Matthew 1-13, Volume 33A (33) (Word Biblical Commentary) [Revised ed.] 9780310521983, 031052198X

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Matthew 1-13, Volume 33A (33) (Word Biblical Commentary) [Revised ed.]
 9780310521983, 031052198X

Table of contents :
Cover Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Editorial Preface
Author’s Preface
Commentary Bibliography
General Bibliography
About the Present Commentary
The Papias Tradition Concerning Matthew
Matthew’s Sources
Oral Tradition In the Gospel of Matthew
The Structure of Matthew
Matthew’s Use of the Old Testament
The Genre and Purpose of Matthew
Matthew’s Theology
The Original Readers of Matthew
The Sitz im Leben (“Life Setting”) of Matthew’s Community
On Matthew’s “Anti-Judaism”
Date and Provenance
Text and Commentary
The Birth and Infancy Narratives (1:1–2:23)
The Ancestry of Jesus (1:1–17)
The Birth and Naming of Jesus (1:18–25)
The Magi Worship the Newborn King (2:1–12)
The Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight to Egypt (2:13–23)
The Preparation for the Ministry (3:1–4:11)
John the Baptist (3:1–12)
The Baptism of Jesus (3:13–17)
The Temptation of Jesus (4:1–11)
Galilean Ministry (4:12–25)
Jesus Begins His Ministry In Galilee (4:12–17)
The Calling of the Disciples (4:18–22)
The Ministry of Jesus Encapsulated (4:23–25)
The First Discourse: The Sermon On the Mount (5:1–7:29)
The Setting of the Sermon (5:1–2)
Introduction (5:3–16)
The Foundation of Righteous Living: The Beatitudes (5:3–12)
The Essence of Discipleship: Salt and Light (5:13–16)
The Main Body of the Sermon (5:17–7:12)
The Relation Between the Old and the New Righteousness (5:17–48)
Continuity With the Old (5:17–20)
The Surpassing of the Old: The Six Antitheses (5:21–48)
On Murder (5:21–26)
On Adultery (5:27–30)
On Divorce (5:31–32)
On Oaths (5:33–37)
On Retaliation (5:38–42)
On Loving One’s Enemies (5:43–48)
Outward vs. Inward Righteousness (6:1–18)
Almsgiving (6:1–4)
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer (6:5–15)
The Setting of Prayer (6:5–6)
On the Right Way to Pray: “The Lord’s Prayer” (6:7–15)
Fasting (6:16–18)
Dependence Upon God (6:19–34)
Serving God Rather Than Wealth (6:19–24)
The Disciple and Anxiety (6:25–34)
Various Teachings and the Golden Rule (7:1–12)
On Not Judging Others (7:1–5)
Discernment In Proclaiming the Gospel (7:6)
The Answering Father (7:7–11)
The Golden Rule (7:12)
Conclusion (7:13–27)
The Two Ways (7:13–14)
The False and the Genuine (7:15–23)
Warning Concerning False Prophets (7:15–20)
The Insufficiency of the Charismata (7:21—23)
The Parable of the Two Builders (7:24–27)
The Astonishment of the Crowds (7:28–29)
The Authoritative Deeds of the Messiah (8:1–9:38)
The Healing of a Leper (8:1–4)
The Curing of the Centurion’s Son (8:5–13)
The Healing of Peter’s Mother-In-Law and Others (8:14–17)
Two Comments On Discipleship (8:18–22)
Excursus: Son of Man
The Stilling of the Sea (8:23–27)
Exorcism of the Gadarene Demoniacs (8:28–34)
The Healing of a Paralytic (9:1–8)
The Call of Matthew and a Dinner Party With Tax Collectors and Sinners (9:9–13)
Combining New and Old (9:14–17)
The Healing of the Hemorrhaging Woman and the Raising of the Ruler’s Daughter (9:18–26)
The Healing of Two Blind Men (9:27–31)
The Healing of the Mute Demoniac (9:32–34)
A Summary and the Call for Workers (9:35–38)
The Second Discourse: The Missionary Discourse (10:1–11:1)
The Empowering of the Twelve Apostles (10:1–4)
Mission Instructions (10:5–15)
The Experience of Persecution (10:16–23)
The Maligning of Both Teacher and Disciples (10:24–25)
Have No Fear of Your Persecutors (10:26–31)
Confession and Denial (10:32–33)
Division and Discipleship (10:34–39)
A Concluding Note On Receiving the Servants of Christ (10:40–11:1)
The Negative Response to Jesus (11:2–12:50)
Jesus’ Answer to the Baptist’s Question (11:2–6)
Jesus’ Estimate of John the Baptist (11:7–15)
The Dissatisfaction of Israel (11:16–19)
Oracles of Judgment (11:20–24)
The Mystery of Election and the Central Significance of the Son (11:25–27)
A Renewed Invitation (11:28–30)
Plucking Grain On the Sabbath (12:1–8)
Healing a Withered Hand On the Sabbath (12:9–14)
The Gentle, Healing Servant (12:15–21)
Can Beelzebul Be Against Himself? (12:22–30)
The Question of Unforgivable Sin (12:31–32)
Speaking Good and Evil (12:33–37)
The Sign of Jonah (12:38–42)
The Parable of the Returning Demons (12:43–45)
The True Family of Jesus (12:46–50)
The Third Discourse: Teaching In Parables (13:1–58)
The Parable of the Soils (13:1–9)
The Purpose of Parables (13:10–17)
The Explanation of the Parable of the Soils (13:18–23)
The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (13:24–30)
The Parable of the Mustard Seed (13:31–32)
The Parable of the Leavened Loaves and a Further Comment On the Reason for the Parables (13:33–35)
The Explanation of the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (13:36–43)
The Parables of the Treasure and the Pearl (13:44–46)
The Parable of the Dragnet (13:47–50)
The Scribe Trained for the Kingdom: The End of the Discourse (13:51–52)
The Unbelief of the People of Nazareth (13:53–58)

Citation preview


Editorial Board O ld Testament Editor: Nancy L . deClaisse-Walford (2011 – ) New Testam ent Editor: Peter H. Davids (2013 – )

Past Editors General Editors Ralph P. Martin (2012 – 2013) Bruce M. Metzger (1997 – 2007)

David A. H ubbard (1977 – 1996) Glenn W. Barker (1977 – 1984)

Old Testament Editors: Jo h n D. W. Watts (1977 – 2011)

Jam es W. Watts (1997 – 2011)

New Testament Editors: Ralph P. Martin (1977 – 2012)

Lynn Allan Losie (1997 – 2013)

Volumes 1 2 3 4 5 6a

Genesis 1 - 15 Gordon J. W enham Genesis 16 - 50 Gordon J. W enham Exodus........................ Jo h n I. Durham Leviticus Jo h n E. Hartley Num bers Philip J. B udd D euteronom y 1:1 - 21:9, 2nd ed D uane L Christensen 6b D euteronom y 21:10 - 34:12 D uane L Christensen 7a Joshua 1-12, 2nd ed Trent C. Butler 7b Joshua 13-24, 2nd ed. Trent C. Butler 8 Judges Trent C. Butler 9 Ruth - Esther Frederic W. Bush 10 1 Samuel, 2nd ed Ralph W. Klein 11 2 Samuel A. A. A nderson Simon J. Devries 12 1 Kings, 2nd e d .......... 13 2 Kings........................ ..................T. R. Hobbs 14 1 Chronicles Roddy Braun 15 2 Chronicles Raymond B Dillard 16 Ezra, Nehemiah . .H . G. M. Williamson 17 Jo b 1 - 20 David J. A. Clines David J. A. Clines 18a Job 21 - 3 7 .................. 18b Job 38 - 42 .................. David J. A. Clines 19 Psalms 1 - 50, 2nd ed Peter C. Craigie, Marvin E. Tate Marvin E. Tate 20 Psalms 51 - 1 0 0 ......... Leslie C. Allen 21 Psalms 101 - 150, rev ed R oland E. M urphy 22 Proverbs 23a Ecclesiastes R oland E. M urphy 23b Song o f Songs/L am entations . . . .D uane H. Garrett, Paul R. House Jo h n D. W. Watts 24 Isaiah 1 - 33, rev. ed. . Jo h n D. W. Watts 25 Isaiah 3 4 - 66, rev. e d . Peter C. Craigie, 26 Jerem iah 1 - 25 Page H. Kelley, Joel F. D rinkard J r. Gerald L. Keown, 27 Jerem iah 26 - 52 Pamela J. Scalise, Thomas G Smothers *forthcom ing as o f 2 0 1 4 **in revision as o f 2 0 1 4

28 Ezekiel 1 - 1 9 ............................ Leslie C. Allen 29 Ezekiel 20 - 4 8 .......................... Leslie C. Allen 30 Daniel Jo h n E. Goldingay 31 H osea - J o n a h * * ....................Douglas Stuart 32 Micah - Malachi**..................Ralph L. Smith 33a Matthew 1 - 13..................Donald A. H agner 33b Matthew 14 - 28............... Donald A. H agner 34a Mark 1 - 8:26** R obert A. Guelich 34b Mark 8:27 - 16:20 ................... Craig A. Evans 35a Luke 1 - 9 :2 0 .............................Jo h n Nolland 35b Luke 9:21 - 18:34......................Jo h n Nolland 35c Luke 18:35 - 24:53....................Jo h n Nolland 36 John, 2nd ed. . . . George R. Beasley-Murray 37a Acts 1 - 1 4 * .........................Stephen J. Walton 37b Acts 15 - 28* Stephen J. Walton 38a Rom ans 1 - 8 Jam es D. G. D unn 38b Romans 9 - 1 6 ...................James D. G. D unn 39 1 Corinthians* Andrew D. Clarke 40 2 Corinthians, rev e d Ralph P. Martin 41 Galatians Richard N. Longenecker 42 Ephesians Andrew T Lincoln 43 Philippians, rev. ed. . . .Gerald F. Hawthorne, rev by Ralph P Martin 44 Colossians, Philemon** . . . Peter T. O'Brien 45 1 & 2 T hessalonians**..................F. F. Bruce 46 Pastoral Epistles William D. M ounce 47a Hebrews 1 - 8 .......................... William L. Lane 47b Hebrews 9 - 13........................William L. Lane 48 Jam es Ralph P. Martin 49 1 Peter J. Ramsey Michaels 50 Jude, 2 P e te r* * ........... Richard J. Bauckham 51 1, 2, 3, Jo h n , rev ed Stephen S Smalley 52a Revelation 1 - 5 David E. Aune 52b Revelation 6 - 1 6 .......................David E. Aune 52c Revelation 17 - 2 2 ................... David E. Aune

3 A W ORD B IB L IC A L C O M M EN TA R Y Matthew 1-13

DONALD A. HAGNER General Editors: Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker Old Testament Editors: John D. W. Watts, James W. Watts New Testament Editors: Ralph P. Martin, Lynn Allan Losie



Matthew 1-13, Volume 33A

Copyright © 2000 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Previously published as Matthew 1-13. Formerly published by Thomas Nelson, now published by Zondervan, a division of

l-larperCollinsChristian Publishing.

Requests for information should be addressed to:

Zondervan , 3900 Sparks Dr. Sf, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546

This edition: ISBN 978-0-310-52198-3 The Library of Congress has cataloged the original edition as follows : Library of Congress Control Number: 2005295211 The author's own translation of the Scripture text appears in italic type under the heading Translation. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system , or transmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other-except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

To Beverly

Contents Editorial Preface Author's Preface Abbreviations Commentary Bibliography General Bibliography In t r o d u c t io n

About the Present Com m entary T he Papias T radition concerning Matthew M atthew’s Sources Oral Tradition in the Gospel of Matthew T he Structure of Matthew M atthew’s Use o f the Old Testam ent T he G enre and Purpose of Matthew M atthew ’s Theology T he Original Readers of Matthew T he Sitz im Leben (“Life Setting”) of M atthew’s Com m unity O n M atthew’s “Anti-Judaism” Date and Provenance A uthorship

x xi xiv xxx x x x ii x x x ix x x x ix x liii xlvi xlviii

1 liii lvii lix Ixiv lxv lx x i lx x iii lx x v

TEXT AND COMMENTARY a n d I n f a n c y N a r r a t iv e s (1:1-2:23) Ancestry of Jesus (1:1-17) Birth and Nam ing of Jesus (1:18-25) Magi W orship the Newborn King (2:1-12) Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight to Egypt (2:13-23) T h e P r e p a r a t i o n f o r t h e M i n i s t r y (3:1-4:11) J o h n the Baptist (3:1-12) T he Baptism of Jesus (3:13-17) T he T em ptation of Jesus (4:1-11) G a l i l e a n M in i s t r y (4:12-25) Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee (4:12-17) T he Calling of the Disciples (4:18-22) T he Ministry of Jesus Encapsulated (4:23-25) T h e F i r s t D i s c o u r s e : T h e S e r m o n o n t h e M o u n t (5:1-7:29) T he Setting of the Serm on (5:1-2) Introduction (5:3-16) T he Foundation of Righteous Living: T he Beatitudes (5:3-12) T he Essence of Discipleship: Salt and Light (5:13-16) T he Main Body of the Serm on (5:17-7:12) T he Relation between the Old and the New Righteousness (5:17-48) C ontinuity with the Old (5:17-20)

T h e B ir t h

T he T he T he T he

1 2 13 22 32 43 43 53 60 71 71 74 78 82 84 87 87 97 102 102 102



T he Surpassing of the Old: The Six Antitheses (5:21-48) O n M urder (5:21-26) O n Adultery (5:27-30) O n Divorce (5:31-32) O n Oaths (5:33-37) O n Retaliation (5:38-42) O n Loving O n e ’s Enem ies (5:43-48) Outward vs. Inward Righteousness (6:1-18) Almsgiving (6:1-4) Prayer and the L o rd ’s Prayer (6:5-15) T he Setting of Prayer (6:5-6) O n the Right Way to Pray: “The L ord’s Prayer” (6:7-15) Fasting (6:16-18) D ependence u pon God (6:19-34) Serving God R ather Than W ealth (6:19-24) T he Disciple and Anxiety (6:25-34) Various Teachings and the Golden Rule (7:1-12) O n N ot Judging O thers (7:1-5) D iscernm ent in Proclaim ing the Gospel (7:6) T he Answering Father (7:7-11) T he Golden Rule (7:12) Conclusion (7:13-27) T he Two Ways (7:13-14) T he False and the G enuine (7:15-23) W arning concerning False Prophets (7:15-20) T h e In su ffic ie n c y o f th e C h a ris m a ta (7:21—23) T he Parable o f the Two Builders (7:24-27) T he A stonishm ent of the Crowds (7:28-29) T h e A u t h o r i t a t i v e D e e d s o f t h e M e s s i a h (8:1-9:38) T he H ealing of a Leper (8:1-4) T he Curing of the C en tu rio n ’s Son (8:5-13) T he H ealing o f P eter’s Mother-in-Law and O thers (8:14-17) Two Com m ents on Discipleship (8:18-22) Excursus: Son of Man T he Stilling of the Sea (8:23-27) Exorcism of the G adarene Demoniacs (8:28-34) T he H ealing of a Paralytic (9:1-8) T he Call o f Matthew and a D inner Party with Tax Collectors and Sinners (9:9-13) Com bining New and Old (9:14-17) T he Healing of the H em orrhaging W oman and the Raising of the R uler’s D aughter (9:18-26) T he H ealing of Two Blind Men (9:27-31) T he Healing o f the Mute Dem oniac (9:32-34) A Summary and the Call for W orkers (9:35-38) T h e S e c o n d D i s c o u r s e : T h e M is s i o n a r y D i s c o u r s e (10:1-11:1) T he Em powering of the Twelve Apostles (10:1-4) Mission Instructions (10:5-15)

110 113 118 121 126 129 132 136 136 141 141 143 153 155 155 160 167 167 170 172 175 177 177 180 180 184 189 192 195 196 200 207 211 213 219 223 229 235 240 245 251 255 258 262 263 267


T he Experience of Persecution (10:16-23) T he M aligning of Both Teacher and Disciples (10:24-25) Have No Fear o f Your Persecutors (10:26-31) Confession and Denial (10:32-33) Division and Discipleship (10:34-39) A C oncluding Note on Receiving the Servants of Christ (10:40-11:1) T h e N e g a t iv e R e s p o n s e t o J e s u s (11:2-12:50) Jesus’ Answer to the Baptist’s Question (11:2-6) Jesus’ Estimate of Jo h n the Baptist (11:7-15) T he Dissatisfaction of Israel (11:16-19) Oracles of Ju d g m ent (11:20-24) T he Mystery of Election and the Central Significance of the Son (11:25-27) A Renewed Invitation (11:28-30) Plucking Grain on the Sabbath (12:1-8) Healing a W ithered H and on the Sabbath (12:9-14) The Gentle, Healing Servant (12:15-21) Can Beelzebul Be against Himself? (12:22-30) The Q uestion of Unforgivable Sin (12:31-32) Speaking Good and Evil (12:33-37) The Sign o f Jonah (12:38-42) The Parable of the R eturning Dem ons (12:43-45) The T rue Family of Jesus (12:46-50) T h e T h i r d D i s c o u r s e : T e a c h i n g i n P a r a b l e s (13:1-58) The Parable of the Soils (13:1-9) The Purpose of Parables (13:10-17) T he Explanation of the Parable of the Soils (13:18-23) The Parable of the W heat and the Weeds (13:24-30) T he Parable of the M ustard Seed (13:31-32) The Parable of the Leavened Loaves and a F urther C om m ent on the Reason for the Parables (13:33-35) The Explanation of the Parable of the W heat and the Weeds (13:36-43) The Parables o f the Treasure and the Pearl (13:44-46) The Parable of the D ragnet (13:47-50) T he Scribe T rained for the Kingdom: T he End of the Discourse (13:51-52) T he U nbelief of the People of Nazareth (13:53-58)


274 281 283 287 289 294 298 298 302 309 311 315 322 326 331 335 339 345 348 351 355 358 361 365 369 376 381 384 387 391 395 398 400 403

Editorial Preface T he launching o f the Word Biblical Commentary brings to fulfillm ent an enterprise o f several years’ planning. The publishers and the m em bers of the editorial board m et in 1977 to explore the possibility of a new com m entary on the books of the Bible th at would incorporate several distinctive features. Prospective readers of these volumes are entitled to know what such features were in ten d ed to be; w hether the aims o f the com m entary have been fully achieved time alone will tell. First, we have tried to cast a wide n et to include as contributors a n um ber of scholars from around the world who no t only share our aims, but are in the m ain engaged in the ministry of teaching in university, college, and seminary. They rep resen t a rich diversity of denom inational allegiance. The broad stance of our contributors can rightly be called evangelical, and this term is to be understood in its positive, historic sense of a com m itm ent to Scripture as divine revelation, and to the tru th and power of the Christian gospel. T hen, the com m entaries in our series are all com m issioned and written for the purpose of inclusion in the Word Biblical Commentary. Unlike several of our dis­ tinguished counterparts in the field of com m entary writing, there are no translated works, originally written in a non-English language. Also, our com m entators were asked to p repare their own rendering o f the original biblical text and to use those languages as the basis of their own com m ents and exegesis. W hat may be claim ed as distinctive with this series is that it is based on the biblical languages, yet it seeks to make the technical and scholarly approach to the theological understanding of Scripture understandable by—and useful to— the fledgling student, the working m inister, and colleagues in the guild of professional scholars and teachers as well. Finally, a word m ust be said about the form at of the series. The layout, in clearly defined sections, has been consciously devised to assist readers at different levels. Those wishing to learn about the textual witnesses on which the translation is offered are invited to consult the section headed Notes. If the readers’ concern is with the state of m odern scholarship on any given portion of Scripture, they should turn to the sections on Bibliography and Form/Structure/Setting. For a clear exposition o f the passage’s m eaning and its relevance to the ongoing biblical revelation, the Comment and concluding Explanation are designed expressly to m eet that need. T here is therefore som ething for everyone who may pick up and use these volumes. If these aims com e anywhere near realization, the intention of the editors will have been met, and the labor of our team of contributors rewarded. General Editors:

David A. Hubbard Glenn W. Barker† Old Testam ent: John D. W. Watts New Testam ent: Ralph P. Martin

Author’s Preface C om m entators are generally tem pted to sing the praises o f the book on which they com m ent. They do so because they have the privilege of studying the book in great detail, often over a long period of time, and hence are able to com e to a special appreciation of it. T he present writer is no exception. It is no surprise to me that the Gospel of Matthew was as popular as it was in the early C hurch. Each Gospel, o f course, has its own beauty, and it would be invidious to make com pari­ sons. Furtherm ore, it is impossible in ju st a few lines to do justice to this wonderful docum ent. M atthew’s story of Jesus, however, is a m asterpiece. T he dram a of the gospel o f the kingdom , as it is seen in the alternating accounts of the deeds and the words of Jesus, is exceptionally powerful. From the w onder of the infancy narrative to the glory of the resurrected Christ com m issioning his disciples, the sweep of M atthew’s salvation-historical perspective is breathtaking. M atthew’s for­ m ula OT quotations, with th eir stress on prom ise and fulfillm ent, show the m agnificent unity of G od’s purposes and the continuing im portance of Israel’s Scriptures to the C hurch. M atthew’s distinctive com pilations of the teaching of Jesus in the five discourses have understandably been treasured by Christians down through the ages. T he Serm on on the M ount is itself an incom parable di­ gest of the ethical teaching of Jesus. More often than n o t we know the teaching of Jesus in the striking and balanced cadences of M atthew’s form ulations. And if Matthew was the m ost quoted Gospel in the early C hurch, it may well be true that it is the m ost quoted today, certainly of the Synoptics at least. C om m entators who have com e to appreciate a work will often feel inadequate to the challenge of conveying its m eaning to others. Again the present writer is no exception. T he problem lies n o t merely in attem pting to explicate the diffi­ cult passages— a challenge no t to be m inim ized—but also in doing justice to the “ordinary” passages. But in Matthew, even the “ordinary” has often an extraordi­ nary character. T he com m entator knows that a m onograph could be written on every pericope, which he or she m ust treat in only a few pages. W hat com m enta­ tor, after finishing com m ents on any particular passage, has ever felt really satisfied? She or he m ust only hope that the reader has been given a glimpse of the m ean­ ing and significance of the m aterial in view and has been pointed in the right direction for future study. Those who buy com m entaries will have noticed the trend toward ever larger commentaries. Two- and three-volume com m entaries are becom ing common. One reason for this is the constantly growing am ount of secondary literature. If one is going to take account of all (most) o f it and interact with some o f it, one will need a great am ount of space indeed. T here are com m entaries on Matthew u n ­ derway that provide virtually encyclopedic coverage. I see no reason for every com m entary to do this, however, and I have thus m ade a concerted attem pt to resist the trend, keeping m ore to the original conception of the W ord Biblical Com mentary. I have tried above all to give a fresh reading o f the Gospel of Mat­ thew as I see it, exegeting the text using mainly the prim ary tools of research, interacting with the m ost im portant secondary literature only at selected points,


A u t h o r ’s Preface

and through the bibliographies pointing readers to m uch m ore that they can pursue in their study. Given the length o f Matthew, however, even the present com m entary has nevertheless been forced into a two-volume format. Com m entators usually find it hard to say good-bye to their m anuscripts—m uch to the chagrin o f their publishers—especially after they have worked on them for a n u m b er of years. Again, the present com m entator is no exception. If no t always on the fro n t burner, Matthew has at least been sim m ering on a back b u rn e r for m ore than fifteen years. To change the m etaphor, I know I will experience post­ partum depression. And, then, the com m entator worries, How will my offspring fare in this cold world? O ne m ust after all always let go of the m anuscript in an im perfect state. O n the o ther hand, there does finally com e a time when one can no longer end u re the perennial question about when the com m entary will be published. Some people really are interested in seeing it. So too is the com m en­ tator! Finally, com m entators, including the present one, always have lots of people to thank. O ne is naturally always indebted to the m any who have already written on the subject. I have learned m uch about Matthew from m em bers of the Mat­ thew sem inar of the Society of New Testam ent Studies as well as the Matthew group o f the Society of Biblical Literature. I am grateful to Fuller Theological Seminary for the generous sabbatical program that has allowed me the privilege of escaping to wonderful places like Lund, Cambridge, and Tübingen, where m uch o f this com m entary was written. I owe very m uch to discussions over the years with the prem ier M atthean scholar, Professor Birger G erhardsson of the Univer­ sity o f L und in Sweden, who upon reading this com m entary will recognize many o f his own perspectives. I am thankful for the consistently warm hospitality of the Gerhardssons. I am also grateful to Professor and Mrs. P eter Stuhlm acher of the University o f T ubingen, Germany, for wonderful hospitality and stim ulating con­ versation during the better part of an academ ic year that I was privileged to spend there. I am grateful to my brother-in-law, the Reverend David A. Smith, who did his best to keep my feet on the ground by constantly urging that I write a com m en­ tary useful to pastors. I only hope I have succeeded in doing so. Also to be warmly thanked are the cheerful and cooperative editors of the m anuscript for W ord, including Ms. Melanie M cQuere, Dr. Lynn Losie, and, of course, my form er colleague, Professor Ralph P. Martin. And speaking of W ord, Incorporated, I am also grateful to David Pigg, who, I am happy to say, knows the art o f gentle exhortation. I thank Dr. Michael Wilkins for reading a portion of the com m entary and for m aking encouraging com m ents. Several students deserve thanks for their help at various stages of the project. I am especially grateful for the w onderful lift that was given to me by Carl H ofm ann, now a Presbyterian pastor, who as a recent, talented M.Div. graduate walked into my office one day, said he had some time on his hands, and asked if there was anything I m ight like help on! W hat a kind­ ness! He, together with Ph.D. student Darryl White, did general work on different parts o f the m anuscript. Two o th er Ph.D. students who have been generous with their time, and to whom I owe thanks, are Dwight Sheets for help with bibliogra­ phy and Jo n H untzinger for expert help in proofreading.

Author's Preface


I thank warmly the excellent staff o f the word-processing office at Fuller Semi­ nary, especially to David Sielaff and Anne W hite, who have the ability to decipher anything that is given to them , no m atter how illegible to ordinary mortals. I am grateful to the Wm. B. Eerdm ans Publishing Com pany for perm ission to use m aterial from my article on “M atthew” in the revised edition of the Interna­ tional Standard Bible Encyclopedia and to Scholars Press for perm ission to borrow paragraphs from my article “T he Sitz im Leben of the Gospel of M atthew,” which appeared in the 1985 Sem inar Papers of the Society of Biblical Literature. I want also to add a word of gratitude to my faculty colleagues at Fuller for the stimulating and supportive context they have always provided. It is a pleasure to work in their midst, and I do n o t take for granted the generous giving of them ­ selves in friendship and collegiality. Finally, there is no way that I can offer adequate thanks to the one to whom these volumes are dedicated. As a professional psychologist, my wife, Bev, knows well the art o f em pathic listening, and I have often been the privileged benefi­ ciary o f th a t listening. She has consistently e n c o u rag e d m e and has never com plained—when well she m ight have— that Matthew was stealing time from her. It is astounding to m e that I have been working on Matthew for half of our m arried life together! T hough a busy career woman herself, Bev has never failed in h er enthusiastic support and h er loving interest in my work. I am deeply grate­ ful to her. D onald A. H agner September 1993 Fuller Theological Seminary Pasadena, California


A. G eneral Abbreviations A Codex A lexandrinus ad com m ent on Akkad. Akkadian K Codex Sinaiticus Ap. Lit. Apocalyptic L iterature Apoc. A pocrypha Aq. A quila’s G reek Translation of the OT Arab. Arabic Aram. Aramaic B Codex Vaticanus C Codex E phraem i Syri c. circa, about cent. century cf. confer, com pare chap(s). chapter (s) cod., codd. codex, codices contra in contrast to D Codex Bezae dative dat. DSS D ead Sea Scrolls ed. edited by, editor(s) e.g. exempli gratia, for exam ple et al. et alii, and others ET English translation EV English Versions of the Bible fem. fem inine fragm ents frag. FS Festschrift, volume w ritten in h o n o r of ft. foot, feet gen. genitive Gr. G reek hapax legomenon, sole hap. leg. occurrence H ebrew Heb. H ittite Hitt. ibidem, in the same place ibid. idem, the same id. id est, that is i.e.

impf. infra Jos. lat lit. LXX masc. mg. MS(S) MT n. N.B. n.d. Nestle

no. n.s. NT obs. o.s. OT p., pp. pace / / , par(s). par. passim pi. Pseudep. Q q.v. rev. Rom. RVmg Sam. sc. Sem. sing.

im perfect below Josephus Latin literally Septuagint m asculine m argin m anuscript (s) Masoretic text (of the O ld Testam ent) note nota bene, note well no date Nestle (ed.), Novum Testamentum Graece26, rev. K. an d B. Aland n u m b er new series New T estam ent obsolete old series O ld Testam ent page, pages with due respect to, but differing from parallel (s) paragraph elsewhere plural P seudepigrapha Q uelle (“Sayings” source for the Gospels) quod vide, which see revised by, reviser, revision Rom an Revised Version m argin Sam aritan recension scilicet, that is to say Semitic singular

Abbreviations Sumer. s.v. sy Symm. Tg. T heod. TR tr. Ugar.

Sum erian sub verbo, u n d e r the word Syriac Symmachus Targum T heodotion Textus Receptus translator, translated by Ugaritic

xv University Press ut supra, as above verse, verses Vulgate videlicet, namely varia lectio, alternative reading volume times (2x = two tim es,etc.)

UP u.s. v, v

vg viz. v.l. vol. X

For abbreviations of G reek MSS used in Notes, see N estle26. B.

Abbreviations fo r Translations and P araphrases



M offatt


Smith and G oodspeed, The Complete Bible, A n American Translation American Standard Version, American Revised Version (1901) A uthorized Version = KJV G ood News Bible = Today’s English Version Jerusalem Bible Jewish Publication Society, The Holy Scriptures King Jam es Version (1611) = AV R. A. Knox, The Holy Bible: A Translation from the Latin Vulgate in the Light of the Hebrew and Greek Original J. Moffatt, A New Translation of the Bible (NT 1913)


T he New Am erican Bible T he New English Bible T he New International Version (1978) New Jerusalem Bible (1985) New Revised Standard Version (1989) J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English Revised English Bible Revised S tandard Version (NT 1946, O T 1952, Apoc. 1957) Revised Version, 1881-85 R. F. Weymouth, The New Testament in Modern Speech C. B. Williams, The New Testament: A Translation in the Language of the People

Abbreviations o f Commonly U sed Periodicals, R eference Works, and Serials


A m erican Academy of Religion Studies in Religion Acta apostolicae sedis Annual of the American Schools of O riental Research A nchor Bible Abr-Nahrain Augsburg Com m entary on the New Testam ent Acta orientalia A ncient Christian Writers A nnual of the D epartm ent of A ntiquities of Jo rd an




American Ecclesiastical Review Archiv fu r Orientforschung A rbeiten zur Geschichte des antiken Ju d en tu m s u n d des U rchristentum s A rbeiten zur G eschichte des Spatjudentum s u n d U rchristentum s F. Rosenthal, An Aramaic Handbook W. von Soden, Akkadisches Handworterbuch AmericanJournal of Archaeology







A bbreviations American Journal of Arabic Studies Australian Journal of Biblical Archaeology A nnual of the Japanese Biblical Institute American Journal of Philology American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literature American Journal of Theology A nalecta lovaniensia biblica et orientalia A rbeiten zur Literatur u nd Geschichte des hellenistischen Judentum s A nnual of Feeds University O riental Society A nalecta biblica A nalecta B ollandiana J. B. P ritchard (ed.), Ancient Near East in Pictures J. B. P ritchard (ed.), Ancient Near East Supplementary Texts and Pictures J. B. Pritchard (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts T he Ante-Nicene Fathers L 'A nnee theologique A nalecta orientalia Andover Newton Quarterly Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt A rbeiten zur N eutestam entlichen Textforschung A rbeiten zum N euen T estam ent u n d zum Ju d e n tu m Antonianum Alter O rient u n d Altes Testam ent A m erican O riental Series J. M arouzeau (ed.), L ,A nnee philologique R. H. Charles (ed.), Apocry­ pha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament Archiv fu r Reformationsgeschichte Archives royales de Mari





Archiv orientalni Archiv fu r Religionswissenschaft Austin Seminary Bulletin Acta sem inarii neotestam entici upsaliensis Acta sanctae sedis Assemblees du Seigneur Archives des sciences sociales des religions A nnual of the Swedish Theological Institute A lttestam entliche A bhandlungen A bhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten u n d N euen Testaments Das Alte Testam ent Deutsch Acta theologica danica Anglican Theological Review Australian Biblical Review Andrews University Seminary Studies Biblical Archaeologist Biblioteca de autores cristianos W. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, ET, ed. W. F. A rn d t and F. W. Gingrich; 2d ed. rev. F. W. Gingrich and F. W. Danker (Univer­ sity of Chicago, 1979) Biblical Archaeology Review Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists B onner biblische Beitrage Beitrage zur biblischen Exegese u n d T heologie Bulletin of the Council on the Study of Religion F. Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament

Abbreviations BDF





F. Blass, A .Debrunner, and R. W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the N T F. Blass, A. D ebrunner, and F. Rehkopf, Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch Bibbia e oriente Bibliotheca ephem eridum theologicarum lovaniensium Beitrage zur evangelischen Theologie Beitrage zur F orderung christlicher Theologie Beitrage zur Geschichte der biblischen Exegese Biblisch-Historisches Handworterbuch R. Kittel, Biblia hebraica Biblia hebraica stuttgartensia Beitrage zur historischen Theologie Biblica Biblische Beitrage Bibel und Leben Biblische Notizen Biblica et orientalia Bible Review Biblische Studien (Freiburg, 1895-) Biblische Studien (N eukirchen, 1951—) Bulletin of the Israel Explora­ tion Society (= Yediot) Bulletin de l'institut francais d’archeologie orientale The Bible Today Bulletin of theJohn Rylands University Library of Manchester Brown Judaic Studies Bibel und Kirche Biblischer K om m entar: Altes Testam ent Bulletin de litterature ecclesiastique Bibel und Liturgie






Black’s New T estam ent C om m entaries Bibliotheca orientalis Biblical Research Bibliotheca Sacra Bulletin of the School of Oriental (and African) Studies Bibliotheque de sciences religieuses The Bible Translator Biblical Theology Bulletin Bible et terre saint Biblische U ntersuchungen Bible et vie chretienne Biblical World Beitrage zur Wissenschaft vom Alten u n d N euen Testam ent Biblische Zeitschrift Beihefte zur ZAW Beihefte zur ZAW Beihefte zur ZRGG The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago Cambridge Ancient History Com m entaire de l’Ancien T estam ent Cultura biblica Catholic Biblical Quarterly CBQ M onograph Series Corpus C atholicorum Corpus C hristianorum Cam bridge G reek Testa­ m en t C om m entary Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges Church History Catholic Historical Review Christianity Today Corpus inscriptionum graecarum Corpus inscriptionum iudaicarum Corpus inscriptionum latinarum




A bbreviations Corpus inscriptionum semiticarum Canadian Journal of Theology C om m entaire du Nouveau T estam ent C oniectanea biblica C oniectanea biblica, New Testam ent Concilium Coniectanea neotestamentica Church Quarterly Church Quarterly Review Comptes rendus de l 'Academie des inscriptions et belleslettres Classical Review Crozier Quarterly Corpus scriptorum christian­ orum orientalium Corpus scriptorum ecclesias­ ticorum latinorum A. H erdner, Corpus des tablettes en cuneiformes alphabetiques Calvin TheologicalJournal Concordia Theological Monthly Concordia Theological Quarterly Currents in Theology and Mission


Exp ExpTim

Etudes bibliques Encyclopedia of Biblical Theology Ecclesiastical Review H. Balz an d G. Schneider (eds.), ExegeticalDictionary of the New Testament Etudes franciscaines Exegetisches H and b u ch zum Alten Testam ent Evangelisch-katholischer K om m entar zum N euen Testam ent Evangelisches Kirchenlexikon Enchiridion biblicum Encyclopedia judaica (1971) Epworth Review Ecumenical Review Eranos Jahrbuch Estudios biblicos Ephemerides theologicae lovanienses Etudes theologiques et religieuses E rfu rter Theologische Studien Esprit et Vie EvangelicalJournal Evangelische K om m entar Evangelical Quarterly Evangelische Theologie H. Balz and G. Schneider (eds.), Exegetisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testament Expositor The Expository Times


Forschung zur Bibel Facet Books, Biblical Series



EKL EnchBib EncJ ud EpR ER ErJ b EstBib ETL ETR




Dictionnaire d’archeologie chretienne et de liturgie Dictionnaire de la Bible, Supplement Diakonia C.-F. Jean a n d J. Hoftijzer, Dictionnaire des inscriptions semitiques de l ’ouest Discoveries in the Ju d ean D esert J. B. G reen and S. McKnight (eds.), Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels Doctrine and Life D. W. Thom as (ed.), Documents from Old Testament Times

Downside Review D enzinger-Schonmetzer, Enchiridion symbolorum Dictionnaire de theologie catholique Dansk teologisk tidsskrift Dunwoodie Review









x ix

Fathers of the C hurch Forschungen zur Religion u n d L iteratur des Alten u n d N euen Testaments Frankfurter theologische Studien Foi et Vie


W. von Soden, Grundriss der akkadischen Grammatik G riechische christliche Schriftsteller Gesenius-KautzschBergstrasser, Hebraische Grammatik Gesenius’Hebrew Grammar, ed. E. Kautzsch, tr. A. E. Cowley Geist und Leben G rundrisse zum N euen Testam ent Greek Orthodox Theological Review Göttinger Predigtmeditation Greece and Rome Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies Gregorianum Gö ttinger Theologische A rbeiten


H and b u ch zum N euen Testam ent H arp er’s NT Com m entaries History of Religions H arvard Semitic M ono­ graphs H erders theologischer K om m entar zum N euen Testam ent Harvard Theological Review H arvard Theological Studies Hebrew Union College Annual H erm eneutische U ntersuchungen zur T heologie

W. B aum gartner et al., Hebräisches und aramäisches Lexikon zum Alten Testament H andbuch zum Alten T estam ent Horizons in Biblical Theology H arvard Dissertations in Religion Heythrop Journal Hibbert Journal H andkom m entar zum Alten Testam ent H andkom m entar zum N euen T estam ent




Interpreter’s Bible Irish Biblical Studies Intern atio n al Critical C om m entary G. A. Buttrick (ed.), Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible Supplementary volume to IDB Israel Exploration Journal Interpretation G. W. Bromiley (ed.), International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, rev. ed. Irish Theological Quarterly Journal asiatique Journal of the American Academy of Religion Jah rb u ch f ür Antike u n d Christentum Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society of Columbia University Journal of the American Oriental Society Journal of Asian Studies R. E. Brown et al. (eds.), The Jerome Biblical Commentary Journal of Biblical Literature Journal of Bible and Religion Journal of Cuneiform Studies Ju d e an D esert Studies Journal of Egyptian Archaeology Journal of Ecclesiastical History







A b b r e v ia t io n s

Journal of Ecumenical Studies Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Journal of Hellenic Studies Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies Journal of Indian Philosophy Journal of Jewish Studies Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Journal of Mithraic Studies Journal of Near Eastern Studies Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society Jewish Quarterly Review Jewish Q uarterly Review M onograph Series Journal of Religion Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Journal of Religious Ethics Journal of Religious Studies Journal of Religious History Journal of Roman Studies Journal of Religious Thought Journal for the Study of Judaism Journal for the Study of the New Testament JSNT S upplem ent Series Journal for the Study of the Old Testament JSO T S upplem ent Series Journal of Semitic Studies Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion Journal for Theology and the Church Journal of Theological Studies Judaica: Beiträge zum Verstän d n is. . . H. D onner and W. Röllig, Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften K om m entar zum Alten T estam ent L. K oehler and W. Baum gartner, Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti libros


Kerygma und Dogma Kleine Texte K om m entar till Nya T estam ent


Library o f Christian Classics Loeb Classical Library Lectio divina Lesonenu Lexington Theological (Quarterly Linguistica Biblica E. Vogt, Lexicon linguae aramaicae Veteris Testamenti G. W. H. Lam pe, Patristic Greek Lexicon Lutheran Quarterly Lutherische Rundschau Louvain Studies Liddell-Scott-Jones, GreekEnglish Lexicon Lexikon fu r Theologie und Kirche Laval theologique et philosophique Lunds universitets arsskrift Lumiere et Vie S upplem ent to LumVie Lumen Vitae Lutheran World





McCormick Quarterly M itteilungen d er deutschen O rient-Gesellschaft H. A. W. Meyer, Kritischexegetischer Kommentar ü ber das Neue Testament Monatschrift fu r Geschichte und Wissenschaft desJudentums J. H. M oulton, W. F. Howard, and N. T urner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek J. H. M oulton and G. Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Moffatt NT C om m entary Memoires presentes a l'Academie des inscriptions et belleslettres





NedTTs Neot NewDocs


Melanges de science religieuse M arburger theologische Studien M ü nchener theologische Zeitschrift Melanges de l'universite SaintJoseph M itteilungen der vorderasiatisch-agyptischen Gesellschaft National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion New Blackfr iars New Century Bible (new ed.) R. C. Fuller et al. (eds.), New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture M. R. P. M cGuire et al. (eds.), New Catholic Encyclopedia Nederlands theologisch tijdschrift Neotestamentica New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity, A Review of Greek Inscriptions, etc., ed. G. H. R. Horsley, N orth Ryde, NSW, Australia New Frontiers in Theology Nag H am m adi Studies New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology New International C om m en­ tary on the New Testament New International Biblical Com m entary New International G reek Testam ent Com m entary Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift Norsk Teologisk Tijdsskrift Novum Testamentum S upplem ent to NovT N icene and Post-Nicene Fathers La nouvelle revue theologique New Testament Abstracts N eutestam entliche A bhandlungen





xxi Das N eue T estam ent D eutsch N eutestam entliche Forschungen New T estam ent Library New Theology Review New Testament Studies New T estam ent Tools and Studies Numen: International Review for the History of Religions Orbis biblicus et orientalis O sterreichische biblische studien Oxford Classical Dictionary Orientalia Christiana periodica W. D ittenberger (ed.), Orientis graeci inscriptiones selectae (1903-5) O riental Institute Publications O rientalia lovaniensia periodica Orientalische Literaturzeitung Orientalia (Rome) Oriens antiquus Oriens christianus L 'orient syrien O xford Theological M ono­ graphs Oudtestamentische Studien Proceedings of the American Academy of Jewish Research M. Black and Η. H. Rowley (eds.), Peake’s Commentary on the Bible Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statement Palestine Exploration Quarterly J. P. Migne, Patrologia graeca K. Preisendanz (ed.), Papyri graecae magicae Philosophy East and West Philosophical Review Palastina-Jahrbuch





A b b r e v ia t io n s

Papers on Language and Literature Patrologia orientalis Oxyrhynchus Papyri Perspectives in Religious Studies Le Palais royal d’Ugarit Perkins (School of Theology) Journal Pittsburgh (Princeton) Theological M onograph Series Princeton Theological Review Pseudepigrapha Veteris Testamenti graece Pauly-Wissowa, RealEncyklopadie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft S upplem ent to PW


Q uaestiones disputatae Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine


Revue d’assyriologie et d’archeologie orientale Reallexikon fu r Antike und Christentum Revue biblique Revue benedictine Revista de cultura biblica Realencyklopadie fu r protestantische Theologie und Kirche Revue des etudes anciennes (Bordeaux) Recherches bibliques Revue d 'egyptologie Revue des etudes grecques Revue des etudes juives Religious Studies Religion and Society Religious Studies Review Repertoire d’epigraphie semitique Restoration Quarterly Review and Expositor Revista biblica Revue de Qumran



REA RechBib REg REG REJ RelS RelSoc RelSRev RES ResQ RevExp RevistB RevQ




Revue des sciences religieuses Revue semitique Revue des sciences religieuses (Strasbourg) Revue thomiste Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart Revue d’histoire ecclesiastique Revue d’histoire et de philosophie religieuses Revue de l'histoire des religions Rivista biblica R egensburger N eues Testam ent Review of Religion Rivista degli studi orientali Revue des sciences philosophiques et theologiques Recherches de science religieuse Revue theologique de Louvain Revue de theologie et de philosophie Reformed Theological Review Sacra Pagina Salmanticensis Studien zum Alten u n d N euen Testam ent Sam m lung ausgew ahlter kirchen- u n d dogm engeschichtlicher Q uellenschriften Sources bibliques Studii biblici franciscani La sainte bible deJerusalem Society o f Biblical Literature Abstracts and Sem inar Papers SBL D issertation Series SBL M asoretic Studies SBL M onograph Series SBL Sources for Biblical Study SBL Septuagint and Cognate Studies SBL Texts and Translations S tuttgarter biblische M onographien

Abbreviations SBS SBT SC ScEccl ScEs SCR Scr SD SE





Stuttgarter Bibelstudien Studies in Biblical Theology Sources chretiennes Sciences ecclesiastiques Science et esprit Studies in Comparative Religion Scripture Studies and D ocum ents Studia E vangelica 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (=TU 73 [1959], 87 [1964], 88 [1964], 102 [1968], 103 [1968], 112 [1973]) Svensk exegetisk arsbok Sefarad Sein und Sendung Semitica Studies in Historical Theology Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity Scottish Journal of Theology Stuttgarter kleiner K om m entar Studi e materiali di storia delle religioni Studien zum N euen Testam ent Society for New T estam ent Studies M onograph Series Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt SNTU M onograph Series Symbolae osloenses Society for O ld Testam ent Study M onograph Series Studia papyrologica Sitzungsberichte der preussischen Akademie der W issenschaften Studia postbiblica Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses Semitic Study Series Studia theologica Svensk teologisk arsskrift Studies on the Texts of the D esert of Ju d ah

StimmZeit STK Str-B

StudBib StudN eot SUNT SVTP SWJT SymBU





xxiii Stimmen der Zeit (M unich) Svensk teologisk kvartalskrift [H. Strack and] P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament Studia Biblica Studia neotestam entica Studien zur Umwelt des N euen Testaments Studia in Veteris Testamenti pseudepigrapha Southwestern Journal of Theology Symbolae biblicae upsalienses Tantur Yearbook Transactions of the American Philological Association Theologische Beitrage Theologische Blatter Theologische Bucherei Theological Collection (SPCK) B. M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Theology Digest G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (eds.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Texts and Studies Theologische Forschung Theologie der Gegen vart Theologie und Glaube Theology Theologischer H andkom m entar zum N euen Testam ent Theologische Literaturzeitung Tyndale New Testam ent Com m entaries Theologie und Philosophie Theologisch-praktische Quartalschrift Theologische Quartalschrift Theologische Realenzyklopadie






Abbreviations Theologische Revue Theologische Rundschau Theological Studies Theologische Studien und Kritiken Teologisk Tidsskrift Tijdschrif t voor theologie Theology Today Trierer theologische Zeitschrif t Texte u n d U ntersuchungen G. J. Botterweck and H. Ringgren (eds.), Theologisches Worterbuch zum Alien Testament G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (eds.), Theologisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testament Tyndale Bulletin Theologische Zeitschrif t U nited Bible Societies Greek New Testament Ugaritische Forschungen U ntersuchungen zum N euen Testam ent Union Seminary Quarterly Review C. H. G ordon, Ugaritic Textbook U ppsala universitetsarsskrift Vigilae christianae Verbum caro Vigiliae Christianae Verbum domini Verkundigung und Forschung K. A land (ed.), Vollständige Konkordanz zum griechischen Neuen Testament Verbum salutis Vie spirituelle Vetus Testamentum Vetus Testam entum , Supplem ents








M. Luther, Kritische Gesamtausgabe (=“W eim ar” edition)


W ord Biblical C om m entary Wort und Dienst Westminster Dictionary of the Bible Westminster Historical Atlas of the Bible W issenschaftliche M onographien zum Alien u n d N euen Testam ent Die Welt des Orients Wort und Wahrheit Westminster TheologicalJournal W issenschaftliche U n tersuchungen zum N euen T estam ent Word and World Wiener Zeitschrif t fu r die Kunde des Morgenlandes Wiener Zeitschrif t fu r die Kunde Süd- und Ostasiens Zeitschrif t fu r Assyriologie Zeitschrif t fu r die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft Zeitschrif t der deutschen morgenlandischen Gesellschaft Zeitschrif t des deutschen Palastina-Vereins Zeitschrif t fu r evangelische Ethik Zeitschrif t fu r historische Theologie Zeitschrif t fu r Kirchengeschichte Zeitschrif t fu r katholische Theologie Zeitschrif t fu r Missionskunde und Religionswissenschaft Zeitschrif t fu r die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft Zeitschrif t fu r Religions- und Geistesgeschichte Zeitschrif t fu r systematische Theologie Zeitschrif t fu r Theologie und Kirche Zeitschrif t fu r wissenschaftliche Theologie

Abbreviations D.


Abbreviations fo r Books of the Bible, the Apocrypha, and the P seudepigrapha OLD TESTAMENT 2 Chr Ezra N eh Esth Job Ps(s) Prov Eccl Cant Isa Je r Lam Ezek

Gen Exod Lev Num D eut Josh Ju d g Ruth 1 Sam 2 Sam 1 Kgs 2 Kgs 1 Chr

NEW TESTAMENT Matt Mark Luke Jo h n Acts Rom 1 Cor 2 Cor Gal Eph Phil Col 1 Thess 2 Thess

Dan Hos Joel Amos O bad Jo n ah Mic Nah H ab Zeph H ag Zech Mal

1 Tim 2 Tim Titus Philem H eb Jas 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 Jo h n 2 Jo h n 3 Jo h n Ju d e Rev

APOCRYPHA 1 Esdr 2 Esdr Tob Jd t Add Esth Wis Sir Bar


1 Esdras 2 Esdras Tobit Ju d ith Additions to Esther Wisdom of Solom on Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Jesus the son o f Sirach) Baruch

Ep Je r S T h Ch Sus Bel Pr Man 1 Macc 2 Macc

Epistle of Jerem iah Song of the T hree C hildren (or Young Men) Susanna Bel and the D ragon Prayer of M anasseh 1 M accabees 2 Maccabees

Abbreviations o f the N am es o f Pseudepigraphical and Early Patristic Books

Adam and Eve Apoc. Abr. 2 -3 Apoc. Bar. Apoc. Mos. As. Mos. 1 -2 -3 Enoch Ep. Anst. Jub. Mart. Isa.

Life of Adam and Eve Apocalypse of Abraham (1 st to 2nd cent, a.d.) Syriac, G reek Apocalypse of Baruch Apocalypse of Moses (See T. Mos.) Ethiopic, Slavonic, H ebrew Enoch Epistle of Ansteas Jubilees Martyrdom of Isaiah

Odes Sol. Pss. Sol. Sib. Or. T. 12 Pair. T. Abr. T. Judah T. Levi T Sol.

Odes of Solomon Psalms of Solomon Sibylline Oracles Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs Testament of Abraham Testament of Judah Testament of Levi, etc. Testament of Solomon

Gos. Eb. Gos. Heb.

Gospel of the Ebionites Gospel of the Hebrews


Gos. Naass. Gos. Pet. Barn. 1-2 Clem. Did. Diogn. Herm. Man. Sim. Vis. Ign. Eph. Magn. Phil.

A b b r e v ia t io n s

Gospel of the Naassenes Gospel of Peter Barnabas 1-2 Clement Didache Diognetus Hermas, Mandates Similitudes Visions Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians Ignatius, Letter to the Magnesiam Ignatius, Letter to the

Pol. Rom. Smyrn. Trail. Mart. Pol. Pol. Phil. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. Tertullian, De Praesc. Haer.

Ignatius, Letter to Polycarp Ignatius, Letter to the Romans Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeam Ignatius, Letter to the Trallians Martyrdom of Poly carp Polycarp, Letter to the Philippiam Irenaeus, Against All Heresies Tertullian, On the Proscribing of Heretics

F. Abbreviations o f Names o f Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Texts CD Hev Mas Mird M ur P

Q 1 Q ,2 Q 3 Q etc.

QL lQ apG en 1QH

lQ Is a ^ 6 lQ p H ab 1QM

Cairo (Genizah text of the) Damascus (Document) Nahal Hever texts Masada texts K hirbet Mird texts Wadi M urabbacat texts Pesher (com m entary) Q um ran N um bered caves of Q um ran, yielding w ritten material; followed by abbreviation of biblical or apocryphal book Q um ran literature Genesis Apocryphon of Q um ran Cave 1 Hodayot (Thanksgiving Hymns) from Q um ran Cave 1 First or second copy of Isaiah from Q um ran Cave 1 Pesher on Habakkuk from Q um ran Cave 1 Milhamah (War Scroll)


lQ S a lQ S b 3 Q 15 4QFlor

4QMess ar 4Q PrN ab 4QTestim 4QTLevi 4QPhyl

11QM elch 11Q tgjob

Serek hayyahad (Rule of the Community, M anual of Discipline) A ppendix A (Rule of the Congregation) to IQS A ppendix B (Blessings) to IQS C opper Scroll from Q um ran Cave 3 Flonlegium (or Eschatologi­ cal Midrashim) from Q um ran Cave 4 Aramaic “Messianic” text from Q um ran Cave 4 Prayer of N abonidus from Q um ran Cave 4 Testimonia text from Q um ran Cave 4 Testament of Levi from Q um ran Cave 4 Phylacteries from Q um ran Cave 4 Melchizedek text from Q um ran Cave 11 Targum of Job from Q um ran Cave 11


Abbreviations G. Abbreviations o f Targumic M aterial Tg. Onq. Tg. Neb. Tg Ket. Frg. Tg. Sam. Tg. Tg. Isa. Pal. Tgs. Tg Neof.

Targum Onqelos Targum of the Prophets Targum of the Writings Fragmentary Targum Samaritan Targum Targum of Isaiah Palestinian Targums Targum Neofiti I

Tg Ps. -J . Tg. Yer. I Tg Yer. II Yem. Tg. Tg. Esth I, II

Targum Pseudo-Jonathan Targum Yerusalmi I * Targum Yerusalmi II* Yemenite Targum First or Second Targum of Esther

*optional title

H. Abbreviations o f O th er Rabbinic Works 'Abot R. Nat. ' Ag. Ber. Bab. Bar. Der. Er. Rab. Der. Er. Z ut. Gem. Kalla Mek. Midr.

Pal. Pesiq. R.

'Abot de Rabbi Nathan 'Aggadat Beresit Babylonian Baraita Derek Eres Rabba Derek Eres Zuta Gemara Kalla Mekilta Midras; cited with usual abbreviation for biblical book; b u t Midr. Qoh. = Midras Qohelet Palestinian Pesiqta Rabbati

Pesiq. Rab Kah. Pirqe R. El. Rab.

Sem. Sipra Sipre Sop. S. cOlam Rab. Talm. Yal.

Pesiqta de Rab Kahana Pirqe Rabbi Eliezer Rabbah (following abbreviation for biblical book: Gen. Rab. [with periods] = Genesis Rabbah) Semahot Sipra Sipre Soperim Seder cOlam Rabbah Talmud Yalqut

I. Abbreviations o f O rders and Tractates in Mishnaic and R elated L iterature (Italicized m., t , b ,.or y. used before nam e to distinguish am ong tractates in M ishnah, Tosepta, Babylonian Talmud, and Jerusalem Talmud.) 'Abot cArak. cAbod. Zar. B. Bat. Bek. Ber. Besa Bik. B. Mes. B. Qam. Dem. cEd. cErub.

' Abot cArakin cAboda Zara Baba Batra Bekorot Berakot Besa (= Yom Tob) Bikkurim Baba Mesica Baba Qamma Demai cEduyyot cErubin

Git. Hag. Hal. Hor. Hul. Kelim Ker. Ketub. Kil. M a cas. Mak. Maks. Meg.

Git tin Hagiga Halla Horayot Hullin Kelim Keritot Ketubot Kil'ayim M acaserot Makkot Maksirin (=Masqin) Megilla


M ecil. Menah. Mid. Miqw. Moced Moced Qat. M a cas. S. Nasim Nazir Ned. Neg. Nez. Nid. Ohol. cOr. Para Pe'a Pesah. Qinnim Qidd. Qod.

A b b r e v ia t io n s

Mecila Menahot Middot MiqwcPot Moced M oced Qatan M acaser Seni Nasim Nazir Nedarim Negacim Neziqin Niddah Oholot cOrla Para Pe'a Pesahim Qinnim Qiddusin Qodasin

Ros. Has. Sanh. Sabb. Seb. Sebu. Seqal. Sota Sukk. Tacan. Tamid Tern. Ter. Tohar. T. Yom cUq. Yad. Yebam. Yoma Zabim Zebah. Zer.

Ros Hassana Sanhedrin Sabbat Sebicit Sebucot Seqalim Sota Sukka Tacanit Tamid Temura Terumot Toharot Tebul Yom cUqsin Yadayim Yebamot Yoma (= Kippurim) Zabim Ze bahim Zeracim

J. Abbreviations o f N ag H am m adi Tractates Acts Pet. 12 Apost. A llogenes Ap. Jas. Ap. John Apoc. Adam 1 Apoc. Jas. 2 Apoc. Jas. Apoc. Paul Apoc. Pet. Asclepius Auth. Teach. Dial. Sav. Disc. 8 -9 Ep. Pet. Phil. Eugnostos Exeg. Soul Gos. Eg. Gos. Phil. Gos. Thom. Gos. Truth Great Pow.

Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles A llogenes Apocryphon of James Apocryphon of John Apocalypse of Adam First Apocalypse of James Second Apocalypse of James Apocalypse of Paul Apocalypse of Peter Asclepius 21-29 Authoritative Teaching Dialogue of the Savior Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth Letter of Peter to Philip Eugnostos the Blessed Exegesis on the Soul Gospel of the Egyptians Gospel of Philip Gospel of Thomas Gospel of Truth Concept of our Great Power

Hyp. Arch. Hypsiph. Interp. Know. Marsanes Melch. Norea On Bap. A On Bap. B On Bap. C On Euch. A On Euch. B Orig. World Paraph. Shem Pr. Paul Pr. Thanks. Prot. Jas. Sent. Sextus Soph. Jes. Chr. Steles Seth Teach. Silv. Testim. Truth Thom. Cont. Thund.

Hypostasis of the Archons Hypsiphrone Interpretation of Knowledge Marsanes Melchizedek Thought of Norea On Baptism A On Baptism B On Baptism C On the Eucharist A On the Eucharist B On the Origin of the World Paraphrase of Shem Prayer of the Apostle Paul Prayer of Thanksgiving Protevangelium of James Sentences of Sextus Sophia of Jesus Christ Three Steles of Seth Teachings of Silvanus Testimony of Truth Book of Thomas the Contender Thunder, Perfect M ind

Abbreviations Treat. Res. Treat. Seth Τri. Trac.

Treatise on Resurrection Second Treatise of the Great Seth Tripartite Tractate

Trim. Prot. Val. Exp. Zost.


Trimorphic Protennoia A Valentinian Exposition Zostrianos

N ote: T he textual notes and num bers used to indicate individual m anuscripts are those found in the apparatus criticus o f Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. E. Nestle an d K. Aland et al. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 197926). This edition o f the Greek New Testament is the basis for the Translation sections.

Commentary Bibliography Albright, W. E , and Mann, C. S. Matthew. AB. G arden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971. Allen, W. C. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. 3rd ed. ICC. Edinburgh: T. 8c T. Clark, 1912. Argyle, A. W. The Gospel according to Matthew. CBC. Cam­ bridge: C am bridge University Press, 1963. Barclay, W. The Gospel of Matthew. Rev. ed. 2 vols. T he Daily Study Bible. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975. Beare, F. W. The Gospel according to Matthew: A Commentary. Oxford: Blackwell, 1981. B engel, J. A. Gnomon of the New Testament. 7th ed. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1857. 1:71-490. Benoit, P. L ’E vangile selon saint Matthieu. 3rd ed. La Sainte Bible. Paris: Letouzey et Ane, 1961. Blomberg, C. L. Matthew. New Am eri­ can Com m entary. Nashville: Broadm an, 1992. B onnard, P. L ’Evangile selon saint Matthieu. 2nd ed. CNT. Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestle, 1970. Bruner, F. D. The Christbook: A Historical/Theological Commentary: Matthew 1-12. Waco, TX: Word, 1987.------------ . The Churchbook: A Historical/Theological Commentary: Matthew 13-28. Dallas, TX: Word, 1990. Calvin, J. Com­ mentary on a Harmony of the Gospels. 3 vols. Reprint. G rand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956-57. Carson, D. A. “Matthew.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. F. E. G aebelein. G rand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985. 8:1-599. Dahl, N. A. Matteus Evangeliet. 2 vols. 2nd ed. Oslo: U niversitetsforlaget, 1973. Davies, M. Matthew: Readings, a New Biblical Commentary. Sheffield: JSOT, 1992. Davies, W. D., and Allison, D. C., Jr. A Critical and Exegetical Commen­ tary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. 2 vols. (1-7; 8-18). ICC. E dinburgh: T. 8c T. Clark, 1988, 1991. Fenton, J. C. Saint Matthew. Pelican C om m entaries. Baltimore: Penguin, 1964. Filson, F. V. A Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. BNTC. L ondon: A. 8c C. Black, 1960. Fornberg, T. Matteusevangeliet 1:1-13:52. KNT 1A. Uppsala: EFS, 1989. France, R. T. The Gospel according to Matthew. TNTC 1. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1985. G aechter, P. Das Matthaus-Evangelium. Innsbruck: Tyrolia, 1963. G arland, D. E. Reading Matthew: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the First Gospel. New York: Crossroad, 1993. G erhardsson, B. “U r M atteusevangeliet” (chaps. 1-2; 5-7; 26-28). In Ur Nya Testamentet: Kommentar till valda texter, ed. L. H a rtm a n . L und: G le e ru p , 1970. G n ilk a, J. Das Matthausevangelium. 2 vols. HTKNT. Freiburg: H erder, 1986, 1988. G reen, Η . B. The Gospel according to Matthew. New C larendon Bible. O xford: C larendon, 1975. G rundm ann, W. Das Evangelium nach Matthaus. THKNT. Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1968. Gundry, R. H. Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1982. H arrington, D. J. The Gospel of Matthew. SacPag. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1991. H endricksen, W. The Gospel of Matthew. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974. Hill, D. The Gos­ pel of Matthew. NCB. London: Marshall, M organ, and Scott, 1972. K losterm ann, E. Das Matthausevangelium. 2nd ed. HNT. Tubingen: Mohr, 1927. Kvalbein, H . Matteus-Evangeliet. 2 vols. Oslo: Nye Luther, 1989, 1990. Lachs, S. T. A Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testa­ ment: The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. H oboken, NJ: Ktav, 1987. Lagrange, M.-J. Evangile selon Saint Matthieu. EBib. Paris: Gabalda, 1923. Lenski, R. C. H . The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Columbus, OH: W artburg, 1943. Limbeck, M. Matthaus-Evangelium. SKK NT 1. Stuttgart: K atholisches Bibelwerk, 1986. Lohm eyer, E. Das Evangelium des Matthaus. 4th ed. Ed. W. Schm auch. MeyerK. G ottingen: V andenhoeck & R uprecht, 1967. Luz, U. Matthew 1-7: A Commentary. Trans. W. C. Linss. C ontinental Com m entaries. Min­ neapolis: Augsburg, 1989.------------ . Das Evangelium nach Matthaus. Vol. 2, M att 8-17. EKK. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Benzinger & Neukirchener, 1990. Maier, G. Matthaus-Evangelium. 2 vols. Bibel-Kommentar. N euhausen-Stuttgart: Hanssler, 1979. McNeile, A. H. The Gospel accord­ ing to St. Matthew. L on d o n : M acm illan, 1915. M eier, J. P. Matthew. NT M essage 3. W ilm ington, DE: Glazier, 1981. M ontefiore, C. G. The Synoptic Gospels. Vol 2. 2nd ed. Lon­ don: Macmillan, 1927. M orris, L. The Gospel according to Matthew. Pillar Com mentary. G rand

Commentary Bibliography


Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1992. M ounce, R. H . Matthew. NIBC. Peabody, MA: H endrickson, 1991. Patte, D. The Gospel according to Matthew: A Structural Commentary on Matthew’s Faith. Phila­ delphia: Fortress, 1987. Plum m er, A. A n Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. London: Stock, 1909. Robinson, T. H . The Gospel of Matthew. MNTC. G arden City, NY: Doubleday, 1928. Sabourin, L. The Gospel according to St Matthew. 2 vols. Bombay: St Paul, 1982. Sand, A. Das Evangelium nach Matthaus. RNT. Regensburg: Pustet, 1986. Schlatter, A. Der Evangelist Matthaus. 2nd ed. Stuttgart: Calwer, 1933. Schmid, J. Das Evangelium nach Matthaus. RNT. Regensburg: Pustet, 1965. Schnackenburg, R. Matthausevangelium. 2 vols. Die neue echter Bibel. W urzburg: Echter, 1985, 1987. Schniewind, J. Das Evangelium nach Matthaus. 8th ed. NTD. G ottingen: V andenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1956. Schweizer, E. The Good News according to Matthew. Atlanta: Jo h n Knox, 1975. Smith, R. H . Matthew. ACNT. M inne­ apolis: Augsburg, 1989. Stendahl, K. “Matthew.” In Peake’s Commentary on the Bible, ed. M. Black and Η. H. Rowley. Rev. ed. New York: Nelson, 1962. 769-98. Strack, H. L., and Billerbeck, P. Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch. 4 vols. 3rd ed. M unich: Beck, 1951-56. Tasker, R. V. G. The Gospel according to St. Matthew. TNTC. Lon­ don: Tyndale, 1961. Trilling, W. The Gospel according to St. Matthew. New York: H erd er & H erder, 1969. Viviano, B. T. “T he Gospel according to Matthew.” In The Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. R. E. Brown, J. A. Fitzmyer, and R. E. Murphy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: P ren tice H all, 1990. 630-74. Weiss, B. Das Matthaus-Evangelium. 9th ed. G ottingen: V andenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1898. Zahn, T. Das Evangelium des Matthaus. 2nd ed. Leipzig: D eichert, 1903.

General Bibliography Abraham s, I. Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cam bridge University, 1917, 1924. Albertz, M. Die synoptischen Streitgesprache. Berlin: Trowitzsch, 1921. Allison, D. C., Jr. The End of the Ages Has Come: A n Early Interpretation of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985. Alsup, J. E. The Post-Resurrection Appearance Stones of the Gospel Tradition. Stuttgart: Calwer, 1975. Arens, E. The ΗΛΘΟΝ-Sayings in the Synoptic Tradi­ tion: A Historico-Critical Investigation. OBO 10. G ottingen: V andenhoeck & R uprecht, 1976. Aune, D. E. Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World. G rand Rapids: E erdm ans, 1983. Baarlink, H . Die Eschatologie der synoptischen Evangelien. BWANT 120. Stuttgart: K ohlham mer, 1986. Bacon, B. W. Studies in Matthew. New York: Holt, 1930. Balch, D. L., ed. Social History of the Matthean Community: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches. M inneapo­ lis: Fortress, 1991. Baltensweiler, H. Die Verklarung Jesu. ATANT 33. Zü rich; Zwingli, 1959. Banks, R. Jesus and the Law in the Synoptic Tradition. SNTSMS 28. Cambridge: Cam bridge University, 1975. B arrett, C. K. The Holy Spirit and the Gospel Tradition. London: SPCK, 1966. ------------ . Jesus and the Gospel Tradition. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968. Barth, G. “M atthew’s U nderstanding of the Law.” In Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew, ed. G. Bornkam m et al. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963. 58-164. Bauer, D. R. The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel: A Study in Literary Design. JSNTSup 31. Sheffield: JSOT, 1988. Bayer, H . F. Jesus’Predictions of Vindication and Resurrection. WUNT 2.20. Tubingen: Mohr, 1986. Beasley-Murray, G. R. Jesus and the Kingdom of God. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1 9 8 6 .------------ . Jesus and the Last Days: The Interpretation of the Olivet Discourse. Peabody, MA: H endrickson, 1993. Benoit, P. The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. New York: H erd er 8c H erder, 1969. Berger, K. Die Amen-WorteJesu: Eine Untersuchung zum Problem der Legitimation in apokalyptischer Rede. BZNW 39. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1970.------------. Die Gesetzesauslegung Jesu: Ihr historischer Hintergrund im Judentum und im Alten Testament: Teil I. Markus und Parallelen. WMANT 40. N eukirchenVluyn: N eukirchener, 1972. Betz, O. Jesus: Der Messias Israels. WUNT 42. Tubingen: Mohr, 1 9 8 7 .------------ and Grimm, W. Wesen und Wirklichkeit der Wunder Jesu. Frankfurt: Lang, 1977. Black, M. A n Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts. 3rd ed. O xford: Clarendon, 1967. Blass, F., D ebrunner, A., and Funk, R. W. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament. Chi­ cago: University of Chicago Press, 1961. Blair, E. P. Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Nashville: A bingdon, 1960. Blomberg, C. L. Interpreting the Parables. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1990. Bocher, O. Christus Exorcista. BWANT 90. Stuttgart: K ohlham m er, 1972. Borgen, P. Paul Preaches Circumcision and Pleases Men and Other Essays on Christian Origins. T rondheim : Tapir, University of T rondheim , 1983. Boring, Μ. E. Sayings of the Risen Jesus: Christian Proph­ ecy in the Synoptic Tradition. SNTSMS 46. C am bridge: C am b rid g e University, 1982. Bornkam m , G. “T he A uthority to ‘B ind’ and ‘Loose’ in the C hurch in M atthew’s G ospel.” In The Interpretation of Matthew, ed. G. Stanton. Philadelphia/L ondon: SPCK/Fortress, 1983. 8 5 -9 7 .------------ . “End-Expectation and C hurch in Matthew.” In Tradition and Interpreta­ tion in Matthew, ed. G. B o rn k am m e t al. P h ilad e lp h ia : W estm inster, 1963. 15-51. Bornkam m , G., Barth, G., and H eld, H. J. Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew. Philadel­ phia: W estminster, 1963. B randenburger, E. Das Recht des Weltrichters: Untersuchung zu Matthaus 25, 31-46. SBS 99. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1980. Bratcher, R. G. A Translator’s Guide to the Gospel of Matthew. New York: U nited Bible Societies, 1981. Braun, H. Qumran und das Neue Testament. 2 vols. Tü bingen: Mohr, 1966. Broer, I. Freiheit vom Gesetz und Radikalisierung des Gesetzes: Ein Beitrag zur Theologie des Evangelisten Matthaus. SBS 98. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1980. Brooks, S. H . Matthew’s Community: The Evidence of His Special Sayings Material. JSNTSup 16. Sheffield: JSOT, 1987. Brown, R. E. The Birth of the Messiah. G arden City, NY: Doubleday, 1 977.------------ . The Gospel according to John. 2 vols.

General Bibliography


AB. G arden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966, 1970.------------ . New Testament Essays. Milwaukee: Bruce, 1 9 6 5 .------------ . The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus. New York: Paulist, 1973.------------ , K. P. Donfried, J. A. Fitzmyer, and J. Reumann, eds. Mary in the New Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978.------------ , K. P. Donfried, and J. Reumann, eds. Peter in the New Testament. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1973. Bultmann, R. History of the Synoptic Tradi­ tion. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1968. Burger, C. Jesus alsDavidssohn. FRLANT 98. Gottingen: V andenhoeck 8c Ruprecht, 1970. Burnett, F. E. The Testament of Jesus-Sophia: A Redaction-Criti­ cal Study of the Eschatological Discourse in Matthew. W ashington, DC: University Press of America, 1979. Butler, B. C. The Originality of St. Matthew: A Critique of the Two Document Hypothesis. Cambridge: Cam bridge University, 1951. Caird, G. B. The Language and Imagery of the Bible. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1980. Caragounis, C. C. Peter and the Rock. BZNW 58. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1989. Carlston, C. E. The Parables of the Triple Tradition. Philadel­ phia: Fortress, 1975. Chilton, B. D. God in Strength: Jesus’ Announcement of the Kingdom. SNTUMS B .l. Freistadt: Plochl, 1979. Cope, O. L. Matthew: A Scribe Trained for the Kingdom of Heaven. CBQMS 5. W ashington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association, 1976. Crossan, J. D. In Fragments: The Aphorisms of Jesus. San Francisco: H arp er & Row, 1983. ------------ . In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus. New York: H arp er 8c Row, 1973. Cullmann, O. Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1962. Dahl, N. A.Jesus the Christ: The Historical Origins of ChristologicalDoctrine. Ed. D. H. Juel. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991. Dalman, G. Jesus-Jeshua: Studies in the Gospels. 1929. New York: Ktav, 1 971.------------ . The Words of Jesus. E dinburgh: T. 8c T. Clark, 1909. Danby, H. The Mishnah. O xford: O x­ fo rd University, 1933. Daube, D. The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism. L o n d o n : A thlone, 1956. Davies, W. D. The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount. Cam bridge: Cam­ bridge University, 1966. Davison, J. E. “Anomia an d the Q uestion o f an A ntinom ian Po­ lemic in Matthew.”JBL 104 (1985) 617-35. Deutsch, C. Hidden Wisdom and the Easy Yoke: Wisdom, Torah and Discipleship in Matthew 11.25-30. JSNTSup 18. Sheffield: JSOT, 1987. Dibelius, M. From Tradition to Gospel. New York: Scribner, 1965. Didier, M., ed. L ’Evangile selon Matthieu: Redaction et theologe. BETL 29. Gembloux: Duculot, 1972. Dobschütz, E. von. “Matthew as Rabbi and Catechist.” In The Interpretation of Matthew,; ed. G. Stanton. P h iladelphia/L ondon: Fortress/SPCK, 1983. 85-97. Dodd, C. H. The Parables of the King­ dom. L ondon: Nisbet, 1935/N ew York: Scribners, 1936. Donaldson, T. L. Jesus on the Moun­ tain: A Study in Matthean Theology. JSN TSup 8. Sheffield: JSOT, 1985. Dupont, J. Les Beatitudes: I. Le probleme litterairer, II. La bonne nouvelle.; III. Les Evangelistes. Paris: Gabalda, 1958, 1969, 1973. Edwards, J. R. “T he Use of ΠΡΟΣΕΡΧΕΣΘΑΙ in the Gospel of M atthew.” JBL 106 (1987) 65-74. Edwards, R. A. Matthew’s Story of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985. Ellis, P. F. Matthew: His Mind and His Message. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1974. Feldmeier, R. Die Krisis des Gottessohnes. WUNT 2.21. T ubingen: Mohr, 1987. Fiedler, M. J. “G erechtigkeit im Matthaus-Evangelium.” Theologische Versuche 8 (1977) 63-75. Fitzmyer, J. A. Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament. SBLSBS 5. Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1974.------------ . A Wandering Aramean. SBLMS 25. Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1981. Ford, D. The Abomination of Desolation in Biblical Eschatology. W ashington, DC: University Press o f Am erica, 1979. France, R. T. Jesus and the Old Testament. London: Tyndale, 1971.------------ . Matthew: Evange­ list and Teacher. G rand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989. Frankemolle, H. “Amtskritik im MatthausEvangelium?” Bib 54 (1973) 2 4 7 -6 2 .------------ . Jahwebund und Kirche Christi. NTAbh n.s. 10. Munster: A schendorff, 1974. Freyne, S. Galilee, Jesus and the Gospels: Literary Approaches and Historical Investigations. P hiladelphia: Fortress, 1988. Fuller, R. H. Interpreting the Miracles. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1 9 6 3 .------------ . The Mission and Achievement of Jesus. SBT 1.12. London: SCM, 1967. Gaechter, P. Die literarische Kunst im Matthausevangelium. SBS 7. Stuttgart: K atholisches Bibelwerk, 1965. Gerhardsson, B. The Gospel Tradition. ConBNT 15. Malmo: G leerup, 1 9 8 6 .------------ . “Gottes Sohn als D iener Gottes: Agape u n d H im m elsherrschaft nach dem M atthausevangelium .” S T 27 (1973) 2 5 -5 0 .------------ . “‘An ihren F ruchten sollt ih r sie e rk e n n en ’: Die Legitimitatsfrage in d er m atthaischen Christologie.” E vT 42 (1982) 1 1 3 -2 6 .------------ . Memory and Manuscript. Tr. E. J. Sharpe.


