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Bible Commentaries

John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew
Matthew 26

 

 


Verses 1-16

Matthew 26:1-16.
Our Lord's Death Approaching. The Supper At Bethany

Found also in Mark 14:1-11, Luke 22:1-6, John 12:2-8.

Here begins what is commonly called the history of our Lord's Passion. This is narrated by all four Evangelists, but the matter given in the Fourth Gospel is for the most part distinct from that given in the others. In Matthew 26:1-46 everything is preparation. Jesus prepares the disciples for the speedy coming of the long predicted end (Matthew 26:1 f.); the rulers lay their plans (Matthew 26:3 f.); the anointing prepares Jesus for burial (Matthew 26:6-13); Judas arranges to deliver him up Matthew 26:14-16; Jesus further prepares the disciples, warns the betrayer, and institutes a memorial of himself for the future (Matthew 26:17-30); he then warns them of the approaching trial to their own fidelity (Matthew 26:31-35); and finally he prepares himself by solitary prayer for all that awaits him. (Matthew 26:36-46.)

Our Lord has now ended his teaching in the temple, and his great eschatological discourse on the Mount of Olives, and goes on to Bethany (Matthew 26:6) to spend the night as usual. He reached there probably late on Tuesday afternoon, or if it was after sunset, then in the first hour of Wednesday. We have here his final announcement to the disciples of his approaching death, with some account of the plans of the Jewish rulers for killing him, Matthew 26:1-5; then an account of the supper at Bethany, Matthew 26:6-13; and finally of Judas' arrangement to deliver Jesus for money, Matthew 26:14-16.

I. Matthew 26:1-5. Our Lord's Death Approaching

Mark 14:1 f.; Luke 22:1 f. Had finished all these sayings, meaning the discourse of Matthew 24 and Matthew 25, and perhaps also including the previous teaching on that day, from Matthew 21:23 onward. He said unto his disciples, probably all the Twelve, compare on Matthew 24:3. The three preceding recorded predictions of his death are in Matthew 16:21; (compare Matthew 17:9) Matthew 17:22 f.; Matthew 20:18 f. The passover, see on "Matthew 26:19". Is, cometh, occurs, the word explained see on "Matthew 1:22", and very often used; the present tense signifies that the passover so occurs according to the custom and the law, as the disciples know. After two days (so Mark 14:1) must mean less than forty-eight hours, or it would have been called three days (compare on Matthew 27:63); the festival began on Thursday afternoon with the slaying of the lamb. The words may be naturally regarded as uttered after sunset on what we should call Tuesday, but according to the Jewish reckoning, the beginning of Wednesday. (See above.) The Son of man, the Messiah, see on "Matthew 8:20". Is betrayed, strictly, delivered up (see on "Matthew 10:4"; see on "Matthew 17:22"), stated in the present tense because it is near and sure to occur. His enemies are planning it, and he is preparing for it. Accordingly, the Latin versions translate by the future, and so did all English versions before K. James. This would from the construction of the sentence be more naturally understood as a part of what the disciples 'know,' but may be simply appended to it. They knew that he was to be crucified, and at Jerusalem, (Matthew 20:18 f.) but we are not informed of their knowing that it would be at the Passover. To be crucified, see on "Matthew 27:35". He does not in this case add that he will be raised again, as he did in all the previous announcements of his death. Was it because his death would correspond to the paschal offering, (1 Corinthians 5:7) or because the shadow of the cross was now on him, and his thoughts went no further?

Matthew 26:3-5. Then naturally, though not necessarily (see on "Matthew 3:13"), means at the precise time of what precedes. The night following his great series of discourses in the temple (Matthew 21:23 to Matthew 23:30), which so defeated and silenced the Jewish teachers, would have been the natural time for this plotting; see Matthew 21:45 f The chief priests and the elders were two of the classes(1) constituting the Sanhedrin, see on "Matthew 26:57"; also as to the high priest who was called Caiaphas. There is doubt whether we should translate the palace, or the court, i. e., the inner court of the high priest's official residence, as in Matthew 26:69, Rev. Ver., or whether it means in general the residence, palace, as rendered in this place by Grimm, Keim, Weiss, and so in Matthew 26:58, and as often used in later Greek. It is perhaps better, with Rev. Ver., to use 'court' in all three passages, there being no substantial difference. And consulted, took counsel together, (compare Psalms 2:2, Acts 4:24 ff.) apparently not in an official meeting, but only an informal consultation. They had wished to apprehend him that morning in the temple court, but "feared the multitudes"; (Matthew 21:46, Rev. Ver.) they had sent officers to seize him at the feast of Tabernacles, six months before, but the officers were awed by his teaching. (John 7:32, John 7:45 ff.) Now they propose to take Jesus by subtilty. Com. Ver. renders the Greek word by "guile" in John 1:47, and by a still different word "craft" in the parallel passage of Mark 14:1. Weiss: "Thus the rulers were obliged to resort to secrecy. It is not likely that they ever thought of assassination, for Jesus was so constantly surrounded by his disciples that such a deed must have been discovered, and the odium of it would have clung to the supreme Council. The respect entertained for him by his followers could only receive a fatal blow by a public and shameful execution carried through with all the forms of justice; and if he were once safely in confinement, ways and means for the execution would soon be found." Not during the feast, which lasted seven days. The rendering of Com. Ver., on the feast-day, is a mistake. The rulers say nothing as to the sacredness of the occasion, butare only concerned lest there be an uproar among the people. Of this there was always special danger when vast crowds were assembled for a great festival; (compare Mark 12:12) and Pilate had taught them that a popular tumult could become with him the occasion of savage cruelties. The subsequent proposition of Judas (Matthew 26:15) led them to change their plan, and take the risk; and so the Saviour's death came at least a week earlier than they had calculated, and at the time he predicted. (Matthew 26:2.)

II. Matthew 26:6-13. The Supper At Bethany

Mark 14:3-9, John 12:2-8. Bethany, see on "Matthew 21:17". As to the time, no one of the three accounts gives any decisive statement. Mark agrees with Matt. in mentioning the supper immediately after the consultation of the authorities as to seizing Jesus; and Mark's narrative runs on without any break, so that it would be very difficult to remove his paragraph about the supper to an earlier chronological position. Luke does not speak of the supper, perhaps because he had described a somewhat similar anointing in Galilee, (Luke 7:36-50) but he gives immediately after the consultation the proposition made to the authorities by Judas, which in Matt. and Mark follows in the same order, with the supper between. On the other hand, John mentions the supper just after telling of our Lord's arrival at Bethany before the triumphal entry, which would place it three or four days earlier. Either John, or Matt. and Mark, must be supposed to have given the event out of its chronological position. Several considerations support the opinion that it occurred where Matt. and Mark mention it. (a) The rebuke of Jesus to a suggestion about the poor which really came from Judas (John 12:4) would be the natural occasion of his deciding to carry out the design which may have been previously meditated, viz., to deliver the Master to the authorities; and this agrees with the order of Matt., Mark, and Luke. (b) The outspoken indication that our Lord's death is at hand (Matthew 26:12), agrees greatly better with a time following his intimations in Matthew 21:38 f. and Matthew 23:39, his eschatological discourse in Matthew 24 and Matthew 25, and his definite prediction here in Matthew 26:2, than with a time preceding the triumphal entry. (c) This also better accounts for the idea that the devout woman was preparing him beforehand for burial. (d) We can see a reason for John's mentioning the supper by anticipation, viz., because he has just spoken of Bethany, and he will speak of it no more. On the other hand, Mark at least has mentioned Bethany before the triumphal entry, (Mark 11:1) and we see no reason why he should have dislocated the supper. John is in general more chronological than Matt., as some have here urged, but not more so than Mark; here Matt. and Mark exactly agree, and to a certain extent Luke also. John's expressions, John 12:2, John 12:12, would naturally suggest that the supper occurred at the point of time at which he speaks of it, but they do not at all require that view. The great majority of recent writers follow John's order, usually without giving reasons. On the other side are Robinson, (but Riddle otherwise), Hackett, G. W. Clark, McClellan, Geikie, and others. It is impossible to settle the question, but the event seems to fit much better into the situation presented by Matt. and Mark. The notion of Origen and Chrys. that there were two different feasts of Bethany, with a similar anointing and conversation, only three or four days apart, is out of the question. The assumption of many that the anointing in Galilee described by Luke 7:36-50 was the same as this, will not bear investigation. The only points of resemblance are (a) anointing by a woman, (b) at a feast, (c) in the house of Simon. But Luke is closely chronological in ch. 5 to 9, if not throughout, and he places his anointing at a much earlier time, and not at Jerusalem, but in Galilee. There the woman was "a sinner," here there is no such intimation, and in John's account it is the beloved Mary of Bethany. There the host scorned the woman, here (John) her brother is one of the guests, and her sister assisting the family. There we find nothing whatever answering to the complaint of the disciples and the Saviour's rebuke, justification, and wonderful promise; and on the other hand we find there the parable of the two debtors, and a very different assurance to the woman. The distinct allusion to his death is possible only here, and there is nothing to account for Luke's removing the story so far away in time and place. An anointing might certainly take place more than once, being a very natural way, according to their customs, of exhibiting reverential affection. (Luke 7:46) The Talmud of Bab. reports it (Wün.) as a custom in Babylon at a wedding for women to pour fragrant oil upon the heads of the rabbis present. A feast where the guests reclined on couches, was a very natural occasion for anointing the feet. The name Simon was very common. Thus the differences between the two cases are many and serious, while the few points of resemblance are easily accounted for. This question is important; for to suppose that Luke had transported this story to Galilee, and so long before, would cut us off from all reliance upon his chronological order, and to suppose that the other Gospels have transformed the event in Galilee into the so different occurrence they here describe, would make the whole history unreliable. As to the occurrence of similar events in various cases, compare above on Matthew 13:54, Matthew 15:38, Matthew 21:12.

In the house of Simon the leper, (so also Mark), who is not otherwise known. Doubtless his leprosy had been healed (compare on Matthew 8:2), either by natural causes or by the Saviour's supernatural work, and he merely retained a distinctive name he had long borne; compare Matthew the publican, Simon the zealot. It would have been a violation of the law of Moses for Jesus and his disciples to recline at table with an unhealed leper. A woman. Matt. and Mark give no name. John states that the woman who anointed was Mary, that Lazarus was one of the guests, and Martha "served,"i. e., took part with the women of the household in preparing and presenting the food. It seems clearly not true, as even Meyer holds, that John represents the supper as given by the well-known family; for in that case the expressions used in regard to Lazarus and Martha would be quite unsuitable. The notion that Simon was the deceased father of this family is idle. The sisters here present the same difference of character as when Luke first mentions them, (Luke 10:38-42) and at the raising of Lazarus (John 11), the one showing love by bustling activity, the other delighting in unpractical and delicate manifestations of affection. True Christian piety does not alter one's fundamental type of character, but brings out its distinctive excellencies. It has been conjectured that the silence of Luke about Lazarus, and of Matt. and Mark about the whole family, was caused by the jealous hatred of the Jewish rulers, who might have revived their desire to put Lazarus to death, (John 12:10) if the family had been brought to their notice in the oral and written accounts given by the apostles; but when the family had all passed away, and the Jewish State had been destroyed, John could speak of them without reserve. Compare on Matthew 26:51. An alabaster box or cruse. Some kinds of alabaster are of delicate and richly varied hues, and are extremely beautiful and costly.(1) The Jews, like all the other civilized ancient peoples, made much use of fragrant ointment, often rare and of great price; and the flasks which contained it were of great variety as to material and shape. John says this flask contained 'a pound,' viz., of twelve ounces. It was, with its contents, a tasteful and costly object, such as a woman would delight in possessing. Very precious ointment. Mark and John tell the kind of ointment, using the same terms. But one of the terms is of uncertain meaning, as stated in margin Rev. Ver. of Mark 14:3, "Gr. pistic nard," pistic being perhaps a local name. Others take it to mean genuine; others, liquid. Yet this uncertainty does not affect the substantial meaning; it was ointment of extraordinary value. Pliny ("Nat. Hist." XII. 26) tells of many kinds of precious nard. And poured it on his head. Mark says, (Rev. Ver.) 'she brake the cruse and poured it.' The flask, or cruse, probably had a long neck and a small mouth, to prevent evaporation, and the precious ointment was ordinarily extracted in small quantities. Being a thick, viscid mass, it could not be made to flow freely through the opening, and so in her eagerness she 'thoroughly crushed' the cruse, and poured its contents lavishly upon one so honoured and loved. A thin flask of delicate alabaster could be crushed by the pressure of the hands. As he sat at meat, lit. as he reclined, see on "Matthew 8:11". John (John 12:2) describes it as a special entertainment in the Saviour's honour: "So they made him a supper there." John makes the apparently conflicting statement that she "anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped off his feet with her hair." To anoint the head (Matt. and Mark) was the more common service of friendship or honour, but Mary went further and anointed even his feet. It is plain from the Saviour's expressions about the similar anointing in Galilee, (Luke 7:44-46) that to anoint the feet was an act of greater humility and profound respect. Observe (Morison) that Matt. and Mark simply say 'poured upon his head,' without inserting 'it'; so there is no difficulty in supposing that she used a part of the contents otherwise, and even that much still remained in the crushed flask (see below on Matthew 26:10). John adds "and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment."—Upon this scene, see Tennyson, "In Memoriam," xxxi., xxxii.

Matthew 26:8 f. Complaint as to such waste. His disciples. Mark says simply 'some.' John tells us that Judas Iscariot said, "Why was not this ointment sold," etc. It is easy to suppose that Judas first said this, and others of the Twelve approved and so repeated the saying (Mark), which was plausible, and might seem to them proper enough, though Judas himself had suggested the idea through very unworthy motives (John 12:6) Dickson (Morison): "One murmurer may infect a whole company." Pliny remarks that indulgence in costly perfumes is more luxurious than in gems and garments, because the former perish in the moment of using. Most of the apostles had little familiarity with such costly luxuries, and the waste might seem to them frightful. The word 'ointment' is not present in the correct Greek text of Matthew 26:9, but is naturally suggested. Might have been sold for much. John: 'for three hundred denaties'; Mark: 'for above three hundred denaries.' The Roman denary, about seventeen cents (see on "Matthew 18:28"), was the common price of a day's labour. (See on "Matthew 20:1".) So the ointment was worth more than three hundred days' labour, and omitting Sabbath and feast-days, this would be a year of labour. Pliny (XIII, 4), says that some unguents cost more than four hundred denaries a pound. We see at once that the sisters must have been wealthy. A poor young woman could not have possessed a flask of perfumery worth a man's labour for a whole year; or if by inheritance or extraordinary gift possessing it, she would have had no right to expend so large a sum in an utterly unpractical expression of affection. The inference that they were rich is supported by the fact that many of the Jews came out from Jerusalem to this suburban village to comfort the sisters after their brother's death; (John 11:19) and it explains the propriety of Mary's leaving Martha "to serve alone", (Luke 10:40) which would have been wrong if they had been poor and unable to secure domestic helpers. The Talmud shows (Edersh.) that wealthy Jewish women often spent large sums for perfumery. And given to the poor, without article (in correct text) to poor people. It has the article in Matthew 26:11. Jerusalem abounded in poor people, and many others doubtless came to the passover, as they come now to Jerusalem at Easter, who were needy and dependent on assistance. Within two miles of the supper-table were thousands of the really poor.

