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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Matthew 21



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. εἰς Βηθφαγὴ εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν ἐλαιῶν. ‘Unto Bethphage and Bethany at the mount of Olives’ (Mark). ‘Nigh to Bethphage and Bethany at the mount called the mount of Olives’ (Luke). Bethany was about two miles from Jerusalem, at the S.E. base of the mount of Olives. Of Bethphage (‘place of green or winter figs’) no remains have been discovered, and its exact position is unknown. It was probably west of Bethany, and so near to Jerusalem as to be reckoned part of the Holy City. See Godet on St Luke 19:28. Some have inferred from the order in which Bethphage and Bethany are named that Bethphage was east of Bethany.

Verses 1-10


Mark 11:1-11. Luke 19:29-40. John 12:12-19. St Luke alone places here the incident of Christ weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:40-44).

Verse 2

2. ὄνον δεδεμένην καὶ πῶλον μετʼ αὐτῆς. ‘A colt tied whereon never man sat’ (Mark and Luke). St Matthew notes the close correspondence with the words of the prophecy; see Matthew 21:5.

Oriental travellers describe the high estimation in which the ass is held in the East. The variety of Hebrew names for these animals indicates the many uses to which they are put. The prophecy from Zechariah quoted Matthew 21:4 contains three distinct Hebrew words for an ‘ass.’ ‘Sitting upon an ass (chamôr, from a root meaning red) and a colt (ayir, ‘a young male ass’) the foal (lit. ‘the son’) of an ass (athôn = ‘a she-ass,’ from a root meaning ‘slow’).’ ‘His lot varies as does the lot of those he serves. The rich man’s ass is a lordly beast. In size he is far ahead of anything of his kind we see here at home. His coat is as smooth and glossy as a horse’s … His livery is shiny black, satiny white or sleek mouse colour. I never saw one of the dingy red of his Poitou brethren.’ Zincke’s Egypt.

Verse 3

3. The account leads to the inference that the owner of the ass was an adherent of Jesus who had perhaps not yet declared himself. The number of such secret followers was perhaps very large.

Verse 4

4. γέγονεν. ‘Is come to pass:’ the Evangelist speaks of an event still recent. Bp. Lightfoot points out (On a Fresh Revision of the N.T. p. 91) that for γέγονεν of the earlier and contemporary evangelist we find ἐγένετο in a similar expression in the later fourth Gospel.

ἵνα πληρωθῇ. See note ch. Matthew 1:22.

Verse 5

5. εἴπατε τῇ θυγατρὶ Σιών. The quotation is partly from Zechariah, partly from Isaiah. The first clause, εἴπατε τῇ θυγατρὶ Σιών, is the LXX. rendering of Isaiah 62:11. The remainder is an abbreviated citation from Zechariah 9:9, where the LXX. version is: [χαῖρε σφόδρα, θύγατερ Σιών, κήρυσσε, θύγατερ Ἱερουσαλήμ·] ἰδού, ὁ βασιλεὺς ἔρχεταί σοι [δίκαιος καὶ σώζων αὐτὸς] πρᾳῢς καὶ ἐπιβεβηκὼς ἐπὶ ὑποζύγιον καὶ πῶλον νέαν. The words in brackets, omitted in the citation, occur in the Hebrew text as well as in the LXX. In the last clause, where St Matthew differs from the LXX., he agrees with the Hebrew text. It is a proof of St Matthew’s feeling for poetical form that the parallelism does not suffer in the shortened form of quotation. The word σώζων which occurs in Zechariah, and ὁ σωτὴρ which follows the words quoted from Isaiah, omitted here but suggested by the quotation, would recall ‘hosanna’ and the name Jesus (σωτήρ). See below.

πραΰς. Cp. ch. Matthew 11:29 and 2 Corinthians 10:1, παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς διὰ τῆς πρᾳΰτητος καὶ ἐπιεικείας τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Verse 7

7. τὰ ἱμάτια. Their upper garments, the abbas of modern Arabs. Cp. with this the throne extemporised for Jehu, 2 Kings 9:13.

Verse 8

8. ὁ πλεῖστος ὄχλος, the greater part of the crowd.

ἔστρωσαν ἑαυτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια. Instances are recorded of similar acts of respect shewn to Rabbis by their disciples. See Schöttgen, ad loc.