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A rbeit in d er E rnte: G ottes Volk nach dem M atthau sev an g eliu m .” In Mitarbeiter der Schopfung: Bibel und Arbeitswelt, ed. L. and W. Schottroff. M unich: Kaiser, 1983. Schulz, S. Q: Die Spruchquelle der Evangelisten. Zü rich: Theologischer, 1 9 7 2 .------------ . Die Stunde der Botschaft. H am burg: Furche, 1967. Schürer, E. The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ. Rev. ed. Ed. G. Vermes et al. 3 vols. E dinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1973-87. Schurmann, H . Jesu ureigener Tod. Freiburg: H erder, 1975.------------ . Traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zu den synoptischen Evangelien. D usseldorf: Patmos, 1968. Schweizer, E. “Gesetz u n d Enthusiasm us bei M atthaus.” In Beitrage zur Theologe des Neuen Testaments, ed. E. Schweizer. Zurich: Zwingli, 1970. 4 9 -7 0 .------------ . Matthaus und seine Gemeinde. SBS 71. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1974.------------ . “Matthew’s C hurch.” In The Interpretation of Matthew, ed. G. Stanton. P hiladelphia/L ondon: Fortress/SPCK, 1983. 129-55. Senior, D. Invitation to Matthew. G arden City: Doubleday, 1 9 7 7 .------------ . The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. W ilmington, DE: Glazier, 1985.------------ . What are they saying about Mat­ thew? New York: Paulist, 1983. Shuler, P. L. A Genre for the Gospels: The Biographical Character of Matthew. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982. Sigal, P. The Halakah of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Matthew. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986. Soares-Prabhu, G. M. The Formula Quotations in the Infancy Narrative of Matthew. AnBib 63. Rome: Biblical Insti­ tute, 1976. Solages, M. de. La composition des Evangiles de Luc et de Matthieu et leurs sources. Leiden: Brill, 1973. Stanton, G. N. A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew. E dinburgh: T. 8c T. Clark, 1992.------------ . “T he Origin and Purpose of M atthew’s Gospel: M atthean Scholarship from 1945 to 1980.” In A N R W 2.25.3 (1983) 1 8 8 9 -1 9 5 1 .------------ , ed. The Interpretation of Matthew. P hilad elp h ia/L o n d o n : Fortress/SPCK , 1983. Stendahl, K. The School of St. Matthew. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968. Stonehouse, N. B. The Witness of Matthew and Mark to Christ. 2nd ed. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1958. Strauss, D. F. The Life of Jesus Critically Examined. 1892. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972. Strecker, G. “T he C oncept of History in Matthew.” In The Interpretation of Matthew, ed. G. Stanton. P h ilad elp h ia/L o n ­ don: Fortress/SPCK , 1983. 67-84. ------------ . Der Weg der Gerechtigkeit: Untersuchung zur Theologie des M atthaus. FRLANT 82. G o ttin g e n : V a n d e n h o e c k 8c R u p re c h t, 1962. Stuhlmacher, P. Jesus von Nazareth— Christus des Glaubens. Stuttgart: Calwer, 1988.------------ , ed. The Gospel and the Gospels. G rand Rapids: E erdm ans, 1991. Suggs, M. J. Wisdom, Christology and Law in Matthew’s Gospel. Cam bridge, MA: H arvard University, 1970. Suhl, A. “D er Davidssohn im M atthaus-Evangelium.” ZNW59 (1968) 36-72. Taylor, V. The Histori­ cal Evidence for the Virgin Birth. Oxford: C larendon, 1920. Telford, W. R. The Barren Temple and the Withered Tree. JSNTSup 1. Sheffield: JSOT, 1980. Theissen, G. The Miracle Stories of the Early Christian Tradition. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983. Thompson, W. G. Matthexv’s Ad­ vice to a Divided Community: Mt. 17,22-18,35. AnBib 44. Rome: Biblical Institute, 1970. Tilborg, S. van. The Jewish Leaders in Matthew. Leiden: Brill, 1972. Trilling, W. “Amt u n d A m tsverstandnis bei M atthaus.” In Melanges bibliques. FS B. Rigaux, ed. A. Descamps. G em bloux: D uculot, 1969. 2 9 - 4 4 .-------------. Studien zur Jesusü berlieferung. S tu ttg arter biblische Aufsatzbande 1. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1988.------------ . Das wahre Is­ rael: Studien zur Theologie des Matthausevangeliums. 3rd ed. Leipzig: St. Benno, 1975. Turner, N. A Grammar of New Testament Greek: Vol. 3. Syntax. Edinburgh: T. 8c T. Clark, 1963. Verseput, D. The Rejection of the Humble Messianic King: A Study of the Composition of Matthew 11-12. Frank­ furt am Main: Lang, 1986. Vogtle, A. Das Evangelium und die Evangelien. Dusseldorf: Patmos, 1971. Walker, R. Die Heilsgeschichte im ersten Evangelium. FRLANT 91. G o ttin g e n : V andenhoeck & R uprecht, 1967. Walter, N. “Zum K irchenverstandnis des M atthaus.” Theologische Versuche 12 (1981) 25-46. Weder, H. Die GleichnisseJesu als Metaphern. FRLANT 120. G ottingen: V andenhoeck 8c R uprecht, 1984. Weiser, A. Die Knechtsgleichnisse der synoptischen Evangelien. SANT 10. Munich: Kosel, 1971. Westcott, B. W. A n Introduction to the Study of the Gospels. L ondon: Macmillan, 1875. Westerholm, S. Jesus and Scribal Authority. ConBNT 10. Lund: G leerup, 1978. White, R. E. O. The M ind of Matthew. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1979. Wilkins, M. J. The Concept of Disciple in Matthew ’s Gospel. NovTSup 59. Leiden: Brill, 1988. Wink, W. John the Baptist in the Gospel Tradition. SNTSMS 7. Cambridge:


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Cam bridge University, 1968. W rede, W. The Messianic Secret. C am bridge, MA: Clarke, 1971. Zeller, D. Die weisheitlichen M ahnsprü che bei den Synoptikern. W urzburg: E chter, 1977. Zum stein, J. La condition du croyant dans l'Evangile selon Matthieu. OBO 16. Gö ttingen: V andenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977.

Introduction Bibliography France, R. T. Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher. G rand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989. Guthrie, D. New Testament Introduction. 4th ed. L eicester/D ow ners Grove: Apollos/InterVarsity, 1990. 28-60. Harrington, D. J. “M atthean Studies since Joachim R ohde.” HeyJ 16 (1975) 375-88. Hill, D. “Some R ecent T rends in M atthean Studies.” IBS 1 (1979) 139-49. Kummel, W. G. Introduction to the New Testament. Rev. ed. Nashville: A bingdon, 1975. 101-21. Martin, R. P. New TestamentFoundations. G rand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975.1:224-43.------------. “St. M atthew’s Gospel in Recent Study.” Exp Tim 80 (1969) 132-36. Sand, A. Das Matthaus-Evangelium. Ertrage der Forschung 275. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1991. Senior, D. What Are They Saying about Matthew? New York: Paulist, 1983. Stanton, G. “T he Origin and Purpose of M atthew’s Gospel: M atthean Scholarship from 1945 to 1980.” AN R W 2.25.3 (1985) 1889-1951. Wikenhauser, A., and Schmid, J. Einleitung in das Neue Testament. 6th, new ed. Freiburg/B asel/W ien: H erder, 1973. 224-47.

About the P resent C ommentary Bibliography Bauer, D. R. “T he Major Characters of M atthew’s Story: T heir Function and Significance.” Int 46 (1992) 357-67. Edwards, R. A. Matthew’s Story of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985. ------------ . “Reading Matthew.” Listening 24 (1989) 251-61. Howell, D. B. Matthew’s Inclu­ sive Story: A Study in the Narrative Rhetoric of the First Gospel. JSNTSup 42. Sheffield: JSOT, 1990. Kingsbury, J. D. Matthew as Story. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1 9 8 8 .------------ . “T he Plot of M atthew’s Story.” Int 46 (1992) 347-56. Moore, S. D. Literary Criticism and the Gospels: The Theoretical Challenge. New H aven/L ondon: Yale University, 1989. Powell, M. What is Narrative Criticism? M inneapolis: Fortress, 1 9 9 0 .------------ . “Toward a NarrativeCritical U nderstanding of M atthew.” Int 46 (1992) 341-46. Thiselton, A. C. New Horizons in Hermeneutics: The Theory and Practice of Transforming Biblical Reading. G rand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.

It is n o t an exaggeration to say that a paradigm shift is currently taking place in the study o f the Gospels (see the stim ulating and insightful analyses of Moore and T hiselto n ). W hereas the Gospels have previously been approached mainly as historical docum ents, now they are being studied very deliberately as literature. Previously the Gospels were regarded as windows to the past through which one could look in o rd er to gain historical or theological inform ation about the earli­ est Christian com m unities and perhaps about events that occurred in the first century. Now they are increasingly regarded as docum ents worth studying in their own right, apart altogether from any referential aspect. They are stories with selfcon tain ed worlds; they are whole narratives with, am ong o th er things, plots, subplots, characters, narrators, im plied authors, and im plied readers. The study of these m atters has given rise to a new discipline called narrative criticism, some­ times also called the new literary criticism (to distinguish it from earlier literary criticism th at was a p art of the historical ap p ro ach ).



This new approach to the Gospels is to be welcom ed since unquestionably it enriches our understanding of these docum ents. At the same time, however, two unresolved problem s face the proponents of narrative criticism. First, what are the im plications of a non-referential approach to these writings so far as the im­ p o rta n c e o f h isto rical know ledge is c o n c e rn e d ? Som e n a rra tiv e critics unfortunately would rule out historical interests altogether as being inappropri­ ate, if n o t illegitim ate. Second, w hat is th e role o f th e actual re a d e r in a narrative-critical understanding of the Gospels? O nce these writings are viewed rath er strictly as literature, as works of art, does n o t the reader have the right to see what he or she will—as in the reading of a great novel? T hat is, does not narrative criticism entail what is called a reader-response herm eneutic, w herein the reader constitutes the m eaning of the text entirely apart from any consider­ ation o f the intention of the author? T here are w ithout question valuable insights to be gained from narrative criti­ cism. Many advocates rightly see that narrative criticism can be used together with historical exegesis in a com plem entary way and that its insights need not exclude the propriety of interest in an au th o r’s intended m eaning. W hen work on this com m entary was begun fifteen years ago, the concerns of narrative criti­ cism were still relatively new and had no t built up the head of steam they presently have. Even were I beginning today, however, I would not change the basic histori­ cal orientation o f the com m entary. T he reason for this will becom e clear from the following rem arks on the purpose of a com m entary. What the text meant. A com m entator is som eone who places herself or him self between the text—in this case an ancient text—and the cu rren t generation of readers o f the text as a kind of m ediator. The com m entator thus looks in two directions: on the one h and—and prim arily—to the text; on the o ther hand, to the readers of the text who will also becom e his or h er readers. T he goal of a com m entary, simply put, is to help the reader understand the text. A lthough it will hardly occur to the average uninitiated reader, the exegete will alm ost im m e­ diately think of the distinction between what a text m eant and what a text means. T he first and m ain purpose of a com m entary is to help the reader to discover what the text m eant in its original setting— that is, exegesis. T he chief goal of the com m entator is thus to arrive at the fruit of what has been known traditionally as grammatical-historical exegesis. T he com m entator m ust help the reader as m uch as possible to step into the past by providing at least the rudim entary knowledge necessary to co m prehend what the original writer said to the original readers and th en lead the readers to a line-by-line understanding and appreciation of th at m eaning as well as, of course, of the work as a whole. T he suprem e responsi­ bility of the com m entator is to the text as it is. For the exegete, the text is an autonom ous datum . The autonom y of the text here does not m ean that the text warrants any interpretation of it whatsoever. Such a view can only un d erm in e the text. O n the contrary, the text is m eant to be sovereign over the interpreter, and the exegete is first and forem ost the servant of the text—i.e., of the m eaning of the text, or what the text wants to be and to say. For all their similarity to the story form , the Gospels are in ten d ed as historical narratives and can be properly understood only when they are taken seriously as such. T he evangelists—even the author of the Fourth Gospel—would be scandal­ ized by non-referential approaches to their writings. And if strictly text-oriented



approaches would have been unacceptable to them , m uch m ore would they be offended by strictly reader-oriented (i.e., reader-response) approaches. They would hardly have looked kindly upon the idea that readers have the right to make whatever they like of their Gospels as long as it is interesting, entertaining, or “relevant.” The evangelists have a story to tell, yes. But the story concerns above all what h ap p en ed in history. For this reason the historical-critical approach is both indispensable and of a higher order of im portance than literary- or n arra­ tive-critical approaches. T he latter can, of course, be regarded as contributing to historical and theo­ logical understanding of the Gospels. Historical and literary approaches should be regarded as com plem entary rath er than mutually exclusive. Indeed, literary interests have always been a p art of the historical approach itself. Thus, although the present com m entary could no t be considered a narrative-critical com m en­ tary, observations are m ade that are literary-critical in nature. For example, despite the fragm entary character of the pericope-by-pericope form at, m uch attention is devoted to the flow of the narrative and the relationship between m aterial that precedes and follows in the narrative as well as to m aterial elsewhere in the Gos­ pel, so that Matthew is treated as a unified and coherent docum ent. Similarly, despite the attention devoted to redactional analysis, the finished form of the Gospel is of ultim ate concern. Com ments, furtherm ore, are m ade about such things as com position, characterization, turning points in the plot, and rhetori­ cal features b ut w ithout use of the technical jarg o n of narrative criticism. Behind narrative-critical thinking, in the m inds of some, is a pessimism con­ cerning the very possibility of historical knowledge. T here is, of course, m uch that we do n o t know about the Gospels. But we also possess a quite amazing am ount of knowledge that may be ju d g ed as probable (“certainty” is n o t the lan­ guage of historical research). Naturally there will be differences of opinion, but this should n o t be allowed to paralyze us or to keep us from evaluating argu­ ments. If, for exam ple, we are concerned with the life setting of the Gospel of Matthew and the relationship of his com m unity to contem porary Judaism , there are two ways in which we may proceed. We may consider the constituent parts of the Gospel in light of the whole, and, second, we may observe the redactional changes Matthew makes in the use of his sources where the latter are available (Mark and indirectly Q ). To be sure, there is a circularity in this process, whereby one conjectures a Sitz im Leben and then proceeds to in terp ret the text on the basis of the reconstruction to find, not surprisingly, that the texts support the hypothesis. T here is a danger here, but it can also be overestimated. Every hy­ pothesis, after all, involves a degree of circularity between explanatory theory and concrete data. It is often very difficult to advance in knowledge in any other way, especially when, as in the study of the Gospels, there is such a dearth of external data to help us. Consciousness of the danger and exegetical sensitivity will go a long way toward preventing abuse here. What the text means. O f necessarily secondary im portance, but still rightly within the purview of the com m entator, is the problem of what the text means. But the question of what an ancient text may m ean today—that is, what applications it may have—is, of course, a far m ore open-ended m atter than what the text m eant. Thus the com m entator can hardly do m ore than indicate p roper directions, and at times guard against im proper ones, in which the text may be taken in m odern



application. M uch here will dep en d on the interpretive com m unity of which the com m entator is a part and who the im plied readers are thought to be. With regard to o ur Gospels, we are in the very interesting and advantageous position of being able often to see how the writers took the traditions they re­ ceived and applied them to the situation of their congregations, i.e., what they took the received tradition to m ean to them . We have thus to keep in m ind in reading the Gospels that we need to be sensitive to two life settings, the first be­ ing the tim e o f Jesus itself and the second the tim e o f the evangelist. W hat som ething came to signify in the second life setting may n o t be exactly what it signified in the first and original historical context. T he interpretation of the event can, for exam ple, have taken advantage of the light shed by the post-resur­ rection perspective that was, of course, n o t available in the original context. W hat the evangelists do with the traditions they received can accordingly serve as herm eneutical m odels for us in reaching for the kinds of significance the text may take on for o u r readers. M atthew is particularly interesting here because of its widely adm itted “trans­ parency,” w herein m any individual narratives, w ithout losing th eir historical character, are oriented toward the needs of the readers and indeed shaped ac­ cordingly. T he disciples becom e paradigm s for the C hristians o f M atthew ’s community: what is spoken to the form er is spoken to the latter; what is dem anded of and prom ised to the twelve is dem anded of and prom ised to M atthew’s church. M atthew’s Gospel is above all a book for the church, no t as merely the record of past history b u t as the handbook for the present experience of Christians. It is n o t difficult, even granting that the original readers were Jewish Christians, to find relevance for Christians at the end of the tw entieth century. T he form at o f the Word Biblical C om m entary lends itself well to accom plish­ ing the purposes that have been referred to here. After a fresh translation with textual-critical and translation notes comes a section on F o rm /S tru ctu re/S ettin g , within which a variety of historical, formal, source, and redactional issues can be addressed. This is followed by verse-by-verse com m ent, concluding with a so-called explanation section, where specific, although necessarily brief, attention is given to the question o f the present m eaning of the text. Objectivity and the commentator’s perspective. M odern herm eneutical scholarship has shown that there is no such thing as an “objective” in terp reter or interpreta­ tion. Every in terp reter necessarily brings som ething to the text that affects the consequent interpretation. Worthy com m entators will therefore be self-conscious, i.e., aware o f their identity, background, and tradition— of all that goes into mak­ ing them what they are—and how this in tu rn affects their perspective. Such an awareness will prevent them from too readily im posing preconceived opinions u p o n the text. T he problem , however, also has a positive aspect to it. Good com m entators see their task as “theological exegesis.” By this is m eant exegesis that shares the faith com m itm ent and priorities of the believing community, exegesis done, so to speak, “from w ithin,” exegesis concerned with the theological dim ension and m eaning of the text, and moreover, exegesis done within the context of the canon. Such exegesis can be very helpful in assisting readers to understand the text. De­ spite its dangers, we should hasten to add, theological exegesis does n o t m ean uncritical exegesis.



The question of historicity. T he purpose of a com m entary, as we have seen, is to illum inate the text for the m odern reader, as it stands. T he historical question is an o th er matter, although adm ittedly it does occasionally have a bearing on the exegesis of a text. T he present com m entary presupposes w ithout m uch argum ent that there is an essential historical core in every, or nearly every, pericope. T he reasons for this can only be touched upon here. Matthew is relatively conservative in his han­ dling o f the traditional m aterials available to him (as can already be seen in his use of Mark). F urtherm ore, the oral tradition upon which Matthew depends for the sayings of Jesus was carefully transm itted and relatively stable (see below, “Oral Tradition in the Gospel of M atthew”) . H ad Matthew been in the habit of freely inventing m aterial—sayings and narratives—we m ight expect quite a different Gospel from what we have. It is true that this m eans merely that Matthew relies u p o n tradition to which he has access. As to the historical reliability of that tradi­ tion, little m ore can be said than that this tradition is no t far in time from the events themselves and that we choose to accept its integrity as a dependable ac­ count o f the words and deeds of Jesus. T here is furtherm ore, in addition to the questionability o f the com m entary as the appropriate forum for the debating of issues of historicity, the problem of space to consider. As a result, the present com m entary discusses the question of historicity only in a handful of places where it is deem ed absolutely necessary. T h e P a p ia s T r a d i t i o n

c o n c e r n in g

Ma tth ew

Bibliography Black, M. “T he Use of Rhetorical Term inology in Papias on Mark and Matthew.”JSN T 37 (1989) 31-41. Kennedy, G. A. “Classical and Christian Source Criticism.” In The Relation­ ships among the Gospels: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, ed. W. O. Walker, Jr. Trinity University M onograph Series in Religion 5. San Antonio: Trinity University, 1978. 125-55. Kortner, U. H. J. Papias von Hierapolis: Ein Beitragzur Geschichte des fruhen Christentums. FRLANT 133. G ottingen: V andenhoeck & R uprecht, 1983. Kürzinger, J. Papias von Hierapolis und die Evangelien des Neuen Testaments. E ichstatter M aterialien 4, A bteilung P hilosophie u n d Theologie. Regensburg: Pustet, 1983. Meeks, W. A. “H ypom nem ata from an U ntam ed Sceptic: A Response to G eorge Kennedy.” In The Relationships among the Gospels: An Interdis­ ciplinary Dialogue, ed. W. O. Walker, Jr. Trinity University M onograph Series in Religion 5. San Antonio: Trinity University, 1978. 157-72. Meredith, A. “T he Evidence of Papias for the Priority of Matthew.” In Synoptic Studies, ed. C. M. Tuckett. JSNTSup 7. Sheffield: JSOT, 1984. 187-96. Munck, J. “Die T radition fiber das M atthausevangelium bei Papias.” In Neotestamentica et Patristica. FS O. Cullm ann, ed. W. C. van Unnik. NovTSup 6. Leiden: Brill, 1962. 249-60. Schoedel, W. R. “Papias.” A N R W 2.27A (1992) 235-70. Solages, B. de. “Le tem oignage de Papias.” Bulletin de litterature ecclesiastique 71 (1970) 3-14. Yarbrough, R. W. “T he Date of Papias: A Reassessm ent.”JETS 26 (1983) 181-91.

T he tantalizing statem ent of Papias from the first quarter of the second cen­ tury (K ortner and Schoedel accept a date of 110; Yarbrough even earlier) is at once the earliest, m ost im portant, and m ost bewildering piece o f early inform a­ tion we have concerning the origin of m aterial associated with the nam e of the



Apostle Matthew. Some scholars believe that this testimony misled the entire early C hurch on the question of the origin of the Gospel of Matthew (cf. the statem ent of Irenaeus [c. 180] in Adv. Haer. 3.1.1, cited also by Eusebius in H.E. 5.8.2, who also refers to Matthew writing now “a gospel” [ ε ύ α γ γ ε λ ί ο υ ] “for the Hebrews in their own dialect [rfj ι δ ί α α υ τ ώ ν δ ι α λ έ κ τ ω \ ,” words clearly d ep en d en t upon Papias or a similar tradition; cf. too Eusebius, H.E. 5.10.3, for a similar statem ent from Pantaenus later in the second century, and H.E. 6.25.4, for the view of O rigen as quoted by Eusebius; cf. H.E. 3.24.6 ). Papias was the bishop of H ierapolis in Asia M inor and the au th o r of a fivevolume com m entary entitled Exegesis of the Oracles of the Lord ( Λ ο γ ι ώ ν κ υ ρ ι α κ ώ ν έ ξ η γ ή σ ε ω ς [Eusebius, H.E. 3.39.1]). This work has no t survived, however, and we know it only through the quotations that have been m ediated to us by the fourthcentury church historian Eusebius. In Book T hree of his History of the Church (3.39.16), after recording Papias’ statem ent of the testimony of Jo h n the Elder concerning the Gospel of Mark, Eusebius adds this com m ent of Papias concern­ ing Matthew: “Matthew for his part com piled the oracles in the Hebrew [Aramaic] dialect and every person translated them as he was able” (Μ α τ θ α ί ο ς μ έ ν ο ΰ ν Έ β ρ α ί δ ι δ ί α λ έ κ τ ω τ ά λ ό γ ι α σ υ ν ε τ ά ξ α τ ο , ή ρ μ ή ν ε υ σ ε ν δ ’α υ τ ά ώ ς η ν δ υ ν α τ ό ς έ κ α σ τ ο ς ) . Nearly every elem ent in this sentence can be und erstood in m ore than one way (see France [Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher, 56-57] for a helpful display of the o p tio n s). O f key im portance to the understanding of this passage is the m eaning of λ ό γ ι α (logia). T he early C hurch soon took it to refer to the Gospel of Matthew itself and hence also to establish the priority of Matthew over the o th er Gospels. Those who “in terp reted ” becam e, on this view, the authors of Mark and Luke, for ex­ am ple, who m ade use of Matthew as their m ain source. A lthough logia m eans strictly “oracles,” and thus most naturally an account of words rath er than deeds, the word was also used by Papias in referring to the Gospel of Mark (H.E. 3.39.15). F urth er to be noted is its use in the title of Papias’ own com m entary, which was probably n o t restricted to the words of Jesus. T here are two o th er options, how­ ever, th at m ust be m entioned. More in keeping with a literal understanding of the word, logia could possibly refer to words of the OT, as is the case in the early fathers (e.g., 1 Clem. 53:1; 62:3; C lem ent of Alexandria, Stromata 7.18). In view then m ight be the distinctive OT quotations in the Gospel of Matthew, the socalled messianic testimonia (thus J. R. H arris and V. Burch, Testimonies, 2 vols. [Cambridge: Cam bridge University, 1916-20]; T. H. Robinson, xv). T hat these may have need ed interpretation or explanation is obvious. A fu rth er possibility, however, is that logia refers only to the words of Jesus, in which case it could be taken, for exam ple, as re fe rrin g to an A ram aic version o f Q (thus already Schleierm acher in 1892 [“U ber die Zeugnisse des Papias von u n sern beiden ersten Evangelien,” Theologische Studien und Kritiken 5 (1892) 735-68]; m ore re­ cently T. W. M anson, Sayings of Jesus, 28-30; B. de Solages; and M. Black). T he interpretation of the word logia is naturally d ep e n d en t on the m eaning of the o th er com ponents of the Papias tradition. Two options present themselves so far as Έ β ρ α ί δ ι δ ί α λ έ κ τ ω is concerned. T he m ost natural understanding of the words is “in the Hebrew language,” by which is probably m eant Aramaic. It is possible, however, that the word “dialect” is to be understood in a special sense, as docum ented am ong ancient technical rhetoricians, to m ean “in a Semitic style”



(thus Kurzinger, 9-32, 43-67; Gundry, 619-20), referring to the general Jewish “style” or character of the Gospel. In this view, the verb ε ρ μ η ν ε ύ ε ι m ust be taken in the sense of “to explain” rath er than “to translate.” But did the Jewish charac­ ter o f the Gospel of Matthew really need explanation? And would the task of explanation have been so challenging as to explain Papias’ words “as each was able”? T he com bination of the term δ ι ά λ ε κ τ ο ς with the verb έ ρ μ η ν ε ύ ε ι ν points, on the contrary, to the natural m eaning “to translate a language” (thus rightly France, who regards it as “m ost unlikely” that the com bination of term s would have been u n derstood in any o th er way by a Greek reader [M atthew : Evangelist a n d Teacher, 57]; cf. Schoedel, 258). If the conclusion is fairly secure that Papias (or Jo h n before him) spoke of som ething in Aramaic that was then translated into Greek, we may retu rn to the discussion of the word logia. The m ajor difficulties with the conclusion that it refers to the original Gospel of Matthew are that our Greek Matthew reveals no signs of having been translated from Aramaic (but note the caution of DaviesAllison [1:13], who indicate the difficulty of establishing this point) and that there is ab u n d an t evidence that M atthew’s Greek is d ep en d en t upon Mark. Thus advo­ cates of the priority of Matthew who appeal to the Papias testimony m ust also argue that the translator had Mark before him and that he simultaneously re­ dacted M ark’s Greek as he translated the putative Aramaic Matthew. T hough not impossible, this solution rem ains im probable. T here is, furtherm ore, as we have seen, the problem that logia is an im probable word (though again no t an impos­ sible one) to refer to a Gospel. The use of the word to refer to Mark in the Papias testimony concerning that Gospel does no t necessarily guarantee that it m eans “gospel” in the M atthean reference. (The two passages, though consecutive in Eusebius, may have been from different contexts in Papias.) T hat there was at least one (perhaps m ore than one) Gospel in Aramaic or Hebrew known to the early C hurch (e.g., the Gospel of the Ebionites, the Gospel of the Nazoraeans, the Gospel according to the Hebrews) may have added to the confusion caused by Papias’s statem ent, wrongly tem pting the early church fathers to think of the Gos­ pel o f Matthew. (The recently published The Gospel o f M atthew according to a Prim itive Hebrew Text [Macon, GA; M ercer University, 1987], a fourteenth-century work, is regarded by its editor, G. Howard, as independent of, though perhaps in its old Hebrew substratum serving as the m odel for, the canonical Greek Gospel.) W hat of the o th er two options for the m eaning of logia m entioned above? We now have evidence of the collection of OT prophecies or prooftexts concerning the Messiah or messianic fulfillm ent (see at Q um ran 4Q Testim onia). T hat Mat­ thew m ight have collected these together in the original Hebrew language seems feasible, especially given the conspicuous use of the OT in the Gospel (see be­ low). Such a conclusion fits both the point about translation from Hebrew and also the use o f the word logia to refer to the OT. The inference that what is in view in the Papias statem ent is a collection of testimonia , however, is purely specu­ lative. T he collection has no t survived, except perhaps in the quotations of the Gospel itself, and there is no evidence of others having translated or interpreted such OT prooftexts. M ore probable is the hypothesis that logia refers to sayings of Jesus. The term logia , rath er than the m ore norm al logoi, is used because of the veneration of the words of Jesus, which were treasured as the suprem e authority of the early Church.



Already by the time of C lem ent of Rome they were pu t alongside the words of the OT, even superseding them in authority (cf. 1 Clem. 13). The words of Jesus were no less “the oracles” of God than were the OT Scriptures. Matthew, then, may have collected the sayings of Jesus in their original Aramaic, and these were in tu rn translated by others “as each was able,” which could nicely account for some differences am ong the Synoptic renderings of the sayings. It is conceivable that this collection was what we call Q or m ore precisely the Aramaic m aterial that underlay Q. O n the o th er hand, what Papias (or Jo h n ) may have had in m ind is the m aterial contained in the five m ajor discourses of the Gospel. These discourses are one of the m ajor distinctives of Matthew. Perhaps the apostle was responsible for the collection of the core m aterial of these discourses, the socalled M m aterial (i.e., the special m aterial or Sondergut) . Such a collection would in effect be a proto-M atthew and could explain how the apostle M atthew’s nam e eventually becam e attached to the Gospel (cf. Allen, lxxx-lxxxi). We are, of course, also h ere necessarily lim ited to speculation. But a solution such as this is m ost consistent with the testimony o f Papias. And it seems better to take this early piece of evidence seriously rath er than to dismiss it as being dead wrong. Papias had reasons for saying what he did, and although our knowledge now is partial, we do well to attem pt to make sense of his testimony. M a t t h e w ’s S o u r c e s Bibliography Butler, B. C. The Originality of St. Matthew: A Critique of the Two-Document Hypothesis. Cam­ bridge: C am bridge University, 1951. Chapman, J. Matthew, Mark, Luke: A Study in the Order and Interrelation of the Synoptic Gospels. L on d o n /N ew York: Longm ans, G reen 8c Co., 1937. Dungan, D. L. “Mark—T he A bridgem ent of M atthew and L uke.” In Jesus and M a n ’s Hope, ed. D. G. Miller. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 1970. 1:51-97. Farmer, W. R. The Synoptic Problem: A Critical Analysis. 2nd ed. Dillsboro, NC: W estern N orth Carolina, 1976.------------ , ed. New Synoptic Studies. Macon, GA: M ercer University, 1983. Fitzmyer, J. A. “T he Priority of Mark and the ‘Q ’ Source in L uke.” In Jesus and M a n ’s Hope, ed. D. G. Miller. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 1970. 1:131-70. Goulder, M. D. Luke: A New Paradigm. JSNTSup 20. Sheffield: JSOT, 1989. Gundry, R. H. “M atthean Foreign Bodies in A greem ents of Luke with M atthew against Mark: Evidence th at Luke Used Mat­ thew.” In The Four Gospels 1992. FS F. Neirynck, ed. F. Van Segbroeck, C. M. Tuckett, G. Van Belle, and J. Verheyden. Leuven: Leuven University, 1992. 1467-95. Kummel, W. G. Introduction to the New Testament. Nashville: A bingdon, 1975. 38-80. Longstaff, T. R. W. Evidence of Conflation in Mark? A Study of the Synoptic Problem. Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1977. Orchard, B. Matthew, Luke and Mark. M anchester: Koinonia, 1976.------------ and Riley, H. The Order of the Synoptics: Why Three Synoptic Gospels? Macon, GA: M ercer University, 1987. Reicke, B. The Roots of the Synoptic Gospels. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986. Riley, H. The First Gospel. Macon, GA: M ercer University, 1992. Rist, J. M. On the Independence of Matthew and Mark. SNTSMS 32. Cambridge: C am bridge University, 1978. Stoldt, Η . H. History and Criti­ cism of the Markan Hypothesis. Macon, GA: M ercer University, 1980. Styler, G. “T he Priority o f M ark.” In C. F. D. Moule, The Birth of the New Testament. 3rd ed. San Francisco: H arp er & Row, 1981. 285-316. Tuckett, C. M. “A rgum ents from O rder: D efinition and E valuation.” In Synoptic Studies, ed. C. M. Tuckett. JSNTSup 7. Sheffield: JSOT, 1984. ------------ . The Revival of the Griesbach Hypothesis: A n Analysis and Appraisal. SNTSMS 44. Cambidge: Cam­ bridge University, 1983. Vaganay, L. L e probleme synoptique: Une hypothese de travail. Tournai:



D esclee, 1954. Wenham, J. Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke. D ow ners G rove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992.

Over the last two or three decades there has been m uch discussion of the hypoth­ esis of Markan priority. This has been stimulated largely by the efforts of W. R. Farmer, who has given new visibility to the alternate view of Synoptic relationships known as the Griesbach hypothesis, viz., that Matthew was the first of the canonical Gospels to have been written and that it served as the source of both Luke and Mark, which was the latest of the three. Those behind the revival of this hypothesis (from the above bibliography, in addition to Farmer, Dungan, Longstaff, Orchard, and Stoldt) point out with some relish the various weaknesses of the so-called two-docum ent hypoth­ esis (i.e., Mark and Q as the sources of Matthew and Luke), especially, for example, the “m inor agreem ents” between Matthew and Luke against Mark in triple-tradition material and those particular passages, relatively few in number, where it seems easier to argue th at Mark has redacted Matthew ra th e r than vice versa. This new crusade to establish the priority of Matthew has no t succeeded, how­ ever, in persuading NT scholarship as a whole. It has rem inded us that hypotheses concerning the sources of the Synoptics and their interrelationship fall short of p ro o f and that no theory is w ithout its problem s. Yet, if the two-source hypothesis has its problem s, the Griesbach hypothesis is even m ore problem atic. We need n o t go into the weaknesses of the latter here (for a refutation see T uckett), but we may at least look briefly at the strengths of the former. Matthew reproduces some 90 percent of Mark, m uch of it verbatim. In single pericopes drawn from Mark, M atthew’s version is almost consistently m ore terse. M atthew has edited out unnecessary words, im proving the syntax considerably. It is m ost unlikely th at Mark would have added so many redundancies to M atthew’s syntax had he been d ep e n d e n t on Matthew. M atthew fu rth e rm o re improves M ark’s Greek at many points. Again, it is unlikely that Mark would have produced his Greek while looking at M atthew’s Greek. It is also the case that in the vast majority of instances, it is easier to explain why and how Matthew may have re­ dacted Mark than vice versa. The M arkan sequence of pericopes, finally, seems norm ative for the Synoptics in that Matthew and Luke never agree against the o rd er of Mark: where Matthew departs from the M arkan order, Luke follows it; where Luke departs from the M arkan order, Matthew follows it (see especially Tuckett, “O r d e r ”). These facts together with M ark’s directness and vividness, which itself makes it very unlikely that Mark is simply an abbreviation of Matthew and Luke, suggest the priority of Mark and the probability of M atthew’s depen­ dence upon Mark. T hat there was no need for an abridgem ent of Matthew, such as Mark represents according to the Griesbach hypothesis, is clear from the ne­ glect o f Mark in the C hurch once Matthew becam e available. We need n o t present fu rth er argum ent for the two-source hypothesis here (see Tuckett, Fitzmyer, Styler, K um m el). Suffice it to say that despite the reopening of the question by advocates of M atthean priority, the hypothesis of M arkan priority has hardly been overthrown. T he present com m entary presupposes that Mark was M atthew’s m ajor source. C onsistent redactional analysis has only confirm ed the rightness of this presupposition. Because of the great differences between the Gospels, it is m ost unlikely that the au th o r of Matthew knew the Gospel of Luke or that the author of Luke knew



the Gospel of Matthew (pace G oulder and G u n d ry ). T he result of this is that a second source is n eeded to explain the considerable am ount of m aterial com ­ m on to M atthew and Luke bu t n o t found in Mark. This hypothetical source, known as Q, may have been a w ritten docum ent, bu t m ore probably it existed in the form of oral tradition with some relatively m inor variations in different geo­ graphical regions. This oral tradition, which did no t cease with the production of written Gospels, may well be the missing link that could explain certain ph en o m ­ en a whose p resen ce is often raised against the two-source hypothesis— for exam ple, the so-called m inor agreem ents between M atthew and Luke against Mark in the “triple-tradition” passages. T he au th o r o f Matthew thus probably had as his two m ain sources Mark and Q. In addition to the oral tradition, represented by the Q m aterial, however, he also apparently had access to fu rth er oral tradition, which is reflected in the spe­ cial (i.e., unique) m aterial in his Gospel. This m aterial, usually designated as M, is only with difficulty to be thought of as a discrete source. Rather, it was probably a p art o f a larger stream of tradition, no doubt overlapping with Q, that we may speculatively associate in its original Aramaic form with the Apostle Matthew. O r al T r a d it io n

in t h e

G ospel



Bibliography Davids, P. H. “T he Gospels and Jewish Tradition: Twenty Years after G erhardsson.” In Gospel Perspectives, ed. R. T. France and D. W enham. Sheffield: JSOT, 1980. 1:75-99. Dunn, J. D. G. “M atthew ’s Awareness of M arkan R edaction.” In The Four Gospels 1992. FS F. Neirynck, ed. F. Van Segbroeck, C. M. Tuckett, G. Van Belle, and J. Verheyden. Leuven: Leuven University, 1992. 1349-59. Gerhardsson, B. The Gospel Tradition. Lund: G leerup, 1986.------------ . Memory and Manuscript: Oral Tradition and Written Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity. ASNLT 22. Lund: G leerup, 1 961.------------ . The Origins of the Gospel Traditions. Philadelphia: Fortress, 19 7 9 .------------ . “T he Path of the Gospel Tradi­ tio n .” In The Gospel and the Gospels, ed. P. Stuhlm acher. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1991. 759 6 .------------ . Tradition and Transmission in Early Christianity. ConBNT 20. Lund: G leerup, 1964. Goulder, M. D. Midrash and Lection in Matthew. London: SPCK, 1974. 137-52. Hagner, D. A. “T he Sayings of Jesus in the Apostolic Fathers and Justin Martyr.” In Gospel Perspec­ tives, ed. D. W enham . Sheffield: JSOT, 1984. 5:233-68. Henaut, B. W. Oral Tradition and the Gospels: The Problem of Mark 4. JSNTSup 82. Sheffield: JSOT, 1993. Jeremias, J. New Testa­ ment Theology: The Proclamation of Jesus. SCM: L ondon, 1971. 1-37. Kelber, W. H. The Oral and the Written Gospel: The Hermeneutics of Speaking and Writing in the Synoptic Tradition, Mark, Paul, and Q Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983. Lohr, C. H. “O ral Techniques in the Gospel of Matthew.” CBQ23 (1961) 403-35. Riesenfeld, H. The Gospel Tradition. Philadelphia: For­ tress, 1970. 1-29. Riesner, R. Jesus als Lehrer. WUNT 2.7. 2nd ed. T ubingen: Mohr, 1984. Theissen, G. The Gospels in Context: Social and Political History in the Synoptic Tradition. Min­ neapolis: Fortress, 1991. 1-22. Wansbrough, H., ed. Jesus and the Oral Gospel Tradition. JSNTSup 64. Sheffield: JSOT, 1991.

To a very large extent, the shape of the sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of Mat­ thew reflects the parallelism and m nem onic devices of m aterial designed for easy m em orization. It is estim ated that 80 percent of Jesus’ sayings are in the form of parallelismus membrorum (R iesner), often of the antithetical variety. T he symmetry involved in this poetry is often pointed out in the present com m entary (on the



poetry, see Goulder, 70-94). In its Aramaic substratum, the teaching of Jesus regu­ larly contains such things as rhythm , alliteration, assonance, and paronom asia (see Jerem ias, 20-29), and the evangelists (esp. Matthew) try som etim es to re­ flect these p h en o m en a in Greek dress. All this we take to be the sign n o t so m uch of M atthew’s im itation of the oral tradition (although L ohr rightly indicates that this happens) as of the actual preservation of oral tradition very m uch in the form in which it was probably given by Jesus. T hat the sayings of Jesus (and the narratives o f his deeds) constituted a sacred tradition from the very beginning is clear. T he words that had been uttered by the one who had risen from the dead and who was now at the right h and of God were cherished and assigned a very high authority. T he Swedish scholars H. Riesenfeld and especially B. Gerhardsson have shown the plausibility n o t only of the existence of such a holy tradition and its derivation from Jesus b u t also of the existence o f a first-century m ilieu where m em orization was a fundam entally im­ p o rtan t pedagogical tool, in which the careful transmission of the tradition along th e lines o f ra b b in ic tran sm issio n o f oral T o rah can have tak en place. G erhardsson’s work has unjustly been dismissed by some because of his early ap­ peal to m em orization of the gospel tradition on the analogy of a rabbi and his talmidim (pupils). O ne objection was that the rabbinic m odel only existed after A.D. 70. While technically this may be true, it is exceedingly im probable that the process of transm itting oral tradition began only after 70 and that there was no m em o rizin g o f o ral tra d itio n in th e tim e o f Jesus. To be sure, originally G erhardsson may have overdrawn the analogy. But that Jesus and his disciples constituted a group at least similar to a rabbi and his disciples can hardly be doubted. A fu rth er objection was that Gerhardsson had originally overstated his case about the stability of the oral tradition since the p h enom ena of the synoptic Gospels do n o t substantiate such a view. It is n o t unusual for the same sayings of Jesus in the synoptic Gospels to exhibit differences. G erhardsson’s view, however, does n o t rule out such m inor variations, which may well be expected to occur in oral tradition that is perpetuated in different geographical regions, for exam ple, n o r does it rule o ut redactional activity. W hat is given some m easure of guaran­ tee in G erhardsson’s perspective is the relative stability of the tradition of Jesus’ teaching as it is m aintained initially by the disciples. This we ju d g e to be histori­ cally correct, and it is assum ed in this com m entary. O ne of the key reasons Jesus hand-picked disciples and taught them was for the very purpose that they m ight pass on his teaching after he had departed. T hat they would have taken this responsibility seriously seems self-evident. In Matthew, Jesus is presented as the “one teacher” (κ α θ η γ η τ ή ς , 23:10), and the com­ mission at the end of the Gospel stresses the responsibility o f the disciples to hand on Jesus’ teachings (28:20). The Lukan prologue refers to the accounts of events that were “h an d ed on [ π α ρ έ δ ο σ α ν ] to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants [ϋ π η ρ έ τ α ι ] of the w ord” (Luke 1:2). These passages presuppose a carefully transm itted oral tradition. Similarly, we encounter the tech­ nical language of oral tradition (π α ρ έ λ α β ο ν , “I received,” and π α ρ έ δ ω κ α , “I handed o n ”) in P aul’s account o f the L ord’s Supper in 1 Cor 11:23-26 (cf. the same verbs in 1 Cor 15:3, referring to the faithful handing on of the kerygma). T he im portance of the oral tradition containing the words and deeds of Jesus in the early C hurch did not cease with the appearance o f the written Gospels.



Early in the second century, Papias (see above, “T he Papias Tradition concern­ ing M atthew”) valued the oral tradition even above the available w ritten material. This shows the confidence in the reliability of oral tradition in that culture. Fi­ nally, the continuing im portance of oral tradition can be seen in the Apostolic Fathers and Justin Martyr (see H agner). T he significant degree of agreem ent be­ tween the written account of Jesus’ words and the oral tradition later than the Gospels provides evidence both that the words of Jesus were treasured from the beginning and that they were han d ed down with the utm ost care. We may ac­ cordingly have a high degree o f confidence th at the sayings o f Jesus in ou r synoptic Gospels are true representations of what Jesus him self spoke. T h e St r u c t u r e


Ma tth ew

Bibliography Allison, D. C. “Matthew: Structure, Biographical Im pulse an d the Imitatio Christi.” In The Four Gospels 1992. FS F. Neirynck, ed. F. Van Segbroeck, C. M. Tuckett, G. Van Belle, a n d J. Verheyden. Leuven: Leuven University, 1992. 1203-21. Bacon, B. W. Studies in Matthew. New York: H olt, 1930. Barr, D. L. “T he D ram a of M atthew’s Gospel: A R econsideration of Its Structure and P urpose.” TD 24 (1976) 349-59. Bauer, D. R. The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel. Sheffield: A lm ond, 1988. Combrink, H. J. B. “T he S tructure o f the Gospel o f Mat­ thew as N arrative.” TynB 34 (1983) 61-90. Fenton, J. C. “Inclusio an d Chiasmus in ‘Mat­ thew.’” SE 1 [= TU 73] (1959) 174-79. Filson, F. V. “Broken P atterns in the Gospel of Matthew.”JBL 75 (1956) 227-31. Gaechter, P. Die literarische Kunst im Matthaus-Evangelium. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1966. Gooding, D. W. “S tructure L itteraire de M atthieu XIII,53 a XVIII,35.” RB 85 (1978) 227-52. Goulder, M. D. Midrash and Lection in Matthew. L ondon: SPCK, 1974. Green, Η . B. “T he S tructure o f St. M atthew ’s G ospel.” SE 4 [= TU 102] (1965) 47-59. Humphrey, Η . M. The Relationship of Structure and Christology in the Gos­ pel of Matthew. New York: Fordham , 1977. Kilpatrick, G. D. The Origins of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Oxford: C larendon, 1946. Kingsbury, J. D. Matthew: Structure, Christology, Kingdom. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989. Krentz, E. “T he E xtent o f M atthew ’s Pro­ logue: Toward the Structure of the First Gospel. ”JBL 83 (1964) 409-15. Lohr, C. H. “O ral T echniques in the Gospel of Matthew.” CBQ 23 (1961) 403—35. Neirynck, F. “AIIO TOTE ΗΡΞΑΤΟ and the Structure of Matthew.” ETL 64 (1988) 2 1 - 5 9 .---- -------- .“La redaction m atth eenne et la structure du prem ier Evangile.” In De Jesus aux Evangiles: Tradition et redaction dans les Evangiles synoptiques, ed. I. de la Potterie. Gembloux: Duculot, 1967. 4 1 73. Rolland, P. “From the Genesis to the End of the World: T he Plan of M atthew’s Gospel.” BTB 2 (1972) 155-76. Standaert, B. “L’Evangile selon M atthieu: Com position et genre litteraire.” In The Four Gospels 1992. FS F. Neirynck, ed. F. Van Segbroeck, C. M. Tuckett, G. Van Belle, and J. Verheyden. Leuven: Leuven University, 1992. 1223-50. Thompson, Μ . M. “T he Structure of Matthew: A Survey o f R ecent T rends.” Studia biblica et theologica 12 (1982) 195-238. Specially to be noted are two issues of the jo u rn a l of the New Testam ent Society o f South Africa: Neotestamentica 11 (1977) entitled “T he Structure o f Matthew 1-13—An Explora­ tion into Discourse Analysis”; and Neotestamentica 16 (1982) entitled “S tructure an d M ean­ ing in Matthew 14-28.” To each volume there is also an ad d en d u m displaying the struc­ ture o f the G reek text of Matthew.

Although m uch study has been devoted to the structure of Matthew in recent years, there has been little consensus as to the best analysis. T he reason for this is



n o t lack of data b ut rath er that Matthew contains alm ost too large a variety of structural elements. There is apparently too m uch to com prehend u n d er any single analysis of the structure. The five discourses. U ndoubtedly the m ost conspicuous structural m arker in the Gospel is the statem ent (varying only slightly) with which each of the five m ajor teaching discourses ends: “W hen Jesus finished all these sayings” (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; and 26:1). As is the case in the Fourth Gospel, the evangelist alter­ nates the teaching discourses with narrative blocks concerning the mighty deeds of Jesus. In Matthew, however, little attem pt has been m ade to relate the discourses to the narratives. The discourses in their present form are the construction of the evangelist and have clearly catechetical interests: (1) the Serm on on the M ount, chaps. 5-7; (2) mission directives to the twelve, chap. 10; (3) parables of th e kingdom , chap. 13; (4) discipleship an d discipline, chap. 18; an d (5) eschatology, chaps. 24-25. B. W. Bacon suggested that the evangelist intended the fivefold structure to correspond to the five books of the Pentateuch, with Jesus re p re se n te d as a new Moses who is the giver o f a new law (see, e.g., Kilpatrick). Although there is an im plicit Moses typology at some points in the Gospel (see Davies-Allison), this hardly seems to provide sufficient w arrant to accept Bacon’s conclusion. It is furtherm ore true that a fivefold structure is found elsewhere in the canonical writings (e.g., the five books of Psalms; the five Scrolls). Although these five discourses may be m eant to include in each instance a preceding narrative (i.e., chaps. 3-4; 8-9; 11-12; 14-17; and 19-22), the fivefold structure hardly seems adequate to be considered the basic plan of the Gospel. T he m ain reason for this is that certain parts of the Gospel do no t fit into this structure at all. Chap. 23, with its criticism of the Pharisees, is only with difficulty to be considered a part o f the eschatological discourse that follows; chap. 11 con­ tains a considerable am ount of Jesus’ teaching that rem ains outside the fivefold discourse structure. More importantly, the fivefold structure excludes the infancy and passion narratives, which m ust therefore be relegated to prologue and epi­ logue. T he narrative of the death of Jesus, however, is the goal and climax of the story, and any structural analysis m ust include it as a m ajor elem ent. Accordingly, the fivefold discourse structure should be recognized as a subsidiary structure rath er than the prim ary one. For the latter, we are better advised to look to the m ajor divisions of the Gospel. Two major turning points. Two pivotal points in Matthew are noted with the re­ peated clause: ά π ό rore ή ρ ξ α τ ο ό Ι η σ ο ύ ς ' , “from that time Jesus beg an ” (4:17; 16:21). Already at the tu rn of the century J. C. Hawkins (Horae Synopticae [Ox­ ford: C larendon, 1899]) p ointed out the significance of this form ula for the structure of Matthew. More recently, J. D. Kingsbury, followed by D. R. Bauer, has u n derstood these phrases as indicating the basic structure of the Gospel, which he accordingly describes u n d er the following three headings: (1) the person of Jesus Messiah (1:1-4:16); (2) the proclam ation of Jesus Messiah (4:17-16:20); and (3) the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Messiah (16:21-28:20). Because these are such critical junctures in the narrative, they are obviously im­ p o rtan t to the general shape of the story. But w hether they are in fact structural m arkers in the p roper sense of the word is an o th er question. F. Neirynck (ETL 64 [1988] 21-59) has shown how difficult it is structurally to divide 4:17 from 4:1216 and 16:21 from the verses that precede it.



A chiastic structure. The symmetrical chiastic analysis of such scholars as Fenton, Lohr, Green, Gaechter, and C om brink is in some ways appealing, bu t one may only speculate w hether such a structure was really in the evangelist’s m ind. This form o f analysis builds on the alternation between narrative and teaching, as roughly in the following schema: a b c d e f e' d' c' b' a1

1-4 5-7 8-9 10 11-12 13 14-17 18 19-22 23-25 26-28

Narrative Discourse Narrative Discourse Narrative Discourse Narrative Discourse Narrative Discourse Narrative

T he chiastic approach can appeal to similar motifs in the content of the in­ fancy and passion narratives and to the similar lengths of b and b' as well as d and d 1. While similarity occasionally exists between o th er corresponding elem ents, this usually seems arbitrary and uncom pelling. G reen’s analysis furtherm ore is n o t based on the narrative-discourse alternation and finds its center in chap. 11 rath er than 13, while G aechter finds seven m ajor sections in M atthew with the central p art of the Gospel in chaps. 13:1-16:20 (with 13:53-58 as the very cen­ ter). In short, the evidence that can be gleaned from M atthew’s text is ambiguous, and there has been no resultant consensus even am ong those who favor a chiastic analysis. Other structural elements. Periodic m arkers in the flow of the narrative are pro­ vided by the capsule sum m aries of the m inistry of Jesus placed by the evangelist at 4:23-25; 9:35; 11:1; 14:35-36; 15:29-31; 19:1-2; and 21:14. These p oint always to the healing of Jesus, often to his teaching, and in the first two instances specifi­ cally to Jesus’ proclam ation of “the good news of the kingdom .” These summaries, however, are n o t similar enough to be thought of as deliberate m acro-structural markers. W ithin smaller sections of the Gospel, the author displays his literary artistry in the grouping of certain items. As examples, we may note his liking of groups of seven: e.g., the seven petitions of the L ord’s Prayer (6:9-13); the seven parables in chap. 13; the seven woes in chap. 23; and the double sevens of the genealogy (1:1-17). He also favors groups of three: e.g., the three divisions of the genealogy (1:1-17); the three kinds of piety (6:1-18); and three polem ical parables (21:2822:14). Davies-Allison call attention to the im portance of threes in Matthew and even propose a triadic outline of the m acro-structure, with triadic subpoints and sub-subpoints. T he evangelist has o ther groupings (m ultiples of three) in such instances as the six antitheses (5:21-48) and the nine benedictions (5:3-11). T he au th o r o f Matthew also apparently has a tendency to double items drawn from his sources, as in the two dem oniacs of 8:28-34 (cf. Mark 5:1-20), the two blind m en of 20:29-34 (cf. Mark 10:46-52), and the probable doublet of 20:2934 in 9:27-31. This, like some of the threes in the Gospel, may well result from a



concern to have the two or three witnesses required by the law (18:16; cf. 26:60). Many exam ples of the au th o r’s artistry could be m ultiplied by looking at such o th er literary devices as repetition, inclusio, chiasm, leitmotifs, and even poetry (on which see Goulder, 70-94). T he au th o r of Matthew thus shows considerable skill and artistry in the n arra­ tive he has constructed. At the same time, as we have seen, it is very difficult to ascertain a unifying overall structure other than of a very general kind. As Filson has pointed out, Matthew has many “broken patterns,” i.e., patterns that he be­ gins b u t does n o t follow through. Also to be rem em b ered in discussions of M atthew’s structure is the fact that he is following the outline of Mark—indeed, following it very closely from chap. 12 onwards. In the final analysis, it may be that the evangelist really had no grand overall structure in m ind (thus too Gundry, T hom pson) oth er than of the general divisions m arked by the alternation of nar­ rative and discourse. Thus a good part of the time the Gospel appears to be a seamless succession of pericopes, alternating presentation of deeds and words of Jesus that have usually been collected and arranged topically—seldom is there an interest in chronology—for the sake of the im pact on the reader. With these facts in m ind, D. C. Allison (1208) has proposed the following gen­ eral outline: 1-4 5-7 8-9

10 11-12 13 14-17 18 19-23 24-25 26-28


Introduction: the m ain character (Jesus) introduced Jesus’ dem ands upon Israel Jesus’ deeds within and for Israel Extension of m inistry through words and deeds of others Israel’s negative response E xplanation of Israel’s negative response Establishm ent of the new people of God, the Church Instructions to the C hurch C om m encem ent of the passion, the beginning of the end T he future: ju d g m e n t and salvation Conclusion: the passion and resurrection

In the present com m entary no overall structural outline is offered. T here is, of course, a de facto outline in the groupings of m aterial that seem natural in the flow of the Gospel and that to some extent reflect a num ber of the issues that have been discussed here. With the prom inence of M atthew’s alternation of nar­ rative and discourse, our approach results in a scheme very similar to Allison’s. This may be seen in the listing of m aterial in the C ontents of each volume of the present com m entary. M a t t h e w ’s U se

of the



T estam ent

Bibliography France, R. T. “T he Form ula-Q uotations of M atthew 2 and the Problem o f C om m unica­ tio n .” N TS 27 (1980-81) 2 3 3 -5 1 .------------ .Jesus and the Old Testament. L ondon: Tyndale, 1971. G artner, B. “T he H abakkuk C om m entary (DSH) and the Gospel of Matthew.” ST 8 (1954) 1-24. Gundry, R. H. The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel, with special reference to the Messianic Hope. NovTSup 18, Leiden: Brill, 1967. Hagner, D. A. “T he O ld Testam ent in the New Testam ent.” In Interpreting the Word of God, ed. S. J. Schultz and M. A.



Inch. Chicago: Moody, 1976. 78-104. ------------ . “W hen the Time H ad Fully C om e.” In Dreams, Visions and Oracles, ed. C. E. A rm erding and W. W. Gasque. G rand Rapids: Baker, 1977. 89-99. Hartman, L. “Scriptural Exegesis in the Gospel o f St. Matthew and the Prob­ lem o f C om m unication.” In L ’Evangile selon Matthieu, ed. M. Didier. Gembloux: D uculot, 1972. 131-52. Moo, D. J. The Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives. Sheffield: Al­ m o n d , 1983. R othfuchs, W. Die Erfullungszitate des Matthaus-Evangeliums. S tu ttg art: Kohlham m er, 1969. Soares Prabhu, G. M. The Formula Quotations in the Infancy Narrative of Matthew. Rome: Biblical Institute, 1976. Stanton, G. N. “M atthew’s Use o f the O ld Testa­ m e n t.” In It is Written: Scripture Citing Scripture, ed. D. A. Carson and Η. M. G. Williamson. Cambridge: C am bridge University, 1988. 205-19 (reprin ted in G. N. Stanton, A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew [Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1992] 346-63). Stendahl, K. The School of St. Matthew and Its Use of the Old Testament. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968. Van Segbroeck, F. “Les citations d ’accom plissem ent dans l’Evangile selon saint M atthieu.” In L 'E vangile selon Matthieu, ed. M. Didier. Gembloux: Duculot, 1972. 107-30.

M atthew contains well over sixty explicit quotations from the OT (not count­ ing a great nu m b er of allusions), m ore than twice as many as any o th er Gospel. This heavy d ependence on the OT reflects M atthew’s interest in the gospel of the kingdom as the fulfillm ent of the OT expectation. O f particular interest in this regard are the so-called fulfillm ent quotations, one of the m ost distinctive features o f Matthew. These quotations represent M atthew’s own creative inter­ pretation of his narrative. T heir reflective character has led to the designation Reflexionszitate, “reflection citations.” Ten quotations employ a specialized introductory form ula containing the verb π λ η ρ ο ύ ν , “fulfill”: OT Quotation (LXX)


Introductory Formula


ινα πληρωθή το ρηθέν υπό κυρίου διά του προφήτου λέγοντος“in ord er that the word of the L ord thro u g h the p ro p h et m ight be fulfilled which says”

Isa 7:14


(identical with preceding)

Hos 11:1


τό τε έπληρώθη τό ρηθέν διά Ίερεμίου Je r 31:15 του προφήτου λέγοντος“then the word through Jerem iah the p ro p h et was fulfilled which says”


όπως πληρωθή τό ρηθέν διά των προφητών ότι. “so that the word through the prophets m ight be fulfilled th a t”


ϊνα πληρωθή τό ρηθέν διά Ήσαΐου Isa 8:23-9:1 του προφήτου λέγοντος“in o rd er that the word through Isaiah the p ro p h et m ight be fulfilled saying”


όπως- πληρωθή τό ρηθέν διά Ήσαΐου του προφήτου λέγοντος-

(Isa 11:1?)

Isa 53:4



“so that the word through Isaiah the p ro p h et m ight be fulfilled saying” 12:17-21 13:35

(identical with form ula for 4:14-16) όπως πληρωθη το ρηθέν Slά του προφήτου λέγοντος “so that the word through the p ro p h et m ight be fulfilled saying”

Isa 42:1-4 Ps 78(77):2


ϊνα πληρωθη τό ρηθέν διά τού προφήτου λέγοντος “in o rd er that the word through the p ro p h et m ight be fulfilled saying”

Isa 62:11; Zech 9:9


(identical with form ula for 2:17-18)

Zech 11:12-13 (cf.Jer 32:6-15)

To these may be added a fu rth er form ula quotation that employs the synony­ m ous ά ν α π λ η ρ ο ύ ν rath er than π λ η ρ ο ύ ν : 13:14-15

καί άναπληρούταί αύτοϊς ή προφητεία Ήσαΐου ή λέγουσα “and the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled in them which says”

Isa 6:9-10

O ne fu rth er related form ula quotation stresses fulfillm ent w ithout using the word “fulfill”: 3:3

ούτος γάρ έ σ τίν 6 ρηθείς διά Ήσαΐου τον προφήτου λέγοντος “This is what was spoken through Isaiah the p ro p h et saying”

Isa 40:2 (LXX)

O ther quotations employing the word γ έ γ ρ α π τ α ι , “it is written,” in the introductory form ula can also stress fulfillment, as in 2:5; 11:10; and 26:31. Also to be noted is the general fulfillm ent form ula w ithout any actual quotation in 26:56 (cf. 26:54) with reference to the events of the passion narrative: ϊ ν α π λ η ρ ω θ ώ σ ί ν ai γ ρ α φ α ί τ ω ν π ρ ο φ η τ ώ ν , “in order that the writings of the prophets m ight be fulfilled.” T he in troductory form ulae of M atthew’s fulfillm ent quotations are unique am ong the synoptic Gospels, although, of course, the emphasis on fulfillm ent is itself ubiquitous. The placem ent of the quotations in the book does no t help us to discern the structure of the Gospel; their distribution is n o t uniform , four oc­ curring in the first two chapters. T he im portance of the quotations is theological. They are M atthew’s own way of undergirding the m anner in which the events of his narrative, indeed its totality, are to be understood as the fulfillm ent of what God had prom ised in the Scriptures. T he m ost difficult challenge of these quotations for the m odern reader is to u n d erstand the herm eneutical basis upon which the majority of them rests. Al­ though the word “fulfill” is used, the quoted texts themselves are as a rule not even predictive of future events. N or therefore can we say that the evangelist does



exegesis of the texts, i.e., that he understands them the way their original authors in ten d ed them . Instead, we en counter in our au th o r’s practice, as th roughout the NT, the use of what has been dubbed sensus plenior, i.e., a fuller or deeper sense within the quoted m aterial n o t understood by the original au th o r but now detectable in the light of the new revelatory fulfillment. This is not an arbitrary, frivolous misuse of the texts, as is sometimes claimed, bu t a reasoned practice that assumes a divinely intended correspondence between G od’s saving activity at differen t times in the history o f redem ption. T he u n d ersta n d in g of texts through sensus plenior was n o t the invention of Christians but had already long been practiced by the Jews. Together, Jews and Christians shared such convic­ tions as the sovereignty of God, the inspiration of the Scriptures, and the unity of G od’s saving purpose resulting in the interconnectedness of his redem ptive acts. To these the Christians added the one supreme conviction that Jesus was the telos, the goal, of what the OT had prom ised. With these presuppositions, Christians like Matthew saw correspondences between events of the past and the time of Jesus n o t as coincidental, as we m oderns m ight, bu t as divinely intended, with the ear­ lier foreshadowing the latter, m uch in the sense of prophecy and fulfillment. W hat needs to be stressed is that these quotations are no t to be understood as prooftexts that would in themselves persuade, for example, Jews who had rejected the gospel. T he quotations have as their foundation christological convictions— they are, indeed, christocentric. They take as their starting point that Jesus is the O ne prom ised by the OT Scriptures. T he quotations are thus addressed to Chris­ tians, an d th e ir co m pelling pow er is only evident to those who have b een confronted with the fact of the risen Christ. Given the tru th of M atthew’s n arra­ tive, the quotations find their rightful place as interpretive support and as a dem onstration of the unity of G od’s plan exhibited in prom ise and fulfillment. T he special form ula quotations of Matthew are furtherm ore distinctive in that w hereas th e o th e r OT quotations, draw n from M ark or Q, are consistently septuagintal in text type, they exhibit a m ixed text form (except for the quota­ tion in 13:14-15) that reflects dependence upon the Hebrew (Masoretic) text together with other text types, including also septuagintal influence (see G undry). T he explanation o f this fact together with the question of the source of these quotations has been m uch debated. It is possible, b u t highly conjectural, that the form ula quotations originally fo rm e d p a rt o f a co llectio n o f testimonia (such as now fo u n d at Q u m ra n [4QTestim ]) that Matthew drew upon, or even perhaps collected himself. If this is true, however, Matthew has m ade the quotations his own by the distinctive way in which he utilizes them in his narrative. But o th er explanations are also avail­ able. Thus K. Stendahl has proposed that the quotations are the product of a M atthean school th at in terp reted OT texts in a m an n er similar to the pesher h erm eneutic (i.e., pointing to fulfillm ent by arguing “this is th a t”) practiced at Q um ran. B. G artner has disputed this hypothesis, denying that M atthew’s fulfill­ m ent quotations are similar to those of Q um ran since they do n o t expound a continuous text (such as H abakkuk). G artner proposes instead that the quota­ tions were derived from the missionary preaching of the early C hurch (so too Rothfuchs) and were possibly directed against Jewish opponents. O pinion has rem ained divided regarding w hether the form ula quotations are the evangelist’s own creation or are derived from some particular source. Because



they so clearly reflect the evangelist’s theology, with its strong em phasis on fulfill­ m ent, it is clear that he at least m ade the quotations his own in his portrayal of Jesus as the Messiah.

T he G enre and P urpose of Matthew Bibliography Allison, D. C. “Matthew: Structure, Biographical Im pulse and the Imitatio Christi.” In The Four Gospels 1992. FS F. Neirynck, ed. F. Van Segbroeck, C. M. Tuckett, G. Van Belle, a n d J. Verheyden. Leuven: Leuven University, 1992. 1203-21. Burridge, R. A. What Are the Gos­ pels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography. SNTSMS 70. Cambridge: Cambridge Univer­ sity, 1992. Carrington, P. The Primitive Christian Calendar. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1952. Davies, W. D. The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount. Cambridge: Cam bridge Univer­ sity, 1963. Gartner, B. “T he H abakkuk C om m entary (DSH) and the Gospel of M atthew.” ST 8 (1954) 1-24. Goulder, M. D. The Evangelists’ Calendar. London: SPCK, 1978.------------ . Midrash and Lection in Matthew. L ondon: SPCK, 1974. Guelich, R. A. “T he Gospel G enre.” In The Gospel and the Gospels, ed. P. Stuhlm acher. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1991. 173-208. Kilpatrick, G. D. The Origins of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Oxford: C larendon, 1946. McConnell, R. S. Law and Prophecy in Matthew’s Gospel. Basel: Reinhardt, 1969. Minear, P. S. Matthew: The Teacher’s Gospel. New York: Pilgrim, 1982. Schweizer, E. “O bservance o f the Law and Charismatic Activity in M atthew.” NTS 16 (1969-70) 213-30. Shuler, P. L. A Genre for the Gospels: The Biographical Character of Matthew. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982. Stanton, G. N. “Matthew: ΒΙΒΛΟΣ, ΕΤΑΓΓΕΑΙΟΝ, or ΒΙΟΣ? In The Four Gospels 1992. FS F. Neirynck, ed. F. Van Segbroeck, C. M. Tuckett, G. Van Belle, and J. Verheyden. Leuven: Leuven U ni­ versity, 1992. 1187-1201. Stendahl, K The School of St. Matthew and Its Use of the Old Testa­ ment. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968. Talbert, C. H. What Is a Gospel? The Genre of the Canonical Gospels. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977. Thompson, W. G. Matthew’s Advice to a Di­ vided Community: Mt. 17,22-18,35. Rome: Biblical Institute, 1970. Trilling, W. Das wahre Israel: Studien zur Theologe des Matthausevangeliums. 3rd ed. M unich: Kosel, 1964.

T he genre, or literary character and form , of a docum ent is vitally related to the purposes of its author. How can the Gospel of Matthew be described so as to account for its unique em phases and its peculiar form al elements? Several pos­ sible answers m ust be considered. Gospel. Matthew is of course preem inently a Gospel, i.e., an account of the life o f Jesus, an ancient type of biography though n o t a biography in the m odern sense. It is increasingly realized that Matthew is a β ί ο ς (“life”) that bears suffi­ cient resem blance to Greco-Rom an biographies to be classified as such (see Talbert, Stanton; cf. Shuler who, however, too specifically identifies M atthew’s portrait of Jesus as an encom ium or “laudatory biography”). Matthew, like the o th er Gospels, is an expansion of the kerygma concerning the fulfillment brought by Jesus, especially through his death and resurrection. Fundamentally, a Gospel proclaims the good news concerning the saving activity of God. T hat saving activ­ ity o f God manifests itself climactically in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the h eart of the Gospel. In addition, however, its special characteristics have raised the question o f w hether Matthew may also be seen to possess the traits of other m ore specific genres. The following categories are no t necessarily parallel and are by no m eans mutually exclusive.