Matthew 26:10-12. Jesus rebukes the censurers, and vindicates the loving act. When Jesus understood it, or, perceiving it, exactly as in Matthew 16:8, Rev. Ver. The complaints had doubtless circulated in a low tone. The Com. Ver. has given an unfortunate rendering, for It would suggest that a considerable time intervened, and the Greek does not. Why trouble ye the woman? The Greek expression is quite strong; see in Mark also, and in Luke 11:7, Galatians 6:17. She hath wrought a good work upon me, is presently explained by saying, she did it, etc., (as in Rev. Ver.) did it to prepare me for burial. So Mark, Rev. Ver. "She hath anointed my body aforehand for the burying." John, (John 12:7) Rev. Ver., according to the correct text and most natural translation, has, 'Suffer her to keep it against the day of my burying,' which may mean that she had been interrupted, and much of the costly ointment still remained in the broken flask. See another possible translation in margin of Rev. Ver. of John. Ye have the poor always with you. And Mark adds, 'and whensoever ye will ye may do them good.' (Compare Deuteronomy 15:11) But me ye have not always, i. e., in bodily presence; he would be with his people spiritually. (Matthew 28:20, John 14:21-23) Extraordinary occasions may justify extraordinary expenditures. We may suppose (Keim) that at an earlier period he would have declined the proposed service, and directed attention to the poor. But openings for ministry to the poor would never cease; while their opportunity for personal services to him would soon be at an end. And this apparently useless and wasteful service possessed in fact a special significance and timeliness in connection with that foreseen death which was now so near. (Matthew 26:2.) It was an interesting, gratifying, comforting token of affection, as a sort of anticipation (Mark) of the usual anointing when preparing a body for interment; compare the large quantity of costly spices brought by Nicodemus for the actual interment. (John 19:39) To receive this loving preparation might help the Saviour to look forward with less pain to the suffering and shame which awaited him. It is not necessary to conclude that Mary so designed her action; but it is very natural to suppose she did, as they were all thinking much of his intimations that he would soon die; at any rate, he so accepted it, and that must have been an unspeakable joy to her. "She hath done what she could"; (Mark 14:8) and she finds that she had really done something extremely grateful to the Master. She could not prevent his approaching death, but she could manifest devoted love for him. Feminine intuitions, kindled by intense affection, might pierce through all preconceptions and accept it as a fearful reality that the Messiah was to be literally killed. This came as a new and startling announcement to her, without time for the mystical interpretations which the disciples appear to have placed upon it. (See on "Matthew 16:21".) Whatever fitly manifests, and by reaction strengthens, devout affection—true religious sentiment—is in itself acceptable to Christ and useful to us; for these sentiments are a necessary part of developed and symmetrical Christian character. Nor should they be hastily condemned as unpractical, for they stimulate to corresponding action. This unpractical gift, and the Saviours commendation of it, have themselves caused richer gifts to the poor in all ages than the whole wealth of Jerusalem would have equalled. Twice did Mary incur human censure, and yet, for the same act, received divine commendation. (Luke 10:40) Poured, in Galatians 6:12, is not the ordinary word of Galatians 6:7, but means threw, cast, flung, a profuse and lavish pouring.

Matthew 26:13. This gospel, the good news of the Messianic reign, as in Matthew 24:14; and compare Matthew 11:5. In the whole world. He here anticipates the universal spread of his teachings and influence. (Compare Matthew 28:19) This very remarkable promise concerning the woman was already in process of fulfilment when John wrote his Gospel, probably sixty years afterwards; for he distinguishes this Bethany from the one beyond Jordan (John 1:28) by calling it (John 11:1 f.) the village of Mary (placed first) and her sister Martha; and then makes all definite and clear by adding, "it was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment," etc. He has not yet in his Gospel told the story of the anointing, but he assumes that it is familiar to all Christian readers. Chrys.: "For lo! what he said is come to pass, and to whatever part of the earth thou mayest go, thou wilt see her celebrated." Alexander: "One of the most glorious distinctions ever conferred upon a mortal, a distinction which instead of fading with the lapse of time, grows daily brighter, and to which, as one has well said, even unfriendly critics and interpreters contribute, as it were, against their will and in the very act of doubt or censure."

III. Matthew 26:14-16. Judas Proposes To Deliver Jesus To The Chief Priests,

Mark 14:10 f.; Luke 22:3-6. Then does not necessarily (see on "Matthew 3:13"), but does naturally indicate that what follows in the narrative occurred immediately after what precedes. Mark and Luke have simply said 'and,' but place the matter in the same connection as Matthew. The rebuke Judas had received (see on "Matthew 26:6"), may have brought to a crisis those wrong feelings towards the Master which he had more or less consciously entertained for a long time. (John 6:70 f.) Even after this, when he had made the bargain, and was awaiting an opportunity, Satan took still stronger possession of him upon its becoming manifest that Jesus understood him. (John 13:27) Judas Iscariot, see on "Matthew 10:3"and see on "Matthew 27:3". One of the twelve is a phrase given by all four Evangelists, doubtless because this fact showed how peculiar was his wickedness. The chief priests, see on "Matthew 2:4". What will you, etc. What are you willing to give me, is the exact translation. This was expressed in old English by 'what will you give me,' but that is now understood as a mere future tense, as in the following words. And I will deliver him, the Greek making the 'I' emphatic. He knows they wish to get Jesus in their hands, and he will gratify them if they are willing to give enough. 'Deliver' is here correctly translated in Com. Ver. (see on "Matthew 10:3"; see on "Matthew 17:22"), but in Matthew 2:16, and in Mark and Luke, they translated it 'betray,' with that passion for variety in rendering which marks the early English versions. Compare on Matthew 25:46. They covenanted with him. Rev. Ver., weighed unto him. The word means literally placed (in the balance), and is used for weighing money in the classics and the Septuagint, e. g., Zechariah 11:12, "So they weighed for my hire thirty pieces of silver." The word in Matt. might be translated, 'appointed unto him,' or 'covenanted with him,' and these were preferred by the early English versions because Mark says they 'promised,' Luke 'covenanted,' to give him money. But Mark and Luke use other terms, and there can be little doubt that Matthew is referring to Zechariah. Coins had certainly been in use from the time of Simon the Maccabee, B. C. 140; (1 Maccabees 15:6) but it may have been still not uncommon to weigh the coins, being of variable value, and this especially on the part of religious functionaries, who usually retain old customs. Matthew's expression does not require us to understand that they paid it at the moment of his proposition, but that they paid it in advance. Some have plausibly suggested that this sum was only earnest money, and more was to follow. A traitor is seldom trusted with his entire reward in advance. The thirty pieces of silver were probably shekels, Worth in our Lord's time something over sixty cents, compare on Matthew 17:24. Thirty shekels was appointed by the law as damages for the killing of a slave by an ox. (Exodus 21:32) He sought opportunity. Luke adds "without a throng." This plan Judas skilfully carried out, finding him at night, and without the city. Jerome : "Unhappy Judas! the loss he thought he had incurred by the pouring out of the ointment, he wishes to make up by selling his Master."

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 26:1. Henry: "So Christ's witnesses die not till they have finished their testimony."

Matthew 26:8-9. Edersheim: "It is ever the light which throws the shadows of objects—and this deed of faith and love now east the features of Judas in gigantic dark outlines against the scene. He knew the nearness of Christ's betrayal, and hated the more; she knew of the nearness of his precious death, and loved the more." Henry: "It is no new thing forbad affections to shelter themselves under specious covers; for people to shift off works of piety under colour of works of charity."

Matthew 26:10."Why trouble ye the woman?" (1) A woman's love will sometimes be wiser than a man's judgment. (2) A devout heart will often build better than it knew. (3) An act plausibly censured at the moment may be destined to everlasting honour. Henry: "It is a great trouble to good people to have their good works censured and misconstrued; and it is a thing that Jesus Christ takes very ill."—A good work. (1) A good work, though due to the unaided promptings of a loving heart. (2) A good work, though severely censured by some good men. (3) A good work, though wholly unpractical. (4) A good work, though under ordinary circumstances it would have been wasteful and wrong. (5) A good work, which gained the Saviour's approval, and will be honoured for evermore.—It has been remarked that the only two persons Jesus is recorded as commending for their gifts were women, one poor, the other rich.

Matthew 26:11. Jesus and the poor. (1) By helping the poor we may always honour Jesus. (2) By honouring Jesus we do always help the poor.—Charity to the poor. (1) Charity is not our only duty. (2) Charity must not be made an excuse for neglecting other duties. (3) Charity is greatly promoted by loving devotion to Jesus.

Matthew 26:14-16. Chrys.: "Hearken, all ye covetous: and beware of the calamity. For if he that was with Christ, and wrought signs, and had the benefit of so much instruction, because he was not freed from this disease, was sunk into such a gulf; how much more shall ye, who do not so much as listen to the Scriptures, who are constantly riveted to the things present, become an easy prey to this calamity, unless ye have the advantage of constant care."

Matthew 26:15. Bishop Hall: "If Judas were Christ's domestic, yet he was Mammon's servant; he could not but hate the Master whom he formerly professed to serve, while he really served that master which he professed to hate." Henry: "The greater profession men make of religion, and the more they are employed in the study and service of it, the greater opportunity they have of doing mischief, if their hearts be not right with God."


Verses 17-35

Matthew 26:17-35.
The Passover Meal And The Lord's Supper

Found also in Mark 14:12-31, Luke 22:7-39; compare John 13:1 to John 18:1.

Mark is here quite closely parallel to Matthew; Luke adds a good deal John introduces the feet-washing, and the great farewell discourse, which belong to this same evening, and present several not very distinct points of contact with the narrative of the other Gospels. Our Lord seems to have remained in seclusion at Bethany from Tuesday evening (beginning of the Jewish Wednesday) to Thursday afternoon; compare on Matthew 26:1. Judas would naturally go the morning after the supper at Bethany to Jerusalem, and make his arrangement with the rulers. Jesus stays away from Jerusalem till his "hour is come." It was proper for every devout Jew to eat the passover, and Jesus was careful to "fulfil all righteousness" (see on "Matthew 3:15"). So he returned to Jerusalem for this purpose, though foreseeing the consequences (Matthew 26:31 f.; John 13:1); and he sent two disciples in advance to prepare for the feast. This section may be divided into Matthew 26:17-19, Matthew 26:20-25, Matthew 26:26-30, Matthew 26:31-35.

I. Matthew 26:17-19. The Disciples Prepare For The Passover Meal

Mark 14:12-16, Luke 22:7-13. On the first day of unleavened bread. Mark adds, Rev. Ver., 'when they sacrificed the passover,' which Matthew's Jewish readers would not need to be told. The law required the Jews to begin to use unleavened bread with the fifteenth day of the month Nisan. (Leviticus 23:6, Numbers 28:17) But Exodus 12:18 suggested that all leavened bread be removed in the afternoon of the fourteenth day; and the Talmud (Lightfoot on Mark 14:12) says they removed it at noon. Accordingly Josephus in one place puts the beginning of the feast on the fifteenth ("Ant.," 3, 10, 53), and in another place on the fourteenth ("War," 5, 3, 1), and elsewhere says ("Ant.," 2, 15,1), "We keep a feast for eight days, which is called the feast of unleavened bread." With all this Mark agrees, and Luke is equivalent. In Exodus 12:6, Numbers 9:3, they were directed to kill the lamb 'between the two evenings' (Rev. Ver. margin), which the Jews of our Lord's time understood to mean the middle of the afternoon, beginning at 3 P. M.; and they would continue killing lambs till the going down of the sun. (Deuteronomy 16:6) Josephus ("War," 6, 9, 3) says, "they slay the sacrifice from the ninth hour to the eleventh," from 3 to 5 P. M., and mentions the number of lambs slain on some occasion as 256,500. After the fifteenth day began, i. e., after sunset, they ate the paschal lamb. (Exodus 12:8, Numbers 33:3) So the disciples probably went to the city about noon, to procure a room, take a lamb to the temple court and slay it, roast the flesh with bitter herbs, (Exodus 12:8 f.)and provide bread and wine for the meal. The disciples came to Jesus, at Bethany. Prepare, or, make ready same Greek word as in v. 19. It may very well be that the lamb had been procured the day before, as was common; what they inquire about is the place. And he said, Go into the city. Mark says (Rev. Ver.) 'he sendeth two of his disciples and saith unto them, Go into the city'; and Luke, 'he sent Peter and John,' who from this time are frequently mentioned together (John 13:24, John 18:15 f.; John 20:2 ff.; Acts, John 3:1; John 8:14, etc.); even as they and James were the only disciples accompanying the Master on several occasions. To such a man. This may mean that Jesus indicated who the man was, but Matthew does not give the name. Some however suppose that Jesus gave no name because he did not wish Judas to learn the place in advance, being aware of his treacherous designs, and desiring to remain uninterrupted till a later hour. With this agrees the fact that Mark and Luke tell how they were to find the person in question. In the city they will meet a man bearing a pitcher of water, and following him home they must deliver a message to the goodman of the house, substantially the same as that recorded by Matthew. All this would seem to involve supernatural knowledge, like the prophetic direction in 1 Samuel 10:1-8; but some think that Jesus had arranged with the householder for such signs. The Master saith, shows that this man would prove to be a disciple of Jesus, if not in the full sense, yet so far that he would gladly render him this service; compare Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and compare above on Matthew 21:3. 'Master' is, didaskalos'teacher,' see on "Matthew 8:19". My time,kairos, set time, special time, season, see on "Matthew 11:25", meaning here the time of his death; compare the use of 'hour' in John 12:23, John 17:1, and often. I will keep, or, I keep, the present tense(1) indicating an intention about to be carried out. At thy house, has in the Greek an emphatic position. The householders at Jerusalem were accustomed to receive into their houses without charge such family groups as wished to eat the paschal lamb (Edersheim and others); but they would of course exercise some choice. In Mark our Lord adds, "And he will himself show you a large upper room furnished and ready"; the householder would show respect by going himself, the room would be large, and in all respects prepared for use. It is still common in Oriental houses to have the principal rooms in the second story. (compare Acts 1:13) And they made ready the passover, as described above; and at even Jesus came and ate it. (Matthew 26:20.) So also Mark and Luke.

Thus Matthew, Mark, and Luke distinctly state that Jesus ate the paschal meal, and that would place his death at 3 P. M. on the fifteenth of Nisan. But there are several passages in John which at first seem inconsistent with the idea that he ate the paschal meal. If John really meant that he did not, then there is a hopeless conflict between him and the other three Evangelists, one side or the other being in error; unless, indeed, we adopt the highly artificial supposition of some writers that Matt., Mark, and Luke refer to an anticipation of the paschal meal twenty-four hours in advance. But this we cannot do; for besides the difficulty of supposing that the Saviour would thus violate the law in the act of observing it, who can believe that the temple authorities would have knowingly allowed the slaying of the paschal lamb before the time, or that Peter and John would have slain it clandestinely? A number of recent writers contend or assume that John's language does forbid our believing that Jesus ate the passover. Most of these writers, it should be observed, are quite willing to recognize errors in the Scriptures as to matters of fact; and some of them are anxious to point out such errors upon every possible occasion. Others of us are very unwilling to admit the existence of such errors, and earnestly strive to remove the appearance of contradiction in the sacred writers, whenever it can be fairly done. Neither side in such an ease can claim superior exemption from the influence of theoretical prepossessions; and it becomes every writer to state his views with due respect for those who differ with him.

There are five passages of the Fourth Gospel which have been regarded as showing that Jesus did not eat the passover. (Compare especially Robinson's "Harm.," Clark's "Harm.," Andrews, Milligan.) Do these passages really thus teach? (1) John 13:1, Rev. Ver., "Before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew," etc. This is held to show that the supper described in John 13 occurred before the paschal supper, and consequently twenty-four hours before it. But observe that John 13:2 is not 'supper being ended,' but (in the correct text) 'during supper.' Then may we not understand that 'before the feast' refers to the feet-washing, which occurred after they had reclined for supper, but before they actually partook of the feast? Is not this more probable than that Matt., Mark, and Luke are in downright error? (2) John 13:27, "That thou doest, do quickly." It is added that some thought this meant, "Buy what things we have need of for the feast," Rev. Ver. But if the paschal feast was twenty-four hours off, what possible propriety would there have been in hastening out that night to make purchases for it? It is much easier to suppose that they thought of hurried purchases to complete the feast then in progress. But the new difficulty arises that upon this supposition there had already begun the first day of the paschal festival, and this being a holy day, purchases would not have been lawful. Now the Mishna, "Sabbath," 23, 2, says that if the day before the passover be a Sabbath, one may buy a lamb, even leaving his garment in pledge, and then settle after the feast. From this Edersheim and others fairly argue that if a purchase of something needed for the feast could be made even on the Sabbath, much more on the first day of a feast when not a Sabbath. (3) John 18:28, Rev. Ver., "They themselves entered not into the Praetorium (palace), that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover." This seems at the first glance distinctly to show that the paschal supper was yet to come when our Lord was before Pilate. But in fact the passage furnishes an argument in the other direction. If this had been the morning before the paschal meal, then the defilement incurred by entering a Gentile's dwelling could have been removed at sunset by washing with water (see Leviticus 15:5-11, Leviticus 15:16-18, Leviticus 22:5-7) Edersheim: "In fact it is distinctly laid down (Jerus. Talmud Pes. 92 b.) that the 'bathed of the day,' that is, he who had been impure for the day and had bathed in the evening, did partake of the Paschal Supper, and an instance is related (Pes. 36 b.), when some soldiers who had guarded the gates of Jerusalem 'immersed,' and ate the Paschal Lamb." It is not necessary to explain with certainty the meaning of the phrase 'eat the passover' as here employed. It may be a general expression for observing the paschal festival, or may refer to the Chagigah, or feast-offering which was offered on the morning of the first paschal day; and various other suggested meanings are possible. If the passover festival had already commenced, the rulers would wish not to be cut off from its privileges during the day upon which they had entered. At any rate this passage as a whole agrees best with the idea that the paschal meal was not still in the future. (4) John 19:14, "Now it was the Preparation of the passover." This was the day of the crucifixion, and many argue that the day of the crucifixion was not on the first day of the paschal festival, as Matt., Mark, and Luke represent, but on the day of preparation for the passover. But "the Preparation" was already an established phrase for "the day before the Sabbath," as distinctly shown by Mark 15:42, Matthew 27:62; and the Greek term here employed has from an early period been the regular word for Friday in the whole Greek speaking world. This passage of John may therefore easily mean that it was the Sabbath eve, or Friday, of the passover week; and observe that John himself so uses the term Preparation in John 19:31, John 19:42. (5) John 19:31, "For that Sabbath day was a high day," has been supposed to mean that the first day of the passover festival on that occasion coincided with the weekly Sabbath. But the weekly Sabbath during the great annual festival would have been without that a notable occasion, "a great day."

