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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Matthew 26



Verse 2

Cometh (γινεταιginetai). Futuristic use of the present middle indicative. This was probably our Tuesday evening (beginning of Jewish Wednesday). The passover began on our Thursday evening (beginning of Jewish Friday).

After two days (μετα δυο ημεραςmeta duo hēmeras) is just the familiar popular mode of speech. The passover came technically on the second day from this time.

Is delivered up (παραδιδοταιparadidotai). Another instance of the futuristic present passive indicative. The same form occurs in Matthew 26:24. Thus Jesus sets a definite date for the coming crucifixion which he has been predicting for six months.

Verse 3

Then were gathered together the chief priests and elders of the people (Τοτε συνηχτησαν οι αρχιερεις και οι πρεσβυτεροι του λαουTote sunēchthēsan hoi archiereis kai hoi presbuteroi tou laou). A meeting of the Sanhedrin as these two groups indicate (cf. Matthew 21:23).

Unto the court (εις την αυληνeis tēn aulēn). The atrium or court around which the palace buildings were built. Here in this open court this informal meeting was held. Caiaphas was high priest a.d. 18 to 36. His father-in-law Annas had been high priest a.d. 6 to 15 and was still called high priest by many.

Verse 4

They took counsel together (συνεβουλευσαντοsunebouleusanto). Aorist middle indicative, indicating their puzzled state of mind. They have had no trouble in finding Jesus (John 11:57). Their problem now is how to take Jesus by subtilty and kill him (ινα τον Ιησουν δολωι κρατησοσιν και αποκτεινωσινhina ton Iēsoun dolōi kratēsosin kai apokteinōsin). The Triumphal Entry and the Tuesday debate in the temple revealed the powerful following that Jesus had among the crowds from Galilee.

Verse 5

A tumult (τορυβοςthorubos). They feared the uprising in behalf of Jesus and were arguing that the matter must be postponed till after the feast was over when the crowds had scattered. Then they could catch him “by craft” (δολωιdolōi) as they would trap a wild beast.

Verse 6

In the house of Simon the leper (εν οικιαι Σιμωνος του λεπρουen oikiāi Simōnos tou leprou). Evidently a man who had been healed of his leprosy by Jesus who gave the feast in honour of Jesus. All sorts of fantastic theories have arisen about it. Some even identify this Simon with the one in Luke 7:36., but Simon was a very common name and the details are very different. Some hold that it was Martha‘s house because she served (John 12:2) and that Simon was either the father or husband of Martha, but Martha loved to serve and that proves nothing. Some identify Mary of Bethany with the sinful woman in Luke 7 and even with Mary Magdalene, both gratuitous and groundless propositions. For the proof that Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, and the sinful woman of Luke 7 are all distinct see my Some Minor Characters in the New Testament. John (John 12:1) apparently locates the feast six days before the passover, while Mark (Mark 14:3) and Matthew (Matthew 26:6) seem to place it on the Tuesday evening (Jewish Wednesday) just two days before the passover meal. It is possible that John anticipates the date and notes the feast at Bethany at this time because he does not refer to Bethany again. If not, the order of Mark must be followed. According to the order of Mark and Matthew, this feast took place at the very time that the Sanhedrin was plotting about the death of Jesus (Mark 14:1.).

Verse 7

An alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment (αλαβαστρον μυρου βαρυτιμουalabastron murou barutimou). The flask was of alabaster, a carbonate of lime or sulphate of lime, white or yellow stone, named alabaster from the town in Egypt where it was chiefly found. It was used for a phial employed for precious ointments in ancient writers, inscriptions and papyri just as we speak of a glass for the vessel made of glass. It had a cylindrical form at the top, as a rule, like a closed rosebud (Pliny). Matthew does not say what the ointment (μυρουmurou) was, only saying that it was “exceeding precious” (βαρυτιμουbarutimou), of weighty value, selling at a great price. Here only in the N.T. “An alabaster of nard (μυρουmurou) was a present for a king” (Bruce). It was one of five presents sent by Cambyses to the King of Ethiopia (Herodotus, iii. 20).

She poured it upon his head (κατεχεεν επι της κεπαλης αυτουkatecheen epi tēs kephalēs autou). So Mark (Mark 14:3), while John (John 12:3) says that she “anointed the feet of Jesus.” Why not both? The verb κατεχεενkatecheen is literally to pour down. It is the first aorist active indicative, unusual form.

Verse 8

This waste (η απωλεια αυτηhē apōleia hautē). Dead loss (απωλειαapōleia) they considered it, nothing but sentimental aroma. It was a cruel shock to Mary of Bethany to hear this comment. Matthew does not tell as John does (John 12:4) that it was Judas who made the point which the rest endorsed. Mark explains that they mentioned “three hundred pence,” while Matthew (Matthew 26:9) only says “for much” (πολλουpollou).

