enigma is probably in the nature of a rebuke to Peter and refers to ranks in the kingdom. There are many other possible applications. The following parable illustrates it.

Chapter 20

Matthew 20:1

For (γαρ [gar]). The parable of the house illustrates the aphorism in 19:30. A man that is a householder (ἀνθρωπῳ οἰκοδεσποτῃ [anthrōpōi oikodespotēi]). Just like ἀνθρωπῳ βασιλει [anthrōpōi basilei] (18:23). Not necessary to translate ἀνθρωπῳ [anthrōpōi], just “a householder.”

Early in the morning (ἁμα πρῳ [hama prōi]). A classic idiom. ἁμα [Hama] as an “improper” preposition is common in the papyri. Πρῳ [Prōi] is just an adverb in the locative. At the same time with early dawn, break of day, country fashion for starting to work. To hire (μισθωσασθαι [misthōsasthai]). The middle voice aorist tense, to hire for oneself.

Matthew 20:2

For a penny a day (ἐκ δηναριου την ἡμεραν [ek dēnariou tēn hēmeran]). See on 18:28. “Penny” is not adequate, “shilling” Moffatt has it. The ἐκ [ek] with the ablative represents the agreement (συνφωνησας [sunphōnēsas]) with the workmen (ἐργατων [ergatōn]). “The day” the Greek has it, an accusative of extent of time.

Matthew 20:3

Standing in the marketplace idle (ἑστωτας ἀγορᾳ ἀργους [hestōtas agorāi argous]). The market place was the place where men and masters met for bargaining. At Hamadan in Persia, Morier in Second Journey through Persia, as cited by Trench in his Parables, says: “We observed every morning, before the sun rose, that a numerous band of peasants were collected, with spades in their hands, waiting to be hired for the day to work in the surrounding fields.”

Matthew 20:4

Whatsoever is right (ὁ ἐαν ᾐ δικαιον [ho ean ēi dikaion]). “Is fair” (Allen), not anything he pleased, but a just proportionate wage. Indefinite relative with subjunctive ἐαν=αν [ean=an].

Matthew 20:6

All the day idle (ὁλην την ἡμεραν ἀργοι [holēn tēn hēmeran argoi]). Extent of time (accusative) again. Ἀργοι [Argoi] is α [a] privative and ἐργον [ergon], work, no work. The problem of the unemployed.

Matthew 20:10

Every man a penny (ἀνα δηναριον και αὐτοι [ana dēnarion kai autoi]). Literally, “themselves also a denarius apiece” (distributive use of ἀνα [ana]). Bruce asks if this householder was a humorist when he began to pay off the last first and paid each one a denarius according to agreement. False hopes had been raised in those who came first who got only what they had agreed to receive.

Matthew 20:11

They murmured (ἐγογγυζον [egogguzon]). Onomatopoetic word, the meaning suiting the sound. Our words murmur and grumble are similar. Probably here inchoative imperfect, began to grumble. It occurs in old Ionic and in the papyri.

Matthew 20:12

Equal unto us (ἰσους αὐτους ἡμιν [isous autous hēmin]). Associative instrumental case ἡμιν [hēmin] after ἰσους [isous]. It was a regular protest against the supposed injustice of the householder. The burden of the day and the scorching wind (το βαρος της ἡμερας και τον καυσωνα [to baros tēs hēmeras kai ton kausōna]). These last “did” work for one hour. Apparently they worked as hard as any while at it. A whole day’s work on the part of these sweat-stained men who had stood also the sirocco, the hot, dry, dust-laden east wind that blasted the grain in Pharaoh’s dream (Gen. 41:6), that withered Jonah’s gourd (Jonah 4:8), that blighted the vine in Ezekiel’s parable (Ezek. 17:10). They seemed to have a good case.

Matthew 20:13

To one of them (ἑνι αὐτων [heni autōn]). Evidently the spokesman of the group. “Friend” (ἑταιρε [hetaire]). Comrade. So a kindly reply to this man in place of an address to the whole gang. Gen. 31:40; Job 27:21; Hos. 13:15. The word survives in modern Greek.

Matthew 20:14

Take up (ἀρον [aron]). First aorist active imperative of αἰρω [airō]. Pick up, as if he had saucily refused to take it from the table or had contemptuously thrown the denarius on the ground. If the first had been paid first and sent away, there would probably have been no murmuring, but “the murmuring is needed to bring out the lesson” (Plummer). The δηναριυς [dēnarius] was the common wage of a day labourer at that time. What I will (ὁ θελω [ho thelō]). This is the point of the parable, the will of the householder. With mine own (ἐν τοις ἐμοις [en tois emois]). In the sphere of my own affairs. There is in the Koiné an extension of the instrumental use of ἐν [en].

Matthew 20:15

Is thine eye evil? (ὁ ὀφθαλμος σου πονηρος ἐστιν; [ho ophthalmos sou ponēros estin?]) See on 6:22–24 about the evil eye and the good eye. The complainer had a grudging eye while the householder has a liberal or generous eye. See Rom. 5:7 for a distinction between δικαιος [dikaios] and ἀγαθος [agathos].

Matthew 20:16

The last first and the first last (οἱ ἐσχατοι πρωτοι και οἱ πρωτοι ἐσχατοι [hoi eschātoi prōtoi kai hoi prōtoi eschatoi]). The adjectives change places as compared with 19:30. The point is the same, though this order suits the parable better. After all one’s work does not rest wholly on the amount of time spent on it. “Even so hath Rabbi Bun bar Chija in twenty-eight years wrought more than many studious scholars in a hundred years” (Jer. Berak. ii. 5c).

Matthew 20:17

Apart (κατʼ ἰδιαν [kat’ idian]). This is the prediction in Matthew of the cross (16:21; 17:22; 20:17). “Aside by themselves” (Moffatt). The verb is παρελαβεν [parelaben]. Jesus is having his inward struggle (Mark 10:32) and makes one more effort to get the Twelve to understand him.

Matthew 20:19

And to crucify (και σταυρωσαι [kai staurōsai]). The very word now. The details fall on deaf ears, even the point of the resurrection on the third day.

Matthew 20:20

Then (τοτε [tote]). Surely an inopportune time for such a request just after the pointed prediction of Christ’s crucifixion. Perhaps their minds had been preoccupied with the words of Jesus (19:28) about their sitting on twelve thrones taking them in a literal sense. The mother of James and John, probably Salome, possibly a sister of the Master’s mother (John 19:25), apparently prompted her two sons because of the family relationship and now speaks for them. Asking a certain thing (αἰτουσα τι [aitousa ti]). “Asking something,” “plotting perhaps when their Master was predicting” (Bruce). The “something” put forward as a small matter was simply the choice of the two chief thrones promised by Jesus (19:28).

Matthew 20:22

Ye know not what ye ask (οὐκ οἰδατε τι αἰτεισθε [ouk oidate ti aiteisthe]). How often that is true. Αἰτεισθε [Aiteisthe] is indirect middle voice, “ask for yourselves,” “a selfish request.” We are able (δυναμεθα [dunametha]). Amazing proof of their ignorance and self-confidence. Ambition had blinded their eyes. They had not caught the martyr spirit.

Matthew 20:23

Ye shall drink (πιεσθε [piesthe]). Future middle from πινω [pinō]. Christ’s cup was martyrdom. James was the first of the Twelve to meet the martyr’s death (Acts 12:2) and John the last if reports are true about him. How little they knew what they were saying.

Matthew 20:24

Moved with indignation (ἠγανακτησαν [ēganaktēsan]). A strong word for angry resentment. In the papyri. The ten felt that James and John had taken advantage of their relation to Jesus.

Matthew 20:25

Called them unto him (προσκαλεσαμενος αὐτους [proskalesamenos autous]). Indirect middle again, calling to him.

Matthew 20:26

Would become great (ὁς ἀν θελῃ μεγας γενεσθαι [hos an thelēi megas genesthai]). Jesus does not condemn the desire to become great. It is a laudable ambition. There are “great ones” (μεγαλοι [megaloi]) among Christians as among pagans, but they do not “lord it over” one another (κατακυριευουσιν [katakurieuousin]), a LXX word and very expressive, or “play the tyrant” (κατεξουσιαζουσιν [katexousiazousin]), another suggestive word. Your minister (ὑμων διακονος [hūmōn diakonos]). This word may come from δια [dia] and κονις [konis] (dust), to raise a dust by one’s hurry, and so to minister. It is a general word for servant and is used in a variety of ways including the technical sense of our “deacon” in Phil. 1:1. But it more frequently is applied to ministers of the Gospel (1 Cor. 3:5). The way to be “first” (πρωτος [prōtos]), says Jesus, is to be your “servant” (δουλος [doulos]), “bond-servant” (verse 27). This is a complete reversal of popular opinion then and now.

Matthew 20:28

A ransom for many (λυτρον ἀντι πολλων [lutron anti pollōn]). The Son of man is the outstanding illustration of this principle of self-abnegation in direct contrast to the self-seeking of James and John. The word translated “ransom” is the one commonly employed in the papyri as the price paid for a slave who is then set free by the one who bought him, the purchase money for manumitting slaves. See examples in Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary and Deissmann’s Light from the Ancient East, pp. 328f. There is the notion of exchange also in the use of ἀντι [anti]. Jesus gave his own life as the price of freedom for the slaves of sin. There are those who refuse to admit that Jesus held this notion of a substitutionary death because the word in the N. T. occurs only here and the corresponding passage in Mark 10:45. But that is an easy way to get rid of passages that contradict one’s theological opinions. Jesus here rises to the full consciousness of the significance of his death for men.

Matthew 20:29

From Jericho (ἀπο Ἰερειχω [apo Iereichō]). So Mark 10:46. But Luke (18:35) places the incident as they were drawing near to Jericho (εἰς Ἰερειχω [eis Iereichō]). It is probable that Mark and Matthew refer to the old Jericho, the ruins of which have been discovered, while Luke alludes to the new Roman Jericho. The two blind men were apparently between the two towns. Mark (10:46) and Luke (18:35) mention only one blind man, Bartimaeus (Mark). In Kentucky there are two towns about a half mile apart both called Pleasureville (one Old Pleasureville, the other New Pleasureville).

Matthew 20:30

That Jesus was passing by (ὁτι Ἰησους παραγει [hoti Iēsous paragei]). These men “were sitting by the wayside” (καθημενοι παρα τεν ὁδον [kathēmenoi para ten hodon]) at their regular stand. They heard the crowd yelling that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by (παραγει [paragei], present indicative of direct discourse retained in the indirect). It was their one opportunity, now or never. They had heard of what he had done for other blind men. They hail him as “the son of David” (the Messiah). It is just one of many such incidents when Jesus stood still and opened their eyes, so many that even the multitude was impatient with the cries of these poor men that their eyes be opened (ἀνοιγωσιν [anoigōsin], second aorist passive subjunctive).

Matthew 20:34

Touched their eyes (ἡψατο των ὀμματων [hēpsato tōn ommatōn]). A synonym for ὀφθαλμων [ophthalmōn] in Mark 8:23 and here alone in the N. T. In the LXX and a common poetic word (Euripides) and occurs in the papyri. In modern Greek ματια μου [matia mou] (abbreviation) means “light of my eye,” “my darling.” The verb ἁπτομαι [haptomai] is very common in the Synoptic Gospels. The touch of Christ’s hand would sooth the eyes as they were healed.

Chapter 21

Matthew 21:1

Unto Bethphage (εἰς Βεθφαγη [eis Bethphagē]). An indeclinable Aramaic name here only in O. T. or N. T. (=Mark 11:1=Luke 19:29). It means “house of unripe young figs.” It apparently lay on the eastern slope of Olivet or at the foot of the mountain, a little further from Jerusalem than Bethany. Both Mark and Luke speak of Christ’s coming “unto Bethphage and Bethany” as if Bethphage was reached first. It is apparently larger than Bethany. Unto the Mount of Olives (εἰς το ὀρος των Ἐλαιων [eis to oros tōn Elaiōn]). Matthew has thus three instances of εἰς [eis] with Jerusalem, Mount of Olives. Mark and Luke use προς [pros] with Mount of Olives, the Mount of Olive trees (ἐλαιων [elaiōn] from ἐλαια [elaia], olive tree), the mountain covered with olive trees.

Matthew 21:2

Into the village that is over against you (εἰς την κωμην την κατεναντι ὑμων [eis tēn kōmēn tēn katenanti hūmōn]). Another use of εἰς [eis]. If it means “into” as translated, it could be Bethany right across the valley and this is probably the idea. And a colt with her (και πωλον μετʼ αὐτης [kai pōlon met’ autēs]). The young of any animal. Here to come with the mother and the more readily so.

Matthew 21:3

The Lord (ὁ κυριος [ho kurios]). It is not clear how the word would be understood here by those who heard the message though it is plain that Jesus applies it to himself. The word is from κυρος [kuros], power or authority. In the LXX it is common in a variety of uses which appear in the N. T. as master of the slave (Matt. 10:24), of the harvest (9:38), of the vineyard (20:8), of the emperor (Acts 13:27), of God (Matt. 11:20; 11:25), and often of Jesus as the Messiah (Acts 10:36). Note Matt. 8:25. This is the only time in Matthew where the words ὁ κυριος [ho kurios] are applied to Jesus except the doubtful passage in 28:6. A similar usage is shown by Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary and Deissmann’s Light from the Ancient East. Particularly in Egypt it was applied to “the Lord Serapis” and Ptolemy and Cleopatra are called “the lords, the most great gods” (οἱ κυριοι θεοι μεγιστοι [hoi kurioi theoi megistoi]). Even Herod the Great and Herod Agrippa I are addressed as “Lord King.” In the west the Roman emperors are not so termed till the time of Domitian. But the Christians boldly claimed the word for Christ as Jesus is here represented as using it with reference to himself. It seems as if already the disciples were calling Jesus “Lord” and that he accepted the appellative and used it as here.

Matthew 21:4

By the prophet (δια του προφητου [dia tou prophētou]). The first line is from Isa. 62:11, the rest from Zech. 9:9. John (12:14f.) makes it clear that Jesus did not quote the passage himself. In Matthew it is not so plain, but probably it is his own comment about the incident. It is not Christ’s intention to fulfil the prophecy, simply that his conduct did fulfil it.

Matthew 21:5

The daughter of Zion (τῃ θυγατρι Σιων [tēi thugatri Siōn]). Jerusalem as in Isa. 22:4 (daughter of my people). So Babylon (Isa. 47:1), daughter of Tyre for Tyre (Psa. 45:12). Riding (ἐπιβεβηκως [epibebēkōs]). Perfect active participle of ἐπιβαινω [epibainō], “having gone upon.” And upon a colt the foal of an ass (και ἐπι πωλον υἱον ὑποζυγιου [kai epi pōlon huion hupozugiou]). These words give trouble if και [kai] is here taken to mean “and.” Fritzsche argues that Jesus rode alternately upon each animal, a possible, but needless interpretation. In the Hebrew it means by common Hebrew parallelism “upon an ass, even upon a colt.” That is obviously the meaning here in Matthew. The use of ὑποζυγιου [hupozugiou] (a beast of burden, under a yoke) for ass is common in the LXX and in the papyri (Deissmann, Bible Studies p. 161).

Matthew 21:7

And he sat thereon (και ἐπεκαθισεν ἐπανω αὐτων [kai epekathisen epanō autōn]), Mark (11:7) and Luke (19:35) show that Jesus rode the colt. Matthew does not contradict that, referring to the garments (τα ἱματια [ta himatia]) put on the colt by “them” (αὐτων [autōn]). not to the two asses. The construction is somewhat loose, but intelligible. The garments thrown on the animals were the outer garments (ἱματια [himatia]), Jesus “took his seat” (ἐπεκαθισεν [epekathisen], ingressive aorist active) upon the garments.

Matthew 21:8

The most part of the multitude (ὁ πλειστος ὀχλος [ho pleistos ochlos]). See 11:20 for this same idiom, article with superlative, a true superlative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 670). In the way (ἐν τῃ ὁδῳ [en tēi hodōi]). This the most of the crowd did. The disciples put their garments on the asses. Note change of tenses (constative aorist ἐστρωσαν [estrōsan], descriptive imperfects ἐκοπτον και ἐστρωννυον [ekopton kai estrōnnuon] showing the growing enthusiasm of the crowd). When the colt had passed over their garments, they would pick the garments up and spread them again before.

Matthew 21:9

That went before him and that followed (οἱ προαγοντες αὐτον και οἱ ἀκολουθουντες [hoi proagontes auton kai hoi akolouthountes]). Note the two groups with two articles and the present tense (linear action) and the imperfect ἐκραζον [ekrazon] “were crying” as they went. Hosanna to the Son of David (ὁσαννα τῳ υἱῳ Δαυειδ [Hosanna tōi huiōi Daueid]). They were now proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah and he let them do it. “Hosanna” means “Save, we pray thee.” They repeat words from the Hallel (Psa. 148:1) and one recalls the song of the angelic host when Jesus was born (Luke 2:14). “Hosanna in the highest” (heaven) as well as here on earth.

Matthew 21:10

Was stirred (ἐσεισθη [eseisthē]). Shaken as by an earthquake. “Even Jerusalem frozen with religious formalism and socially undemonstrative, was stirred with popular enthusiasm as by a mighty wind or by an earthquake” (Bruce).

Matthew 21:12

Cast out (ἐξεβαλεν [exebalen]). Drove out, assumed authority over “the temple of God” (probably correct text with του θεου [tou theou], though only example of the phrase). John (2:14) has a similar incident at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. It is not impossible that he should repeat it at the close after three years with the same abuses in existence again. It is amazing how short a time the work of reformers lasts. The traffic went on in the court of the Gentiles and to a certain extent was necessary. Here the tables of the money-changers (των κολλυβιστων [tōn kollubistōn], from κολλυβος [kollubos], a small coin) were overturned. See on Matt. 17:24 for the need of the change for the temple tax. The doves were the poor man’s offering.

Matthew 21:13

A den of robbers (σπηλαιον λῃστων [spēlaion lēistōn]). By charging exorbitant prices.

Matthew 21:15

The children (τους παιδας [tous paidas]). Masculine and probably boys who had caught the enthusiasm of the crowd.

Matthew 21:16

Hearest thou (ἀκουεις [akoueis]). In a rage at the desecration of the temple by the shouts of the boys they try to shame Jesus, as responsible for it.

Thou hast perfected (κατηρτισω [katērtisō]). The quotation is from Psa. 8:3 (LXX text). See 4:21 where the same verb is used for mending nets. Here it is the timeless aorist middle indicative with the perfective use of κατα- [kata-]. It was a stinging rebuke.

Matthew 21:17

To Bethany (εἰς Βηθανιαν [eis Bēthanian]). House of depression or misery, the Hebrew means. But the home of Martha and Mary and Lazarus there was a house of solace and comfort to Jesus during this week of destiny. He lodged there (ηὐλισθη ἐκει [ēulisthē ekei]) whether at the Bethany home or out in the open air. It was a time of crisis for all.

Matthew 21:18

He hungered (ἐπεινασεν [epeinasen]). Ingressive aorist indicative, became hungry, felt hungry (Moffatt). Possibly Jesus spent the night out of doors and so had no breakfast.

Matthew 21:19

A fig tree (συκην μιαν [sukēn mian]). “A single fig tree” (Margin of Rev. Version). But εἱς [heis] was often used=τις [tis] or like our indefinite article. See Matt. 8:10; 26:69. The Greek has strictly no indefinite article as the Latin has no definite article. Let there be no fruit from thee henceforward for ever (οὐ μηκετι σου καρπος γενηται εἰς τον αἰωνα [ou mēketi sou karpos genētai eis ton aiōna]). Strictly speaking this is a prediction, not a prohibition or wish as in Mark 11:14 (optative φαγοι [phagoi]). “On you no fruit shall ever grow again” (Weymouth). The double negative οὐ μη [ou mē] with the aorist subjunctive (or future indicative) is the strongest kind of negative prediction. It sometimes amounts to a prohibition like οὐ [ou] and the future indicative (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 926f.). The early figs start in spring before the leaves and develop after the leaves. The main fig crop was early autumn (Mark 11:14). There should have been figs on the tree with the crop of leaves. It was a vivid object lesson. Matthew does not distinguish between the two mornings as Mark does (Mark 11:13, 20), but says “immediately” (παραχρημα [parachrēma]) twice (21:19, 20). This word is really παρα το χρημα [para to chrēma] like our “on the spot” (Thayer). It occurs in the papyri in monetary transactions for immediate cash payment.

Matthew 21:21

Doubt not (μη διακριθητε [mē diakrithēte]). First aorist passive subjunctive, second-class condition. To be divided in mind, to waver, to doubt, the opposite of “faith” (πιστιν [pistin]), trust, confidence. What is done to the fig tree (το της συκης [to tēs sukēs]). The Greek means “the matter of the fig tree,” as if a slight matter in comparison with this mountain (τῳ ὀρει τουτῳ [tōi orei toutōi]). Removing a mountain is a bigger task than blighting a fig tree. “The cursing of the fig-tree has always been regarded as of symbolic import, the tree being in Christ’s mind an emblem of the Jewish people, with a great show of religion and no fruit of real godliness. This hypothesis is very credible” (Bruce). Plummer follows Zahn in referring it to the Holy City. Certainly “this mountain” is a parable and one already reported in Matt. 17:20 (cf. sycamine tree in Luke 17:6). Cf. Zech. 4:7.

Matthew 21:22

Believing (πιστευοντες [pisteuontes]). This is the point of the parable of the mountain, “faith in the efficacy of prayer” (Plummer).

Matthew 21:24

One question (λογον ἑνα [logon hena]). Literally “one word” or “a word.” The answer to Christ’s word will give the answer to their query. The only human ecclesiastical authority that Jesus had came from John.

Matthew 21:25

The baptism of John (το βαπτισμα το Ἰωανου [to baptisma to Iōanou]). This represents his relation to Jesus who was baptized by him. At once the ecclesiastical leaders find themselves in a dilemma created by their challenge of Christ. They reasoned with themselves (διελογιζοντο [dielogizonto]). Picturesque imperfect tense describing their hopeless quandary.

Matthew 21:29

I will not (οὐ θελω [ou thelō]). So many old manuscripts, though the Vatican manuscript (B) has the order of the two sons reversed. Logically the “I, sir” (ἐγω, κυριε [egō, kurie]) suits better for the second son (verse 30) with a reference to the blunt refusal of the first. So also the manuscripts differ in verse 31 between the first (ὁ πρωτος [ho prōtos]) and the last (ὁ ὑστερος [ho husteros] or ἐσχατος [eschatos]). But the one who actually did the will of the father is the one who repented and went (μεταμεληθεις ἀπηλθεν [metamelētheis apēlthen]). This word really means “repent,” to be sorry afterwards, and must be sharply distinguished from the word μετανοεω [metanoeō] used 34 times in the N. T. as in Matt. 3:2 and μετανοια [metanoia] used 24 times as in Matt. 3:8. The verb μεταμελομαι [metamelomai] occurs in the N. T. only five times (Matt. 21:29, 32; 27:3; 2 Cor. 7:8; Heb. 7:21 from Psa. 109:4). Paul distinguishes sharply between mere sorrow and the act “repentance” which he calls μετανοιαν [metanoian] (2 Cor. 7:9). In the case of Judas (Matt. 27:3) it was mere remorse. Here the boy got sorry for his stubborn refusal to obey his father and went and obeyed. Godly sorrow leads to repentance (μετανοιαν [metanoian]), but mere sorrow is not repentance.

Matthew 21:31

Go before you (προαγουσιν [proagousin]). “In front of you” (Weymouth). The publicans and harlots march ahead of the ecclesiastics into the kingdom of heaven. It is a powerful indictment of the complacency of the Jewish theological leaders.

Matthew 21:32

In the way of righteousness (ἐν ὁδῳ δικαιοσυνης [en hodōi dikaiosunēs]). In the path of righteousness. Compare the two ways in Matt. 7:13 and 14 and “the way of God” (22:16).

Matthew 21:33

A hedge (φραγμον [phragmon]). Or fence as a protection against wild beasts. Digged a winepress (ὠρυξεν ληνον [ōruxen lēnon]). Out of the solid rock to hold the grapes and wine as they were crushed. Such wine-vats are to be seen today in Palestine. Built a tower (ᾠκοδομησεν πυργον [ōikodomēsen purgon]). This for the vinedressers and watchmen (2 Chron. 26:10). Utmost care was thus taken. Note “a booth in a vineyard” (Isa. 1:8). See also Isa. 24:20; Job 27:18. Let it out (ἐξεδετο, ἐξεδοτο [exedeto, exedoto] the usual form). For hire, the terms not being given. The lease allowed three forms, money-rent, a proportion of the crop, or a definite amount of the produce whether it was a good or bad year. Probably the last form is that contemplated here.

Matthew 21:34

His servants (τους δουλους αὐτου [tous doulous autou]). These slaves are distinguished from the husbandmen (γεωργοι [geōrgoi], workers of the soil) or workers of the vineyard who had leased it from the householder before he went away. The conduct of the husbandmen towards the householder’s slaves portrays the behaviour of the Jewish people and the religious leaders in particular towards the prophets and now towards Christ. The treatment of God’s prophets by the Jews pointedly illustrates this parable.

Matthew 21:35

They will reverence my son (ἐντραπησονται τον υἱον μου [entrapēsontai ton huion mou]). Second future passive from ἐντρεπω [entrepō], to turn at, but used transitively here as though active or middle. It is the picture of turning with respect when one worthy of it appears.

Matthew 21:38

Take his inheritance (σχωμεν την κληρονομιαν αὐτου [schōmen tēn klēronomian autou]). Ingressive aorist active subjunctive (hortatory, volitive) of ἐχω [echō]. Let us get his inheritance.

Matthew 21:41

He will miserably destroy those miserable men (κακους κακως ἀπολεσει αὐτους [kakous kakōs apolesei autous]). The paronomasia or assonance is very clear. A common idiom in literary Greek. “He will put the wretches to a wretched death” (Weymouth). Which (οἱτινες [hoitines]). Who, which very ones of a different character.

Matthew 21:42

The stone which (λιθον ὁν [lithon hon]). Inverse attraction of the antecedent into the case of the relative. The builders rejected (ἀπεδοκιμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομουντες [apedokimasan hoi oikodomountes]). From Psa. 118:22. A most telling quotation. These experts in building God’s temple had rejected the corner-stone chosen by God for his own house. But God has the last word and sets aside the building experts and puts his Son as the Head of the corner. It was a withering indictment.

Matthew 21:43

Shall be taken away from you (ἀρθησεται ἀφʼ ὑμων [arthēsetai aph’ hūmōn]). Future passive indicative of αἰρω [airō]. It was the death-knell of the Jewish nation with their hopes of political and religious world leadership.

Matthew 21:44

Shall be broken to pieces (συνθλασθησεται [sunthlasthēsetai]). Some ancient manuscripts do not have this verse. But it graphically pictures the fate of the man who rejects Christ. The verb means to shatter. We are familiar with an automobile that dashes against a stone wall, a tree, or a train and the ruin that follows. Will scatter him as dust (λικμησει [likmēsei]). The verb was used of winnowing out the chaff and then of grinding to powder. This is the fate of him on whom this Rejected Stone falls.

Matthew 21:45

Perceived (ἐγνωσαν [egnōsan]). Ingressive second aorist active of γινωσκω [ginōskō]. There was no mistaking the meaning of these parables. The dullest could see the point.

Matthew 21:46

Took him (εἰχον [eichon]). Descriptive imperfect of ἐχω [echō], to hold. This fear of the people was all that stayed the hands of the rabbis on this occasion. Murderous rage was in their hearts towards Jesus. People do not always grasp the application of sermons to themselves.

Chapter 22

Matthew 22:1

Again in parables (παλιν ἐν παραβολαις [palin en parabolais]). Matthew has already given two on this occasion (The Two Sons, The Wicked Husbandmen). He alone gives this Parable of the Marriage Feast of the King’s Son. It is somewhat similar to that of The Supper in Luke 14:16–23 given on another occasion. Hence some scholars consider this merely Matthew’s version of the Lucan parable in the wrong place because of Matthew’s habit of grouping the sayings of Jesus. But that is a gratuitous indictment of Matthew’s report which definitely locates the parable here by παλιν [palin]. Some regard it as not spoken by Jesus at all, but an effort on the part of the writer to cover the sin and fate of the Jews, the calling of the Gentiles, and God’s demand for righteousness. But here again it is like Jesus and suits the present occasion.

Matthew 22:2

A marriage feast (γαμους [gamous]). The plural, as here (2, 3, 4, 9), is very common in the papyri for the wedding festivities (the several acts of feasting) which lasted for days, seven in Judges 14:17. The very phrase here, γαμους ποιειν [gamous poiein], occurs in the Doric of Thera about b.c. 200. The singular γαμος [gamos] is common in the papyri for the wedding contract, but Field (Notes, p. 16) sees no difference between the singular here in 22:8 and the plural (see also Gen. 29:22; Esther 9:22; Macc. 10:58).

Matthew 22:3

To call them that were bidden (καλεσαι τους κεκλημενους [kalesai tous keklēmenous]). “Perhaps an unconscious play on the words, lost in both A.V. and Rev., to call the called” (Vincent). It was a Jewish custom to invite a second time the already invited (Esther 5:8; 6:14). The prophets of old had given God’s invitation to the Jewish people. Now the Baptist and Jesus had given the second invitation that the feast was ready. And they would not come (και οὐκ ἠθελον ἐλθειν [kai ouk ēthelon elthein]). This negative imperfect characterizes the stubborn refusal of the Jewish leaders to accept Jesus as God’s Son (John 1:11). This is “The Hebrew Tragedy” (Conder).

Matthew 22:4

My dinner (το ἀριστον μου [to ariston mou]). It is breakfast, not dinner. In Luke 14:12 both ἀριστον [ariston] (breakfast) and δειπνον [deipnon] (dinner) are used. This noon or midday meal, like the French breakfast at noon, was sometimes called δειπνον μεσημβρινον [deipnon mesēmbrinon] (midday dinner or luncheon). The regular dinner (δειπνον [deipnon]) came in the evening. The confusion arose from applying ἀριστον [ariston] to the early morning meal and then to the noon meal (some not eating an earlier meal). In John 21:12, 15 ἀρισταω [aristaō] is used of the early morning meal, “Break your fast” (ἀριστησατε [aristēsate]). When ἀριστον [ariston] was applied to luncheon, like the Latin prandium, ἀκρατισμα [akratisma] was the term for the early breakfast. My fatlings (τα σιτιστα [ta sitista]). Verbal from σιτιζω [sitizō], to feed with wheat or other grain, to fatten. Fed-up or fatted animals.

Matthew 22:5

Made light of it (ἀμελησαντες [amelēsantes]). Literally, neglecting, not caring for. They may even have ridiculed the invitation, but the verb does not say so. However, to neglect an invitation to a wedding feast is a gross discourtesy. One to his own farm (ὁς μεν εἰς τον ἰδιον ἀγρον [hos men eis ton idion agron]) or field, another to his merchandise (ὁς δε ἐπι την ἐμποριαν αὐτου [hos de epi tēn emporian autou]) only example in the N. T., from ἐμπορος [emporos], merchant, one who travels for traffic (ἐμπορευομαι [emporeuomai]), a drummer.

Matthew 22:7

Armies (στρατευματα [strateumata]). Bands of soldiers, not grand armies.

Matthew 22:9

The partings of the highways (τας διεξοδους των ὁδων [tas diexodous tōn hodōn]). Vulgate, exitus viarum. Διοδοι [Diodoi] are cross-streets, while διεξοδοι [diexodoi] (double compound) seem to be main streets leading out of the city where also side-streets may branch off, “by-ways.”

Matthew 22:10

The wedding (ὁ γαμος [ho gamos]). But Westcott and Hort rightly read here ὁ νυμφων [ho numphōn], marriage dining hall. The same word in 9:15 means the bridechamber.

Matthew 22:12

Not having a wedding-garment (μη ἐχων ἐνδυμα γαμου [mē echōn enduma gamou]). Μη [] is in the Koiné the usual negative with participles unless special emphasis on the negative is desired as in οὐκ ἐνδεδυμενον [ouk endedumenon]. There is a subtle distinction between μη [] and οὐ [ou] like our subjective and objective notions. Some hold that the wedding-garment here is a portion of a lost parable separate from that of the Wedding Feast, but there is no evidence for that idea. Wunsche does report a parable by a rabbi of a king who set no time for his feast and the guests arrived, some properly dressed waiting at the door; others in their working clothes did not wait, but went off to work and, when the summons suddenly came, they had no time to dress properly and were made to stand and watch while the others partook of the feast.

Matthew 22:13

Was speechless (ἐψιμωθη [epsimōthē]). Was muzzled, dumb from confusion and embarrassment. It is used of the ox (1 Tim. 5:18). The outer darkness (το σκοτος το ἐξωτερον [to skotos to exōteron]). See Matt. 8:12. All the blacker from the standpoint of the brilliantly lighted banquet hall. There shall be (ἐκει ἐσται [ekei estai]). Out there in the outer darkness.

Matthew 22:14

For many are called, but few chosen (πολλοι γαρ εἰσιν κλητοι ὀλιγοι δε ἐκλεκτοι [polloi gar eisin klētoi oligoi de eklektoi]). This crisp saying of Christ occurs in various connections. He evidently repeated many of his sayings many times as every teacher does. There is a distinction between the called (κλητοι [klētoi]) and the chosen (ἐκλεκτοι [eklektoi]) called out from the called.

Matthew 22:15

Went (πορευθεντες [poreuthentes]). So-called deponent passive and redundant use of the verb as in 9:13: “Go and learn.” Took counsel (συμβουλιον ἐλαβον [sumboulion elabon]). Like the Latin consilium capere as in 12:14. Ensnare in his talk (παγιδευσωσιν ἐν λογῳ [pagideusōsin en logōi]). From παγις [pagis], a snare or trap. Here only in the N. T. In the LXX (1 Kings 22:9; Eccl. 9:12; Test. of Twelve Patriarchs, Joseph 7:1). Vivid picture of the effort to trip Jesus in his speech like a bird or wild beast.

Matthew 22:16

Their disciples (τους μαθητας αὐτων [tous mathētas autōn]). Students, pupils, of the Pharisees as in Mark 2:18. There were two Pharisaic theological seminaries in Jerusalem (Hillel, Shammai). The Herodians (των ἑρῳδιανων [tōn Herōidianōn]). Not members of Herod’s family or Herod’s soldiers, but partisans or followers of Herod. The form in -ιανος [-ianos] is a Latin termination like that in Χριστιανος [Christianos] (Acts 11:26). Mentioned also in Mark 3:6 combining with the Pharisees against Jesus. The person of men (προσωπον ἀνθρωπων [prosōpon anthrōpōn]). Literally, face of men. Paying regard to appearance is the sin of partiality condemned by James (2:1, 9) when προσωπολημψια, προσωπολημπτειν [prosōpolēmpsia, prosōpolēmptein] are used, in imitation of the Hebrew idiom. This suave flattery to Jesus implied “that Jesus was a reckless simpleton” (Bruce).

Matthew 22:19

Tribute money (το νομισμα του κηνσου [to nomisma tou kēnsou]). Κηνσος [Kēnsos], Latin census, was a capitation tax or head-money, tributum capitis, for which silver denaria were struck, with the figure of Caesar and a superscription, e.g. “Tiberiou Kaisaros” (McNeile). Νομισμα [Nomisma] is the Latin numisma and occurs here only in the N. T., is common in the old Greek, from νομιζω [nomizō] sanctioned by law or custom.

Matthew 22:20

This image and superscription (ἡ εἰκων αὑτη και ἡ ἐπιγραφη [hē eikōn hautē kai hē epigraphē]). Probably a Roman coin because of the image (picture) on it. The earlier Herods avoided this practice because of Jewish prejudice, but the Tetrarch Philip introduced it on Jewish coins and he was followed by Herod Agrippa I. This coin was pretty certainly stamped in Rome with the image and name of Tiberius Caesar on it.

Matthew 22:21

Render (ἀποδοτε [apodote]). “Give back” to Caesar what is already Caesar’s.

Matthew 22:24

Shall marry (ἐπιγαμβρευσει [epigambreusei]). The Sadducees were “aiming at amusement rather than deadly mischief” (Bruce). It was probably an old conundrum that they had used to the discomfiture of the Pharisees. This passage is quoted from Deut. 25:5 and 6. The word appears here only in the N. T. and elsewhere only in the LXX. It is used of any connected by marriage as in Gen. 34:9; 1 Sam. 18:22. But in Gen. 38:8 and Deut. 25:5 it is used specifically of one marrying his brother’s widow.

Matthew 22:33

They were astonished (ἐξεπλησσοντο [exeplēssonto]). Descriptive imperfect passive showing the continued amazement of the crowds. They were struck out (literally).

Matthew 22:34

He had put the Sadducees to silence (ἐφιμωσεν τους Σαδδουκαιους [ephimōsen tous Saddoukaious]). Muzzled the Sadducees. The Pharisees could not restrain their glee though they were joining with the Sadducees in trying to entrap Jesus. Gathered themselves together (συνηχθησαν ἐπι το αὐτο [sunēchthēsan epi to auto]). First aorist passive, were gathered together. Ἐπι το αὐτο [Epi to auto] explains more fully συν- [sun-]. See also Acts 2:47. “Mustered their forces” (Moffatt).

Matthew 22:36

The great commandment in the law (ἐντολη μεγαλη ἐν τῳ νομῳ [entolē megalē en tōi nomōi]). The positive adjective is sometimes as high in rank as the superlative. See μεγας [megas] in Matt. 5:19 in contrast with ἐλαχιστος [elachistos]. The superlative μεγιστος [megistos] occurs in the N. T. only in 2 Pet. 1:4. Possibly this scribe wishes to know which commandment stood first (Mark 12:28) with Jesus. “The scribes declared that there were 248 affirmative precepts, as many as the members of the human body; and 365 negative precepts, as many as the days in the year, the total being 613, the number of letters in the Decalogue” (Vincent). But Jesus cuts through such pettifogging hair-splitting to the heart of the problem.

Matthew 22:42

The Christ (του Χριστου [tou Christou]). The Messiah, of course, not Christ as a proper name of Jesus. Jesus here assumes that Psalm 110 refers to the Messiah. By his pungent question about the Messiah as David’s son and Lord he really touches the problem of his Person (his Deity and his Humanity). Probably the Pharisees had never faced that problem before. They were unable to answer.

Chapter 23

Matthew 23:2

Sit on Moses’ seat (ἐπι της Μωυσεως καθεδρας ἐκαθισαν [epi tēs Mōuseōs kathedras ekathisan]). The gnomic or timeless aorist tense, ἐκαθισαν [ekathisan], not the aorist “for” the perfect. The “seat of Moses” is a brief form for the chair of the professor whose function it is to interpret Moses. “The heirs of Moses’ authority by an unbroken tradition can deliver ex cathedra pronouncements on his teaching” (McNeile).

Matthew 23:3

For they say and do not (λεγουσιν και οὐ ποιουσιν [legousin kai ou poiousin]). “As teachers they have their place, but beware of following their example” (Bruce). So Jesus said: “Do not ye after their works” (μη ποιειτε [mē poieite]). Do not practice their practices. They are only preachers. Jesus does not here disapprove any of their teachings as he does elsewhere. The point made here is that they are only teachers (or preachers) and do not practice what they teach as God sees it.

Matthew 23:4

With their finger (τῳ δακτυλῳ αὐτων [tōi daktulōi autōn]). A picturesque proverb. They are taskmasters, not burden-bearers, not sympathetic helpers.

Matthew 23:5

To be seen of men (προς το θεαθηναι τοις ἀνθρωποις [pros to theathēnai tois anthrōpois]). See 6:1 where this same idiom occurs. Ostentation regulates the conduct of the rabbis. Phylacteries (φυλακτηρια [phulaktēria]). An adjective from φυλακτηρ, φυλασσω [phulaktēr, phulassō] (to guard). So a fortified place, station for garrison, then a safeguard, protecting charm or amulet. The rabbis wore τεφιλλιν [tephillin] or prayer-fillets, small leather cases with four strips of parchment on which were written the words of Ex. 13:1–10, 11–16; Deut. 6:4–9; 11:13–21. They took literally the words about “a sign unto thy hand,” “a memorial between thine eyes,” and “frontlets.” “That for the head was to consist of a box with four compartments, each containing a slip of parchment inscribed with one of the four passages. Each of these strips was to be tied up with a well-washed hair from a calf’s tail; lest, if tied with wool or thread, any fungoid growth should ever pollute them. The phylactery of the arm was to contain a single slip, with the same four passages written in four columns of seven lines each. The black leather straps by which they were fastened were wound seven times round the arm and three times round the hand. They were reverenced by the rabbis as highly as the scriptures, and, like them, might be rescued from the flames on a sabbath. They profanely imagined that God wore the tephillin” (Vincent). It is small wonder that Jesus ridiculed such minute concern for pretentious externalism and literalism. These tephillin “are still worn at the present day on the forehead and left arm by Jews at the daily Morning Prayer” (McNeile). “The size of the phylacteries indexed the measure of zeal, and the wearing of large ones was apt to take the place of obedience” (Bruce). Hence they made them “broad.” The superstitious would wear them as mere charms to ward off evil. Enlarge the borders (μεγαλυνουσιν τα κρασπεδα [megalunousin ta kraspeda]). In 9:20 we see that Jesus, like the Jews generally, wore a tassel or tuft, hem or border, a fringe on the outer garment according to Num. 15:38. Here again the Jewish rabbi had minute rules about the number of the fringes and the knots (see on Matt. 9:20). They made a virtue of the size of the fringes also. “Such things were useful as reminders; they were fatal when they were regarded as charms” (Plummer).