It thus appears that no one of these five passages at all requires us to understand that Jesus did not eat the paschal supper on the night before his crucifixion, and the second and third distinctly tend in the contrary direction. Grant that the first impression produced by reading these passages in John would be as claimed; grant that some of the explanations above given are not obvious nor certainly correct,—yet how can one say that the total result is to furnish sufficient ground for accusing the other three Gospels of uniting in a definite error? Among the writers who hold that John's expressions do not contradict the express statements of the other Gospels are Robinson, Andrews, Wieseler, Tholuck, Ebrard, Clark, Milligan, Plumptre, McClellan, Schaff, Morison, Edersheim. On the other side are Neander, Ewald, Bleek, Meyer, Ellicott, Alford, Pressense, Godet, Farrar, Wescott, Weiss.

II. Matthew 26:20-25. While Eating The Passover, Jesus Declares That One Of The Twelve Will Deliver Him Up

Mark 14:18-21, Luke 22:21-23, John 13:21-30.

When the even was come, after sunset (see on "Matthew 26:17"); no particular hour of the evening was fixed by the law or by custom. He sat down, etc., Rev. Ver, he was sitting at meat, reclining, as in Matthew 26:7, see on "Matthew 8:11". It was originally directed (Exodus 12:15) that the passover should be eaten in a standing posture, "with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste," representing the circumstances of its first observance. This posture and haste had been disused, probably because the circumstances no longer seemed to call for it. The Talmud of Jerusalem says, "It is the manner of servants to eat standing, but now let them (the Israelites) eat reclining, that they may be known to have passed out of slavery into liberty." We have to conclude that the matters of posture and haste really were of no importance, and so Jesus conformed to custom. Reclining at table at all was an indolent practice, but it was not necessarily wrong; and in this, as in dress and various other matters, Jesus was content to follow custom. With the twelve disciples. 'Disciples' was omitted by some early and many later documents, probably by way of assimilation to Mark 14:17; the word is implied if not expressed. Twelve made a party of about the usual size. Josephus says ("War " 6, 9, 3), that the company partaking of a paschal lamb consisted of not less than ten men, and sometimes reached twenty. It was necessary to have a good many, in order to consume the entire lamb. (Exodus 12:4, Exodus 12:43-46) On the several steps in the observance of the Passover, as described in the Rabbinical writings, see Lightfoot, Meyer, and a highly interesting account in Edersheim. It is not certain how far this round of observances already existed in the time of Christ. Nor do they throw any clear light on our Lord's appointment of bread and wine. Though instituted on the occasion of the paschal meal, and out of its materials, the Christian ceremony is in no way dependent, for its meaning, importance, or proper observance, upon the Jewish ceremony.—Luke reports, (Luke 22:14-16) our Lord's expressions of gratification in eating the passover with his disciples. He also states, (Luke 22:23-30, R. V.) that "there arose a contention among them, which of them is accounted to be greatest," as above in Matthew 18:1, Mark 9:34. Our Lord rebukes this spirit, in terms similar, first (Luke 22:23-27) to that uttered after the ambitious request of James and John, Matthew 20:25-27, Mark 10:42-44, and secondly, (Luke 22:30) to that recorded by Matt. alone in Matthew 19:28. It is thus possible that Luke, who has no record of those sayings, gives here what was spoken then. But it is much more likely that on a new occasion Jesus rebukes the same fault in similar terms, as we have often found him doing (compare on Matthew 21:12). The contention as to who was greatest might have been suggested in this case by questions of precedence at table, about which Orientals and even Europeans show an outspoken solicitude which in America we can hardly imagine. The Mishna ("Sabbath " 23, 2) speaks of drawing lots to determine the place at table, even among the members of a family. Luke passes at once from the opening paschal cup to tell of our Lord's institution of the memorial bread and wine; then narrates the allusion to Judas, the contention among the disciples, and so arrives at the warning to Peter. This contention also suggests a very natural occasion for the feet-washing of John 13:1-17, as another object-lesson in humility, answering exactly to that of Matthew 18:2. As they were eating (Matthew 26:21 and Matthew 26:26), two things occurred: Jesus (a) foretold that one of them would deliver him up, and (b) established the ordinance of bread and wine.

Matthew 26:21 f. The strong expression betray me, seems to be necessary to our feeling throughout this passage (Matthew 26:21, Matthew 26:23-24), partly because we are accustomed to it; yet the Greek really means simply deliver me up, precisely as in Rev. Ver., Matthew 26:2, Matthew 26:15 f. The Evangelists speak with compassionate moderation of Judas, compare on Matthew 17:22. Began is not mere Hebrew circumstantiality (compare on Matthew 11:20), but suggests that the process of inquiry was continued by one after another. Lord, is it I? with an interrogative particle in the Greek which strongly implies expectation of a negative answer, as in Matthew 7:9 f.; Matthew 9:15, Matthew 11:23 R. V. The nearest English equivalent would be, 'It is not I, Is it?' Jerome : "The eleven, believing the Master more than themselves, and fearing their own weakness, sadly ask about a sin of which they had no consciousness." The answer in Matthew 11:23, He that dippeth, or dipped (Rev. Ver.), his hand with me in the dish (so also Mark), might seem only a general description, as doubtless all the Twelve did so. Knives and forks were not used in eating and any person would help himself from the dish before him. Our Lord might appear here not to be identifying Judas, but merely showing the enormity of his offence: the man that ate from the same dish with me will deliver me up. (Compare Psalms 41:9, John 13:18) 'He that dipped' does not necessarily mean before the time of speaking, but just as well before that of delivering up. So it does not materially differ from 'he that dippeth' in Mark 14:20, Rev. Ver. It is thus possible to regard this saying as different from the identification described by John; see below on Mark 14:25. The Son of man, our Lord's common designation of the Messiah, see on "Matthew 8:20". Goeth, present tense because the going is certain and near at hand; so with is betrayed. As it is written of him, apparently not a reference to any particular prediction, but to the general tenor of Messianic prophecy, viz., that he should die. Some compare Isaiah 53:7-9, Daniel 9:26; see also Luke 24:46. Luke has here, (Luke 22:22, Rev. Ver.) 'as it hath been determined,' viz., in the divine purpose. Plump.: "It was appointed that the Christ should suffer, but that appointment did not make men less free agents, nor diminish the guilt of treachery or injustice. So, in like manner, as if taught by his Master, Peter speaks of the guilt of Judas in Acts 1:16-18, and of that of the priests and Scribes in Acts 4:27, Acts 4:28. "Woe unto may express not only wrath, (Matthew 23:13 f.) but at the same time compassion (Matthew 24:19) By, or through, whom, the person through whose action a thing comes to pass. It does not seem proper to find here (with Winer) a hint that Judas was merely the instrument of other men. He appears to have acted of his own motion. Origen thinks it represents him as the tool of Satan. Betrayed, delivered up. (See on "Matthew 26:21".) It had been good for that man, etc. This is a popular expression. If he had never lived, then, while losing all the good of life, he would have escaped the dreadful guilt he is incurring, and the horrors of future retribution. For him life was not "worth living."

Matthew 26:25. Judas, see on "Matthew 27:3". Answered. He had not been directly addressed, but he felt himself concerned in the pointed sayings just uttered. (Matthew 26:21-24.) As all the others were asking, he probably thought it necessary to ask also, lest silence should betray him. Master, is it I? with the same interrogative particle as in Matthew 27:22, implying the expectation of a negative answer. He does not say 'Lord,' like the others, but literally, Rabbi, and so in Matthew 26:49; but the difference must not be pressed, for the disciples often addressed Jesus as Rabbi. (Compare on Matthew 8:19) Thou hast said, i. e., hast said what is true. This was a common form of affirmative reply, found also in Matthew 26:64, and occurring in the Talmud.

It here solemnly repels the suggestion of a negative answer, and treats his question as a virtual confession (Lutter.) This is the moment represented in Leonardo Da Vinci's fresco of the "Last Supper," of which everybody has seen some engraving; Judas has just received the affirmative answer. Of course we must not think of the guests as sitting, according to that picture, for we know that they reclined. See an ingenious representation of the probable scene, with a plan of the table, in Edersheim., II, 494. This question of Judas and the answer in Matt. (not found in Mark or Luke) is recorded in terms so general as not to show whether the answer was also known to others. John has a full account of apparently the same matter, differing in form, but not in substance, from Matthew's summary statement. He says the disciples were at a loss whom Jesus was speaking about, and that Peter beckoned to John, who was reclining in the bosom of Jesus, to inquire who it was. Then Jesus replied, apparently in a low tone, that it was he for whom he would dip a sop and give it to him; and presently he dipped, and gave it to Judas, who immediately went out into the night. In connection with this sign to John, our Lord may have given an oral answer to the question just asked by Judas, as in Matt.; or the facts may be harmonized in other ways.

According to the order in Matthew and Mark, Judas went out before the memorial of bread and wine was instituted. Luke seems to place things otherwise; but we have seen that he appears to relate the institution of the bread and wine immediately after mentioning the first paschal cup, (Luke 22:17-20) and then to return to speak of the false disciple; if so, Luke does not teach that Judas was present at the institution, and partook of the loaf and the cup. The case is not certain, but this is the most natural way of combining the accounts. So there is no propriety in understanding that here a flagrantly wicked person was knowingly admitted to take part in the ordinance.

III. Matthew 26:26-30. The Lord's Supper

Mark 14:23-26, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.

John gives no account of the institution of the Lord's Supper. Paul says, "I have received of the Lord," and judging from his similar expressions elsewhere, we understand him to mean by direct revelation, which would make this an independent account. It resembles that of his companion Luke,(1) and Matt. and Mark form another pair. The place is an upper room in the house of some friend (Matthew 26:18), and the time apparently some hours after sunset, on the evening before the crucifixion. As they were eating, compare Matthew 26:21; this is the second thing described as occurring in the course of the meal; so Mark 14:18, Mark 14:22. Jesus took bread, or a loaf (Rev. Ver. margin); the common Greek text has an article, but wrongly. The word is singular in all four accounts. It is sometimes employed collectively for bread in general, (Matthew 4:4, Matthew 6:11, Matthew 15:2, Matthew 15:16) but more commonly for a loaf or cake of bread (Matthew 4:3, Matthew 12:4, Matthew 14:17, Matthew 14:19, Matthew 15:33 ff.; Matthew 16:5-11), and probably so here. This is more likely to have been what we should call a cake than a loaf (see Smith's "Dict.," Bread); such fiat cakes the Jews at Jerusalem now eat at the passover. It was unleavened, of course, as required by the law at the passover; (Exodus 12:15, Exodus 13:3, Exodus 13:7, Deuteronomy 16:3) but our Lord makes no reference to this, and it is not wise to insist on using only unleavened bread in the Lord's Supper. And blessed, naturally means blessed the loaf, that being the object of the preceding and the two following verbs. Luke and Paul, however, have 'gave thanks' viz., to God, as below, Mark 14:27; (2) and so some would here understand it to mean blessed God. But in Luke 9:16 it is distinctly 'he blessed them,' viz., the loaves and fishes. This shows that the idea of blessing the loaf is not repugnant to Scripture, and as the connection naturally indicates that idea here, it should be preferred. Compare 1 Corinthians 10:16, "The cup of blessing which we bless." To bless a loaf is of course to invoke God's blessing upon it, to ask that God will make it a means of blessing to those who partake. And brake it. Hence the observance of this ordinance came to be described as 'the breaking of bread.' ( Acts 2:42, Acts 2:46, Acts 20:7; compare 1 Corinthians 10:16) And gave, is according to the most probable Greek text(3) in the imperfect tense, which may mean that he went on giving, himself breaking a piece for each one, to be passed on to those out of his reach; while as to the cup it is aorist, since he simply gave the cup, and they passed it to each other. But the imperfect in such a case might only describe him as engaged in giving, and so would not substantially differ from the aorist. Take, eat. Mark has simply 'take'; Luke and Paul in Rev. Ver. have neither. This is my body. 'This' is neuter, while the masculine would be needed to agree with 'bread'; it means, this object represents my body. Paul (1 Corinthians 11:24, Rev. Ver.) has 'This is my body, which is for you,' where 'broken' was early inserted, probably suggested by 1 Corinthians 10:16. The phrase current among us, "broken for you," is thus not a Scripture expression. 'That is for you' means 'for your benefit;' we should lovingly take what represents the body that is for us. Luke, Rev. Ver., has 'this is my body which is given for you,' which amounts to the same thing. Weiss: "Not as a dark fatality were they to regard the death which he was now to meet, but as the way by which God would make them sharers in his greatest gift of salvation; and that gift was not to be for mere contemplative purposes: but for personal appropriation."

Four different views as to the meaning of the phrase, 'this is my body,' now prevail in the Christian world. Two of them take the expression literally, the others figuratively. (1) Transubstantiation, which represents the Roman Catholic view, mean that the bread ceases to be bread, and its substance is changed into the substance of the glorified body of Christ. This notion arose from combining the expression before us with John 6:48-58, the images there used being taken literally. In Justin Martyr," 1 Apol." 66, Irenaeus, 4, 18, 5, and even in Ignatius, Sin. 6, are expressions which do not in fact mean transubstantiation or read presence, but which tend in that direction, and doubtless helped to prepare the way for the doctrine subsequently developed. There is nothing of the sort in the "Didache." The question need not be here argued. The language seems evidently figurative, as in "I am the door," "I am the vine," "and the rock was Christ," "the field is the world," etc. We must remember that in Hebrew or Aramaic the copula 'is' would not be expressed at all. (2) Consubstantiation, the term invented by Luther, and still used by some of his followers, means that with the unchanged substance of the bread is united the substance of the glorified body of Christ. Luther : "What is now the sacrament of the altar? Answer: It is the true body and blood of the Lord Christ, in and under the bread and wine, which we Christians are through Christ's word commanded to eat and to drink... but how the body is in the bread, we know not." His followers have compared it to iron, with heat superadded, or more recently to iron magnetized. But the whole notion is obviously a mere makeshift of persons unwilling to give up the literal sense of 'is,' and the mystical notion of Christ's real presence. And how could the glorified body be invisibly dwelling in the bread, and the blood of that same glorified body be separately dwelling in the wine? They could be symbolized separately, but how could they exist separately? (Compare Meyer.) (3) The view of Calvin, now held by Presbyterians, Methodists, and many Episcopalians, appears to be that to the partaking of the bread is attached by divine appointment a special spiritual blessing, which is received by all who take the bread in faith, and which cannot be had without taking it. Hence, they sometimes feel aggrieved that other Christians who do not invite them to partake of the bread and wine are denying them the opportunity of a spiritual blessing, not to be otherwise enjoyed at that time. Some High Churchmen have receded from the Calvinian view, and maintain the "Real Presence " of Christ in the Sacrament, without undertaking to explain in what way or in what sense it exists. (4) The view of Zwingli, now almost universally held by Baptists, is that the bread is simply appointed as the symbol or memento, which we take in remembrance of the Saviour's body, and that the natural effect of such a memento or symbol in vividly reminding of the Saviour, and kindling grateful affection toward him, is blessed to the devout participant. A memento of the departed may be a very simple thing, and yet deeply move the heart. But the blessing thus received is not supposed to be essentially different in kind from other spiritual blessings, or to be associated by mere divine appointment with this particular means of grace. Hence no spiritual loss is necessarily inflicted by failing to invite to this ceremony persons who have made a credible oral profession of faith, but have not yet submitted to the prerequisite ceremony.