Midrash. T he word, a noun derived from the Hebrew verb Ό Ί Ί {darns), \ o seek, in q u ire,” has been used with various m eanings by scholars who have applied it to Matthew. In Jewish literature, it came to refer specifically to the interpretation of biblical texts. In its broader m eaning, when applied to Matthew, it refers to the setting forth of an edifying, theological interpretation of Jesus in, or u n d er the form of, historical narrative. In its proper, m ore restricted m eaning, m idrash re­ fers to such “historicizing” done in connection with specific OT quotations. Many scholars argue th at Matthew contains m uch m idrash, in both the narrow er and the wider sense of the word. According to M. D. Goulder, Matthew is a m idrashic o r “in te rp re tiv e ” expansion o f the Gospel o f Mark, to be co m p ared to the C hronicler’s treatm ent of Kings. R. H. G undry argues for the m idrashic charac­ ter of m uch o f Matthew and m aintains that M atthew’s readers would have had no difficulty in distinguishing the m idrashic m aterial from straightforw ard histori­ cal narrative or in accepting it for w hat it was. It can n o t be denied th at the evangelist works midrashically with some of his OT quotations, but it does not follow from this that whatever appears as historical narrative in Matthew is with­ o u t any historical basis. Matthew contains narratives (e.g., the infancy narrative) th at make m uch use of OT quotations, and these indeed appear to have had their effect on the wording of the narratives. But this does no t m ean that the au th o r created historical narratives at will for his own convenience. Lectionary. Following G. D. Kilpatrick and R C arrington, G oulder (Midrash, 171-98) has argued no t merely that the com position of the Gospel of Matthew was d eterm in ed by the lectionary year b u t also that it was w ritten to be used liturgically by supplying consecutive readings based on the Jewish festal year. For Goulder, the genre of Gospel is liturgical rath er than strictly literary. Catechesis or catechetical m anual. T he collection of the sayings of Jesus into the five discourses, one of the m ost obvious characteristics of Matthew, has led m any scholars to conclude that it should be thought of as a catechetical docum ent for the upbuilding of Christian discipleship. It is clear that in the early Church the sayings o f Jesus were supremely authoritative and that they played a great role in the instruction o f new converts as well as older m em bers of the church. T he view of the Gospel as catechesis is in keeping with the importance of teaching throughout the Gospel (see esp. 28:20). K. Stendahl extends this view of M atthew as catechesis to the hypothesis of a M atthean school, m odeled on the the rabbinic schools, that pro­ duced a kind of teacher’s manual, a Christian equivalent to the Qum ran community’s M anual o f Discipline. Particular evidence o f the school’s work, according to Stendahl, is seen in the use of the OT quotations thro u g h o u t the Gospel. Church correctives. Some have seen Matthew as providing correctives to a com ­ m unity facing serious difficulties and find in the negative m aterial a clue to the purpose o f the Gospel. W. G. T hom pson, in a study of 17:22-18:35, argues that M atthew’s com m unity was seriously divided and that scandal was com m onplace. It is, of course, also possible to argue that behind every positive instruction of the Gospel is a corresponding vice in the community. Kingsbury (Parables) finds indi­ cations in chap. 13 that M atthew’s com m unity was troubled n o t only by internal strife b u t also by a spiritual malaise that m anifested itself in materialism , secular­ ism, and a disregard for the law. O thers (e.g., M inear and Trilling) detect a special concern for the leaders of M atthew’s community, who were in danger of becom ­ ing false prophets or falling into hypocrisy. Still others (e.g., E. Schweizer) have



called attention to the polem ic in Matthew against false prophets and certain charismatics in the com m unity who did n o t keep the law (7:15-23). Although the evangelist accepts the place of prophecy and charism atic healings in the C hurch, he has no tolerance for the exercise of these gifts apart from the Chris­ tian virtues that are exem plified preem inently in the keeping of the law. Missionary propaganda. Since one of the m ain intentions of Matthew is to dem ­ onstrate that Jesus is the Messiah, it is possible to see the Gospel as prim arily a tool to be used in the C h u rc h ’s m ission to the Jews. B. G a rtn er an d R. S. M cConnell have explained the unique quotations in Matthew as derived from the m issionary preaching directed to the Jews. T he great stress on fulfillm ent th ro u g h o u t the Gospel can be taken as support of this hypothesis. Polemic against the rabbis. T hat Jesus debates and criticizes the Pharisees so fre­ quently through the course of the Gospel (see esp. chap. 23) leads naturally to the conclusion th at the author and his readers faced a continuing problem in their defense o f the gospel against the claims of the synagogue. The debate con­ cern ed the question of who possessed the true interpretation of the Torah. In this view, the Gospel draws on the traditions about Jesus and the Pharisees and uses this m aterial in the struggle with the Pharisaic Judaism of a later time. W. D. Davies (256-315) regards Matthew as a Jewish-Christian counterpart of, and re­ sponse to, the rabbinic activity at Yavneh (Jamnia). This variety of options concerning the genre of Matthew indicates som ething of its m ultifaceted character. Several of these explanations may well be equally true. T he evangelist could have had several purposes. This m uch at least is clear: Matthew is a “com m unity book,” written to a considerable extent in order to m eet the im m ediate needs of the evangelist’s church or churches during the interim period between the historical events narrated and the return of Christ. In particular, as we will argue below (“The Sitz im Leben [‘Life Setting’] of Matthew’s Commu­ nity”) , the evangelist intends to help his Jewish-Christian readers understand their new faith as in continuity with the faith of their ancestors, as the fulfillm ent of the Scriptures, and as the beginning of the realization of the hope of Israel. The au th o r wrote, above all, for the C hurch to in terp ret the Christ-event but also to instruct and edify the Christians of his own and future generations. M a t t h e w ’s T h e o l o g y

Bibliography Barth, G. “M atthew’s U nderstanding of the Law.” In G. Bornkam m , G. Barth, an d H. J. H eld , Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew. P h ilad e lp h ia : F ortress, 1963. 58-164. Bornkam m , G. “End-Expectation and C hurch in Matthew.” In G. Bornkam m , G. Barth, and H. J. H eld, Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1963. 15-51. Broer, I. “Versuch zur Christologie des ersten Evangeliums.” In The Four Gospels 1992. FS F. Neirynck, ed. F. Van Segbroeck, C. M. Tuckett, G. Van Belle, and J. Verheyden. Leuven: Leuven University, 1992. 1251-82. Carlston, C. E. “Christology and C hurch in M atthew.” In The Four Gospels 1992. FS F. Neirynck, ed. F. Van Segbroeck, C. M. Tuckett, G. Van Belle, a n d J. Verheyden. Leuven: Leuven University, 1992. 1283-1304. Gibbs, J. M. “T he Son of God as the Torah Incarnate in M atthew.” SE 4 [= TU 102] (1968) 38-46. H agner, D. A. “Apocalyptic Motifs in the Gospel of Matthew: Continuity and Discontinuity.” Η Β Τ 7 (1985)



5 3 -8 2 .------------ . “Righteousness in M atthew’s Theology.” In Worship, Theology and Ministry in the Early Church. FS R. R M artin, ed. M. J. Wilkins an d T. Paige. Sheffield: JSOT, 1992. 101-20. Hamerton-Kelly, R. G. Pre-Existence, Wisdom and the Son of Man. SNTSMS 21. Cam­ bridge: Cam bridge University, 1973. H um m el, R. Die Auseinandersetzung zwischen Kirche und Judentum im Matthausevangelium. 2nd ed. M unich: Kaiser, 1966. Kingsbury, J. D. Matthew: Structure, Christology, Kingdom. 2nd ed. M inneapolis: Fortress, 1989. Luz, U. “Eine thetische Skizze d er M atthaischen C hristologie.” In Anfange der Christologie. FS F. H ah n , ed. C. Breytenbach and H. Paulsen. Gottingen: V andenhoeck & R uprecht, 1991. 221-35. Meier, J. P. The Vision of Matthew: Christ, Church and Morality in the First Gospel. New York: Paulist, 1979. Przybylski, B. Righteousness in Matthew and His World of Thought. SNTSMS 41. Cam­ bridge: Cam bridge University, 1980. Schweizer, E. “O bservance o f the Law and Charis­ matic Activity in Matthew.” NTS 16 (1969-70) 213-30. Strecker, G. Der Wegder Gerechtigkeit. 3rd ed. Gottingen: V andenhoeck 8c Ruprecht, 1971. Suggs, M. J. Wisdom, Christology and Law in Matthew’s Gospel. Cam bridge, MA: H arvard University, 1970. Trilling, W. Das wahre Israel: Studien zur Theologie des Matthausevangeliums. 3rd ed. M unich: Kosel, 1964. Wilkins, M. J. The Concept of Disciple in Matthew’s Gospel. NovTSup 59. Leiden: Brill, 1988.

Since M atthew takes over so m uch of Mark, we may expect that he shares M ark’s theology. At the same time, by seeing how Matthew redacts the M arkan m aterial, we gain insight into M atthew’s particular theological interests. Even m ore, we may determ ine M atthew’s perspective by the m aterial that is unique to his Gospel, the m aterial drawn from his special source. We now look at some of the m ajor theological em phases in the Gospel. Fulfillment: the kingdom of heaven. T he them e of fulfillm ent is clearly one of Matthew’s favorites. The central emphasis of the book is found in what is designated (uniquely in the Gospels) as τ ο ε ύ α γ γ έ λ ω ν τ η ς β α σ ι λ ε ί α ς , “the gospel of the king­ d om ” (4:23; 9:35; 24:14; cf. 26:13), namely, the good news that the reign or rule of God has begun to be realized in history through the presence of Jesus Christ. Mat­ thew may fairly be described as practically a dem onstration of the reality of the presence of the kingdom through the words and deeds of Jesus. The evangelist pre­ fers the Jewish expression ή β α σ ι λ ε ί α τ ω ν ο υ ρ α ν ώ ν , “the kingdom of heaven” (lit. “of the heavens”), a circumlocution for ή β α σ ι λ ε ί α τ ο ν θ ε ο ύ , “the kingdom of G od” (which, however, does occur in 12:28; 19:24; and 21:31, 43). The im portance of the kingdom for the evangelist is obvious from the fact that he uses the word m uch m ore frequently than does any one of the other Gospels, and nearly three times as often as Mark. The message of Jesus, like that of Jo h n the Baptist (3:2), is the com­ ing of the kingdom (4:17), and this in turn becomes the message of the disciples (10:7). Everything in the Gospel relates in some way to this controlling theme. It is true that the kingdom has come presently as a mystery in an unexpected way, as we learn especially from the parables of chap. 13. In particular, the fulfillment brought by Jesus involves a delay in the judgm ent of the wicked (13:36-42, 47-50). Nevertheless, the excitem ent of what has come is not to be missed: “blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous persons desired to see what you are seeing, and they did not see it, and to hear what you are hearing, and they did not hear it” (13:16-17). Matthew’s special interest in the them e of fulfillment is also clearly seen in his frequent quotation of the OT and particularly in the so-called fulfillment quotations (see preceding section). There is also a sense, of course, in which the kingdom is a future expectation for Matthew. If the kingdom is presently inaugurated in and through the work of Christ, it remains to be consum m ated through his parousia (see below on “Eschatology”).



Christology. M atthew’s doctrine of Jesus as the Christ is fundam entally im por­ tan t to every theological emphasis in the Gospel, for it is the identity of Jesus that determ ines such things as fulfillment, authoritative exposition of the law, discipleship, ecclesiology, and eschatology. Matthew heightens the Christology of the m aterial drawn from Mark, m aking it m ore explicit (e.g., the im portant confes­ sion of Mark 8:29, “You are the C hrist,” becom es in M att 16:16, “You are the Christ, the Son o f the living G od”; cf. Matt 19:17 with Mark 10:18; and Matt 9:3 with Mark 2:7). It is in M atthew’s unique m aterial, moreover, that the evangelist’s em phasis on Christology is most apparent. Kingsbury argues that the key christological title in Matthew is ν ι ο ς τ ο ν θ ε ο ύ , “Son of G od.” T he im portance of this title can be seen no t only where it is used (e.g., 8:29; 14:33; 16:16; cf. 3:17 and 17:5) bu t also in places where it is implied, such as in 1:23, “‘and they shall nam e him E m m anuel,’ which m eans ‘God is with us’”; 14:27, ε γ ώ ε ί μ ι , “it is I ” (cf. Exod 3:14); and the passages prom ising the fu­ ture presence o f Jesus with his disciples (18:20 and 28:20). Matthew also stresses the sonship o f Jesus by having him refer to God as his Father some twenty-three times, fifteen of which are unique to Matthew (eight in original material; seven in redactional alteration). For Matthew, the m ost exalted confession, which alone expresses the mystery of Jesus’ identity, is that he is the Son of God (16:16; esp. 11:27). This confession in Matthew is m ade only by believers (except where it is blasphemy) and only by revelation (16:7; 11:27; cf. 13:11). T he second m ajor title, Son of Man, is regularly used by Jesus and thus serves as the public co u n terpart to the confessional title. In references to the parousia and the eschatological judgm ent, it tends to coincide with Son of God. Kingsbury finds no m aterial difference between the titles. J. P. M eier has argued for the equal im portance of the two titles. T he im portant title κ ύ ρ ι ο ς , “L ord,” is analogous to Son of God, being found almost exclusively on the lips of the disciples. The titles Χ ρ ι σ τ ό ς , “Christ,” and ν ι ο ς τ ο ν Λ α ν ί δ , “Son of David,” being closely linked with stress on fulfillment, are also very im portant in Matthew. Kingsbury, however, is probably correct in argu­ ing that these titles support the title Son of God. The same is true of such lesser titles or categories as Son of Abraham , the Com ing One, Teacher (Rabbi), Shep­ herd, and Servant, although, of course, each has its own m eaning. Some scholars (esp. M. J. Suggs; cf. J. M. Gibbs; R. G. Hamerton-Kelly) have found the key to M atthew’s Christology in the concept o f Jesus as the incarnation of Wisdom (e.g., 11:19, 25-27; 23:34-39) and Torah (e.g., 11:28-30). These analyses are consis­ ten t with M atthew’s em phasis on a Son-of-God Christology, i.e., “God with us.” It should also be rem em bered that there is also a powerful Christology in Mat­ thew th at can be described as indirect, that is, as m anifested in the deeds and words o f Jesus altogether apart from the titles we have exam ined. Righteousness and discipleship. A key term for the evangelist is δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η , “right­ eousness,” which occurs am ong the synoptic Gospels only in Matthew (except for Luke 1:75). Although it had been argued by others earlier (e.g., Strecker, D upont [Les Beatitudes, 3:211-305]), the view that all seven occurrences of the word refer to the righteousness of ethical dem and seems to be w inning the day since the im p o rtan t work of B. Przybylski(see, for exam ple, the com m entaries of Luz and Davies-Allison). Although it is clear that several of the seven occurrences of the word in Matthew refer unmistakably to the call to personal righteousness



associated with discipleship (e.g., 5:20; 6:1) and o ther instances are probably so to be interp reted (e.g., 5:10; and possibly 6:33), the word in some instances can be u nderstood in a salvation-historical sense, i.e., as G od’s righteousness active in the saving o f his people (3:15, 5:6; and 21:32; also possibly 6:33). For support of this conclusion, see Hagner, “Righteousness.” See fu rth er the discussion of law and grace below. T he cognate word δ ί κ α ι ο ς , “ju s t” or “righteous,” occurs seventeen times in Matthew, m ore than all the references in the o ther three Gospels com bined. This righteousness finds its definition and standard in the law, especially as authorita­ tively in terp reted by Jesus. T he righteousness to which Jesus calls his disciples, according to Matthew, is a better or higher righteousness (cf. 5:20). In the final analysis, it is a call to the doing of the will of the Father (7:21; 12:50; 21:31). T he evangelist emphasizes the im portance of discipleship. T he nou n μ α θ η τ ή ς , “disciple,” occurs m uch m ore often in Matthew (seventy-three times) than in the other synoptic Gospels, and the verb μ α θ η τ ε ύ ε ι , “to make disciples,” occurs only in M atthew am ong all four Gospels (13:52; 27:57; 28:19). Disciples are called viol τ ο υ θ ε ό ν , “sons of God” (5:9, 45), but more frequently by terms m eant to emphasize humility, e.g., ά δ ε λ φ ο ί , “brothers” (esp. 12:49-50; 18:15, 21, 35; 23:8; 25:40; 28:10) and, m ost distinctively, μ ι κ ρ ο ί , “little ones” (10:42; 18:6, 10, 14). Discipleship in­ volves following in the steps of the Lord, which entails self-denial and taking up o n e ’s cross (10:38-39; 16:24-26), the suffering of persecution (5:10-12; 10:1625; 24:9-13), and the humility of a servant (20:26-27; 23:11-12) or child (18:1-4). Law and grace. Matthew is well known for its em phasis upo n Jesus’ faithfulness to the law, particularly as expressed in 5:17-18: “Do not think that I have com e to abolish the law or the prophets; I have com e no t to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, n o t one letter, n o t one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accom plished” (NRSV). Jesus’ teaching about righteousness and the doing of the will of the F ather (7:21; 12:50; 21:31) is u n derstood th ro u g h o u t the Gospel as nothing o th er than the explication o f the tru e m eaning of the law. For the sake of his Jewish-Christian readers, the evange­ list portrays Jesus as less radical toward the law than does Mark (com pare 15:1-20 against Mark 7:1-23, where Matthew avoids the conclusion that Jesus “declared all foods clean” and em phasizes only the issue of handw ashing). Jesus is, m ore­ over, shown to agree in principle with the Pharisees (23:2-3), that is, to the extent th at they truly expound the m eaning of the Mosaic law. Even in Matthew, how­ ever, Jesus transcends n o t only the teachings o f the Pharisees (see 9:10-17; 15:1-20) b u t also the letter of the law while penetrating to its in n er spirit (see 5:31-42; 12:1-14; 15:11; 19:3-9). This uniquely authoritative interpretation of the law is possible only because of who Jesus is (the messianic Son of God) and what he is in the process of bringing (the kingdom , i.e., the rule of G o d ). Accordingly, the Pharisees are no m atch for Jesus in their interpretation of the law, and at the same tim e the a u th o r’s Jewish-Christian ch u rch — and n o t the synagogue— is shown to be in true succession to Moses. T he em phasis upon the law in Matthew is thus m uch m ore probably due to the Jewish-Christian orientation of the Gos­ pel than to a direct attem pt to counteract a “P auline” antinom ianism , as some (e.g., G. Barth) have thought. T he law as expounded by Jesus is n o t a “new” law (note M atthew’s omission of M ark’s reference to “a new teaching” [1:27]) but the “tru e ” or intended m eaning



o f the Mosaic law. M atthew’s stress on the law, however, occurs in the context of the good news of the presence of the kingdom . T he announcem ent of grace is an teced en t to the call to live out the righteousness of the law (e.g., the beatitudes precede the exposition of the law in the Serm on on the M ount). Thus, alongside the stern calls to righteousness (e.g., 5:19-20; 7:21-27; 25:31-46) is also a clear em phasis u p o n grace (e.g., 5:3-12; 9:12-13; 10:7-8; 11:28-30; 18:23-35; 20:1-16; 22:1-10; 26:26-28). T he grace of the kingdom and the dem ands of the law as in terp reted by the messianic king stand in dynamic tension throughout the Gos­ pel, b u t it is clear that the form er precedes the latter. Community (church). T he Greek word ε κ κ λ η σ ί α , “ch u rch ,” occurs am ong the Gospels only in Matthew (16:18; 18:17, twice). In chap. 16, at P eter’s confession that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living G od,”Jesus promises to build his new com m unity (as the underlying Aramaic would have to be translated) upon Peter. T he authority bestowed on Peter in 16:19 (singular verbs) is extended to the church in a disciplinary context in 18:18 (plural verbs). H ere M atthew’s church receives its commission to exercise discipline over believers in the full knowledge that it is being led by the Lord (see esp. 18:19, “if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven”). Matthew can appropriately be called an “ecclesiastical” Gospel for o ther reasons as well. We have already noted that the evangelist has collected and shaped the m ajor discourses particularly for the instruction and edification of the Church. T he disciples and their experiences serve as m odels for the evangelist’s contem ­ poraries; P eter is a prototype of Christian leadership. T he evangelist addresses some u rg en t m atters in his Gospel. His com m unity was probably experiencing division, lawlessness, and even apostasy. He accord­ ingly stresses that the church is a m ixed com m unity that includes both true and false disciples (e.g., 13:29-30, 47-50; 22:11-14). He gives severe warnings con­ cerning “false p ro phets,” that is, charism atic enthusiasts who prophesy, cast out dem ons, and heal—all in the nam e of Jesus—who com e “in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (7:15-23). T he fault in these false prophets is that they are “evildoers” who bear “evil fru it”; they do n o t observe the law (cf. E. Schweizer). Elsewhere (10:41) the author can encourage hospitality to the itiner­ ant prophet. He urges leaders to avoid the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees (23:8-12), who also fail to keep the law. He repeatedly uses the words of Jesus to address the needs of his own church. Eschatology. M atthew’s special interest in eschatology can be seen simply from the length o f the apocalyptic discourse com pared with that of Mark 13. N ot only is chap. 24 longer than its M arkan source (including the warning pericopes in 24:37-51, drawn from Q), but the author adds a whole chapter of m aterial not found in Mark, centering on the reality of eschatological judgm ent. (The parables o f the ten virgins [25:1-13] and the last ju d g m en t [25:31—46] are unique to Mat­ thew.) O th er unique eschatological m aterial in Matthew is found in 13:24-30, 36-43; 20:1-16; and 22:1-14. But apocalyptic threads ru n throughout the Gospel (see H ag n er). T he technical word π α ρ ο υ σ ί α (parousia), which refers to the eschatological retu rn of Christ, is found only in Matthew (24:3, 27, 37, 39) am ong th e G ospels. G. B o rn k am m has fu rth e rm o re show n th a t th e ev a n g elist’s eschatology is vitally im portant to his ecclesiology, Christology, and view of the law. As is true throughout the NT, the primary purpose of eschatological teaching



for Matthew is n o t so m uch to provide inform ation concerning the future as to motivate the church to conduct that is appropriate in the light of im m inent ju d g ­ m ent. Thus in Matthew, eschatology is im portant n o t only to theology but also to discipleship. T he prom ise of future ju d g m en t and deliverance makes persever­ ance in the present both a possibility and a necessity. Salvation history. Much debate has centered on the structure of M atthew’s sal­ vation-history perspective. T hat is, does the au th o r conceive o f three epochs (Israel, Jesus, and the C hurch) or two (Israel and Jesus, with the C hurch u n d er­ stood as the extension o f the latter)? Kingsbury (25-37) has argued in favor of two because of the greater im portance of Christology as com pared to ecclesiology in the Gospel. In this view, the epoch of the C hurch is regarded as a subcategory o f the epoch o f Jesus. The threefold analysis (e.g., as in Strecker, Trilling, and W alker), however, may be held w ithout concluding that ecclesiology is the dom i­ n a n t th em e in the Gospel. A th reefo ld analysis, m oreover, can give p ro p e r em phasis to Christology (the time o f Jesus as the central epoch) and the schem a o f prom ise and fulfillment, while at the same time finding a place for the obvious im portance o f the transition from Israel to the C hurch, the lim itations o f the time o f Jesus (cf. the restriction of the mission to Israel), and the determ inative significance o f the cross and resurrection for Matthew (cf. Meier, 26-39). See below (“T he Sitz im Leben [‘Life Setting’] of M atthew’s C om m unity”) for a discus­ sion of the problem of Israel and the C hurch. T h e O r ig in a l Re a d e r s


Ma tth ew

Bibliography Balch, D. L., ed. Social History of the Matthean Community: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches. Min­ neapolis: Fortress, 1991. Clark, K. W. “T he Gentile Bias in M atthew.” JBL 66 (1947) 16572. Meier, J. P. The Vision of Matthew: Christ, Church and Morality in the First Gospel. New York: Paulist, 1979. 15-25. N epper-C hristensen, P. Das Matthausevangelium: Ein judenchristliches Evangelium?Aarhus: Universitetsforlaget, 1954. Tagawa, K. “People and Com m unity in the Gospel of M atthew.” NTS 16 (1969-70) 149-62.

T he data of the Gospel of M atthew are again and again explained m ost satis­ factorily on the hypothesis that the first readers were Jewish Christians. Am ong various key items to be m entioned here are: the stress th ro u g h o u t the Gospel on fulfillment of the OT and especially the distinctive form ula quotations (see above) th at point to Jesus as the Messiah and his m inistry as the dawning of the messi­ anic age; the im portance of Jesus’ fidelity to the law (not only 5:17-19, but cf. M atthew’s redactional changes o f Mark 7 in chap. 15) and his call to righteous­ ness; M atthew’s omission of M ark’s explanation of Jewish customs (cf. 15:2 with Mark 7:3-4); and his form ulation o f several discussions in typical rabbinic pat­ terns (e.g., 19:3-9 on divorce). Also worth noting are the apologetic motifs of the infancy narrative (against early Jewish claims of the illegitimacy of Jesus’ birth) and the resurrection narrative (explicitly against the Jewish claim that the body was stolen; 28:12-15). It is, o f course, n o t impossible that M atthew was written to a m ixed com m unity or even to Gentiles by a gentile author. Gentile Christians, after all, were also



interested in the fulfillm ent of the OT and in Jesus as Messiah; they may further­ m o re have b e e n in n e e d o f th e em phasis on law to c o u n te r a n tin o m ia n tendencies, perhaps stem m ing from a Paulinist enthusiasm . But these explana­ tions seem less natural and are hence less probable. T here is, in fact, little in the Gospel that is effectively explained as finding its raison d ’etre in a supposed gen­ tile readership. Moreover, the hypothesis of a gentile life setting leaves o th er aspects of the Gospel, and especially the particularist sayings, unaccounted for. A further probability is that both the original readers and the final redactor (see below on “Authorship”) were Hellenistic Jews and Jews of the Diaspora rather than Palestinian Jews. This follows n o t only from the fact that the Gospel was written in Greek b u t from the apparent proxim ity of the readers to a gentile Christianity. Although apparently addressed specifically to Jewish Christians, Matthew has a magisterial and universal character that transcends that specific readership. And if the problem o f continuity and discontinuity with the revelation of the earlier cov­ en an t may n o t be a relevant one for gentile Christians in the same way that it is for Jewish Christians, they too may profit from M atthew’s treatm ent of this issue. T h e Si t z


L e b e n ( “L ife S e t t in g ”)


M a t t h e w ’s C o m m u n it y

Bibliography Brown, S. “T he M atthean Com m unity and the G entile Mission.” N o vT 22 (1980) 193-221. ------------ . “T he Two-Fold R epresentation of the Mission in M atthew ’s G ospel.” ST 31 (1977) 21-32. Davies, W. D. The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount. Cambridge: Cam bridge University, 1966. Hagner, D. A. “T he Sitz im Leben of the Gospel o f Matthew.” In SBL 1985 Seminar Papers. Atlanta: Scholars, 1985. 243-69. Hare, D. R. A., and Harrington, D. J. “‘Make Disciples of All the G entiles’ (Mt. 28.19).” CBQ 37 (1975) 359-69. Hum m el, R. Die Auseinandersetzung zwischen Kirche und Judentum im Matthausevangelium. 2nd ed. M unich: Kaiser, 1966. Kimelman, R. “Birkat Ha-Minim and the Lack o f Evidence for an Anti-Chris­ tian Jewish Prayer in Late Antiquity.” In Jewish and Christian Self-Definition, ed. E. P. Sanders et al. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981. 2:226-44, 391-403. Levine, A.-J. The Social and Ethnic Dimensions of Matthean Salvation History. L ew iston/Q ueenston: Mellen, 1988. Meier, J. P. “A ntioch.” In R. E. Brown and J. P. Meier, Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catho­ lic Christianity. New York: Paulist, 1983. 11-86. Menninger, R. Israel and the Church in the Gospel of Matthew. A m erican University Studies 7. Theology and Religion. New York: Lang, 1994. Stanton, G. N. A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1992. Thom pson, W. G. “A Historical Perspective in the Gospel o f Matthew. ”JBL 93 (1974) 2 4 3 -6 2 .------------ and Laverdiere, E. G. “New Testam ent Com m unities in Transition: A Study of M atthew and L uke.” TS37 (1976) 567-97. Trilling, W. Das wahre Israel: Studien zur Theologie des Matthausevangeliums. 3rd ed. M unich: Kosel, 1964.

T he challenge that has always faced M atthean studies is to posit a convincing Sitz im Leben for the Gospel that can account for its varied perspectives and em ­ phases. O f great im portance am ong these are especially the tension between particularism and universalism within the Gospel and the closely related prob­ lem of Israel and the Church. The extent to which any proposed Sitz im Leben is able to explain the diverse m aterial in the Gospel (without, for exam ple, alleging that some m aterial was included by the evangelist simply because it was there in his tradition) should be an im portant m easure of its plausibility.



Particularism and universalism. Matthew is the only Gospel th at records Jesus’ startling words that restrict his and his disciples’ im m ediate m inistry to Israel. According to 10:5-6 (cf. 10:23, “all the towns of Israel”), when Jesus sends the twelve o ut on their mission, he begins with a stern prohibition: “Go now here am ong the Gentiles, and en ter no town of the Samaritans, b u t go rath er to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Later in the narrative (15:24), when Jesus him ­ self is entreated by a gentile woman, he no t only ignores h er request (initially) b u t responds by saying: “I was sent only to the lost sheep o f the house o f Israel.” So contradictory is this attitude to that of the evangelist’s day, when the gentile mission was an undeniable reality, that these passages excellently satisfy the crite­ rion of dissimilarity (so far as the early C hurch is concerned, bu t not, of course, so far as Judaism is concerned), and hence m ost scholars accept these sayings as authentic. O n the o th er hand, and seemingly against this particularism , there is an im­ plicit universalism throughout the Gospel (i.e., the good news of the gospel is for Gentiles too). Thus, e.g., there is em phasis on gentile response to the gospel in the genealogy of Christ, which contains gentile nam es (Ruth and Rahab; 1:5); the magi from the East (2:1-12); the Rom an centurion (“Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith”; 8:5-13); T he statem ents “and in his nam e the Gentiles will h o p e ” (12:21; cf. Isa 42:4) and “the field is the w orld” (13:38); the C anaanite woman (15:21-28); the parable of the tenants (21:33-43); the par­ able o f the m arriage feast (22:1-10); and the Rom an soldiers’ confession (27:54). W hat is im plicit earlier becomes explicit in 24:14, where Jesus says, “And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaim ed th ro u g h o u t the world, as a testim ony to all the nations; and then the end will com e”; and, of course, m ost impressively in the commission of 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptiz­ ing them in the nam e of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Israel and the Church. T he tension between particularism and universalism is obviously b o u n d up with an o th er polarity in the Gospel, that involving Israel and the C hurch. In Matthew, we encounter an ap p aren t polem ic against the Jews that is all the m ore striking because of the favored position of the Jews already noted and because o f the generally Jewish tone of the Gospel. Probably m ost conspicu­ ous here are the passages referring to a transference o f the kingdom from Israel to those who believe in the gospel (the Church). Thus in 8:11-12, just following the com plim ent given to the Rom an centurion for his faith, we read “I tell you, many will com e from east and west and will eat with A braham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing o f tee th .” And in 21:41, at the end of the parable of the tenants, the tenants pronounce their own judgm ent: “H e will p u t those wretches to a m iserable death and lease the vineyard to o th er tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest tim e.” This is followed by Jesus’ words (21:43), “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom .” Agreeing with this emphasis is the parable of the m arriage feast, where those invited “would n o t com e” (22:3), and thus the invitation is extended to all: “Go therefore into the m ain streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding b an q u e t” (22:9). To these passages may be added others that speak of the ju d g m en t of un b e­ lieving Israel. U pbraiding the cities of Galilee where his miracles had been done



(11:20-24), Jesus concludes, “But I tell you, on the day of ju d g m en t it will be m ore tolerable for Tyre and Sidon . . . and the land of Sodom than for you.” In 12:45 he refers to “this evil generation”; in 13:10-15 Matthew alone gives the full quotation of the ju d g m en t oracle of Isa 6:9-10: “With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy o f Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, bu t never understand, and you will indeed look, bu t never perceive. For this p eo p le’s h eart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they m ight n o t look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their h eart and tu rn —and I would heal th em ” (cf. Acts 28:26-27). In the parable of the m arriage feast it is noted that “those invited were n o t worthy” (22:8). In 23:38 Jesus, lam enting over Jerusalem , states, “See, your house is left to you, desolate.” And finally we may note the bitter and fateful words of 27:25, unique to Matthew: “T hen the people as a whole answered: ‘His blood be on us and on o ur children!’” words that have tragically and unjustifiably been used to prom ote anti-Semitism (see below “O n M atthew’s ‘Anti-Judaism’”). By contrast, in these passages the kingdom is transferred to those who believe, a “n atio n ” ( έ θ ν ο ς ) producing the fruit of the kingdom (righteousness), those who repent, those whose eyes are blessed and whose ears hear what “many prophets and righteous people longed to see and h e a r” (13:16-17). In view, of course, is the new community, called with deliberate anachronism the ε κ κ λ η σ ί α , the Church. T he C hurch and Israel thus stand in obviously painful tension in Matthew. Also reflecting this tension are the references to “their synagogues” (4:23; 9:35; 10:17; 12:9; 13:54), “your synagogues” (23:34), “theirscribes” (7:29), and “the Jews to this day” (28:15)—m ost references unique to Matthew and the last com pa­ rable to the well-known derogatory use of “the Jew s” in the F ourth Gospel. T h ro u g h o u t the book, moreover, it is the Pharisees, those whose viewpoint dom i­ nates Judaism after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, that are the main antagonists of Jesus and who are repeatedly shown to be inferior to Jesus in their understanding of the Torah. Thus “when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and n o t as their scribes” (7:28-29). And at the en d of the bitter d en u n ­ ciation of the scribes and Pharisees in chap. 23, Jesus can say, “Fill up, then, the m easure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?” (23:32-33). Finally, the evangelist speaks explicitly of Jewish persecution of the Church: “Beware of them , for they will h and you over to the councils and flog you in their synagogues” (10:17); and “T herefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town” (23:34). Redaction-critical study of these passages shows that Matthew has given these motifs m uch greater prom inence than have the o th er Synoptic writers. Much of the m aterial is unique to this Gospel; and where Matthew depends upon Mark or Q, Matthew usually intensifies the tone of hostility. Matthew indeed is second only to the F ourth Gospel in apparent animosity toward the Jews. H ere, then, we have what is probably the m ajor puzzle in the Gospel of Mat­ thew. O n the one h and, we have the particularism th at limits Jesus’ and his disciples’ m inistry to Israel. Together with this exclusivism— the norm al Jewish viewpoint—is the generally Jewish tone of the Gospel with, am ong other things, its stress on the abiding validity of the law, the necessity of righteousness, and the



fulfillment of messianic prophecy. O n the other hand, however, standing in rather sharp contrast to the preceding, are the universalism of the Gospel, its striking transference of the kingdom m otif to a new community, and the particularly harsh sayings against the Jews. The relation of Matthew’s church to contemporary Judaism. A key issue in defining the life setting o f M atthew’s com m unity is w hether by the time of the writing of the Gospel a clear break between the church and synagogue had taken place. In view here is the decision, which may have been m ade at Yavneh (Jamnia) around A.D. 85, to force Jewish Christians out of the synagogue by an addition of a curse against the minim or “heretics” to the liturgy of the synagogue (the Birkat ha-Minim in the twelfth o f the Eighteen Benedictions, the Shemoneh Esreh) . A n u m b er o f scholars have argued that the break with the synagogue had al­ ready h ap p en ed by the time Matthew wrote and that this fact accounts for the hostility toward the Jews in the Gospel (e.g., Strecker, Trilling, and M eier). O n this hypothesis, the pro-Jewish elem ents in the Gospel, the stress on the law and fulfillm ent of prophecy and especially the exclusivistic or particularistic sayings, are understood as rem nants of earlier tradition that the evangelist did no t assimi­ late to his own viewpoint. Some who hold this view also argue for a gentile readership and perhaps even a gentile author. O th er influential scholars, on the o th er hand, are convinced that M atthew re­ flects a time prior to the separation of church and synagogue, i.e., the Yavneh decision o f 85 (e.g., Bornkam m , G. Barth, Hum m el, Davies, S. Brown). They point to the G ospel’s argum ent concerning Jesus as Messiah as evidence that the mis­ sion to the Jews had no t ceased. They fu rth er note marks of a Jewish Christianity in such things as the positive note about the Pharisees in 23:2, the concern to avoid offense by the paym ent of the tem ple tax (17:24-27), and M atthew’s view o f the law (5:17-19). These data, together with those already m entioned in the preceding section, point to the continuing relationship between Jewish Chris­ tians and their non-Christian Jewish brethren. M atthean scholarship thus finds itself in the strange circum stance of having been forced into two camps by em phasizing one side of the data in the Gospel to the neglect, n o t to say exclusion, of data on the o ther side. In the instance of Strecker and Trilling, certain Jewish motifs are pron o u n ced anachronistic and hence essentially irrelevant to the life setting of the evangelist. In the case of Bornkam m , Barth, and H um m el, such things as the hostility toward the Jews and the transference o f the kingdom m otif find no convincing place in the life set­ ting of the Jewish Christianity represented by the evangelist and his community. Too m uch weight has been p u t upon Yavneh by m any M atthean scholars in their attem pt to u n d erstand Matthew and its life setting. This is all the m ore re­ m arkable given how little we actually know about what transpired there, for our knowledge of what took place at Yavneh is tenuous at best. It may well be that Yavneh had no significance for the relationship between Jews and Jewish Chris­ tians (thus R. Kim elm an). M atthean scholars have tended to work with two false presuppositions about Yavneh: (1) that there was no exclusion of Jewish Chris­ tians from the synagogue before this date and (2) that after Yavneh the mission to the Jews ceased. In fact, however, there is sufficient evidence of an early and continuing hostility between Jews who did n o t accept the gospel and those who did, including forceful exclusion from the synagogue (cf. Acts 6:12-14; 7:57-8:1;



and P aul’s freq u ent experiences). If any specific date is to be m entioned as a clear turn in g p o in t for the worse in the relationship between Jews and Chris­ tians, it would have to be 70, but even this date does no t m ark the beginning of hostility between the two groups. Thus the Birkat ha-Minim, even on the tradi­ tional u n d ersta n d in g , am ounts only to a form alizing an d standardizing of practice, perhaps indeed as the result of m ounting hostility, but it should by no m eans be th o u g h t of as an absolute beginning of the hostility or of the practice of exclusion. Furtherm ore, despite the argum ent of Hare and H arrington, there is no need to conclude that Matthew’s community had abandoned the mission to the Jews (see com m entary on 28:19). Because a mission to the Jews within the synagogue must have been abandoned after 85—again, on the traditional understanding—the end of the Jewish mission itself is hardly necessitated. Christian Jews would have continued to m eet their unbelieving brothers and sisters in the community, where discussions, however tense, undoubtedly continued. It is in the final analysis u n ­ th in k ab le b o th psychologically an d theologically th a t the Jew ish-C hristian com m unity addressed by the evangelist could have altogether abandoned the mission to m em bers of their own form er community. T he Apostle Paul can speak in no uncertain term s about the ju d g m en t of unbelieving Israel and the new re­ ality of the C hurch that now stands in the place of national Israel, ju st as he can wrestle with the actual shift from Jews to Gentiles in the church, w ithout for a m om ent losing his zeal for the conversion of his people (cf. Rom 9-11). It seems unlikely, then, that the year 85 (or 90) should be thought of as a w atershed providing a radically altered situation that can be used to explain the complex and apparently contradictory data of the Gospel. There is no solid reason why the p h en o m ena assigned so confidently to the post-85 era by some scholars cannot equally well find a place before that time. Thus the universalism, the sayings about the transference of the kingdom, and the hard sayings against Israel are hardly impossible in the earlier decades. Jesus could have spoken about the future (i.e., the post-resurrection period), envisioning a mission to the Gentiles and thus jus­ tifying the transference sayings. All of this would have been quite m eaningful in a context where the gentile mission was thriving, as would be the sayings against the Jews, which would have reflected the unbelief of the Jews as well as the con­ tinuing and probably growing hostility between the church and the synagogue. The special situation of Matthew’s community. As we have seen in the preceding section, M atthew’s readers were almost certainly Jewish Christians. To begin with, it is worth noting that Jewish Christians have always found themselves in a diffi­ cult situation, n o t least in the first century. W hen Jews becom e Christians they are forced to cope, on the one hand, with their non-Christian Jewish brothers and sisters from whom they have separated themselves and, on the o ther hand, with a largely gentile Christianity am ong whom they now exist as a m inority but as m em bers of the family nonetheless. To their Jewish brothers and sisters, Jewish Christians have always had to answer such charges as disloyalty to the religion of Israel, disloyalty to the Mosaic law (or at least of association with others who fail to observe it), and affiliation with an alien, if n o t pagan, religion, the large m a­ jority of whose adherents are Gentiles. In short, Jews are naturally pu t on the defensive by their non-Christian Jewish community, and probably m ore so if they have insisted on preservation of their Jewishness and have resisted assimilation, thus making at least the implicit claim of being the true Israel. So far as the gentile



Christians are concerned, Jewish Christians are always u n d e r a subtle pressure to m inimize the significance of their Jewishness; their continued observance of the Jewish law and customs can easily becom e a theological problem for gentile Chris­ tians and a hindrance to fellowship and a sense o f unity. The gentile Christians in M atthew’s day may have rejoiced in (and may have insisted upon) discontinuity between the old and new covenants m uch m ore readily than m any Jewish Chris­ tians w ould have. Jew ish C h ristian s w ere th u s fo rc e d to w ork o u t th e ir relationships with gentile Christianity and their understanding of the newness contained in and im plied by the reality of Christ. M atthew’s original readers were in this unenviable position, in a kind of “no m an ’s lan d ” between their Jewish brothers and sisters, on the one hand, and gen­ tile Christians, on the other, wanting to reach back for continuity with the old and at the same time to reach forward to the new work God was doing in the largely gentile church—simultaneously answerable, so to speak, to both Jews and Gentiles. Finding themselves in this dilem m a, M atthew’s readers n eeded an ac­ count of the story of Jesus that would enable them to relate both to unbelieving Jews and to gentile Christians. In particular, the increasing success of the gentile mission and the overall failure of the mission to Israel raised questions n o t only in the read ers’ m inds bu t also am ong their Jewish opponents. Thus the Gospel was written to confirm Jewish believers in the tru th of Christianity as the fulfill­ m en t o f the prom ises to Israel, which entails the arg u m en t th at Jesus is the Messiah, th at he was loyal to the law, and that he came to the Jews. T hrough this m aterial, the readers could gain confidence in the correctness of their faith as som ething standing in true succession to the Scriptures and at the same time be in a better position to answer their unbelieving Jewish brothers and sisters in the synagogues. (See now esp. Stanton, who convincingly argues for a view similar to this, buttressing the conclusion with sociological insights.) If this is true, we may well also find here the reason for the preservation of the particularist sayings in Matthew. It was im portant for the au th o r to be able to stress that Jesus came specifically—indeed, exclusively—to the Jews in order to un­ derline G od’s faithfulness to his covenant people, i.e., to stress the continuity of G od’s salvific promises and the actuality of their fulfillment in the first instance to Israel, as the Scriptures prom ised. In the face of an increasingly gentile church, which must have given its Jewish opponents the embarrassing opportunity to argue that Christianity was an alien religion, the readers were thus able to realize that they, unlike the Gentiles, had a place in the ministry of Jesus from the beginning. They, as Jewish Christians, were im portant in the fulfillm ent of G od’s plan as a right­ eous rem n an t attesting the faithfulness of God to his covenant promises. Matthew thus affirms the rightful place of Jewish Christianity as the true Israel. Far from renouncing Judaism , as K. W. Clark m aintains, M atthew finds in Christianity a perfected or fulfilled Judaism , brought to its goal by the long-awaited Christ. T he particularist sayings, then, are n o t simply relics of the historical tradition w ithout relevance for the readers of the Gospel, bu t n eith er do they indicate a contem porary lim itation upon the mission of M atthew’s community. They refer historically to what once was the case, during the pre-resurrection m inistry of Jesus and his disciples, but have special relevance to the readers as a theological justification of the faithfulness of God to his people Israel and thus of the propri­ ety of Jewish-Christian faith.



If Jesus was sent “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” it rem ains true, however, that Israel largely failed to respond. The Jewish-Christian readers of this Gospel would have been painfully aware of the lack of response am ong the Jew­ ish community. W hat had h appened already in the time of Jesus was happening in their time. Inevitably and by reason of their unbelieving and hostile brothers and sisters, Jewish-Christian congregations m ust early have begun to think of themselves as separate from, and even as opposed to, unbelieving Judaism —as a righteous rem n an t against the rabbinic Judaism represented in the Gospel by the Pharisees. It is n o t at all unthinkable that Jewish Christians could have appre­ ciated the harsh sayings in the Gospel against the Jews, the ju d g m en t against unbelieving Israel, and could have referred, for exam ple, to “their synagogues” (9:35) or “their scribes” (7:29). The familiar biblical pattern, denounced so fre­ quently by the prophets, would have been seen in Israel’s rejection of God, followed by G od’s rejection of Israel. And from the latter it is only a step to the sayings about the transference of the kingdom . In the case of these sayings, how­ ever, o ur Jewish-Christian readers would, of course, have identified themselves as am ong those nations ( εθιηη, “gentiles,” largely bu t not exclusively), the new people of God to whom the kingdom was being transferred. Similarly, the record of Jesus’ words about the Jewish persecution of Christians (23:34; 10:23) would have been especially relevant to the readers. The considerable polem ics against the Jews— and the distancing from the Jews—in Matthew are by no m eans unim aginable within a Jewish-Christian context. T he evangelist’s com m unity thus shared in two worlds, the Jewish and the Christian. A lthough the m em bers of this com m unity saw their Christianity as the tru e fulfillm ent of Judaism , they were also very conscious that they had broken with their unbelieving brothers and sisters. They were struggling to define and defend a Jewish Christianity to the Jews, on the one hand, and to realize their identity with gentile Christians, on the other. This twofold challenge explains the basic tensions en countered in the Gospel. And it is for these reasons that Matthew writes that “new wine is p u t into fresh wineskins and so both are preserved” (9:17). M atthew’s redactional addition of the last words “and so are both preserved,” found n eith er in Mark or Luke, is co n g ru en t with his emphasis on the abiding validity of the law. The new wine of the gospel is preserved together with the new skins, i.e., the law as definitively in terp reted by Jesus the Messiah. H ere we see the evangelist reaching in both directions to stress continuity with Moses and the Torah and yet at the same time to affirm the radical newness of the gospel. Similarly, he writes in what some think is an autobiographical allusion: “T herefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the m aster of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is o ld ” (13:52). O n M a t t h e w ’s “A n t i -J u d a i s m ”

Bibliography Garland, D. E. The Intention of Matthew 23. NovTSup 51. Leiden: Brill, 1979. Johnson, L. T. “T he New T estam ent’s Anti-Jewish Slander and the Conventions o f A ncient R hetoric.” JBL 108 (1989) 419-41. Mason, S. “Pharisaic D om inance before 70 C.E. and the Gospels’



Hypocrisy C harge.” H TR 83 (1990) 363-81. McKnight, S. “A Loyal Critic: M atthew’s Po­ lemic with Judaism in Theological Perspective.” In The New Testament and Anti-Semitism, ed. C. A. Evans and D. A. Hagner. M inneapolis: Fortress, 1993. 55-79. Niedner, F. A. “R eread­ ing M atthew on J e ru sa le m a n d J u d a is m .” B TB 19 (1989) 4 3 -4 7 . R u ssell, E. A. “A ntisem itism ’ in the Gospel of Matthew.” IBS 8 (1986) 183-96.

This is n o t the place to deal fully with this im portant subject. O ur purpose is merely to alert readers to the problem and to p u t them on their guard against the anti-Semitic potential of the m aterial. We have already spoken in the above paragraphs (see u n d er “T he Sitz im Leben [‘Life Setting’] of M atthew’s C om m unity”) concerning the harshness of M atthew’s polem ic against the Jews. In some instances the m aterial is shared, such as the Q passage o f 3:7 w here those com ing to Jo h n the Baptist (the Pharisees and Sadducees according to Matthew) are addressed as “you brood of vipers.” But in the majority o f instances the harsh passages are unique to Matthew. By way of illustration, we may point out the following. In 6:1-18, religious practices of Jews (i.e., probably the Pharisees) make them wτ ο κ ρ ί τ α ί , “hypocrites.” The kingdom is taken away from the Jews in 21:43, and they are designated “no t worthy” in 22:8. The Pharisees are, of course, repeatedly described as hypocrites in the infam ous denunciation of the Pharisees and scribes in chap. 23. They are blasted with such nam es as “child (ren) of hell” (v 15), “blind fools” (v 17), “blind guides” (v 24), and “snakes” and “brood of vipers” (v 33) and described as “full o f hypocrisy and lawlessness” (v 28). Perhaps worst of all is the responsibility M atthew puts squarely upon the Jews for the death of Jesus, seen m ost vividly in the shocking statem ent of 27:25, only in Matthew, “His blood be on us and on our children.” It is very im p o rtant to understand that this language is no t anti-Semitic. These words are written by a Jew concerning Jews and are therefore to be understood as intram ural Jewish polem ic no t unlike the blistering criticism of the Jews that is frequently delivered by the classical OT prophets. This kind of inflated language is fu rth erm o re typical of the polem ical rhetoric used in the ancient world (see Jo h n so n ). It is also even wrong, strictly speaking, to refer to this m aterial as antiJudaic. N one of the Jewish Christians of the NT would have thought of Christianity as an anti-Judaism. To believe in the gospel of the kingdom and Jesus as the messi­ anic king was for them to enter into the beginning of the fulfillm ent of the Jewish hope (cf. Acts 28:20), to be true Jews, and to form the rem n an t of the true Israel. Yet, tragically, the hostile words of Matthew have through the centuries pro ­ vided m any with a pretext for anti-Semitism. At the end of our century, which has witnessed in the Holocaust the most horrific result of anti-Semitism, Christians m ust be responsible in their handling of these passages in Matthew as well as in the rest of the NT. It is thus im portant for all who study and teach the Gospel of Matthew to u n derstand the historical character of this m aterial, its first-century context, its rhetorical nature, and the intram ural nature of the polemic and to be vigilant against every m isunderstanding or misuse of these texts. Because of the tragic history of the relation between the synagogue and the church, we are now u n d er p erm an en t obligation to explain carefully what these texts do not mean. We have positive m aterial elsewhere in the NT to help counteract anti-Semitic thinking. Paul, who can at times engage in the harshest polemic against his fellow



Jews who reject the gospel, regards them still as beloved of God (Rom 11:28) and believes that they too shall yet receive mercy (Rom 11:12, 15, 23-24, 26, 29, 32). But even in Matthew we have Jesus the Jew who comes to save his people (1:22), who goes only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (15:24; cf. 10:5-6), and who at the end of the hostile denunciation of the Pharisees lam ents with utm ost tenderness the unresponsiveness of his people, referring to a time when they will finally welcome him (23:37-39). And it is Matthew above all for whom the whole law and the prophets are sum m arized in the two suprem e com m andm ents: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your m in d ,” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (22:37-40). D ate



Bibliography Balch, D. L., ed. Social History of the Matthean Community: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches. Min­ neapolis: Fortress, 1991. Gundry, R. H. Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theologi­ cal Art. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1982. 599-609. Kilpatrick, G. D. The Origins of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Oxford: C larendon, 1946. Meier, J. P. “A ntioch.” In R. E. Brown a n d J. P. Meier, Antioch and Rome. New York: Paulist, 1983. 11-86. O sborne, R. “T he Prov­ enance of St. M atthew’s G ospel.” SR 3 (1973) 220-35. Reicke, B. The Roots of the Synoptic Gospels. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986.------------ . “Synoptic Prophecies on the D estruction of Jerusalem .” In Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature, ed. D. Aune. Leiden: Brill, 1972. 121-34. Rengstorf, K. H. “Die Stadt der M order (Matt. 22.7).” In Judentum, Urchristentum, Kirche. FS J. Jerem ias, ed. W. Eltester. BZNW 26. Berlin: T opelm ann, 1960. 106-29. Robinson, J. A. T. Redating the New Testament. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976. 86117. Slingerland, H. “T he T ransjordanian O rigin of St. M atthew’s G ospel.”J S N T 3 (1979) 18-28. Viviano, B. “W here Was the Gospel according to St. M atthew W ritten?” C B Q 41 (1979) 533-46. W enham, J. Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke. D ow ners Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992. Zumstein, J. “A ntioche sur l’O ronte et l’Evangile selon M atthieu.” SNTU A5 (1980) 122-38.

Date. Two key questions that pertain to the dating of Matthew are (1) w hether the relationship between church and synagogue indicates that the final break, usually dated at A.D. 85 or 90, had already occurred when the Gospel was written and (2) whether the Gospel reflects a knowledge of the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70). We have n o ted above that we know little about the Yavneh decisions of 80 or 85, and we have argued that Yavneh is hardly to be conceived of as a w atershed in relations between the church and the synagogue (see u n d er “The Sitz im Leben [‘Life Setting’] of M atthew’s C om m unity”). Alienation, com petition, and hostil­ ity were n o t unusual before the alleged break, and the mission to the Jews did n o t cease after it. The second question is no t as easy to answer as many have thought. Matthew does allude to the destruction of Jerusalem in 24:2 (cf. 24:15-28), but this can be naturally explained as a record of the prophecy of Jesus, unless the possibility of foretelling the future is ruled out a priori. T he reference in 22:7 to the parable of the king who, being angry because those invited to the m arriage feast did not come, “sent his troops, destroyed those m urderers, and b u rn e d their city” is m ore problem atic. The reference to “troops” who “b u rn e d the city,” unnecessary and



alien to the context, seems to point to the destruction of Jerusalem . Even if it does, however, the possibility rem ains that Jesus prophesied the event through the parable or that the words were added to the Gospel later, after the event had occurred. Thus 22:7 cannot itself be p ro o f that Matthew as a whole is to be dated after 70. It is furth erm ore true that the language of the parable u n d er consider­ ation is hyperbolic and no t necessarily to be taken literally. K. H. R engstorf has indicated the possibility that the language is a conventional stereotype for puni­ tive expeditions. G undry (Matthew, 436) shows that the language could be an allusion to Isa 5:24-25 (cf. to o Judg 1:8; 1 Macc 5:28; T Jud. 5:1-5). B. Reicke has also indicated the weakness of the usual explanation of 22:7. In short, far too m uch weight has been p u t on this text in the confident post-70 dating of Mat­ thew. O th er com m on objections to an early date of the Gospel need consideration at this point. First, if it is true that Matthew is d ep e n d en t on Mark, as we have argued above, and Mark was written in the late 60s, as the consensus holds, m ust n o t Matthew be post-70? The false assum ption here is that one needs a decade between Mark and Matthew. In actuality, Matthew needs only to be written after Mark— and there is no reason why this needs to have been m ore than a year or two later, if that. Second, a m ore “developed”Judaism and a considerably height­ ened hostility between the church and the synagogue than existed before 70 are n eed ed to account for the content in Matthew. This objection presupposes, on the one hand, m ore knowledge of pre-70 Judaism than we possess and, on the other, that there was only lim ited hostility between church and synagogue before 70. Third, some have thought M atthew’s doctrine too developed to be before 70, e.g., in its C hristology (11:27-30), ecclesiology (16:18-19; 18:15-20), an d trinitarian form ula (28:19). Yet the letters of Paul have similar, developed per­ spectives several years before the destruction of Jerusalem . M atthew’s redaction of the M arkan eschatological discourse makes no attem pt to disentangle the references to the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the age (chap. 24). Luke very deliberately does so in his redaction of Mark 13, and we m ight expect Matthew to do the same had it been written after 70. Indeed, the evange­ list aggravates the problem considerably by his insertion of β ύ θ έ ω ς , “immediately,” in 24:29, which leaves the clear im pression that he expected the parousia of the Son of Man to occur in close succession to the fall of Jerusalem . Am ong oth er evidence that seems to point to an early date of the Gospel, the following should be m entioned. U nique to Matthew are several redactional addi­ tions connected with the temple: the reference to offering and leaving o n e ’s “gift” at the altar (5:23-24), the passage on the rightness of paying of the tem ple tax (17:24-27), and the reference to “swearing by the sanctuary” (23:16-22). It is m ore difficult to believe that these are anachronism s deliberately added by the evangelist after the tem ple had been destroyed than it is to believe that they have relevance because the tem ple was still standing when the Gospel was written. Simi­ larly, M atthew’s redactional addition of the words “pray that your flight may no t be in winter or on a sabbath” (24:20) make little sense if the destruction of Jerusa­ lem had already occurred. T here is thus good reason to take seriously the possibility of an early (i.e., pre70) dating of the Gospel (with, for exam ple, Gundry, Reicke, Robinson, and W enham ). T he inclination toward an early date taken here, however, is ju st that



and no m ore. It needs to be re-em phasized that the dogm atism of critical ortho­ doxy concerning a post-70 date is unw arranted. But this is no reason to give rein to a similar dogm atism concerning a pre-70 date. We n eed to rem ind ourselves how very difficult the dating of the Gospels is and how necessarily speculative o u r conclusions are. Provenance. We are in equal straits when it comes to knowing where the Gospel of Matthew was written. T he only evidence we have is indirect: a docum ent writ­ ten in Greek in a group of Jewish Christians in the neighborhood of a Jewish com m unity and perhaps near gentile Christians as well. T here are also signs in the Gospel that may point to a prosperous com m unity in an urban context. Even if we look for a city with a Jewish population where the lingua franca was Greek and where there were also gentile churches, we have n o t narrow ed the possibilities very m uch. H. D. Slingerland’s hypothesis of a Transjordanian origin (Pella) of Matthew depends altogether on the phrase “across the Jo rd a n ” in 4:15 and 19:1, which can be explained in other ways. Caesarea M aritima has been fa­ vored by Viviano; the Phoenician cities of Tyre or Sidon by Kilpatrick. O ther cities have also been suggested. O ne of the m ost popular options for a long time was a Palestinian origin, with support derived from the num erous Jewish characteristics of the Gospel and es­ pecially the idea (from Papias) of an original Aramaic Gospel. With the m odern consensus that the Gospel was written originally in Greek, the likelihood of a Palestinian origin dim inishes considerably. D iaspora Judaism , m oreover, can readily account for the Jewishness of the Gospel. O f Diaspora cities that m ight fit what is required, Syrian Antioch has been the clear favorite. Given the population of cosm opolitan Antioch, ju st the kind of problem s th at the Gospel addresses can easily be im agined as occurring. T hat is, Jewish Christians would have had to defend their views against the charges of the Jewish com m unity while at the same time relating to the gentile Christian com ­ munity. T here are furtherm ore some links between the Gospel of Matthew and the Didache, which has been related to Syria. And the letters of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, are the first to indicate a probable knowledge of the Gospel of Matthew. It may be, on the other hand, that Antioch is such an attractive hypothesis simply because we happen to know so m uch m ore about it than about m ost other cities. It is worth rem inding ourselves that A ntioch is only a good guess. O n this p o in t it is worth quoting a sum m ary of the view held by contributors to a recent im p o rtan t symposium on the “Social History of the M atthean Com munity.”J. D. Kingsbury (in D. L. Balch, ed., Social History) summarizes the opinion concern­ ing the location of the M atthean com m unity in these words: “ [it] was situated in an urban environm ent, perhaps in Galilee or perhaps m ore toward the n o rth in Syria but, in any case, n o t necessarily A ntioch” (264). A u t h o r s h ip

Bibliography Abel, E. L. “Who W rote M atthew?” NTS 17 (1970-71) 138-52. Clark, K. W. “T he Gentile Bias in M atthew.” JBL 66 (1947) 165-72. Gundry, R. H. Matthew: A Commentary on His Liter­ ary and Theological Art. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1982. 609-22. Meier, J. P. The Vision of



Matthew: Christ, Church and Morality in the First Gospel. New York: Paulist, 1979. N epperC h riste n se n , P. Das M atthausevangelium: E in judenchristliches Evangelium? A arhus: U niversitetsforlaget, 1958. S trecker, G. Der Weg der Gerechtigkeit. 3rd ed. G o ttin g en : V andenhoeck 8c R uprecht, 1971.

Matthew, like all the Gospels in the NT, is an anonym ous docum ent. T he title κ α τ ά Μ α θ θ α ΐ ο ν , “according to Matthew,” was affixed to the Gospel som etim e in the second century. From early in the second century, the unanim ous tradition o f the C hurch supports Matthew as the author (e.g., Papias, who received the tradition from the Elder [Apostle?] Jo h n , Pantaenus, Irenaeus, O rigen, Eusebius, Je ro m e ). T he only clues within the text of the Gospel itself are the substitution of the nam e Matthew (9:9) for Levi in the calling of the tax collector to be a disciple (Mark 2:13; cf. Luke 5:27) and the addition of the words “the tax collector” to the nam e Matthew in the listing of the twelve in 10:3 (cf. Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15). For some reason the evangelist wants to show that Levi is the Matthew listed am ong the twelve. Is this because he believes that Levi was or should have been one of the twelve, or is it perhaps because in writing of him self he p referred the nam e M atthew to his own pre-conversion nam e, Levi? T he real question concerns the reliability of the tradition about the author­ ship o f the Gospel. It is possible, although uncertain, that the whole tradition derives from, and is thus d ep en d en t upon, the testim ony of one m an, Papias (as recorded in Eusebius, H.E. 3.39.16). In any event, the tradition appears to have been unchallenged. It is difficult to believe that the Gospel would have been at­ tributed to Matthew w ithout good reason, since, so far as we can tell from the available data, Matthew was no t otherwise a leading figure am ong the apostles or in the early C hurch (his nam e being m entioned only once outside the Gospels in Acts 1:13). A key objection often set against the traditional ascription of the Gos­ pel to Matthew is the difficulty of believing that one of the twelve, an eyewitness o f the events, could have d epended so m uch upon the account of Mark, a n o n ­ participant in the narrated events. According to the tradition handed on by Papias (Eusebius, H.E. 3.39.15), however, Mark is essentially the preaching of Peter, and it is n o t at all inconceivable that Matthew m ight dep en d upon a Petrine account represented by Mark. But can M atthew the apostle have written the Greek docum ent that goes by his nam e, a docum ent that contains such developed and “late” perspectives? H ere it is m ore difficult to be confident. The tradition about M atthean authorship may be com patible with a conclusion that the Gospel contains traditions stem m ing from the apostle (who as a form er tax collector may well have kept records of Jesus’ m inistry), perhaps now recognizable particularly in the G ospel’s special m aterial, e.g., in the form ula quotations or the m aterial underlying the five dis­ courses. A disciple (or disciples) of M atthew may later have translated and adapted these materials, com bined them with the M arkan and Q traditions, and reworked the whole to produce our present Gospel. Such a hypothesis, specula­ tive though it m ust be, could account for the Gospel in the form we have it. T he argum ent of some (e.g., Clark, Meier, N epper-C hristensen, Strecker) that the au th o r was a Gentile rath er than a Jew is n o t convincing. T he typical prob­ lem s th at are raised in this con n ectio n have b e tte r explanations. T hus, for exam ple, the linking of the Sadducees with the Pharisees (e.g., in 16:1, 6, 11-12)



is n o t the result of ignorance concerning the great differences between the two groups b u t probably only the indication of a united front of opposition against Jesus based u p o n the agreem ent that Jesus was no t the Messiah. T he m ention of two animals in 21:1-9 is by no m eans necessarily a m isunderstanding of the syn­ onymous parallelism of Zech 9:9 (see com m entary). The hostility against the Jews in Matthew is n o t at all unthinkable from the h and of a Jewish Christian; on the contrary, it points to a Jewish author and is exactly what one m ight expect in the circumstances. Few recent com m entators on the Gospel have been inclined to accept the view th at the author was a Gentile. Matthew the apostle is thus probably the source of an early form of significant portions o f the Gospel, in particular the sayings of Jesus, bu t perhaps even some o f the narrative material. O ne or m ore disciples of the M atthean circle may then have p u t these materials into the form of the Gospel we have today. T he final editing probably was done by a Hellenistic Jewish Christian, who in transm itting the tradition addressed Jewish fellow believers who, like himself, had com e to accept Jesus as the Messiah and now had to articulate that new faith in such a way as to show its continuity with the past as well as to affirm all the newness of the gospel of the kingdom .

Matthew 1:1-13:58

The Birth and Infancy N arratives

(1:1 -2:23)

Bibliography Bornhauser, K. Die Geburts- und KindheitsgeschichteJesu. BFCT 2.23. Gü tersloh: Bertelsm ann, 1930. Bourke, M. “The Literary Genus of Matthew 1-2.” CBQ22 (1960) 160-75. Box, G. H. “T he Gospel Narratives of the Nativity and the Alleged Influence of H eathen Ideas.” ZNW 6 (1905) 80-101. Brown, R. E. The Birth of the Messiah. G arden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977. D anielou, J. The Infancy Narratives. New York: H erd er Sc H erder, 1968. Derrett, J. D. M. “F urther Light on the Narratives of the Nativity.” NovT 17 (1975) 81-108. Down, M. J. “The M atthean Birth Narratives: Matt. 1:18-2:23.” ExpTim 90 (1978) 51-52. Elderen, B. van. “The Significance of the Structure of Matthew 1.” In Chronos, Kairos, Christos. FSJ. Finegan, ed. J. V ardam an an d E. M. Y amauchi. W inona Lake, IN: E isen b rau n s, 1989. 3-14. Goodman, F. W. “Sources of the First Two Chapters in Matthew and Luke.” CQ R 162 (1961) 136-43. Kattenbusch, F. “Die G eburtsgeschichte Jesu als H aggada der U rchristologie.” TSK 102 (1930) 454-74. Leaney, R. “T he Birth Narratives in St. Luke and St. M atthew.” N T S 8 (1961-62) 158-66. Mann, C. S. “The Historicity of the Birth Narratives.” In Historicity and Chronology in the New Testament. Theological Collection 6. L ondon: SPCK, 1965. 46-58. M ilton, H. “T he Structure of the Prologue to St. M atthew’s G ospel.”JBL 81 (1962) 175— 81. Minear, P. S. “T he In te rp re te r and the Birth N arratives.” SymBU 13 (1950) 1-22. N ellessen , E. Das Kind und seine Mutter: Struktur und Verkü ndigung des 2. Kapitels im Matthäusevangelium. SBS 39. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1 9 6 9 .------------ . “Zu den K indheitsgeschichten bei M atthaus u n d Lukas.” TTZ 78 (1969) 305-9 (a survey of Ger­ m an literature). N olan, B. M. The Royal Son of God: The Christology of Matthew 1-2 in the Setting of the Gospel. OBO 23. Gottingen: V andenhoeck Sc R uprecht, 1979. Pesch, R., ed. Zur Theologie der Kindheitsgeschichten: Der heutige Stand der Exegese. M unich: K atholische Akademie Freiburg, 1981. Reicke, B. “C hrist’s Birth and C h ildhood.” In From Faith to Faith. FS D. G. Miller, ed. D. Y. H adidian. Pittsburgh: Pickwick, 1979. 151-65. R iedl, J. Die Vorgeschichte Jesu: Die Heilsbotschaft von M t 1-2 und L k 1-2. Biblisches Forum 3. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1968. Stendahl, K. “Quis et U nde? An Analysis of Mt. 1 -2.” In Judentum — Urchristentum— Kirche. FS J. Je re m ia s, ed. W. Eltester. BZNW 26. B erlin: T opelm ann, 1964. 97-105. Thom pson, P. J. “T he Infancy Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke C om pared.” SE 1 [TU 73] (1959) 217-22. Vogtle, A. “Die G enealogie Mt 1,2-16 und die matthaische Kindheitsgeschichte.” B Z 8 (1964) 45-58, 239-62; 9 (1965) 32-49.------------ . Messias und Gottessohn: Herkunft und Sinn der matthaischen Geburts- und Kindheitsgeschichte. Dü sseldorf: Patmos, 1971. W ickings, H. F. “T he Nativity Stories and D ocetism .” NTS 23 (1977) 457-60. On


O T F o r m u l a Q u o t a t io n s :

France, R. T. “T he Form ula Q uotations and the Problem o f C om m unication.” NTS 27 (1981) 233-51. Friggens, M. A. “F urther Light on the Narratives of the Nativity.” NovT 17 (1975) 81-108. Gundry, R. H. The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew ’s Gospel. NovTSup 18. Leiden: Brill, 1967. Hartman, L. “Scriptural Exegesis in the Gospel o f St. Matthew and the Problem of C om m unication.” In L 'Evangile selon Matthieu: Redaction et Theologie, ed. M. Didier. Gembloux: Duculot, 1972. M cConnell, R. S. L aw and Prophecy in Matthew’s Gospel: The Authority and Use of the Old Testament in the Gospel of Matthew. Theologische Dissertationen 2. Basel: Basel University, 1969. O’Rourke, J. “The Fulfillment Texts in Matthew.” CBQ 24 (1962) 394-403. Pesch, R. “Eine alttestam entliche A usfuhrungsform el im M atthausE vangelium .” BZ 10 (1966) 220-45; 11 (1967) 79-95. ------------ . “D er G ottessohn im m atthaischen Evangelienprolog (Mt 1-2): Beobachtungen zu den Zitationsform eln der Reflexionszitate.” Bib 48 (1967) 395-420. R othfuchs, W. Die Erfiillungszitate des Matthaus-


Matthew 1:1-17

Evangeliums. BWANT 88. Stuttgart: Kohlham m er, 1969. Soares Prabhu, G. M. The Formula Quotations in the Infancy Narrative of Matthew. AnBib 63. Rome: Biblical Institute, 1976. Stendahl, K. The School of St. Matthew. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968. In trod u ction

Since the m inistry of Jesus begins only after his baptism by John (chap. 3) and the tem ptation (4:1-11), the opening two chapters o f Matthew are in a sense the preparation for the m ain narrative. T he preparation that M atthew provides, how­ ever, is far from simply the supplying of some helpful background inform ation. T he first two chapters constitute a work of art that makes a statem ent of its own and that anticipates the theological richness of the total Gospel. T he question o f the historicity of chaps. 1-2 is very often posed in term s of history and theology conceived of as polar opposites, as though what is theologi­ cal cannot be historical and vice versa. T hat is, one has here either theology or history. T he idea o f a historical core with theological elaboration is hardly con­ sidered. Yet th at may very well be the case here in what is adm ittedly m aterial of a special character. Matthew has taken his historical traditions and set them forth in such a way as to underline m atters of fundam ental theological im portance. Thus he grounds his narrative upon several OT quotations and provides a strong sense of fulfillment. The literary genre of these chapters, as we shall see, is that of m idrashic haggadah, designed to bring out the deeper m eaning of the present by showing its theological continuity with the past. M atthew’s procedure is to set the scene theologically by identifying the who (quis) and the how (quomodo) in chap. 1, and the where (ubi) and whence (unde) in chap. 2 (Stendahl, “Q uis,” and Brown, B irth). To some extent Matthew may have apologetic or polem ical concerns here, b u t in the m ain these chapters are a statem ent of the theological significance th at may be perceived even in the prelim inaries (see Van Elderen, “Significance,” on theological aspects of chap. 1). In this instance the prolegom ena articulate the gospel before the m ain narrative.

The Ancestry of Jesus


Bibliography Abel, E. L. “T he G enealogies of Jesus Ho Christos.” N TS 20 (1973-74) 203-10. Blair, H. A. “Matthew 1, 16 and the M atthean Genealogy.” SE 2 [TU 87] (1964) 149-54. Davis, C. T. “T he Fulfillm ent of Creation: A Study of M atthew ’s Genealogy.” JAAR 41 (1973) 520-35. Freed, E. D. “T he W omen in M atthew’s Genealogy.” JSN T 29 (1987) 3-19. Gibbs, J. M. “T he Gospel Prologues and T heir F unction.” SE 2 [TU 112] (1973) 154-58. G odet, F. A Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. Tr. E. N. Shields. 2 vols. 1887, 1889. Repr. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1976. H anson, A. T. “Rahab the H arlot in Early Christian T rad itio n.”JSN T 1 (1978) 53-60. H effern, A. D. “T he Four W omen in St. M atthew’s Genealogy o f C hrist.” JBL 31 (1912) 68-81. H ood, R. T. “T he G enealogies of Jesus.” In Early Christian Origins. FS H. R. Willoughby, ed. A. Wikgren. Chicago: Q uadrangle, 1961. 1-15. Jerem ias, Jerusalem



in the Time of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1969. 272-97. Johnson, M. D. The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies with Special Reference to the Setting of the Genealogies of Jesus. SNTSMS 8. Cambridge: Cam bridge University, 1969. Krentz, E. “T he E xtent o f M atthew ’s P rologue.” JBL 83 (1964) 409-14. Kuhn, G. “Die Geschlechtsregister Jesu bei Lukas u n d M atthaus, n a c h ih r e r H e rk u n ft u n te r s u c h t.” Z N W 22 (1923) 2 0 6 -2 8 . L erle, E. “Die A hnenverzeichnisse Je su .” ZNW 72 (1981) 112-17. Lindblom , J. “M atteusevangeliets Overskrift.” In Teologiska Studier. FS E. Stave. Uppsala: Almquist & Wiksells, 1922. 102-9. M asson, J . Jesus fils de David dans les genealogies de Saint Matthieu et de Saint Luc. Paris: Tequi, 1982. Metzger, B. M. “T he Text of M atthew 1.16.” In Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature. FS A. P. W ikgren, ed. D. E. Aune. Leiden: Brill, 1972. 16-24. M oore, R. F. “F ourteen G enerations— 490 Years.” H TR 14 (1921) 97-103. M oreton, M. J. “T he Genealogy of Jesus.” SE 2 [TU 87] (1964) 219-24. Newman, B. M .,Jr. “M atthew 1:1-18: Some Com m ents and a Suggested R estructuring.” B T 27 (1976) 209-12. Nineham , D. E. “T he Genealogy in St. M atthew’s Gospel and Its Significance for the Study o f the G ospel.” BJRL 58 (1975-76) 421-44. Quinn, J. D. “Is ‘R achab’ in Mt. 1.5 Rahab o fjeric h o ?” Bib 62 (1981) 224-28. Schnider, F., and Stenger, W. “Die Frauen im Stam m baum Jesu nach Matthaus: S tru kturale B eo bach tungen zu Mt. 1,1-17.” BZ 23 (1979) 187-96. Schollig, H. “Die Z ahlung d er G en e ra tio n e n im m atthaischen S tam m b au m .” ZNW 59 (1968) 261-68. Stegem ann, H. “‘Die des U ria’: Zur B edeutung der F rauennam en in der G enealogie von M atthaus 1,1—17.” In Tradition und Glaube: Das fruhe Christentum in seiner Umwelt. FS K. G. K uhn, ed. G. Jerem ias, H.-W. K uhn, and H. S tegem ann. G ottingen: V andenhoeck 8c R uprecht, 1971. 246-76. Tatum, W. B. “T he O rigin o f Jesus Messiah (Matt. 1:1, 18a): Matthew’s Use of the Infancy Traditions. ”JBL 96 (1977) 523-35. Vogtle, A. “Die Genealogie Mt 1, 2-16 u n d die m atthaische K indheitsgeschichte.” In Das Euangelium und die Evangelien. Dü sseldorf: Patmos, 1971. 57-102. Waetjen, H. C. “T he Genealogy as the Key to the Gos­ pel according to Matthew.” JBL 95 (1976) 205-30. W ilson, R. R. Genealogy and History in the Biblical World. New Haven: Yale, 1977. Zakowitch, Y. “Rahab als M utter des Boas in der Jesus-Genealogie (Matth. I 5).” N o vT 17 (1975) 1-5.

Translation 1 A record of the origin of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the Father of Aram,a 4 Aram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, Obed the father ofJesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David became the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph,b


Matthew 1:1-17

8 Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father o ff Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos,c Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father ofJechoniahd and his brothers, at the time of the exile to Babylon. 12 And after the exile to Babylon, Jechoniah became the father of Salathiel,e Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 Zerubbabel the father of A bind, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, 15 Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary of whom God brought forthfJesus who is called “Christ.”g 17 All the generations, therefore, are reckoned as follows: h from Abraham to David fourteen generations, and from David to the Babylonian exile fourteen generations, and from the Babylonian exile to the Christ fourteen generations. Notes a T he reading o f the Gr. text and K J V . O th e r English translations beginning with R V use the short­ e n ed spelling Ram. Cf. 1 C hr 2:10 (LXX). b T he TR reads Asa; apparently early scribes altered Asaph (the psalmist o f the titles o f Pss 50 and 73-83) to the m ore appropriate royal nam e Asa. T he textual evidence for Asaph is strong, including A lexandrian ( P lvid K B), Caesarean (f 1,13 700 1071), and W estern witnesses, as well as some Eastern versions (co arm aeth geo). c Very m uch as in the preceding note, the TR reads Am on, reflecting a scribal alteration to pro­ duce the nam e o f the Davidic king. T he textual evidence favoring Amos, however, is about the same as it is for Asaph in the preceding note. d Several late uncials (M U Θ Σ ) and o th er witnesses ( e .g . ,/ 1 33 661 syh pal geo) add τ ο ν Ί ω α κ ί μ , Ί ω α κ Ι μ δ έ έ γ έ ν ν η σ ε ν . This insertion o f Jehoiakim as the father o f Jech o n iah brings the list into har­ m ony with 1 C hr 3:15-16, b u t produces fifteen nam es against M atthew ’s tabulation o f fourteen (see v 17). e Σ α λ α θ ί η λ (Salathiel) is the LXX spelling for a o p [ q p r (Shealtiel) in 1 C hr 3:17. A S V and R S V use the latter spelling in their translation at this point; N R S V uses the form er. f έ γ ε ν ν ή θ η , lit. “was b o rn .” T he passive, however, reflects the divine agency. g Variant readings o f this verse fall into two categories: (1) where Mary is explicitly referred to as a b etro th ed virgin and h e r role is expressed actively, e.g., ω μ ν η σ τ ε ν θ ε ΐ σ α π α ρ θ έ ν ο ς ' Μ . έ γ έ ν ν η σ β ν 7ή σ ο υ ν



τ ο ν λ ε γ ό μ ε ν ο ν χ ρ ι σ τ ό ν , “to whom being b etro th e d the virgin Mary begot [some MSS have ε τ ε κ ε ν , “b o re ,” instead o f έ γ έ ν ν η σ ε ν ] Jesus the one called C hrist” ( Θ , f 13 it); (2) w here Joseph is explicitly said to have begotten (έ γ έ ν ν η σ ε ν ) Jesus, although Mary is still called a betro th ed virgin (the reading is found only in the Sinaitic Syriac version b u t is possibly also alluded to in a few late sources). The first category has only relatively slight MS support and may have arisen to avoid m isunderstanding of the text as translated above. If it were the correct reading, it is difficult to know how it was displaced. T he second category of variants has extrem ely weak attestation and probably arose from the m e­ chanical b lu n d er o f repeating Jo se p h ’s nam e. See the full discussion in TCGNT, 2-7. h “Are reckoned as follows” is added to com plete the sense.

