1 1The book of the genealogy [biblos geneseōs]

The phrase would remind a Jewish reader of Ge 2:4; 5:1 and a similar phrase 'these are the generations (geneseis) of' occurs also in Gn 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27, etc..

of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2Abraham became the father of [gennaō]

Used of a relationship which is not genetic in 1 Cor 4:15; Phm 10, and the same metaphor was used of the relationship between a Rabbinic teacher and his pupil (see Ps 2:7).

Isaac, Isaac became the father of Jacob. Jacob became the father of Judah and his brothers. 3Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron. Hezron became the father of Ram. 4Ram became the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon. Nahshon became the father of Salmon. 5Salmon became the father of Boaz by Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed by Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse. 6Jesse became the father of King David. David became the father of Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. 7Solomon became the father of Rehoboam. Rehoboam became the father of Abijah. Abijah became the father of Asa. 8Asa became the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat became the father of Jehoram. Jehoram became the father of Uzziah. 9Uzziah became the father of Jotham. Jotham became the father of Ahaz. Ahaz became the father of Hezekiah. 10Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh. Manasseh became the father of Amon. Amon became the father of Josiah. 11Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. 12After the exile to Babylon, Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel. Shealtiel became the father of Zerubbabel. 13Zerubbabel became the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim. Eliakim became the father of Azor. 14Azor became the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Akim. Akim became the father of Eliud. 15Eliud became the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan. Matthan became the father of Jacob. 16Jacob became the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, from whom was born [gennaō] Jesus, who is called Christ. 17So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the exile [metoikesias]

The carrying away.

to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the carrying away to Babylon to the Christ, fourteen generations. 18Now the birth [genēsis] of Jesus Christ was like this; for after his mother, Mary, was engaged [mnēsteuō]

Parents arranged the marriage, and espousals were often made very early in life even though the marriage may not have taken place until the bride was twelve years or older. The engagement was based upon a verbal promise or written agreement. It was considered the beginning of marriage and since it was legally binding the pledge could not be broken except by a bill of divorce. This is why Joseph is referred to as the husband in v19. Gifts were presented when a contract was completed (cf. Ge 24:53).

to Joseph, before they came together, she was found pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19Joseph, her husband, being a righteous [dikaios] man, and not willing to make her a public example [paradeigmatizō]

Cf. Col 2:15.

, intended to put her away secretly. 20But when he thought about these things, consider this [idou]; an angel [angelos]

Originally means 'messenger'.

of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, "Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid [phobeomai] to take to yourself Mary, your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21She shall bring forth a son. You shall call his name Jesus [Iēsoun; Heb. Yeshua]

'Adonai saves'. The Greek form of Joshua or Jeshua.

, for it is he who shall save [sōzō] his people [laos]

Matthew uses laos particularly for the chosen race.

from their sins." 22Now all this has happened, that it might be fulfilled [teleō] which was spoken by the Lord [kyriou; Heb. Adonai] through the prophet, saying, 23" "Look [Idou]! The virgin [parthenos]

The Hebrew in Is 7:14 means 'young woman' but is used only seven times in the OT, of girls or young women, at least two of whom were unmarried (Gn 24:43; Ex 2:8). It is not used elsewhere in connection with childbirth (or even marriage), so that its use in Is 7:14 is remarkable, when the term for 'woman' or 'wife' could have been used.

shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son. They shall call his name Immanuel" [Emmanouēl; Heb. Immanu'el]; which is, being interpreted, "God with us." 24Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took his wife to himself; 25and didn't know her sexually [ouk ginōskō] until she had brought forth a son. He named him Jesus.

2 1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea in the days of King Herod [Hrōdou]


In 63 BC terms were made with the Roman general Pompeii and Judea became a became a client state. Herod the Great firmly locked the Jews into the administrative system of the Roman Empire.

The reign of Herod 'The Great' was effective ruler of Judea and much else from 37 BC to his death four years before the Christian era. Herod was both a Jew and an anti-Jewish; and upholder and benefactor of Greek and Roman civilisation, and an Oriental barbarian capable of unspeakable cruelties. He was a brilliant politician and in some ways a wise and far-seeing statesman, generous, constructive and highly efficient; but also a naive, superstitious, grotesquely self-indulgent and hovering on the there brink of insanity - sometimes over it. He combines in one person the tragedy of Saul and the successful materialism of Solomon. See note on Lk 1:5.

, consider this [idou]; wise men [magoi]

An influential order of men with obscure beginnings, although thought to have originated among the Chaldeans or Assyrians, noted in the OT in Jer 39:3, 13; Jer 1:35; Da 2:2, 27, 48; 4:8-9; 5:11. As it spread the movement borrowed from the religious customs of its surrounding culture. The Magians were a priestly caste, and the office was hereditary. They uttered prophesies, explained omens, interpreted dreams, and practised rhabdomancy (cf. Ho 4:12). In Persia they became a powerful body under the guide of Zoroaster. Later the term Magi became more general. As men of learning, they devoted special attention to astronomy and the natural sciences. Eventually all men with a reputation for learning were called Magi. In time even conjurers without scientific knowledge were called Magi (cf. Ac 8:9; 13:6,8).

from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, 2"Where is he is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east [en tē anatolē], and have come to worship [proskyneō] him." 3When King Herod heard it, he was disturbed [tarassō], and all Jerusalem with him. 4Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes [grammateis] of the people, he asked them where the Christ would be born. 5They said to him, "In Bethlehem in Judea, for this is written through the prophet, 6"You, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are in no way least [elachistē] among the princes [hēgemosin] of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a governor [hēgoumenos], who shall shepherd [poimainō] my people, Israel.'" 7Then Herod secretly called the wise men, and learned from them exactly what time the star appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem, and said, "Go and search diligently for the young child. When you have found him, bring me word, so that I also may come and worship [proskyneō] him." 9They, having heard the king, they went their way, and Consider this [idou]; the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy [charan megalēn sphodra]. 11They came into the house [oikian] and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Opening their treasures, offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh [smyrnan]

A fragrant oil from the sap of a young tree in the olive family used as a sacred oil, a healing ointment and for make-up (Ex 30:23, Est 2:12; Ps 45:8, Jn 19:39).

. 12Being warned [chrēmatizō] in a dream that they shouldn't return to Herod, they went back to their own country another way. 13Now when they had departed, consider this [idou]; an angel [angelos] of the Lord appeared [phainō] to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy [apolesai] him." 14He arose and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt, 15and was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled [plēroō] which was spoken by the Lord [Adonai] through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called my son." 16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men [magōn], was exceedingly angry, and sent out, and killed all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding countryside, from two years old and under, according to the exact time which he had learned from the wise men. 17Then that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled [plēroō], saying, 18"A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children She wouldn't be comforted [parakaleō], because they are no more." 19 But when Herod was dead, consider this [idou]; an angel of the Lord appeared [phainō] in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20saying, "Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the young child's life are dead." 21He arose and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in the place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Being warned [chrēmatizō] in a dream, he withdrew into the region of Galilee, 23and came and lived in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled [plēroō] which was spoken through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene [Nazōraios; Heb. Natzrati]

Common NT title for Jesus as the man from Nazareth; Mark uses Nazarēnos, cf. Jn 1:46. The words 'He shall be called a Nazarene' do not occur in the OT.


3 1In those days John the Baptist came, preaching [keryssō] in the wilderness [erēmō] of Judea 2saying, "Repent [Metanoeō], for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" [engizō]

Lit. 'has come near'. The perfect tense is used also in 26:45 and 46 (cf. Lk 21:8, 20) and introduces a state of affairs which is already beginning and which calls for an immediate response.

. 3For this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, "The voice of one calling in the wilderness [erēmō], 'Make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight [eutheias].' " 4Now John himself wore clothing made of camel's hair [kamēlou]

Cf. Zech 13:4; 2 Ki 1:8. Camel hair kept out heat, cold and rain and probably is what is referred to by sackcloth.

, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts [akrides]

Permitted by the law of Moses (Lev 11:22) and prepared in various ways: pounded and mixed with flour and water and baked into cakes; boiled, roasted, or stewed in butter; or pickled, according to an Assyrian recipe.

and wild honey. 5Then people from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him. 6They were baptized by him in the Jordan [Iordanou]

Usually people were baptised in running water, based on the idea of repenting from old sins and starting a new life.

, confessing their sins. 7But when he saw many of the Pharisees [Pharisaiōn]


The Perushim or Pharisees, 'those who separated themselves', were a religious party which repudiated the royal religious establishment, with its high priest, Sadducee aristocrats and the Sandhedrin, and placed religious observance before Jewish nationalism. Josephus noted, 'the Sadducees draw their following only from the rich, and the people do not support them, whereas the Pharisees have popular allies'.

The Pharisees were god-fearing and disciplined. Although having a bad name, Jesus had many friends among them, many of whom were thoroughly good men. The sect of the Pharisees, even before they were thus named, had done much for the Jewish religion, preserving its purity from the influence of surrounding cults, especially from the effects of Greek culture which Alexander sought to introduce.

and Sadducees [Saddoukainōn]

Cf. 26:3. Jesus did not have many contacts with the Sadducees who were aristocrats. Jesus associated instead with the common people. See note on 22:34.

coming for his baptism, he said to them, "You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee [phygein] from the wrath [orgēs] to come? 8Therefore bring forth fruit worthy of repentance [metanoias]. 9Don't think to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10"Even now the axe lies at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn't bring forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. 11"I indeed baptize you in [en]

In or with.

water for repentance [metanoian], but he who comes after me [opisō]

'Behind' is not used of time anywhere in the NT but is a regular description of a follower or disciple (4:19; 10:38; 16:24; Lk 21:8; Jn 12:19).

is mightier [ischuroteros] than I, whose shoes [hypodēmata]

Carrying sandals was the most menial of duties. Upon entering a house, the sandals were removed by a servant who took care of them until they were needed again. If the master decided to walk barefoot, the servant removed his sandals and carried them.

I am not worthy [hikanos] to carry [bastazō]

Not 'take away' but remove.

. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit. 12His winnowing fork [ptyon]

Winnowing fan or fork. The grain is separated from the husks when the stalks are thrown into the air with a wooden shovel or fork ('fan' in Rth 3:3; Is 30:24; Jer 4:11, 12) and carried off by the wind. As a rule this was done in the evening or night time was when the breeze was moderate and not too gusty. Cf. Jo 21:18; Ps 1:4; Is 29:5; 41:16; Da 2:35; Ho 13:3.

is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse [diakathairō] his threshing floor. He will gather [synagō] his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire." 13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14But John would have hindered him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?" 15But Jesus, answering, said to him, "Allow it now, for this is the fitting way for us to fulfill [plēroō] all righteousness [dikaiosynēn]

Righteousness in Matthew is not so much 'being good', still less legal correctness, but rather a synonym for the Christian life, viewed as a relationship with God focused in obedience.

." Then he allowed him. 16Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water: and consider this [idou]; the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming on him. 17Consider this [idou]; a voice out of the heavens said, "This is [outos estin]

The voice speaking here is in the second person in Mark and Luke, and Western MSS have the same reading here. Matthew apparently put it in the third person to remind his readers of the parallel pronouncement in 17:5 (see 2:7 and Is 42:1).

my beloved [agapaō] Son, with whom I am well pleased [eudokeō]."

4 1Then [tote]

A favourite connecting word in Matthew which does not always convey a definite chronological or even logical connection.

Jesus was led up [anagō] by the Spirit into the wilderness [erēmon] to be tempted [peirazō]

This verb in Matthew always signifies testing (and in its 36 NT occurrences it clearly indicates tempting to do wrong).

by the devil. 2When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry afterward. 3The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." 4But he answered, "It is written [in the Tanakh], 'Man shall not live [zaō] by bread alone, but by every word [rhēmati] that proceeds out of the mouth of God [theou; Heb. Adonai].'" 5Then the devil took him into the holy city. He set him on the pinnacle [pterygion]

Highest point or parapet, lit. 'small wing', or some projecting part of the temple buildings, thought to have been the summit of the royal gallery built by Herod. The main temple building was some 180 feet high. On the southern side of the temple court was a range of porches or cloisters forming three arcades. At the southeastern corner the roof of this cloister was 300 ft above the Kidron Valley. The pinnacle was above this roof and could have reached a hight of 350 ft. Josephus said of anyone standing here that 'his sight could not reach to such an immense depth'.

of the temple, 6and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "He will put his angels in charge of you,' and, 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you don't dash your foot against a stone.'" 7Jesus said to him, "Again, it is written, You shall not test [ekpeirazō] the Lord, your God [theon; Heb. Adonai].'" 8Again, the devil took him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory [doxan]. 9He said to him, "I will give you all these things, if you will fall down and worship [proskyneō] me." 10Then Jesus said to him, "Get behind me, Satan [Satana]

'The enemy'.

! For it is written [in the Tanakh]: You shall worship [proskyneō] the Lord your God [theon; Heb. Adonai], and you shall serve [latreuō] him only.'" 11Then the devil left him, and consider this [idou]; angels came and served [diakoneō] him. 12Now when Jesus heard that John was delievered up, he withdrew [anachōreō]

Withdraw or go away; return. For 'withdrew' cf. 2:12,14,22; 12:15; 14:13; 14:21, all following indications of official hostility.

into Galilee. 13Leaving Nazareth, he came and lived in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14that it might be fulfilled [plēroō] which was spoken through the prophet, saying, 15"The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, 16the people who sat in darkness saw a great light; to those who sat in the region and shadow of death, to them light has dawned." 17From that time, Jesus began to preach [kēryssō], and to say, "Repent [Metanoeō]! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." 18Walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers: Simon [Simōna]

Simon's name is Jewish but Andrew's and Philip's is Greek, reflecting the mixed culture of Galilee.

who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19He said to them, "Come after me [Deute opisō mou]

Lit. 'come behind me'.

, and I will make you fishers for men." 20They immediately left their nets and followed him. 21Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending [katartizō] their nets. He called them. 22They immediately left the boat and their father, and followed him. 23Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues [synagōgais]

Local meeting place and assembly of the Jews. The synagogue had its roots in the time after Solomon's Temple was destroyed and local worship and instruction became necessary (cf. Ps 74:8). The building was prominently cited on high ground or with a pole placed on the peak. They often lacked roofs and faced towards Jerusalem. All synagogues had a separate place for the women in a gallery or behind a partition of latticework; all had a central desk (cf. Ne 8:4); all had an ark on the side of the building nearest Jerusalem for the preservation of the Sefer Torah (Scrolls of the Law); all arranged seats with the most prominent reserved for those in leadership (Mt 23:6). Instruction was the main object although a liturgical service was held. Officers of the synagogue were elected either by the congregation or council. The leader might ask any person to address the assembly. Jesus and the apostles publicly spoke in the synagogues.

, preaching [kēryssō] the Good News [euangelion] of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness [pasan malakian] among the people. 24The report about him went out into all Syria. They brought to him all who were sick, afflicted with various diseases and torments, possessed with demons, epileptics [selēniazomai] and paralytics; and he healed them. 25Large Great multitudes from Galilee, Decapolis [Dekapoleōs]

A largely Gentile confederacy.

, Jerusalem, Judea and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

5 1Seeing the multitudes, he went up onto the mountain. When he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 2He opened his mouth and taught them, saying, 3"Blessed [makarioi]

Makarios does not denote one whom God blesses (which would be eulogētos) but represents the Hebrew 'fortunate'. It introduces someone who is to be congratulated, someone whose place in life is an enviable one. The word denotes a condition of life rather than a mood.

are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn]. 4Blessed [makarioi] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted [parakaleō]. 5Blessed [makarioi] are the gentle [praeis]

Used of a wild pony that has been broken in.

, for they shall inherit the earth. 6Blessed [makarioi] are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness [dikaiosynēn], for they shall be filled [chortazō]. 7Blessed [makarioi] are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. 8Blessed [makarioi] are the pure [katharoi] in heart, for they shall see God. 9Blessed [makarioi] are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. 10Blessed [makarioi] are those who have been persecuted [diōkō] for righteousness' sake [dikaiosynēs], for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn]. 11"Blessed [makarioi] are you when people reproach you, persecute [diōkō] you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice [chairō], and be exceedingly glad [agalliaō], for great [polys] is your reward [misthos] in heaven [tois ouranois]. For that is how they persecuted [diōkō] the prophets who were before you. 13"You are the salt [halas]

Salt was for seasoning (Job 6:6; Lev 2:13) and mixed with the fodder of cattle (Is 30:24). Sharing salt symbolized hospitality (Ez 4:14). New-born children were rubbed with salt (Ez 16:4) and the OT describes a 'covenant of salt' (Nu 18:19; 2 Chron 13:5). The Rabbis commonly used salt as an image for wisdom (cf. Col 4:6), which may explain why the Greek work represented by 'lost its taste' (mōrainō) actually means 'become foolish' and has given the English, 'moron'. (The Aramaic 'tapēl' conveys both meanings).

of the earth but if the salt has lost its flavour [mōranthē], with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. 14"You are the light of the world [kosmou]. A city located on a hill can't be hidden. 15Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket [modion], but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. 16In Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works [kala erga] and glorify [doxazō] your Father who is in heaven [tois ouranois]. 17"Don't think that I came to destroy [kataluō] the Law [nomon; Heb. Torah] or the Prophets. I didn't come to destroy [kataluō], but to fulfill [plēroō]

Among the nuances suggested for plērōsai are: (a) to accomplish, obey; (b) to bring out the full meaning; (c) to complete ('to bring to its destined end'), by giving the final revelation of God's will to which the OT pointed forward, and which now transcends it (cf. the double meaning of Ro 10:4, 'Christ is the end of the law': he both completes and transcends it). In this context (c) is the best fit.

. 18For most certainly, I tell you, [amēn gar legō hymin]

'Truly I say to you' is Jesus' own signature: no other teacher is known to have used it. It serves the same purpose as the prophets' 'Thus says the LORD'.

, until heaven and earth pass away [parerchomai], not even one smallest letter [iōta]

Smallest letter of the Greek alphabet and nearest Greek equivalent to the Hebrew yodh, the smallest Hebrew letter, and often optional in spelling, cf. tittle, Ps 119:73.

, or one tiny pen stroke [keraia]

The Greek means 'horn' and was used to designate the slight embellishment or extension of certain letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

, shall in any way pass away [parerchomai]

Inclusion in the canon was the only certain way of ensuring that a work of literature survived, for in antiquity, unless a manuscript was constantly copied, it tended to vanish without trace within a generation or so. The families of the scribes, then, ensured the survival of the Bible texts for a 1000 years or more, and in due course they were succeeded by families of masoretes or scribal scholars who specialised in the writing, spelling and accenting of Bible texts. It was they who produced the official Jewish canonical version, known as the Masoretic text.

from the law, until all things are accomplished [ginomai]

Lit. means 'happens' and is used of events, not of things 'being done'.

. 19Whoever, therefore, shall break [luō]

'Relaxes', 'set aside' or 'teach against' a commandment, rather than disobey it. 'Loose' in 16:19; 18:18 is the same verb. Cf. kataluō, 'abolish', v17, which shares the same root. 'Breaks' is therefore not the most appropriate translation.

one of these least commandments [entolē]

Entolē in Matthew refers to OT law.

and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn]; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn]. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness [dikaiosynē] exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, [grammateōn kai Pharisaiōn]

The scribes were professional students and teachers of the law. The Pharisees were members of a largely lay movement devoted to scrupulous observance both of the OT law and of the still developing legal traditions.

, there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven [basileian tōn ouranōn]. 21"You have heard that it was said [errethē]

Not used elsewhere in the NT as a quotation formula (except cf. Ro 9:12), but the participle rhēthen ('what was spoken') introduces Matthew's formula-quotations, and 'it was said' is commonly used to introduce biblical quotations in Rabbinic literature. Note also that in Rabbinic literature 'I (might) hear' is a formula to introduce a literal but misleading understanding of the law, to which is then opposed what you must 'say', a less literal but truer interpretation (cf. Jn 12:34).

to the ancient ones, 'You shall not murder' [phoneuō]

Refers to criminal killing; 'kill' is not an adequate translation. The expanded clause does not come from the OT but summarises OT teaching on the penalty for murder (e.g., Ge 9:6; Ex 21:12-14; Nu 35:16-34).

; and 'Whoever shall murder [phoneusē] shall be in danger [enochos estai] of the judgment [krisei].' 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother [adelphō] without a cause shall be in danger [enochosestai] of the judgment [krisei]; and whoever shall say to his brother [adelphō], 'Raca!' [Raka]

Lit. 'empty', an Aramaic term of abuse, 'idiot'.

shall be in danger of the council [synedrion]

Either the supreme Jewish council or a local court, cf. 10:17.

; and whoever shall say, 'You fool!' [mōre]

This word and the preceeding are not uncommon or particularly vulgar words (Jesus himself used this term in 21:17; cf. Jas 2:20), but they suggest an attitude of angry contempt.

shall be in danger of [enochos estai] the fire of Gehenna [geennan; Heb. Gey-Hinnom]

Gehenna was the name of the place where Jerusalem's rubbish was burnt, used regularly by Jesus, as by Jewish writers, for the place of ultimate punishment.

. 23"If, therefore, you are offering [phospherō] your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother [adelphos] has anything against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother [adelph], and then come and offer your gift. 25"Agree with your adversary [antidikō]

According to Roman law, if a person had a quarrel that he could not settle privately, he had the right to order his adversary to accompany him to the praetor. If he refused the prosecutor took someone present to witness by saying, "May I take you to witness?" If the person consented, he offered the tip of his ear. Then the plaintiff might drag the defendant to court by force, even by the neck (cf. Mt 28:28). Criminals might be dragged before the judge without the formality of calling a witness. If the matter was settled on the way, no further steps were taken. So when the accused is legally seized by the accuser, he is urged to make up his quarrel while on the way to the judge so that no further legal process should be necessary.

quickly while you are with him in the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge [kritē], and the judge [kritēs] deliver you to the officer [upēretē], and you be cast into prison. 26Most certainly I tell you, you shall by no means get out of there, until you have paid the last penny [kodrantēn]

The quadrans was the smallest Roman coin.

