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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 26

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

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Matthew 26:0


The Plot to Kill JesusThe Plot to Kill JesusJesus' DeathThe Plot Against JesusThe Conspiracy Against Jesus
Matthew 26:1-5Matthew 26:1-5Matthew 26:1-2Matthew 26:1-2Matthew 26:1-2
Matthew 26:3-5Matthew 26:3-5Matthew 26:3-5
The Anointing at BethanyThe Anointing at Bethany Jesus Anointed at BethanyThe Anointing at Bethany
Matthew 26:6-13Matthew 26:6-13Matthew 26:6-13Matthew 26:6-9Matthew 26:6-13
Matthew 26:10-13
Judas'Agreement to JesusJudas Agrees to Betray Jesus Judas Agrees to Betray JesusJudas Betrays Jesus
Matthew 26:14-16Matthew 26:14-16Matthew 26:14-16Matthew 26:14-16Matthew 26:14-16
The Passover with the DisciplesJesus Celebrates Passover with His DisciplesThe Last SupperJesus Eats the Passover Meal with His DisciplesPreparations for the Passover Supper
Matthew 26:17-25Matthew 26:17-30Matthew 26:17-19Matthew 26:17Matthew 26:17-19
Matthew 26:18
Matthew 26:19
The Treachery of Judas Foretold
Matthew 26:20-25Matthew 26:20-21Matthew 26:20-25
Matthew 26:22
Matthew 26:23-24
Matthew 26:25a,b
Matthew 26:25c
The Institution of the Supper The Lord's SupperThe Institution of the Eucharist
Matthew 26:26-30 Matthew 26:26-29Matthew 26:26Matthew 26:26-29
Matthew 26:27-29
Gethsemane Peter's Denial Foretold
Matthew 26:30Matthew 26:30Matthew 26:30-35
Peter's Denial ForetoldJesus Predicts Peter's Denial Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial
Matthew 26:31-35Matthew 26:31-35Matthew 26:31-35Matthew 26:31-32
Matthew 26:33
Matthew 26:34
Matthew 26:35a
Matthew 26:35b
The Prayer in GethsemaneThe Prayer in the Garden Jesus Prays in GethsemaneGethsemane
Matthew 26:36-46Matthew 26:36-46Matthew 26:36-46Matthew 26:36-38Matthew 26:36-37
Matthew 26:38-46
Matthew 26:39
Matthew 26:40-41
Matthew 26:42-43
Matthew 26:44-46
The Betrayal and Arrest of JesusBetrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane The Arrest of JesusThe Arrest
Matthew 26:47-56Matthew 26:47-56Matthew 26:47-56Matthew 26:47-48Matthew 26:47-56
Matthew 26:49
Matthew 26:50a
Matthew 26:50-54
Matthew 26:55-56a
Matthew 26:56b
Jesus Before the CouncilJesus Faces the SanhedrinJesus Before CaiaphasJesus Before the CouncilJesus Before the Sanhedrin
Matthew 26:57-68Matthew 26:57-68Matthew 26:57-68Matthew 26:57-61Matthew 26:57-58
Matthew 26:59-66
Matthew 26:62-63
Matthew 26:64
Matthew 26:65-66a
Matthew 26:66b
Matthew 26:67-68Matthew 26:67-68
Peter's Denial of JesusPeter Denies Jesus, and Weeps Bitterly Peter DeniesPeter's Denials
Matthew 26:69-75Matthew 26:69-75Matthew 26:69-75Matthew 26:69Matthew 26:69-75
Matthew 26:70-71
Matthew 26:72
Matthew 26:73
Matthew 26:74a
Matthew 26:74-75

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did Jesus go to a place that Judas knew?

2. What so distressed Jesus in the garden that He felt he was almost going to die?

3. What is Jesus really asking God to do in this thrice repeated prayer?

4. Why did Judas bring such a large crowd to arrest Jesus?

5. Why did Jesus condemn Himself by His obvious statement in verse Matthew 26:64?

6. Why do the Gospel accounts differ as to the order of Peter's denials?


Verses 1-2

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:1-2 1When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2"You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion."

Matthew 26:1 "When Jesus had finished all these words" This referred to Jesus' eschatological discourse in Matthew 24-25. This phrase is a literary marker which Matthew used to mark off Jesus' discourses (cf. Matthew 7:28; Matthew 11:1; Matthew 13:53; Matthew 19:1; Matthew 26:1).

Matthew 26:2 "after two days the Passover is coming" There is much confusion over the exact date of the Lord's Supper and, for that matter, the whole itinerary of the last week of Jesus' ministry. The Lord's Supper was obviously linked to the Passover symbolism (cf. John 1:29). The Synoptic Gospels say it was the Passover meal, but John says it was the day before. There is some evidence that because the high priesthood had been corrupted by being purchased from the Roman occupiers that several sects of the Jews had Passover on a different day (i.e., the Essenes of the Dead Sea Scrolls used a solar calendar and had Passover one day earlier) than the official feast.