F o rm /S tru c tu re/S e ttin g

A. β ί β λ ο ς γ ε υ έ σ ε ω ς may be taken as referring to (1) the entire Gospel, hence functioning as a title for the entire book (Zahn, Klosterm ann, Lindblom , DaviesAllison); (2) 1:1-4:16, that is, up to the form ula of 4:17, “From that time on, Jesus began to p re ach ” (Krentz; Kingsbury, Structure, D. Bauer, Structure, 73-77); (3) the first two chapters (Allen, Carson; chap. 1 only: Luz); or (4) only w 1-17 (McNeile; Brown, Birth, Gundry, Matthew). A lthough it is clear that vv 1-17 are closely related to 18-25, that there is a sense in which chaps. 1 and 2 belong together (as distinct from the following chapters), and that the first two chapters are also related to 3:1-4:16, and indeed the rem ainder of the Gospel, it is never­ theless arguable that the words refer only to vv 1-17. Although unquestionably related to what im mediately follows, these verses constitute a recognizably inde­ p en d e n t un it as can readily be seen from the chiastic inclusio in v 17: v 1 Χ ρ ί σ τ ο ν . . . Δ α υ ί δ . . . ’Α β ρ α ά μ v 17 ’Α β ρ α ά μ . . . Δ α υ ί δ . . . Χ ρ ί σ τ ο υ . Β . V 17 also indicates the carefully devised structure of the pericope by its reference to three groups of fourteen. Note the deliberate repetition of the three­ fold γ ε υ ε α ί δ ε κ α τ έ σ σ α ρ ε ς . The passage itself, however, is n o t as symmetrical as v 17 m ight lead us to believe. The data may be set forth as follows: I. II. III.

(vv 2-6a) Α β ρ α ά μ —>- Δ α υ ί δ : έ γ έ υ υ η σ ε υ (13x); nam es inclusive: 14 (vv 6 a - ll ) Δ α υ ί δ —►- Ί ε χ ο υ ί α ς : έ γ έ υ υ η σ ε υ (14x); nam es inclusive: 15 (repeating Δ a υ ί δ ) (vv 12-16) Ί ε χ ο υ ί α ς —>■ ’Ι ω σ ή φ : έ γ έ υ υ η σ ε υ (12x); nam es inclusive: 13 (repeating Ί ε χ ο υ ί α ς ) ε ξ [ Μ α ρ ί α ς ] έ γ ε υ υ ή θ η (lx) ’Ι η σ ο ύ ς

Since the first two groups contain fourteen nam es each (if we discount the repetition of David at the beginning of the second g ro u p ), the problem centers in the third group. Because Jechoniah is repeated at the beginning of the third group (following the pattern established) and is therefore not to be counted again, we are left with only twelve names. Adding Jesus, we get thirteen, one short of the n eed ed fourteen. A variety of explanations has been offered. (1) If Mary is counted, the total comes to fourteen; b u t it is impossible that both Joseph and Mary are to be counted as separate generations ( γ ε υ ε α ί ) . (2) Some (e.g., Stendahl) have suggested that, if Jesus is the th irteen th nam e, then Christ—i.e., the risen or retu rn in g Christ—would


Matthew 1:1-17

be the fourteenth. Against this, however, is the fact that, for Matthew, the climax lies in the Jesus of his narrative, n o t only in the Christ of the G ospel’s epilogue or eschatological discourse. (3) Much m ore likely is the explanation that focuses on the end o f the second group and beginning of the third group, m arked by the Babylonian exile. W hen, at the end of the second group, Matthew says, ‘Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers,” he departs from the OT (cf. 1 Chr 3:15-16), which indicates th a t Jeconiah (the spelling with a simple c reflects the Heb. 3) was the grandson of Josiah, b u t the son of Jehoiakim . While M atthew is u n d er no obligation to include every nam e contained in his source, in this case the second group may well have originally ended with Jehoiakim. This conjecture is supported by the fact that in 1 C hr 3:15 the brothers of Jehoiakim are m entioned (Zedekiah and Shallum ), whereas in 1 C hr 3:16 there is reference to only a single brother of Jeconiah. A further cause of confusion is that according to the same verse Jeconiah had a son also nam ed Zedekiah. Moreover, Jec o n ia h ’s regnal nam e was Jehoiachin (cf. 2 Kgs 24:8), which in the LXX is spelled the same as Jehoiakim (i.e., Ί ω α κ ί μ - , see, e.g., the LXX of 2 Kgs 23:36; 24:8). If we accept Jehoiakim as the last nam e o f the second group, then the Jechoniah of the beginning of the third group in M atthew’s genealogy is n o t a repeated nam e, as with the case of David at the beginning o f the second group, bu t a new nam e which, when counted, gives us thirteen, with Jesus then as the fourteenth. By this explanation, Matthew has fourteen nam es in each of the three groups. His listing lacks symmetry in th at whereas he repeated the last nam e of the first group (David, perhaps be­ cause o f self-evident im p o rtan ce), he did n o t rep eat the last nam e of group two at the beginning o f group three. Indeed, here a sharp break seems natural given the tragedy of the exile (cf. also the reference to Jeconiah the captive in 1 Chr 3:17, who is therefore hardly to be included in the list of those who were ε π ί [up to] τ η ς μ ε τ ο ι κ ε σ ί α ς ' , Β α β υ λ ώ ν ι ο ς ' , “the Babylonian Exile”). Some scribe, expecting sym­ m etry in stru ctu re and perhaps confused by the identical LXX spelling for Jehoiachim and Jehoiachin (Jeconiah), assum ed that the Jechoniah of the begin­ ning of M atthew’s third group was also the nam e with which the second group should end and so changed Ί ω α κ ί μ to 7ε χ ο ν ί α ς . The minority reading recorded in Note d above may therefore reflect the original reading bu t has gone astray in attem pting to include the reference to Jehoiachim begetting Jechoniah. Jechoniah stands at the head of group three without reference to his father, even as Abraham stands at the beginning of group one. Thus, despite the lack of structural symme­ try, Matthew does have fourteen nam es in each group (David not counted twice, Jech o n iah counted twice). C. T he structure of three fourteens is regarded as significant by Matthew, and probably for m ore than pedagogical reasons. Indeed, M atthew or his source has deliberately arranged the fourteens by no t inconsiderable omissions. Pressed into three equal segm ents are unequal historical periods of approxim ately 750, 400, and 600 years (so Brown, Birth). If we take the three fourteens as m ultiples of seven (i.e., six sevens), then with the com ing of Christ we are about to en ter the seventh seven, the period of perfection and fulfillment. Alternatively, we may be about to en ter the tenth week of years, as in 1 Enoch 93:1-10 (cf. 91:12-17), if, as there, we allow three weeks of years to be reckoned for the period prior to Israel (Jacob). A nother possibility is that the num ber fourteen alludes to D aniel’s refer­ ence to seventy weeks of years (Dan 9:24), since by reckoning a generation at

Form / Structure/Setting


thirty-five years, the same num ber, 490, is reached (M oore). Thus, after three periods o f seventy weeks of years, God sends his Messiah into the world. Many Commentators have called attention to the fact that the num erical value of the Hebrew letters spelling David is fourteen ( Ύ Η = 4, 6, 4) and that, given David’s im portance to his purpose, Matthew may have structured the genealogy with this in m ind (Davies-Allison). But the Book of Matthew, it should be rem em ­ bered, is written in Greek, and the num erology of the Hebrew nam e would not at all be evident to Greek readers w ithout explanation. T hat David’s nam e in Hebrew is equal to fourteen may well be only a coincidence; in any event, it can hardly be determ inative in a Greek text. A nother theory about the use of fourteens has to do with the waxing and wan­ ing of the m oon (twenty-eight-day cycles); this in tu rn related to the alternating high and low points in the dividing points of the genealogy—i.e., the Davidic kingdom , the Babylonian exile, the appearance of Christ. Yet, in the genealogy there is no idea o f gradual growing or dim inishing of Israel’s fortunes. This too is to be regarded as an interesting coincidence, as are o ther such conjectures— e.g., that 3 x 14 = 42 and there are forty-two m onths of evil in Rev 13:5 before the intervention of God (M oreton). For the possible apocalyptic significance of the nu m b er fourteen and of four ages, see Waetjen. We are unable conclusively to discern M atthew’s in ten t in the 3 x 1 4 structure. It seems likely th at there is significance in the veiled notion of m ultiple sevens. T he fact th at Matthew uses three “fourteens,” rath er than six “sevens,” is possibly the result o f the form of the genealogical list he used or (if Matthew com posed the list) because the two key turning points of David and the Babylonian exile facilitated such a division. (For parallel configurations, see 1 Enoch 91:12-17; 93:1-10.) M ore certainly, however, Matthew intends to convey the providential design beh in d the history of Israel, which has structured the periods between pivotal eras (Abraham, David, the Exile) in m ore or less equal segments of time (Matthew surely knew they were not exactly equal), leading now appropriately, and in due course, to the goal of all that preceded, the com ing of the prom ised Messiah. (See the full discussion and similar conclusion of Johnson, 189-208.) D. M atthew’s source for m uch of the genealogy offered is either directly or indirectly the LXX: MATTHEW I. (vv 2-6a) 14 nam es

II. (vv 6 b -11) 14 nam es (not counting the repeated David)

LXX 1 C hr 1:28, 34: Abraham , Isaac 1 C hr 2:1-15: Israel (Jacob)—^David, 14 nam es (cf. Ruth 4:18-22: Perez—^David) 1 C hr 3:10-15: Solom on—^Jehioakim , 17 nam es

M atthew’s first group coincides exactly with 1 Chronicles and the partial list in Ruth. M atthew’s second group is also in exact agreem ent, except for the omis­ sion o f three kings. This involves a skip from Joram to Uzziah, which may have been caused by a confusion of Ahaziah ( Ό χ ο ζ ί α ς or Ό ζ β ί α ς according to Codex B) with Uzziah ( Ό ζ ί α ς ), although the main LXX tradition employs Uzziah’s birth nam e Azariah ( Α ζ α ρ ί α [ ς ] ) rath er than the regnal nam e (except for the Lucianic


Matthew 1:1-17

recension, which reads Ό ζ ί α ς ) . An alternate explanation of the omission of the three kings, Ahaziah, Jehoash, and Amaziah, is that a curse was upon them through Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, who becam e the wife of Joram and the m other of Ahaziah; if the curse lasted to the fourth generation (as it seems from the narrative in 2 C hr 22-25), it would have included the three kings missing from M atthew’s list. We have no known source for M atthew’s third group, which, apart from the first three nam es (found in 1 C hr 3:17-19, bu t not consecutively), is com pletely unknow n until the nam es of Joseph and Jesus. T here is m uch evidence that genealogical lists existed and were treasured in M atthew’s day. Brown argues that Matthew used two genealogical lists (pre-monarchical and m onarchical) already in existence and partially d ep e n d en t upon the LXX, and already containing the omissions in group two. While this com pli­ cated conjecture is a possibility, there seems to be no reason, on the o ther hand, that Matthew could no t him self have constructed the lists, m aking direct use of the LXX for the first two groups and of family records for the third group. In­ deed, as Vogtle indicates (BZ9 [1965] 48), the unity of concept and the theological agreem ent with the rest of the Gospel suggest that the genealogy is the work of the evangelist himself. For the similarities between the genealogy and the Gospel itself, see Jo h n so n (210-28), who points to num erical structure, language, and theology. Matthew may have devised the concept of three fourteens when he found fourteen nam es in the first group (Matthew wants, above all, to point back to A braham and David, the term ini of group one), and then accordingly he may have abbreviated the second and third lists to conform them to the pattern. E. Unlike Matthew, Luke (3:23-38) presents the genealogy going backward from Jesus past Abraham to Adam, “the son of G od.” Between A braham and Jesus, Luke has fifty-six names, com pared to M atthew’s forty-one. O f M atthew’s fortyone, Luke has only seventeen, th irteen o f which are in the p erio d betw een A braham an d David (all except Ram or A ram ), an d the rem ain in g four in M atthew’s last section (Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Joseph, and Jesus). The m ajor cleav­ age in the two genealogies is caused by the fact that, whereas Luke traces the lineage of Jesus through David’s son, N athan, Matthew chooses to follow the royal lineage from David through Solomon. T here are two m ajor ways (each revers­ ible) of accounting for the extensive differences between the two genealogies: (1) one (Luke is m ore often favored here) traces M ary’s ancestry (so Luther; Bengel; Godet, 128-32) while the o ther traces Joseph’s; (2) both refer to Joseph, b u t one (in m odern times Luke is m ore com m only favored) traces actual biologi­ cal descent, while the o ther traces legal descent. It seems unlikely that either genealogy is to be regarded as M ary’s, since lineage was always reckoned through the m ale line in Jewish culture, and L uke’s Gospel presents the genealogy as Jo sep h ’s (3:23). Most probably, given M atthew’s concern for the kingly line, the second explanation is closest to the tru th (so Zahn; Taylor, 89; Westcott, 312-13; Allen; Moffatt, 250-51). O ne p o in t bears emphasis. In these genealogies we m ust n o t expect accuracy by our m o d ern standards. Omissions, variant spellings, and even variant nam es (i.e., some persons with two nam es) may be expected in genealogies, with many of these alterations motivated theologically. But to adm it the theological interest in and im pact upo n these genealogies need no t lead to the conclusion that they are n o t in any sense m eant to be taken as factual. Both Matthew and Luke are



concerned to represent the facts contained in their sources; they are hardly cre­ ating lists out of thin air. These genealogies, like m uch of the content of the Gospels, are to be taken as interpreted history—i.e., factual and not fictional data, conceived and set forth with theological goals, these in tu rn inform ed by the eschatological fullness now inescapably present to these writers. Comment 1 β ί β λ ο ς γ ε υ έ σ ε ω ς , lit. “book of the origin,” or “genealogical scroll,” is deliber­ ately an allusion to the formulaic title used in the LXX (Gen 2:4; 5:1; the Heb. word underlying γ ε υ έ σ ε ω ς is toledot, “generations”) , which can be used to introduce both genealogies and historical narratives. The words reflect the Heb. rn 7 in Ί Ε Ο , seper toledot, which in Gen 5:1 means “genealogical register” (BDB, 707a). Although here the expression refers, as argued above, only to Matt 1:1-17, it is obvious that by this beginning Matthew wishes to call attention to the m om entous, even sa­ cred, character of the genealogy and therefore also of the narrative to follow. Even as the story o f creation began with the use of this form ula in referring to “the generations of the heavens and the e a rth ” or “the book of the generations of A dam ,” so now we are at the fulfillm ent of G od’s plan in m atters of corre­ sponding im portance. In this sense the opening words of Matthew are similar in im pact to M ark’s ά ρ χ ή τ ο υ ε ύ α γ γ ε λ ί ο υ , “beginning of the gospel.” We should not, however, go so far in this view as to take the words Ι η σ ο ύ Χ ρ ί σ τ ο υ as a subjective genitive, i.e., to m ean that the γ ε υ έ σ ε ω ς is “a bringing into being” (a new creation) accom plished by Jesus. It is, rather, the origin of Jesus himself that is in view. W hether “Christ” (= “A nointed”) here is employed as a proper name or as a title can be debated. The initial impression is that it is a proper nam e. But since it is followed im mediately by “son of David,” and with an eye on the titular use in v 16, it must be said that here the m eaning of the nam e cannot be far from M a tth e w ’s m in d . (See Comment on v 16 for th e sig n ific a n c e of the title.) It is very im portant to notice that genealogies in the OT and Jewish tradition always take their nam e from the progenitor, the first nam e of the list. H ere, how­ ever, the genealogy is designated according to the last m em ber of the list. The teleological orientation is unm istakable. T he nam es υ ι ο ύ Δ α υ ί δ υ ι ο ύ Α β ρ α ά μ , “son of David, son of A braham ,” signify m uch m ore than simply pointing to two of the most im portant persons in the history of Israel who were am ong the ancestors of Jesus. “Son of David” had be­ come, by the first century, a title for the messianic deliverer who would assume the th ro n e of David in accordance with the prom ise of 2 Sam 7:4-17 (the Davidic covenant), thereby inaugurating a kingdom of perfection and righteousness that would last forever. Jesus is that prom ised Son of David, and already M atthew’s great stress on fulfillm ent is anticipated (see Nolan, Royal Son of God, 224-34). This title is a favorite of M atthew’s, occurring ten times, com pared to four times each in Mark and Luke. O n the title, see Comment on 9:27. “Son of A braham ” also carries a note of promise and fulfillment. Although David, rath er than Jesus, could be referred to here as “the son of A braham ,” the focus of this opening sentence and passage is clearly on Jesus himself. The Abraham ic covenant (Gen 12:1-3, etc.) speaks of blessing through Abraham for “all the fami­ lies of the e a rth .” In Jesus, through the line of Abraham , that prom ise is fulfilled.


Matthew 1: 1-17

Only anticipated in the Gospel, narrative itself (e.g., 8:11; 21:43), it comes to full expression in the climactic passage at the end of the Gospel, where Jesus com ­ m ands μαθητεύσατε πάντα τά έθνη (“make disciples of all nations,” 28:19). 2 T he genealogy begins with A braham since he serves as the beginning of salvation history and of G od’s election of a people. T he first break in the regular rhythm of the genealogy, καί τους άδελφούς αυτού, “and his brothers,” points to the twelve tribes of Israel. The goal of the genealogical list, Jesus the Christ, provides the historical culmination and theological fullness that inevitably refer to all Israel (cf. the continued importance of the twelve tribes in an eschatological sense in 19:28). 3 The two names τον Φάρες καί τον Ζάρα, “Perez and Zerah,” are listed rather than one because Tamar was the m other of twins (cf. Gen 38:27-30). The addition to the genealogy of εκ της Θαμάρ, “by Tamar,” is clearly the work of Matthew, as are the special references to Rahab (v 5), Ruth (v 5), and the wife of Uriah (Bathsheba, v 6b). M atthew’s purpose in adding these w om en to the genealogy, rare in Jewish genea­ logical lists, has been m uch discussed. T he possible reasons for their inclusion (see esp. Johnson, 152-79; Brown, Birth, 71-74) are as follows. (1) T he four w om en were regarded as notorious sinners, all specifically involved in sexual sins; Matthew intends by their inclusion either (a) to po in t generally to Jesus as the Savior o f sinners (cf. 1:21), or (b) to answer Jewish claims about M ary’s alleged adultery by these rem inders of the sexual sins of those associated with the lineage of David (Freed). An obstacle to this option, apart from the fact that Ruth is n o t so imm ediately im plicated in sexual transgression as are the others, is that rabbinic tradition shows considerable discussion o f and disagreem ent about the sinfulness of these women (see especially Jo h n so n ). T he identity of the Rahab m entioned here has also been questioned (see below on v 5). Jo h n so n conjectures that the presence of the four w om en in M atthew ’s genealogy reflects the polem ic between the Pharisees, who looked for a Davidic Messiah, an d the Sadducees, Essenes, and others, who expected a Levitical Messiah and who therefore were inclined to stress the sinfulness of the four in o rd er to dem ean the Davidic lin­ eage. M atthew ’s deliberate inclusion of the four thus suggests his acceptance of the Pharisee’s notion of a Davidic Messiah. T hat Matthew is a cham pion of the Davidic descent of the Messiah is m ore than obvious from the genealogy, b u t th at this alone accounts for their inclusion is doubtful. T he suggestion th at the Jewish slander against Mary is countered by the reference to the im m orality of wom en in the Davidic lineage makes little sense and implies acceptance of the charge against her. (2) T he four women were Gentiles, so M atthew intends to u nderline the propriety o f the ultim ate inclusion of the Gentiles in G od’s purposes by showing that the Messiah has G entiles am ong his ancestors (Stegem ann). It is, however, n o t fully clear th at Tam ar and “the wife o f U riah ” were Gentiles, although the com piler of the genealogy may well have regarded them as such (Johnson). T here is evidence from post-biblical Jewish literature, moreover, that refers to Rahab and Tam ar as Jewish proselytes—which would leave their status unclear and could raise uncom fortable questions in the m inds of M atthew ’s readers (Brown, Birth). (3) T he third and m ost appealing option utilizes a little from each o f the first two options b u t centers on the way in which the w omen prefigure Mary by calling at­ tention to the ab u n d an t presence of both surprise an d scandal in the M essiah’s lin­ eage. T he sovereign plan and purpose o f God are often worked o u t in and th rough the m ost unlikely tu rn of events, and even through w om en who, tho u g h G entiles or har­ lots, are receptive to G od’s will. T he virgin birth and the im portance o f Mary are ju st such surprising and scandalous (though in M ary’s case only seemingly scandalous) ways th rough which God brings his purposes to realization in the story o f Jesus. T he women th en serve as rem inders that God often works in the m ost unusual ways and th at to be o pen to his sovereign activity is to be p repared for the surprising.



As for the nam es listed in the rem ainder of v 3 through v 4 (Perez to Salm on), the OT provides no inform ation. 5 Σαλμών δέ έγέρρησβρ τον Βόβς έκ τής Ραχάβ , “Salmon was the father of Boaz by R ahab.” T he reference to Rahab has been added to the genealogical list apparently by Matthew him self (no Rahab is m entioned in the OT lists, which probably serve as source; cf. 1 C hr 2:12; Ruth 4:21). If the Rahab of the conquest narrative is in view, as m ost com m entators agree, then Rahab appears several gen­ erations, or som ething like two centuries, too late. In Jewish literature, Rahab is said to have m arried Joshua (Str-B 1:23). T hough possible, it seems very im prob­ able that we have another Rahab here (contra Q u in n ), of whom nothing is known from any o th er source— this despite the variant spelling of Ραχάβ (LXX, Ψαάβ which actually is closer to the Hebrew 3 Γ Π , Rahab , for the Rahab of Jericho. Fur­ th er support th at this Rahab is m eant is the tainted character of at least two other of the four women added by Matthew. For a discussion of this, see Comment above, v 3, Θαμάρ. For the discussion of έκ της τΡούθ, “by R uth,” see also the discussion u n der Θαμάρ, v 3. 6 T he addition of the words “the king” in τον Δαυίδ top βασιλέα serves to strengthen the link between David and Jesus as the Davidic, messianic king, an im portant m otif in Matthew. In the words έκ της τον Ούριου, “by the wife of U riah,” the nam e o f Bathsheba is deliberately avoided. Davis argues that M atthew’s pur­ pose is to call attention to U riah’s righteousness in contrast to David. See discussion u n d er Θαμάρ, v 3. 7-8 Άσάφ, “Asaph.” In this list of the kings of Judah, one expects to find Asa rath er than Asaph and, in v 10, Amon rath er than Amos. Asaph is known to us as a psalmist (cf. titles of Pss 50, 73-83; 1 C hr 16:5-37; 2 C hr 29:30); Amos is prob­ ably the prophet. Matthew, or an interm ediate source (standing between him and the LX X ), appears to be responsible for the lapses. Some have argued that the alterations are deliberate, having the intention of representing both wisdom and prophecy in the lineage of Jesus. But this is very unlikely since, for Matthew, the form er was already present in David the royal psalmist, and the latter, given the overwhelm ing prophetic witness to the Christ according to Matthew, hardly seems necessary. It is possible that the Textus Receptus preserves the original reading (with correct names) and that the critical text is actually the result of scribal alteration. Yet it is m ore likely that the m ore difficult readings are original and that scribes are responsible for correcting, rath er than inserting, the errors. 8 Ίωράμ δέ έγέρρησβρ top Όζίαρ , ‘Joram was the father of Uzziah.” For the omission of three kings of Ju d ah between Joram and Uzziah (Ahaziah, Jehoash, and Amaziah), see the discussion above (Form/Structure/Setting %D). Omissions in genealogies are n o t uncom m on. 10 Άμώς “Amos.” See discussion u n d er Άσάφ in Comment on vv 7-8 above. 11 Ίωσίας δέ έγέρρησβρ top Ίβχορίαρ καί τούς άδβλφούς αύτοϋ , “Josiah was the father of Jech o niah and his brothers.” For Jechoniah we are probably to sub­ stitute Jeh o iac h in . See discussion above (Form/Structure/Setting §B). In this instance, the reference to “his b ro th ers” derives from 1 C hr 3:15, where three brothers o f Jehoiakim are nam ed. 12 μβτά δέ τήρ μβτοικβσίαρ Βαβυλώρος (lit. “after the exile to Babylon”) re­ fers to after the beginning of the exile, no t to the time after it was over. Ίβχορίας ‘Jec o n ia h ” (= Jehoiachin of 2 Kgs 24:15), was the first king to be deported to





Matthew 1:1-17

Babylon and hence receives the title “the captive” in 1 Chr 3:17. Ί ε χ ο ν ί α ς , Σ α λ α θ ί ή λ , Ζ ο ρ ο β α β έ λ , ‘Jechoniah, Salathiel, Z erubbabel,” follows the LXX of 1 C hr 3:19, rath er than the MT, where Zerubbabel is the son of Pediah (cf. Ezra 3:2). 13 Ά β ί ο ύ δ , “A biud.” T he nam es from Abiud (not listed am ong the sons of Z erubbabel in 1 C hr 3:19-20) to Jacob the father of Joseph are no t known to us from any o th er source. 16 In the words τ ο ν ’Ι ω σ ή φ τ ο ν ά ν δ ρ α Μ α ρ ί α ς , ε ξ ή ς έ γ ε ν ν ή θ η ’Ι η σ ο ύ ς , lit. ‘Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was bo rn Jesus,” we en co u n ter the big­ gest surprise in the genealogy. Having bro u g h t the genealogy down to Joseph, the evangelist identifies him as the husband of Mary, and the attention shifts to h er ( ε ξ ή ς , “from w hom ”). The repeated active verb έ γ έ ν ν η σ ε ν gives way to a divine passive (i.e., God is the active agent). Joseph is im portant—it is his geneal­ ogy, after all, th at is traced—b u t as the ex trao rd in ary change in the syntax indicates, he is n o t im portant as the physical father of Jesus bu t rath er (as argued above, Form/Structure/Setting §E) as his legal parent. This notion of legal paren t­ age is com m onplace in rabbinic thought. T he explanation of this surprising sentence is, o f course, to be found in the account of the virgin birth contained in the next pericope. δ λ ε γ ό μ ε ν ο ς Χ ρ ί σ τ ο ς , “the one called ‘Christ.’” The lack of the definite article suggests that Christ is used as a nam e rather than a title, even as in 1:1 (cf. 27:17, 22, where the same phrase is found on the lips of Pilate). Again, however, the titular mean­ ing is not far from the author’s thoughts, as can be seen from τ ο ύ Χ ρ ί σ τ ο ν of v 17. 17 This verse not only summarizes but, in so doing, points out the structure and teleological m om entum of the preceding verses. Climactic fulfillment is reached in the phrase ε ω ς τ ο ύ Χ ρ ί σ τ ο ν , “to the Christ.” The Christ has now appeared, rounding out and bringing to fruition the earlier history of Israel. For the significance of the groups of “fourteen,” see the discussion above (Form/Structure/Setting %C). Explanation T he “book of the origin of Jesus C hrist,” far from being simply the recitation o f historical data for their own sake, is above all an artistically devised theological statem ent. T he data are im portant in providing the vehicle for the initial presen­ tation of Jesus as the fulfillm ent of the prom ises to A braham and David. Indeed, the responsibilities and hopes of Israel, bo u n d up as they are with the prepara­ tion of the past, receive their realization in the one who is the subject of M atthew’s narrative. T here is, moreover, a certain appropriateness about the tim ing of this fulfillm ent, com ing as it does at the end of three segm ents of time that can be expressed as 3 x 14, segm ents m arked by Abraham , David, and the Babylonian captivity. B ehind these events, the highest and lowest points in the history of Is­ rael, stands the sovereignty of God, who works out all things in accordance with his purpose and timing. F urther evidence of that rem arkable sovereignty and its salvific in ten t can be seen in the surprising inclusion of irregular and som etim es scandalous events, as reflected in the four wom en of the genealogy, which pre­ pare for the actual circum stances of Jesus’ birth. Matthew has in this opening pericope anticipated the fulfillm ent them e that is so p rom inent in the Gospel. And concluding this skillful presentation of the genealogy of Jesus, he turns to events surrounding the birth itself.


The Birth and Naming ofJesus



Bibliography Boslooper, T. The Virgin Birth. L ondon: SCM, 1962. Box, G. H. The Virgin Birth of Christ. L ondon: Pitm an 8c Sons, 1916. Bratcher, R. G. “A Study o f Isaiah 7:14.” B T 9 (1958) 9 7 126. Broer, I. “Die B edeutung der ‘J u n g fra u en g e b u rf im M atthausevangelium .” BibLeb 12 (1971) 248-60. Brown, R. E. The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus. New York: Paulist, 1973.------------ et al., eds. Mary in the New Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978. Conrad, E. W. “T he A nnunciation of Birth and the Birth o f the Messiah.” CBQ 47 (1985) 656-63. Edwards, D. The Virgin Birth in History and Faith. L ondon: Faber 8c Faber, 1943. Fenton, J. C. “Matthew and the Divinity of Jesus: T hree Q uestions C oncerning Mat­ thew 1:20-23.” In Studia Biblica 1978: II. Papers on the Gospels, ed. E. A. Livingstone. Sheffield: JSOT, 1979. 79-82. Fitzmyer, J. “T he Virginal C onception of Jesus in the New Testam ent.” In To Advance the Gospel. New York: Crossroad, 1981. 41-78. Gartner, B. “T he H abakkuk C om m entary (DSH) and the Gospel of Matthew.” ST 8 (1954) 1-24. Graystone, J. M. “M atthieu 1:18-25: Essai d ’in terp retatio n .” R TP 23 (1973) 221-32. H ill, D. “A N ote on M atthew i.19.” ExpTim 76 (1964-65) 133-34. Kilian, R. Die Verheissung Immanuels Jes 7,14. SBS 35. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1968. Kotze, P. P. A. “T he Structure of Matthew O n e.” Neot 11 (1977) 1-9. Kramer, M. “Die M enschw erdung Jesu Christi nach M atthaus (Mt 1).” Bib 45 (1964) 1-50. Leon-Dufour, X. “L’annonce a Jo se p h .” In Etudes. 65-81. M achen, J. G. The Virgin Birth of Christ. New York: H arp er 8c Row, 1930. M ilavec, A. “M atthew’s Integration of Sexual and Divine Begetting.” BTB 8 (1978) 108-16. Orr, J. The Virgin Birth of Christ. London: H o d d er & Stoughton, 1907. Raatschen, J. H. “Em pfangen durch den H eiligen Geist: U berlegungen zu Mt 1, 18-25.” TBei 11 (1980) 262-77. Spicq, C. “Joseph, son mari, etan t juste . . . ’ (Mt. 1,19).” R B 7 \ (1964) 206-14. Stauffer, E. “Jeschu ben M irjam .” In Neotestamentica et Semitica. FS M. Black, ed. E. E. Ellis and M. Wilcox. Edinburgh: T. 8c T. Clark, 1969. 119-28. Taylor, V. The Historical Evidence for the Virgin Birth. O xford: C larendon Press, 1920. Tosata, A. “Joseph, Being a Ju st Man (Matt. 1:19).” CBQ 41 (1979) 547-51. Trilling, W. “Jesus, d er Messias u n d Davidssohn (Mt 1 ,1 8 -2 5 ).” In Christusverkü ndigung in den Synoptischen Evangelien. M unich: Kosel, 1969. 13-39. Vogtle, A. “Matthew 1,25 u n d die Virginitas B. M. Virginis post p artu m .” T Q 147 (1967) 28-39. W illis, J. T. “T he M eaning o f Isaiah 7:14 and Its Application in Matthew.” ResQ 21 (1978) 1-18. Winter, P. ‘Jewish Folklore in the M atthaean Birth Story.” HibJ53 (1954—55) 34—42. Wright, D. F., ed. Chosen by God: Mary in Evangelical Perspective. L ondon: Marshall Pickering, 1989.

Translation 18Now the birtha of [Jesus]a Christ happened like this. When his mother, Mary, was engaged toJoseph, before the marriage was consummated she was found to be with child— by the agency of the Holy Spirit.c 19But Joseph, her husband, a righteous man, yet not wanting to disgrace her publicly, planned to divorce her privately. 20And while he was considering these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For what has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21But she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus [= Yahweh is salvation], for he will save his people from their sins. ” 22This whole state of affairs had come about in order that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophetd might befulfilled when he says, 23Behold, a virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son,

Matthew 1: 18-25


and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which translated is “God with us. ” 24And Joseph arose from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord had ordered him, and he took his wife. 25And he did not have intercourse with her until she had given birth to a son.e And he gave him the name Jesus. N otes a l f 1 3j r Ir O r Epiph have γ έ ν ν η σ ι ς ra th e r than the γ έ ν ε σ ι ς o f the earliest witnesses. A lthough both words can m ean “b irth ,” the latter also carries a wider connotation (“history,” “orig in ,” etc.). γ έ ν β σ ι ς picks up the same word as in 1:1, b u t here it refers specifically to the birth. T he γ έ ν ν η σ ι ς of the later MSS is no d o u b t the substitution o f the very similar, b u t m ore usual, w ord for “b irth .” See TCGNT, 8. b Only a few relatively u n im p o rta n t MSS have eith er Χ ρ ι σ τ ο ύ (71 lat sys,c Ir) or ’Ι η σ ο ύ (W and a few others) ra th e r than ’Ι η σ ο ύ Χ ρ ι σ τ ο ύ (as in the overw helm ing m ajority o f MSS; B has nam es reversed). Yet textual critics are dubious about the reading because o f the oddity o f having the double nam e prefixed by the definite article (which elsewhere occurs in only three places, all in inferior MSS). T he addition o f either nam e is readily explainable as the result o f scribal industry. c Following Brown’s translation (Birth), the dash is used to indicate that this inserted phrase is a prelim inary explanation and n o t to be u n derstood as known to Joseph. d Som e relatively u n im p o rta n t witnesses insert the nam e o f Isaiah here, follow ing the usual M atthean p attern (e.g., 3:3; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17). e C D W TR vg syp,h read τ ο ν υ ι ό ν α υ τ ή ς τ ο ν π ρ ω τ ό τ ο κ ο ν , “h er first-born son,” apparently derived from Luke 2:7.

F o rm /S tru c tu re/S e ttin g

A. This pericope is closely related to the preceding one, as is evident from the opening sentence, including the specific use of the word γ έ ν ε σ ι ς · . Indeed, the passage intends to explain in some detail the surprise encountered in v 16, namely th at έ γ ε ν ν η σ ε ν , “he begat,” gives way to έ γ ε ν ν ή θ η , “he was b eg o tten ,” and that Mary accordingly becom es the focus of attention. In the account of how Jesus was born, Matthew is able to make several im portant theological statem ents about the central figure o f his narrative. B. We cannot say anything about M atthew’s sources o th er than that he relies u p o n tradition circulating in the early C hurch—indeed he is probably quite se­ lective in his use of it. He is hardly to be tho u g h t of as creating m aterial out of nothing, n o r is he com posing the story with some im agination from Isa 7:14. W hat he has done is to take items from the tradition (deriving perhaps ultim ately from the participants) and set them forth in his narrative in such a way as to maximize coincidence with Isa 7:14, thereby underlining the resultant theologi­ cal fu lfillm en t o f G o d ’s pu rp o ses in Jesus. T h e la tte r is in d e e d M atthew ’s controlling m otif in the Gospel generally, b u t particularly in the infancy n arra­ tive. Brown’s com plex argum ent about pre-M atthean sources (Birth, 154-63) is plausible enough b ut highly conjectural, involving the conflation of an angelic dream tradition with an annunciation tradition, jo in e d perhaps already before M atthew utilized the m aterial. Given the very few contacts between Matthew and Luke in the present pericope, it m ust be concluded that they are m aking use of different traditional m aterials, or at least m aking different selections from a com m on fund of tradition. Luke focuses on Mary, Matthew on Joseph. T here is n othing incom patible, or even

Form /Stru cture/Setting


implausible, about divine revelations to both Mary and Joseph. Still, it is unneces­ sary to take an excessively harm onistic approach. Each evangelist, while using a form alized birth announcem ent pattern, has his own artistic m ethod of shaping and presenting the materials of the tradition (s), and in so doing reflects indi­ vidualized theological interests. The parallels that do exist, however, point to fixed traditional elem ents. With Matthew, com pare L uke’s stress on Jo sep h ’s Davidic descent, έ ξ ο ί κ ο υ Δ α υ ί δ , “from the house of David” (Luke 1:27; 2:4); M ary’s be­ trothal, έ μ ν η σ τ ε υ μ έ ν η ν (Luke 1:27; 2:5); the angelic revelation, κ α ί ι δ ο ύ σ υ λ λ ή μ ψ η έ ν γ α σ τ ρ ί κ α ί τ έ ξ η υ ι ό ν κ α ι κ α λ έ σ ε ί ς τ ο ό ν ο μ α ά υ τ ο ϋ 7ή σ ο υ ν . . . κ λ η θ ή σ ε τ α ί υ ι ό ς θ ε ο ύ , “and behold you will conceive in your womb and you will give birth to a son and you shall call his nam e Jesu s’ . . . he will be called ‘Son of G od’” (Luke 1:31, 35); and the fulfillm ent κ α ί έ τ ε κ ε ν τ ο ν υ ι ό ν α ύ τ ή ς τ ο ν π ρ ω τ ό τ ο κ ο ν , “and she gave birth to h er first-born son” (Luke 2:7). Parallels found in Prot. Jas. 14.2 and Jus­ tin, Apol. 1.33.5, are d ep e n d en t upon Matthew. C. T he unity o f the pericope is evident from the opening and closing words (which form an inclusio): τ ο υ δ ε Ι η σ ο ύ [Χ ρ ί σ τ ο υ ] . . . 7ή σ ο υ ν . The contents fol­ low this outline: (1) the problem atic situation and Jo sep h ’s plan, vv 18b—19; (2) the angel’s revelation to Joseph, vv 20-21; (3) fulfillm ent quotation, vv 22-23; (4) Jo sep h ’s obedience and the resultant fulfillment, vv 24-25. Except for the fulfill­ m en t q u o tatio n , a sim ilar p a tte rn is fo u n d again in the two o th e r angelic revelations by dream found in the infancy narrative (2:13-14, 19-21). Com m on to these three are the following: (a) an initial genitive absolute; (b) the appear­ ance o f the ά γ γ ε λ ο ς κ υ ρ ί ο υ , “angel of the L ord,” m arked by ι δ ο ύ , “beh o ld ,” and κ α τ ’ ovap, “in a d ream ”; (c) the revelation itself, introduced by λ έ γ ω ν , “saying,” and including a com m and and supporting reason (γ ά ρ , “fo r”); (d) Jo sep h ’s obe­ dience, introduced by έ γ ε ρ θ ε ί ς , “arose.” T he fixed features seen in these three narratives suggest M atthew’s use of a stereotypical form at in presenting the sto­ ries. Therefore, they need no t be taken in an overly literal sense. W hat they convey above all is th e realizatio n by th e p artic ip a n ts, in w hatever way, o f G o d ’s su p erintendence o f their affairs, of his gracious provision of salvation in and through what happens, and of the appropriate action in response. D. T he fulfillm ent quotation (see Introduction) is of central im portance in the passage. It does n o t seem probable, as some have argued, that it was added later to an earlier existing story, unless we allow th at the whole has been thoroughly rew orked by the evangelist. M atthew’s w ording of the narrative on eith er side of the quotation depends closely upon the wording of the quotation (Isa 7:14 LXX). Isa 7:14 LXX = M att 1:23

Matt 1

έ ν γ α σ τ ρ ί έξεί

ε ν γ α σ τ ρ ί έ χ ο υ σ α , ν 18

καί τέξεταί υιόν

(a) τ έ ξ ε τ α ί δ ε υιόν, ν 21 (b) έ τ ε κ ε ν υίόν, ν 25

κ α ί κ α λ έ σ ο υ σ ί ν (LXX: κ α λ έ σ ε ί ς ) το όνομα αύτοϋ Ε μμ αν ο υ ή λ

(a) κ α ί κ α λ έ σ ε ί ς

τ ο ό ν ο μ α α ύ τ ο ϋ 7ή σ ο υ ν , ν2 1 (b) κ α ί έ κ ά λ ε σ ε ν

τ ο ό ν ο μ α α ύ τ ο ϋ 7 ή σ ο υ ν , ν 25


Matthew 1 : 18-25

Matthew deliberately constructs his narrative around the quotation in midrashic fashion so that the wording of the quotation is reflected in the angelic revelation and in the fact of fulfillm ent (contra Brown, Birth, who argues the quotation is a later insertion). It is also to be noted that the location o f this quotation in the m iddle of the pericope is unlike the pattern of 2:13-15; 2:16-18; and 2:19-23, where the quotation uniform ly occurs at the end of the pericope. F urth er obvious parallelism within the pericope is to be found between the angelic revelation and Jo sep h ’s obedience: μ ή φ ο β η θ η ς π α ρ α λ α β ε ΐ ν Μ α ρ ί α ν τ η ν γ υ ν α ϊ κ ά σ ο υ , “Do n o t be afraid to take Mary (as) your wife” (v 20); κ α ί π α ρ έ λ α β ε ν τ η ν γ υ ν α ί κ α α υ τ ο ύ , “and he took his wife” (v 24); κ α λ έ σ ε ι ς τ ό ό ν ο μ α α υ τ ο ύ Ί η σ ο ύ ν , “and you shall call his nam e Jesus” (v 21); κ α ί έ κ ά λ ε σ ε ν τ ό ό ν ο μ α α υ τ ο ύ Ί η σ ο ύ ν , “and he called his nam e Jesus” (v 25). The angelic an n o u n cem en t of the birth reflects a p attern o f birth announcem ents found in the OT (e.g., Ishmael, Gen 16:7-12; Isaac, Gen 17:1-19; cf. Jo h n the Baptist, Luke 1:11-20). E. While not strictly midrash, the genre of the passage is best labeled “midrashic h ag gadah”—i.e., midrashic in the sense that the OT quotation is of key im por­ tance and phrases of it are utilized in the surrounding narrative; haggadah in the sense th at the story is not told for the sake of facts alone, bu t in order to illustrate their deep er m eaning, that is, the theological significance of Jesus as the fulfill­ m en t o f OT promises. T he point is that M atthew’s approach in the pericope is highly stylized and has very evident theological purposes. T he question of w hether the virgin birth itself actually hap p en ed in history is o f course som ething the historian can say nothing about, bu t this does no t make it a m atter th at rests absolutely upon faith. Matthew and Luke present it as a cen­ tral p a rt o f th eir narratives, and this to an ex ten t does constitute historical evidence. W h e re th e q u e s tio n o f fa ith does e n t e r in is in o n e ’s a p riori w o rld view, which either does or does not have room for G od’s acts in history. If o n e ’s world view does n o t prohibit it, there is no com pelling reason no t to take the testimony o f Matthew and Luke seriously on this point. And that testimony should be taken seriously for its own sake (the deity of Christ is n o t necessarily at stake in the issue). F. Some scholars dispute w hether this pericope is a birth story at all (e.g., Stendahl, “Q uis”; Waetjen, JBL 95 [1976] 205-30), since no details are given, nor in deed is the actual birth recorded. Nevertheless, the pericope is properly re­ garded as a birth narrative for the following reasons: γ έ ν ε σ ι ς can m ean “b irth ” (see BAGD and F. Buchsel, TDNT 1:682-83); the passage begins with reference to M ary’s pregnancy, and the following pericope (2:1-12) assumes the birth; the pattern of angelic revelation and obedience (esp. the nam ing) suggests the full accom plishm ent of what was prom ised. The details of place and time are not im p o rtan t to M atthew’s purpose nor, apparently, for the early tradition. The fact that no actual reference to the birth occurs is the result of its presence in the tem poral clause ' έ ω ς ο υ έ τ ε κ ε ν υ ί ό ν , “until she had given birth to a son,” which is jo in ed to ο ύ κ έ γ ί ν ω σ κ ε ν α ύ τ ή ν , lit. “he did no t know h e r” (v 25). Matthew conse­ quently avoids repeating ( κ α ί ) έ τ ε κ ε ν υ ί ό ν , “(and) she gave birth to a son,” as an in d ep en d en t clause. T hat he m eans to imply the clause is evident from the words that follow, κ α ί έ κ ά λ ε σ ε ν τ ό ό ν ο μ α α υ τ ο ύ Ί η σ ο ύ ν , “and he gave him the nam e Jesus” (v 25). It remains true, however, that the focus of the passage is on m atters other than the actual birth itself. Especially to be noticed is the em phasis on the nam-



ing of Jesus (vv 21, [23], 25), which underlines the appropriateness of S tendahl’s analysis (“Q uis”) o f chap. 1 as focusing on the who (quis), or the identity of M atthew’s central figure. Comment 18 ή γ έ ν ε σ ι ς , “the b irth ,” picks up the γ ε ν έ σ ε ω ς , “origin,” of 1 :1 and suggests that the β ί β λ ο ς γ ε ν έ σ ε ω ς , “record of origin,” now reaches its goal. T he initial po­ sition of the words τ ο ύ δ ε Ι η σ ο ύ Χ ρ ί σ τ ο υ , “of Jesus C hrist,” makes them em phatic. His birth is the focus of attention, the account of which is especially an unravel­ ing of the mystery and surprise of v 16. μ ν η σ τ ε υ θ ε ί σ η ς (“b etro th al”) involves a m ore serious m atter than our West­ ern notion of “engagem ent.” It was a form al pre-nuptial contract entered into before witnesses, which gave the m an legal rights over the girl and which could only be broken by a form al process of divorce (cf. m. Ketub. 1:2; 4:2). This would take place, for exam ple, if the girl had been guilty of adultery during the be­ trothal period. She would then face the penalty for being an adulteress. It is short of “m arriage,” which involved a second and final public ceremony, in that sexual relations between the partners were not allowed and the girl had no t yet left her own family to live with the man. The term inology “hu sb an d ” and “wife,” which we reserve for m arriage, may already have been em ployed for the time between betrothal and m arriage (see vv 16, 19, 20, 24). If one of the partners died before the m arriage, the o ther was a “widow” or “widower.” (O n the other hand, see Comment below on v 20.) Betrothal usually took place when a girl was between twelve and thirteen, and by arrangem ent between the parents; the second part, the m arriage proper, usually took place about a year later (cf. m. Ketub. 5:2; m. Ned. 10:5). T he word μ ν η σ τ ε ύ ω is also used in reference to Mary in Luke 1:27; 2:5. π ρ ι ν ή σ ν ν ε λ θ ε ΐ ν α υ τ ο ύ ς , lit. “before they came together,” refers, in agree­ m en t with the above, to the m arriage itself and the beginning of sexual relations. T he phrase ε κ π ν ε ύ μ α τ ο ς ά γ ι ο υ , “by the Holy Spirit,” repeated in v 20, is of great theological im portance to the narrative. M ary’s pregnancy is attributed to the agency of G od’s Spirit (the lack of the definite article in the Greek is not significant; BDF §257 [2]). We do no t have here the pagan notion (for a catalog, see Nellessen, Kind, 97-109) of a god having sexual relations with a woman but rath er o f the creative power of God at work within Mary in o rder to accomplish his purposes. (It has rightly been pointed out by com m entators that the whole tenor of this passage is Jewish rath er than Hellenistic. See M achen.) The divine origin of Mary’s baby in turn marks him out as the Son of God, a christological title that, although n o t used here, is very im portant to Matthew. The relation between Jesus’ divine sonship and the Holy Spirit is evident at two o ther key junctures in the story o f Jesus, viz., his baptism (3:16-17) and his resurrection (Rom 1:4). In addition to the divine origin of the child, the reference to the Holy Spirit here suggests that God is about to act graciously through this child. The prom ­ ised deliverance and fulfillm ent of the promises rest upon the com ing of an era m arked above all by the presence of the Spirit; thus this little phrase sounds a distinctively eschatological note. H ill’s argum ent that the reference to the Spirit here is an allusion to the new creation (the counterpart to the role of the Holy Spirit in Gen 1:1-2) is therefore theologically sound, although it may be m ore


Matthew 1:18-25

than Matthew m eans to say. This salvation perspective, including the special pre­ lim inary role o f G od’s Spirit, is of course brought out em phatically in L uke’s nativity narrative (e.g., Luke 1:15, 41, 67; 2:26). L uke’s own co u n terp art to this M atthean phrase, also spoken by an angel (but to M ary), is π ν ε ύ μ α ά γ ι ο ν έ π ε λ ε ύ σ ε τ α ι ε π ί σ ε κ α ί δ ύ ν α μ ι ς ύ ψ ί σ τ ο υ ε π ι σ κ ι ά σ ε ι σ ο ι , “the Holy Spirit will com e u p o n you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). This is in agreem ent with the interpretation of έ κ π ν ε ύ μ α τ ο ς ά γ ι ο ν given above. 19 In δ ί κ α ι ο ς ώ ν κ α ι μ ή θ έ λ ω ν α ύ τ ή ν δ ε ι γ μ α τ ί σ α ι , “being righteous and no t wanting to make a public exam ple of her,” the exegetical question is the relation­ ship between the two participial clauses, which in tu rn relates to the sense in which Joseph is to be regarded as δ ί κ α ι ο ς , “righteous.” T here are two m ain expla­ nations: (1) T here is a tension between the two clauses, so that one should translate “although being righteous,” or “and yet no t willing to m ake an exam ple of her.” H ere Jo sep h ’s righteousness, in the sense of obedience to the law, is set over against his own wishes (McNeile; Tasker; Brown, Birth; Luz; Davies-Allison). (2) T he two clauses are in harmony, and so the translation should ru n “and therefore n o t will­ ing.” H ere Jo sep h ’s righteousness is seen as expressed in his benevolent attitude to Mary (Pesch, “Das W eihnachtsevangelium (Lk 2, 1 -21),” in Zur Theologie, 9 7 118; Spicq). A third option also sees harm ony in the two clauses; it assumes that Jo seph already knew that M ary’s pregnancy was έ κ π ν ε ύ μ α τ ο ς ά γ ι ο υ and that Jo sep h ’s unwillingness to expose Mary was the result o f his righteous awe, i.e., his saintly attitude toward the divine origin and salvific purpose in the sending of the child (Schlatter, L eon-D ufour). T he first option is m ost co n so n an t with M atthew’s narrative and understanding of δ ί κ α ι ο ς as right behavior according to the law. Jo sep h ’s righteousness impels him to act faithfully, which by the law’s standard m eant that Mary should be exposed as an adulteress and suffer the p u n ­ ishm ent (death by stoning, according to D eut 22:20-21, 23-24, bu t probably no t insisted u p o n in the NT era; cf. Jo h n 8:3-11). Joseph did n o t want to expose Mary as an adultress, yet neither would he m arry one so obviously guilty of sin. He therefore chose the one o th er option open to him, form al divorce proceedings in relative privacy, λ ά θ ρ α (two witnesses were required; see Str-B 1:51-52). Thus Jo sep h ’s plan expresses simultaneously his right­ eousness and his charitable kindness. (δ ε ι γ μ α τ ί ζ ε ι ν , “make public exam ple of,” occurs elsewhere in the NT only in Col 2:15.) 20 While Joseph ponders “these m atters” (τ α ϋ τ α ), no doubt including how he will bring his plan to realization, an ά γ γ ε λ ο ς κ υ ρ ί ο υ , “angel of the L ord,” ap­ pears to him in a dream with a revelation that overturns his strategy by casting an entirely new light on Mary’s pregnancy. The protestations of innocence that Mary h ad doubtless m ade to Joseph were now seen indeed to be true ( ι δ ο ύ is M atthew’s favorite device for calling attention to som ething extraordinary that is about to occur; sixty-two occurrences, thirty-four of which are insertions into parallel m a­ terial and nine of which are in m aterial unique to M atthew ). T he deliberate reference to Joseph as υ ι ό ς Δ α υ ί δ , “son of David” (the only place in the Gospel where this designation is applied to som eone o th er than Jesu s), underlines what Matthew has forcefully asserted through the genealogy of vv 117. Jesus, the legal son of Joseph, as he shall becom e through Jo sep h ’s obedience, is th e re fo re re ck o n ed as o f Davidic d escen t with the co n c o m ita n t n o te of



eschatological fulfillment. Several other very im portant elem ents of this and the next verse reinforce this, as we shall see. μ η φ ο β η θ η ς π α ρ α λ α β ε ΐ ν Μ α ρ ί α ν τ η ν γ υ ν α ΐ κ ά σ ο υ , “do n o t be afraid to take Mary (as) your wife.” While the term s husband and wife were apparently used for be­ tro th ed couples, they are anachronistic in the sense that the m arriage proper, the “taking hom e,” had not yet occurred. Thus, they are only “husband and wife” in a special sense. This prom pts us to translate “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” O thers would translate π α ρ α λ α β ε ΐ ν as “take h o m e”: “Do n o t be afraid to take Mary your wife hom e.” The difference is not significant once the background is known, ε κ π ν ε ύ μ α τ ο ς ά γ ι ο υ , “by the Holy Spirit,” is the revelation of what was m entioned in v 18 only by anticipation (see Comment th e re ). The clause τ ο γ ά ρ ε ν α ύ τ η γ ε ν ν η θ έ ν , “for what has been conceived in her,” underlines the passive roles of both Joseph and Mary (cf. v 16). God initiates the action in all of this. 21 τ έ ξ ε τ α ι δ ε υ ι ό ν , κ α ι κ α λ έ σ ε ί ς τ ο ό ν ο μ α α υ τ ο ύ Ί ή σ ο υ ν , “she will give birth to a son, and you shall nam e him Jesus,” depends directly upon the LXX of Isa 7:14, which is quoted in v 23. The nam ing of a male child took place formally at the time o f circumcision on the eighth day after birth (cf. Luke 2:21). Names held far m ore im portance in that culture than in ours, being thought of as linked with or pointing to the actual character and destiny of the individual (see H. B ietenhard, TDNT 5:254). The nam e Ι η σ ο ύ ς is no t the nam e m entioned in the quotation of Isa 7:14 (see below, v 23). The reason for the nam e Jesus is spelled out in the second p art of the verse { γ ά ρ ) . T hat it is already known is in accord with the rabbinic view that the Messiah was nam ed before the creation of the world (b. Pesah 54a; Str-B 1:64). α υ τ ό ς γ ά ρ σ ώ σ ε ι τ ο ν λ α ό ν α ύ τ ο ύ ά π ό τ ω ν ά μ α ρ τ ι ώ ν α ύ τ ώ ν , “for he will save his people from their sins.” The α ύ τ ό ς is em phatic: it is he who will save his people. T he introduction of Jesus thus far in M atthew’s narrative has been as the Son of David, the Christ (M essiah), the one who has com e to fulfill the prom ises of God. The natural expectation regarding the significance of σ ώ σ ε ι , “will save,” would be that it refers to a national-political salvation, involving in particular deliver­ ance from the Rom an occupation. Jesus had indeed come to save his people—the very m eaning of his nam e in Hebrew, Yeshua, a shortened form of “Jo sh u a” (Heb.: Ρ φ Τ Ρ , Yehosuac) , is “Yahweh is salvation.” T he re a d e r’s knowledge of the m ean­ ing of Ι η σ ο ύ ς via its Hebrew m eaning is assum ed by the γ ά ρ w ithout fu rth er explanation, indicating that this early Hebrew etymology had already becom e a part o f the com m on tradition of the Greek-speaking church. (Cf. also the same etymology applied to ‘Jo sh u a” [i.e., Ι η σ ο ύ ς ] in the Greek Sir 46:1.) T he surprise is in the co n ten t of the salvation that the Son of David will bring, namely, that he will save his people, ά π ό τ ω ν ά μ α ρ τ ι ώ ν α ύ τ ώ ν , “from their sins.” Although it was possible to associate even this with a national-political deliverance, Matthew and his readers could n o t easily have m ade this association after A.D. 70. T he deliver­ ance from sins is in a m uch m ore profound, m oral sense and depends finally u p o n the pouring out of Jesus’ blood (26:28). Matthew and his readers knew well the kerygmatic significance of this verse. Ps 130:8, which probably is in M atthew’s m ind (indeed, he may be giving a targum ic rendering of it), provides similar language and finds its fulfillm ent here. In the same way, whereas τ ο ν λ α ό ν α ύ τ ο ύ , “his peo p le,” leads one to think initially of G od’s people, Israel, both Matthew and his readers were capable of a deeper understanding of the expression wherein


Matthew 1:18-25

it includes both Jews and Gentiles, i.e., as the people of the messianic king ( α υ τ ό ν , “his”) who is both Son of David and Son of Abraham . We may thus finally equate this λ α ό ς , “peo p le,” with the ε κ κ λ η σ ί α , “C hurch,” of which Jesus speaks in 16:18. 22 Vv 22-23 are best regarded as an aside by the evangelist rath er than a continuation of the words spoken by the angel. This, as G rundm ann points out, reveals the evangelist in his role as teacher. He will not only tell the story b u t also convey its significance, τ ο ύ τ ο δ ε ό λ ο υ γ έ γ ο ν ε ν , lit. “this whole has h ap p e n ed .” All th at had thus far transpired (this is the force of the perfect) was in exact accord with, indeed the very fulfillm ent of, G od’s sovereign purpose (cf. v 20c) as ex­ pressed through the prophet. This stress on the fulfillm ent of G od’s prom ises ( π λ η ρ ω θ ή ) is o f central im portance to M atthew’s perspective, τ ο ρ η θ έ ν υ π ό κ υ ρ ί ο υ δ ι ά τ ο υ π ρ ο φ ή τ ο υ , “what was spoken by the Lord through the p ro p h e t” (as also in 2:15), accurately expresses the evangelist’s and the early C h u rch ’s view o f the Scriptures as stem m ing from God and m ediated to hum an beings by the agency o f prophets. In only half o f M atthew’s ten fulfillm ent quotations is the p ro p h et nam ed (see table in Introduction). The occurrence of υ π ό κ υ ρ ί ο υ , “by the L ord,” here and in 2:15 may em phasize the divine sonship of Jesus (despite the lack of the title “Son of G od”), as Pesch (“Das W eihnachtsevangelium [Lk 2, 1 -2 1 ],” in Zur Theologie) and G undry (Matthew) correctly argue. 23 T he words of Isa 7:14, ι δ ο ύ ή π α ρ θ έ ν ο ς ε ν γ α σ τ ρ ί έ ξ ε ί κ α ι τ έ ξ ε τ α ί υ ι ό ν , “behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,” have their own historical con­ text and prim ary level of m eaning. The p ro p h e t there prom ises as a sign to King Ahaz and the H ouse of David the birth of a royal son (perhaps Hezekiah) during whose infancy the two kings dreaded by Ahaz (i.e., of Syria and Israel) would suffer ruin. Fulfillm ent is thus required in the im m ediate future. While all this may seem relatively uncom plicated and of n o t very great significance, a d eep er m eaning in the prom ise was ap parent to Jews of later centuries (on the sensus plenior of the fulfillm ent quotations, see Introduction). Two things in particular were responsible for the later perception of this secondary level of m eaning: the nam e given to the child, “E m m anuel” (7tt Ή Ώ Ι 2, lit. “God with us”; cf. Isa 8 :8 , 10), and the surrounding passages, which speak of the dawn of the prom ised golden age with the ju d g m en t of the wicked and the blessing of the righteous (e.g., Isa 2:2-4; 9:2-7; 11:1-16). This was the ultim ate sense in which G od’s presence was to be m anifested in Israel. The prom ised son of Isa 7:14 thus becam e readily iden­ tifiable as that son of David who would bring the expected kingdom of security, righteousness, and justice. Accordingly, probably som etim e in the third century B.C., the Greek translators of Isa 7:14 apparently regarded the passage as having a d eep er m eaning, as yet unrealized. In agreem ent with this interpretation, they chose to translate the Hebrew word opqlc, calma (which m eans “young w om an,” who may or may n o t be a virgin), with the Greek word π α ρ θ έ ν ο ς (specifically “vir­ g in ”) rath er than ν ε ά ν ι ς (“young w om an,” used by the later Jewish translations of T heodotion, Aquila, and Symmachus) in order to stress the supernatural associa­ tions b rought to m ind by the identity and work of this son. Such an interpretation o f the word is co n g ruent with the larger picture. Matthew, unquestionably de­ lighted with the agreem ent between the tradition about Jesus’ birth and the words o f Isaiah, n o t only prefaces the quotation with a form ula of fulfillm ent but even conform s the wording of the surrounding narrative to that of the quotation (see Form/Structure/Setting §D ).



This quotation, unlike the other form ula quotations of Matthew, is in verba­ tim agreem ent with the LXX text (LXX, according to B, has λ ή μ ψ ε τ α ι for ε ζ ε ι ) . T he one slight difference is M atthew’s κ α λ έ σ ο υ σ ι ν (“they shall call”) for LXX’s κ α λ έ σ β ί ς (“you shall call”) . This is probably M atthew’s alteration of the text rather than a variant (Matthew has “she”), m ade in order to avoid the conflict between the com m and to Joseph to nam e the child Jesus and the statem ent of Isaiah that the child shall be nam ed Em m anuel. T here is no problem in referring the nam es Jesus and Em m anuel to the same person. This may well be the reason Matthew spells out the m eaning of the nam e Em m anuel, μ ε θ ’ή μ ώ ν ό θ ε ό ς , “God with us” (LXX Isa 8 :8 , 10). Indeed this is not a personal nam e b u t rath er a nam e that is descriptive of the task this person will perform . Bringing the presence of God to m an, he brings the prom ised salva­ tion—which, as Matthew has already explained, is also the m eaning of the nam e Jesus (v 21b). “They” who will call him Em m anuel are those who understand and accept the work he has come to do. Matthew probably intends the words of Jesus at the end of his Gospel— “Behold I am with you always, until the end of the age” (28:20)—to correspond to the m eaning of Em m anuel. Jesus is God, am ong his people to accomplish their salvation (see Fenton, “Matthew,” 80-82). 24 Following the pattern of angelic revelations, Matthew carefully records Jo sep h ’s obedience in stylized language (see Form/Structure/Setting §C ). 7τ α ρ έ λ α β ε ν τ η ν γ υ ν α ί κ α α ύ τ ο ϋ , “he took his wife,” m eans he com pleted the sec­ ond stage of the m arriage process, presumably by proceeding with a second formal cerem ony and then taking Mary to live with him. She was now his “wife” in the sense of being fully m arried. (See Comment on v 20.) 25 κ α ί ο ύ κ έ γ ί ν ω σ κ ε ν α υ τ ή ν ε ω ς [ον] ε τ ε κ ε ν υ ι ό ν , lit. “and he did no t know h er until she had given birth to a son,” i.e., Joseph did no t have sexual relations with Mary before the son was born. Matthew records this obviously as a guaran­ tee that Jesus was virgin born. It is m ost natural to assume that the verse implies that after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary had sexual relations as did any o th er husband and wife; Brown is surely correct that the later question of Mary’s perpetual virginity is very far from M atthew’s m ind. Jo sep h ’s obedience in com pleting his m arriage to Mary and in nam ing Jesus ( κ α ί έ κ ά λ ε σ ε ν τ ο ό ν ο μ α α ύ τ ο ϋ Ί ή σ ο υ ν , “and he nam ed him Jesus”) is also indica­ tive o f his form al adoption of Jesus and hence the establishm ent of his Davidic lineage. It becom es evident, then, how effectively the pericope extends the point o f the genealogical table of w 1-17. The repetition of the nam e Jesus serves to rem ind the read er both of the purpose for which he has com e (v 2 1 ) and of the consequent accom plishm ent of the sovereign plan of God (v 20c). Explanation T he story of the birth of Jesus is filled with the surprise and excitem ent that one m ight expect when God begins to act in fulfillm ent of the prom ise and prepa­ ration of the past. In particular, it portrays the wonderful mixing of the miraculous and the ordinary, the divine and the hum an. T he surprising turn in v 16 finds its explanation in the rem arkable birth of a son to a virgin—this by the agency of the Holy Spirit, in the accom plishm ent of G od’s saving purposes for his people. T he focus of attention is, of course, n o t on the birth itself but on the significance


Matthew 2:1-12

o f the child, on the role he will play in fulfilling G od’s will— as is seen particularly in the im portance of the nam ing in the passage, as well as in the co n ten t of the nam es themselves, Jesus and Em m anuel. T he one who is bo rn em bodies both G od’s presence and his saving efficacy. As we have been p repared to understand from the genealogy, the history o f G od’s people has now reached its long-awaited goal. T he person o f whom Isaiah (am ong others) wrote is now entering history and the era o f fulfillm ent has now begun. T he evangelist, as he tells the story contained in the tradition he received, is thus also its interpreter, centering the narrative around the quotation of Isa 7:14, using its phraseology and prefacing it with an introductory form ula that stresses fulfillment. The story is thus both simple and profound, told with enthusiasm and restraint. Joseph appears as a very real person, confronted with an understandable dilemma. Yet this righteous m an, of such little significance to the narrative on the one hand and such great significance on the o ther (bestowing Davidic descent upon Jesu s), receives a revelation to which he is submissive and obedient. N ot only is there an artistry in the way the evangelist has set forth his traditional m aterial, using styl­ ized form ats and the OT quotation, but there is a poetry, too, about his narrative. And evident th ro u g hout his m idrashic haggadah, as we have described it above, is his concern that the theological im port of his story com e alive to the reader.

The Magi Worship the Newborn King


B ib lio g ra p h y

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Form /Stru d u re /Setting


2, 1-12.” GPM 27 (1972) 63-70. Yamauchi, E. M. “T he Episode of the Magi.” In Chronos, Kairos, Christos. FS J. Finegan, ed. J. Vardam an and E. M. Yamauchi. W inona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1989. 15-39.

Translation 1AfterJesus had been born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the King, look, magi from the east arm ed in Jerusalem, 2saying, “Where is the one born King of the Jews?For we saw his star nsing above the eastern horizon/ and we have come to worship him.” 3When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, as was all of Jerusalem with him. 4And he gathered all the chiefpriests and scribes of the people and asked them, “Where is the Messiah to be born?”5And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written by the prophet:b 6 And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,c by no means are you the least among the princes of Judah. Forfrom you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. ” 7Then Herod secretly summoned the magi and carefully ascertained from them the time when the star became visible, 8and when he had sent them to Bethlehem, he said, “Go, search carefully for the little child. But as soon as you have found him, tell me, so that I too may come and worship him. ”9And, when they had listened to the King, they departed. And look, the star which they had seen in the eastern sky d kept going before them until it came and stood above the place where the baby was.e 10When they saw the star they rejoiced with a very great joy. 11And when they had come into the house, they saw the infant with Mary his mother and fell to the ground and worshiped him. And they opened their treasure chests and offered to him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12And because they had been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed by another road to their own country. Notes a i v rrj draroXfj, lit. “in the east,” i.e., “at its rising.” b sy co add “M icah”; ita adds “Isaiah.” T he overw helm ing silence o f the o th er witnesses certifies the conclusion that these are late additions designed to identify the p ro p h e t as Matthew usually does. c D it read τής- Ίουδαίας, thereby producing agreem ent with vv 1 and 5. T he majority o f witnesses preserves the m ore difficult reading γή Ιούδα. Perhaps this reading results from the influence o f the Ιούδα at the en d o f the second line o f the citation. dev rfj άνατολή, lit. “in the east.” e A som ewhat awkward construction in Gr. T he w estern text (D it) therefore om its ov r\v and reads τού παιδιού, governed by έπάπω, “stood above the child.”

Form/Structure/Setting A. Chap. 2 is quite in d e p e n d e n t o f chap. 1. To som e extent, as Stendahl (“Q uis”) and others have noted, it serves to place the narrative in geographical context by calling attention to place names. We now reach the “whence?” (unde) in contrast with the “who?” (quis) of chap. 1. Perhaps even m ore im portant, how­ ever, is the stress on the opposite reactions to the Christ from his earliest days, as exhibited in the magi and H erod. The two stories are, of course, linked via the

Matthew 2:1-12


an n o u n cem en t o f the magi (v 2) and their subsequent m eeting with H erod (v 7). Chap. 2 is therefore a unity consisting of a story of acceptance and rejection. It is linked to chap. 1 only by the references to the birth: γ β ν ν η θ έ ν τ ο ς (v 1); τ ε χ θ β ί ς (v 2); ye w a r m (v 4). A gap of some thirty years exists between the end of chap. 2 and the beginning of chap. 3. It would thus be possible to skip from chap. 1 to chap. 3 w ithout any loss of continuity. Nevertheless, as Schlatter points out, chap. 1 may raise in the re ad er’s m ind how this ann o u n cem en t of a new king is taken by the existing king. B. Some have seen chap. 2 as structured around the four (or five, so H engel and Merkel) OT quotations, which are in tu rn related to the four place names: Matthew 2 vv 1 -6 vv 7-12 v v 13-15 v v 16-18 v v 19-23

OT Citation v 6 (Mic 5:1, 3) v 11 (Ps 72:10-11; Isa 60:6) v 15 (Hos 11:1) v 18 (Jer 31:15) v 23 (Isa 11:1?)

Place Name B ethlehem Egypt Rama N azareth

N.B. T he OT citation comes at the end of every pericope except in the first in­ stance, where it occurs in the m iddle (v 6 ). Four OT citations, each involving a different place nam e, are certainly an in­ teresting feature of chap. 2. Nevertheless, the quotations give the im pression of being added to an already form ulated story line rather than giving rise to it. More­ over, granted the obvious im portance of Bethlehem and Nazareth and the symbolic significance o f Egypt (see below ), Rama has no im portance as a place nam e per se (although one m ight m ention the exilic association of this passage from Jerem iah ). Chap. 2 naturally divides into two parts: (1) the worship of the magi (vv 1-12) and (2) the wrath o f H erod (vv 13-23). W ithin vv 1-12 Lohm eyer finds six com ponents arranged in a parallelism, i.e., vv 1-2 m atch vv 9-10 (the leading of the star); vv 3-6 m atch v 11 (place of b irth ); and vv 7-8 m atch v 12 (com m and and failure to re tu rn ). This analysis seems unconvincing because of the weakness of some of the suggested correspondences, and a sim pler outline such as the following may be suggested: ( 1 ) the arrival and message o f the magi (vv 1-2); (2) the troubled reaction of H erod (vv 3-8); and (3) the com pletion of the journey of the magi in the worship of the child (vv 9-12). T he OT citation in v 6 , although of central im portance, does no t have m uch im pact on the actual wording of the surrounding narrative, perhaps because in the narrative the quotation comes from the lips of the high priests and scribes. For this reason, it is not prefaced by an introductory form ula stressing fulfill­ m ent—which is M atthew’s usual practice elsewhere in the Gospel and especially in the o p en in g two chapters. T he m ost interesting structural feature in this pericope is found in vv 11-12, where Matthew concisely presents the climax of the story through three aorist verbs { π ρ ο σ ε κ ύ ν η σ α ί ' , “they w orshiped”; π ρ ο σ ή ν β γ κ α ν , “they offered” [gifts]; ά ν ε χ ώ ρ η σ α ν , “they d ep a rted ”) , each with an accom panying adverbial participle { π β σ ό ν τ ε ς , “having fallen to the g ro u n d ”; ά ν ο ί ξ α ν τ β ς , “hav­ ing o p en ed ” [their treasure chests]; χ ρ η μ α η σ θ έ ^ τ ε ^ , “having been w arned”) . Thus with a concise forcefulness, the evangelist recounts the fulfillm ent of the mission of the magi.