. 27"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery;' 28But but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman [gynē]

Used almost always of married women, and often means 'wife'.

to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to stumble [skandalizō], pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable [sympherō] for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna [geennan]. 30If your right hand causes you to stumble [skandalizō]

The eye which should keep us from stumbling can in fact 'trip us up' and this is the basic meaning of 'cause to sin'.

, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable [sympherei] f for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna [geennan]. 31"It was also said, 'Whoever shall put away [apoluō]

Divorce is not approved in Dt 24:1-4 nor elsewhere in the Bible. However certificate and divorce were regarded as 'commanded' by Moses by Jesus' contemporaries. The grounds for divorce were disputed: while the school of Shammai allowed divorce on grounds of infidelity backed up by witnesses, practice was governed by the school of Hillel, who required no court decision - only the word of the husband against the wife. A burnt meal was a justified complaint against the wife (Mishnah Gittin 9:10. See also Josephus, Ant. Iv. 253; Vita 426.).

his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce.' 32But I tell you that whoever puts away [apoluōn] his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality [logou porneias]

Root meaning is 'fornication', but used in a wider sense to include premarital unchastity. Current Jewish law (e.g., Mishnah Yebamoth 2:8; Sotah 5:1) demanded the termination of a marriage if either premarital unchastity or adultery was discovered ; in OT times the penalty in either case was death (Dt 22:20-22), but under Roman rule this could not be enforced.

, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries her when she is put away [apolelymenēn] commits adultery. 33"Again, you have heard that it was said to them of old time, 'You shall not make false vows [epiorkeō]

Break an oath, swear falsely. Epiorkos means 'perjurer'. Oaths and vows were not only permitted but, in certain circumstances, commanded in the OT (e.g., Nu 5:19ff). Rabbis filled several tractates of the Mishnah with discussions of the forms of oaths. Jesus' total rejection of oaths ('not … at all') is not paralleled even by the Qumran literature, strict as it was on this issue.

, but shall perform to the Lord your vows [horkous].' 34But I tell you, don't swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God; 35nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can't make one hair white or black. 37But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' Whatever is more than these is of the evil one [ponērou]. 38"You have heard that it was said,'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth [odontos]

The principle of proportionate retribution (cf. Ex 21:24-25; Lv 24:20: Dt 19:21) was older and more widely recognized than the Mosaic law, being found already in the Code of Hammurabi (eighteenth century BC) with the same examples of eye and tooth.

.' 39But I tell you, Don't resist [anthistēmi]

The verb is sometimes used for 'take legal action against' (i.e., non-violent resistance).

him who is evil; but whoever strikes [rhapizō]

A blow with the back of the hand, showing contempt (for religious affiliation?) and extreme abuse. Such an insult was punishable by a heavy fine (Mishnah BK 8:6). The same verb is used in 26:67 of the ill-treatment of Jesus as a blasphemer, and the words of this verse recall Is 50:6, the Servant's acceptance of ill-treatment.

you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40If anyone sues you to take away your coat [chitōna]

The undergarment.

, let him have your cloak [imation]

The more valuable upper garment. The law forbade its confiscation on humanitarian grounds (Ex 22:25-7).

also. 41Whoever compels [angareuō]

A specific term for the Roman soldier's practice of 'commandeering' civilian labour in an occupied country (cf. 27:32). Here enforced service as a porter is envisaged. The ancient Persians introduced the use of regular couriers to carry letters or news. The king's courier had absolute command of all help that was necessary to fulfil his task. To refuse was an unpardonable offence against the king.

you to go one mile [milion]

The Roman term for 1000 paces.

, go with him two. 42Give [didōmi]

Aorist imperative, normally of a single act. Cf. Lk 6:30, present imperative, give regularly.

to him who asks you, and don't turn away him who desires to borrow from you. 43"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love [agapaō] your neighbour and hate your enemy [echthron]

'Hate your enemy' is not from the OT but an inference which was easily drawn from the OT distinction between the attitude required towards fellow-Israelites and towards foreigners, and which appears in the Qumran Manual (1QS 1:3-4, 9-10; 19:21-22, 'that they may love all the sons of light …, and hate all the sons of darkness'. Cf. Josephus, BJ ii.139, on the Essenes' attitude. Hate (miseō) often signifies 'not love' or 'love less' (Mt 6:24; Ro 9:13; Lk 14:26 with Mt 10:37; Gn 29:30-1). Jeremias translates, 'You shall love your compatriot but you need not love your adversary'.

.' 44But I tell you, love [agapate] your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute [diōkō] you, 45that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil [ponērous] and the good [agathous], and sends rain on the just [dikaious] and the unjust [adikous]. 46For if you love [agapēsēte] those who love [agapōntas] you, what reward [misthon] do you have? Don't even the tax collectors do the same? 47If you only greet your friends [adelphous], what more do you do than others? Don't even pagans [ethnikoi] do that? 48Therefore you shall be perfect [teleioi]

Wider than moral perfection and indicating 'completeness', 'wholeness' (cf. Paul's use for the spiritually 'mature' in 1 Cor 2:6; 14:20; Phil 3:15). Verse 48 derives from the LXX of Dt 18:13 and parallels: 'be holy, for I am holy'.

, just as your Father in heaven is perfect [teleios].

6 1"Be careful that you don't do your charitable giving [dikaiosynē]

Piety or ostentatious practice of religious duties (almsgiving, prayer and fasting).

before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward [misthon] from your Father who is in heaven [tois ouranois]. 2" Therefore when you do merciful deeds [poieō eleēmosynēn]

Almsgiving was a religious duty, not an optional act of philanthropy, in Judaism (cf. Dt 15:7- 11; Ps 112:9) and by the first century AD relief for the poor was very well organized.

, don't sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites [hypokritai]

Originally means 'actor'.

do in the synagogues and on the streets, that they may get glory [doxazō] from men. Most certainly I tell you [amēn, legō hymin], they have received [apechō]

'Receive in full'; a commercial term for receipt in full, implying that there is no more to look forward to (cf. Lk 6:24, and the similar apolambanō in Lk 16:25).

their reward [misthon]

Lit. 'wages', that which has been earned.

. 3But when you do merciful deeds, don't let your left hand know what your right hand does, 4so that your merciful deeds may be in secret [kryptō] then your Father who sees in secret [en tō kryptō], will reward [apodidōmi] you openly. 5"When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites [hypokritai], for they love [phileō] to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you [amēn legō hymin], they have received their reward [misthon]. 6But you, when you pray, enter into your inner chamber [tameion]

'Storeroom' (cf. Lk 12:24). This was an inner room, secluded, probably windowless, and possibly with the only lockable door in the house; it is thus proverbial for a secret place (Lk 12:3; cf. Mt 24:26). The clause is modelled on Is 26:20 (where tameion occurs in the LXX), as a prescription for hiding away.

, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret [tō en tō kryptō], and your Father who sees in secret [kryptō], will reward [apodidōmi] you openly. 7In praying, don't use vain repetitions, [battalogeō]

'Heap up empty phrases'. This word is otherwise unknown in contemporary literature, and perhaps coined as an onomatopoeic term for babbling; its resemblance to the the Hebrew for 'vain, idle' sharpens the point. Prayer in the non-Jewish world was often characterised by formal invocations and magical incantations, in which the correct repetition counted rather than the worshipper's attitude or intention.

as the Gentiles [ethnikoi] do, for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking [polylogia]. 8Do Therefore don't be like them, for your Father knows [oida] what you need, before you ask him. 9"Pray like this: " 'Our Father in heaven [tois ouranois], may your name be kept holy [hagiazō]

The Lord's Prayer seems to be a synopsis of various Jewish prayers of the time. The first two sentences echo the language of the Jewish prayer the Kaddish (Qaddish) which begins 'Magnified and hallowed be his great name in the world … And may He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and in your days … quickly and soon'. The third sentence is similar to a prayer of Rabbi Eliezer (c. 100 AD): 'Do thy will in heaven above and give peace to those who fear thee below' (Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth). The petitions in the Lord's prayer also echo ancient Jewish prayers. 'Give us today' is akin to the first benediction of grace at mealtime, 'Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who feedest the whole world with thy goodness …; thou givest food to all flesh … Through thy goodness food hath never failed us: O may it not fail us for ever and ever.' 'Forgive us' echoes the Eighteen Benedictions, 6: 'Forgive us, our Father, for we have sinned against thee; blot out our transgressions from before thine eyes. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who forgivest much'. The accompanying phrase, 'as we forgive those' reflects the Jewish teaching found in Sirach 28:2: 'Forgive the wrong of your neighbour, and then your sins will be forgiven when you pray.' 'Lead us not into temptation' is similar to a petition in the Jewish Morning and Evening Prayers. 'Cause me to go not into the hands of sin, and not into the hands of transgression, and not into the hands of temptation, and 'not into the hands of dishonour'.

, 10 Let your Kingdom come. Let your will [thelēma] be done, as in heaven, so on earth. 11Give us today our daily [epiousios]

This word occurs nowhere else except perhaps in a fragment of an Egyptian account book where it probably referred to a daily 'ration', published in the nineteenth century and since lost. The meanings suggested are: (a) 'For the day (in question)', (b) 'Necessary' for survival, cf. Prov 30:8, (c) 'For the coming day. (c) is supported by Jerome's report of this interpretation in an early Aramaic version of the Gospel.

bread. 12Forgive [aphiēmi] us our debts, as we also forgive [aphēkamen] our debtors. 13Bring us not into temptation [peirasmos]

Better 'testing'.

, but deliver [rhuomai] us from the evil one.' For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen. 14For if you forgive [aphēte] men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive [aphēsei] you. 15But if you don't forgive [aphēte] men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive [oude aphēsei] your trespasses. 16"Moreover when you fast [nēsteuō]

The only fast required by the law of Moses was that of the Great Day of Atonement (Lev 23:26-32; cf. Ac 27:9). During their captivity, the Jews observed four annual fasts which commemorated the anniversary of the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. In addition to the incident recorded in Ex 32:19 they fasted to commemorate the burning of the city and temple (Jer 52:12, 13, cf. Ex 32:19); the anniversary of the murder of Gedaliah (Jer 41:1,2, cf. 2 Ki 25), and the beginning of the siege of the holy city by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 52:4; Ez 33:21; 2 Ki 25:1). Many examples of public and private fasting are found in the OT.

, don't be like the hypocrites [hypokritai], with sad faces [skythrōpoi]. For they disfigure [aphanizō]

Lit. 'make invisible' cf. vv19-20), a vivid description of being made unrecognisable, either by covering the head or by smearing with ash and dirt.

their faces, that they may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, [amēn legō hymin], they have received [apechō] their reward [misthon]. 17But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; 18so that you are not seen [phanēs] by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret [en tō kruphaiō], and your Father, who sees in secret [en tō kruphaiō], will reward [apodidōmi] you. 19" Don't lay up [thēsaurizō] treasures [thēsaurous]

Lit. 'Treasure not up for yourselves treasures'.

for yourselves on the earth [gēs], where moth and rust [brōsis]

'Vermin'. This is a general term for 'eating', probably referring to damage by rats, woodworm, etc., rather than rust, for which the Greek is 'ios'.

consume [aphanizō], and where thieves break through and steal; 20but lay up [thēsaurizete] for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust [brōsis] consume [aphanizō], and where thieves don't break through and steal; 21for where your treasure [thēsauros] is, there your heart will be also. 22" The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound [haplous]

'Sound, healthy'. Lit. 'single', but used in the LXX to translate the root for 'complete' or 'perfect', which is often used of 'undivided' loyalty. So the 'single eye' is a metaphor for a life totally devoted to the service of God. Haplous can also mean generous (Ro 12:8; 2 Cor 8:2; 9:11,13; cf. Jas 1:5) and such a nuance here is suggested by the contrasting 'evil eye' (opsthalmos sou ponēros), a regular expression not only for jealousy but for niggardliness (e.g., Dt 15:9; Pr 22:9; Mt 20:15, and often in Jewish literature). There is a double-entendre therefore, with haplous taking up not only the theme of undivided loyalty but also that of detachment from material concern, hence generosity.

, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24"No one can serve [douleuō]

Lit. 'be a slave of'; a man could satisfactorily have two employers, but not two owners.

two masters [kuriois], for either he will hate the one and love [agapēsei] the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can't serve [douleuein] both God and Mammon [mamōna]

Aramaic mamōna, meaning 'possessions'. To designate wrongly acquired wealth, the Targums usually clarified mamōna by adding 'of falsehood'; cf. Lk 16:9, 11). The Targums, Qumran writings and the Mishnah give mamon a neutral connotation.

. 25"Therefore, I tell you, don't be anxious [merimnaō]

'To be anxious', 'be overconcerned about'. Refers to a state of mind more than the behavioural signs of anxiety.

for your life [psychē]: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn't life [psychē] more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26See the birds of the sky [tou ouranou], that they don't sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you of much more value than they? 27"Which of you, by being anxious [merimnōn] can add one moment to his lifespan [hēlikia]

Normally means 'age', 'life-span'. In Lk 19:3 it means 'height', and the fact that 'cubit' (46 cm) is a measure of physical length apparently supports this meaning here. Cf. Ps 39:5 and our expression 'life- span'.

? 28" Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don't toil, neither do they spin, 29yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven [klibanon]

Almost every kind of combustible matter was used for fuel, e.g., withered stalks of herbs or grass, wood, shrubs, thorn bushes, weeds, vines, branch trimmings, animal and even human dung. Coal was not used by the Israelites.

, won't he much more clothe you, you of little faith [oligopistoi]

Used of disciples when they failed to trust Jesus in a situation of physical need (8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20).

? 31"Therefore don't be anxious [merimnēsēte], saying, 'What will we eat?', 'What will we drink?' or, 'With what will we be clothed?' 32For the Gentiles [ethnē] seek after [epizēteō] all these things; for your heavenly [ho ouranios] Father knows [oida] that you need all these things. 33But But seek first God's Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore don't be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day's own evil [kakia] is sufficient.

7 1"Don't judge [krinō]

Often carries the connotation 'condemn'. The proverbial saying, 'the measure you give will be the measure you get', occurs in Mk 4:24 in a different sense, with reference to care in receiving Jesus' teaching, and in Lk 6:38 with reference probably to generosity in giving. It occurs commonly in Jewish literature to indicate divine retribution (e.g., Mishnah 'Sotah' 1:7). The Jewish idea of God's two 'measures', mercy and judgement, may also be in view.

, so that you won't be judged [krithēthe]. 2For with whatever judgment you judge [krimati krinō], you will be judged [krithēsesthe], and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. 3" Why do you see the speck [karphos]

A tiny splinter of wood or straw; the word is used in secular Greek metaphorically for something minute.

that is in your brother's [adelphou] eye, but don't consider the beam [dokon]

Lit. a beam or rafter. The speck and plank in the eye are found in two Rabbinic sayings, perhaps derived from Jesus' illustration ('Arakhin' 16b; BB15b).

that is in your own eye? 4Or how will you tell your brother, 'Let me remove [ekballō] the speck from your eye;' and look [idou]: the beam [dokos] is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite [hypokrita]! First remove [ekballō] the beam [dokos] out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove [ekballō] the speck out of your brother's [adelphou] eye. 6"Don't give that which is holy [to hagion] to the dogs [kysin]

A term of contempt. To 'go to the dogs' is to go to ruin.

, neither throw your pearls before the pigs [choirōn]

Pigs, swine, or wild boar, common among the marshes of the Jordan valley (cf. Ps 80:13), were regarded as the most unclean and most abhorred of all animals.

, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. 7"Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock [krouō]

Knocking is found in Rabbinic sayings as a metaphor for prayer.

, and it will be opened for you. 8For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened. 9"Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone [lithon]

Loaves of bread often resembled round, flat stones, cf. Mt 4:3; Lk 4:3.

? 10Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a serpent? [opsin]

A snake might be taken for a fish, particularly the eel-like catfish of Galilee, 'Clarias lazera'. For that matter, a round loaf might have looked like a stone. Cf. Mt 14:17; Lk 4:3.

? 11If you then, being evil [ponēroi], know [oida] how to give good [agatha] gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [en tois ouranois] give good [agatha] things to those who ask him! 12Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the Law [nomos] and the Prophets [prophētai]

The Hebrew Bible consisted of the 1) Law (Torah), 2) Prophets (Neviim), and 3) Holy Writings (Ketuvim). The Emperor Alexander Severus reputedly had this saying which appears in verse 12 written in gold on his wall. The negative principle is found in ancient literature from the Athenian Isocrates to Rabbi Hillel ('Shabbath' 31a; cf. Tobit 4:15). In this form it appears in some early texts of Ac 15:29. Some earlier Jewish maxims (Ecclus. 31:15; Letter of Aristeas 207) point towards the more comprehensive positive, but Jesus was apparently the first to formulate it and elevate it as a summary of the revealed will of God. Cf. Hillel after his negative version: 'This is the whole law; all else is commentary' ('Shabbath' 31a). Cf. 22:40.

. 13"Enter in by the narrow gate [stenēs pylēs]

The image of the narrow gate includes the common Jewish teaching of the two ways, of life and of death (cf. Je 21:8; it is developed in the early Christian manual, the Didache).

; for wide is the gate and broad [eurychōros]


is the way that leads to destruction [apōleian], and many are those who enter in by it. 14How narrow is the gate [stenē hē pylē], and restricted [tethlimmenē]

'Restricted'. Nouns from the same roots as 'narrow' and 'hard' are used together in Ro 2:9; 8:35 for 'tribulation and distress'.

is the way that leads to life [zōēn]! Few are those who find it. 15"Beware of false prophets [pseudoprophētōn], who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. 16By their fruits you will know [epignōsesthe] them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. 18A good tree can't produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. 19Every tree that doesn't grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. 20Therefore, by their fruits you will know them. 21Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord [kyrie]

While kyrie is sometimes in the Gospels no more than a polite form of address ('Sir': e.g., 13:27; 21:30; 25:20), in Matthew it is generally used in contexts which indicate a deeper and more religious meaning. It is the characteristic form of address to Jesus by disciples (often substituted by Matthew where the other Synoptics have 'Teacher' or 'Rabbi').

,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven [basileian tōn ouranōn]; but he who does the will [thelēma] of my Father who is in heaven [en tois ouranois]. 22Many will tell me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out [ekballō] demons, and in your name do many mighty works [dynameis]?' 23Then I will tell them, 'I never [oudepote] knew [ginōskō] you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.' 24"Everyone therefore who hears these words [logous] of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. 25The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn't fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26Everyone who hears these words [logous] of mine, and doesn't do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. 27The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell--and great [megalē] was its fall." 28It happened, when Jesus had finished saying these things, that the multitudes were astonished at his teaching, 29for he taught them with authority, and not like the scribes [grammateis]

Scribes were officers whose duties included writing. On the return from the Babylonian captivity the 'sopherim' were organised by Ezra into a distinct body. They copied the Pentateuch, the Phylacteries and the Mezuzoth. They counted and compared all the letters to ensure accuracy. As well as being copyists they were interpreters and gave instruction in the knowledge of the law. At the time of Christ the Jewish language was passing into the Aramaic dialect and the majority of the people, unable to understand their own Scriptures, depended on the interpretation of the scribes who also rigorously upheld the oral traditions as being on a par with Scripture.


8 1When he came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2Consider this [idou]; a leper [lepros]

Lepers were outcast from normal society. It is probably that the 'leprosy' of the Bible was a term covering various skin complaints as well as the much more serious 'true' leprosy called by the Greeks 'elephantiasis'. Not all were serious or contagious, but were all lumped together and covered by the strict 'quarantine' regulations of Lev 13-14. Leprosy was a generic term applied to a variety of skin disorders from psoriasis to leprosy. Those with leprosy were unfit to worship God (cf. Lev 13:3) and were isolated from the rest of the community.

came to him and worshiped [proskyneō]

Normally translated 'worship' (cf. NIV, 'knelt'). The verb need mean no more than to pay homage to a human dignitary, but Matthew frequently uses it in contexts where Jesus' more-than-human status is recognized (e.g., 14:33; 28:9,17).

him, saying, "Lord [kyrie], if you want to, you can make me clean [katharizō]." 3Jesus stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I want [thelō] to. Be made clean." Immediately [katharisthēti] his leprosy was cleansed [ekatharisthē]. 4Jesus said to him, "See that you tell nobody, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift [dōron] that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." 5When he came into Capernaum, a centurion [hekatontarchos]

A junior officer in the auxiliary forces under the command of Herod Antipas, which were non- Jewish, drawn largely from Lebanon and Syria.

came to him, asking him, 6and saying, "Lord, my servant [pais]

Can mean child; cf. Jn 4:51. Luke, who uses pais in 7:7, calls him a 'slave' in vv2, 4, and 10; 'servant' is a regular meaning of pais in the NT, while nowhere except Jn 4:51 does it denote a 'son' as opposed to a 'child'.

lies in the house paralyzed, grievously tormented." 7Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal [therapeusō] him." 8The centurion answered, "Lord, I'm not worthy [ouk eimi himanos] for you to come under my roof. Just say the word [logō], and my servant [pais] will be healed [iaomai]. 9For I am also a man under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and tell another, 'Come,' and he comes; and tell my servant [doulō], 'Do this,' and he does it." 10When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to those who followed [akolouthousin], "Most certainly I tell you [amēn legō umin], I haven't found so great a faith [pistin], not even in Israel. 11I tell you that many will come from the east and the west, and will sit down [anaklinō]

Lit. 'recline', the normal posture for meals, especially more formal ones (cf. Jn 13:23). The imagery of the Messianic banquet (cf. 26:29; Lk 14:15; 22:30) is a prominent theme in Jewish eschatological expectation, derived from Is 25:6.

with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn uioi], 12but the children [huioi] of the Kingdom will be thrown out [ekballō] into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth [odontōn]

Symbolic descriptions of the fate of 'the ungodly'; as in 13:42.

