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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 21

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Verses 1-99

F.—21-28.THE LAST DAYS OF THE MESSIAH’S LIFE

21:1-11. From Mark 11:1-11


(M) 21:1. And when they came near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples.] Mk. has: “And when they come near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sendeth two of His disciples.”—ἤγγισαν,�

(M) 2. Saying to them, Go into the village which is over against you, and straightway you shall find an ass tied up, and a colt with her; loose, and lead to Me.] Mk. has: “And saith, Go (ὑπάγετε) into the village which is over against you, and straightway entering into it, you shall find a colt tied up upon which no one of men ever sat; loose it, and bring.”—λέγων] for καὶ λέγει, as often.—πορεύεσθε] for ὑπάγετε. Cf. a similar change in 28:7 = Mark 16:7. πορεύεσθαι occurs once in Mark 9:30 as a variant for παραπορεύεσθαι; in Mt. it occurs twenty-eight times. Mt. omits εἰσπορευόμενοι εἰς αὐτήν as redundant.—ὄνον—καὶ πῶλον μετʼ αὐτῆς] Mt. adds ὄνον in view of the passage which he is about to quote (v. 4).�


(M) 3. And if any one say anything to you, you shall say that the Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.] Mk. has: “And if any one say to you, Why do ye this? Say, The Lord hath need of it and straightway sends it again here” (= will return it). Mt., as often, omits πάλιν.—εὐθὺς δέ] for καὶ εὐθύς, as often. In Mk. the subject of�

τοῦτο δὲ γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ] For the formula, see Introduction, p. lxiv. The quotation for which the editor has prepared, by inserting ὄνον—μετʼ αὐτῆς in v. 2, comes in the main from Zechariah 9:9.—εἴπατε τῇ θυγατρὶ Σιών] seems to be a reminiscence of Isaiah 62:11 LXX. The rest of the quotation agrees with the LXX. of Zec. except in the last seven words, for which the LXX. has: ἐπὶ ὑποζύγιον καὶ πῶλον νέον. Mt.’s ἐπὶ ὄνον καὶ ἐπὶ πῶλον υἱὸν ὑποζυγίου looks like a translation of the Heb., with adaptation of the words of the LXX. For ὑποζύγιον = ass, see Deissm. Bib. Stud. p. 160 f.

(M) 6. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them.] Mt. abbreviates Mk vv. 4-6.—πορευθέντες δέ] for Mk.’s καὶ�Matthew 26:14 = Mark 14:10.


(M) 7. And brought the ass and the colt, and placed upon them their clothes, and He sat upon them.] Mk. has: “And bring the colt to Jesus, and place upon it their clothes; and He sat upon it.”—ἤγαγον] aor. for Mk.’s hist. pres., as often.—τὴν ὄνον καί] for the insertion, see on v. 3.—ἐπέθηκεν] aor. for Mk.’s hist. pres., as often.—ἑπʼ αὐτῶν] Mt., in modifying the passage, is not quite careful to make the details harmonious, The Lord could not ride on both animals, and there was no need, therefore, to place clothes on both.—τὰ ἱμάτια] Mk., who adds αὐτῶν, almost certainly means that the disciples managed to find some raiment, which they threw over the colt’s back. Mt. writes τὰ ἱμάτια simply as though he understood it to refer to the saddle cloths of the animals.—ἐπάνω αὐτῶν] If the editor had not just said that they placed clothing upon them, we might take ἐπάνω αὐτῶν here to refer to the ἱμάτια. But he may have meant it to refer to the animals, regardless of the impossibility of riding more than one at a time.

(M) 8. And the very great multitude spread their garments in the way; and others were cutting branches from the trees, and were spreading (them) in the way.] Mk. has: “And many spread their garments on to the way. And others having cut litter from the fields.”—ὁ δὲ πλεῖστος ὄχλος] δέ for καί, as often. For πλεῖστος ὄχλος see on 11:20; and cf. Blass, p. 143.—ἔκοπτον κλάδους] is the substitution of a more ordinary feature for Mk.’s unusual στιβάδας κόψαντες. The editor adds καὶ ἐστρώννυον ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ to make it clear what was done with the branches. In Mk. this is implied in his abrupt participle κόψαντες.