John's dating of the Supper one day earlier emphasizes Jesus as the Passover lamb killed to save the family. If so, John may have altered the date for theological purposes, as he may have altered the cleansing of the temple early for theological presentation of Jesus' life. The Gospel writers under inspiration had the right to select, adapt, and arrange the words and deeds of Jesus so as to present Him to different groups (Gordon Fee, Doug Stuart, How To Read the Bible For All Its Worth).

"Son of Man" See note at Matthew 8:24:30.

"is to be handed over for crucifixion" Jesus had warned the disciples of this several times (cf. Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:9, Matthew 17:12, Matthew 17:22-23; Matthew 20:18-19; Matthew 27:63). These predictions would embolden His followers in the days after the Passion week. Jesus knew future events. Jesus laid down His own life (cf. Mark 10:45; John 10:11, John 10:15, John 10:18). He was always in control of the timing and events themselves.

"crucifixion" This was a form of public torture developed by either the Phoenicians or in Mesopotamia to deter rebellion and crime but perfected (i.e., where it lasted several days) by the Romans. No Roman citizen could be crucified. It involved a public beating and nailing to a cross. The shape of the cross could be a capital "T" or a small "t" or an "X." It is even possible that a scaffolding was used when several persons were crucified together. Death finally occurred by asphyxiation. The condemned person had to push up on his nailed feet to breathe. This is why breaking the legs of those criminals crucified with Jesus caused their rapid death (cf. John 19:32).

Verses 3-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:3-5 3Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; 4and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. 5But they were saying, "Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people."

Matthew 26:3 "the chief priests and the elders" This was the short designation for the Sanhedrin. See Special Topic at Matthew 20:18.

"in the court of the high priest" This referred to the central courtyard of Caiaphas'and possibly Annas'mansion.

"Caiaphas" Caiaphas was the High Priest, appointed by Rome, in exchange for a price, from A.D. 18-36. He was the son-in-law of Annas, High Priest from A.D. 6-15. This powerful family was motivated more by politics and wealth than by spirituality. It is unfair to judge all Sadducees or, for that matter, the Sanhedrin, by them.

Matthew 26:4 "they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him" They decided early in His ministry to kill Him, but they were seeking an opportunity when the common people were not present (cf. Matthew 12:14; Mark 14:1; Luke 22:2; John 5:18; John 7:1, John 7:19, John 7:25; John 8:37, John 8:40; John 11:53). They were jealous of His popularity and fearful of His teachings and actions.

Matthew 26:5 "during the festival" The Passover was combined with the Feast of the Unleavened Bread to form an eight day feast (cf. Exodus 12:0 and Josephus'Antiquities of the Jews 3.10.5).

"a riot might occur among the people" Many pilgrims from Galilee and the Diaspora were present in Jerusalem for observance of the Passover. The Passover was required for all male Jews of twenty years and above (cf. Leviticus 23:2, Leviticus 23:4, Leviticus 23:17, Leviticus 23:44; Numbers 29:39). Jerusalem swelled to three times its normal population during the three mandatory annual feasts. The Romans always brought in extra soldiers during the feast days (cf. Matthew 27:24).

Verses 6-13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:6-13 6Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, 7a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. 8But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, "Why this waste? 9For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor." 10But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her."

Matthew 26:6 "the home of Simon the leper" Mary and Martha served the meal (cf. John 12:1ff.), but it was not at their home (cf. Mark 14:3). It is possible they were somehow related, all being from the same small village, Bethany. Simon was apparently (although not recorded) healed by Jesus earlier.

Matthew 26:7 "a woman" John 12:3 says it was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. This account is not to be confused with the prostitute of Luke 7:37-39.

"alabaster vial of very costly perfume" This was a white/yellow stone vase from Egypt. The contents were made from an aromatic Indian herb called "nard" or "spikenard" (cf. Song of Song of Solomon 1:12; Song of Solomon 4:13-14; Mark 14:3; John 12:3). It was very expensive and may have been Mary's wedding dowry.

"poured it on His head" John 12:3 says that she put the nard on His "feet." Since this vial contained 12 ounces, or one Roman pound, there was enough to cover His whole body. Once the vial was opened it could not be resealed.

Matthew 26:8 "the disciples were indignant" John 12:4 says it was Judas Iscariot who was upset.

Matthew 26:9 "for a high price" This high price was three hundred denarii (cf. John 12:5). A denarius was the daily wage of a soldier or laborer. The implication is that Judas was thinking of the needs of the poor. However, he probably wanted some of the money for himself (cf. John 12:6).

Matthew 26:10 "she has done a good deed to Me" The noun "deed" and the verb are from the same root. It intensifies the statement or was an idiom (cf. John 3:21; John 6:28; John 9:4; Acts 13:41; 1 Corinthians 16:10).

Matthew 26:11 "For you always have the poor with you" This was not a callous statement toward poverty, but a recognition of the uniqueness of Jesus' presence.