Verse 9

9. Ὡσαννά. Hebr. ‘hoshiah-na,’ ‘save now,’ ‘save I pray.’ Na is a particle of entreaty added to imperatives. They are the first words of Psalms 118:25, ‘Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity,’ a verse which was sung in solemn procession round the altar at the feast of Tabernacles and on other occasions. As they sang these words it was the custom to carry young branches of palm, and the boughs of myrtle and willow, which were brandished or shaken at intervals. (See Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. ad loc.)

τῷ υἱῷ Δ. Dative of general reference. The ‘Salvation’ is in some way connected with the Son of David as the cause or instrument of it. See Clyde’s Greek Synt. § 15.

The multitude recognise the Messiah in Jesus and address to Him the strains and observe the ritual of their most joyous festival. The shouts of ‘hosanna’ must have been significant in another way to the disciples. The verb is from the same root and had nearly the same sound as the name Jesus. See note Matthew 21:5.

The thought of ‘salvation’ is so closely connected with the feast of Tabernacles, that to this day the name ‘hosanna’ is given to the bundles of branches, to the prayers at the feast, and to the feast itself. See Wetstein ad loc., and cp. Revelation 7:9-10.

St Luke paraphrases the expression for his Gentile readers, ‘glory in the highest.’

εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου. ‘According to the accents the rendering would be, “Blessed in the name of the Lord be he that cometh.” Dean Perowne on Psalms 118:26. ‘He that cometh’ (Habba) was a recognised Messianic title. St Mark adds ‘Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord.’ St Luke has ‘Blessed be the king that cometh,’ &c., and mentions that the multitude ‘began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.’ St John reports the words thus, ‘Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.’ These shouts of triumph—which were the ‘gospel’ or heralding of the King—must have sounded across the valley of Kedron up to the precincts and porches of the Temple.

‘Bethany stands in a shallow hollow scooped out of the shoulder of the hill. The path follows this till the descent begins at a turn where the first view of the Temple is caught. First appeared the castles and walls of the city of David; and immediately afterwards the glittering roof of the Temple and the gorgeous royal arcade of Herod with its long range of battlements overhanging the southern edge of Moriah.’—Tristram’s Topography of Holy Land.

The entry into Jerusalem must not be regarded as an isolated fact. It was a culminating outburst of feeling. It is clear that the expectation of the kingdom was raised to the highest pitch. The prostration of Salome at the feet of the Prince; the request of her sons; the dispute among the ten; the gathering crowds; the cry of Bartimæus; the triumphal entry, are all signs of this feeling.

For us the Royal Entry is a figure, a parable through external sights and sounds of the true and inner secret kingdom of God.

Verse 10

10. From two passages of Josephus (B. J. II. 14. 3 and VI. 9. 3) it appears that 2,900,000, or even a greater number, were present at the passover, numbers encamping in the vicinity of the holy city. We may picture the narrow streets of Jerusalem thronged with eager inquisitive crowds demanding, with Oriental vivacity, in many tongues and dialects, ‘Who is this?’

ἐσείσθη, was ‘convulsed’ or ‘stirred’ as by an earthquake, or by a violent wind.

(Monday, Nisan 10.)

The events of this day extend to Matthew 21:23 of this Chapter.

Verse 12

12. ἐξέβαλεν κ.τ.λ. It is probable that a look of divine authority, the enthusiasm of His Galilæan followers, and the consciousness of wrongdoing on the part of the traders, rather than any special exercise of miraculous power, effected this triumph of Jesus in His Father’s House.

ἀγοράζοντας ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ. The traffic consisted in the sale of oxen and sheep, and such requisites for sacrifice as wine, salt, and oil. The merchandise took place in the Court of the Gentiles.

κολλυβιστής, ‘a money changer,’ for the classical ἀργυραμοιβός, from κόλλυβος, a small coin (Aristoph. Pax, 1200) taken as a fee, hence later ‘rate of exchange.’ Cp. Cic. in Verr. Act II. 3. 78, ‘Ex omni pecunia … deductiones fieri solebant: primum pro spectatione et collybo.’ Κόλλυβος, Hebr. kolbon, is said to be a Phœnician word, which spread with their trade, just as the Genoese or Venetian merchants brought the word agio into general use.