(M) 9. And the multitudes who were going before, and who were following, were crying, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest places.] Mk. has: “And they who were going before, and they who were following, were crying, Hosanna: Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest places.”—δέ] for καί, as often.—Ὡσαννά] See Dalm. Words, 220 f. The word is derived from Psalms 118:25, Psalms 118:26 הושיעה נא . . . ברוך הבא בשם יהוה = “give salvation now—Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” הושיעה נא is addressed to God, and is a prayer for help and deliverance. In the source from which Mk. drew, הושיעה had been shortened into the common form הושע. Cf. Dalm. Gram. p. 249. Mk., as often, retains a Hebrew or Aramaic phrase; and it is probable that he, without necessarily “being ignorant of its origin and meaning,” believed that it had become a cry of greeting and homage, like our “hail” or “welcome.” Only on this ground can we explain his ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις, which can only mean, “let those in the heights of heaven say, Hosanna.” Mt., who adds to the first Ὡσαννά the words τῷ υἱῷ Δαυεΐδ, must also have supposed ὡσαννά to be a cry of acclamation. He need not have been ignorant of its philological meaning. The multitudes cried “Hosanna,” i.e. “glory, or hail, or welcome to David’s son.” εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου is the LXX. of Psalms 118:26. Mk. adds a clause: εὐλογημένη ἡ ἐρχομένη βασιλεία τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Δαυεΐδ, which Mt. omits as tautologous.—ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις] Lk. also understood ὡσαννά to be a cry of acclamation; he renders it by δόξα. See note on Luke 19:38.


(M) 10. And when He entered into Jerusalem.] Mk. has: “And He entered into Jerusalem.” Mt. now inserts, All the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitudes said, This is the prophet Jesus, who is from Nazara of Galilee.

8. ἔστρωσαν, second time] א* D c e ff2 q. ἐστρώννυον, א* B C al b f ff1 g1 2 h S2. In Mk. ἔστρωσαν is read by most MSS., but ἐστρώννυον by D S1 curss. The imperf. is probably genuine in Mk. and in the second clause of Mt. Mt. having altered the imperfect into ἔστρωσαν in clause a, continued with imperfs. ἔκοπτον, ἐστρώννυον in clause b, and in v. 9 ἔκραζον. א* D in Mt. have assimilated ἐστρώννυον to the ἔστρωσαν of clause a, and of Mk., and in Mk. most MSS. have assimilated ἐστρώννυον to Mt.’s clause a. Lk.’s ὑπεστρώννυον shows that he too had the imperf. in his copy of Mk.

1-10. Mt. and Lk. agree in the following:

ἤγγισαν, Mat_1 = ἤγγισεν, Lk 29; ἐγγίζουσιν, Mar_1.


ἀπέστειλεν, Mat_1, Lk 29;�Mar_1.


λέγων, Mat_2, Lk 30; καὶ λέγει, Mar_2.


ἀγάγετε, Mat_2, Lk 30; φέρετε, Mar_2.


ἐρεῖτε, Mat_3, Lk 31; εἴπατε, Mar_3.


ἤγαγον, Mat_7, Lk 35; φέρουσιν, Mar_7.


ἑαυτῶν—ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, Mat_8, Lk 36; αὐτῶν—εἰς τὴν ὁδόν, Mar_8.


λέγοντες, Mat_9, Lk 38.



12-17. From Mark 11:15-19.

(M) 12. And Jesus entered into the temple of God,1 and cast out all who sell and buy in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of those who sell the doves.] Mk. has here: “And He entered into Jerusalem, into the temple: and having looked about at all things, it being already a late hour, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.” The editor of Mt. omits this. For omission of verses of a similar character, cf. the omission of Mark 1:45, Mark 6:12-13. The next three verses in Mk. are 12-14, which contain the first part of the narrative of the fig-tree, the sequel being vv. 20-25. Mt., with the obvious intention of representing the withering of the fig-tree as having taken place immediately upon the word of Christ, postpones vv. 12-14 that he may connect them with 20-25. This brings him, therefore, to Mk 15-19, which he now inserts. The result of these changes may be shown thus:


First day—Mt. Entry. … Cleansing of temple. Return to Bethany.

First day—Mk. Entry. Return to Bethany.

Second day—Mt. Cursing and withering of fig-tree. Teaching, 21:13-25.

Second day—Mk. Cursing of fig-tree. Cleansing of temple.

Third day—Mt.

Third day—Mk. The withered fig-tree. Teaching, 11:27-13.