Matthew 26:12 "to prepare Me for burial" Mary was a disciple; maybe she understood more than the Apostles! This perfume was used to anoint the body of the dead before burial (cf. John 19:40).

Matthew 26:13 "in the whole world" Jesus assumed His gospel (Matthew uses the term for Jesus' actions in Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35; and Jesus uses the term in Matthew 24:14; Matthew 26:13) would be preached everywhere (cf. Matthew 24:9, Matthew 24:14, Matthew 24:32; Matthew 28:19-20). This fulfills the OT universal predictions (especially Isaiah, i.e., Matthew 2:1-4; 42:6; 49:6; 51:4-5; 56:7)!

Verses 14-16

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:14-16 14Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15and said, "What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?" And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. 16From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.

Matthew 26:14 "Iscariot" There are several theories concerning this word (the word is spelled differently in various Greek manuscripts). It could refer to

1. a man of Kerioth, a city of Judah

2. man of Kartan, a city of Galilee

3. the leather bag used to carry money

4. the Hebrew word for "strangling"

5. the Greek word for assassin's knife

If #1 is true he was the only Judean in the Twelve. If #5 is true he was a zealot like Simon.

There has recently been written a book that interprets Judas in a positive light. The book is entitled Judas, Betrayer or Friend of Jesus? by William Klassen, Fortress Press, 1996. My problem with it is that id does not take the comments in John's Gospel seriously.

Matthew 26:15 "What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you" The motive seems obvious (cf. John 12:6). The tragedy of Judas is unexplainable. Many modern theories suppose him to be trying to force Jesus to be the expected militant Jewish messiah. The Gospel of John asserts he was a thief.

"thirty pieces of silver" This fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 11:12-13 (cf. Matthew 27:9-10). Jesus was the rejected Shepherd. It was the price paid in the OT for a gored slave (cf. Exodus 21:32). Chapters 9-14 of Zechariah are quoted several times as a prophetic source in relation to Jesus' ministry.

1. Matthew 21:4-5 quote Zechariah 9:9

2. Matthew 24:3 quotes Zechariah 12:10

3. Matthew 26:15 quotes Zechariah 11:12-13

4. Matthew 26:31 quotes Zechariah 13:7

5. Matthew 27:9-10 quotes Zechariah 11:12-13

Verses 17-19

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:17-19 17Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?" 18And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples." '" 19The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.

Matthew 26:17 "the first day of Unleavened Bread" The exact chronology of the last week is confusing. Often the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and John (Matthew 13:1; Matthew 19:14,31,42) do not agree. This eight day feast involved two Sabbaths, Passover being the first (cf. Leviticus 23:4-8; Deuteronomy 16:8).

"the disciples" Luke 22:8 identified Peter and John as these disciples.

"Passover" It was eaten on Nisan 1Matthew 26:5 at 6:00 p.m. The exact day of the week varied year to year because of the Jewish lunar calendar (cf. Matthew 26:20).

Matthew 26:18 "to a certain man" Luke 22:10 says he was to be identified by "carrying a pitcher of water," an activity traditionally considered women's work.

NASB, NRSV, NJB"My time is near" NKJV"My time is at hand" TEV"My hour has come"

This was a cryptic phrase used by Jesus for His time of rejection, betrayal, and crucifixion (cf. John 2:4; John 7:6, John 7:8, John 7:30; John 8:20; John 12:23; John 13:1; John 17:1).

"at your house with My disciples" Many believe this was the home of John Mark who was

1. Barnabas'cousin (Colossians 4:10)

2. missionary helper (Acts 12:25; Acts 13:5, Acts 13:13; Acts 15:37, Acts 15:39)

3. the scribe of Peter's memoirs, the Gospel of Mark (1 Peter 5:13)

It is also surmised that this was the location of the upper room (cf. Acts 1:13; Acts 12:12), where the disciples waited for the Spirit to come (Acts 1:5; Acts 2:1).

Verses 20-25

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:20-25 20Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. 21As they were eating, He said, "Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me." 22Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, "Surely not I, Lord?" 23And He answered, "He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. 24The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." 25And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself."

Matthew 26:20 "reclining at the table" Tables and chairs were only used in Egypt in this period of time. In Palestine they laid on their left elbows at a low table with their feet behind them (cf. Mark 14:18). This is how Mary could easily anoint His feet (cf. John 12:3).

Matthew 26:21 "betray" This is the Greek term "to give over" (paradidômi). It is always translated "betray" by English Bibles, but this is not an established meaning. It can mean

1. a positive meaning of entrust (cf. Matthew 11:27)

2. restore or commend (cf. Acts 14:26; Acts 15:40)

3. a negative sense of to hand someone over to the authorities

4. to put someone in Satan's hands (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20)

5. for God to abandon someone to his own idolatry (cf. Acts 7:42)

It is obvious that context must determine the meaning of the common verb.