τὰς περιστεράς. The definite article here and in the parallel passage (Mark 11:15) ‘indicates the pen of a narrator, who was accustomed to the sight of the doves which might be purchased within the sacred precincts by worshippers’. [Bp Lightfoot, On a Fresh Revision of the N.T. p. 109.]

Verses 12-14


Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-46

It is clear from the other Synoptists that the Cleansing of the Temple took place on Nisan 10, not on the day of the entry. St Mark says (Matthew 11:11) that ‘when he had looked round about on all things there, the eventide being come he went back to Bethany.’ In point of time ‘the cursing of the fig-tree’ should precede the ‘Cleansing of the Temple.’ St Mark adds to this account ‘would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.’ St Matthew alone mentions the healing of the lame and the blind, and omits the incident of ‘the widow’s mite,’ recorded by the other Synoptists. The first ‘Cleansing of the Temple,’ at the commencement of our Lord’s ministry, is recorded John 2:13-17.

Verse 13

13. γέγραπται. See note, ch. Matthew 2:5.

ὁ οἶκος κ.τ.λ. The passage is quoted from Isaiah 56:7, but, with the omission of the words πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, these are included in the quotation by St Mark but not by St Luke. The context in Isaiah treats of the admission of the Gentiles: ‘Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him’ (Matthew 21:8).

ποιεῖτε σπήλαιον λῃστῶν, ‘are making it a cave of robbers or bandits,’ cp. Jeremiah 7:11, ‘Is this house which is called by my name become a den of robbers in your eyes?’ Thus two separate passages of the O.T. are combined in a contrasted or parallel form. The context of these words is strikingly suggestive: ‘If ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings … and shed not innocent blood in this place … then will I cause you to dwell in this place in the land that I gave to your fathers for ever and ever.’ The caves of Palestine had always been refuges for the lawless, and in the reign of Herod the Great the robbers dwelling in caves had rebelled against him and resisted his power, Jos. Ant. I. 12. Possibly this thought may be present here: ‘Ye have made my house a stronghold of rebels against God and the Messiah, when it ought to be a garrison of loyal subjects.’ Also the disputes of the traffickers resembled the wrangling of bandits in their caves. Comp. σπήλ. λῃστῶν with the less severe οἶκον ἐμπορίου of the first ‘cleansing’ (John 2:16).

Verse 15

15. οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς. [1] The high-priest, [2] those who had served that office, [3] the priests who were members of the high-priest’s family, and [4] perhaps, the heads of the twenty-four priestly courses. See note ch. Matthew 26:3.

τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς κράζοντας. Children were taught at an early age to join in the temple services. These caught the familiar feast-day strain from the Galilæan pilgrims, and unconscious of all that their words meant, saluted Jesus.

Verse 15-16


Peculiar to St Matthew.

Verse 16

16. ἐκ στόματος νηπίων κ.τ.λ. The LXX. version is followed, the rendering of the Hebrew is: ‘out of (or by) the mouths of children and sucklings hast thou founded strength’. Psalms 8:2. The ruling thought of the opening verses is the glory of God set forth in His works. The ‘scarcely articulate’ cry of an infant proves, like the heaven and the stars, the power and providence of God. On all these God builds a stronghold against His adversaries, i.e. convinces them of His might. So also the children in the temple attest the truth of God. See Dean Perowne and Speaker’s Commentary on the passage quoted.

Verse 17

17. Βηθανίαν. ‘House of dates,’ or, according to Caspari, ‘Place of shops, or merchant tents,’ on the S.E. of the Mount of Olives, see note Matthew 21:9. Here Jesus lodged with Lazarus and his sisters.

Verse 18

18. ἐπείνασεν, late for ἐπείνησεν, the contraction of αε into α instead of η in πεινάω, διψάω and χράω against the Attic rule appears rarely in the later authors, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Plutarch, &c.

Verses 18-22


Mark 11:12-14; Mark 11:20-24. St Mark places this incident before the ‘Cleansing of the Temple,’ see note Matthew 21:12-14. It is an interesting and leading instance of miracle and parable in one. The miracle is an acted parable.

Verse 19

19. συκῆν μίαν. Probably a single fig-tree, standing alone, and so conspicuous. εἷς is, however, used in Alexandrine Greek for τις, cp. ch. Matthew 8:19, εἷς γραμματεύς, and Matthew 18:24, εἷς ὀφειλέτης μυρίων ταλάντων, and in Hebrew the numeral ‘one’ is constantly no more than the indefinite article ‘a’.

ἐπὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ. Either [1] on the road as ch. Matthew 10:27, ἐπὶ τῶν δωμάτων, or [2] hanging over the road.

εἰ μὴ φύλλα μόνον. The fig-tree loses its leaves in the winter: indeed it looks particularly bare with its white naked branches. Schöttgen, however, states ad loc., that the Rabbis compared the fig-tree to the law because at every season fruit may be gathered from it; and one species (see Shaw’s Travels, p. 370, and Land and Book, 23) if favoured by the season and in a good position, puts forth fruit and leaves in the very early spring, the fruit appearing before the leaves. This is the ‘hasty fruit before the summer’ (Isaiah 28:4), ‘the figs that are first ripe’ (Jeremiah 24:2); ‘the first ripe in the fig-tree at her first time’ (Hosea 9:10). It was doubtless a fig-tree of this kind that Jesus observed, and seeing the leaves expected to find fruit thereon. At the time of the Passover the first leaf-buds would scarcely have appeared on the common fig-tree, while this year’s ripe fruit would not be found till four months later.

The teaching of the incident depends on this circumstance (comp. Luke 13:6-9). The early fig-tree, conspicuous among its leafless brethren, seemed alone to make a show of fruit and to invite inspection. So Israel, alone among the nations of the world, held forth a promise. From Israel alone could fruit be expected; but none was found, and their harvest-time was past. Therefore Israel perished as a nation, while the Gentile races, barren hitherto, but now on the verge of their spring-time, were ready to burst into blossom and bear fruit.

ἐξηράνθη. From St Mark we gather that the disciples observed the effect of the curse on the day after it was pronounced by Jesus.

Verse 20

20. ἐθαύμασαν. It was rather the power and wonder of the act than the deeper significance of it that moved the disciples. The miracle was to them an ‘act of power’ (δύναμις), or a ‘wonder’ (τέρας), rather than a ‘sign’ (σημεῖον). Yet Jesus follows the turn their thoughts take, and teaches that prayer and faith will remove mountains of difficulty, see ch. Matthew 17:20.

Verse 21

21. διακριθῆτε. Passive form with meaning of middle voice; cp. ἀπεκρίθην. διακρίνειν, [1] lit. ‘to separate:’ [2] ‘to discern’ or ‘discriminate.’ See ch. Matthew 16:3, when it is used of discerning the face of the sky, and Acts 15:9, οὐδὲν διέκρινεν μεταξὺ ἡμῶν τε καὶ αὐτῶν. [3] In a judicial sense ‘to decide,’ and in middle to ‘get a question decided at law,’ ‘to litigate.’ [4] Hence generally ‘to dispute,’ διεκρίνοντο πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ ἐκ περιτομῆς, Acts 11:2. [5] Thus ‘to dispute or question with oneself,’ ‘to doubt,’ as here and Romans 4:20, εἰς δὲ τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ οὐ διεκρίθη τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ; cp. Acts 10:20, where the context illustrates this passage. The last usage is not classical.

Verse 23

23. ἐν ποίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ ταῦτα ποιεῖς; καὶ τίς σοι ἔδωκεν τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην; The second question is not a mere repetition of the first Jesus is asked [1] what kind of authority He possesses—human or divine? [2] By whose agency this authority was bestowed? No one had a right to teach unless ‘authority’ had been conferred upon him by the scribes.

Verses 23-27


Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8

Tuesday, Nisan 11

Verse 24

24. ἐρωτήσω ὑμᾶς κἀγὼ λόγον ἕνα. This form of argument was usual. The question of the Elders was really an attack. Jesus meets that attack by a counter-question which presented equal difficulties in three ways—whether they said from heaven or of men, or left it unanswered. To say from heaven was equivalent to acknowledging Jesus as Christ, to say from men was to incur the hostility of the people, to be silent was to resign their pretensions as spiritual chiefs of the nation.

Verse 26

26. διὰ τί οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ; A clear proof [1] that the priests had kept aloof from John though he was of the priestly caste; and [2] that John pointed to Jesus as the Messiah. For πιστεύειν αὐτῷ, cp. Dem. Phil. II. 6, οἱ θαῤῥοῦντες καὶ πεπιστευκότες αὐτῷ, ‘Those who have no fears and believe Philip.’ See note ch. Matthew 18:6.

