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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 20

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Matthew 20:6 . ὥραν ] is, with Lachm. and Tisch., to be deleted as a supplement, following B D L א , vss. Or.

ἑστῶτας ] Elz., Fritzsche, Scholz insert ἀργούς , which is not found in B C** D L א , vss. and Fathers. Interpolation taken from Matthew 20:3 ; Matthew 20:7 .

Matthew 20:7 . κ . ὅ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον , λήψεσθε ] is wanting in important codd. (B D L Z א ), vss. and Fathers. Deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. For λήψεσθε , several vss. have dabo vobis. The words are a very ancient interpolation, in conformity with Matthew 20:4 .

Matthew 20:8 . Delete αὐτοῖς , with Tisch. 8, following C L Z א , Or. A supplement.

Matthew 20:10 . πλείονα ] Fritzsche, Lachm. and Tisch. 7 : πλεῖον , following B C* N Z Δ , min. vss. Or. The reading of the Received text is of the nature of an explanation (a greater number of denarii).

For ἀνά read τὸ ἀνά , with Tisch., following C L N Z א , 33. The article was omitted in conformity with Matthew 20:9 .

Matthew 20:12 . ὅτι ] does not occur, it is true, in B C** D א , 1, Vulg. It. Syr., and is deleted by Lachm. and Tisch.; but how readily may it have been overlooked before οὗτοι !

Matthew 20:15 . The first ἤ is deleted by Lachm., following B D L Z, Syr cur Arm. (in accordance with which evidence, as well as that of א , the arrangement ὃ θέλω ποιῆσαι should be restored). Correctly; an old interpolation for the purpose of marking the question. There would be no motive whatever for omitting the ἤ . For the second ἤ (in Elz.) we should, with Tisch. 7, read εἰ , following B** H S r, Chrys. Did. and many min. From not being understood, εἰ was all the more readily replaced by ἤ , owing to the pronunciation being much the same.

Matthew 20:16 . πολλοὶ γάρ εἰσι κλητοὶ , ὀλίγοι δὲ ἐκλεκτοί ] omitted in B L Z א , 36, Copt. Sahid., and deleted by Tisch. 8, with whom Keim concurs. But it is not at all likely that the words would be interpolated from Matthew 22:14 ; for, so far from there having been any occasion for so doing, they have here more the appearance of being out of place than otherwise. This apparent irrelevancy may have led to the omission of the saying, which is supported by testimony so old as that of C D, It. Syr., unless we suppose it to have been due rather to the simple homoeoteleuton ἐσχαΤΟΙ … ἐκλεκΤΟΙ .

Matthew 20:17 . ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ καί ] read with Lachm. and Tisch.: καὶ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ , following B L Z א , min. Copt. Sahid. Arm. Pers p . Or. (twice). At a very early period (Vulg. It. Hil.), ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ was omitted either accidentally, or because it is likewise awanting in the parallel passages in the other Synoptists. But, in restoring it, it would most naturally occur to those who did so to insert it after κατʼ ἰδίαν .

Matthew 20:19 . ἀναστήσεται ] Tisch.: ἐγερθήσεται , following C* L N Z א , Or. Chrys. The reading of the Received text is taken from the parallel passages.

Matthew 20:22 . πίνειν ;] Elz., Scholz insert: καὶ (Scholz: ἢ ) τὸ βάπτισμα , ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι , βαπτισθῆναι , against B D L Z א , 1, 22, the majority of vss. and Or. Epiph. Hilar. Jer. Ambr. Juv. Taken from Mark 10:38 .

Matthew 20:23 . πίεσθε ] Elz., Scholz, in opposition to the same witnesses, insert: καὶ (Scholz: ἢ ) τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι , βαπτισθήσεσθε .

Matthew 20:26 . ἔσται ἐν ὑμῖν ] for ἔσται , Lachm. has ἐστίν , following B D Z, Cant. Sahid. Correctly; the reading of the Received text is an alteration to suit what follows in this and the 27th verse, where, with Fritzsche, Lachm. Tisch. 8, we ought to read ἔσται instead of ἔστω , in accordance with preponderating evidence; ἔστω (likewise derived from Mark 10:43 ) is a gloss. But Fritzsche was scarcely warranted in restoring δέ after οὕτως , Matthew 20:26 , for it is condemned by decisive evidence, and is a connecting particle borrowed from Mark.