Matthew 26:22 "Surely not I, Lord" Each disciple asked the question. The Greek grammatical construction expected a negative answer. Their asking the question shows their confusion.

Matthew 26:23 "He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me" For one to betray a host was the height of shame in the East (cf. Psalms 41:9). Judas had the seat of honor next to Jesus on His left side. Jesus was still trying to reach Judas!

"the bowl" This was a traditional Passover sauce of nuts, raisins, dates, figs, and vinegar.

Matthew 26:24 Jesus knew who He was and what He must do (cf. John 13:1). Jesus came to reveal God, to give mankind an example to follow, and to die for their sin (cf. Mark 10:45; Acts 2:23-24; 2 Corinthians 5:21). His life was revealed in OT prophecy (cf. Matthew 26:31, Matthew 26:54, Matthew 26:56; Matthew 11:10; Matthew 21:42).

"if" This is a second class conditional sentence. Judas'betrayal was a necessary, predicted act for which he will suffer the punishment. This is the mystery of election and free will!

Matthew 26:25 "Surely it is not I, Rabbi" Note Judas used the title "rabbi" (i.e., my teacher) not "Lord" as the other disciples had.

"You have said it yourself" Jesus was still trying to reach Judas. The idiomatic phrase was also used in Matthew 26:4 and 27:11.

Verses 26-29

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:26-29 26While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." 27And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; 28for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."

Matthew 26:26 "While they were eating" The focus of the seder meal, to which this alludes, was the third cup of blessing after the meal itself. Jesus wanted to identify with the deliverance of the Exodus. He was the lamb of God, but He chose the bread and wine, not the Passover lamb, as the symbol for the new covenant.

Matthew often depicts Jesus as the second Moses, the new law-giver. Jesus brings the new exodus from sin.

"bread" This referred to flat, unleavened bread cakes used in the Passover meal (cf. Exodus 12:0).

Matthew 26:26-28 "this is My body. . .this is My blood" The first recorded Lord's supper is Paul's account in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.

The Synoptic Gospels were written after some of the NT letters. The exact date is uncertain but they were not the first church writings (cf. William L. Blevins'book Birth of a New Testament, personal publication, Carson-Newman College).

Matthew 26:28 "this is My blood of the covenant" This may be an allusion to Exodus 24:8. Some ancient uncial Greek manuscripts add "new" before covenant: MSS A, C, D, and W. This would reflect Jeremiah 31:31-34. However, many other good ancient manuscripts (MSS P37, א , B, and L) do not make this addition. It may have been assimilated from Luke 22:20. It is absent in Mark 14:24. The UBS4 gives the shorter reading a "B" rating (almost certain).

"poured out for many" This is an allusion to Isaiah 53:11-12. See SPECIAL TOPIC: POURED OUT at Matthew 23:35. There has been much discussion about the relationship between "the many" of Isaiah 53:11, Isaiah 53:12 and "us all" of Isaiah 53:6. The parallelism of Romans 5:17-19 may answer this question. The "all men" of Matthew 5:18 is the same as "the many" of Matthew 5:19. Jesus died for all humans (cf. John 3:16); all are potentially saved in Him!

"for forgiveness of sins" This is the thrust of the New Covenant (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34) and the significance of Jesus' name (" YHWH saves," cf. Matthew 1:21).

Matthew 26:29 "I will not drink. . .until. . .My Father's Kingdom" This was a reference to the Messianic end-time banquet (cf. Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28-30; note Malachi 1:11). This was often connected to the Wedding Feast of Jesus and the Church (cf. Ephesians 5:23-29; Revelation 19:7). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE KINGDOM OF GOD at Matthew 4:17.


Verse 30

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:30 30After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Matthew 26:30 "singing a hymn" The hymn was probably one or more of the Hallel Psalms 113-118, or 146-150, traditionally used at the close of the Passover ceremony or it may have been the Great Hallel (cf. Psalms 136:0).

Verses 31-35

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:31-35 31Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.'32But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee." 33But Peter said to Him, "Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away." 34Jesus said to Him, "Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." 35Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You." All the disciples said the same thing too.

Matthew 26:31 "You will all fall away" This states clearly that Jesus' disciples will abandon Him in His hour of need (cf. Matthew 26:56.) Only John stayed with Him and Peter followed at a distance. The rest fled!

"for it is written" This is a quote from Zechariah 13:7. It is interesting that the first eight chapters of Zechariah are quoted often in the book of the Revelation, while the last six are often quoted in the Gospels. It is YHWH who strikes the Shepherd (cf. Isaiah 53:6, Isaiah 53:10; Romans 8:32). This was always God's plan of redemption (cf. Acts 2:23; Acts 3:18; Acts 4:28; Acts 13:29). See SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN at Matthew 24:14.

"sheep" Sheep became the animal metaphor used for the followers of Christ.