Mt. has, therefore, shortened Mk.’s sequence of events by one day. Lk. does the same, but does not even suggest that the two days which he mentions were consecutive. He places the entry and the cleansing of the temple on one day, omits the incident of the fig-tree, and introduces teaching parallel to Matthew 21:13-25 and Mark 11:27 with “and it came to pass on one of the days.” It is clear that neither Mt. nor Lk. regarded Mk.’s sequence of events as chronologically important in detail. It is not probable that Mt.’s change in Mk.’s order is accidental rather than intentional. But, if so, at Mk v. 12 he came to the words καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα εἰς τὸ ἱερόν. From these words he passed on by accident to Mk v. 15 καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸ ἱερόν, and he therefore continued with the account of the cleansing of the temple, Mk vv. 15-19. Then finding that he had omitted the cursing of the fig-tree, Mk vv. 12-14, he combined it with the withering of the fig-tree, Mk vv. 20-25.


12. Mk. has: “And they come to Jerusalem: and He entered into the temple, and began to cast out those who sell and who buy in the temple, and He overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of those who sell the doves.”—ἐξέβαλεν] the indic., as often, for Mk.’s ἤρξατο, and the inf. Mk. adds, “And did not allow any one to carry a vessel through the temple.”

(M) 13. And saith to them, It stands written, My house shall be called a house of prayer; but ye made1 it a lair of robbers.] Mk. has: “And was teaching, and saying, Does it not stand written that My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations? but ye have made it a lair of robbers.”—ὁ οἶκός μου, κ.τ.λ.] the quotation is from the LXX. of Isaiah 56:7. Mk. seems to have carried the quotation too far. The temple was not, in fact, a house of prayer πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. Mt. omits the words.—σπήλαιον λῃστῶν] seems to be a reminiscence of Jeremiah 7:11.

(E) 14. And there came to Him blind and lame in the temple; and He healed them.] Mk. has here: “And the chief priests and scribes heard, and were seeking how they might kill Him: for they feared Him, for all the multitude was amazed at His teaching.” Mt. substitutes for this an account of miracles done in the temple which the chief priests saw, and how they heard the children crying, Hosanna, and were vexed. He elsewhere substitutes a statement of healing for Mk.’s statement of teaching. See on 14:14, 19:2. He has already omitted Mk.’s reference to teaching, Mk v. 17. The editor seems to regard the first day as a day of action (vv. 14-15), the second as a day of teaching. Hence Mk.’s ἐδίδασκεν, 11:17 is, transferred to Matthew 21:23, and Mark 11:18 πᾶς γὰρ ὁ ὄχλος ἐξεπλήσσετο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ to Matthew 22:33.


(E) 15. And the chief priests and scribes seeing the marvellous things that He did, and the children who were crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, were vexed.]

(L) 16. And said to Him, Dost Thou hear what these say? And Jesus saith to them, Yes; did you never read that “From the mouth of babes and infants Thou didst bring praise to perfection”?] The quotation is from the LXX. of Psalms 8:3. The Heb. has “strength” for “praise,” and is, therefore, less adapted to this context. Lk. places sayings parallel to these during the entry into Jerusalem, 19:39-40 “Certain of the Pharisees from the multitude said to Him, Teacher, rebuke Thy disciples. And He answered and said, I say to you, that if these shall be silent, the stones will cry out.” It seems clear that Mt. and Lk. have independent traditions behind them.


(M) 17. And having left them, He went outside the city to Bethany, and passed the night there.] Mk v. 19 has: “And when it became late they were going outside the city.”—ἐξῆλθεν] aor. for Mk.’s imp. ἐξεπορεύοντο, as often. But Mk. has ἐξῆλθεν in v. 11.—ηὐλίσθη] Lk. has the same verb in a similar connection, 21:37. It occurs from Homer downwards, and is common in the LXX. It is used of men, Apoll. R. 2. 1284; Diod. 13. 6; Hdt. 8. 9, 9. 37, Xen. Cyrop. 4.


18-22. From Mark 11:2-14, Mark 11:20-25.


(M) 18. And early in the morning, as He made for the city, He was hungry.] Mk. has: “And as they were passing by early in the morning,” v. 20; and: “And on the morrow as they went out from Bethany, He was hungry,” v. 12.

(M) 19. And seeing a fig-tree by the way side, He came to it, and found nothing on it, save leaves alone, and saith to it, There shall no longer be fruit from thee for ever.] Mk. has: “And seeing a fig-tree from afar having leaves, He came, if haply He might find anything on it: and having come to it, He found nothing except leaves; for it was not the season of figs. And He answered and said to it, May no one any longer eat fruit of thee for ever. And the disciples were hearing it.” The editor omits εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ ἐλθών, and ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων, which might suggest that Christ hoped against probability to find “fruit” and was disappointed. He also modifies the imprecation or wish, Mk 14b, into a solemn prophecy of fact.