Matthew 20:31 . ἔκραζον ] Lachm. Tisch. 8 : ἔκραξαν , following B D L Z א , min. Copt. Sahid. A repetition from Matthew 20:30 .

Matthew 20:33 . ἀνοιχθῶσιν ἡμ . οἱ ὀφθ .] Lachm. Tisch. 8 : ἀνοιγῶσιν οἱ ὀφθ . ἡμ ., following B D L Z א , min. Or. Chrys. To be adopted, inasmuch as the first aorist was the more common tense, comp. Matthew 9:30 , John 9:10 .

Matthew 20:34 . ὀφθαλμῶν ] B D L Z, min. Or. have ὀμμάτων . So Lachm., Rinck, Tisch. 8. Correctly; the more usual term has been adopted from the context.

Lachm. and Tisch. 8 delete αὐτῶν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί after ἀνέβλεψαν . The words are not found in B D L Z א , min. vss. (also Vulg. It.) and a few Fathers, but they were left out as being superfluous and cumbersome. There was no motive whatever for inserting them.


After Matthew 20:28 there occurs in D (and in codd. of It. with many variations in detail) the following interpolation, apocryphal, no doubt, but akin to Luke 14:8 ff.: ὑμεῖς δὲ ζητεῖτε ἐκ μιχροῦ αὐξῆσαι κ . ἐκ μείζονος ἔλαττον εἶναι . Εἰσερχόμενοι δὲ καὶ παρακληθέντες δειπνῆσαι μὴ ἀνακλίνεσθε εἰς τοὺς ἐξέχοντας τόπους , μή ποτε ἐνδοξότερός σου ἐπέλθῃ , καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ δειπνοκλήτωρ εἴπῃ σοι · ἔτι κάτω χώρει , καὶ καταισχυνθήσῃ . Ἐὰν δὲ ἀναπέσῃς εἰς τὸν ἥττονα τόπον καὶ ἐπέλθῃ σου ἣττων , ἐρεῖ σοι ὁ δειπνοκλήωρ · σύναγε ἔτι ἄνω , καὶ ἔσται σοι τοῦτο χρήσιμον . Comp. Hilar., also Syr cur .

Verse 1

Matthew 20:1 . The parable is peculiar to Matthew.

γάρ ] explaining and confirming what has been said in Matthew 19:30 .

ἀνθρ . οἰκοδ .] See notes on Matthew 13:24 , Matthew 18:23 .

ἅμα πρωΐ ] Comp. notes on Matthew 13:29 , Acts 28:23 : ἀπὸ πρωΐ . Classical writers would say: ἅμα ἕῳ , ἅμα τῇ ἡμέρᾳ , ἅιμα ὄρθρῳ , and such like.

εἰς τὸν ἀμπελ . αὐτοῦ ] into his vineyard , into which he wished to send them, Matthew 20:2 . Comp. Acts 7:9 ; and see, in general, Wilke, Rhetor , p. 47 f.

On the whole parable, see Rupprecht in the Stud. u. Krit . 1847, p. 396 ff.; Steffensen, ibid . 1848, p. 686 ff.; Besser in the Luther. Zeitschr . 1851, p. 122; Rudel, ibid . p. 511; Münchmeyer, ibid . p. 728. For proof that it is not to be regarded as furnishing directions for the regulation of offices, see Köstlin, d. Wesen d. Kirche , 1854, p. 52 ff.

Verse 2

Matthew 20:2 . Ἐκ δηναρίου τὴν ἡμέραν ] After he had agreed with the labourers, on the condition that he was to pay them a denarius per day . ἐκ does not denote the payment itself (which would have been expressed by the genitive, Matthew 20:13 ), although ἐκ δηναρ . is that payment (Matthew 27:7 ; Acts 1:18 ); but it is intended to indicate that this payment was the thing, on the strength of which, as terms , the agreement was come to; comp. Kühner, II. 1, p. 399 f. τὴν ἡμέραν is the accusative, as further defining the terms of the agreement: in consideration of the day , so that a denarius was to be the wages for the (current) day during which they might work. As an accusative of time (which it is usually supposed to be), it would not correspond with συμφων . to which it belongs.

A denarius was the usual wages for a day’s work ( Tob 5:14 ). See Wetstein.

Verse 3

Matthew 20:3 . The third hour: somewhere about nine o’clock in the morning . In ordinal numbers the article is unnecessary. See note on 2 Corinthians 7:2 .

ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ ] where they were waiting in expectation of getting employment. The men in question belonged to the class of free labourers; Poll. iii. 82: ἐλεύθεροι μὲν , διὰ πενίαν δὲ ἐπʼ ἀργυρίῳ δουλεύοντες .

Verse 4

Matthew 20:4 . Κἀκείνοις ] to those also he spoke. The point of assimilation ( also ) lies in the circumstance that, as he had invited the first, so he now invites these also to go into the vineyard.

ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον ] so that, as part of the day had already elapsed, he did not make with them any definite agreement as to wages for the day , and therefore acted differently in this case from what he had done in the former.

Verse 5

Matthew 20:5 ff. Ἐποίησεν ὡσαύτως ] the same thing, namely, as he had done in the preceding case, Matthew 20:4 , sending them away, and promising them also only what was equitable . Comp. Matthew 20:7 .

ὅτι ] because.

Verse 8

Matthew 20:8 . Ὀψίας δὲ γεν .] i.e . at the close of the twelfth hour (six o’clock in the evening).

τῷ ἐπιτρόπῳ αὐτοῦ ] the chief of the servants ( οἰκονόμος ), to whom was entrusted the management of the household, Luke 8:3 .

τὸν μισθόν ] the wages in question. The οἰκονόμος had instructions from his master to give the same amount of wages to all, although all had not wrought the same number of hours.

ἕως τῶν πρώτων ] is connected with ἀπόδος αὐτ . τ . μισθ ., without anything requiring to be understood ( and continuing , and such like), as is evident from those passages in which the terminus ad quem is placed first ; for example, Plat. Legg . vi. p. 771 C: πάσας τὰς διανομὰς ἔχει μέχρι τῶν δώδεκα ἀπὸ μιᾶς ἀρξάμενος . Comp. Luke 23:5 ; Acts 1:21 ; John 8:9 .

Verse 9

Matthew 20:9 ff. Οἱ περὶ τὴν ἑνδεκ . ὥραν ] that is, those who, according to Matthew 20:6 , were sent into the vineyard about the eleventh hour .

πλεῖον ] more than a denarius, plainly not more denarii.

ἀνά ] used distributively; Winer, p. 372 [E. T. 496]. The article τό before ἀνὰ δην ., Matthew 20:10 (see critical notes), denotes: the sum amounting in each case to a denarius , so that in analyzing ὄν would require to be supplied.

According to Matthew 20:10 f., they do not contemptuously decline to lift the denarius (Steffensen), but begin to murmur after receiving it (Münchmeyer).

Verse 12

Matthew 20:12 . Ὅτι ] recitativc , not because ( γογγύζομεν , ὅτι ), inasmuch as the words λέγοντες · ὅτι κ . τ . λ . express the contents of the γογγύζειν .

οὗτοι ] spoken disdainfully.

ἐποίησαν ] they have spent one hour (Acts 15:33 ; Acts 18:23 ; 2 Corinthians 11:25 ; Ecclesiastes 6:12 ; Wetstein on this passage; Schaeffer, ad Bos . p. 313; Jacobs, in Anthol . IX. p. 449, X. p. 44). The ordinary interpretation: they have wrought, laboured , one hour, is in opposition to the terms of the passage (as little is it to be confirmed by an appeal to Ruth 2:19 , where ποῦ ἐποίησας means: where hast thou been occupying thyself?); there would have been more reason to interpret thus: they have been doing it (that is, the work) for one hour, if the specifying of the time in connection with ἐποίησαν had not suggested our explanation as the most obvious and most natural.

τ . καύσωνα ] Those others had not entered till the evening.

Verses 13-15

Matthew 20:13-15 . Ἑνί ] One , as representing the whole.

ἑταῖρε ] Comrade , a mild way of introducing a rebuke, similar to “good friend” among ourselves. Comp. Matthew 22:12 , Matthew 26:50 . So also ἀγαθέ , βέλτιστε . See Herm. ad Vig . p. 722. Comp. Wetstein.

οὐκ ἀδικῶ σε ] From the standpoint of justice .

δηναρίου ] genitive of price. Somewhat different from the idea of Matthew 20:2 .

θέλω δέ ] “Summa hujus vocis potestas,” Bengel.

ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς ] not to be taken in the general sense of: in my affairs (Fritzsche, de Wette), but, according to the context, to be understood in the more definite sense of: in disposing of my own property . Comp. τὸ σόν , and Plato, Legg . ii. p. 969 C.

εἰ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου , κ . τ . λ .] see critical notes. The εἰ is not interrogative , as in Matthew 12:10 , Matthew 19:3 (for, according to the connection, the doubt implied in such a question would be entirely out of place), but the speaker is to be regarded as saying that, though such and such be the case, his right to do what he pleases with his own is by no means impaired, so that εἰ may be taken as almost equivalent to εἰ καί (Jacobs, Del. Epigr . p. 405; Hartung, Partikell . II. p. 212; Kühner, II. 2, p. 991): if thine eye is evil ( i.e . envious, comp. Mark 7:22 , and רע , Proverbs 28:22 ; Sir 14:10 ), because I (I, on my part, hence ἐγώ ) am good! The mark of interrogation after ἐμοῖς is therefore to be deleted.

Verse 16

Matthew 20:16 . The teaching of the parable: So , just, as in the case here supposed, those who were the last to be sent into the vineyard received the same amount of wages as the first; so in the Messiah’s kingdom, the last will be on the same footing as the first, and the first as the last , without a longer period of service giving an advantage, or a shorter putting to a disadvantage. Comp. Matthew 19:30 .

ἔσονται ] that is, practically, as far as the reward they are to receive is concerned. The first will be last , inasmuch as the former receive no more than the latter (in answer to de Wette’s objection, as though, from the expression here used, we would require to suppose that they will receive less than a denarius). There is nothing whatever in the text about the exclusion of the πρῶτοι from the kingdom, and the admission of the ἔσχατοι (Krehl in the Sächs. Stud . 1843); and as little to favour the view, adopted by Steffensen: those who esteem themselves last shall be first, and those who esteem themselves first shall be last , for the labourers in the parable were in reality ἔσχατοι and πρῶτοι . The proposition: “that, in dispensing the blessings of the kingdom of heaven, God takes no account of human merit, but that all is the result of His own free grace” (Rupprecht, Bleek, Holtzmann, Keim), does not constitute the leading thought set forth in the parable, though, no doubt, it may be supposed to underlie it.

πολλοὶ γὰρ , κ . τ . λ .] Confirmation of what has just been said about the ἔσχατοι being put upon an equality with the πρῶτοι : “for although many are called to share in the future recompense for services rendered to the Messiah’s kingdom, yet those chosen to receive rewards of a pre-eminent and peculiarly distinguished character in that kingdom are but few.” These ἐκλεκτοί are not the ἔσχατοι (those, as Olshausen fancies, whose attitude toward the kingdom is of a more spontaneous nature, and who render their services from hearty inclination and love), but those who are selected from the multitude of the κλητοί . We are taught in the parable what it is that God chooses them for , namely, to be rewarded in an extraordinary degree (to receive more than the denarius). The train of thought, then, is simply this: It is not without reason that I say: καὶ οἱ πρῶτοι ἔσχατοι , for, from this equalizing of the first with the last, only a few will be excepted, namely, those whom God has selected for this from among the mass of the called. Thus the parable concludes, and that very appropriately, with language which, no doubt, allows the Apostles to contemplate the prospect of receiving rewards of a peculiarly distinguished character (Matthew 19:28 ), but does not warrant the certainty of it, nor does it recognise the existence of anything like so-called valid claims ; for, according to the idea running through the parable, the ἐκλογή is to be ascribed simply to the purpose of God (Romans 9:11 ; Romans 9:15 f.) See Matthew 20:15 . Comp. also note on Matthew 22:14 .