Matthew 23:6

The chief place at feasts (την πρωτοκλισιαν ἐν τοις δειπνοις [tēn prōtoklisian en tois deipnois]). Literally, the first reclining place on the divan at the meal. The Persians, Greeks, Romans, Jews differed in their customs, but all cared for the post of honour at formal functions as is true of us today. Hostesses often solve the point by putting the name of each guest at the table. At the last passover meal the apostles had an ugly snarl over this very point of precedence (Luke 22:24; John 13:2–11), just two days after this exposure of the Pharisees in the presence of the apostles. The chief seats in the synagogues (τας πρωτοκαθεδριας ἐν ταις συναγωγαις [tas prōtokathedrias en tais sunagōgais]). “An insatiable hunger for prominence” (Bruce). These chief seats (Zuchermandel) were on the platform looking to the audience and with the back to the chest in which were kept the rolls of scripture. The Essenes had a different arrangement. People today pay high prices for front seats at the theatre, but at church prefer the rear seats out of a curious mock-humility. In the time of Jesus the hypocrites boldly sat up in front. Now, if they come to church at all, they take the rear seats.

Matthew 23:7

Salutations (ἀσπασμους [aspasmous]). The ordinary courtiers were coveted because in public. They had an itch for notice. There are occasionally today ministers who resent it if they are not called upon to take part in the services at church. They feel that their ministerial dignity has not been recognized.

Matthew 23:8

But be not ye called Rabbi (ὑμεις δε μη κληθητε Ραββει [humeis de mē klēthēte Rabbei]). An apparent aside to the disciples. Note the emphatic position of ὑμεις [humeis]. Some even regard verses 8 to 10 as a later addition and not part of this address to the Pharisees, but the apostles were present. Euthymius Zigabenus says: “Do not seek to be called (ingressive aorist subjunctive), if others call you this it will not be your fault.” This is not far from the Master’s meaning. Rabbi means “my great one,” “my Master,” apparently a comparatively new title in Christ’s time.

Matthew 23:9

Call no man your father (πατερα μη καλεσητε ὑμων [patera mē kalesēte hūmōn]). Jesus meant the full sense of this noble word for our heavenly Father. “Abba was not commonly a mode of address to a living person, but a title of honour for Rabbis and great men of the past” (McNeile). In Gethsemane Jesus said: “Abba, Father” (Mark 14:36). Certainly the ascription of “Father” to pope and priest seems out of harmony with what Jesus here says. He should not be understood to be condemning the title to one’s real earthly father. Jesus often leaves the exceptions to be supplied.

Matthew 23:10

Masters (καθηγηται [kathēgētai]). This word occurs here only in the N. T. It is found in the papyri for teacher (Latin, doctor). It is the modern Greek word for professor. “While διδασκαλος [didaskalos] represents Ραβ [Rab], καθηγητες [kathēgētes] stands for the more honourable Ραββαν, -βων [Rabban, -bōn]” (McNeile). Dalman (Words of Jesus, p. 340) suggests that the same Aramaic word may be translated by either διδασκαλος [didaskalos] or καθηγητες [kathēgētes]. The Christ (ὁ Χριστος [ho Christos]). The use of these words here by Jesus like “Jesus Christ” in his Prayer (John 17:3) is held by some to show that they were added by the evangelist to what Jesus actually said, since the Master would not have so described himself. But he commended Peter for calling him “the Christ the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16f.). We must not empty the consciousness of Jesus too much.

Matthew 23:12

Exalt himself (ὑψωσει ἑαυτον [hupsōsei heauton]). Somewhat like 18:4; 20:26. Given by Luke in other contexts (14:11; 18:14). Characteristic of Christ.

Matthew 23:13

Hypocrites (ὑποκριται [hupokritai]). This terrible word of Jesus appears first from him in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 7:5), then in 15:7 and 22:18. Here it appears “with terrific iteration” (Bruce) save in the third of the seven woes (23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29). The verb in the active (ὑποκρινω [hupokrinō]) meant to separate slowly or slightly subject to gradual inquiry. Then the middle was to make answer, to take up a part on the stage, to act a part. It was an easy step to mean to feign, to pretend, to wear a masque, to act the hypocrite, to play a part. This hardest word from the lips of Jesus falls on those who were the religious leaders of the Jews (Scribes and Pharisees), who had justified this thunderbolt of wrath by their conduct toward Jesus and their treatment of things high and holy. The Textus Receptus has eight woes, adding verse 14 which the Revised Version places in the margin (called verse 13 by Westcott and Hort and rejected on the authority of Aleph B D as a manifest gloss from Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47). The MSS. that insert it put it either before 13 or after 13. Plummer cites these seven woes as another example of Matthew’s fondness for the number seven, more fancy than fact for Matthew’s Gospel is not the Apocalypse of John. These are all illustrations of Pharisaic saying and not doing (Allen). Ye shut the kingdom of heaven (κλειετε την βασιλειαν των οὐρανων [kleiete tēn basileian tōn ouranōn]). In Luke 11:52 the lawyers are accused of keeping the door to the house of knowledge locked and with flinging away the keys so as to keep themselves and the people in ignorance. These custodians of the kingdom by their teaching obscured the way to life. It is a tragedy to think how preachers and teachers of the kingdom of God may block the door for those who try to enter in (τους εἰσερχομενους [tous eiserchomenous], conative present middle participle). Against (ἐμπροσθεν [emprosthen]). Literally, before. These door-keepers of the kingdom slam it shut in men’s faces and they themselves are on the outside where they will remain. They hide the key to keep others from going in.

Matthew 23:15

Twofold more a son of hell than yourselves (υἱον γεεννης διπλοτερον ὑμων [huion geennēs diploteron hūmōn]). It is a convert to Pharisaism rather than Judaism that is meant by “one proselyte” (ἑνα προσηλυτον [hena prosēluton]), from προσερχομαι [proserchomai], newcomers, aliens. There were two kinds of proselytes: of the gate (not actual Jews, but God-fearers and well-wishers of Judaism, like Cornelius), of righteousness who received circumcision and became actual Jews. But a very small per cent of the latter became Pharisees. There was a Hellenistic Jewish literature (Philo, Sibylline Oracles, etc.) designed to attract Gentiles to Judaism. But the Pharisaic missionary zeal (compass, περιαγητε [periagēte], go around) was a comparative failure. And success was even worse, Jesus says with pitiless plainness. The “son of Gehenna” means one fitted for and so destined for Gehenna. “The more converted the more perverted” (H.J. Holtzmann). The Pharisees claimed to be in a special sense sons of the kingdom (Matt. 8:12). They were more partisan than pious. Διπλους [Diplous] (twofold, double) is common in the papyri. The comparative here used, as if from διπλος [diplos], appears also in Appian. Note the ablative of comparison ὑμων [hūmōn]. It was a withering thrust.

Matthew 23:16

Ye blind guides (ὁδηγοι τυφλοι [hodēgoi tuphloi]). Note omission of “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” with this third woe. In 15:14 Jesus had already called the Pharisees “blind guides” (leaders). They split hairs about oaths, as Jesus had explained in 5:33–37, between the temple and the gold of the temple. He is a debtor (ὀφειλει [opheilei]). He owes his oath, is bound by his oath. A.V., is guilty, is old English, obsolete sense of guilt as fine or payment.

Matthew 23:17

Ye fools (μωροι [mōroi]). In 5:22 Jesus had warned against calling a man μωρος [mōros] in a rage, but here he so terms the blind Pharisees for their stupidity, description of the class. “It shows that not the word but the spirit in which it is uttered is what matters” (McNeile).

Matthew 23:23

Ye tithe (ἀποδεκατουτε [apodekatoute]). The tithe had to be paid upon “all the increase of thy seed” (Deut. 14:22; Lev. 27:30). The English word tithe is tenth. These small aromatic herbs, mint (το ἡδυοσμον [to hēduosmon], sweet-smelling), anise or dill (ἀνηθον [anēthon]), cummin (κυμινον [kuminon], with aromatic seeds), show the Pharisaic scrupulous conscientiousness, all marketable commodities. “The Talmud tells of the ass of a certain Rabbi which had been so well trained as to refuse corn of which the tithes had not been taken” (Vincent). These ye ought (ταυτα ἐδει [tauta edei]). Jesus does not condemn tithing. What he does condemn is doing it to the neglect of the weightier matters (τα βαρυτερα [ta barutera]). The Pharisees were externalists; cf. Luke 11:39–44.

Matthew 23:24

Strain out the gnat (διυλιζοντες τον κωνωπα [diulizontes ton kōnōpa]). By filtering through (δια [dia]), not the “straining at” in swallowing so crudely suggested by the misprint in the A.V. Swallow the camel (την δε καμηλον καταπινοντες [tēn de kamēlon katapinontes]). Gulping or drinking down the camel. An oriental hyperbole like that in 19:24. See also 5:29, 30; 17:20; 21:21. Both insects and camels were ceremonially unclean (Lev. 11:4, 20, 23, 42). “He that kills a flea on the Sabbath is as guilty as if he killed a camel” (Jer. Shabb. 107).

Matthew 23:25

From extortion and excess (ἐξ ἁρπαγης και ἀκρασιας [ex harpagēs kai akrasias]). A much more serious accusation. These punctilious observers of the external ceremonies did not hesitate at robbery (ἁρπαγες [harpages]) and graft (ἀκρασιας [akrasias]), lack of control. A modern picture of wickedness in high places both civil and ecclesiastical where the moral elements in life are ruthlessly trodden under foot. Of course, the idea is for both the outside ἐκτος [ektos] and the inside (ἐντος [entos]) of the cup and the platter (fine side dish). But the inside is the more important. Note the change to singular in verse 26 as if Jesus in a friendlier tone pleads with a Pharisee to mend his ways.

Matthew 23:27

Whited sepulchre (ταφοις κεκονιαμενοις [taphois kekoniamenois]). The perfect passive participle is from κονιαω [koniaō] and that from κονια [konia], dust or lime. Whitened with powdered lime dust, the sepulchres of the poor in the fields or the roadside. Not the rock-hewn tombs of the well-to-do. These were whitewashed a month before the passover that travellers might see them and so avoid being defiled by touching them (Num. 19:16). In Acts 23:3 Paul called the high priest a whited wall. When Jesus spoke the sepulchres had been freshly whitewashed. We today speak of whitewashing moral evil.

Matthew 23:29

The tombs of the prophets (τους ταφους των προφητων [tous taphous tōn prophētōn]). Cf. Luke 11:48–52. They were bearing witness against themselves (ἑαυτοις [heautois], verse 31) to “the murder-taint in your blood” (Allen). “These men who professed to be so distressed at the murdering of the Prophets, were themselves compassing the death of Him who was far greater than any Prophet” (Plummer). There are four monuments called Tombs of the Prophets (Zechariah, Absalom, Jehoshaphat, St. James) at the base of the Mount of Olives. Some of these may have been going up at the very time that Jesus spoke. In this seventh and last woe Jesus addresses the Jewish nation and not merely the Pharisees.

Matthew 23:32

Fill ye up (πληρωσατε [plērōsate]). The keenest irony in this command has been softened in some MSS. to the future indicative (πληρωσετε [plērōsete]). “Fill up the measure of your fathers; crown their misdeeds by killing the prophet God has sent to you. Do at last what has long been in your hearts. The hour is come” (Bruce).

Matthew 23:33

Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers (ὀφεις γεννηματα ἐχιδνων [opheis gennēmata echidnōn]). These blistering words come as a climax and remind one of the Baptist (3:17) and of the time when the Pharisees accused Jesus of being in league with Beelzebub (12:34). They cut to the bone like whip-cords. How shall ye escape (πως φυγητε [pōs phugēte]). Deliberate subjunctive. There is a curse in the Talmud somewhat like this: “Woe to the house of Annas! Woe to their serpent-like hissings.”

Matthew 23:35

Zachariah son of Barachiah (Ζαχαριου υἱου Βαραχιου [Zachariou huiou Barachiou]). Broadus gives well the various alternatives in understanding and explaining the presence of “son of Barachiah” here which is not in Luke 11:51. The usual explanation is that the reference is to Zachariah the son of Jehoiada the priest who was slain in the court of the temple (2 Chron. 24:20ff.). How the words, “son of Barachiah,” got into Matthew we do not know. A half-dozen possibilities can be suggested. In the case of Abel a reckoning for the shedding of his blood was foretold (Gen. 4:10) and the same thing was true of the slaying of Zachariah (2 Chron. 24:22).

Matthew 23:37

How often would I have gathered (ποσακις ἠθελησα ἐπισυναγειν [posakis ēthelēsa episunagein]). More exactly, how often did I long to gather to myself (double compound infinitive). The same verb (ἐπισυναγει [episunagei]) is used of the hen with the compound preposition ὑποκατω [hupokatō]. Everyone has seen the hen quickly get together the chicks under her wings in the time of danger. These words naturally suggest previous visits to Jerusalem made plain by John’s Gospel.

Chapter 24

Matthew 24:1

Went out from the temple (ἐξελθων ἀπο του ἱερου [exelthōn apo tou hierou]). All the discourses since Matt. 21:23 have been in the temple courts (ἱερον [hieron], the sacred enclosure). But now Jesus leaves it for good after the powerful denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees in chapter 23. His public teaching is over. It was a tragic moment. As he was going out (ἐπορευετο [eporeueto], descriptive imperfect) the disciples, as if to relieve the thought of the Master came to him (προσηλθον [prosēlthon]) to show (ἐπιδειξαι [epideixai], ingressive aorist infinitive) the buildings of the temple (τας οἰκοδομας του ἱερου [tas oikodomas tou hierou]). They were familiar to Jesus and the disciples, but beautiful like a snow mountain (Josephus, Wars V, 5, 6), the monument that Herod the Great had begun and that was not yet complete (John 2:20). Great stones were there of polished marble.

Matthew 24:2

One stone upon another (λιθος ἐπι λιθον [lithos epi lithon]). Stone upon stone. A startling prediction showing that the gloomy current of the thoughts of Jesus were not changed by their words of admiration for the temple.

Matthew 24:3

As he sat (καθημενου [kathēmenou]). Genitive absolute. Picture of Jesus sitting on the Mount of Olives looking down on Jerusalem and the temple which he had just left. After the climb up the mountain four of the disciples (Peter, James, John, Andrew) come to Jesus with the problem raised by his solemn words. They ask these questions about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, his own second coming (παρουσια [parousia], presence, common in the papyri for the visit of the emperor), and the end of the world. Did they think that they were all to take place simultaneously? There is no way to answer. At any rate Jesus treats all three in this great eschatological discourse, the most difficult problem in the Synoptic Gospels. Many theories are advanced that impugn the knowledge of Jesus or of the writers or of both. It is sufficient for our purpose to think of Jesus as using the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem which did happen in that generation in a.d. 70, as also a symbol of his own second coming and of the end of the world (συντελειας του αἰωνος [sunteleias tou aiōnos]) or consummation of the age. In a painting the artist by skilful perspective may give on the same surface the inside of a room, the fields outside the window, and the sky far beyond. Certainly in this discourse Jesus blends in apocalyptic language the background of his death on the cross, the coming destruction of Jerusalem, his own second coming and the end of the world. He now touches one, now the other. It is not easy for us to separate clearly the various items. It is enough if we get the picture as a whole as it is here drawn with its lessons of warning to be ready for his coming and the end. The destruction of Jerusalem came as he foretold. There are some who would date the Synoptic Gospels after a.d. 70 in order to avoid the predictive element involved in the earlier date. But that is to limit the fore-knowledge of Jesus to a merely human basis. The word παρουσια [parousia] occurs in this chapter alone (3, 27, 37, 39) in the Gospels, but often in the Epistles, either of presence as opposed to absence (Phil. 2:12) or the second coming of Christ (2 Thess. 2:1).

Matthew 24:4

Lead you astray (ὑμας πλανησῃ [hūmās planēsēi]). This warning runs all through the discourse. It is amazing how successful deceivers have been through the ages with their eschatological programs. The word in the passive appears in 18:12 when the one sheep wanders astray. Here it is the active voice with the causative sense to lead astray. Our word planet comes from this root.

Matthew 24:5

In my name (ἐπι τῳ ὀνοματι μου [epi tōi onomati mou]). They will arrogate to themselves false claims of Messiahship in (on the basis of) the name of Christ himself. Josephus (Wars VI, 5, 4) gives there false Christs as one of the reasons for the explosion against Rome that led to the city’s destruction. Each new hero was welcomed by the masses including Barcochba. “I am the Messiah,” each would say. Forty odd years ago two men in Illinois claimed to be Messiah, each with followers (Schlatter, Schweinfurth). In more recent years Mrs. Annie Besant has introduced a theosophical Messiah and Mrs. Eddy made claims about herself on a par with those of Jesus.

Matthew 24:6

See that ye be not troubled (ὁρατε μη θροεισθε [horate mē throeisthe]). Asyndeton here with these two imperatives as Mark 8:15 ὀρατε βλεπετε [orate blepete] (Robertson, Grammar, p. 949). Look out for the wars and rumours of wars, but do not be scared out of your wits by them. Θροεω [Throeō] means to cry aloud, to scream, and in the passive to be terrified by an outcry. Paul uses this very verb (μηδε θροεισθαι [mēde throeisthai]) in 2 Thess. 2:2 as a warning against excitement over false reports that he had predicted the immediate second coming of Christ. But the end is not yet (ἀλλʼ οὐπω ἐστιν το τελος [all’ oupō estin to telos]). It is curious how people overlook these words of Jesus and proceed to set dates for the immediate end. That happened during the Great War and it has happened since.

Matthew 24:8

The beginning of travail (ἀρχη ὀδινων [archē odinōn]). The word means birth-pangs and the Jews used the very phrase for the sufferings of the Messiah which were to come before the coming of the Messiah (Book of Jubilees, 23:18; Apoc. of Baruch 27–29). But the word occurs with no idea of birth as the pains of death (Psa. 18:5; Acts 2:24). These woes, says Jesus, are not a proof of the end, but of the beginning.

Matthew 24:9

Ye shall be hated (ἐσεσθε μισουμενοι [esesthe misoumenoi]). Periphrastic future passive to emphasize the continuous process of the linear action. For tribulation (θλιψιν [thlipsin] see 13:21), a word common in the Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypse for the oppression (pressure) that the Christians received. For my name’s sake (δια το ὀνομα μου [dia to onoma mou]). The most glorious name in the world today, but soon to be a byword of shame (Acts 5:41). The disciples would count it an honour to be dishonoured for the Name’s sake.

Matthew 24:11

False prophets (ψευδοπροφηται [pseudoprophētai]). Jesus had warned against them in the Sermon on the Mount (7:15). They are still coming.

Matthew 24:12

Shall wax cold (ψυγησεται [psugēsetai]). Second future passive indicative from ψυχω [psuchō]. To breathe cool by blowing, to grow cold, “spiritual energy blighted or chilled by a malign or poisonous wind” (Vincent). The love of many (ἡ ἀγαπη των πολλων [hē agapē tōn pollōn]). Love of the brotherhood gives way to mutual hatred and suspicion.

Matthew 24:14

Shall be preached (κερυχθησεται [keruchthēsetai]). Heralded in all the inhabited world. Ἐν ὁλῃ τῃ οἰκουμενῃ [En holēi tēi oikoumenēi] supply γῃ [gēi]. It is not here said that all will be saved nor must this language be given too literal and detailed an application to every individual.

Matthew 24:15

The abomination of desolation (το βδελυγμα της ἐρεμωσεως [to bdelugma tēs eremōseōs]). An allusion to Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. Antiochus Epiphanes erected an altar to Zeus on the altar of Jehovah (1 Macc. 1:54, 59; 6:7; 2 Macc. 6:1–5). The desolation in the mind of Jesus is apparently the Roman army (Luke 21:20) in the temple, an application of the words of Daniel to this dread event. The verb βδελυσσομαι [bdelussomai] is to feel nausea because of stench, to abhor, to detest. Idolatry was a stench to God (Luke 16:15; Rev. 17:4). Josephus tells us that the Romans burned the temple and offered sacrifices to their ensigns placed by the eastern gate when they proclaimed Titus as Emperor.

Matthew 24:16

Let him that readeth understand (ὁ ἀναγινοσκων νοειτω [ho anaginoskōn noeitō]). This parenthesis occurs also in Mark 13:14. It is not to be supposed that Jesus used these words. They were inserted by Mark as he wrote his book and he was followed by Matthew.

Flee unto the mountains (φευγετωσαν εἰς τα ὀρη [pheugetōsan eis ta orē]). The mountains east of the Jordan. Eusebius (H.E. iii, 5, 3) says that the Christians actually fled to Pella at the foot of the mountains about seventeen miles south of the Sea of Galilee. They remembered the warning of Jesus and fled for safety.

Matthew 24:17

On the housetop (ἐπι του δωματος [epi tou dōmatos]). They could escape from roof to roof and so escape, “the road of the roofs,” as the rabbis called it. There was need for haste.

Matthew 24:18

In the field (ἐν τῳ ἀγρῳ [en tōi agrōi]). The peasant worked in his time and left his mantle at home then as now.

Matthew 24:20

In winter nor on a sabbath (χειμωνος [cheimōnos], genitive of time, μηδε σαββατῳ [mēde sabbatōi], locative of time). In winter because of the rough weather. On a sabbath because some would hesitate to make such a journey on the sabbath. Josephus in his Wars gives the best illustration of the horrors foretold by Jesus in verse 21.

Matthew 24:22

Had been shortened (ἐκολοβωθησαν [ekolobōthēsan]). From κολοβος [kolobos], lopped, mutilated, as the hands, the feet. It is a second-class condition, determined as unfulfilled. It is a prophetic figure, the future regarded as past. For the elect’s sake (δια τους ἐκλεκτους [dia tous eklektous]). See Matt. 22:14 for another use of this phrase by Jesus and also 24:31. The siege was shortened by various historical events like the stopping of the strengthening of the walls by Herod Agrippa by orders from the Emperor, the sudden arrival of Titus, the neglect of the Jews to prepare for a long siege. “Titus himself confessed that God was against the Jews, since otherwise neither his armies nor his engines would have availed against their defences” (Vincent).

Matthew 24:23

Lo, here is the Christ, or here (ἰδου ὡδε ὁ Χριστος ἠ ὡδε [idou hōde ho Christos ē hōde]). The false prophets (24:11) create the trouble and now false Christs (ψευδο-Χριστοι [pseudo-Christoi], verse 24) offer a way out of these troubles. The deluded victims raise the cries of “Lo, here,” when these false Messiahs arise with their panaceas for public ills (political, religious, moral, and spiritual).

Matthew 24:24

Great signs and wonders (σημεια μεγαλα και τερατα [sēmeia megala kai terata]). Two of the three words so often used in the N. T. about the works (ἐργα [erga]) of Jesus, the other being δυναμεις [dunameis] (powers). They often occur together of the same work (John 4:48; Acts 2:22; 4:30; 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4). Τερας [Teras] is a wonder or prodigy, δυναμις [dunamis], a mighty work or power, σημειον [sēmeion], a sign of God’s purpose. Miracle (μιρακυλυμ [mirakulum]) presents only the notion of wonder or portent. The same deed can be looked at from these different angles. But the point to note here is that mere “signs and wonders” do not of themselves prove the power of God. These charlatans will be so skilful that they will, if possible (εἰ δυνατον [ei dunaton]), lead astray the very elect. The implication is that it is not possible. People become excited and are misled and are unable to judge of results. Often it is post hoc, sed non propter hoc. Patent-medicine men make full use of the credulity of people along this line as do spiritualistic mediums. Sleight-of-hand men can deceive the unwary.

Matthew 24:26

In the wilderness (ἐν τῃ ἐρημῳ [en tēi erēmōi]). Like Simon son of Gioras (Josephus, War, IV, 9, 5, & 7). In the inner chambers (ἐν τοις ταμειοις [en tois tameiois]). Like John of Giscala (Josephus, War, V, 6, 1). False Messiahs act the role of the Great Unseen and Unknown.

Matthew 24:27

As seen (φαινεται [phainetai]). Visible in contrast to the invisibility of the false Messiahs. Cf. Rev. 1:7. Like a flash of lightning.

Matthew 24:28

Carcase (πτωμα [ptōma]). As in 14:12, the corpse. Originally a fallen body from πιπτω [piptō], to fall, like Latin cadaver from cado, to fall. The proverb here as in Luke 17:37, is like that in Job 39:30; Prov. 30:17. Eagles (ἀετοι [aetoi]). Perhaps the griffon vulture, larger than the eagle, which (Aristotle) was often seen in the wake of an army and followed Napoleon’s retreat from Russia.

Matthew 24:29

Immediately (εὐθεως [eutheōs]). This word, common in Mark’s Gospel as εὐθυς [euthus], gives trouble if one stresses the time element. The problem is how much time intervenes between “the tribulation of those days” and the vivid symbolism of verse 29. The use of ἐν ταχει [en tachei] in Rev. 1:1 should make one pause before he decides. Here we have a prophetic panorama like that with foreshortened perspective. The apocalyptic pictures in verse 29 also call for sobriety of judgment. One may compare Joel’s prophecy as interpreted by Peter in Acts 21:16–22. Literalism is not appropriate in this apocalyptic eschatology.

Matthew 24:30

The sign of the Son of Man in heaven (το σημειον του υἱου του ἀνθρωπου ἐν οὐρανῳ [to sēmeion tou huiou tou anthrōpou en ouranōi]). Many theories have been suggested like the cross in the sky, etc. Bruce sees a reference to Dan. 7:13 “one like the Son of man” and holds that Christ himself is the sign in question (the genitive of apposition). This is certainly possible. It is confirmed by the rest of the verse: “They shall see the Son of man coming.” See Matt. 16:27; 26:64. The Jews had repeatedly asked for such a sign (Broadus) as in Matt. 12:38; 16:1; John 2:18.

Matthew 24:31

With a great sound of a trumpet (μετα σαλπιγγος φωνης μεγαλης [meta salpiggos phōnēs megalēs]). Some MSS. omit (φωνης [phōnēs]) “sound.” The trumpet was the signal employed to call the hosts of Israel to march as to war and is common in prophetic imagery (Isa. 27:13). Cf. the seventh angel (Rev. 11:15). Clearly “the coming of the son of man is not to be identified with the judgment of Jerusalem but rather forms its preternatural background” (Bruce).

Matthew 24:32

Putteth forth its leaves (τα φυλλα ἐκφυῃ [ta phulla ekphuēi]). Present active subjunctive according to Westcott and Hort. If accented ἐκφυῃ [ekphuēi] (last syllable), it is second aorist passive subjunctive (Erasmus).

Matthew 24:34

This generation (ἡ γενεα αὑτη [hē genea hautē]). The problem is whether Jesus is here referring to the destruction of Jerusalem or to the second coming and end of the world. If to the destruction of Jerusalem, there was a literal fulfilment. In the Old Testament a generation was reckoned as forty years. This is the natural way to take verse 34 as of 33 (Bruce), “all things” meaning the same in both verses.

Matthew 24:36

Not even the Son (οὐδε ὁ υἱος [oude ho huios]). Probably genuine, though absent in some ancient MSS. The idea is really involved in the words “but the Father only” (εἰ μη ὁ πατηρ μονος [ei mē ho patēr monos]). It is equally clear that in this verse Jesus has in mind the time of his second coming. He had plainly stated in verse 34 that those events (destruction of Jerusalem) would take place in that generation. He now as pointedly states that no one but the Father knows the day or the hour when these things (the second coming and the end of the world) will come to pass. One may, of course, accuse Jesus of hopeless confusion or extend his confession of ignorance of the date of the second coming to the whole chain of events. So McNeile: “It is impossible to escape the conclusion that Jesus as Man, expected the End, within the lifetime of his contemporaries.” And that after his explicit denial that he knew anything of the kind! It is just as easy to attribute ignorance to modern scholars with their various theories as to Jesus who admits his ignorance of the date, but not of the character of the coming.

Matthew 24:37

The days of Noah (αἱ ἡμεραι του Νωε [hai hēmerai tou Nōe]). Jesus had used this same imagery before to the Pharisees (Luke 17:26–30). In Noah’s day there was plenty of warning, but utter unpreparedness. Most people are either indifferent about the second coming or have fanciful schemes or programs about it. Few are really eager and expectant and leave to God the time and the plans.

Matthew 24:38

Were eating (ἠσαν τρωγοντες [ēsan trōgontes]). Periphrastic imperfect. The verb means to chew raw vegetables or fruits like nuts or almonds.

Matthew 24:41

At the mill (ἐν τῳ μυλῳ [en tōi mulōi]). So Westcott and Hort and not μυλωνι [mulōni] (millhouse) Textus Receptus. The millstone and then hand-mill which was turned by two women (ἀληθουσαι [alēthousai]) as in Ex. 11:5. This verb is a late form for ἀλεω [aleō]. There was a handle near the edge of the upper stone.

Matthew 24:42

Watch therefore (γρηγωρειτε οὐν [grēgōreite oun]). A late present imperative from the second perfect ἐγρηγορα [egrēgora] from ἐγειρω [egeirō]. Keep awake, be on the watch “therefore” because of the uncertainty of the time of the second coming. Jesus gives a half dozen parables to enforce the point of this exhortation (the Porter, the Master of the House, the Faithful Servant and the Evil Servants, the Ten Virgins, the Talents, the Sheep and the Goats). Matthew does not give the Parable of the Porter (Mark 13:35–37).

Matthew 24:43

In what watch (ποιᾳ φυλακῃ [poiāi phulakēi]). As in 14:25 (four watches of the night). Broken through (διορυχθηναι [dioruchthēnai]). Digged through the tile roof or under the floor (dirt in the poorer houses).

Matthew 24:44

That ye think not (ᾑ οὐ δοκειτε ὡρᾳ [hēi ou dokeite hōrāi]). It is useless to set the day and hour for Christ’s coming. It is folly to neglect it. This figure of the thief will be used also by Paul concerning the unexpectedness of Christ’s second coming (1 Thess. 5:2). See also Matt. 24:50 for the unexpectedness of the coming with punishment for the evil servant.

Matthew 24:48

My lord tarrieth (χρονιζει μου ὁ κυριος [chronizei mou ho kurios]). That is the temptation and to give way to indulge in fleshly appetites or to pride of superior intellect. Within a generation scoffers will be asking where is the promise of the coming of Christ (2 Peter 3:4). They will forget that God’s clock is not like our clock and that a day with the Lord may be a thousand years or a thousand years as one day (3:8).

Chapter 25

Matthew 25:1

Ten virgins (δεκα παρθενοις [deka parthenois]). No special point in the number ten. The scene is apparently centered round the house of the bride to which the bridegroom is coming for the wedding festivities. But Plummer places the scene near the house of the bridegroom who has gone to bring the bride home. It is not pertinent to the point of the parable to settle it. Lamps (λαμπαδας [lampadas]). Probably torches with a wooden staff and a dish on top in which was placed a piece of rope or cloth dipped in oil or pitch. But sometimes λαμπας [lampas] has the meaning of oil lamp (λυχνος [luchnos]) as in Acts 20:8. That may be the meaning here (Rutherford, New Phrynichus).

Matthew 25:3

Took no oil with them (οὐκ ἐλαβον μεθʼ ἑαυτων ἐλαιον [ouk elabon meth’ heautōn elaion]). Probably none at all, not realizing their lack of oil till they lit the torches on the arrival of the bridegroom and his party.

Matthew 25:4

In their vessels (ἐν τοις ἀγγειοις [en tois aggeiois]). Here alone in the N. T., through ἀγγη [aggē] in 13:48. Extra supply in these receptacles besides the oil in the dish on top of the staff.

Matthew 25:5

They all slumbered and slept (ἐνυσταξαν πασαι και ἐκαθευδον [enustaxan pāsai kai ekatheudon]). They dropped off to sleep, nodded (ingressive aorist) and then went on sleeping (imperfect, linear action), a vivid picture drawn by the difference in the two tenses. Many a preacher has seen this happen while he is preaching.

Matthew 25:6

There is a cry (κραυγη γεγονεν [kraugē gegonen]). A cry has come. Dramatic use of the present perfect (second perfect active) indicative, not the perfect for the aorist. It is not ἐστιν [estin], but γεγονεν [gegonen] which emphasizes the sudden outcry which has rent the air. The very memory of it is preserved by this tense with all the bustle and confusion, the rushing to the oil-venders. Come ye forth to meet him (ἐξερχεσθε εἰς ἀπαντησιν [exerchesthe eis apantēsin]). Or, Go out for meeting him, dependent on whether the cry comes from outside the house or inside the house where they were sleeping because of the delay. It was a ceremonial salutation neatly expressed by the Greek phrase.

Matthew 25:7

Trimmed (ἐκοσμησαν [ekosmēsan]). Put in order, made ready. The wicks were trimmed, the lights being out while they slept, fresh oil put in the dish, and lit again. A marriage ceremony in India is described by Ward (View of the Hindoos) in Trench’s Parables: “After waiting two or three hours, at length near midnight it was announced, as in the very words of Scripture, ‘Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.’ ”

Matthew 25:8

Are going out (σβεννυνται [sbennuntai]). Present middle indicative of linear action, not punctiliar or aoristic. When the five foolish virgins lit their lamps, they discovered the lack of oil. The sputtering, flickering, smoking wicks were a sad revelation. “And perhaps we are to understand that there is something in the coincidence of the lamps going out just as the Bridegroom arrived. Mere outward religion is found to have no illuminating power” (Plummer).

Matthew 25:9

Peradventure there will not be enough for us and you (μηποτε οὐ μη ἀρκεσει ἡμν και ὑμν [mēpote ou mē arkesei hēmn kai humn]). There is an elliptical construction here that is not easy of explanation. Some MSS. Aleph A L Z have οὐκ [ouk] instead of οὐ μη [ou mē]. But even so μη ποτε [mē pote] has to be explained either by supplying an imperative like γινεσθω [ginesthō] or by a verb of fearing like φοβουμεθα [phoboumetha] (this most likely). Either οὐκ [ouk] or οὐ μη [ou mē] would be proper with the futuristic subjunctive ἀρκεσει [arkesei] (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 192; Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1161, 1174). “We are afraid that there is no possibility of there being enough for us both.” This is a denial of oil by the wise virgins because there was not enough for both. “It was necessary to show that the foolish virgins could not have the consequences of their folly averted at the last moment” (Plummer). It is a courteous reply, but it is decisive. The compound Greek negatives are very expressive, μηποτε—οὐ μη [mēpote—ou mē].

Matthew 25:10

And while they went away (ἀπερχομενων δε αὐτων [aperchomenōn de autōn]). Present middle participle, genitive absolute, while they were going away, descriptive linear action. Picture of their inevitable folly. Was shut (ἐκλεισθη [ekleisthē]). Effective aorist passive indicative, shut to stay shut.

Matthew 25:11

Afterward (ὑστερον [husteron]). And find the door shut in their faces. Lord, Lord, open to us (Κυριε, Κυριε, ἀνοιξον ἡμιν [Kurie, Kurie, anoixon hēmin]). They appeal to the bridegroom who is now master whether he is at the bride’s house or his own.

Matthew 25:12

I know you not (οὐκ οἰδα ὑμας [ouk oida humās]). Hence there was no reason for special or unusual favours to be granted them. They must abide the consequences of their own negligence.

Matthew 25:13

Watch therefore (γρηγορειτε οὐν [grēgoreite oun]). This is the refrain with all the parables. Lack of foresight is inexcusable. Ignorance of the time of the second coming is not an excuse for neglect, but a reason for readiness. Every preacher goes up against this trait in human nature, putting off till another time what should be done today.

Matthew 25:14

Going into another country (ἀποδημων [apodēmōn]). About to go away from one’s people (δημος [dēmos]), on the point of going abroad. This word in ancient use in this sense. There is an ellipse here that has to be supplied, It is as when or The kingdom of heaven is as when. This Parable of the Talents is quite similar to the Parable of the Pounds in Luke 19:11–28, but they are not variations of the same story. Some scholars credit Jesus with very little versatility. His goods (τα ὑπαρχοντα αὐτου [ta huparchonta autou]). His belongings, neuter participle used as a substantive.

Matthew 25:15

To one (ᾡ μεν, ᾡ δε, ᾡ δε [hōi men, hōi de, hōi de]). Demonstrative ὁς [hos], not the relative. Neat Greek idiom. According to his several ability (κατα την ἰδιαν δυναμιν [kata tēn idian dunamin]). According to his own ability. Each had all that he was capable of handling. The use that one makes of his opportunities is the measure of his capacity for more. One talent represented a considerable amount of money at that time when a δεναριυς [denarius] was a day’s wage. See on 18:24 for the value of a talent.

Matthew 25:16

Straightway (εὐθεως [eutheōs]). Beginning of verse 16, not the end of verse 15. The business temper of this slave is shown by his promptness. With them (ἐν αὐτοις [en autois]). Instrumental use of ἐν [en]. He worked (ἠργασατο [ērgasato]), did business, traded with them. “The virgins wait, the servants work” (Vincent). Made (ἐποιησεν [epoiēsen]). But Westcott and Hort read ἐκερδησεν [ekerdēsen], gained, as in verse 17. Κερδος [Kerdos] means interest. This gain was a hundred per cent.

Matthew 25:19

Maketh a reckoning (συναιρει λογον [sunairei logon]). As in 18:23. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 117) gives two papyri quotations with this very business idiom and one Nubian ostracon with it. The ancient Greek writers do not show it.

Matthew 25:21

The joy of thy lord (την χαριν του κυριου σου [tēn charin tou kuriou sou]). The word χαρα [chara] or joy may refer to the feast on the master’s return. So in verse 23.

Matthew 25:24

That had received the one talent (ὁ το ταλεντον εἰληφως [ho to talenton eilēphōs]). Note the perfect active participle to emphasize the fact that he still had it. In verse 20 we have ὁ—λαβων [ho—labōn] (aorist active participle). I knew thee (ἐγνων σε [egnōn se]). Second aorist active indicative. Experimental knowledge (γινωσκω [ginōskō]) and proleptical use of σε [se]. A hard man (σκληρος [sklēros]). Harsh, stern, rough man, worse than αὐστηρος [austēros] in Luke 19:21, grasping and ungenerous. Where thou didst not scatter (ὁθεν οὐ διεσκορπισας [hothen ou dieskorpisas]). But this scattering was the chaff from which wheat was winnowed, not the scattering of seed.

Matthew 25:26

Thou wicked and slothful servant (πονηρε δουλε και ὀκνηρε [ponēre doule kai oknēre]). From πονος [ponos] (work, annoyance, disturbance, evil) and ὀκνεω [okneō] (to be slow, “poky,” slothful). Westcott and Hort make a question out of this reply to the end of verse 26. It is sarcasm.

Matthew 25:27

Thou oughtest therefore (ἐδσι σε οὐν [edsi se oun]). His very words of excuse convict him. It was a necessity (ἐδει [edei]) that he did not see. The bankers (τοις τραπεζειταις [tois trapezeitais]). The benchers, money-changers, brokers, who exchanged money for a fee and who paid interest on money. Word common in late Greek. I should have received back (ἐγω ἐκομισαμην ἀν [egō ekomisamēn an]). Conclusion of a condition of the second class (determined as unfulfilled). The condition is not expressed, but it is implied. “If you had done that.” With interest (συν τοκῳ [sun tokōi]). Not with “usury” in the sense of extortion or oppression. Usury only means “use” in itself. The word is from τικτω [tiktō], to bring forth. Compound interest at six per cent doubles the principal every twenty years. It is amazing how rapidly that piles up if one carries it on for centuries and millenniums. “In the early Roman Empire legal interest was eight per cent, but in usurious transactions it was lent at twelve, twenty-four, and even forty-eight” (Vincent). Such practices exist today in our cities. The Mosaic law did not allow interest in dealings between Hebrews, but only with strangers (Deut. 23:19 & 20; Psa. 15:5).

Matthew 25:30

The unprofitable (τον ἀχρειον [ton achreion]). Useless (α [a] privative and χρειος [chreios], useful) and so unprofitable, injurious. Doing nothing is doing harm.

Matthew 25:32

All the nations (παντα τα ἐθνη [panta ta ethnē]). Not just Gentiles, but Jews also. Christians and non-Christians. This program for the general judgment has been challenged by some scholars who regard it as a composition by the evangelist to exalt Christ. But why should not Christ say this if he is the Son of Man and the Son of God and realized it? A “reduced” Christ has trouble with all the Gospels, not merely with the Fourth Gospel, and no less with Q and Mark than with Matthew and Luke. This is a majestic picture with which to close the series of parables about readiness for the second coming. Here is the program when he does come. “I am aware that doubt is thrown on this passage by some critics. But the doubt is most wanton. Where is the second brain that could have invented anything so original and so sublime as vv. 35–40, 42–45?” (Sanday, Life of Christ in Recent Research, p. 128). As the shepherd separates (ὡσπερ ὁ ποιμην ἀφοριζει [hōsper ho poimēn aphorizei]). A common figure in Palestine. The sheep are usually white and the goats black. There are kids (ἐριφων, ἐριφια [eriphōn, eriphia]) which have grazed together. The goats devastate a field of all herbage. “Indeed they have extirpated many species of trees which once covered the hills” (Tristram, Natural History of the Bible, pp. 89f.). The shepherd stands at the gate and taps the sheep to go to the right and the goats to the left.