." 13Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way. Let it be done for you as you have believed [pisteuō]." His servant [pais] was healed in that hour. 14When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever. 15He touched her hand, and the fever left her. She got up and served him. 16When evening came, they brought to him many possessed with demons. He cast out the spirits with a word [logō], and healed [therapeuō] all who were sick; 17that it might be fulfilled [plēroō] which was spoken [to rhēthen] through Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He took [lambanō] our infirmities, and bore [bastazō] our diseases [nosous]." 18Now when Jesus saw great multitudes around him, he gave the order to depart to the other side. 19A scribe [grammateus] came, and said to him, "Teacher [didaskale]

This is a term only used by outsiders in Matthew.

, I will follow [akoloutheō] you wherever you go." 20Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." 21Another of his disciples said to him, "Lord [kyrie], allow me first to go and bury [thaptō]

The dead must be buried within twenty four hours (though the subsequent ceremonies could last a week), and this duty was incumbent on the son (Gn 50:5; Tobit 4:3; 6:14). It took precedence over religious duty (Mishnah 'Berakoth' 3:1), and even justified priests in contracting ritual defilement (Lev 21:2). However there is colloquial evidence of 'to bury' in the sense of 'look after until death' and this was a cultural expectation.

my father." 22But Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead [nekrous]

The use of 'dead' for 'godless' is not found until later Judaism.

to bury [thaptō] their own dead." 23When he got into a boat, his disciples followed him. 24Consider this [idou]; a violent storm [seismos megas]

Lit. a 'shaking'; usually means 'earthquake'.

came up on the sea, so much that the boat was covered with the waves, but he was asleep. 25They came to him, and woke him up, saying, "Save [sōzō] us, Lord! We are dying [apollymi]!" 26He said to them, "Why are you fearful [deiliaō], O you of little faith [olgopistoi]?" Then he got up, rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27The men marvelled, saying, "What kind of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" 28When he came to the other side, into the country of the Gadarenes [Gadarēnōn]

A city of Decapolis, 6 miles south-east of the lake, but controlling territory up to the shore of the lake east of the Jordan outflow (Josephus, 'Vita' 42). In all three Synoptics there are variant readings.

, two people possessed by demons met him there, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce [ischuein], so that nobody could pass that way. 29Consider this [idou]; they cried out, saying, "What do we have to do with you, Jesus, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?" 30Now there was a herd of many pigs feeding far away from them. 31The demons begged him, saying, "If you cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of pigs." 32He said to them, "Go!" They came out, and went into the herd of pigs: and consider this [idou]; the whole herd of pigs rushed down the cliff into the sea, and died in the water. 33Those who fed them fled, and went away into the city, and told everything, including what happened to those who were possessed with demons. 34Consider this [idou]; all the city came out to meet Jesus. When they saw him, they begged that he would depart from their borders.

9 1He entered into a boat, and crossed over, and came into his own city. 2Consider this [idou]; they brought to him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a bed. Jesus, seeing their faith [pistin], said to the paralytic, "Son [teknon], cheer up! Your sins are forgiven [aphiēmi] you." 3Consider this [idou]; some of the scribes [grammateōn] said to themselves, "This man blasphemes [blasphēmeō]." 4Jesus, knowing [idōn] their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil [ponēra] in your hearts? 5For which is easier [eukopōteron]

The use of eukopōteron for an 'a fortiori' argument occurs in Greek only in sayings of Jesus (cf. 19:24 and Lk 16:17).

, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven [aphiēmi];' or to say, 'Get up, and walk?' 6But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins..." (then he said to the paralytic), "Get up, and take up your mat [klinēn]

Couch for resting, sickness, sitting, or eating; bed or table. The 'bed' was simply a mat or blanket that could be carried by hand.

, and go up to your house." 7He arose and departed to his house. 8But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled [phobeō] and glorified [doxazō] God, who had given such authority [exousian] to men. 9As Jesus passed by from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax collection office [telōnion]

The tax office at Capernaum would be concerned with tolls on goods crossing the frontier of Antipas's tetrachy either across the lake from Decapolis or across the Jordan from Philip's tetrarchy. Matthew was thus apparently a customs official in the service of Herod Antipas rather than a collector of direct taxes, but the two are both represented by telōnēs (tax-gatherer), and were linked in Jewish writings, often bracketed with thieves and 'sinners' in general.

. He said to him, "Follow me." He got up and followed him. 10It happened as he sat [anakeimai] in the house, think of it [idou]: many tax collectors [telōnai]

In order to collect the taxes, publicans employed subordinates (Lk 5:27; 15:1; 18:10) who, for their own profit, were often guilty of extortion and embezzlement.

and sinners [hamartōloi]

This term designates not only common Jewish people who could not or would not keep the scribal rules of tithing and purity, but is used more widely of the immoral (Lk 7:37f), heretics (Jn 9:16f), and Gentiles (Gal 2:15), as well as of tax collectors.

came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12When Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are healthy [ischuontes] have no need for a physician, but those who are sick [kakōs] do. 13But you go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' for I came not to call the righteous [dikaious], but sinners to repentance. 14Then John's disciples came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don't fast?" 15Jesus said to them, "Can the friends [huioi]

Lit. 'children'; those participating in the wedding party.

of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment [himatiō]; for the patch would tear away from the garment [himatiou], and a worse hole [schisma] is made. 17Neither do people put new wine into old wineskins [Askous palaious]

Lit. 'old skins' Water, wine and milk bottles were often made from animal skins which are durable, portable and available. Goatskin was popular and often the skin retained the animal shape, the neck of the animal becoming the neck of the bottle, the foreleg a spout and the rear hinds being tied to form a handle. For longer journeys or larger parties a camel or ox skin were used. They were coated with grease to prevent water leaking or evaporating. Skin bottles were also used for milk (Jd 4:19); for wine see 1 Sa 16:20. When used for wine, the skins if supple would stretch in the process of fermenting. If the skins were old, the fermentation might cause the skins to burst.

, or else the skins would burst, and the wine be spilled, and the skins ruined. No, they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved." 18While he told these things to them, think of it [idou]: a ruler [archōn] came and worshiped [prosekynei] him, saying, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live." 19Jesus got up and followed him, as did his disciples. 20Consider this [idou]; a woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years came behind him, and touched the fringe of his garment [kraspedou tou himatiou]

See also Lk 8:44. Kraspedon means 'margin', i.e., fringe or tassel, hem, border (now known as 'tzizit'). Every Jew was obliged by the law of Moses to wear a fringe or tassel at each of the four corners of the outer garment, one thread of each tassel to be blue. These reminded them of the law of God, and of their obligation towards it (see Nu 15:38, 39; Dt 22:12). In Jewish symbolic numerology, the word tzizit has a numerical value of 600. Each tassel comprises 8 threads and 5 knots. (600 + 8 + 5 = 613) 613 is the number of mitzvot or commandments contained in the Torah. The five knots in each tassel remind Jews of the five books of the Torah. The Pharisees prided themselves on their tassels which they considered marks of special sanctity in the wearers, and therefore sought to enlarge their size (cf. Mt 23:5).

; 21for she said within herself, "If I just touch his garment [himatiou], I will be made well [sōzō]." 22But Jesus, turning around and seeing her, said, "Daughter, cheer up! Your faith [pistis] has made you well [sōzō]." And the woman was made well from that hour. 23When Jesus came into the ruler's [archontos] house, and saw the flute players [aulētas]

Professional mourners were hired even by the poorest families (Mishnah 'Ketuboth' 4:4 specifies 'not less than two flutes and one wailing woman')' for the flute players, cf. Josephus, 'BJ' iii.437.

, and the crowd in noisy disorder, 24he said to them, "Make room, because the girl isn't dead [apothnēskō], but sleeping [katheudō]

Normally used literally in the NT, or metaphorically for spiritual inertia, not death (in contrast with koimaomai, also lit. 'sleep', which regularly refers to death).

." They were ridiculing [kategelōn] him. 25But when the crowd was put out, he entered in, took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26The report of this went out into all that land [gēn]. 27As Jesus passed by from there, two blind men followed him, calling out and saying, "Have mercy [eleēson]

The appeal for mercy is repeated in 15:22; 17:15; 20:30-31, in each case asking for practical help; cf. also 18:33, and the regular use of eleēmosynē for 'alms'.

on us, son of David!" 28When he had come into the house, the blind men came to him. Jesus said to them, "Do you believe [pisteuō] that I am able to do this?" They told him, "Yes, Lord." 29Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith [pistin] be it done to you." 30Their eyes were opened. Jesus strictly commanded them, saying, "See that no one knows about this." 31But they went out and spread abroad his fame in all that land [gē]. 32As they went out, consider this [idou]; a mute [kōphon]

Kōphos means both 'deaf' and 'dumb'.

man who was demon possessed was brought to him. 33When the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke. The multitudes marveled, saying, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!" 34But the Pharisees said, "By the prince of the demons, he casts out demons." 35Jesus went about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching [kēryssō] the Good News [euangelion] of the Kingdom, and healing [therapeuō] every disease and every sickness [malakian] among the people. 36But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion [splagchnizomai]

Lit. referring to a 'gut reaction'.

for them, because they were harassed [skullō] and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest indeed is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38Pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest [kyriou tou therismou]

Probably represents an Aramaic term for 'chief harvester'.

will send out [ekballō] laborers into his harvest."

10 1He called to himself his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every sickness [malakian]. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles [apostolōn] are these. The first, Simon, who is called Peter; Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee; John, his brother; 3Philip; Bartholomew; Thomas; Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus [Alphaiou; Heb. Ya'akov Bar-Chalfai]; Lebbaeus [Lebbaios]

Occurs in some MSS in Matthew and Mark.

, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Canaanite [ho Kananitēs]

'Cananaean' probably represents the Aramaic term for a Zealot, 'qan'ana', banded together for insurrection at any moment when the word might be given by their leaders. They were under a vow to murder anyone they came across who was taking good Jewish money from fellow Jews and passing it over to Rome. The tax collector Matthew and the Zealot Simon who followed Jesus were brothers.

; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed [paradidōmi] him. 5Jesus sent these twelve out, and commanded them, saying, "Don't go among the Gentiles [ethnōn], and don't enter into any city of the Samaritans. 6Rather, go to the lost sheep [oikou] of the house of Israel. 7As you go, preach [kēryssō], saying, 'The Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is at hand!' 8Heal [therapeuō] the sick, cleanse [katharizō] the lepers, and cast out [ekballō] demons. Freely [dōrean] you received, so freely [dōrean] give. 9Don't take [ktaomai]

Lit. 'obtain'.

any gold, nor silver, nor brass in your money belts [zōnas]

'Pocket', 'girdle', 'purse' or 'pouch'.

. 10Take no bag [pēran]

Either one for carrying food (no pre-packed meals) or the beggar's bag, such as itinerant Cynic preachers carried.

for your journey, neither two coats [chitōnas]

Either a spare, or intended for extra warmth during a night spent in the open (and therefore not essential, v11).

, nor shoes [hypodēmata]

Shoe or sandal; some covered the entire foot while others left the toes bare. The shoe was the humblest article of clothing and could be bought cheaply. They were repaired by the poor. Shoes were removed indoors, for mourning, and out of respect in a king's presence.

, nor staff: for the labourer is worthy of his food [trophēs]

The Roman custom was to pay soldiers with salt.

. 11Into whatever city or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy [axios]; and stay there until you go on. 12As you enter into the household, greet it. 13If the household is worthy, let your peace come on it, but if it isn't worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 Whoever doesn't receive [dechomai] you, nor hear your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake [ektinassō]

Shaking the dust off was a sign for Jews that Gentile territory was unclean.

off the dust from your feet. 15 Most certainly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment [kriseōs] than for that city. 16"Consider this [idou]; I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise [phronimoi]

Rather 'sensible', 'prudent'; used in the LXX for the 'cunning' of the serpent in Gn 3:1; cf. Lk 16:1-8.

as serpents, and harmless [akeraioi] as doves. 17But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and in their synagogues [synedria; Heb. sanhedrins]

Lit. 'sanhedrins' may refer to the councils of 23 members who were responsible for discipline in the local synagogue, but the word could apply to any formal body.

they will scourge [mastigoō]

The discipline of the synagogue was severe. The victim was tied to a bench or post then whipped and beaten by a servant of the synagogue, a slave or a soldier. The number of blows was set in Dt 25:3 but later reduced by one. There were thirteen on the chest and twenty six on the back. There were 168 faults punishable by flogging which were in fact all the crimes to which the law had not annexed the death penalty. Often the victims of floggings died from their lacerations, cf. Mt 23:34.

you. 18 Yes, and you will be brought before governors [hēgemonas]

The Roman prefects of Judea included the governors (the same word for 'governor' is used in 27:2, 11, 14) and 'king' Herod of Galilee with his later successors as kings of the Jews.

and kings for my sake, for a testimony [martyrion]

Cf. same phrase as in 8:4.

to them and to the nations [ethnesin]. 19But when they deliver you up, don't be anxious how or what you will say, for it will be given you in that hour what you will say. 20For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. 21"Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22You will be hated by all men for my name's sake, but he who endures [hypomenō] to the end [eis telos]

'Right through'.

will be saved [sōzō]. 23But when they persecute [diōkō] you in this city, flee into the next, for most certainly I tell you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man has come. 24"A disciple is not above his teacher [didaskalon; Heb. rabbi], nor a servant [doulos] above his lord. 25It is enough for the disciple that he be like his teacher [didaskalos; Heb. rabbi], and the servant [doulos] like his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul [Beelzeboul; Heb. Ba'al-zibbul]

Beelzebul will recur in 12:24, 27 as the name of the demon to whose power Jesus' enemies attributed his miracles. It probably derived from the Canaanite god mentioned in 2 Kings 1:2 in the form Baal-zebub ('lord of flies'), whose official title may have been Baal-zebul, 'Baal the prince' or possibly 'Lord of the height' or 'of the dwelling'; but in popular Jewish usage it had become the name of a senior demon; 12:24ff shows that it could be used as a synonym of 'Satan'.

, how much more those of his household [oikiakous]! 26Therefore don't be afraid [phobeomai] of them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed; and hidden that will not be known [ginōskō]. 27What I tell you in the darkness, speak [kēryssō]

There was a method of instruction in the schools of the rabbis whereby the doctor whispered into the ear of an interpreter who, with a loud voice, repeated the saying to the whole school.

in the light; and what you hear whispered in the ear, proclaim on the housetops [dōmatōn]

The synagogue trumpet was sounded from the roof to usher in the Sabbath.

. 28Don't be afraid of those who kill [apokteinō] the body [sōma], but are not able to kill [apokteinai] the soul [psychē]

Also means 'life'. 'Soul' and 'body' are not two separable parts of a person; each one alone, and both together, can be used to indicate the whole person.

. Rather, fear him who is able to destroy [apolesai]

Carries the connotation of 'loss' and 'ruin' as well as of literal destruction.

both soul and body in Gehenna [gehennē]. 29"Aren't two sparrows [strouthia]

'Small birds'; a cheap source of food for the poor though pets for the rich. They are listed as the cheapest of the birds sold for food in a third-century AD decree. Strouthia was the diminutive of strouthos, 'sparrow'.

sold for an assarion coin [assariou]

Roman copper coin worth 1/16 denarius.

? Not one of them falls on the ground apart from your Father's will, 30but the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Therefore don't be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows. 32Everyone therefore who confesses [homologeō] me before men, him I will also confess [omolegēsō] before my Father who is in heaven [en tois ouranois]. 33But whoever denies [arneomai] me before men, him I will also deny [arnēsomai] before my Father who is in heaven [en tois ouranois]. 34"Don't think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn't come to send peace, but a sword. 35For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 A man's foes will be those of his own household [oikiakoi].' 37 He who loves [phileō] father or mother more than me is not worthy [axios] of me; and he who loves [phileō] son or daughter more than me isn't worthy [axios] of me. 38 He who doesn't take his cross and follow after me, isn't worthy [axios]

'Not the right sort to be my disciple.' For the Rabbis too the claims of the teacher came before those of the father (Mishnah, 'BM' 2:11).

of me. 39He who seeks his life [psychēn] will lose [apollymi] it; and he who loses [apollymi] his life [psychē] for my sake will find it. 40He who receives [dechomai]

Into one's house, primarily, as in vv11-14; but the acceptance of their teaching is also implied). In Jewish thought 'a man's agent is like to himself' (Mishnah, 'Berakoth' 5:5).

you receives [dechetai] me, and he who receives [dechomenos] me receives [dechetai] him who sent me. 41He who receives [dechomenos] a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward [misthon]. He who receives [dechomenos] a righteous [dikaion] man in the name of a righteous man [dikaiou] will receive [lambanō] a righteous man's [dikaiou] reward [misthon]. 42Whoever gives one of these little ones [mikrōn] just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, most certainly I tell you [amēn legō hymin] he will in no way lose his reward [misthon]

To give a cup of cold water was and is still an essential act of courtesy and hospitality in the East. It is taken for granted, and deserves no reward, yet even this act of acceptance will receive one.


11 1It happened that when Jesus had finished directing his twelve disciples, he departed from there to teach and preach [kēryssō] in their cities. 2Now when John heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3and said to him, "Are you he who comes, or should we look for another?" 4Jesus answered them, "Go and tell [anangellō] John the things which you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed [katharizontai], the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached [euangelizō] to them. 6Blessed [makarios] is he who finds no occasion for stumbling [skandalizō]

'Be tripped up by'.

in me." 7As these went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, "What did you go out into the wilderness [erēmon] to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8But what did you go out to see? A man in soft clothing? Consider this [idou]; those who wear soft clothing are in king's houses. 9But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, 'Consider this [idou]; I send my messenger [angelon] before your face, who will prepare your way before you.' 11Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptizer; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptizer until now, the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] suffers violence [biazō], and the violent [biastai] take it by force [harpazō]

'Take by force.' Normally means 'plunder' or 'seize'. Cf. Jn 6:14-15 where the same verb is used.

. 13For all the prophets [prophētai] and the law [nomos]

The Law (Torah) and Prophets (Neviim) were two thirds of the Hebrew Bible, not counting the Holy Writings (Ketuvim).

prophesied until John. 14If you are willing to receive [dechomai] it, this is Elijah, who is to come. 15He who has ears to hear, let him hear [akouō]. 16"But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces [agorais], who call to their companions 17and say, 'We played the flute for you, and you didn't dance. We mourned for you, and you didn't lament.' 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look [idou]! A gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified [dikaioō] by her children." 20Then he began to denounce [oneidizō] the cities in which most of his mighty works had been done, because they didn't repent [metanoeō]. 21"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented [metanoeō] long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment [kriseōs] than for you. 23You, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, you will go down to Hades [hadou; Heb. Sh'ol]. For if the mighty works had been done in Sodom which were done in you, it would have remained until this day. 24But I tell you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, on the day of judgment [kriseōs], than for you." 25At that time, Jesus answered, "I thank [exhomologeō] you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed [apokalyptō] them to infants. 26Yes, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in your sight. 27All things have been delivered [paradidōmi] to me by my Father. No one knows the Son, except the Father; neither does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and he to whom the Son desires to reveal [apokalyptō] him. 28"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest [anapauō]. 29Take my yoke [zygon]

Wooden frame placed on the backs of oxen to make them pull in tandem. The simplest of these was a bar with hoops set around the animals' necks. Other yokes incorporated a shaft with which the animals pulled ploughs or other devices. Oxen were often overloaded and would stumble and fall under their load.

upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle [praus] and lowly [tapeinos] in heart; and you will find rest [anapausin] for your souls [psychais]. 30For my yoke is easy [chrēstos]

Normally means 'good', 'kind'.

, and my burden is light."

12 1At that time, Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the grain fields [sporimōn]

'Corn fields.' It was lawful for the hungry to help themselves to as much as they wished of their neighbour's unharvested crop (Dt. 23:25).

on the Sabbath [Sabbasin]

The professional clergy misrepresented the whole nature of religion, and burdened the people with unnecessary and finicking detail; making it, for instance, a serious sin that a man should drag a stick along the ground on the Sabbath because that was plowing, and plowing is breaking the Sabbath. A woman was not allowed to use a mirror on the Sabbath. She might espy a grey hair, and if she plucked it out she would be guilty of reaping on the Sabbath and thus breaking it! (Such a Sabbath deserved to be broken).

. His disciples were hungry and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2But the Pharisees, when they saw it, said to him, "Look [idou]! Your disciples do what is not lawful [ouk exestin]

Picking grain was not in itself illegal (see Dt 23:25), but to do so constituted reaping, one of the 30 areas of work forbidden on the Sabbath (Mishnah 'Shabbath' 7:2). (The only need which could override Sabbath regulations was danger of death).

to do on the Sabbath." 3But he said to them, "Haven't you read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him; 4how he entered into the house of God, and ate the show bread, which was not lawful [exon] for him to eat, neither for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5Or have you not read in the law [nomō]

There were temple duties which were held to supersede the sabbath regulations (see Mishnah ' 'Erubin' 10:11-15; 'Pesahim' 6:1-2). A parallel action would be the reaping of the offering of the first sheaves, which the Pharisees regarded as required on the sabbath, while the Sadducees did not allow it (Mishnah 'Menahoth' 10:3, 9).

, that on the Sabbath day, the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless? 6But I tell you that one greater [meizon] than the temple is here. 7But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned [katadikazō] the guiltless. 8For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." 9He departed there, and went into their synagogue. 10And, consider this [idou]; there was a man with a withered hand. They asked him, "Is it lawful [exestin]

The man was not in imminent danger of death, which alone justified treatment on the sabbath according to Mishnah 'Yoma' 8:6.

to heal [therapeuō] on the Sabbath day?" that they might accuse [katēgoreō] him. 11He said to them, "What man is there among you, who has one sheep, and if this one falls into a pit on the Sabbath day, won't he grab on to it, and lift it out? 12Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful [exestin]

The Talmud concludes that the avoidance of animal suffering should override regulations ('Shabbath' 128b).

to do good [kalōs] on the Sabbath day." 13Then he told the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out; and it was restored whole, just like the other. 14But the Pharisees went out, and conspired against him, how they might destroy [apollymi] him. 15Jesus, perceiving that, withdrew from there. Great multitudes followed him; and he healed [therapeuō] them all, 16and commanded [epitimaō]

A strong verb of warning or rebuke. 'Ordered'.

them that they should not make him known: 17that it might be fulfilled [plērōthē] which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, 18"See [idou]; my servant [pais] whom I have chosen; my beloved [agapaō] in whom my soul is well pleased [hon eudokeō hē psychē mou]: I will put my Spirit on him. He will proclaim justice [krisin] to the nations [ethesin]. 19He will not strive [erizō], nor shout; neither will anyone hear his voice in the streets. 20He won't break a bruised reed. He won't quench a smoking flax, until he leads justice [krisin]

A word whose scope in the OT is wider than mere legal vindication, denoting the setting right of whatever is not as it should be. Establishing God's will.

to victory. 21In his name, the nations [ethnē] will hope." 22Then one possessed by a demon, blind and mute, was brought to him and he healed [therapeuō] him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23All the multitudes were amazed [existēmi]

Used only here in Matthew; a stronger word than the more conventional term 'marvelled' (9:33).