Matthew 26:27. Took the cup; a cup, is the correct text in Matthew and Mark, while it is 'the cup' in Luke and Paul. There was a cup on the table for drinking wine according to the custom of the paschal meal; 'a cup' does not say there were others. The paschal wine was usually mixed with a double quantity of water (Edersheim). Gave thanks. From the Greek word thus translated comes 'the Eucharist,' i. e., 'the Thanksgiving,' as a phrase for taking the bread and wine. It is used by Ignatius and the "Didache" to denote the taking of bread and wine in connection with an agape, or 'love feast', (Judges 1:12) just as Paul seems to use his phrase 'the Lord's Supper.' (1 Corinthians 11:20) But the connection with a regular meal in common is not made a duty by Paul, nor the connection with the passover by our Lord. What he directs is not to eat the passover, or to eat a supper, not to eat in the evening, or at a table, or in a reclining posture, but to eat bread and drink wine. Protestants unite in declaiming against the Romish practice of withholding the wine from the laity, because the Saviour enjoined both the eating and the drinking; and exactly what the Saviour enjoined we should do. So as to baptism, there is no command to baptize "in living water," as the "Didache" declares preferable, or in any particular place, time, circumstances, or manner; the thing enjoined is to baptize, (Matthew 28:19) viz., in water, (Matthew 3:11) and we should insist on nothing but water and the baptizing. (Compare on Matthew 3:6) Drink ye all of it, It would seem unnecessary to say that this means all of you, and not all of it, as the Greek places beyond question; yet some have misunderstood. Mark records, not the command, but the performance, 'and they all drank of it.' For, what follows being a reason for drinking. This is my blood, i. e., this wine represents my blood, like 'this is my body.' Of the new covenant; the correct reading here,(1) and in Mark, does not contain "new." It was added by copyists from Luke and Paul. (Compare Jeremiah 31:31, Hebrews 8:8)(2) Moses at Mount Sinai "took the book of the covenant and read in the audience of the people," and they promised to obey. Then he "took the blood "of oxen just slain," and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant." (Exodus 24:3-8 compare Hebrews 9:19 f.) So the new covenant predicted by Jeremiah 31:31-35 is about to he ratified by the Saviour's own blood as the "blood of the covenant." (Compare Hebrews 10:29, Hebrews 13:20) For world-wide symbolism of blood as sealing a covenant, and its participation as denoting vital union, see Trumbull: "The Blood Covenant," especially p. 271-286. Which is shed, present tense (in Mark also), expressing what is near and certain, on the point of taking place, like 'is delivered,' Matthew 26:2, Rev. Ver., and 'I keep,' Matthew 26:18, Rev. Ver. For many, so Mark. In Luke, if Matthew 26:20 be genuine, it is 'for you.' The 'many' (compare Matthew 20:28) is simply a general expression (probably derived from Isaiah 53:12, "he bare the sin of many," compare Isaiah 52:15), not necessarily indicating that some are omitted. In one sense, Jesus "gave himself a ransom for all", (1 Timothy 2:6) and to "taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9; compare 1 John 2:2), making salvation objectively possible for all; in another sense, his atoning death definitely contemplated the salvation of the elect. Euthym. understands that whereas the blood of the sacrifices was shed for Jews only, i. e., few, this blood is shed for many, i. e., for Gentiles also. The preposition here rendered 'for' means 'concerning' (peri), and so 'for the benefit of,' as in John 16:26, John 17:9, John 17:20, Hebrews 5:3, Hebrews 11:40. This preposition would not of itself suggest the idea of substitution. That idea would be readily, though not necessarily, suggested by Mark 14:24, hyper (which copyists easily changed by assimilation to Matthew and so the common Greek text of Mark has peri); and substitution is necessarily the meaning of anti, see on "Matthew 20:28". For, or unto, remission of sins, in order that sins may be remitted. (Hebrews 9:22) This is the natural and most probable meaning of the preposition and its case, and is here entirely appropriate. (Compare on Matthew 3:11) The bread and wine symbolize objectively the Saviour's body and blood; our eating and drinking these symbolizes our personal union with Christ, and feeding our spiritual nature upon him; and our doing this together with others will, from the nature of the case, like any other action in common, promote Christian fellowship and unity where these already exist. Yet this last is a subordinate and incidental effect of the ceremony, and the presence of some in whose piety we lack confidence should not prevent our eating the bread and drinking the wine in remembrance of Christ. The Lord's Supper is often called "the Communion," through a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:16, where the word communion really means 'participation,' as in Rev. Ver., margin. This wrong name for the ordinance has often proved very misleading. (See T. G. Jones, "The Great Misnomer," Nashville, Tenn.) Few have ever questioned that the apostles had all been baptized before this ordinance was established; some urge that being the baptism of John, this was not Christian baptism, and so they curiously infer that Christian baptism is not a prerequisite to the Lord's Supper. But if John's baptism was essentially distinct from Christian baptism, then how as to the baptism administered by Christ himself, (John 3:22, John 3:26) i. e., through his disciples, (John 4:1 f.) at the same time with John, and upon the same general teaching? (Mark 1:15) If the baptism performed by Christ was not Christian baptism, then what was it? (Compare on Matthew 11:11)

Matthew 26:29. I will not drink, should be, 'I shall not drink,' as preferred by Amer. Revisers. This fruit of the vine. One of the prayers used at the Passover was (Lightfoot): "Blessed art thou, Jehovah our God, who hast created the fruit of the vine." Drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. He has gradually succeeded in making it plain to them that he will not establish a temporal kingdom, such as the Jews expected the Messiah to found. He is going to die, will soon leave them. But there will be a future kingdom of God, not a temporal but a spiritual kingdom, in which all things will be new. (Revelation 21:5) In that new kingdom, founded on the New Covenant, he will meet them again, and drink with them a new kind of wine (Lutter.) This can hardly be understood otherwise than as a figure, even by those who expect a quasi-temporal reign of our Lord at Jerusalem after his second coming. (Compare Luke 22:16, Luke 22:30) In his present state of submission and suffering, our Lord does not speak of his own kingdom (as in Matthew 16:28, Matthew 25:31, Matthew 25:34), but of his Father's kingdom, in which he, as the Son, will rejoice with his friends. Yes, and all who shall have believed on him through the word of the apostles, will be with him there. (John 17:20, John 17:24) Matthew and Mark have not stated that the taking of the bread and wine was established by Jesus as a permanent institution. But Paul makes it clear by recording the words,"this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me," and adding, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye shew the Lord's death till he come." And we see the apostles practising it in Acts 2:42, Acts 20:7.

Matthew 26:30. When they had sung a hymn, literally, if our idiom would allow, after hymning. The Greek word was properly a song of praise; and with this agrees the Sept. and New Testament use of the word, Acts 16:25, Hebrews 2:12. We learn from the Talmud that the Jews were accustomed in connection with the paschal meal to sing Psalms 113-118, which Psalms they called "the great hallel" (praise); it was sung in two parts, Psalms 113, Psalms 114, and Psalms 115-118; the singing here was probably the second of these parts, or possibly Psalms 136, which the Jews now sing at the close of the passover meal. It is interesting to read these Psalms in this connection, remembering that Jesus himself took part in the singing. The psalms were written in the Hebrew form of poetry, viz., parallel clauses; to translate them into metre, which is the ordinary English form of poetry, is therefore appropriate. The term 'hymn' must not be here taken in our common sense as differing from a psalm, nor is there any radical distinction between the two in Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19. The music was a very simple chant; something probably quite similar may now be heard in an old fashioned (not "reformed") Jewish synagogue. They went out, viz., out of the house and the city. There was light in many dwellings, and movement in the streets, till long after midnight, at which hour the feast was required to end.—Before leaving the house, our Lord must be supposed to have given the great farewell discourse, and the prayer of John 14-17. It is not unlikely that John 14 was spoken before singing the latter part of the great hallel; then Jesus said, "Arise, let us go hence", (John 14:31) and after making arrangements for leaving the room, they sung the psalms, and he went on with John 15 and John 16, and the sweet and solemn prayer of John 17, after which we read, (John 18:1, Rev, Ver.) "When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Kidron, where was a garden," and hither Judas came, with the soldiers and officials. This answers to the present sentence of Matt., and the parallels in Mark and Luke. Into the mount of Olives, see on "Matthew 21:1". They would naturally go through the eastern gate north of the temple area, which is now called St. Stephen's Gate; then down the. steep declivity into the valley, presently crossing the bed of "the brook Kidron," probably on a low bridge as now, and in not many steps further would reach the foot of the mountain. It was late, perhaps midnight or later; but the City gates were open all night during the great feasts, The paschal full moon shone upon them from exactly overhead, lighting up the bottom of the deep ravine.

IV. Matthew 26:31-35. Our Lord Foretells The Dispersion Of The Twelve, And The Fall Of Peter

Mark 14:27-31, Luke 22:31-38, John 13:36-38. The passage occurs in Mark in the same order as here, but neither of them compels us to understand that the warning was given after leaving the room. That recorded by John is distinctly placed by him just after the commencement of the farewell address—for that address really begins with John 13:31. Luke seems also to put the warning before they left the house, (Luke 22:39) but his order in Luke 22:21-38 is, as we have seen, pretty clearly not chronological. It is more difficult to suppose the report in John to be out of its chronological position than those of Matt. and Mark. Clark's "Harm." supposes two distinct warnings, that given in Luke and John occurring before they left the house, and that of Matt. and Mark after they went out. This is an improbable supposition, though presented by Greswell and Oosterzee, and by Riddle in Robinson's "Harmony." Different as are the terms employed in Luke, we more naturally understand the warning as the same in all four Gospels, for its repetition during the same evening is highly improbable. It is therefore best to suppose, with most harmonists, that Matt. and Mark have here introduced the warning a little later than its chronological position, in order to avoid breaking the connection of Luke 22:20-29. It is likely that more was said than any of the Gospels give, or all of them together; as in the Sermon on the Mount, and often. All ye shall be offended because of (in) me, or shall find an occasion of stumbling, as in Matthew 11:6, and see on "Matthew 5:29". They will find in him some obstacle to continued devotion, and so will turn away and forsake him. This night He has during more than six months repeatedly foretold that he should be put to death in Jerusalem and rise again; see Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:22 f.; Matthew 20:18 f. At the close of his public teaching, he declared that he should at the passover be delivered up and crucified, Matthew 26:2. Now he is perfectly definite as to the time. For it is written, stands on record, a common formula of reference to the Old Testament Scriptures, as in Matthew 2:5, Matthew 4:4, etc. Neither our Lord nor the Evangelist says that this was fulfilled in the present occurrence, and it might be enough to understand that our Lord merely borrows the language to indicate that he will be killed, and the disciples will leave him and disperse. Still, his introducing the quotation by 'for' (so also Mark 14:27), indicates it as proving or as requiring that which he has just foretold; and it is entirely possible to understand Zechariah 13:7 as really pointing forward to this event. As to the form of the quotation Matthew and Mark follow the Hebrew, except in changing 'smite' (singular) into 'I will smite'; while the Sept. (B and) is quite different, 'smite (plural) the shepherds and draw forth the sheep.' This is a clear case of Matthew's following the Hebrew rather than the Sept. (Compare on Matthew 3:3) To take the passage as referring to the Messiah, corresponds to the idea of the Messiah as king, since kings were often described as shepherds. Then the flock will here be Israel, and the prediction is that Israel will be scattered, the first stage of which was the scattering of the Twelve when the Shepherd was smitten. It is, however, difficult to connect Zechariah 13:7, thus understood, with what there precedes. (Matthew 26:1-6.) There is of course no absolute necessity for supposing such a connection. But the idea may be that in the coming time (Matthew 26:2 ff.), idolatry and false prophets shall cease (which was true just before the coming of Christ), and yet there shall be great wickedness, and the Shepherd shall be smitten and Israel scattered, and only a third (Matthew 26:8-9) finally purified and saved. Many writers insist that the idea of a shepherd here must be essentially like that of Zechariah 11, so that this is a bad shepherd, i. e., a bad king of Israel, whom God will remove. That is a possible interpretation, if we leave the New Testament out of view, but not at all a necessary one.

Matthew 26:32. After I am risen again, or raised up. He has in every case, except Matthew 26:2, promised that after being killed he would rise again I will go before you into Galilee, literally, will lead you forward, see on "Matthew 21:31"; possibly with reference to the figure of a shepherd here just preceding. So Mark, and below, Matthew 28:7. His chief appearance to them was to be in Galilee, (Matthew 28:16) which had been the principal field of his ministry.

Matthew 26:33-35. Though all... I never. The peculiar Greek construction (two indicative futures) implies the assumption that all will. Here is the beginning of that self-confidence which led step by step to Peter's dreadful fall. And here is the distinct assumption that he loves the Master "more than these", (John 21:15) indeed more than any one whatsoever loved him. When bitter experience had chastened him, he made no more comparisons, but said only, "Thou knowest that I love thee." Verily I say unto thee, calling attention to something solemnly important (see on "Matthew 5:18"). This night, as in Matthew 26:31. Before the cock crow. Mark (Mark 14:30, Mark 14:72) has 'before the cock crow twice.' The cock was apt to crow about midnight, and again a few hours later. The second crowing was the one more apt to be observed as indicating the approach of morning; and so this alone is mentioned by Matt., Luke, and John. Alexander: "The difference is the same as that between saying 'before the bell rings' and 'before the second bell rings' (for church or dinner), the reference in both expressions being to the last and most important signal, to which the first is only a preliminary." The minute recollection of this reference to the first cock-crowing also would be natural in Peter, and there are many things in the second Gospel to support the very early tradition that Mark wrote down what he heard Peter say. (Compare 1 Peter 5:13) Some have made a difficulty of the fact that one passage of the Mishma forbids rearing fowls in Jerusalem, because the worms they scratch up would be Levitically defiling. But Wün. and Edersh. show that the cock-crow is repeatedly mentioned in the Talmud, and produce from it a story of a cock stoned to death in Jerusalem because it had killed a child. So the Rabbinical rule did not exist in the time of Christ, or else was not strictly observed. Palestine seems particularly well suited to fowls, and they are very numerous there now. Deny, see on "Matthew 16:24".(1) Even if I must die, is the exact translation; that of Com. Ver., Though I should die, is inadequate. Peter is so extremely self-confident through consciousness of real and honest attachment, that even the Master's own warning cannot make him think it possible that he would do such a thing. And encouraged by his ardor and positiveness the other disciples make similar assurances. Compare the proposal of Thomas some weeks before, (John 11:16) "Let us also go, that we may die with him." We have no reason to believe that any of the ten did formally deny their Lord, though they all left him and fled, Peter and John presently returning. (Matthew 26:56) All four of the accounts of the warning to Peter include the cock-crowing and 'deny me thrice.' But in Luke and John the confident expressions of Peter are called forth by sayings of our Lord quite different from each other, and from that recorded by Matthew and Mark. In John, Peter wishes to go with the Master now, and asserts that he has no fear of perils: "I will lay down my life for thy sake." In Luke, Jesus speaks of Satan's asking for the disciples that he might sift them; he says he has made special supplication for Peter, and adds an injunction that after turning again he must stablish his brethren. Peter repels the implication that he will go wrong and have to turn, saying, "Lord, with thee I am ready to go both to prison and to death," Rev. Ver. In each case, our Lord replies by substantially the same warning as in Matthew and Mark. It is not necessary for us to consolidate or concatenate all these distinct occasions for the warning. Probably the conversation was more extended than any of the narratives would indicate. And a few missing points of information might harmonize all the accounts.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 26:17-19. The externals of religious service. (1) They should be observed with forethought and propriety. (2) They are a proper subject of request for the Lord's guidance. (3) They offer many opportunities of honouring the Lord with our substance, Matthew 26:18. (4) Yet, alas! they are sometimes shared by one whose heart is set on worldliness and wickedness, Matthew 26:21; compare Philippians 3:18.—Matthew 26:21-25. The betrayal foretold. (1) Consciousness of good intentions cannot always save us from fear of committing great sin, Matthew 26:22; 1 Corinthians 10:12. (2) The most affecting associations and solemn warnings may not prevent desperate wickedness. (3) One whose heart is set on the darkest crime may sometimes talk calmly and with affected modesty, 1 Corinthians 10:25. (4) A bad man may be unintentionally accomplishing some exalted purpose of God, Matthew 26:24; . (compare Psalms 76:10) (5) The fact that an evil action is overruled for good does not lessen its guilt and penalty, Matthew 26:24. (6) It is possible for human wickedness to make human existence a curse, Matthew 26:24.—Matthew 26:26-28. The bread and wine. (1) Jesus has bidden us commemorate, not his birth, his miracles, his triumphal entry, but his death. (2) His death sealed a covenant of salvation, (compare Hebrews 9:19 f.) making atonement for sin, and purchasing forgiveness for sinners. (3) To eat and drink these simple emblems of his body and blood should awaken, grateful remembrance of him, (1 Corinthians 11:24 f.) and stir the strong desire to live for him who died for us.—Matthew 26:28. Henry: " (1) 'It is my blood of the covenant.' (2) It is shed for many. (3) Unto remission of sins."—Matthew 26:33. Henry: "Those are often least safe that are most secure."