Form /Structure/Setting


C. Although it need no t be denied that a historical tradition underlies the passage, the genre of this pericope continues in the vein of haggadah w herein the historical narrative finds its prim ary purpose in the conveying of theological truth. T he way in which the story is told is calculated to bring the reader to fur­ th er theological com prehension of the significance of Jesus as well as to anticipate a nu m b er of them es or motifs that are to recur repeatedly in the Gospel before the story is over. For the m idrashic aspects, see Form/Structure/Setting §C on the second half of chap. 2 . D. In spite o f the w idespread hesitancy concerning the historicity of this pericope (e.g., Brown, Birth; Hill; Luz), there is no insuperable reason why we m ust deny that the tradition used by Matthew is historical at its core (see E. M. Yamauchi, “E pisode”). We do n o t know the source of Matthew’s narrative; Luke apparently did not know the story or else he deliberately ignored it (cf. Luke 2:39). T here are some possible contacts with similar OT stories (e.g., the Q ueen of Sheba’s visit to Solom on), especially involving Balaak and Balaam (Num 22-24). Balaak is the wicked king of Moab who wants to destroy Moses (for a com parison of the contents of Matt 2 with the story of Moses, see the next pericope); Balaam is a gentile wizard from the east, called a μ ά γ ο ς by Philo (Vit. Mos. 1.50), who surprisingly en d ed up saying good things about Israel rath er than cursing her, thus frustrating the king’s evil intentions. Balaam furtherm ore refers in one of his oracles to the rising of a star ( ά σ τ ρ ο η ; cf. M atthew’s ά σ τ ή ρ ) out of Jacob (Num 24:17; cf. Gen 49:10), which is to rule over many nations and possess a kingdom that will increase (Num 24:7). The elem ents in com m on with our pericope are striking: the wicked, threatened king; the strange non-Israelite “m edium ” who yet recognizes G od’s presence in Israel; and the talk of a com ing king together with the star symbolism. Yet, since Matthew makes no deliberate attem pt to draw wording from the episode in Num bers, nor does he cite or allude to the OT pas­ sages, it may be th at the sim ilarities are coincidental. We can n o t know with certainty that Matthew had the Balaak/Balaam m aterial in his m ind when he wrote this narrative. Brown (Birth) speculates that the source used by Matthew here is separate from the basic source (depending on Joseph in Egypt and Moses) used elsewhere in the first two chapters because of the lack of any reference to Joseph or to dreams. T he two pre-M atthean stories came to be associated by the view that scribes who advised P haraoh were magi (so Philo, Vit. Mos. 1.16). This, how­ ever, is to say m uch m ore than we can know. E. Hellenistic parallels to various aspects of our pericope exist. It was com ­ m only h eld th a t the b irth (and d ea th ) o f g re at m en was h e ra ld e d by the appearance of a star or a similar heavenly phenom enon. (See Rosenberg. Re­ corded exam ples are A lexander the Great, M ithridates, and A lexander Severus. For rabbinic examples referring to Abraham , Isaac, and Moses, see Str-B 1:7778.) Virgil relates how Aeneas was guided by a star to the place where Rome was to be founded (Aeneid 2.694). T he giving of hom age to a king by those from a distant country is, of course, a com m on m otif in the ancient world. A striking parallel to our story is the com ing of Tiridates, the king of Arm enia, with repre­ sentatives o f o th er eastern kingdom s (described as magi by Pliny, Nat. Hist. 30.1.16-17; cf. Dio Cassius 63.1-7; Suetonius, Nero 13) to pay hom age ( π ρ ο σ κ υ ν β ί ν , as in o ur passage) to Nero in A.D. 6 6 , and their re tu rn by an o th er route. Parallels such as these show that M atthew’s narrative was n o t as alien to his age as it is to


Matthew 2:1-12

ours. We may allow for some indirect influence of these parallels upon M atthew’s form ulation o f his narrative w ithout concluding that it therefore contains n o th ­ ing historical. Parallels in Prot. Jas. 21.1-4 and Justin Martyr, Dialogue 77.4-78.2, are d ep en d en t on Matthew (so too Ign. Eph. 19:1-3). F. T he Lukan co unterpart to M atthew’s narrative about the magi appears to be the story o f the shepherds (Luke 2:8-20). The few superficial similarities can be explained by the similar circumstances. Otherwise, the passages and the re­ spective underlying tradition are com pletely in d ep en d en t (contrary to G undry’s [Matthew] argum ent that M atthew’s narrative is a transm utation of the Lukan tradition). Comment 1 T he use of the genitive absolute τ ο υ δ έ Ι η σ ο ύ γ ε υ υ η θ έ υ τ ο ς , “after Jesus had been b o rn ,” enables the nam e of Jesus to occur first (as it also did at the begin­ ning o f 1:18). γ β ν υ η θ έ υ τ ο ς links with chap. 1 , especially the έ γ έ υ υ η σ β υ of 1:16. T he aorist participle indicates that the birth had already occurred when the magi arrived in Jerusalem . έ υ Β η θ λ έ β μ τ ή ς Ί ο ν δ α ί α ς , “in B ethlehem of Ju d e a ,” is the first indication of a place nam e in M atthew’s narrative; its theological im portance can be seen in the way it anticipates the quotation of Mai 5:1 in v 6 (cf. also vv 5, 8 ), despite the slight difference betw een τ ή ς Ί ο ν δ α ί α ς and the γ ή Ι ο ύ δ α of the quotation. B ethlehem o f Ju d ea is located about five miles south of Jerusalem and is to be distinguished from B ethlehem of Zebulon, far to the n o rth (Josh 19:15). It had strong Davidic associations through David’s ancestors (Judah) and his own anoint­ ing by Samuel; hence, it is elsewhere called “the city of David” (Luke 2:4, 11), a designation we m ight have expected Matthew to use here. But for M atthew the same theological purpose is accom plished through the designation “Ju d e a .” In addition to the geographical location, the evangelist provides a general date with the words έ υ ή μ έ ρ α ί ς Ή ρ ώ δ ο υ τ ο ύ β α σ ί λ έ ω ς , “in the days of H erod the king” (Luke is m ore precise in dating; see Luke 2:1). H erod the Great is in view here, and since his death occurred in 4 B.C., the birth of Jesus m ust be placed earlier. (The discrepancy with the num bering of years by the designation A.D. results from an erro r of the sixth-century scholar Dionysius Exiguus, who was responsible for the calculations that moved the W estern world away from dating according to the year after the foundation of Rome.) The specification “king,” here and in v 3, stands in deliberately m arked contrast to the m agi’s reference to the “king of the Jews” (v 2) whom they seek. Ι δ ο ύ , “look,” is a favorite device of em phasis in Matthew, especially in chaps. 1 and 2. “M agi” (μ ά γ ο ι ) has four general m eanings according to G. Delling ( TDNT 4:356-58): (1) m em bers of a Persian priestly class; (2) possessors of su p ern atu ­ ral knowledge and power; (3) m agician; and (4) deceiver or seducer. In the NT, the word refers to possessors of secret wisdom, and in our passage it probably connotes astrologers, that is, m en who gained special insight into world affairs from th eir observation of the planets and stars (hence, the com m on translation “wise m e n ”). Some (e.g., W. K. L. Clarke, Divine Humanity [London: SPCK, 1936]; M ann) have seen a veiled polem ic against occultism and magic in the m agi’s worship o f the new born king (cf. Ign. Eph. 19). This is at best an u n d e rto n e of



the passage, since M atthew gives no h in t that this was in his m ind. W hat is in M atthew’s m ind is that Gentiles, those considered alien to G od’s purposes, ex­ h ibit an openness to G od’s purposes (even through the instrum entality of their own craft) and an eager receptivity toward the new born king. This is obviously a sign o f what M atthew will repeatedly call attention to in his narrative (e.g., 8:11; 21:43). T he arg u m ent of some (e.g., M ann) that the magi were Jews ra th e r than Gentiles is n o t convincing. T he whole ten o r of the passage, and n o t simply the designation “m agi,” suggests non-Israelites. M atthew would have to indicate that they were Jews for his readers to draw this conclusion. T heir knowledge about the messianic king, however, was certainly gained from prior Jewish contact. Only later Christian tradition designates the magi as kings (cf. Isa 60:3), three in num ­ b er (corresponding to the three gifts), and assigns them nam es (see Metzger) and personal characteristics. α π ό ά ν α τ ο λ ώ ν , “from the east,” is perhaps deliberately vague because of the prototypical character of the magi. If we presum e a historical kernel to the n arra­ tive, four areas may be m entioned as possibilities: (1) Parthia; (2) Babylon; (3) Arabia (for a detailed survey, see Brown, Birth, 168-70, who, however, regards the magi and the east as idealizations); and (4) Egypt. Since the magi in Matthew’s narrative have some knowledge of Jewish messianic expectation, they m ust have had some contact with Jewish thinking. While this could have occurred in Persia or Arabia, Babylon had a settled Jewish com m unity and seems the most likely candidate (cf. Dan 2:48; 5:11). T he magi, apparently unfam iliar with the Micah passage cited by the high priests and scribes, make the natural assum ption that the new king was to be b o rn in the capital city. H ence they go ε ι ς ’Ι ε ρ ο σ ό λ υ μ α , “to Jeru salem .” They do n o t go to H ero d b u t are only sum m oned to him (v 7) after he has heard of their purpose (v 3). T he fact th at they com e to Jerusalem ra th e r than B ethlehem sug­ gests th at we m isunderstand the reference to the star if we take it to m ean that they were actually led by and “followed” the star in the m ost literal sense (cf. Comment on v 9). 2 T he only o th er occurrences of the title β α σ ι λ ε ύ ς τ ω ν ’Ι ο υ δ α ί ω ν , “king of the Jews,” in Matthew are in the passion narrative, where it is used in m ockery of Jesus and always in the m ouths of Gentiles (27:11, 29, 37). H ere it has obvious messianic significance, as can be seen from H e ro d ’s rephrasing of the question “W here is the Christ to be b o rn ?” (v 4) and in the scriptural answer (v 6 ). But, as in the passion narrative, so also here in the context of references to “King H erod,” the title has political overtones. This is true because of Jewish expectation, bu t it goes against Jesus’ own understanding of his kingship. T he star is seen ε ν rfj ά ν α τ ο λ ρ , “at its rising,” rath er than “in the east” (for which we m ight expect the plural, as in v 1). Although we cannot be certain, it may well be th at in τ ο ν ά σ τ ε pa, “the star,” we are to understand a “n atu ral” astro­ nom ical p h en o m enon such as a conjunction of planets (Jupiter and Saturn, for exam ple, came in line in 7-6 B.C. in the constellation of Pisces; on this theory, see Ferrari-D’O cchieppo), a com et (Halley’s passed in 12-11 B.C.), or a super­ nova (i.e., an e x p lo d in g star). In this p h e n o m e n o n , w hatever it was, the magi-astrologers perceived the sign of the fulfillm ent of the Jewish eschatological expectation concerning the com ing king and so would have set off on their jo u r­ ney toward Jerusalem . For an elaboration of the star tradition, cf. Ign. Eph. 19.1-3.


Matthew 2:1-12

Elsewhere in the NT, Jesus is him self referred to as the rising star (cf. Luke 1:78; 2 Pet 1:19; Rev 22:16). With this, com pare Matt 4:16. T he m ost natural m eaning of π ρ ο σ κ ύ ν η σ α l α ύ τ ω in the historical setting (with the reference to a king) is “to pay hom age to him .” “To worship h im ” may also be used in the looser sense, referring to the divinity claim ed by ancient m onarchs. But M atthew’s readers know the real m eaning of what the magi have com e to do b etter than the magi themselves knew, namely, “w orship” in its pro p er sense. T hat is, Jesus is the m anifestation of G od’s presence (1:23), the son of God (2:15) in a unique sense, and thus one to be worshiped. 3 ο β α σ ι λ ε ύ ς Η ρ ώ δ η ς έ τ α ρ ά χ θ η , “King H erod was tro u b led .” T he repetition o f β α σ ι λ ε ύ ς , “king” (cf. v 1), underlines the obvious reason that H erod is deeply troubled when he hears of the m agi’s quest. This response, of course, prepares the read er for the second part o f chap. 2. Schlatter entitles chap. 2 “T he Battle of the King against the C hrist.” H erod cannot tolerate hom age being paid to an­ o th er as “king of the Jews.” It is unclear why the populace (π ά σ α Ι ε ρ ο σ ό λ υ μ α , “all Jeru salem ”) is troubled μ ε τ ’α ύ τ ο ϋ , “with h im .” They may be afraid of H e ro d ’s reaction (G rundm ann) or o f the expected trouble that was im mediately to precede the reign of the Mes­ siah. O n the o th er hand, one expects them to rejoice at the possibility of the experience o f the long-awaited deliverance. Some (e.g., Gerhardsson, Luz) have therefore seen the μ ε τ ’α ύ τ ο ϋ as associating the Jerusalem ites (or Jewish leaders, Davies-Allison) with H e ro d ’s rejection and persecution of the Messiah, thus an­ ticipating the rejection of Jesus by Jerusalem and Israel in the Gospel (cf. 23:37-39; 27:25). Later, the whole city is “shaken” by Jesus’ trium phal entry (21:10). 4 It is unlikely that the neutral word for “gathering,” σ υ ν α γ α γ ώ ν , connotes in any sense the synagogue, as some have argued. To capitalize in this way on the identical ro o t is to over-interpret. N or is this gathering sinister, except in the case of H erod himself. The plural ά ρ χ ι ε ρ ε ΐ ς , “chief priests,” is com m on and explainable: it includes living past high priests and m em bers of the family of the ruling high priest as well as leading priests in charge of the large corps of priests em ployed in the tem ple cult and related activities. The γ ρ α μ μ α τ ε ί ς , “scribes,” are the learned scholars of Scripture, τ ο υ λ α ο ύ , “of the p eople,” which m odifies both nouns, re­ fers to the Jewish nation over which H erod ruled. These experts are precisely the people one would expect H erod to consult. They would certainly have com posed an im portant p art of the Sanhedrin, bu t a m eeting of that body itself is not m eant (cf. the lack of reference to the elders). The im perfect tense of έ π υ ν θ ά ν ε τ ο , lit. “were asking,” is regularly used for this verb. See BDF §328. b χ ρ ι σ τ ό ς , “the Mes­ siah,” is the correct interpretation of the king sought by the magi (v 2 ) as being the eschatological king of the Jews. 5 The answer of the experts, ε ν Β η θ λ έ ε μ τ η ς Ι ο υ δ α ί α ς , “in Bethlehem of Ju d ea,” agrees with the fact recorded in v 1. The difference between τ ή ς Ι ο υ δ α ί α ς , ‘Ju d e a ” (the com m on expression), and γ η ’Ι ο ύ δ α , “land of J u d a h ” (the quotation), is no t significant. Since the form ula introducing the quotation is n o t the same as those em ployed by the evangelist elsewhere (see Introduction) , it and the quotation that follows are probably m eant by Matthew to be understood as a p art of the answer given by the experts. But the use of the quotation is also obviously consonant with M atthew’s purpose (as is his own apparent alteration of the text-form ). The rep o rt that some o f the crowd in Jo h n 7:41-42 know that the Messiah is to be



b o rn in B ethlehem should be no surprise. T he knowledge is no t lim ited to the experts, yet H erod understandably wishes to have the m ost authoritative answer possible (and perhaps also to get their reaction to the entire affair). T he fact, however, that Jesus’ hometown was Nazareth rather than Bethlehem constituted a problem, as can be seen from the Johannine passage. This problem was certainly still raised by Jews in Matthew’s day and probably accounts for Matthew’s emphasis on B ethlehem in chap. 2 and the inclusion of the explanation of how Jesus came to dwell in Nazareth. But this does no t m ean that the early Christians found it necessary to invent a tradition about Jesus’ birth in B ethlehem (cf. Luke 2:4, 15). 6 T he form o f M atthew’s citation of Mic 5:2 is distinctive, agreeing neither with the LXX n o r with the MT. M atthew’s own work is to be seen in the shape of the quotation. Most of the differences are minor. Thus, Matthew omits the refer­ ence to E phrathah and substitutes γ η ’Ι ο ύ δ α . The reason for this difficult reading, which stands in apposition to Β η θ λ έ ε μ , is unclear. It is possibly a theological alter­ ation to rem ind the reader of Jesus’ descent from Ju d ah (with the messianic im plication) as in 1:1, 2. O n the other hand, it may simply have been caused by the use of ’Ι ο ύ δ α at the end of line 2 in the citation. In any event, in this instance M atthew has n o t let the reading of the citation affect the surrounding references to “B ethlehem o f J u d e a .” A second m inor difference is in M atthew ’s use of ή γ ε μ ό σ ί ν , “princes,” and η γ ο ύ μ ε ν ο ς , “a ruler,” in lines 2 and 3, where the LXX has χ ι λ ί ά σ ι ν , “thousands,” and ά ρ χ ο ν τ α , “ruler,” respectively. Behind χ ι λ ί ά σ ι ν is the Hebrew *]*?$, *Ip, which with different vowels can alternatively be rendered ή γ ε μ ώ ν (as LXX does in other places); obviously Matthew prefers the notion of “ruler.” η γ ο ύ μ ε ν ο ς may then be explained as a synonym for ά ρ χ ο ν τ α , chosen to agree with the ή γ ε μ ό σ ί ν of the previous line. T he m ost significant change by far is M atthew’s reversal of the statem ent of both LXX and MT that B ethlehem is small am ong the thousands of Judah. Given M atthew’s sense o f the fulfillm ent that has occurred in Bethlehem , the initial statem ent of the p ro p h e t m ust now paradoxically be reversed: hence, ο ύ δ α μ ώ ς ε λ ά χ ι σ τ η , “by no m eans the least.” But the change may involve m ore than simply a liberty on the evangelist’s part. If in the MT the initial b were read as the nega­ tive particle (NT5, lo5) i.e., with the slight change ο ί Π Τ Π 1?, lihyot, to Γ Γ Γ Π Κ Τ 5, lo^heyot, a reading is produced that coincides with M atthew’s Greek rendering of the pas­ sage. This reading, given its appropriateness in a reference to the birth of the com ing ruler, could possibly already have been circulating in M atthew’s time. (See Allen, Lohmeyer-Schmauch, Klosterm ann.) T he last line o f the quotation is similar to Mic 5:3 (LXX), “and he will shep­ h erd his flock in the strength of the L ord,” bu t probably is d ep en d en t upon 2 Sam 5:2 (cf. 1 C hr 11:2), where the Lord says to David that he “will shepherd my people Israel” (M atthew’s wording is in verbatim agreem ent with the LXX of the latter). It was rabbinic practice to com bine quotations referring to the same thing, particularly when linked by a key word or com m on concept, in the present in­ stance “ru lin g ” and “shepherding.” The messianic king, the Son of David, would sh epherd his people. The special appropriateness of a Davidic context for Mat­ thew is obvious. In L uke’s narrative, the fulfillm ent of the Davidic covenant is m ore explicit (Luke 1:32-33, using the language of 2 Sam 7:12-16). T he application of the quotation, unlike the form ula quotations of the first two chapters, is straightforward, involving no dim ension of sensus plenior or deeper


Matthew 2:1-12

fulfillment. Its m eaning is obvious: the Messiah (the verse was understood as mes­ sianic by the Jews) is to be bo rn in Bethlehem , the very place where Jesus’ birth had already occurred. The Messiah is to “shepherd my people Israel,” which re­ calls the statem ent in 1:21 that “he will save his people.” The people of the Lord are thus the people of the Messiah. 7 τ ό τ ε , “th e n ,” is a very com m on connective introducing new sections of nar­ rative in Matthew (e.g., 2:16; 3:13; 4:1; it is so used sixty-one times according to McNeile). H e ro d ’s secrecy { λ ά θ ρ α , “in secret”) may be designed to keep the Jews from warning the magi of H ero d ’s treachery. Has he already determ ined his course of action? T he verb ή κ ρ ί β ω σ ε ν , “ascertained exactly,” suggests special care or ex­ actness in ascertaining the time of the star’s appearance. It reflects H e ro d ’s high personal interest in the rep o rt of the magi because of the im plicit threat to his own regim e. T he re p o rt of the star apparently involves a symbolism familiar to H erod, and he does no t challenge what the magi say. 8 T he unnecessary adverb ά κ ρ ι β ώ ς , “diligently,” reflects the same high con­ cern found in the previous verse. For the m eaning of έ ξ ε τ ά ζ ε ι ν , “search carefully for,” see BAGD, 275b. Jesus is referred to as τ ο π α ι δ ι ο ύ (the dim inutive of π α ΐ ς ) , “the very young child,” throughout the chapter (cf. w 9, 11, 13, 14, 20, 21); in the Lukan infancy narrative the word occurs only three times. ό π ω ς κ ά γ ώ έ λ θ ώ ν π ρ ο σ κ υ ν ή σ ω α ύ τ ω , “so that I too may com e and worship him .” It is difficult to believe that the magi had n o t heard of H e ro d ’s reputation or that they were unable to estimate his character so as to surmise the guile and p re­ tense b eh in d these words. 9 This verse makes difficult the explanation of the star as a strictly “n atu ra l” astronom ical p h en o m enon (see Comment on v 2). If the “n atu ra l” explanation of the star is accepted nevertheless, then the present verse (esp. π ρ ο ή γ ε ν α ύ τ ο ύ ς , lit. “it was going before them ,” and 'έ ω ς έ λ θ ώ ν έ σ τ ά θ η , “until it came and stood,” above where the child was) m ust be understood either as a touch of rom antic myth growing out of the historical kernel or else as referring to som ething actually experienced by the magi and interpreted in term s of the leitm otif of the star that first “le d ” them from the east to Jerusalem . The real point is that by divine guid­ ance they are able to com plete their quest and find the child. T he arrival thus corresponds to the departure ( ό ά σ τ ή ρ , dv el δ ο ν ev τιη ά ν α τ ο λ ή , “the star which they had seen rising in the eastern sky”; cf. v 2 ). 10 Having thus experienced divine guidance from beginning to end (as the star m otif suggests) and now about to see the child, the magi were filled with great joy. This is emphatically expressed by Matthew in a re d u n d an t conjunction o f words: έ χ ά ρ η σ α ν χ α ρ ά ν μ ε γ ά λ η ν σ φ ό δ ρ α , lit. “they rejoiced with a great joy ex­ ceedingly.” (The sentence could en d with έ χ ά ρ η σ α ν ; the cognate accusative χ α ρ ά ν , em phatic by itself, is in tu rn m odified by μ ε γ ά λ η ν and σ φ ό δ ρ α . T he struc­ ture is a Hebraism . See BDF §153.) This statem ent of an extrem ely heightened joy is typical in a context of messianic fulfillm ent (cf. Luke, who uses m uch m ore of this kind of language in the nativity narrative; cf. Luke 1:14, 44, 46; 2:10 [ χ α ρ ά ν μ ε γ ά λ η ν , “g re at jo y ”], 14, 20). 11 T he words ε ι ς τ η ν ο ι κ ί α ν , “into the h o u se,” show that M atthew appar­ ently does n o t know of the Lukan tradition that the child was b o rn in a stable (Luke 2:7), ju st as he does n o t appear to know of a previous residence of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth (Luke 1:26). T he little infant is described as μ ε τ ά Μ α ρ ί α ς



τ ή ς μ η τ ρ ό ς α υ τ ό ν , “with Mary his m other.” T he silence concerning Joseph is in keeping with M ary’s central im portance (cf. 1:16). π ε σ ό ν τ ε ς π ρ ο σ ε κ ύ ν η σ α ν graphi­ cally portrays the Eastern custom of obeisance: falling to the ground with head to the ground, signifying hom age and submission. See fu rth e r in Comment on v 2. Having o p en ed their “treasure boxes” (the m eaning of θ η σ α υ ρ ό ς here, in con­ trast with its m eaning in 6 :2 1 ), the magi make their offering of “gifts” { δ ώ ρ α ) : χ ρ υ σ ό ν κ α ί λ ί β α ν ο ν κ α ί σ μ ύ ρ ν α ν , “gold and frankincense and m yrrh.” T he p re­ sen tatio n o f gifts to the King o f Israel by rep resentatives o f the n atio n s is m en tio n ed in the OT in several places. A lthough M atthew does n o t capitalize on this by m eans of a fulfillm ent quotation, his language may show influence from these passages. Ps 72:10-11 refers to all kings falling down before the king, all nations serving him , and the offering of “gifts” ( δ ώ ρ α ) , with “gold” (χ ρ υ σ ό ν ) m en tio n ed specifically in v 15. Isa 60:1-6 (in a m ore obviously eschatological context) refers to all nations and kings com ing to the light (of fulfillm ent), with the wealth o f the nations offered as well as “go ld ” and “frankincense” { χ ρ υ σ ό ν , λ ί β α ν ο ν ) . A part from the specific language, theologically these passages are say­ ing in p art the same thing that M atthew says: the new born king is king of all the world, and the appropriate hom age shall be paid to him by all nations (yet in M atthew Israel, who rejects h er king, stands in conspicuous contrast to the gen­ tile n atio n s). T he fact that these OT parallels refer to kings offering gifts is responsible for the later idea that the magi were themselves kings. T he offering of gold and pre­ cious spices is n o t extraordinary bu t does suggest that the magi who could give these gifts were of some wealth. T he “decoding” of the three gifts— that gold re­ flects C h rist’s kingship, frankincense his deity, an d m yrrh his suffering— is irrelevant to M atthew’s intention (C. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia [Sheffield: JSOT, 1986] 64). 12 T he magi are still privileged recipients of divine leading. They are thus χ ρ η μ α τ ί σ θ έ ν τ ε ς κ α τ ’ό ν α ρ , “warned in a dream ,” n ot to return to Herod, χ ρ η μ ά τ ι ζ ε l v is com m only used in reference to divine revelations, injunctions, and warnings. κ α τ ’ ό ν α ρ , “in a dream ,” recalls the continuing control of divine providence in the entire sequence of events (cf. 1:20; 2:13). T he magi return “to their own coun­ try” { ε ί ς τ η ν χ ώ ρ α ν α ύ τ ώ ν ) , the unknow n place from which they came. Explanation T he awe and w onder of the extraordinary events surrounding the birth of the messianic king continue in the present passage. T he striking story of magi com ­ ing from the distant East calls attention to the significance of the royal infant. In their paying hom age to the new born king, they anticipate the propriety of the worship of the Son of God in the early C hurch. Moreover, it is obvious that the magi symbolize the Gentiles who, unlike the Jews, prove receptive to the king and G od’s purposes in him. T he realization of eschatological salvation m eans blessing for all the nations and not simply Israel—this in accord with G od’s promise to A braham and the universalism of the prophets. The C hurch, in the West at least, did n o t miss the im port of the magi, and before they began to celebrate Christmas, they already celebrated Epiphany (Jan. 6 ), the m anifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

Matthew 2:13-23


Already in this passage we see a m otif that occurs thro u g h o u t the Gospel: the presence of the messianic king dem ands decision and therefore causes division between those who accept and those who reject him. This accounts for the glar­ ing contradiction in this passage in the presence of two kings. The extent to which H erod understands his own status as threatened becom es the terrifying subject o f the following pericope. But the opposite reactions of H erod and the magi are an im p o rtan t feature of chap. 2 . T he significance o f Jesus finds fu rth e r u n d erlin in g in the ag reem en t b e­ tween his b irth in B ethlehem and the words o f the p ro p h e t M icah. A lthough his hom e was N azareth (explained in the following passage), he was b o rn in B ethlehem , in fulfillm ent o f prophecy an d in fu rth e r substantiation o f his Davidic descent. Again the re ad er senses the constancy of divine providence th ro u g h o u t the narrative.

The Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight to Egypt (2:13-23) B ib lio g ra p h y

Albright, W. F. “T he Names ‘N azareth’ and ‘N azorean.’”JBL 65 (1946) 397-401. France, R. T. “H erod and the C hildren of B ethlehem ." N o v T 2 l (1979) 9 8 -1 2 0 .------------ . “T he ‘Massacre of the Innocents’—Fact or Fiction?” In Studia Biblica 1978: II. Papers on the Gos­ pels, ed. E. A. Livingstone. Sheffield: JSOT, 1980. 83-94. Gartner, B. Die ratselhaften Termini Nazoraer und Iskariot. H orae S oederblom ianae 4. U ppsala: G leerup, 1957. Esp. 5-36. M enken, M. J. J. “T he References to Jerem iah in the Gospel according to Matthew (Mt 2, 17; 16, 14; 27, 9 ).” ETL 60 (1984) 5-24. M oore, G. F. “N azarene and N azareth." In The Beginnings of Christianity, ed. F. J. Foakes Jackson and K. Lake. L ondon: M acmillan, 192033. 1:426-32. Sanders, J. A. “Ν α ζ ω ρ α ί ο ς in Matt. 2:23.” JBL 84 (1965) 169-72. Schaeder, H. Η . “Ν α ζ α ρ η ν ό ς , Ν α ζ ω ρ α ί ο ς .” TDNT 4:874—79. Schweizer, E. “‘Er wird N azoraer heissen’ (zu Mc 1, 24; Mt 2, 23).” In Judentum, Urchristentum, Kirche. FSJ. Jerem ias, ed. W. Eltester. BZNW 26. Berlin: T opelm ann, 1960. 90-93. Tatum, W. B. “Matthew 2.23—W ordplay and M isleading Translations.” B T 27 (1976) 135-38. Zuckschwerdt, E. “Ν α ζ ω ρ α ί ο ς in M atth. 2, 23.” T Z 31 (1975) 65-77.

Translation 13After they had departed,a look, an angel of the Lord appeared toJoseph in a dream, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to look for the child in order to destroy him. ”14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 15And he was there until the death of Herod, in order that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophetb might befulfilled when he says, “Out of Egypt I called my son. ” 16Then when Herod saw that he had been deceived by the magi, he became very angry and he sent and murdered all the male infants in Bethlehem and in the surrounding region two years old and younger, in keeping with the time which he had ascertained

Form / Stru d u re /Setting


from the magi. 17Then what was spoken by the Lordc through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled when he says, 18 A voice was heard in Rama, much weeping and lamentation.d Rachel weepingfor her children, and she would not be comforted, because they are no more. 19But after Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20 “Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel. For they who were seeking the life of the child have died. ” 21And he rose and took the child and his mother and he went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned in a dream he departed to the region of Galilee. 23And he came and dwelt in the city called Nazareth,e so that what was spoken through the prophets was fulfilled that he shall be called a “Nazarene. ” Notes a B has els' τ η ν χ ώ ρ α ν α ύ τ ώ ν , “to their own country,” probably through the influence o f v 12. b sys inserts τ ο υ σ τ ό μ α τ ο ς Ή σ α ΐ ο υ , “through the m outh of Isaiah.” c “By the L o rd ” added to com plete the sense. D aur add υ π ό κ υ ρ ί ο υ , “by the L ord.” d TR C D L W f 13 and sys,c, am ong others, include a third word, Θ ρ ή ν ο ς (a synonym of the other tw o), this apparently by way of harm onization with the text o f LXX. c Ν α ζ α ρ έ τ is the spelling in K B D L. O th er MSS (C K N W Γ ( Δ ) f (l) 13 lat co) have the alternate spelling Ν α ζ α ρ έ θ . p79vid has Ν α ζ α ρ ά .

Form/Structure/Setting A. This passage is closely connected with the preceding passage, which indeed serves as its preparation. The recurrence of the dream revelations to Joseph pro­ vides some continuity with chap. 1 , although the stories of chap. 2 are quite in dependent. H e ro d ’s attem pt to destroy the child leads to the flight of the holy family to Egypt, his death allows their return to Israel, and the rule of his son Archelaus accounts for their eventual residence in Nazareth of Galilee. This brings Matthew’s nativity narrative to a close, and chap. 3 constitutes a new beginning in the story. B. This pericope is unique to Matthew and is probably drawn from his special source. Two structural features of the pericope are striking. First, the passage divides readily into three separate frames, each ending with an OT quotation: (1) vv 13-15, the dream w arning and flight to Egypt (Hos 11:1); (2) vv 16-18, the slaughter of the innocents (Jer 31:15); (3) vv 19-23, the return to Israel and settle­ m en t in Nazareth (Isa 11:1?). Second, there is a rem arkable parallelism in the opening of the first and third frames. A part from the genitive absolutes that begin both frames, we have nearly verbatim agreem ent in ( 1 ) the account of the revelation; ( 2 ) the initial im pera­ tives o f the angel; and (3) the o b edient response o f Joseph (which, in each instance, m irrors the angelic com m ands of the same fram e). C. T he genre here is again m idrashic haggadah— the narrative carries great theological significance, which is related to OT texts, no t simply in the quota­ tions em ployed b u t also in the indirect dependence upon the story of Moses. Much of the narrative indeed can be perceived as a Christian m idrash on the


Matthew 2:13-23

biblical narrative of Moses’ birth and may have been influenced by Jewish m idrash on the same narrative. T he parallels to M atthew’s narrative in the opening chapters o f Exodus are as fol­ lows (with fu rth er Jewish m idrashic similarities, as witnessed by Josephus and Philo, given in parentheses): the P haraoh killed all male H ebrew infants, Exod 1:22 (he had been forew arned, either by scribes or through a dream , o f a new born H ebrew who was a th reat to his kingdom , and this possibility filled him an d all Egypt with te rro r); at a later time, Moses fled Egypt because his life was th reaten ed by the Pharaoh, Exod 2:15 (the infant Moses’ deliverance is due to his parents’ actions); at the death o f Pharaoh, Moses was directed to retu rn , and he obeyed, Exod 4:19-20. In addition to these gen ­ eral similarities, there are some striking agreem ents in language: in Exod 2:15, έ ζ ή τ ε ι ά ν ε λ ε ΐ ν , “he was seeking to kill,” is close to M atthew’s (2:13) ζ η τ ε ί ς . . . ά π ο λ έ σ α ι , and ά ν ε χ ώ ρ η σ ε ν , “he fled,” is identical (Matt 2:14); in Exod 2:23, έ τ ε λ ε ύ τ η σ ε ν 6 β α σ ι λ ε ύ ς ' Α ί γ ύ π τ ο υ , “the king of Egypt d ied ,” is close to M atthew’s τ ε λ ε υ τ ή σ α ν τ ο ς δ ε τ ο ύ ' Η ρ ώ δ ο υ (2:19); m ost impressive of all, however, is the nearly verbatim agreem ent between Exod 4:19, τ ε θ ν ή κ α σ ί ν γ ά ρ π ά ν τ ε ς οί ζ η τ ο ϋ ν τ έ ς σ ο υ τ ή ν ψ υ χ ή ν , “for all those who sought your life have d ied ,” and Matt 2:20, which lacks the π ά ν τ ε ς , “all,” and for σ ο υ , “you,” substi­ tutes τ ο ύ π α ι δ ι ο ύ , “the child” (but after, instead of before, τ η ν ψ υ χ ή ν ) . Clearly, Matthew has in m ind the story of Moses as he narrates the story of Jesus: H erod is the antitype of Pharaoh; Jesus is the antitype of Moses. To this we m ust add the exodus typology involved in the citation o f Hos 11:1 at the end of the first frame: O u t of Egypt I called my son” (2:15). A lthough Matthew does not capitalize on the Moses-Christ typology, it is certainly n o t far from his thinking. T he one who has come to “save his people from their sins” ( 1 :2 1 ) is the eschatological co unterpart to the one who saved his people from the bondage in Egypt. We may add th at while the phrase τω Ιωσήφ εν Αίγύπτω , ‘Joseph in Egypt” (Matt 2:19), turns o u r thoughts im­ mediately to patriarchal Joseph, the resemblance between the two Josephs is n ot particu­ larly convincing, nor is it im portant to Matthew—although both Josephs were concerned with dreams and kings, and for a time both lived in Egypt out o f necessity. Matthew’s typology focuses on Jesus, who, to be sure, resembles his people in their sojourn in Egypt in the time of Joseph, even as he does in their exodus from Egypt in the tim e o f Moses. For Matthew, all Israel’s history finds its recapitulation in the life o f Jesus. This last statem ent is fu rth er substantiated by M atthew ’s in troduction o f an exilic m otif in Je re m ia h ’s reference to R achel’s weeping for h er children, the OT citation at the end of the second fram e (2:18-19). T he story of Jesus, even at its beginning, sums up and presents the ultim ate significance of all that has preceded, b oth good an d evil. This is especially true of the m ajor events such as the slavery/exodus and the e x ile / re tu rn —which are already related in the later writings of the O T as being theologically of one fabric. As Brown points out, the first three quotations o f Matthew, involving the city of David, the land of the exodus, and the m ourn in g o f the exile, “offer a theologi­ cal history of Israel in geographical m in iatu re” (Birth, 217). T he suggestion of the haggadic account of L aban’s persecution of Ja co b /Israe l as fu rth e r background to M atthew’s narrative (M. Bourke, CBQ 22 [1960] 160-75; D. D aube, The N T and Rab­ binic Judaism) has little to com m end it. (See A ppendix VI, in Brown, Birth.)

In ever-increasing specificity, the third fram e refers to a re tu rn to Israel (2:20— 21), Galilee (2:22), and Nazareth (2:23). T he first two are by divine direction; the last is in fulfillm ent of Scripture. Regardless of what is m eant by 2:23 (see Comment below ), the point is the realization of messianic fulfillment. Although from o ne perspective the move to the n o rth , ra th e r th an to Ju d e a , seem s to be the result of the reign of Archelaus in his fa th e r’s stead, divine providence is

Form /Structure/Setting


obviously at work at the same time. It is precisely in this way that the Scripture quoted in 4:15-16 about the light that is to shine upon the darkness of Gentileinhabited Galilee finds its fulfillment. Thus the third fram e, like the first two, is p erm eated with theological overtones and is far from being a simple historical narrative. In the events that Matthew records, the Scriptures concerning Israel’s experience—its suffering as well as expectation—are both reflected and find their fulfillment. D. To argue that Matthew has been influenced by the OT story of Moses and perhaps by later m idrashic expressions of that story does no t necessitate the con­ clusion th at his narrative depends directly or solely on those sources rath er than on any historical tradition. T he story is consistent with what we know of H erod and reflects the way he would have responded to the an n ouncem ent of the magi. T he fact th at there are no o th er unquestionable references am ong contem po­ rary historians to the killing of the infants may n o t be surprising if, as seems probable, the nu m ber killed was around twenty. Am ong the atrocities of H erod, this event in a small unim p o rtan t village would hardly have dem anded the atten­ tion o f historians. (The reference in M acrobius, Saturnalia 2.4.11, is alm ost certainly derived from Matthew.) It is also very unlikely that in this narrative we are to see the influence of similar motifs in mythology involving the persecution of divine children by evil persons. O n the historicity of the pericope, see espe­ cially France. L uke’s narrative makes no m ention of a jo u rn ey to Egypt bu t has the holy family move directly from B ethlehem to N azareth, w hich is, m oreover, “th eir own city” (Luke 2:29). But Luke was presum ably u n d e r no obligation to write his own narrative in such a way th at it could be harm onized with o th er histori­ cal traditions, even if he knew ab o u t them . In short, disag reem en t (which is d ifferent from form al contradiction) between the evangelists says nothing about the historical value o f the traditions, since n eith er writes with the expectation th at readers will eventually be co n cern ed to fit everything together into one harm onious whole. Comment 13 Ι δ ο ύ ά γ γ ε λ ο ς κ υ ρ ί ο υ φ α ί ν ε τ α ι κ α τ ’ δ ν α ρ , “Look, an angel of the Lord ap­ peared in a dream ,” is typical of the M atthean infancy narrative (cf. 1:20; 2:19-20). T he historical present tense of φ α ί ν ε τ α ι , lit. “appears” (along with Ι δ ο ύ , “look!”), adds vividness to the narrative. T he p attern of the narrative is stereotyped (see above on 1:18-25, Form/Structure/Setting §A). τ ο π α ι δ ί ο ν κ α ι τ η ν μ η τ έ ρ α α υ τ ο ύ , “the infant and his m other,” becom es a stock phrase in chap. 2 (cf. 2:11, 14, 20, 21). T he th reat to the child is im m inent: μ έ λ λ ε ι γ ά ρ Η ρ ώ δ η ς ζ η τ ε ΐ ν , “for H erod is about to seek.” This draws attention to the im portance of both the angelic rev­ elation and Jo sep h ’s obedience. H e ro d ’s purpose is τ ο ύ ά π ο λ έ σ α ι α ύ τ ό , “to destroy him .” This in ten t is in full accord with what is known of H e ro d ’s character and reflects his perception of his threatened status. T he verb ά π ο λ έ σ α ι , “to destroy,” anticipates its recurrence in the passion narrative (27:20), where, in that instance, it is the chief priests and elders who are the acting subjects. 14 The account of Joseph’s obedience echoes closely the wording of the an­ gelic com m and in the preceding verse. Egypt is chosen because it is convenient and


Matthew 2:13-23

rem oved from H e ro d ’s power (and perhaps for the exodus typology it makes pos­ sible) . It does not seem very likely, contrary to Brown (Birth), that Egypt here shows the influence upo n Matthew of a “flight to Egypt” tradition (two OT instances are given: 1 Kgs 11:40 a n d Jer 26:21 [LXX 33:21]; and one instance from Jos. Ant. 12.9.7). Later rabbinic tradition knows of Jesus’ sojourn in Egypt and attributes his supernatural powers to the magic he learned there. This story probably stems from a passing acquaintance with the Christian tradition rath er than from direct dep en d en ce u p o n Matthew. The suggestion, on the o th er hand, that Matthew writes to co u n ter the Jewish tradition (McNeile, Allen, G rundm ann) is unlikely. 15 T he fulfillm ent quotation (see Introduction) anticipates the narrative and belongs properly at the end of v 21, after the account of H e ro d ’s death and Jo sep h ’s re tu rn to the land of Israel. Its occurrence here lends symmetry to the structure o f chap. 2 (see above, Form/Structure/Setting §B), where vv 19-23 focus on Nazareth. M ore importantly, the prem ature quotation serves as the signal of the theological im port of the presence of the holy family in Egypt by its explicit reference to the exodus. This placing of the quotation also has the advantage of p utting the exodus m otif prior to the exilic m otif (vv 16-18). G undry denies that the exodus m otif is present, arguing instead that what is m eant is only the preser­ vation o f G od’s Son in Egypt and that this explains the placing of the quotation after v 14. This hypothesis, however, is strained in view of the actual content of the quotation. In the form ula quotations, υ π ό κ υ ρ ί ο υ , “by the L ord,” occurs only here and in 1:22, where in both cases the quotation speaks of the Son of God. See Comment on 1:22. T he quotation here is from Hos 11:1, bu t in a form agreeing m ore with the MT than with the LXX (which has μ ε τ ε κ ά λ ε σ α , “I sum m oned,” for M atthew’s έ κ ά λ ε σ α , “I called,” and τ ά τ έ κ ν α α ύ τ ο υ , “his ch ild ren ” [i.e., Ι σ ρ α ή λ , “Israel”] for M atthew’s τ ο ν υ ι ό ν μ ο υ , “my Son”). Matthew has altered the LXX text for his own purposes, m ade use of a Greek text m ore faithful to the MT (which reads ’’Π 1?, libni, “my so n ”), or here reflects knowledge and use of the Hebrew text. No seri­ ous problem exists here since there is no essential difference between the collective singular and the plural, and Israel’s sonship is assum ed th ro u g h o u t the OT. Hosea is, of course, alluding to the historical exodus and no t m aking a p ro p h ­ ecy about the future. How then can Matthew say that the quotation is “fulfilled” ( π λ η ρ ω θ ή ) ? W hat we have here is a m atter of typological correspondence— that is, a substantial similarity is seen to exist between two m om ents of redem ptive history, and therefore the two are regarded as interconnected, form ing one larger continuity; the earlier is thus seen to foreshadow or anticipate the latter, which th en becom es a kind of realization or fulfillm ent of the former. The fulfillm ent m otif is of course central to M atthew’s whole perspective, given the eschatological significance o f the Christ, here seen as G od’s unique Son. Thus, in the similarity o f the son of God, Israel, and the Son of God, Jesus, both in Egypt of necessity and both delivered by divine provision, Matthew sees Jesus as living out and sum­ m ing up the history of Israel. In Egypt, in the exodus, and in the wilderness (see 4:1-11), Jesus is the em bodim ent of Israel, n o t only anticipating h er victories but also participating in h er sufferings (cf. Isa 63:8-9). To ro u n d out M atthew’s perspective, we m ust add that since Israel’s history has now reached its goal, which gathers together all previous threads, the earlier exodus now finds its counterpart and its climax in the eschatological deliverance



of G od’s people from their sins (1:21; cf. the Greek text of Luke 9:31 for the most obvious exodus typology in the Gospels). This conception of the final salvation in exodus term inology is found in the OT (e.g., Isa 11:11; Hos 2:15; 12:9; Mic 7:15) as well as in rabbinic tradition (see Str-B). It is certainly also in M atthew’s m ind, given the obvious parallels between Moses and Christ in our passage. An­ o th er passage that may be in M atthew’s m ind is Num 23:22 (and 24:8), where, in Balaam ’s oracles, God is said to bring the prom ised one out of Egypt. 16 Despite the preceding clause, H e ro d ’s excessive anger (έθνμώθη λίαν, “he becam e very angry”) does no t rest solely upon the failure of the magi to return. His evil in ten t remains constant from the first report of the birth of the purported messianic king; he will brook no rival. But his anger was no doubt intensified when the magi did no t return. U nable now to determ ine w hether the child ex­ isted and, if so, where in B ethlehem he m ight be found, the unscrupulous H erod would take no chances and thus “sent” {άποστείλας has no express object) his h enchm en to destroy all the “male infants” {τούς παΐδας, masculine gender) two years and younger, in keeping with the time of the observance of the star by the magi. We may thus conclude that the magi may have first observed the star long before their arrival in Jerusalem (2:7), perhaps even as m uch as nearly two years, although of course H e ro d ’s allowance for a m argin of e rro r m ust be taken into consideration. T he birth of Jesus accordingly is probably to be placed n o t m uch later than 6 B.C. H erod m urdered πάντας τούς παΐδας τούς εν Βηθλέεμ και εν πάσι το ΐς όρίοις α ύτής, “all the children in B ethlehem and the surrounding dis­ tricts,” who were άπό διετούς καί κατωτέρω, “two years and un d er.” H erod thus gives him self an extra m easure both of tem poral and of geographical assurance. Even within these expanded boundaries, the num ber of infants u n d er two in a population of 1 ,0 0 0 , given the birth and infant m ortality rates of the time, has been reckoned at less than twenty (see Zahn, 109, n. 6 ). The early C hurch tended to exaggerate the num ber (Byzantine tradition sets it at 14,000; Syrian at 64,000; some have even equated it with the 144,000 of Rev 14). T hat H erod could perpe­ trate such a horrendous act is consistent with what history has recorded about him. His ruthlessness knew no bounds when it came to protecting his throne, as can be seen in the oft-m entioned exam ple of the execution of his wife M ariam ne and his own sons Alexander and Aristobulus in A.D. 6 or 7, and thereafter his son A ntipater (Jos. Ant. 16.11.7; 17.7). And this is bu t a token of his atrocities. So that there would be widespread m ourning at the time of his own death, m ad H erod ord ered that a m em ber of every family was to be killed when he died (Jos. Ant. 17.6.6). 17 T he quotation is introduced with a fulfillm ent form ula, τ ό τ ε έ π λ η ρ ώ θ η , “then was fulfilled,” bu t with this notable exception: it lacks either of the strong conjunctions expressing purpose, ϊ ν α , “in order th at,” and ό π ω ς , “so th at.” All the o th er form ulae (see Introduction) have one or the o th er except for 27:9-10, which interestingly is the only o th er quotation referring to som ething evil (Ju­ das’ betrayal m oney). This seems to reflect M atthew’s reluctance to ascribe evil to the purposes o f God. In M atthew’s perspective, G od’s providence overrules evil in the working out of his gracious will. 18 T he quotation drawn fro m Jer 31:15 (LXX 38:15) agrees closely with the LXX in the first two lines, the only difference being Matthew’s em ployment of the adjective π ο λ ύ ς , “m uch,” and the omission of a third noun { θ ρ ή ν ο υ ) , a synonym


Matthew 2:13-23

o f the o th er two, thus agreeing m ore with the MT, which has only the two nouns. In the LXX the nouns are in the genitive case, modifying φ ω ν ή , “voice,” whereas Matthew has nom inatives in apposition to φ ω ν ή . (The LXX according to A has 777 υ ψ η λ ή , “on h ig h ,” as a translation of Rama.) In lines 3 and 4 Matthew is quite close to the LXX according to A, except for υιοί, “sons,” where Matthew has τ έ κ ν α , “child ren .” T he LXX according to B is fairly similar, bu t has π α ύ σ α σ θ α ι , “stop,” for π α ρ α κ λ η θ ή ν α ι , “be com forted,” in addition to vioi. The MT is close both to the LXXA and to Matthew, with one im portant difference at the very end: the awkward fnNys, 3enennu,“he is no m o re,” although the plural T O , baneha, “sons,” occurs in the preceding line. Unless he is quoting from memory, M atthew is ei­ th er using the LXX in a rendition m ore like A than B, or else a translation even closer to the MT b u t with the correction ο ύ κ β ί σ ί ν , “they are no m o re.” H ad Mat­ thew tran slated the H ebrew him self (so S tendahl, School, 102-3), he w ould probably have used π α ΐ δ ε ς (to agree with v 16) instead of τ έ κ ν α , as Brown points o ut (Birth, 222). N one of the variations is of great theological interest or signifi­ cance. T he citation seems strange here because o f its exilic co n notation as it stands in Jerem iah. Rachel, in h er tom b at Rama (cf. 1 Sam 10:2) about six miles n o rth o f Je ru sa­ lem on the road the exiles would have taken, weeps bitterly because o f the fate o f those taken into exile (it is uncertain w hether Assyrian or Babylonian captivity [or both] is in view)— “they are no m o re,” they are reckoned as dead. W ith Isa 10:29 and Hos 5:8 together with J e r 31:15 in m ind, Davies-Allison refer to Ram ah as “a city o f sadness par excellence.” T he larger context in Jerem iah is nevertheless one o f hope, deliverance, an d fulfillm ent (chaps. 30-31 form a “book of consolation” and include the statem ent o f the new covenant, 31:31-34). References to messianic joy su rro u n d J e r 31:15. In a similar way, M atthew’s story of messianic joy and fulfillm ent is m arred by the shadow of the death of the in nocent children of Bethlehem . F u rth er strengthening the parallel is the alternate tradition, probably cu rren t also in M atthew ’s day, that R achel’s tom b was on the outskirts of Bethlehem, five miles south of Jerusalem (cf. Gen 35:19; 48:7; to this day, w hat is called R achel’s tom b is located there). Rachel m ight well weep there for the infants of Bethlehem, even within the larger context of messianic joy through the birth of the Christ in that same village. Matthew’s point rests on typological correspondence an d is in no way affected by the actual correctness or incorrectness o f the tradition co ncerning R achel’s burial place near Bethlehem . Apparently, however, th at tradition was initially responsible for his utilization of the quotation.

Ju st as there was a deliverance from the exile, p attern ed on the deliverance from Egypt in the exodus, so God now brings definitive messianic deliverance. T he typological correspondence between R achel’s weeping for the exiles and the weeping of the m others of Bethlehem , both in larger contexts of deliverance, is m ore than coincidental for Matthew (see above on v 15). Again, in M atthew’s perspective, Jesus is understood as sum m arizing the whole experience of Israel as well as bringing it to fulfillment. Every strand of hope and trial in the OT is woven together in the eschatological appearance of the Prom ised O ne. To see in this passage the consequences of the rejection of Jesus by Jewish leaders, as G undry does, is to bring in som ething quite extraneous to M atthew’s text. 19 H erod, whose long reign began in 37 B.C., died in 4 B.C. His death sig­ naled the possibility of return, n o t only of the holy family (cf. v 15) but also of



others who had fled from his tyranny, such as the Q um ran community. Cf. the similar language in the reference to the death of Pharaoh in Exod 2:23. Follow­ ing the stereotyped pattern (see above on 1:18-25, Form/Structure/ Setting %A), this verse agrees nearly verbatim with v 13 (cf. 1:20). An opening genitive absolute is thus followed by the words ι δ ο ύ ά γ γ ε λ ο ς κ υ ρ ί ο υ φ α ί ν ε τ α ι κ α τ ’ δ ν α ρ τ ω Ι ω σ ή φ , “Look, an angel o f the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream .” O n τ ω Ι ω σ ή φ ε ν Α ί γ ύ π τ ω , “Joseph in Egypt,” see above, Form/Structure/Setting §C. 20 T he first p art of the verse fu rth er m aintains the pattern by being in verba­ tim agreem ent with v 13. T he words ε ι ς γ η ν Ι σ ρ α ή λ , “into the land of Israel,” constitute an obvious echo of the exodus narrative. The delay of the fu rth er rev­ elation, i.e., to go to Galilee (v 22), also “by a dream ,” is necessary to underline the exodus typology. T he sentence τ ε θ ν ή κ α σ ι ν γ ά ρ oi ζ η τ ο ϋ ν τ ε ς τ ή ν ψ υ χ ή ν τ ο υ π α ι δ ι ο ύ , “for they who were seeking to kill the child died,” agrees nearly verbatim with Exod 4:19 (see above, Form/Structure/Setting §C ), and this may account for the plural. More prob­ ably the plural is m eant to refer to H erod’s servants (who after H erod’s death were no longer in power) rath er than to the chief priests and scribes of 2:4 (as Brown, Birth, and Gundry, Matthew, argue), ψ υ χ ή is regularly used in the NT for “life.” 21 T he recording of the obedience m irrors the wording of the com m and in v 20 (cf. v 14, m irroring v 13). O n ε ι ς γ η ν ’Ι σ ρ α ή λ , “into the land of Israel,” see Comment on the preceding verse. 22 T he present tense of ’Α ρ χ έ λ α ο ς β α σ ι λ ε ύ ε ι , “Archelaus reigns,” reflects the direct discourse of the original report. Jo sep h ’s fear of Archelaus appears to have been well grounded, as the son of H erod tended to follow the ways of his father. His subjects m anaged eventually to have him deposed by the Rom ans in A.D. 6. T he same words, χ ρ η μ α τ ι σ θ ε ι ς δ ε κ α τ ’δ ν α ρ , “having been w arned in a dream ,” are found in v 12. By m eans of this last occurrence of the dream motif, Matthew again stresses the continuing divine protection of the child (cf. 1:20; 2:13). It was G od’s will that they go to Galilee. To be sure, another son of Herod, H erod Antipas, ru led as eth n arch over Galilee and Perea. But he was a m ore tolerant ruler, and Galilee in his day becam e known for revolutionary sentim ents that would never have been tolerated by his father. In the statem ent ά ν ε χ ώ ρ η σ ε ν ε ι ς τ ά μ έ ρ η τ ή ς Γ α λ ι λ α ι α ς , “he departed to the region of Galilee,” the narrative reaches its last stage. As pointed out above (Form/ Structure/ Setting §C ), in the sequence Israel-Galilee-Nazareth (v 23), we move from the general to the m ore specific. It is in keeping with this sequence that Matthew, employs τ ά μ έ ρ η , lit. “the regions,” in referring to Galilee. The m ention of Ga­ lilee is theologically im portant for Matthew as we shall see in 4:12-16. T here he again writes, now of Jesus, ά ν ε χ ώ ρ η σ ε ν ε ι ς τ ή ν Γ α λ ι λ α ί α ν , “he departed into Ga­ lilee” (4:12). It is in Galilee that he inaugurates his m inistry in fulfillm ent of Isa 9:1 (which M atthew then cites). G alilee’s large population of Gentiles symbolizes the universal significance Matthew sees in Jesus. 23 κ α τ ώ κ η σ ε ν ε ι ς π ό λ ι ν λ ε γ ο μ έ ν η ν Ν α ζ α ρ έ τ , “he dwelt in a city called N azareth.” T he “city” is unknow n from the OT or any sources earlier than the NT docu­ ments. Popular opinion in the m etropolis of Jerusalem concerning this n o rth ern town may well be sum m arized by the question p u t by N athaniel in Jo h n 1:46: “Can anything good com e out of N azareth?” Matthew now faces the difficulty th at the Messiah was brought up in such an unprom ising location. But he is able,


Matthew 2:13-23

by some rabbinic wordplay, to tu rn an apparent disadvantage into an advantage. In M atthew’s affirm ations of Nazareth with its negative connotation, G rundm ann and Tasker (depending on Jerom e) see a deliberate allusion to Jesus as the de­ spised servant of God, bu t the connection is n o t com pelling. A fu rth er possibility (Lindars, N T Apologetic, 195-96; Hill) related to the servant them e is found in the revocalizing of the consonants nsr (Ί2$]) in Isa 49:6 (cf. 42:6, with nsr in the sense o f “p ro tect”) with the resultant reading “b ra n ch ” (see below) or even “N azorean.” This is an attractive speculation and has the added advantage of an obviously messianic context, but it rem ains at best a guess. ό π ω ς π λ η ρ ω θ ή τ ό ρ η θ έ ν δ ι ά τ ω ν π ρ ο φ η τ ώ ν , “so that what was spoken through the prophets was fulfilled.” In the fourth fulfillm ent form ula quotation (and fifth OT quotation) of the nativity narrative, Matthew presents words not found in the OT or indeed in any pre-Christian extrabiblical writings known to us. It cannot be acci­ dental that the introductory form ula here is the most general of all the formulae used by M atthew (see Introduction) . In five of the ten form ulae quotations, Mat­ thew gives a p ro p h e t’s nam e; in the rem aining five he invariably refers to “the p ro p h e t” (τ ο υ π ρ ο φ ή τ ο υ ) . Only here am ong the form ula quotations does he use the plural τ ω ν π ρ ο φ η τ ώ ν , perhaps implying that he has in view a m otif com m on to several prophets (cf. 26:54, 56), although the specific wording is found in none (cf. the same phenom enon in Ezek 9:10-12; for rabbinic parallels, see Str-B 1:9293). T he proposal that Matthew quotes a source unknown to us, although possible, is hardly necessary. W hat is found in the prophets is generally ό τ ι Ν α ζ ω ρ α ί ο ς κ λ η θ ή σ ε τ α ί , “that he shall be called a N azarene.” M atthew’s introductory form ula, lacking the expected λ ε γ ό ν τ ω ν , “saying,” does n o t in fact point to a specific quota­ tion consisting of the words “he shall be called a Nazarene.” The o n , “th at,” is thus not, as it is elsewhere (e.g., 4:6), a recitative o n that introduces quoted words. If Matthew is able eventually to account for Galilee (4:12-16) as the place of Jesus’ ministry, he is able also to account for Nazareth as the place where Jesus lived. Here Matthew’s ingenuity is impressive. The key to understanding what he says lies in the similarity between Ν α ζ α ρ έ τ , “Nazareth,” and Ν α ζ ω ρ α ί ο ς , “Nazarene.” The difficulty lies in discerning his intent behind Ν α ζ ω ρ α ί ο ς ' , and this is further com pounded by the serious uncertainty about the spelling of Nazareth. T he end of the nam e is uncertain; in the NT the nam e occurs mainly in the form Ν αζαρέτ or Ναζαρέθ, b u t twice as Ναζαρά (cf. M att 4:13). More problem atic is the fact th at the m iddle consonant is ren d ered by a ζ in Greek. Is this m eant to reflect a H? (The usual G reek rendering of ^ is by s'.) D uring his m inistry Jesus acquired the title “th e N a z a re n e ” (M ark regularly uses th e fo rm Ν α ζα ρηνός; M atthew always uses Ναζωραίος, even in passages drawn from Mark; Luke uses b oth fo rm s). M atthew th e re­ fore m eans at least that Jesus was called “the N azarene” (as were his followers after him: Acts 24:5, τη ς των Ναζωραίων αίρέσεως, “the sect of the N azarenes”). It is d o u b t­ ful that the omission of the definite article by M atthew is significant. M atthew thus associates the title with the nam e of Jesus’ hom etow n N azareth, despite the phonetic difficulty of transliterating the ^ with a ζ, instead of the usual s' (thus Albright, Schaeder, M oore, Schlatter, Str-B, L uz). But M atthew almost certainly m eans m ore than this. We may presum e th at the ref­ erence to “the p ro p h ets” has som ething to say theologically. Two possibilities have been favored by scholars—namely, Matthew m eans to allude to (1) Jesus as a “N azirite,” or (2) Jesus as the prom ised neser (Ί2$3), the messianic branch.



(1) T he m eaning of “N azirite” (favored by B onnard, Sanders, Schweizer, Schaeder, Zuckschwerdt, Davies-Allison) is d ep e n d en t on the passage in N um 6:1-21 (cf. Ju d g 13:5, 7), where a person separates him self from others th rough a special vow involving abstinence from strong drink, no t cutting his hair, and avoiding contact with the dead. A lthough the description may fit Jo h n the Baptist (cf. Luke 1:15), it seems singularly inappropriate for Jesus, who, according to Matthew, was accused o f being “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (11:19) and who raised the dead by touching them (9:23-26). Because of a reference in Epiphanius (Haer. 29.6) to a Jewish sect of Nasaraioi deriving from the disciples of Jo h n the Baptist (and a related self-designation of the M andaeans, nasorayya), it has been argued th at M atthew’s word originally described a larger m ovem ent (“observants”; from Ί^3, nasar, “to guard, p ro ­ tect, observe”), out of which Christianity eventually came; they were called Nazarenes because of the similarity of their perspective to th at o f Jo h n the Baptist (see Black, Aramaic Approach, 2nd ed., 198-200). But it is highly doubtful th at this is w hat Matthew m eant by the word since he hardly presents Jesus as prim arily an observant (cf. 11:12). Since Nazir becom es synonymous with “holy,” it has also been argued that it is th ere­ fore an appropriate designation for Jesus. T hus Brown (Birth; see too Schweizer and Zuckschwerdt) explains 2:23 by a com bination of two texts involving a synonymity be­ tween “holy o n e ” and “N azirite.” Isa 4:3 (LXX), “they [MT “h e ”] will be called holy,” is th ought to be com bined with Ju d g 16:17 (LXX), “I am a holy one [MT and LXXA, “N azirite”] of G od.” M atthew then understood Nazirite for “holy” in Isa 4:3. But while “holy o n e ” is an appropriate description of the Messiah (cf. Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34), this cannot be construed as “holiness” in the Nazirite sense. Appeal has been m ade to the extraordinary birth of Jesus and his consecration to the service of God in his m o th e r’s womb as fu rth er parallels. But if this is w hat Matthew h ad in m ind, the “q u o tatio n ” should have appeared in the birth narrative of chap. 1. A fu rth e r difficulty in this view is the LXX spelling of Nazirite (Ναζίραιος) which leaves the ω of M atthew’s spelling u naccounted for, although this is n o t insurm ountable given the phonetic liberties that were allowable. T he suggestion of some that the ω is to be traced back to the vowels of Qados, which were pu t with the consonants nsr, is only clever speculation. (2) T he m ost likely play on words in M atthew’s m ind is in the similarity between the H ebrew word for “b ran c h ,” neser, and N azareth. This view (Black, Aramaic Approach; Stendahl, School; Luz; Davies-Allison, b u t as a “secondary allusion”) traces M atthew’s “q u o tatio n ” back to Isa 11:1: “T here shall com e forth a shoot from the stum p o f Jesse and a branch [neser; LXX ά ν θ ο ς \ shall grow ou t of his roots.” T he distinct advantage of this view is the messianic content of the Isaiah passage, which in tu rn should be related to the qu o tatio n of Isa 7:14 in M att 1:23. T he m essianic figure o f Isa 11:1 is the Em m anuel of Isa 7:14. Phonetically, the H ebrew of Nasrat (Nazareth) and neser have the same m iddle consonant; that consonant is reflected in the ζ of the two words in o ur verse. To be sure, the ω of Ν α ζ ω ρ α ί ο ς " rem ains w ithout satisfactory explanation, as in every reckoning. T he word neser, although only occurring in Isa 11:1, becam e an im portant designation of the Messiah in the rabbinic literature and targum s, and was also interp reted messianically by the Q um ran com m unity (1QH 6:15; 7:6, 8 , 10, 19). O th er prophets also spoke similarly of a messianic “b ran c h ” or “shoot,” although using different words (cf. Je r 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12). These words form a unified con­ cept in looking to the fulfillm ent of the promises, and the m ention o f one doubtless b rou g h t the others to m ind automatically (see Str-B 1:94). This may well be the expla­ nation of the plural “p ro p h ets” in M atthew’s introductory form ula.

If this theory is correct, then we m ust believe that M atthew’s Greek readers did n o t realize the wordplay until they becam e acquainted with the m eaning of neser in Hebrew. This, however, is precisely the kind of m aterial that is quickly


Matthew 2:13-23

passed on orally and may have becom e com m on knowledge in the community. In this connection it should also be rem em bered that this is a secondary m ean­ ing. T he prim ary m eaning, N azareth /N azaren e, is evident to every G reek reader. If this messianic neser underlies M atthew’s Ν α ζ ω ρ α ί ο ς , it is doubtful that fu rth er parallels with the verb nasar (“watch, observe, k eep ” in Isa 42:6; 49:6), as argued by Gartner, were really in M atthew’s m ind. They point rath er to the exegete’s ingenuity as m uch as to the com plex interrelationship of messianic ideas in the prophets. Explanation T he response of H erod to the infant Christ stands in intentionally sharp con­ trast with that of the magi in the preceding passage (2:1-12). T he message of the gospel dem ands decision and necessitates a division between those who accept and reject that message—a m otif that will occupy Matthew th ro u g h o u t his n arra­ tive. In H e ro d ’s attem pt to kill the infant King, we en counter evil for the first time in the narrative. In M atthew’s perspective, evil continually stands in opposi­ tion to the purposes of God, who in Christ brings the kingdom . T he resistance to the Christ comes to a climax in the crucifixion narrative of which, to some ex­ tent, o u r passage is an anticipation. At the same time, abundantly evident in our passage is the protection of the holy child by divine guidance. T he gracious pur­ poses of God cannot be thwarted; n eith er the bondage of Egypt n o r the tragedy o f the exile could thwart them . In the history o f Israel, God repeatedly brought salvation to his people, and he has now bro u g h t them to the time of fulfillm ent— eschatological fulfillm ent in one who relives, sums up, and brings to fruition all the history and experience of his people. Thus the events that surround this child are related to all th at preceded, as fulfillm ents of earlier anticipations. T he mes­ sianic Branch, the prom ised descendant of David, toward whom all pointed, is now in the world. He comes, as did his people, out of Egypt to the prom ised land, through the traum a of the exile, to Galilee, breaking forth light to those sitting in darkness, as the p ro p h e t had foretold, to dwell in the unlikely town of N azareth and so to be known as the Nazarene. Thus, according to Matthew, the plan of God unfolds. N othing has happened by accident—all is in its proper place as it m ust be when the sovereign God brings salvation.

The Preparation fo r the M inistry

(3:1 -4:11)

Introduction Having the im p ortant prolegom ena of chaps. 1-2 in place, the evangelist be­ gins the story o f Jesus with an account of the work of Jo h n the Baptist (3:1-12), followed by two significant episodes in the life of Jesus, his baptism (3:13-17) and the following tem ptation (4:1-11). Only then does the record of Jesus’ m in­ istry itself begin (4:12-17). The last verse (4:17), which may also be construed as the first verse of the following section, signals a m ajor turning point in the Gos­ pel: “From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has com e near.’” This verse constitutes an inclusio in relation to precisely the same statem ent of J o h n the Baptist in 3:2. (See the argum ents of D. Bauer [Struc­ ture,, 73-84] for the unity of 1:1-4:16.) T he m aterial of this section of the Gospel is particularly im portant since the baptism of Jesus serves as the occasion of his special anointing by the Holy Spirit for the m inistry that follows, bu t it is also christologically significant in that his divine Sonship is confirm ed and the non-trium phalist nature of the present phase of that Sonship is indicated (3:17c and 4:1-11). Thus Matthew provides inform a­ tion that is vitally im portant to an understanding of the narrative that follows: what Jesus does in his m inistry he does by the power of the Spirit; yet Jesus will n o t act in the m an ner of a trium phalist messiah, in accordance with popular ex­ pectation, b u t in his own unique way, in obedience to the will of his Father. With the end of the work of Jo h n , the work of Jesus begins, announced by the evange­ list as the fulfillm ent of prophecy (4:12-16).

John the Baptist


Bibliography Bammel, E. “T he Baptist in Early Christian T h o u g h t.” NTS 18 (1 9 7 1 ) 9 5 -1 2 8 . BeasleyMurray, G. R. Baptism in the New Testament. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1962. 3 1 -4 4 . Best, E. “S p irit-B aptism .” N ovT 4 (1 9 6 0 ) 2 3 6 - 4 3 . B ocher, O . “J o h a n n e s d e r T au fer in d e r n eu testam e n tlic h en U b erlie fe ru n g .” In Kirche in Zeit und Endzeit. N eukirchen-V luyn: N eukirchener, 1983. 7 0 -8 9 . Cullmann, Ο . “Ο Ο Π Ι Σ Ω M O TΕ Ρ Χ Ο Μ Ε Ν Ο Σ .” ConNT 11 (1947) 2 6 -3 2 . Dunn, J. D. G. “Spirit-and-Fire Baptism.” NovT 14 (1972) 8 1 -9 2 . Funk, R. W. “T he W ilderness.” JBL 78 (1 9 5 9 ) 2 0 5 -1 4 . Gnilka, J. “Die essenischen T auchbader u n d die Jo h an n estau fe.” RevQ 3 (1 9 6 1 -6 2 ) 1 8 5 -2 0 7 . Hughes, J. “Jo h n the Baptist: the F o reru n n er of God Himself.” N ovT 14 (1972) 1 9 1 -2 1 8 . Lindeskog, G. “Johannes der Taufer: Einige Randbem erkungen zum heutigen Stand der Forschung.” A STI 12 (1983) 5 5 -8 3 . Manson, T. W. “Jo h n the Baptist.” BJRL 36 (19 5 4 ) 3 9 3 -4 1 2 . Mauser, U . W. Christ in the Wilderness. SBT 39. London: SCM, 1963. Meier, J. P. “Jo h n the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel.”JBL 99 (1980) 3 8 3 405. M erklein, A. “Die U m kehrpredigt bei Joh an n es dem T aufer u n d Jesus von Nazaret.” BZ 25 (1981) 2 9 -4 6 . Nepper-Christensen, P. “Die Taufe im M atthausevangelium .” NTS 31


Matthew 3:1-12

(1985) 189-207. Pryke, J. “Jo h n the Baptist and the Q um ran Com m unity.” RevQA (1964) 483-96. R eicke, B. “Die j u dischen Baptisten u n d Jo h an n es d er T aufer.” In Jesus in der Verkundigung der Kirche, ed. A. Fuchs. SNTUMS A.l. Freistadt: F. Plochl, 1976. 62-75. Schlatter, A. Johannes der Taufer, ed. W. Michaelis. Basel: R einhardt, 1956. Scobie, C. Η . H. John the Baptist. L ondon: SCM, 1964. Trilling, W. “Die T aufertradition bei M atthaus.” B Z 3 (1959) 271-89. Wink, W. John the Baptist and the Gospel Tradition. SNTSMS 7. Cam bridge: Cam­ bridge University, 1968. T ran slation

1In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2[and] saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”3For this was the one spoken about through the prophet Isaiah when he says, The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths. 4John himself had his garment of camel hair and a leather belt around his waist. And his food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the surrounding region of theJordan began coming out to him, 6and they were baptized by him in the Jordan river,a confessing their sins. 7And when he saw the multitudes of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the baptism,b he said to them, “Brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come? 8Produce, therefore, fruit in keeping withc repentance, 9and do not consider saying among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.10Already the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and is cast into fire. 11I myself am baptizing you in water, a baptismd associated withe repentance. But he who is coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not worthy to bear. He will himself baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire, 12whose winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clean his threshing floor, and he will gather his wheat into the barn,f but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. ” N otes a TR D lat om it π ο τ α μ ω . T here is no reason for the w ord to have been added, if it were n o t in the original. b TR C Dadd α υ τ ό ν (“his baptism ”), apparently to improve the style. T he p ro n o u n is om itted only in K* B copsa O r Hil. c Gr.: ά ξ ι ο υ , lit. “worthy of.” d “A baptism ,” added to translation. e Gr.: els' μ ε τ ά ν ο ι α ν , lit. “to re p en tan c e .” f Some MSS have α ύ τ ο ϋ after ά π ο θ ή κ η ν (“his b a rn ”) ra th e r than after σ ί τ ο ν (“w heat”); some have the p ro n o u n after both nouns; others have the p ro n o u n in n eith er place. E xternal evidence (MSS) favors the p resent reading o f the text; moreover, placem ent o f the p ro n o u n after ά π ο θ ή κ η ν is p rob­ ably by influence o f Luke 3:17.

Form/Structure/Setting A. Matthew gives no h in t of the num ber of years that have elapsed between the end o f chap. 2 and the beginning of chap. 3. This is indeed the beginning of

Form / Stru d u re /Setting


the story proper, and Jesus appears in v 13 as an adult about to em bark upon his ministry. It is assum ed as self-evident that “in those days” refers now to the begin­ ning of the story of Jesus. Jo h n the Baptist was in Matthew’s day already well known as the fo reru n n e r o f Jesus the Messiah (cf. Acts 13:24; 19:4). To m ention him was to signal the beginning. Matthew, who could have begun his story at this point (cf. M ark), began his narrative with the account of how Jesus was born. Now he turns to the account of how Jesus em barked upon the path God had m arked out for him. B. For the first time in the Gospel, we have access to some of Matthew’s sources, directly in the case of Mark, indirectly (through com parison with Luke) in the case of Q. This does n o t m ean we know everything that Matthew is using—e.g., we do n o t know the shape, content, or m ode of the hypothetical special source called M, n o r do we have any access to oral traditions, which also undoubtedly influenced him. In the first section (vv 1-6) Matthew is d ep e n d en t on Mark. With Luke (and thus by m eans of Q), however, Matthew begins with only the Isaiah quotation, placing the Mai 3:1 quotation in a later context (11:10). Matthew is close to Mark in content, if n o t wording, except for his insertion of the statem ent that the king­ dom of heaven is at hand (v 2). The other m ajor difference is in Matthew’s shifting of the description of J o h n ’s lifestyle from after the rep o rt of the crowds who came to be baptized (as in Mark) to a m ore logical position before that account. (The description o f J o h n is om itted altogether by Luke.) This enables an easy transi­ tion from the crowds to the preaching of Jo h n in the second section. T he first part of this second section (vv 7-10) agrees verbatim with Luke 3:7-9 for the most p art and thus is drawn from Q. (We cannot say w hether Luke 3:10-15, the discussion between Jo h n and the crowd, was in Q and om itted by Matthew, al­ th o u g h this is a good possibility since M atthew desires to keep the B aptist subordinate to Christ. See 3:14.) Vv 11-12 are largely drawn from Q except for J o h n ’s reference to one com ing who is stronger than he, which is probably drawn from Mark. T he reference to that one baptizing in the Holy Spirit is probably an instance o f where Mark and Q overlap (cf. A. Polag, Fragmenta Q 28). C. T he passage consists of two m ajor sections: (1) the m inistry of Jo h n (vv 16); and (2) the preaching of Jo h n (vv 7-12). In the first section, w 1-4 find their center in the citation of Isa 40:3, which, though lacking the stereotyped intro­ ductory form ula, nonetheless stresses the reality of fulfillment. The im portance o f the quotation is especially apparent in the words ev rrj έ ρ ή μ ω , “in the wilder­ ness,” o f v 1 and the theological connection between the exhortation to “prepare the way o f the L o rd” and th at of Jo h n to “re p e n t” (v 2). T he description of Jo h n in v 4 apparently finds its stimulus in the earlier references to the wilderness. The second section stresses the im m inence of ju d g m en t (vv 7, 10), the futility of the appeal to Abraham ic descent (v 9), and the consequent need for the fruit of repentance (vv 8, 10). Two different m etaphors of ju d g m en t are used: the tree b arren of good fru it (v 10) and the separation of the chaff from the w heat (v 12). Between these two m etaphors occurs the im portant announcem ent of the one to follow J o h n who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (v 11). T he genre o f the pericope, m ore apparently than in the preceding sections, is that of historical narrative in that for the first time we encounter nothing ex­ traordinary—th at is, nothing that is n o t conceivable within the regular process


Matthew 3:1-12

o f history. This is no t to deny the spectacular nature of J o h n ’s ann o u n cem en t b ut merely to say that with our knowledge of the historical context (see below) the events of this particular pericope require nothing supernatural. At the same time, Matthew continues to write theological history, being concerned to do m ore than to convey inform ation or facts. In the sense th at M atthew writes out of theological conviction and with post-resurrection clarity, there is no radical dif­ ference between the infancy narrative and the chapters that follow. D. T here is a deliberate attem pt on M atthew’s p art to portray Jo h n in term s parallel to Jesus. Both are announced with π α ρ α γ ί ν ε τ α ι (3:1; 3:13); J o h n ’s preach­ ing anticipates th at of Jesus (cf. 3:2 with 4:17; 3:10 with 7:19; 3:12 with 13:30; and the “offspring of vipers” of 3:7 with 12:33-34; 23:33). Jo h n , as well as Jesus, thus has a m essage for M atthew ’s church. At the same tim e, J o h n ’s inferiority to Jesus, as the fo reru n n er to the Messiah, is also obvious in the narrative (3:11, 14-15). E. T he background of the passage is to be found in the expectation of Jewish apocalyptic (cf. Dan 2:44; 7:14-27). Jo h n , the appointed forerunner, announces th at the prom ised kingdom is on the verge of dawning. The prom ises of a new, golden age are about to be realized. This m eans n ot only the experience of bless­ ing for the righteous bu t the overthrow and ju d g m en t o f the wicked, the enem ies o f Israel. To a larger extent, therefore, J o h n ’s ann o u n cem en t is readily intelli­ gible to his listeners, who eagerly await their God to act. Extrabiblical evidence (e.g., Pss. Sol. 17-18) indicates that such expectations were at a high level in firstcentury Palestine. At the same time, J o h n ’s message entails some surprises, as will be seen below. F. T he source o f J o h n ’s practice o f baptism rem ains uncertain. W hile simi­ larities have been noted in proselyte baptism and cerem onial lustrations, n eith er is sufficient in itself to explain J o h n ’s baptism . More likely, b u t still uncertain, is the possibility o f direct or indirect links betw een Jo h n and the com m unity of Q um ran, which was located in ju st the area w here J o h n began his ministry. Q um ran shared n o t only a heig h ten ed eschatological expectation but, in that connection, em phasized repentance and saw itself as p reparing (in the wilder­ ness, and d ep en d in g on Isa 40:3) for the appearance of two messiahs (of the line o f David and Aaron) and the realization of the prom ise to Israel. This “com ­ m unity o f the p re p a re d ” practiced baptism , which for them , however, was an oft-repeated process as well as a self-adm inistered rite (IQ S l:24ff.; 5:13-25). J o h n ’s baptism , by contrast, had an eschatological definiteness because o f its connection with the an n o u n cem en t of fulfillm ent b ro u g h t by J o h n ’s successor. This definiteness m arks off Jo h n and his baptism from Q um ran in a decisive m anner. F u rth er differences may also be noted, such as J o h n ’s failure to call his followers to a m onastic separatism or intensive study of Torah (cf. IQ S 8:1216). J o h n ’s baptism , with its call to righteousness, is at least to be regarded as a kind of p ro phetic action, w herein the message (and response to it, in this in­ stance) is given sym bolic portrayal, for the sake o f b o th p a rtic ip a n ts an d observers. T he symbolism of washing related to the removal of spiritual unclean­ ness is a natural one and is found frequently in the OT (e.g., Ps 51:7; Isa 4:4; Je r 4:14; Ezek 36:25; Zech 13:1). Despite the parallels that can be collected, J o h n ’s baptism thus preserves a high degree of originality (see Gnilka, RevQ [1961-62] 185-207).