Matthew 25:34

From the foundation of the world (ἀπο καταβολης κοσμου [apo katabolēs kosmou]). The eternal purpose of the Father for his elect in all the nations. The Son of Man in verse 31 is the King here seated on the throne in judgment.

Matthew 25:36

Clothed me (περιεβαλετε με [periebalete me]). Second aorist middle indicative, cast something around me. Visited me (ἐπεσκεψασθε με [epeskepsasthe me]). Looked after, came to see. Our “visit” is from Latin viso, video. Cf. our English “go to see.”

Matthew 25:40

Ye did it unto me (ἐμοι ἐποιησατε [emoi epoiēsate]). Dative of personal interest. Christ identifies himself with the needy and the suffering. This conduct is proof of possession of love for Christ and likeness to him.

Matthew 25:42

No meat (οὐκ ἐδωκατε μοι φαγειν [ouk edōkate moi phagein]). You did not give me anything to eat. The repetition of the negative οὐ [ou] in 42 and 43 is like the falling of clods on the coffin or the tomb. It is curious the surprise here shown both by the sheep and the goats. Some sheep will think that they are goats and some goats will think that they are sheep.

Matthew 25:46

Eternal punishment (κολασιν αἰωνιον [kolasin aiōnion]). The word κολασιν [kolasin] comes from κολαζω [kolazō], to mutilate or prune. Hence those who cling to the larger hope use this phrase to mean age-long pruning that ultimately leads to salvation of the goats, as disciplinary rather than penal. There is such a distinction as Aristotle pointed out between μωρια [mōria] (vengeance) and κολασις [kolasis]. But the same adjective αἰωνιος [aiōnios] is used with κολασιν [kolasin] and ζωην [zōēn]. If by etymology we limit the scope of κολασιν [kolasin], we may likewise have only age-long ζωην [zōēn]. There is not the slightest indication in the words of Jesus here that the punishment is not coeval with the life. We can leave all this to the King himself who is the Judge. The difficulty to one’s mind about conditional chastisement is to think how a life of sin in hell can be changed into a life of love and obedience. The word αἰωνιος [aiōnios] (from αἰων [aiōn], age, aevum, ἀει [aei]) means either without beginning or without end or both. It comes as near to the idea of eternal as the Greek can put it in one word. It is a difficult idea to put into language. Sometimes we have “ages of ages” (αἰωνες των αἰωνων [aiōnes tōn aiōnōn]).

Chapter 26

Matthew 26:2

Cometh (γινεται [ginetai]). Futuristic use of the present middle indicative. This was probably our Tuesday evening (beginning of Jewish Wednesday). The passover began on our Thursday evening (beginning of Jewish Friday). After two days (μετα δυο ἡμερας [meta duo hēmeras]) is just the familiar popular mode of speech. The passover came technically on the second day from this time. Is delivered up (παραδιδοται [paradidotai]). Another instance of the futuristic present passive indicative. The same form occurs in verse 24. Thus Jesus sets a definite date for the coming crucifixion which he has been predicting for six months.

Matthew 26:3

Then were gathered together the chief priests and elders of the people (Τοτε συνηχθησαν οἱ ἀρχιερεις και οἱ πρεσβυτεροι του λαου [Tote sunēchthēsan hoi archiereis kai hoi presbuteroi tou laou]). A meeting of the Sanhedrin as these two groups indicate (cf. 21:23). Unto the court (εἰς την αὐλην [eis tēn aulēn]). The atrium or court around which the palace buildings were built. Here in this open court this informal meeting was held. Caiaphas was high priest a.d. 18 to 36. His father-in-law Annas had been high priest a.d. 6 to 15 and was still called high priest by many.

Matthew 26:4

They took counsel together (συνεβουλευσαντο [sunebouleusanto]). Aorist middle indicative, indicating their puzzled state of mind. They have had no trouble in finding Jesus (John 11:57). Their problem now is how to take Jesus by subtilty and kill him (ἱνα τον Ἰησουν δολῳ κρατησοσιν και ἀποκτεινωσιν [hina ton Iēsoun dolōi kratēsosin kai apokteinōsin]). The Triumphal Entry and the Tuesday debate in the temple revealed the powerful following that Jesus had among the crowds from Galilee.

Matthew 26:5

A tumult (θορυβος [thorubos]). They feared the uprising in behalf of Jesus and were arguing that the matter must be postponed till after the feast was over when the crowds had scattered. Then they could catch him “by craft” (δολῳ [dolōi]) as they would trap a wild beast.

Matthew 26:6

In the house of Simon the leper (ἐν οἰκιᾳ Σιμωνος του λεπρου [en oikiāi Simōnos tou leprou]). Evidently a man who had been healed of his leprosy by Jesus who gave the feast in honour of Jesus. All sorts of fantastic theories have arisen about it. Some even identify this Simon with the one in Luke 7:36ff., but Simon was a very common name and the details are very different. Some hold that it was Martha’s house because she served (John 12:2) and that Simon was either the father or husband of Martha, but Martha loved to serve and that proves nothing. Some identify Mary of Bethany with the sinful woman in Luke 7 and even with Mary Magdalene, both gratuitous and groundless propositions. For the proof that Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, and the sinful woman of Luke 7 are all distinct see my Some Minor Characters in the New Testament. John (12:1) apparently locates the feast six days before the passover, while Mark (14:3) and Matthew (26:6) seem to place it on the Tuesday evening (Jewish Wednesday) just two days before the passover meal. It is possible that John anticipates the date and notes the feast at Bethany at this time because he does not refer to Bethany again. If not, the order of Mark must be followed. According to the order of Mark and Matthew, this feast took place at the very time that the Sanhedrin was plotting about the death of Jesus (Mark 14:1f.).

Matthew 26:7

An alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment (ἀλαβαστρον μυρου βαρυτιμου [alabastron murou barutimou]). The flask was of alabaster, a carbonate of lime or sulphate of lime, white or yellow stone, named alabaster from the town in Egypt where it was chiefly found. It was used for a phial employed for precious ointments in ancient writers, inscriptions and papyri just as we speak of a glass for the vessel made of glass. It had a cylindrical form at the top, as a rule, like a closed rosebud (Pliny). Matthew does not say what the ointment (μυρου [murou]) was, only saying that it was “exceeding precious” (βαρυτιμου [barutimou]), of weighty value, selling at a great price. Here only in the N. T. “An alabaster of nard (μυρου [murou]) was a present for a king” (Bruce). It was one of five presents sent by Cambyses to the King of Ethiopia (Herodotus, iii. 20). She poured it upon his head (κατεχεεν ἐπι της κεφαλης αὐτου [katecheen epi tēs kephalēs autou]). So Mark (14:3), while John (12:3) says that she “anointed the feet of Jesus.” Why not both? The verb κατεχεεν [katecheen] is literally to pour down. It is the first aorist active indicative, unusual form.

Matthew 26:8

This waste (ἡ ἀπωλεια αὑτη [hē apōleia hautē]). Dead loss (ἀπωλεια [apōleia]) they considered it, nothing but sentimental aroma. It was a cruel shock to Mary of Bethany to hear this comment. Matthew does not tell as John does (12:4) that it was Judas who made the point which the rest endorsed. Mark explains that they mentioned “three hundred pence,” while Matthew (26:9) only says “for much” (πολλου [pollou]).

Matthew 26:10

Why trouble ye the woman? (τι κοπους παρεχετε τῃ γυναικι; [ti kopous parechete tēi gunaiki?]) A phrase not common in Greek writers, though two examples occur in the papyri for giving trouble. Κοπος [Kopos] is from κοπτω [koptō], to beat, smite, cut. It is a beating, trouble, and often work, toil. Jesus champions Mary’s act with this striking phrase. It is so hard for some people to allow others liberty for their own personalities to express themselves. It is easy to raise small objections to what we do not like and do not understand. A good work upon me (ἐργον καλον εἰς ἐμε [ergon kalon eis eme]). A beautiful deed upon Jesus himself.

Matthew 26:12

To prepare me for burial (προς το ἐνταφιασαι με [pros to entaphiasai me]). Mary alone had understood what Jesus had repeatedly said about his approaching death. The disciples were so wrapped up in their own notions of a political kingdom that they failed utterly to sympathize with Jesus as he faced the cross. But Mary with the woman’s fine intuitions did begin to understand and this was her way of expressing her high emotions and loyalty. The word here is the same used in John 19:40 about what Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did for the body of Jesus before burial with the addition of προς το [pros to] showing the purpose of Mary (the infinitive of purpose). Mary was vindicated by Jesus and her noble deed has become a “memorial of her” (εἰς μνημοσυμον αὐτης [eis mnēmosumon autēs]) as well as of Jesus.

Matthew 26:15

What are ye willing to give me? (τι θελετε μοι δουναι; [ti thelete moi dounai?]) This “brings out the chaffering aspect of the transaction” (Vincent). “Mary and Judas extreme opposites: she freely spending in love, he willing to sell his Master for money” (Bruce). And her act of love provoked Judas to his despicable deed, this rebuke of Jesus added to all the rest. And I will deliver him unto you (καγω ὑμιν παραδωσω αὐτον [kagō hūmin paradōsō auton]). The use of και [kai] with a co-ordinate clause is a colloquialism (common in the Koiné as in the Hebrew use of wav [wāw; ו]. “A colloquialism or a Hebraism, the traitor mean in style as in spirit” (Bruce). The use of ἐγω [egō] seems to mean “I though one of his disciples will hand him over to you if you give me enough.” They weighed unto him (οἱ δε ἐστησαν αὐτο [hoi de estēsan auto]). They placed the money in the balances or scales. “Coined money was in use, but the shekels may have been weighed out in antique fashion by men careful to do an iniquitous thing in the most orthodox way” (Bruce). It is not known whether the Sanhedrin had offered a reward for the arrest of Jesus or not. Thirty pieces of silver (τριακοντα ἀργυρια [triakonta arguria]). A reference to Zech. 11:12. If a man’s ox gored a servant, he had to pay this amount (Ex. 21:32). Some manuscripts have στατηρας [statēras] (staters). These thirty silver shekels were equal to 120 δεναριι [denarii], less than five English pounds, less than twenty-five dollars, the current price of a slave. There was no doubt contempt for Jesus in the minds of both the Sanhedrin and Judas in this bargain.

Matthew 26:16

Sought opportunity (ἐζητει εὐκαριαν [ezētei eukarian]). A good chance. Note imperfect tense. Judas went at his business and stuck to it.

Matthew 26:17

To eat the passover (φαγειν το πασχα [phagein to pascha]). There were two feasts rolled into one, the passover feast and the feast of unleavened bread. Either name was employed. Here the passover meal is meant, though in John 18:28 it is probable that the passover feast is referred to as the passover meal (the last supper) had already been observed. There is a famous controversy on the apparent disagreement between the Synoptic Gospels and the Fourth Gospel on the date of this last passover meal. My view is that the five passages in John (13:1f., 27; 18:28; 19:14, 31) rightly interpreted agree with the Synoptic Gospels (Matt. 26:17, 20=Mark 14:12, 17=Luke 22:7, 14) that Jesus ate the passover meal at the regular time about 6 p.m. beginning of 15 Nisan. The passover lamb was slain on the afternoon of 14 Nisan and the meal eaten at sunset the beginning of 15 Nisan. According to this view Jesus ate the passover meal at the regular time and died on the cross the afternoon of 15 Nisan. See my Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ, pp. 279–284. The question of the disciples here assumes that they are to observe the regular passover meal. Note the deliberative subjunctive (ἑτοιμασωμεν [hetoimasōmen]) after θελεις [theleis] with ἱνα [hina]. For the asyndeton see Robertson, Grammar, p. 935.

Matthew 26:18

To such a man (προς τον δεινα [pros ton deina]). The only instance in the N. T. of this old Attic idiom. The papyri show it for “Mr. X” and the modern Greek keeps it. Jesus may have indicated the man’s name. Mark (14:13) and Luke (22:10) describe him as a man bearing a pitcher of water. It may have been the home of Mary the mother of John Mark. I keep the passover at thy house (προς σε ποιω το πασχα [pros se poiō to pascha]). Futuristic present indicative. The use of προς σε [pros se] for “at thy house” is neat Greek of the classic period. Evidently there was no surprise in this home at the command of Jesus. It was a gracious privilege to serve him thus.

Matthew 26:20

He was sitting at meat (ἀνεκειτο [anekeito]). He was reclining, lying back on the left side on the couch with the right hand free. Jesus and the Twelve all reclined. The paschal lamb had to be eaten up entirely (Ex. 12:4, 43).

Matthew 26:21

One of you (εἱς ἐξ ὑμων [heis ex humōn]). This was a bolt from the blue for all except Judas and he was startled to know that Jesus understood his treacherous bargain.

Matthew 26:22

Is it I, Lord? (μητι ἐγω εἰμι, Κυριε; [mēti egō eimi, Kurie?]). The negative expects the answer No and was natural for all save Judas. But he had to bluff it out by the same form of question (verse 25). The answer of Jesus, Thou hast said (συ εἰπας [su eipas]), means Yes.

Matthew 26:23

He that dipped (ὁ ἐμβαψας [ho embapsas]). They all dipped their hands, having no knives, forks, or spoons. The aorist participle with the article simply means that the betrayer is the one who dips his hand in the dish (ἐν τῳ τρυβλιῳ [en tōi trubliōi]) or platter with the broth of nuts and raisins and figs into which the bread was dipped before eating. It is plain that Judas was not recognized by the rest as indicated by what Jesus has said. This language means that one of those who had eaten bread with him had violated the rights of hospitality by betraying him. The Arabs today are punctilious on this point. Eating one’s bread ties your hands and compels friendship. But Judas knew full well as is shown in verse 25 though the rest apparently did not grasp it.

Matthew 26:24

Good were it for that man (καλον ἠν αὐτῳ [kalon ēn autōi]). Conclusion of second-class condition even though ἀν [an] is not expressed. It is not needed with verbs of obligation and necessity. There are some today who seek to palliate the crime of Judas. But Jesus here pronounces his terrible doom. And Judas heard it and went on with his hellish bargain with the Sanhedrin. Apparently Judas went out at this stage (John 13:31).

Matthew 26:26

And blessed and brake it (εὐλογησας ἐκλασεν [eulogēsas eklasen]). Special “Grace” in the middle of the passover meal, “as they were eating,” for the institution of the Supper. Jesus broke one of the passover wafers or cakes that each might have a piece, not as a symbol of the breaking of his body as the Textus Receptus has it in 1 Cor. 11:24. The correct text there has only to ὑπερ ὑμων [huper humōn] without κλωμενον [klōmenon]. As a matter of fact the body of Jesus was not “broken” (John 19:33) as John expressly states. This is my body (τουτο ἐστιν το σωμα μου [touto estin to sōma mou]). The bread as a symbol represents the body of Jesus offered for us, “a beautifully simple, pathetic, and poetic symbol of his death” (Bruce). But some have made it “run into fetish worship” (Bruce). Jesus, of course, does not mean that the bread actually becomes his body and is to be worshipped. The purpose of the memorial is to remind us of his death for our sins.

Matthew 26:28

The Covenant (της διαθηκης [tēs diathēkēs]). The adjective καινης [kainēs] in Textus Receptus is not genuine. The covenant is an agreement or contract between two (δια, δυο, θηκε [dia, duo, thēke], from τιθημι [tithēmi]). It is used also for will (Latin, testamentum) which becomes operative at death (Heb. 9:15–17). Hence our New Testament. Either covenant or will makes sense here. Covenant is the idea in Heb. 7:22; 8:8 and often. In the Hebrew to make a covenant was to cut up the sacrifice and so ratify the agreement (Gen. 15:9–18). Lightfoot argues that the word διαθηκε [diathēke] means covenant in the N. T. except in Heb. 9:15–17. Jesus here uses the solemn words of Ex. 24:8 “the blood of the covenant” at Sinai. “My blood of the covenant” is in contrast with that. This is the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31; Heb. 8. Which is shed for many (το περι πολλων ἐκχυννομενον [to peri pollōn ekchunnomenon]). A prophetic present passive participle. The act is symbolized by the ordinance. Cf. the purpose of Christ expressed in 20:28. There ἀντι [anti] and here περι [peri]. Unto remission of sins (εἰς ἀφεσιν ἁμαρτιων [eis aphesin hamartiōn]). This clause is in Matthew alone but it is not to be restricted for that reason. It is the truth. This passage answers all the modern sentimentalism that finds in the teaching of Jesus only pious ethical remarks or eschatological dreamings. He had the definite conception of his death on the cross as the basis of forgiveness of sin. The purpose of the shedding of his blood of the New Covenant was precisely to remove (forgive) sins.

Matthew 26:29

When I drink it new with you (ὁταν αὐτο πινω μεθʼ ὑμων καιμον [hotan auto pinō meth’ humōn kaimon]). This language rather implies that Jesus himself partook of the bread and the wine, though it is not distinctly stated. In the Messianic banquet it is not necessary to suppose that Jesus means the language literally, “the fruit of the vine.” Deissmann (Bible Studies, pp. 109f.) gives an instance of γενημα [genēma] used of the vine in a papyrus 230 b.c. The language here employed does not make it obligatory to employ wine rather than pure grape juice if one wishes the other.

Matthew 26:30

Sang a hymn (ὑμνησαντες [humnēsantes]). The Hallel, part of Psa. 115–118. But apparently they did not go out at once to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus tarried with them in the Upper Room for the wonderful discourse and prayer in John 14 to 17. They may have gone out to the street after John 14:31. It was no longer considered obligatory to remain in the house after the passover meal till morning as at the start (Ex. 12:22). Jesus went out to Gethsemane, the garden of the agony, outside of Jerusalem, toward the Mount of Olives.

Matthew 26:33

I will never be offended (ἐγω οὐδεποτε σκανδαλισθησομαι [egō oudepote skandalisthēsomai]). “Made to stumble,” not “offended.” Volitive future passive indicative. Peter ignored the prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus and the promised meeting in Galilee (32). The quotation from Zech. 13:7 made no impression on him. He was intent on showing that he was superior to “all” the rest. Judas had turned traitor and all were weak, Peter in particular, little as he knew it. So Jesus has to make it plainer by pointing out “this night” as the time (34). Before the cock crows (πριν ἀλεκτορα φωνησαι [prin alektora phōnēsai]). No article in the Greek, “before a cock crow.” Mark (14:30) says that Peter will deny Jesus thrice before the cock crows twice. When one cock crows in the morning, others generally follow. The three denials lasted over an hour. Some scholars hold that chickens were not allowed in Jerusalem by the Jews, but the Romans would have them.

Matthew 26:35

Even if I must die with thee (κν δεῃ με συν σοι ἀποθανειν [kn deēi me sun soi apothanein]). Third-class condition. A noble speech and meant well. His boast of loyalty is made still stronger by οὐ μη σε ἀπαρνησομαι [ou mē se aparnēsomai]. The other disciples were undoubtedly embarrassed by Peter’s boast and lightheartedly joined in the same profession of fidelity.

Matthew 26:36

Gethsemane (Γεθσημανει [Gethsēmanei]). The word means oil-press in the Hebrew, or olive vat. The place (χωριον [chōrion]) was an enclosed plot or estate, “garden,” or orchard (κηπος [kēpos]). It is called villa in the Vulgate according to John 18:1. It was beyond the torrent Kedron at the foot of the Mount of Olives about three-fourths of a mile from the eastern walls of Jerusalem. There are now eight old olive trees still standing in this enclosure. One cannot say that they are the very trees near which Jesus had his Agony, but they are very old. “They will remain so long as their already protracted life is spared, the most venerable of their race on the surface of the earth. Their guarded trunks and scanty foliage will always be regarded as the most affecting of the sacred memorials in or about Jerusalem” (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine). Here (αὐτου [autou]), Yonder (ἐκει [ekei]). Jesus clearly pointed to the place where he would pray. Literally “there.”

Matthew 26:37

He took with him (παραλαβων [paralabōn]). Taking along, by his side (παρα- [para-]), as a mark of special favour and privilege, instead of leaving this inner circle of three (Peter, James, and John) with the other eight. The eight would serve as a sort of outer guard to watch by the gate of the garden for the coming of Judas while the three would be able to share the agony of soul already upon Jesus so as at least to give him some human sympathy which he craved as he sought help from the Father in prayer. These three had been with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and now they are with him in this supreme crisis. The grief of Christ was now severe. The word for sore troubled (ἀδημονειν [adēmonein]) is of doubtful etymology. There is an adjective ἀδημος [adēmos] equal to ἀποδημος [apodēmos] meaning “not at home,” “away from home,” like the German unheimisch, unheimlich. But whatever the etymology, the notion of intense discomfort is plain. The word ἀδημονειν [adēmonein] occurs in P. Oxy. II, 298, 456 of the first century a.d. where it means “excessively concerned.” See Phil. 2:26 where Paul uses it of Epaphroditus. Moffatt renders it here “agitated.” The word occurs sometimes with ἀπορεω [aporeō] to be at a loss as to which way to go. The Braid Scots has it “sair putten-aboot.” Here Matthew has also “to be sorrowful” (λυπεισθαι [lupeisthai]), but Mark (14:33) has the startling phrase greatly amazed and sore troubled (ἐκθαμβεισθαι και ἀδημονειν [ekthambeisthai kai adēmonein]), a “feeling of terrified surprise.”

Matthew 26:38

Watch with me (γρηγορειτε μετʼ ἐμου [grēgoreite met’ emou]). This late present from the perfect ἐγρηγορα [egrēgora] means to keep awake and not go to sleep. The hour was late and the strain had been severe, but Jesus pleaded for a bit of human sympathy as he wrestled with his Father. It did not seem too much to ask. He had put his sorrow in strong language, “even unto death” (ἑως θανατου [heōs thanatou]) that ought to have alarmed them.

Matthew 26:39

He went forward a little (προελθων μικρον [proelthōn mikron]). As if he could not fight the battle in their immediate presence. He was on his face, not on his knees (McNeile). This cup (το ποτηριον τουτο [to potērion touto]). The figure can mean only the approaching death. Jesus had used it of his coming death when James and John came to him with their ambitious request, “the cup which I am about to drink” (Matt. 20:22). But now the Master is about to taste the bitter dregs in the cup of death for the sin of the world. He was not afraid that he would die before the Cross, though he instinctively shrank from the cup, but instantly surrendered his will to the Father’s will and drank it to the full. Evidently Satan tempted Christ now to draw back from the Cross. Here Jesus won the power to go on to Calvary.

Matthew 26:40

What (οὑτως [houtōs]). The Greek adverb is not interrogation or exclamatory τι [ti], but only “so” or “thus.” There is a tone of sad disappointment at the discovery that they were asleep after the earnest plea that they keep awake (verse 38). “Did you not thus have strength enough to keep awake one hour?” Every word struck home.

Matthew 26:41

Watch and pray (γρηγορειτε και προσευχεσθε [grēgoreite kai proseuchesthe]). Jesus repeats the command of verse 38 with the addition of prayer and with the warning against the peril of temptation. He himself was feeling the worst of all temptations of his earthly life just then. He did not wish then to enter such temptation (πειρασμον [peirasmon], here in this sense, not mere trial). Thus we are to understand the prayer in Matt. 6:13 about leading (being led) into temptation. Their failure was due to weakness of the flesh as is often the case. Spirit (πνευμα [pneuma]) here is the moral life (ἰντελλεκτ, ᾠλλ, ἐμοτιονς [intellekt, ōill, emotions]) as opposed to the flesh (cf. Isa. 31:3; Rom. 7:25). Except I drink it (ἐαν μη αὐτο πιω [ean mē auto piō]). Condition of the third class undetermined, but with likelihood of determination, whereas if this cannot pass away (εἰ οὐ δυναται τουτο παρελθειν [ei ou dunatai touto parelthein]) is first-class condition, determined as fulfilled, assumed to be true. This delicate distinction accurately presents the real attitude of Jesus towards this subtle temptation.

Matthew 26:43

For their eyes were heavy (ἠσαν γαρ αὐτων οἱ ὀφθαλμοι βεβαρημενοι [ēsan gar autōn hoi ophthalmoi bebarēmenoi]). Past perfect passive indicative periphrastic. Their eyes had been weighted down with sleep and still were as they had been on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:32).

Matthew 26:45

Sleep on now and take your rest (καθευδετε λοιπον και ἀναπαυεσθε [katheudete loipon kai anapauesthe]). This makes it “mournful irony” (Plummer) or reproachful concession: “Ye may sleep and rest indefinitely so far as I am concerned; I need no longer your watchful interest” (Bruce). It may be a sad query as Goodspeed: “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?” So Moffatt. This use of λοιπον [loipon] for now or henceforth is common in the papyri. The hour is at hand (ἠγγικεν ἡ ὡρα [ēggiken hē hōra]). Time for action has now come. They have missed their chance for sympathy with Jesus. He has now won the victory without their aid. “The Master’s time of weakness is past; He is prepared to face the worst” (Bruce). Is betrayed (παραδιδοται [paradidotai]). Futuristic present or inchoative present, the first act in the betrayal is at hand. Jesus had foreseen his “hour” for long and now he faces it bravely.

Matthew 26:46

He is at hand (ἠγγικεν [ēggiken]). The same verb and tense used of the hour above, present perfect active of ἐγγιζω [eggizō], to draw near, the very form used by John the Baptist of the coming of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 3:2). Whether Jesus heard the approach of the betrayer with the crowd around him or saw the lights or just felt the proximity of the traitor before he was there (J. Weiss), we do not know and it matters little. The scene is pictured as it happened with lifelike power.

Matthew 26:47

While he yet spake (ἐτι αὐτου λαλουντος [eti autou lalountos]). It was an electric moment as Jesus faced Judas with his horde of helpers as if he turned to meet an army. Let us go (ἀγωμεν [agōmen]), Jesus had said. And here he is. The eight at the gate seemed to have given no notice. Judas is described here as “one of the twelve” (εἱς των δωδεκα [heis tōn dōdeka]) in all three Synoptic Gospels (Mark 14:43; Matt. 26:47; Luke 22:47). The very horror of the thing is thus emphasized, that one of the chosen twelve apostles should do this dastardly deed. A great multitude (ὀχλος πολυς [ochlos polus]). The chief priests and Pharisees had furnished Judas a band of soldiers from the garrison in Antonia (John 18:3) and the temple police (Luke 22:52) with swords (knives) and staves (clubs) with a hired rabble who had lanterns also (John 18:3) in spite of the full moon. Judas was taking no chances of failure for he well knew the strange power of Jesus.

Matthew 26:48

Gave them a sign (ἐδωκεν αὐτοις σημειον [edōken autois sēmeion]). Probably just before he reached the place, though Mark (14:44) has “had given” (δεδωκει [dedōkei]) which certainly means before arrival at Gethsemane. At any rate Judas had given the leaders to understand that he would kiss (φιλησω [philēsō]) Jesus in order to identify him for certain. The kiss was a common mode of greeting and Judas chose that sign and actually “kissed him fervently” (κατεφιλησεν [katephilēsen], verse 49), though the compound verb sometimes in the papyri has lost its intensive force. Bruce thinks that Judas was prompted by the inconsistent motives of smouldering love and cowardice. At any rate this revolting ostentatious kiss is “the most terrible instance of the ἑκουσια φιληματα ἐχθρου [hekousia philēmata echthrou] (Prov. 27:6),” the profuse kisses of an enemy (McNeile). This same compound verb occurs in Luke 7:38 of the sinful woman, in Luke 15:20 of the Father’s embrace of the Prodigal Son, and in Acts 20:37 of the Ephesian elders and Paul.

Matthew 26:50

Do that for which thou art come (ἐφʼ ὁ παρει [eph’ ho parei]). Moffatt and Goodspeed take it: “Do your errand.” There has been a deal of trouble over this phrase. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 125 to 131) has proven conclusively that it is a question, ἐφʼ ὁ [eph’ ho] in late Greek having the interrogative sense of ἐπι τι [epi ti] (Robertson, Grammar, p. 725). The use of ἐφʼ ὁ [eph’ ho] for “why here” occurs on a Syrian tablet of the first century a.d. 50 that it “was current coin in the language of the people” (Deissmann). Most of the early translations (Old Latin, Old Syriac) took it as a question. So the Vulgate has ad quid venisti. In this instance the Authorized Version is correct against the Revised. Jesus exposes the pretence of Judas and shows that he does not believe in his paraded affection (Bruce).

Matthew 26:51

One of them that were with Jesus (εἱς των μετα Ἰησου [heis tōn meta Iēsou]). Like the other Synoptics Matthew conceals the name of Peter, probably for prudential reasons as he was still living before a.d. 68. John writing at the end of the century mentions Peter’s name (John 18:10). The sword or knife was one of the two that the disciples had (Luke 22:38). Bruce suggests that it was a large knife used in connexion with the paschal feast. Evidently Peter aimed to cut off the man’s head, not his ear (ὠτιον [ōtion] is diminutive in form, but not in sense, as often in the Koiné). He may have been the leader of the band. His name, Malchus, is also given by John (18:10) because Peter was then dead and in no danger.

Matthew 26:52

Put up again thy sword (ἀποστρεψον την μαχαιραν σου [apostrepson tēn machairan sou]). Turn back thy sword into its place. It was a stern rebuke for Peter who had misunderstood the teaching of Jesus in Luke 22:38 as well as in Matt. 5:39 (cf. John 18:36). The reason given by Jesus has had innumerable illustrations in human history. The sword calls for the sword. Offensive war is here given flat condemnation. The Paris Pact of 1928 (the Kellogg Treaty) is certainly in harmony with the mind of Christ. The will to peace is the first step towards peace, the outlawing of war. Our American cities are often ruled by gangsters who kill each other off.

Matthew 26:53

Even now (ἀρτι [arti]). Just now, at this very moment. Legions (λεγιωνας [legiōnas]). A Latin word. Roman soldiers in large numbers were in Palestine later in a.d. 66, but they were in Caesarea and in the tower of Antonia in Jerusalem. A full Roman legion had 6,100 foot and 726 horse in the time of Augustus. But Jesus sees more than twelve legions at his command (one for each apostle) and shows his undaunted courage in this crisis. One should recall the story of Elisha at Dothan (2 Kings 6:17).

Matthew 26:54

Must be (δει [dei]). Jesus sees clearly his destiny now that he has won the victory in Gethsemane.

Matthew 26:55

As against a robber (ὡς ἐπι λῃστην [hōs epi lēistēn]). As a robber, not as a thief, but a robber hiding from justice. He will be crucified between two robbers and on the very cross planned for their leader, Barabbas. They have come with no warrant for any crime, but with an armed force to seize Jesus as if a highway robber. Jesus reminds them that he used to sit (imperfect, ἐκαθεζομην [ekathezomēn]) in the temple and teach. But he sees God’s purpose in it all for the prophets had foretold his “cup.” The desertion of Jesus by the disciples followed this rebuke of the effort of Peter. Jesus had surrendered. So they fled.

Matthew 26:58

To see the end (ἰδειν το τελος [idein to telos]). Peter rallied from the panic and followed afar off (μακροθεν [makrothen]), “more courageous than the rest and yet not courageous enough” (Bruce). John the Beloved Disciple went on into the room where Jesus was. The rest remained outside, but Peter “sat with the officers” to see and hear and hoping to escape notice.

Matthew 26:59

Sought false witness against Jesus (ἐζητουν ψευδομαρτυριαν [ezētoun pseudomarturian]). Imperfect tense, kept on seeking. Judges have no right to be prosecutors and least of all to seek after false witness and even to offer bribes to get it.

Matthew 26:60

They found it not (και οὐχ εὑρον [kai ouch heuron]). They found false witnesses in plenty, but not the false witness that would stand any sort of test.

Matthew 26:61

I am able to destroy the temple of God (δυναμαι καταλυσαι τον ναον του θεου [dunamai katalusai ton naon tou theou]). What he had said (John 2:19) referred to the temple of his body which they were to destroy (and did) and which he would raise again in three days as he did. It was a pitiful perversion of what Jesus had said and even so the two witnesses disagreed in their misrepresentation (Mark 14:59).

Matthew 26:63

Held his peace (ἐσιωπα [esiōpa]). Kept silent, imperfect tense. Jesus refused to answer the bluster of Caiaphas. I adjure thee by the living God (ἐξορκιζω σε κατα του θεου του ζωντος [exorkizō se kata tou theou tou zōntos]). So Caiaphas put Jesus on oath in order to make him incriminate himself, a thing unlawful in Jewish jurisprudence. He had failed to secure any accusation against Jesus that would stand at all. But Jesus did not refuse to answer under solemn oath, clearly showing that he was not thinking of oaths in courts of justice when he prohibited profanity. The charge that Caiaphas makes is that Jesus claims to be the Messiah, the Son of God. To refuse to answer would be tantamount to a denial. So Jesus answered knowing full well the use that would be made of his confession and claim.

Matthew 26:64

Thou hast said (συ εἰπας [su eipas]). This is a Greek affirmative reply. Mark (14:62) has it plainly, “I am” (εἰμι [eimi]). But this is not all that Jesus said to Caiaphas. He claims that the day will come when Jesus will be the Judge and Caiaphas the culprit using the prophetic language in Dan. 7:13 and Psa. 109:1. It was all that Caiaphas wanted.

Matthew 26:65

He hath spoken blasphemy (ἐβλασφημησεν [eblasphēmēsen]). There was no need of witnesses now, for Jesus had incriminated himself by claiming under oath to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Now it would not be blasphemy for the real Messiah to make such a claim, but it was intolerable to admit that Jesus could be the Messiah of Jewish hope. At the beginning of Christ’s ministry he occasionally used the word Messiah of himself, but he soon ceased, for it was plain that it would create trouble. The people would take it in the sense of a political revolutionist who would throw off the Roman yoke. If he declined that role, the Pharisees would have none of him for that was the kind of a Messiah that they desired. But the hour has now come. At the Triumphal Entry Jesus let the Galilean crowds hail him as Messiah, knowing what the effect would be. Now the hour has struck. He has made his claim and has defied the High Priest.

Matthew 26:66

He is worthy of death (ἐνοχος θανατου ἐστιν [enochos thanatou estin]). Held in the bonds of death (ἐν, ἐχω [en, echō]) as actually guilty with the genitive (θανατου [thanatou]). The dative expresses liability as in Matt. 5:21 (τῃ κρισει [tēi krisei]) and as εἰς [eis] and the accusative (Matt. 5:22). They took the vote though it was at night and they no longer had the power of death since the Romans took it away from them. Death was the penalty of blasphemy (Lev. 24:15). But they enjoyed taking it as their answer to his unanswerable speeches in the temple that dreadful Tuesday a few days before. It was unanimous save that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did not agree. They were probably absent and not even invited as being under suspicion for being secret disciples of Christ.

Matthew 26:68

Thou Christ (Χριστε [Christe]). With definite sneer at his claims under oath in 26:63. With uncontrolled glee and abandon like a lot of hoodlums these doctors of divinity insulted Jesus. They actually spat in his face, buffeted him on the neck (ἐκολαφισαν [ekolaphisan], from κολαφος [kolaphos] the fist), and struck him in the face with the palms of their hands (ἐραπισαν [erapisan], from ραπις [rapis], a rod), all personal indignities after the legal injustice already done. They thus gave vent to their spite and hatred.

Matthew 26:69

Thou also (και συ [kai su]). Peter had gone within (ἐσω [esō]) the palace (26:58), but was sitting without (ἐξω [exō]) the hall where the trial was going on in the open central court with the servants or officers (ὑπηρετων [hupēretōn], under rowers, literally, 26:58) of the Sanhedrin. But he could possibly see through the open door above what was going on inside. It is not plain at what stage of the Jewish trial the denials of Peter took place nor the precise order in which they came as the Gospels give them variously. This maid (παιδισκη [paidiskē], slave girl) stepped up to Peter as he was sitting in the court and pointedly said: “Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean.” Peter was warming himself by the fire and the light shone in his face. She probably had noticed Peter come in with John the Beloved Disciple who went on up into the hall of trial. Or she may have seen Peter with Jesus on the streets of Jerusalem.

Matthew 26:70

I know not what thou sayest (οὐκ οἰδα τι λεγεις [ouk oida ti legeis]). It was an affectation of extreme ignorance (Bruce) that deceived no one. It was an easy and ancient dodge and easy subterfuge. Dalman (Words of Jesus, 80f.) suggests that Peter used the Galilean Aramaean word for know instead of the Judean Aramaean word which betrayed at once his Galilean residence.

Matthew 26:71

Into the porch (εἰς τον πυλωνα [eis ton pulōna]). But Peter was not safe out here, for another maid recognized him and spoke of him as “this fellow” (οὑτος [houtos]) with a gesture to those out there.

Matthew 26:72

With an oath (μετα ὁρκου [meta horkou]). This time Peter added an oath, probably a former habit so common to the Jews at that time, and denied acquaintance with Jesus. He even refers to Jesus as “the man” (τον ἀνθρωπον [ton anthrōpon]), an expression that could convey contempt, “the fellow.”

Matthew 26:73

They that stood by (οἱ ἑστωτες [hoi hestōtes]). The talk about Peter continued. Luke (22:59) states that the little while was about an hour. The bystanders came up to Peter and bluntly assert that he was “of a truth” (ἀληθως [alēthōs]) one of the followers of Jesus for his speech betrayed him. Even the Revised Version retains “bewrayeth,” quaint old English for “betrayeth.” The Greek has it simply “makes thee evident” (δηλον σε ποιει [dēlon se poiei]). His dialect (λαλια [lalia]) clearly revealed that he was a Galilean. The Galileans had difficulty with the gutterals and Peter’s second denial had exposed him to the tormenting raillery of the loungers who continued to nag him.

Matthew 26:74

Then began he to curse and to swear (τοτε ἠρξατο καταθεματιζειν και ὀμνυειν [tote ērxato katathematizein kai omnuein]). He repeated his denial with the addition of profanity to prove that he was telling the truth instead of the lie that they all knew. His repeated denials gave him away still more, for he could not pronounce the Judean gutterals. He called down on himself (καταθεματιζειν [katathematizein]) imprecations in his desperate irritation and loss of self-control at his exposure. The cock crew (ἀλεκτων ἐφωνησεν [alektōn ephōnēsen]). No article in the Greek, just “a cock crew” at that juncture, “straightway” (εὐθυς [euthus]). But it startled Peter.

Matthew 26:75

Peter remembered (ἐμνησθη ὁ Πετρος [emnēsthē ho Petros]). A small thing, but magna circumstantia (Bengel). In a flash of lightning rapidity he recalled the words of Jesus a few hours before (Matt. 26:34) which he had then scouted with the proud boast that “even if I must die with thee, yet will I not deny thee” (26:35). And now this triple denial was a fact. There is no extenuation for the base denials of Peter. He had incurred the dread penalty involved in the words of Jesus in Matt. 10:33 of denial by Jesus before the Father in heaven. But Peter’s revulsion of feeling was as sudden as his sin. He went out and wept bitterly (ἐξελθων ἐξω ἐκλαυσεν πικρως [exelthōn exō eklausen pikrōs]). Luke adds that the Lord turned and looked upon Peter (Luke 22:61). That look brought Peter back to his senses. He could not stay where he now was with the revilers of Jesus. He did not feel worthy or able to go openly into the hall where Jesus was. So outside he went with a broken heart. The constative aorist here does not emphasize as Mark’s imperfect does (Mark 14:72, ἐκλαιεν [eklaien]) the continued weeping that was now Peter’s only consolation. The tears were bitter, all the more so by reason of that look of understanding pity that Jesus gave him. One of the tragedies of the Cross is the bleeding heart of Peter. Judas was a total wreck and Peter was a near derelict. Satan had sifted them all as wheat, but Jesus had prayed specially for Peter (Luke 22:31f.). Will Satan show Peter to be all chaff as Judas was?

Chapter 27

Matthew 27:1

Now when morning was come (πρῳας δε γενομενης [prōias de genomenēs]). Genitive absolute. After dawn came the Sanhedrin held a formal meeting to condemn Jesus and so ratify the illegal trial during the night (Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66–71). Luke gives the details of this second ratification consultation. The phrase used, took counsel (συμβουλιον ἐλαβον [sumboulion elabon]) is a Latin idiom (consilium ceperunt) for συνεβουλευσαντο [sunebouleusanto].

Matthew 27:2

Delivered him up to Pilate the governor (παρεδωκαν Πειλατῳ τῳ ἡγεμονι [paredōkan Peilatōi tōi hēgemoni]). What they had done was all a form and a farce. Pilate had the power of death, but they had greatly enjoyed the condemnation and the buffeting of Jesus now in their power bound as a condemned criminal. He was no longer the master of assemblies in the temple, able to make the Sanhedrin cower before him. He had been bound in the garden and was bound before Annas (John 18:12, 24), but may have been unbound before Caiaphas.