Verse 10

Why trouble ye the woman? (τι κοπους παρεχετε τηι γυναικιti kopous parechete tēi gunaiki̇) A phrase not common in Greek writers, though two examples occur in the papyri for giving trouble. ΚοποςKopos is from κοπτωkoptō to beat, smite, cut. It is a beating, trouble, and often work, toil. Jesus champions Mary‘s act with this striking phrase. It is so hard for some people to allow others liberty for their own personalities to express themselves. It is easy to raise small objections to what we do not like and do not understand.

A good work upon me (εργον καλον εις εμεergon kalon eis eme). A beautiful deed upon Jesus himself.

Verse 12

To prepare me for burial (προς το ενταπιασαι μεpros to entaphiasai me). Mary alone had understood what Jesus had repeatedly said about his approaching death. The disciples were so wrapped up in their own notions of a political kingdom that they failed utterly to sympathize with Jesus as he faced the cross. But Mary with the woman‘s fine intuitions did begin to understand and this was her way of expressing her high emotions and loyalty. The word here is the same used in John 19:40 about what Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did for the body of Jesus before burial with the addition of προς τοpros to showing the purpose of Mary (the infinitive of purpose). Mary was vindicated by Jesus and her noble deed has become a “memorial of her” (εις μνημοσυμον αυτηςeis mnēmosumon autēs) as well as of Jesus.

Verse 15

What are ye willing to give me? (τι τελετε μοι δουναιti thelete moi dounai̇) This “brings out the chaffering aspect of the transaction” (Vincent). “Mary and Judas extreme opposites: she freely spending in love, he willing to sell his Master for money” (Bruce). And her act of love provoked Judas to his despicable deed, this rebuke of Jesus added to all the rest.

And I will deliver him unto you (καγω μιν παραδωσω αυτονkagō hūmin paradōsō auton). The use of καιkai with a co-ordinate clause is a colloquialism (common in the Koiné as in the Hebrew use of wav. “A colloquialism or a Hebraism, the traitor mean in style as in spirit” (Bruce). The use of εγωegō seems to mean “I though one of his disciples will hand him over to you if you give me enough.”

They weighed unto him (οι δε εστησαν αυτοhoi de estēsan auto). They placed the money in the balances or scales. “Coined money was in use, but the shekels may have been weighed out in antique fashion by men careful to do an iniquitous thing in the most orthodox way” (Bruce). It is not known whether the Sanhedrin had offered a reward for the arrest of Jesus or not.

Thirty pieces of silver (τριακοντα αργυριαtriakonta arguria). A reference to Zechariah 11:12. If a man‘s ox gored a servant, he had to pay this amount (Exodus 21:32). Some manuscripts have στατηραςstatēras (staters). These thirty silver shekels were equal to 120 δεναριιdenarii less than five English pounds, less than twenty-five dollars, the current price of a slave. There was no doubt contempt for Jesus in the minds of both the Sanhedrin and Judas in this bargain.

Verse 16

Sought opportunity (εζητει ευκαριανezētei eukarian). A good chance. Note imperfect tense. Judas went at his business and stuck to it.

Verse 17

To eat the passover (παγειν το πασχαphagein to pascha). There were two feasts rolled into one, the passover feast and the feast of unleavened bread. Either name was employed. Here the passover meal is meant, though in John 18:28 it is probable that the passover feast is referred to as the passover meal (the last supper) had already been observed. There is a famous controversy on the apparent disagreement between the Synoptic Gospels and the Fourth Gospel on the date of this last passover meal. My view is that the five passages in John (John 13:1., John 13:27; John 18:28; John 19:14, John 19:31) rightly interpreted agree with the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26:17, Matthew 26:20; Mark 14:12, Mark 14:17; Luke 22:7, Luke 22:14) that Jesus ate the passover meal at the regular time about 6 p.m. beginning of 15 Nisan. The passover lamb was slain on the afternoon of 14 Nisan and the meal eaten at sunset the beginning of 15 Nisan. According to this view Jesus ate the passover meal at the regular time and died on the cross the afternoon of 15 Nisan. See my Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ, pp.279-284. The question of the disciples here assumes that they are to observe the regular passover meal. Note the deliberative subjunctive (ετοιμασωμενhetoimasōmen) after τελειςtheleis with ιναhina For the asyndeton see Robertson, Grammar, p. 935.