The simple application of Matthew 20:16 ought to warn against arbitrary attempts to trace a meaning in all the little details of the parable, many of which belong to the mere drapery of the story. The householder is God; the vineyard is the Christian theocracy, in which work is to be done in the interests of the approaching kingdom of the Messiah; the οἰχονόμος is Christ; the twelfth hour , at which the wages are paid, is the time of the second coming; the other hours mark the different periods at which believers begin to devote themselves to the service of God’s kingdom; the denarius denotes the blessings of the Messianic kingdom in themselves, at the distribution of which the circumstance of an earlier entrance into the service furnishes no claim to a fuller measure of reward, however little this may accord with human ideas of justice; hence the πρῶτοι are represented as murmuring , whereupon they are dismissed from the master’s presence. Calvin appropriately observes: “hoc murmur asserere noluit ultimo die futurum , sed tantum negare causam fore murmurandi.” But there is nothing to warrant the view that, inasmuch as they consented to be hired only for definite wages, the πρῶτοι betrayed an unworthy disposition, while those who came later exhibited a more commendable spirit in being satisfied simply with the promise of ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον . It can only be of service in the way of edifying application , but it is not reconcilable with the historical sense of the passage, to explain the different hours as referring to the different stages of life, childhood, youth, manhood, and old age (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus), inasmuch as they are meant to represent various periods between the time of Christ and the close of the αἰὼν οὗτος , at which the second coming is to take place, and are therefore to be regarded as exhibiting the time embraced by the generation then existing (Matthew 16:28 ) under the figure of a day with its various divisions. Origen supposed that the allusion was to the leading epochs of history from the beginning of the world (1) till the flood; (2) till Abraham; (3) till Moses; (4) till Christ; (5) till the end of the world. This view is decidedly forbidden by Matthew 19:29 f. Yet similar explanations, based upon the history of the world, are likewise given by Theophylact and others. No less foreign is the reference to the Jews and Gentiles , which Grotius, but especially Hilgenfeld, following Jerome, has elaborated, so that the first of the labourers are taken to represent the Jews, whose terms of service, so to speak, are distinctly laid down in the law, and subsequently re-affirmed, at least, in an indefinite form; while those who come last are supposed to represent the Gentiles, who, in accordance with the new covenant of grace, receive, and that before all the others, precisely the same reward as those who were the first to be called. Scholten is disposed to think that the parable was also intended to expose the pretensions of the Jews to precedence and distinction in the kingdom.

Verses 17-19

Matthew 20:17-19 . According to the Synoptists, Jesus now takes occasion, as He approaches Jerusalem ( ἀναβ . εἰς Ἱερος . is the continuation of the journey mentioned in Matthew 19:1 ), to intimate to His disciples more plainly and distinctly than before (Matthew 16:21 , Matthew 17:22 ) His impending fate. Comp. Mark 10:32 ff.; Luke 18:31 ff. κατʼ ἰδίαν ] διότι οὐκ ἔδει ταῦτα μαθεῖν τοὺς πολλοὺς , ἵνα μὴ σκανδαλισθῶσιν , Euthymius Zigabenus. There were others travelling along with them.

θανάτῳ ] dative of direction: even to death . See Winer, p. 197 f. [E. T. 263]. This is in accordance with later Greek usage. Comp. Wis 2:20 ; 2 Peter 2:6 ; Lobeck, ad Phryn . p. 475; Grimm’s note on Wisd. as above. On the prediction of the resurrection, see note on Matthew 16:21 .

Verse 20

Matthew 20:20 . Τότε ] after the announcement in Matthew 20:17-19 . Salome , His mother’s sister (see note on John 19:25 ), was one of those women who were in the habit of accompanying Jesus, Matthew 27:56 ; Mark 15:40 ; Mark 16:1 . She may have heard from her sons what He, Matthew 19:28 , had promised the apostles.

αἰτοῦσά τι ] making a request . It is to anticipate to suppose τι to imply aliquid magni (Maldonatus, Fritzsche). Comp. Matthew 20:21 , τί θέλεις . On the present participle, see Kühner, II. 2, p. 622 f.; Dissen, ad Pind. Ol . vii. 14; Bornem. ad Xen. Anal . vii. 7. 17.

Verse 21

Matthew 20:21 . She thus designates the two most distinguished positions in the Messiah’s kingdom. For among Orientals the foremost place of honour was considered to be immediately on the right, and the next immediately on the left of the king, Joseph. Antt. vi. 11.9; Wetstein and Paulus on this passage. She desired to see her sons not merely in the position of ordinary συγκληρονόμοι and συμβασιλεύοντες (Revelation 3:21 ), but in that of the most distinguished proceres regni .

εἰπὲ ἵνα ] as in Matthew 4:3 . The fact that the gentle and humble John should also have shared this wish (for both the disciples, in whose name also the mother is speaking, are likewise to be regarded as joining in the request, Matthew 20:22 , so that there cannot be said to be any essential difference between the present passage and Mark 10:35 ), shows how much his character must subsequently have been changed. Comp. Introduction to John, § 3.