Matthew 27:3

Repented himself (μεταμεληθεις [metamelētheis]). Probably Judas saw Jesus led away to Pilate and thus knew that the condemnation had taken place. This verb (first aorist passive participle of μεταμελομαι [metamelomai]) really means to be sorry afterwards like the English word repent from the Latin repoenitet, to have pain again or afterwards. See the same verb μεταμεληθεις [metamelētheis] in Matt. 21:30 of the boy who became sorry and changed to obedience. The word does not have an evil sense in itself. Paul uses it of his sorrow for his sharp letter to the Corinthians, a sorrow that ceased when good came of the letter (2 Cor. 7:8). But mere sorrow avails nothing unless it leads to change of mind and life (μετανοια [metanoia]), the sorrow according to God (2 Cor. 7:9). This sorrow Peter had when he wept bitterly. It led Peter back to Christ. But Judas had only remorse that led to suicide.

Matthew 27:4

See thou to it (συ ὀψῃ [su opsēi]). Judas made a belated confession of his sin in betraying innocent blood to the Sanhedrin, but not to God, nor to Jesus. The Sanhedrin ignore the innocent or righteous blood (αἱμα ἀθῳον [haima athōion] or δικαιον [dikaion]) and tell Judas to look after his own guilt himself. They ignore also their own guilt in the matter. The use of συ ὀψῃ [su opsēi] as a volitive future, an equivalent of the imperative, is commoner in Latin (tu videris) than in Greek, though the Koiné shows it also. The sentiment is that of Cain (Grotius, Bruce).

Matthew 27:5

Hanged himself (ἀπηγξατο [apēgxato]). Direct middle. His act was sudden after he hurled the money into the sanctuary (εἰς τον ναον [eis ton naon]), the sacred enclosure where the priests were. The motives of Judas in the betrayal were mixed as is usually the case with criminals. The money cut a small figure with him save as an expression of contempt as the current price of a slave.

Matthew 27:6

Into the treasury (εἰς τον κορβαναν [eis ton korbanān]). Josephus (War II. 9, 4) uses this very word for the sacred treasury. Korban is Aramaic for gift (δωρον [dōron]) as is plain in Mark 7:11. The price of blood (blood-money) was pollution to the treasury (Deut. 23:18f.). So they took the money out and used it for a secular purpose. The rabbis knew how to split hairs about Korban (Mark 7:1–23; Matt. 15:1–20), but they balk at this blood-money.

Matthew 27:7

The potter’s field (του ἀγρου του κεραμεως [tou agrou tou kerameōs]). Grotius suggests that it was a small field where potter’s clay was obtained, like a brickyard (Broadus). Otherwise we do not know why the name exists. In Acts 1:18 we have another account of the death of Judas by bursting open (possibly falling after hanging himself) after he obtained the field by the wages of iniquity. But it is possible that ἐκτησατο [ektēsato] there refers to the rabbinical use of Korban, that the money was still that of Judas though he was dead and so he really “acquired” the field by his blood-money.

Matthew 27:8

The field of blood (ἀγρος αἱματος [agros haimatos]). This name was attached to it because it was the price of blood and that is not inconsistent with Acts 1:18f. Today potter’s field carries the idea here started of burial place for strangers who have no where else to lie (εἰς ταφην τοις ξενοις [eis taphēn tois xenois]), probably at first Jews from elsewhere dying in Jerusalem. In Acts 1:19 it is called Aceldama or place of blood (χωριον αἱματος [chōrion haimatos]) for the reason that Judas’ blood was shed there, here because it was purchased by blood money. Both reasons could be true.

Matthew 27:9

By Jeremiah the prophet (δια Ἰερεμιου [dia Ieremiou]). This quotation comes mainly from Zech. 11:13 though not in exact language. In Jer. 18:18 the prophet tells of a visit to a potter’s house and in Jer. 32:6ff. of the purchase of a field. It is in Zechariah that the thirty pieces of silver are mentioned. Many theories are offered for the combination of Zechariah and Jeremiah and attributing it all to Jeremiah as in Mark 1:2f. the quotation from Isaiah and Malachi is referred wholly to Isaiah as the more prominent of the two. Broadus and McNeile give a full discussion of the various theories from a mere mechanical slip to the one just given above. Matthew has here (27:10) “the field of the potter” (εἰς τον ἀγρον του κεραμεως [eis ton agron tou kerameōs]) for “the potter the house of the Lord” in Zech. 11:13. That makes it more parallel with the language of Matt. 27:7.

Matthew 27:11

Now Jesus stood before the governor (ὁ δε Ἰησους ἐσταθη ἐμπροσθεν του ἡγεμονος [ho de Iēsous estathē emprosthen tou hēgemonos]). Here is one of the dramatic episodes of history. Jesus stood face to face with the Roman governor. The verb ἐσταθη [estathē], not ἐστη [estē] (second aorist active), is first aorist passive and can mean “was placed” there, but he stood, not sat. The term ἡγεμων [hēgemōn] (from ἡγεομαι [hēgeomai], to lead) was technically a legatus Caesaris, an officer of the Emperor, more exactly procurator, ruler under the Emperor of a less important province than propraetor (as over Syria). The senatorial provinces like Achaia were governed by proconsuls. Pilate represented Roman law. Art thou the King of the Jews? (Συ εἰ ὁ βασιλευς των Ἰουδαιων; [Su ei ho basileus tōn Ioudaiōn?]). This is what really mattered. Matthew does not give the charges made by the Sanhedrin (Luke 23:2) nor the private interview with Pilate (John 18:28–32). He could not ignore the accusation that Jesus claimed to be King of the Jews. Else he could be himself accused to Caesar for disloyalty. Rivals and pretenders were common all over the empire. So here was one more. By his answer (thou sayest) Jesus confesses that he is. So Pilate has a problem on his hands. What sort of a king does this one claim to be? Thou (συ [su]) the King of the Jews?

Matthew 27:14

And he gave him no answer, not even to one word (και οὐκ ἀπεκριθη αὐτῳ προς οὐδε ἑν ῥημα [kai ouk apekrithē autōi pros oude hen rhēma]). Jesus refused to answer the charges of the Jews (verse 12). Now he continued silent under the direct question of Pilate. The Greek is very precise besides the double negative. “He did not reply to him up to not even one word.” This silent dignity amazed Pilate and yet he was strangely impressed.

Matthew 27:17

Barabbas or Jesus which is called Christ? (Βαραββαν ἠ Ἰησουν τον λεγομενον Χριστον; [Barabbān ē Iēsoun ton legomenon Christon?]). Pilate was catching at straws or seeking any loophole to escape condemning a harmless lunatic or exponent of a superstitious cult such as he deemed Jesus to be, certainly in no political sense a rival of Caesar. The Jews interpreted “Christ” for Pilate to be a claim to be King of the Jews in opposition to Caesar, “a most unprincipled proceeding” (Bruce). So he bethought him of the time-honoured custom at the passover of releasing to the people “a prisoner whom they wished” (δεσμιον ὁν ἠθελον [desmion hon ēthelon]). No parallel case has been found, but Josephus mentions the custom (Ant. xx. 9, 3). Barabbas was for some reason a popular hero, a notable (ἐπισημον [episēmon]), if not notorious, prisoner, leader of an insurrection or revolution (Mark 15:7) probably against Rome, and so guilty of the very crime that they tried to fasten on Jesus who only claimed to be king in the spiritual sense of the spiritual kingdom. So Pilate unwittingly pitted against each other two prisoners who represented the antagonistic forces of all time. It is an elliptical structure in the question, “whom do you wish that I release?” (τινα θελετε ἀπολυσω; [tina thelete apolusō?]), either two questions in one (asyndeton) or the ellipse of ἱνα [hina] before ἀπολυσω [apolusō]. See the same idiom in verse 21. But Pilate’s question tested the Jews as well as himself. It tests all men today. Some manuscripts add the name Jesus to Barabbas and that makes it all the sharper. Jesus Barabbas or Jesus Christ?

Matthew 27:18

For envy (δια φθονον [dia phthonon]). Pilate was dense about many things, but he knew that the Jewish leaders were jealous of the power of Jesus with the people. He may have heard of the events of the Triumphal Entry and the Temple Teaching. The envy, of course, came primarily from the leaders.

Matthew 27:19

His wife (ἡ γυνη αὐτου [hē gunē autou]). Poor Pilate was getting more entangled every moment as he hesitated to set Jesus free whom he knew to be free of any crime against Caesar. Just at the moment when he was trying to enlist the people in behalf of Jesus against the schemes of the Jewish leaders, his wife sent a message about her dream concerning Jesus. She calls Jesus “that righteous man” (τῳ δικαιῳ ἐκεινῳ [tōi dikaiōi ekeinōi]) and her psychical sufferings increased Pilate’s superstitious fears. Tradition names her Procla and even calls her a Christian which is not probable. But it was enough to unnerve the weak Pilate as he sat on the judgment-seat (ἐπι του βηματος [epi tou bēmatos]) up over the pavement.

Matthew 27:20

Persuaded (ἐπεισαν [epeisan]). The chief priests (Sadducees) and elders (Pharisees) saw the peril of the situation and took no chances. While Pilate wavered in pressing the question, they used all their arts to get the people to “ask for themselves” (αἰτησωνται [aitēsōntai], indirect middle ingressive aorist subjunctive) and to choose Barabbas and not Jesus.

Matthew 27:22

What then shall I do unto Jesus which is called Christ? (τι οὐν ποιησω Ἰησουν τον λεγομενον Χριστον; [ti oun poiēsō Iēsoun ton legomenon Christon?]). They had asked for Barabbas under the tutelage of the Sanhedrin, but Pilate pressed home the problem of Jesus with the dim hope that they might ask for Jesus also. But they had learned their lesson. Some of the very people who shouted “Hosannah” on the Sunday morning of the Triumphal Entry now shout Let him be crucified (σταυρωθητω [staurōthētō]). The tide has now turned against Jesus, the hero of Sunday, now the condemned criminal of Friday. Such is popular favour. But all the while Pilate is shirking his own fearful responsibility and trying to hide his own weakness and injustice behind popular clamour and prejudice.

Matthew 27:23

Why, what evil hath he done? (τι γαρ κακον ἐποιησεν [ti gar kakon epoiēsen];). This was a feeble protest by a flickering conscience. Pilate descended to that level of arguing with the mob now inflamed with passion for the blood of Jesus, a veritable lynching fiasco. But this exhibition of weakness made the mob fear refusal by Pilate to proceed. So they “kept crying exceedingly” (περισσως ἐκραζον [perissōs ekrazon], imperfect tense of repeated action and vehemently) their demand for the crucifixion of Jesus. It was like a gladiatorial show with all thumbs turned down.

Matthew 27:24

Washed his hands (ἀπενιψατο τας χειρας [apenipsato tas cheiras]). As a last resort since the hubbub (θορυβος [thorubos]) increased because of his vacillation. The verb ἀπονιπτω [aponiptō] means to wash off and the middle voice means that he washed off his hands for himself as a common symbol of cleanliness and added his pious claim with a slap at them. I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man (or this blood); see ye to it. (Ἀθῳος εἰμι ἀπο του αἱματος του δικαιου τουτου [Athōios eimi apo tou haimatos tou dikaiou toutou] or του αἱματος τουτου [tou haimatos toutou] as some manuscripts have it, ὑμεις ὀψεσθε [humeis opsesthe].) The Jews used this symbol (Deut. 21:6; Psa. 26:6; 73:13). Plummer doubts if Pilate said these words with a direct reference to his wife’s message (26:19), but I fail to see the ground for that scepticism. The so-called Gospel of Peter says that Pilate washed his hands because the Jews refused to do so.

Matthew 27:25

His blood be upon us and upon our children (το αἱμα αὐτου και ἐπι τα τεκνα ἡμων [to haima autou kai epi ta tekna hēmōn]). These solemn words do show a consciousness that the Jewish people recognized their guilt and were even proud of it. But Pilate could not wash away his own guilt that easily. The water did not wash away the blood of Jesus from his hands any more than Lady Macbeth could wash away the blood-stains from her lily-white hands. One legend tells that in storms on Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland his ghost comes out and still washes his hands in the storm-clouds. There was guilt enough for Judas, for Caiaphas and for all the Sanhedrin both Sadducees and Pharisees, for the Jewish people as a whole (πας ὁ λαος [pas ho laos]), and for Pilate. At bottom the sins of all of us nailed Jesus to the Cross. This language is no excuse for race hatred today, but it helps explain the sensitiveness between Jew and Christians on this subject. And Jews today approach the subject of the Cross with a certain amount of prejudice.

Matthew 27:26

Scourged (φραγελλωσας [phragellōsas]). The Latin verb flagellare. Pilate apparently lost interest in Jesus when he discovered that he had no friends in the crowd. The religious leaders had been eager to get Jesus condemned before many of the Galilean crowd friendly to Jesus came into the city. They had apparently succeeded. The scourging before the crucifixion was a brutal Roman custom. The scourging was part of the capital punishment. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 269) quotes a Florentine papyrus of the year 85 a.d. wherein G. Septimius Vegetus, governor of Egypt, says of a certain Phibion: “Thou hadst been worthy of scourging … but I will give thee to the people.”

Matthew 27:27

Into the palace (εἰς το πραιτωριον [eis to praitōrion]). In Rome the praetorium was the camp of the praetorian (from praetor) guard of soldiers (Phil. 1:13), but in the provinces it was the palace in which the governor resided as in Acts 23:35 in Caesarea. So here in Jerusalem Pilate ordered Jesus and all the band or cohort (ὁλην την σπειραν [holēn tēn speiran]) of soldiers to be led into the palace in front of which the judgment-seat had been placed. The Latin spira was anything rolled into a circle like a twisted ball of thread. These Latin words are natural here in the atmosphere of the court and the military environment. The soldiers were gathered together for the sport of seeing the scourging. These heathen soldiers would also enjoy showing their contempt for the Jews as well as for the condemned man.

Matthew 27:28

A scarlet robe (χλαμυδα κοκκινην [chlamuda kokkinēn]). A kind of short cloak worn by soldiers, military officers, magistrates, kings, emperors (2 Macc. 12:35; Josephus, Ant. V. 1, 10), a soldier’s sagum or scarf. Carr (Cambridge Gk. Test.) suggests that it may have been a worn-out scarf of Pilate’s. The scarlet colour (κοκκινην [kokkinēn]) was a dye derived from the female insect (κερμες [kermes]) which gathered on the ilex coccifera found in Palestine. These dried clusters of insects look like berries and form the famous dye. The word occurs in Plutarch, Epictetus, Herodas, and late papyri besides the Septuagint and New Testament. Mark (15:17) has “purple” (πορφυραν [porphuran]). There are various shades of purple and scarlet and it is not easy to distinguish these colours or tints. The manuscripts vary here between “stripped” (ἐκδυσαντες [ekdusantes]) and “clothed” (ἐνδυσαντες [endusantes]). He had been stripped for the scourging. If “clothed” is correct, the soldiers added the scarlet (purple) mantle. Herodotus (iii. 139) relates that Darius richly rewarded a Samian exile for a rare scarlet robe which he obtained from him. This scarlet mantle on Jesus was mock imitation of the royal purple.

Matthew 27:29

A crown of thorns (στεφανον ἐξ ἀκανθων [stephanon ex akanthōn]). They wove a crown out of thorns which would grow even in the palace grounds. It is immaterial whether they were young and tender thorn bushes, as probable in the spring, or hard bushes with sharp prongs. The soldiers would not care, for they were after ridicule and mockery even if it caused pain. It was more like a victor’s garland (στεφανον [stephanon]) than a royal diadem (διαδημα [diadēma]), but it served the purpose. So with the reed (καλαμον [kalamon]), a stalk of common cane grass which served as sceptre. The soldiers were familiar with the Ave Caesar and copy it in their mockery of Jesus: Hail, King of the Jews (χαιρε, Βασιλευ των Ἰουδαιων [chaire, Basileu tōn Ioudaiōn]). The soldiers added the insults used by the Sanhedrin (Matt. 26:67), spitting on him and smiting him with the reed. Probably Jesus had been unbound already. At any rate the garments of mockery were removed before the via dolorosa to the cross (verse 31).

Matthew 27:32

Compelled (ἠγγαρευσαν [ēggareusan]). This word of Persian origin was used in Matt. 5:41, which see. There are numerous papyri examples of Ptolemaic date and it survives in modern Greek vernacular. So the soldiers treat Simon of Cyrene (a town of Libya) as a Persian courier (ἀγγαρος [aggaros]) and impress him into service, probably because Jesus was showing signs of physical weakness in bearing his own Cross as the victims had to do, and not as a mere jest on Simon. “Gethsemane, betrayal, the ordeal of the past sleepless night, scourging, have made the flesh weak” (Bruce). Yes, and the burden of sin of the world that was breaking his heart. His cross (τον σταυρον αὐτου [ton stauron autou]). Jesus had used the term cross about himself (16:24). It was a familiar enough picture under Roman rule. Jesus had long foreseen and foretold this horrible form of death for himself (Matt. 20:19; 23:24; 26:2). He had heard the cry of the mob to Pilate that he be crucified (27:22) and Pilate’s surrender (27:26) and he was on the way to the Cross (27:31). There were various kinds of crosses and we do not know precisely the shape of the Cross on which Jesus was crucified, though probably the one usually presented is correct. Usually the victim was nailed (hands and feet) to the cross before it was raised and it was not very high. The crucifixion was done by the soldiers (27:35) in charge and two robbers were crucified on each side of Jesus, three crosses standing in a row (27:38).

Matthew 27:33

Golgotha (Γολγοθα [Golgotha]). Chaldaic or Aramaic Gulgatha, Hebrew Gulgoleth [gulgōleṯ; גֻּלְגֹּלֶת], place of a skull-shaped mount, not place of skulls. Latin Vulgate Calvariae locus, hence our Calvary. Tyndale misunderstood it as a place of dead men’s skulls. Calvary or Golgotha is not the traditional place of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, but a place outside of the city, probably what is now called Gordon’s Calvary, a hill north of the city wall which from the Mount of Olives looks like a skull, the rock-hewn tombs resembling eyes in one of which Jesus may have been buried.

Matthew 27:34

Wine mingled with gall (οἰνον μετα χολης μεμιγμενον [oinon meta cholēs memigmenon]). Late MSS. read vinegar (ὀξος [oxos]) instead of wine and Mark (15:23) has myrrh instead of gall. The myrrh gave the sour wine a better flavour and like the bitter gall had a narcotic and stupefying effect. Both elements may have been in the drink which Jesus tasted and refused to drink. Women provided the drink to deaden the sense of pain and the soldiers may have added the gall to make it disagreeable. Jesus desired to drink to the full the cup from his Father’s hand (John 18:11).

Matthew 27:36

Watched him there (ἐτηρουν αὐτον ἐκει [etēroun auton ekei]). Imperfect tense descriptive of the task to prevent the possibility of rescue or removal of the body. These rough Roman soldiers casting lots over the garments of Christ give a picture of comedy at the foot of the Cross, the tragedy of the ages.

Matthew 27:37

His accusation (την αἰτιαν αὐτου [tēn aitian autou]). The title (τιτλος [titlos], John 19:19) or placard of the crime (the inscription, ἑ ἐπιγραφη [he epigraphē]) which was carried before the victim or hung around his neck as he walked to execution was now placed above (ἐπʼ ἀνω [ep’ anō]) the head of Jesus on the projecting piece (κρυξ ἰμμυρυς [krux immurus]). This inscription gave the name and home, Jesus of Nazareth, and the charge on which he was convicted, the King of the Jews and the identification, This is. The four reports all give the charge and vary in the others. The inscription in full was: This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. The three languages are mentioned only by John (19:20), Latin for law, Hebrew (Aramaic) for the Jews, Greek for everybody. The accusation (charge, cause, αἰτια [aitia]) correctly told the facts of the condemnation.

Matthew 27:38

Robbers (λῃσται [lēistai]). Not thieves (κλεπται [kleptai]) as in Authorized Version. See Matt. 26:55. These two robbers were probably members of the band of Barabbas on whose cross Jesus now hung.

Matthew 27:39

Wagging their heads (κινουντες τας κεφαλας αὐτων [kinountes tas kephalas autōn]). Probably in mock commiseration. “Jews again appear on the scene, with a malice like that shewn in the trial before the Sanhedrin” (McNeile). “To us it may seem incredible that even his worst enemies could be guilty of anything so brutal as to hurl taunts at one suffering the agonies of crucifixion” (Bruce). These passers-by (παρατηρουμενοι [paratēroumenoi]) look on Jesus as one now down and out. They jeer at the fallen foe.

Matthew 27:40

If thou art the Son of God (εἰ υἱος εἰ του θεου [ei huios ei tou theou]). More exactly, “If thou art a son of God,” the very language of the devil to Jesus (Matt. 4:3) in the early temptations, now hurled at Jesus under the devil’s prompting as he hung upon the Cross. There is allusion, of course, to the claim of Jesus under oath before the Sanhedrin “the Son of God” (ὁ υἱος του θεου [ho huios tou theou]) and a repetition of the misrepresentation of his words about the temple of his body. It is a pitiful picture of human depravity and failure in the presence of Christ dying for sinners.

Matthew 27:41

The chief priests mocking (οἱ ἀρχιερεις ἐμπαιζοντες [hoi archiereis empaizontes]). The Sanhedrin in fact, for “the scribes and elders” are included. The word for mocking (ἐμπαιζοντες, ἐν, [empaizontes, en,] and παιζω [paizō], from παις [pais], child) means acting like silly children who love to guy one another. These grave and reverend seniors had already given vent to their glee at the condemnation of Jesus by themselves (Matt. 26:67f.).

Matthew 27:42

He saved others; himself he cannot save (ἀλλους ἐσωσεν; ἑαυτον οὐ δυναται σωσαι [allous esōsen? heauton ou dunatai sōsai]). The sarcasm is true, though they do not know its full significance. If he had saved himself now, he could not have saved any one. The paradox is precisely the philosophy of life proclaimed by Jesus himself (Matt. 10:39). Let him now come down (καταβατω νυν [katabatō nun]). Now that he is a condemned criminal nailed to the Cross with the claim of being “the King of Israel” (the Jews) over his head. Their spiteful assertion that they would then believe upon Jesus (ἐπʼ αὐτον [ep’ auton]) is plainly untrue. They would have shifted their ground and invented some other excuse. When Jesus wrought his greatest miracles, they wanted “a sign from heaven.” These “pious scoffers” (Bruce) are like many today who make factitious and arbitrary demands of Christ whose character and power and deity are plain to all whose eyes are not blinded by the god of this world. Christ will not give new proofs to the blind in heart.

Matthew 27:43

Let him deliver him now (ῥυσασθω νυν [rhusasthō nun]). They add the word “now” to Psalm 21 (22):9. That is the point of the sneer at Christ’s claim to be God’s son thrown in his teeth again and at the willingness and power of God to help his “son.” The verb θελω [thelō] here may mean love as in the Septuagint (Psa. 17:20; 41:12) or “cares for” (Moffatt), “gin he cares ocht for him” (Braid Scots).

Matthew 27:44

The robbers also (και οἱ λῃσται [kai hoi lēistai]). Probably “even the robbers” (Weymouth) who felt a momentary superiority to Jesus thus maligned by all. So the inchoative imperfect ὠνειδιζον [ōneidizon] means “began to reproach him.”

Matthew 27:45

From the sixth hour (ἀπο ἑκτης ὡρας [apo hektēs hōras]). Curiously enough McNeile takes this to mean the trial before Pilate (John 18:14). But clearly John uses Roman time, writing at the close of the century when Jewish time was no longer in vogue. It was six o’clock in the morning Roman time when the trial occurred before Pilate. The crucifixion began at the third hour (Mark 15:25) Jewish time or nine a.m. The darkness began at noon, the sixth hour Jewish time and lasted till 3 p.m. Roman time, the ninth hour Jewish time (Mark 15:33=Matt. 27:45=Luke 23:44). The dense darkness for three hours could not be an eclipse of the sun and Luke (23:45) does not so say, only “the sun’s light failing.” Darkness sometimes precedes earthquakes and one came at this time or dense masses of clouds may have obscured the sun’s light. One need not be disturbed if nature showed its sympathy with the tragedy of the dying of the Creator on the Cross (Rom. 8:22), groaning and travailing until now.

Matthew 27:46

My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Θεε μου, θεε μου, ἱνα τι με ἐγκατελιπες; [Thee mou, thee mou, hina ti me egkatelipes?]). Matthew first transliterates the Aramaic, according to the Vatican manuscript (B), the words used by Jesus: Eloi, eloi, lema sabachthanei; Some of the MSS. give the transliteration of these words from Psa. 22:1 in the Hebrew (Eli, Eli, lama Zaphthanei [ʾēlî ʾēlî lāmâ ʿăzāḇtānî; אֵלִי אֵלִי לָמָה עֲזָבְתָּנִי]). This is the only one of the seven sayings of Christ on the Cross given by Mark and Matthew. The other six occur in Luke and John. This is the only sentence of any length in Aramaic preserved in Matthew, though he has Aramaic words like amen, corban, mammon, pascha, raca, Satan, Golgotha. The so-called Gospel of Peter preserves this saying in a Docetic (Cerinthian) form: “My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me!” The Cerinthian Gnostics held that the aeon Christ came on the man Jesus at his baptism and left him here on the Cross so that only the man Jesus died. Nothing from Jesus so well illustrates the depth of his suffering of soul as he felt himself regarded as sin though sinless (2 Cor. 5:21). John 3:16 comes to our relief here as we see the Son of God bearing the sin of the world. This cry of desolation comes at the close of the three hours of darkness.

Matthew 27:48

Gave him to drink (ἐποτιζεν [epotizen]). Imperfect of conative action, offered him a drink of vinegar on the sponge on a reed. Others interrupted this kindly man, but Jesus did taste this mild stimulant (John 19:30) for he thirsted (John 19:28).

Matthew 27:49

Whether Elijah cometh to save him (εἰ ἐρχεται Ἐλειας σωσων αὐτον [ei erchetai Eleias sōsōn auton]). The excuse had a pious sound as they misunderstood the words of Jesus in his outcry of soul anguish. We have here one of the rare instances (σωσων [sōsōn]) of the future participle to express purpose in the N. T. though a common Greek idiom. Some ancient MSS. add here what is genuine in John 19:34, but what makes complete wreck of the context for in verse 50 Jesus cried with a loud voice and was not yet dead in verse 49. It was a crass mechanical copying by some scribe from John 19:34. See full discussion in my Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the N. T.

Matthew 27:50

Yielded up his spirit (ἀφηκεν το πνευμα [aphēken to pneuma]). The loud cry may have been Psa. 31:5 as given in Luke 23:46: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” John (19:30) gives It is finished (τετελεσται [tetelestai]), though which was actually last is not clear. Jesus did not die from slow exhaustion, but with a loud cry. He breathed out (ἐξεπνευσεν [exepneusen], Mark 15:37), sent back his spirit (Matt. 27:50), gave up his spirit (παρεδωκεν το πνευμα [paredōken to pneuma], John 19:30). “He gave up his life because he willed it, when he willed it, and as he willed it” (Augustine). Stroud (Physical Cause of the Death of Christ) considers the loud cry one of the proofs that Jesus died of a ruptured heart as a result of bearing the sin of the world.

Matthew 27:51

Was rent (ἐσχισθη [eschisthē]). Both Mark (15:38) and Luke (23:45) mention also this fact. Matthew connects it with the earthquake, “the earth did quake” (ἡ γη ἐσεισθη [hē gē eseisthē]). Josephus (War VI. 299) tells of a quaking in the temple before the destruction and the Talmud tells of a quaking forty years before the destruction of the temple. Allen suggests that “a cleavage in the masonry of the porch, which rent the outer veil and left the Holy Place open to view, would account for the language of the Gospels, of Josephus, and of the Talmud.” This veil was a most elaborately woven fabric of seventy-two twisted plaits of twenty-four threads each and the veil was sixty feet long and thirty wide. The rending of the veil signified the removal of the separation between God and the people (Gould).

Matthew 27:52

The tombs were opened (τα μνημεια ἀνεῳχθησαν [ta mnēmeia aneōichthēsan]). First aorist passive indicative (double augment). The splitting of the rocks by the earthquake and the opening of tombs can be due to the earthquake. But the raising of the bodies of the dead after the resurrection of Jesus which appeared to many in the holy city puzzles many today who admit the actual bodily resurrection of Jesus. Some would brand all these portents as legends since they appear in Matthew alone. Others would say that “after his resurrection” should read “after their resurrection,” but that would make it conflict with Paul’s description of Christ as the first fruits of them that sleep (1 Cor. 15:20). Some say that Jesus released these spirits after his descent into Hades. So it goes. We come back to miracles connected with the birth of Jesus, God’s Son coming into the world. If we grant the possibility of such manifestations of God’s power, there is little to disturb one here in the story of the death of God’s Son.

Matthew 27:54

Truly this was the Son of God (ἀληθως θεου υἱος ἠν οὑτος [alēthōs theou huios ēn houtos]). There is no article with God or Son in the Greek so that it means “God’s Son,” either “the Son of God” or “a Son of God.” There is no way to tell. Evidently the centurion (ἑκατονταρχος [hekatontarchos] here, ruler of a hundred, Latin word kenturiōn in Mark 15:39) was deeply moved by the portents which he had witnessed. He had heard the several flings at Jesus for claiming to be the Son of God and may even have heard of his claim before the Sanhedrin and Pilate. How much he meant by his words we do not know, but probably he meant more than merely “a righteous man” (Luke 23:47). Petronius is the name given this centurion by tradition. If he was won now to trust in Christ, he came as a pagan and, like the robber who believed, was saved as Jesus hung upon the Cross. All who are ever saved in truth are saved because of the death of Jesus on the Cross. So the Cross began to do its work at once.

Matthew 27:55

Many women (γυναικες πολλαι [gunaikes pollai]). We have come to expect the women from Galilee to be faithful, last at the Cross and first at the tomb. Luke (23:49) says that “all his acquaintance” (παντες οἱ γνωστοι αὐτῳ [pantes hoi gnōstoi autōi]) stood at a distance and saw the end. One may hope that the apostles were in that sad group. But certainly many women were there. The Mother of Jesus had been taken away from the side of the Cross by the Beloved Disciple to his own home (John 19:27). Matthew names three of the group by name. Mary Magdalene is mentioned as a well-known person though not previously named in Matthew’s Gospel. Certainly she is not the sinful woman of Luke 7 nor Mary of Bethany. There is another Mary, the mother of James and Joseph (Joses) not otherwise known to us. And then there is the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John), usually identified with Salome (Mark 15:40). These noble and faithful women were “beholding from afar” (ἀπο μακροθεν θεωρουσαι [apo makrothen theōrousai]). These three women may have drawn nearer to the Cross for Mary the Mother of Jesus stood beside the Cross (παρα τῳ σταυρῳ [para tōi staurōi]) with Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdalene (John 19:25) before she left. They had once ministered unto Jesus (διακονουσαι αὐτῳ [diakonousai autōi]) and now he is dead. Matthew does not try to picture the anguish of heart of these noble women nor does he say as Luke (23:48) does that “they returned smiting their breasts.” He drops the curtain on that saddest of all tragedies as the loyal band stood and looked at the dead Christ on Golgotha. What hope did life now hold for them?

Matthew 27:57

And when even was come (ὀψιας δε γενομενης [opsias de genomenēs]). It was the Preparation (παρασκευη [paraskeuē]), the day before the sabbath (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:42). Παρασκευη [Paraskeuē] is the name in modern Greek today for Friday. The Jews were anxious that these bodies should be taken down before the sabbath began at 6 p.m. The request of Joseph of Arimathea for the body of Jesus was a relief to Pilate and to the Jews also. We know little about this member of the Sanhedrin save his name Joseph, his town Arimathea, that he was rich, a secret disciple, and had not agreed to the death of Jesus. Probably he now wished that he had made an open profession. But he has courage now when others are cowardly and asked for the personal privilege (ᾐτησατο [ēitēsato], middle voice, asked for himself) of placing the body of Jesus in his new tomb. Some today identify this tomb with one of the rock tombs now visible under Gordon’s Calvary. It was a mournful privilege and dignity that came to Joseph and Nicodemus (John 19:39–41) as they wrapped the body of Jesus in clean linen cloth and with proper spices placed it in this fresh (καινῳ [kainōi]) tomb in which no body had yet been placed. It was cut in the rock (ἐλατομησεν [elatomēsen]) for his own body, but now it was for Jesus. But now (verse 60) he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and departed. That was for safety. But two women had watched the sad and lonely ceremony, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (mother of James and Joseph). They were sitting opposite and looking in silence.

Matthew 27:63

Sir, we remember (κυριε, ἐμνεσθημεν [kurie, emnesthēmen]). This was the next day, on our Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, the day after the Preparation (Matt. 27:62). Ingressive aorist indicative, we have just recalled. It is objected that the Jewish rulers would know nothing of such a prediction, but in Matt. 12:40 he expressly made it to them. Meyer scouts as unhistorical legend the whole story that Christ definitely foretold his resurrection on the third day. But that is to make legendary much of the Gospels and to limit Jesus to a mere man. The problem remains why the disciples forgot and the Jewish leaders remembered. But that is probably due on the one hand to the overwhelming grief of the disciples coupled with the blighting of all their hopes of a political Messiah in Jesus, and on the other hand to the keen nervous fear of the leaders who dreaded the power of Jesus though dead. They wanted to make sure of their victory and prevent any possible revival of this pernicious heresy. That deceiver (ἐκεινος ὁ πλανος [ekeinos ho planos]) they call him, a vagabond wanderer (πλανος [planos]) with a slur in the use of that (ἐκεινος [ekeinos]), a picturesque sidelight on their intense hatred of and fear of Jesus.

Matthew 27:64

The last error (ἡ ἐσχατη πλανη [hē eschatē planē]). The last delusion, imposture (Weymouth), fraud (Moffatt). Latin error is used in both senses, from errare, to go astray. The first fraud was belief in the Messiahship of Jesus, the second belief in his resurrection.

Matthew 27:65

Make it as sure as you can (ἀσφαλισασθε ὡς οἰδατε [asphalisasthe hōs oidate]). “Make it secure for yourselves (ingressive aorist middle) as you know how.” Have a guard (ἐχετε κουστωδιαν [echete koustōdian]), present imperative, a guard of Roman soldiers, not mere temple police. The Latin term koustōdia occurs in an Oxyrhynchus papyrus of a.d. 22. “The curt permission to the Jews whom he despised is suitable in the mouth of the Roman official” (McNeile).

Matthew 27:66

Sealing the stone, the guard being with them (σφραγισαντης τον λιθον μετα της κουστωδιας [sphragisantēs ton lithon meta tēs koustōdias]). Probably by a cord stretched across the stone and sealed at each end as in Dan. 6:17. The sealing was done in the presence of the Roman guard who were left in charge to protect this stamp of Roman authority and power. They did their best to prevent theft and the resurrection (Bruce), but they overreached themselves and provided additional witness to the fact of the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus (Plummer).

Chapter 28

Matthew 28:1

Now late on the sabbath as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week (ὀψε δε σαββατων, τῃ ἐπιφωσκουσῃ εἰς μιαν σαββατων [opse de sabbatōn, tēi epiphōskousēi eis mian sabbatōn]). This careful chronological statement according to Jewish days clearly means that before the sabbath was over, that is before six p.m., this visit by the women was made “to see the sepulchre” (θεορησαι τον ταφον [theorēsai ton taphon]). They had seen the place of burial on Friday afternoon (Mark 15:47; Matt. 27:61; Luke 23:55). They had rested on the sabbath after preparing spices and ointments for the body of Jesus (Luke 23:56), a sabbath of unutterable sorrow and woe. They will buy other spices after sundown when the new day has dawned and the sabbath is over (Mark 16:1). Both Matthew here and Luke (23:54) use dawn (ἐπιφωσκω [epiphōskō]) for the dawning of the twenty-four hour-day at sunset, not of the dawning of the twelve-hour day at sunrise. The Aramaic used the verb for dawn in both senses. The so-called Gospel of Peter has ἐπιφωσκω [epiphōskō] in the same sense as Matthew and Luke as does a late papyrus. Apparently the Jewish sense of “dawn” is here expressed by this Greek verb. Allen thinks that Matthew misunderstands Mark at this point, but clearly Mark is speaking of sunrise and Matthew of sunset. Why allow only one visit for the anxious women?

Matthew 28:2

There was a great earthquake (σεισμος ἐγενετο μεγας [seismos egeneto megas]). Clearly not the earthquake of 27:51. The precise time of this earthquake is not given. It was before sunrise on the first day of the week when the women made the next visit. Matthew alone relates the coming of the angel of the Lord who rolled away the stone and was sitting upon it (ἀπεκυλισε τον λιθον και ἐκαθητο ἐπανω αὐτου [apekulise ton lithon kai ekathēto epanō autou]). If one is querulous about these supernatural phenomena, he should reflect that the Resurrection of Jesus is one of the great supernatural events of all time. Cornelius à Lapide dares to say: “The earth, which trembled with sorrow at the Death of Christ as it were leaped for joy at His Resurrection.” The Angel of the Lord announced the Incarnation of the Son of God and also His Resurrection from the grave. There are apparent inconsistencies in the various narratives of the Resurrection and the appearances of the Risen Christ. We do not know enough of the details to be able to reconcile them. But the very variations strengthen the independent witness to the essential fact that Jesus rose from the grave. Let each writer give his own account in his own way. The stone was rolled away not to let the Lord out, but to let the women in to prove the fact of the empty tomb (McNeile).

Matthew 28:3

Appearance (εἰδεα [eidea]). Here only in the N. T. Compare μορφη [morphē] and σχημα [schēma].

Matthew 28:4

The watchers did quake (ἐσεισθησαν οἱ τηρουντες [eseisthēsan hoi tērountes]). And no wonder that they became as dead men and fled before the women came.

Matthew 28:5

Unto the women (ταις γυναιξιν [tais gunaixin]). According to John, Mary Magdalene had left to go and tell Peter and John of the supposed grave robbery (John 20:1f.). But the other women remained and had the interview with the angel (or men, Luke) about the empty tomb and the Risen Christ. Jesus the Crucified (Ἰησουν τον ἐσταυρωμενον [Iēsoun ton estaurōmenon]). Perfect passive participle, state of completion. This he will always be. So Paul will preach as essential to his gospel “and this one crucified” (και τουτον ἐσταυρωμενον [kai touton estaurōmenon], 1 Cor. 2:2).

Matthew 28:6

Risen from the dead (ἠγερθη ἀπο των νεκρων [ēgerthē apo tōn nekrōn]). Jesus the Risen. This is the heart of the testimony of the angel to the women. It is what Paul wishes Timothy never to forget (2 Tim. 2:8), “Jesus Christ risen from the dead” (Ἰησουν Χριστον ἐγηγερμενον ἐκ νεκρων [Iēsoun Christon egēgermenon ek nekrōn]). They were afraid and dazzled by the glory of the scene, but the angel said, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (δευτε ἰδετε τον τοπον ὁπου ἐκειτο ὁ Κυριος [deute idete ton topon hopou ekeito ho Kurios]). Some MSS. do not have ὁ Κυριος [ho Kurios], but he is the subject of ἐκειτο [ekeito]. His body was not there. It will not do to say that Jesus arose in spirit and appeared alive though his body remained in the tomb. The empty tomb is the first great fact confronting the women and later the men. Various theories were offered then as now. But none of them satisfy the evidence and explain the survival of faith and hope in the disciples that do not rest upon the fact of the Risen Christ whose body was no longer in the tomb.

Matthew 28:7

He goeth before you into Galilee (προαγει ὑμας εἰς την Γαλιλαιαν [proagei humas eis tēn Galilaian]). Jesus did appear to the disciples in Galilee on two notable occasions (by the beloved lake, John 21, and on the mountain, Matt. 28:16–20). Probably before the women were permitted to tell this story in full to the disciples who scouted as idle talk their first accounts, Jesus appeared to various disciples in Jerusalem on this first great Sunday. Jesus did not say that he would not see any of them in Jerusalem. He merely made a definite appointment in Galilee which he kept.

Matthew 28:8

With fear and great joy (μετα φοβου και χαρας μεγαλης [meta phobou kai charas megalēs]). A touch of life was this as the excited women ran quickly (ταχυ ἐδραμον [tachu edramon]) as they had been told “to bring his disciples word” (ἀπαγγειλαι τοις μαθηταις αὐτου [apaggeilai tois mathētais autou]). They had the greatest piece of news that it was possible to have. Mark calls it fear and ecstasy. Anything seemed possible now. Mark even says that at first they told no one anything for they were afraid (Mark 16:9), the tragic close of the text of Mark in Aleph and B, our two oldest manuscripts. But these mingled emotions of ecstasy and dread need cause no surprise when all things are considered.

Matthew 28:9

Jesus met them (Ἰησους ὑπηντησεν αὐταις [Iēsous hupēntēsen autais]). Came suddenly face to face (ἀνταω, ὑπο [antaō, hupo]) with them as they brooded over the message of the angel and the fact of the empty tomb (associative instrumental, αὐταις [autais]). Cf. 8:34; 24:1–6. Probably the lost portion of Mark’s Gospel contained the story of this meeting with Jesus which changed their fears into joy and peace. His greeting was the ordinary “Hail” (χαιρετε [chairete]). They fell at his feet and held them in reverence while they worshipped him. Jesus allowed this act of worship though he forbade eager handling of his body by Mary Magdalene (John 20:17). It was a great moment of faith and cheer.