(E) 19. And the fig-tree withered away immediately.] Mk., who puts the continuation of the story on the following morning, has no parallel to this.

(M) 20. And the disciples saw it, and marvelled, saying, How immediately did the fig-tree wither away!) Mk. has: “And Peter remembered, and saith to Him, Rabbi, see, the fig-tree which Thou didst curse is withered away.”

(M) 21. And Jesus answered and said to them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, not only shall ye do this of the fig-tree, but if ye shall say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it shall happen.] Mk. has: “And Jesus answered and saith to them, Have faith in God. Verily I say to you, That whosoever shall say to this mountain, Be taken up, and cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he speaks happens, it shall be to him.”—ἀποκριθεὶς δέ] for καὶ�Mar_1 If the verse was in the copy of Mk. used by Mt., the latter has omitted it, because he has recorded similar sayings in 6:14, 5:23. A further addition is made in Mk. by the majority of MSS., namely, εἰ δὲ ὑμεῖς οὐκ�



23-27. From Mark 11:27-33.


(M) 23. And when He came into the temple, there came to Him, as He was teaching, the chief priests and elders of the people, saying, By what authority doest Thou these things, and who gave Thee this authority?] Mk. has: “And they come to Jerusalem: and as He was walking in the temple, there come to Him the chief priests, and scribes, and elders, and were saying to Him, By what authority doest Thou these things? or who gave Thee this authority that Thou shouldest do these things?” Mk.’s καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα is unnecessary after v. 18.—προσῆλθαν] aor., as often, for Mk.’s hist. present. For προσέρχεσθαι, see on 4:3. For the aor. in a, see Blass, p. 45.—διδάσκοντι] This is to be a day of teaching, as yesterday was of action; see on v. 14.——προσῆλθαν—λέγοντες] for Mk.’s ἔρχονται.—καὶ ἔλεγον, as often. Mt. omits Mk.’s redundant ἵνα ταῦτα ποιῇς at the end.

(M) 24. And Jesus answered and said to them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell Me, I, too, will tell you by what authority I do these things.] Mk. has: “And Jesus said to them, I will ask you one thing, and answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.” Mt.’s ὃν ἐὰν εἴπητέ μοι κἀγὼ ἐρῶ is a grammatical correction of Mk.’s καὶ�

(M) 25. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or from men? And they disputed among themselves, saying, If we say, From heaven; He will say to us, Why then did you not believe him?] So Mk. without πόθεν ἦν and with�Matthew 16:7, Mark 8:16. The point seems to be that John had borne witness to Christ as the Messiah. If the authorities had given credence to John, they would have had no need to ask by what authority Jesus acted.—ἐπιστεύσατε αὐτῷ] πιστεύειν in 8:13, 9:28, 18:6, 21:22 meant to have “trust,” “assurance” in the power and goodness of God or of Christ. But here and in v. 32, 24:23, 26 it has the weaker sense to “give credence to.”


(M) 26. But if we should say, From men; we fear the multitude, for all hold John as a prophet.] Mk. has: “But should we say from men—they feared the multitude. For all held John that he was truly a prophet.”—ἐὰν δέ] is a grammatical correction of Mk.’s harsh�Mat_23; διδάσκοντος αὐτοῦ, Luk_1; περιπατοῦντος αὐτοῦ, Mk 27.


λέγοντες, Mat_23, Luk_2.


ἀποκριθεὶς δέ, Mat_24, Luk_8. Mk. has no�


κἀγώ, Mat_24, Luk_3.


εἴπητε, Mat_24; εἴπατε, Luk_8;�


Both Mk. and Lk. omit ἵνα ταῦτα ποιῇς from Mk 26 and�Mat_25, Luk_5; καί, Mk 31.


ἐὰν δέ, Mat_26, Luk_6;�

Mk. has here: “And He began to speak to them in parables,” followed by the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. Mt. inserts first the parable of the Two Sons, then borrows from Mk. that of the Husbandmen, and then adds the parable of the Marriage Feast; thus forming a group of three prophetic parables (cf. Introduction, p. lxv), foretelling the divine judgement impending over the Jewish nation. See Gould on Mark 12:1.




28-32. Parable of the Two Sons.

(L) 28. But what think ye? A man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go to-day work in the vineyard.]—τί δὲ ὑμῖν δοκεῖ] See on 17:25.—προσελθών] See on 4:3.

(L) 29. And he answered and said, I am not willing; but afterwards he repented, and went.]

(L) 30. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I (go), sir; and went not.]