Verses 36-56

Matthew 26:36-56.
The Agony In Gethsemane And The Arrest Of Jesus

Found also in Mark 14:32-52, Luke 22:39-53; John 18:1-12. The time of this section is between midnight and morning. Gethsemane is here called a place, Rev. Ver., margin, an enclosed piece of ground; compare the same word in John 9:5. The name Gethsemane means 'oil-press.' But the place was not simply an oil-press, for John calls it a garden or orchard, probably containing fruit trees and flowers, as well as vegetables. Gethsemane is now shown as a small enclosure lying just where the three roads across the Mount of Olives branch off at its base (see on "Matthew 21:1"), and between the central and southern roads, both of which lead to Bethany. This enclosure is of somewhat less than an acre, and contains several very old olive trees, looking at a distance like large old apple trees. These identical trees appear to be traced back for many centuries. But they cannot have existed in our Lord's time, for Josephus tells us ("War." 6, 1, 1), that the Romans, in order to build their mounds about the walls, cut down all the trees for ten or twelve miles around the city, so that the region that had been so beautiful with trees and gardens (paradises) was now desolate on every side, and a pitiable, mournful spectacle. And even before this ("War." 5, 12, 2), they had drawn around the city a wall which is described as passing south along the foot of the Mount of Olives to a point opposite Siloam, and must therefore have passed exactly where the present enclosure stands. The real Gethsemane was probably quite near this enclosed place. As "Jesus oft-times resorted thither with his disciples," so that Judas "knew the place", (John 18:2) we naturally think of it as near the way to and from Bethany. If not a small public garden or park, it was owned by a public-spirited man who allowed visitors to enter at will, particularly during the great festivals, or else by some friend of Jesus, like the owner of the house in which he had eaten the passover.—In 1871, a party of Americans went forth from Jerusalem one night at Easter to visit Gethsemane. Passing through what is traditionally called St. Stephen's Gate, we went along a winding path far down the steep descent into the narrow valley of the Kidron (which has there no water except in the rainy season), and crossing, were almost immediately at the modern stone wall which encloses the old olive trees. The paschal full moon for us too shone bright on the scene. It was late at night, and all was still; and at several different points we kneeled, a little company from a distant land, and one or another of us prayed with choked utterance, for we knew that we could not be far from the spot at which the Saviour kneeled down, and fell prostrate, and prayed in his agony.

This section divides itself into two parts, the Agony and the Arrest.

I. Matthew 26:36-46. The Agony In Gethsemane

Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:40-46. John does not record this, but he records (Alf.) a somewhat similar utterance on the previous day, John 12:28-33, and other passages which reveal mental suffering, John 13:21, John 16:32. Sit ye here, apparently outside of the enclosure. Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. These three belong to the first group of four among the Twelve (see on "Matthew 10:2"); they alone had accompanied Jesus when he raised Jairus' daughter to life, and up into the Mount of Transfiguration. Began, and continued for some time (see on "Matthew 11:20"). Very heavy; sore troubled is a better translation than 'very heavy.' Mark has the same peculiar Greek term. My soul is exceeding sorrowful. The phrase, which resembles Psalms 41:6 (42) in Sept., can only denote a real human mind; compare John 12:27. The ancient fancy which some are trying to revive, that in the Incarnation the divine nature took the place and fulfilled the functions of a human soul, is incompatible, not only with this scene and the temptation of John 4:1 ff., but with the whole history of Jesus. Whatever anthropomorphic expressions may be necessarily used in speaking of God, it is evident that the divine nature could not, in any proper sense of the term, suffer agony. How his human soul could suffer apart from his divine nature, is a part of the mystery of the Incarnation, like his temptation, his increasing in wisdom, (Luke 2:52) and his not knowing the day nor the hour. (Mark 13:32) Nor is it wise to make trichotomist distinctions between 'soul' here and 'spirit' in John 4:41; see on "Matthew 16:25". Even unto death. Compare Isaiah 38:1. The time is now nearer than on the occasion described in John 12:27, and his suffering is more intense. Alford: "Our Lord's whole inmost life must have been one of continued trouble of spirit—he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief—but there was an extremity of anguish now, reaching even to the utmost limit of endurance, so that it seemed that more would be death itself." Tarry ye here. He had brought the three to some point removed from the other eight. And watch with me. The idea seems to be that they were to guard his season of exceeding and deadly sorrow from intrusion, and also to give him the support of knowing that sympathetic friends were close by. In any season of extraordinary sorrow, one likes to be much alone, and yet to have some dear friends near, so that be may go to them when the craving for sympathy becomes uppermost. Alford: "He does not say pray with me, for in that work the Mediator must be alone."

Matthew 26:39-41. He withdraws the first time. He went a little further. Luke says 'about a stone's cast,' say fifty yards. This might be from the eight disciples, as Luke does not mention the special three; but from comparing his whole connection we see that it more likely means the three. Jesus doubtless sought the most secluded spot in the enclosure, and probably withdrew from the light of the full moon to the shade of trees. Fell on his face. Luke says 'kneeled,' which would naturally be followed, in an agony of distress, by complete prostration. And prayed, the tense (in Mark and Luke also) denoting continued action. The Saviour evidently spent much time in prayer, and particularly on any special occasion. At his baptism, (Luke 3:21) before choosing the twelve, (Luke 6:12) when the multitudes wanted to make him king, (Matthew 14:23, John 6:15) when the disciples were just becoming satisfied that he was the Messiah, (Luke 9:18) when on the Mount of Transfiguration, (Luke 9:28) and upon other occasions, there is special mention of his praying, sometimes for many hours, even a whole night. So his praying here, long and repeatedly, is no new thing in his experience. O, my father. Mark gives the Aramaic word Abba, which our Lord doubtless actually employed, and then adds the Greek word, making 'Abba, Father'; so Paul in Romans 8:15. If it he possible, i, e., morally possible, consistent with the Father's purpose of saving men. The God-man speaks according to his suffering human nature, referring all to the Father (compare Matthew 20:23; Mark 13:32). In Mark (Mark 14:36) the expression is stronger, 'All things are possible unto thee.... but what thou wilt'—he refers it to the Father's will. This cup, a common image for great suffering, like some allotted bitter draught. See on "Matthew 20:22". Let this cap pass from me. So Mark. But Luke, in the common and probably correct text, 'If thou art willing to let this cup pass away from me'—the sentence remaining unfinished, an aposiopesis, as in Luke 13:9, Luke 19:42, Acts 23:9 (Winer, 599 f. 750). We have seen that the words spoken from heaven at the baptism and the Transfiguration (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5) are not reported in precisely the same terms by the different Evangelists, which conclusively shows that they did not undertake to give in all cases the exact words spoken. But there is no substantial difference.(1) Not as I will, but as thou wilt. Compare John 5:30, John 6:38, Philippians 2:8. Many months earlier, when he first spoke to the disciples of his approaching death, he indicated that such was God's thought and purpose. (Matthew 16:23) He cometh unto the disciples, the three. And findeth them asleep. Luke adds 'for sorrow.' They felt a dull, depressing sorrow at the intimation that their Master was about to leave them, was about to be killed. They saw nothing to be done by themselves, and could not realize that the danger was so imminent and perilous as the result showed. Such a state of mind often superinduces heavy sleep; and it was now long past midnight. These same three disciples were "heavy with sleep" during the Transfiguration. (Luke 9:32) And saith unto Peter, who was the recognized leader, in some sense, of the Twelve, see on "Matthew 16:16". Notice that the following verbs are all plural; he addresses all three through Peter. What, could ye not, is a good English equivalent to the peculiar phrase of the original, 'were ye thus unable,' were ye as unable as this? Watch with me one hour. The expression is doubtless only general and not to be pressed, but it shows that he had been alone no little time. 'Watch' refers primarily to keeping awake, but also suggests mental alertness. It became a favourite term with the apostles; compare Matthew 24:42, Matthew 25:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 1 Corinthians 16:13, Romans 13:11, Colossians 4:2, 1 Peter 5:8. That ye enter not, may be connected with both 'watch and pray,' or with only 'pray,' as in Rev. Ver. margin, and so Origen ("On Prayer," page 557, Migne), Chrys., Theophyl., Euthym. In Luke 22:40 it is simply 'pray that ye enter not,' etc.; and in Luke 22:46 Rev. Ver., 'rise and pray lest ye enter into,' the latter connection is much the more natural of the two.(2) Temptation, compare on Matthew 4:1. Observe that it is not merely "that you may overcome temptation," or "that you may be supported under temptation," but "that you may not come into temptation," may avoid being tempted. Compare on Matthew 6:13, and see Luke 22:31. The Com. Ver., through oversight or in its passion for variety (see on "Matthew 25:46"), translates by 'lest ye enter' in Mark and Luke. In the following clause it gives in Mark, 'the spirit truly is ready,' but in Matt. where the Greek has exactly the same words, it translates, the spirit indeed is willing, the word 'indeed' being used to translate the Greek word men, a particle which merely indicates that to its clause something else will presently be brought in contrast; compare on Matthew 3:11 or Matthew 9:37. The emphasis is on 'spirit,' not at all on 'indeed.' This is given as a general proposition, suggested by their case. The flesh means not simply the body as opposed to the mind, but the body as representing our sinfulness, being so used because bodily sins are patent; while the spirit represents what is better in us, regarded as produced by divine influence. Compare a similar contrast between body and spirit, or flesh and spirit, frequently occurring in Paul's Epistles. This statement was not added by way of excuse, as some have imagined, but of warning and incentive. The fact that while the spirit is willing the flesh is weak forms a reason why we should watchfully and prayerfully strive to keep out of temptation, lest it take advantage of our weakness and overcome us. Euthym.: "Do not look to the soul's readiness and be bold, but look to the flesh's weakness and be humble."

Matthew 26:42-44. He withdraws the second and third times. He went away again the second time. When one is in very bitter grief, and, after being for some while alone, comes back to his friends, it is natural, especially if they do not seem very sympathetic, that presently a great wave of sorrow should come afresh over his soul, and he must again seek to bear it alone. If this cup may not pass away. Correct text omits 'cup.' The Rev. Ver. has more literally cannot. 'May not' is a quite different and feebler expression, the question being not merely as to the permissible but the possible, as in Matthew 26:39. Mark (Rev. Ver.) says, 'and prayed, saying the same words.' They are, as given by Matt., substanstantially the same as the first time, and yet we note a certain progress. He does not now begin by asking that the cup may pass away, and afterwards attain resignation; he begins with the assumption that it cannot be otherwise (which the Greek phrase implies), and at once expresses resignation. The third time, Matthew also has, 'saying the same words.' This was very different from the "vain repetitions " condemned in Matthew 6:7. Impassioned feeling sometimes makes repetition natural. Thy will be done, the same phrase as in the model prayer, Matthew 6:10. Asleep again. Alas! not even from ardent Peter, and the impassioned "disciple whom Jesus loved," could he find sympathy in this terrible time. Mark adds (Bib. Un. Ver.), 'and they knew not what to answer him.' Their minds were confused at the thought of the Messiah dying, of the miracle-worker slain, of the Master forsaking the disciples, and this increased their dull drowsiness. Luke does not mention his withdrawing three separate times, but makes one general statement, (Luke 22:40-46) substantially equivalent to the more detailed narrative of Matthew and Mark. Again. The Greek word for this (palin) occurs twice in Matthew 26:44, according to the best documents. The third time. Yet again the wave of sorrow came rolling over his soul. It must have been something awful and overwhelming, if Jesus found it so hard to hear. Was this dread cup merely the bodily pains and the shame of approaching crucifixion? Was it merely the interruption of a good man's course of self-denying and loving usefulness? Why, many of his followers have faced impending death, even at the stake, without once praying that they might, if possible, be spared the trial; have in the very midst of the torturing flames been found "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer "all this for him. Were they sustained by conscious innocence? He alone was perfectly innocent. Were they supported by the remembrance of good already done, by unselfish devotion to human welfare and to God's glory, by the indwelling Spirit? In all respects, he much more. The agony of Gethsemane, and the cry of the forsaken on Calvary, can be accounted for, in one of strong and sinless character, only when we remember how it is said, "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf." "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities "; "Who his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree." (2 Corinthians 5:21, Rev. Ver.; Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24, Rev, Ver,) The effect of these agonizing supplications is referred to in Hebrews 5:7-9, Rev. Ver. He was "heard for his godly fear," and while the cup did not pass away, he became through suffering completely fitted to sympathize and to save. (Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 5:7 ff.) We need not then be surprised that our prayers also are often answered by granting, not what we at first asked, but something better.

Matthew 26:45 f. His final return, Sleep on now, and take your rest. This is a "permissive imperative." (Winer, 311 391, Ellicott, "Hist. Lect."). He has no further need of their keeping awake; his struggles in the solitude close by are past. So far as concerns the object for which he desired them to watch (Matthew 26:38), they may now yield to sleep without any effort to resist. But the close of his season of struggle is promptly followed by the approach of a new experience for him and for them. It may be (Hackett) that just after saying 'sleep on now,' his eye caught the gleam of the torches descending the steep declivity beyond the ravine of Kidron and coming towards them. Behold, calling attention, as so often in Matthew The hour is at hand, has come near, the same expression as in Matthew 3:2; and so in Matthew 26:46. The Son of man, the Messiah, see on "Matthew 8:20". Is betrayed, present tense, because just on the point of occurring. The word really means 'is delivered,' compare on Matthew 26:23. Into the hands of sinners. The Greek has no article, but means, 'into sinners' hands,' indicating not the particular persons, but the kind of persons. The reference is not to the mere officials sent to lay hands on him, but to the wicked authorities, the Sanhedrin. Rise, let us be going, looks to what is just beginning, as 'sleep on now,' based itself on what had just ended. He does not propose to go away and avoid those who are approaching, but to go forth from the enclosure and meet them. (John 18:4 ff.) Other proposed explanations of the apparent conflict between Matthew 26:45 and Matthew 26:46 may be found copiously discussed in Morison.

II. Matthew 26:47-56. Jesus Delivered Up By Judas, And Seized By The Soldiers

(Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:2-12)

And while he yet spake. So Mark and Luke, and compare John 18:4. He foresaw not only 'the hour,' but the moment. Judas, see on "Matthew 10:4"; see on "Matthew 27:3". He had probably gone to the house where the supper was eaten, and not finding them there, had come on to the well-known garden. (John 18:1 f.) A great multitude, with swords and staves. So Mark. John (Rev. Ver. margin), says that Judas received 'the cohort' of soldiers, which, if full, would be several hundred men, and the extreme solicitude of the Jewish rulers lest the Galilean crowds attending the feast should rescue Jesus might well account for so large a force; but the word may be used generally for a 'band' of men. The article suggests the particular cohort or band then garrisoning the temple. It was commanded by a chiliarch, or military tribune, a rank higher than our colonel. (John 18:12 ; compare, Acts 21:31 ff.) Edersh. suggests that so large a force and so high an officer commanding would hardly have been furnished without the knowledge of Pilate, and this might account for the anxious dream of Pilate's wife. (Matthew 27:19) It was common to strengthen the garrison of the Castle of Antonia at the time of the great feasts, in order to restrain the throngs in the city and in the temple courts, (Acts 21:31 ff.) just as the Turks do now at Easter. This 'band' cannot have been Jewish soldiers, for the Romans would not have allowed bodies of armed natives in what was now a regular Roman province. The 'great multitude' may have included many followers through curiosity, as people were moving about through the whole of the passover night. Whatever was the number of soldiers, there was at any rate a military force to support the officials sent to make the arrest, which was not the case at the attempt of six months earlier. (John 7:32) Besides the weapons, John says the party had 'lanterns and torches.' The moon was full, for the passover came at the middle of the month, and the month began with the new moon, but the officials might expect to have occasion for search in dark places, and for assured identification. From the chief priests and elders. Mark adds, 'the Scribes,' thus showing more plainly that the Sanhedrin is meant, see on "Matthew 26:59". We learn presently from Luke 22:52 that some of these dignitaries were themselves among the multitude. So there were soldiers (John), temple officials (Luke, John), at least one servant of the high-priest (Matthew, Mark, Luke), and some of the chief-priests and elders (Luke); altogether 'a great multitude' (Matthew, Mark, Luke).