Verse 18

To such a man (προς τον δειναpros ton deina). The only instance in the N.T. of this old Attic idiom. The papyri show it for “Mr. X” and the modern Greek keeps it. Jesus may have indicated the man‘s name. Mark (Mark 14:13) and Luke (Luke 22:10) describe him as a man bearing a pitcher of water. It may have been the home of Mary the mother of John Mark.

I keep the passover at thy house (προς σε ποιω το πασχαpros se poiō to pascha). Futuristic present indicative. The use of προς σεpros se for “at thy house” is neat Greek of the classic period. Evidently there was no surprise in this home at the command of Jesus. It was a gracious privilege to serve him thus.

Verse 20

He was sitting at meat (ανεκειτοanekeito). He was reclining, lying back on the left side on the couch with the right hand free. Jesus and the Twelve all reclined. The paschal lamb had to be eaten up entirely (Exodus 12:4, Exodus 12:43).

Verse 21

One of you (εις εχ υμωνheis ex humōn). This was a bolt from the blue for all except Judas and he was startled to know that Jesus understood his treacherous bargain.

Verse 22

Is it I, Lord? (μητι εγω ειμι Κυριεmēti egō eimi συ ειπας Kurie̱). The negative expects the answer No and was natural for all save Judas. But he had to bluff it out by the same form of question (Matthew 26:25). The answer of Jesus,

Thou hast said (su eipas), means Yes.

Verse 23

He that dipped (ο εμβαπσαςho embapsas). They all dipped their hands, having no knives, forks, or spoons. The aorist participle with the article simply means that the betrayer is the one who dips his hand in the dish (εν τωι τρυβλιωιen tōi trubliōi) or platter with the broth of nuts and raisins and figs into which the bread was dipped before eating. It is plain that Judas was not recognized by the rest as indicated by what Jesus has said. This language means that one of those who had eaten bread with him had violated the rights of hospitality by betraying him. The Arabs today are punctilious on this point. Eating one‘s bread ties your hands and compels friendship. But Judas knew full well as is shown in Matthew 26:25 though the rest apparently did not grasp it.

Verse 24

Good were it for that man (καλον ην αυτωιkalon ēn autōi). Conclusion of second-class condition even though ανan is not expressed. It is not needed with verbs of obligation and necessity. There are some today who seek to palliate the crime of Judas. But Jesus here pronounces his terrible doom. And Judas heard it and went on with his hellish bargain with the Sanhedrin. Apparently Judas went out at this stage (John 13:31).

Verse 26

And blessed and brake it (ευλογησας εκλασενeulogēsas eklasen). Special “Grace” in the middle of the passover meal, “as they were eating,” for the institution of the Supper. Jesus broke one of the passover wafers or cakes that each might have a piece, not as a symbol of the breaking of his body as the Textus Receptus has it in 1 Corinthians 11:24. The correct text there has only to υπερ υμωνhuper humōn without κλωμενονklōmenon As a matter of fact the body of Jesus was not “broken” (John 19:33) as John expressly states.

This is my body (τουτο εστιν το σωμα μουtouto estin to sōma mou). The bread as a symbol represents the body of Jesus offered for us, “a beautifully simple, pathetic, and poetic symbol of his death” (Bruce). But some have made it “run into fetish worship” (Bruce). Jesus, of course, does not mean that the bread actually becomes his body and is to be worshipped. The purpose of the memorial is to remind us of his death for our sins.

Verse 28

The Covenant (της διατηκηςtēs diathēkēs). The adjective καινηςkainēs in Textus Receptus is not genuine. The covenant is an agreement or contract between two (δια δυο τηκεdia τιτημι duo διατηκε thēke from το περι πολλων εκχυννομενονtithēmi). It is used also for will (Latin, testamentum) which becomes operative at death (Hebrews 9:15-17). Hence our New Testament. Either covenant or will makes sense here. Covenant is the idea in Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 8:8 and often. In the Hebrew to make a covenant was to cut up the sacrifice and so ratify the agreement (Genesis 15:9-18). Lightfoot argues that the word αντιdiathēke means covenant in the N.T. except in Hebrews 9:15-17. Jesus here uses the solemn words of Exodus 24:8 “the blood of the covenant” at Sinai. “My blood of the covenant” is in contrast with that. This is the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31; Hebrews 8:1-13.

Which is shed for many (περιto peri pollōn ekchunnomenon). A prophetic present passive participle. The act is symbolized by the ordinance. Cf. the purpose of Christ expressed in Matthew 20:28. There εις απεσιν αμαρτιωνanti and here peri remission of sins (eis aphesin hamartiōn). This clause is in Matthew alone but it is not to be restricted for that reason. It is the truth. This passage answers all the modern sentimentalism that finds in the teaching of Jesus only pious ethical remarks or eschatological dreamings. He had the definite conception of his death on the cross as the basis of forgiveness of sin. The purpose of the shedding of his blood of the New Covenant was precisely to remove (forgive) sins.