Matthew 28:10

Fear not (μη φοβεισθε [mē phobeisthe]). They were still afraid for joy and embarrassment. Jesus calms their excitement by the repetition of the charge from the angel for the disciples to meet him in Galilee. There is no special mention of Peter (“and Peter”) as in Mark 16:7, but we may be sure that the special message to Peter was delivered.

Matthew 28:11

Told unto the chief priests (ἀπηγγειλαν τοις ἀρχιερευσιν [apēggeilan tois archiereusin]). These Roman soldiers had been placed at the disposal of the Sanhedrin. They were probably afraid also to report to Pilate and tell him what had happened. They apparently told a truthful account as far as they understood it. But were the Sanhedrin convinced of the resurrection of Jesus?

Matthew 28:12

They gave large money (ἀργυρια ἱκανα ἐδωκαν [arguria hikana edōkan]). The use of the plural for pieces of silver (ἀργυρια [arguria]) is common. The papyri have many instances of ἱκανα [hikana] for considerable (from ἱκανω [hikanō], to reach to, attain to). These pious Sanhedrists knew full well the power of bribes. They make a contract with the Roman soldiers to tell a lie about the resurrection of Jesus as they paid Judas money to betray him. They show not the slightest tendency to be convinced by the facts though one had risen from the dead.

Matthew 28:13

Stole him away while we slept (ἐκλεψαν αὐτον ἡμων κοιμωμενων [eklepsan auton hēmōn koimōmenōn]). Genitive absolute. An Irish bull on the face of it. If they were asleep they would not know anything about it.

Matthew 28:14

We will persuade him, and rid you of care (ἡμεις πεισομεν και ὑμας ἀμεριμνους ποιησομεν [hēmeis peisomen kai humas amerimnous poiēsomen]). They would try money also on Pilate and assume all responsibility. Hence the soldiers have no anxiety (ἀμεριμνους [amerimnous], alpha privative and μεριμναω [merimnaō], to be anxious). They lived up to their bargain and this lie lives on through the ages. Justin (Dial. 108) accuses the Jews of spreading the charge. Bengel: Quam laboriosum bellum mendacii contra veritatem. It was spread about (διεφημισθη [diephēmisthē]) diligently by the Jews to excuse their disbelief in the Messiahship of Jesus.

Matthew 28:17

But some doubted (οἱ δε ἐδιστασαν [hoi de edistasan]). From δις [dis] (in two, divided in mind). Cf. Matt. 14:31. The reference is not to the eleven who were all now convinced after some doubt, but to the others present. Paul states that over five hundred were present, most of whom were still alive when he wrote (1 Cor. 15:6). It is natural that some should hesitate to believe so great a thing at the first appearance of Jesus to them. Their very doubt makes it easier for us to believe. This was the mountain where Jesus had promised to meet them. This fact explains the large number present. Time and place were arranged beforehand. It was the climax of the various appearances and in Galilee where were so many believers. They worshipped (προσεκυνησαν [prosekunēsan]) Jesus as the women had done (28:9). He is now their Risen Lord and Saviour.

Matthew 28:18

All authority (πασα ἐξουσια [pāsa exousia]). Jesus came close to them (προσελθων [proselthōn]) and made this astounding claim. He spoke as one already in heaven with a world-wide outlook and with the resources of heaven at his command. His authority or power in his earthly life had been great (7:29; 11:27; 21:23f.). Now it is boundless and includes earth and heaven. Hath been given (ἐδοθη [edothē]) is a timeless aorist (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 836f.). It is the sublimist of all spectacles to see the Risen Christ without money or army or state charging this band of five hundred men and women with world conquest and bringing them to believe it possible and to undertake it with serious passion and power. Pentecost is still to come, but dynamic faith rules on this mountain in Galilee.

Matthew 28:19

All the nations (παντα τα ἐθνη [panta ta ethnē]). Not just the Jews scattered among the Gentiles, but the Gentiles themselves in every land. And not by making Jews of them, though this point is not made plain here. It will take time for the disciples to grow into this Magna Charta of the missionary propaganda. But here is the world program of the Risen Christ and it should not be forgotten by those who seek to foreshorten it all by saying that Jesus expected his second coming to be very soon, even within the lifetime of those who heard. He did promise to come, but he has never named the date. Meanwhile we are to be ready for his coming at any time and to look for it joyfully. But we are to leave that to the Father and push on the campaign for world conquest. This program includes making disciples or learners (μαθητευσατε [mathēteusate]) such as they were themselves. That means evangelism in the fullest sense and not merely revival meetings. Baptism in (εἰς [eis], not into) the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in the name of the Trinity. Objection is raised to this language in the mouth of Jesus as too theological and as not a genuine part of the Gospel of Matthew for the same reason. See Matt. 11:27, where Jesus speaks of the Father and the Son as here. But it is all to no purpose. There is a chapter devoted to this subject in my The Christ of the Logia in which the genuineness of these words is proven. The name of Jesus is the essential part of it as is shown in the Acts. Trine immersion is not taught as the Greek Church holds and practices, baptism in the name of the Father, then of the Son, then of the Holy Spirit. The use of name (ὀνομα [onoma]) here is a common one in the Septuagint and the papyri for power or authority. For the use of εἰς [eis] with ὀνομα [onoma] in the sense here employed, not meaning into, see Matt. 10:41f. (cf. also 12:41).

Matthew 28:20

Teaching them (διδασκοντες αὐτους [didaskontes autous]). Christians have been slow to realize the full value of what we now call religious education. The work of teaching belongs to the home, to the church (sermon, Sunday school, young people’s work, prayer-meeting, study classes, mission classes), to the school (not mixing of church and state, but moral instruction if not the reading of the Bible), good books which should be in every home, reading of the Bible itself. Some react too far and actually put education in the place of conversion or regeneration. That is to miss the mark. But teaching is part, a weighty part, of the work of Christians.

I am with you (ἐγω μετα ὑμων [egō meta humōn]). This is the amazing and blessed promise. He is to be with the disciples when he is gone, with all the disciples, with all knowledge, with all power, with them all the days (all sorts of days, weakness, sorrows, joy, power), till the consummation of the age (ἑως της συντελειας του αἰωνος [heōs tēs sunteleias tou aiōnos]). That goal is in the future and unknown to the disciples. This blessed hope is not designed as a sedative to an inactive mind and complacent conscience, but an incentive to the fullest endeavor to press on to the farthest limits of the world that all the nations may know Christ and the power of his Risen Life. So Matthew’s Gospel closes in a blaze of glory. Christ is conqueror in prospect and in fact. Christian history from that eventful experience on the Mountain in Galilee has been the fulfilment of that promise in as far as we allow God’s power to work in us for the winning of the world to Christ, the Risen, all powerful Redeemer, who is with his people all the time. Jesus employs the prophetic present here (εἰμι [eimi], I am). He is with us all the days till he comes in glory.

The Gospel According to Mark

By Way of Introduction

One of the clearest results of modern critical study of the Gospels is the early date of Mark’s Gospel. Precisely how early is not definitely known, but there are leading scholars who hold that a.d. 50 is quite probable. My own views are given in detail in my Studies in Mark’s Gospel. Zahn still argues that the Gospel according to Matthew is earlier than that according to Mark, but the arguments are against him. The framework of Mark’s Gospel lies behind both Matthew and Luke and nearly all of it is used by one or the other. One may satisfy himself on this point by careful use of a harmony of the Gospels in Greek or English. Whether Mark made use of Q (Logia of Jesus) or not is not yet shown, though it is possible. But Mark and Q constitute the two oldest known sources of our Matthew and Luke. We have much of Q preserved in the Non-Markan portions of both Matthew and Luke, though the document itself has disappeared. But Mark’s work has remained in spite of its exhaustive use by Matthew and Luke, all except the disputed close. For this preservation we are all grateful. Streeter (The Four Gospels) has emphasized the local use of texts in preserving portions of the New Testament. If Mark wrote in Rome, as is quite possible, his book was looked upon as the Roman Gospel and had a powerful environment in which to take root. It has distinctive merits of its own that helped to keep it in use. It is mainly narrative and the style is direct and simple with many vivid touches, like the historical present of an eyewitness. The early writers all agree that Mark was the interpreter for Simon Peter with whom he was at one time, according to Peter’s own statement, either in Babylon or Rome (1 Peter 5:13). This Gospel is the briefest of the four, but is fullest of striking details that apparently came from Peter’s discourses which Mark heard, such as green grass, flower beds (6:38), two thousand hogs (5:13), looking round about (3:5, 34). Peter usually spoke in Aramaic and Mark has more Aramaic phrases than the others, like Boanerges (3:17), Talitha cumi (5:41), Korban (7:11), Ephphatha (7:34), Abba (14:36). The Greek is distinctly vernacular Koiné like one-eyed (μονοφθαλμον [monophthalmon], 9:47) as one would expect from both Peter and Mark. There are also more Latin phrases and idioms like centurio (15:39), quadrans (12:42), flagellare (15:15), speculator (6:27), census (12:14), sextarius (7:4), praetorium (15:6), than in the other Gospels, so much so that C. H. Turner raises the question whether Mark wrote first in Latin, or at any rate in Rome. There are some who hold that Mark wrote first in Aramaic, but the facts are sufficiently accounted for by the fact of Peter’s preaching and the activity in Rome. Some even think that he wrote the Gospel in Rome while with Peter who suggested and read the manuscript. B. W. Bacon holds that this Gospel has a distinct Pauline flavour and may have had several recensions. The Ur-Marcus theory does not have strong support now. Mark was once a co-worker with Barnabas and Paul, but deserted them at Perga. Paul held this against Mark and refused to take him on the second mission tour. Barnabas took Mark, his cousin, with him and then he appeared with Simon Peter with whom he did his greatest work. When Mark had made good with Barnabas and Peter, Paul rejoiced and commends him heartily to the Colossians (Col. 4:10). In the end Paul will ask Timothy to pick up Mark and bring him along with him to Paul in Rome, for he has found him useful for ministry, this very young man who made such a mistake that Paul would have no more of him. This tribute to Mark by Paul throws credit upon both of them as is shown in my Making Good in the Ministry. The character of the Gospel of Mark is determined largely by the scope of Peter’s preaching as we see it in Acts 10:36–42, covering the period in outline from John the Baptist to the Resurrection of Jesus. There is nothing about the birth of the Baptist or of Jesus. This peculiarity of Mark’s Gospel cannot be used against the narratives of the Virgin Birth of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, since Mark tells nothing whatever about his birth at all.

The closing passage in the Textus Receptus, Mark 16:9–20, is not found in the oldest Greek Manuscripts, Aleph and B, and is probably not genuine. A discussion of the evidence will appear at the proper place. Swete points out that Mark deals with two great themes, the Ministry in Galilee (Chs. 1 to 9) and the Last Week in Jerusalem (11 to 16) with a brief sketch of the period of withdrawal from Galilee (ch. 10). The first fourteen verses are introductory as 16:9–20 is an appendix. The Gospel of Mark pictures Christ in action. There is a minimum of discourse and a maximum of deed. And yet the same essential pictures of Christ appear here as in the Logia, in Matthew, in Luke, in John, in Paul, in Peter, in Hebrews as is shown in my The Christ of the Logia. The cry of the critics to get back to the Synoptics and away from Paul and John has ceased since it is plain that the Jesus of Mark is the same as the Christ of Paul. There is a different shading in the pictures, but the same picture, Son of God and Son of Man, Lord of life and death, worker of miracles and Saviour from sin. This Gospel is the one for children to read first and is the one that we should use to lay the foundation for our picture of Christ. In my Harmony of the Gospels I have placed Mark first in the framework since Matthew, Luke, and John all follow in broad outline his plan with additions and supplemental material. Mark’s Gospel throbs with life and bristles with vivid details. We see with Peter’s eyes and catch almost the very look and gesture of Jesus as he moved among men in his work of healing men’s bodies and saving men’s souls.

Chapter 1

Mark 1:1

The beginning (ἀρχη [archē]). There is no article in the Greek. It is possible that the phrase served as a heading or title for the paragraph about the ministry of the Baptist or as the superscription for the whole Gospel (Bruce) placed either by Mark or a scribe. And then the Gospel of Jesus Christ means the Message about Jesus Christ (objective genitive). The word Gospel here (εὐαγγελιον [euaggelion]) comes close to meaning the record itself as told by Mark. Swete notes that each writer has a different starting point (ἀρχη [archē]). Mark, as the earliest form of the evangelic tradition, begins with the work of the Baptist, Matthew with the ancestry and birth of the Messiah, Luke with the birth of the Baptist, John with the Preincarnate Logos, Paul with the foundation of each of the churches (Phil. 4:15). The Son of God (υἱου θεου [Huiou theou]). Aleph 28, 255 omit these words, but B, D, L, have them and the great mass of the manuscripts have υἱου του θεου [huiou tou theou]. If this is a heading added to what Mark wrote, the heading may have existed early in two forms, one with, one without “Son of God.” If Mark wrote the words, there is no reason to doubt the genuineness since he uses the phrase elsewhere.

Mark 1:2

In Isaiah, the prophet (ἐν τῳ Ἐσαιᾳ τῳ προφητῃ [en tōi Esaiāi tōi prophētēi]). The quotation comes from Mal. 3:1 and Isa. 40:3. The Western and Neutral classes read Isaiah, the Alexandrian and Syrian, “the prophets,” an evident correction because part of it is from Malachi. But Isaiah is mentioned as the chief of the prophets. It was common to combine quotations from the prophets in testimonia and catenae (chains of quotations). This is Mark’s only prophetic quotation on his own account (Bruce).

Mark 1:3

The voice of one crying (φονη βοωντος [phonē boōntos]). God is coming to his people to deliver them from their captivity in Babylon. So the prophet cries like a voice in the wilderness to make ready for the coming of God. When the committee from the Sanhedrin came to ask John who he was, he used this very language of Isaiah (John 1:23). He was only a voice, but we can still hear the echo of that voice through the corridor of the centuries. Paths straight (εὐθειας τας τριβους [eutheias tas tribous]). Automobile highways today well illustrate the wonderful Persian roads for the couriers of the king and then for the king himself. The Roman Empire was knit together by roads, some of which survive today. John had a high and holy mission as the forerunner of the Messiah.

Mark 1:4

John came (ἐγενετο Ἰωανης [egeneto Iōanēs]). His coming was an epoch (ἐγενετο [egeneto]), not a mere event (ἠν [ēn]). His coming was in accordance with the prophetic picture (καθως [kathōs], 1:2). Note the same verb about John in John 1:6. The coming of John the Baptizer was the real beginning of the spoken message about Christ. He is described as the baptizing one (ὁ ἁπτιζων [ho haptizōn]) in the wilderness (ἐν τῃ ἐρημῳ [en tēi erēmōi]). The baptizing took place in the River Jordan (Mark 1:5, 9) which was included in the general term the wilderness or the deserted region of Judea. Preached the baptism of repentance (κηρυσσων βαπτισμα μετανοιας [kērussōn baptisma metanoias]). Heralded a repentance kind of baptism (genitive case, genus case), a baptism marked by repentance. See on Matt. 3:2 for discussion of repent, an exceedingly poor rendering of John’s great word μετανοιας [metanoias]. He called upon the Jews to change their minds and to turn from their sins, “confessing their sins” (ἐξομολογουμενοι τας ἁμαρτιας αὐτων [exomologoumenoi tas hamartias autōn]). See Matt. 3:16. The public confessions produced a profound impression as they would now. Unto remission of sins (εἰς ἀφεσιν ἁμαρτιων [eis aphesin hamartiōn]). This is a difficult phrase to translate accurately. Certainly John did not mean that the baptism was the means of obtaining the forgiveness of their sins or necessary to the remission of sins. The trouble lies in the use of εἰς [eis] which sometimes is used when purpose is expressed, but sometimes when there is no such idea as in Matt. 10:41 and 12:41. Probably “with reference to” is as good a translation here as is possible. The baptism was on the basis of the repentance and confession of sin and, as Paul later explained (Rom. 6:4), was a picture of the death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ. This symbol was already in use by the Jews for proselytes who became Jews. John is treating the Jewish nation as pagans who need to repent, to confess their sins, and to come back to the kingdom of God. The baptism in the Jordan was the objective challenge to the people.

Mark 1:5

Then went out unto him (ἐξεπορευετο προς αὐτον [exeporeueto pros auton]). Imperfect indicative describing the steady stream of people who kept coming to the baptism (ἐβαπτιζοντο [ebaptizonto], imperfect passive indicative, a wonderful sight). In the river Jordan (ἐν τῳ Ἰορδανῃ ποταμῳ [en tōi Iordanēi potamōi]). In the Jordan river, literally.

Mark 1:6

Clothed with camel’s hair (ἐνδεδυμενος τριχας καμηλου [endedumenos trichas kamēlou]). Matthew (Matt. 3:4) has it a garment (ἐνδυμα [enduma]) of camel’s hair. Mark has it in the accusative plural the object of the perfect passive participle retained according to a common Greek idiom. It was, of course, not camel’s skin, but rough cloth woven of camel’s hair. For the locusts and wild honey, see on Matt. 3:4. Dried locusts are considered palatable and the wild honey, or “mountain honey” as some versions give it (μελι ἀγριον [meli agrion]), was bountiful in the clefts of the rocks. Some Bedouins make their living yet by gathering this wild honey out of the rocks.

Mark 1:7

Mightier than I (ὁ ἰσχυροτερος μου [ho ischuroteros mou]). In each of the Synoptics. Gould calls it a skeptical depreciation of himself by John. But it was sincere on John’s part and he gives a reason for it. The Latchet (τον ἱμαντα [ton himanta]). The thong of the sandal which held it together. When the guest comes into the house, performed by a slave before one enters the bath. Mark alone gives this touch.

Mark 1:8

With water (ὑδατι [hudati]). So Luke (3:16) the locative case, in water. Matthew (3:11) has ἐν [en] (in), both with (in) water and the Holy Spirit. The water baptism by John was a symbol of the spiritual baptism by Jesus.

Mark 1:9

In the Jordan (εἰς τον Ἰορδανην [eis ton Iordanēn]). So in verse 10, ἐκ του ὑδατος [ek tou hudatos], out of the water, after the baptism into the Jordan. Mark is as fond of “straightway” (εὐθυς [euthus]) as Matthew is of “then” (τοτε [tote]). Rent asunder (σχιζομενους [schizomenous]). Split like a garment, present passive participle. Jesus saw the heavens parting as he came up out of the water, a more vivid picture than the “opened” in Matt. 3:16 and Luke 3:21. Evidently the Baptist saw all this and the Holy Spirit coming down upon Jesus as a dove because he later mentions it (John 1:32). The Cerinthian Gnostics took the dove to mean the heavenly aeon Christ that here descended upon the man Jesus and remained with him till the Cross when it left him, a sort of forecast of the modern distinction between the Jesus of history and the theological Christ.

Mark 1:11

Thou art (συ εἰ [su ei]). So Luke 3:22, Matthew 3:17 has this is (οὑτος ἐστιν [houtos estin]) which see. So both Mark and Luke have “in thee,” while Matthew has “in whom.”

Mark 1:12

Driveth him forth (αὐτον ἐκβαλλει [auton ekballei]). Vivid word, bolder than Matthew’s “was led up” (ἀνηχθη [anēchthē]) and Luke’s “was led” (ἠγετο [ēgeto]). It is the same word employed in the driving out of demons (Mark 1:34, 39). Mark has here “straightway” where Matthew has “then” (see on verse 9). The forty days in the wilderness were under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. The entire earthly life of Jesus was bound up with the Holy Spirit from his birth to his death and resurrection.

Mark 1:13

With the wild beasts (μετα τωυ θηριων [meta tōu thēriōn]). Mark does not give the narrative of the three temptations in Matthew and Luke (apparently from the Logia and originally, of course, from Jesus himself). But Mark adds this little touch about the wild beasts in the wilderness. It was the haunt at night of the wolf, the boar, the hyena, the jackal, the leopard. It was lonely and depressing in its isolation and even dangerous. Swete notes that in Psa. 90:13 the promise of victory over the wild beasts comes immediately after that of angelic guardianship cited by Satan in Matt. 4:6. The angels did come and minister (διηκονουν [diēkonoun]), imperfect tense, kept it up till he was cheered and strengthened. Dr. Tristram observes that some Abyssinian Christians are in the habit of coming to the Quarantania during Lent and fasting forty days on the summit amid the ruins of its ancient cells and chapels where they suppose Jesus was tempted. But we are all tempted of the devil in the city even worse than in the desert.

Mark 1:14

Jesus came into Galilee (ἠλθεν ὁ Ἰησους εἰς την Γαλιλαιαν [ēlthen ho Iēsous eis tēn Galilaian]). Here Mark begins the narrative of the active ministry of Jesus and he is followed by Matthew and Luke. Mark undoubtedly follows the preaching of Peter. But for the Fourth Gospel we should not know of the year of work in various parts of the land (Perea, Galilee, Judea, Samaria) preceding the Galilean ministry. John supplements the Synoptic Gospels at this point as often. The arrest of John had much to do with the departure of Jesus from Judea to Galilee (John 4:1–4). Preaching the gospel of God (κηρυσσων το εὐαγγελιον του θεου [kērussōn to euaggelion tou theou]). It is the subjective genitive, the gospel that comes from God. Swete observes that repentance (μετανοια [metanoia]) is the keynote in the message of the Baptist as gospel (εὐαγγελιον [euaggelion]) is with Jesus. But Jesus took the same line as John and proclaimed both repentance and the arrival of the kingdom of God. Mark adds to Matthew’s report the words “the time is fulfilled” (πεπληρωται ὁ καιρος [peplērōtai ho kairos]). It is a significant fact that John looks backward to the promise of the coming of the Messiah and signalizes the fulfilment as near at hand (perfect passive indicative). It is like Paul’s fulness of time (πληρωμα του χρονου [plērōma tou chronou]) in Gal. 4:4 and fulness of the times (πληρωμα τον καιρων [plērōma ton kairōn]) in Eph. 1:10 when he employs the word καιρος [kairos], opportunity or crisis as here in Mark rather than the more general term χρονος [chronos]. Mark adds here also: “and believe in the gospel” (και πιστευετε ἐν τῳ εὐαγγελιῳ [kai pisteuete en tōi euaggeliōi]). Both repent and believe in the gospel. Usually faith in Jesus (or God) is expected as in John 14:1. But this crisis called for faith in the message of Jesus that the Messiah had come. He did not use here the term Messiah, for it had come to have political connotations that made its use at present unwise. But the kingdom of God had arrived with the presence of the King. It does make a difference what one believes. Belief or disbelief in the message of Jesus made a sharp cleavage in those who heard him. “Faith in the message was the first step; a creed of some kind lies at the basis of confidence in the Person of Christ, and the occurrence of the phrase πιστυετε ἐν τῳ εὐαγγελιῳ [pistuete en tōi euaggeliōi] in the oldest record of the teaching of our Lord is a valuable witness to this fact” (Swete).

Mark 1:16

And passing along by the Sea of Galilee (και παραγων παρα την θαλασσαν της Γαλιλαιας [kai paragōn para tēn thalassan tēs Galilaias]). Mark uses παρα [para] (along, beside) twice and makes the picture realistic. He catches this glimpse of Christ in action. Casting a net (ἀμφιβαλλοντας [amphiballontas]). Literally casting on both sides, now on one side, now on the other. Matthew (4:18) has a different phrase which see. There are two papyri examples of the verb ἀμφιβαλλω [amphiballō], one verb absolutely for fishing as here, the other with the accusative. It is fishing with a net, making a cast, a haul. These four disciples were fishermen (ἁλιεις [halieis]) and were partners (μετοχοι [metochoi]) as Luke states (5:7).

Mark 1:17

Become (γενεσθαι [genesthai]). Mark has this word not in Matthew. It would be a slow and long process, but Jesus could and would do it. He would undertake to make fishers of men out of fishermen. Preachers are made out of laymen who are willing to leave their business for service for Christ.

A little further (ὀλιγον [oligon]). A Marcan detail. Mending their nets (καταρτιζοντας τα δικτυα [katartizontas ta diktua]). See on Matt. 4:21. Getting ready that they might succeed better at the next haul.

Mark 1:20

With the hired servants (μετα των μισθωτων [meta tōn misthōtōn]). One hired for wages (μισθος [misthos]), a very old Greek word. Zebedee and his two sons evidently had an extensive business in co-operation with Andrew and Simon (Luke 5:7, 10). Mark alone has this detail of the hired servants left with Zebedee. They left the boat and their father (Matt. 4:22) with the hired servants. The business would go on while they left all (Luke 5:11) and became permanent followers of Jesus. Many a young man has faced precisely this problem when he entered the ministry. Could he leave father and mother, brothers and sisters, while he went forth to college and seminary to become a fisher of men? Not the least of the sacrifices made in the education of young preachers is that made by the home folks who have additional burdens to bear because the young preacher is no longer a bread-winner at home. Most young preachers joyfully carry on such burdens after entering the ministry.

Mark 1:21

And taught (ἐδιδασκεν [edidasken]). Inchoative imperfect, began to teach as soon as he entered the synagogue in Capernaum on the sabbath. The synagogue in Capernaum afforded the best opening for the teaching of Jesus. He had now made Capernaum (Tell Hum) his headquarters after the rejection in Nazareth as explained in Luke 4:16–31 and Matt. 4:13–16. The ruins of this synagogue have been discovered and there is even talk of restoring the building since the stones are in a good state of preservation. Jesus both taught (διδασκω [didaskō]) and preached (κηρυσσω [kērussō]) in the Jewish synagogues as opportunity was offered by the chief or leader of the synagogue (ἀρχισυναγωγος [archisunagōgos]). The service consisted of prayer, praise, reading of scripture, and exposition by any rabbi or other competent person. Often Paul was invited to speak at such meetings. In Luke 4:20 Jesus gave back the roll of Isaiah to the attendant or beadle (τῳ ὑπηρετῃ [tōi hupēretēi]) whose business it was to bring out the precious manuscript and return it to its place. Jesus was a preacher of over a year when he began to teach in the Capernaum synagogue. His reputation had preceded him (Luke 4:14).

Mark 1:22

They were astonished (ἐξεπλησσοντο [exeplēssonto]). Pictorial imperfect as in Luke 4:32 describing the amazement of the audience, “meaning strictly to strike a person out of his senses by some strong feeling, such as fear, wonder, or even joy” (Gould). And not as their scribes (και οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεις [kai ouch hōs hoi grammateis]). Luke 4:32 has only “with authority” (ἐν ἐξουσιᾳ [en exousiāi]). Mark has it “as having authority” (ὡς ἐχων ἐξουσιαν [hōs echōn exousian]). He struck a note not found by the rabbi. They quoted other rabbis and felt their function to be expounders of the traditions which they made a millstone around the necks of the people. By so doing they set aside the word and will of God by their traditions and petty legalism (Mark 7:9, 13). They were casuists and made false interpretations to prove their punctilious points of external etiquette to the utter neglect of the spiritual reality. The people noticed at once that here was a personality who got his power (authority) direct from God, not from the current scribes. “Mark omits much, and is in many ways a meagre Gospel, but it makes a distinctive contribution to the evangelic history in showing by a few realistic touches (this one of them) the remarkable personality of Jesus” (Bruce). See on Matt. 7:29 for the like impression made by the Sermon on the Mount where the same language occurs. The chief controversy in Christ’s life was with these scribes, the professional teachers of the oral law and mainly Pharisees. At once the people see that Jesus stands apart from the old group. He made a sensation in the best sense of that word. There was a buzz of excitement at the new teacher that was increased by the miracle that followed the sermon.

Mark 1:23

With an unclean spirit (ἐν πνευματι ἀκαθαρτῳ [en pneumati akathartōi]). This use of ἐν [en] “with” is common in the Septuagint like the Hebrew be [; בְּ], but it occurs also in the papyri. It is the same idiom as “in Christ,” “in the Lord” so common with Paul. In English we speak of our being in love, in drink, in his cups, etc. The unclean spirit was in the man and the man in the unclean spirit, a man in the power of the unclean spirit. Luke has “having,” the usual construction. Unclean spirit is used as synonymous with demon (δαιμονιον [daimonion]). It is the idea of estrangement from God (Zech. 13:2). The whole subject of demonology is difficult, but no more so than the problem of the devil. Jesus distinguishes between the man and the unclean spirit. Usually physical or mental disease accompanied the possession by demons. One wonders today if the degenerates and confirmed criminals so common now are not under the power of demons. The only cure for confirmed criminals seems to be conversion (a new heart).

Mark 1:24

What have we to do with thee? (τι ἡμιν και σοι; [ti hēmin kai soi?]) The same idiom in Matt. 8:29. Ethical dative. Nothing in common between the demon and Jesus. Note “we.” The man speaks for the demon and himself, double personality. The recognition of Jesus by the demons may surprise us since the rabbis (the ecclesiastics) failed to do so. They call Jesus “The Holy One of God” (ὁ ἁγιος του θεου [ho hagios tou theou]). Hence the demon feared that Jesus was come to destroy him and the man in his power. In Matt. 8:29 the demon calls Jesus “Son of God.” Later the disciples will call Jesus “The Holy One of God” (John 6:69). The demon cried out aloud (ἀνεκραξεν [anekraxen], late first aorist form, ἀνεκραγεν [anekragen], common second aorist) so that all heard the strange testimony to Jesus. The man says “I know” (οἰδα [oida]), correct text, some manuscripts “we know” (οἰδαμεν [oidamen]), including the demon.

Mark 1:25

Hold thy peace (φιμωθητι [phimōthēti]). First aorist passive imperative of φιμοω [phimoō]. “Be quiet,” Moffatt translates it. But it is a more vigorous word, “Be muzzled” like an ox. So literally in Deut. 25:4; 1 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:18. It is common in Josephus, Lucian, and the LXX. See Matt. 22:12, 34. Gould renders it “Shut up.” “Shut your mouth” would be too colloquial. Vincent suggests “gagged,” but that is more the idea of ἐπιστομαζειν [epistomazein] in Titus 1:11, to stop the mouth.

Mark 1:26

Tearing him (σπαραξαν αὐτον [sparaxan auton]). Margin, convulsing him like a spasm. Medical writers use the word for the rotating of the stomach. Luke 4:35 adds “when the demon had thrown him down in the midst.” Mark mentions the “loud voice” (φονῃ μεγαλῃ [phonēi megalēi]), a screech, in fact. It was a moment of intense excitement.

Mark 1:27

They questioned among themselves (συνζητειν αὐτους [sunzētein autous]). By look and word. A new teaching (διδαχη καινη [didachē kainē]). One surprise had followed another this day. The teaching was fresh (καινη [kainē]), original as the dew of the morning on the blossoms just blown. That was a novelty in that synagogue where only staid and stilted rabbinical rules had been heretofore droned out. This new teaching charmed the people, but soon will be rated as heresy by the rabbis. And it was with authority (κατʼ ἐξουσιαν [kat’ exousian]). It is not certain whether the phrase is to be taken with “new teaching,” “It’s new teaching with authority behind it,” as Moffatt has it, or with the verb; “with authority commandeth even the unclean spirits” (και τοις πνευμασιν τοις ἀκαθαρτοις ἐπιτασσει [kai tois pneumasin tois akathartois epitassei]). The position is equivocal and may be due to the fact that “Mark gives the incoherent and excited remarks of the crowd in this natural form” (Swete). But the most astonishing thing of all is that the demons “obey him” (ὑπακουουσιν αὐτῳ [hupakouousin autōi]). The people were accustomed to the use of magical formulae by the Jewish exorcists (Matt. 12:27; Acts 19:13), but here was something utterly different. Simon Magus could not understand how Simon Peter could do his miracles without some secret trick and even offered to buy it (Acts 8:19).

Mark 1:28

The report of him (ἡ ἀκοη αὐτου [hē akoē autou]). Vulgate, rumor. See Matt. 14:1; 24:6. They had no telephones, telegraphs, newspapers or radio, but news has a marvellous way of spreading by word of mouth. The fame of this new teacher went out “everywhere” (πανταχου [pantachou]) throughout all Galilee.

Mark 1:29

The house of Simon and Andrew (την οἰκιαν Σιμωνος και Ἀνδρεου [tēn oikian Simōnos kai Andreou]). Peter was married and both he and Andrew lived together in “Peter’s house” (Matt. 8:14) with Peter’s wife and mother-in-law. Peter was evidently married before he began to follow Jesus. Later his wife accompanied him on his apostolic journeys (1 Cor. 9:5). This incident followed immediately after the service in the synagogue on the sabbath. All the Synoptics give it. Mark heard Peter tell it as it occurred in his own house where Jesus made his home while in Capernaum. Each Gospel gives touches of its own to the story. Mark has “lay sick of a fever” (κατεκειτο πυρεσσουσα [katekeito puressousa]), lay prostrate burning with fever. Matthew puts it “stretched out (βεβλημενην [beblēmenēn]) with a fever.” Luke has it “holden with a great fever” (ἠν συνεχομενη πυρετῳ μεγαλῳ [ēn sunechomenē puretōi megalōi]), a technical medical phrase. They all mention the instant recovery and ministry without any convalescence. Mark and Matthew speak of the touch of Jesus on her hand and Luke speaks of Jesus standing over her like a doctor. It was a tender scene.

Mark 1:32

When the sun did set (ὁτε ἐδυσεν ὁ ἡλιος [hote edusen ho hēlios]). This picturesque detail Mark has besides “at even” (ὀψιας γενομενης [opsias genomenēs], genitive absolute, evening having come). Matthew has “when even was come,” Luke “when the sun was setting.” The sabbath ended at sunset and so the people were now at liberty to bring their sick to Jesus. The news about the casting out of the demon and the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law had spread all over Capernaum. They brought them in a steady stream (imperfect tense, ἐφερον [epheron]). Luke (4:40) adds that Jesus laid his hand on every one of them as they passed by in grateful procession.

Mark 1:33

At the door (προς την θυραν [pros tēn thuran]). At the door of Peter’s house. The whole city was gathered together there (ἠν ἐπισυνηγμενη [ēn episunēgmenē], past perfect passive periphrastic indicative, double compound ἐπι [epi] and συν [sun]). Mark alone mentions this vivid detail. He is seeing with Peter’s eyes again. Peter no doubt watched the beautiful scene with pride and gratitude as Jesus stood in the door and healed the great crowds in the glory of that sunset. He loved to tell it afterwards. Divers diseases (ποικιλαις νοσοις [poikilais nosois]). See Matt. 4:24 about ποικιλος [poikilos] meaning many-coloured, variegated. All sorts of sick folk came and were healed.

Mark 1:34

Devils (δαιμονια [daimonia]). Demons it should be translated always. Suffered not (οὐκ ἠφιεν [ouk ēphien]). Would not allow, imperfect tense of continued refusal. The reason given is “because they knew him” (ὁτι ᾐδεισαν αὐτον [hoti ēideisan auton]). Whether “to be Christ” (Χριστον εἰναι [Christon einai]) is genuine or not, that is the meaning and is a direct reference to 1:24 when in the synagogue the demon recognized and addressed Jesus as the Holy One of God. Testimony from such a source was not calculated to help the cause of Christ with the people. He had told the other demon to be silent. See on Matt. 8:29 for discussion of the word demon.

Mark 1:35

In the morning, a great while before day (πρῳ ἐννυχα λιαν [prōi ennucha lian]). Luke has only “when it was day” (γενομενης ἡμερας [genomenēs hēmeras]). The word πρῳ [prōi] in Mark means the last watch of the night from three to six a.m. Ἐννυχα λιαν [Ennucha lian] means in the early part of the watch while it was still a bit dark (cf. Mark 16:2 λιαν πρῳ [lian prōi]). Rose up and went out (ἀναστας ἐξηλθεν [anastas exēlthen]). Out of the house and out of the city, off (ἀπηλθεν [apēlthen], even if not genuine, possibly a conflate reading from 6:32, 46). “Flight from the unexpected reality into which His ideal conception of His calling had brought Him” (H.J. Holtzmann). Gould notes that Jesus seems to retreat before his sudden popularity, to prayer with the Father “that he might not be ensnared by this popularity, or in any way induced to accept the ways of ease instead of duty.” But Jesus also had a plan for a preaching tour of Galilee and “He felt He could not begin too soon. He left in the night, fearing opposition from the people” (Bruce). Surely many a popular preacher can understand this mood of Jesus when in the night he slips away to a solitary place for prayer. Jesus knew what it was to spend a whole night in prayer. He knew the blessing of prayer and the power of prayer. And there prayed (κʼακει προσηυχετο [k’akei prosēucheto]). Imperfect tense picturing Jesus as praying through the early morning hours.

Mark 1:36

Followed after him (κατεδιωξεν αὐτον [katediōxen auton]). Hunted him out (Moffatt). Perfective use of the preposition κατα [kata] (down to the finish). The verb διωκω [diōkō] is used for the hunt or chase, pursuit. Vulgate has persecutus est. The personal story of Peter comes in here. “Simon’s intention at least was good; the Master seemed to be losing precious opportunities and must be brought back” (Swete). Peter and those with him kept up the search till they found him. The message that they brought would surely bring Jesus back to Peter’s house.

Mark 1:38

Into the next towns (εἰς τας ἐχομενας κωμοπολεις [eis tas echomenas kōmopoleis]). It was a surprising decision for Jesus to leave the eager, excited throngs in Capernaum for the country town or village cities without walls or much importance. Only instance of the word in the N. T. Late Greek word. The use of ἐχομενας [echomenas] for next is a classic use meaning clinging to, next to a thing. So in Luke 13:33; Acts 13:44; 20:15; Heb. 6:9. “D” here has ἐγγυς [eggus] (near).

Mark 1:39

Throughout all Galilee (Εἰς ὁλην την Γαλιλαιαν [Eis holēn tēn Galilaian]). The first tour of Galilee by Jesus. We are told little about this great preaching tour.

Mark 1:40

Kneeling down to him (και γονυπετων [kai gonupetōn]). Picturesque detail omitted by some MSS. Luke 5:12 has “fell on his face.”

Mark 1:41

Being moved with compassion (σπλαγχνισθεις [splagchnistheis]). Only in Mark. First aorist passive participle.

Mark 1:43

Strictly charged (ἐμβριμησαμενος [embrimēsamenos]). Only in Mark. Luke 5:14 has παρηγγειλεν [parēggeilen] (commanded). Mark’s word occurs also in 14:5 and in Matt. 9:30 and John 11:38. See on Matt. 9:30. It is a strong word for the snorting of a horse and expresses powerful emotion as Jesus stood here face to face with leprosy, itself a symbol of sin and all its train of evils. The command to report to the priests was in accord with the Mosaic regulations and the prohibition against talking about it was to allay excitement and to avoid needless opposition to Christ.

Mark 1:44

For a testimony unto them (εἰς μαρτυριον αὐτοις [eis marturion autois]). Without the formal testimony of the priests the people would not receive the leper as officially clean.

Mark 1:45

Began to publish it much (ἠρξατο κηρυσσειν πολλα [ērxato kērussein polla]). Luke 5:15 puts it, “so much the more” (μαλλον [māllon]). One of the best ways to spread a thing is to tell people not to tell. It was certainly so in this case. Soon Jesus had to avoid cities and betake himself to desert places to avoid the crowds and even then people kept coming to Jesus (ἠρχοντο [ērchonto], imperfect tense). Some preachers are not so disturbed by the onrush of crowds.

Chapter 2

Mark 2:1

Again into Capernaum after some days (παλιν εἰς Καφαρναουμ δἰ ἡμερων [palin eis Kapharnaoum di’ hēmerōn]). After the first tour of Galilee when Jesus is back in the city which is now the headquarters for the work in Galilee. The phrase δἰ ἡμερων [di’ hēmerōn] means days coming in between (δια, δυο [dia, duo], two) the departure and return. In the house (ἐν οἰκῳ [en oikōi]). More exactly, at home, in the home of Peter, now the home of Jesus. Another picture directly from Peter’s discourse. Some of the manuscripts have here εἰς οἰκον [eis oikon], illustrating the practical identity in meaning of ἐν [en] and εἰς [eis] (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 591–6). It was noised (ἠκουσθη [ēkousthē]). It was heard (first aorist, passive indicative from ἀκουω [akouō], to hear). People spread the rumour, “He is at home, he is indoors.”

Mark 2:2

So that there was no longer room for them, no, not even about the door (ὡστε μηκετι χωρειν μηδε τα προς την θυραν [hōste mēketi chōrein mēde ta pros tēn thuran]). Another graphic Markan detail seen through Peter’s eyes. The double compound negative in the Greek intensifies the negative. This house door apparently opened into the street, not into a court as in the larger houses. The house was packed inside and there was a jam outside. And he spake the word unto them (και ἐλαλει αὐτοις τον λογον [kai elalei autois ton logon]). And he was speaking the word unto them, Mark’s favourite descriptive imperfect tense (ἐλαλει [elalei]). Note this word λαλεω [laleō] about the preaching of Jesus (originally just sounds like the chatter of birds, the prattling of children, but here of the most serious kind of speech. As contrasted with λεγω [legō] (to say) it is rather an onomatopoetic word with some emphasis on the sound and manner of speaking. The word is common in the vernacular papyri examples of social inter-course.