(L) 31. Which of the two did the will of the father? They say, The first. Jesus saith to them, Verily I say to you, That the toll-gatherers and the harlots go before you into the kingdom of God.]—προάγουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ] We might have expected the editor to use εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, so that προάγουσιν would have been a timeless statement of fact, meaning “go” into the kingdom whenever it shall appear, and so practically equivalent to a future; cf. παραδίδοται, Mark 9:31. It very probably represents an Aramaic participle. The fact that we have τοῦ θεοῦ instead of τῶν οὐρανῶν makes it clear that the phrase is not editorial, but that it is derived from the source used. The reason why the editor did not alter it into τῶν οὐρανῶν is not clear. But (1) he has perhaps once out of fourteen times left τοῦ θεοῦ in a Marcan passage (Matthew 19:24). (2) He elsewhere once has a phrase, which he generally alters, e.g. μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας, 27:63. Contrast 16:21, 17:23, 20:19 (3) He may have felt that here, as in 12:23 the “kingdom of God” of his source was not quite the same as the “kingdom of the heavens” which he elsewhere describes. See also on 21:43. In “go before you into the kingdom” the meaning is not so much, “will go before you into the kingdom when it is inaugurated,” as “obey God by fulfilling John’s command to repent, submit to the divine will, take upon themselves the yoke of the kingdom, and become heirs of its promises.” In other words, the “kingdom” here means rather the condition of preparedness for the coming kingdom than that future kingdom itself. Had the Evangelist written, “will go before you into the kingdom of the heavens,” he would have represented the Lord as foretelling the future admission of the people to whom he was speaking into the kingdom. This was just what the editor wished to avoid. They were to be cast out of the kingdom, 8:12. “Go before you into the kingdom,” on the other hand, emphasises the fact that the toll-gatherers and harlots “go,” and leaves it quite ambiguous whether the persons addressed “go” or not. Like 12:28, this parable probably came from the Logia; and if that is so, the Logia contained not only parables of the kingdom of the heavens, but other sayings and parables in which the phrase “kingdom of God” was used in a sense not always identical with “the kingdom of the heavens.”


(L) 32. For John came to you with the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him: but the toll-gatherers and the harlots believed him: and you saw (it), and did not afterwards repent, so as to believe him.]—ἐν ὁδῷ δικαιοσύνης] ὁδός here, like the Heb. דֶּרֶךְ and the Aramaic אוֹרְחָא, means not so much the path trodden as the manner, custom, method. To come with the way of righteousness is to come as a representative and teacher of righteousness and of her methods. “John came with the way of righteousness,” means “John came, and what he taught was good,” he represented and stood for the manner of life which righteousness demands. See Wellhausen, in loc., and cf. ὁδὸν θεοῦ, 22:16. The Lord applies the answer of the authorities to their own conduct by way of contrast. They had said that that son was to be approved who, though he was unwilling at first, yet afterwards went into the vineyard. But the Baptist came preaching righteousness, calling men to go into God’s vineyard through the gate of repentance, and they had given no ear to his preaching. In this respect they were like the first son of the parable, who said I am unwilling. But, unlike him, they had not afterwards repented and obeyed the Baptist’s call. On the other hand, the toll-gatherers and the harlots had also been like the first son, but they had changed their mind when John preached, and had obeyed the call. This only hardened the Jewish authorities the more. A vineyard in which outcasts worked was no vineyard for them. A kingdom into which the toll-gatherers could enter was no kingdom for them. Thus toll-gatherers and harlots went before them into the kingdom of God.—τοῦ πιστεῦσαι] “gives rather the content than the purpose of μετεμελήθητε,” Moulton, p. 216. But unless οὐ be omitted or another negative be inserted before πιστεῦσαι, it is difficult to make any sense of the clause which will suit this context, except by translating “to believe,” i.e. “and believed him.” See below.

28-31. א C D L al S1 S2 latt have the obedient son first, the disobedient son second.

B reverses the order.

In v. 31 א C L al c f q S2 have πρῶτος. This seems to be required by the context. The Pharisees could hardly give any other answer, and the Lord’s reply seems to presuppose it. The Pharisees were in part like the first son, i.e. they refused to give heed to John’s preaching. But they were also unlike him, since he came to a better state of mind, whilst they hardened themselves the more.