Comment 1 A lthough the time reference ε ν δ ε τ α ΐ ς ή μ έ ρ α ι ς έ κ ε ί ν α ι ς , “in those days,” is n o t specific, it does indicate a special time (cf. the language of the prophets when they speak of eschatological m atters in such passages as Zeph 1:15; Amos 9:11; Zech 12:3-4; Isa 10:20; Je r 37:7 [LXX]). This little phrase in this context func­ tions as a p o in ter to a special time of revelation (Strecker, Weg, 90-91). M atthew’s vivid historical present π α ρ α γ ί ν ε τ α ι , lit. “com es,” is used also to describe the ap­ pearance o f Jesus in v 13. Although the title b β α π τ ι σ τ ή ς , “the Baptist,” is used by Mark and Luke, it is used m uch m ore frequently by Matthew. H ere it serves as a kind of nickname. The word is found only in Christian writings, except for one ref­ erence in Josephus (Ant. 18.5.2), and in all three Synoptics, and always in reference to Joh n . Matthew says that Jo h n came κ η ρ ύ σ σ ω ν , “preaching.” The essential mes­ sage o f that preaching is given in the following verse. “The wilderness of Ju d e a ” (777 ε ρ ή μ ω τ ή ς Ί ο ν δ α ί α ς ) includes the area ju st west of the Dead Sea and the banks of the lower Jordan; hence it is not far from where the Q um ran com m u­ nity was located, on the northw est shore of the Dead Sea. T he reference to the desert deliberately picks up the language of Isa 40:3, which Matthew is about to quote. T he desert has an eschatological connotation and was associated with mes­ sianic deliverance. (See Funk; Mauser; Kittel, TDNT 2:658-59.) 2 Only Matthew puts J o h n ’s message in direct discourse: μ ε τ α ν ο ε ί τ ε *ή γ γ ι κ ε ν γ ά ρ ή β α σ ι λ ε ί α τ ω ν ο υ ρ α ν ώ ν , “R epent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Mark and Luke sum m arize the message as concerning a β ά π τ ι σ μ α μ ε τ ά ν ο ι α ς ε ι ς ά φ ε σ ι ν ά μ α ρ τ ι ώ ν (“a baptism of repentance with a view to the forgiveness of sins”) , words lacking in Matthew. Matthew, on the o ther hand, is the only one to m en­ tion the nearness of the kingdom at this point. In preaching repentance, Jo h n takes up the message of the prophets. In anticipation of G od’s activity, which involves ju d g m en t as well as redem ption, there can be only one clarion call: to turn, to re tu rn to the God of Israel. In view is a basic change not unlike conver­ sion. Only then will there be the required preparedness (for Jo h n as a preacher o f righteousness, cf. Jos. Ant. 18.5.2 §§116-19). This is a centrally significant Jew­ ish them e from the tim e o f the p ro p h ets onw ard. T he Q um ran com m unity especially regarded itself as participants in a covenant of repentance (CD 19:16; 4:2; 6:5). J o h n ’s message is repeated by Jesus in the same words in 4:17 (cf. also the message that the disciples are sent to proclaim in 10:7). Jo h n and Jesus there­ fore stand in continuity, and the message of Jo h n to the Jews is equally a message to M atthew’s church. Although repentance here is no t explicitly linked with the forgiveness of sins as in Mark and Luke, forgiveness of sins has been alluded to in 1:21, and Matthew m entions it again in 26:28, in connection with the blood of the covenant. T he forgiveness of sins is furtherm ore presupposed by the refer­ ence in v 6 to the confessing of sins. Cf. too the commission to baptize in 28:19. T he verb ή γγικ εν m eans literally to “draw near.” T he fact that Jesus uses the same verb in referring to the kingdom in 4:17 (cf. Mark 1:15) b u t elsewhere (12:28) can use εφθασεν, “has com e,” led D odd (Parables) to argue th at έγγίζω h ere m eans “is p resen t.” T he m eaning of the verb, however, refers norm ally to that which is at the p o in t o f arriv­ ing (see K. W. Clark, “Realized Eschatology,”JBL 59 [1940] 367-83). T he perfect tense here results in the nuance “having drawn near and rem aining near.” ή βασιλεία των ούρανών, “the kingdom of heaven,” is a Jewish circum locution for 77 βασιλεία του θεόν,


Matthew 3:1-12 “the kingdom of G od,” to avoid unnecessary use of the word “G o d ” (cf. Mark 11:30-31; Luke 15:18, 21). Matthew favors the phrase (thirty-three occurrences), and it is used only by him in the NT (but he can on occasion also use “kingdom o f G od”; cf. 12:28; 19:24; 21:31,43). T here is no difference between the two expressions (cf., for exam ple, 19:23-24). T he phrase m eans “G od’s reig n ,” i.e., his sovereign rule with the concom i­ tan t blessings now about to be experienced by hum anity (see G. E. Ladd, The Presence of the Future [G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1974]). T hat which God had prom ised from the earliest days, which reached its fullest expression in the p ro p h ets’ glowing description of a golden age of blessing, is now on the verge of being realized and experienced, at least to a degree, by those whose preparedness of m ind and h eart make them receptive to the message (see Davies-Allison’s excellent discussion, 1:389-92).

3 A fixed feature of the early Christian tradition, Isa 40:3 is quoted in all four Gospels (John lacks the last line) to describe the function of Jo h n the Baptist. All four Gospels identify the words as those of Isaiah the prophet. T he use of the quotation by Matthew is consonant with his stress on fulfillment; although he does n o t here employ a characteristic fulfillm ent form ula, he does make use of a pesher-type form ula (“this is th a t”), which points to fulfillm ent (cf. Acts 2:16). O f the Synoptics, however, Matthew m ost em phatically calls attention to the identity o f J o h n as the one spoken of by Isaiah with ο υ τ ο ς γ ά ρ έ σ τ ι ν , “this is the o n e .” T he quotation itself follows the LXX verbatim except for the last pronoun, α ύ τ ο υ , “his,” where the LXX reads τ ο υ θ β ο ϋ η μ ώ ν , “of our G od.” The simple pro n o u n may have been regarded as m ore appropriate in referring to Jesus and has the advantage of avoiding the m ention of God, in keeping with Jewish sympathies. At the same time, it is clear that the κ υ ρ ί ο υ , “L ord,” whose way is to be prepared, refers in the first instance to Yahweh. The words in Isaiah occur in a context of com fort and deliverance from the exile, b u t they also allude to messianic fulfill­ m ent. T he preparation is for the fulfillm ent that is shortly to be experienced. This is indeed the an nouncem ent of good news (ε ύ α γ γ ε λ ί ζ β σ θ α ι , “proclaim good tidings,” occurs twice in Isa 40:9; cf. 52:7; 60:6; 61:1). έ ν τ η έ ρ ή μ ω , “in the desert,” in the parallelism of the Hebrew text, is a p art of the message of the voice; that is, the prep aratio n is to be m ade in the wilderness. (This is a m ajor reason the Q um ranites chose to locate their com m unity on the shore of the Dead Sea.) But by either understanding, Jo h n fulfills the passage. His was a voice crying in the wilderness, and it was in the wilderness that he offered the baptism o f p repara­ tion (cf. v 1). J o h n ’s m essage o f re p e n ta n c e an d his call to rig h teo u sn ess correspond to preparing the way of the Prom ised O ne or, using Isaiah’s m eta­ phor, “m aking his paths straight.” 4 T he em phatic p ro n o u n α ύ τ ό ς , “h im self’ (BDF §277[3]), indicates that J o h n ’s m an n er of living was in accord with the prophecy of the forerunner. In­ deed, m ore explicitly, Jo h n is deliberately presented as resem bling Elijah in the reference to a garm ent of hair (cf. Zech 13:4) and “a leather belt around his waist” (cf. 2 Kgs 1:8, where the words ju st quoted are in nearly verbatim agree­ m en t with Matthew). The actual identification of Jo h n with Elijah is no t m ade by Matthew until 11:14 (cf. also 17:12-13), but it is certainly also in view here. (This is m ore ap p aren t in Mark because of the Malachi quotation in 1:2, which Mat­ thew defers until chap. 11.) J o h n ’s unusual dem eanor associates him with Elijah and gives to him the aura of a holy m an (a Nazir, cf. Luke 1:15), and this in itself makes Jo h n the subject of special attention am ong his contem poraries. But m ore



than that, J o h n symbolizes the breaking of the centuries of prophetic silence rec­ ognized by the Jews themselves (cf. 1 Macc 4:46; 9:27; 14:41). H ere then is a new thing: a voice from God out of the silence, self-authenticating by its power and message, as well as by its unusual mediator. Prophecy appears again in the midst of Israel, the people of God. 5 Matthew does no t say “all the Jerusalem ites” came out to be baptized by Jo h n , as does Mark, perhaps because he recognizes Jerusalem as the center of opposition to Jesus’ later ministry, and perhaps also because of the opposition his own church is experiencing from the Jews. With Mark, however, he does say “all o f J u d e a ” (π ά σ α ή Ί ο υ δ α ί α ) and adds “all the region surrounding the Jo r­ d an ,” π ά σ α ή π ε ρ ί χ ώ ρ ο ς τ ο ν Ί ο ρ δ ά ν ο υ (possibly drawn from Q; cf. Luke 3:3), a natural fact that could be presum ed. The result is the deliberate im pression of a great response to J o h n ’s preaching. (Note the im perfect tense of έ ξ ε π ο ρ ε ύ ε τ ο , “they were com ing o u t,” describing a repeated process over some time.) The fore­ ru n n e r indeed appears to enjoy as m uch or even m ore success than will the one whom he precedes. 6 T he im p erfect tense o f έ β α π τ ί ζ ο ν τ ο , “were being b ap tize d ,” m atches έ ξ ε ι τ ο ρ ε ύ ε τ ο , “were com ing o u t,” of the preceding verse and underlines the suc­ cess o f J o h n ’s mission. O n the source of J o h n ’s baptism, see above Form/Structure/ Setting §F. T he confession of sins is the point of J o h n ’s baptism, being fundam en­ tal to repentance and the accom panying new orientation. It cannot be definitely concluded from the present participle in ε ξ ο μ ο λ ο γ ο ύ μ ε ν ο ι τ ά ς ά μ α ρ τ ί α ς α υ τ ώ ν , “confessing their sins,” that this was done during the actual baptism (i.e., “while confessing their sins”) . It was, however, clearly done in connection with the bap­ tism (cf. Jos. Ant. 8.4.6). Remarkably, Jews came to subm it themselves to a rite that for them had the association of the initiation of gentile proselytes into Ju d a­ ism. But the an n o u ncem ent of the im m inent end of the age no doubt seem ed to justify confession o f sins and the cleansing symbolism of the baptism. 7 M atthew’s π ο λ λ ο ύ ς ' τ ω ν Φ α ρ ι σ α ί ω ν κ α ι Σ α δ δ ο υ κ α ί ω ν , “the m ultitudes of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” takes up the opportunity to identify the opponents who will be en c o u n tered later in the narrative. But this by no m eans makes M atthew’s account unhistorical. To be sure, the scholarly and priestly authorities were separated by some m ajor differences, bu t nonetheless they com e together toward the end of the Gospel narrative in their opposition to Jesus (cf. 16:1, 1112; 21:45-46) and rath er remarkably are also m entioned together here at the beginning of the story. T heir com m on interest in Jo h n hardly requires agree­ m en t betw een them , n o r does it p o in t to the evangelist’s ignorance of their differences. T heir motives in com ing were no doubt mixed. A few may have been sincere in believing J o h n ’s message; others probably came m ore out of curiosity (the lack of belief is pointed out in 21:25-27, 32); but many may have been so angered at J o h n ’s preaching that they did n o t subm it to his baptism (see Luke 7:29-30). For this reason Matthew has simply ε ρ χ ο μ έ ν ο υ ς ' ε π ί τ ο β ά π τ ι σ μ α , “com­ ing to the baptism ,” rath er than Luke’s β α π τ ι σ θ ή ν α ι ύ π ’α υ τ ο ύ (Luke 3:7), “to be baptized by h im ” (which suggests actual baptism; in Luke, however, the refer­ ence is to “the crowds”). The Pharisees, as proponents of a legal righteousness th ro u g h the observance o f oral tradition, are the m ain com petitors of Jesus th ro u g h o u t the Gospel and are the subjects of repeated attacks culm inating in chap. 23. (The Q um ran com m unity also attacked the Pharisees.) The Sadducees


Matthew 3:1-12

are of m uch less im portance until the end of the Gospel when, through their control o f the cultic hierarchy and the high priesthood, they play a m ajor role in condem ning Jesus to death. Thus Matthew calls attention in this reference to the Jewish leaders to the presence of the enem ies of Jesus from the beginning of the narrative. T he initially positive response to J o h n ’s message, even if partial, stands in sharp contrast to the final rejection of Jesus. T he expression γ ε ν ν ή μ α τ α έ χ ί δ ν ώ ν , “offspring o f vipers,” is used three times by Matthew (see also 12:34; 23:33), always in reference to the Pharisees. T he only o th er occurrence in the Gospels is in the parallel passage in Luke (3:7, applied to “the crowds”) . Parallels to this figurative use o f “viper” can be found in classi­ cal Greek authors (see BAGD, 331b). J o h n ’s apocalyptic message involves an im m inent ju d g m en t of the unrighteous in τ ή ς μ ε λ λ ο ύ σ η ς ο ρ γ ή ς , “the com ing w rath.” This eschatological wrath, associ­ ated with fulfillment, is further alluded to in vv 10-12. A bundant parallels indicate that this was a fixed com ponent in the Jewish apocalyptic expectation (see esp. Dan 7:9-11; Isa 13:9; Zeph 1:15; 2:2-3; Mal 4:1). T he construction ( φ ν γ ε ΐ ν with α π ό ) is a Hebraism (BDF §149). W hat frightened J o h n ’s listeners was the insistence that the ju d g m en t was about to occur ( μ ε λ λ ο ύ σ η ς ) . T he fleeing (as from a b u rn ­ ing field) is particularly appropriate to the figurative m ention of vipers. (For the notion of com ing wrath in the early C hurch, see 1 Thess 1:10; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6.) 8 In requiring κ α ρ π ό ν ά ξ ω ν τ ή ς μ ε τ ά ν ο ι α ς , lit. “fruit worthy o f rep en tan c e,” i.e., fruit befitting repentance, Jo h n asks for concrete evidence of repentance (cf. also Acts 26:20) from those who com e to him , and he thus protects against m ere outward participation in his baptism. M atthew’s singular κ α ρ π ό ν , “fru it,” is a collective singular, perhaps caused by the singular of v 10. R epentance and good works are very frequently associated in rabbinic thought (see Str-B 1:170-72). 9 μ ή δ ό ξ η τ ε λ έ γ ε ι ν ε ν έ α ν τ ο ΐ ς , “do n o t consider saying am ong yourselves,” reflects an understanding of what would have been a typical objection to J o h n ’s baptism o f Jews. (For the construction, see BDF §392.) In their appeal π α τ έ ρ α έ χ ο μ ε v τ ο ν ’Α β ρ α ά μ , “we have Abraham as father,” they m ade the mistake of think­ ing th at physical descent from A braham granted them an autom atic im m unity from G od’s eschatological wrath. Jo h n , however, by no m eans allowed them to entertain such a presumption. (For the appeal to descent from Abraham, cf. Jo h n 8:33, 39.) The statem ent that ε κ τ ω ν λ ί θ ω ν τ ο ύ τ ω ν , “from these stones,” God was able to raise up τ έ κ ν α τ ω ’Α β ρ α ά μ , “children to Abraham ,” is Jo h n ’s way of underlining the fundam ental insufficiency o f Abraham ic descent in itself. While it is unlikely th at Jo h n had in m ind the mission to the Gentiles (though he could have had in m ind the universalism of the p ro p h e ts), we may safely assume that Matthew and his church did u n d erstand the words as pointing in that direction. G od’s work can n o t be lim ited by the disobedience o f his people. For the prom inence of this m otif of a new people in Matthew, see esp. 8:10-11; 21:43; 28:19. Jo h n here also anticipates the later argum ents of Paul (Rom 2:28-29; 4:11; 9:6-8; Gal 3:7, 29). J o h n ’s statem ent appears to be a play on words, since in Aramaic (and Hebrew too) the word for “ch ild ren ” (8*33, benayya' ) is similar to that for “stones” (K"]3K, ' abnayya' ) . 10 T he im m inence of ju d g m en t is stressed n o t only by the initial adverb ή δ η , “already,” b ut also by the vivid present tenses o f this verse. T he m etaphor o f an unfruitful tree being cut down and thrown into the fire is n o t uncom m on in



Jewish literature (see Str-B). It is repeated verbatim in the words of Jesus in 7:19 (cf. 13:40; J o h n 15:6). T he words κ α ρ π ό ν κ α λ ό ν , “good fru it” (the same concept is found in 7:17-20; 12:33; cf. 21:43), are analogous to κ α ρ π ό ν ά ξ ι ο ν τ ή ς μ ε τ ά ν ο ι α ς , “fruit worthy of repentance,” in v 8. Judgm ent based on good works is also an impor­ tant them e in the teaching of Jesus according to Matthew (cf. 7:21-23; 25:45-46). 11 A lthough Matthew, unlike Mark, does n o t directly conjoin the two paral­ lel clauses ε γ ώ μ ε ν υ μ ά ς β α π τ ί ζ ω , “I baptize you,” and α ύ τ ό ς υ μ ά ς β α π τ ί σ ε ί , “he will baptize you,” inserting between them the parenthetical statem ent of J o h n ’s unw orthiness com pared with the m ightier one who is to follow him, the contrast is still very apparent. Jo h n describes his own baptism as ε ι ς μ ε τ ά ν ο ι α ν , by which is n o t m eant that repentance is the goal or result of baptism (as “to rep en tan ce” m ight be tak en ), since the baptism itself presupposes the existence of repentance. H ence, ε ι ς μ ε τ ά ν ο ι α ν is best understood as “with reference to ,” “associated w ith,” or “in agreem ent with” (for this m eaning of ε ι ς , see BAGD, s.v. ε ι ς , 5; p. 230a). This phrase, only in Matthew, heightens the contrast between John and Jesus. The stress on repentance rem inds the reader of the preparatory function of John; although there is no co u n terpart to this phrase in the clause describing Jesus’ baptism, it is clear that his baptism is rather one of fulfillment having to do with the inauguration o f the kingdom . ό δ ε ό π ί σ ω μ ο υ ε ρ χ ό μ ε ν ο ς , “the one com ing after m e,” is prob­ ably also an allusion to “the com ing o n e,” i.e., pointing to a technical term for the Messiah (cf. 11:3; 21:9; 23:39; cf. H eb 10:37, and for OT background, Ps 118:26). No fu rth er identification is needed; the fo reru n n e r precedes the one who will bring the kingdom. (Cf. the exact parallel in John 1:27.) While the Baptist expects a triu m p h ant Messiah, it is probably going too far to conclude that he regards the coming one as none other than Yahweh (as Hughes claims). The words that immediately follow are only appropriate to a hum an agent such as the Messiah. Com m on to the three Synoptics, the phrase ι σ χ υ ρ ό τ ε ρ ο ς μ ο υ , “stronger than m e,” is probably to be associated with the powerful im pact of the kingdom that the Messiah brings. T he nou n form of this same root is applied to the Messiah, the Son of David, in Pss. Sol. 17:37. While Mark, followed by Luke, has John express his unworthiness by referring to the loosening of the strap of the sandals, Matthew puts it in term s o f τ ά υ π ο δ ή μ α τ α β α σ τ ά σ α ι , “to bear his sandals” (MM and BAGD, however, state that β α σ τ ά σ α ι here means “to take o ff”; s.v.). This is possibly Matthew’s heightening of the contrast between John and Jesus, although both m etaphors de­ scribe a slave-master relationship. In α ύ τ ό ς υ μ ά ς β α π τ ί σ ε ί , “he him self will baptize you,” the α ύ τ ό ς is intensive and contrasting. Jo h n draws the contrast by describ­ ing the work o f the one to com e as also a baptism, though m etaphorical rather than literal. T here is thus continuity and discontinuity between Jo h n and Jesus. Jesus will baptize ε ν π ν ε ύ μ α τ ι ά γ ί ω κ α ί 7τ υ ρ ί , “with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Were the words κ α ι ι τ υ ρ ί known to Mark and deliberately om itted (Mark lacks any reference to J o h n ’s message of the com ing w rath), or are they a secondary addition in Q? Related to this question is the actual m eaning of the words. T hat is, are the words κ α ι π υ ρ ί (1) fu rth er describing ε ν π ν ε ύ μ α τ ι ά γ ί ω , and hence epexegetical, or (2) do they refer to a different aspect of the baptism altogether? (1) If π ν ε ύ μ α τ ι and π υ ρ ί refer to the same thing, they may b oth describe eith er ju d g m e n t or blessing, (a) T he majority of scholars accept that Jo h n p reached only a message of ju d g m en t and that therefore π ν ε ύ μ α τ ι ά γ ί ω is to be understood as a destroying wind that works together with the fire. (C. K Barrett [ The Holy Spirit in the Gospel Tradition (London:


Matthew 3:1-12

SPCK, 1970) 126] suggests that the wind that blows away the chaff is in view; cf. v 12.) Thus J o h n ’s message is regarded as consistently pessimistic and in full agreem ent with the urgency of his call to repentance, (b) Some (e.g., Lagrange) have followed Chrysostom, on the other hand, in seeing the statem ent as referring only to the blessing experi­ enced in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In this view, the words κ α ι iτ υ ρ ί refer to the tongues of fire that symbolized the Holy Spirit in that event (cf. Acts 2:3). A m ajor difficulty with this interpretation of the reference to fire is that in the following verse (cf. v 10) fire is so forcefully a m etap h o r of ju d g m e n t (for its back­ ground, see Scobie, 68-69). (2) Many (e.g., Lohmeyer, Schmid, Filson, Luz) have th ere­ fore followed O rigen in seeing this sentence as referring to a twofold baptism — th at is, blessing for the righteous (ev π υ ε ύ μ α τ ι ά γ ί ω ) and ju d g m e n t for the wicked ( καί 7τυρί). W hat may be regarded as a p ro p er refinem ent of this view (Beasley-Murray, Baptism; Hill; D unn) insists that there is b u t one baptism (the two nouns are governed by one preposition, έ ν, and the υ μ ά ς allows no distinctions), which is experienced eith er as ju d g m e n t or blessing (cf. v 12). T he blessing, on this in terpretation, is m ore indirect, being experienced as a kind of refinem ent or purging (Davies-Allison; Carson); this process, however, is concom itant with the arrival of the kingdom and thus is positive in the final analysis. Beasley-Murray refers to Isa 4:2-5 as an analogous passage. Further OT passages may be m entioned (Isa 44:3; Ezek 36:25-27; 39:29; Joel 2:28), and Hill calls attention to a rem arkable parallel in 1QS 4:20-21. T here is no reason why Jo h n may n o t have contem plated the positive effects o f the com ing o f the Prom ised O ne, as well as the negative effects that are so p ro m in en t in his u rg en t call to repentance. T he lat­ ter, to be sure, seem to have dom inated his thinking (according to M atthew and Luke, n o t Mark). But later in M atthew ’s narrative, Jesus’ response to J o h n ’s question, asked th rough his disciples, suggests that Jo h n was expected also to have th o u g h t o f the posi­ tive consequences of the arrival of fulfillm ent (11:4-5). Those who resp o n d ed to his message in repentance and baptism were surely to experience the baptism o f Jesus finally as blessing, and that m ediated by the Spirit he was to bestow (cf. 10:20; 28:19). See the excursus in R. A. Guelich, Mark 1-8:26, WBC 34A (Dallas: Word, 1989) 27-28.

12 T he second m etaphor of ju d g m en t (cf. v 10) is drawn from a com m on scene in Palestine. T he “winnowing fork” (π τ ύ ο ν ), here found in the h and of the com ing Messiah, is used to throw the m ixed w heat and chaff into the air. This is usually done on high ground during a good wind, which separates the lighter chaff from the heavier wheat. T he threshing floor is “cleaned” (δ ι α κ α θ α ρ ι ε ΐ ) , the wheat is p u t into storage (cf. 13:30), and the chaff becom es fuel. T he only o ther reference to “u n q u en ch ab le” (ά σ β ε σ τ ο ς ) fire in the Synoptic tradition (besides the parallel to our passage in Luke 3:17) occurs in Mark 9:43, where it stands in apposition to G ehenna, the place of final punishm ent. A bundant parallels to this m etap h o r exist both in the OT (e.g., Isa 34:10; 66:24; J e r 7:20) and in the rab­ binic literature (references in Str-B 4:1075-6). Explanation T he story of the central figure of M atthew’s narrative, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David, m ust begin with the divinely sent forerunner, John. In agreem ent with prophecy, the voice of Jo h n th u n d ered forth in the wilderness. Jo h n knew well the role he had to perform . T he fulfillm ent of the prom ises— the dawning of the kingdom of God—was at hand, for the Agent who would bring this to pass, the Prom ised O ne to come, was about to make his appearance. Jo h n was called to make u rg en t preparation for the ju d g m en t that would surely ensue. Only a



radical repentance would suffice, and those who thought they could find shelter in their Abraham ic pedigree needed to be told that G od’s purposes could no t be restricted to them . So Jo h n preached and baptized, anticipating the preaching and “baptizing” activity of the one who would follow. But this straightforw ard account does no t do justice to the full significance th at M atthew and his readers saw in all of this. For them the ju d g m en t of which Jo h n spoke— and Jesus, too, in the following narrative—lay in the future (though perhaps already anticipated in the destruction of Jeru salem ). Still, the positive aspects o f the kingdom had begun to be experienced in the m inistry of Jesus and now, through the resurrected Christ, in the Church. They themselves had been taught to baptize disciples in the nam e of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (28:19). But this was no longer a baptism of preparation, as was J o h n ’s, bu t rath er an extension of that baptism “in the Holy Spirit,” which J o h n had prophesied. In short, the church of Matthew now knows the reality of what Jo h n announced in its beginnings. It sees itself as bringing forth the proper response of “fruit in agree­ m ent with re p en tan c e” (v 8), and it sees its present adversaries as already typified in the Jewish leaders who came to Jo h n but were inclined to rest in their Abrahamic lineage. For them was reserved the unhappy prospect of the ju d g m en t to come.

The Baptism of Jesus


Bibliography B easley-M urray, G . R . Baptism intheNew Testament. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1962. 45-67. C o ggan , F. D . “N ote on St. Matthew iii.15.” ExpTim 60 (1948-49) 258. C o th en et, E . “Le baptem e selon S. M atthieu.” SNTU9 (1984) 79-94. C u llm an n , O . Baptism intheNew Testa­ ment. Tr. J. K. S. Reid. L ondon: SCM, 1950. D u n n , J. D . G . Baptism in theHoly Spint. SBT 2.15. L ondon: SCM, 1970. 23-37. E issfe ld t, Ο . “Πληρώσαι πάσαν δικαιοσύνηνin M atthaus 3, 15.” ZNW61 (1970) 209-15. F e u ille t, A . “Le baptem e de Jesus.” RB 71 (1964) 321-52. G a r n e t, P. “T he Baptism o f Jesus an d the Son o f Man Id e a .” JSNT 9 (1980) 49-65. G erh a rd sso n , B . “Gottes Sohn als D iener Gottes.” ST 27 (1973) 73-106. G ero , S. “The Spirit as Dove at the Baptism of Jesus.” NovT 18 (1976) 17-35. J erem ia s, J. New Testament Theology:Vol. 1.TheProclamationofJesus.Tr. J. Bowden. London: SCM, 1971. 43-55. H ill, D . “Son and Servant: An Essay on M atthean Christology. ” JSNT 6 (1980) 2-16. K eck, L. E. “T he Spirit and the Dove.” NTS 17 (1970) 41-67. L en tzen -D eis, F. Die TaufeJesu nach den

Synoptikern:LiterarkritischeundgattungsgeschichtlicheUntersuchungen.FTS 4. Frankfurt am Main: Knecht, 1970. L jungm an, H . Das GesetzErfullen:Matth. 5, 17ff.und 3, 15 Untersucht. Lund: Gleerup, 1954. 97-126. L ovestam , E. SonandSaviour.Lund: Gleerup, 1961. 88-112. Sabbe, M . “Le baptem e de Jesus.” In DeJesusauxEvangiles,ed. I. de la Potterie. BETL 25. Gembloux: Duculot, 1967. 184-211. T urner, C. Η . “Ο Π OCΜΟΥ O ATATIHTOC.”JTS 27 (1926) 113-29. Translation 13Then Jesus came from Galilee to theJordan toJohn, in order to he baptized by him. 14But John tried to hinder him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by you, and yet do you come to me?”15But Jesus answered and said to him, “Let it be, for now. For it is fitting for us thus to fulfill all righteousness. ” Then he permitted him.a 16And when

Matthew 3 : 13-17


Jesus had been baptized, he came up immediatelyb out of the water. And look, the heav­ ens were opened [to him],c and he saw [the] Spirit of Godd descending,e as a dove might, [and]f coming upon him. 17And behold, there was a voice from heaven saying,g “This ish my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. ” Notes a At this point OL MSS (a [g1]) add th at a great light shone from the water and filled the specta­ tors with fear. T hough n o t in any Gr. MSS, the addition is early, being possibly found in the Diatesseron (cf. E p h r), Ju and E piph (quoting the Gos. Eb.). See TCGNT, 10-11. b A few MSS including sys om it ε ύ θ ύ ς , “im m ediately.” c Im p o rtan t MSS (K* B vgmss sys,c sa) do n o t contain α ύ τ ω , “to h im .” It is possible, however, th at the w ord was originally a p art o f the text (as in K1 C Ds L W f h 13 TR lat syp,h m ae bo) and was om itted because it was regarded as unnecessary. The brackets reflect the uncertainty. See TCGNT, 11. d T he im p o rtan t MSS N and B lack definite articles before π ν ε ύ μ α , “spirit,” and θ ε ό ν , “G od.” T he words do n o t thereby becom e indefinite in this instance, and the m eaning is n o t affected. e A few MSS (D it vgmss [syh] ) have κ α τ α β α ί ν ο ν τ α ε κ τ ο υ ο υ ρ α ν ο ί ) , “com ing down [the participle is masc. gender] from heaven.” f K* B lat om it κ α ί , “a n d ,” while the m ajority o f MSS (N2 C D L W f 1,13TR vgcl sy) include it. g A few MSS (D sys,c) add π ρ ο ς α υ τ ό ν , “to h im .” h D a sys, c replace ο ν τ ό ς έ σ τ ί ν , “this is,” with σ ν ε ΐ, “you a re,” undoubtedly by the influence o f the parallel in Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22.

Form/Structure/Setting A. In all four Gospels, Jesus shares in J o h n ’s baptism. T here is no small ten­ sion between the fact that Jesus identifies with and participates in J o h n ’s baptism and the fact that Jesus, as the goal o f what Jo h n proclaims, transcends that bap­ tism. T he baptism of Jesus, indeed, serves as a kind of transition between the work o f preparation and the appearance upon center stage of the one who brings fulfillment. Only the tem ptation narrative that immediately follows stands between the baptism and the m inistry of Jesus. B. Matthew appears to be d ep e n d en t upon Mark for the m ain content of the passage although he does n o t at all follow Mark closely. Vv 14-15, on the o th er hand, are drawn from M atthew’s private source (M ), unless we are to attribute them to his own historicizing of a theological point (see below). T he occurrence o f non-M atthean vocabulary in the passage suggests that M atthew here is to some extent d ep e n d en t u pon oral tradition (thus Strecker, Weg, 150). C. The form of the pericope is straightforward historical narrative but, as always, with im portant theological inform ation conveyed at the same time. The supernatu­ ral occurrences of vv 16-17 are apparently no t witnessed by the crowds. Therefore, we are probably to think of a subjective experience. T he content of the passage readily divides into (1) the arrival of Jesus (v 13), (2) the dialogue with Jo h n (vv 14-15), and (3) the descent of the Spirit upon Jesus after his baptism , including the climactic divine attestation (vv 16-17). Thus the events associated with the baptism are the center of attention, rath er than the baptism itself. D. T he setting o f Jesus’ baptism within the Baptist’s m inistry is problem atic because of the implication that Jesus, too, needed to repent. Matthew alone am ong the Synoptics protects against this in vv 14-15. But the real point o f the passage is n o t the baptism o f Jesus itself bu t the threads of continuity and discontinuity between J o h n and Jesus. Only through contact with the fo reru n n e r can Jesus be



launched into his own ministry. T hat contact and the form al beginning of Jesus’ m inistry are filled with theological significance. Comment 13 T he adverb Tore, “th e n ,” favored by Matthew as a connective at the begin­ nings of new sections, has no time significance, π α ρ α γ ί ν ε τ α ι , lit. “arrives,” is the same word (in the historical present for vividness) used to introduce Jo h n in v 1. Now the m ain figure of the Gospel comes upon the stage. It is strange that Mat­ thew omits M ark’s reference to Nazareth (Mark 1:9). He may do so because of his m ention of it in 2:23; repetition of it here, however, could have strengthened his point. T he purpose of Jesus in com ing to Jo h n , τ ο ν β α π τ ι σ θ ή ν α ί ύ π ’α ύ τ ο ϋ , “to be baptized by h im ,” is so forcefully stated in this way only by Matthew. This in tu rn sets the scene for the following discussion between Jo h n and Jesus. 14 δ ί ε κ ώ λ υ ε ν is a conative im perfect, “he tried to hinder,” reflecting J o h n ’s (unsuccessful) attem pt to avoid baptizing Jesus (see BDF §326). The pronouns ε γ ώ , “I,” and κ α ι σ ύ , “and you,” are em phatic and underline J o h n ’s protest. The preposi­ tional phrase υ π ό σ ο υ ; “by you,” receives emphasis by being placed before the infinitive (contrast β α π τ ί σ θ η ν α ι ϋ π ’α υ τ ό ν in v 13). W hat causes J o h n ’s recognition of his need to be baptized by Jesus and his consequent reluctance to baptize Jesus? The text does not tell us what John concluded about Jesus. The implication, however, is that Jo h n recognized Jesus as the one whose way he was preparing. That is certainly the conclusion that Matthew’s church was m eant to draw. Probably we are to under­ stand some previous contact (Schlatter suggests a conversation prior to the baptism) between Jo h n and Jesus, in contrast to the Fourth Gospel (1:29-34), which seems to assert that Jo h n did not know the identity of Jesus until the baptism. This in turn would necessitate Jesus’ own consciousness of his messianic identity, which (despite objections, e.g., by Klostermann) is a natural assumption if the events immediately following the baptism (i.e., the divine voice, the temptations) were to have m eaning for Jesus (see Beasley-Murray, Baptism; Schlatter, 86). The suggestion that J o h n ’s re­ luctance to baptize Jesus is the result of his intuition of a high degree of righteousness in Jesus, rather than the recognition of Jesus’ messianic identity (so Tasker), has little to com m end it. It is unlikely that John allowed for exceptions to his call for preparation. T hat John did recognize Jesus as the Messiah is evident from his ques­ tion in 11:3, even if that question stems from disenchantment. The present verse fits perfectly with v 11, which stresses Jo h n ’s comparative unworthiness. How should the one who prepares the way with a baptism of repentance baptize the one for whom preparation is made? Surely the reverse must be true, and John must submit to the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. In these terms, the objection is perfectly under­ standable. The words are precisely what we would expect John to say (pace Schweizer). This passage was hardly constructed as a polemic against the disciples of John who persisted as such during and after the time Matthew wrote (cf. Acts 19:1-7). Its con­ tent is of course inconsistent with a continued com m itm ent to John, especially after the crucifixion and resurrection; Matthew does not, however, like the Fourth Gos­ pel, purposely belittle John, but holds him in the highest esteem (see 11:7-15). 15 Jesus’ answer is given with messianic authority: an imperative verb ά φ ε ς , “p erm it (it),” and an adverb apTL, m eaning “at o n ce” or “immediately,” but also in a weaker sense m eaning “now.” If we accept the latter m eaning, the strange


Matthew 3:13-17

tu rn ab o u t is to be allowed for the time being, although it will later (when the Son has em barked upon his ministry) have becom e an impossibility. “It is fitting” (■π ρ έ π ο ν έ σ τ ί ν ) or “right and p ro p e r” for this baptism to take place. T he right­ ness of course points to the accom plishm ent of G od’s will, as is ap p aren t from the im portant clause that follows. The words themselves bear the notion of di­ vine necessity in Hellenistic idiom (cf. G rundm ann). M atthew’s church may well have seen itself included in the η μ ι ν , “for us” (thus Strecker, Weg, 180-81, 216), it too having been baptized and called to “all righteousness.” Yet the ή μ ΐ ν here fo­ cuses on Jo h n and Jesus, who in this event have a unique function to fulfill, defined in the words π λ η ρ ώ σ α ι π ά σ α ν δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ν , “to fulfill all righteousness.” Righteousness is a key concept in Matthew (seven occurrences). It is preem i­ nently the goal of discipleship (5:20; 6:1, 33), that is, the accom plishing of G od’s will in its fullness. It is accordingly closely associated with the com ing of the king­ dom (cf. 5:6, 10). Thus J o h n ’s appearance to make preparation is described by Jesus as his com ing ev ό δ ω δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ς , “in the way of righteousness” (21:32; cf. 21:25). It is in the latter sense, as a part of the process of salvation-history, that we are probably to u nderstand the present clause. M atthew’s use of δικαιοσύνη has been the cause of m uch disagreem ent. In a full study of the subject (Righteousness in Matthew), B. Przybylski concludes th at all seven occurrences involve G od’s dem and upon hum an beings, i.e., p ro p er conduct before God. While, however, it does seem incontestable that in some instances (5:20; 6:1; per­ haps 5:10; 6:33) ethical conduct is in view, this is n o t necessarily so in every case. No w riter is obligated to use a word consistently; the m eaning of a word m ust be d eter­ m ined from its im m ediate context and no t be im posed upo n a text in the nam e of lexical consistency. If δικαιοσύνη has a range of m eanings, there is th en no reason why Matthew may n o t have used the word in different senses (as we shall argue for its oc­ currence, n o t only here b u t in 5:6 and 21:32; see A. Sand, Gesetz, 197-205). In the p resent instance, several reasons may be offered for accepting a salvation-history u n ­ derstanding of δικαιοσύνη: (1) It is difficult to u nderstan d submission to J o h n ’s bap­ tism as subm itting to G od’s dem and. T here is no divine com m an d m en t eith er in the O T or in the Gospels to subm it to J o h n ’s baptism. Submission to th at baptism th en can hardly in itself be thought of as an act of righteousness. And even m ore difficult is the idea that it can be thou g h t of as fulfilling allrighteousness. T he attem pt o f Eissfeldt (213-14) to draw a parallel with the tem ple tax and the tax paid to Caesar, b oth of which Jesus accepted responsibility for, though in fact he was n o t obligated, is n o t con­ vincing. In the present instance the act is positively described as the fulfilling o f all righteousness. (2) Since Matthew, as nearly all adm it, has a salvation-historical perspec­ tive, there is no reason to exclude the possibility th at he can u n d erstan d δικαιοσύνη here not as m oral goodness b u t as the will of God in the sense of G od’s saving activity. T h at is, by the baptism and its m ain point— the accom panying anointing by the Spirit— Jo h n and Jesus together (“for us”) inaugurate the fulfillm ent o f G od’s saving purposes, “the saving activity of G od” (see Meier, Law, 79; idem, Matthew,27; cf. M cConnell, Law, 19-22; France, 95; Hagner, “Righteousness in M atthew’s Theology”; see also the note of F. D. Coggan: “Only by His very literal standing-in with His people will they see the saving activity o f God com pletely b rought a b o u t”; see too the similar view of Ljungm an, Gesetz, 104-21).

In this act o f baptism, Jo h n will obediently bring his preparatory mission to its climax (cf. Jo h n 1:31) by accom plishing the transition to the Prom ised One. The reception of the baptism by Jesus in obedience to the will of his Father, on the o th er hand, proves to be the occasion of the form al beginning of his ministry.



Thus, in his first words in the Gospel, Jesus refers to the fulfilling of G od’s will in n o th in g less th an the establishing of the salvation he has prom ised (hence π λ ή ρ ω σ α l and π ά σ α ν ) through what now begins to take shape (cf. G. Barth, in G. Bornkam m , Tradition, 137-41). But why does Jesus need to be baptized by Jo h n at all? N ot because he was him self a sinner (Strauss, Life of Jesus; B. Weiss), n o r simply to identify with J o h n ’s m ovem ent (Loisy; Manson, Servant-Messiah) . Beasley-Murray (Baptism) correctly argues that Jesus thereby shows his solidarity with his people in their need. The Messiah is a representative person, the em bodim ent of Israel, w hether as King or righteous Servant (cf. Isa 53:11; both concepts em erge in v 17). As such, he iden­ tifies with his people fully and, obediently acting o u t this role, receives the anointing of the Spirit in order to accomplish his mission. T hat mission and that identification with his people ultimately involve the death of the Servant on be­ half of his people (cf. 1:21), bu t it is nevertheless unlikely that we are to see in this pericope— in the baptism of Jesus—a reference to the sacrificial death of Jesus, as Cullm ann argues. 16 W hen Jesus had been baptized, ε υ θ ύ ς ά ν έ β η ά π ό τ ο ν ϋ δ α τ ο ς , “immediately he came up out of the water.” Matthew probably draws ε υ θ ύ ς from Mark, where it m odifies ε ΐ δ ε ν , “im m ediately he saw,” functioning as a device to capture the read er’s attention. Since Matthew has his own word, ι δ ο ύ ; to do this, ε υ θ ύ ς is pushed earlier to becom e the m odifier of ά ν έ β η , “im mediately he came u p .” Most prob­ ably Matthew m eans that the events next to be described h appened immediately after Jesus’ baptism, i.e., in connection with it. The suggestion that here Matthew m eans literally that Jesus did no t stay in the water to confess his sins but came out immediately (Gundry) seems farfetched. The m etaphorical expression ή ν ε ω χ θ η σ α ν ο ί ο υ ρ α ν ο ί , “the heavens were opened,” is n o t uncom m on in the OT (Ezek 1:1; Isa 64:1) and refers (as here) to key epi­ sodes of revelation and provision (cf. Acts 7:56; 10:11; Jo h n 1:51). The verb is a “divine” passive, God being understood as the acting subject. Matthew and Luke have the same verb against M ark’s σ χ ι ζ ό μ ε ν ο υ ς , “dividing,” perhaps by the influ­ ence of Q or oral tradition (although Matthew and Luke do no t agree closely in wording). Only Matthew explicitly writes that Jesus ε ΐ δ ε ν [ τό] π ν ε ύ μ α [ το υ] θ ε ο ύ , “saw the Spirit of G od,” com ing upon him; the o th er evangelists of course imply this. T he Synoptics do not indicate w hether the crowds witnessed the event, but the silence is probably to be interpreted as m eaning they did not; in the Fourth Gospel, however, Jo h n the Baptist is explicitly m ade a witness (but n o t in Mat­ thew, contra G rundm ann). M atthew’s [ τό] π ν ε ύ μ α [ το υ] θ ε ο ύ , “the Spirit of G od” (Luke, τ ό π ν ε ύ μ α τ ό ά γ ω ν , “the Holy Spirit”; Mark, simply τ ό π ν ε ύ μ α , “the Spirit”) , with and w ithout the articles, is com m on in P aul’s epistles and occurs elsewhere in the Gospel (12:28; cf. 10:20). It is essentially interchangeable with τ ό π ν ε ύ μ α τ ο ύ κ υ ρ ί ο υ , “the Spirit of the L ord” (cf. Acts 5:9; 8:39; cf. BAGD, s.v. π ν ε ύ μ α 5a), and is here very probably intended as an allusion to the anointing of the Servant by the Spirit in Isa 42:1, quoted in the words of v 17 and in the citation of 12:18. (Cf. also the anointing of the Son of David by the Spirit of the Lord in Isa 11:2.) T he age about to begin is preem inently the age of the Spirit according to the prophets (cf. Isa 61:1), and therefore the one who is to baptize with the Spirit m ust him self experience the form al anointing of the Spirit. To be sure, Jesus was ε κ π ν ε ύ μ α τ ο ς ά γ ί ο υ , “from the Holy Spirit,” from his conception (1:20). The present


Matthew 3:13-17

anointing, however, has to do with the formal inauguration of his ministry, m arked by the baptism and its afterm ath, which is itself based on the dual p attern of the king’s coronation and the servant’s commission. T he Spirit is described as κ α τ α β α ΐ ν ο ν ώ σ ε ί π ε ρ ι σ τ ε ρ ά ν , “descending as a dove.” T he participle κ α τ α β α ΐ ν ο ν is accom panied by ε ρ χ ό μ ε ν ο ν in Matthew alone, “de­ scending and com ing upon him .” T he reference to the dove is found in all four Gospels. H ere (cf. J o h n 1:32) ώ σ ε ί π ε ρ ι σ τ ε ρ ά ν appears to be adverbial: the Spirit descended as a dove might. In Luke 3:22, ώ ς π ε ρ ι σ τ ε ρ ά ν is adjectival, and this is em phasized by σ ω μ α τ ι κ ω ε ϊ δ ε ι : the Spirit descended “in bodily fo rm ” as a dove. Either way the com m on b u rden of the evangelists is to convey that a literal or real descent of the Spirit upon Jesus occurred. The symbolism contained in the reference to the dove is unclear. Most prom ising are the following two possibili­ ties: (1) since the rabbis likened the Spirit’s brooding over the waters in Gen 1:2 to a bird nestling h er young (and in one instance specifically to a dove: b. Hag. 15a), the dove here signals the beginning of a new creation (Davies-Allison); (2) parallel to the dove that re tu rn ed to N oah’s ark (Gen 8:8-12), the dove signifies the en d of ju d g m en t (cf. J o h n ’s message) and the beginning of an age of bless­ ing in the presence of the Prom ised One. The form er seems preferable. (For o th er possibilities in the symbolism, such as Israel, Divine Wisdom, etc., see Keck and the full discussion in Davies-Allison.) T he dove as the symbol of the Holy Spirit occurs only in relatively late rabbinic literature ( Tg. Cant. 2:12). H. Greeven calls attention to the frequent association of the dove and deity in the ancient world (T D N T 6:68-69). 17 κ α ι ι δ ο ύ , “and look,” parallels the same words in v 16. With the opening of the heavens comes not only the symbolic outpouring of the Spirit but also a di­ vine revelation of the identity of the one who has thus received the Spirit. The significance of Jesus and the present event is conveyed by means of a vision shared with the readers; this interpretive schem a has rabbinic parallels (see LentzenDeis, 200-202). T he reference to φ ω ν ή ε κ τ ω ν ο ύ ρ α ν ώ ν , “a voice from heaven,” m eans a divine voice. After the exile, when prophecy was regarded as dead in Israel, the rabbis developed the concept of bat qol, “the daughter [or ‘ec h o ’] of the voice,” as a way of accounting for continued revelation from God, bu t thereby designating it as indirect and no t of binding authority. Ordinarily, in the NT pe­ riod a voice from heaven would be regarded as a bat qol. H ere, however (contra H ill), Matthew m eans som ething that transcends rabbinic allowances and expec­ tations: with the presence of the Messiah, the Spirit of God is again abundantly active, and God speaks from heaven with directness and authority. The message conveyed by the divine voice is ο ΰ τ ό ς έ σ τ ι ν ό υ ι ό ς μ ο υ ό ά γ α π η τ ό ς , ε ν ώ ε ύ δ ό κ η σ α , “this is my Son, the beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” While Mark and Luke have this sentence as a direct statem ent to Jesus— “You are my son”—Matthew has it in the third person (cf. also Jo h n 1:34), thereby objectifying it and making it m ore suitable as catechetical m aterial for the church. With this alteration, how­ ever, Matthew also departs from the wording of the OT passage being cited, Ps 2:7 ( υ ι ό ς μ ο υ ε ι σ υ , “you are my son,” LXX). The affirm ation of Jesus as G od’s Son partakes of messianic associations through the use of Ps 2. Jesus, now anointed with the Spirit (cf. Ps 2:2), is through this cerem ony of inauguration (cf. the coro­ nation of the king as the background of Ps 2) about to en ter into his m inistry whereby the nations shall becom e his heritage (cf. Ps 2:8). This affirm ation has



already been anticipated in 2:15 (cf. 1:23); hence we are n o t to think of adoption here. Jesus is now m arked out formally as the Son of God in conjunction with the beginning of his work. The designation is presupposed in the tem ptation narrative th at follows (cf. 4:3, 6). T he argum ent of Jerem ias (N T Theology, 1:53-55), that υ ι ό ς ·, “son,” here was originally 7τ α ϊ ς (which can m ean “servant” as well as “son”) and th at therefore the passage originally in view was n o t Ps 2 but Isa 42:1 (see next clause), is thus no t persuasive. T hat the title “Son of G od” had clear messianic significance in Judaism p rio r to the NT period is evident from Q um ran (4QFlor 10-14; 4QpsDanAa) . ό ά γ α π η τ ό ς probably modifies υ ι ό ς , “son,” in the sense n o t merely of “beloved” b u t of “only beloved” (cf. Gen 22:2 w here Isaac is referred to as τ ο ν ά γ α τ τ η τ ό ν ; see BAGD 6b; cf. LXX). It can thus clearly be related to Ps 2:7. O n the oth er hand, ά γ α π η τ ό ς may bear the connota­ tion of “elect” or “chosen” (cf. its occurrence in 12:18 as the translation οΤΤΓΠ, bahir, and the substitution of έ κ λ β λ β γ μ έ ν ο ς for ά γ α π η τ ό ς in Luke 9:35). In th at case it may refer to the following words and Isa 42:1. In fact, the term is suitable for b oth passages. έ ν ω Ε υ δ ό κ η σ α , “in whom I am well pleased,” is an allusion to Isa 42:1, the servant pas­ sage that refers to the com ing of the Spirit upon the servant enabling him to accom­ plish his mission. N ot all MSS of the LXX have ε ύ δ ο κ ε ΐ ν (Θ does), b u t evidence that M atthew related this verb to Isa 42 is found in his quotation of w 1-4 in 12:18-21. It is obvious that Isa 42 is of basic im portance to M atthew’s understan d in g o f Jesus. T here is evidence th a t Ps 2:7 an d Isa 42:1 were lin k ed in Jew ish m essianic th o u g h t (see Lovestam). God is well pleased (cf. Tasker) in his “only beloved” Son, who in obedi­ ence takes upon him self the mission of the Servant who brings salvation to the nations (Isa 42:1, 4) and who ultimately in his death bears the iniquity of his people (Isa 53). T he aorist tense is probably gnomic, reflecting a H ebrew stative perfect.

Thus in this passage we already encounter the paradoxical nature of the cen­ tral figure o f M atthew’s narrative: he is declared the unique Son, the powerful anointed one (in the analogy of trium phant king) and the hum ble Servant who obediently accomplishes the will of God, eventually through suffering and death (as the reader o f Matthew is to learn in the climax of the narrative). This dual picture is found again later in the Gospel, through the verbatim repetition of the same words (17:5), this time m ost suitably in conjunction with the transfigura­ tion narrative that immediately follows Jesus’ first announcem ent (to his disciples) o f his im m inent suffering and death. Explanation Since Jesus is the one for whom Jo h n prepares the way, he cannot rem ain u n ­ related to the work of John. But it comes as a great surprise to Jo h n , as to the readers o f the Gospel, that Jesus will subm it him self to J o h n ’s baptism. T he ap­ p aren t inappropriateness is obvious: Jo h n , like all others, needs the baptism of fulfillm ent th at the Messiah has com e to bring, while Jesus himself, as the Holy O ne o f God, needs no baptism of repentance. Nevertheless, when Jesus u n d er­ goes the rite, it becom es a m atter of great significance both for him and for the C hurch. It serves as the occasion of the form al beginning of his ministry, wherein he receives the anointing of the Spirit together with the divine attestation of his unique Sonship (the early Church would not have missed the trinitarian associa­ tions). All of this is in keeping with the will of God, who will now bring salvation


Matthew 4:1-11

to the world. Thus Jo h n and Jesus perform their respective roles, fulfilling “all righteousness” as the salvific will of God now receives expression in the inaugura­ tion o f the kingdom and the arrival of a new and crucial stage of salvation-history. T he A gent o f the kingdom , the Son of David and the Son of God, holds through his identity a position of strength and authority. Yet paradoxically he is at the same time described as the hum ble, obedient Servant o f the Lord whom we m eet in the Servant Songs of Isaiah (chaps. 42-53), the Servant who is instrum ental in bringing the kingdom to fruition, no t by the exertion of power bu t through the mystery of his suffering and eventual death. This indeed is the goal of the Gospel narrative, b u t already we are given a hin t of its appropriateness. And here pre­ em inently the m eaning of Jesus’ baptism is discovered. In this identification with his people, Jesus shows him self to be one with them in all that they experience. It is as representative of Israel that he gives his life for Israel and so com pletes the task of the Servant. M atthew’s church may well have seen some parallels between the baptism of Jesus and the baptism they themselves experienced (cf. 28:19), b u t they would also have been conscious of the uniqueness of this com plex of events in the life of Jesus, with all of its undertones for the fulfillm ent of salva­ tion-history. W ith this insight into the secret o f Jesus, the readers are being p rep ared to read the narrative of Jesus’ m inistry with deeper understanding.

The Temptation of Jesus

(4:1 -1 1 )

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2.1. Lund: G leerup, 1966. H o ffm a n n , P. “Die Versuchungsgeschichte in der L ogienquelle.”

BZn.s. 13 (1969) 207-23. H y ld a h l, N . “Die Versuchung auf d er Zinne des T em pels.” ST 15 (1961) 113-27. K elly, H . A . “T he Devil in the D esert.” CBQ26 (1964) 190-220. K irk, J . A . “T he Messianic Role of Jesus and the Tem ptation N arrative.” EvQ 44 (1972) 11-29; 9 1 102. M ahnke, H . Die Versuchungsgeschichteim Rahmen dersynoptischenEvangelien:Ein Beitrag zurfruhen Christologie. BBET 9. F rankfurt am Main: R Lang, 1978. N eu g eb a u e r, F. Jesu Versuchung: Wegentscheidungam Anfang. Tubingen: Mohr, 1986. P o k o rn y , P. “T he Tem pta­ tion Stories and T heir In ten tio n .” NTS20 (1973-74) 115-27. P rzyb ylsk i, B . “T he Role of Matthew 3:13-4:11 in the Structure and Theology of the Gospel of Matthew.” BTB 4 (1974) 222-35. R o b in so n , J . A . T. “The T em ptations.” In Twelve New Testament Studies. SBT 34. L ondon: SCM, 1962. 53-60. S ch n a ck en b u rg , R . “D er Sinn der Versuchung Jesu bei den Synoptikern.” TQ 132 (1952) 297-326 (also in idem. Schr iftenzum Neuen Testament.M unich: Kosel, 1971. 101-28). S teg em a n n , W. “Die V ersuchung Jesu im M atthausevangelium: Mt 4, 1-11.” EvT45 (1985) 29-44. S teg n er, W. R . “W ilderness an d Testing in the Scrolls and in Mt 4:1-11.” BR 12 (1967) 18-27. T h o m so n , Η . P. “Called-Proved-Obedient: A Study in the Baptism and T em ptation N arratives o f M atthew and L u k e.” JTS n.s. 11 (1960) 1-12. W ilk en s, W. “Die V ersuchung Jesu nach M atthaus.” NTS 28 (1982) 479-89.

Form / Stru dure/Setti ng


Translation 1Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tested by the devil. 2And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to him, “I f you are the Son of God, speak so that these stones become bread. ”4But he answered and said, “It is written, 'Not by bread alone shall one live, but by every word proceeding out of the moutha of God. ”’5Then the devil tookb him to the holy city, and he setc him upon the pinnacle of the temple, 6and saidd to him, “I f you are the Son of God, cast yourself down. For it is wntten that He will command his angels around you and with their hands they will bear you, lest you should strike your foot against a stone. ” 7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, You shall not test the Lord your God. 8Again the devil tooke him to a very high mountain and he showed{ him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, 9and he saidg to him, “All these things I will give you, if you fall down and worship me. ”10Then Jesus saidh to him, “Get away from me,' Satan. For it is written, ‘The Lord your God shall you worship and him alone shall you serve. ’” 11 Then the devil leftj him, and look, angels came to him and were ministering to him. Notes a Dlacks “proceeding out of the m o u th ,” έ κ π ο ρ ε υ ο μ έ υ ω δ ι ά σ τ ό μ α τ ο ς ' . This constitutes a “W estern n o n-interpolation” in D, which generally includes the fullest reading. b T he Gr. has a historical present here: π α ρ α λ α μ β ά υ ε ί . c TR has apparently harm onized the aorist tense of the earlier MSS (έ σ τ η σ ε υ ) to agree with the historical presents on either side of it, by substituting the present tense ϊ σ τ η σ ι ν (cf. the same p h e ­ n o m enon in v 9). d T he Gr. text has a historical present tense here: λ έ γ ε ι . e T he Gr. text has a historical p resent tense here: π α ρ α λ α μ β ά υ ε ι . f T he Gr. text has a historical present tense here: δ ε ί κ ν υ α ν r g TR apparently again substitutes a historical present { λ έ γ ε ι ) to agree with the o th er historical presents, against the earliest MSS, which here have the aorist. h T he Gr. text has a historical p resent tense here: λ έ γ ε ι . i TR and the W estern text (D, it) and syc add ό π ί σ ω μ ο υ , apparently by influence of 16:23. As Metzger notes, no good reason can be found for its omission if it were the original reading ( TCGNT,1) j T he Gr. text has a historical present tense here: ά φ ί η σ ί υ .

F o rm /S tru c tu re/S e ttin g

A. The narrative of the testing o f Jesus is closely related to the preceding narrative concerning the baptism of Jesus. The specific connective is found in the key term of this narrative, “G od’s Son” (so Gerhardsson, Testing). Jesus is proclaim ed Son o f God in the events im mediately following the baptism, and his sonship is vitally im portant to his mission. But how does he stand with relation to that sonship, especially in circum stances of testing? Does the Son exhibit those qualities that are called for in sonship to Yahweh, as for exam ple those required of G od’s son, Israel, e.g., trust, obedience, faithfulness? Indeed, in this passage we en co u n ter a m ost interesting parallel to the experience of Israel in the wild e rn e s s . A fte r th e e x p e rie n c e o f h e r d e liv e ra n c e fro m E gypt a n d th e establishm ent of the covenant relationship, Israel experienced a season of testing


Matthew 4:1-11

in the wilderness. T he sequence in M atthew’s account of Jesus is similar: following the re tu rn from Egypt, we have the baptism (likened, by some scholars, to Israel’s crossing o f the Sea of Reeds), the divine declaration of Jesus as G od’s son, an d the tim e o f testing in the w ilderness. T he parallel is h e ig h te n e d by the fact that all of Jesus’ answers to the tem pter are drawn from D eut 6-8, the very passage th at describes Israel’s ex p erien ce in the w ilderness. T hus Jesus, the em bodim ent o f Israel and the fulfiller of all h er hopes, repeats in his own experience the experience of Israel—with, of course, the one m ajor difference, th at whereas Israel failed its test in the wilderness, Jesus succeeds, dem onstrating the perfection of his own sonship. This account is placed here deliberately because it serves as an im p o rtan t prolegom enon to the m inistry of Jesus. Although the m otif o f the testing o f Jesus’ com m itm ent to the will of his F ather (the real criterion of tru e sonship) occurs again later in the Gospel narrative, the issue m ust be confronted at the beginning, as it is here, in a definitive and tone-setting m anner. B. T he pericope is apparently no t the work of M atthew since it is found also in Luke and is thus to be regarded as derived from Q. T he agreem ent with Luke is very close, with four exceptions. The first is, of course, that L uke’s o rder o f the tem ptations, com pared to M atthew’s, is a, c, b. M atthew’s order is probably the original order (contra G rundm ann), since in Matthew the two “Son of G od” tem ptations occur together and the response of Jesus, ϋ π α γ β σ α τ α ν ά (v 10), is most suitable in the final tem ptation (though the words are lacking in Luke). O n the o th er hand, Luke may well have placed the “tem ple” tem ptation last in o rder to stress Jesus’ final victory in Jerusalem (D upont, G rundm ann). T he second exception is th at in segm ent c Luke has the devil say that the kingdom s of this world are in his power to give to whomever he wants, which Matthew has deleted (from Q m aterial) probably because he regarded it as objectionable. Third, Jesus’ quotation o f Scripture in segm ent a is longer in Matthew than in Luke, including the words “b u t by every word that proceeds out of the m outh of G od.” Luke has either abbreviated the quotation from what it was in Q, or else Matthew has extended the quotation of Q in order to include the positive aspect in Jesus’ response. Fourth, the actual wording of segm ent c is quite different th ro u g h o u t in Matthew and Luke. This may suggest different recensions of Q (see McNeile) or the influence o f a variant oral tradition. It is difficult to know w hether Mark knew the full account as contained in Q and greatly abbreviated it or he simply records all th at is known to him. Matthew may show the influence of Mark in the concluding referen ce to angels m inistering to Jesus (n o t fo u n d in Luke); bo th M atthew and Luke om it M ark’s introductory reference to Jesus’ being with the wild beasts (Mark 1:13). C. T he pericope consists of three tem ptation segments, fram ed by an introductory sentence (vv 1-2) and a concluding sentence (v 11): (1) to tu rn stones into bread (vv 3-4); (2) to ju m p from the pinnacle of the tem ple (vv 5-7); and (3) to receive the kingdom of the world by worshiping the devil (vv 8-10). The m ost characteristic feature com m on to the three segm ents is the quotation of Scripture by Jesus (in all three cases from D euteronom y and introduced with γ έ γ ρ α π τ α ί , “it is w ritten”) in response to the devil’s words. T he tem ptations have a com m on pattern: (a) the setting (briefest in segm ent a, π ρ ο σ β λ θ ώ ν ) ; (b) the words o f Satan; an d (c) the response o f Jesus. T he rem arkable parallelism of



the passage, however, is broken at two points: first in the surprising quotation of Scripture by Satan in segm ent b (v 6) and second in the lack of el ν ι ο ς el τ ο ν θ ε ό ν , “if you are the Son of G od,” in segm ent c (v 9), where furtherm ore the m ain clause is n o t an im perative bu t the prom ise “I will give you all these things.” D. T he g enre o f the passage is again th at of haggadic m idrash (see esp. G erhardsson, Testing). T he four OT quotations are of central significance to the whole passage. T he account of Jesus’ testing is set forth and interpreted in term s o f the quotations and by m eans of a stream of rabbinic exegesis with which the au th o r was familiar. In this way the key items, such as Jesus’ own identity as Son of God, his co n sisten t ob ed ien ce to an d tru st in his father, the n atu re o f his messiahship, and the parallelism with Israel’s own experience, receive theological emphasis. This does not, however, necessitate the conclusion that the story has no historical basis. Haggadic m idrash here, as elsewhere, is not necessarily incom patible with the respect for and use of historical tradition by the author. E. All three Synoptics agree in locating the tem ptation experience of Jesus in the wilderness— alm ost certainly the wilderness of Judea, probably no t far from where Jo h n was baptizing. The baptism and tem ptation of Jesus belong together, as we have seen (cf. M ark’s ε ύ θ ύ ς , “im m ediately”: Mark 1:12). W hereas the time of Jesus’ testing is u nderstood as occurring in the wilderness, two of the tem ptations speak of o th er locations: segm ent b, the pinnacle of the tem ple in “the holy city” (v 5), and segm ent c, a very high m ountain (v 8). This suggests that the tem ptations are to be regarded as subjective experiences of Jesus rath er than involving the literal transportation of Jesus to o ther places (however m iraculously); this conclusion is fu rth er supported by the fact that no high m ountain enables one to see “the kingdom s of the world and their glory” (v 8). T here is furtherm ore a natural connection between fasting and the experience of visions (cf. Dan 10:3; 4 Ezra 5:20; 2 Apoc. Bar. 20:5-6). It should be realized, of course, that to designate the tem ptations as a subjective experience does n o t lessen their reality or significance. It is no t impossible that the C hurch created the tem ptation narrative for theological reasons, although the suggestion that we are to see here the reflection o f a com m on m otif of testing of heroes or divine figures found in other religious contexts is highly im probable (see K losterm ann). T here is no reason, on the o th er hand, why we may n o t have here a historical tradition that Jesus him self m ediated to the disciples, perhaps as a m eans of encouragem ent in the face o f the testing they were to confront. Comment 1 Matthew uses his favorite connective τ ό τ ε , “th e n ” (for M ark’s ε υ θ ύ ς , “imm ediately”), to introduce the pericope. ά ν ή χ θ η ε ι ς τ η ν έ ρ η μ ο ν , “led up to the d esert,” refers probably to the highlands of the Ju d ean wilderness west of the Jo rd an and the Dead Sea (it hardly refers to a vision, as G rundm ann argues). T he purpose of the leading into the desert is its particular suitability as a place of testing. T he leading of the Son of God υ π ό τ ο ν π ν ε ύ μ α τ ο ς , “by the Spirit,” is in d irect continuity with the descent o f the Spirit u p o n him in the preceding pericope; the Spirit indeed is sovereignly active in and through Jesus’ life and m inistry from the baptism onward. T hat it is the Spirit of God who leads Jesus into this period of testing should not be regarded as unduly strange. It is explained


Matthew 4:1-11

by the Jewish belief that God is behind all that happens as an ultim ate cause (see Gerhardsson, 38-41). In the parallel account o f the testing of Israel in the wilder­ ness, it is Yahweh who leads Israel into the wilderness for testing (Deut 8:2: “the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he m ight hum ble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, w hether you would keep his com m andm ents or n o t”). In the case of Jesus, the testing is u n d er the ulti­ m ate aegis o f the Spirit (for im portant background, cf. Jo b 1:6-12). As the Son of God, Jesus proves to be trium phant in the testing, which in turn confirm s his endow m ent with the Spirit as the obedient Son of God. In the words π ε ι ρ α σ θ ή ν α ί υ π ό τ ο υ δ ι α β ό λ ο υ , “to be tem pted by the devil,” the second υ π ό phrase of the verse occurs. W hereas it is the Spirit who leads Jesus into the wilderness, it is the devil (δ ι ά β ο λ ο ς , lit. “slanderer,” occurs in Matthew outside the present pericope only in 13:39 and 25:41) who does the testing. The Spirit’s role is thus prior to that of the devil. T he infinitive π ε ι ρ α σ θ ή ν α ί expresses purpose in the sentence. Only Matthew expresses so strongly that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness in order that he m ight be tested by the devil. 2 ν η σ τ ε ύ σ α ς η μ έ ρ α ς τ ε σ σ ε ρ ά κ ο ν τ α κ α ι ν ύ κ τ α ς τ ε σ σ ε ρ ά κ ο ν τ α , “having fasted forty days and forty nights.” The testing takes place in conjunction with fasting, which is to be understood as com m anded by God. T he rabbinic notion of atone­ m ent through fasting (suggested by G rundm ann) is far from M atthew’s m ind. Several OT parallels are readily available. Both Moses (Exod 34:28) and Elijah (1 Kgs 19:8) fasted for forty days and nights. Parallels have already been drawn be­ tween Jesus and Moses in chap. 2; the reference to Moses’ fasting for forty days and nights in D eut 9:9 occurs m oreover in the context of D eut 6-8, which serves as the basis o f the passage. Matthew, who alone am ong the Synoptists refers to forty nights, may show the influence of this language, but m ore probably the num ­ ber forty itself (com m on to the Synoptics), which is of course a ro u n d rath er than an exact num ber, goes back to the basic parallelism with Israel’s w andering in the wilderness for forty years (Deut 8:2). T he shift from forty years to forty days is no t difficult in rabbinic typology (in the OT, cf. Num 14:34; Ezek 4:6). H unger (έπείνασεν, “he becam e h u n g ry ”) is also m en­ tioned in the account of Israel’s experience (Deut 8:3), and, as G erhardsson points out, the H ebrew Π ΐ ϋ , cnh, in the piel can have the special sense o f “cause to fast.” M atthew’s aorist participle νηστεύσα ς (and ύστερον, “afterw ards”) puts the testing ex­ plicitly after the forty days and nights, unlike the accounts of Mark and Luke, who set forth the entire period as a period of testing. This may suggest that M atthew conceived of the forty days and nights as a time of com m union with God (cf. G. Kittel, TDNT 2:58). T he evangelist thus reserves the actual tem ptations for Jesu s’ weakest m om ent.