Matthew 26:48-50. Jesus is pointed out and seized. Gave them a sign, gave it when they set out together. All the better instincts of human nature revolt at the treacherous disciple's kiss. The kiss was a common form of salutation, but only between friends. And Judas seems to have pretended a very marked friendliness; for both Matt. and Mark, in saying 'and kissed him' (Matthew 26:49), do not use the simple verb as before, but compound it with a preposition, so as to mean kissed frequently, eagerly, warmly. (Rev. Ver., margin.) There is the same change from the simple to the compound verb in Luke 7:45 f., where the latter denotes warm affection; compare also the prodigal's father, (Luke 15:20) and Paul's friends. (Acts 20:37) The distinction is recognized by Meyer, Ellicott, Grimm, Alford, Morison, Edersh. Compare Proverbs 27:6, Rev. Ver. "The kisses of an enemy are profuse." Hold him fast, take him, the same word as in Matthew 26:4, Matthew 26:50, and Matthew 26:55, and the translation ought not to be varied. Our Lord is described by John as coming voluntarily forward to the multitude and avowing himself to be the person they were seeking; and this while Judas was standing with them. We may perhaps suppose that Judas, to fulfil his contract and earn his reward, stepped forward notwithstanding and gave the appointed sign. And the occasion for this may have been afforded by the fact that the multitude, overawed by the calm majesty of the Saviour as he avowed himself, "went backward and fell to the ground." (John 18:6) Moreover, the Roman officer might not know but that some other person was pretending to be the one whom he sought, and would naturally wait for the sign agreed upon. Master, or Rabbi. This term was often used by the disciples in addressing Jesus, compare on Matthew 8:19. Friend is not the common Greek term, but signifies companion, 'comrade,' as in Matthew 20:18. He had long been an every-day associate, and Jesus reminds him of this fact. (Do that) for which thou art come. This is the natural meaning of the Greek, and not, Wherefore art thou come? The Greek pronoun used is not an interrogative, but a relative, which as very often in Greek and Latin suggests its antecedent, '(that) for which thou art come.' We then have to supply a verb, which might be 'tell' (Morison, 'say'), 'mind' (Meyer), or better 'do.' (Euthym.) This accords with the saying given by Luke, 'Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?' and with John 13:27, Bib. Un. Ver., 'What thou doest, do quickly.' 'Wherefore,' in Com. Ver., would imply that Jesus did not know, and would seem to conflict with Luke. '(What is that) for which thou art come,' is also a possible way of supplying the gap.(1) Laid hands on Jesus and took him. The binding (John 18:12) seems to have occurred a little later, when they were about to lead him away.

Matthew 26:51-54. The disciple's rash attempt at defence. One is the numeral, not simply 'some one.' John tells (John 18:10) that it was Simon Peter, and gives also the name of the man smitten, Malchus. The names were perhaps omitted by Matt., Mark, and Luke because Peter was still living when they wrote, and might have been seized on this pretext in any season of special persecution by the Jews; (compare Acts 21:27) while when John wrote, Peter was dead. Compare on Matthew 26:7. Stretched out his hand and drew his sword, details all the circumstances, as in Matthew 5:1. and often. Luke says (Luke 22:49) that others of the Twelve in sympathy with Peter united with him in asking, 'Lord, shall we smite with the sword?' And one of them (rash Peter) did not wait for the answer, but smote. A (the) servant of the high priest. The word is, doulon 'slave,' see on "Matthew 8:6". But a slave of the high priest would have, under the circumstances, a sort of official character. All four Evangelists mention this, for it was an important circumstance, greatly increasing the peril of Peter's position. His invincible self-confidence had made him fall asleep notwithstanding the Master's warnings. Now, suddenly awakening, he saw the new comers laying hands on the Master, and with a sudden impulse he attacked and wounded a person having official importance. Smote off his ear, having evidently intended to smite his head a deadly blow. Peter came very near (Alf.) being like Barabbas and his followers, "who in the insurrection had committed murder." (Mark 15:7) Luke and John mention that it was the right ear, and we can see exactly how the blow missed. Return thy sword into his place. 'His' is the original possessive of it (hyt), see on "Matthew 24:32". Notice that Jesus does not bid him throw away the sword. All they that take the sword , etc. Compare, Revelation 13:10. Christ's followers are not to carry on his work with carnal weapons. Luther.: "Christ has no other sword than the sword of his mouth. (Revelation 2:16) Those who wish to fight for him must in like manner have no other." Even as a matter of general human prudence, men who carry weapons in a civilized country are on the whole in much greater danger than men who do not. Thinkest thou, etc., lit., or if this consideration does not restrain you, take another view of the matter (compare or, Matthew 7:9), thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, is the exact translation, not simply 'pray.' Now (rather even now), in the common Greek text is connected with 'beseech,' but in—B L, and most of the early versions it is connected with 'shall send' as in Rev. Ver. Give, or supply, furnish. More than twelve legions of angels. To protect twelve men (himself and the eleven), he might have twelve legions and more of defenders. If a cohort seemed formidable, he might have legions. A full Roman legion at that day contained some six thousand men. Of course the expression is general, a round number, and stated strongly. He is not helplessly submitting through lack of strength and of protection, (compare 2 Kings 6:17) but is voluntarily yielding himself to those who design putting him to death. He could easily avoid all that is coming, but how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? viz., that the Messiah must be despised and rejected, must suffer and die. (compare Luke 24:25 f.) 'The Scriptures,' a technical term among the Jews, denoting the collection of books which we call the Old Testament, see on "Matthew 21:42". Only Matthew gives here the reference to prophecy, a matter in which he took peculiar interest, as writing especially for Jewish readers; but Mark also gives the parallel to Matthew 26:56. John (John 18:11) records another expression in harmony with Matthew 26:52-54, "The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it "? Just after, or just before, thus speaking to Peter, he spoke also (Luke 22:51) to the persons who were arresting him, "Suffer ye thus far"; suffer the resistance of the mistaken but well-meaning follower to go thus far without punishing him. Then immediately healing the ear by a miraculous touch, he induced them to let the rash disciple alone.

Matthew 26:55 f. Having rebuked the disciple, and conciliated the persons immediately engaged in arresting him, Jesus now turns to the multitudes that thronged around. Luke shows (Luke 22:52) that among them were chief priests and captains of the temple and elders, who might naturally enough, in their extreme solicitude, come along to see that the perilous arrest was surely and safely made. In that same hour, (compare Matthew 18:1) viz., at the time when they were engaged in arresting him; but it is not easy to see why this more emphatic expression is used instead of the simple 'then.' Perhaps the following words were well known among the Christians to have been spoken by Jesus, and Matt. means to say that this was the time of their utterance. Mark and Luke have a simple 'and.' Are ye come out as against a thief, etc. Better as in Rev. Ver., as if against a robber are ye come out with swords and staves to seize me? Not a 'thief,' but the quite different Greek word meaning 'robber,' see on "Matthew 27:38". A thief would try to escape by flight, a robber was likely to resist, and they must bring weapons to apprehend him. 'Seize' is in the Greek a stronger term than that of Matthew 27:48, Matthew 27:50, and end of 55; Mark makes exactly the same distinction. Jesus reproaches the multitudes with coming against him as if a man of violence. There had been abundant opportunity of arresting him without difficulty. I sat, imperfect tense, continued or habitual action. This posture, which was common for a teacher, (Matthew 5:1) would have made it easy to seize him, and also indicated quiet innocence. Daily, for several days of the preceding week; possibly it points back also to earlier periods of teaching at Jerusalem, recorded only in the Fourth Gospel. With you, is wanting in some of the best documents. In the temple, hieron, the general sacred enclosure and edifices (see on "Matthew 4:5"); he taught in the Court of the Gentiles and the Court of Israel; not being of the tribe of Levi, we may be sure he never entered the , nor the Court of the Priests. And ye laid no hold on me. He thus reminds them that he had given no occasion for their treating him as violent and dangerous, nor for their arresting him at all. But all this was done, is come to pass (compare on Matthew 1:22), still the Saviour's words, as clearly shown by Mark 14:49. In the course of Providence this plotting and arresting had all taken place, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled; though the human actors had no such design. The Scriptures of the prophets, because the reference is especially to the predictive portions of Scripture, the Messianic prophecies; compare at the crucifixion, John 19:28. Luke records the additional saying, in harmony with that given here, "But this is your hour, and the power of darkness." The purpose of redemption now permitted that great wrong, which was to he wonderfully overruled for good. Then all the disciples forsook him and fled. In judging them, we must remember that the Master had forbidden all resistance, and had distinctly said he was about to leave them. Mark adds (Mark 14:51 f.) an account of a certain young man who left his solitary garment when he was seized by the captors, and fled. The mention of this slight incident may be sufficiently accounted for by the fact that it shows how great was the terror felt by the followers of Jesus. Some think, however, that it is to be regarded as a personal reminiscence, the youth being Mark himself, whose mother is found living at Jerusalem a dozen years later; (Acts 12:12) and it is suggested (Weiss, Edersh.) that the youth had followed Jesus and the disciples from the house in which they had eaten the passover, and so that the hospitable householder was Mark's father. There is very slight ground for this conjecture, or for the notion that it was Lazarus of Bethany. We find afterwards that Peter and John must have speedily returned. (Matthew 26:58, John 18:15) They might be regarded as exceptions to the general statement that all fled; but the Saviour had also made a general prediction, (Matthew 26:31, R.V.) 'All ye shall be offended because of me this night.'—So the officials and the soldiers led Jesus away; (John 18:13) and mean time (Weiss,"Life"), "Jerusalem slept in peace, and did not know what had happened."

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 26:37. The three disciples in Gethsemane. (1) How hard to realize the significance of great crises in life. (2) How imperfect is all human sympathy with the Divine Redeemer. (3) How readily does human infirmity weigh down the willing spirit. (4) How watchful we should be in all times of special trial. (5) How great the privilege of praying that we may not come into temptation.—Three witnesses of three scenes. (1) Their Master's power, Mark 5:37. (2) Their Master's glory, Matthew 17:1. (3) Their Master's agony.

Matthew 26:39, Three prayers of Jesus. (1) The prayer he taught his disciples to pray. (2) The prayer he offered in behalf of his disciples, John 17. (3) The prayer he made in 'his own behalf. alford: "All conflict of the holy soul is prayer; all its struggles are continued communion with God. When Abraham's faith was to be put to so sore a trial, he says, 'I and the lad will go yonder and worship.' Our Lord (almost on the same spot) unites in himself (Stier) as the priest and victim, Abraham's faith and Isaac's patience." —The three gardens, Eden, Gethsemane, Paradise. The fall of man in Eden made necessary the agony of man's Saviour in Gethsemane, and this made possible the admission of man into the Paradise on high.

Matthew 26:40 f. Even in this season of special suffering he has time to counsel his disciples; so on the cross he prays for his murderers, provides for his mother, and answers the request of his companion in suffering.

Matthew 26:41. Safety as regards temptation. (1) Temptation is dangerous because the flesh is weak. (2) Our only real safety is in avoiding temptation. (3) In order to this, let us be watchful and prayerful.

Matthew 26:42. pressense: "Not thy will but mine be done, changed Paradise into a desert; not my will but thine be done, changed the desert into Paradise, and made Gethsemane the gate of glory."

Matthew 26:43. Their eyes were heavy. Bengel: "Such slothfulness often holds the pious when it is least becoming."

Matthew 26:45. Rest and arise. It is often the case that when one cause of anxiety has ceased and left us a moment's rest, in the next moment some new trouble comes, and we must arise to face it.

Matthew 26:47-54. The betrayal of Jesus. (1) The traitor's kiss, and the Saviour's calm response. (2) The rash disciple's blow, and the Saviour's mild rebuke. (3) The Saviour's determination, though he could escape in a moment, to fulfil the Scriptures and work out the world's salvation.


Verses 57-68

Matthew 26:57-68.
Jesus Sentenced By The Sanhedrin

This is found also in Mark 14:53-66, Luke 22:54, Luke 22:63-65, John 18:12-14, John 18:19-24.

The trial of our Lord may be divided into two main parts, the Jewish and the Roman trial. Each of these must be subdivided. (1) The Jewish trial comprises (a) The examination before Annas, John 18:12-14, John 18:19-23; (b) The sentence by an informal session of the Sanhedrin, Matthew 26:57-68, Mark 14:53-65; (c) The formal trial before the Sanhedrin, which sends him to Pilate for sentence, Matthew 27:1 f.; Luke 22:66-71. (2) The Roman trial includes (a) The first examination before Pilate, Matthew 27:11-14, John 18:28-38; (b) The reference to Herod, Luke 23:6-12; (c) The, final appearance before Pilate, Matthew 27:15-31, John 18:39 to John 19:16. It is noticeable that John gives a good deal as to the Roman trial that is not found in the other Gospels, particularly as to Pilate's private inquiries. Mark continues to resemble Matt. Luke has some matter not found in the others.

Our present section contains the trial before an informal session of the Sanhedrim It may be divided into Matthew 26:57 f., 59-63a; 63b-66; 67 f.

I. Matthew 26:57 f. Jesus Is Brought Before Caiaphas And The Scribes And Elders. Peter Follows And Looks On

(Mark 14:53 f.; Luke 22:54, John 18:15, John 18:24)

They that had laid hold on Jesus, at Gethsemane. Led him away to Caiaphas, the high priest. The appended 'where' implies that this means to the house of Caiaphas, and that is distinctly stated in Luke. Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas, Ananus, or Hanan, who had long before been high priest himself, and among the numerous changes of the time, was succeeded by five sons and this son-in-law (Josephus, "Ant.," 18, 2, l f.; 20, 9, 1.) The family were all Sadducees (Josephus, Talmud), and were specially odious to the Pharisees, the "house of Annas" becoming a by-word (Talmud). Joseph Caiaphas was deposed shortly after Pilate lost the procuratorship, A. D. 36 ("Ant.," 18, 4, 2 f.) The time when he was made high priest depends on an obscure statement of Josephus. ("Ant.," 18, 2, 2.) His expressions leave hardly more than four years between Annas and Caiaphas. Either Annas officiated about A. D. 7-21, and then Caiaphas A. D. 25-36, or Annas A. D. 7-14, and then Caiaphas A. D. 18-36. The son Eleazar came between Annas and Caiaphas; Jonathan and Theophilus (Keim) A. D. 36 f.; Matthias. A. D. 42 f.; Annas, junior ("Ant.," 20, 9, 1) A. D. 63. This makes the last a different person from the high priest Ananias of Acts 23:2, Acts 24:1, A. D. 58. The character of Caiaphas appears from John 11:49-52, and from the trial of Jesus, to have been shrewd, self-seeking, and unscrupulous. Where the scribes and the elders were assembled. Mark mentions also (Mark 14:53) 'all the chief priests,' and these are expressly mentioned just after by Matthew, Matthew 26:59. These were the three classes composing the Sanhedrin (see on "Matthew 26:59".) Instead of 'were assembled' (Com. Ver.), it is better to translate were gathered together, for the former would indicate a formal session of the Sanhedrin, while the Greek term is neutral on that point. Mark's phrase is simply 'there come together with him,' and the fact seems to be that this was an informal gathering before dawn, whereas, a formal session could not be held till 'morning was come.' (Matthew 27:1)

It was apparently while the dignitaries were gathering at that unseasonable hour, that Jesus was first questioned by Annas. (John 18:12-14) Annas and Caiaphas were both regarded as high priests, (Luke 3:2) the former still in popular estimation holding the office as long as he lived, while the latter only was recognized by the Romans. So in 1 Kings 4:4, Zadok and Abiathar are mentioned as priests, it having been stated in 1 Kings 2:35 that the king put Zadok in the room of Abiathar. An action would be valid in the eyes of both the people and the Romans if known to have the approval of both Caiaphas and Annas. This was easier from the fact that Caiaphas was son-in-law to Annas; and the supposition (Euthym. and various recent writers) that Annas at this time lived with Caiaphas in the high priest's official residence, each having his own reception room, will account for all the statements in the several Gospels. It is also a plausible conjecture (Wieseler, Ewald), that Annas may have been at this period president (Nasi) of the Sanhedrim John distinctly states that they "led him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was high priest that year." (Rev. Ver.) Then after mentioning some things about Caiaphas and about Peter, John states that the "high priest" questioned Jesus "of his disciples, and of his teachings" (Rev. Ver.); but the Saviour declined a response, saying that he had taught publicly, and those who had heard him could be asked. Then John adds (correct text, Rev. Ver.), "Annas therefore sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest." This seems to leave no doubt that the high priest who first vainly interrogated Jesus was Annas. Many of the ablest recent writers have taken this view, while not a few still think otherwise.(1) Thus understood, this was not a trial, but a mere personal interrogation by an aged ex-high priest. John gives no account of the trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, that having been fully described by the earlier Gospels. Indeed, it may be (Weiss, "Life") that John mentions this preliminary examination only because of its connection with the first of Peter's denials.