B has ὕστερος, D latt ἔσχατος, S1 “the last.” In the case of B, which has reversed the order of vv. 29, 30, the Pharisees still approve the conduct of the son who first refused and afterwards went. But D S1 latt make the Pharisees approve the conduct of the son who promised to go and failed to fulfil his promise. Wellhausen believes this to be the original text, and supposes that the Pharisees intentionally gave a perverse answer in order to make pointless the moral which Christ was going to draw from the natural rejoinder. They ought to have answered that the first son did his father’s will, and He would then have contrasted their conduct with that of the son approved by them, and compared them to the son whose conduct they reprehended. But they purposely give the wrong answer, and Christ’s rejoinder, v. 31, is an expression of indignation at their perversity, rather than an explanation of the parable. Merx, too, upholds this reading, and finds in it the original text which has given rise to the other readings. But it seems probable that the order of א C D L al and πρῶτος are the original.

There would be a natural tendency to transpose this order:



(1) It might be argued that if the first son went, there was no occasion to summon the second;

(2) the fulfilment of the command forms an unexpected climax to the story;

(3) it was natural to identify the disobedient son with the Jew, the obedient son with the Gentile. Along this line of interpretation the latter should come last in chronological order;

(4) the ὕστερον of v. 29 may have had some influence in causing this verse to be placed after v. 30;

(5) further, v. 32 may have suggested the change of order. “John came, and you did not believe” = οὐκ�

33-46. From Mark 12:1-12. See Briggs, The Messiah of the Gospels, p. 114.


33-46. The labourers in the vineyard.

(M) 33. Hear another parable: There was a man, a householder, who planted a vineyard, and placed round it a fence, and digged in it a press, and built a tower.] Mk. has: “A man planted a vineyard, and placed round (it) a fence, and digged a press, and built a tower.” The details are borrowed from Isaiah 5:2. For the ἄνθρωπος—οἰκοδεσπότης ὅστις, cf. 13:52�Isaiah 5:2.—ληνόν] Mk. has ὑπολήνιον; Is. προλήνιον.(M) 33. And let it out to husbandmen, and went away.] So Mk.


(M) 34. And when the season of the fruits arrived, he sent his servant to the husbandmen to receive its fruits.] Mk. has: “And sent to the husbandmen at the season a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen the fruits of the vineyard.”

(M) 35. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.] Mk. has: “And they took him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent to them another servant; and him they—(?), and shamefully treated. And another he sent, and him they killed.”

(M) 36. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did to them likewise.] Mk. has: “And many others; beating some, and killing some.” In Mk. there is before the final sending of the son a triple sending of a single messenger, vv. 2, 4, 5, followed by a general statement, v. 5 “and many others.” Mt. simplifies this into a double sending of several messengers, vv. 34, 36, but seems to show a trace of Mk.’s first three messengers in his ὃν μέν, ὃν δέ, ὃν δέ, v. 35. He avoids Mk.’s rare and uncertain (probably corrupt) word ἐκεφαλίωσαν. Further, in Mk. the treatment of the first three messengers is climactic: the first they beat and sent away, the second they put to shame, the third they killed. After this “the many others” comes in very weakly. Mt., with his double sending of several messengers, avoids this anticlimax. Lk. has a triple sending of a single messenger. The first was beaten and sent back empty-handed, the second beaten and dishonoured and sent away, the third wounded and cast out. Thus the crime of murder is not reached till the son is sent.

(M) 37. And at last he sent to them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.] Mk. has: “Still one he had, a son beloved. He sent him last to them, saying that they will reverence my son.” See Gould on Mark 12:6-11.

(M) 38. But the husbandmen, having seen the son, said amongst themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us have his inheritance.] Mk. has: “But those husbandmen said to one another that this is the heir; come, let us kill him, and ours shall be the inheritance.—ἐν ἑαυτοῖς] Mk. has πρὸς ἑαυτούς. Mt. avoids πρός in this sense; cf. v. 25, and 16:7 = Mark 8:16.

(M) 39. And they took him, and cast him outside the vineyard, and killed him.] Mk. has: “And they took him, and killed him, and cast him outside the vineyard.” Mt., with the history of the Passion in his mind, reverses Mk.’s second and third clauses. Christ was crucified outside the city. See on Luke 20:15.


(M) 40, 41. When, therefore, the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do to those husbandmen? They say to him, He will evilly destroy the evil ones, and will give the vineyard to other husbandmen, who will render to him the fruits at their seasons.] Mk. has: “What will the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard to others.” In Mk. Christ Himself answers the rhetorical question. Mt. places the answer in the mouth of the rulers, that they themselves, as in v. 31, may pronounce their own condemnation. This change involves others. Mk.’s abrupt τί ποιήσει ὁ κύριος τοῦ�Mar_7. In v. 41 κακοὺς κακῶς takes the place of ἐλεύσεται, which has been transferred to v. 40; ἐκδώσεται, cf. ἐξέδετο, v. 33, takes the place of δώσει, and a clause is added to round off the sentence. For the phraseology, cf. Psalms 1:3.