Verse 27

27. Note the sincerity of the οὐ λέγω in contrast with the evasion of οὐκ οἴδαμεν.

Verse 28

28. τέκνα δύο, representing the sinners who first refused to do God’s will, but repented at the preaching of John; and the Pharisees who, having ‘the righteousness which is of the law’ (Philippians 3:9), professed to do God’s will but did it not. Both are sons. God still cares for both. The Pharisees may follow the sinners into the kingdom of God (Matthew 21:31). Paul was still a Pharisee; Nicodemus the Pharisee was still a secret follower of Christ.

Verses 28-31

28–31. The textus receptus is here upheld. For a discussion of the var. lect. see Hammond, Text. Crit. 109.

Verses 28-32


Peculiar to St Matthew.

St Luke omits the parable, perhaps as referring especially to Israel. The parable follows in close connection with the question as to the teaching of John.

The parables and discourses that follow deal no longer with the distant future of the Church, but with an immediate present. The subjects illustrated are—[1] The rejection of the Messiah. [2] The rejection of the Jews as a nation. [3] The Judgment, (a) which has already begun; (b) which will be enacted terribly at the siege of Jerusalem; and (c) finally fulfilled at the end of the world.

Observe throughout the separation which is implied in the Judgment—the dividing sword which Christ brings—the Jewish race and the world, each parted into two great divisions—the two sons—the two parties of husbandmen or of guests—the wise and foolish virgins—the sheep and the goats—the talents used and misused.

It is the last act in a divine drama of surpassing interest and full of contrasts. The nation, and especially the Pharisees, who are the leaders of thought, triumphant to external sight, are hurrying to destruction, impelled by a hidden fate in the face of clear warnings; while Christ the King, Who seems to be vanquished and done to death, is really winning an eternal victory.

Verse 29

29. μεταμεληθείς, ‘having changed his mind,’ felt regret but not repentance or metanoia, a deeper and more lasting feeling: see ch. Matthew 3:2.

According to a well-supported reading (see Crit. Notes) the cases of the two sons are reversed. The first agrees but goes not, the second refuses but afterwards works in the vineyard. The variation is interesting, because it points to an interpretation by which the two sons represent Jew and Gentile.

Verse 30

30. ἐγὼ κύριε. Observe the alacrity and politeness of this answer compared with the blunt οὐ θέλω of the first: ἐγὼ draws attention to the contrast.

Verse 31

31. προάγουσιν. Are (now) going before you.

Verse 32

32. Ἰωάννης. The mention of John points to the connection between this parable and the preceding incident.

ἐν ὁδῷ δικαιοσύνης. A Hebrew expression. Cp. τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, ch. Matthew 22:16; ὁδὸν σωτηρίας, Acts 16:17. The Christian doctrine was called in a special sense ἡ ὁδός (Acts 19:9; Acts 19:23).

ἰδόντες, viz. that the publicans and the harlots believed him.

οὐ μετεμελήθητε. Did not even change your minds, much less repented in the deeper sense; see above, Matthew 21:29.

τοῦ πιστεῦσαι. For this consecutive formula see note ch. Matthew 2:13.

Verse 33

33. ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα. Cp. the parable in Isaiah 5:1-7, where the description is very similar to this. See also Psalms 80:8-16; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15:1-6. The vine was adopted as a national emblem on the Maccabean coins.

φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν, defended it with a stone wall or with a fence of prickly pears. St Luke makes no mention of the separating hedge. Israel was separated throughout her history politically, and even physically, by the natural position of Palestine.

ὤρυξεν ἐν αὐτῷ ληνόν. The winepress was often dug or hewn out of the limestone rock in Palestine. There were two receptacles or vats. The upper one was strictly the press or ληνός (Matthew), the lower one the winevat or ὑπολήνιον (Mark) into which the expressed juice of the grape passed. The two vats are mentioned together only in Joel 3:13, ‘The press (gath) is full, the vats (yekabim) overflow’ (quoted in Bibl. Dict., see art. ‘Winepress’).

πύργον. Probably a wooden booth raised on a high platform, in which a watcher was stationed to guard the grapes.

Neither the winepress nor the tower seems to have any special significance in the interpretation of the parable.