, and said, "Can this be the son of David?" 24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This man does not cast out demons, except by Beelzebul [Beelzeboul]

Sorcery was a capital offence (Mishnah 'Sanhedrin' 7:4).

, the prince [archonti] of the demons." 25Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation [erēmoomai], and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27If I by Beelzebul cast out demons [Beelzeboul], by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges [kritai]

Jewish exorcists are recorded e.g., in Ac 19:13 (cf. Mk 9:38); Josephus, 'Ant.' Viii. 46-48' 'BJ' vii.185 (cf. Tobit 6:7; 16-17; 8:2-3).

. 28But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon [ephthasen]

Perhaps suggests an arrival which catches unawares. Reminiscent of ēngiken (lit. 'has come near', is already beginning and demands immediate action) in 3:2; 4:17; 10:7.

you. 29Or how can one enter into the house of the strong man, and plunder his goods, unless he first bind [deō]

The 'binding of Satan' was a feature in Jewish apocalyptic hope (Testament of Levi 18:21; cf. 1 Enoch 54:3-5; 69:27-28) and became also part of Christian eschatology (Rev 20:1-3).

the strong man? Then he will plunder his house. 30"He who is not with me is against me, and he who doesn't gather with me, scatters. 31Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy [blasphēmeō] will be forgiven [aphiēmi] men, but the blasphemy [blasphēmia]

Usually speech against God in the LXX, but in secular Greek it is used also of slander generally; so also in Rom 3:8; 1 Cor 10:30. Cf. Num 15:30-31 for unforgivable blasphemy in contrast with unwitting sin in vv27-29. At Qumran slander of one's fellow was forgivable after penance, but slander against the community brought permanent expulsion from it (1QS 7:15-17).

against the Spirit will not be forgiven [aphethēsetai] men. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven [aphethēsetai] him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven [aphethēsetai] him, neither in this age, nor in that which is to come. 33"Either make [poieō]

'Suppose …'.

the tree good [kalon], and its fruit good [kalon], or make the tree corrupt [sapron], and its fruit corrupt [sapron]; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. 35The good man [agathos] out of his good [agathou] treasure [thēsaurou] brings out [ekballō] good [agatha] things, and the evil [ponēros] man out of his evil [ponērou] treasure [thēsaurou] brings out [ekballei] evil things [ponēra]. 36I tell you that every idle word [rhēma argon]

Lit. 'work-less' (see, e.g., 20:3,6). The word may imply 'ineffective'. Can also mean 'untrue'.

that men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment [kriseōs]. 37For by your words [logōn] you will be justified [dikaioō], and by your words [logōn] you will be condemned [katadikazō]." 38Then certain of the scribes [grammateōn] and Pharisees answered, "Teacher [Didaskale], we want to see a sign [sēmeion]

Cf. Ex 4:8-9; Is. 7:11; 38:7-8; similar signs were required to authenticate some Rabbis according to 'Baba Metzia' 59b (R. Eliezer, c. AD 90) and 'Sanhedrin' 98a (R. Jose b. Kisma, c. AD 110).

from you." 39But he answered them, "An evil [ponēra] and adulterous generation seeks after a sign [sēmeion], but no sign will be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet. 40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale [kētous], so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41The men of Nineveh will stand up in the judgment [krisei] with this generation, and will condemn [katakrinō] it, for they repented [metanoeō] at the preaching [kērugma] of Jonah; and see [idou]: someone greater [pleion] than Jonah is here. 42The queen of the south will rise up in the judgment [krisei] with this generation, and will condemn [krinō] it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, see [idou]; someone greater [pleion] than Solomon is here. 43But the unclean spirit, when he is gone out of the man, passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and doesn't find it. 44Then he says, 'I will return into my house from which I came out,' and when he has come back, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order [kekosmēmenon]. 45Then he goes, and takes with himself seven other spirits more evil than he is, and they enter in and dwell [katoikeō]

In a sense the wrath of Jesus warning the Jewish leadership was not as bad as the consequences of rejecting him which was to be the overthrow of Jerusalem by the Romans.

there. The last state of that man becomes worse than the first. Even so will it be also to this evil [ponēra] generation." 46While he was yet speaking to the multitudes, consider this [idou]; his mother and his brothers stood outside, seeking to speak to him. 47One said to him, "Consider this [idou]; your mother and your brothers stand outside, seeking to speak to you." 48But he answered him who spoke to him, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" 49He stretched out his hand towards his disciples, and said, "Consider this [idou]; my mother and my brothers! 50For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother."

13 1On that day Jesus went out of the house, and sat by the seaside. 2Great multitudes gathered to him, so that he entered into a boat, and sat, and all the multitude stood on the beach. 3He spoke to them many things in parables [parabolais]

Parabolē is wider than 'parable'; in the LXX it translates the Hebrew for proverbs, riddles and wise sayings as well. Matthew uses it for instance for Jesus' cryptic saying about defilement (15:10-11, 15), and in 24:32 ('lesson') it indicates a comparison.

, saying, "Consider this [idou]; a farmer went out to sow. 4As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them. 5Others fell on rocky ground, where they didn't have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth. 6When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away. 7Others fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them. 8Others fell on good soil, and yielded fruit: some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty. 9He who has ears to hear, let him hear." 10The disciples came, and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables [parabolais]?" 11He answered them, "To you it is given to know the mysteries [mystēria] of the Kingdom of Heaven [basileias tōn ouranōn], but it is not given to them. 12For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever doesn't have, from him will be taken away even that which he has. 13Therefore I speak to them in parables [parabolais], because seeing they don't see, and hearing, they don't hear, neither do they understand [syniēmi]. 14In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled [anaplēroō], which says, 'By hearing you will hear [akoē akouō], and will in no way understand [ou mē syniēmi]; Seeing you will see [blepontes blepō], and will in no way perceive [ou mē horaō]: 15for this people's heart has grown callous [pachynō]

The LXX which is followed here substitutes for the Hebrew imperatives ('make fat', 'make heavy', 'shut') a passive verb ('has been made fat') and two active ones (the Greek reads literally 'with their ears they have heard heavily and their eyes they have closed'), thus placing the blame for their unresponsiveness on the people themselves.

, their ears are dull of hearing, they have closed their eyes; or else [mēpote] perhaps they might perceive [idōsin] with their eyes, hear [akousōsin] with their ears, understand [synōsin] with their heart, and should turn again; and I would heal [iaomai] them.' 16"But blessed [makarioi]

'To be congratulated'.

are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. 17For most certainly I tell you that many prophets and righteous men [dikaioi] desired to see the things which you see, and didn't see them; and to hear the things which you hear, and didn't hear them. 18"Hear, then, the parable [parabolēn] of the farmer. 19When anyone hears the word of the Kingdom, and doesn't understand it, the evil one [ponēros] comes, and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown by the roadside. 20What was sown on the rocky places, this is he who hears the word [logon], and immediately with joy [charas] receives [lambanōn] it; 21yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while. When oppression [thlipseōs] or persecution [diōgmou] arises because of the word [logon], immediately he stumbles [skandalizō]

Lit. 'tripped up'; it is not a gradual loss of interest, but a collapse under pressure.

. 22What was sown [speirō] among the thorns, this is he who hears the word [logon], but the cares [merimna]

'Anxious' is from the same root.

of this age [aiōn merimna]

The present age, the secular concerns of earth as opposed to the kingdom of God.

and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word [logon], and he becomes unfruitful. 23What was sown [spareis] on the good [kalēn] ground, this is he who hears the word [logon], and understands [synieis] it, who most certainly bears fruit, and brings forth, some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty." 24He set another parable [parabolēn] before them, saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is like a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25but while people slept, his enemy came and sowed darnel weeds [zizania]

Probably darnel, a poisonous plant related to wheat and virtually indistinguishable from it until the ears form. Two types of weeds are known of: 'pig-paddy' and 'perum-pirandi'. They grew rapidly and scattered before the good seed could be reaped. It would take some years for the owner to be rid of the weed by which time he would be ruined by debt. To sow darnel among wheat as an act of revenge was punishable in Roman law. In the case of a heavy infestation the stronger roots of the darnel would be tangled with those of the wheat, making selective weeding impossible.

also among the wheat, and went away. 26But when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then the darnel weeds [zizania] appeared also. 27The servants [douloi] of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, didn't you sow good [kalon] seed in your field? Where did this darnel [zizania] come from?' 28"He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' "The servants [douloi] asked him, 'Do you want us to go and gather them up?' 29"But he said, 'No, lest perhaps while you gather up the darnel weeds [zizania], you root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the harvest time I will tell the reapers, "First, gather up the darnel weeds [zizania], and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn."'" 31He set another parable [parabolēn] before them, saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is like a grain of mustard seed [kokkō sinapeōs]

Proverbially minute (cf. 17:20, and Mishnah 'Niddah' 5:2, etc.). It normally grew to about 3 metres. The language of 'tree' could recall the OT image for a great empire (Ezk 17:23; 31:3-9; Dn 4:10-12, etc.). The birds represent the nations gathered under the protection of the empire (Ezk 31:6; Dn 4:20-22).

, which a man took, and sowed in his field; 32which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches." 33He spoke another parable [parabolēn] to them. "The Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is like yeast, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal [aleurou sata tria]

Three satons (dry measure of 21.6 pints) of wheat flour, enough bread for 100 people!.

, until it was all leavened." 34Jesus spoke all these things in parables [parabolais] to the multitudes; and without a parable [parabolēs], he didn't speak to them, 35that it might be fulfilled [plēroō] which was spoken through the prophet, saying, "I will open my mouth in parables [parabolais]; I will utter things hidden from the foundation [katabolēs] of the world [kosmou]." 36Then Jesus sent the multitudes away, and went into the house. His disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable [parabolēn] of the darnel weeds [zizaniōn] of the field." 37He answered them, "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38the field is the world [kosmos]; and the good seed, these are the children of the Kingdom; and the darnel weeds [zizania] are the children of the evil one [ponērou]. 39The enemy who sowed them is the devil [diabolos]. The harvest is the end [synteleia] of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40As therefore the darnel weeds [zizania] are gathered up and burned with fire; so will it be at the end [synteleia] of this age. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling [skandalizō]

Lit. 'stumbling-blocks'; not things but people, as in 16:23.

, and those who do iniquity [anomian], 42and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous [dikaioi] will shine forth like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. 44"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is like a treasure [thēsaurō]

Treasures used to be hidden in secret closets or in vaults under the house, or buried in an undisclosed location underground. In times or war or pestilence the dead took their secrets with them, cf. Job 3:21-22; Pro 2:4; Ecc 5:12; Is 45:3; Mt 25:18.

hidden in the field, which a man found, and hid. In his joy, he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. 45"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is like a man who is a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46who having found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it. 47"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet, that was cast into the sea, and gathered some fish of every kind, 48which, when it was filled, they drew up on the beach. They sat down, and gathered the good into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49So will it be in the end [synteleia] of the world. The angels will come forth, and separate the wicked [ponērous] from among the righteous [ek mesou tōn dikaiōn], 50and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth." 51Jesus said to them, "Have you understood all these things?" They answered him, "Yes, Lord." 52He said to them, "Therefore, every scribe [grammateus]

While grammateus normally denotes a scribe in the technical sense of a professional teacher of the Jewish law, this literal meaning seems hardly relevant to this context, and it is more likely that Jesus is designating his disciples (who had no formal training) as the 'scribes' of the Kingdom of Heaven.

who has been made a disciple [mathēteuō]

In the passive mathēteuō is more naturally translated 'instructed' than 'made a disciple'.

in the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is like a man who is a householder, who brings out of his treasure new and old things." 53It happened that when Jesus had finished these parables [parabolas], he departed from there. 54Coming into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55Isn't this the carpenter's [tektonos] son? Isn't his mother called Mary, and his brothers, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? 56Aren't all of his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all of these things?" 57They were offended [skandalizō] by him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and in his own house." 58He didn't do many mighty works there because of their unbelief [apistian].

14 1At that time, Herod the tetrarch heard the report concerning Jesus, 2and said to his servants, "This is John the Baptizer. He is risen from the dead. That is why these powers work in him." 3For Herod had laid hold of John, and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. 4For John said to him, "It is not lawful [exestin]

Besides unjustly divorcing his first wife (and thus provoking war with her father, the king of Petra) in order to marry Herodias, Antipas broke Jewish law by marrying his half-brother's wife (Lev 18:16). John's protest would therefore represent orthodox Jewish opinion, and would be damaging to Antipas' prestige among his Jewish subjects. 'Had been saying' (NIV) is the translation for the imperfect tense which may indicate a continuing 'campaign'. This may corroborate Josephus' view that Antipas executed John for 'sedition' ('Ant.' xviii.118). John's execution was against Jewish law, both in that he had no trial and that he was beheaded.

for you to have her." 5When he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. 6But when Herod's birthday [genesiōn]

The scene of Herod's birthday feast is the grim castle of Machaerus, a desolate and sinister place built on the top of an isolated crag of basalt 3500 feet above the Dead Sea's eastern shore, with yawning precipices down to the water on three sides of it, and only a knife-edge of rock joining it to the coast.

came, the daughter of Herodias [Hrōdiados]

Salome, a girl of twenty, dances in a strip-tease feature, flaunting her physical charms to a notoriously lustful man, perhaps hereditarily so, for his father had ten wives, nine at one time. That a princess of the proud Herodian house should demean herself by dancing like a slave girl publicly in the presence of a half-intoxicated crowd of men is surprising and indicative of the lax morals of Herod's family. It was common for public dancers at festivals in great houses to ask for rewards from the company.

danced among them and pleased [areskō] Herod. 7Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatever she should ask. 8She, being prompted by her mother, said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptizer." 9The king was grieved, but for the sake of his oaths, and of those who sat at the table with him, he commanded it to be given, 10and he sent and beheaded John in the prison. 11His head was brought on a platter, and given to the young lady: and she brought it to her mother. 12His disciples came, and took the body, and buried it; and they went and told Jesus. 13Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat, to a deserted [erēmon] place apart. When the multitudes heard it, they followed him on foot from the cities. 14Jesus went out, and he saw a great multitude. He had compassion [splagchnizomai] on them, and healed their sick. 15When evening had come, his disciples came to him, saying, "This place is deserted [erēmos], and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves food." 16But Jesus said to them, "They don't need to go away. You give them something to eat." 17They told him, "We only have here five loaves and two fish." 18He said, "Bring them here to me." 19He commanded the multitudes to sit down [anaklinomai]

Lit. 'recline'. While it may only reflect the effect of being on the ground rather than at table, the command may also be a hint of the more formal banquet at which guests reclined on couches.

on the grass; and he took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed [eulogeō]

Blessed is the normal giving of thanks before a meal, the responsibility of the head of the Jewish family. Jews customarily gave thanks at the commencement of every meal. The usual form was, 'Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who produced bread out of the earth/ fruit of the vine'. These, or similar blessings, were used at the celebration of the Passover, cf. 1 Sa 9:13 and 1 Cor 10:16.

, broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave to the multitudes. 20They all ate, and were filled. They took up twelve baskets [kophinous]

A small basket, probably the ordinary travelling baskets that the Jews took with them on a journey. They carried their provisions in them, so that they might not be polluted by eating the food of the Gentiles. They may have even carried hay in them, on which they slept at night. The Roman satirist Juvenal (c 60-140 AD contemptuously described the Jews' household goods as consisting of a basket and hay.

full of that which remained left over from the broken pieces. 21Those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. 22Immediately Jesus made [anagkazō]

Lit. 'compelled', an unusually strong word.

the disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23After he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray. When evening had come [opsias de genomenēs]

Lit. 'when it was late'.

, he was there alone. 24But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, distressed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25In the fourth watch [psylakē]

A watch was one of the three or four periods of time into which the night was divided from 6pm to 6am.

of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled [terassō], saying, "It's a ghost [phantasma]

Lit. 'apparition', used of any unnatural vision, e.g., of a spirit.

!" and they cried out for fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying "Cheer up! It is I [egō eimi]! Don't be afraid [phobeomai]." 28Peter answered him and said, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters." 29He said, "Come!" Peter stepped down from the boat, and walked on the waters to come to Jesus. 30But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, "Lord, save [sōzō] me!" 31Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him [epilambanō], and said to him, "You of little faith [oligopistos]

A favourite word of Matthew used in 6:30; 8:26; 16:8; 17:20, where it denotes unbelief rather than inadequate belief], why did you doubt [edistasas Lit. 'be divided in two'.

?" 32When they got up into the boat, the wind ceased. 33Those who were in the boat came and worshiped him, saying, "You are truly the Son of God!" 34When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret [Gennēsaret]

A region (not just a town) on the western shore south of Capernaum.

. 35When the people of that place recognized him, they sent into all that surrounding region, and brought to him all who were sick, 36and they begged him that they might just touch the fringe [kraspedou] of his garment [imatiou]. As many as touched it were made whole [diasōzō].

15 1Then Pharisees and scribes [grammateis] came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying, 2"Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders [paradosin tōn presbyterōn]

Refers to the oral law, a continuing elaboration of rules for living based on the OT law but going far beyond it, which later developed into the detailed regulations of the Mishnah. For the Pharisees (to which party most of the scribes belonged) this tradition was an authority alongside the OT law. The OT required a ritual washing of hands in certain cultic situations (e.g., Ex 30:18f; Dt. 21:6), but the regular washing before meals described by Mark 7:3-4 seems to have been introduced only shortly before the time of Jesus. The Talmudic writers set great store on traditions: 'The words of the scribes are lovely, above the words of the law; for the words of the law are weighty and light, but the words of the scribes are all weighty. The words of the elders are weightier than the words of the prophets.

? For they don't wash their hands when they eat bread." 3He answered them, "Why do you also disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4For God commanded, 'Honour your father and your mother,' and, 'He who speaks evil [kakologeō] of father or mother, let him be put to death.' 5But you say, 'Whoever may tell his father or his mother, "Whatever help you might otherwise have gotten from me is a gift devoted to God," 6he shall not honour his father or mother.' You have made the commandment [ton logon] of God void [akuroō] because of your tradition [paradosin]

This tradition relating to 'Korban' or 'Konam' fills a whole tractate of the Mishnah ('Nedarim'). If a man asserted on oath ('Korban') that he would not honour his responsibilities to his parents, he was bound to keep his oath. In practice the man's property would probably have been declared 'Korban', dedicated to God, and therefore unavailable to his parents. Apparently the property remained at the disposal of the one who made the vow, but deprived the parents of any right to it. Later Rabbinic legislation allowed for such an oath to be waived in favour of obedience to the fifth commandment (Mishnah 'Nedarim' 9:1), but clearly it was not always waived in Jesus' day.

. 7You hypocrites [hypokritai]! Well [kolōs] did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8'These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honour me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9And in vain do they worship [sebomai] me, teaching as doctrine rules made by men.'" 10He summoned the multitude, and said to them, "Hear, and understand [syniēmi]. 11That which enters into the mouth doesn't defile [koinoi] the man; but that which proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles [koinoi] the man." 12Then the disciples came, and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended [skandalizō], when they heard this saying?" 13But he answered, "Every plant [psyteia]

Israel was described as a plant in e.g., Is 60:21; 61:3, and the same metaphor was taken up at Qumran (CD 1:7; 1QS 8:5; 11:8), and by the Pharisaic author of Psalms of Solomon 14:2-3.

which my heavenly Father didn't plant will be uprooted. 14Leave them alone. They are blind guides [hodēgeō] of the blind. If the blind guide [hodēgē] the blind, both will fall into a pit." 15Peter answered him, "Explain the parable [parabolēn] to us." 16So Jesus said, "Do you also still not understand [asynetoi]? 17Don't you understand [noeō] that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the belly [koilian], and then out of the body [apsedrōna ekballō]

Lit. 'expelled into the draught (latrine)'.

? 18But the things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart, and they defile [koinoi] the man. 19For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts [dialogismoi], murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies [blasphēmiai]. 20These are the things which defile [koinounta] the man; but to eat with unwashed hands doesn't defile [koinoi] the man." 21Jesus went out from there, and withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22Consider this [idou]; a Canaanite [Chananaia]

Canaanite is not used elsewhere in the NT.

woman came out from those borders, and cried, saying, "Have mercy on me, Lord, you son of David! My daughter is severely demonized!" 23But he answered her not a word. His disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away; for she cries after us." 24But he answered, "I wasn't sent to anyone but the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 25But she came and worshiped him, saying, "Lord, help me." 26But he answered, "It is not appropriate to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs [kynariois]

A current Jewish term of abuse for Gentiles. Even though kynaria, a diminutive, was an affectionate reference to dogs as pets, there is no western sentimental equivalent to household pets in Judaism.

." 27But she said, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs [kunaria] eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." 28Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great [megalē] is your faith [pistis]! Be it done to you even as you desire." And her daughter was healed [iaomai] from that hour. 29Jesus departed there, and came near to the sea of Galilee; and he went up into the mountain [oros]

The same phrase as in 5:1.