Verse 29

When I drink it new with you (οταν αυτο πινω μετ υμων καιμονhotan auto pinō meth' humōn kaimon). This language rather implies that Jesus himself partook of the bread and the wine, though it is not distinctly stated. In the Messianic banquet it is not necessary to suppose that Jesus means the language literally, “the fruit of the vine.” Deissmann (Bible Studies, pp. 109f.) gives an instance of γενημαgenēma used of the vine in a papyrus 230 b.c. The language here employed does not make it obligatory to employ wine rather than pure grape juice if one wishes the other.

Verse 30

Sang a hymn (υμνησαντεςhumnēsantes). The Hallel, part of Psalms 115-118. But apparently they did not go out at once to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus tarried with them in the Upper Room for the wonderful discourse and prayer in John 14-17. They may have gone out to the street after John 14:31. It was no longer considered obligatory to remain in the house after the passover meal till morning as at the start (Exodus 12:22). Jesus went out to Gethsemane, the garden of the agony, outside of Jerusalem, toward the Mount of Olives.

Verse 33

I will never be offended (εγω ουδεποτε σκανδαλιστησομαιegō oudepote skandalisthēsomai). “Made to stumble,” not “offended.” Volitive future passive indicative. Peter ignored the prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus and the promised meeting in Galilee (Matthew 26:32). The quotation from Zechariah 13:7 made no impression on him. He was intent on showing that he was superior to “all” the rest. Judas had turned traitor and all were weak, Peter in particular, little as he knew it. So Jesus has to make it plainer by pointing out “this night” as the time (Matthew 26:34).

Before the cock crows (πριν αλεκτορα πωνησαιprin alektora phōnēsai). No article in the Greek, “before a cock crow.” Mark (Mark 14:30) says that Peter will deny Jesus thrice before the cock crows twice. When one cock crows in the morning, others generally follow. The three denials lasted over an hour. Some scholars hold that chickens were not allowed in Jerusalem by the Jews, but the Romans would have them.

Verse 35

Even if I must die with thee (κν δεηι με συν σοι αποτανεινkdeēi me sun soi apothanein). Third-class condition. A noble speech and meant well. His boast of loyalty is made still stronger by ου μη σε απαρνησομαιou mē se aparnēsomai The other disciples were undoubtedly embarrassed by Peter‘s boast and lightheartedly joined in the same profession of fidelity.

Verse 36

Gethsemane (ΓετσημανειGethsēmanei). The word means oil-press in the Hebrew, or olive vat. The place (χωριονchōrion) was an enclosed plot or estate, “garden,” or orchard (κηποςkēpos). It is called villa in the Vulgate according to John 18:1. It was beyond the torrent Kedron at the foot of the Mount of Olives about three-fourths of a mile from the eastern walls of Jerusalem. There are now eight old olive trees still standing in this enclosure. One cannot say that they are the very trees near which Jesus had his Agony, but they are very old. “They will remain so long as their already protracted life is spared, the most venerable of their race on the surface of the earth. Their guarded trunks and scanty foliage will always be regarded as the most affecting of the sacred memorials in or about Jerusalem” (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine).

Here (αυτουautou), Yonder (εκειekei). Jesus clearly pointed to the place where he would pray. Literally “there.”

Verse 37

He took with him (παραλαβωνparalabōn). Taking along, by his side (παραparȧ), as a mark of special favour and privilege, instead of leaving this inner circle of three (Peter, James, and John) with the other eight. The eight would serve as a sort of outer guard to watch by the gate of the garden for the coming of Judas while the three would be able to share the agony of soul already upon Jesus so as at least to give him some human sympathy which he craved as he sought help from the Father in prayer. These three had been with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and now they are with him in this supreme crisis. The grief of Christ was now severe.

The word for sore troubled (αδημονεινadēmonein) is of doubtful etymology. There is an adjective αδημοςadēmos equal to αποδημοςapodēmos meaning “not at home,” “away from home,” like the German unheimisch, unheimlich. But whatever the etymology, the notion of intense discomfort is plain. The word αδημονεινadēmonein occurs in P.Oxy. II, 298,456 of the first century a.d. where it means “excessively concerned.” See note on Philemon 2:26 where Paul uses it of Epaphroditus. Moffatt renders it here “agitated.” The word occurs sometimes with απορεωaporeō to be at a loss as to which way to go. The Braid Scots has it “sair putten-aboot.” Here Matthew has also “to be sorrowful” (λυπεισταιlupeisthai), but Mark (Mark 14:33) has the startling phrase greatly amazed and sore troubled (εκταμβεισται και αδημονεινekthambeisthai kai adēmonein), a “feeling of terrified surprise.”