ἐξέδοτο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς. This kind of tenancy prevails in many parts of Europe. It is known as the metayer system, the arrangement being that the occupier of the land should pay to the landlord a portion—originally half—of the produce. The system existed in England for about sixty years at the end of the fourteenth century. Before the Revolution of 1790 nearly the whole of the land of France was rented by metayers. At the time of our Lord’s ministry it was customary for the Romans to restore conquered lands on condition of receiving a moiety of the produce. Fawcett’s Manual of Political Economy, p. 223; Rogers’ Political Economy, p. 168.

ἀπεδήμησεν. Left his home.

Verses 33-46


Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19

No parable interprets itself more clearly than this. Israel is represented by an image which the prophets had made familiar and unmistakeable—the Vineyard of the Lord. The householder who planted the Vineyard and fenced it round signifies God the Father, Who created the nation for Himself—a peculiar and separate people. The husbandmen are the Jews, and especially the Pharisees, the spiritual leaders of the Jews. The servants are the prophets of God, the Son is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 35

35. ὃν μὲν ἔδειραν, ὃν δὲ ἀπέκτειναν, κ.τ.λ. See ch. Matthew 23:35.

δέρειν, [1] ‘to flay,’ [2] then, from the effect of scourging, ‘to beat.’ In the second sense it is classical only in the comic poets; cp. Vulgar English ‘to hide.’ In Acts 16:22 the Prætors bid the lictors ‘scourge’ (ῥαβδίζειν) Paul, who, referring to the outrage, says: δεἱραντες ἡμᾶς δημοαιᾳ (Matthew 21:37). λιθοβολεῖν, in LXX. for classical λεύειν.

Verse 37

37. ἐντραπήσονται. Non-classical future. ἐντρέπειν, [1] ‘to turn,’ [2] then ‘turn a person,’ cause him to avert his gaze through shame, fear, respect, &c., [3] so ‘to put to shame:’ οὐκ ἐντρέπων ὑμᾶς γράφω ταῦτα, 1 Corinthians 4:14. εἰς τοσοῦτον ἐνέτρεψαν τὴν σύγκλητον βουλήν, Ælian, V. H. 3. 17. And in passive, ἵνα ὁ ἐξ ἐναντίας ἐντραπῇ, Titus 2:8, ‘that the adversary be put to shame;’ [4] in middle voice, ‘to let oneself be turned or influenced’ by a person or thing, through some feeling of awe, reverence and the like; (α) with a genitive denoting the source of the action or feeling (Donaldson’s Greek Grammar, 448), τί βαιὸν οὕτως ἐντρέπει τῆς συμμάχου, Soph. Aj. 90; (β) or later with an accusative denoting the object of reverence or concern, as here and Luke 18:2, τὸν θεὸν μὴ φοβούμενος καὶ ἄνθρωπον μὴ ἐντρεπόμενος.

Verse 38

38. σχῶμεν τὴν κληρ., ‘seize on his inheritance,’ ἔχειν being used in the technical sense which the English ‘seize’ also bears: cp. ἒχων τε καὶ κεκτημένος, Antig. 1265. Thomas Lawrence (1568–1583) suggested as a translation of this passage, ‘take possession or seisin upon his inheritance.’ (Moulton’s History of the English Bible.)

Verse 39

39. ἐξέβαλον ἔξω τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος. Words that recall the crucifixion of Jesus outside the city of Jerusalem.

Verse 41

41. λέγουσιν αὐτῷ. An interruption from the listening crowd, which marks the intense interest with which these parables were heard. The indignation of the bystanders is aroused as if it were a tale of actual life.

κακοὺς κακῶς ἀπολέσει. Cp. εἰ μὴ φράσεις γὰρ ἀπό σʼ ἀλῶ κακὸν κακῶς, Aristoph. Plut. 65. A frequent formula in the classics.

Verse 42

42. ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς., Psalms 118:22 (Matthew 21:25-26 of the same psalm are quoted above, Matthew 21:9, where see note); the psalm ‘was probably composed for the first celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles after the completion of the Second Temple’ (Nehemiah 8:13-18). (Dean Perowne.) The original reference was to a stone used in the erection of the second Temple. The ‘corner stone’ is the Jewish nation rejected at first, afterwards restored from captivity. Christ transfers this image to His Church, formed of Jew and Gentile alike (see Meyer), which, though despised at first, was destined to succeed to the spiritual supremacy of Israel.