, and sat there. 30Great multitudes came to him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others, and they put them down at his feet. He healed them, 31so that the multitude wondered when they saw the mute speaking, injured whole, lame walking, and blind seeing--and they glorified [doxazō] the God of Israel. 32Jesus summoned his disciples and said, "I have compassion [splagchnizomai] on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat. I don't want to send them away fasting, or they might faint on the way." 33The disciples said to him, "Where should we get so many loaves in a deserted [erēmia] place as to satisfy so great a multitude?" 34Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish." 35He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground; 36and he took the seven loaves and the fish. He gave thanks [eucharisteō] and broke them, and gave to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes. 37They all ate, and were filled. They took up seven baskets [spyridas]

A woven hamper or lunch-receptacle, larger than the kopsinos; it was a general purpose flexible basket (also used for lowering Paul from the wall in Ac 9:25). The wicker baskets of 14:20 were of a type specially associated with Jews.

full of the broken pieces that were left over. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39Then he sent away the multitudes, got into the boat, and came into the borders of Magdala.

16 1The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing him, asked him to show them a sign [sēmeion] from heaven. 2But he answered them, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' 3In the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but you can't discern the signs of the times! 4An evil [ponēra] and adulterous generation seeks after a sign [sēmeion], and there will be no sign given to it, except the sign [sēmeion] of the prophet Jonah." He left them, and departed. 5The disciples came to the other side and had forgotten to take bread. 6Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware [prosechō] of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 7They reasoned among themselves, saying, "We brought no bread." 8Jesus, perceiving it, said, "Why do you reason among yourselves, you of little faith [oligopistoi], 'because you have brought no bread?' 9Don't you yet perceive [noeō], neither remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets [kophinous] you took up? 10Nor the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up? 11 How is it that you don't perceive [noeō] that I didn't speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the yeast [zymēs]


The Israelites knew about the bad side of yeast, and were careful to keep it away from any food they wanted to preserve. They recognised that there was a living influence, similar to decay, that spread through the whole mass. When offerings of food were sacrificed to God, they always had to be without yeast. They called it leaven, and bread that was offered to God had always to be unleavened.

of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 12 Then they understood [syniēmi] that he didn't tell them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 13Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi [Kaisareias tēs Philppou]

The city was twenty-five miles from the Lake of Galilee and about 1700 feet higher. In the OT it was known as Dan, the northern boundary of ancient Israel. It was a non-Jewish area near the head-waters of the Jordan, where there was no Galilean crown in attendance. The area was a pagan centre of the worship of Pan. Ceasarea Philippi was one of the northernmost places of Jesus' ministry and source of the river Jordan, where its waters gush from a rock. On one side of the rock was a carving of an effigy of Caesar, the man who claimed he was God. Herod had also dedicated a temple for the worship of Caesar there. On the other side was Pan, the god who tried to become man. The Rock from whom the healing waters of life flowed and in whom divinity and humanity met addresses the disciples with the question of his identity in this symbolic setting.

, he asked his disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" 14They said, "Some say John the Baptizer, some, Elijah, and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ [christos]

Perhaps these words were spoken in scarcely audible tones, held back from the blustering outbursts that were Peter's way. The other disciples would have waited with baited breath for the Master's reaction. To the Jews this was blasphemy of the highest order.

, the Son of the living God." 17Jesus answered him, "Blessed [makarios] are you, Simon Bar Jonah [Bariōna; Heb. Shim'on Bar-Yochanan]

Simon means 'hearing'.

, for flesh and blood [sarx kai aima] has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven [tois ouranois]. 18 I also tell you that you are Peter [Petros]

'Little rock' or 'stone'. Apparently an original choice by Jesus, for no other use of Petros (or the underlying Aramaic, Cephas) as a personal name is known before this (with one exception, in Egypt in the fifth century BC). The word play is present in both the Aramaic and Greek.

, and on this rock [petra] I will build my assembly [ekkēsian]

In its OT background would have been understood in the sense of 'congregation' or 'community' of God's people.

, and the gates of Hades [hadou] will not prevail [katischuō] against it. 19I will give to you the keys [kleis]

Keeper of the keys was one of the most important roles open to a household servant, cf. Mk 13:32-34. A high official held the keys in a royal kingdom (Is 22:20-22), and in the Jewish temple.

of the Kingdom of Heaven [basileias tōn ouranōn], and whatever you bind [deō]

Binding and loosing were technical terms for the pronouncements of Rabbis on what was or was not permitted (to bind was to forbid, to loose to permit). Deo means also to be in bonds; knit, tie, or wind. Luo also means to break (up), destroy, dissolve, (un-) loose, melt, put off. Binding and loosing were in common currency in Aramaic to denote the highest authority, cf. Is 22:22; Is 9:6; Mt 16:18-19; Lk 11:52; Rev 1:18; 3:7.

on earth will have been bound [dedemenon] in heaven [tois ouranois]; and whatever you release [luō] on earth will have been released [lelymenon] in heaven [tois ouranois]." 20Then he commanded [diastellomai] the disciples that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ. 21From that time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders [presbyterōn], chief priests, and scribes [grammateōn], and be killed, and the third day be raised up. 22Peter took him aside, and began to rebuke [epitimaō]

Some MSS have this verb in v20. It does not necessarily convey a note of censure, so much as of stern warning, 'to give a talking to'.

him, saying, "Far be it from you [Ileōs soi]

A Greek idiomatic expression probably meaning 'May God be gracious to you', i.e., spare you this fate.

, Lord! This will never be done to you." 23But he turned, and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block [skandalon]

As Peter was declared a rock to build on, now he is a rock to stumble over, cf., Ro 9:33; 1 Pe 2:6-8 for rock-imagery applied to Christ as both foundation and stumbling-block.

to me, for you are not setting your mind [phroneis] on the things of God, but on the things of men." 24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny [aparneomai] himself, and take up his cross, and follow [akoloutheō] me. 25For whoever desires to save [sōzō] his life [psychēn] will lose [apollymi] it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit [ōpheleō] a man, if he gains the whole world [kosmon], and forfeits his life [psychēn]? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life [psychēs]? 27For the Son of Man will come in the glory [doxē] of his Father with his angels, and then he will render [apodidōmi] to everyone according to his deeds. 28Most certainly I tell you [amēn legō hymin], there are some standing here who will in no way taste of death, until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom."

17 1After six days, Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain by themselves. 2He was transfigured [metemorphōthē]

See Rom 12:2 ('transformed') and 2 Cor 3:18 ('changed').

before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light. 3Consider this [idou]; Moses and Elijah appeared [horaō] to them talking with him. 4Peter answered, and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good [kalon] for us to be here. If you want, let's make three tents [skēnas]

Lit. tents. Probably shelters of branches, such as were made from the Feast of Tabernacles.

here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 5While he was still speaking, consider this [idou]; a bright cloud overshadowed them. Consider this [idou]; a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved [agapaō] Son, in whom I am well pleased [eudokeō]. Listen to him." 6 When the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces, and were very afraid [phobeō sphodra]. 7Jesus came and touched them and said, "Get up, and don't be afraid [phobeō]." 8Lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus alone. 9As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded [entellomai] them, saying, "Don't tell anyone what you saw, until the Son of Man has risen from the dead." 10His disciples asked him, saying, "Then why do the scribes [grammateis] say that Elijah must come first?" 11Jesus answered them, "Elijah indeed comes first, and will restore [apokathistēmi] all things, 12but I tell you that Elijah has come already, and they didn't recognize [epiginōskō] him, but did to him whatever they wanted to. Even so the Son of Man will also suffer by them." 13Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptizer. 14When they came to the multitude, a man came to him, kneeling down to him, saying, 15"Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is epileptic [selēniazomai]

Lit. 'to be affected by the moon' which in secular Greek would more normally be translated 'lunatic'.

, and suffers grievously; for he often falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16So I brought him to your disciples, and they could not cure him." 17Jesus answered, "Faithless [apistos] and perverse generation! How long will I be with you? How long will I bear with you? Bring him here to me." 18Jesus rebuked him, the demon went out of him, and the boy was cured from that hour. 19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately, and said, "Why weren't we able to cast it out?" 20He said to them, "Because of your unbelief [oligopistian]. For most certainly I tell you, if you have faith [pistin] as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21But this kind doesn't go out except by prayer and fasting." 22While they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is about to be delivered up [paradidōmi] into the hands of men, 23and they will kill him, and the third day he will be raised up." They were exceedingly sorry [lypeō sphodra]. 24When they had come to Capernaum, those who collected the didrachma [didrachma]

'Two-drachma.' Annual half-shekel tax (based on Ex 30:11-16) paid for the upkeep of worship in the temple by most adult male Jews. The Sadducees disapproved, and the men of Qumran paid it only once in a lifetime. After AD 70, when the temple was destroyed, the Romans diverted this tax to the temple of Jupiter in Rome.

coins came to Peter, and said, "Doesn't your teacher pay the didrachma [didrachma]?" 25He said, "Yes." When he came into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth receive toll or tribute? From their children, or from strangers?" 26Peter said to him, "From strangers." Jesus said to him, "Therefore the children are exempt. 27But, lest we cause them to stumble [skandalisōmen], go to the sea, cast a hook, and take up the first fish that comes up. When you have opened its mouth, you will find a stater coin [statēra]

'Four-drachma coin.' A stater is the equivalent of two 'half-shekels'. Pagan and Jewish literature provide popular stories of wealth found in a fish that was caught (Herodotus iii 41-42; 'Shabbath' 119a; 'Genesis Rabbah' 11:4).

. Take that, and give it to them for me and you."

18 1In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn]?" 2Jesus called a little child [paidion]


Cf. Matt 11:25; 18:2; 19:13. A child was a person of no importance in Jewish society and the primary response of Roman parents to their babies appears to have been less tenderness than shock that anything could be quite so soft and helpless. Children were too weak to be idealized, and the highest praise a child could be given was to be compared to an adult. The result is that the great figures of the Republic have implausible or incomplete accounts of childhood.

to himself, and set him in the midst of them, 3and said, "Most certainly I tell you [amēn legō umin], unless you turn [strephō], and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven [basileian tōn ouranōn]. 4Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn]. 5Whoever receives [dechomai] one such little child in my name receives [dechetai] me, 6but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [pisteuō] in me to stumble [skandalizō], it would be better [sympherō] for him that a huge millstone [mylos onikos]

No evidence exists that this punishment was practised by the Jews, but it was in use by the ancient Syrians, Romans, Macedonians and Greeks in connection with parricide or sacrilege.

should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea. 7"Woe to the world [kosmō] because of occasions of stumbling [skandalōn]! For it must be that the occasions come, but woe to that person through whom the occasion comes! 8If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble [skandalizō], cut it off, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. 9If your eye causes you to stumble [skandalizō], pluck it out, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna [geenan] of fire. 10See that you don't despise [kataphroneō] one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven [ouranois] their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven [ouranois]. 11For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost. 12"What do you think? If a man has one hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, doesn't he leave the ninety-nine, go to the mountains, and seek that which has gone astray? 13If he finds it, most certainly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven [ouranois] that one of these little ones should perish. 15"If your brother [adelphos] sins against you, go, show him his fault [elenchō]

Same verb as in e.g., Lk 3:19, 'reprove'; Jn 3:20, 'expose'; Jn 8:46, 'convict'.

between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother. 16But if he doesn't listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth [epi stomatos] of two or three witnesses [marturōn] every word [rhēma] may be established. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly [ekklēsias]. If he refuses to hear the assembly [ekklēsias] also, let him be to you as a Gentile [ethnikos] or a tax collector. 18Most certainly I tell you [amēn legō hymin], whatever things you bind [deō] on earth will have been bound [dedemena] in heaven, and whatever things you release [luō] on earth will have been released [lelumena] in heaven. 19Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered together [synagō]

A Rabbinic belief stated that 'if two sit together and words of the Law (are) between them, the Shekinah rests between them' (Mishnah 'Aboth' 3:2).

in my name, there I am in the midst [en mesō] of them." 21Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord [Kurie], how often shall my brother [adephos] sin against me, and I forgive [aphiēmi] him? Until seven times?" 22Jesus said to him, "I don't tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven. 23Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants [doulōn]. 24When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents [talantōn]

The talent was the highest unit of currency, and ten thousand the highest Greek numeral.

. 25But because he couldn't pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant [doulos] therefore fell down and kneeled before him, saying, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!' 27The lord of that servant [Kyrios tou doulou], being moved with compassion [splagchnizomai], released him, and forgave [aphiēmi] him the debt. 28"But that servant [doulos] went out, and found one of his fellow servants [syndoulōn], who owed him one hundred denarii [dēnaria], and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' 29"So his fellow servant [syndoulos] fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you!' 30He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due. 31So when his fellow servants [syndouloi] saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry [lypeō sphodra], and came and told to their lord all that was done. 32Then his lord called him in, and said to him, 'You wicked servant [doule ponēre]! I forgave [aphiēmi] you all that debt, because you begged me. 33Shouldn't you also have had mercy on your fellow servant [syndoulon], even as I had mercy on you?' 34His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors [basanistais]

Torturers, whose job is to put pressure on the defaulter and his family to produce the money. In early Roman times there were legal tortures in the shape of a chain weighing fifteen pounds and a pittance of food. The creditor was allowed to apply such pressures to the debtor for the purpose of bringing him to terms. Sympathetic friends would sometimes bail the debtor out by making a collection.

, until he should pay all that was due to him. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don't each forgive [aphiēmi] your brother [adelphō] from your hearts for his misdeeds."

19 1It happened when Jesus had finished these words, he departed from Galilee, and came into the borders of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2Great multitudes followed him, and he healed them there. 3Pharisees came to him, testing [peirazō] him, and saying, "Is it lawful [exestin] for a man to divorce [apoluō] his wife for any reason?" 4He answered, "Haven't you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5and said, 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall join [kollēthēsetai] to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh [sarka]?' 6So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don't let man tear apart." 7They asked him, "Why then did Moses command us to give her a bill of divorce [biblion apostasiou], and divorce [apolusai] her?" 8He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness [sklērokardian] of your hearts, allowed you to divorce [apolusai] your wives, but from the beginning it has not been so. 9I tell you that whoever divorces [apolusē] his wife, except for sexual immorality [porneia], and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery." 10His disciples said to him, "If this is the case of the man [anthrōpos]

Human being, not anēr, man.

with his wife, it is not expedient to marry." 11But he said to them, "Not all men can receive [chōreō]

Lit. 'find room for', 'cope with'. Celibacy was most unusual in Jewish society, and it is not unlikely that Jesus was abused as a eunuch, a term of disparagement.

this saying [logon], but those to whom it is given [didōmi]. 12For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's [basileian tōn ouranōn] sake. He who is able to receive it, let him receive it." 13Then little children were brought to him, that he should lay his hands [cheiras]

Jews often brought their children to pious men for a blessing. On the first anniversary of the birth of a child, it was usual to take him or her to the synagogue to be blessed by the rabbi.

on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them [autois]

It is not clear from the Greek whether the disciples rebuked the children or those who brought them.

. 14But Jesus said, "Allow the little children, and don't forbid [kōluō]

It was a Jewish custom to bring a child to the elders on the evening of the Day of Atonement 'to bless him and pray for him' (Mishnah 'Sopherim' 18:5). The disciples' objection may then be to the assumption that Jesus is to be identified as an 'elder'.

them to come to me; for the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] belongs to ones like these." 15He laid his hands on them, and departed from there. 16And look [idou]! One came to him and said, "Good teacher [Didaskale agathe], what good [agathon] thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" 17He said to him, "Why do you call me good [agathou]? No one is good [agathos] but one, that is, God [ei mē eis ho Theos]. But if you want to enter into life [zōēn], keep the commandments." 18He said to him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, "'You shall not murder.' 'You shall not commit adultery.' 'You shall not steal.' 'You shall not offer false testimony.' 19'Honor your father and mother.' And, 'You shall love [agapaō] your neighbor as yourself.'" 20The young man said to him, "All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?" 21Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect [teleios], go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven [ouranois]; and come, follow [akoloutheō] me." 22But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions. 23Jesus said to his disciples, "Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven [basileian tōn ouranōn] with difficulty. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye [trypēmatos rhaphidos]

Some have suggested a low-arched door of an enclosure which forced a load-bearing animal to be unloaded and shuffle through on its knees, its head bowed. Merchandise could not be brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath although the pack animals and the merchants could come in for protection.

, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." 25When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished [ekplēssō sphodra], saying, "Who then can be saved [sōzō]?" 26Looking at them, Jesus said, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 27Then Peter answered, "Look [idou], we have left everything, and followed you. What then will we have?" 28Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration [palingenesia]

Lit. 'rebirth'; the only other NT use is Tit 3:5 (c.f., Is 65:17; 66:22; etc.).

when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging [krinō] the twelve tribes of Israel. 29Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life. 30But many will be last who are first; and first who are last.

20 1"For the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is like a man who was the master of a household, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2When he had agreed with the labourers for a denarius [dēnariou]

A normal day's wage. The denarius was an ancient Roman silver coin, equivalent to ten asses, an as being a bronze coin of the Roman republic. Under the Republic, the denarius had on one side the head of Hercules, Apollo, Mars, Janus, or Jupiter. Under the Empire it bore the title and effigies of the reigning Caesar.

a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3He went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle [argous]

'Workless.' It was an age of unemployment (cf. Josephus, 'Ant.' xx.219-220).

in the marketplace [agora]

The place of trading was often at the gates of walled cities. Here too labourers went to seek employment, and employers went to seek labourers.

. 4To them he said, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went their way. 5Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6About the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle. He said to them, 'Why do you stand here all day idle?' 7"They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' "He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and you will receive whatever is right.' 8When evening had come, the lord of the vineyard said to his manager, 'Call the labourers and pay [apodidōmi]

The Mosaic law contained instructions to protect any labourer from any employer who might wish to keep back his wages (Lev 19:13; Dt 24:14-15.

them their wages, beginning from the last to the first.' 9"When those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came, they each received a denarius [dēnarion]. 10When the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise each received a denarius [dēnarion]. 11When they received it, they murmured against the master of the household, 12saying, 'These last have spent one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat!' 13"But he answered one of them, 'Friend [etaire], I am doing you no wrong [adikeō]. Didn't you agree with me for a denarius [dēnariou]? 14Take that which is yours, and go your way. It is my desire to give to this last just as much as to you. 15Isn't it lawful for me to do what I want to with what I own? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?' 16So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen." 17As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18"See [idou]; we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes [grammateusin], and they will condemn [katakrinousin] him to death, 19and will hand him over [paradidōmi] to the Gentiles [ethnesin] to mock, to scourge, and to crucify; and the third day he will be raised up." 20Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, kneeling [proskyneō] and asking a certain thing of him. 21He said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Command that these, my two sons, may sit, one on your right hand, and one on your left hand [dexiōn]

Josephus represents Saul at supper with Jonathan his son on his right and Abner, captain of his host, on his left. In the Sanhedrin, the vice-president sat on the right hand of the president, and the referee, who was the officer next in rank, sat on the left.

, in your Kingdom [basileia]." 22But Jesus answered, "You don't know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to him, "We are able." 23He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for whom it has been prepared [hetoimazō] by my Father." 24When the ten heard it, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25But Jesus summoned them, and said, "You know that the rulers [archontes] of the nations [ethnōn] lord it over [katakyrieuō] them, and their great ones [megaloi] exercise authority over [katexousiazō] them. 26It shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant [diakonos]. 27Whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant [doulos], 28even as the Son of Man came not to be served [diakoneō], but to serve [diakoneō], and to give his life [psychēn] as a ransom [lytron] for [anti]

Lit. 'instead of', as the payment of an equivalent sum of money procures the release of the captive (see Lv 27 for OT legislation).

many." 29As they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 30Consider this [idou]; two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!" 31The multitude rebuked them, telling them that they should be quiet, but they cried out even more, "Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!" 32Jesus stood still, and called them, and asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" 33They told him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened." 34Jesus, being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received their sight, and they followed him.

21 1When they drew near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethsphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, "Go into the village that is opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey [onon]

Mishnah 'Hagigah' 1:1 suggests that pilgrims who were capable of arriving on foot were expected to do so. Rabbis had the right of 'angareia' (requisitioning) whereby they commandeered the first suitable animals found. Royalty also possessed this right.

tied, and a colt with her. Untie them, and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord [Kyrios]

A unique self-description, normally meaning 'God' but could also mean 'the owner' (of the donkeys).

needs them,' and immediately he will send them." 4All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, 5"Tell the daughter of Zion, See [idou]; your King comes to you, humble [praus], and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." 6The disciples went, and did just as Jesus commanded them, 7and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their clothes [imatia] on them; and he sat on them. 8A very great multitude spread their clothes [imatia]

Flowers, branches, carpets and garments were strewn in the pathway of conquerors and great princes, and of others to whom it was intended to show honour and respect, cf. 2 Ki 9:13.

on the road. Others cut branches from the trees, and spread them on the road. 9The multitudes who went before him, and who followed kept shouting, "Hosanna [Ōsanna]

Greek form of the Hebrew words translated 'Save us' in Ps 118:25, a phrase which had already come to be used, more as an exclamation of praise than a prayer, in Jewish worship (Baruch Haba BaShem Adonai).

to the son of David! Blessed [eulogeō]

This phrase comes from the last of the Hallel Psalms (113-118), which were chanted antiphonally at all the great festivals of Israel, these two being the climax.

is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna [Ōsanna] in the highest!" 10When he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred up [seiō]

Lit. 'shaken', cf., Mt 2:3.