Verse 22

Matthew 20:22 . Οὐκ οἴδατε , κ . τ . λ .] You do not understand what is involved in your request ; you do not seem to be aware that the highest stages of συμβασιλεύειν (2 Timothy 2:12 ; 1 Corinthians 4:8 ) in my kingdom cannot be reached without previously sharing in such sufferings as I have to endure. Jesus addresses the two disciples themselves .

δύνασθε ] said with reference to moral ability.

τὸ ποτήριον ] פּוֹם , figurative description of his fate generally, and of his sufferings in particular. See the exposition of Isaiah 51:17 ; Jeremiah 49:12 ; Martyr. Polyc. 14.

Verse 23

Matthew 20:23 . The disciples reply: δυνάμεθα , not because they did not quite understand what Jesus meant (Matthew 20:18 f.), but because they were animated by a sincere though self-confident determination, such, too, as was afterwards sufficiently verified in the case of both, only in somewhat different ways.

οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμὸν δοῦναι , ἀλλʼ οἷς ἡτοίμ . ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρ . μ .] sc . δοθήσεται : is not my business (does not behove me ) to give, but it will be given to those for whom it has been prepared (has been put in readiness, Matthew 25:34 ; 1 Corinthians 2:9 ) by my Father. For ἐμὸν ἐστί with infinitive, comp. Plat. Legg . ii. p. 664 B: ἐμὸν ἂν εἴη λέγειν . Jesus thus discourages the questionable request by frankly declaring that the granting of what has just been asked is one of those things which God has reserved to Himself; that it is a matter with which He, the Son, must not interfere. For another instance of such reservation on the part of the Father, see Matthew 24:36 ; Mark 13:32 . This evident meaning of the words is not to be explained away or modified. The former has been done by Chrysostom and his successors, also by Castalio, Grotius, Kuinoel, who took ἀλλά as equivalent to εἰ μή ; the latter by Augustine, Luther, according to whom the words as man (“secundum formam servi”) are to be understood, and Bengel, who modifies οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμὸν δοῦναι by erroneously supplying the words: till after my death . Further, the words τὸ μὲν ποτήρ . μ . πίεσθε are to be regarded as expressing the Lord’s unfeigned trust and confidence in the δυνάμεθα of the disciples; He feels confident that they will verify it by their actions . His words, therefore, are only indirectly tantamount to a prediction , and that not exactly of death by martyrdom , which was certainly the fate of James, Acts 12:0 , though not of John, [5] but of suffering generally in the interests of the Messiah’s kingdom (Romans 8:17 ; 2 Corinthians 1:5 ). It is probable, however, that the apocryphal story about John swallowing a cup full of poison (see Fabricius, ad Cod. Apocr . I. p. 576; Tischendorf, Act. ap. apocr . p. 269), and that without being anything the worse (Mark 16:18 ), as well as the legend about the attempt to scald him to death in boiling oil (Tertullian, de praescr . 36), owe their existence and propagation to the present passage. Origen views our Lord’s words on this occasion in connection with the banishment of John to Patmos.

[5] The statement of Gregorius Hamartolos (quoted by Nolte in the Tüb. theol. Quartalschr . 1862, p. 466), to the effect that, in his λόγια , Papias declares that John was put to death by the Jews, cannot outweigh the testimony of the early church to the fact that he died a natural death. For the discussion of this point, see Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschr . 1865, p. 78 ff.; Overbeck, ibid . 1867, p. 68 ff.; Holtzmann in Schenkel’s Lex . III. p. 333; Keim, III. p. 44 f.; Steitz in the Stud. u. Krit . 1868, p. 487 ff.

Verse 24

Matthew 20:24 . Ἠγανάκτησαν ] Jealousy of the two disciples who were thus aspiring to be first. Euthymius Zigabenus: οἱ δέκα τοῖς δυσὶ μαθηταῖς ἐφθόνησαν , τῶν πρωτείων ἐφιεμένοις .

Verse 25

Matthew 20:25 ff. Those ambitious desires which prompted the request of the sons of Zebedee have likewise a good deal to do with the displeasure of the other disciples. Accordingly, Jesus endeavours to check their ambition by insisting on the humble spirit of the servant as the way to true greatness in the ranks of His followers.

οἱ ἄρχοντες τῶν ἐθν .] the heathen rulers.