Matthew 26:1. Matthew 7:15 (false sheep)

Matthew 26:2. Matthew 9:36; Matthew 26:3; Mark 14:27 (scattered flock)

Matthew 26:3. Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24 (lost sheep of Israel)

Matthew 26:4. Matthew 10:16; Luke 10:3 (lambs among wolves)

Matthew 26:5. Matthew 18:12; Luke 15:6 (parable)

6. Matthew 25:32-33 (sheep and goat judgment)

7. Mark 6:34 (sheep with no shepherd)

8. John 10:1-18 (Jesus as the Good Shepherd)

9. John 21:16-17 (Peter, feed my lambs and sheep)

10. 1 Peter 2:25 (Isaiah 53:6, sheep going astray)

Matthew 26:32 "after I have been raised" See Special Topic at Matthew 27:63.

"I will go ahead of you to Galilee" This post-resurrection meeting is mentioned several times (cf. Matthew 26:32; Matthew 28:7, Matthew 28:10, Matthew 28:16-20; 1 Corinthians 15:6; and John 21:0). This should have been a great encouragement to the disciples, but they apparently did not understand.

Matthew 26:33 "Even though all may fall away" Peter's presumption is clearly seen. This is much like Matthew 16:22-23, where Peter denies the Lord's prediction.

Matthew 26:34 "Truly I say to you" This is literally "amen," which originally meant "to be firm," but came to mean "I agree" or "I affirm." Jesus used this term uniquely to begin significant statements. See Special Topic at Matthew 5:1.

"a rooster crows" This occurred between Matthew 12:0 a.m. and Matthew 3:0 a.m. It must have been a Roman rooster because the Jews did not allow them in the holy city. There has been some speculation that there was a Roman trumpet signal called "The Crow of the Rooster," which was sounded at the end of the watch at 3 a.m. However, this is still uncertain.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did the religious leaders want to kill Jesus?

2. What about the chronological problems among the four Gospels? Is the Bible in error?

3. Is Judas responsible for his action? What did he do? Why did he do it?

4. What is the significance of the Lord's Supper?

5. Did Judas take the Lord's Supper?

6. Why was the prediction of the disciples'apostasy recorded?


Verses 36-38

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:36-38 36Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."

Matthew 26:36 "Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane" "Gethsemane" meant "oil press" in Hebrew. It apparently was a private garden just outside the city limits of Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. It was illegal to have gardens within the city because the manure needed for the plants made the city ceremonially unclean. Apparently Jesus came to this garden quite often. It is even possible that during Passion Week He bivouacked here with His disciples. Judas knew the place well.

Matthew 26:37 "And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee" From Mark 14:33 and John 4:21 we know the other two were James and John. This was the inner circle of leadership among the disciples (cf. Matthew 17:1; Mark 5:37). They were present with Jesus on several special occasions when the other disciples were not. Apparently this led to both special training and jealousy on the part of the other disciples. Exactly why Jesus had an inner circle is uncertain. The list of the Twelve is always in four groupings of three. The groups never change. It is possible that the groups formed a rotating schedule for the disciples to go home periodically and check on their families.

"began to be grieved and distressed" These were strong terms in Greek (cf. Mark 14:33). We are on very holy ground here in the garden as we see the Son of God in what may have been His most vulnerable human moment. Jesus must have related this account to His disciples after His resurrection. Apparently it was meant to be helpful for those who face temptation and for those who seek to understand the agony and cost of the Calvary experience.

Matthew 26:38 "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death" This was an Old Testament idiom (cf. Psalms 42:5; Jonah 6:9), which expressed the tremendous intensity which was involved in the redemption of sinful mankind. Something of the struggle can be seen in the parallel of Luke 22:43-44, which records that an angel came to minister to Him and He sweat great drops of blood. The victory over the evil one was won here in the garden. The insidiousness of Satan's temptation in Matthew 4:0 and of Peter's supposedly helpful, but extremely destructive, comments in Matthew 16:22, are fully revealed in this passage.

Verses 39-41

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:39-41 39And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." 40And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Matthew 26:39 "And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed" The beautiful contemporary pictures of Jesus kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane by a rock are moving, but inaccurate. The Greek text here asserts that He was completely prostrate in agony and distress, even to the point of physical death, during these moments. It has often been asked what terrified Jesus so much. Some have speculated that it was the fear of physical death, or His fear that the disciples could not lead the Church. Jesus, who had known intimacy with the Father moment by moment, was on the verge of having to experience the last great aspect of human lostness-a breach of fellowship with God. It was this breach of fellowship and having to carry the burden of sin for all people of all time that terrified the Son. If we can see this kind of intense anguish on the part of Jesus of Nazareth, the unique Son of God, how awesome and destructive must separation from fellowship with God really be!

"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me" There are several extremely important aspects to this phrase. From Mark's parallel we understand that He used the Aramaic term "Abba," which referred to an intimate, family relationship. It is often translated "Daddy." In a few brief hours this will change to "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (cf. Matthew 27:46). The phrase "if it is possible" (first class conditional sentence) is found in the Markan parallel (cf. Mark 14:36) in the phrase "all things are possible." The slight variation between Matthew 26:35 and 42 and the variation between the Gospels do not minimize the fact that, from Matthew 26:44, we realize that Jesus prayed the same prayer three times.