But Peter followed him afar off, viz., followed him from Gethsemane (compare on Matthew 26:56). Really attached to the Master, and still self-confident, he was yet alarmed by the probable consequences of his smiting the high priest's servant, and so he took a middle course; John went along with the party who conducted Jesus; the other disciples fled; Peter followed at a distance. Alexander: "However unexpected the fact here recorded, there is probably no reader who, as soon as it is stated, does not feel it to be perfectly in keeping with what he knows already of the character of Peter, who would scarcely seem to be himself if he continued in concealment, and whose re-appearance on the scene, and subsequent performance there, exhibit just the strength and weakness which together constitute the native temper of this great apostle. "Unto the high priest's palace, see on "Matthew 26:3". The building was doubtless four-square, surrounding an open court. Upon this court opened the rooms, one of which formed the audience room of the high priest, and probably another that of Annas. John gives the further details that Peter reached the house only after the procession had all entered and the gate was closed; and that he (John), being "known unto the high priest,"... went out "and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter." And sat with the servants, or officers. Tyndale, etc., 'servants,' Greek huperetes, see on "Matthew 8:6". John adds (John 18:8) that "the servants (douloi) and the officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold." At the time of the passover it is quite hot in Jerusalem at mid-day, but frequently grows cold towards morning. As to the fact that Matt. says 'sat,' and John 'standing,' it is easy to meet so trifling a difficulty by remembering that they would be likely to change posture. To see the end, He was anxious as to the matter, and determined to see it through, but not humble, watchful, and prayerful, (Matthew 26:40 f.) or he would not have become involved in such difficulty. The further account of Peter see below in Matthew 26:69-75. Bengel: "Here mid-way between courage (Matthew 26:51) and cowardice. (Matthew 26:70.)"

II. Matthew 26:59-63 a. Vain Attempts To Convict Jesus By False Witness

Mark 14:55-59.

Luke does not mention this informal gathering of the Sanhedrin, but only the formal session "as soon as it was day." (Luke 22:66; compare Matthew 27:1) Many expositors identify the two meetings; but the supposition of a previous informal meeting is natural in itself, as many of the rulers would be anxiously awaiting the result of Judas' expedition, and this supposition accounts for all the phenomena of the narrative; accordingly it is adopted by Wieseler, Alford, Godet, Keim, and various other recent writers. Edersh. insists that neither of these was a regular session of the Sanhedrin, and there was no formal condemnation of Jesus by that body; but his line of argument is far from convincing. Geikie adopts the same view from the Jewish writer Jost. Chief priests, and elders, and all the council or Sanhedrin. The phrase suggests that the chief priests formed a part of the Sanhedrin, and that this was a full meeting. While no exception is here mentioned, we know from Luke (Luke 23:50 f., R.V.) that Joseph of Arimathea "had not consented to their counsel and deed," and we infer the same as to Nicodemus from the accounts in John. It would not be an improbable supposition that the rulers had avoided informing Nicodemus of this meeting. (compare John 7:50-52) A quorum of the Sanhedrin was twenty three (Lf.), but this was "all the Sanhedrin," a very full meeting.

The Sanhedrin was in the time of our Lord the highest court of the Jews. Our knowledge of its constitution and functions is but fragmentary. It arose during the Greek or the Maceabaean period. The very name is a mere Hebrew spelling of the Greek sunedrion ('sitting together'), the h of hedra, lost in the Greek compound, being restored in the transliteration, as has frequently happened. The Mishna supposes that the Sanhedrin was a survival of the council of seventy formed by Moses, (Numbers 11:16) and infers that it also must have contained seventy members, or adding one for Moses, then seventy-one. It is probable that this was the number, but we cannot certainly determine. The constitution of the body is not described by the Talmud, but the New Testament shows (Matthew 27:1, Mark 15:1, Luke 22:66) that it consisted of chief priests, elders, and scribes, though we know not in what proportions, nor what sort of elders were included. As to the chief priests and the scribes, see on "Matthew 2:4". The chief priests are usually mentioned first, and would naturally be the ruling section of the body. They were for the most part Sadducees, while the scribes were probably all Pharisees. The presidency of the body seems to have been elective, but the high priest was commonly the person elected. The Sanhedrin tried (Schürer) all the more important secular and religious, civil and criminal causes, the less important being tried by inferior local tribunals. It seems highly probable, though not certain (see the difficulties well stated by Vedder, p. 666 ff.), that the Sanhedrin's death-sentence could at this period be executed only by the procurator's permission. In John 13:31, the Jews say to Pilate, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death." Some argue that the Romans had taken away this power when Judea first became a province, as they are known to have done in some other provinces. The Jerus. Talmud says (Sanh. i, 1; vii, 2), "Forty years before the destruction of the temple, judgments upon life and death were taken away from Israel." This date is probably given (Schürer) in a round number, as was natural three hundred years later. The crucifixion was probably in the forty-first year before the destruction of the temple. The stoning of Stephen was a tumultuary proceeding, and probably occurred at a time when there was no procurator. The regular place of meeting of the Sanhedrin was at a hall either in or near the temple area (Josephus and the Mishna differ). It is stated in the Talmud that forty years before the destruction of the temple the Sanhedrin ceased to meet in its hall, and met in shops; these may have been in the outer court of the temple, which the Saviour more than once cleansed. At any rate, a special meeting at the high priest's residence would not be surprising in such an emergency as the trial of Jesus, when in various ways they were departing from custom. Moreover, it may have been only the informal meeting that was held at the high priest's house; the formal session of Matthew 27:1, may have been at their hall—notice especially 'led him away' in Luke 22:66 (Rev. Ver., correct text).

Sought false witness, imperfect tense, describing them as engaged in seeking. To, or, that they might, put him to death. They must have sufficient evidence for sentencing him to death, in order that they might gain the Roman governor's authority to execute the sentence. Though many false witnesses came.(1) This was easy to bring about through the continued exertions of influential men, compare Acts 6:11; in fact, they had no doubt been for some time hunting up witnesses. (Matthew 26:4 f.) Anywhere in Asia, not to speak of other countries, there are hangers on about the courts ready to sell testimony. Mark explains (Mark 14:56) that 'their witness agreed not together.' The Sanhedrin could not afford to disregard the ordinary forms of judicial procedure. Their proceedings could not be permanently kept secret. The law expressly forbade the death penalty upon the testimony of a single witness. (Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:6) Here there were many witnesses, each making a separate accusation, but not two to the same count. It is vain to conjecture what were the various and conflicting false testimonies. At the last (afterward) came two. The Com. text adds 'false witnesses,' from the preceding verse. We might suppose that these two agreed in their testimony; but Mark (Mark 14:59, Rev. Ver.) says, "and not even so did their witness agree together," probably meaning that it did not so agree concerning the circumstances and terms of the alleged statement as to be credible. The Mishna, treatise 'Sanhedrin,' gives detailed directions concerning witnesses, one of which is ("Sanh.," V., 1) that each witness must be asked seven questions as to the alleged offence, viz:, in what period of seven years (counting from the Sabbatical year) it occurred, in what year of the period, in what month, day of the month, day of the week, hour of the day, and at what place; and the limits are indicated within which two witnesses may differ upon one or another question, without invalidating their testimony. (Compare Wünsche, or "The Criminal Code of the Jews," London, 1880.) Observe that in Mark (Mark 14:58) the witnesses declare, "We heard him say," etc., with emphasis on "we"; and so they could be required to give time and place. We of course do not know how far these strict rules were actually observed two centuries before the Mishna was written down. But while the Sanhedrin was bent on conviction, it would for that reason be all the more careful to observe customary forms. Notice that there seems to have been no call for evidence in Jesus' defence, though he had intimated to Annas (John 18:20 f.) that such evidence might he easily found. The medieval Jewish fables tried to remove this obvious injustice by declaring that heralds made proclamation for forty days, and no witness appeared in Jesus' behalf. It is hardly necessary to say that Jewish writers do not now claim any respect for these fables, though some of them try to soften the guilt of the Sanhedrin. This fellow (rather, man) said. The Greek for 'this' does not in itself carry such contempt as Tyndale, etc., expressed by 'fellow.' I am able to destroy. Mark has 'I will destroy,' substantially equivalent; and so as to the other slight differences between Matt. and Mark. 'Destroy' is literally, 'pull down,' same word as in Matthew 5:17. The temple, is here naon, the central house, see on "Matthew 4:5". In three days, or, more correctly, after three days, literally, 'with an interval of three days,'(2) as in Acts 24:17, Galatians 2:1. This alleged statement was evidently a perversion of what Jesus had said at the first passover of his ministry, (John 2:19) "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." He did not even suggest the idea of himself destroying the temple, which the Jews would naturally call impious; and we know, as the Sanhedrin might have learned from him if they had desired, that he meant the expression in a merely figurative sense. But we find the same conception still cherished among the Jews in Acts 6:14. It might be (Edersheim) a good pretext to use with Pilate, that Jesus would encourage popular violence against public and sacred buildings. The Egyptian of Acts 21:38 promised his followers that from the Mount of Olives they would see the walls of Jerusalem fall at his command, and could march in. But this could hardly be seriously treated as a ground for sentence of death; so the high priest eagerly urges Jesus to answer the accusation, hoping that thus he will somehow criminate himself. This eagerness is indicated by the fact that he arose, or stood up, Mark likewise, and also by the second question, what is it, etc., by which he seeks to arouse the accused into attention and response. It is much more natural to understand the Greek as two questions than as one. But Jesus held his peace, literally, was silent, compare Isaiah 53:7. He knew that no explanation or self-defence would be heeded, that his condemnation and sentence was a foregone conclusion; compare on Matthew 27:14. He was fully prepared for the foreseen result, (Matthew 26:42) and now awaited it in calm silence. Origen remarks that the utter failure, notwithstanding diligent effort, to find anything against Jesus, shows that his life was most pure and wholly irreprehensible.

III. Matthew 26:63-66. Jesus Is Condemned Upon His Own Testimony

Mark 14:60-64. Luke, who gives no account of the informal meeting, presently introduces much the same matter into his account of the formal session held "as soon as it was day." (Luke 22:66-71) It is very improbable that this was all repeated in the formal session (Clark's "Harmony"), and very easy to understand that Luke has thrown all the examination together, while some portions of it would very likely be repeated. The only matter of great practical importance was that Jesus was condemned by the Sanhedrin, and upon his own confession.—Finding that the false testimony does not suffice for a conviction, and that the accused will not discuss it, the high priest essays a bold stroke. He demands a categorical answer, upon oath, to the question whether Jesus is the Messiah. And the high priest answered and said unto him. The Com. text seems to be here right in its reading.(1) The 'answered' means responded to the situation presented by the persistent silence of Jesus (compare on Matthew 11:25). I adjure thee, means exactly 'I put thee on oath.' See the same Greek term in Genesis 24:3, 'I will make thee swear by the Lord,' and compare Leviticus 5:1 (Rev. Ver.), where it is declared to he a sin if one who has witnessed a matter "heareth the voice of adjuration" and does not tell what he knows. Compare also 1 Kings 22:16. The high priest used the most solemn form of oath, by the living God. If one answered after such an adjuration, he answered on oath; the mere ceremony of putting on oath is conventional, as in some parts of our country men take an oath by pointing to heaven, in other parts by kissing the Bible. So then Jesus spoke on oath before a court of justice, which shows conclusively that he did not mean to condemn all such oaths when he said, "Swear not at all" (see on "Matthew 5:34"); that he spoke of oaths familiarly used in conversation. That thou tell us, The peculiar Greek construction is explained on Matthew 5:29. Whether thou be the Christ, the Messiah, see on "Matthew 2:4". Here (Mark and Luke also) K. James rightly inserted the article, though Tyn., Cram, Gem, had simply 'Christ,' as K.J. has in many other places. Luke here gives only 'the Christ'; Mark adds 'the Son of the Blessed'; Matt., the Son of God. It is evident from John 19:7 that 'the Son of God' was understood to mean the Messiah, and that claiming to be the Son of God was considered blasphemy. But it does not follow that the Jews used or understood the phrase as denoting divinity, since they spoke of blasphemy quite loosely (see on "Matthew 26:65"), and there is no indication in the Jewish books that the Messiah was expected to be divine.—According to our ideas and legal usages, very different from those prevailing in many other countries, it is unjust to cap on an accused person to give testimony against himself; and so it is often said that the high priest dealt unjustly in calling on Jesus to testify. The law of Moses provided that in some cases of uncertainty the accused should take an oath upon the matter; see Exodus 22:10 f.; Numbers 5:19 ff.; 1 Kings 8:31 f. Thus the high priest's course was not formally illegal, though in spirit and intent it was unjust. It is of late coming to be provided in our laws that an accused person may testify in his own behalf, but cannot be required to criminate himself.

64. Jesus knew that the question was designed to secure a ground of conviction. But he was no longer silent. Now that the crisis had arrived, that his 'hour' was come, he would not decline to say distinctly, before the highest Jewish tribunal, that he was the Messiah. He had long urged the disciples to "tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ," or the Messiah (see on "Matthew 16:20"), because the crisis must not be precipitated before his work of teaching and healing in every district of the Holy Land was completed. Only a few days before the end he had quietly avoided saying to the rulers that he was the Messiah, while allowing the people to think so (see on "Matthew 21:15 f."). But he will not pass to his death as "despised and rejected" without having borne distinct public testimony that he is the Messiah. Thou hast said, viz., hast said what is true, a formula of affirmative answer found also in the Talmud (compare above on Matthew 21:4 f.). In Mark it is directly 'I am.' In Luke (Luke 22:67 f.) the answer is preceded by a censure of their unbelief and unfairness. Nevertheless, Although they now scorn his claim to be the Messiah, and reject all the evidence in his teachings and his works, yet they will henceforth see his Messiahship indubitably manifested. Hereafter, henceforth is the real meaning. So Luke 22:69, the Greek in both cases being literally 'from now.' The word refers to something that would be true onward from the time of speaking. The Saviour's death, resurrection, and ascension, the miracles wrought by his apostles and other gifts of the Spirit, the spread of the gospel and its beneficial effects, would go on manifesting him to be the Messiah, sitting on the right hand of power; and finally they would behold his second coming in, on, the clouds of heaven. For the phrase, 'the Son of man,' see on "Matthew 8:20". This expression would remind the rulers of Daniel 7:13. By this title Jesus had long virtually claimed to be the Messiah, though not distinctly asserting it in public. 'Power' (so Mark and Luke) is the abstract for the concrete (Meyer); Talmud and Midrash (Gill, Wün.) sometimes use the term 'power' to denote God, as "The Ten Commandments came from the mouth of power." In Matthew 22:42-45 Jesus had spoken of sitting on the right hand of God as a definitely Messianic phrase, and derived from Psalms 110. As to 'coming on the clouds of heaven,' compare on Matthew 24:30; that was said to the disciples in private; this to the Sanhedrin.