Verse 38

Watch with me (γρηγορειτε μετ εμουgrēgoreite met' emou). This late present from the perfect εγρηγοραegrēgora means to keep awake and not go to sleep. The hour was late and the strain had been severe, but Jesus pleaded for a bit of human sympathy as he wrestled with his Father. It did not seem too much to ask. He had put his sorrow in strong language, “even unto death” (εως τανατουheōs thanatou) that ought to have alarmed them.

Verse 39

He went forward a little (προελτων μικρονproelthōn mikron). As if he could not fight the battle in their immediate presence. He was on his face, not on his knees (McNeile).

This cup (το ποτηριον τουτοto potērion touto). The figure can mean only the approaching death. Jesus had used it of his coming death when James and John came to him with their ambitious request, “the cup which I am about to drink” (Matthew 20:22). But now the Master is about to taste the bitter dregs in the cup of death for the sin of the world. He was not afraid that he would die before the Cross, though he instinctively shrank from the cup, but instantly surrendered his will to the Father‘s will and drank it to the full. Evidently Satan tempted Christ now to draw back from the Cross. Here Jesus won the power to go on to Calvary.

Verse 40

What (ουτωςhoutōs). The Greek adverb is not interrogation or exclamatory τιti but only “so” or “thus.” There is a tone of sad disappointment at the discovery that they were asleep after the earnest plea that they keep awake (Matthew 26:38). “Did you not thus have strength enough to keep awake one hour?” Every word struck home.

Verse 41

Watch and pray (γρηγορειτε και προσευχεστεgrēgoreite kai proseuchesthe). Jesus repeats the command of Matthew 26:38 with the addition of prayer and with the warning against the peril of temptation. He himself was feeling the worst of all temptations of his earthly life just then. He did not wish then to enter such temptation (πειρασμονpeirasmon here in this sense, not mere trial). Thus we are to understand the prayer in Matthew 6:13 about leading (being led) into temptation. Their failure was due to weakness of the flesh as is often the case.

Spirit (πνευμαpneuma) here is the moral life (ιντελλεχτ ωιλλ εμοτιονςintellect εαν μη αυτο πιω will ει ου δυναται τουτο παρελτειν emotions) as opposed to the flesh (cf. Isaiah 31:3; Romans 7:25).

Except I drink it (ean mē auto piō). Condition of the third class undetermined, but with likelihood of determination, whereas if this cannot pass away (ei ou dunatai touto parelthein) is first-class condition, determined as fulfilled, assumed to be true. This delicate distinction accurately presents the real attitude of Jesus towards this subtle temptation.

Verse 43

For their eyes were heavy (ησαν γαρ αυτων οι οπταλμοι βεβαρημενοιēsan gar autōn hoi ophthalmoi bebarēmenoi). Past perfect passive indicative periphrastic. Their eyes had been weighted down with sleep and still were as they had been on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:32).

Verse 45

Sleep on now and take your rest (κατευδετε λοιπον και αναπαυεστεkatheudete loipon kai anapauesthe). This makes it “mournful irony” (Plummer) or reproachful concession: “Ye may sleep and rest indefinitely so far as I am concerned; I need no longer your watchful interest” (Bruce). It may be a sad query as Goodspeed: “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?” So Moffatt. This use of λοιπονloipon for now or henceforth is common in the papyri.

The hour is at hand (ηγγικεν η ωραēggiken hē hōra). Time for action has now come. They have missed their chance for sympathy with Jesus. He has now won the victory without their aid. “The Master‘s time of weakness is past; He is prepared to face the worst” (Bruce).

Is betrayed (παραδιδοταιparadidotai). Futuristic present or inchoative present, the first act in the betrayal is at hand. Jesus had foreseen his “hour” for long and now he faces it bravely.

Verse 46

He is at hand (ηγγικενēggiken). The same verb and tense used of the hour above, present perfect active of εγγιζωeggizō to draw near, the very form used by John the Baptist of the coming of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 3:2). Whether Jesus heard the approach of the betrayer with the crowd around him or saw the lights or just felt the proximity of the traitor before he was there (J. Weiss), we do not know and it matters little. The scene is pictured as it happened with lifelike power.

Verse 47

While he yet spake (ετι αυτου λαλουντοςeti autou lalountos). It was an electric moment as Jesus faced Judas with his horde of helpers as if he turned to meet an army.