Mark 2:3

And they come (και ἐρχονται [kai erchontai]). Fine illustration of Mark’s vivid dramatic historical present preserved by Luke Luke 5:18, but not by Matt. 9:2 (imperfect). Borne by four (αἰρομενον ὑπο τεσσαρων [airomenon hupo tessarōn]). Another picturesque Markan detail not in the others.

Mark 2:4

Come nigh (προσεγγισαι [proseggisai]). But Westcott and Hort read προσενεγκαι [prosenegkai], to bring to, after Aleph, B, L, 33, 63 (cf. John 5:18). They uncovered the roof (ἀπεστεγασαν την στεγην [apestegasan tēn stegēn]). They unroofed the roof (note paronomasia in the Greek and cognate accusative). The only instance of this verb in the N. T. A rare word in late Greek, no papyrus example given in Moulton and Milligan Vocabulary. They climbed up a stairway on the outside or ladder to the flat tile roof and dug out or broke up (ἐξορυξαντες [exoruxantes]) the tiles (the roof). There were thus tiles (δια των κεραμων [dia tōn keramōn], Luke 5:19) of laths and plaster and even slabs of stone stuck in for strength that had to be dug out. It is not clear where Jesus was (ὁπου ἠν [hopou ēn]), either downstairs, (Holtzmann) or upstairs (Lightfoot), or in the quadrangle (atrium or compluvium, if the house had one). “A composition of mortar, tar, ashes and sand is spread upon the roofs, and rolled hard, and grass grows in the crevices. On the houses of the poor in the country the grass grows more freely, and goats may be seen on the roofs cropping it” (Vincent). They let down the bed (χαλωσι τον κραβαττον [chalōsi ton krabatton]), historical present again, aorist tense in Luke 5:19 (καθηκαν [kathēkan]). The verb means to lower from a higher place as from a boat. Probably the four men had a rope fastened to each corner of the pallet or poor man’s bed (κραβαττον [krabatton], Latin grabatus. So one of Mark’s Latin words). Matthew (9:2) has κλινη [klinē], general term for bed. Luke has κλινιδιον [klinidion] (little bed or couch). Mark’s word is common in the papyri and is spelled also κραββατος [krabbatos], sometimes κραβατος [krabatos], while W, Codex Washingtonius, has it κραββατον [krabbaton].

Mark 2:5

Their faith (την πιστιν αὐτων [tēn pistin autōn]). The faith of the four men and of the man himself. There is no reason for excluding his faith. They all had confidence in the power and willingness of Jesus to heal this desperate case. Are forgiven (ἀφιενται [aphientai], aoristic present passive, cf. punctiliar action, Robertson’s Grammar, pp. 864ff.). So Matt. 9:3, but Luke 5:20 has the Doric perfect passive ἀφεωνται [apheōntai]. The astonishing thing both to the paralytic and to the four friends is that Jesus forgave his sins instead of healing him. The sins had probably caused the paralysis.

Mark 2:6

Sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts (ἐκει καθημενοι και διαλογιζομενοι ἐν ταις καρδιαις αὐτων [ekei kathēmenoi kai dialogizomenoi en tais kardiais autōn]). Another of Mark’s pictures through Peter’s eyes. These scribes (and Pharisees, Luke 5:21) were there to cause trouble, to pick flaws in the teaching and conduct of Jesus. His popularity and power had aroused their jealousy. There is no evidence that they spoke aloud the murmur in their hearts, “within themselves” (Matt. 9:3). It was not necessary, for their looks gave them away and Jesus knew their thoughts (Matt. 9:4) and perceived their reasoning (Luke 5:22). Instantly Jesus recognized it in his own spirit (εὐθυς ἐπιγνους ὁ Ἰησους τῳ πνευματι αὐτου [euthus epignous ho Iēsous tōi pneumati autou], Mark 2:8). The Master at once recognizes the hostile atmosphere in the house. The debate (διαλογιζομενοι [dialogizomenoi]) in their hearts was written on their faces. No sound had come, but feeling did.

Mark 2:7

He blasphemeth (βλασφημει [blasphēmei]). This is the unspoken charge in their hearts which Jesus read like an open book. The correct text here has this verb. They justify the charge with the conviction that God alone has the power (δυναται [dunatai]) to forgive sins. The word βλασφημεω [blasphēmeō] means injurious speech or slander. It was, they held, blasphemy for Jesus to assume this divine prerogative. Their logic was correct. The only flaw in it was the possibility that Jesus held a peculiar relation to God which justified his claim. So the two forces clash here as now on the deity of Christ Jesus. Knowing full well that he had exercised the prerogative of God in forgiving the man’s sins he proceeds to justify his claim by healing the man.

Mark 2:10

That ye may know (ἱνα εἰδητε [hina eidēte]). The scribes could have said either of the alternatives in verse 9 with equal futility. Jesus could say either with equal effectiveness. In fact Jesus chose the harder first, the forgiveness which they could not see. So he now performs the miracle of healing which all could see, that all could know that (the Son of Man, Christ’s favourite designation of himself, a claim to be the Messiah in terms that could not be easily attacked) he really had the authority and power (ἐξουσιαν [exousian]) to forgive sins. He has the right and power here on earth to forgive sins, here and now without waiting for the day of judgment. He saith to the sick of the palsy (λεγει [legei]). This remarkable parenthesis in the middle of the sentence occurs also in Matt. 9:6 and Luke 5:24, proof that both Matthew and Luke followed Mark’s narrative. It is inconceivable that all three writers should independently have injected the same parenthesis at the same place.

Mark 2:12

Before them all (ἐμπροσθεν παντων [emprosthen pantōn]). Luke 5:25 follows Mark in this detail. He picked up (ἀρας [aras]) his pallet and walked and went home as Jesus had commanded him to do (Mark 2:11). It was an amazing proceeding and made it unnecessary for Jesus to refute the scribes further on this occasion. The amazement (ἐξιστασθαι [existasthai], our ecstasy, as Luke 5:26 has it), was too general and great for words. The people could only say: “We never saw it on this fashion” (οὑτως οὐδεποτε εἰδαμεν [Houtōs oudepote eidamen]). Jesus had acted with the power of God and claimed equality with God and had made good his claim. They all marvelled at the paradoxes (παραδοξα [paradoxa], Luke 5:26) of that day. For it all they glorified God.

Mark 2:13

By the seaside (παρα την θαλασσαν [para tēn thalassan]). A pretty picture of Jesus walking by the sea and a walk that Jesus loved (Mark 1:16; Matt. 4:18). Probably Jesus went out from the crowd in Peter’s house as soon as he could. It was a joy to get a whiff of fresh air by the sea. But it was not long till all the crowd began to come to Jesus (ἠρχετο [ērcheto], imperfect) and Jesus was teaching them (ἐδιδασκεν [edidasken], imperfect). It was the old story over again, but Jesus did not run away.

Mark 2:14

And as he passed by (και παραγων [kai paragōn]). Present participle active, was passing by. Jesus was constantly on the alert for opportunities to do good. An unlikely specimen was Levi (Matthew), son of Alpheus, sitting at the toll-gate (τελωνιον [telōnion]) on the Great West Road from Damascus to the Mediterranean. He was a publican (τελωνης [telōnēs]) who collected toll for Herod Antipas. The Jews hated or despised these publicans and classed them with sinners (ἁμαρτωλοι [hamartōloi]). The challenge of Jesus was sudden and sharp, but Levi (Matthew) was ready to respond at once. He had heard of Jesus and quickly decided. Great decisions are often made on a moment’s notice. Levi is a fine object lesson for business men who put off service to Christ to carry on their business.

Mark 2:16

The scribes of the Pharisees (οἱ γραμματεις των Φαρισαιων [hoi grammateis tōn Pharisaiōn]). This is the correct text. Cf. “their scribes” in Luke 5:30. Matthew gave a great reception (δοχην [dochēn], Luke 5:29) in his house (Mark 2:15). These publicans and sinners not simply accepted Levi’s invitation, but they imitated his example “and were following Jesus” (και ἠκολουθουν αὐτῳ [kai ēkolouthoun autōi]). It was a motly crew from the standpoint of these young theologues, scribes of the Pharisees, who were on hand, being invited to pick flaws if they could. It was probably in the long hall of the house where the scribes stood and ridiculed Jesus and the disciples, unless they stood outside, feeling too pious to go into the house of a publican. It was an offence for a Jew to eat with Gentiles as even many of the early Jewish Christians felt (Acts 11:3) and publicans and sinners were regarded like Gentiles (1 Cor. 5:11).

Mark 2:17

The righteous (δικαιους [dikaious]). Jesus for the sake of argument accepts the claim of the Pharisees to be righteous, though, as a matter of fact, they fell very far short of it. Elsewhere (Matt. 23) Jesus shows that the Pharisees were extortionate and devoured widows’ houses and wore a cloak of pride and hypocritical respectability. The words “unto repentance” (εἰς μετανοιαν [eis metanoian]) are not genuine in Mark, but are in Luke 5:32. Jesus called men to new spiritual life and away from sin and so to repentance. But this claim stopped their mouths against what Jesus was doing. The well or the strong (ἰσχυοντες [ischuontes]) are not those who need the physician in an epidemic.

Mark 2:18

John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting (ἠσαν οἱ μαθηται Ἰωανου και οἱ Φαρισαιοι νηστευοντες [ēsan hoi mathētai Iōanou kai hoi Pharisaioi nēsteuontes]). The periphrastic imperfect, so common in Mark’s vivid description. Probably Levi’s feast happened on one of the weekly fast-days (second and fifth days of the week for the stricter Jews). So there was a clash of standpoints. The disciples of John sided with the Pharisees in the Jewish ceremonial ritualistic observances. John was still a prisoner in Machaerus. John was more of an ascetic than Jesus (Matt. 18:1f.; Luke 7:33–35), but neither one pleased all the popular critics. These learners (μαθηται [mathētai]) or disciples of John had missed the spirit of their leader when they here lined up with the Pharisees against Jesus. But there was no real congeniality between the formalism of the Pharisees and the asceticism of John the Baptist. The Pharisees hated John who had denounced them as broods of vipers. Here the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees (οἱ μαθηται Ἰωανου και οἱ μαθηται των Φαρισαιων [hoi mathētai Iōanou kai hoi mathētai tōn Pharisaiōn]) join in criticizing Jesus and his disciples. Later we shall see Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians, who bitterly detested each other, making common cause against Jesus Christ. So today we find various hostile groups combining against our Lord and Saviour. See on Matt. 9:14–17 for comments. Matthew has here followed Mark closely.

Mark 2:19

The sons of the bridechamber (οἱ υἱοι του νυμφωνος [hoi huioi tou numphōnos]). Not merely the groomsmen, but the guests also, the παρανυμφς [paranumphs] (παρανυμφοι [paranumphoi] of the old Greek). Jesus here adopts the Baptist’s own metaphor (John 3:29), changing the friend of the bridegroom (ὁ φιλος του νυμφιου [ho philos tou numphiou]) to sons of the bridechamber. Jesus identifies himself with the bridegroom of the O. T. (Hos. 2:21), God in his covenant relation with Israel (Swete). Mourning does not suit the wedding feast. Mark, Matthew, and Luke all give the three parables (bridegroom, unfulled cloth, new wineskins) illustrating and defending the conduct of Jesus in feasting with Levi on a Jewish fast-day. Luke 5:36 calls these parables. Jesus here seems iconoclastic to the ecclesiastics and revolutionary in emphasis on the spiritual instead of the ritualistic and ceremonial.

Mark 2:21

Seweth on (ἐπιῥαπτει [epirhaptei]). Here only in the N. T. or elsewhere, though the uncompounded verb ῥαπτω [rhaptō] (to sew) is common enough, sews upon: in Matt. 9:16 and Luke 5:37 use ἐπιβαλλει [epiballei], put upon or clap upon.

Mark 2:22

But new wine into fresh wineskins (ἀλλα οἰνον νεον εἰς ἀσκους καινους [alla oinon neon eis askous kainous]). Westcott and Hort bracket this clause as a Western non-interpolation though omitted only in D and some old Latin MSS. It is genuine in Luke 5:38 and may be so here.

Mark 2:23

Through the cornfields (δια των σποριμων [dia tōn sporimōn]). See on Matt. 12:1. So Matt. and Luke 6:1. But Mark uses παραπορευεσθαι [paraporeuesthai], to go along beside, unless διαπορευεσθαι [diaporeuesthai] (BCD) is accepted. Perhaps now on the edge, now within the grain. Mark uses also ὁδον ποιειν [hodon poiein], to make a way like the Latin iter facere, as if through the standing grain, plucking the ears (τιλλοντες τους σταχυας [tillontes tous stachuas]). Work of preparing food the rabbis called it. The margin of the Revised Version has it correctly: They began to make their way plucking the ears of corn (grain, wheat or barley, we should say). See on Matt. 12:1–8 for discussion of this passage, parallel also in Luke 6:15.

Mark 2:26

The house of God (τον οἰκον του θεου [ton oikon tou theou]). The tent or tabernacle at Nob, not the temple in Jerusalem built by Solomon. When Abiathar was high priest (ἐπι Ἀβιαθαρ ἀρχιερεως [epi Abiathar archiereōs]). Neat Greek idiom, in the time of Abiathar as high priest. There was confusion in the Massoretic text and in the LXX about the difference between Ahimelech (Abimelech) and Abiathar (2 Sam. 8:17), Ahimelech’s son and successor (1 Sam. 21:2; 22:20). Apparently Ahimelech, not Abiathar was high priest at this time. It is possible that both father and son bore both names (1 Sam. 22:20; 2 Sam. 8:17; 1 Chron. 18:16), Abiathar mentioned though both involved. Ἐπι [Epi] may so mean in the passage about Abiathar. Or we may leave it unexplained. They had the most elaborate rules for the preparation of the shewbread (τους ἀρτους της προθεσεως [tous artous tēs protheseōs]), the loaves of presentation, the loaves of the face or presence of God. It was renewed on the commencement of the sabbath and the old bread deposited on the golden table in the porch of the Sanctuary. This old bread was eaten by the priests as they came and went. This is what David ate.

Mark 2:27

For man (δια τον ἀνθρωπον [dia ton anthrōpon]). Mark alone has this profound saying which subordinates the sabbath to man’s real welfare (mankind, observe, generic article with ἀνθρωπος [anthrōpos], class from class). Man was not made for the sabbath as the rabbis seemed to think with all their petty rules about eating an egg laid on the sabbath or looking in the glass, et cetera. See 2 Macc. 5:19 and Mechilta on Ex. 31:13: “The sabbath is delivered unto you and ye are not delivered unto the sabbath.” Christianity has had to fight this same battle about institutionalism. The church itself is for man, not man for the church.

Mark 2:28

Even of the sabbath (και του σαββατου [kai tou sabbatou]). Mark, Matthew (12:8), and Luke (6:5) all give this as a climax in the five reasons given by Christ on the occasion for the conduct of the disciples, but Mark has the little word “even” (και [kai]) not in the others, showing that Jesus knew that he was making a great claim as the Son of Man, the Representative Man, the Messiah looked at from his human interest, to lordship (κυριος [kurios]) even of the sabbath. He was not the slave of the sabbath, but the master of it. “Even of the sabbath, so invaluable in your eyes. Lord, not to abolish, but to interpret and keep in its own place, and give it a new name” (Bruce).

Chapter 3

Mark 3:1

Had his hand withered (ἐξηραμμενην ἐχων την χειρα [exērammenēn echōn tēn cheira]). He had his (the in the Greek, common idiom with article as possessive) hand (right hand, Luke 6:6) in a withered state, perfect passive participle (adjective ξηραν [xēran] in Matthew and Luke), showing that it was not congenital, but the result of injury by accident or disease. Bengel: Non ex utero, sed morbo aut vulnere.

Mark 3:2

They watched (παρετηρουν [paretēroun]). Imperfect tense, were watching on the side (or sly). Luke uses the middle voice, παρετηρουντο [paretērounto], to accent their personal interest in the proceedings. It was the sabbath day and in the synagogue and they were there ready to catch him in the act if he should dare to violate their rules as he had done in the wheat fields on the previous sabbath. Probably the same Pharisees are present now as then. That they might accuse him (ἱνα κατηγορησωσιν αὐτου [hina katēgorēsōsin autou]). So Matt. 12:10. Luke has it “that they might find how to accuse him” (ἱνα εὑρωσιν κατηγορειν αὐτου [hina heurōsin katēgorein autou]). They were determined to accuse him. The sabbath controversy offered the best opening. So here they are ready for business.

Mark 3:3

Stand forth (ἐγειρε εἰς το μεσον [egeire eis to meson]). Step into the middle of the room where all can see. It was a bold defiance of the Christ’s spying enemies. Wycliff rightly puts it: They aspieden him. They played the spy on Jesus. One can see the commotion among the long-bearded hypocrites at this daring act of Jesus.

Mark 3:4

But they held their peace (οἱ δε ἐσιωπων [hoi de esiōpōn]). Imperfect tense. In sullen silence and helplessness before the merciless questions of Jesus as the poor man stood there before them all. Jesus by his pitiless alternatives between doing good (ἀγαθοποιεω [agathopoieō], late Greek word in LXX and N. T.) and doing evil (κακοποιεω [kakopoieō], ancient Greek word), to this man, for instance, to save a life or to kill (ψυχην σωσαι ἠ ἀποκτειναι [psuchēn sōsai ē apokteinai]), as in this case. It was a terrible exposure.

Mark 3:5

When he had looked round on them with anger (περιβλεψαμενος αὐτους μετʼ ὀργης [periblepsamenos autous met’ orgēs]). Mark has a good deal to say about the looks of Jesus with this word (3:5, 34; 5:37; 9:8; 10:23; 11:11) as here. So Luke only once, 6:10. The eyes of Jesus swept the room all round and each rabbinical hypocrite felt the cut of that condemnatory glance. This indignant anger was not inconsistent with the love and pity of Jesus. Murder was in their hearts and Jesus knew it. Anger against wrong as wrong is a sign of moral health (Gould). Being grieved at the hardness of their hearts (συνλυπουμενος ἐπι τῃ πωρωσει της καρδιας αὐτων [sunlupoumenos epi tēi pōrōsei tēs kardias autōn]). Mark alone gives this point. The anger was tempered by grief (Swete). Jesus is the Man of Sorrows and this present participle brings out the continuous state of grief whereas the momentary angry look is expressed by the aorist participle above. Their own heart or attitude was in a state of moral ossification (πωρωσις [pōrōsis]) like hardened hands or feet. Πωρος [Pōros] was used of a kind of marble and then of the callus on fractured bones. “They were hardened by previous conceptions against this new truth” (Gould). See also on Matt. 12:9–14.

Mark 3:6

And straightway with the Herodians took council (εὐθυς μετα των ἡρῳδιανων [euthus meta tōn Hērōidianōn]). The Pharisees could stand no more. So out they stalked at once in a rage of madness (Luke 6:11) and outside of the synagogue took counsel (συμβουλιον ἐποιησαν [sumboulion epoiēsan]) or gave counsel (συμβουλιον ἐδιδουν [sumboulion edidoun], as some MSS. have it, imperfect tense, offered counsel as their solution of the problem) with their bitter enemies, the Herodians, on the sabbath day still “how they might destroy him” (ὁπως αὐτον ἀπολεσωσιν [hopōs auton apolesōsin]), a striking illustration of the alternatives of Jesus a few moments before, “to save life or to kill.” This is the first mention of the Herodians or adherents of Herod Antipas and the Herod family rather than the Romans. The Pharisees would welcome the help of their rivals to destroy Jesus. In the presence of Jesus they unite their forces as in Mark 8:15; 12:13; Matt. 22:16.

Mark 3:7

Withdrew to the sea (ἀνεχωρησεν εἰς την θαλασσαν [anechōrēsen eis tēn thalassan]). Evidently Jesus knew of the plot to kill him, “perceiving it” (Matt. 12:15). “He and His would be safer by the open beach” (Swete). He has the disciples with him. Vincent notes that on eleven occasions Mark mentions the withdrawals of Jesus to escape his enemies, for prayer, for rest, for private conference with his disciples (1:12; 3:7; 6:31, 46; 7:24, 31; 9:2; 10:1; 14:34). But, as often, a great multitude (πολυ πληθος [polu plēthos]) from Galilee followed him.

Mark 3:8

Hearing what great things he did (ἀκουοντες ὁσα ποιει [akouontes hosa poiei]). Masculine plural present participle, though πληθος [plēthos] is neuter singular (construction according to sense in both number and gender). This crowd by the sea came from Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond Jordan (Decapolis and Perea), Tyre and Sidon, Phoenicia, North, South, East, and Northwest, even from Idumea (mentioned here alone in the N. T.) won by John Hyrcanus to Palestine. “In our Lord’s time Idumea was practically a part of Judea with a Jewish circumcised population” (George Adam Smith). Many of these were probably Gentiles (Phoenicia and Decapolis) and may have known only the Greek language. The fame of Jesus had spread through all the regions round about. There was a jam as the crowds came to Jesus by the Sea of Galilee.

Mark 3:9

That a little boat should wait on him (ἱνα πλοιαριον προσκαρτερῃ αὐτῳ [hina ploiarion proskarterēi autōi]). The boat was to keep close (note present tense subjunctive of προσκαρτερεω [proskartereō]) to the shore in constant readiness and move as Jesus did. Whether he needed it or not is not told, but it was there at hand. Lest they should throng him (ἱνα μη θλιβωσιν αὐτον [hina mē thlibōsin auton]). Press or crush him. Jesus stayed with the crowds for they needed him. Present subjunctive again.

Mark 3:10

Pressed upon him (ἐπιπιπτειν αὐτῳ [epipiptein autōi]). Were falling upon him to such an extent that it was dangerous. They were not hostile, but simply intensely eager, each to have his own case attended to by Jesus. That they might touch him (ἱνα αὐτου ἁψωνται [hina autou hapsōntai]). If only that much. They hoped for a cure by contact with Christ. Aorist subjunctive. It was a really pathetic scene and a tremendous strain on Jesus. As many as had plagues (ὁσοι εἰχον μαστιγας [hosoi eichon mastigas]). Strokes or scourges, terms used by us today as a paralytic stroke, the influenza scourge. Our word plague is from πληγη [plēgē] (Latin plaga), from πληγνυμι [plēgnumi], to strike a blow. Common in ancient Greek in this sense. See Mark 5:29, 34; Luke 7:21 for the same use of μαστιγες [mastiges] and also 2 Macc. 9:11.

Mark 3:11

Whensoever they beheld him (ὁταν αὐτον ἐθεωρουν [hotan auton etheōroun]). Imperfect indicative with ὁταν [hotan] of repeated action. They kept falling down before him (προσεπιπτον [prosepipton]) and crying, (ἐκραζον [ekrazon]) and he kept charging or rebuking (ἐπιτιμα [epitimā]) them, all imperfects. The unclean spirits (demons) recognize Jesus as the Son of God, as before. Jesus charged them not to make him known as he had also done before. He did not wish this testimony. It was a most exciting ordeal and is given only by Mark. Note non-final use of ἱνα [hina].

Mark 3:13

He goeth up into the mountain (ἀναβαινει εἰς το ὀρος [anabainei eis to oros]). So Matthew (5:1) and Luke (6:12), “to pray” Luke adds. Historical present so common in Mark’s vivid narrative. Neither Gospel gives the name of the mountain, assuming it as well known, probably not far from the lake. Whom he himself would (οὑς ἠθελεν αὐτος [hous ēthelen autos]). Emphatic use of αὐτος [autos] (himself) at end of sentence. Whether by personal imitation or through the disciples Jesus invites or calls to himself (προσκαλειται [proskaleitai], historical middle present indicative) a select number out of the vast crowds by the sea, those whom he really wished to be with him. They went off to him (ἀπηλθον προς αὐτον [apēlthon pros auton]). Luke states that Jesus “continued all night in prayer, to God.” It was a crisis in the ministry of Christ. This select group up in the hills probably respected the long agony of Jesus though they did not comprehend his motive. They formed a sort of spiritual body-guard around the Master during his night vigil in the mountain.

Mark 3:14

He appointed twelve (ἐποιησεν δωδεκα [epoiēsen dōdeka]). This was a second selection out of those invited to the hills and after the night of prayer and after day came (Luke 6:13). Why he chose twelve we are not told, probably because there were twelve tribes in Israel. It was a good round number at any rate. They were to be princes in the new Israel (cf. Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30; Rev. 21:14, 15). Luke (6:13–16) also gives the list of the twelve at this point while Matthew (10:1–4) postpones giving the names till they are sent out in Galilee. There is a fourth list in Acts 1:13. See discussion of the names of the apostles on Matt. 10:1 and pp. 271–3 of my Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ. The three groups of four begin alike (Simon, Philip, James). There are some difficulties. Whom he also named apostles (οὑς και ἀποστολους ὠνομασεν [hous kai apostolous ōnomasen]). Margin of Revised Version, the text of Westcott and Hort after Aleph, B, C, etc. Genuine in Luke 6:13 and probably so here. The meaning is that Jesus himself gave the name apostle or missionary (ἀποστελλω [apostellō], to send) to this group of twelve. The word is applied in the New Testament to others besides as delegates or messengers of churches (2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25), and messenger (John 13:16). It is applied also to Paul on a par with the twelve (Gal. 1:1, 11f., etc.) and also to Barnabas (Acts 14:14), and perhaps also to Timothy and Silas (1 Tim. 2:6f.). Two purposes of Jesus are mentioned by Mark in the choice of these twelve, that they might be with him (ἱνα ὠσιν μετʼ αὐτου [hina ōsin met’ autou]), and that he might send them forth (και ἱνα ἀποστελλῃ αὐτους [kai hina apostellēi autous]). They were not ready to be sent forth till they had been with Jesus for some time. This is one of the chief tasks of Christ to train this group of men. See Bruce’s The Training of the Twelve. The very word ἀποστολος [apostolos] is from ἀποστελλω [apostellō]. There were two purposes in sending them forth expressed by two infinitives, one to preach (κηρυσσειν [kērussein], from κηρυξ [kērux], herald), the other to have power to cast out demons (ἐχειν ἐξουσιαν ἐκβαλλειν τα δαιμονια [echein exousian ekballein ta daimonia]). This double ministry of preaching and healing was to mark their work. The two things are, however, different, and one does not necessarily involve the other.

Mark 3:16

Simon he surnamed Peter (ἐπεθηκεν ὀνομα τῳ Σιμωνι Πετρον [epethēken onoma tōi Simōni Petron]). The Greek idiom seems awkward, but it is not. Peter is in apposition with name or ὀνομα [onoma] (accusative). This surname Jesus gave in addition (ἐπεθηκεν [epethēken]) to Simon (dative case). Here then is a direct reference to what is told in John 1:42 when Jesus met Simon for the first time. Mark here reflects Peter’s own words. Luke (6:14) simply says “Whom he also surnamed Peter.” See Matt. 16:18 for the full explanation of the name Peter, a Rock, Cephas.

Mark 3:17

Boanerges, which is Sons of thunder (Βοανηργες ὁ ἐστιν υἱοι βροντης [Boanērges ho estin huioi brontēs]). This Hebrew nickname is given only by Mark and the reason for it is not clear. It may refer to the fiery temperament revealed in Luke 9:34 when James and John wanted to call down fire on the Samaritan villages that were unfriendly to them. The word literally means sons of tumult, sons of thunder in Syriac. No other epithets are given by Mark save descriptions to distinguish as Simon the Cananaean (or Zealot) and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him (verse 19). Andrew, (from ἀνηρ [anēr], a man) and Philip (Philippos, fond of horses) are both Greek names. Bartholomew, son of Tolmai, is the Nathanael of John’s Gospel (John 21:2). He probably had both names. Matthew is a Hebrew name meaning gift of God (Μαθθαιος [Maththaios]). Thomas is Hebrew and means Twin (Didymus, John 11:16). There are two uses of the name of James (Ἰακωβος [Iakōbos], Jacob). Thaddeus is another name for Lebbaeus.

Mark 3:19

He cometh into a house (ἐρχεται εἰς οἰκον [erchetai eis oikon]). Historical present again and no article with noun. He comes home from the mountain, probably the house of Simon as in 1:29. Mark passes by the Sermon on the Mount given by Matthew and Luke on the mountain (plateau on the mountain in Luke). We have to allow a reasonable interval for Mark’s narrative. Mark’s Gospel is full of action and does not undertake to tell all that Jesus did and said.

Mark 3:20

So that they could not so much as eat bread (ὡστε μη δυνασθαι αὐτους μηδε ἀρτον φαγειν [hōste mē dunasthai autous mēde arton phagein]). Note infinitive with ὡστε [hōste]. Apparently Jesus and the disciples indoors with the great crowd in the house and at the door as in 1:32; 2:2 to which Mark refers by “again.” The jam was so great that they could not rest, could not eat, and apparently Jesus could not even teach. The crowd reassembled at once on Christ’s return from the mountain.

Mark 3:21

His friends (οἱ παρʼ αὐτου [hoi par’ autou]). The phrase means literally “those from the side of him (Jesus).” It could mean another circle of disciples who had just arrived and who knew of the crowds and strain of the Galilean ministry who now come at this special juncture. But the idiom most likely means the kinspeople or family of Jesus as is common in the LXX. The fact that in verse 31 “his mother and his brothers” are expressly mentioned would indicate that they are “the friends” alluded to in verse 21. It is a mournful spectacle to think of the mother and brothers saying, He is beside himself (ἐξεστη [exestē]). Second aorist active indicative intransitive. The same charge was brought against Paul (Acts 26:24; 2 Cor. 5:13). We say that one is out of his head. Certainly Mary did not believe that Jesus was in the power of Beelzebub as the rabbis said already. The scribes from Jerusalem are trying to discount the power and prestige of Jesus (3:22). See on Matt. 9:32–34; Matt. 10:25; and Matt. 12:24 for Beelzebub and Beelzebul. Mary probably felt that Jesus was overwrought and wished to take him home out of the excitement and strain that he might get rest and proper food. See my The Mother of Jesus: Her Problems and Her Glory. The brothers did not as yet believe the pretensions and claims of Jesus (John 7:5). Herod Antipas will later consider Jesus as John the Baptist redivivus, the scribes treat him as under demonic possession, even the family and friends fear a disordered mind as a result of overstrain. It was a crucial moment for Jesus. His family or friends came to take him home, to lay hold of him (κρατησαι [kratēsai]), forcibly if need be.

Mark 3:23

In parables (ἐν παραβολαις [en parabolais]). In crisp pungent thrusts that exposed the inconsistencies of the scribes and Pharisees. See on Matt. 13. for discussion of the word parable (παραβολη [parabolē], placing beside for comparison). These short parabolic quips concern Satan’s casting out (ἐκβαλλει [ekballei], the very word used of casting out demons) Satan (rhetorical question), a kingdom divided (μερισθῃ [meristhēi], for a mere portion) against itself, a house divided (μερισθῃ [meristhēi]) against itself, two conditions of the third class undetermined, but with prospect of determination.

Mark 3:27

Spoil (διαρπασαι [diarpasai]). Plunder, compound verb, thoroughly ransack. Picture of Satan plundering the demons, the very tools (σκευη [skeuē]) by which he carried on his business. A reductio ad absurdum. Jesus is the conqueror of Satan, not in league with him.

Mark 3:29

Guilty of an eternal sin (ἐνοχος ἐστιν αἰωνιου ἁμαρτηματος [enochos estin aiōniou hamartēmatos]). The genitive of the penalty occurs here with ἐνοχος [enochos]. In saying that Jesus had an unclean spirit (verse 30) they had attributed to the devil the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the unpardonable sin and it can be committed today by men who call the work of Christ the work of the devil, Nietzsche may be cited as an instance in point. Those who hope for a second probation hereafter may ponder carefully how a soul that eternally sins in such an environment can ever repent. That is eternal punishment. The text here is ἁμαρτηματος [hamartēmatos] (sin), not κρισεως [kriseōs] (judgment), as the Textus Receptus has it.

Mark 3:31

Standing without (ἐξω στηκοντες [exō stēkontes]). A late present from the perfect ἑστηκα [hestēka]. Pathetic picture of the mother and brothers standing on the outside of the house thinking that Jesus inside is beside himself and wanting to take him home. They were crowded out. They sent unto him, calling him (ἀπεστειλαν προς αὐτον καλουντες αὐτον [apesteilan pros auton kalountes auton]). They were unwilling to disclose their errand to take him home (Swete) and so get the crowd to pass word unto Jesus on the inside, “calling him” through others. Some of the MSS. add “sisters” to mother and brothers as seeking Jesus.

Mark 3:32

Was sitting about him (ἐκαθητο περι αὐτον [ekathēto peri auton]). They sat in a circle (κυκλῳ [kuklōi]) around Jesus with the disciples forming a sort of inner circle.

Mark 3:34

Looking round on them (περιβλεψαμενος [periblepsamenos]). Another of Mark’s life-like touches. Jesus calls those who do the will of God his mother, brothers, and sisters. This does not prove that the sisters were actually there. The brothers were hostile and that gives point to the tragic words of Jesus. One’s heart goes out to Mary who has to go back home without even seeing her wondrous Son. What did it all mean to her at this hour?

Chapter 4

Mark 4:1

Sat in the sea (καθησθαι ἐν τῃ θαλασσῃ [kathēsthai en tēi thalassēi]). In the boat, of course, which was in the sea. He first sat by the beach (Matt. 13:1) and then a very great multitude (ὀχλος πλειστος [ochlos pleistos]) made him enter a boat in which he sat and taught. It was a common experience now to teach the crowds on the beach (2:1, 13; 3:7–9). There is gathered (συναγεται [sunagetai]). Graphic pictorial present again. See the crowds pressing Jesus into the sea.

Mark 4:2

He taught them (ἐδιδασκεν αὐτους [edidasken autous]). Imperfect tense describing it as going on. In parables (ἐν παραβολαις [en parabolais]). As in 3:23, only here more extended parables. See on Matt. 13 for discussion concerning Christ’s use of parables. Eight are given there, one (the Lamp both in Mark 4:21 and Luke 8:16 (both Sower and the Lamp in Luke), one alone in Mark 4:26–29 (seed growing of itself) not in Matthew or Luke, ten on this occasion. Only four are mentioned in Mark 4:1–34 (The Sower, the Lamp, the Seed Growing of Itself, the Mustard Seed). But Mark adds (4:34) “without a parable spake he not unto them,” clearly meaning that Jesus spoke many others on this occasion and Matt. after mentioning eight (13:34) makes the same statement. Manifestly, therefore, Jesus spoke many parables on this day and all theories of exegesis or dispensations on the basis of the number of these kingdom parables are quite beside the mark. In beginning Jesus said: Hearken (Ἀκουετε [Akouete]). It is significant that even Jesus had to ask people to listen when he spoke. See also verse 9.

Mark 4:7

Choked (συνεπνιξαν [sunepnixan]). Πνιγω [Pnigō] means to strangle, throttle. Mark has the compounded form with συν- [sun-], squeezed together. Matt. 13:7 has ἀπεπνιξαν [apepnixan], choked off. Yielded no fruit (καρπον οὐκ ἐδωκαν [karpon ouk edōkan]). In Mark alone. Barren in results.

Mark 4:8

Growing up and increasing (ἀναβαινοντα και αὐξανομενα [anabainonta kai auxanomena]). In Mark alone. A vivid detail enlarging on the continued growth implied in the imperfect “yielded fruit” (ἐδιδου καρπον [edidou karpon]). It kept on yielding as it grew. Fruit is what matters.

Mark 4:10

When he was alone (ὁτε ἐγενετο κατα μονας [hote egeneto kata monas]). Only in Mark. Vivid recollection of Peter. Mark has also “they that were about him with the twelve” (οἱ περι αὐτον συν τοις δωδεκα [hoi peri auton sun tois dōdeka]), Matthew and Luke simply “the disciples.” They did not want the multitude to see that they did not understand the teaching of Jesus.

Mark 4:11

Unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God (ὑμιν το μυστηριον δεδοται της βασιλειας του θεου [Humin to mustērion dedotai tēs basileias tou theou]). See on Matt. 13:11 for word μυστηριον [mustērion]. Here (Mark 4:11; Matt. 13:11; Luke 8:10) alone in the Gospels, but in Paul 21 times and in the Revelation 4 times. It is frequent in Daniel and O. T. Apocrypha. Matthew and Luke use it here in the plural. Matthew and Luke add the word to know (γνωναι [gnōnai]), but Mark’s presentation covers a wider range than growing knowledge, the permanent possession of the mystery even before they understand it. The secret is no longer hidden from the initiated. Discipleship means initiation into the secret of God’s kingdom and it will come gradually to these men. But unto them that are without (ἐκεινοις δε τοις ἐξω [ekeinois de tois exō]). Peculiar to Mark, those outside our circle, the uninitiated, the hostile group like the scribes and Pharisees, who were charging Jesus with being in league with Beelzebub. Luke 8:10 has “to the rest” (τοις λοιποις [tois loipois]), Matt. 13:11 simply “to them” (ἐκεινοις [ekeinois]). Without the key the parables are hard to understand, for parables veil the truth of the kingdom being stated in terms of another realm. Without a spiritual truth and insight they are unintelligible and are often today perverted. The parables are thus a condemnation on the wilfully blind and hostile, while a guide and blessing to the enlightened. That (ἱνα [hina]). Mark has the construction of the Hebrew “lest” of Isa. 6:9f. with the subjunctive and so Luke 8:10, while Matt. 13:13 uses causal ὁτι [hoti] with the indicative following the LXX. See on Matt. 13:13 for the so-called causal use of ἱνα [hina]. Gould on Mark 4:12 has an intelligent discussion of the differences between Matthew and Mark and Luke. He argues that Mark here probably “preserves the original form of Jesus’ saying.” God ironically commands Isaiah to harden the hearts of the people. If the notion of purpose is preserved in the use of ἱνα [hina] in Mark and Luke, there is probably some irony also in the sad words of Jesus. If ἱνα [hina] is given the causative use of ὁτι [hoti] in Matthew, the difficulty disappears. What is certain is that the use of parables on this occasion was a penalty for judicial blindness on those who will not see.

Mark 4:12

Lest haply they should turn again, and it should be forgiven them (μηποτε ἐπιστρεψωσιν και ἀφεθῃ αὐτοις [mēpote epistrepsōsin kai aphethēi autois]). Luke does not have these difficult words that seem in Isaiah to have an ironical turn, though Matt. 13:15 does retain them even after using ὁτι [hoti] for the first part of the quotation. There is no way to make μηποτε [mēpote] in Mark 4:12 and Matt. 13:15 have a causal sense. It is the purpose of condemnation for wilful blindness and rejection such as suits the Pharisees after their blasphemous accusation against Jesus. Bengel says: iam ante non videbant, nunc accedit iudicium divinum. Jesus is pronouncing their doom in the language of Isaiah. It sounds like the dirge of the damned.

Mark 4:13

Know ye not this parable? (οὐκ οἰδατε την παραβολην ταυτεν; [ouk oidate tēn parabolēn tauten?]). They had asked Jesus his reasons for using parables. This question implies surprise at their dulness though initiated into the secret of God’s Kingdom. Incapacity to comprehend this parable of the sower raises doubt about all the others on this day and at all times.

Mark 4:14

The sower soweth the word (ὁ σπειρων τον λογον σπειρει [ho speirōn ton logon speirei]). Not put thus clearly and simply in Matt. 13:19 or Luke 8:11.

Mark 4:15

Where the word is sown (ὁπου σπειρεται ὁ λογος [hopou speiretai ho logos]). Explanatory detail only in Mark. Satan (Σατανας [Satanās]) where Matt. 13:19 has the evil one (ὁ πονηρος [ho ponēros]) and Luke 8:12 the devil (ὁ διαβολος [ho diabolos]). Sown in them (ἐσπαρμενον εἰς αὐτους [esparmenon eis autous]). Within them, not just among them, “in his heart” (Matt.).

Mark 4:19

The lusts of other things (αἱ περι τα λοιπα ἐπιθυμιαι [hai peri ta loipa epithumiai]). All the passions or longings, sensual, worldly, “pleasures of this life” (ἡδονων του βιου [hēdonōn tou biou]) as Luke has it (8:14), the world of sense drowning the world of spirit. The word ἐπιθυμια [epithumia] is not evil in itself. One can yearn (this word) for what is high and holy (Luke 22:15; Phil. 1:23).

Mark 4:20

Bear fruit (καρποφορουσιν [karpophorousin]). Same word in Matt. 13:23 and Luke 8:15. Mark gives the order from thirty, sixty, to a hundred, while Matt. 13:23 has it reversed.

Mark 4:21

Not to be put on the stand? (οὐχ ἱνα ἐπι την λυχνιαν τεθῃ; [ouch hina epi tēn luchnian tethēi?]). First aorist passive subjunctive of τιθημι [tithēmi] with ἱνα [hina] (purpose). The lamp in the one-room house was a familiar object along with the bushel, the bed, the lampstand. Note article with each. Μητι [Mēti] in the Greek expects the answer no. It is a curious instance of early textual corruption that both Aleph and B, the two oldest and best documents, have ὑπο την λυχνιαν [hupo tēn luchnian] (under the lampstand) instead of ἐπι την λυχνιαν [epi tēn luchnian], making shipwreck of the sense. Westcott and Hort actually put it in the margin but that is sheer slavery to Aleph and B. Some of the crisp sayings were repeated by Jesus on other occasions as shown in Matthew and Luke. To put the lamp under the bushel (μοδιον [modion]) would put it out besides giving no light. So as to the bed or table-couch (κλινην [klinēn]) if it was raised above the floor and liable to be set on fire.