, saying, "Who is this?" 11The multitudes said, "This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee." 12Jesus entered into the temple [hieron]

There was always a constant market in the temple called 'the shops' where, every day, was sold wine, salt, oil, and other requisites to sacrifices; as were oxen and sheep in the spacious Court of the Gentiles.

of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers' tables [trapezas]

The money changers made a business of accommodating those who did not have the Jewish half- shekel for the annual temple tax. Rich and poor alike were expected to pay the half-shekel for himself during the month of Adar. Thus it was sometimes necessary to change a shekel into two halves, or exchange foreign money for the Jewish half- shekel which these men did by charging a rate of exchange. The booths of the money-changers were popularly known as the booths of the sons of Annas. Jesus' act would have provoked high tension. The atmosphere would have been highly charged. There were the muttered threats of the priestly party, the cowardly snarling of the money-changers, and the loud acclamations of those who were being fleeced every day as they changed their Roman money for temple coinage.

and the seats of those who sold the doves. 13He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a den of robbers!" 14The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the scribes [grammateis] saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children who were crying in the temple and saying, "Hosanna [Ōsanna] to the son of David!" they were indignant, 16and said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" Jesus said to them, "Yes. Did you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing babies you have perfected praise?'" 17He left them, and went out of the city to Bethany, and lodged there. 18Now in the morning, as he returned to the city, he was hungry. 19Seeing a fig tree by the road, he came to it, and found nothing on it but leaves. He said to it, "Let there be no fruit from you forever!" Immediately the fig tree withered away [exērainō]


On a fig tree the blossom of fruit appear before the leaves. Naturally we would look for fruit on a tree in full leaf or else it would be barren for the season. This accounts for why Jesus cursed the fig tree that had nothing but leaves (Mt 21:18-20). The presence of leaves led him to expect fruit. The early fruit or blossoms appear in spring before the leaves open on the branches of last year's growth and the first ripe fruit is ready in June or earlier. The late figs appear on the new wood, and keep appearing during the season and are ripe from August onwards. The tree should have had fruit unripe indeed, but existing. In some lands fig trees bear the early fruit under the leaves and the later fruit above the leaves. In that case the leaves were a sign that there should have been fruit, unseen from a distance, underneath the leaves. The condemnation of this fig tree lay in the absence of any sign of fruit.

In Lk 13:6-9 the fig tree is clearly the Jewish Nation and it's land. The owner is God who comes in, the person His son. Note, the tree is not destroyed immediately, but 40 years later. Titus, head of the Roman armies was the axe man, who cut the fig tree down and it was cast out of the vineyard into the field of the world. But the root was not destroyed.

. 20When the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, "How did the fig tree immediately wither away?" 21Jesus answered them, "Most certainly I tell you [Amēn legō hymin], if you have faith [pistin], and don't doubt [diakrinō], you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you told this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it would be done. 22All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing [pisteuō], you will receive." 23When he had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders [presbyteroi] of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority do you do these things? Who gave you this authority?" 24Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you one question, which if you tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?" They reasoned [dialogizomai] with themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask us, 'Why then did you not believe [pisteuō] him?' 26But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the multitude, for all hold John as a prophet." 27They answered Jesus, and said, "We don't know." He also said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. 28But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, 'Son, go work today in my vineyard.' 29He answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind, and went. 30He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, 'I go, sir,' but he didn't go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into the Kingdom of God before you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness [dikaiosynēs], and you didn't believe [pisteuō] him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn't even repent [metamelomai] afterward, that you might believe [pisteuō] him. 33 "Hear another parable [parabolēn]. There was a man who was a master of a household, who planted a vineyard [ampelōna]

Vineyards were either planted in rows and trained on stakes or else trained over heaps of stones. Vineyards were sometimes fenced with walls of stone (Nu 22:24; Prov 24:31), and sometimes with a hedge of thorny plants (Ps 80:12), or a combination of the two (Is 5:5).

, set a hedge about it, dug a winepress [lēnon]

These were often rock-hewn (Is 5:2) and connected by channels to lower rock-cut vats where the juice was allowed to collect and ferment. The juice was squeezed out by treading on the fruit (Job 24:11; Am 9:13). After fermentation, the wine was collected into jars or wineskins (Mt 9:17). The harvesting and treading of the grapes was a time of celebration (Is 16:10; Jer 48:33; Dt 16:13-15.

in it, built a tower [pyrgon]

A watchtower was a place of temporary dwelling for the guard, who watched over the vineyard while the fruit was ripening and for the owner during the vintage season. His job was to keep away thieves and wild animals. Many towers were temporary structures and lasted only the season; others were made of stone. The towers could also be used during war time to monitor enemy movements.

, leased it out to farmers, and went into another country. 34When the season for the fruit drew near, he sent his servants [doulous] to the farmers, to receive his fruit. 35The farmers took his servants [doulous], beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again, he sent other servants [doulous] more than the first: and they treated them the same way. 37But afterward he sent to them his son, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 38But the farmers, when they saw the son, said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and seize his inheritance.' 39So they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40When therefore the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?" 41They told him, "He will miserably destroy those miserable men, and will lease out the vineyard to other farmers, who will give him the fruit in its season." 42Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures [graphais; Heb. Tanakh], 'The stone which the builders rejected [apodokimazō], the same was made the head of the corner [kephalēn gōnias]. This was from the Lord. It is marvelous in our eyes?' 43"Therefore I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and will be given to a nation [ethnei]

Plural would have been 'ethnesin'.

bringing forth its fruit. 44He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but on whoever it will fall, it will scatter him as dust." 45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables [parabolas], they perceived that he spoke about them. 46When they sought to seize him, they feared the multitudes, because they considered him to be a prophet.

22 1Jesus answered and spoke again in parables [parabolais] to them, saying, 2"The Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] is like a certain king, who made a marriage feast for his son, 3and sent out his servants [doulous] to call those who were invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come. 4Again he sent out other servants [doulous], saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "Look [idou]! I have made ready my dinner. My cattle and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the marriage feast!"' 5But they made light of it [ameleō], and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his merchandise, 6and the rest grabbed his servants [doulous], and treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7When the king heard that, he was angry, and sent his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8"Then he said to his servants [doulois], 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited weren't worthy. 9Go therefore to the intersections of the highways, and as many as you may find, invite to the marriage feast.' 10Those servants [douloi] went out into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. The wedding was filled with guests. 11But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who didn't have on wedding clothing [endyma gamou]

Not a special type of garment, but the clean clothes (preferably white) which would normally be worn on a special occasion. To have come in dirty clothes would have insulted the host. Each guest was responsible for his own clothing. (Augustine's theologically motivated suggestion that the host provided special garments is not supported by historical readings of the text).

, 12and he said to him, 'Friend [hetaire], how did you come in here not wearing wedding clothing?' He was speechless. 13Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness; there is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.' 14For many are called [klētoi], but few chosen [eklektoi]." 15Then the Pharisees [Pharisaioi]

Lit. 'separated ones'. These people separated themselves from all Levitical impurity and aimed to preserve the law from violation and their people from contamination. As their influence increased, political power came into their hands. They were divided into two schools: Hillel and Shammai. Both groups upheld the oral law, a commentary on the written law and handed down by tradition. They venerated the traditional code and interpretations and sometimes placed them above the written law.

went and took counsel how they might entrap him in his talk. 16They sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians [Hrōdianōn]

Jews who attached themselves to the political fortunes of the Herodian family, hoping thereby to promote the interests of their people. They were loose in observing Jewish rituals, and though in this respect they were the opposite of the Pharisees, they easily fell in with them in efforts to ruin Jesus.

, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are honest, and teach the way of God in truth, no matter who you teach, for you aren't partial to anyone. 17Tell us therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful [exesti] to pay [didōmi] taxes [kēnson]

The Greek is singular and refers to the poll-tax levied on all Jews and paid direct to Rome. There were other indirect taxes on sales, customs, etc., but this was the primary mark of their political subjection to a foreign power. The money for the tax was the Roman denarius, a coin which strict Jews found objectionable because it bore a portrait of the emperor with an inscription making him as 'son of a god'. Copper coins were minted without these features, out of deference to Jewish susceptibilities; so no Jew need handle the denarius except to pay his tax.

to Caesar, or not?" 18But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test [peirazō] me, you hypocrites [hypokritai]? 19Show me the tax money." They brought to him a denarius [dēnarion]. 20He asked them, "Whose is this image and inscription?" 21They said to him, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Give [apodidōmi]

Generally means 'give back'. It is the verb for paying a bill or settling a debt.

therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." 22When they heard it, they marvelled, and left him, and went away. 23On that day Sadducees [Saddoukaioi]

The Sadducees rejected the traditional interpretations of the Law, to which the Pharisees attached such importance. They only accepted the Torah and for this reason did not believe in the resurrection or angels. The Sadducees were an ancient, priestly aristocracy with considerable wealth and political power (cf. Ac 4:6; 5:17) but were cold and austere in their manners, winning few converts.

(those who say that there is no resurrection [anastasin]

'The Sadducees hold that the soul perishes along with the body' (Josephus, 'Ant.' xviii.16). Their denial of the resurrection was a corollary of their insistence on taking only the Pentateuch as their scriptural authority for passages on the afterlife (Is 26:19; Da 12:2), on which the Pharisees based their belief (Ac 23:8), were secondary to the Mosaic Law.

) came to him. They asked him, 24saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry [epigambreuō]

Not the normal Greek word for marry, but a technical term for the performance of the levirate duty (see Tobit 3:8-15).

his wife, and raise up seed [anastēsei sperma] for his brother.' 25Now there were with us seven brothers. The first married and died, and having no seed left his wife to his brother. 26In like manner the second also, and the third, to the seventh. 27After them all, the woman died. 28In the resurrection [anastasei] therefore, whose wife will she be of the seven? For they all had her." 29But Jesus answered them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures [graphas; Heb. Tanakh], nor the power [dynamin] of God. 30 For in the resurrection [anastasei] they neither marry [gameō], nor are given in marriage [ekgamizō], but are like God's angels in heaven. 31But concerning the resurrection [anastaseōs] of the dead, haven't you read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?' God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." 33When the multitudes heard it, they were astonished [ekplēssomai] at his teaching. 34But the Pharisees [Pharisaioi]

Pharisees and Sadducees

The Pharisees created the Oral Law, which was influenced by Greek rationalism, to apply the ancient Mosaic law to the actual world of today. Their enemies the Sadducees, who stuck rigidly to the written law, said that the Pharisees would end up respecting the Book of Homer (by which they meant Greek literature) more than scripture. In contrast to the Pharisees, the temple priests, dominated by the Sadducees, or descendants of Zadok, the great high priest from Davidic times, insisted that all law must be written and unchanged. They had their own additional text, called the Book of Decrees. With their rigid adherence to the Mosaic inheritance, their concept of the Temple as the sole source and centre of Judaic government, and their very own hereditary position in its functions, the Sadducees were naturally allies of the new Hasmonean high-priests, even though the latter had no strict title to this position by descent. The Sadducees soon became identified with Hasmonean rule in a rigid system of temple administration, in which the hereditary High-Priest performed the functions of a secular ruler, and a committee of holders, the Sanhedrin, discharged his religious-legal duties. Together they conspired together in their common cause against Jesus, cf. 22:34.

, when they heard that he had silenced [phimoō] the Sadducees, gathered themselves together. 35One of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him. 36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" 37Jesus said to him, "'You shall love [agapaō] the Lord your God with all your heart [kardia]

Heart, soul and mind are not different 'parts' of man, but different ways of thinking of the whole of man in his relation to God; no clear distinction can be drawn between them.

, with all your soul [psychē], and with all your mind [dianoia]

Perhaps indicates intellectual commitment, although this is also a part of the biblical meaning of the heart. Matthew, in returning to the familiar OT version, has omitted 'strength', a Hebrew noun which was rendered in the Targums by the Aramaic 'mamōna' (see 6:24).

.' 38This is the first and great commandment. 39A second likewise is this, 'You shall love [agapēseis] your neighbor as yourself.' 40The whole law and the prophets depend [kremannymi]

Technical vocabulary for laws which are derivable from others.

on these two commandments." 41Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42saying, "What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "Of David." 43He said to them, "How then does David in [en] the Spirit call him Lord, saying, 44'The Lord said to my Lord, sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?' 45"If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?" 46No one was able to answer him a word, neither did any man dare ask him any more questions from that day forth.

23 1Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, 2saying, "The scribes [grammateis] and the Pharisees sat on Moses' seat [kathedras]

Figurative expression for the teaching authority (professorial 'chair') or those officially responsible for interpreting and applying the laws of Moses.

. 3All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do, but don't do their works; for they say [legō], and don't do. 4For they bind [desmeuō]

See 16:19; 18:18 for the technical sense of 'bind'.

heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them. 5But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries [phylaktēria]

Small leather boxes containing scrolls of texts from Exodus and Deuteronomy; 'tefillim'. Phylacteries consisted of strips of parchment on which were inscribed these four texts: Ex 13:1-10; 13:11-16; Dt 6:4-9; 11:18-21. These were enclosed in a square leather case on one side of which was inscribed the Hebrew letter shin, to which rabbis attached significance. Another form of phylactery consisted of two rolls of parchment on which the texts were written and enclosed in cases of black calfskin. This was worn on the left arm near the elbow.

broad, enlarge the fringes of their garments, 6and love [phileō] the place of honour [prōtoklisian]

Lit., 'first place'; seats prepared for the elders of the synagogue and the doctors of the law called 'Moses' Seat'. They were placed in front of the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Law, in the uppermost part of the synagogue which faced toward Jerusalem. Those who occupied them faced the people. They were much sought after by ambitious scribes and Pharisees, cf. Ja 2:2-3.

at feasts, the best seats [protōkathedrias] in the synagogues [synagōgais], 7the salutations in the marketplaces [agorais], and to be called 'Rabbi, Rabbi [Rabbi]

Lit. 'my great one', used of any respected teacher. No one was more important than a leading teacher. Instead of the Jewish term 'rabbi' Luke uses the Greek word 'epistata' which is the equivalent of 'schoolmaster', cf. Lk 17:13.

' by men. 8But don't you be called 'Rabbi [Rabbi],' for one is your teacher [didaskalos], the Christ, and all of you are brothers [adelphoi]. 9Call no man on the earth your father [patera], for one is your Father [patēr]

No evidence for its use either in Jewish or Christian circles at this period (but cf. Ac 7:2; 22:1).

, he who is in heaven. 10Neither be called masters [kathēgētai], for one is your master [kathēgētēs], the Christ. 11But he who is greatest [meizōn] among you will be your servant [diakonos]. 12Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 13"Woe to you, scribes [grammateis] and Pharisees, hypocrites [hypokritai]! For you devour widows' houses, and as a pretense you make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 14"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven [basileian tōn ouranōn] against men; for you don't enter in yourselves, neither do you allow those who are entering in to enter. 15Woe to you, scribes [grammateis] and Pharisees, hypocrites [hypokritai]! For you travel around by sea and land to make one proselyte [prosēluton]; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much of a son of Gehenna [geennēs] as yourselves. 16"Woe to you, you blind guides [hodēgoi], who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.' 17You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18'Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obligated?' 19You blind fools! For which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20He therefore who swears by the altar, swears by it, and by everything on it. 21He who swears by the temple, swears by it, and by him who was living in it. 22He who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him who sits on it. 23"Woe to you, scribes [grammateis] and Pharisees, hypocrites [hypokritai]! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone [aphiēmi] the weightier matters of the law: justice [krisin], mercy, and faith [pistin]. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone. 24You blind guides [hodēgoi], who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel [kamēlon]

Both sources of impurity (Lv 11:20-23 and 11:4). In Aramaic there was a pun on qalma (gnat) and gamla (camel).

! 25"Woe to you, scribes [grammateis] and Pharisees, hypocrites [hypokritai]! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and unrighteousness. 26You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the platter, that its outside may become clean [katharon] also. 27"Woe to you, scribes [grammateis] and Pharisees, hypocrites [hypokritai]! For you are like whitened [koniaō]

Lit. 'plastered' (with lime). The reference could be to funerary urns or ossuaries (bone- containers) which were beautified with a marble-and-lime plaster. The Story of Ahikar (Armenian) 2:2 has the same metaphor applied to a beautifully made up but dangerous woman!.

tombs [taphois]

Whitewashed regularly at festival time to ensure that passers-by did not inadvertently touch them and so become defiled (Mishnah 'Shekalim' 1:1; cf. 'Ma'aserSheni' 5:1).

, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness [akatharsias]

Pharisees and purity - defilement

The Pharisees were preoccupied with ceremonial purity. They were the ones who walked carefully down the street lest they touch anything or anybody who might contaminate them. Perhaps they held their palms together as they walked past lest they touch the sinner. The scribes and Pharisees were upper-class, unlike Jesus and his followers, and they made sure their clean robes were not defiled by contact with people who might pollute them. When Jesus said to the Pharisees they were like whitewashed tombs he implied that washing hands does not remove defilement any more than he whitewashing tombs removes decay from inside the tomb. Jesus' hands must often have been dirty, and he would not hide them just because Pharisees were around.

. 28Even so you also outwardly appear righteous [dikaioi] to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy [hupokriseōs] and iniquity [anomias]. 29"Woe to you, scribes [grammateis] and Pharisees, hypocrites [hypokritai]! For you build the tombs [taphous]

There was in the first century a great emphasis on building splendid tombs, including some for those long since dead (e.g., Herod's new marble monument over David's tomb, Josephus, 'Ant.' xvi. 179-182).

of the prophets, and decorate the tombs of the righteous [dikaiōn], 30and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn't have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' 31Therefore you testify [martyreō] to yourselves that you are children [uioi] of those who killed the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape the judgment [kriseōs] of Gehenna [geennēs]? 34Therefore, consider this [idou]; I send to you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute [diōxete] from city to city; 35that on you may come all the righteous [dikaion] blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous [dikaiou] Abel to the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed between the sanctuary and the altar. 36Most certainly I tell you [amēn legō hymin], all these things will come upon this generation. 37"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent [apostellō] to her! How often I would have [ethelō] gathered [episynagei] your children together, even as a hen [ornis] gathers [synagō] her chicks under her wings, and you would not [ethelō]! 38Consider this [idou]; your house is left [aphiēmi] to you desolate [erēmos]. 39For I tell you, you will not see me from now on [ap' arti]

'From now on', also in 26:29; 26:64.

, until you say, 'Blessed [Eulogeō] is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

24 1Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way. His disciples came to him to show him the buildings [oikodomas]

A striking feature in the general appearance of the temple and its various courts is the series of terraces; the different courts rising one above the other, until the temple itself was reached on a platform that was highest of all. The structure - the paved courts, the beautiful columns, white marble cloisters, gateways, and crowning all, the white temple standing high above the rest, its front walls ornamented with thick plates of gold - produced an effect that was magnificent beyond description. Herod's temple was a restoration and improvement of the temple of Zerubbabel which was taken down and repositioned stone by stone. According to the Talmud, the temple area was about 750 feet. Around the edge of this square and against the massive stone wall that enclosed it, cloisters were built, their cedar roofs being supported by rows of Corinthian columns or solid marble. The colonnade on the east was called Solomon's Porch (Jn 10:23: Ac 3:11; 5:12). The cloisters on the south formed an immense building known as the Stoa Basilica, 'King's Porch'. This immense building, with its high nave, broad aisles, and marble column, was the one whose southeastern corner was the 'pinnacle of the temple' (cf. Mt 4:5). In these cloisters the Levites resided and the doctors of the law met to discuss (Lk 2:46). The disciples later met here (Ac 2:46). North of the centre of the area enclosed by these cloisters stood the sacred enclosure of the temple and the space surrounding this enclosure was the Court of the Gentiles, Outer Court, Lower Court, or by the rabbis, usually, 'Mountain of the Lord's House'. It was accessible to all. It was paved with coloured stones and was the place that was desecrated by dealers (Mt 21:12). The temple enclosure was on a raised terrace and surrounded by a wall to keep out the Gentiles. An inner wall was placed around the perimeter of another terrace in the eastern side of which was an imposing gate of fine workmanship (cf. Ac 2:3, 10). It was sometimes called 'Gate Susan' because it had a sculptured relief of the town of Susa on it. This was the grand entrance to the Court of the Women, which was the general place of public worship at the time of the sacrifices. Near the gate and around the entrances of galleries were distributed the eleven treasure chests of the temple for the half-shekel tax (cf. Mk 12:41-42; Lk 21:1-2; Jn 8:20). West of the Court of the Women, separated by a wall and an even higher terrace, was the Court of the Israelites, a narrow hall surrounding the Court of the Priests, with cloisters on all sides supported by beautiful columns. On a terrace fifteen steps higher, and separated from the court of the Israelites by a low stone balustrade, was the Court of the Priests. In the eastern part of this was the great altar of burnt -offering, directly west of which arose the Great Temple of white marble and immense foundation stones. It was divided into the Holy Place and Most Holy Place, the two parts separated by a veil.

of the temple. 2But he answered them, "You see all of these things, don't you? Most certainly I tell you [amēn legō hymin], there will not be left here one stone on another, that will not be thrown down [kataluō]

Herod's temple

The rebuilding of the Temple, on a magnificent scale, exceeding even the glory of Solomon's, was the life-work of Herod. He summoned a national assembly and announced his grand scheme in 22 BC. The next two years were spent assembling and training a force of 10,000 workmen and 1000 supervisory priests, who also worked as builder-craftsmen in the forbidden areas. These elaborate preparations were necessary to reassure the Jerusalem Jews that the destructive operation of tearing down the old temple was the prelude to correcting a new and final one. Herod took extraordinary care not to offend the religious scruples of the rigorists: for instance, for the altar and its ramp, unhewn stones were used so that they would be untouched by iron. The creation of the Temple as a functional those of sacrifice took only 18 months, during which time elaborate curtaining screened the sanctuary from the profane gaze. But the vast building as a whole needed 46 years to complete and craftsmen were still finishing the decorations not long before the Romans talk the whole thing down in the 70 AD, leaving not one stone upon another. For descriptions of Herod's Temple see Josephus' ' Antiquities of the Jews' and his ' Jewish wars', and the Talmudic tractates 'Middot', 'Tamid' and 'Yoma'.

In constructing the temple Herod desired to achieve even more grandiose effects than he had done previously. To do this he doubled the area of the Temple Mount by a building huge supporting walls and filling in the there gaps with rubble. Around the vast forecourt thus created he erected porticos, and linked it all to the upper city by bridges. The sanctuary, at one end of the platform, was much higher and wider than Solomon's (100 as opposed to 60 cubits), but a since Herod's was not of a priestly family and could not therefore enter even the inner court, he spent little on the interior, and the Holy of Holies, though lined in gold, was bare. Instead, cash was spent profusely on the exterior, dates, fittings and decorations being covered in gold and silver plate. Josephus says these stone was ' exceptionally white', and the glitter of the stone and the gleam of the gold - reflected many miles away in the bright sun - was what made the temple so striking to travellers seeing it from afar for the first time.