Let us go (αγωμενagōmen), Jesus had said. And here he is. The eight at the gate seemed to have given no notice. Judas is described here as “one of the twelve” (εις των δωδεκαheis tōn dōdeka) in all three Synoptic Gospels (Mark 14:43; Matthew 26:47; Luke 22:47). The very horror of the thing is thus emphasized, that one of the chosen twelve apostles should do this dastardly deed.

A great multitude (οχλος πολυςochlos polus). The chief priests and Pharisees had furnished Judas a band of soldiers from the garrison in Antonia (John 18:3) and the temple police (Luke 22:52) with swords (knives) and staves (clubs) with a hired rabble who had lanterns also (John 18:3) in spite of the full moon. Judas was taking no chances of failure for he well knew the strange power of Jesus.

Verse 48

Gave them a sign (εδωκεν αυτοις σημειονedōken autois sēmeion). Probably just before he reached the place, though Mark (Mark 14:44) has “had given” (δεδωκειdedōkei) which certainly means before arrival at Gethsemane. At any rate Judas had given the leaders to understand that he would kiss (πιλησωphilēsō) Jesus in order to identify him for certain. The kiss was a common mode of greeting and Judas chose that sign and actually “kissed him fervently” (κατεπιλησενkatephilēsen Matthew 26:49), though the compound verb sometimes in the papyri has lost its intensive force. Bruce thinks that Judas was prompted by the inconsistent motives of smouldering love and cowardice. At any rate this revolting ostentatious kiss is “the most terrible instance of the εκουσια πιληματα εχτρουhekousia philēmata echthrou (Proverbs 27:6),” the profuse kisses of an enemy (McNeile). This same compound verb occurs in Luke 7:38 of the sinful woman, in Luke 15:20 of the Father‘s embrace of the Prodigal Son, and in Acts 20:37 of the Ephesian elders and Paul.

Verse 50

Do that for which thou art come (επ ο παρειeph' ho parei). Moffatt and Goodspeed take it: “Do your errand.” There has been a deal of trouble over this phrase. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 125 to 131) has proven conclusively that it is a question, επ οeph' ho in late Greek having the interrogative sense of επι τιepi ti (Robertson, Grammar, p. 725). The use of επ οeph' ho for “why here” occurs on a Syrian tablet of the first century a.d. 50 that it “was current coin in the language of the people” (Deissmann). Most of the early translations (Old Latin, Old Syriac) took it as a question. So the Vulgate has ad quid venisti. In this instance the Authorized Version is correct against the Revised. Jesus exposes the pretence of Judas and shows that he does not believe in his paraded affection (Bruce).

Verse 51

One of them that were with Jesus (εις των μετα Ιησουheis tōn meta Iēsou). Like the other Synoptics Matthew conceals the name of Peter, probably for prudential reasons as he was still living before a.d. 68. John writing at the end of the century mentions Peter‘s name (John 18:10). The sword or knife was one of the two that the disciples had (Luke 22:38). Bruce suggests that it was a large knife used in connexion with the paschal feast. Evidently Peter aimed to cut off the man‘s head, not his ear (ωτιονōtion is diminutive in form, but not in sense, as often in the Koiné). He may have been the leader of the band. His name, Malchus, is also given by John (John 18:10) because Peter was then dead and in no danger.

Verse 52

Put up again thy sword (αποστρεπσον την μαχαιραν σουapostrepson tēn machairan sou). Turn back thy sword into its place. It was a stern rebuke for Peter who had misunderstood the teaching of Jesus in Luke 22:38 as well as in Matthew 5:39 (cf. John 18:36). The reason given by Jesus has had innumerable illustrations in human history. The sword calls for the sword. Offensive war is here given flat condemnation. The Paris Pact of 1928 (the Kellogg Treaty) is certainly in harmony with the mind of Christ. The will to peace is the first step towards peace, the outlawing of war. Our American cities are often ruled by gangsters who kill each other off.

Verse 53

Even now (αρτιarti). Just now, at this very moment.

Legions (legionas). A Latin word. Roman soldiers in large numbers were in Palestine later in a.d. 66, but they were in Caesarea and in the tower of Antonia in Jerusalem. A full Roman legion had 6,100 foot and 726 horse in the time of Augustus. But Jesus sees more than twelve legions at his command (one for each apostle) and shows his undaunted courage in this crisis. One should recall the story of Elisha at Dothan (2 Kings 6:17).

Verse 54

Must be (δειdei). Jesus sees clearly his destiny now that he has won the victory in Gethsemane.