In Acts 4:11, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:6, Christ Himself is the head-corner-stone; but the two applications are not inconsistent, for Christ was the Representative first of the Jewish Nation (ch. Matthew 4:15, Matthew 2:1-11 [3]), then of the Church. Cp. also Isaiah 28:16, ‘I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.’

λίθον. A stone rather than the stone. The builders probably rejected many stones.

κεφαλὴν γωνίας. The stone that connects the two walls at the top and supports the roof.

αὕτη. Either [1] agreeing with κεφαλή, or [2] a Hebraism. In Hebrew there is no neuter form, and it is possible that αὕτη of the LXX. may be due to the influence of Hebrew grammar. This corruption is found in some passages of the LXX., Psalms 26:4, μίαν ᾐτησάμην παρὰ Κυρίου, ταύτην ἐκζητήσω τοῦ κατοικεῖν κ.τ.λ., where the Vulgate has ‘unam petii a domino hanc requiram.’ See Maldonatus ad loc.

Verse 43

43. διὰ τοῦτο. Because of this rejection.

Verse 43-44

43, 44. For remarks on the poetical form of these verses see Bp Jebb’s Sacred Literature, pp. 127–130. The climax is perfect. The first couplet (ἄρθησεταικαρποὺς αὐτῆς) expresses loss, the second (καὶ ὁ πεσὼνλικμήσει αὐτόν) infliction of pain: in the first the sense of loss is enhanced by the sight of the possession passing to another, in the second pain is succeeded by utter destruction.

Verse 44

44. ὁ πεσὼν ἐπὶ τὸν λίθον κ.τ.λ. Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr., sees here a reference to the custom of stoning: ‘the place of stoning was twice as high as a man. From the top of this one of the witnesses, striking him on his loins, fells him to the ground: if he died of this, well; if not, another witness threw a stone upon his heart.’ The second process was inevitably fatal.

But it is perhaps better to refer the image to an earthenware vessel [1] falling to the ground when it would be shattered, or [2] crushed by a stone when it would be bruised into atoms.

συνθλασθήσεται. A late classical word, in N.T. here and Luke 20:18 (the parallel passage). The simple verb θλάω is Epic (Homer and Hesiod) and Alexandrine (Theocritus).

λικμήσει· λικμᾶν. [1] ‘to winnow,’ Hom. Il. 21:499, ὡς δʼ ἄνεμος ἄχνας φορέει ἱερὰς κατʼ ἀλωάς, | ἀνδρῶν λικμώντων. [2] ‘To cause to disappear’ like chaff, so ‘to destroy utterly,’ ἀναλήψεται δὲ αὐτὸν καύσων καὶ ἀπελεύσεται καὶ λικμήσει αὐτὸν ἐκ τοῦ τόπου αὐτοῦ, Job 27:21. Cp. Daniel 2:44, where the rendering in Theodotion’s version is λεπτυνεῖ καὶ λικμήσει πάσας τὰς βασιλείας, in the LXX. πατάξει καὶ ἀφανίσει τὰς βασιλείας ταύτας. λικμήσει therefore = ἀφανίσει. The translation of the A.V., ‘grind to powder,’ which probably is due to conteret of the Vulgate, cannot be justified. The Vulgate rendering may be due to a confusion between the nearly simultaneous processes of threshing and winnowing. ‘Conterere’ is very applicable to the former process. See a good description in ‘Conder’s Tent Work in Palestine, II. 259.

The meaning as applied to Christ appears to be: Those to whom Jesus is a ‘rock of offence’ (1 Peter 2:8; Isaiah 8:14) in the days of his humiliation shall have great sorrow: but to incur his wrath when He comes to judge the earth will be utter destruction.

Verse 46

46. ζητοῦντες αὐτὸν κρατῆσαι. The Sanhedrin aimed at two things: [1] to seize Jesus quickly, for the Passover (during which no hostile measures could be taken) was close at hand; and because Jesus might be expected to quit Jerusalem after the feast. [2] To seize Him apart from the people; for the Galilæans would suffer no one to lay hands on their King and Prophet, Treachery alone enabled the Jews to secure their end.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Matthew 21:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 21st, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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