κατακυρ .] the intensive force of the compound verb serves to convey the idea of oppressive rule. Comp. Diod. Sic. xiv. 64, and the Sept. passim ; see Schleusner; 1 Peter 5:3 ; Acts 19:16 . Similarly with regard to the κατεξους ., which occurs nowhere else, and which may be rendered: they practise violence toward .

αὐτῶν ] refers in both instances to τ . ἐθνῶν .

οἱ μεγάλοι ] the magnates (Hom. Od . xviii. 382, comp. μεγιστᾶνες , Mark 6:21 ), “ipsis saepe dominis imperiosiores,” Bengel.

οὐχ οὕτως ἐστιν ἐν ὑμῖν ] it is not so among you. Observe the present (see critical notes); there is no such order of things among you.

μέγας ] great , not equivalent to μέγιστος , but in the sense of: to occupy a high and distinguished place among you. In the sphere to which you belong, true greatness lies in doing service; that is the principle on which you will act. Hence the future ἔσται ; for, in the event of any one wishing to become great, he will aim at it by means of serving; the latter is the way to the former.

πρῶτος ] one of the first in point of rank, a sort of climax to μέγας , as διάκονος is to δοῦλος . The emphasis in the consequent clauses rests on those two predicates, and hence the emphatic word is placed in each case at the close.

Verse 28

Matthew 20:28 . Ὥσπερ ] “summum exemplum,” Bengel. Comp. Philippians 2:5 ; Romans 15:3 ; Polyc. Phil . 5: ὃς ἐγένετο διάκονος πάντων . Observe here the consciousness, which Jesus had from the very first, that to sacrifice himself was His great divine mission. Comp. Dorner, sündlose Vollk. Jesu , p. 44 ff.

διακονηθῆναι ] to be waited upon , as grandees are.

καὶ δοῦναι ] intensive ; adding on the highest act , the culminating point in the διακονῆσαι ; but δοῦναι is made choice of, because the ψυχή ( the soul , as the principle of the life of the body) is conceived of as λύτρον ( a ransom ); for, through the shedding of the blood (Matthew 26:28 ; Ephesians 1:7 ), it becomes the τιμή of the redemption, 1 Corinthians 6:20 ; 1 Corinthians 7:23 . Comp. note on John 10:11 .

ἀντὶ πολλῶν ] ἀντί denotes substitution. That which is given as a ransom takes the place (is given instead ) of those who are to be set free in consideration thereof. The λύτρον (Plat. Legg. xi. p. 919 A, Rep . p. 393 D, Thuc. vi. 5. 4) is an ἀντίλυτρον (1 Timothy 2:6 ), ἀντάλλαγμα (Matthew 16:26 ). Whether ἀντὶ πολλῶν should be joined to λύτρον , which is the simpler course, or connected with δοῦναι , is a matter of perfect indifference (in answer to Hofmann, Schriftbew . II. 1, p. 300) so far as the meaning of ἀντί is concerned. In any case, that meaning is strictly and specifically defined by λύτρον ( בֹּפֶר ), [6] according to which ἈΝΤΊ can only be understood in the sense of substitution in the act of which the ransom is presented as an equivalent to secure the deliverance of those on whose behalf it is paid, a view which is only confirmed by the fact that in other parts of the New Testament this ransom is usually spoken of as an expiatory sacrifice , Matthew 26:28 ; Joh 1:29 ; 1 John 4:10 ; Romans 3:25 ; Isa 53:10 ; 1 Peter 1:18 f., 1 Peter 3:18 . That which they are redeemed from is the eternal ἈΠΏΛΕΙΑ , in which, as having the wrath of God abiding upon them (John 3:36 ), they would remain imprisoned (John 3:16 ; Gal 3:13 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21 ; 1 Peter 2:24 ; Colossians 1:14 ; Colossians 2:13 f.) as in a state of hopeless bondage (Hebrews 2:15 ), unless the guilt of their sins were expiated.

ΠΟΛΛῶΝ ] The vicarious death of Jesus may be described as having taken place for all ( Rom 5:18 ; 1 Timothy 2:6 ; 1 John 2:2 ), or for many (so also Matthew 26:28 ; Hebrews 9:28 ), according as we regard it as an objective fact (that fact being: Jesus has given His life a ransom for all men), or look at it in relation to the subjective appropriation of its results on the part of individuals (which happens only in the case of believers). So in the present case, where, accordingly, πολλῶν is to be understood as meaning all who believe now and will believe hereafter (John 17:20 ).