Verse 55

As against a robber (ως επι ληιστηνhōs epi lēistēn). As a robber, not as a thief, but a robber hiding from justice. He will be crucified between two robbers and on the very cross planned for their leader, Barabbas. They have come with no warrant for any crime, but with an armed force to seize Jesus as if a highway robber. Jesus reminds them that he used to sit (imperfect, εκατεζομηνekathezomēn) in the temple and teach. But he sees God‘s purpose in it all for the prophets had foretold his “cup.” The desertion of Jesus by the disciples followed this rebuke of the effort of Peter. Jesus had surrendered. So they fled.

Verse 58

To see the end (ιδειν το τελοςidein to telos). Peter rallied from the panic and followed afar off (μακροτενmakrothen), “more courageous than the rest and yet not courageous enough” (Bruce). John the Beloved Disciple went on into the room where Jesus was. The rest remained outside, but Peter “sat with the officers” to see and hear and hoping to escape notice.

Verse 59

Sought false witness against Jesus (εζητουν πσευδομαρτυριανezētoun pseudomarturian). Imperfect tense, kept on seeking. Judges have no right to be prosecutors and least of all to seek after false witness and even to offer bribes to get it.

Verse 60

They found it not (και ουχ ευρονkai ouch heuron). They found false witnesses in plenty, but not the false witness that would stand any sort of test.

Verse 61

I am able to destroy the temple of God (δυναμαι καταλυσαι τον ναον του τεουdunamai katalusai ton naon tou theou). What he had said (John 2:19) referred to the temple of his body which they were to destroy (and did) and which he would raise again in three days as he did. It was a pitiful perversion of what Jesus had said and even so the two witnesses disagreed in their misrepresentation (Mark 14:59).

Verse 63

Held his peace (εσιωπαesiōpa). Kept silent, imperfect tense. Jesus refused to answer the bluster of Caiaphas.

I adjure thee by the living God (εχορκιζω σε κατα του τεου του ζωντοςexorkizō se kata tou theou tou zōntos). So Caiaphas put Jesus on oath in order to make him incriminate himself, a thing unlawful in Jewish jurisprudence. He had failed to secure any accusation against Jesus that would stand at all. But Jesus did not refuse to answer under solemn oath, clearly showing that he was not thinking of oaths in courts of justice when he prohibited profanity. The charge that Caiaphas makes is that Jesus claims to be the Messiah, the Son of God. To refuse to answer would be tantamount to a denial. So Jesus answered knowing full well the use that would be made of his confession and claim.

Verse 64

Thou hast said (συ ειπαςsu eipas). This is a Greek affirmative reply. Mark (Mark 14:62) has it plainly, “I am” (ειμιeimi). But this is not all that Jesus said to Caiaphas. He claims that the day will come when Jesus will be the Judge and Caiaphas the culprit using the prophetic language in Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 109:1. It was all that Caiaphas wanted.

Verse 65

He hath spoken blasphemy (εβλασπημησενeblasphēmēsen). There was no need of witnesses now, for Jesus had incriminated himself by claiming under oath to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Now it would not be blasphemy for the real Messiah to make such a claim, but it was intolerable to admit that Jesus could be the Messiah of Jewish hope. At the beginning of Christ‘s ministry he occasionally used the word Messiah of himself, but he soon ceased, for it was plain that it would create trouble. The people would take it in the sense of a political revolutionist who would throw off the Roman yoke. If he declined that role, the Pharisees would have none of him for that was the kind of a Messiah that they desired. But the hour has now come. At the Triumphal Entry Jesus let the Galilean crowds hail him as Messiah, knowing what the effect would be. Now the hour has struck. He has made his claim and has defied the High Priest.

Verse 66

He is worthy of death (ενοχος τανατου εστινenochos thanatou estin). Held in the bonds of death (εν εχωen τανατου echō) as actually guilty with the genitive (τηι κρισειthanatou). The dative expresses liability as in Matthew 5:21 (ειςtēi krisei) and as eis and the accusative (Matthew 5:22). They took the vote though it was at night and they no longer had the power of death since the Romans took it away from them. Death was the penalty of blasphemy (Leviticus 24:15). But they enjoyed taking it as their answer to his unanswerable speeches in the temple that dreadful Tuesday a few days before. It was unanimous save that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did not agree. They were probably absent and not even invited as being under suspicion for being secret disciples of Christ.

Verse 68

Thou Christ (ΧριστεChriste). With definite sneer at his claims under oath in Matthew 26:63. With uncontrolled glee and abandon like a lot of hoodlums these doctors of divinity insulted Jesus. They actually spat in his face, buffeted him on the neck (εκολαπισανekolaphisan from κολαποςkolaphos the fist), and struck him in the face with the palms of their hands (εραπισανerapisan from ραπιςrapis a rod), all personal indignities after the legal injustice already done. They thus gave vent to their spite and hatred.