3 Only now does “the tem p ter” ( ό π ε ί ρ ά ζ ω ν ) com e to Jesus to accom plish his purpose (cf. Gen 3:1-7). For the importance of π ρ ο σ έ ρ χ ε τ θ α ί , “come to,” in Matthew, see Comment on 5:1. The key clause in the pericope, el υ ι ό ς ε ΐ τ ο υ θ ε ο ύ , “If you are the Son of G od,” is repeated in segment b (v 6) and assumed in segment c (v 9). υ ι ό ς lacks the definite article because it precedes the verb, no t because it is indefinite. The question has been prepared for in the baptism narrative, where Jesus is desig­ nated the Son of God (see Comment on 3:17). In the tem ptation pericope the relation of the Son to the will of his Father is called into question (cf. the likening of Israel to a son in D eut 8:5). T he testing is accom plished here by the suggestion of



som ething that, looked at from another perspective or in a different context, is within the power and prerogative of the Messiah. The tem pter does not suggest uncertainty on his part concerning the divine sonship of Jesus by use of el, “i f ’ (in a first-class condition). Indeed, the situation here is like the narrative about the dem ons, e.g., in Mark 1:24, where, with the invasion of their realm , the dem ons have an intuitive knowledge of the true identity of Jesus. Thus, from the perspective of the devil, we might well translate el here as “since.” (The same words are spoken in unbelief in 27:40.) McNeile is hardly correct when he says that the tem ptation to Jesus was to see if he had the power to work a m iracle—i.e., a testing of Jesus’ own confidence in his identity. The question is one of obedience to the will of the Father. iva ol λ ί θ ο ι ovtol ά ρ τ ο ι γ έ ν ω ν τ α ι , “that these stones m ight becom e b read .” It is unlikely that the plural ol λ ί θ ο ι ovtol . . . ά ρ τ ο ι , “these stones . . . b read ,” implies the feeding of m ultitudes in a messianic sense (so Lohm eyer-Schm auch). Since there is nothing intrinsically sinful about turning stones into bread, the m eaning of the tem ptation m ust be explored m ore deeply. Fundam ental to any correct understanding o f this particular testing of Jesus is the realization that the fasting and hu n g er are, at this stage, the will of the Father for the Son. To turn the stones into bread would be in effect to refuse G od’s will and would involve a disobedience that would belie Jesus’ sonship. But is there m ore significance than this in the testing? Given that the testing specifically involves the testing of the Son of God and that m iraculous feeding is a messianic deed, perhaps an im proper or illtim ed expression of messianic power is involved. If this is probably true, it still is a m atter th at involves only Jesus and his obedience to his F ath er’s will since there are no witnesses to the testing and no m ultitude to be fed. The testing then am ounts to this: shall Jesus exercise his messianic power for his own ends in a way that avoids difficulty and pain, or shall he accept the path of suffering (and death) that is his F ath er’s will? In this sense the testing is different from the testing of Israel, who did n o t have it in h er power to turn stones into bread. It is, however, going too far to suggest that this testing involves the Messiah’s repetition of the m anna-m iracle of Israel’s wilderness experience, as expected by late rabbinic literature (see Str-B 2:481-2). T hat background is m ore appropriate to the miracle of the feeding of the m ultitude (cf. 14:15-21). 4 Jesus answers the com m and of the devil with an OT quotation introduced by the com m on form ula of introduction in the perfect tense, γ έ γ ρ α π τ α ί , with the thrust “it stands w ritten.” T he quotation itself agrees exactly with the LXX of D eut 8:3 except for the omission of the article τ ω before έ κ π ο ρ ο ν ο μ έ ν ω . The context of that quotation—the wilderness w andering of Israel—is centrally im portant to the understanding of this pericope, w herein the Son of God relives the experience of G od’s son, Israel, bu t in victory rath er than in defeat. The words ο ύ κ ί π ’ ά ρ τ ω μ ό ν ω , “n o t by bread alone,” allow the necessity of bread for life but imply that bread alone is insufficient. Fundam entally im portant to life, as the next clause reveals, is o n e ’s relation to the will of God. This is the point of the saying of Jesus recorded in J o h n 4:34: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his will” (cf. Jo h n 6:35). For ά λ λ ’ έ π ί π α ν τ ι ρ ή μ α τ ι , “but by every w ord,” the Hebrew text has literally “everything.” M atthew’s longer quotation (this clause is lacking in Luke) may be the work of his own extension of the quotation in Q. The effect is to give positive


Matthew 4:1-11

teaching concerning obedience by suggesting the reason for Jesus’ conduct (for a closely re la te d sta te m e n t, cf. Wis 16:26). T his positive n o te su p p o rts G erhardsson’s claim that the tem ptations are related to the Shem a (Deut 6:5) with its threefold exhortation to love God with heart, soul, and m ight. In this instance Jesus shows that he loves God with his whole heart. Thus the Son will n o t exercise his messianic power to satisfy his own desires; he rem ains steadfastly o bedient to the Father and to the fulfillm ent of a messianic role involving depri­ vation and suffering (cf. H eb 5:8). It should be noted here that Jesus serves as a paradigm for the C hurch when he subjects himself, as the hum an Son of God, to a com m andm ent that specifically refers to a hum an being ( ό ά ν θ ρ ω π ο ς ) living by the word o f God. 5 As in v 1, Matthew again begins with τ ό τ ε , “th e n .” H ere, in π α ρ α λ α μ β ά ν ε ί , “takes,” and in λ έ γ ε ι , “says,” of v 6, he shifts to the historical present, bu t no t consistently ( έ σ τ η σ ε ν , “placed,” is again aorist, like the verbs in vv 1-4). If Q had the narrative in the historical present, Luke has been m ore consistent in chang­ ing the verbs to aorist; m ore probably, however, Matthew inconsistently alters some o f the verbs to the historical present (by influence of oral tradition?). H e now also picks up ό δ ι ά β ο λ ο ς , “the devil” (cf. v 1), the co u n terp art to 6 π ε ί ρ ά ζ ω ν , “the tem pter,” in v 3. τ η ν ά γ ί α ν π ό λ ί ν , “the holy city,” is a com m on designation for Jerusalem (so in Luke) and is so used in 27:53 (cf. Isa 52:1; N eh 11:1, 18; Dan 3:28 [LXX]; Rev 11:2; 21:2, 10; 22:19). In his trance-like vision Jesus sees him self p erched u p o n one of the highest points of the tem ple. Despite m uch discussion, exactly what is m eant by the phrase τό πτερύγων τονΙερού, “the pinnacle of the tem ple,” rem ains unclear, πτερύγων is the dim inutive o f πτέρυξ, “wing,” and may refer to the tip, end, or edge of som ething (BAGD, 727a). Suggestions have included the following: the (east) co rn er o f the south wall o f the tem ple, which overlooked a deep ravine (Josephus refers to its height, Ant. 15.11.5 §§411-412); the ro o f of the tem ple or a projection th e re o f (a rabbinic tradition expects the Messiah to appear on the roof of the tem ple, Str-B 1:151); the “lin tel” or “su p erstru ctu re” o f a tem ple gate (for which an o th er G reek word, ύπέρθνρον, would be expected, according to BAGD, 727a); a tower in the tem ple precincts. G erhardsson suggests that whatever it refers to, the unusual word πτερύγων may deliberately have been chosen in o rd er to play on the idea of safety in God (cf. reference to the “wings” of God in Ps 91:4, the very psalm quoted in the next verse)—a plausible suggestion, given the occurrence of the idea in the context of Ps 91 and the rabbis’ p en c h an t for such m inute co rrespon­ dences. T he tem ple is portrayed as the location of this particular testing n o t because it is envisaged as a public spectacle but because the tem ple precinct always served as a very special place of divine protection. Moreover, as G erhardsson ( Testing,56-58) points out, there are many com m on associations between protection in the wilderness and p rotection in the tem ple. H egisippus’ account of the m artyrdom o f Jam es the Ju st (Eusebius, H.E. 2.23.11) refers to him being thrown from the πτερύγωνof the tem ple in conjunction with his being stoned. W hatever that may say about the location of the “wing of the tem ple,” Hyldahl applies this to Jesus’ experience and argues that Jesus is com ­ m anded to subm it him self to stoning as the sentence o f ju d g m e n t for the blasphem y of considering him self to be the Son of G od—if he really were, he would receive the p ro ­ tection prom ised by God to his Son. But this is only interesting speculation.

6 T he words ε ί ν ι ο ς ε ΐ τ ο ν θ ε ο ύ , “if you are the Son of G od,” are in verbatim agreem ent with v 3 (see Comment there). In the first test, Jesus is com m anded by



the devil to provide food for him self—i.e., to save him self by exercising his messianic power. H ere, by contrast, he is com m anded to p u t him self in m ortal danger ( β ά λ ε σ ε α υ τ ό ν κ ά τ ω , “cast yourself dow n”) and thus to force God to save him (i.e., through the agency of angels). It is im portant to note that the test involves a ju m p to safety, i.e., to rescue by God, and no t to destruction. By refusing to jum p, therefore, Jesus chooses the path of continuing danger and hardship. This testing should be understood as involving a struggle between Jesus and Satan. T here is no m ention of and no need of witnesses for the passage to make sense. Again he is called n o t to capitalize upon his identity as the Son of God bu t to yield in obedience to the Father and to trust in his will. T he devil uses the same introductory form ula, γ έ γ ρ α π τ α ι , “it is w ritten,” used by Jesus in his three replies (see on v 4). Only here is recitative o t l used. T hat the devil quotes Scripture here is, of course, paradoxical. This is, however, hardly an exam ple o f Streitgesprach (controversy dialogue), a contest w herein the devil tries to outdo Jesus in his use o f Scripture. The point of the com m and, β ά λ ε σ ε α υ τ ό ν κ ά τ ω , “cast yourself dow n,” is beyond com prehension w ithout the accom panying quotation to supply the significance of what is asked. To see the scriptural warran t is to set forth the justification that could be legitimately claim ed by Jesus for ju m p in g to safety, and accordingly to sharpen the struggle that goes on within him. T he quotation is from Ps 91 [LXX, 90]: 11-12 and is in verbatim agreem ent with the LXX except for the omission after the first clause of the words τ ο ν δ ι α φ υ λ ά ξ α ι σ ε ε ν π ά σ α ί ς τ α ϊ ς ό δ ο ι ς σ ο υ , “to guard you in all your ways” (of which Luke has the first three w ords). T here is probably no significance in the omission (contra Tasker). T he use of Ps 91 may presuppose a messianic understanding of the psalm, although there is nothing overtly messianic in it. More likely, the psalm is understood to apply to any faithful Israelite and thus a f ortiori to the Son of God, who serves as the representative of Israel. T he message of the psalm is simply that God protects the faithful. The force of the particular verses quoted here is the same. T he reference to protecting angels anticipates Jesus’ statem ent at the time of his arrest that he could receive the help of twelve legions of angels if he asked for it (26:53). T here is no specific messianic elem ent here (contra Hill) b u t only the test of obedience and trust. Again no observers are m entioned to witness a messianic act. 7 With π ά λ ι ν γ έ γ ρ α π τ α ί , “again it is w ritten” (see on v 4), Matthew continues to stress the im portance of Scripture. T he quotation is in verbatim agreem ent with the words as found in the LXX of D eut 6:16. T he MT has “you” in the plural against the singular “you” of the LXX and Matthew, b u t the difference is of no significance. The LXX verse goes on to say, “as you tested him in the Testing ( ε ν τ ω Π ε ί ρ α σ μ φ Υ (MT: “at Massah” = “testing”; cf. Exod 17:1-7). Israel in the wilderness failed in obedience and tested God (cf. 1 Cor 10:9). But where Israel failed, the Son is obedient. In quoting Deut 6:16, Jesus asserts that he will not test God on this (or any other) issue. The words are not m eant as a com m and to the devil not to test Jesus. At stake again is Jesus’ implicit trust in and obedience to his Father; Jesus will be obedient and will not fail as did G od’s son Israel (cf. esp. Ps 95:9). To act otherwise—i.e., to ju m p to safety—would be to act only out of self-interest and to act against the will o f God on the m atter of testing. T he Son, however, trusts the F ather’s will and provision, though that trust may involve the risk of life (cf. 26:5354; 27:40). T he Son accordingly loves God with all of his life or soul (Deut 6:5).


Matthew 4:1-11

8 π ά λ ι ν 7τ α ρ α λ α μ β ά ν ε ι α υ τ ό ν ό δ ι ά β ο λ ο ς , “again the devil takes h im ,” is in verbatim agreem ent with the beginning of v 5, except for π ά λ ι ν (cf. v 7); the syntactical structure of the testings is very similar (see above, Farm/Structure/Setting §C ). ε ι ς ό ρ ο ς υ ψ η λ ό ν λ ί α ν , “to a very high m ou n tain ,” is probably n o t to be taken literally, as can be seen from the following clause. (For evidence concerning a mythical m ountain with similar panoram as, cf. Rev 21:10; 2 Apoc. Bar. 76:3. See Foerster, TDNT 5:486.) T he reference, however, does have literal associations. Moses was com m anded to go to the top of Pisgah (M ount Nebo) and from there n o t only to survey the prom ised land (Deut 34:1-4) but to look in every direction (Deut 3:27)—which the rabbis took symbolically to m ean to survey the whole world (references in Gerhardsson, Testing,, 63). In this connection Moses also warns the people n o t to be tem pted by the riches of Canaan, for it is God who gives wealth (Deut 8:18). A secondary significance of the “very high m o u n tain ” may be the association with idolatry (see, e.g., D eut 12:2), which is of course p ertin en t to the devil’s words in the next verse, δ ε ί κ ν υ σ ι ν α ύ τ ώ , “shows to him ,” continues the historical present tense (following π α ρ α λ α μ β ά ν ε ι ) , against L uke’s aorist. π ά σ α ς τ ά ς β α σ ι λ ε ί α ς τ ο υ κ ό σ μ ο υ κ α ι τ η ν δ ό ξ α ν α υ τ ώ ν , “all the kingdom s of the world and th eir glory,” m eans “this world and all its w ealth” or “all that this world has to offer.” T he π ά σ α ς is all inclusive from the w riter’s perspective. For δ ό ξ α in the sense o f worldly splendor, see BAGD, 204a (s.v. 2). 9 T he aorist ε ί π ε ν , “he said,” is surprisingly used after two successive historical present tenses in the preceding verse. F urther historical present tenses are used in vv 10 { λ έ γ ε ι , “he says”) and 11 { ά φ ί η σ ι ν , “leaves”). The m ain clause in this third testing by the devil contains n o t an im perative, as in the preceding two (vv 3, 6), b u t a promise: τ α ϋ τ ά σ ο ι π ά ν τ α δ ώ σ ω , “I will give you all these things.” Therefore, the conditional clause that follows, unlike the two previous conditional clauses (vv 3, 6), involves an actual condition to be m et (cf. the use of ε ά ν in a third-class condition in place of εί) . The devil’s offer of all the kingdom s of the world is a parody in that God has already prom ised the messianic king, the Son o f God, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (Ps 2:8; cf. Ps 72:8; Rev 11:15). Again the devil tries to d eto u r Jesus away from the will of the Father, offering him som ething within his rights (cf. 28:18), but, as the following clause shows, at the cost of idolatry: ε ά ν π ε σ ώ ν π ρ ο σ κ ύ ν η σ η ς μ ο ι , “if you fall down and worship m e.” W hat Jesus received from the magi (the same combination of participle and verb occurs in 2:11), Satan desires from Jesus. In this conditional clause, we have the key to the testing of Jesus, and indeed to all such testing. As in the very first account of testing, failed by Adam and Eve (Gen 3:1-7), the question centers on a choice between the will of Satan or the will of God, which involves implicitly the rendering of worship to the one or the other. Satan indeed vaunts himself as god in place of the only God. Thus, at stake here is the fundam ental issue addressed by the first of the commandments: “I am the Lord your God . . . you shall have no other gods before m e” (Deut 5:6-7). 10 T he response of Jesus is direct and unwavering: ύ π α γ ε , σ α τ α ν ά , “get away from me, Satan.” Only here at the end of the three testings does Jesus respond with a com m and (cf. the similar words and same address in 16:23). Satan is the transliteration of the Aramaic K]Q0, stn5 (alternately spelled Nj(D0, stn' ), “the Adversary” (cf. 1 C hr 21:1; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7; Zech 3:1-2), and is essentially the equivalent of δ ι ά β ο λ ο ς (the com m on LXX translation). Satan has tested Jesus



and has failed. Jesus sends him away with a com m and that calls attention simulta­ neously to his victory and to his authority. For the third time (cf. vv 4, 6), Jesus answers Satan with a quotation from D euteronom y (6:13), introduced with the γ έ γ ρ α π τ α ι form ula. The quotation is exact except for two slight changes (found also in Luke, hence derived from Q): π ρ ο σ κ υ ν ή σ ε ι ς , “you shall worship,” replaces LXX’s φ ο β η θ ή σ η , “you shall fear”; and μ ό ν ω , “only,” is inserted before λ α τ ρ ε ύ σ ε ι ς , “you shall serve.” T he form er may be chosen to echo the words of the devil in v 9, “if you worship m e,” and is n o t far from the m eaning of φ ο β η θ ή σ τ ) in this context (i.e., “reverence” or “respect”); the μ ό ν ω simply underlines what is evident in the following verse of D euteronom y (6:14) .Jesus thus employs a verse of Scripture that addresses the issue right at its heart. We may also note (with Gerhardsson, Testing) that when Jesus refused the world and all its wealth, he dem onstrated that he loved God with all his m ight (wealth) and so perfectly fulfilled the com m andm ent of D eut 6:5, in its third and final com ponent as in the first two (see above). Again Jesus succeeds where Israel failed (cf. Exod 32). W hat Jesus declines to exploit on the m ount of tem ptation, his messianic power and authority, he proclaims as his on the m ount of the com­ mission at the en d of the Gospel (28:16; cf. Donaldson, 103, following Allen). 11 Again Matthew begins with his favorite initial τ ό τ ε , “th e n ” (as above, 4:1, 5). The historical present tense appears ( ά φ ί η σ ι ν , “leaves”), followed by an aorist and an im perfect. Matthew lacks Luke’s ά χ ρ ι κ α ι ρ ο ύ , “until an o p portune tim e,” which is probably a Lukan addition rath er than a M atthean omission since Mat­ thew indeed knows of the reappearance of the tem pter (cf. 16:23 and 27:40, both in relation to “Son of G od”). For a similar association of ideas, see Jas 4:7 (cf. T Naph. 8:4). T he m otif expressed in ι δ ο ύ ά γ γ ε λ ο ι π ρ ο σ ή λ θ ο ν κ α ι δ ι η κ ό ν ο υ ν α ύ τ ω , “look, an­ gels came to him and were m inistering to him ,” has a Jewish background. More than m inistering to Jesus’ physical needs (e.g., hunger) is to be seen here. The angels come n o t simply to m inister to a faithful Israelite (as prom ised in v 6) but to call special attention to the victory of the obedient Son (cf. H eb 1:6). The verse is thus symbolic of the true identity of the Son (cf. 26:53), which is again affirm ed at this point. It also underlines G od’s faithfulness to the obedient. Explanation Just as the baptism of Jesus represents an identification with the people of God, so also does the narrative of the testing of Jesus. The newly adopted son of God, Israel, experienced testing in the wilderness for forty years; the newly proclaim ed Son of God, Jesus, experienced testing in the wilderness for forty days and nights. T hat testing was real for Jesus, and the narrative m ust n o t be taken as a charade. But Jesus exhibits the faithful obedience of the Son to the Father where Israel failed. The things offered to Jesus—bread, safety, and the kingdoms of this world— are rightfully his by virtue of his sonship and messianic identity. Yet, as we see in the words spoken from heaven after the baptism, Jesus is called to be obedient n o t only as Son b ut also as Servant. He thereby is called to exemplify obedience to the will of the Father u n d er the pressure of severe testing and at the cost of self-denial. He will, in particular, express his messianic identity only in accord with the will of the Father.


Matthew 4:1-11

In this pericope we encounter a them e that is vital in the theology of the Gos­ pels. T he goal o f obedience to the Father is accom plished, n o t by trium phant self-assertion, n o t by the exercise of power and authority, but paradoxically by the way of humility, service, and suffering. T herein lies true greatness (cf. 20:2628). In fulfilling his commission by obedience to the will of the Father, Jesus dem onstrates the rightness of the great com m andm ent (Deut 6:5) as well as his own submission to it. In his faithful adherence to the teaching of the law, he reveals the fundam ental consistency of his own teaching and m inistry with the law rightly understood (cf. 5:17) and serves as a paradigm of conduct for the early C hurch. The sonship of Christians, too, m ust be expressed in full obedi­ ence to the will of God, involving, as it will, difficulties and testings (cf. 10:22, 24). Those testings will no t be the same as those faced by Jesus, which relate to his unique identity and mission. But they will in principle be similar in that Chris­ tians too are called to self-sacrifice, and for them , too, obedience to the will of the Father alone is the m easure of true discipleship.

Galilean M inistry


Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee


Bibliography R om an iu k , K. “Repentez-vous, car le Royaume des Cieux est tout proche (Matt, iv.17 par.) N TS 12 (1965-66) 259-69. R o th fu c h s, W. Die Erfullungszitate des Matthaus-Evangeliums. Stuttgart: W. K ohlham m er, 1969. 67-70. S lin g erla n d , H . D . “T he T ransjordanian O rigin

of St. M atthew’s G ospel.”J S N T 3 (1979) 18-28.

Translation 12When he heard that John was taken into custody, he departed into Galilee. 13And he left Nazareth, and he came and dwelt in Capernaum beside the sea, in the regions of what had been Zebulun and Naphtali, l4in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might befulfilled, saying, 15 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, The way of the sea, across theJordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: 16 The people sitting in darknessa have seen a great light, and upon those sitting in the realm and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned. 17From that timeJesus began to preach and to say, “Repent,for the kingdom of Heaven has come near. ” N otes a For σκοτία (B D), the majority o f MSS read σκότ€ί, probably by harm onization with the LXX of Isa 9:1.

Form/Structure/Setting A. This short pericope serves as a transition and introduction to the narrative of the Galilean ministry o f Jesus. T he brief notice about the arrest of Jo h n rounds o u t the account o f the time of preparation. Jesus’ own work, which now begins, is prefaced by an OT quotation with a fulfillm ent form ula (see Introduction). This quotation serves as a rubric for the entire Galilean m inistry of Jesus. T he final verse clearly marks a dividing point in the entire narrative and finds its counter­ p art in an o th er m ajor dividing point that is introduced with the very same words, ά π ό τ ό τ ε η ρ ξ α τ ο δ Ι η σ ο ύ ς (16:21). T here Jesus announces his im m inent suffer­ ing and death in Jerusalem . Despite the im portance of the present dividing point, it is a mistake to suggest that the opening words of Matthew, β ί β λ ο ς γ ε ν έ σ ε ω ς , are m eant to include 1:1-4:16 (see discussion above on 1:1-17, Form/Structure/Setting §A).


Matthew 4:12-17

B. The tradition concerning Jesus’ residence in C apernaum at the beginning of his m inistry is found in all four Gospels. Matthew here seems to d epend on his own source rath er than being d ep en d en t upon Mark or Q. W hen Mark and Luke refer to Jesus’ com ing to C apernaum , it is in connection specifically with his teach­ ing in the synagogue (Mark 1:21; Luke 4:31). Matthew alone quotes Isa 8:23-9:1 (the only o th e r b rie f use o f the passage in the NT is fo u n d in Z ec h aria h ’s Benedictus in Luke 1:79).Jesus’ teaching is sum m arized in v 17, in verbatim agree­ m ent with the summary of J o h n ’s preaching in 3:2, stressing the continuity between the two. C. T he quotation from Isa 9:1-2, the significance attributed to it, and its im­ pact on the wording of the preceding verses give this passage a m idrashic flavor. It is obvious that Matthew understands Jesus to be the fulfillm ent of the Isaiah passage (cf. esp. Isa 9:6-8, which Matthew would clearly have taken to refer to Jesus) and therefore interprets the move of Jesus to Galilee and C apernaum as corresponding to the specific words of Isaiah. The light referred to in the quota­ tion is the presence of the kingdom in and through Jesus. T he passage may be o u tlin ed as follows: (1) Jesu s’ arrival in Galilee (v 12); (2) the fulfillm ent of the Isaiah prophecy (vv 13-16); and (3) the beginning of Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom (v 17). Comment 12 While we read of Jo h n in prison in 11:2, we m ust wait until 14:3-4 to find out what lies behind the Ι ω ά ν ν η ς π α ρ ε δ ό θ η , “John was taken into custody.” This was apparently a piece of tradition so familiar to the C hurch that it could stand here without explanation (as it does also in Mark 1:14). Like Mark, Matthew notes that it was after J o h n ’s arrest that Jesus began his ministry in Galilee. If there was a causal connection (cf. ά κ ο ύ σ α ς , “when he had h e a rd ”) between the two events, we can­ not be sure what it was. With no m ention of a Judean ministry in Matthew or Mark, the problem of a rivalry between Jo h n and Jesus is avoided (cf. Jo h n 3:22-24; 4:1-3). For almost identical wording in reference to Jesus’ reaction to the news of J o h n ’s death, see 14:13. The π α ρ ε δ ό θ η may be intended to anticipate Jesus’ betrayal (17:22; 20:18-19; 26:2; etc.), thus drawing a parallel between the suffering of Jo h n and of Jesus (so G rundm ann). T he reason for the retu rn to Galilee is no t simply that Jesus went hom e to Nazareth. This is ruled out by the opening words of v 13. 13 T he reason for leaving N azareth is n o t given. Before the m ention of C apernaum , Luke has Jesus rejected by the people of his hom etow n (Luke 4:1630); this m otif occurs in Matthew m uch later (13:53-58). Jesus has n o t re tu rn ed to Galilee to be at hom e as before but, by the will of God, to begin the work he was com m issioned to do. T he m inistry of Jesus had better possibilities in Galilee, which was far rem oved from the Pharisees’ center of power (note the reference to them in Jo h n 4:1) and provided a m uch m ore tolerant atm osphere than Jerusa­ lem. C apernaum may have been chosen as a base of operations because it was hom e for some of the disciples. (In Mark the disciples are chosen before any re fe re n c e to C a p e rn a u m , 1:16-21.) M atth ew ’s d e lib e ra te d e sc rip tio n o f C apernaum as τ η ν π α ρ α θ α λ α σ σ ί α ν , “beside the sea,” anticipates ο δ ό ν θ α λ ά σ σ η ς , “way of the sea,” in the Isaiah quotation that follows. This of course is true also of the reference to Zebulun and Naphtali.



14 ϊ ν α π λ η ρ ω θ ή τ ό ρ η θ έ ν , “in order that what was spoken m ight be fulfilled,” introduces the fifth of ten fulfillment quotations used by Matthew (see Introduction) . T he correspondence between events in the life of Jesus and words of the prophet, even though the latter may initially have been referring to som ething different, is seen n o t as coincidental but as divinely foreordained. Especially p rom inent in Matthew are the quotations from Isaiah. Matthew does no t hesitate to stress that what Isaiah talks about as the future hope of his people (cf. “in the latter tim e”; Isa 9:1 MT) has now com e in Jesus. 15 T he quotation here is close to the LXX of Isa 8:23-9:1 (= versification of MT), except for the following: in referring to Zebulun, Matthew has γ ή , “land,” lor χ ώ ρ α , “district”; following θ α λ ά σ σ η ν , Matthew omits the LXX’s κ α ί ol λ ο ι π ο ί oi τ ή ν π α ρ α λ ί α ν κ α τ ο ί κ ο ϋ ν τ ε ς κ α ί , “and the others who inhabit the seacoast a n d ”; and after έ θ ν ώ ν , “Gentiles,” Matthew omits τ ά μ έ ρ η τ ή ς Ί ο υ δ α ί α ς , “the regions of Ju d ea .” T he form er omission is an u n im portant abbreviation of the text; the lat­ ter is obviously om itted because Matthew wants to make another point (but cf. the reference to Ju d ea in v 25). According to the LXX, Isaiah addresses the mes­ sage to all Israel (but with em phasis on the regions to the no rth ); Matthew wants to stress the way in which Jesus, by beginning his m inistry at C apernaum in Gal­ ilee, fulfills Isaiah’s expectation. γ ή Ζ α β ο ν λ ώ ν κ α ί γ ή Ν ε φ θ α λ ί μ , “the land of Zebulun and the land of N aphtali,” refers to two n o rth ern tribes of Israel bordering on the Sea of Galilee, Zebulun to the south (where Nazareth lies) and N aphtali to the no rth (where C apernaum lies). T he fact that in the Hebrew text (Isa 9:1) the places nam ed are n o t specifi­ cally addressees (as in the LXX) is n ot significant; the plain m eaning of the context is th at the words spoken in Isa 9:2 are m eant for those previously nam ed. T he “way o f the sea” (ο δ ό ν θ α λ ά σ σ η ς ) was the Rom an road (the via mans) con­ necting Damascus with Caesarea on the M editerranean coast, a branch of which went along the west bank of the Sea of Galilee through Bethsaida and Capernaum , key towns in the ministry of Jesus. Capernaum , of course, is not “beyond the Jor­ dan,” π έ ρ α ν τ ο ν Ί ο ρ δ ά ν ο ν , i.e., east of the Jordan, but Jesus’ m inistry in Galilee does extend into the region of the Decapolis across the Jo rd an (cf. 4:25), and Matthew may well have this in m ind. It is unlikely that “across the Jo rd a n ” refers to Galilee and thus reflects the perspective of a writer located east of the Jordan, even despite the lack of the LXX’s κ α ί before the phrase (Slingerland). The phrase reflects too standard an expression to describe anything other than the trans-Jordan territory (cf. esp. v 25). T he phrase Γ α λ ί λ α ί α τ ω ν έ θ ν ώ ν , “Galilee of the Gentiles,” was a com m on designation for Galilee, resulting from what had historically been a rath er large gentile population. Matthew does not refer to a mission of Jesus to the Gentiles, b ut M atthew’s readers may well have seen in these words a fore­ shadowing of what would occur after the resurrection (28:19; cf. 24:14). It is again for Matthew no accident that despite his lim itation of his ministry to the Jews, Jesus began his m inistry in a region that had gentile associations. 16 A greem ent with the LXX continues to be close, with only the following significant differences: Matthew has δ κ α θ ή μ ε ν ο ς , “sitting,” for LXX’s δ π ο ρ ε υ ό μ ε ν ο ς (“walking”), a variant that may em phasize the plight of the addressees. He re­ peats the nuance by m eans of the parallel τ ο ΐ ς κ α θ η μ έ ν ο ι ς , “those sitting,” which is substituted for the LXX’s oi κ α τ ο ί κ ο υ ν τ ε ς (“those dwelling”). M atthew’s aorist ά ν έ τ ε ί λ ε ν , “daw ned,” supplants LXX’s future λ ά μ ψ ε ι , “will shine,” reflecting the


Matthew 4:18-22

Hebrew perfect tense, but also M atthew’s own perspective, b λ α ό ς ο κ α θ ή μ ε ν ο ς ε ν σ κ ό τ β ι , “the people sitting in darkness,” refers probably to the Jewish people (λ α ό ς is elsewhere in Matthew used only for Israel)—living in conditions of frustration and despair, and am ong pagan Gentiles—who are the first to be privileged to see the fulfillm ent of G od’s promises. T he “great light” (φ ω ς . . . μ έ γ α ) which has shined u p o n them is the presence and m inistry of the messianic king. This is em phasized by the following verse, which summarizes Jesus’ message and mis­ sion. For the same im agery of light, see Luke 1:78-79; Jo h n 1:4-5, 9; 8:12. 17 T he form ulaic ά π ό τ ό τ ε ή ρ ξ α τ ο ό ’Ι η σ ο ύ ς , “from that time Jesus began,” signals a tu rn in g point in the narrative (see Form/Structure/Setting §A); it is re­ peated verbatim in 16:21, an o th er m ajor turning point of the Gospel. Jesus, like J o h n (cf. 3:1), functions as a herald ( κ η ρ ύ σ σ ε ι ς , “to proclaim ”) proclaim ing good news (cf. v 23). T he them e of the proclam ation of the gospel occurs th ro u g h o u t the narrative (cf. 9:35; 11:1) and is a responsibility com m itted in tu rn to the dis­ ciples (cf. 10:7, 27; 24:14; 26:13). κ α ί λ έ γ ε ι ν , “and to say,” introduces the essential co n ten t of the kerygma: μ ε τ α ν ο ε ί τ ε * ή γ γ ι κ ε ν γ ά ρ ή β α σ ι λ ε ί α τ ω ν ο ύ ρ α ν ώ ν , “re­ pent, for the kingdom of Heaven has come near.’’Jesus’ words echo J o h n ’s message recorded in 3:2 (see Comment there). T he drawing near of the kingdom is the g round (γ ά ρ , “fo r”) o f the call to repentance and as such is m ore im portant than the call to repentance (contra Luz, Davies-Allison). Explanation This passage serves as an im portant transition, bringing Jesus to Galilee where his m inistry is to have its form al beginning. Jesus has been p repared by the bap­ tism and the tem ptation in the wilderness, the stage is fully set, and now comes the word th at J o h n has been arrested: the work o f the fo reru n n e r is com plete. Jesus comes to Nazareth and to C apernaum beside the sea, and in these regions, so significant in their correspondence to the prophecy of Isaiah, Jesus begins to proclaim the presence of the kingdom by word and deed: a great light appears to those who sit in darkness. Thus, as G. Dalm an (Sacred Sites and Ways [London: SPCK, ET 1935] 183) puts it, “the loveliest lake of Palestine rem ains the place where G od’s redeem ing power appeared to m en for the first time on earth in a new guise, like a light, and thus was the prophetic word (Isa 8:23; 9:1) concern­ ing the great light in the land of Zebulun and N aphtali abundantly fulfilled.” T he gospel in its essence is the proclam ation of the good news of the dawning of G od’s rule. With that rule begins a new fram e of salvation-history, one closely related to the eschaton itself.

The Calling of the Disciples


Bibliography A b o g u n rin , S. O . “T he T hree Variant Accounts of P ete r’s Call: A Critical an d T heological

E x am in atio n o f th e T ex ts.” N T S 31 (1985) 587—602. B etz, O . “D o n n e rs o h n e ,



M enschenfischer u n d der davidische Messias.” RevQ 3 (1961) 41-70. Franzmann, Μ . H. FollowMe: DiscipleshipaccordingtoSaintMatthew. St. Louis: C oncordia, 1961. Freyne, S. The Twelve: Disciples and Apostles. L ondon: Sheed & Ward, 1968. Kingsbury, J. D. “T he Verb Akolouthein (“To Follow”) as an Index of M atthew’s View of His Community. ”JBL 97 (1978) 56-73. Manek, J. “Fishers of M en.” NovT 2 (1958) 138-41. Smith, C. W. F. “Fishers o f Men: Footnotes on a Gospel Figure.” HTR 52 (1959) 187-203. Wuellner, W. H. The Meaning of FishersofMen.’Philadelphia: Westminster, 1967.

Translation 18Walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew his brother/ casting a net into the sea; for they werefishermen. 19And he said to them, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of human beings. ” 20And they left their nets immediately and followed him. 21And when he went a little further, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, putting their nets in order. 22And he called them. And they immediately left the boat and theirfather and followed him. Notes a Because Matthew has added the words δύοάδελφούς, “two b ro th ers,” the M arkan reference to Andrew as τονάδελφόναυτόν, “his b ro th er,” although preserved by Matthew, becom es redundant.

Form/Structure/Setting A. Matthew follows Mark in putting this passage after the initial statem ent of the message of Jesus (cf. Mark 1:15) and before any reporting of the actual m in­ istry of Jesus (but in Mark a sum m ary of Jesus’ m inistry precedes). This logical o rd er stands in contrast to Luke, where the calling comes only in chap. 5, after an account o f Jesus’ m inistry in C apernaum and after a reference to Simon for which there has been no preparation (Luke 4:38). T he Lukan account of the calling (5:1-11) is given in connection with the m iracle of a great catch and con­ tains no reference to Andrew, but does include the reference to “catching people,” although with a different verb ( ζ ω γ ρ β ΐ ν ) , as well as the response following (5:1011). Luke furth erm ore has Jesus get into one of the boats in order to teach the large crowd, som ething that occurs later in Matthew and Mark in connection with the teaching of the parables of the kingdom (Matt 13:1-2; Mark 4:1-2). B. M atthew’s redactional changes of Mark reveal his concern for parallelism (co n tra Schniewind, cited approvingly by G ru n d m an n , who argues th at the changes have no special intention). Thus Matthew adds the words δ ύ ο ά δ ε λ φ ο ύ ς , “two bro th ers,” both in v 18 and v 21; bu t m ost conspicuously of all, in v 22 he moves M ark’s ε ύ θ ύ ς , “im m ediately” (changing it to ε υ θ έ ω ς ) , from before έ κ ά λ ε σ ε ν , “he called,” to before the participle ά φ έ ν τ ε ς , “having left,” thus producing verba­ tim agreem ent with v 20. Matthew furtherm ore abbreviates the ending of the final verse o f the pericope (v 22), om itting M ark’s reference to Zebedee being in the boat with his hired servants as well as changing the words concerning the disciples’ response to the simple ή κ ο λ ο ύ θ η σ α η α ύ τ ω , “they followed him ,” which agrees verbatim with v 20.


Matthew 4:18-22

C. T he passage consists of two sections that are obviously parallel: (1) the call­ ing o f P eter an d A ndrew (vv 18-20) an d (2) the calling o f Jam es an d J o h n (vv 21-22). Each section contains (a) reference to the m ovem ent of Jesus, (b) his observing of two brothers, (c) the activity of the latter, in each case connected with fishing, (d) an invitation to discipleship (m uch fuller in the first instance, v 19), and (e) the response of the brothers, given in verbatim language except for the object left b eh ind (v 20, “the nets”; v 22, “the boat and their fa th e r”). This striking parallelism is deliberate in Matthew, who enhances the parallelism that already existed in Mark. D. Only four disciples are called here, the two pairs of brothers: Simon P eter and Andrew, and Jam es and John. Besides Matthew, who is called in 9:9, there is no fu rth er account of the calling of the disciples. At 10:2 we are presented with twelve names, seven of which are com pletely new in the narrative. T he Fourth Gospel alone gives an account of the calling of two additional disciples, Philip and N athanael (= Bartholomew?). The p oint of the present passage in Matthew is to account for Jesus’ disciples prior to the teaching discourse o f chaps. 5-7, which is prim arily addressed to them (cf. 5:1). T he calling of the four thus in a sense represents the calling of the others. E. Despite the opinion of some (e.g., Bultm ann, History), there is no reason to question the basic historical character of this passage. To be sure, it is stylized and n o t directly connected with what precedes or follows. But M atthew intends n eith er a com plete n o r even necessarily a chronological narrative. For this rea­ son, he gives no h in t of any p rior acquaintance of the disciples with Jesus or any explanation of their im m ediate response to the call. (It may be that Luke, in delaying the call until chap. 5, implies such previous contact; cf. Jo h n 1.) Comment 18 T he reference to the Sea of Galilee (called the Lake of G ennesaret in Luke 5:1 and the Sea of Tiberias in Jo h n 21:1) is a rem inder of the fulfillm ent of Isa 8:23-9:1, which has ju st been quoted. Simon is identified by Matthew as τ ο ν λ β γ ό μ β ν ο ν Π έ τ ρ ο ν , “the one called P eter” (cf. 10:2), anticipating the very im por­ tan t role of Peter in this Gospel (Andrew is m entioned again in Matthew only in the list of the twelve in 10:2). T he significance of the nam e Peter is no t m en­ tioned until 16:18. H ere alone in the NT does the technical word ά μ φ ί β λ η σ τ ρ ο ν occur (Mark uses the cognate verb). It describes a circular casting n et used in fishing. T he call o f the disciples constitutes the only place in the Gospels where the word “fisherm en” (ά λ ί ο ΐ ς ) is used. H ere the word prepares the way for the saying of v 19. 19 T he invitation of Jesus am ounts to a dem and based on electing grace. T hat is, the disciples have been chosen by Jesus to follow after him (cf. the same use o f δ € υ τ β , “com e,” in 11:28; 22:4; 25:34). T he invitation is accom panied by the prom ise that Jesus will equip them (π ο ι ή σ ω , “m ake”) for the new work to which he calls them; their obedience is followed by the promise of provision (Luke makes this p o in t m ore clearly by m eans of the conjoining of the calling with the m iracu­ lous ca tch ). T h e id ea o f “follow ing a f te r” a n o th e r stem s from th e Jew ish background o f the rabbis and their disciples, where im itation of the m aster’s ex­ ample, and not only his teaching, is given great im portance. The crucial difference



from the rabbinic practice is that here the master, not the would-be disciple, takes the initiative to establish the relationship. Jesus frames the invitation to follow him using the image of fishing. H itherto these m en had been fisherm en by occupation (cf. preceding verse); when they follow Jesus they will continue to be fisherm en, but now m etaphorically as ά λ ί β ΐ ς ά ν θ ρ ώ π ω ν , “fishers of hum an beings.” T h at is, by joining Jesus in his mission of the proclam ation of the kingdom , they will be laboring to encourage the response of those who listen, thus enabling them to enter that kingdom . It may well have been the form er occupation of the disciples that prom pted Jesus later to liken the kingdom to a “d rag n et” (σ α γ ή ν η , a different kind of n et from that referred to in the present passage) that gathered in fish of every kind (13:47-48). It is a mistake, however, in considering the m etap h o r of the disciples as “fishers of hum an beings,” to focus on the aspect of eschatological ju d g m en t, as Smith has done, or upon the sea as a mythological symbol of evil from which m en are to be rescued (thus M anek). T he focus here is no t the crisis of ju d g m e n t faced by the fish (separation of good from bad) or the situation in which they are found— indeed the fish are n o t in view at all—b u t simply the activity of the disciples in their new calling, here set forth in an analogy drawn from their form er career. It is thus a mistake to press the expression allegorically so as to focus upon the fate of the fish and to see the disciples appointed h ere as m inisters of eschatological judgm ent. Fishers of people in a negative sense does occur in Je r 16:16, but this is not the background of the present verse. The simplest and m ost convincing understanding of the phrase, for which no genuine parallels exist, is th at it refers in a general way to the work of the new disciples, who are now to be con­ cerned with drawing m en and women into the kingdom of God. This is true also o f the related expression of Luke 5:10: “from now on you will catch p eo p le” (cf., too, the m iraculous catch of Jo h n 21:1-13 as also a picture o f the mission o f the C hurch).

20 T he b ro th ers’ im m ediate response is significant for Matthew, as can be seen from its redactional repetition in v 22. He apparently sees in this verse the pattern o f true discipleship: the leaving behind of past preoccupations and the unhesitating and unconditional response of following. T he verb ά κ ο λ ο υ θ β ΐ ν , “to follow” (a technical term ), is im portant for the stress on discipleship throughout the Gospel (see Kingsbury). It occurs more often in Matthew than in Mark or Luke, and in eight instances it is redactionally inserted in m aterial drawn from Mark or Q (cf. 4:22; 8:22; 8:23; 10:38; 19:28). Although ά κ ο λ ο υ θ ε ΐ ν can at times be neutral (e.g., 8:19, 23), it is the special word for discipleship, as can be seen in Jesus’ use of the word (e.g., 8:22; 10:38; 16:24; 19:21, 28). Peter and Andrew here are said to leave their nets, and in v 22 John and James leave their boat and their father. T he point to be u n derstood is that they left everything behind, as they themselves later will assert in the question of 19:27 (cf. Luke 5:11 where “they left everything”). 21 M atthew’s interest in parallelism is evident in his addition of the words ά λ λ ο υ ς δ ύ ο ά δ ε λ φ ο ύ ς , “two o th er b ro th ers” (cf. v 18). He alone notes, in anticipa­ tion o f v 22, that it was with Zebedee their father that they were in the boat. Jam es and Jo h n too were fisherm en κ α τ α ρ τ ί ζ ο ν τ α ς τ ά δ ί κ τ υ α α υ τ ώ ν , “putting their nets in o rd e r” (i.e., from a previous outing), and when Jesus called them , the dictum “I will make you fishers of hum an beings,” although not repeated, is clearly implied. Jam es and J o h n are m entioned again in Matthew, no t only in the list o f the twelve in 10:2 b u t also in connection with their m other in 20:20 and 27:56. For κ α λ ε ΐ ν , “to call,” in the sense of a call to discipleship, see also 9:13; 22:3-4, 8-9; 25:14.


Matthew 4:23-25

22 Except for the object that is m entioned as left behind, the words of this verse are in verbatim agreem ent with v 20. In the latter, the nets are left behind; here, although Jam es and Jo h n were busy p reparing the nets (v 21), it is the boat and the father that are left behind. The discipleship of the kingdom often involves separation from loved ones (cf. 10:35-37), and thus in Matthew, Jo h n and Jam es leave both “the boat and their father,” although this is perhaps a softening of M ark’s m ore direct “having left their father Zebedee in the b o at.” Mark, on the o th er hand, by the words “with the hired h an d s” may have m eant to indicate that the father had n o t been left alone or abandoned and thus eases somewhat the responsibility o f the sons. M atthew’s omission of this reference to the hired hands is caused by his interest in the parallelism with v 20, which consequently produces a h eightened em phasis on discipleship. Jam es and Jo h n , like the first pair of b ro th ­ ers, are paradigm s of Christian discipleship: they too “im m ediately” (M atthew’s added β ύ θ έ ω ς ) left their old way of life for service in the cause of the kingdom . Explanation Matthew follows Mark in placing this narrative after the initial statem ent about the preaching o f Jesus. T he disciples m ust be on the scene at the beginning as witnesses o f the m inistry of Jesus and recipients of his teaching. But for Matthew, the placem ent o f the passage is also im portant in that it fits in with his em phasis on the im portance and nature of discipleship, som ething he will stress in the m ajor discourse that follows the b rief description of the m inistry of Jesus in vv 23-25. Thus the evangelist uses the tradition for historical purposes, showing the way in which Jesus gathered disciples, bu t also for pastoral purposes directly rel­ evant to his readers. T hat is, the calling of these disciples serves as a m odel of the nature of true discipleship generally. T he call of God through Jesus is sovereign and absolute in its authority; the response of those who are called is to be both im m ediate and absolute, involving a com plete break with old loyalties. T he ac­ tual shape of this break with the past will undoubtedly vary from individual to individual, b u t th at there m ust be a fundam ental, radical re o rien tatio n o f a p erso n ’s priorities is taken for granted. As the first disciples were called and re­ sponded, so are M atthew’s readers called to respond. Such response is of prim ary im portance if they are to participate in the new reality of the kingdom . And with discipleship comes the task of bringing others into the kingdom —a task for which Jesus equips those whom he calls (cf. 28:18-20).

The Ministry of Jesus Encapsulated


Bibliography Duling, D. C. “T he T herapeutic Son of David.” N TS 24 (1978) 393-99. Gerhardsson, B. The Mighty Acts of Jesus according to Matthew. Lund: G leerup, 1979. Lohfink, G. “Wem gilt die Bergpredigt? Eine redaktionskritische U ntersuchung von Mt 4, 23f u n d 7, 28f.” TQ

Form /Structure/Setting


163 (1983) 264-84. Parker, S. T. “T he Decapolis Reviewed.” JBL 94 (1975) 437-41. Ross, J. M. “Epileptic or M oonstruck?” B T 29 (1978) 121-28. T ran slation

23And hea was going about the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every malady among the people. 24And his fame spread into the whole of Syria. And they brought to him all those who were ill, who were tormented with various diseases and pains, the demonpossessed, those subject to seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.b 25And large crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, as well asJerusalem and Judea and across theJordan. N otes a T he revised text of N (K1)* the W estern text (D), and Syriac (sys,p) have ό Ι η σ ο ύ ς \ B witnesses to the shorter and m ore difficult syntax with no specified subject. b D it sys,c read κ α ί π ά σ τ α ς έ θ β ρ ά π ε υ σ β ν , “and he healed them all.”

Form/Structure/Setting A. T he stage has now been carefully set. Jesus has been fully prepared through the baptism and tem ptations; he has moved to the north, where the p ro p h e t Isaiah said the fulfillm ent would begin; the sum m arizing rubric of the kingdom o f heaven over all of Jesus’ work has been spoken by him as it had by Jo h n the Baptist (v 17); and the disciples have been called. Now we en co u n ter what is sim ultaneously a program m atic and sum m arizing statem ent of the m inistry of Jesus before we em bark up o n M atthew’s p ro p e r account of that teaching and healing m inistry in detail. B. It is rem arkable that v 23 is repeated alm ost verbatim in 9:35. The only differences (besides the addition of ό Ι η σ ο ύ ς - in 9:35) are that 9:35 has “all the cities and villages” for “the whole of Galilee” and omits the final words “am ong the p eople.” At the same time, the contacts with Mark (Mark 1:39) are slight (viz., ή λ θ ε is κ η ρ ύ σ σ ω ν ε ί ς τ ά ς σ υ ν α γ ω γ ή ς α υ τ ώ ν ε ι ς δ λ η ν τ ή ν Γ α λ ι λ α ί α ν , “he went preaching in their synagogues in the whole of Galilee”). If in 9:35 Matthew is no t copying his own earlier summary, he may reflect a traditional sum m ary of the m inistry of Jesus such as m ight have been contained in oral tradition. The sum m ary of 9:35 may function as an inclusio with the present passage, enclosing the account of Jesus’ teaching in chaps. 5-7 and his healing in chaps. 8-9. Matthew includes a nu m b er o f o th er such summaries, e.g., 8:16-17; 12:15-16; 14:13-14, 36; 15:2931; 19:1-2; 21:14 (see G erhardsson). V 24 finds no parallel in Mark or Luke, whereas v 25 finds a few contacts in the sum m ary of Mark 3:7-8 (cf. Luke 6:17-19), especially in the reference to larger crowds from Galilee who followed him and in the form ulaic “Jerusalem , Judea, and across the Jo rd a n .” But only Matthew here refers to the Decapolis (c f Mark 5:20), whereas Mark refers also to the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon. C. Each o f the three verses in this pericope contains a list. The second and third p oint to the rapid growth of the m inistry of Jesus. V 23 tersely describes the


Matthew 4:23-25

m inistry o f Jesus using th ree parallel participles, δ ι δ ά σ κ ω ν , κ η ρ ύ σ σ ω ν , and θ ε ρ α π ε ύ ω ν , “teaching,” “preaching,” and “healing.” V 24 describes the result by referring to the spread of his fame and then listing the various types of m aladies he rem oved from the people. V 25 in tu rn refers to the growing num ber of fol­ lowers Jesus gained, listing the regions from which they came. In the last list, references to Galilee and “across the J o rd a n ” rem ind us of the citation of Isa 8:23-9:1 in vv 15-16. T he sum m ary in v 23 reflects the structure of Matthew, if we p u t teaching and preaching together over against healing, for Matthew consists of blocks of teach­ ing and healing m aterial, an alternation of the words and deeds of Jesus. Comment 23 T he Gospel of Matthew stresses the teaching of Jesus (δ ι δ ά σ κ ω ν ) , and here the evangelist m entions it even before “preaching the good news of the king­ d o m ” (κ η ρ ύ σ σ ω ν τ ο ε ύ α γ γ έ λ ι ο ν τ ή ς β α σ ι λ ε ί α ς ) . (For this phrase, see also 9:35, 24:14; cf. 26:13; on the kingdom , see 4:17 and esp. 3:2.) The teaching referred to is probably the exposition of Torah, of which Matthew provides an exam ple in chaps. 5-7 (note ε ν τ α ΐ ς σ ν ν α γ ω γ α ΐ ς α ύ τ ώ ν , “in their synagogues,” which may reflect the distancing of M atthew’s com m unity from the synagogues). But such teaching is inseparable from the preaching of “the good news of the kingdom .” Thus δ ι δ ά σ κ ω ν and κ η ρ ύ σ σ ω ν here belong together, and no im portant difference is to be seen between the words (see the excursus in Luz, 1:206-8). (They are also apparently interchangeable in Luke 4:15, 44.) T he latter is bu t the founda­ tion o f the former. It is, of course, also the foundation for the healing (θ ε ρ α π ε ύ ω ν ) m inistry o f Jesus, for the words and deeds of Jesus also belong together. Jesus healed π ά σ α ν ν ό σ ο ν κ α ι π ά σ α ν μ α λ α κ ί α ν ε ν τ ω λ α ω , “every disease and every malady am ong the peo p le.” In 8:17, Matthew will quote Isa 53:4 as being fulfilled in the m inistry of Jesus: “he bore our diseases,” where the word for “diseases” (ν ό σ ο υ ς ) is the same as that used here. Although the phrase “every disease and malady,” which occurs also in 10:1 in the com m issioning of the twelve ju st prior to their mission, is hyperbolic rather than literal, it is clear that Jesus healed m ultitudes o f their illnesses. T he language is absolute because it describes som ething of ab­ solute im portance. Note too, in v 24, “they b rough t to him α ΙΓ their sick, with the im plication that Jesus healed them all (although there the evangelist avoids us­ ing π ά ν τ α ς , “all,” with έ θ ε ρ ά π ε ν σ ε ν , “he h ealed ”). As fu rth er illustration of this absolute perspective, note “the whole of Galilee” and “the whole of Syria” (v 24). ε ν τ ω λ α ω refers to the “peo p le” of Israel, as the word λ α ό ς is regularly used in Matthew (e.g., 1:21; 4:16; 13:15; 21:23). 24 T he rep o rt concerning the healings perform ed by Jesus spread quickly th ro u g h o u t Syria. Syria was a Rom an province that included Palestine (cf. Luke 2:2-5), and it may m ean that here (as v 25 m ight confirm , with its reference to Jerusalem and Ju d ea). O n the o ther hand, “Syria” here could have a m ore re­ stricted m eaning, as it also sometimes had, referring to the region n o rth o f the Sea of Galilee. It is possible, but no m ore than a guess, that the unexpected refer­ ence to Syria here reflects the evangelist’s own com m unity and the frequently argued Syrian provenance of the Gospel, ά κ ο ή , referring to the “fam e” of or “re­ p o rt” concerning Jesus, is used in the same way in 14:1. The list of sicknesses



healed by Jesus is com prehensive, beginning with the general (cf. v 23)— “those who were ill [ τ ο ύ ς κ α κ ώ ς έ χ ο ν τ α ς ; cf. 8:16; 9:12; 14:35], those torm ented with various diseases [ π ο ι κ ί λ α ι ς ν ό σ ο ι ς ; cf. 8:17; 9:35; 10:1] and pains [ κ α ί β α σ ά ν ο ι ς ; only here in Matthew] ”—and then proceeding to the particular and m ore spec­ tacular healings of the dem on possessed ( δ α ι μ ο ν ι ζ ό μ ε ν ο υ ς ; cf. 8:16, 28, 33; 9:32; 12:22), th o se su b ject to seizures ( σ ε λ η ν ι α ζ ο μ ε ν ο υ ς ) , a n d th e paralyzed (π α ρ α λ υ τ ι κ ο ύ ς ; cf. 8:6; 9:2, 6). σ ε λ η ν ι α ζ ο μ ε ν ο υ ς , lit. “m oonstruck,” in the NT oc­ curs only in Matthew and may refer to epilepsy (cf. the RSV translation “epileptics”; cf. 17:15). T hat this can be closely associated with dem on possession is indicated in 17:14-21, where a person suffering this disease is cured of it by the exorcism of a dem on. Specific exam ples of the curing of the dem on possessed (cf. 8:2834; 9:32-34; 12:22-24; and 15:22-28) and the paralyzed (cf. 8:5-13; 9:2-8) occur later in Matthew. The verb θ ε ρ α π ε ύ ε ι ν , “to heal,” occurs sixteen times in Mat­ thew, m ore than in any other NT book. 25 δ χ λ ο ι π ο λ λ ο ί , “large crowds,” refers to the large num ber who “followed” him (same verb, ά κ ο λ ο υ θ ε ΐ ν , used in w 20 and 22), some of whom, but not all, were genuine in their discipleship. This is also the case elsewhere in the Gospel where ό χ λ ο ι , “crowds,” is linked with the verb ά κ ο λ ο υ θ ε ΐ ν , “to follow” (as in 8:1; 12:15; 14:13; 19:2; 20:29; and 21:9). It is clear that am ong the crowds there were true disciples in addition to the twelve special disciples. The list of places from which these followers came is com prehensive: Galilee, where the m inistry was centered, comes first; the Δ ε κ ά π ο λ ι ς , “Decapolis,” referring to the area south and east of the Sea o f Galilee; and also from fu rth er south, namely Jerusalem and Ju d ea (where apparently his fame had already spread), as well as Transjordan. Galilee and “across the Jo rd a n ” (π έ ρ α ν τ ο υ Ί ο ρ δ ά ν ο υ ) echo the original citation o f Isa 8:23-9:1 in w 15-16. If we add to this list Syria as the n o rth ern area, we have a rath er full and symbolic representation of that region of the world, i.e., the whole of Israel. Explanation Before recounting any of the details of Jesus’ healing ministry, the evangelist wants to present a m ajor teaching discourse of Jesus. But the teaching of Jesus m ust be set in the larger context of his ministry, and thus at the outset it is neces­ sary for him to encapsulate the ministry of Jesus. Jesus’ teaching and preaching were done in the context o f a healing m inistry that, as will be em phasized later in the Gospel, pointed to the validity of his message. Jesus thus heals the m ultitudes of every kind of disease, including those stem m ing from the spiritual world of the dem ons. Consequently, he gathers a large following, at least initially, from the surrounding, and even somewhat distant, areas. The evangelist wants us quickly to sense the great excitem ent surrounding Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, where he began to preach “the good news of the kingdom ,” before presenting him in m ore detail as the m aster teacher (chaps. 5-7) and charismatic healer (chaps. 8-9).

The First Discourse: The Sermon on the M ount


General Bibliography A lliso n , D . C . “T he S tructure of the S erm on on the M o u n t” JBL 106 (1987) 423-55. B au m an , C. The Sermon oftheMount: TheModern QuestforItsMeaning. Macon, GA: M ercer University, 1985. B ern er, U. DieBergpredigt:Rezeptionund Auslegungim 20.Jahrhundert. 2nd ed. Gottingen: V andenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1983. B etz, H . D . Essays on the Sermon on the Mount. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984. B ligh , J . TheSermonontheMount:A DiscussiononMatthew 5-7. Slough: St. Paul Publications, 1975. B ornkam m , G . “Der Aufbau der B ergpredigt.” NTS 24 (1978) 419-32. B rook s, O . S. TheSermon on theMount. Lanham , MD: University Press of America, 1985. D a v ies, W. D . TheSettingoftheSermon on theMount. Cam bridge: Cambridge University, 1964.------------ and A lliso n , D . C. “Reflections on the Serm on on the M o u n t.” SJT44 (1991) 283-309. D errett, J . D . M . TheAsceticDiscourse:An Explanation oftheSermon on theMount. Eilsbrunn: Ko’amar, 1989. F ried lan d er, G . TheJewishSourcesoftheSermon on the Mount. 1911. New York: Ktav, 1969. G u elich , R . A . TheSermon on theMount. Waco, TX: Word, 1982. H en d rick x, H . TheSermon on theMount. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1979. H en g el, M .

“Zur matthaischen Bergpredigt und ihrem j üdischen H in terg ru n d .” TRu 52 (1987) 327400. H ill, D . “The M eaning of the Serm on on the M ount in M atthew’s Gospel.” IBS6 (1984) 120-33. J erem ia s, J . The Sermon on theMount. Tr. N. Perrin. FBBS 2. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1963. K issinger, W. S. The Sermon on theMount: A History ofInterpretation and Bibliography. M etuchen, NJ: Scarecrow & ATLA, 1975. K odjak, A . A StructuralAnalysisoftheSermon on the Mount. New York: de Gruyter, 1981. L am brecht, J. TheSermon on theMount:Proclamationand Exhortation.Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1985. L ap id e, P. TheSermoncm theMount: Utopia orProgramforAction?Tv.A. Swidler. M aryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1986. M atera, F. J . “T he Ethics of the Kingdom in the Gospel of M atthew.” Listening24 (1989) 241-50. M cA rthur, Η . K. UnderstandingtheSermon on theMount. New York: H arper, 1960. M cE len ey, N .J . “T he P rin­ ciples of the Serm on on the M ount.” CBQ41 (1979) 552-70. S ch w eizer, E . DieBergpredigt. G ottingen: V andenhoeck 8c Ruprecht, 1982. S o n g er, H . S. “T he S erm on on the M ount and Its Jewish Foreground.” RevExp89 (1992) 165-77. S tan ton , G . “The Origin and Purpose o f M atthew’s Serm on on the M ount.” In Traditionand InterpretationintheNew Testament.FS E. E. Ellis, ed. G. F. H aw thorne and O. Betz. G rand Rapids/T ubingen: E erdm ans/M ohr, 1987. 181-92. Strecker, G . TheSermon on theMount:An ExegeticalCommentary. Tr. O. C. Dean, Jr. Nashville: Abingdon, 1988. Stuhlm acher, P. “Jesu vollkom m enes Gesetz der Freiheit: Zum Verstandnis der Bergpredigt.” ZTK7Q (1982) 283-322. S yreen i, K. TheMaking oftheSermon on theMount: A ProceduralAnalysisofMatthew’ sRedactionalActivity.Part One: Methodology and CompositionalAnalysis.Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Dissertationes H um anarum L itterarum 44. Helsinki: Suom alainen Tiedeakatem ia, 1987. T h u rn ey sen , E . The Sermon on theMount. Tr. W. C. Robinson a n d J. M. Robinson. Richm ond: Jo h n Knox, 1964.

Introduction T he Serm on on the M ount (chaps. 5-7) is the first and lengthiest of the five M atthean discourses. It presents the first and main example of the ethical teaching o f Jesus. T he righteousness of the kingdom o f God (cf. 6:33) expounded in the serm on is presented as being in continuity with the righteousness of the O T law (5:17-19), yet also as surpassing it (cf. the antitheses of 5:21-48). T he evangelist’s placem ent o f this first discourse toward the beginning o f the Gospel indicates he



attached im portance to this material. Indeed, the content of the sermon would have had special relevance for the Jewish-Christian readers of the Gospel. T he “serm o n ” is clearly a com pilation of the sayings of Jesus by the evangelist, rath er than som ething spoken by Jesus on a single occasion. T he parallel m ate­ rial in Luke (hence, Q m aterial) is found at different places. Luke’s “Serm on on the Plain” (Luke 6:17-49) does contain parallels to Matt 5:1-12, 38-48 and 7:15, 12, 16-21, 24-27. But o ther m aterial is sprinkled throughout Luke (cf. 5:13 in Luke 14:34-35; 5:14 in Luke 11:33; 5:18 in Luke 16:17; 5:25-26 in Luke 12:5759; 5:31-32 in Luke 16:18; 6:9-13 in Luke 11:2-4; 6:19-21 in Luke 12:33-34; 6:21-23 in Luke 11:34-36; 6:24 in Luke 16:13; 6:25-34 in Luke 12:22-32; 7:7-11 in Luke 11:9-13; 7:13-14 in Luke 13:23-24; and 7:22-23 in Luke 13:25-27). T h e c o n te n ts o f th e serm o n are as a w hole fu n d a m e n ta lly Jew ish (cf. Friedlander; M ontefiore), while at some points they adm ittedly go beyond what is typically Jewish teaching and reflect the originality of Jesus (e.g., 5:39-42, 44; 7:12, which puts in positive form what Judaism expressed negatively). Much debated has been the question of the practicability of the sermon at a num ­ ber of points. Do we have here an interim ethic, applicable only during the (short) interval between the first coming of Christ and his im minent return (thus Schweizer), or is the ethic for the long haul of what we call the church age, a description of “ordinary” Christian discipleship? Do the radical dem ands of the sermon point only to the level of personal ethics, or do they intend a social dimension as well? Does the sermon represent a “realistic utopianism ” (Lapide), or is the sermon an invitation to asceticism (Derrett)? Is the idealism of the sermon mainly intended to dem on­ strate the need of grace and hence to drive us to the gospel (the “L utheran” view)? Does the sermon present in reality a salvation by works, or does it presuppose a framework of grace? These issues deserve fuller discussion than can be given here (see Davies and Allison, SJT 44 [1991] 283-309, and esp. Kissinger on the history of interpretation of the serm on). We assume the perspective that the sermon describes the ethics of the kingdom, thus explaining its idealism. An adequate understanding of the sermon is thus hardly possible apart from the context of the Gospel and the proclamation of the good news of the now dawning kingdom of God. The grace of God is fundam ental to all, as the beatitudes that preface the sermon clearly show. (For a defense of the sermon as an integral part of the Gospel, against the argum ent of Betz [Sermon], see Stanton [O rig in ”].) The righteousness described here is to be the goal of the Christian in this life, although it will only be attained fully in the eschaton proper. It is primarily an ethics concerning the individual, but it is not without implications for social ethics (see Strecker, Sermon). The radical nature of the sermon must not be lost in a privatization of its ethics. Some of the practical issues will receive discussion in the com m entary as we proceed. T he structure o f M atthew’s serm on is n o t easy to discern. A variety of propos­ als has been m ade. Jerem ias (Sermon), for exam ple, proposed that 5:3-19 was the introduction; 5:20 the “th em e” of the serm on; and that this was followed by the discussion o f three types of righteousness: that of the scribes, 5:21-48; that of the Pharisees, 6:1-18; and that of the disciples, 6:19-7:27. G rundm ann, on the other hand, attem pted to structure the sermon in relation to the L ord’s Prayer, which is at the center of the serm on. T he beatitudes and 5:13-16 correspond to “Thy king­ dom com e” and “Hallowed be thy nam e,” while 5:17-48 correspond to “Thy will be d o n e.” T he m aterial following the serm on he then understood to correspond


Matthew 5:1-2

to the remaining petitions. Thus, 6:19-34 relates to “our daily bread,” 7:1-5 to “for­ give us our debts,” and 7:13-27 to “deliver us from evil.” In an influential article (NTS 24 [1978] 419-32), B ornkam m m odified this hypothesis, focusing on the m aterial following the L ord’s Prayer, with the following resultant analysis: the first three petitions of the prayer correspond to 6:19-24; the fourth petition to 6:25-34; the fifth petition to 7:1—5; and the sixth and seventh petitions to 7:6. B ornkam m is followed by Guelich (Sermon, 324-25) and to a lesser extent by Lam brecht (15564). See too K Syreeni’s discussion (168-84). At least a few things seem clear: 5:3-16 constitute a kind of introduction; 5:17-7:12 the body of the sermon, with the refer­ ence to “the law and the prophets” in 7:12 serving as an inclusio corresponding to 5:17; and 7:13-27 the adm onitory conclusion of the sermon. The L ord’s Prayer does indeed stand at the approxim ate center of the sermon, and its co n ten t is related generally to some of the themes in the material that follows, though it seems doubt­ ful that deliberate structural correspondence is intended. To a considerable extent, the sermon consists of an arbitrary gathering of ethical materials available to the evangelist. This is n ot to deny, however, the presence of considerable and im pres­ sive structure in the individual com ponents that make up the whole. As one possible outline, the following may be suggested: I. Introduction (5:3-16) A. T he F oundation of Righteous Living: T he Beatitudes (5:3-12) B. T he Essence of Discipleship: Salt and Light (5:13-16) II. T he Main Body of the Serm on (5:17-7:12) A. T he Relation between the O ld and the New Righteousness (5:17-48) 1. Continuity with the O ld (5:17-20) 2. T he Surpassing of the Old: T he Six A ntitheses (5:21-48) B. O utw ard vs. Inward Righteousness (6:1-18) 1. Almsgiving (6:1-4) 2. Prayer and the L o rd ’s Prayer (6:5-15) 3. Fasting (6:16-18) C. D ependence upo n God (6:19-34) 1. Serving God R ather T han Wealth (6:19-24) 2. T he Disciple and Anxiety (6:25-34) D. Various Teachings and the G olden Rule (7:1-12) III. Conclusion (7:13-27) A. T he Two Ways (7:13-14) B. T he False and the G enuine (7:15-23) 1. W arning concerning False Prophets (7:15-20) 2. T he Insufficiency o f the Charism ata (7:21-23) C. The Parable of the Two Builders (7:24-27)

The Setting of the Sermon

(5:1 -2 )

Bibliography A lliso n , D . C. “Jesus and Moses (Mt 5 .1 -2 ).” ExpTim 98 (1987) 203-5. B la ck , D . A . “The Translation of Matthew 5.2.” BT 38 (1987) 241-43. D o n a ld so n , T. L .Jesuson theMountain:



Λ Study in Matthean Theology. JSNTSup 8. Sheffield: JSOT, 1985. 105-21. E dw ards, J . R . “T he Use of ΠΡΟΣΕΡΧΕΣΘΑΙ in the Gospel of M atthew.” JBL 106 (1987) 65-74. K eeg a n , T. J . “Introductory Form ulae for M atthean Discourses.” CBQ 44 (1982) 415-30. M anek, J. “O n the M ount— O n the Plain’ (Mt. v 1-Lk. vi 17).” N ovT9 (1967) 124-31.

Translation 1When he saw the crowds, he went up to the mountain. And when he had sat down, his disciples came to him.a 2And he opened his mouth and began to teach them, saying: Notes a B and a few other MSS omit αύτω, “to him.” F o rm /S tru c tu re/S e ttin g

A. These introductory verses indicate that Jesus addresses primarily the dis­ ciples in the serm on. T he crowds prom pt him to go to the m ountain where he can teach his disciples in relative privacy. Yet from the way in which Matthew ends the great serm on, “the crowds” too had gathered and heard the teaching and were am azed at the authority of his teaching (7:28-29). The Lukan counterpart to the Serm on on the M ount reflects the same situation. T here we read of “a great crowd of his disciples and a great m ultitude of people . . . who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases” (Luke 6:17), but in the im m ediate intro­ duction to the serm on, Luke writes “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said.” And at the end of the Lukan serm on are the words “After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the peo p le” (Luke 7:1). B. M atthew’s reference to “the m ou n tain ” (ά ν έ β η ε ι ς τ ό ό ρ ο ς ) is possibly re­ lated to M ark’s ά ν α β α ί ν ε ι ε ις ' τ ό ό ρ ο ς (Mark 3:13), but there the words introduce the calling of the twelve, after which it is said “he w ent h o m e” (Mark 3:19b). Luke also has Jesus go “to the m o u n tain ” ( έ ξ ε λ θ ε ΐ ν α υ τ ό ν ε ί ς τ ό ό ρ ο ς ) to pray before calling the twelve (Luke 6:12). This im mediately precedes the Serm on on the Plain, which is introduced with the words “And he came down [ κ α τ α β ά ς ] with them and stood on a level place [ ε π ί τ ό π ο ν π ε δ ι ν ό ν ] ” (Luke 6:17). In Mat­ thew the calling o f the twelve is not found until 10:1-4 and does no t occur in conjunction with a m ountain. Obviously Matthew has a special purpose in the setting of the serm on by locating it on “the m ountain.” C. Matthew has carefully constructed this introduction of the serm on out of the following: (1) Jesus goes up to the m ountain (a special place for a special event); (2) he sits down and his disciples com e to him (as to a rabbinic m aster); and (3) in v 2, Matthew introduces the elaborate “he opened his m outh and taught them , saying,” a construction that points to the weighty significance of what he is about to say. Comment 1 In two oth er places Jesus goes up to “the m o u n tain ” (14:23, to pray; 15:29, where he “sat dow n” and healed m ultitudes). M ountains in Matthew are clearly


Matthew 5:1-2

places where special events occur (4:8, the m ountain of tem ptation; 17:1, the m ountain of the transfiguration; 28:16, the m ountain of the resurrection appear­ ance and the great commission; see D onaldson). In 8:1 Jesus goes down from the m ountain, as he does from the m ount of transfiguration in 17:9. T he setting of the Olivet discourse in 24:3 is very similar to the present passage: Jesus sits down, his disciples com e to him (but κ α τ ' ι δ ί α ν , “privately”), and he begins to teach them (24:3). Since Matthew emphasizes m ountains in special narratives usually having to do with revelation, τ ό ό ρ ο ς , “the m ou n tain ,” here functions as a literary device. Matthew may well have in m ind the parallel of Moses going up to M ount Sinai to receive the law (Exod 19-20; 34; cf. ' Abot 1:1; Pirqe R. EL 46; see too Matt 23:2). D onaldson (111-18) links the m ountain with a Zion eschatology back­ g ro u n d , p ro v id in g th e scene fo r th e M essiah ’s renew al o f T o rah fo r his eschatological people. For a discussion of a possible location for an original ser­ m on (i.e., containing elem ents or the nucleus of the present serm on), see C. Kopp, The Holy Places of the Gospels (Tr. R. Walls; New York: H erd er 8c H erder, 1963) 204-13. Jesus went to the m ountain apparently in the hope of escaping the crowds who pressed u p o n him to be healed (cf. 4:23-25). But this was to be a special time o f teaching for his disciples, who “came to him .” π ρ ο σ ή λ θ α ν , a favorite verb o f M atthew in this connection, has cultic connotations and itself points to the messianic character of Jesus (see J. R. Edwards). It was custom ary in Judaism for the rabbi to teach from a seated position. Thus Jesus sat down (κ α θ ί σ α ν τ ο ς α υ τ ό ν ) before he began to teach (cf. 13:2; 24:3). Jesus, somewhat like a new Moses, goes up to the m o u n t to m ediate the true interpretation of the Torah. 2 T he phrase ά ν ο ί ξ α ς τ ό σ τ ό μ α α ύ τ ο ν , “he opened his m o u th ,” is a Semitic idiom used at the beginning of a public address (see Black for the OT background; cf. Acts 8:35; 10:34). έ δ ί δ α σ κ ε ν is an inceptive im perfect, “he began to teach.” Explanation T he evangelist carefully sets the stage for the first and m ost impressive of the five discourses that he will present. T here is probably a deliberate attem pt on the evangelist’s part to liken Jesus to Moses, especially insofar as he is about to present the definitive interpretation of Torah, ju st as Moses, according to the Pharisees, had given the interpretation of Torah on Sinai to be h an d ed on orally. T he evan­ gelist, however, does n o t press the Moses typology. For him , Jesus is far m ore than a new Moses, and his teaching is no t to be construed as a new law. Indeed, Jesus can teach as he does because of his unique identity as the Messiah, the Son of God. His teaching alone, and n o t that contained in the Pharisaic oral tradition, penetrates to the full m eaning of G od’s com m andm ents. Thus Jesus majestically assumes his authority as teacher and begins in a definitive m an n er to expound the way of righteousness to his disciples.





The Foundation of Righteous Living: The Beatitudes (5:3-12) Bibliography B a rre, M . L . “Blessed Are the Poor of H eart.” BiTod22 (1984) 236-42. B e st, E . “Matthew 5, 3.” NTS 6 (1960-61) 255-58. B etz, H . D . “Die M akarismen der Bergpredigt (M atthaus 5, 3 -1 2 ).” ZTK 75 (1978) 1-19. B o h l, E “Die D em ut (cnwh) als hochste d er T ugenden: Bem erkungen zu Mt 5.3, 5.” BZ 20 (1976) 217-23. B roer, I. DieSeligpreisungenderBergpredigt. BBB 61. Bonn: Peter H anstein, 1986. D o d d , C. H . “The Beatitudes: A Form-critical Study.” In More New Testament Studies. G rand Rapids: E erdm ans, 1968. 1-10. D u p o n t, J . Les

beatitudes.3 vols. Paris: J. Gabalda, 1958-73.------------ . “Les πτωχοί τω πνεύματί de M atthieu de Q u m ran .” In NeutestamentlicheAufsatze.FS J. Schmid, ed. J. Blinzer et 5,3 et les Π1Ίyfnl al. Regensburg: Pustet, 1963. 53-64. F lu sser, D . “Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit.” IEJ10 (1960) 1-13. F ra n k em o lle, H . “Die M akarismen (Mt 5,1-12; Luke 6,20-23).” BZ 15 (1971) 52-75. G u elich , R . A . “T he M atthean Beatitudes: ‘E ntrance R equirem ents’ or Eschat­ ological Blessings?” JBL 95 (1976) 415-34. H o lm e s, M . W. “T he Text of Matthew 5.11.” NTS 32 (1986) 283-86. K e rtelg e, K. “‘Selig, die verfolgt w erden um der G erechtigkeit willen’ (Mt 5,10).” InternationalekatholischeZeitschr ift/Communio16 (1987) 97-106. K ieffer, R . “Wisdom and Blessing in the Beatitudes of St. M atthew and St. L uke.” SE 6 [= TU 112] (1973) 291-95. K irch sch lager, W. “Die Friedensbotschaft der Bergpredigt: Zu Matthew 5,9, 17-48; 7,1-5.” Kairos25 (1983) 223-37. L a p id e, R “T he B eatitudes.” Emmanuel 92 (1986) 322-29, 355. M cE len ey, N . J. “T he Beatitudes of the Serm on on the M o u n t/P la in .” CBQ 43 (1981) 1-13. R o d zia n k o , V. “T he M eaning of M atthew 5,3.” SE 2 [= TU 87] (1964) 22 9 -35. S c h n a c k e n b u r g , R . “D ie S elig p re isu n g d e r F rie d e n sstifte r (M t 5,9) im m atthaischen K ontext.” BZ 26 (1982) 161-78. S ch w eizer, E. “Form geschichtliches zu den S e lig p re isu n g e n .” NTS 19 (1972-73) 121-26. S te n g e r , W . “Die S elig p re isu n g d e r G eschm ahten (Mt 5,11-12; Lk 6 ,2 2 -2 3 ).” Kairos 28 (1986) 33-60. S treck er, G . “Die M akarismen der B ergpredigt.” NTS 17 (1970-71) 255-75. T rillin g , W. “Heilsverheissung u n d L ebenslehre des J u ngers (Mt 5, 3 -1 2 ).” In Christusverkundigen in den synoptischen Evangelien. M unich: Kosel, 1969. 64-85. T rites, A . A . “T he Blessings and W arnings of the Kingdom (Matthew 5:3-12; 7:13-27).” RevExp 89 (1992) 179-96. T u ck ett, C . M . “T he Be­ atitudes: A Source-Critical Study: With a Reply by M. D. G oulder.” NovT25 (1983) 193216. W alter, N . “Die B earbeitung der Seligpreisungen durch M atthaus.” SE 4 [= TU 102] (1968) 246-58. Z im m erli, W. “Die Seligpreisungen der B ergpredigt u n d das Alte Testa­ m e n t.” In Donum Gentilicium.FS D. Daube, ed. E. Bammel, C. K. Barrett, and W. D. Davies. Oxford: C larendon, 1978. 8-26. Translation Beatitude 3 “Happy are the oppressed,a because to them belongs the kingdom of heaven. (1) 4 Happy are they who grieve,bfor they shall be comforted.c (2) 5 Happy are those who have been humbled,dfor they will inherit the earth. (3)

Matthew 5 : 3 -12


6 Happy are those who hunger and thirst after justice,e for they shall be satisfied. 7 Happy are those who show mercy, for they shall be shown mercy. 8 Happy are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Happy are those who are peacemakers, for theyf shall be called children of God. 10 Happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness ’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Happy are you whenever theyg reproach you and persecute you and [lying]h speak all kinds of evili concerning you for m yj sake. 12 Be joyful and be glad because in heaven your reward is great. For in the same way theyk persecuted the prophetsl who came before you. m

(4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9)



πτωχοί τώ πνεύματι, lit. “the p oor in spirit.” See Comment. b Some witnesses (N1 33 vgmss sams bo) add ν υ ν , “now,” thereby em phasizing the contrast betw een the present time and future eschatological blessings. c A few witnesses (D 33 vg s y cb o ms) p u t v 4 after v 5, in ord er to p u t οί πραεΐς, “the m eek” (v 5a), im m ediately after οί πτωχοί τώ πνεύματι, “the po o r in spirit” (v 3 a), as well as thereby juxtaposing the reference to των ουρανών, “heaven” (v 3b), an d τη ν γην, “e a rth ” (v 5b). See TCGNT, 12. doi πραεΐς, lit. “the m eek.” e O r “righteousness” (δικαιοσύνην). fSome im p o rtan t MSS (KC D / 13it vgcl,st syp) om it the intensive p ro n o u n αύτοί, “they.” g A few witnesses (0133, vgs sysc) insert oi άνθρωποι, “p eo p le,” by the influence o f the parallel in Luke 6:22. h T he critical text places φευδόμενοι, “lying,” in brackets because o f uncertainty' about w hether the w ord (which is om itted in D it sy8) should be included. T he word was possibly om itted in the W estern textual tradition by way o f harm onization with Luke 6:22. O n the o th er hand, the word may be a scribal addition designed to clarify the text. See TCGNT, 12-13. i Many MSS (C W Θ f 1,13 TR syp,h mae) insert ρήμα, “w ord,” which appears to be the addition of a natural com plem ent to the verb ειπωσιν, “speak.” j D it read δικαιοσύνης, “righteousness,” in place o f εμού, “my.” sysc has in the same place τού ονόματος μου, for the sake o f “my n am e.” k U sy8,(c) add the subject oi πα τέρες αύτών, “their fathers,” through the influence o f the parallel in Luke 6:26. 1D adds υπάρχοντας, “who ru le d ,” i.e., the prophets in charge before you. m syc omits τούς προ υμών, “who cam e before you.”