Matthew 26:65 f. The high priest has accomplished his object and proceeds to make much of the confession. Rent his clothes, the usual expression of grief, horror, (Acts 14:14) or other violent and uncontrollable emotion. The custom, which existed also among the early Greeks and Romans, doubtless originated (Bengel) in the fact that excited emotions often cause one's garments to seem confining. 'Rent' is a compound verb, thoroughly rent to pieces; compare 2 Kings 18:37, 2 Kings 19:1. Mark has the more specific term which denotes the under-garments, of which several were sometimes worn; see on "Matthew 5:40". The Talmud directs (Lightfoot) that when the judges in a case of blasphemy rend their garments, they must not be sewed up again. Maimonides shows that at least in his time even this expression of uncontrollable emotion was formulated by custom; a man rent all garments except the innermost and outermost; and rent from the front of the neck downwards to the length of a hand. The high priest was forbidden in the law (Leviticus 10:16, Leviticus 21:10) to rend his clothes; bait this was in mourning for the dead, because such mourning unfitted him for the performance of official duties, and it was not understood as prohibiting the practice on other occasions; see examples in 1 Maccabees 11:71; Josephus "War," 2, 15, 4. He hath spoken blasphemy. It is not entirely clear, but seems probable, that the high priest here understood the phrase 'the Son of God' as claiming divinity; compare Luke 22:70. At any rate Jesus had distinctly claimed it in the added words about sitting at the right hand of power, etc. In John 5:18, R.V., he was accused of "making himself equal with God," because he "said God was his Father," and in John 10:30, for saying "I and my Father are one,"the Jews sought to stone him," because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." It is very hard to determine how much the Jews really meant by these charges, as accusatory expressions are apt to be stronger than would be used in calm declaration. Nor is the question important to us, since the Saviour left no doubt as to the meaning of his answer, and the New Testament as a whole teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the highest and fullest sense. And certainly, if Jesus had only been a human teacher, he would surely now have explained himself to that effect. What think ye? This was the regular Greek phrase for putting any question to the vote. They answered and said. They took no. formal vote, but decided by acclamation. He is guilty of death, or liable to death (Rev. Ver. margin), as in Matthew 5:21 f., 'in danger of.' So Tyn., Cran., Gen, 'worthy to die'; K. James followed Wyc. and Rheims, 'guilty of death,' compare Numbers 35:31. The same term is here used in Mark. Death was the legal punishment of blasphemy. (Leviticus 24:16) The Mishna requires ("Sanh." v, 5) that where Numbers vote would condemn to death, the matter must be postponed to the next day, when after the night's reflection any of those who voted to condemn may change, but not contrariwise. If this rule existed in the traditional law at the time of our Lord, we can image the Sanhedrin evading it by construing that they had virtually voted to condemn Jesus some time before, (John 11:47-53) or that the meeting after dawn (Matthew 27:1) was virtually another session, with a portion of night for reflection—which would have been a device quite after their fashion. It is, however, probable, as Edersheim and Schürer remark, that these were largely ideal regulations, expressing what the Rabbis thought ought to be done, and by no means strictly followed.

IV. Matthew 26:67 f, Jesus Spit Upon, Buffeted, And Mocked

Mark 14:65, Luke 22:63-65. Observe that while Luke has transferred the examination and condemnation to the regular session after dawn, he puts this outrage and mocking first, in the same order as Matt. and Mark. Then did they spit in his face. This would most naturally mean the members of the Sanhedrin, mentioned in the preceding sentence, but might mean (compare Matthew 27:2) the subordinate officials who had Jesus in custody, and so Luke has it, (Luke 22:63) "the men that held Jesus." Mark's statement (Mark 14:65, Rev. Ver.) "some began to spit on him... the officers received him with blows of their hands," explains that some members of the Sanhedrin joined the subordinates in these outrages. (Compare Acts 7:57, Acts 23:2) They would be encouraged (Keim) by finding that they could with impunity smite him whose reported miracles had often made them tremble. Buffeted him, smote him with the fist. So Tyn., Cram, 'buffeted hym wyth fistes.' Smote him with the palms of their hands, as in Matthew 5:39, and so Latin Versions, Memph., and Gothic; or perhaps (Rev. Ver. margin),' smote him with rods,' as Geneva. The same two terms occur in Mark 14:65. Luke says (Luke 22:63 B. U. Ver.) they "mocked him, beating him." Prophesy, meaning, speak by divine inspiration, not necessarily, nor even most commonly in Scripture, involving a prediction. Here, with his face covered (Luke and Mark), he would need superhuman knowledge to tell who smote him, and such knowledge the Messiah might be expected to have. Matt. alone gives the taunting address, thou Christ, or simply 'Christ.' Luke adds, Rev. Ver., "And many other things spake they against him, reviling him." Here the Jews mock Jesus as a pretended prophet; in Matthew 27:27 if., the Romans will mock him as a pretended king. Amid all these insults of word and deed he was still silent. Compare 1 Peter 2:23.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 26:58. Jerome: "Following afar, on the road to denial." Bengel: "Sat with the officers, inopportune good-fellowship."—'to see the end.' Henry: "It is more our concern to prepare for the end, whatever it may be, than curiously to enquire what the end will be. The event is God's, but the duty is ours."

Matthew 26:59. Jesus condemned, but righteous. After the failure of false witnesses, he could be condemned only through his confession of what should have been a reason for reverencing him. The traitor confessed him to be righteous. (Matthew 27:4) Pilate found no fault in him. (Luke 23:14) The centurion at the cross declared him righteous. (Luke 23:47) The day is coming when every tongue will confess that he is Lord. (Philippians 2:11)

Matthew 26:61. Bengel: "By no great change of words is often made a great calumny."

Matthew 26:63. Origen: "We learn from this passage to despise the utterances of calumniating and false witnesses, not holding them worthy of reply or of resistance, when by their contradictions they resist each other. It is a greater thing to maintain a brave and self-respecting silence, than to defend oneself to no purpose."

Matthew 26:64. Henry: "He thus confessed himself, for example and encouragement to his followers, when they are called to it, to confess him before men, whatever hazards they run by it."

Matthew 26:66. Hall: "O Saviour, this is not the last time wherein thou hast received cruel dooms from them that profess learning and holiness. What wonder is it, if thy weak members suffer that which was endured by so perfect a head."


Verses 69-75

Matthew 26:69-75.
The Fall Of Peter

Found also in Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:56-62; John 18:15-18, John 18:25-27.

Peter's three denials of his Lord evidently occurred during the progress of the Jewish trial, which seems to have lasted two hours or more. (Luke 22:59) We see from John (compare above on Matthew 26:58) that the first denial was made while Annas was questioning Jesus; and it is clear from comparing all the narratives that the second and third were made while Jesus still remained at the high priest's house and Peter in the court, and probably during the trial by the informal meeting of the Sanhedrin. (Matthew 26:57-68) Now Matthew and Mark do not record the examination by Annas; accordingly they only mention at the outset that Peter followed Jesus afar off and entered the high priest's court, and then, after narrating the trial by the informal meeting, they describe Peter's three denials. Luke does not give either the examination by Annas or the informal trial; accordingly, as soon as he brings Peter into the high priest's court, he at once tells of the three denials. John has no account of the Jewish trial except the examination by Annas; so he gives the first denial in connection with the appearance of Jesus before Annas, and then, after narrating the interrogation and telling how Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas, he speaks at once of the second and third denials. Thus the apparent dislocation of this narrative in the several Gospels is satisfactorily accounted for. Minute discrepancies as to the exact place and time of the different denials need not surprise us. The accounts are extremely brief, the numerous persons in the court were moving about and much excited, the questions addressed to Peter may in one case or another have been repeated by several persons, and the denial variously made to each of these (compare on 'began' in Matthew 26:74), while yet there were three distinct and separate denials, as indicated in each of the Gospels. It is not even necessary to suppose that they all give the three in the same order. To make out (McClellan and some others) five or six separate denials, and thereby harmonize the details, is to diverge from the Saviour's express prediction, "thou shalt deny me thrice," and to disregard the stress laid by all four narratives upon three denials. Surely much more is lost than gained by such painful harmonizing.

FIRST DENIAL. Matthew 26:69 f. Peter sat without in the palace, or court, viz., in the court of the high priest's house; (Matthew 26:58) 'without' is said in contrast with the audience room in which Jesus was appearing before the authorities. Peter was not in this room, but out in the open air of the court; and this was 'beneath,' on a lower level than the audience room. A damsel, viz., maid-servant; and literally,(1) 'one maid,' as distinguished from 'another,' in Matthew 26:71. So, Mark 14:66, 'one of the maids of the high priest.' Came unto him, as he sat in the court, beside the fire of charcoal; so Mark and Luke. John says that the maid, who was the doorkeeper, and who was induced by John to admit Peter, asked him the question; and this might seem in conflict with the other accounts. But John's brief statement does not necessarily mean that she asked him at the moment of admitting him. She would very naturally close the door and return to the fire herself, and might then ask the question. With Jesus of Galilee, a very natural expression in the high priest's servant, feeling everything at Jerusalem to he immeasurably superior to the provinces. Mark, B. U., 'with Jesus the Nazarene,' and so Matt. in Mark 14:71, Rev. Ver. We have often seen that the Evangelists do not undertake in all cases to give the exact words spoken; we are concerned only with any such discrepancy of statement as might seem to impair credibility. I know not what thou sayest. So Mark; Luke 'I know him not'; in John she asks if he is one of this man's disciples, and he answers 'I am not.' There is here no substantial conflict.

We must remember Peter's situation. Over-confidence in himself, notwithstanding the Master's warning, (Matthew 26:33-35) had led to lack of watchfulness; (Matthew 26:40 f.) suddenly awaking, he committed a rash action, (Matthew 26:51) which he might very reasonably fear would be avenged if he were discovered; so when suddenly asked, he was startled, frightened, and hastily denied. Then he was deeper in trouble than ever. We are not called to extenuate his conduct, but only to observe that it was psychologically not unnatural.

SECOND DENIAL. Matthew 26:71 f. When he was gone out into the porch, the open gateway passing under the middle of one side of the house into the court; Mark calls it 'the forecourt.'(2) Luke gives at this point no note of place. John gives the second denial as made while Peter was standing and warming himself. Possibly the first and second denials are by him given in reverse order. Observe that he here says generally 'they said,' while Matthew has 'another' (feminine), Mark 'the maid,' Luke 'another' (masculine), i. e., another person. The terms of address and denial slightly differ as before.

THIRD DENIAL. Matthew 26:73 f. And after a while. Mark says 'a little after,' while Luke says more definitely, 'about the space of one hour after.' Came they that stood by, and said to Peter. So in effect Mark, but Luke says, 'another (person),' and John, Rev. Ver. 'one of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman, whose ear Peter cut off,' which would be a specially alarming fact, especially when he asked, "Did I not see thee in the garden with him?" Now we may either suppose that a question asked by one person was taken up and repeated by others, which would be very natural, or that the three denials are given in different order by the several Gospels. Matt. and Mark have (a) a maid in the court, (b) another maid in the court, (c) the bystanders, apparently in the court. Luke has (a) a maid as he sat by the fire, (b) another (person), place not indicated, (c) some other (person), place in the court, as indicated by Luke 22:60 f. John has (a) the maid that kept the door, (b) plural, apparently the persons with whom he was standing and warming himself, (John 18:18, John 18:25) (c) one of the servants of the high priest, place not indicated. It may be that John has mentioned the second denial first, because suggested then by his account of the admission of Peter, or on the other hand, that Matt. and Mark have changed the order. John's (b) agrees as to the plural with the (c) of Matt. and Mark. The vague 'another person' and 'some other person' of Luke, treat the details as comparatively unimportant. We need not insist on any particular theory for exactly harmonizing the several statements. There is nothing in the group of details to weaken the credibility of the narratives, but their evident independence strengthens their credibility, as persons accustomed to compare the testimony of several witnesses will readily see; and we may be content to notice one or another possible mode of combining all the facts. In preaching or Sunday-school teaching, it would be better to pass lightly over the mere harmonizing of details, and dwell on the general facts which are the same in all the Gospels, and which yield lessons of so great importance.

This third denial was the most vehement of all. Peter had involved himself by the first in the apparent necessity, so sadly familiar to human observation and experience, of adhering to an initial falsehood. Now the bystanders insist and argue. Surely, of a truth, i. e., thou also art one of them. They are sure of it. For thy speech bewrayeth thee, literally, makes thee manifest (evident). The English word bewray meant primarily to accuse, and is of Teutonic origin. The entirely distinct word betray is connected with traitor, of French and Latin origin. (See Skeat.) Mark and Luke have 'for thou art,' (Luke 'he is') a Galilean.' Mark would be more exactly 'for even thy speech,' or 'for thy speech also,' as in Matthew 8:9. Perhaps (Plump.) his excitement and confusion made the local peculiarities of speech more marked.(1) Then began he (see on "Matthew 11:20"), suggests that it was continued some time, as does the tense of the verbs 'to curse' and 'to swear.' This implies various expressions of denial, perhaps addressed to different persons (compare on Matthew 26:69). He had already used an oath in the second denial. (Matthew 26:72.) Cursing would, in such a case, be invoking a curse upon himself if he were speaking falsely, and so would be even stronger than an oath. The Jews were much given to a careless use of oaths (see on "Matthew 5:33"), and it may be, as Alexander supposes, that Peter relapsed under the excitement into an early habit, which be had abandoned through the Saviour's teaching. Alas! for human nature; the Word made flesh was rejected by the great mass of his own people, was betrayed by one of his own followers, and by the very leader of them was basely denied, again and again, with oaths and curses. See 1 Corinthians 10:12. And immediately, or straightway, the cock crew. Mark, Rev. Ver., and John Rev. Ver. 'straightway': Luke 'immediately, while he yet spake.' The Greek noun has no article; it does not mean some particular fowl, and our English article only denotes the well-known sign of coming day. Mark, 'a second time,' compare above on Matthew 26:34; see there also as to the Talmudic statement that barn-yard fowls were not allowed in Jerusalem. And Peter remembered. Luke prefixes "and the Lord turned and looked upon Peter." The Saviour may have been in the high priest's audience chamber, either undergoing the informal trial, or kept there till the dawn should allow a formal session. This chamber might be open to the inner court: and the lights in the room, and the fire in the court, would make the pitying Master and the fallen disciple visible to each other. Otherwise we may suppose that the attendants were just then leading Jesus across the court. See Marks. Browning's two sonnets, "The Look," and "The Meaning of the Look." And he went out, into the great entrance as before, or more probably, quite out of the building. At such a moment one would naturally long to be alone. And wept bitterly. So Luke; compare Isaiah 22:4.—Peter is seen no more in the history till after our Lord's resurrection, but seems to have sojourned with his friend John. (Matthew 20:2, Matthew 20:10) Some of the early Latin hymns allude to a legend that through life he never heard a cock crow without weeping.

Homiletical And Practical

Peter's fall and rising again. (1) Steps downward. (a) Self-confidence, and loud professions, Matthew 26:33; (b) Lack of watchfulness, Matthew 26:40 f.; (c) Taken off his guard, he does a rash deed, Matthew 26:51; (d) Alarmed, yet still self-confident, he takes a middle course and follows at a distance, Matthew 26:58; (e) Courageous enough to venture into danger, though wanting courage to overcome it, Matthew 26:58; (f). Suddenly asked, he denies; (g) Feeling bound by this denial, and frightened by the repeated inquiry, he denies again and again, with oaths and curses. Alas, alas! (2) Climbing upward, through God's help. (a) The Lord had prayed for him, (Luke 22:32) and now looked upon him, (Luke 22:61) and he felt genuine grief and shame; (b) The risen Lord appeared to him alone, (Luke 24:34) a most touching occasion of confession and forgiveness; (c) The Lord afterwards delicately reminded him of his loud professions, and while no longer claiming superiority to others, he earnestly avowed his love, John 21:15 ff.; (d) Helped by the Pentecostal Spirit, he boldly confessed Christ before the Sanhedrin and the nation, Acts 4:10.

Calvin: "The fall of Peter is a mirror of human infirmity, and a memorable example of God's goodness and compassion. Peter acted inconsiderately in entering the high priest's court. It was proper to follow the Master, but he had been warned of his coming defection, and he ought to have avoided the occasion. Often thus under the appearance of virtue do believers fling themselves into temptation. Conscious weakness should not hinder us from going whithersoever God calls us; but it ought to restrain rashness and stimulate to prayer."

Matthew 26:69. Calvin: "He who has thrown away the fear of God, may tremble at the fall of a leaf... The more eminent one is, the more should he be careful; because he cannot fall from his high place without damaging others."

Matthew 26:70. Weiss ("Life"): "When Peter vowed so confidently that he would go with his Master to death, he was thinking, no doubt, of a solemn testimony to him for whom he was ready to sacrifice everything. But a great deed of heroism is often easier than loyalty in small things."

Matthew 26:74. Contrast Peter in his great confession, (Matthew 16:16) wishing to stay on the Mount of Transfiguration, (Matthew 17:4) and making grand promises only a few hours before this. (Matthew 26:33)

Matthew 26:75. (1) Seeing that Peter fell, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall, 1 Corinthians 10:12. (2) Seeing that Peter was forgiven and became so useful, let him that knows he has fallen rise up in earnest repentance. Luther: "No article of the Creed is so hard to believe as this: I believe in the forgiveness of sins. But look at Peter. If I could paint a portrait of Peter. I would write on every hair of his head forgiveness of sins."

 


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Bibliography Information
Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 26:4". "John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jbm/matthew-26.html. 1886.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 24th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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