(M) 42. Jesus saith to them, Did you never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, this became the head of the corner: from the Lord was this, and it is marvellous in our eyes?] So Mk., without “Jesus saith to them,” and with “Did you not read this Scripture,” for Mt.’s “Did you never read in the Scriptures.” The quotation is from the LXX. of Ps 117:22. αὕτη corresponds to the Heb. neutral pronoun זאת. “This” means this fact, that the rejected stone became the head of the corner.

(E) 43. Therefore I say to you, That the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation which produceth its fruits.] The words do not occur in Mk. They are an expository comment of the editor. The parable carries forward the thought of the preceding section. The Jewish rulers had adopted towards the Baptist a policy of non-recognition, which involved them in doubts as to the authority of Christ as the Messiah, vv. 23-32. Their action was typical and prophetic. They had at all times disobeyed the messengers of God, and were on the point of putting to death the Messiah, the Son of God, and His final Messenger to them. Consequently the divine favour, the kingdom = the vineyard, would be withdrawn from them and given to others. Vv. 41-42 express the same thought under another metaphor. The stone which the builders of Israel, that is, the Jewish authorities, rejected would become the chief stone in another building. The edifice of Israel’s national life was to give place to another building; cf. 16:18 οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν.—ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ] Since the parable as a whole is clearly taken from Mk., there is every reason to suppose that this verse, which is not in Mk., is an editorial comment on the meaning of the parable. The vineyard was to be taken from the Jewish nation; but what term could the editor substitute for the vineyard? What he wished to express was, no doubt, the privileged position of the Jews as the recipients of a divine revelation. But this was just what the Rabbinical writers express by “the sovereignty of the heavens.” When a heathen became a proselyte, and was incorporated into the privileged Jewish people, he was said to take upon himself the sovereignty of the heavens; see Dalman, Words, p. 97. We might therefore have expected the editor to use the phrase βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. But since he has throughout the Gospel employed this term for the eschatological kingdom which Christ announced, and which was to be inaugurated when the Son of Man came upon the clouds of heaven, it would have been unsuitable here. For that kingdom had never been the possession of the Jewish rulers, and could not be taken from them. The phrase βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ, in the sense current among the Jews of the 1st century a.d., of sovereignty of God, seemed more suitable here; and the editor, by using it, once more betrays his Jewish origin, and emphasises his sense of the difference between this phrase in his Gospel and the more frequent βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. See on 12:28 and 21:31, and Introduction, p. lxvii.—ἔθνει] the conception of the Christian society as an ἔθνος occurs only here in the Gospel. It has twice been called an ἐκκλησία, 16:17, 18:17. The word is probably here suggested by the idea of the Jewish nation, implied in the ὑμῶν.

(E?) 44. And every one who falleth upon this stone shall be dashed in pieces: but upon whomsoever it shall fall, it shall scatter him as dust.] The words do not occur in Mk. The stone of v. 42 seems to have suggested the stone of Isaiah 8:14, Isaiah 8:15 and the stone of Daniel 2:34, Daniel 2:44-45. The verse apparently means that the rejection of the Messiah, “the son” of v. 37 and “the stone” of v. 42, would involve the complete break up of the Jewish polity.—λικμήσει] is borrowed from Daniel 2:44 (Th.), and is used in the same sense as in that passage, namely, to break into small pieces, or to scatter as dust; see Deissm. Bib. Stud. p. 225. See also Briggs, Messianic Prophecy, p. 208.