The prodigious platform, 35 acres in area and a mile in circumference, was more than twice the height as seen today from the bottom of the Valley, for the lower courses of the great stone blocks are covered in the rubbish of centuries. Josephus says that some of these blocks were '45 cubits in length, 10 in height and 6 in breadth', finished by a imported craftsman to an unusually high standard. The top 40 feet of the platform covered and vaulted corridors and above them, on the platform itself, were the cloisters, with hundreds of Corinthian pillars trying to seven feet high and so thick, says Josephus, that three men with arms extended could hardly encompass them. So high was the edifice, he says, that if you looked down from the cloisters you felt giddy.

." 3As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming [parousias]

Lit. 'presence' (as in 2 Cor 10:10), but used for official visits by high-ranking persons, state visits, and also for divine visitations (see v27, 37, 39).

, and of the end of the age [synteleias tou aiōnos]?" 4Jesus answered them, "Be careful that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will lead many astray. 6You will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you aren't troubled [throeomai], for all this must happen, but the end [telos] is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places. 8But all these things are the beginning of birth pains [ōdinōn]

Technical term in apocalyptic literature for the period of suffering leading up to the new age.

. 9Then they will deliver you up [paradidōmi] to oppression [thlipsin], and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name's sake. 10Then many will stumble [skandalizō], and will deliver up one another, and will hate one another. 11Many false prophets [pseudophētai] will arise, and will lead many astray. 12Because iniquity [anomian] will be multiplied, the love [agapē] of many will grow cold. 13But he who endures to the end, the same will be saved [sōthēsetai]. 14This Good News [euangelion] of the Kingdom will be preached [kerussō] in the whole world [oikoumenē]

Lit. 'inhabited area', a standard term originally for the Greek world (as opposed to barbarians), then for the Roman Empire, and subsequently for the whole of the then known world.

for a testimony [martyrion] to all the nations, and then the end [telos] will come. 15"When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation [bdelygma tēs erēmōseōs]

Literal Greek rendering of the phrase in Da 11:31; 12:11 (cf. Da 9:27).

, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand [noeō]), 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take out things that are in his house. 18Let him who is in the field not return back to get his clothes. 19But woe to those who are with child and to nursing mothers in those days! 20Pray that your flight will not be in the winter, nor on a Sabbath, 21for then there will be great oppression [thlispsis], such as has not been from the beginning of the world [kosmou] until now, no, nor ever will be. 22Unless those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved. But for the sake of the chosen ones, those days will be shortened. 23"Then if any man tells you, 'Look [idou]! Here is the Christ,' or, 'There,' don't believe [pisteuō] it. 24For there will arise false christs [pseudochristoi], and false prophets [pseudoprophētai], and they will show great signs [sēmeia megala] and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones [eklektous]. 25"See [idou]; I have told you beforehand. 26If therefore they tell you, 'Look [idou]! He is in the wilderness [erēmō],' don't go out; 'Look [idou]! He is in the inner chambers,' don't believe [pisteusēte] it. 27For as the lightning flashes from the east, and is seen even to the west, so will be the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man. 28For wherever the carcass is, there is where the vultures gather together. 29But immediately after the oppression of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; 30and then the sign [sēmeion]

LXX translation for the 'standard' or 'banner' referred to in the OT as a signal for the gathering of God's people; see. e.g., Is 11:12; 49:22.

of the Son of Man will appear in the sky [en ouranō]. Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky [tou ouranou] with power and great glory. 31He will send out his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. 32"Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near. 33Even so you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all these things are accomplished. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36But no one knows [oida] of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37"As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, 39and they didn't know [ginōskō] until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man. 40Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one will be left; 41two women grinding at the mill [mylōni]

Two circular stones used to grind grain and usually worked by two women. It was forbidden to take millstones as a pledge because they were so important to sustaining life (Dt 24:6).

, one will be taken and one will be left. 42Watch [grēgoreō] therefore, for you don't know in what hour your Lord [Kyrios] comes. 43But know [ginōskō] this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don't expect, the Son of Man will come. 45"Who then is the faithful [pistos] and wise servant [phronimos doulos], whom his lord has set over [kathistēmi] his household [oiketeias], to give them their food in due season? 46Blessed [makarios] is that servant [doulos] whom his lord finds doing so when he comes. 47Most certainly I tell you [amēn legō hymin] that he will set him over all that he has. 48But if that evil [kakos] servant [doulos] should say in his heart, 'My lord is delaying his coming,' 49and begins to beat his fellow servants [syndoulous], and eat and drink with the drunkards, 50the lord of that servant [doulou] will come in a day when he doesn't expect it, and in an hour when he doesn't know it, 51and will cut him in pieces, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites [hupokritōn]. There is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.

25 1"Then the Kingdom of Heaven [basileia tōn ouranōn] will be like ten virgins [parthenois]

May be attendants of the bride, or servants in the bridegroom's home, or perhaps friends and neighbours who are waiting to escort the bridegroom in festal procession, probably in the last stage of the ceremonies as he brings his bride home for the wedding feast.

, who took their lamps [lampadas]

Apparently a torch-light procession, the lamps being 'torches' (of oil-soaked rags wrapped on a stick) rather than standing lamps, which are described by a different word in 5:15 and 6:22. A well-soaked torch would burn for a quarter of an hour or so, but those with no oil were no sooner lit than they went out. Oil from nuts, fish and other sources were used with a wick made from twisted flax. Lanterns were made of waxed linen, or even paper, stretched over rings of wire, and having a top and bottom of tinned copper. A lantern could be used indoors. Torches were portable lights made with sticks of resinous wood with or of a flammable material wound about the end of a stick.

, and went out to meet the bridegroom [nymphiou]

On the occasion of a marriage the bridegroom, attended by his friends went to the house of his bride and brought her with her friends in joyful procession to his house.

. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3Those who were foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them, 4but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5Now while the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6But at midnight there was a cry, 'Look [idou]! The bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!' 7Then all those virgins [parthenoi] arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9But the wise answered, saying, 'What if there isn't enough for us and you? You go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' 10While they went away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut [kleiō]

Tablets or cards were presented to a servant at the entrance as proof of an invitation. When the company was assembled the master of the house shut the door, cf. Lk 13:24-25.

. 11Afterward the other virgins [parthenoi] also came, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' 12But he answered, 'Most certainly I tell you, I don't know you.' 13Watch [grēgoreō] therefore, for you don't know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. 14"For it is like a man, going into another country, who called his own servants [doulous], and entrusted his goods to them. 15To one he gave five talents [talanta]

A talent varied from place to place, and depended on the metal used for monetary purposes, but it was generally regarded as equal to 6000 denarii or three-thousand shekels.

, to another two, to another one; to each according to his own ability. Then he went on his journey. 16Immediately he who received the five talents [talenta] went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17In like manner he also who got the two gained another two. 18But he who received the one went away and dug in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19"Now after a long time the lord of those servants [doulōn] came, and reconciled accounts with them. 20He who received the five talents [talanta] came and brought another five talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents [talanta]. See [ide]; I have gained another five talents besides them.' 21"His lord said to him, 'Well done [Eu], good and faithful servant [doule agathe kai piste]. You have been faithful [pistos] over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy [charan]of your lord.' 22"He also who got the two talents [talanta] came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents [talanta]. See [ide]; I have gained another two talents besides them.' 23"His lord said to him, 'Well done [Eu], good and faithful servant [doule agathe kai piste]. You have been faithful [pistos] over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy [charan] of your lord.' 24"He also who had received the one talent [talanton] came and said, 'Lord, I knew you that you are a hard [sklēros] man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter [diaskorpizō]. 25I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent [talanton] in the earth. Look [ide]; you have what is yours.' 26"But his lord answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant [Ponēre doule kai oknēre]. You knew that I reap where I didn't sow, and gather where I didn't scatter. 27You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. 28Take away therefore the talent [talonton] from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents [talanta]. 29For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn't have, even that which he has will be taken away. 30Throw out the unprofitable servant [doulon] into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 31"But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats [eriphōn]

Sheep and goats grazed in the same pasture, but it was necessary to separate the herds because male goats were often hostile toward the sheep.

. 33He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left [euōnymōn]

Perhaps an allusion to the custom in the Sanhedrin of putting the acquitted prisoners on the right of the president, and those who were convicted on his left.

. 34Then the King will tell those on his right hand, 'Come, blessed [eulogeō] of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world [kosmou]; 35for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me [synagō] in. 36I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited [periballō] me. I was in prison, and you came to me.' 37 "Then the righteous [dikaioi]

Usually denotes character or behaviour but can also have a more forensic sense: 'acquitted'.

will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? 38When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in [synagō]; or naked, and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?' 40"The King will answer them, 'Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' 41Then he will say also to those on the left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal [aiōnion] fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry, and you didn't give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; 43I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in [synagō]; naked, and you didn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit [episkeptomai] me.' 44"Then they will also answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn't help [diakoneō] you?' 45"Then he will answer them, saying, 'Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me.' 46These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous [dikaioi] into eternal life."

26 1It happened, when Jesus had finished all these words, that he said to his disciples, 2"You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up [paradidōmi] to be crucified." 3Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders [presbyteroi] of the people were gathered together [synagō] in the court [aulēn] of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas [Kaïapha]

He belonged to the sect of the Sadducees, a priestly party whose earliest adherents were descendants of Zadok. Ezekiel regarded the Sadducees as the only legitimate priests. In Jesus' day Scribes and Pharisees were often priests but it is not implied that all Sadducees were priests. The Sadducees were aristocrats in religion, and they believed that the priests could legitimately be recruited only from their own members. Although the office of high priest was the appointment of Rome - much to the dislike of the Jews - yet Annas the Sadducee had so craftily pulled the wires and exerted his influence that six high priests running had been members of his own family, and Caiaphas, the seventh, was his own son-in-law. It was openly said the Annas, a very wealthy man, had lent money to influential Romans to blackmail them to do what he wanted. Power over the people remained in the hands of the Sadducees, who were fighting for the privileges of priesthood. They cared less about true religion than they did about their own prestige and power.

. 4They took counsel together that they might take Jesus by deceit, and kill him. 5But they said, "Not during the feast, lest a riot occur among the people [en tē heortē]

'During the festival/ feast'.

." 6Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7a woman came to him having an alabaster jar of very expensive ointment [myrou]

Identified by Mark and John as spikenard, and extremely expensive luxury imported from India, used especially for anointing the dead. It was not uncommon for guests at a banquet to be anointed, but the use of such an expensive oil was an act of extravagant devotion.

, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table [anakeimai]

Tables during biblical times were banqueting-couches or benches on which the Jews reclined when at meals. Among the Romans, three beds were generally used in the dining room, combining to form the triclinium. They were arranged around the sides of a square in the centre of the room. The fourth side of the square was left open to allow the servants room. The Romans allowed three guests to each bed, making nine in all. The rule of Varro (Marcus Terentius: 116-27 BC) stated that the 'number of guests ought not to be less than that of the Muses (i.e., nine daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus). The Greeks and Jews went beyond this number.

. 8But when his disciples saw this, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? 9For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor." 10However, knowing this, Jesus said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? Because she has done a good work [kalon ergon] for me. 11For you always have the poor with you; but you don't always have me. 12For in pouring this ointment on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13Most certainly I tell you [amēn legō], wherever this Good News [euangelion] is preached [kēryssō] in the whole world [kosmō], what this woman has done will also be spoken of as a memorial of her." 14Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, 15and said, "What are you willing to give me, that I should deliver [paradidōmi] him to you?" They weighed out [histēmi]

'Weighed out' is the same word in LXX of Zech 11:12, echoing the derisory 'wages' of the rejected shepherd.

for him thirty pieces of silver [arguria]

Perhaps not denarii but shekels. Three kinds of shekel were used in Israel: a temple shekel, common shekel and heavy (royal) shekel. As there were probably no current shekels in Jesus' time, it is supposed that the tetradrachms of the Greek cities of Syria were the coins that were handed to Judas. It was the amount recoverable by a slave who had been beaten by his master until the blood ran.

. 16From that time he sought opportunity to betray [paradidōmi] him. 17Now on the first day of unleavened bread [prōtē tōn azumōn]

The feast ran from Nisan 15 to 21, but Passover day itself, Nisan 14, was loosely included in that period (in fact it was on the evening which began Nisan 14 that leaven began to be removed from the houses: Mishnah 'Pesahim' 1:1-3).

, the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, "Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover [pascha]

Heb. 'prepare your Seder'. Officially eaten on the evening which began Nisan 15, the Jewish day biginning at sunset, not midnight. John dates the Last Supper on the night which began Nisan 14 (i.e., the night before the regular Passover meal), so that Jesus in fact died on the afternoon at the end of Nisan 14, the time when the Passover lambs were killed (cf. 1 Cor 5:7). Jesus, knowing that he would be dead before the regular time for the meal, deliberately held it in secret one day early (cf. Lk 22:15-16).

?" 18He said, "Go into the city to a certain person, and tell him, 'The Teacher says, "My time [kairos] is at hand. I will keep the Passover [pascha; Heb. Pesach] at your house [pros se]

Lit. 'with you'. Israelites who came to for the Passover were received by the inhabitants as brothers, and apartments were gratuitously furnished for them. In return the guests gave their hosts the skins of the paschal lambs and the vessels they had used in the ceremonies. According to this custom, the disciples asked Jesus if he had any house in mind.

with my disciples."' 19The disciples did as Jesus commanded them, and they prepared the Passover [pascha]

In the afternoon Peter and John went to the temple with the paschal lamb. There the lamb was killed, with the nearest priest catching the blood in a gold or silver bowl, passing it to the next in the row of priests until it reached the priest nearest the altar, who instantly sprinkled it on the altar's base. The lamb was then flayed and the entrails removed and burnt on the altar with incense. The disciples also prepared bread, wine, bitter herbs and sauce, cf. Ex 23:15. The Passover they celebrated differed from its first institution. The cup of wine was filled for everyone and he who presided over the table pronounced the blessing, after which the wine was drunk. The bitter herbs, unleavened bread, charoseth (vinegar and water), and the chagigah (voluntary peace-offering), were then brought in and the head of the table took a portion of the bitter herbs in his hand, dipped it into the charoseth and, after thanking God, ate a small portion and shared it around. Likewise the bread was distributed and the lamb placed on the table in front of the one presiding. A second cup was given (see Ex 12:26-27) and the first part of the 'Hallel' (hymn of praise (Ps 113 and 114) sung. Another blessing was given. After the singing unleavened bread and bitter herbs, dipped in charoseth, were eaten followed by the chagigah, then the lamb. A third and fourth cup of wine were drunk then the remainder of the 'Hallel' sung (Ps 115-118; cf. Mt 26:30 and Mk 14:26).

. 20Now when evening had come [opsias genomenēs]

The phrase means more generally, 'when it was late'.

, he was reclining at the table [keimai] with the twelve disciples. 21As they were eating, he said, "Most certainly I tell you that one of you will betray [paradidōmi] me." 22They were exceedingly sorrowful [lypeō sphodra]

Conveys the sense of violent emotion, even shock (see 17:6, 23; 18:31; 19:25; 27:54).

, and each began to ask him, "It isn't me, is it, Lord?" 23He answered, "He who dipped his hand with me in the dish, the same will betray [paradidōmi] me. 24The Son of Man goes, even as it is written of him, but woe to that man through whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that man if he had not been born." 25Judas, who betrayed him, answered, "It isn't me, is it, Rabbi [rhabbi]

A term appropriate to any Jewish teacher, and not used at all by the other disciples in Matthew.

?" He said to him, "You said it." 26As they were eating, Jesus took bread [arton; Heb. matzah], gave thanks [eulogeō]

Lit. 'having blessed'. The form of words was 'Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth' (In Hebrew, Barnuc attah Elohinoo melec haolam hamoise lechem min haarets).

for it, and broke [klaō]

We read often in the Scriptures of breaking bread, never of cutting it: because the Jews made their bread broad and thin like cakes, and to divide such, being very brittle, there was no need of a knife.

it. He gave to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." 27He took the cup, gave thanks [eucharisteō]

'Having given thanks'. (In Hebrew, Barnuc Elohinoo melec haolam bore peri hagephen: Blessed art thou, our God, King of the universe, the Creator of the fruit of the vine!). The words in v29, 'fruit of the vine' were part of the regular thanksgiving which Jesus will have used over the cup (see Mishnah 'Berakoth' 6:1).

, and gave to them, saying, "All of you drink it, 28for this is my blood of the new covenant [diathēkēs], which is poured out for many for the remission [aphiēmi] of sins. 29But I tell you that I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on [ap' arti], until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's Kingdom." 30When they had sung a hymn [hymneō]

The Hallel, Psalms of praise (115-118).

, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble [skandalizō]

'Tripped up, made to stumble'.

because of me tonight, for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' 32But after I am raised up, I will go before [proagō]

Same verb as in 2:9, 14:22; 21:31.

you into Galilee." 33But Peter answered him, "Even if all will be made to stumble [skandalisthēsontai] because of you, I will never be made to stumble." 34Jesus said to him, "Most certainly I tell you [amēn legō soi] that tonight, before the rooster crows [phōneō]

Cocks were expected to crow at regular times during the night, of which the second (about 1:30 am) was the most important for time-keeping, and so could be spoken of as the 'cock-crowing'.

, you will deny [aparneomai] me three times." 35Peter said to him, "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny [aparnēsomai] you." All of the disciples also said likewise. 36Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane [Gethsēmanei]

Means 'oil-press'. A garden east of Jerusalem near the foot of the Mount of Olives.

, and said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go there and pray." 37He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful [lypeisthai] and severely troubled [adēmoneō]. 38Then he said to them, "My soul [psychē] is exceedingly sorrowful [perilypos]

Cf. Mk 6:26; echoing the LXX translation of the refrain of Ps 42-43, 'Why are you cast down, O my soul …?'.

, even to death. Stay here, and watch [grēgoreō] with me." 39He went forward a little, fell on his face, and prayed [proserchomai], saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup [potērion]

One of the ways the Romans dealt with convicted soldiers was to line up the convicted men and give the first man a full cup of hemlock or other deadly poison. If the man was able to drink the full measure he could save the others from taking the poison and they would be freed. If not, the choice fell to the next man.

pass away from me; nevertheless, not what I desire [egō thelō], but what you desire." 40He came to the disciples, and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What, couldn't you watch [grēgorēsai] with me for one hour? 41Watch [grēgoreō] and pray, that you don't enter into temptation. The spirit [pneuma] indeed is willing [prothumon], but the flesh [sarx] is weak [asthenēs]." 42Again, a second time he went away, and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cup can't pass away from me unless I drink it, your desire be done." 43He came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44He left them again, went away, and prayed a third time, saying the same words. 45Then he came to his disciples, and said to them, "Sleep on now, and take your rest. See [idou]; the hour [ōra] is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.. 46Arise, let's be going [agō]. Look [idou]! He who betrays [paradidous] me is at hand." 47While he was still speaking, consider this [idou]; Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priest [archiereōn]

They were in charge of the Temple worship.

and elders [presbyterōn]

From the beginning of Israelite history, the elders were the leaders of the various clans and tribes. When the tribes came together to form the nation of Israel, the elders of the tribes assumed important roles in governing the affairs of the nation. The 'council of elders' was an integral part of the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. Elders had leading roles in the government of synagogues and became central to Jewish life after the fall of the Temple.

of the people. 48Now he who betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, "Whoever I kiss, he is the one. Seize him." 49 Immediately he came to Jesus, and said, "Hail, Rabbi [Chaire, rhabbi]!" and kissed [kataphileō]

For a Rabbi's disciple to kiss his master (on hand or foot) was not an everyday greeting, but a mark of special honour. Nor dare the disciple take this initiative uninvited; to do so was a 'studied insult'.

him. 50Jesus said to him, "Friend [Hetaire]

Sometimes used for a 'table-companion'. In the two other uses of this form of address in Matthew (20:13; 22:12) there is an element of rebuke.

, why are you here [eph' ho pareimi]?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus, and took [krateō]

'Siezed'. It was illegal for the temple police to arrest Jesus. Jewish law demanded that a guilty person should be arrested and accused by the witnesses against him. Furthermore, it was illegal to try a capital charge at night. It was illegal for the judge to cross-examine the prisoner. It was illegal to refrain from acquitting him when the witnesses disagreed. Further, witnesses proved to be false should have been stoned.

him. 51Consider this [idou]; one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck the servant [doulon] of the high priest, and struck off his ear. 52Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place, for all those who take the sword will die by the sword. 53Or do you think that I couldn't ask my Father, and he would even now send me more than twelve legions [legeōnas]

6,000 soldiers.

of angels? 54How then would the Scriptures [graphai; Heb. Tanakh] be fulfilled that it must be so?" 55In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out as against a robber [ōs epi lēstēn]

Same word used in 27:38.

with swords and clubs to seize me? I sat daily in the temple teaching, and you didn't arrest me. 56But all this has happened, that the Scriptures [graphai; Heb. Tanakh] of the prophets might be fulfilled [plēroō]." Then all the disciples left [aphentes] him, and fled. 57Those who had taken Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes [grammateis] and the elders [presbyteroi] were gathered together. 58But Peter followed him from a distance, to the court of the high priest, and entered in and sat with the officers, to see the end. 59Now the chief priests, the elders, and the whole council [synedrion]

Even if a minority of the 71 members of the Sanhedrin had been summoned, one-third was recognized as a quorum. The Sanhedrin was the highest Jewish council in the first century. Its 70 members were presided over by the high priest and included both Sadducees and Pharisees. According to tradition the Sanhedrin began with the 70 elders appointed by Moses (Nu 11:16). It was reorganised by Ezra after the exile. Under the Romans the Sanhedrin was given autonomy and authority, though not in capital offences.

sought false testimony [pseudomartyrian] against Jesus, that they might put him to death; 60and they found none. Even though many false witnesses [pseudomartyrōn] came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses [duo pseudomartyres]

Two witnesses in agreement were essential for a legal condemnation to death (Nu 35:30; Dt 17:6; 19:15; the rule was fundamental to Jewish law).

came forward, 61and said, "This man said, 'I am able to destroy [katalusai] the temple of God, and to build it in three days [triōn hēmerōn]

Idiomatic for a short time.