[6] Ritschl, in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol . 1863, p. 222 ff., defines λύτρον as meaning something given by way of equivalent in order to avert death; this, however, is not sufficient, for, throughout the Sept. also, in which כפר is rendered by λύτρον (Exodus 21:30 ; Exodus 30:12 ; Numbers 35:31 f.; Proverbs 6:35 ; Proverbs 13:8 ), pretium redemtionis is found to be the specific meaning given to the word, although the connection may sometimes admit ex adjuncto the additional idea of something given for the purpose of averting death. The Sept. likewise adheres to the same meaning in cases where other expressions are rendered by λύτρον , such as גְּאֻלָּה (Leviticus 25:24 ; Leviticus 25:51 ), הַפְּדֻיִם (Numbers 3:51 ), פִּדְזו (Exodus 21:30 ), מְחִיר (Isaiah 45:13 ). Ritschl interprets our present passage as follows: “I am come to give away my life to God in sacrifice, that I may become the substitute of those who could never hope to succeed in finding, either for themselves or others, any adequate ransom as a means of securing their exemption from death; but the substitute only of those who, through faith and self-denying devotion to my person, fulfil the condition on which alone the ransom furnished by me can procure the hoped for exemption,” p. 238.

Verse 29

Matthew 20:29 . Comp. Mark 10:46 ff.; Luke 18:35 ff.

Καὶ ἐκπορ . αὐτῶν ἀπὸ Ἱεριχώ ] The Synoptists make no mention whatever of the visit to Ephraim and the journey to Bethany (mentioned in John 11:54 ; John 12:1 ); indeed, their narrative (Matthew 21:1 f.) positively excludes at least the latter of these. This divergence, and not a mere want of precision, should be fairly acknowledged (comp. note on Matthew 21:1 ), and not explained away by means of ingenious conjectures (Paulus, Schleiermacher, Neander, comp. also Sieffert, who suppose that Jesus may have entered Bethany along with the rest of the pilgrims in the evening, and may have left it again next morning or the morning after; see, on the other hand, on John 12:17 f., note). A further discrepancy is to be found in the fact that Luke represents the healing as having taken place ἐν τῷ ἐγγίζειν αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱεριχ ., and that Mark and Luke mention only one blind man, although the first mentioned divergence has been turned to account in the way of supporting the hypothesis that Matthew has blended together two distinct cases of healing, one of which is supposed to have taken place when Jesus was entering the town, the other when He was leaving it (Theophylact, Neander, Wieseler, Ebrard, Krafft). The difficulty connected with the mention of two men is not removed by a supposed reminiscence of Matthew 9:27 ff. (Strauss), nor explained by supposing that the blind man of Bethsaida, Mark 8:22 , may have been included (Holtzmann, Volkmar); but it proves that, in point of authenticity, Matthew’s account compares unfavourably with the characteristic narrative of Mark, which bears traces of being the original account of what took place. Comp. note on Matthew 8:28 ff.

Verse 31

Matthew 20:31 f. Ἵνα σιωπής .] Aim of ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς .

Euthymius Zigabenus says well: ἐπεστόμισεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τιμὴν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ , ὡς ἐνοχλοῦντας αὐτόν . Comp. Matthew 19:13 . They probably saw that He was just then in the act of conversing on some topic or other.

τί θέλετε ποιήσω ὑμῖν ;] The question is intended to increase their confidence by means of the hope which it excites. Comp. note on John 5:6 . There is no need to supply ἵνα , but comp. note on Matthew 13:28 .

Verse 33

Matthew 20:33 f. Ἵνα ἀνοιγῶσιν , κ . τ . λ .] answering the above question in terms of the object aimed at in the cry, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς , of which ἵνα ἀνοιγ ., κ . τ . λ . is the continuation.

ἥψατο ] different from Mark and Luke, who represent Jesus as healing merely by the power of His word .

τῶν ὀμμάτων (see critical notes), used for variety, being, as far as the meaning is concerned, the same as ὀφθαλμοί . Comp. Xen. Mem . i. 4. 17; Plat. Alc . I. p. 133 B.

ἀνέβλ . αὐτ . οἱ ὀφθ .] their eyes recovered the power of seeing ; naïvely told.

ἠκολούθ . αὐτῷ ] we cannot tell whether they followed him permanently, though this seems probable from Mark 10:46 .

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 20". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/matthew-20.html. 1832.
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