The verse is omitted by D 33 a b e ff1 2 S1. It may perhaps be an interpolation from Luke 20:18, where the saying occurs in the form πᾶς ὁ πεσὼν ἐπʼ ἐκεῖνον τὸν λίθον, κ.τ.λ. But the verse as it stands in Mt. looks very much like an early gloss, suggested by v. 43. That verse seems to be an editorial interpretation of the meaning of the parable. The vineyard was to be given to others, v. 41. That is to say, the privileges of the Jewish nation, entrusted to it by God, were to be taken from it and given to others. The editor describes these privileges as “the kingdom of God,” by which he probably means the whole of the special revelation vouchsafed to the Jewish nation. He could hardly have used the term “the kingdom of the heavens,” because he everywhere employs this term to signify the kingdom announced by Christ as coming in the near future. Here the parable necessitates the use of a term to describe some privilege, corresponding to the vineyard, already in the possession of the Jewish nation. It is not very probable that after thus interpreting the parable and closing the narrative the editor would have added v. 44, which carries the thought back again to v. 42. But a later copyist of the Gospel has been reminded by the word ἔθνει (v. 43) of a passage in Daniel 2:44 where it is said that the kingdom shall not be left to another people, ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ λαῷ ἑτέρῳ οὐχ ὑπολειφθήσεται, Th.; αὕτη ἡ βασιλεία ἄλλο ἔθνος οὐ μὴ ἐάσῃ, LXX. Whilst considering this contrast, his eye was caught by the next clause in Dn., λεπτυνεῖ καὶ λικμήσει πάσας τὰς βασιλείας. This afforded him the nucleus of an explanatory gloss, v. 44, which he has built up out of Daniel 2:45 (Th..), Isaiah 8:14, Isaiah 8:15. How, then, are we to explain Luke 20:18? It is natural to say that, if not genuine in Mt., the history of the saying begins with Luke 20:18, whence it has been transferred to Mt. But, if I am not mistaken, the history of the clause begins rather with Matthew 21:43. It was the ἔθνει of that verse which directed attention to the “other nation” of Daniel 2:44, and so to the λικμήσει of that passage. It is improbable that the original editor of Mt. inserted v. 44, but it may have been interpolated at a very early date, and may have been read as part of the first Gospel by the author of the third. Or it may have passed from the first Gospel into the third at so early a date that no hint of its spuriousness there is given by the extant witnesses to the text of that Gospel. There is, of course, no reason why the same glossator should not have inserted the words in both Gospels.


(M) 45. And the chief priest and the Pharisees heard His parables, and perceived that He speaks about them.]

(M) 46. And seeking to arrest Him, they feared the multitudes, since they held Him for a prophet.] Mk. has: “They were seeking to arrest Him, and feared the multitude: for they perceived that He spoke the parable with reference to them. And leaving Him, they went away.” Mt., who has another parable to insert, omits the last clause. Mt.’s slight changes of Mk. are intentional. ἔγνωσαν γάρ in Mk. explains not the immediately preceding clause, but ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν κρατῆσαι. Mt. places the clauses in logical order: (a) the motive, “they perceived that He spoke about them”; (b) the consequent action, “seeking to arrest Him”; (c) the hindrance, “they feared the people.” Then to maintain the external form of Mk.’s sentence, he adds another clause stating the ground of ἐφοβήθησαν.—ὄχλους] as often, for Mk.’s singular. εἰς προφήτην, according to Wellhausen, is Aramaic. We should expect ὡς, as in v. 26.

33-46. Mt. and Lk. agree against Mk. in the following particulars. Both have the order ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν�Luke 20:9. Both insert οἱ γεωργοί, Mt 35, Luk_10. Both insert ἰδόντες, Mt 38, Luk_14. Both insert οὖν, Mt 40, Luk_15. Both insert οἱ�Luk_19. More important is the fact that Lk. also inserts words almost identical with Mt 44. If Mt 44 be genuine, this agreement might seem to suggest a second source. But since in other respects the texts of Mt. and Lk. read like the result of independent redaction of Mk., it is better to suppose that Lk. had read Mt., and that the agreements just mentioned are due to reminiscence by Lk. of Mt.’s version of the parable.


The editor here adds a parable from the Logia.













M the Second Gospel.

Dalm. Dalman.

O quotations from the Old Testament borrowed from a collection of Messianic prophecies. See pp.61 f.

LXX. The Septuagint Version.

Deissm. Deissmann.

al i.e. with other uncial MSS.

S Syriac version: Curetonian.

S Syriac version: Sinaitic MS.

1 τοῦ θεοῦ] So C D al latt S2; א B L omit. The phrase τὸ ἱερὸν τοῦ θεοῦ does not occur elsewhere, and is probably genuine here.

1 ἐποιήσατε] So C D al, as in Lk. א B L have ποιεῖτε.

E editorial passages.

L the Matthæan Logia.

Apoll. R. Apollonius Rhodius.

Diod. Diodorus.

Hdt. Herodotus.

Xen. Xenophon.

1 But the antithesis “the Father—the Son” occurs also only once in Mk., viz. 13:32, yet is certainly genuine. In the same way Mark 11:25 may be a genuine survival in Mk. of a Palestinian form of expression which finds fuller expression in Mt.


Th. Theodotion.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Matthew 21". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/matthew-21.html. 1896-1924.
 
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