Mark 4:22

Save that it should be manifested (ἐαν μη ἱνα φανερωθῃ [ean mē hina phanerōthēi]). Note ἐαν μη [ean mē] and ἱνα [hina]. Luke 8:17 has it that shall not be made manifest (ὁ οὐ φανερον γενησεται [ho ou phaneron genēsetai]). Here in Mark it is stated that the temporary concealment is for final manifestation and a means to that end. Those who are charged with the secret at this time are given the set responsibility of proclaiming it on the housetops after Ascension (Swete). The hidden (κρυπτον [krupton]) and the secret (ἀποκρυφον [apokruphon]) are to be revealed in due time.

Mark 4:23

Repeats verse 9 with conditional form instead of a relative clause. Perhaps some inattention was noted.

Mark 4:24

What ye hear (τι ἀκουετε [ti akouete]). Luke 8:18 has it “how ye hear” (πως ἀκουετε [pōs akouete]). Both are important. Some things should not be heard at all for they besmirch the mind and heart. What is worth hearing should be heard rightly and heeded. With what measure (ἐν ᾡ μετρῳ [en hōi metrōi]). See already in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:2; Luke 6:38).

Mark 4:25

Even that which he hath (και ὁ ἐχει [kai ho echei]). Luke 8:18 has even that which he thinketh that he hath or seemeth to have (και ὁ δοκει ἐχειν [kai ho dokei echein]). It is possible that ἐχει [echei] here has the notion of acquiring. The man who does not acquire soon loses what he thinks that he has. This is one of the paradoxes of Jesus that repay thought and practice.

Mark 4:26

As if a man should cast (ὡς ἀνθρωπος βαλῃ [hōs anthrōpos balēi]). Note ὡς [hōs] with the aorist subjunctive without ἀν [an]. It is a supposable case and so the subjunctive and the aorist tense because a single instance. Blass considers this idiom “quite impossible,” but it is the true text here and makes good sense (Robertson, Grammar, p. 968). The more common idiom would have been ὡς ἐαν [hōs ean] (or ἀν [an]).

Mark 4:27

Should sleep and rise (καθευδῃ και ἐγειρηται [katheudēi kai egeirētai]). Present subjunctive for continued action. So also spring up and grow (βλαστᾳ και μηκυνηται [blastāi kai mēkunētai]) two late verbs. The process of growth goes on all night and all day (νυκτα και ἡμεραν [nukta kai hēmeran], accusative of time). He knoweth not how (ὡς οὐκ οἰδεν αὐτος [hōs ouk oiden autos]). Note position of ὡς [hōs] (beginning) and αὐτος [autos] (end) of clause: How knows not he. The mystery of growth still puzzles farmers and scientists of today with all our modern knowledge. But nature’s secret processes do not fail to operate because we are ignorant. This secret and mysterious growth of the kingdom in the heart and life is the point of this beautiful parable given only by Mark. “When man has done his part, the actual process of growth is beyond his reach or comprehension” (Swete).

Mark 4:28

Of herself (αὐτοματη [automatē]). Automatically, we say. The secret of growth is in the seed, not in the soil nor in the weather nor in the cultivating. These all help, but the seed spontaneously works according to its own nature. The word αὐτοματη [automatē] is from αὐτος [autos] (self) and μεμαα [memaa] desire eagerly from obsolete μαω [maō]. Common word in all Greek history. Only one other example in N. T., in Acts 12:10 when the city gate opens to Peter of its own accord. “The mind is adapted to the truth, as the eye to the light” (Gould). So we sow the seed, God’s kingdom truth, and the soil (the soul) is ready for the seed. The Holy Spirit works on the heart and uses the seed sown and makes it germinate and grow, “first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear” (πρωτον χορτον, εἰτεν σταχυν, εἰτεν πληρη σιτον ἐν τῳ σταχυι [prōton chorton, eiten stachun, eiten plērē siton en tōi stachui]). This is the law and order of nature and also of grace in the kingdom of God. Hence it is worth while to preach and teach. “This single fact creates the confidence shown by Jesus in the ultimate establishment of his kingdom in spite of the obstacles which obstruct its progress” (Gould).

Mark 4:29

Is ripe (παραδοι [paradoi], second aorist subjunctive with ὁταν [hotan]). Whenever the fruit yields itself or permits. Putteth forth (ἀποστελλει [apostellei]). Sends forth the sickle. The word for apostle comes from this verb. See John 4:38: “I sent you forth to reap” (ἐγο ἀπεστειλα ὑμας θεριζειν [ego apesteila humās therizein]). Sickle (δρεπανον [drepanon]) here by metonymy stands for the reapers who use it when the harvest stands ready for it (παρεστηκεν [parestēken], stands by the side, present perfect indicative).

Mark 4:30

How shall we liken? (Πως ὁμοιωσωμεν; [Pōs homoiōsōmen?]) Deliberative first aorist subjunctive. This question alone in Mark. So with the other question: In what parable shall we set it forth? (ἐν τινι αὐτην παραβολῃ θωμεν; [en tini autēn parabolēi thōmen?]). Deliberative second aorist subjunctive. The graphic question draws the interest of the hearers (we) by fine tact. Luke 13:18f. retains the double question which Matt. 13:31f. does not have, though he has it in a very different context, probably an illustration of Christ’s favourite sayings often repeated to different audiences as is true of all teachers and preachers.

Mark 4:31

When it is sown (ὁταν σπαρῃ [hotan sparēi]). Second aorist passive subjunctive of σπειρω [speirō]. Alone in Mark and repeated in verse 32. Less than all the seeds (μικροτερον παντων των σπερματων [mikroteron pantōn tōn spermatōn]). Comparative adjective with the ablative case after it. Hyperbole, of course, but clearly meaning that from a very small seed a large plant grows, the gradual pervasive expansive power of the kingdom of God.

Mark 4:32

Groweth up (ἀναβαινει [anabainei]). Matt. 13:32 When it is grown (ὁταν αὐξηθῃ [hotan auxēthēi]). Under the shadow thereof (ὑπο την σκιαν αὐτου [hupo tēn skian autou]). A different picture from Matthew’s in the branches thereof (ἐν τοις κλαδοις αὐτου [en tois kladois autou]). But both use κατασκηνοιν [kataskēnoin], to tent or camp down, make nests in the branches in the shade or hop on the ground under the shade just like a covey of birds. In Matt. 8:20 the birds have nests (κατασκηνωσεις [kataskēnōseis]). The use of the mustard seed for smallness seems to have been proverbial and Jesus employs it elsewhere (Matt. 17:20; Luke 17:6).

Mark 4:33

As they were able to hear it (καθως ἠδυναντο ἀκουειν [kathōs ēdunanto akouein]). Only in Mark. Imperfect indicative. See John 16:12 for οὐ δυνασθε βασταζειν [ou dunasthe bastazein], not able to bear. Jesus used parables now largely, but there was a limit even to the use of them to these men. He gave them the mystery of the kingdom in this veiled parabolic form which was the only feasible form at this stage. But even so they did not understand what they heard.

Mark 4:34

But privately to his disciples he expounded all things (κατʼ ἰδιαν δε τοις ἰδιοις μαθηταις ἐπελυεν παντα [kat’ idian de tois idiois mathētais epeluen panta]). To his own (ἰδιοις [idiois]) disciples in private, in distinction from the mass of the people Jesus was in the habit (imperfect tense, ἐπελυεν [epeluen]) of disclosing, revealing, all things (παντα [panta]) in plain language without the parabolic form used before the crowds. This verb ἐπιλυω [epiluō] occurs in the N. T. only here and in Acts 19:39 where the town-clerk of Ephesus says of the troubles by the mob: “It shall be settled in the regular assembly” (ἐν τῃ ἐννομῳ ἐκκλησιᾳ ἐπιλυθησεται [en tēi ennomōi ekklēsiāi epiluthēsetai]). First future passive indicative from ἐπιλυω [epiluō]. The word means to give additional (ἐπι [epi]) loosening (λυω [luō]), so to explain, to make plainer, clearer, even to the point of revelation. This last is the idea of the substantive in 2 Pet. 1:20 where even the Revised Version has it: “No prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation” (πασα προφητεια γραφης ἰδιας ἐπιλυσεως οὐ γινεται [pāsa prophēteia graphēs idias epiluseōs ou ginetai]). Here the use of γινεται [ginetai] (comes) with the ablative case (ἐπιλυσεως [epiluseōs]) and the explanation given in verse 21 shows plainly that disclosure or revelation to the prophet is what is meant, not interpretation of what the prophet said. The prophetic impulse and message came from God through the Holy Spirit. In private the further disclosures of Jesus amounted to fresh revelations concerning the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

Mark 4:35

When even was come (ὀψιας γενομενης [opsias genomenēs]). Genitive absolute. It had been a busy day. The blasphemous accusation, the visit of the mother and brothers and possibly sisters, to take him home, leaving the crowded house for the sea, the first parables by the sea, then more in the house, and now out of the house and over the sea. Let us go over unto the other side (διελθωμεν εἰς το περαν [dielthōmen eis to peran]). Hortatory (volitive) subjunctive, second aorist active tense. They were on the western side and a row over to the eastern shore in the evening would be a delightful change and refreshing to the weary Christ. It was the only way to escape the crowds.

Mark 4:36

Even as he was (ὡς ἠν [hōs ēn]). Vulgate, ita ut erat. Bengel says: sine apparatu. That is, they take Jesus along (παραλαμβανουσιν [paralambanousin]) without previous preparation. Other boats (ἀλλα πλοια [alla ploia]). This detail also is given only by Mark. Some people had got into boats to get close to Jesus. There was a crowd even on the lake.

Mark 4:37

There ariseth a great storm of wind (γινεται λαιλαψ μεγαλη ἀνεμου [ginetai lailaps megalē anemou]). Mark’s vivid historical present again. Matt. 8:24 has ἐγενετο [egeneto] (arose) and Luke 8:23 κατεβη [katebē] (came down). Luke has also λαιλαψ [lailaps], but Matthew σεισμος [seismos] (tempest), a violent upheaval like an earthquake. Λαιλαψ [Lailaps] is an old word for these cyclonic gusts or storms. Luke’s “came down” shows that the storm fell suddenly from Mount Hermon down into the Jordan Valley and smote the Sea of Galilee violently at its depth of 682 feet below the Mediterranean Sea. The hot air at this depth draws the storm down with sudden power. These sudden storms continue to this day on the Sea of Galilee. The word occurs in the LXX of the whirlwind out of which God answered Job (Job 38:1) and in Jonah 1:4. The waves beat into the boat (τα κυματα ἐπεβαλλεν εἰς το πλοιον [ta kumata epeballen eis to ploion]). Imperfect tense (were beating) vividly picturing the rolling over the sides of the boat “so that the boat was covered with the waves” (Matt. 8:24). Mark has it: “insomuch that the boat was now filling” (ὡστε ἠδη γεμιζεσθαι το πλοιον [hōste ēdē gemizesthai to ploion]). Graphic description of the plight of the disciples.

Mark 4:38

Asleep on the cushion (ἐπι το προσκεφαλαιον καθευδων [epi to proskephalaion katheudōn]). Mark also mentions the cushion or bolster and the stern of the boat (ἐν τῃ πρυμνῃ [en tēi prumnēi]). Matt. 8:24 notes that Jesus was sleeping (ἐκαθευδεν [ekatheuden]), Luke that he fell asleep (ἀφυπνωσεν [aphupnōsen], ingressive aorist indicative). He was worn out from the toil of this day. They awake him (ἐγειρουσιν αὐτον [egeirousin auton]). So Mark’s graphic present. Matthew and Luke both have “awoke him.” Mark has also what the others do not: “Carest thou not?” (οὐ μελει σοι; [ou melei soi?]). It was a rebuke to Jesus for sleeping in such a storm. We are perishing (ἀπολλυμεθα [apollumetha], linear present middle). Precisely this same form also in Matt. 8:25 and Luke 8:24.

Mark 4:39

Rebuked the wind (ἐπετιμησεν τῳ ἀνεμῳ [epetimēsen tōi anemōi]) as in Matt. 8:26 and Luke 8:24. He spoke to the sea also. All three Gospels speak of the sudden calm (γαληνη [galēnē]) and the rebuke to the disciples for this lack of faith.

Mark 4:40

Why are ye fearful? (Τι δειλοι ἐστε; [Ti deiloi este?]). They had the Lord of the wind and the waves with them in the boat. He was still Master even if asleep in the storm. Have ye not yet faith? (Οὐπω ἐχετε πιστιν; [Oupō echete pistin?]). Not yet had they come to feel that Jesus was really Lord of nature. They had accepted his Messiaship, but all the conclusions from it they had not yet drawn. How like us in our troubles they were!

Mark 4:41

They feared exceedingly (ἐφοβηθησαν φοβον μεγαν [ephobēthēsan phobon megan]). Cognate accusative with the first aorist passive indicative. They feared a great fear. Matt. 8:27 and Luke 8:22 mention that “they marvelled.” But there was fear in it also. Who then is this? (Τις ἀρα οὑτος ἐστιν; [Tis ara houtos estin?]). No wonder that they feared if this One could command the wind and the waves at will as well as demons and drive out all diseases and speak such mysteries in parables. They were growing in their apprehension and comprehension of Jesus Christ. They had much yet to learn. There is much yet for us today to learn or seek to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This incident opened the eyes and minds of the disciples to the majesty of Jesus.

Chapter 5

Mark 5:1

The Gerasenes (των Γερασηνων [tōn Gerasēnōn]). Like Luke 8:26 while Matt. 8:28 has “the Gadarenes.” The ruins of the village Khersa (Gerasa) probably point to this site which is in the district of Gadara some six miles southeastward, not to the city of Gerasa some thirty miles away.

Mark 5:2

Out of the boat (ἐκ του πλοιου [ek tou ploiou]). Straightway (εὐθυς [euthus]) Mark says, using the genitive absolute (ἐξελθοντος αὐτου [exelthontos autou]) and then repeating αὐτῳ [autōi] associative instrumental after ἀπηντησεν [apēntēsen]. The demoniac greeted Jesus at once. Mark and Luke 9:27 mention only one man while Matthew notes two demoniacs, perhaps one more violent than the other. Each of the Gospels has a different phrase. Mark has “a man with an unclean spirit” (ἐν πνευματι ἀκαθαρτῳ [en pneumati akathartōi]), Matt. 8:28 “two possessed with demons” (δυο δαιμονιζομενοι [duo daimonizomenoi]), Luke 8:27 “one having demons” (τις ἐχων δαιμονια [tis echōn daimonia]). Mark has many touches about this miracle not retained in Matthew and Luke. See on Matt. 8:28.

Mark 5:3

No man could any more bind him, no, not with a chain (οὐδε ἁλυσει οὐδεις ἐδυνατο αὐτον δησαι [oude halusei oudeis edunato auton dēsai]). Instrumental case ἁλυσει [halusei], a handcuff (α [a] privative and λυω [luō], to loosen). But this demoniac snapped a handcuff as if a string.

Mark 5:4

Often bound (πολλακις δεδεσθαι [pollakis dedesthai]). Perfect passive infinitive, state of completion. With fetters (πεδαις [pedais], from πεζα [peza], foot, instep) and chains, bound hand and foot, but all to no purpose. The English plural of foot is feet (Anglo-Saxon fot, fet) and fetter is feeter. Rent asunder (διεσπασθαι [diespāsthai]). Drawn (σπαω [spaō]) in two (δια- [dia-] same root as δυο [duo], two). Perfect passive infinitive. Broken in pieces (συντετριφθαι [suntetriphthai].) Perfect passive infinitive again, from συντριβω [suntribō], to rub together. Rubbed together, crushed together. Perhaps the neighbours who told the story could point to broken fragments of chains and fetters. The fetters may have been cords, or even wooden stocks and not chains. No man had strength to tame him (οὐδεις ἰσχυεν αὐτον δαμασαι [oudeis ischuen auton damasai]). Imperfect tense. He roamed at will like a lion in the jungle.

Mark 5:5

He was crying out, and cutting himself with stones (ἠν κραζων και κατακοπτων ἑαυτον λιθοις [ēn krazōn kai katakoptōn heauton lithois]). Further vivid details by Mark. Night and day his loud scream or screech could be heard like other demoniacs (cf. 1:26; 3:11; 9:26). The verb for cutting himself occurs here only in the N. T., though an old verb. It means to cut down (perfective use of κατα- [kata-]). We say cut up, gash, hack to pieces. Perhaps he was scarred all over with such gashes during his moments of wild frenzy night and day in the tombs and on the mountains. Periphrastic imperfect active with ἠν [ēn] and the participles.

Mark 5:6

Ran and worshipped (ἐδραμεν και προσεκυνησεν [edramen kai prosekunēsen]). “At first perhaps with hostile intentions. The onrush of the naked yelling maniac must have tried the newly recovered confidence of the Twelve. We can imagine their surprise when, on approaching, he threw himself on his knees” (Swete).

Mark 5:7

I adjure thee by God (ὁρκιζω σε τον θεον [horkizō se ton theon]). The demoniac puts Jesus on oath (two accusatives) after the startled outcry just like the one in 1:24, which see. He calls Jesus here “son of the Most High God” (υἱε του θεου του ὑψιστου [huie tou theou tou hupsistou]) as in Luke 8:28 (cf. Gen. 14:18f.). Torment me not (μη με βασανισῃς [mē me basanisēis]). Prohibition with μη [] and the ingressive aorist subjunctive. The word means to test metals and then to test one by torture (cf. our “third degree”). Same word in all three Gospels.

Mark 5:8

For he said (ἐλεγεν γαρ [elegen gar]). For he had been saying (progressive imperfect). Jesus had already repeatedly ordered the demon to come out of the man whereat the demon made his outcry to Jesus and protested. Matt. 8:29 had “before the time” (προ καιρου [pro kairou]) and 8:31 shows that the demons did not want to go back to the abyss (την ἀβυσσον [tēn abusson]) right now. That was their real home, but they did not wish to return to the place of torment just now.

Mark 5:9

My name is Legion (Λεγιων ὀνομα μοι [Legiōn onoma moi]). So Luke 8:30, but not Matthew. Latin word (legio). A full Roman legion had 6,826 men. See on Matt. 26:53. This may not have been a full legion, for Mark 5:13 notes that the number of hogs was “about two thousand.” Of course, a stickler for words might say that each hog had several demons.

Mark 5:13

And he gave them leave (και ἐπετρεψεν αὐτοις [kai epetrepsen autois]). These words present the crucial difficulty for interpreters as to why Jesus allowed the demons to enter the hogs and destroy them instead of sending them back to the abyss. Certainly it was better for hogs to perish than men, but this loss of property raises a difficulty of its own akin to the problem of tornadoes and earthquakes. The question of one man containing so many demons is difficult also, but not much more so than how one demon can dwell in a man and make his home there. One is reminded of the man out of whom a demon was cast, but the demon came back with seven other demons and took possession. Gould thinks that this man with a legion of demons merely makes a historical exaggeration. “I feel as if I were possessed by a thousand devils.” That is too easy an explanation. See on Matt. 8:32 for “rushed down the steep.” They were choked (ἐπνιγοντο [epnigonto]). Imperfect tense picturing graphically the disappearance of pig after pig in the sea. Luke 8:33 has ἀπεγνιγη [apegnigē], choked off, constative second aorist passive indicative, treated as a whole, Matt. 8:32 merely has “perished” (ἀπεθανον [apethanon]; died).

Mark 5:14

And in the country (και εἰς τους ἀγρους [kai eis tous agrous]). Mark adds this to “the city.” In the fields and in the city as the excited men ran they told the tale of the destruction of the hogs. They came to see (ἠλθον ἰδειν [ēlthon idein]). All the city came out (Matthew), they went out to see (Luke).

Mark 5:15

They come to Jesus (ἐρχονται προς τον Ἰησουν [erchontai pros ton Iēsoun]). Vivid present. To Jesus as the cause of it all, “to meet Jesus” (εἰς ὑπαντησιν Ἰησου [eis hupantēsin Iēsou], Matt. 8:34). And behold (θεωρουσιν [theōrousin]). Present tense again. And they were afraid (και ἐφοβηθησαν [kai ephobēthēsan]). They became afraid. Mark drops back to the ingressive aorist tense (passive voice). They had all been afraid of the man, but there he was “sitting clothed and in his right mind,” (καθημενον ἱματισμενον και σωφρονουντα [kathēmenon himatismenon kai sōphronounta]. Note the participles). “At the feet of Jesus,” Luke adds (8:35). For a long time he had worn no clothes (Luke 8:17). Here was the healing of the wild man and the destruction of the hogs all by this same Jesus.

Mark 5:17

To depart from their borders (ἀπελθειν ἀπο των ὁριων [apelthein apo tōn horiōn]). Once before the people of Nazareth had driven Jesus out of the city (Luke 4:16–31). Soon they will do it again on his return there (Mark 6:1–6; Matt. 13:54–58). Here in Decapolis pagan influence was strong and the owners of the hogs cared more for the loss of their property than for the healing of the wild demoniac. In the clash between business and spiritual welfare business came first with them as often today. All three Gospels tell of the request for Jesus to leave. They feared the power of Jesus and wanted no further interference with their business affairs.

Mark 5:18

As he was entering (ἐμβαινοντος αὐτου [embainontos autou]). The man began to beseech him (παρεκαλει [parekalei]) before it was too late.

Mark 5:19

Go to thy house unto thy friends (ὑπαγε εἰς τον οἰκον σου προς τους σους [Hupage eis ton oikon sou pros tous sous]). “To thy own folks” rather than “thy friends.” Certainly no people needed the message about Christ more than these people who were begging Jesus to leave. Jesus had greatly blessed this man and so gave him the hardest task of all, to go home and witness there for Christ. In Galilee Jesus had several times forbidden the healed to tell what he had done for them because of the undue excitement and misunderstanding. But here it was different. There was no danger of too much enthusiasm for Christ in this environment.

Mark 5:20

He went his way (ἀπηλθεν [apēlthen]). He went off and did as Jesus told him. He heralded (κηρυσσειν [kērussein]) or published the story till all over Decapolis men marvelled (ἐθαυμαζον [ethaumazon]) at what Jesus did, kept on marvelling (imperfect tense). The man had a greater opportunity for Christ right in his home land than anywhere else. They all knew this once wild demoniac who now was a new man in Christ Jesus. Thousands of like cases of conversion under Christ’s power have happened in rescue missions in our cities.

Mark 5:23

My little daughter (το θυγατριον μου [to thugatrion mou]). Diminutive of θυγατηρ [thugatēr] (Matt. 9:18). “This little endearing touch in the use of the diminutive is peculiar to Mark” (Vincent). “Is at the point of death” (ἐσχατως ἐχει [eschatōs echei]). Has it in the last stages. Matt. 9:18 has: “has just died” (ἀρτι ἐτελευσεν [arti eteleusen]), Luke “she lay a dying” (ἀπεθνησκεν [apethnēsken], imperfect, she was dying). It was a tragic moment for Jairus. I pray thee, not in the Greek. This ellipsis before ἱνα [hina] not uncommon, a sort of imperative use of ἱνα [hina] and the subjunctive in the Koiné (Robertson, Grammar, p. 943).

Mark 5:24

He went with him (ἀπηλθεν [apēlthen]). Aorist tense. Went off with him promptly, but a great multitude followed him (ἠκολουθει [ēkolouthei]), was following, kept following (imperfect tense). They thronged him (συνεθλιβον αὐτον [sunethlibon auton]). Imperfect tense again. Only example of (here and in verse 31) this compound verb in the N. T., common in old Greek. Were pressing Jesus so that he could hardly move because of the jam, or even to breathe (συνεπνιγον [sunepnigon], Luke 8:42).

Mark 5:26

Had suffered many things of many physicians (πολλα παθουσα ὑπο πολλων ἰατρων [polla pathousa hupo pollōn iatrōn]). A pathetic picture of a woman with a chronic case who had tried doctor after doctor. Had spent all that she had (δαπανησασα τα παρʼ αὐτης παντα [dapanēsasa ta par’ autēs panta]). Having spent the all from herself, all her resources. For the idiom with παρα [para] see Luke 10:7; Phil. 4:18. The tragedy of it was that she “was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse” (μηδεν ὠφεληθεισα ἀλλα μαλλον εἰς το χειρον ἐλθουσα [mēden ōphelētheisa alla māllon eis to cheiron elthousa]). Her money was gone, her disease was gaining on her, her one chance came now with Jesus. Matthew says nothing about her experience with the doctors and Luke 8:43 merely says that she “had spent all her living upon physicians and could not be healed of any,” a plain chronic case. Luke the physician neatly takes care of the physicians. But they were not to blame. She had a disease that they did not know how to cure. Vincent quotes a prescription for an issue of blood as given in the Talmud which gives one a most grateful feeling that he is not under the care of doctors of that nature. The only parallel today is Chinese medicine of the old sort before modern medical schools came.

Mark 5:28

If I touch but his garments (Ἐαν ἁψωμαι κʼαν των ἱματιων αὐτου [Ean hapsōmai k’an tōn himatiōn autou]). She was timid and shy from her disease and did not wish to attract attention. So she crept up in the crowd and touched the hem or border of his garment (κρασπεδον [kraspedon]) according to Matt. 9:20 and Luke 8:44.

Mark 5:29

She felt in her body (ἐγνω τῳ σωματι [egnō tōi sōmati]). She knew, the verb means. She said to herself, I am healed (ἰαμαι [iāmai]). Ἰαται [Iātai] retains the perfect passive in the indirect discourse. It was a vivid moment of joy for her. The plague (μαστιγος [mastigos]) or scourge was a whip used in flagellations as on Paul to find out his guilt (Acts 22:24, cf. Heb. 11:26). It is an old word that was used for afflictions regarded as a scourge from God. See already on Mark 3:10.

Mark 5:30

Perceiving in himself (ἐπιγνους ἐν ἑαυτῳ [epignous en heautōi]). She thought, perhaps, that the touch of Christ’s garment would cure her without his knowing it, a foolish fancy, no doubt, but one due to her excessive timidity. Jesus felt in his own consciousness. The Greek idiom more exactly means: “Jesus perceiving in himself the power from him go out” (την ἐξ αὐτου δυναμιν ἐξελθουσαν [tēn ex autou dunamin exelthousan]). The aorist participle here is punctiliar simply and timeless and can be illustrated by Luke 10:18: “I was beholding Satan fall” (ἐθεωρουν τον Σαταναν πεσοντα [etheōroun ton Satanān pesonta]), where πεσοντα [pesonta] does not mean fallen (πεπτωκοτα [peptōkota]) as in Rev. 9:1 nor falling (πιπτοντα [piptonta]) but simply the constative aorist fall (Robertson, Grammar, p. 684). So here Jesus means to say: “I felt in myself the power from me go.” Scholars argue whether in this instance Jesus healed the woman by conscious will or by unconscious response to her appeal. Some even argue that the actual healing took place after Jesus became aware of the woman’s reaching for help by touching his garment. What we do know is that Jesus was conscious of the going out of power from himself. Luke 8:46 uses ἐγνων [egnōn] (personal knowledge), but Mark has ἐπιγνους [epignous] (personal and additional, clear knowledge). One may remark that no real good can be done without the outgoing of power. That is true of mother, preacher, teacher, doctor. Who touched my garments? (Τις μου ἡψατο των ἱματιων; [Tis mou hēpsato tōn himatiōn?]). More exactly, Who touched me on my clothes; The Greek verb uses two genitives, of the person and the thing. It was a dramatic moment for Jesus and for the timid woman. Later it was a common practice for the crowds to touch the hem of Christ’s garments and be healed (Mark 6:56). But here Jesus chose to single out this case for examination. There was no magic in the garments of Jesus. Perhaps there was superstition in the woman’s mind, but Jesus honoured her darkened faith as in the case of Peter’s shadow and Paul’s handkerchief.

Mark 5:31

Thronging thee (συνθλιβοντα σε [sunthlibonta se]). See verse 24. The disciples were amazed at the sensitiveness of Jesus to the touch of the crowd. They little understood the drain on Jesus from all this healing that pulled at his heart-strings and exhausted his nervous energy even though the Son of God. He had the utmost human sympathy.

Mark 5:32

And he looked round about (και περιεβλεπετο [kai perieblepeto]). Imperfect middle indicative. He kept looking around to find out. The answer of Jesus to the protest of the disciples was this scrutinizing gaze (see already 3:5, 34). Jesus knew the difference between touch and touch (Bruce).

Mark 5:33

Fearing and trembling, knowing (φοβηθεισα και τρεμουσα, εἰδυια [phobētheisa kai tremousa, eiduia]). These participles vividly portray this woman who had tried to hide in the crowd. She had heard Christ’s question and felt his gaze. She had to come and confess, for something “has happened” (γεγονεν [gegonen], second perfect active indicative, still true) to her. Fell down before him (προσεπεσεν αὐτῳ [prosepesen autōi]). That was the only proper attitude now. All the truth (πασαν την ἀληθειαν [pāsan tēn alētheian]). Secrecy was no longer possible. She told “the pitiful tale of chronic misery” (Bruce).

Mark 5:34

Go in peace (ὑπαγε εἰς εἰρηνην [Hupage eis eirēnēn]). She found sympathy, healing, and pardon for her sins, apparently. Peace here may have more the idea of the Hebrew, health of body and soul. So Jesus adds: “Be whole of thy plague” (ἰσθι ὑγιης ἀπο της μαστιγος σου [isthi hugiēs apo tēs mastigos sou]). Continue whole and well.

Mark 5:35

While he yet spake (Ἐτι αὐτου λαλουντος [Eti autou lalountos]). Genitive absolute. Another vivid touch in Mark and Luke 8:49. The phrase is in Gen. 29:9. Nowhere does Mark preserve better the lifelike traits of an eyewitness like Peter than in these incidents in chapter 5. The arrival of the messengers from Jairus was opportune for the woman just healed of the issue of blood (ἐν ὑσει αἱματος [en husei haimatos]) for it diverted attention from her. Now the ruler’s daughter has died (ἀπεθανε [apethane]). Why troublest thou the master any further? (Τι ἐτι σκυλλεις τον διδασκαλον; [Ti eti skulleis ton didaskalon?]). It was all over, so they felt. Jesus had raised from the dead the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11–17), but people in general did not expect him to raise the dead. The word σκυλλω [skullō], from σκυλον [skulon] (skin, pelt, spoils), means to skin, to flay, in Aeschylus. Then it comes to mean to vex, annoy, distress as in Matt. 9:36, which see. The middle is common in the papyri for bother, worry, as in Luke 7:6. There was no further use in troubling the Teacher about the girl.

Mark 5:36

Not heeding (παρακουσας [parakousas]). This is the sense in Matt. 18:17 and uniformly so in the LXX. But here the other sense of hearing aside, overhearing what was not spoken directly to him, probably exists also. “Jesus might overhear what was said and disregard its import” (Bruce). Certainly he ignored the conclusion of the messengers. The present participle λαλουμενον [laloumenon] suits best the idea of overhearing. Both Mark and Luke 8:50 have “Fear not, only believe” (μη φοβου, μονον πιστευε [mē phobou, monon pisteue]). This to the ruler of the synagogue (τῳ ἀρχισυναγωγῳ [tōi archisunagōgōi]) who had remained and to whom the messenger had spoken.

Mark 5:37

Save Peter, and James, and John (εἰ μη Πετρον και λακωβον και Ἰωανην [ei mē Petron kai lakōbon kai Iōanēn]). Probably the house was too small for the other disciples to come in with the family. The first instance of this inner circle of three seen again on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane. The one article in the Greek treats the group as a unit.

Mark 5:38

Wailing greatly (ἀλαλαζοντας πολλα [alalazontas polla]). An onomatopoetic word from Pindar down. The soldiers on entering battle cried Ἀλαλα [Alāla]. Used of clanging cymbals (1 Cor. 13:1). Like ὀλολυζω [ololuzō] in James 5:1. It is used here of the monotonous wail of the hired mourners.

Mark 5:39

Make a tumult (θορυβεισθε [thorubeisthe]). Middle voice. Jesus had dismissed one crowd (verse 37), but finds the house occupied by the hired mourners making bedlam (θορυβος [thorubos]) as if that showed grief with their ostentatious noise. Matt. 9:23 spoke of flute-players (αὐλητας [aulētas]) and the hubbub of the excited throng (θορυβουμενον [thoruboumenon]. Cf. Mark 14:2; Acts 20:1, 21, 34). Mark, Matthew, and Luke all quote Jesus as saying that “the child is not dead, but sleepeth.” Jesus undoubtedly meant that she was not dead to stay dead, though some hold that the child was not really dead. It is a beautiful word (she is sleeping, καθευδει [katheudei]) that Jesus uses of death.

Mark 5:40

And they laughed him to scorn (και κατεγελων [kai kategelōn]). “They jeered at him” (Weymouth). Note imperfect tense. They kept it up. And note also κατ- [kat-] (perfective use). Exactly the same words in Matt. 9:24 and Luke 8:53. The loud laughter was ill suited to the solemn occasion. But Jesus on his part (αὐτος δε [autos de]) took charge of the situation. Taketh the father of the child and her mother and them that were with him (παραλαμβανει τον πατερα του παιδιου και την μητερα και τους μετʼ αὐτου [paralambanei ton patera tou paidiou kai tēn mētera kai tous met’ autou]). Having put out (ἐκβαλων [ekbalōn]) the rest by a stern assertion of authority as if he were master of the house, Jesus takes along with him these five and enters the chamber of death “where the child was” (ὁπου ἠν το παιδιον [hopou ēn to paidion]). He had to use pressure to make the hired mourners leave. The presence of some people will ruin the atmosphere for spiritual work.

Mark 5:41

Talitha cumi. These precious Aramaic words, spoken by Jesus to the child, Peter heard and remembered so that Mark gives them to us. Mark interprets the simple words into Greek for those who did not know Aramaic (το κορασιον, ἐγειρε [to korasion, egeire]), that is, Damsel, arise. Mark uses the diminutive κορασιων [korasiōn], a little girl, from κορη [korē], girl. Braid Scots has it: “Lassie, wauken.” Luke 8:5–9 has it ἡ παις, ἐγειρε [Hē pais, egeire], Maiden, arise. All three Gospels mention the fact that Jesus took her by the hand, a touch of life (κρατησας της χειρος [kratēsas tēs cheiros]), giving confidence and help.

Mark 5:42

Rose up, and walked (ἀνεστη και περιεπατει [anestē kai periepatei]). Aorist tense (single act) followed by the imperfect (the walking went on). For she was twelve years old (ἠν γαρ ἐτων δωδεκα [ēn gar etōn dōdeka]). The age mentioned by Mark alone and here as explanation that she was old enough to walk. Amazed (ἐξεστησαν [exestēsan]). We have had this word before in Matt. 12:23 and Mark 2:12, which see. Here the word is repeated in the substantive in the associative instrumental case (ἐκστασει μεγαλῃ [ekstasei megalēi]), with a great ecstasy, especially on the part of the parents (Luke 8:56), and no wonder.

Mark 5:43

That no one should know this (ἱνα μηδεις γνοι τουτο [hina mēdeis gnoi touto]). Second aorist active subjunctive, γνοι [gnoi]. But would they keep still about it? There was the girl besides. Both Mark and Luke note that Jesus ordered that food be given to the child given her to eat, (δοθηναι αὐτῃ φαγειν [dothēnai autēi phagein]), a natural care of the Great Physician. Two infinitives here (first aorist passive and second aorist active). “She could walk and eat; not only alive, but well” (Bruce).

Chapter 6

Mark 6:1

Into his own country (εἰς την πατριδα αὐτου [eis tēn patrida autou]). So Matt. 13:54. There is no real reason for identifying this visit to Nazareth with that recorded in Luke 4:26–31 at the beginning of the Galilean Ministry. He was rejected both times, but it is not incongruous that Jesus should give Nazareth a second chance. It was only natural for Jesus to visit his mother, brothers, and sisters again. Neither Mark nor Matthew mention Nazareth here by name, but it is plain that by πατριδα [patrida] the region of Nazareth is meant. He had not lived in Bethlehem since his birth.

Mark 6:2

Began to teach (ἠρξατο διδασκειν [ērxato didaskein]). As was now his custom in the synagogue on the sabbath. The ruler of the synagogue (ἀρχισυναγωγος [archisunagōgos], see Matt. 5:22) would ask some one to speak whensoever he wished. The reputation of Jesus all over Galilee opened the door for him. Jesus may have gone to Nazareth for rest, but could not resist this opportunity for service. Whence hath this man these things? (Ποθεν τουτῳ ταυτα; [Pothen toutōi tauta?]). Laconic and curt, Whence these things to this fellow? With a sting and a fling in their words as the sequel shows. They continued to be amazed (ἐξεπλησσοντο [exeplēssonto], imperfect tense passive). They challenge both the apparent wisdom (σοφια [sophia]) with which he spoke and the mighty works or powers (αἱ δυναμεις [hai dunameis]) such as those (τοιαυται [toiautai]) coming to pass (γινομεναι [ginomenai], present middle participle, repeatedly wrought) by his hands (δια των χειρων [dia tōn cheirōn]). They felt that there was some hocus-pocus about it somehow and somewhere. They do not deny the wisdom of his words, nor the wonder of his works, but the townsmen knew Jesus and they had never suspected that he possessed such gifts and graces.

Mark 6:3

Is not this the carpenter? (Οὐχ οὑτος ἐστιν ὁ τεκτων; [Ouch houtos estin ho tektōn?]). Matt. 13:55 calls him “the carpenter’s son” (ὁ του τεκτονος υἱος [ho tou tektonos huios]). He was both. Evidently since Joseph’s death he had carried on the business and was “the carpenter” of Nazareth. The word τεκτων [tektōn] comes from τεκειν, τικτω [tekein, tiktō], to beget, create, like τεχνη [technē] (craft, art). It is a very old word, from Homer down. It was originally applied to the worker in wood or builder with wood like our carpenter. Then it was used of any artisan or craftsman in metal, or in stone as well as in wood and even of sculpture. It is certain that Jesus worked in wood. Justin Martyr speaks of ploughs, yokes, et cetera, made by Jesus. He may also have worked in stone and may even have helped build some of the stone synagogues in Galilee like that in Capernaum. But in Nazareth the people knew him, his family (no mention of Joseph), and his trade and discounted all that they now saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears. This word carpenter “throws the only flash which falls on the continuous tenor of the first thirty years from infancy to manhood, of the life of Christ” (Farrar). That is an exaggeration for we have Luke 2:41–50 and “as his custom was” (Luke 4:16), to go no further. But we are grateful for Mark’s realistic use of τεκτων [tektōn] here. And they were offended in him (και ἐσκανδαλιζοντο ἐν αὐτῳ [kai eskandalizonto en autōi]). So exactly Matt. 13:56, were made to stumble in him, trapped like game by the σκανδαλον [skandalon] because they could not explain him, having been so recently one of them. “The Nazarenes found their stumbling block in the person or circumstances of Jesus. He became—πετρα σκανδαλου [petra skandalou] (1 Pet. 2:7, 8; Rom. 9:33) to those who disbelieved” (Swete). Both Mark and Matt. 13:57, which see, preserve the retort of Jesus with the quotation of the current proverb about a prophet’s lack of honour in his own country. John 4:44 quoted it from Jesus on his return to Galilee long before this. It is to be noted that Jesus here makes a definite claim to being a prophet (προφητης [prophētēs], forspeaker for God), a seer. He was much more than this as he had already claimed to be Messiah (John 4:26=Luke 4:21), the Son of man with power of God (Mark 1:10=Matt. 9:6=Luke 5:24), the Son of God (John 5:22). They stumble at Jesus today as the townspeople of Nazareth did. In his own house (ἐν τῃ οἰκιᾳ αὐτου [en tēi oikiāi autou]). Also in Matt. 13:57. This was the saddest part of it all, that his own brothers in his own home disbelieved his Messianic claims (John 7:5). This puzzle was the greatest of all.

Mark 6:6

And he marvelled because of their unbelief (και ἐθαυμασεν δια την ἀπιστιαν αὐτων [kai ethaumasen dia tēn apistian autōn]). Aorist tense, but Westcott and Hort put the imperfect in the margin. Jesus had divine knowledge and accurate insight into the human heart, but he had human limitations in certain things that are not clear to us. He marvelled at the faith of the Roman centurion where one would not expect faith (Matt. 8:10=Luke 7:9). Here he marvels at the lack of faith where he had a right to expect it, not merely among the Jews, but in his own home town, among his kinspeople, even in his own home. One may excuse Mary, the mother of Jesus, from this unbelief, puzzled, as she probably was, by his recent conduct (Mark 3:21, 31). There is no proof that she ever lost faith in her wonderful Son. He went round about the villages teaching (περιηγεν τας κωμας κυκλῳ διδασκων [periēgen tās kōmas kuklōi didaskōn]). A good illustration of the frequent poor verse division. An entirely new paragraph begins with these words, the third tour of Galilee. They should certainly be placed with verse 7. The Revised Version would be justified if it had done nothing else than give us paragraphs according to the sense and connection. “Jesus resumes the role of a wandering preacher in Galilee” (Bruce). Imperfect tense, περιηγεν [periēgen].