The concept of "the cup" in biblical usage reflected an Old Testament symbol for the destiny of a person, usually in the sense of the judgment of God (cf. Psalms 75:8; Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 51:22; Jeremiah 25:15, Jeremiah 25:16, Jeremiah 25:27, Jeremiah 25:28). The cup of judgment that God had prepared for rebellious mankind was consumed to the dredges by the innocent Son of God (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).

"yet not as I will, but as You will" The pronouns "I" and "You" are in the emphatic position in the Greek. This, combined with the use of first class and Third class conditional sentences in Matthew 26:42, shows us the intent of the Son in His prayer. Though His human nature cries out for deliverance, His heart is set on fulfilling the will of the Father in substitutionary atonement (cf. Mark 10:45).

Matthew 26:40 "And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping" Before we are too quick to condemn the disciples, let's note that in Luke 22:45 the phrase, "they were asleep from sorrow," describes that they were unable to bear the pain of Jesus' prophecy about His own death and their subsequent scattering. Though Jesus longed to have human fellowship and intercession at this time of ultimate crisis in His life, He had to face this moment alone, and He faced it for all believers!

Matthew 26:41 "keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation" These are both present imperatives. There must be constant vigil! Temptation is an ongoing reality (cf. Matthew 4:11; Luke 4:13; Romans 7:0).

There have been several theories as to what "temptation" referred in this context

1. to the disciples sleeping instead of praying

2. to the disciples desertion of Jesus in Matthew 26:56

3. to Peter's denial in Matthew 26:69-75

4. to governmental or religious trials (cf. Matthew 5:10-12; John 9:22; John 16:2)

The term "temptation" (peirasmos) had the connotation of "to tempt or try with the goal of destruction" (see Special Topic at Matthew 4:1, cf. Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4; James 1:13). It is often contrasted with another Greek term for test (dokimazo) which had the connotation of "to try or tempt with a view toward strengthening." However, these connotations are not always present in every context. Theologically it can be said that God does not test or tempt His children to destroy them but He does provide opportunities for spiritual growth through trials (cf. Genesis 22:1; Exodus 16:4; Exodus 20:20; Duet. Matthew 8:2, Matthew 8:16; Matthew 4:0; Luke 4:0; Hebrews 5:8). However, He always provides a way through (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13).

"the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" This was the self-confession of Jesus who knows fully our humanity and its weaknesses (cf. Hebrews 4:15). And, knowing us, He loved us and died for us (cf. Romans 5:8) and now intercedes for us (cf. Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:1). Hallelujah!

Verses 42-46

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:42-46 42He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." 43Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45Then He came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"

Matthew 26:42 "if this cannot pass away unless I drink it" This is a combination of a first class conditional and a third class conditional sentence. It implies that Jesus knew it was God's will that He go to the cross, but He knew He could express His concern to the Father. It is good to know that God will not reject us because of our fears and confusion, but will work with us in love and faith as He worked with Jesus. We cannot even pray ourselves out of the will of God.

Matthew 26:44 "prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more" Jesus prayed three times. This is similar to Paul's three prayers concerning this thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:8). There is something of the Hebrew idiom of emphasis in the three-fold repetition (cf. Isaiah 6:3; Jeremiah 7:4). We can bring to God our concerns any time, as often as we feel the need.

Matthew 26:45

NASB, NKJV, TEV"Are you still sleeping and resting?" NRSV"Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?" NJB"You can sleep on now and have your rest."

It is hard to interpret this Greek idiom. Is it a question? Is it irony? Is it a statement? Is it a command? Although the meaning is uncertain, it is obvious that Jesus has won the victory and He now stands erect, ready to face the night trials, the morning beatings and crucifixion.

"the hour is at hand" "Hour" was a significant idiom used throughout the Gospels, particularly John (cf. Matthew 12:23; Matthew 13:1, Matthew 13:32; Matthew 17:1), to describe this moment (cf. Mark 14:35, Mark 14:41). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HOUR at Matthew 24:36.

"is being betrayed into the hands of sinners" This is the fulfilled prophecy of Matthew 16:21.

Verses 47-50

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:47-50 47While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him." 49Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. 50And Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you have come for." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.

Matthew 26:47 "Judas, one of the Twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs" There has been much discussion about the motivation of Judas. It must be said that this remains uncertain. His kiss of Jesus in Matthew 26:49 either (1) was a sign to the soldiers that this was the man to arrest (cf. Matthew 26:48) or (2) lends support to the modern theory that He was trying to force Jesus' hand to act, (cf. Matthew 27:4). Other Gospel passages state that he was a robber and an unbeliever from the beginning (cf. John 12:6).