Verse 69

Thou also (και συkai su). Peter had gone within (εσωesō) the palace (Matthew 26:58), but was sitting without (εχωexō) the hall where the trial was going on in the open central court with the servants or officers (υπηρετωνhupēretōn under rowers, literally, Matthew 26:58) of the Sanhedrin. But he could possibly see through the open door above what was going on inside. It is not plain at what stage of the Jewish trial the denials of Peter took place nor the precise order in which they came as the Gospels give them variously. This maid (παιδισκηpaidiskē slave girl) stepped up to Peter as he was sitting in the court and pointedly said: “Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean.” Peter was warming himself by the fire and the light shone in his face. She probably had noticed Peter come in with John the Beloved Disciple who went on up into the hall of trial. Or she may have seen Peter with Jesus on the streets of Jerusalem.

Verse 70

I know not what thou sayest (ουκ οιδα τι λεγειςouk oida ti legeis). It was an affectation of extreme ignorance (Bruce) that deceived no one. It was an easy and ancient dodge and easy subterfuge. Dalman (Words of Jesus, 80f.) suggests that Peter used the Galilean Aramaean word for know instead of the Judean Aramaean word which betrayed at once his Galilean residence.

Verse 71

Into the porch (εις τον πυλωναeis ton pulōna). But Peter was not safe out here, for another maid recognized him and spoke of him as “this fellow” (ουτοςhoutos) with a gesture to those out there.

Verse 72

With an oath (μετα ορκουmeta horkou). This time Peter added an oath, probably a former habit so common to the Jews at that time, and denied acquaintance with Jesus. He even refers to Jesus as “the man” (τον αντρωπονton anthrōpon), an expression that could convey contempt, “the fellow.”

Verse 73

They that stood by (οι εστωτεςhoi hestōtes). The talk about Peter continued. Luke (Luke 22:59) states that the little while was about an hour. The bystanders came up to Peter and bluntly assert that he was “of a truth” (αλητωςalēthōs) one of the followers of Jesus for his speech betrayed him. Even the Revised Version retains “bewrayeth,” quaint old English for “betrayeth.” The Greek has it simply “makes thee evident” (δηλον σε ποιειdēlon se poiei). His dialect (λαλιαlalia) clearly revealed that he was a Galilean. The Galileans had difficulty with the gutterals and Peter‘s second denial had exposed him to the tormenting raillery of the loungers who continued to nag him.

Verse 74

Then began he to curse and to swear (τοτε ηρχατο κατατεματιζειν και ομνυεινtote ērxato katathematizein kai omnuein). He repeated his denial with the addition of profanity to prove that he was telling the truth instead of the lie that they all knew. His repeated denials gave him away still more, for he could not pronounce the Judean gutterals. He called down on himself (κατατεματιζεινkatathematizein) imprecations in his desperate irritation and loss of self-control at his exposure.

The cock crew (αλεκτων επωνησενalektōn ephōnēsen). No article in the Greek, just “a cock crew” at that juncture, “straightway” (ευτυςeuthus). But it startled Peter.

Verse 75

Peter remembered (εμνηστη ο Πετροςemnēsthē ho Petros). A small thing, but magna circumstantia (Bengel). In a flash of lightning rapidity he recalled the words of Jesus a few hours before (Matthew 26:34) which he had then scouted with the proud boast that “even if I must die with thee, yet will I not deny thee” (Matthew 26:35). And now this triple denial was a fact. There is no extenuation for the base denials of Peter. He had incurred the dread penalty involved in the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:33 of denial by Jesus before the Father in heaven. But Peter‘s revulsion of feeling was as sudden as his sin.

He went out and wept bitterly (εχελτων εχω εκλαυσεν πικρωςexelthōn exō eklausen pikrōs). Luke adds that the Lord turned and looked upon Peter (Luke 22:61). That look brought Peter back to his senses. He could not stay where he now was with the revilers of Jesus. He did not feel worthy or able to go openly into the hall where Jesus was. So outside he went with a broken heart. The constative aorist here does not emphasize as Mark‘s imperfect does (Mark 14:72, εκλαιενeklaien) the continued weeping that was now Peter‘s only consolation. The tears were bitter, all the more so by reason of that look of understanding pity that Jesus gave him. One of the tragedies of the Cross is the bleeding heart of Peter. Judas was a total wreck and Peter was a near derelict. Satan had sifted them all as wheat, but Jesus had prayed specially for Peter (Luke 22:31.). Will Satan show Peter to be all chaff as Judas was?


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Matthew 26:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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