.'" 62The high priest stood up, and said to him, "Have you no answer? What is this that these testify [katamarturousin] against you?" 63But Jesus held his peace. The high priest answered him, "I adjure [exorkizō]

Cf. 1 Ki 22:16.

you by the living God [theou tou zōntos]

The most solemn form of oath known to the Hebrew constitution was this oath of the testimony: "If one shall say, 'I adjure you by the Almighty. …' or by any of the divine titles - consider it! They are bound to answer." A loyal and truly law-abiding Jew had no alternative but to answer.

, that you tell us whether you are the Christ [christos], the Son of God." But Jesus remained silent. 64Jesus said to him, "You have said it. Nevertheless, I tell you, after this [ap' arti] you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power [dynameōs; Heb. HaG'vurah]

'The Power'.

, and coming on the clouds of the sky [tou ouranou]." 65Then the high priest tore [diarrhēgnymi]

For the ritual tearing of robes see Mishnah 'Sanhedrin' 7:5. See also Lv 21:10.

his clothing [himatia]

The gorgeous robes of his high office were blue and scarlet and gold, with onyx stones on each shoulder and jewels flashing from his breast. It was customary to tear the robe when blasphemy was spoken in the presence of a priest.

, saying, "He has spoken blasphemy [blasphēmēō]! Why do we need any more witnesses [marturōn]? See [ide]; now you have heard his blasphemy [blasphēmian]. 66What do you think?" They answered, "He is worthy of death!" 67Then they spit in his face and beat him with their fists, and some slapped [rhapizō] him, 68saying, "Prophesy to us, you Christ [Christe]! Who hit you?" 69Now Peter was sitting outside in the court, and a maid [paidiskē] came to him, saying, "You were also with Jesus, the Galilean!" 70But he denied [arneomai] it before them all, saying, "I don't know what you are talking about." 71When he had gone out onto the porch [pylōna], someone else saw him, and said to those who were there, "This man also was with Jesus of Nazareth." 72Again he denied [ērnēsato] it with an oath, "I don't know the man." 73After a little while those who stood by came and said to Peter, "Surely you are also one of them, for your speech makes you known." 74Then he began to curse [katatithēmi]

Equivalent to Mark's anathematizō, to pronounce anathema, for which cf. 1 Cor 12:3; 16:22.

and to swear, "I don't know the man!" Immediately the rooster crowed. 75Peter remembered the word [rhēmatos] which Jesus had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny [aparneomai] me three times." He went out and wept bitterly.

27 1Now when morning had come, all the chief priests and the elders [presbyteroi] of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; 2and they bound him, and led him away, and delivered him up to Pontius Pilate, the governor [hēgemoni]

Pilate had little claim to greatness and was not even a good governor. But because he was the procurator of Judea at the most significant point in history, we do know a good deal about him, thanks to the records of secular historians, particularly Josephus. We may think of a young man in his early thirties, about Jesus' age. A proud, hot -tempered autocrat of obstinate disposition, capable of childish behaviour when anything thwarted his will, and as military- minded as his name suggests - "Pilatus" means 'armed with a pike.' Philo mentions 'his corruptions, his acts of insolence, his rapine, his habits of insulting people, his cruelty, his murders, and his inhumanity,' though some think this description exaggerated. Pilate was appointed the procurator of Judea in AD26, three years before the crucifixion. His province included Samaria and Judea and extended south to Gaza and the Dead Sea. His official residence was in Caesarea, but the possibility of riots in Jerusalem at times of festival brought him to the capital. His rule over all in the province except Roman citizens was absolute. He had not long taken over the governorship, which was the crown of his ambition, and he was determined to show his mettle and keep the turbulent Jews in order. Pilate, for example, discovered that there was no image of the emperor in Jerusalem and that Jerusalem was the only city in the whole Empire in which the image was not set up, and before which the subject people did not bow. Without asking questions or taking advice the new young ruler insisted that images of the emperor should be taken into the Holy City. The Jews were provoked but Pilate sent a strong guard with the images and set them up under cover of night on the tower of Antony overlooking the temple enclosure. Here, the Jews were unlikely to demonstrate, and if they attacked the tower the Roman forces would treat the resistance as an insurrection. In the event, and at the instigation of Caiaphas, thousands of Jews surrounded Pilate's palace at Caesarea, requesting that he remove the images and protesting for six days and nights, praying that God would change his heart. After Pilate's nerve was broken he arranged to address the Jews in the market place from his tribunal. He told them that unless they stopped asking for the images to be removed and went home quietly, the whole lot would be massacred. (Many of his troops were Samaritans, who would not have been opposed to this idea.) The Jews, however, said. "It is better to die than to have images in Jerusalem" and they bared their necks and waited. But the order for the massacre was never given, Pilate realising that this act would bring him immediately back to Rome (see Josephus, Jewish War). So Pilate gave way with rage and humiliation, while Caiaphas publicised Pilate's defeat. Another incident shows Pilate in a similar light. He wanted to supply Jerusalem with fresh water and constructed an aqueduct from the pools of Solomon to the interior of the city. To do this he planned to raid temple funds and tithes which had been built up by an obligatory half shekel annual collection from every Jewish adult male. A rebellion was quelled by disguising soldiers who infiltrated the mob. When the signal was given the Jews were beaten and in their panic started a stampede in which so many died that they gave in. But Pilate's action was met with a scathing rebuke from the emperor who denounced Pilate for letting down the Roman tradition by having soldiers in civilian dress using their staves on women. Caiphas would have sneered at Pilate who had been forewarned. On one other occasion Pilate gave in to the Jews when he bought to his accommodation at Herod's palace a large number of shields bearing the emblems of his pagan gods. A report was sent to Caesar, who ordered them to be removed. A fourth incident is noted in Lk 13:1 in which Pilate massacred defenceless Galilean Jews during their worship. In these snapshots we see Pilate frightened, but hating with a sullen and bitter hatred the people he had come to rule. We see a coarse, tactless, obstinate, bullying coward, fond of those blustering, loud-voiced methods by which so often fear is cloacked, and through which violence usurps the place of just and legal authority. We also see a man who had placed himself enormously in debt to Caiaphas, and this could be a factor in the proceedings against Jesus. Pilate was married to Claudia Procula.

. 3Then Judas, who betrayed [paradidōmi] him, when he saw that Jesus was condemned [katakrinō], felt remorse [metamelomai]

Used in 21:29, 32; 2 Cor 7:8; Heb 7:21.

, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders [presbyterois], 4saying, "I have sinned in that I betrayed [paradous] innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? You see to it." 5He threw down the pieces of silver in the sanctuary [naos]

Probably the inner temple, where only the priests were allowed.

, and departed. He went away and hanged himself [apagchō]

Used in LXX 2 Sam 17:23 to describe the suicide of Ahithophel, David's friend who betrayed him.

. 6The chief priests took the pieces of silver, and said, "It's not lawful [ouk exestin] to put them into the treasury, since it is the price of blood [aimatos]

Money paid by a killer as compensation to the next of kin of a murder victim, or money gained at the cost of another person's life or livelihood.

." 7They took counsel, and bought the potter's field with them, to bury strangers in. 8Therefore that field was called "The Field of Blood" to this day. 9Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled [plēroō], saying, "They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him upon whom a price had been set, whom some of the children of Israel priced, 10and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me." 11Now Jesus stood before the governor [hēgemenos]

The law forbade a trial from taking place on a day of the feast.

and the governor [hēgemōn] asked him, saying, "Are you the King of the Jews [basileus tōn Ioudaiōn]


Kings had been ruling in Rome for more than two hundred years, ever since the city's foundation, but the seventh in line was the last. From then on the title of 'king' would be regarded by the Roman people with an almost pathological hatred, to be shrunk from and shuddered at whenever mentioned. The liberty of a city that had no master was now consecrated as the birthright and measure of every citizen. In place of a king the founders of the Republic elected two magistrates known as consuls or praetors who were not permitted to serve for longer than a year. But the consuls themselves, as a privilege of their office, bordered their togas with the purple of kings. When they consulted the auspices they did so according to rites that pre-dated the very foundation of Rome.

Late in 45 BC the Senate announced that Caesar was henceforward to be honoured as divus Iulius: Julius the God. Who now could doubt that he was preparing to break the ultimate taboo and set a crown upon his head? Early in 44 Caesar began appearing in the high red boots once worn by kings in Italy's legendary past; around the same time he reacted with fury when a diadem that had mysteriously appeared on one of his statues was removed. But Caesar knew that the Romans would never tolerate a King Julius. And neither did he care. In the East they worshipped Caesar as a god. In the East there were traditions older by far than the Republic, of the flesh becoming divine, and of the rule of a king of kings.

?" Jesus said to him, "So you say." 12When he was accused by the chief priests and elders [presbyterōn], he answered nothing. 13Then Pilate said to him, "Don't you hear how many things they testify against [katamartyreō] you?" 14He gave him no answer, not even one word [oude en rhēma]

Silence was a judicial embarrassment, as Roman judges disliked sentencing an undefended man (cf. Ac 25:16), and the courts established the practice of offering a defendant three opportunities to respond before convicting by default.

, so that the governor [hēgemona] marvelled greatly. 15Now at the feast the governor [hēgemōn] was accustomed [eiōtha (ethō)]

According to Maimonides, the Spanish born Jewish philosopher and physician (1135-1204), the Jews were in the habit of punishing criminals at the three great feasts because more people were present to witness the punishment. The right of pardoning a condemned criminal was the prerogative of the emperor alone so Pilate as pro praetor may have already received instructions in writing naming the man to be released.

to release to the multitude [ochlō] one prisoner, whom they desired. 16They had then a notable [episēmon] prisoner, called Barabbas [Barabban; Heb. Yeshua Bar-Abba]

The name sounds in Aramaic very like 'Son of the Father', one of the official teachers of the Jewish law, a man who expounded the Scriptures, especially in their political implications. He belonged to a political or politico-religious sect called the Zealots who were banded together for insurrection at any moment when the word might be given by their leaders. They were under a vow to murder anyone they came across who was taking good Jewish money from fellow Jews and passing it over to Rome. He had idealism, patriotic fervour, and a burning resentment against Rome in his heart. It is possible he had led many risky expeditions, and become hero of a thousand escapades.

. 17When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas [Barabban]

Some MMS have 'Iēsoun Barabban'.

, or Jesus, who is called Christ [Christon]?" 18For he knew that because of envy they had delivered him up. 19While he was sitting on the judgment seat [bēmatos], his wife [gynē]

Claudia Procula, the granddaughter of Caesar Augustus and the illegitimate daughter of Claudia, the third wife of Tiberius Caesar. She was aristocratic, blue-blooded, highly cultured, and probably sensitive to the religious and spiritual movements of her day. It may have been through her influence that Pilate was appointed to this coveted position. It is strange to find her in Judea at all, since the law decreed that a procurator of Judea should not take his wife with him. Tradition tells us that Claudia was a secret proselyte to Judaism, that she was tired of the Roman Panatheon. Some traditions have it that she was a Christian believer. In any case, it was a common Roman idea that gods came down in the likeness of men, cf. Ac 14:11.

sent to him, saying [legō]

We can imagine a message written hastily on a wax tablet. It was unlawful for anyone to interrupt a judge after he had already begun to sit on a case.

, "Have nothing to do with that righteous [dikaiō] man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him." 20Now the chief priests and the elders [presbyteroi] persuaded the multitudes [ochlous] to ask for Barabbas [Barabban]

This man was not a coarse highwayman but an aristocrat, the son of a good family, a political leader.

, and destroy Jesus. 21But the governor [hēgemōn] answered them, "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" They said, "Barabbas [Barabban]!" 22Pilate said to them, "What then shall I do to Jesus, who is called Christ?" They all said to him, "Let him be crucified!" 23But the governor said, "Why? What evil has he done?" But they cried out exceedingly, saying, "Let him be crucified!" 24So when Pilate saw that nothing was being gained, but rather that a disturbance was starting, he took water, and washed [aponiptō]

Crunch time

The Romans had a word for an instant of perilous and excruciating tension, 'discrimen', when the achievements of an entire lifetime might hang in the balance. The career of any Roman who aspired to greatness had been a succession of such crisis points. To hazard one's future time and again and emerge triumphant - this was the mark of a man to the Romans. In addition to 'crisis point', 'discrimen' had a further meaning: 'dividing line'.

his hands before the multitude [ochlou], saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this righteous person [dikaiou]. You see to it." 25All the people [laos]

The name particularly used in the LXX for God's chosen people, and so used generally also in this gospel, (cf., Jer 26:8-9).

answered, "May his blood be on us, and on our children!" 26Then he released to them Barabbas [Barabban], but Jesus he flogged [phragelloō]

A preliminary to execution and an attempt to avert it, being sometimes fatal in itself; cf. the saying, 'flayed to the bone'.

and delivered [paradidōmi] to be crucified. 27Then the governor's [hēgemonos] soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium [praitōrion]

Pilate's residence, debated as to whether this was in the fort of Antonia on the north side of the temple area, or in Herod's former palace on the West Hill.

, and gathered the whole garrison [speiran]

'Mass of men' or a Roman military cohort, the tenth part of a legion, consisting of three maniples (a subdivision containing 60 or 120 men), each having two centuries (a unit consisting of 100 men). The soldiers of the governor ('stratiōtai' elsewhere) were auxiliaries, not Roman legionaries, and would be recruited from non-Jewish inhabitants of the surrounding areas (e.g., Phoenicians, Syrians, perhaps Samaritans), who would have no love for the Jews (see Philo, 'In Flaccum' 26-29 for comparison). The whole company could have numbered 600.

together against him. 28They stripped him, and put a scarlet robe [chlamyda]

Probably the Roman paludamentum which resembled the Greek chlamys (a short mantle fastened at the shoulder). The paludamentum was an outer garment that hung loosely over the shulders, was open in front, reached down to the knees or lower, and was fastened across the chest with a clasp. It was a military cloak.

on him. 29They braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they kneeled down before him, and mocked him, saying, "Hail [Chaire], King of the Jews!" 30They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31When they had mocked him, they took the robe off of him, and put his clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him. 32As they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon [Simōna]

Perhaps a wealthy Jew who had migrated from Palestine to North Africa, driven there by persecution, captivity, and oppression, who then came back to Jerusalem for the Passover. Alternatively, linking Simon here with the references in Mk 15:21 and Ro 16:13, some have thought that Simon was from Africa, and therefore a proselyte. Being devout, he could have changed his Negro name for a Jewish one. The officer in charge of the soldiers moving slowly along the Via Dolorosa realises that he must not ask a Roman soldier to carry the wood for a criminal, nor would any ordinary Jew in the crowd, for it would have made him ceremonially unclean to touch this instrument of torture imposed upon criminals by a pagan power. And if they were made ceremonially unclean they would not have been able to cleanse themselves in time to eat the Passover. Simon, being black, would not have found it easy to get lodgings within the city so while he tramped into the city to take his part in the great festival he was made to carry the cross for an unknown Prisoner. (Our phrase 'touch wood' comes from early Christianity when the wearing of splinters of the cross as charms by the devout was meant to remind the bearer of Jesus and his cross).

by name, and they compelled [angareuō]

Cf. 5:41.

him to go with them, that he might carry his cross. 33They came to a place called "Golgotha [Golgotha; Heb. Gulgoleth; Lat. Calvaria.]

Means 'The Place of the Skull' (Kraniou Topos).

," that is to say, "The place of a skull." 34They gave him sour wine to drink mixed with gall [cholēs]

A translation of the Hebrew 'rosh' in Ps 69:21. The drink was vinegar (light wine rendered acrid, the common drink of soldiers) mixed with gall, or made bitter by wormwood.

. When he had tasted it, he would not drink. 35When they had crucified [stauroō]

The Greeks and Romans at first reserved the punishment only for slaves, saying it was too barbaric for freeborn or citizens. By the first century, however, it was used for any enemy of the state, though citizens could only by crucified by direct edict of Caesar. The practice was abolished after the 'conversion' of Constantine.

him, they divided his clothing among them, casting lots, 36and they sat and watched him there. 37They set up over his head the accusation against him written, "THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS [Ioudaiōn]

In Hebrew this is Yeshua Hanotzii Vemelech Hayehudim, the acrostic for which spells YHWH. This caused such offence on account of Dt 21:23; the curse falling on one who hung from a tree. This could scarcely be God (cf. Gal 3:13-14).

. 38Then there were two robbers [lēstai]

This word is the same one that describes Barabbas in Jn 18:40 and means a political revolutionary, not a burglar or brigand.

crucified with him, one on his right hand and one on the left. 39Those who passed by blasphemed [blasphēmeō] him, wagging their heads, 40 and saying, "You who destroy [kataluō] the temple, and build it in three days, save [sōzō] yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!" 41Likewise the chief priests also mocking, with the scribes [grammateōn], the Pharisees, and the elders [presbyterōn], said, 42"He saved [esōsen] others, but he can't save [sōsai] himself. If he is the King of Israel, let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in [pisteuomen] him. 43He trusts [peithō] in God. Let God deliver [rhuomai] him now, if he wants him; for he said, 'I am the Son of God.'" 44The robbers [lēstai] also who were crucified with him cast on him the same reproach [oneidizō]

Cf. AV's paraphrase (not implied in the verb oneidizō): 'cast the same in his teeth'. According to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, the saying to cast in someone's teeth means 'to throw reproof at someone'. The allusion is to knocking someone's teeth out by stones'. Shakespeare has written in 'Julius Caesar', IV iii (1599), 'All his faults observ'd, Set in a notebook, learn'd and conn'd by rote, To cast into my teeth'. It means to upbraid or abuse. The literal reading is, 'And (with) the same thing also the robbers who were crucified together with him reproached him'.

. 45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness [skotos]

It is reported that Dionysius, at Heliopolis in Egypt, noticed this darkness and said, 'Either the God of nature is suffering, or the machine of the world is tumbling into ruin'.

over all the land until the ninth hour. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried [anaboaō]

Only used here in the NT. A strong verb indicating powerful emotion or appeal to God. This is the only time in the Synoptics where Jesus addresses God without calling him 'Father'.

with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lima sabachthani [Hli ēli lema sabachthani]?" That is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me [Thee mou thee mou hinati me egkateleipō]?" 47Some of them who stood there, when they heard it, said, "This man is calling Elijah [Hlian; Heb. Eliyahu]." 48Immediately one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar [oxous]

Its immediate availability suggests that it was 'poska', wine vinegar diluted with water, the usual refreshing drink of labourers and soldiers which the soldiers guarding the cross would have had for their own use.

, and put it on a reed, and gave him a drink. 49The rest said, "Let him be. Let's see whether Elijah comes to save [sōzō] him." 50Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up [aphiēmi]

The Synoptic parallels are lit. 'breathed out', 'expired'. Death by crucifixion could linger for days.

his spirit [pneuma]. 51And think of it [idou]! The veil of the temple [katapetasma tou naou; Heb. parokhet]

The curtain that hung between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, sixty feet in length, and reaching from floor to ceiling.

was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints [hagiōn] who had fallen asleep [koimaomai] were raised; 53and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection [egersin], they entered into the holy city and appeared to many. 54Now the centurion, and those who were with him watching Jesus, when they saw the earthquake, and the things that were done, feared exceedingly [phobeomai sphodra]

Roman severity

Roman centurions were trained in hardship. In the ancient and terrible punishment of decimation, for example, every tenth man was beaten to death, the obedient along with the disobedient, the brave along with the cowardly, while their fellows were forced to watch. For a Roman, to be afraid was to be emasculated.

, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God." 55Many women were there watching from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, serving [diakonousai] him. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. 57When evening had come, a rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who himself was also Jesus' disciple came. 58This man went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus' body. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given up. 59Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and laid [tithēmi]

The Romans did not normally bury a crucified body, but threw it on the ground. Jewish piety forbade this, but executed criminals were buried in a public plot, without honour, and were not allowed to be placed in their family tombs.

it in his own new tomb, which he had cut out in the rock, and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. 61Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. 62Now on the next day, which was the day after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together to Pilate, 63saying, "Sir, we remember what that deceiver [planos]

It is the same charge which Jesus levelled against false prophets in 24:4,5,11,24 ('lead astray').

said while he was still alive: 'After three days I will rise again.' 64Command therefore that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest perhaps his disciples come at night and steal him away, and tell the people, 'He is risen from the dead;' and the last deception [planē] will be worse than the first." 65Pilate said to them, "You have a guard [koustōdian]

Unique in the NT, a transliteration of the Latin word 'custodia'.

. Go, make it as secure as you can." 66So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure, sealing [sphragizō]

A cord stretched across the stone with a lump of stamped clay would prevent a secret intrusion.

the stone.

28 1Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2Consider this [idou]; there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from the sky, and came and rolled away the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him, the guards [tērountes] shook [seiō], and became like dead men. 5The angel answered the women, "Don't be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus, who has been crucified. 6He is not here, for he has risen, just like he said. Come, see the place where the Lord was lying. 7Go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has risen from the dead, and consider this [idou]; he goes before you [proagō] into Galilee; there you will see him.' See [idou]; I have told you." 8They departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring his disciples word. 9As they went to tell his disciples, think of it [idou]! Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice [Chairete]!" They came and took hold of his feet, and worshiped [proskyneō] him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Don't be afraid. Go tell my brothers [adelphois] that they should go into Galilee, and there they will see me." 11Now while they were going, consider this [idou]; some of the guards [koustōdias] came into the city, and told the chief priests all the things that had happened. 12When they were assembled with the elders [presbyterōn], and had taken counsel, they gave a large amount of silver to the soldiers [stratiōtais], 13saying, "Say that his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14If this comes to the governor's [hēgemonos] ears, we will persuade [peithō] him and make you free of worry [amerimnous]." 15So they took the money and did as they were told. This saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continues until this day. 16But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had sent them. 17When they saw him, they bowed down to him, but some doubted [distazō]. 18Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19Go, and make disciples of all nations [ethnē], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe [tēreō] all things that I commanded you. See [idou]; I am with you always, even to the end of the age [synteleias tou aiōnos]." Amen.

© 2024 All rights reserved. Contact | Website design by Jacob