From Luke 22:52 we know the makeup of this crowd. There were Roman soldiers involved because they were the only ones who could legally carry swords. Also, the Temple police were involved because they usually carried clubs. Representatives from the Sanhedrin were also present at the arrest (cf. Matthew 26:47, Matthew 26:51).

Matthew 26:48 "kiss" This was a sign of respect and greetings among rabbis. In Matthew 26:49 Judas calls Jesus "Rabbi" (" my teacher").

Matthew 26:50

NASB"Friend, do what you have come for" NKJV"Friend, why have you come" NRSV"Friend, do what you are here to do" TEV"Be quick about it, friend" NJB"My friend, do what you are here for"

There has been some disagreement over the meaning of this Greek idiom. It could be

1. a question (NKJV)

2. a reproach (TEV)

3. an idiom for "do what you came to do" (NASB, NRSV, JB)

The American Standard Version and the Williams translation agree that it is a statement of irony or purposeful understatement. However, King James and the Revised Standard Version see it as a question, also of veiled irony. The use of the term "friend" may have been an attempt to remind Judas of their discussions in the Upper Room (cf. Matthew 26:23) or an idiom of sarcasm (cf. Matthew 20:13; Matthew 22:12).

Verses 51-54

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:51-54 51And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. 53Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?"

Matthew 26:51 From the parallel in John 18:10 and Luke 22:50-51, we know that this was Peter and the servant was Malchus. The disciples had previously been admonished to buy swords (cf. Luke 22:36-38), but obviously, they had misunderstood Jesus' true meaning concerning this issue. It must be said on Peter's behalf that he was fully willing to die for his Lord at this point. In the face of great odds, he drew one of two swords. But, again, the inappropriateness and impulsiveness of his actions characterized his personality.

Matthew 26:52 "all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword" This was a cultural proverb (cf. Revelation 13:10). It was not meant to be taken as a literal truth in every individual example, but a characteristic truth that is obvious in itself. This is also like the biblical book of Proverbs. It may relate to the fact that Jesus was being arrested as a common criminal. His disciples then are also seen as bandits and robbers, those who carry swords! See Special Topic: Apollumi at Matthew 2:13.

Matthew 26:53 Jesus knew who He was (cf. John 13:1). He knew the resources of His Father, but now He was resolved to die (cf. John 10:17-18)!

"more than twelve legions of angels" A Roman legion had 6,000 men, but the term was also an idiom for several thousand.


Matthew 26:54, Matthew 26:56 "How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled" If this phrase in Matthew 26:54 relates to the same phrase in Matthew 26:56, then this is a general statement that everything has happened according to a predetermined divine plan (cf. Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; Acts 3:18; Acts 4:28). We know that John accompanied Jesus through the trials and the crucifixion and that Peter followed at a distance (cf. Matthew 26:58). Therefore, this is a general reference going back to Isaiah 53:6. Jesus knew that events were proceeding just as they should to fulfill the Father's purpose.

It is possible that this refers to the sufferings Jesus had foretold the disciples several times (first in Matthew 16:21-28), involving a suffering, rejected Messiah (i.e., Genesis 3:15; Psalms 22:0; Isaiah 53:0; Zechariah 9:0; Zechariah 12:0).

Verses 55-56

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:55-56 55At that time Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me. 56But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets." Then all the disciples left Him and fled.

Matthew 26:55 Jesus brings into clear light the plotting of the religious leaders (cf. Matthew 12:14; John 11:53). They were seeking an opportunity to arrest Him away from the crowds of pilgrims and followers (cf. Matthew 26:4; Luke 22:2).

NASB, NKJV"robber" NJB"brigand"

The term denotes a violent, lawless person (cf. Luke 10:30). It was later used in Josephus for an insurrectionist, like Barabbas (cf. Matthew 27:16-17).

Verses 57-58

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:57-58 57Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. 58But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, sat down with the officers to see the outcome.

Matthew 26:57 "Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest" From the parallel in John 18:12, we realize that He was taken first to the residence of Annas, who was really the power behind the office. Apparently Annas and Caiaphas lived in the same home. Selected members of the Sanhedrin were already being assembled there. The phrase, "the scribes and the elders," along with the High Priest, describes the full designation of the Sanhedrin.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Illegalities of the Sanhedrin's Night Trial, Matt. 26:57-68

Verses 59-64

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:59-64 59Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. 60They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 61and said, " This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.'" 62The high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?" 63But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God." 64Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Matthew 26:59 "kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus" This seems to imply that they were looking for two witnesses who could agree on some charge because OT legal precedent required two witnesses to condemn a person (cf. Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15).

The Sanhedrin could not find two consistent testimonies against Jesus (Matthew 26:60-61). Finally they found two similar testimonies (cf. Mark 14:59) connected with Jesus' statement about destroying the temple (cf. John 2:19).

There were many illegal elements in this night trial (see Special Topic at Matthew 26:57). These Jewish leaders would have rationalized this by illegally sacrificing this one man to save the whole nation from Roman retaliation.