Mark 6:7

By two and two (δυο δυο [duo duo]). This repetition of the numeral instead of the use of ἀνα δυο [ana duo] or κατα δυο [kata duo] is usually called a Hebraism. The Hebrew does have this idiom, but it appears in Aeschylus and Sophocles, in the vernacular Koiné (Oxyrhynchus Papyri No. 121), in Byzantine Greek, and in modern Greek (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, pp. 122f.). Mark preserves the vernacular Koiné better than the other Gospels and this detail suits his vivid style. The six pairs of apostles could thus cover Galilee in six different directions. Mark notes that he “began to send them forth” (ἠρξατο αὐτους ἀποστελλειν [ērxato autous apostellein]). Aorist tense and present infinitive. This may refer simply to this particular occasion in Mark’s picturesque way. But the imperfect tense ἐδιδου [edidou] means he kept on giving them all through the tour, a continuous power (authority) over unclean spirits singled out by Mark as representing “all manner of diseases and all manner of sickness” (Matt. 10:1), “to cure diseases” (ἰασθαι [iasthai], Luke 9:1), healing power. They were to preach and to heal (Luke 9:1; Matt. 10:7). Mark does not mention preaching as a definite part of the commission to the twelve on this their first preaching tour, but he does state that they did preach (6:12). They were to be missioners or missionaries (ἀποστελλειν [apostellein]) in harmony with their office (ἀποστολοι [apostoloi]).

Mark 6:8

Save a staff only (εἰ μη ραβδον μονον [ei mē rabdon monon]). Every traveller and pilgrim carried his staff. Bruce thinks that Mark has here preserved the meaning of Jesus more clearly than Matt. 10:10 (nor staff) and Luke 9:3 (neither staff). This discrepancy has given trouble to commentators. Grotius suggests no second staff for Matthew and Luke. Swete considers that Matthew and Luke report “an early exaggeration of the sternness of the command.” “Without even a staff is the ne plus ultra of austere simplicity, and self-denial. Men who carry out the spirit of these precepts will not labour in vain” (Bruce).

Mark 6:9

Shod with sandals (ὑποδεδεμενους σανδαλια [hupodedemenous sandalia]). Perfect passive participle in the accusative case as if with the infinitive πορευεσθαι [poreuesthai] or πορευθηναι [poreuthēnai], (to go). Note the aorist infinitive middle, ἐνδυσασθαι [endusasthai] (text of Westcott and Hort), but ἐνδυσησθε [endusēsthe] (aorist middle subjunctive) in the margin. Change from indirect to direct discourse common enough, not necessarily due to “disjointed notes on which the Evangelist depended” (Swete). Matt. 10:10 has “nor shoes” (μηδε ὑποδηματα [mēde hupodēmata]), possibly preserving the distinction between “shoes” and “sandals” (worn by women in Greece and by men in the east, especially in travelling). But here again extra shoes may be the prohibition. See on Matt. 10:10 for this. Two coats (δυο χιτωνας [duo chitōnas]). Two was a sign of comparative wealth (Swete). The mention of “two” here in all three Gospels probably helps us to understand that the same thing applies to shoes and staff. “In general, these directions are against luxury in equipment, and also against their providing themselves with what they could procure from the hospitality of others” (Gould).

Mark 6:10

There abide (ἐκει μενετε [ekei menete]). So also Matt. 10:11; Luke 9:4. Only Matthew has city or village (10:11), but he mentions house in verse 12. They were to avoid a restless and dissatisfied manner and to take pains in choosing a home. It is not a prohibition against accepting invitations.

Mark 6:11

For a testimony unto them (εἰς μαρτυριον αὐτοις [eis marturion autois]). Not in Matthew. Luke 9:5 has “for a testimony against them” (εἰς μαρτυριον ἐπι αὐτους [eis marturion epi autous]). The dative αὐτοις [autois] in Mark is the dative of disadvantage and really carries the same idea as ἐπι [epi] in Luke. The dramatic figure of shaking out (ἐκτιναξατε [ektinaxate], effective aorist imperative, Mark and Matthew), shaking off (ἀποτινασσετε [apotinassete], present imperative, Luke).

Mark 6:12

Preached that men should repent (ἐκηρυξαν ἱνα μετανοωσιν [ekēruxan hina metanoōsin]). Constative aorist (ἐκηρυξαν [ekēruxan]), summary description. This was the message of the Baptist (Matt. 3:2) and of Jesus (Mark 1:15).

Mark 6:13

They cast out many demons and they anointed with oil (ἐξεβαλλον και ἠλειφον ἐλαιῳ [exeballon kai ēleiphon elaiōi]). Imperfect tenses, continued repetition. Alone in Mark. This is the only example in the N. T. of ἀλειφω ἐλαιῳ [aleiphō elaiōi] used in connection with healing save in James 5:14. In both cases it is possible that the use of oil (olive oil) as a medicine is the basis of the practice. See Luke 10:34 for pouring oil and wine upon the wounds. It was the best medicine of the ancients and was used internally and externally. It was employed often after bathing. The papyri give a number of examples of it. The only problem is whether ἀλειφω [aleiphō] in Mark and James is used wholly in a ritualistic and ceremonial sense or partly as medicine and partly as a symbol of divine healing. The very word ἀλειφω [aleiphō] can be translated rub or anoint without any ceremony. “Traces of a ritual use of the unction of the sick appear first among Gnostic practices of the second century” (Swete). We have today, as in the first century, God and medicine. God through nature does the real healing when we use medicine and the doctor.

Mark 6:14

Heard (ἠκουσεν [ēkousen]). This tour of Galilee by the disciples in pairs wakened all Galilee, for the name of Jesus thus became known (φανερον [phaneron]) or known till even Herod heard of it in the palace. “A palace is late in hearing spiritual news” (Bengel). Therefore do these powers work in him (δια τουτο ἐνεργουσιν αἱ δυναμεις ἐν αὐτῳ [dia touto energousin hai dunameis en autōi]). “A snatch of Herod’s theology and philosophy” (Morison). John wrought no miracles (John 10:41), but if he had risen from the dead perhaps he could. So Herod may have argued. “Herod’s superstition and his guilty conscience raised this ghost to plague him” (Gould). Our word energy is this same Greek word here used (ἐνεργουσιν [energousin]). It means at work. Miraculous powers were at work in Jesus whatever the explanation. This all agreed, but they differed widely as to his personality, whether Elijah or another of the prophets or John the Baptist. Herod was at first much perplexed (διηπορει [diēporei], Luke 9:7 and Mark 6:20).

Mark 6:16

John, whom I beheaded (ὁν ἐγο ἀπεκεφαλισα Ἰωανην [hon ego apekephalisa Iōanēn]). His fears got the best of him and so Herod settled down on this nightmare. He could still see that charger containing John’s head coming towards him in his dreams. The late verb ἀποκεφαλιζω [apokephalizō] means to cut off the head. Herod had ordered it done and recognizes his guilt.

Mark 6:17

For Herod himself (Αὐτος γαρ ὁ ἡρῳδης [Autos gar ho Hērōidēs]). Mark now proceeds to give the narrative of the death of John the Baptist some while before these nervous fears of Herod. But this post eventum narrative is very little out of the chronological order. The news of John’s death at Machaerus may even have come at the close of the Galilean tour. “The tidings of the murder of the Baptist seem to have brought the recent circuit to an end” (Swete). The disciples of John “went and told Jesus. Now when Jesus heard it, he withdrew from thence in a boat” (Matt. 14:12f.). See on Matt. 14:3–12 for the discussion about Herod Antipas and John and Herodias.

Mark 6:18

Thy brother’s wife (την γυναικα του ἀδελφου [tēn gunaika tou adelphou]). While the brother was alive (Lev. 18:16; 20:21). After a brother’s death it was often a duty to marry his widow.

Mark 6:19

And Herodias set herself against him (ἡ δε ἡρῳδιας ἐνειχεν αὐτῳ [Hē de Hērōidias eneichen autōi]). Dative of disadvantage. Literally, had it in for him. This is modern slang, but is in exact accord with this piece of vernacular Koiné. No object of εἰχεν [eichen] is expressed, though ὀργην [orgēn] or χολον [cholon] may be implied. The tense is imperfect and aptly described the feelings of Herodias towards this upstart prophet of the wilderness who had dared to denounce her private relations with Herod Antipas. Gould suggests that she “kept her eye on him” or kept up her hostility towards him. She never let up, but bided her time which, she felt sure, would come. See the same idiom in Gen. 49:23. She desired to kill him (ἠθελεν αὐτον ἀποκτειναι [ēthelen auton apokteinai]). Imperfect again. And she could not (και οὐκ ἠδυνατο [kai ouk ēdunato]). Και [Kai] here has an adversative sense, but she could not. That is, not yet. “The power was wanting, not the will” (Swete).

Mark 6:20

Feared John (ἐφοβειτο τον Ἰωανην [ephobeito ton Iōanēn]). Imperfect tense, continual state of fear. He feared John and also Herodias. Between the two Herod vacillated. He knew him to be righteous and holy (δικαιον και ἁγιον [dikaion kai hagion]) and so innocent of any wrong. So he kept him safe (συνετηρει [sunetērei]). Imperfect tense again. Late Greek verb. From the plots and schemes of Herodias. She was another Jezebel towards John and with Herod. Much perplexed (πολλα ἠπορει [polla ēporei]). This the correct text not πολλα ἐποιει [polla epoiei], did many things. Imperfect tense again. He heard him gladly (ἡδεως ἠκουεν [hēdeōs ēkouen]). Imperfect tense again. This is the way that Herod really felt when he could slip away from the meshes of Herodias. These interviews with the Baptist down in the prison at Machaerus during his occasional visits there braced “his jaded mind as with a whiff of fresh air” (Swete). But then he saw Herodias again and he was at his wits’ end (ἠπορει [ēporei], lose one’s way, α [a] privative and πορος [poros], way), for he knew that he had to live with Herodias with whom he was hopelessly entangled.

Mark 6:21

When a convenient day was come (γενομενης ἡμερας εὐκαιρου [genomenēs hēmeras eukairou]). Genitive absolute. A day well appointed εὐ [eu], well, καιρος [kairos], time) for the purpose, the day for which she had long waited. She had her plans all laid to spring a trap for her husband Herod Antipas and to make him do her will with the Baptist. Herod was not to know that he was the mere catspaw of Herodias till it was all over. See on Matt. 14:6 for discussion of Herod’s birthday (γενεσιοις [genesiois], locative case or associative instrumental of time). Made a supper (δειπνον ἐποιησεν [deipnon epoiēsen]). Banquet. To his lords (τοις μεγιστασιν αὐτου [tois megistāsin autou]). From μεγισταν [megistan] (that from μεγας [megas], great), common in the LXX and later Greek. Cf. Rev. 6:15; 18:23. In the papyri. The grandees, magnates, nobles, the chief men of civil life. The high captains (τοις χιλιαρχοις [tois chiliarchois]). Military tribunes, commanders of a thousand men. The chief men of Galilee (τοις πρωτοις της Γαλιλαιας [tois prōtois tēs Galilaias]). The first men of social importance and prominence. A notable gathering that included these three groups at the banquet on Herod’s birthday.

Mark 6:22

The daughter of Herodias herself (της θυγατρος αὐτης ἡρῳδιαδος [tēs thugatros autēs Hērōidiados]). Genitive absolute again. Some ancient manuscripts read αὐτου [autou] (his, referring to Herod Antipas. So Westcott and Hort) instead of αὐτης [autēs] (herself). In that case the daughter of Herodias would also have the name Herodias as well as Salome, the name commonly given her. That is quite possible in itself. It was toward the close of the banquet, when all had partaken freely of the wine, that Herodias made her daughter come in and dance (εἰσελθουσης και ὀρχησαμενης [eiselthousēs kai orchēsamenēs]) in the midst (Matthew). “Such dancing was an almost unprecedented thing for women of rank, or even respectability. It was mimetic and licentious, and performed by professionals” (Gould). Herodias stooped thus low to degrade her own daughter like a common ἑταιρα [hetaira] in order to carry out her set purpose against John. She pleased Herod and them that sat at meat (ἠρεσεν ἡρῳδῃ και τοις συνανακειμενοις [ēresen Hērōidēi kai tois sunanakeimenois]). The maudlin group lounging on the divans were thrilled by the licentious dance of the half-naked princess. Whatsoever thou wilt (ὁ ἐαν θελῃς [ho ean thelēis]) The drunken Tetrarch had been caught in the net of Herodias. It was a public promise.

Mark 6:23

And he sware unto her (και ὠμοσεν αὐτῃ [kai ōmosen autēi]). The girl was of marriageable age though called κορασιον [korasion] (cf. Esther 2:9). Salome was afterward married to Philip the Tetrarch. The swaggering oath to the half of the kingdom reminds one of Esther 5:3, the same oath made to Esther by Ahasuerus.

Mark 6:24

What shall I ask? (Τι αἰτησωμαι; [Ti aitēsōmai?]). The fact that she went and spoke to her mother proves that she had not been told beforehand what to ask. Matt. 14:8 does not necessarily mean that, but he simply condenses the account. The girl’s question implies by the middle voice that she is thinking of something for herself. She was no doubt unprepared for her mother’s ghastly reply.

Mark 6:25

Straightway with haste (εὐθυς μετα σπουδης [euthus meta spoudēs]). Before the king’s rash mood passed and while he was still under the spell of the dancing princess. Herodias knew her game well. See on Matt. 14:8f.

Mark 6:26

He would not reject her (οὐκ ἠθελησεν ἀθετησαι αὐτην [ouk ēthelēsen athetēsai autēn]). He was caught once again between his conscience and his environment. Like many since his day the environment stifled his conscience.

Mark 6:27

A soldier of his guard (σπεκουλατορα [spekoulatora]). Latin word speculator. A spy, scout, lookout, and often executioner. It was used of the bodyguard of the Roman emperor and so for one of Herod’s spies. He was used to do errands of this sort and it was soon done. It was a gruesome job, but he soon brought John’s head to the damsel, apparently in the presence of all, and she took it to her mother. This miserable Tetrarch, the slave of Herodias, was now the slave of his fears. He is haunted by the ghost of John and shudders at the reports of the work of Jesus.

Mark 6:29

His corpse (το πτωμα αὐτου [to ptōma autou]). See on Matt. 24:28. It was a mournful time for the disciples of John. “They went and told Jesus” (Matt. 14:12). What else could they do?

Mark 6:30

And the apostles gather themselves together unto Jesus (και συναγονται οἱ ἀποστολοι προς τον Ἰησουν [kai sunagontai hoi apostoloi pros ton Iēsoun]). Vivid historical present. All things whatsoever they had done and whatsoever they had taught (παντα ὁσα ἐποιησαν και ὁσα ἐδιδαξαν [panta hosa epoiēsan kai hosa edidaxan]). Not past perfect in the Greek, just the aorist indicative, constative aorist that summed it all up, the story of this their first tour without Jesus. And Jesus listened to it all (Luke 9:10). He was deeply concerned in the outcome.

Mark 6:31

Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest awhile (Δευτε ὑμεις αὐτοι κατʼ ἰδιαν εἰς ἐρημον τοπον και ἀναπαυεσθε ὀλιγον [Deute humeis autoi kat’ idian eis erēmon topon kai anapauesthe oligon]). It was plain that they were over-wrought and excited and needed refreshment (ἀναπαυεσθε [anapauesthe], middle voice, refresh yourselves, “rest up” literally). This is one of the needed lessons for all preachers and teachers, occasional change and refreshment. Even Jesus felt the need of it. They had no leisure so much as to eat (οὐδε φαγειν εὐκαιρουν [oude phagein eukairoun]). Imperfect tense again. Crowds were coming and going. Change was a necessity.

Mark 6:32

And they went away in a boat (και ἀπηλθον ἐν τῳ πλοιῳ [kai apēlthon en tōi ploiōi]). They accepted with alacrity and off they went.

Mark 6:33

Outwent them (προηλθον αὐτους [proēlthon autous]). The crowds were not to be outdone. They recognized (ἐγνωσαν [egnōsan]) Jesus and the disciples and ran around the head of the lake on foot (πεζῃ [pezēi]) and got there ahead of Jesus and were waiting for Him when the boat came.

Mark 6:34

They were as sheep not having a shepherd (ἠσαν ὡς προβατα μη ἐχοντα ποιμενα [ēsan hōs probata mē echonta poimena]). Matthew has these words in another context (9:26), but Mark alone has them here. Μη [] is the usual negative for the participle in the Koiné. These excited and exciting people (Bruce) greatly needed teaching. Matt. 14:14 mentions healing as does Luke 9:11 (both preaching and healing). But a vigorous crowd of runners would not have many sick. The people had plenty of official leaders but these rabbis were for spiritual matters blind leaders of the blind. Jesus had come over for rest, but his heart was touched by the pathos of this situation. So “he began to teach them many things” (ἠρξατο διδασκειν αὐτους πολλα [ērxato didaskein autous polla]). Two accusatives with the verb of teaching and the present tense of the infinitive. He kept it up.

Mark 6:35

When the day was now far spent (ἠδη ὡρας πολλης γενομενης [ēdē hōras pollēs genomenēs]). Genitive absolute. ὡρα [Hōra] used here for day-time (so Matt. 14:15) as in Polybius and late Greek. Much day-time already gone. Luke 9:12 has it began to incline (κλινειν [klinein]) or wear away. It was after 3 p.m., the first evening. Note second evening or sunset in Mark 6:47=Matt. 14:23=John 6:16. The turn of the afternoon had come and sunset was approaching. The idiom is repeated at the close of the verse. See on Matt. 14:15.

Mark 6:36

Into the country and villages round about (εἰς τους κυκλῳ ἀγρους και κωμας [eis tous kuklōi agrous kai kōmas]). The fields (ἀγρους [agrous]) were the scattered farms (Latin, villae). The villages (κωμας [kōmas]) may have included Bethsaida Julias not far away (Luke 9:10). The other Bethsaida was on the Western side of the lake (Mark 6:45). Somewhat to eat (τι φαγωσιν [ti phagōsin]). Literally, what to eat, what they were to eat. Deliberative subjunctive retained in the indirect question.

Mark 6:38

Go and see (ὑπαγετε ἰδετε [hupagete idete]). John says that Jesus asked Philip to find out what food they had (John 6:5f.) probably after the disciples had suggested that Jesus send the crowd away as night was coming on (Mark 6:35f.). On this protest to his command that they feed the crowds (Mark 6:37=Matt. 14:16=Luke 9:13) Jesus said “Go see” how many loaves you can get hold of. Then Andrew reports the fact of the lad with five barley loaves and two fishes (John 6:8f.). They had suggested before that two hundred pennyworth (δηναριων διακοσιων [dēnariōn diakosiōn]. See on Matt. 18:28) was wholly inadequate and even that (some thirty-five dollars) was probably all that or even more than they had with them. John’s Gospel alone tells of the lad with his lunch which his mother had given him.

Mark 6:39

By companies (συμποσια συμποσια [sumposia sumposia]). Distribution expressed by repetition as in Mark 6:7 (δυο δυο [duo duo]) instead of using ἀνα [ana] or κατα [kata]. Literally our word symposium and originally a drinking party, Latin convivium, then the party of guests of any kind without the notion of drinking. So in Plutarch and the LXX (especially I Macca.). Upon the green grass (ἐπι τῳ χλωρῳ χορτῳ [epi tōi chlōrōi chortōi]). Another Markan touch. It was passover time (John 6:4) and the afternoon sun shone upon the orderly groups upon the green spring grass. See on Matt. 14:15. They may have been seated like companies at tables, open at one end.

Mark 6:40

They sat down in ranks (ἀνεπεσαν πρασιαι πρασιαι [anepesan prasiai prasiai]). They half-way reclined (ἀνακλιθηναι [anaklithēnai], verse 39). Fell up here (we have to say fell down), the word ἀνεπεσαν [anepesan] means. But they were arranged in groups by hundreds and by fifties and they looked like garden beds with their many-coloured clothes which even men wore in the Orient. Then again Mark repeats the word, πρασιαι πρασιαι [prasiai prasiai], in the nominative absolute as in verse 39 instead of using ἀνα [ana] or κατα [kata] with the accusative for the idea of distribution. Garden beds, garden beds. Peter saw and he never forgot the picture and so Mark caught it. There was colour as well as order in the grouping. There were orderly walks between the rows on rows of men reclining on the green grass. The grass is not green in Palestine much of the year, mainly at the passover time. So here the Synoptic Gospels have an indication of more than a one-year ministry of Jesus (Gould). It is still one year before the last passover when Jesus was crucified.

Mark 6:41

Brake the loaves; and he gave to the disciples (και ἀπο των ἰχθυων [kai apo tōn ichthuōn]). Apparently the fishes were in excess of the twelve baskets full of broken pieces of bread. See on Matt. 14:20 for discussion of κοφινος [kophinos] and σφυρις [sphuris], the two kinds of baskets.

Mark 6:44

Men (ἀνδρες [andres]). Men as different from women as in Matt. 14:21. This remarkable miracle is recorded by all Four Gospels, a nature miracle that only God can work. No talk about accelerating natural processes will explain this miracle. And three eyewitnesses report it: the Logia of Matthew, the eyes of Peter in Mark, the witness of John the Beloved Disciple (Gould). The evidence is overwhelming.

Mark 6:45

To Bethsaida (προς Βηθσαιδαν [pros Bēthsaidan]). This is Bethsaida on the Western side, not Bethsaida Julias on the Eastern side where they had just been (Luke 9:10). While he himself sendeth the multitude away (ἑως αὐτος ἀπολυει τον ὀχλον [heōs autos apoluei ton ochlon]). Matt. 14:22 has it “till he should send away” (ἑως οὑ ἀπολυσῃ [heōs hou apolusēi]) with the aorist subjunctive of purpose. Mark with the present indicative ἀπολυει [apoluei] pictures Jesus as personally engaged in persuading the crowds to go away now. John 6:41f. explains this activity of Jesus. The crowds had become so excited that they were in the mood to start a revolution against the Roman government and proclaim Jesus king. He had already forced in reality the disciples to leave in a boat to go before him (προαγειν [proagein]) in order to get them out of this atmosphere of overwrought excitement with a political twist to the whole conception of the Messianic Kingdom. They were in grave danger of being swept off their feet and falling heedlessly into the Pharisaic conception and so defeating the whole teaching and training of Jesus with them. See on Matt. 14:22, 23. To this pass things had come one year before the Crucifixion. He had done his best to help and bless the crowds and lost his chance to rest. No one really understood Jesus, not the crowds, not the disciples. Jesus needed the Father to stay and steady him. The devil had come again to tempt him with world dominion in league with the Pharisees, the populace, and the devil in the background.

Mark 6:47

When even was come (ὀψιας γενομενης [opsias genomenēs]). The second or late evening, six p.m. at this season, or sunset on. He alone on the land (και αὐτος μονος ἠπι της γης [kai autos monos ēpi tēs gēs]). Another Markan touch. Jesus had come down out of the mountain where he had prayed to the Father. He is by the sea again in the late twilight. Apparently Jesus remained quite a while, some hours, on the beach. “It was now dark and Jesus had not yet come to them” (John 6:17).

Mark 6:48

Seeing them distressed in rowing (ἰδων αὐτους βασανιζομενους ἐν τῳ ἐλαυνειν [idōn autous basanizomenous en tōi elaunein]). See also Matt. 8:29 for the word βασανιζω [basanizō], to torture, torment (Matt. 4:24) with a touch-stone, then to distress as here. Papyri have δια βασανων [dia basanōn] used on slaves like our third degree for criminals. Ἐλαυνειν [Elaunein] is literally to drive as of ships or chariots. They drove the boat with oars. Common in Xenophon for marching. About the fourth watch of the night (περι τεταρτην φυλακην της νυκτος [peri tetartēn phulakēn tēs nuktos]). That is, between three and six a.m. The wind was contrary to them (ἐναντιος αὐτοις [enantios autois]), that is in their faces and rowing was difficult, “a great wind” (John 6:18), and as a result the disciples had made little progress. They should have been over long before this. And he would have passed by them (και ἠθελεν παρελθειν αὐτους [kai ēthelen parelthein autous]). Only in Mark. He wished to pass by them, praeterire eos (Vulgate). Imperfect tense ἠθελεν [ēthelen]. They thought (ἐδοξαν [edoxan]). A natural conclusion. And cried out (ἀνεκραξαν [anekraxan]). Cried up, literally, a shriek of terror, or scream.

Mark 6:50

It is I (ἐγο εἰμι [ego eimi]). These were the astounding words of cheer. They did not recognize Jesus in the darkness. They had never seen him or any one walk on the water. His voice reassured them.

Mark 6:51

They were sore amazed in themselves (λιαν ἐν ἑαυτοις ἐξισταντο [lian en heautois existanto]). Only in Mark. Imperfect tense picturing vividly the excited disciples. Mark does not give the incident of Peter’s walking on the water and beginning to sink. Perhaps Peter was not fond of telling that story.

Mark 6:52

For they understood not (οὐ γαρ συνηκαν [ou gar sunēkan]). Explanation of their excessive amazement, viz., their failure to grasp the full significance of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, a nature miracle. Here was another, Jesus walking on the water. Their reasoning process (καρδια [kardia] in the general sense for all the inner man) was hardened (ἠν πεπωρωμενη [ēn pepōrōmenē]). See on 3:5 about πωρωσις [pōrōsis]. Today some men have such intellectual hardness or denseness that they cannot believe that God can or would work miracles, least of all nature miracles.

Mark 6:53

And moored to the shore (και προσωρμισθησαν [kai prosōrmisthēsan]). Only here in the New Testament, though an old Greek verb and occurring in the papyri. ὁρμος [Hormos] is roadstead or anchorage. They cast anchor or lashed the boat to a post on shore. It was at the plain of Gennesaret several miles south of Bethsaida owing to the night wind.

Mark 6:54

Knew him (ἐπιγνοντες αὐτον [epignontes auton]). Recognizing Jesus, knowing fully (ἐπι [epi]) as nearly all did by now. Second aorist active participle.

Mark 6:55

Ran about (περιεδραμον [periedramon]). Vivid constative aorist picturing the excited pursuit of Jesus as the news spread that he was in Gennesaret. On their beds (ἐπι τοις κραβαττοις [epi tois krabattois]). Pallets like that of the man let down through the roof (Mark 2:4). Where they heard he was (ὁπου ἠκουον ὁτι ἐστιν [hopou ēkouon hoti estin]). Imperfect tense of ἀκουω [akouō] (repetition), present indicative ἐστιν [estin] retained in indirect discourse.

Mark 6:56

Wheresoever he entered (ὁπου ἀν εἰσεπορευετο [hopou an eiseporeueto]). The imperfect indicative with ἀν [an] used to make a general indefinite statement with the relative adverb. See the same construction at the close of the verse, ὁσοι ἀν ἡψαντο αὐτον [hosoi an hēpsanto auton] (aorist indicative and ἀν [an] in a relative clause), as many as touched him. One must enlarge the details here to get an idea of the richness of the healing ministry of Jesus. We are now near the close of the Galilean ministry with its many healing mercies and excitement is at the highest pitch (Bruce).

Chapter 7

Mark 7:2

With defiled, that is unwashen hands (κοιναις χερσιν, τουτʼ ἐστιν ἀνιπτοις [koinais chersin, tout’ estin aniptois]). Associative instrumental case. Originally κοινος [koinos] meant what was common to everybody like the Koiné Greek. But in later Greek it came also to mean as here what is vulgar or profane. So Peter in Acts 10:14 “common and unclean.” The next step was the ceremonially unclean. The emissaries of the Pharisees and the scribes from Jerusalem had seen “some of the disciples” eat without washing their hands, how many we are not told. Swete suggests that in going through the plain the disciples were seen eating some of the bread preserved in the twelve baskets the afternoon before across the lake. There was no particular opportunity to wash the hands, a very proper thing to do before eating for sanitary reasons. But the objection raised is on ceremonial, not sanitary, grounds.

Mark 7:3

Diligently (πυγμῃ [pugmēi]). Instrumental case, with the fist, up to the elbow, rubbing one hand and arm with the other hand clenched. Aleph had πυκνα [pukna] probably because of the difficulty about πυγμῃ [pugmēi] (kin to Latin pugnus). Schultess considers it a dry wash or rubbing of the hands without water as a ritualistic concession. The middle voice νιψωνται [nipsōntai] means their own hands. This verb is often used for parts of the body while λουω [louō] is used of the whole body (John 13:10). On the tradition of the elders see on Matt. 15:2.

Mark 7:4

From the marketplace (ἀπʼ ἀγορας [ap’ agoras]). Ceremonial defilement was inevitable in the mixing with men in public. This ἀγορα [agora] from ἀγειρω [ageirō] to collect or gather, was a public forum in every town where the people gathered like the courthouse square in American towns. The disciples were already ceremonially defiled. Wash themselves (βαπτισωνται [baptisōntai]). First aorist middle subjunctive of βαπτιζω [baptizō], dip or immerse. Westcott and Hort put ραντισωνται [rantisōntai] in the text translated “sprinkle themselves” in the margin of the Revised Version, because Aleph, B, and some of the best cursives have it. Gould terms ραντισωνται [rantisōntai] “a manifest emendation,” to get rid of the difficulty of dipping or bathing the whole body. Meyer says: “The statement proceeds by way of climax: before eating they wash the hands always. When they come from market they take a bath before eating.” This is not the place to enter into any controversy about the meaning of βαπτιζω [baptizō], to dip, ραντιζω [rantizō], to sprinkle, and ἐκχεω [ekcheō], to pour, all used in the New Testament. The words have their distinctive meanings here as elsewhere. Some scribes felt a difficulty about the use of βαπτισωνται [baptisōntai] here. The Western and Syrian classes of manuscripts add “and couches” (και κλινων [kai klinōn]) at the end of the sentence. Swete considers the immersions of beds (βαπτισμους κλινων [baptismous klinōn]) “an incongruous combination.” But Gould says: “Edersheim shows that the Jewish ordinance required immersions, βαπτισμους [baptismous], of these vessels.” We must let the Jewish scrupulosity stand for itself, though “and couches” is not supported by Aleph, B L D Bohairic, probably not genuine.

Mark 7:6

Well (καλως [kalōs]). Appositely here, but ironical sarcasm in verse 9. Note here “you hypocrites” (ὑμων των ὑποκριτων [humōn tōn hupokritōn]).

Mark 7:8

Ye leave the commandment of God (ἀφεντες την ἐντολην του θεου [aphentes tēn entolēn tou theou]). Note the sharp contrast between the command of God and the traditions of men. Jesus here drives a keen wedge into the Pharisaic contention. They had covered up the Word of God with their oral teaching. Jesus here shows that they care more for the oral teaching of the scribes and elders than for the written law of God. The Talmud gives abundant and specific confirmation of the truthfulness of this indictment.

Mark 7:9

Full well do ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep your traditions (καλως ἀθετειτε την ἐντολην του θεου ἱνα την παραδοσιν ὑμων τηρησητε [kalōs atheteite tēn entolēn tou theou hina tēn paradosin humōn tērēsēte]). One can almost see the scribes withering under this terrible arraignment. It was biting sarcasm that cut to the bone. The evident irony should prevent literal interpretation as commendation of the Pharisaic pervasion of God’s word. See my The Pharisees and Jesus for illustrations of the way that they placed this oral tradition above the written law. See on Matt. 15:7.

Mark 7:11

Corban (κορβαν ὁ ἐστιν δωρον [korban ho estin dōron]). See on Matt. 15:5. Mark preserves the Hebrew word for a gift or offering to God (Ex. 21:17; Lev. 20:9), indeclinable here, meaning gift (δωρον [dōron]), but declinable κορβανας [korbanas] in Matt. 27:6, meaning sacred treasury. The rabbis (but ye say, ὑμεις δε λεγετε [humeis de legete]) actually allowed the mere saying of this word by an unfaithful son to prevent the use of needed money for the support of father or mother. It was a home thrust to these pettifogging sticklers for ceremonial punctilios. They not only justified such a son’s trickery, but held that he was prohibited from using it for father or mother, but he might use it for himself.

Mark 7:13

Making void the word of God by your tradition (ἀκυρουντες τον λογον του θεου τῃ παραδοσει ὑμων [akurountes ton logon tou theou tēi paradosei humōn]). See on Matt. 15:6 for the word ἀκυρουντες [akurountes], invalidating, a stronger word than ἀθετειν [athetein], to set aside, in verse 9. See both used in Gal. 3:15, 17. Setting aside does invalidate.

Mark 7:14

And he called to him the multitude again (και προσκαλεσαμενος παλιν τον ὀχλον [kai proskalesamenos palin ton ochlon]). Aorist middle participle, calling to himself. The rabbis had attacked the disciples about not washing their hands before eating. Jesus now turned the tables on them completely and laid bare their hollow pretentious hypocrisy to the people. Hear me all of you and understand (ἀκουσατε μου παντες και συνιετε [akousate mou pantes kai suniete]). A most pointed appeal to the people to see into and see through the chicanery of these ecclesiastics. See on Matt. 15:11 for discussion.

Mark 7:17

When he was entered into the house from the multitude (ὁτε εἰσηλθεν εἰς οἰκον ἀπο του ὀχλου [hote eisēlthen eis oikon apo tou ochlou]). This detail in Mark alone, probably in Peter’s house in Capernaum. To the crowd Jesus spoke the parable of corban, but the disciples want it interpreted (cf. 4:10ff., 33ff.). Matt. 15:15 represents Peter as the spokesman as was usually the case.

Mark 7:18

Are ye so without understanding also? (οὑτως και ὑμεις ἀσυνετοι ἐστε; [Houtōs kai humeis asunetoi este?]). See on Matt. 15:16. You also as well as the multitude. It was a discouraging moment for the great Teacher if his own chosen pupils (disciples) were still under the spell of the Pharisaic theological outlook. It was a riddle to them. “They had been trained in Judaism, in which the distinction between clean and unclean is ingrained, and could not understand a statement abrogating this” (Gould). They had noticed that the Pharisees stumbled at the parable of Jesus (Matt. 15:12). They were stumbling themselves and did not know how to answer the Pharisees. Jesus charges the disciples with intellectual dulness and spiritual stupidity.

Mark 7:19

Making all meats clean (καθαριζων παντα τα βρωματα [katharizōn panta ta brōmata]). This anacoluthon can be understood by repeating he says (λεγει [legei]) from verse 18. The masculine participle agrees with Jesus, the speaker. The words do not come from Jesus, but are added by Mark. Peter reports this item to Mark, probably with a vivid recollection of his own experience on the housetop in Joppa when in the vision Peter declined three times the Lord’s invitation to kill and eat unclean animals (Acts 10:14–16). It was a riddle to Peter as late as that day. “Christ asserts that Levitical uncleanness, such as eating with unwashed hands, is of small importance compared with moral uncleanness” (Vincent). The two chief words in both incidents, here and in Acts, are defile (κοινοω [koinoō]) and cleanse (καθαριζω [katharizō]). “What God cleansed do not thou treat as defiled” (Acts 10:15). It was a revolutionary declaration by Jesus and Peter was slow to understand it even after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Jesus was amply justified in his astonished question: Perceive ye not? (οὐ νοειτε; [ou noeite?]). They were making little use of their intelligence in trying to comprehend the efforts of Jesus to give them a new and true spiritual insight.

Mark 7:21

Evil thoughts (οἱ διαλογισμοι οἱ κακοι [hoi dialogismoi hoi kakoi]). These come out of the heart (ἐκ της καρδιας [ek tēs kardias]), the inner man, and lead to the dreadful list here given like the crimes of a modern police court: fornications (πορνειαι [porneiai], usually of the unmarried), adulteries (μοιχαιαι [moichaiai], of the married), thefts (κλοπαι [klopai], stealings), covetings (πλεονεξιαι [pleonexiai], craze for more and more), murders (φονοι [phonoi], growing out of the others often), wickednesses (πονηριαι [ponēriai], from πονος [ponos], toil, then drudge, bad like our knave, serving boy like German Knabe, and then criminal), deceit (δολος [dolos], lure or snare with bait), lasciviousness (ἀσελγεια [aselgeia], unrestrained sex instinct), evil eye (ὀφθαλμος πονηρος [ophthalmos ponēros]) or eye that works evil and that haunts one with its gloating stare, railing (βλασφημια [blasphēmia], blasphemy, hurtful speech), pride (ὑπερηφανια [huperēphania], holding oneself above others, stuck up), foolishness (ἀφροσυνη [aphrosunē], lack of sense), a fitting close to it all.

Mark 7:24

Into the borders of Tyre and Sidon (εἰς τα ὁρια Τυρου και Σιδωνος [eis ta horia Turou kai Sidōnos]). The departure from Capernaum was a withdrawal from Galilee, the second of the four withdrawals from Galilee. The first had been to the region of Bethsaida Julias in the territory of Herod Philip. This is into distinctly heathen land. It was not merely the edge of Phoenicia, but into the parts of Tyre and Sidon (Matt. 15:21). There was too much excitement among the people, too much bitterness among the Pharisees, too much suspicion on the part of Herod Antipas, too much dulness on the part of the disciples for Jesus to remain in Galilee. And he could not be hid (και οὐκ ἠδυνασθη λαθειν [kai ouk ēdunasthē lathein]). Jesus wanted to be alone in the house after all the strain in Galilee. He craved a little privacy and rest. This was his purpose in going into Phoenicia. Note the adversative sense of και [kai] here=”but.”

Mark 7:25

Whose little daughter (ἡς το θυγατριον αὐτης [hēs to thugatrion autēs]). Diminutive with tender touch. Note “whose” and “her” like vernacular today. Having heard of him (ἀκουσασα περι αὐτου [akousasa peri autou]). Even in this heathen territory the fame of Jesus was known. When the Sermon on the Mount was preached people were there from “the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon” (Luke 6:17).

Mark 7:26

A Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by race (ἑλληνις, Συροφοινικισσα τῳ γενει [Hellēnis, Surophoinikissa tōi genei]). “A Greek in religion, a Syrian in tongue, a Phoenician in race” (Bruce), from Euthymius Zigabenus. She was not a Phoenician of Carthage. She besought (ἠρωτα [ērōta]). Imperfect tense. She kept at it. This verb, as in late Greek, is here used for a request, not a mere question. Abundant examples in the papyri in this sense.

Mark 7:27

Let the children first be filled (ἀφες πρωτον χορτασθηναι τα παιδια [aphes prōton chortasthēnai ta paidia]). The Jews had the first claim. See the command of Jesus in the third tour of Galilee to avoid the Gentiles and the Samaritans (Matt. 10:5). Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles, but he gave the Jew the first opportunity (Rom. 2:9f.). See on Matt. 15:24f.

Mark 7:28

Even the dogs under the table (και τα κυναρια ὑποκατω της τραπεζης [kai ta kunaria hupokatō tēs trapezēs]). A delightful picture. Even the little dogs (κυναρια [kunaria]) under the table eat of the children’s crumbs (ἐσθιουσιν ἀπο των ψιχιων των παιδιων [esthiousin apo tōn psichiōn tōn paidiōn]). Little dogs, little scraps of bread (ψιχιον [psichion], diminutive of ψιχος [psichos], morsel), little children (παιδια [paidia], diminutive of παις [pais]). Probably the little children purposely dropped a few little crumbs for the little dogs. These household dogs, pets of and loved by the children. Braid Scots has it: “Yet the wee dowgs aneath the table eat o’ the moole o’ the bairns.” “A unique combination of faith and wit” (Gould). Instead of resenting Christ’s words about giving the children’s bread to the dogs (Gentiles) in verse 27, she instantly turned it to the advantage of her plea for her little daughter.

Mark 7:29

For this saying (δια τουτον τον λογον [dia touton ton logon]). She had faith, great faith as Matt. 15:28 shows, but it was her quick and bright repartee that pleased Jesus. He had missed his rest, but it was worth it to answer a call like this.

Mark 7:30

And the demon gone out (και το δαιμονιον ἐξεληλυθος [kai to daimonion exelēluthos]). This was her crumb from the children’s table. The perfect active participle expresses the state of completion. The demon was gone for good and all.

Mark 7:31

Through the midst of the borders of Decapolis (ἀνα μεσον των ὁριων Δεκαπολεως [ana meson tōn horiōn Dekapoleōs]). Jesus left Phoenicia, but did not go back into Galilee. He rather went east and came down east of the Sea of Galilee into the region of the Greek cities of Decapolis. He thus kept out of the territory of Herod Antipas. He had been in this region when he healed the Gadarene demoniac and was asked to leave.

Mark 7:32

And they bring unto him (και φερουσιν αὐτῳ [kai pherousin autōi]). Another of Mark’s dramatic presents. This incident only in Mark.

Mark 7:33

Took him aside (ἀπολαβομενος αὐτον [apolabomenos auton]). The secrecy here observed was partly to avoid excitement and partly to get the attention of the deaf and dumb demoniac. He could not hear what