Matthew 26:61 This is an allusion to Jesus' statement recorded in John 2:19, although He may have made the statement often. He is referring to the coming destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 by Titus and His new resurrection body (cf. Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:23; Matthew 20:19), which will be the new focus of worship for YHWH's people. The sacrificial system is replaced by the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ (cf. Hebrews). The central focus of acceptance and worship has changed! Jesus is the new temple (cf. John 2:19-21), as are His followers (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Matthew 26:2 Cor. 6:19).

Matthew 26:63 "But Jesus kept silent" This was also true during his later trial which was recorded in Matthew 27:12, Matthew 27:14. This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7.

"And the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God'" Self-incrimination by means of an oath was illegal but effective, for Jesus would not be silent in the face of an oath in the name of YHWH. The name "YHWH," from Exodus 3:14, was from the Hebrew verb "to be," which means the " ever-living, only-living God" (cf. Matthew 16:16). It was the covenant name for the God of Israel.

These leaders recognized that Jesus, at least by His words and deeds, was claiming to be the promised Messiah (note how the titles "Messiah" and "Son of God" are equated). They saw Him as one of many false Messiah's because He was not committed to the oral traditions and their authority.

Matthew 26:64

NASB"You have said it yourself" NKJV"It is as you said" NRSV"You have said so" TEV"So you say" JB"The words are your own" NJB"It is you who say it"

This same affirmative idiom is found in Matthew 26:25. It was somewhat ambiguous. Possibly Jesus was saying, "Yes, I am the Messiah, but not in the sense you think" (cf. Mark 14:62).

"I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven" These Hebrew scriptural idioms affirmed His self-understanding. Being at the right hand of the power (i.e., YHWH) was an allusion to Psalms 110:1. Coming on the clouds in heaven was an allusion to Daniel 7:13 (cf. Mark 13:26; Matthew 24:30; and Revelation 1:7). With these OT phrases, Jesus was asserting unambiguously His full and divine Messiahship. He knew this would lead to His death for blasphemy (i.e., claiming to be equal with God).

Verses 65-66

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:65-66 65Then the high priest tore his robes and said, " He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 66what do you think?" They answered, "He deserves death!"

Matthew 26:65 "Then the high priest tore his robes" This was a sign of a deeply disturbed spirit caused by the blasphemy (cf. Acts 14:14). The penalty for blasphemy from Leviticus 24:15 was death. Jesus deserved to die on the basis of Matthew 26:3 and 18:22 if He was not the Coming One, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. There is no middle ground here. Either He is who He claimed to be or He is a blasphemer who deserved death (cf. Josh McDowell's, Evidence That Demands a Verdict).

Verses 67-68

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:67-68 67Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, 68and said, "Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?"

Matthew 26:67-68 It is uncertain whether these acts were perpetrated by the members of the Sanhedrin themselves and by their attendants. Mark 14:65 states they blindfolded Him, hit Him, and demanded He tell them who did it! This may be a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:3.

Verses 69-75

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Matthew 26:69-75 69Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." 70But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about." 71When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, " This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." 72And again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man." 73A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away." 74Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a rooster crowed. 75And Peter remembered the words which Jesus had said, "Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26:69-73 The exact order of these three accusations differs from Gospel to Gospel. The fact that Peter denied Jesus three times with successive emphasis is common to all of the accounts. The fact that they differ is evidence of eyewitness accounts, not historical inaccuracies.

Matthew 26:71 "Jesus of Nazareth" See Special Topic at Matthew 2:23.

Matthew 26:72 "I do not know the man" This Greek idiom was a veiled statement of contempt.

Matthew 26:73 "for even the way you talk gives you away" Those who lived in Galilee could be recognized by the differences in accent and pronunciation of the guttural sounds of the Aramaic language.

Matthew 26:74 "Then he began to curse and swear, 'I do not know the man'" This again was an idiom which reflected contempt and is tragic in that he used God's name in affirming this lie. If anyone deserved to be damned, it is Peter for, in the face of such love, forgiveness, prophecy and miracles, he denied, three times with vehemence and an oath, the One whom he claimed to love. If Peter can be saved, anyone can be saved! The only difference between Peter and Judas was that Judas did not turn back to Jesus in faith.

"And immediately a rooster crowed" This must have been a Roman rooster for the Jews were not allowed to keep chickens in Jerusalem because they caused the ground to be unholy (see note on Matthew 26:34).

From Luke 22:61, we know that Jesus looked at Peter. This implies that Annas and Caiaphas lived in the same house and that Jesus could either see the courtyard or He was being transferred between the two residences.

Matthew 26:75 "And he went out and wept bitterly" Peter was fulfilling prophecy in his denials and giving hope for all believers who have denied Jesus with their tongue, with their lives and with their priorities. There is hope for anyone who turns back to Him in faith (cf. John 21:0).

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Matthew 26". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/matthew-26.html. 2021.
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