Form/Structure/Setting A. The opening of this discourse, with its decisive pronouncem ents of the bless­ edness o f those who receive the kingdom , befits the setting of the discourse as well as the m aterial that follows. The form of these affirm ations, the so-called beatitudes, is found with many m inor variations in Hellenistic literature but is also well known in the OT and was taken up by the rabbis. T he same form —an initial μ α κ ά ρ ι ο ς , “blessed” or “happy,” without the copula—is thus found frequently in the LXX (e.g., Pss 1:1; 2:12; 105[106]:3; 118[119]:1; Isa 30:18; for the OT back­ ground, see esp. Zimmerli). For rabbinic parallels, see b. Hag. 14b; b. Yoma 87a (see fu rth er Str-B 1:189). The beatitude form is also com m on in the NT. O utside the Serm on on the M ount (and L uke’s Serm on on the Plain), see Matt 11:6; 13:16; 16:17; 24:46; Luke 1:45; 11:27-28; 12:37-38; 14:14-15; 23:29; Jo h n 13:17;

Form /Stru d u re /Setting


20:29. See, too, Rom 14:22; Jas 1:12; Rev 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14. A lthough o th er NT beatitudes employ the o n clause, it is rare outside the NT, and M atthew’s consistent use of it is unique. B. Only four o f the beatitudes are paralleled in Luke, where they also occur at the beginning o f the serm on (Luke 6:20b-23). Luke gives the first, fourth, sec­ ond, and n inth beatitudes, in that order, although none of these is in verbatim agreem ent with Matthew. The m ajor difference is that the second p art of Luke’s first three beatitudes is in the second person plural rather than in the third per­ son plural as in Matthew. T he first two beatitudes in Luke (i.e., M atthew’s first and fourth) are closest in form , bu t Luke lacks M atthew’s ε ν π ν ε ύ μ α τ ι , “in spirit,” in the first, where Luke also has “kingdom of G od” (not “heaven”) , and the words κ α ί δ ι ψ ώ ν τ ε ς τ η ν δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ν , “and thirst for righteousness,” in the second. Luke’s third beatitude is similar in thought rath er than vocabulary, and the fourth con­ tains num erous differences in wording. Luke furtherm ore has four corresponding woes (Luke 6:24-26) that follow the beatitudes directly and serve as their coun­ terparts. T he explanation of this state of affairs rem ains unclear. Both the M atthean beatitudes and the Lukan b ea titu d e s/woes reflect careful, artistic construction. It seems unlikely th at they used the same source here, for then one or the other om itted what would appear to be irresistible m aterial (Luke, several beatitudes; Matthew, the w oes). It may well be that each evangelist follows an independent, though overlapping, oral tradition. This material, as it is found in both of the Gospels, exhibits content and form that the early C hurch very likely would have com m itted to memory. C. It is clear that the evangelist has carefully structured this passage with its nine successive sentences beginning with the word μ α κ ά ρ ι ο ι , “blessed.” Each of the first eight beatitudes consists of (1) the initial μ α κ ά ρ ι ο ι ; (2) designation of those called “happy”; and (3) a ό τ ι clause describing the reason or ground of the predication o f happiness. At the same time, however, the structure is not alto­ gether rigid. T he n inth and last beatitude (vv 11-12) is by far the m ost different in form , shifting as it does from the third to the second person plural (“happy are you”), adding the lengthy ό τ α ν (“w henever”) clause, and delaying the ό τ ι (“fo r”) clause by the insertion of the verbs at the beginning of v 12 (“be joyful and be glad”). Indeed, because of this distinctiveness, the ninth appears not to have been a p art o f the original collection. Such a conclusion also finds support in the verbatim agreem ent of the o n clause of the eighth beatitude (v 10), o n α ύ τ ώ ν έ σ τ ι ν ή β α σ ι λ ε ί α τ ω ν ο ύ ρ α ν ώ ν , “because theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” with that o f the first (v 3), thereby form ing an inclusio. O th er slight m odifications of the parallelism can be seen in the addition of defining datives in the first and sixth beatitudes, w 3 ( π ν ε ύ μ α τ ι , “in spirit”) and 8 ( τ η κ α ρ δ ί α , “in h e a rt”), as well as the m ore expanded subjects of the fourth and eighth beatitudes in w 6 (“those who hu n g er and thirst after righteousness”) and 10 (“those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”). T he strict parallelism of the simple future passive in the o n clause is found only in the second, fourth, and fifth beatitudes, vv 4, 6, and 7 (but cf. also the seventh beatitude, v 9). O ne further parallel of note occurs in the ε ν ε κ ε ν δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ς , “for righteousness’ sake,” of the eighth beatitude (v 10) and the ε ν ε κ ε ν ε μ ο ύ , “for my sake,” of the ninth beatitude (v 11).


Matthew 5:3-12

D. It is difficult to determ ine the extent to which the M atthean form of the beatitudes is the creation of the evangelist. A n um ber of scholars (e.g., Guelich, Sermon; Davies-Allison) have concluded for a variety of reasons (see Davies-Allison) that M atthew has derived eight (Gundry: four) of the nine beatitudes from his sources (the exception being the eighth, which is re­ garded as a M atthean creation), though some argue th at M atthew has also created the third (or even the second four; thus G undry). T he arg u m en t (e.g., E. Bammel, TDNT 6:904) that the third beatitude was created as a gloss on the first (in some MSS it is reversed with the second beatitude) depends too m uch on an unjustified presupposi­ tion that originally there were seven beatitudes in the collection. A fu rth e r conclusion (Luz; Guelich, Sermon; Schweizer; Gnilka; Davies-Allison) is th at only three o f these nine go back to Jesus him self (i.e., the first, second, and fo u rth ), namely, th ree o f the four found in Luke and thus presum ably in Q (Luke’s fourth, “blessed are you w hen people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defam e you on account of the Son of M an” [= M atthew’s n in th ], is said to exhibit secondary characteristics; thus Guelich, Sermon). T here seems little reason, however, n o t to accept that all n ine beati­ tudes are derived from tradition by M atthew (without denying his redactional hand, as, e.g., in vv 3, 6). Why would he create a beatitude (i.e., the eighth) that simply redupli­ cated the tho u g h t o f the ninth rath er than creating an entirely new one? Moreover, the M atthean vocabulary (e.g., “righteousness”) does n o t guaran tee th at this beatitu d e could n o t be derived from tradition. To assert that only three go back to Jesus assumes criteria that are too restrictive and presum es to know m ore than we can know.

A lthough we are lim ited to speculation in this regard, it may well be the case th at the beatitudes were transm itted through oral tradition essentially as they ap­ pear in the Gospel. The essential structure of the beatitudes can indeed go back to Jesus himself. If we allow ourselves a fu rth er guess, based upon the form of M atthew’s beatitudes, the following may be said. It appears th at the first eight beatitudes are a unity in themselves, with the ending of the eighth form ing an inclusio with the ending of the first and serving as an appropriate conclusion: “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” T he ninth beatitude, on the o th er hand, n o t only repeats the thought of the eighth concerning persecution bu t shifts to the second person plural, “Happy are you.” It may be that the evangelist has added this beatitude to the eighth, possibly drawing it from an o th er tradition (which we may say because of the shift in person and L uke’s similar fourth beatitude) but also shaping it in his own way. More probably Jesus originally spoke the beati­ tudes using the second person plural form that we see in Luke, and the evangelist, or som eone before him, has altered the form to the third person plural to objec­ tify these teachings and hence make clear their universal significance. (For the beatitude form using the second person plural form , see Ps 127[128]:2 and Luke 14:4, as well as the Lukan parallel to the present pericope.) E. It is also difficult to ascertain m uch significance in the o rder of the beati­ tudes. T he first and eighth (and ninth) beatitudes set the tone for the entire collection, referring to those who are “poor in spirit” or oppressed and those who are persecuted. Closely related to this em phasis are the second (“those who m o u rn ”), third (“those hu m b led ”), and fourth (“those who h u n g er for ju stice”) beatitudes. Thus, the first four beatitudes form a more or less single unit of thought focusing on the needy. O n the o th er hand, there is some relationship in thought between the fifth and seventh beatitudes, in which those who are designated as



blessed are described in relation to others as “m erciful” and “peacem akers.” These two beatitudes together with the sixth, concerning “the pure in h ea rt,” com e closest to being of the ethical exhortation type, characteristic of the wisdom tradition, over against the apocalyptic type of declarative statem ent concerning the future (see Guelich, Sermon, 64—65). A lthough all the beatitudes can be said to involve im plicit com m ands, this aspect of the beatitudes is decidedly secondary to the clear and grace-filled affirm ation of the deep happiness of the recipients of the kingdom (cf. Broer, 52). Some beatitudes describe the unenviable position of the needy, who have becom e the blessed recipients of the kingdom , and some describe their dem eanor in these circumstances. This leaves only the sixth beatitude (“the pure in h e a rt”), which could be related to the condition described in either o f these two groups bu t which alone focuses on the inner motivation of those who are the blessed ones. Comment 3 Although the word μ α κ ά ρ ι ο ί , which appears as the first word in each of the nine beatitudes, occurs in H ellenist literature, where it describes those of good fortune, the tru e background to the NT use of the word is in the OT (Zimmerli finds forty-six instances in the Hebrew c a n o n ). The LXX often uses the word as a translation o f (deeply “happy, blessed”) . T he word is of course especially appropriate in the NT in such contexts as the present one, where it describes the nearly incom prehensible happiness of those who participate in the kingdom ann o unced by Jesus. R ather than happiness in its m undane sense, it refers to the deep in n er joy of those who have long awaited the salvation prom ised by God and who now begin to experience its fulfillment. The μ α κ ά ρ ι ο ί are the deeply or supremely happy. ο ί π τ ω χ ο ί τ ω π ν β ύ μ α τ ι , lit. “the poor in spirit,” the subject of the first beatitude, refers to the fram e of m ind characteristic o f the literally poor. Thus, by the ad d ed “in sp irit,” M atthew or the tradition before him has n o t “spiritualized” the Lukan (and probably original) form of the beatitude (so too Guelich, Sermon) . He too m eans the literally poor, bu t he focuses on their psychological condition or fram e of m ind. T he poor are alm ost always poor in spirit; the poor in spirit are alm ost always the p o o r (cf. B roer [71], who notes th at the two phrases were synonymous in the Judaism of Jesus’ tim e). In Israel, especially in the post-exilic period, poverty and piety often went together, the poor (Luz refers to the “declasse”) having no o th er recourse than their hope in God. The poor were driven to com plete reliance upon God, and the righteous poor were th o u g h t especially to be the objects o f G o d ’s special co n cern (cf. Pss 9:18; 33 [34]: 18; 40:18; Isa 57:15; Jas 2:5). T he p o o r were particularly in view in expressions of eschatological hope. In a passage alluded to in Matt 11:5, Isaiah (61:1) writes: T he Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted [p o o r]; he has sent m e to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening o f the prison to those who are bound.


Matthew 5:3-12

This passage is almost certainly the basis for the present beatitude. The good news that has now com e to the poor is that the kingdom is “theirs” (α ύ τ ώ ν is in an em phatic position). Thus this opening beatitude points to eschatological fulfill­ m en t (cf. the citation of Isa 61:1-2 and the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean m inistry in Luke 4:18-19). The exact expression “poor in spirit” ( Γ Τ Π l,cnwy rwh) is ynM found in the War Scroll from Q um ran (1QM 14:7), where the community describes itself, the “sons of light,” as those who are poor in spirit. A lthough m em bership in the com m unity entailed a voluntary poverty, this reference indicates how the literally poor were identified as the righteous. Zimmerli (19) finds the equivalent concept in the com bination of passages in Isaiah referring to the poor (Isa 61:1) and the contrite in spirit (Isa 57:15; 66:2). O n “kingdom of heaven,” see Comment on 3:2. It is im portant to note that the present tense is used, έ σ τ ί ν , “is theirs,” rath er than the future tense. Because Jesus is present, the kingdom is already present, already theirs despite contradictory appearances (cf. too v 10b). T here is, however, at the same time an awareness of an eschatology that is future, hence the future tenses, especially “they will in h erit the e a rth ” (v 5), “they will see G od” (v 8), and the future orientation of “great is your reward in heaven” (v 12). F. H auck thus rightly calls the beatitudes “sacred paradoxes” ( TDNT 4:368) in that they p o in t both to present and to future blessedness. 4 In the second beatitude we have an even m ore striking allusion to the words o f Isa 61. In the LXX of Isa 61:2, the one anointed by the Spirit says he has com e π α ρ α κ α λ έ σ α ι π ά ν τ α ς τ ο ύ ς π β ν θ ο ϋ ν τ α ς , “to com fort all those who m o u rn .” H ere the key word ( 7τ β ν θ ο ν ν τ α ς ) is exactly the same as in the beatitude. Thus again we find the eschatological expectation of the dow ntrodden and poor, those who suf­ fer. T he rabbis accordingly referred to the Messiah as the “C om forter” (Menahem) because of his mission in the messianic age (cf. Str-B 1:195). Those who m ourn do so because of the seem ing slowness of G od’s justice. But they are now to re­ joice, even in their troubled circumstances, because their salvation has found its beginning. The time draws near when they shall be com forted (cf. Rev. 7:17; 21:4), b u t they are already to be happy in the knowledge that the kingdom has arrived. T heir salvation is at hand. The verb π α ρ α κ λ η θ ή σ ο ν τ α ί is a so-called divine passive, which assumes God as the acting subject (so too in the fourth, fifth, and seventh b eatitu d es). 5 T he third beatitude is practically a quotation of the LXX of Ps 36 [37]: 11: oi δ έ π ρ α β ΐ ς κ λ η ρ ο ν ο μ ή σ ο υ σ ι ν τ η ν γ η ν , “the m eek will inherit the e a rth .” T he H e­ brew word underlying π ρ α ε ΐ ς is □ ‘’I]!), canawim, the same word that occurs in Isa 61:1, which the LXX there translates π τ ω χ ο ί , “poor.” T herefore we have approxi­ mately the same th ought here as in the first beatitude. In view are n o t persons who are submissive, mild, and unassertive, bu t those who are hum ble in the sense o f being oppressed (hence, “have been h u m b led ”), b en t over by the injustice of the ungodly, b u t who are soon to realize their reward. Those in such a condition have no recourse b ut to d epend upon God. The Q um ran com m unity revered Ps 37 and saw themselves as those about to experience the vindication that would com e with messianic fulfillm ent (4QpPs 37). The “e a rth ” ( τ ή π γ η ν ) originally referred to the land of Israel, i.e., what was promised to the Jews beginning with the Abrahamic covenant (cf. Gen 13:15). But in the present context of messianic ful­ fillm ent it connotes the regenerated earth (19:28; cf. Rom 4:13, where κ ό σ μ ο ς , “w orld,” replaces γ η ) , prom ised by the eschatological passages in the prophets



(e.g., Isa 65-66). This beatitude stands in parallel with the assertion of the first beatitude that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit. It is possible, though we cannot be certain, that the third beatitude originally followed the first in synonymous parallelism and that the evangelist broke the couplet by inserting the beatitude concerning those who m ourn, in order to follow the lead of Isa 61:1-2 (thus Guelich, Sermon, 82). See Form/Structure/Setting §E, above. It should be no ted that the LXX of Isa 61:7 also contains the words κ λ η ρ ο ν ο μ ή σ ο ν σ ι ν τ η ν γ η ν , “they will in h erit the land (e arth ).” 6 In keeping with the preceding, the fourth beatitude nam es the literally hungry and thirsty, i.e., the dow ntrodden and oppressed, who especially hunger and thirst after the justice associated with the com ing of G od’s eschatological rule. T here is, then, no significant difference between the M atthean and Lukan versions of the beatitude, despite the additional words κ α ι δ ι ψ ώ ν τ ε ς τ η ν δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ν , “and thirst for ju stice,” in Matthew. T hat δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η here m eans ‘ju stice” rather than “personal righteousness” is clear from the context. T he poor, the grieving, and the dow ntrodden (i.e., those who have experienced injustice) are by defini­ tion those who long for God to act. They are the righteous who will inherit the kingdom . Yet this in te rp re ta tio n does n o t a lto g eth e r exclude the sense of δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η as personal righteousness. The justice of G od’s eschatological rule presupposes the δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η of those who enjoy its blessings (cf. 2 Pet 3:13). Thus, albeit to a slight degree, this verse may anticipate the stress on δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η in v 20 and 6:33. This beatitude seems to reflect the language of Ps 107 (LXX: 106), where, after a reference to the hungry and thirsty (v 5), the psalmist writes, “T hen they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their dis­ tress” (v 6), and then a few verses later continues, “For he satisfies the thirsty and the hungry he fills with good things” (v 9), where the LXX contains the same verb χ ο ρ τ ά ζ ε ι ν , “to fill,” as in Matthew. This is the language of messianic fulfill­ ment: he has filled the hungry soul with good things (cf. Luke 1:53). It is the language of those who at long last have been “redeem ed from trouble” (cf. Ps 107:2; for a similar sense of “thirsting” for salvation, cf. Pss 42:1-3; 63:1). In the first instance it is G od’s righteousness that satisfies (cf. the “divine passive”) these hungry and thirsty souls (cf. Jo h n 6:35; Rev 7:16-17). (O n “righteousness” in Matthew, see Comment on 3:15.) 7 T he fifth beatitude marks a new em phasis in the beatitudes. W hereas the first four find their focus prim arily in a state of m ind or an attitude (and imply conduct only secondarily), this beatitude refers to the happiness of those who act, namely, those who are merciful toward others. This beatitude again has strong biblical overtones. Prov 14:21b reads ε λ ε ώ ν δ ε π τ ω χ ο ύ ς μ α κ α ρ ι σ τ ό ς , “blessed is the one who has mercy on the p o o r” (cf. Prov 17:5c, a phrase only in the LXX text: b δ ε έ π ι σ π λ α γ χ ν ι ζ ό μ ε ν ο ς έ λ ε η θ ή σ ε τ α ι , “the one who has compassion will be shown m ercy”) . Showing mercy to the needy becam e a key elem ent in rabbinic ethics (see b. Sabb. 151b; t. B. Qam. 9.30 [366]; cf. Str-B 1:203-5 and the excursus in 4:559-610). For the im portance of mercy to M atthew’s presentation of the Christian ethic, cf. 9:13; 12:7; 23:23. What the poor and oppressed have not received from the rich and powerful, they should nevertheless show others. The point is analogous to that made somewhat differently in 18:33; there a servant who had been forgiven a great debt refused to have mercy on his debtor, w hereupon his m aster said, “Should n o t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on


Matthew 5:3-12

you?” Implicit in this beatitude is the judgm ent upon the wicked oppressors, i.e., the ones who have not shown mercy: to them mercy will n o t be shown (cf. Jas 2:13). 8 T he sixth beatitude bears strong similarity to the thought of Ps 24[LXX: 23]:3-4, where the LXX refers, as does the present text, to the κ α θ α ρ ό ς τ η κ α ρ δ ί α , “the p u re in h e a rt” (cf. Pss 51:10; 73:1; linked here with “guiltless h an d s”), who will go up to the m ountain of the Lord and stand in his holy place. “Pure in h e a rt” refers to the condition of the in n er core of a person, that is, to thoughts and m otivation, and hence anticipates the internalizing of the com m andm ents by Jesus in the m aterial that follows in the serm on. It takes for granted right ac­ tions b u t asks for integrity in the doing of those actions, i.e., a consistency between the in n er springs o f o n e ’s conduct and the conduct itself. A nother way of putting this is in term s o f “single-m indedness” (cf. Jas 4:8, where it is the “double-m inded” who are exhorted to “purify [their] h earts”). Purity of h eart and purity of con­ science are closely related in the pastoral Epistles (cf. 1 Tim 1:5; 3:9; 2 Tim 1:3; 2:22; cf. 1 Pet 1:22). T he reference to seeing God in the present passage is again eschatological in tone. In contrast to the strong OT statem ent that no one can see the face of God and live (e.g., Exod 33:20), the righteous in the eschatological age will experience the beatific vision; they will see the face of God (cf. too Rev 22:4). A lthough one m ight have expected in the second clause som ething m ore in line with the first, such as “for they will be granted peace,” Matthew describes the greatest possible eschatological reward, one that by its nature includes all else. This beatitude is the m ost difficult to relate to the others. Perhaps it is m eant to indicate that even for the dow ntrodden and oppressed, for those to whom the good news of the kingdom comes, an in n er purity is also required and is no t som ething that can be presupposed. 9 T he substantive ε ί ρ η ν ο π ο ι ο ι , “peacem akers,” of the seventh beatitude oc­ curs only here in the NT (the verb of the same stem occurs in Col 1:20). In the context of the beatitudes, the point would seem to be directed against the Zeal­ ots, the Jewish revolutionaries who hoped through violence to bring the kingdom o f God. Such m eans would have been a continual tem ptation for the dow ntrod­ den and oppressed who longed for the kingdom . T he Zealots by their militarism h o p ed fu rth erm o re to dem onstrate that they were the loyal “sons of G od.” But Jesus announces the kingdom entirely apart from hum an effort and indicates th at the status of viol θ ε ό ν , “children of G od” (cf. Rom 9:26), belongs on the contrary to those who live peaceably. It is the peacem akers who will be called the “children of G od.” Later in the present chapter, Jesus will teach the rem arkable ethic o f the love of even o n e ’s enem ies (vv 43-48). This stress on peace becom es a com m on m otif in the NT (cf. Rom 14:19; H eb 12:14; Jas 3:18; 1 Pet 3:11). 10-12 The paradoxes of the beatitudes reach a climax in the eighth and ninth beatitudes, in which n o t simply the poor and oppressed are declared to be happy, b u t also those who experience active persecution precisely for their righteous­ ness. H ere ε ν ε κ ε ν δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ς , “on account of righteousness,” points to the character o f the recipients of the kingdom as it has hitherto been described in the beatitudes. T hat is, their loyalty to God and his call upon their lives becom e in tu rn the cause of their fu rth er suffering. To be identified with Jesus and the kingdom is to be in “the way of righteousness” (cf. 21:32); hence ε ν ε κ ε ν δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ς , “on account of righteousness,” finds its co unterpart in the ε ν ε κ ε ν ε μ ο ύ , “on ac­ count o f m e” (cf. 10:22), of the following verse. (See fu rth er in Comment on 3:15.)



The them e of persecution is particularly im portant in Matthew, very probably reflecting the situation of the community for whom the Gospel was written. As they experienced persecution, especially from their Jewish brethren, they needed to know what Jesus had said about it, how to regard it and how to endure it (cf. the perfect tense of the participle δ ε δ ι ω γ μ έ ν ο ι ) . Hence we have the present verse and the fol­ lowing two verses, all unique to Matthew, which encourage the readers not to be alarm ed by the experience of persecution. We may note how 1 Pet 4:12-14 (cf. 3:14) makes use of the same underlying material used by Matthew. We find similar motifs in Matt 5:44, where the readers are told to pray even for their persecutors, and 10:23, where they are told to flee. All of these passages are found only in Matthew. V 10 could well be the closing beatitude of the collection used by Matthew, since it rounds out the collection by an inclusio, i.e., concluding with the same ending as in the first beatitude: “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (cf. v 3). T he poor and the persecuted, precisely the m ost unlikely candidates, are pro­ claim ed the happy or blessed ones who receive the kingdom . T he n in th beatitude, vv 11-12, is in effect an elaboration of the preceding beatitude. Its original independence from the preceding collection of eight is indicated n o t only by its different form b u t also by the use of the second person p ro n o u n rath er than the third. Matthew probably received it in the form in which it stands and added it to the collection he had received from another source. A dded now to persecution are “rep ro ach ” (cf. 27:44, where Christ is reproached) and the speaking o f “all evil concerning you.” This is exactly the kind of behavior one would expect from Jewish opponents, first toward the disciples, and then later toward the Jewish-Christian readers. It is obvious, w hether the word ψ β υ δ ό μ β ν ο ί (“lying”) is authentic or no t (see Note h above), that the persecutors do no t speak the truth. W hat they say is motivated by hatred (cf. Luke 6:22). Luke here has the m ore Semitic expression “cast out your nam e as evil.” T he opening words of v 12 serve as a parenthetic expansion of μ α κ ά ρ ι ο ι in v 11. T he happiness referred to in the beatitudes is nothing o ther than a deep and ex uberant joy. T he evangelist heightens the paradox with the red u n d an t χ α ί ρ β τ β κ α ι ά γ α λ λ ι ά σ θ β , “rejoice and be glad,” which can only be seen as exceptionally rem arkable in connection with persecution (the same verbs are jo in ed in Rev 19:7). These words are followed by the delayed o n clause, giving the reason for such joy: “great is your reward [ μ ι σ θ ό ς ] in heaven.” It is self-evident that, in any persecution context, the reward spoken of m ust lie in the future, which is the m eaning o f έ ν τ ο ΐ ς ο ύ ρ α ν ο ϊ ς , “in heaven.” T hat holds true here, too, but it is confidence about the future that can and should produce joy in the present in full contradiction of the present, painful circumstances. The kingdom is already theirs, hence the appropriateness of the happy rejoicing in advance of the con­ summation. If this is a reward for their faithfulness u n d er testing, it is also a reward that stems prim arily no t from their m erit bu t from the grace of God, who gives the kingdom both in the present and the future. T he idea of μ ι σ θ ό ς , “rew ard,” is m uch m ore im p o rtant in Matthew (ten occurrences; cf. 6:1-16; 10:41-42) than in any oth er Gospel. Despite its im portance, the actual content of the reward is left vague. T he concept of reward is im portant even when the word is not used, as for exam ple in 25:31-46, where the content is described generally as inherit­ ing “the kingdom ” and entering into “eternal life.” (Cf. too passages with the verb ά π ο δ ι δ ό ν α μ see Comment on 6:4.)


Matthew 5:3-12

T he suffering of the righteous at the hands of persecutors is nothing new in the history of God’s dealings with Israel, as the evangelist reminds his readers. It is an h o n o red tradition they stand in when they suffer persecution, τ ο ύ ς π ρ ο φ ή τ α ς τ ο ύ ς π ρ ο ύ μ ώ π , “the prophets before you,” should n o t be taken narrowly to m ean only the literary or canonical prophets, bu t broadly as referring to all G od’s ear­ lier spokespersons (cf. 2 Chr 36:16; Matt 23:35). This m otif is im portant to Matthew as the unique material in 23:31 also shows; it is found also in Acts 7:52 and Jas 5:10. Explanation T he beatitudes are a bold, even daring, affirm ation of the suprem e happiness of the recipients of the kingdom proclaim ed by Jesus. They are thus based up o n — their tru th depends u p o n —the fulfillm ent brought by Jesus and already stressed by the evangelist. Indeed, it is a part of this fulfillm ent that the good news comes to the poor and oppressed, the grieving and hum bled, those who hunger so m uch for the revelation of G od’s justice. A turn in g point has been reached. The time is at hand, and these needy people, so d ep e n d en t upon God, will now have their needs met. For this reason they are pronounced happy, blessed. T he reality of the kingdom causes this new, unexpected joy. And that kingdom sets these people u p o n the way of righteousness, peacem aking, and in n er purity. W hat m ust be stressed here, however, is that the kingdom is presupposed as som ething given by God. T he kingdom is declared as a reality apart from any hum an achievem ent. Thus the beatitudes are, above all, predicated upon the ex­ perience of the grace of God. T he recipients are ju st that, those who receive the good news. Because they are the poor and oppressed, they m ake no claim upon God for their achievements. They do no t m erit G od’s kingdom ; they but await his mercy. This em phasis on G od’s mercy is essential at the beginning of Jesus’ teaching, especially at the beginning of the present discourse with its description of the righteousness of the kingdom , which has all too often been taken as in­ volving a new nomism. But here, as th ro u g h o u t G od’s dealings with humanity, grace precedes requirem ents. It is true that the beatitudes contain im plied ethi­ cal exhortations (becom ing m ore explicit in the case of the fifth and seventh b eatitu d es). Indeed, the traits of those who are proclaim ed “happy” could well be taken as a description of the behavior of Jesus himself. Yet this ethical side of the beatitudes rem ains distinctly subordinate to the indicative aspect that is di­ rectly related to the announcem ent of the kingdom . These declarations of happiness are to some extent a manifestation of realized eschatology. The remarkable tension throughout is, of course, caused by the tem po­ rary delay of the final consummation. In this interim period those who may appear to enjoy anything but the favor of God are paradoxically pronounced blessed. In their present condition, and even as they experience intense persecution, they are already accounted as supremely happy. Salvation has begun; their time has come, and this assurance of the future is m eant to transform their present existence.

Form/Stru dure/Setti ng

The Essence ofDiscipleship: Salt and Light



Bibliography C a m p b ell, K. M . “T he New Jerusalem in Matt. 5:14.” S JT 31 (1978) 335-63. C u llm an n , O .

“Das Gleichnis vom Salz.” In VortrageundAufsatze1925-1962. T ubingen: Mohr, 1966. 192201. G erh a rd sso n , B. “Mysteriet m ed Saltet: Ett kryptiskt Jesusord (Matt. 5:13a).” In Kyrka och Universitet. FS C.-G. A ndren, ed. L. Eckerdal et al. Stockholm: Verbum, 1987. 113-20. H u tto n , W. R. “T he Salt Sections.” ExpTim 58 (1946-47) 166-68. J erem ia s, J . “Die Lam pe u n ter dem Scheffel.” In Abba. Gottingen: V andenhoeck 8cRuprecht, 1966, 99-102 (ET in SoliDeo Gloria. FS W. C. Robinson, ed. J. M. Richards. Richm ond: Knox, 1968, 83-87). N a u ck , W. “Salt as a M etaphor in Instructions for D iscipleship.” ST 6 (1953) 165-78. S ch n a ck en b u rg , R. “Ihr seid das Salz der Erde, das Licht d er Welt.” In Schriftenzum Neuen Testament.M unich: Kosel, 1971. 177-200. S ch n eid er, G . “Das Bildwort von der Lampe: Zur Traditionsgeschichte einesJesus-W ortes.” ZAW16 (1970) 183-209. S o u cek , J . B. “Salz der Erde u nd Licht der Welt: Zum Exegese von Matth. 5,13-16.” TZ19 (1963) 169-79. W ood, W. S. “T he Salt of the E arth .”JTS 25 (1924) 167-72.

Translation 13“You yourselves are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, howa can it become salty again? It is worth nothing anymore except to be thrown out andh to be trampled upon by people. 14You yourselves are the light of the world. It is not possible for a city positioned on a hill to be hidden. 15Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a measuring vessel; they put it upon a lampstand, and it shines upon everyone in the house. 16Thus let your light shine before others so that they may see your good deedsc and glorify your Father who is in heaven. ” Notes a εν tlvl, lit. “with w hat.”

b A great nu m b er o f MSS (D W Θ f 13 TR) have βληθήναί ε ξ ω καί, “to be thrown out a n d .” The better text, however, is βληθέν ε ξ ω , lit. “having been thrown o u t.” T he translation above is only a dif­ ferent way of translating and does n o t imply acceptance o f the inferior text. See TCGNT 13. c B* omits έργα, “works,” perhaps through hom oioteleuton. T he noun, however, can be im plied by the adjective καλά, “good (things, d e ed s).”

F o rm /S tru c tu re/S e ttin g

A. With the tone of the serm on now set by m eans of the beatitudes and their proclam ation of the blessedness of the kingdom , the evangelist next presents two com prehensive statem ents about the necessity of living in a way that reflects the good news of the kingdom . Now following the introductory beatitudes is a state­ m en t co n c ern in g the ethical d em an d o f the kingdom , the very essence of discipleship. These are, in short, “kingdom ” ethics—instructions for how those who are recipients of the kingdom are to live. The em phatic υ μ τ ϊ ς , “you your­ selves,” in each maxim brings out this emphasis. It is particularly im portant to


Matthew 5:13-16

note th at the kingdom precedes the ethics; there is no insistence that people are to live this way in order to receive the kingdom . T he disciples are first identified as salt and light, and even here being precedes doing. It is because they are salt and light that they are expected to behave in appropriate ways. T he two maxims about salt and light thus serve as an introductory rubric for what is given in consider­ able detail in the m aterial that follows. B. Matthew is unique am ong the Gospels in placing these two m ain m etaphors side by side in the form of maxims in parallel structure. T he salt m etaphor, how­ ever, is found also in Mark 9:50 and Luke 14:34—35. Luke 14:34 seems d ep e n d en t on the M arkan parallel, although, in one word ( μ ω ρ α ν θ ή , “loses its taste”), Luke agrees with Matthew against Mark. L uke’s second verse (14:35) is no t found in Mark b u t is similar in content to Matt 5:13c, especially in the reference to “cast­ ing o u t” tasteless salt. Mark alone has the corresponding com m ent: “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one an o th e r” (9:50). T he m etaphor of a lam p upon a lam pstand is found in Mark 4:21 and Luke 8:16 (and 11:33). In Mark 4:21 and Luke 8:16, however, it occurs in reference to the mission of Jesus. Luke 11:33 is followed, on the o th er hand, by m aterial that occurs in M att 6:22-23. Thus, despite the similarity of language, the M arkan and Lukan passages utilize the m etaphor of the lam p on the lam pstand in quite a different way. Matthew alone has the im perative about letting your light shine. T he wording in all three Synoptic parallels, moreover, varies considerably. R ather than literary dependence between the Synoptics here, we probably have an exam ple of independently developed oral traditions, at least in the light on the lam pstand m etaphor, originating from a com m on starting point. T hat m eta­ phor, by its nature, found different applications, either in the pre-synoptic tradition or in the work of the individual evangelists. C. T he two declarative maxims of this pericope (vv 13 and 14) are exactly par­ allel in form: τ ό ά λ α ς τ ή ς γ η ς , “the salt of the e a rth ,” is parallel to τ ο φ ω ς τ ο ν κ ό σ μ ο υ , “the light o f the w orld.” T he discussion following each maxim is parallel in content, though no t in form , focusing on the uselessness of salt that is no t salty and light th at is hidden. The second maxim is followed by an o th er m eta­ p h o r (v 14b) that makes the same point as the discussion that follows: “a city on a hill cannot be h id d en .” V 16 contains the im perative application of the second maxim (and the first by im plication). This im perative is the subject of the entire serm on: to belong to the kingdom necessitates reflecting the light of the king­ dom through o n e ’s good deeds. T he imperative, however, receives its force from the indicative: i.e, you are the light; let your light shine. D. M atthew’s m aterial is probably drawn from oral tradition. It is impossible to know the extent to which the evangelist is responsible for the present form of the pericope. V 14b is a somewhat awkward m ixing of m etaphors interpreting the argum ent about light. It may therefore be a later accretion to the original m aterial, b u t at what time we cannot say. If the serm on is essentially the construc­ tion of the evangelist using pieces of oral tradition, then his creativity may be seen in his placem ent of this passage here, im mediately following the beatitudes and p rio r to the detailed instruction provided by the serm on. T he parallel struc­ ture of the pericope argues for the evangelist’s having taken over m aterial from the oral tradition.



Comment 13 Jesus describes his disciples (the υ μ ε ί ς , “you,” is em phatic) as τ ό ά λ α ς τ ή ς γης, “the salt of the ea rth .” It is difficult to know which specific natural quality of

salt (e.g., preserving [Carson], purifying, seasoning [Luz], fertilizing[G undry]), if any, he intends. T here is, moreover, the possibility of salt as a m etaphor for wisdom (N auck), as well as various other associations—sacrificial (Lev 2:13a; Ezek 43:24; see C ullm ann, Soucek, and G erhardsson), covenantal (Num 18:19; Lev 2:13b), and moral. Plausible argum ents can be m ade for each of these associa­ tions in explaining the present salt m etaphor, but to emphasize a single association is to surpass the text itself and to allegorize it. Since it is virtually impossible now to know which of its several associations would have com e m ost readily to the minds of the disciples when they heard these words, it may be best simply to take the m etaphor broadly and inclusively as m eaning som ething that is vitally im por­ tan t to the world in a religious sense, as salt was vitally necessary for everyday life (cf. Sir 39:26; Sop. 15:8; Pliny, Nat. Hist. 31.102). Thus, the disciples are vitally significant and necessary to the world in their witness to God and his kingdom . T he m eaning is n o t fundam entally different from the second maxim (v 14), which describes the disciples as the “light o f the w orld.” For o th er references to “salt” in connection with discipleship, see Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34-35; and Col 4:6. T he reference to salt losing its saltiness (which has a proverbial character; cf. b. Bek. 8b) is sometimes regarded as problem atic, given the chem ical stability of salt. T he salt in view here, however, is probably that derived from the Dead Sea by evaporation, the residue of which also contains crystals of another m ineral (gyp­ sum) that can easily be mistaken for salt, which is hence regarded as having lost its saltiness (cf. F. Hauck, TDNT 1:229). Less convincing is the suggestion that in view are cakes o f salt that are no longer effective as an aid in the b urning of dung as fuel. This is an unnecessarily com plicated explanation that goes beyond what the text says or requires. T he verb μ ω ρ α ί ν ε ι ν m eans “to becom e or to make foolish” (e.g., Sir 23:14; Rom 1:22; 1 Cor 1:20). T he unusual use of it here to describe what has lost its saltiness goes back to the underlying Hebrew root, *72Γ), tpl, a word that had both m eanings (see Black, Aramaic Approach, 166-67). A Greek translator then chose the Greek word μ ω ρ α ί ν ε ι v because it applied m ore readily to the disciples. For the disciples, the salt of the earth, to lose their saltiness was equivalent to becom ­ ing foolish. It would in effect be to lose their identity. T he suggestion (cf. N. Hillyer, NID NTT 3:445) that the subject of the verb ά λ ι σ θ ή σ ε τ α ι is γ ή rath er than ά λ α ς , i.e., that Jesus questions how the earth will be salted, makes good sense in itself. Against it, however, is the fact that τ ο ά λ α ς (salt) is the nearest antecedent and the natural subject of ά λ ι σ θ ή σ ε τ α ι . Further­ m ore, the M arkan parallel (9:50) is quite specific in m aking ά λ α ς the subject of the related verb ά ρ τ ύ σ ε τ ε : “with what shall it [the salt] be seasoned.” κ α τ α π α τ ε ΐ σ θ α ι , “tram pled u p o n ,” an infinitive expressing result, occurs in Matthew in only one o th er place, 7:6, where swine tram ple upon pearls offered to them , α ν θ ρ ώ π ω ν is a general term here referring to people. 14 Light is a very im portant m etaphor in the Bible. “God is light” according to 1 J o h n 1:5, and Christ is described in the Fourth Gospel as “the light of the w o rld ” (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46; cf. 1:7-8). G od is also d escribed as light in


Matthew 5:13-16

eschatological contexts (e.g., Isa 60:19-20; cf. Rev 21:10-11). God, moreover, has com e in Christ to bring light into the darkness (John 1:4-5, 9; 12:46; cf. Ps 27:1), a point Matthew has already em phasized in his quotation of Isa 9:2 (9:1, LXX) in 4:16 (“the people sitting in darkness have seen a great light”). In Paul, the m eta­ p h o r also extends to Christians, who are described as “children of light” (Eph 5:8; 1 Thess 5:5). A nother com m unity on the edge of eschatology, the Q um ran covenanters, also referred to themselves as the “sons of light.” In Isa 42:6, Israel’s mission is to be a “light to the G entiles” (cf. Isa 51:4-5). Light is thus associated with God, his Messiah, his people, the law, the tem ple, Jerusalem , and the accom ­ plishm ent and experience of salvation (see Str-B 1:237). Paul writes of “the light o f the glorious gospel of C hrist” (2 Cor 4:4; cf. 4:6). O f Christians he writes that in this fallen world they “shine as lights” (Phil 2:15). For Matthew, the m etaphor o f light is applied specifically to G od’s new people represented by the disciples. W hen Jesus declares that the disciples are τ ό φ ω ς τ ο υ κ ό σ μ ο υ , “the light of the w orld,” he m eans that they, as recipients of the kingdom , represent to the world the tru th of the salvation that has come. Thus, as in the preceding maxim about the salt of the earth, here too the message is that the disciples are (and will con­ tinue to be) indispensable. If the world is n o t to be left in darkness, the disciples m ust fulfill their calling to represent the kingdom . They now are the light (cf. v 16), whose shining thus becom es the hope of the world. It is as unthinkable that a city set on a hill (a m etaphor that has unavoidable associations with Jerusalem on M ount Zion; see Cam pbell) can be hid as that light would be p u t u n d er a m easuring vessel. A version of the same saying is found in Gos. Thom. 32, b u t the em phasis there is different, focusing on the point that such a fortified city situated on a m ountain cannot fall. 15 T he purpose of a lam p is to give light, and thus it is placed upon a stand. πάσιν τοΐς εν rfj olklol, “to all who are in the house,” should no t be understood in a restrictive sense b u t as parallel in m eaning to the general των άνθρώπων (“the p eo p le”) of w 13 and 16. T hat is, all are in view, λύχνος refers to an ordinary oil­ b u rn in g household lam p (cf. Luke 15:8). W hen the lam p was lit, it was placed u p o n or h ung from a stand so as to provide m axim um benefit from the light. The μόδίος was a com m on vessel used in m easuring grain (about one peck, or 8.75 liters). T he suggestion that the m easuring vessel was used to extinguish a b u rn in g lam p and that the point of the saying is “one does no t light a lam p to p u t it o u t” (Jeremias) is no t persuasive. The issue is w hether that light is seen or n o t seen. 16 This verse serves as the climax of the entire pericope. Since the disciples are the light o f the world (v 15), they are now exhorted to let their light shine— th at is, they are to let the light accom plish its purpose. T here are no known parallels to this imperative use o f λ ά μ π ε l v , “shine,” in the OT or rabbinical litera­ ture (although Isa 42:6 could be the background of the m etaphor). T he verb furtherm ore is surprisingly never used in NT ethical parenesis (but cf. Luke 12:35). T he ό π ω ς clause spells out the result of such a shining of the light and thus pro­ vides a m ost welcome aid to the interpretation of the m etaphor. To let o n e ’s light shine is to live in such a way as to m anifest the presence of the kingdom . This conclusion can be drawn not only because of the context but also because the good works entailed ( τ ά κ α λ ά έ ρ γ α ) are connected with the glorifying of the Fa­ th er in heaven. Letting o n e ’s light shine is living according to the perfection of



the kingdom and thus m anifesting the righteousness of the Torah according to its correct interpretation, examples of which are shortly to em erge. The love com ­ m an d m en t provides the foundation for these good works (cf. 22:37-40). T he em phasis here on doing o n e ’s good works έ μ π ρ ο σ θ ε ν τ ω ν ά ν θ ρ ώ π ω ν , “be­ fore peo p le,” so that they will see them appears to stand in some tension with the warning in 6:1-6 not to do o n e ’s good works έ μ π ρ ο σ θ ε ν τ ω ν ά ν θ ρ ώ π ω ν , “before p eo p le” (6:1). In the latter instance, however, it is obvious that the almsgiving and praying are perform ed deliberately for self-glorification. But to let o n e ’s light shine is to call attention no t to oneself but to the kingdom ’s presence and thus to glorify God for his gracious fulfillm ent of the promises (Jews primarily are in view here, whereas in 1 Pet 2:12, which depends on this saying of Jesus, Gentiles are in view). Thus within the δ π ω ς clause, ϊ δ ω σ ι ν υ μ ώ ν τ ά κ α λ ά έ ρ γ α (“that they may see your good works”; cf. Phil 1:11) stands exactly parallel to δ ο ξ ά σ ω σ ί ν τ ο ν π α τ έ ρ α υ μ ώ ν (“that they may glorify your fa th e r”; cf. Jo h n 15:8). The expression τ ο ν π α τ έ ρ α υ μ ώ ν τ ο ν έ ν τ ο ϊ ς ο ύ ρ α ν ο ΐ ς , “your father in heaven,” is very com m on in Matthew and in the Serm on on the M ount. T he Greek plural ο ύ ρ α ν ο ΐ ς , “heav­ ens,” is the result of translation from Aramaic and Hebrew, where the word is regularly a plural. F undam ental to the m anifestation of the righteousness in view here is the disciples’ unique relation to their heavenly Father. “A ‘signal’ which points to the relationship to God, so critical to the practice of the Serm on on the M ount, flashes like a beacon in v 16” (Luz 1:253). God is referred to as πατήρ, “Father,” forty-five times in Matthew, and in nearly half the occurrences (nineteen times) it is modified, as here, by the words “in heaven” or “heavenly.” T he expression “heavenly F ather” or “Father in heaven” occurs in the rab­ binic literature, but in the NT it is distinctively M atthean; outside Matthew it occurs only in Mark 11:25. Only Jo h n uses “F ather” for God m ore than Matthew does. God is referred to as Father seventeen times in the Serm on on the M ount; in seven instances the modifier, which occurs in the context, is not repeated. A lthough the Greeks, as well as the Jews, referred to God as Father, the NT makes a new and greater use of the title in referring to God. In the NT, the fatherhood of God is experienced at a new level of intimacy (cf. the Aramaic term Abba). T he reason for this is th at the kingdom (reign) of God an n ounced by jesu s involves the possibility of a new relationship with God. O ne key way of expressing that new relationship in the NT is in the believer’s ability to refer to God as Abba, or as “F ather” in the m ost personal sense (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). Thus, the em phasis in the Gospels on God as “F ath er” rests directly upon the an n o u n cem en t of the eschatological salvation that brings about this new relationship between God and his people. T he expression “Father in heaven” is rem arkable in that it com bines the personal, or im m anent, elem ent of fatherhood with the transcenden­ tal elem ent of G od’s otherness, “in heaven.”

Explanation This key pericope is virtually a program m atic or sum m arizing statem ent for the im portance of living according to the righteousness of the newly arrived king­ dom. It is first of all an affirm ation of the unique identity of the disciples, an identity that depends on the gracious activity of their heavenly Father. They and they alone are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The em phatic “you yourselves” deliberately excludes all other groups claiming to have the truth, es­ pecially the Pharisees in Jesus’ time but also their rabbinic successors in the time


Matthew 5:17-20

o f the evangelist. The disciples— the blessed recipients of the kingdom — are thus o f vital im portance for the accom plishm ent of G od’s purpose in the world. They constitute the salt and light w ithout which the earth cannot survive and rem ains in darkness. T heir mission is accom plished, however, n o t only in word (cf. 10:7; 28:19-20) b ut in the deeds of their daily existence. O thers observing their con­ duct will know that the priorities of these persons have changed— that before them is som ething of inestim able value, som ething that gives light and results in the glorifying of God. But to accom plish their purposes, salt m ust be salt and light, light. It is inconceivable that salt can be non-salt or light no t serve its pur­ pose of illum inating. The kinds of good deeds that enable light to be seen as light are now to be elaborated in the course of the serm on that follows. They are shown to be n othing other than the faithful living out of the com m andm ents, the righteousness of the Torah as interpreted by Jesus.

The Main Body of the Sermon


The Relation between the Old and the New Righteousness (5:17-48) Continuity with the Old


Bibliography B an k s, R . “M atthew’s U nderstanding of the Law: A uthenticity and In terp retatio n in Mat­

thew 5:17-20.”JBL 93 (1974) 2 2 6 -4 2 .------------ . Jesus and theLaw in theSynoptic Tradition. SNTSMS 28. Cambridge: C am bridge University, 1975. B erger, K. Die Gesetzesauslegungjesu. TeilI:Markus andParallelen.WMANT 40. Neukirchen-Vluyn: N eukirchener, 1972. 209-27. B roer, I. Freiheitvom Gesetzund Radikalisierungdes Gesetzes. SBS 98. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1980. D a v ies, W. D . “M atthew 5:17, 18.” In Christian Origins andJudaism. L on­ don: D arton, L ongm an 8cTodd, 1962. 3 1 -6 6 .------------ . Torah in theMessianicAge and/or theAge toCome.JBLMS 7. Philadelphia: SBL, 1952. H a h n , F. “Mt 5,17—A nm erkung zum E rfullungsgedanken bei M atthaus.” In DieMittedesNeuen Testaments. FS E. Schweizer, ed. U. Luz and H. Weder. G ottingen: V andenhoeck & R uprecht, 1983. 42-54. H am erton -K elly, R . G . “A ttitudes to the Law in M atthew’s Gospel: A Discussion of M atthew 5, 18.” BR 17 (1972) 19-32. H u b n er, H . Das Gesetzindersynoptischen Tradition.W itten: Luther, 1973. 1539. L ju n gm an , H . Das Gesetzerfullen:Matth. 5,17ff.und 3,15untersucht. LUA n.s. 50.6. Lund: G leerup, 1954. L u z, U. “Die E rfullung des Gesetzes bei M atthaus (5 ,1 7 -2 0 ).” ZTK 75 (1978) 398-435. M cC o n n ell, R . Law and Prophecy in Matthew’ s Gospel. Basel: R einhardt, 1969. M eier, J. P. Late and History in M atthew’ sGospel.AnBib 71. Rome: Biblical Institute, 1976. M o o , D . J . ‘Jesus and the A uthority of the Mosaic Law.” JSAT 20 (1984) 3-49. M o u le,

Form /Structure/Setting


C . F. D. “Fulfillm ent Words in the New Testament: Use and A buse.” NTS 14 (1967-68) 293-320. S an d , A . Das Gesetz und die Propheten. Regensburg: F. Pustet, 1974. S ch w eizer, E.

“M atthaus 5,17-20: A nm erkungen zum Gesetzverstandnis des M atthaus.” In Neotestamentica. Zurich: Zwingli, 1963. 3 9 9 -4 0 6 .------------ . “N och einm al Mt 5,17-20.” In Matthaus und seine Gemeinde. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1974. 78-85. S n o d g ra ss, K. “Matthew and the Law.” SBLSP (1988) 536-54. W enham , D. “Jesus and the Law: An Exegesis on Matthew 5:17-20.” Themelios 4 (1979) 92-96. T ran slation

17 “Do not think I have come to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy them but to bring them to their intended goal. 18Truly I say to you: As long as heaven and earth last, not the slightest aspect of the lawa will fa il until everything has been accomplished.b 19Whoever, therefore, breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others so shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever shall do and teach them, this person shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.c 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in no way enter the kingdom of heaven. ”d Notes a A few MSS ( Θ f 13) add καί των προφητών, “and the p ro p h ets,” in im itation of v 17. b A Latin MS (c) adds caelum et terra transibunt, verba autem mea non praeteribunt, “heaven and earth will pass away, b u t my words will no t pass away,” an insertion drawn from 24:35. c T he last sentence in v 19 is om itted by N* D W boms clearly through hom oioteleuton, since the previous sentence also ends in ev τη βασιλεία των ουρανών, “in the kingdom of heaven.” d T he entire verse is om itted by D, again through the hom oioteleuton in the words τών ουρανών, “o f heaven.” Cf. previous note.

Form/Structure/Setting A. This passage is placed here for a very im portant reason. The ethical teach­ ing of Jesus that follows in this serm on, as well as later in the Gospel, has such a radical character and goes so m uch against what was the com m only accepted understanding of the com m ands of the Torah that it is necessary at the outset to indicate Jesus’ full and unswerving loyalty to the law. Only when this is set clearly before the listeners or readers will they be in a position to understand correctly Jesus’ teaching about the righteousness of the kingdom . This is especially the case given the six contrasts drawn in the rem ainder of this chapter, which begin with the words “you have heard it said” (5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). Jesus’ correc­ tions of the mistaken understandings involve the presentation of the true m eaning of the Torah, n o t its cancellation as m ight at first seem to be the case. B. In this pericope, only v 18 finds a partial Synoptic parallel. Luke 16:17 reads, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be d ro p p e d .” Obviously, these are different renditions of the same saying. M atthew’s version adds the reference to “one jo t,” which may be an elabo­ ration occurring in the tradition. M atthew’s final 'έ ω ς (“u n til”) clause, finding no parallel in the Lukan version, gives the strong appearance of having been added by the evangelist as an explanation and a strengthening of his point. O ne other related saying, which refers to the passing away of heaven and earth in contrast


Matthew 5:17-20

to the perm anence of Jesus’ words, occurs in verbatim agreem ent in all three Synoptics (Matt 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). C. T he four verses of this pericope, although related in them e, are no t inter­ related or in terd ep en d en t in such a way that they form a single entity. Instead, they are readily separable w ithout any loss of m eaning and thus could have come initially from different contexts. O n the o th er hand, the verses did cohere in the evangelist’s m ind, and every attem pt should be m ade to consider them as a uni­ fied whole. T he key statem ent in the pericope is, of course, v 17. The stress of the passage is evident from the repetition in the words “I did no t com e to destroy” after the words “think no t that I came to destroy.” V 18, which describes the per­ m an en t authority of the law, is prefaced by the form ula “verily I say to you” and contains a double έ ω ς an (“u n til”) clause, chiastically constructed, m aking it both awkward in structure and difficult to understand. V 19 contains a beautiful sym­ m e try o f fo rm in th e c o n tra s t b e tw e e n th e o n e w ho fails to k ee p th e com m andm ents and the one who keeps them . The repetition and symmetry make this verse ideal for m em orization; it could well have circulated as an in d ep en ­ d en t logion used to introduce or to conclude ethical teachings of Jesus. V 20 has the “I say u nto you” form ula again, em phatically pointing to the righteousness th at is the subject of the following verses. The reference to entering the kingdom o f heaven binds this verse to the preceding one, so that it serves as a bridge be­ tween what precedes and what follows. D. W ithout question, the perspective contained in this pericope is especially useful to the evangelist in his presentation of the gospel to his Jewish-Christian audience. This need not m ean, however, that he has com posed this material. Even the partial Synoptic parallel indicated above in §B points to the presence of ma­ terial in the tradition that m ade the same p o in t (see esp. Luke 16:17). T he evangelist, on the o ther hand, was hardly a passive transm itter of the tradition available to him. He is responsible at least for the present juxtaposition of these four separate verses, a juxtaposition that lends em phasis to the whole. T he evan­ gelist, m oreover, has probably p u t his own stam p on the traditional m aterial, shaping it so as to make the strongest possible im pact up o n his Jewish-Christian readers. Comment 17 μ ή ν ο μ ί σ η τ ε o n ή λ θ ο μ “do n o t think that I cam e,” presupposes the exis­ tence of the opinion that is denied (the same four words occur verbatim in 10:34, where the mistaken opinion is that the Messiah comes to bring p ea ce). A lthough it is unlikely that we are to suppose that, like Jam es, Matthew here opposes Paul (contra M anson, Sayings, 25, 154) or an explicitly Pauline group (contra Beare, 141), it may well be that the law-free gospel of the gentile church aggravated the claim of non-Christian Jews that Jesus’ teaching, and hence the Christian faith, was antinom ian. H ere it is fair to assume that Jesus’ sovereign interpretation of the law was so out of step with contem porary interpretation (e.g., the Pharisees) th at it seem ed to many that Jesus was going against the law. (Indeed, at one level, we shall see that he does.) The form of his teaching in the rem ainder of chap. 5 (the contrasts “you have heard . . . bu t I say to you”) also makes necessary the present passage. Jesus here emphatically denies (twice, and thus with the greatest



emphasis) that he has com e κ α τ α λ ύ σ α ι , “to destroy,” the law or the prophets. The infinitive here has the sense of “to abolish,” “an n u l,” or “repeal” (cf. its use in 24:2; 26:61; and 27:40 in reference to the destruction of the tem ple; in reference to the law, cf. 2 Macc 2:22; 4:11; 4 Macc 5:33; and Jos. Ant. 16.2.4 §35; 20.4.2 §81). Jesus, therefore, denies that he has com e to cancel or to do away with the law or the prophets. T he verb ή λ θ ο ν , “I cam e,” in itself hints at the authority of Jesus (cf. Arens, Η Λ Θ Ο Ν -Sayings, 114-16). ‘Jesus is n o t the servant b u t the Lord of the law” (Luz, 271). M atthew contains, in addition to the two η λ θ ο ν sayings in this verse, similar sayings in 9:13; 10:34, 35. T he words τ ο ύ ς π ρ ο φ ή τ α ς , “the prophets,” probably a M atthean addition, are significant, especially since the subject u n d er consideration is prim arily the Mo­ saic law. Although the “prophets” here may in the first instance refer to the further stipulation of the requirem ents of righteousness, i.e., of the will of God (thus Berger, Gesetzesauslegung, 1:224), an added dim ension with the im plication of ful­ fillm ent is introduced by these words. The reference to “the p ro p h ets” suggests that the significance of Jesus for the Mosaic law can only be understood as part of a larger picture, namely, the fulfillm ent of the entire Torah, understood in its broad sense, including the prophets (cf. the inclusio in 7:12). (The entire OT can be referred to as “the law and the p rophets.”) This elevation of the prophets to the eternal worth of the law was n o t a view held by the Jews of Jesus’ day (see Str-B 1:246-47). T he messianic age has dawned in history, and with it comes the fulfillm ent of the prophetic expectation. Consequently, the way in which the law is “fulfilled” is inseparable from the total mission of Jesus. T he precise m eaning of π λ η ρ ώ σ α ί , “to fulfill,” is a difficult question that has produced m uch debate. The verb m eans literally “to fill to the full” (from Ara­ maic $bu, mela' “fulfill,” rather than Dip, qum, “establish,” which is never translated by π λ η ρ ο ύ ν in the LX X ). From this basic m eaning comes such derivative m ean­ ings as “accom plish,” “com plete,” “bring to its e n d ,” “finish.” “Fulfill” here hardly m eans “to d o ,” although Jesus in his conduct is faithful to the true m eaning of the Torah. “C om plete” is congruent with the stress on fulfillm ent in and through Jesus b ut wrongly connotes that Jesus has com e simply to add som ething to the law. T he m eaning in this instance cannot be determ ined by word study alone but m ust be established from the context and in particular m ust be consonant with the statem ent of v 18. T he options may be simplified into the following: (1) to do or obey the com m and­ m ents of the O T (Luz, Bruner, Zahn, Schlatter, Schniewind); (2) a reference to Jesus’ life a n d /o r the accom plishm ent of the salvific acts o f Jesus’ death an d resurrection (“fulfillm ent of prophecy”; Meier, 46; idem , Law, 76; Ljungm an, 60; Guelich, Sermon, 142; Gundry; Carson); (3) teaching the law in such a way as to (a) “establish” or “u p ­ h o ld ” the law (Wenham, Themelios 4 [1979] 93; Dalm an , Jesus-Jeshua, 56-66; Daube, Rab­ binic, 60), (b) add to and thus “com plete” the law (Jeremias, Theology, 83-4), or (c) bring out the intended m eaning o f the law through definitive interpretation (with some differences: Davies-Allison; Broer, Freiheit, 34; Moo, JSNT 20 [1984] 3-49; T. W. Manson, Sayings, 153; Allen; McNeile; G reen). A m ajor decision is thus w hether the verb refers to the deeds of Jesus or to the teaching o f Jesus, although some scholars want to find both (e.g., Banks, JBL 93 [1974] 231; Sand, Gesetz, 186; cf. M o o ,J S N T 20 [1984] 25; Carson). T he first option is unsatisfactory because the word πληρούν, “to fulfill,” is never used in Matthew to describe obedience to the law, it misses the nuance of fulfillm ent th at is associated with the word in Matthew, and it is n o t at all appropriate to the context, vv


Matthew 5:17-20

21-48, which refer to Jesus’ teaching. T he second option is again u n related to the con­ text, where the deeds of Jesus are n o t in view, and in some form s presupposes a ques­ tionable exegesis of v 18 (see below). T he third option is the m ost appropriate, n o t in the sense of simply establishing the law as is, n o r of supplem enting it, b u t in the sense o f bringing it to its intended m eaning in connection with the messianic fulfillm ent (together with πληρούν, note “the law and the p ro p h ets”) b ro u g h t by Jesus. This inter­ pretation has the advantage of fitting the context well, o f m aintaining the com m itm ent to the law reflected in v 18, and at the same tim e of affirm ing the new definition that comes with fulfillment. In M atthew’s view, the teaching o f Jesus by definition am ounts to the true m eaning of the Torah and is hence paradoxically an affirm ation o f Jesu s’ loyalty to the OT.

Since in 5:21-48 Jesus defines righteousness by expounding the true m eaning of the law as opposed to wrong or shallow understandings, it is best to understand π λ η ρ ώ σ α ι here as “fulfill” in the sense of “bring to its in ten d ed m eaning”— that is, to present a definitive interpretation of the law, som ething now possible because of the presence of the Messiah and his kingdom . Far from destroying the law, Jesus’ teachings—despite their occasionally strange sound—p enetrate to the di­ vinely in ten d ed (i.e., the teleological) m eaning o f the law. Because the law and the prophets p o inted to him and he is their goal, he is able now to reveal their tru e m eaning and so to bring them to “fulfillm ent.” This view is consonant with the expectation that the Messiah would no t only preserve the Torah but also bring o ut its m eaning in a definitive m anner (see Davies, Setting, 161-72; idem , Torah). 18 ά μ ή ν γ ά ρ λ έ γ ω ν μ ΐ ν , “Truly I say to you. ” As an introductory form ula (“am en” is the transliteration of the Hebrew ]QK, ' amen, m eaning “verily” or “truly,” i.e., som ething to be relied upon), these words stress the gravity of what follows. This prefatory usage o f “am e n ” is found n eith er in the OT n o r in the rabbinic litera­ ture, where the word occurs consistently as a response to a preceding statement. ά μ ή ν occurs no less that thirty-one times in Matthew, far m ore than in any other o f the Gospels (the Fourth Gospel uses the double α μ ή ν , α μ ή ν , which never oc­ curs in M atthew ). T he im portant declaration introduced by this form ula is that no t a “jo t or tittle” (to use the now traditional language) of the law will pass away (for a rabbinic parallel, cf. Exod. Rab. 1:6). This, then, is a fu rth er and m ore forceful statem ent that Jesus has n o t come to destroy the law (v 17). The repetition of “o n e ” {ev, μ ί α ) in the chiastic form ulation ι ώ τ α ev ή μ ί α Kepaia, “one iota or one m ark,” provides extra emphasis on the absoluteness of the saying (cf. BDF §474[1]). ι ώ τ α (“io ta”) is the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet but translates an underlying reference to the smallest Hebrew letter, the yod (0 ). The κ ε ρ α ί α (“tittle,” lit. “h o rn ” or “h o o k ”) refers to m inute m arkings of the written text, either those that distin­ guish sim ilar H ebrew letters (as betw een ΓΤ an d Π ) or, m ore probably, the ornam ental marks customarily added to certain letters. We have here thus a de­ liberate hyperbole—an overstatem ent that is designed to drive hom e the m ain point that the law be fully preserved. Jesus’ words stress that the law is to be p re­ served n o t as punctiliously interpreted and observed by the Pharisees (although the language apart from the context could suggest such a perspective) bu t as definitively in terp reted by Jesus the Messiah. T hat is, to follow the authoritative teaching of Jesus is to be faithful to the whole m eaning of the law. Figuratively speaking, it is to uphold every “jo t and tittle.”



This verse contains two β ω ς clauses, which indicate the law’s continuing valid­ ity “u n til” som ething occurs. O ne clause precedes and one follows the main clause ju st exam ined. Are the two clauses synonymous in m eaning? And why are there two such clauses in the same sentence? Again there has been extensive debate concerning these questions. We may sum m a­ rize the options for each βως clause before considering their relation. T he first βως clause, “until heaven and earth pass away,” is by far the easier of the two, although even here some disagreem ent exists. The most com m on view is that the clause refers straight­ forwardly to (1) the end of the present age, viz., the time of the parousia (the majority o f com m entators), but some advocate (2) a way of saying “never” (Allen; Klosterm ann; M ontefiore; Strecker, Sermon, 55; D upont, Beatitudes, 116) or (3) a rhetorical figure in­ dicating difficulty (Banks, JBL 93 [1974] 234; cf. F rance). T he second βως clause, “until everything is accom plished” (πάντα γέν η τα ί), has been taken to refer to the fol­ lowing: (1) the accom plishm ent of the m inistry of Jesus, including his death and resur­ rection in fulfillm ent of prophecy (Jeremias, Sermon, 24; Davies, “Matthew 5:17, 18,” 60-64 [but n o t Davies-Allison]; Guelich, Sermon, 148; H endrickx, Sermon, 51; Lenski; Meier, Law, 63-64; Hamerton-Kelly, BR 17 [1972] 30; France); (2) the com plete fulfill­ ing of the com m andm ents (Ljungman, Gesetz,40-41; Strecker, Sermon,56; Broer, Freiheit , 48; G. Barth, in Bornkam m et al., Tradition, 70; G rundm ann; Sand, Gesetz, 38; Hill) or the fulfillm ent of all the prophecies of Scripture (Carson; Moo, JSNT 20 [1984] 27); and (3) the equivalent of the first βως clause, i.e., the end of the age, m arked by the retu rn of Christ (Allen; McNeile; K losterm ann; T. W. M anson, Sayings, 154; and DaviesAllison, who refer to synonymous parallelism). T he two clauses may thus be taken as referring to different things or as being syn­ onymous or nearly so. Since there is widespread agreem ent concerning the m eaning o f the first clause, the question rem ains regarding how to u n d erstan d the second in relation to it. T he trouble with taking the second clause as referring to what is accom­ plished by the m inistry of Jesus is that this plainly contradicts the m eaning of the first clause, which refers to the ongoing validity of the law until the end of the age. (Meier [Law,60-61] and H endrickx [ Sermon, 51] adm it the contradiction b u t argue that in the second clause M atthew deliberately corrects the traditional view reflected in the first clause. But why then, it may be asked, did he include the first clause at all?) Against the second explanation is the fact that the verb γενηταί norm ally m eans “to h a p p e n ” rath er than “to d o ” and that the m ain clause of v 18 an d the context refer to the law, i.e., the doing of the com m andm ents, rath er than to the fulfillm ent of prophecy. De­ spite the disagreem ent of some, the easiest solution is the third option, i.e., to take the clauses as essentially synonymous. T he explanation of M atthew’s addition o f a tautologous clause is that the repetition em phasizes a m ost im p o rtan t po in t for the evangelist: the law rem ains in place until the consum m ation of the age. We m ust reiterate, how­ ever, that the way in which the law retains its validity for Matthew is in and th rough the teaching of Jesus.

T he words of the first clause, β ω ς άν παρέλθρ δ ούρανός καί ή γή, “until heaven and earth pass away,” are n o t simply a popular way of saying “never” (contra M ontefiore; Strecker, Sermon). They refer instead to the end of time as we know it and the beginning of eschatology proper, that is, the time of the regeneration of the created o rd er (cf. 2 Pet 3:7, 13; Rev 21:1). In o ther words, the law, as inter­ p reted by Jesus, will rem ain valid until the close of this age. The same point is m ade, though differently, in the Lukan parallel: “it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away” (Luke 16:17). With this we may com pare the similar statem ent in 24:35: “Heaven and earth will pass away, bu t my words will no t pass away.” The


Matthew 5:17-20

words o f Jesus are here elevated even above those of the law, for they endure eternally, even beyond the existence of heaven and earth. έ ω ς α ν π ά ν τ α γ έ ν η τ α ι , “until all is accom plished,” the second of these clauses, is probably synonymous with the first (see discussion above) and may well have been added by the evangelist for clarification of the form er clause and for em ­ phasis of the point. It is interesting to note, in su pport of the synonymity of the clauses, that in Luke 21:32-33 the same clause as in Matthew, έ ω ς ά ν π ά ν τ α γ έ ν η τ α ί , “u n til all has o c c u rre d ,” is fo u n d ju s t before the words ό ο ύ ρ α ν ό ς κ α ί ή γ ή 7τ α ρ ε λ ε ύ σ ο ν τ α ι , “the heaven and the earth will pass away.” T he M atthean clauses are equivalent in that they both point to the com ing eschatological era. The law as in terp reted by Jesus rem ains valid until all the events between the present and the full enjoym ent of the eschatological era have occurred. This is fully in keep­ ing with the Jewish and rabbinic view of Torah (see Str-B 1:245-6, and cf. Bar 4:1; 4 Ezra 9:37). But again, as we have said, this is the law as understood in the con­ text of the fulfillm ent of G od’s purposes announced by Jesus (hence the law and the prophets). For Jesus is the goal of the law and prophets, the bringer of the kingdom , and hence the final in terp reter of the law’s m eaning. T he law as he teaches it is valid for all time, and thus in effect the law is upheld. 19 T he key problem of this verse hinges on the m eaning of the phrase τ ω ν ε ν τ ο λ ώ ν τ ο ύ τ ω ν τ ω ν ε λ ά χ ι σ τ ω ν , “the least o f these com m andm ents.” A n u m ber of scholars have concluded that the phrase refers to the teaching of Jesus as given, for exam ple, in vv 21-48 (Banks, JBL 93 [1974] 239; Lohmeyer; Schweizer). But in keeping with the em phasis of the preceding verses, it is m ore naturally taken as a reference to the Mosaic law, and the equivalent of the “jo t and tittle” of v 18 (the majority of com m entators). W hat is in view is n o t the least in im portance b u t the easiest to fulfill (cf. M ontefiore, Rabbinic Literature). If the com m andm ents o f the OT are in view here, we m ust regard this statem ent as hyperbolic. As in the preceding verse, a literal understanding is not consistent with Jesus’ own treatm ent o f the law, n o r indeed with the em phasis in v 20. W hat is being em phasized in this way are n o t the m inutiae of the law that tended to captivate the Pharisees but simply a full faithfulness to the m eaning of the law as it is expounded byJesus. Thus, the phrase “the least of these com m andm ents” refers to the final and full m eaning of the law, but taken up and interpreted by Jesus, as for example in the material that begins in v 21 (cf. too the description of the “great com m andm ent” in 22:36-40 and Jesus’ ability to find the heart of the law in the double love com m andm ent; cf. Schweizer, “M atthaus 5:17-20,” 402). Thus, the language of this verse, like that of the preceding verse, is familiar to the Jews, and especially to the Pharisees (a “sen­ tence of holy law,” in which hum an action is followed by divine action). Now, however, it has new connotations, given the larger context in which it is uttered—the fulfill­ m ent brought by Jesus. These new connotations and a fuller picture of Jesus’ intention concerning the Mosaic law will em erge as we progress through the Gospel. T he addition of the word δ ί δ ά ξ η , “teach,” in both halves of the verse stresses the responsibility of the disciples, no t simply to observe the law as in terp reted by Jesus b u t also to teach it faithfully. Teaching receives great em phasis in the Gos­ pel o f Matthew, an d the evangelist obviously re g a rd e d it as o f the hig h est im portance for his church (cf. 28:20). T he ranking of persons as ε λ ά χ ι σ τ ο ς , “least,” or μ έ γ α ς , “great,” in the king­ dom of heaven is in keeping with the Jewish and rabbinic perspective (see Str-B



1:249-50). It is directly related to the idea of rewards as a motivation for correct conduct (cf. 5:12 and 18:4). The “least” has presum ably been essentially faithful to the law, though n o t having reached or taught the ideal cham pioned by Jesus. Matthew could well have in m ind m ore liberal Jewish Christians or especially gen­ tile Christians who tolerated m ore laxity regarding the law than he wished to (or could) prom ote am ong his particular Jewish-Christian congregation. It is unlikely that “least” refers to those excluded from the kingdom (contra Luz, Schweizer). T he assum ption is that although they were guilty o f the smallest com m andm ents, they had kept the law for the m ost part. T heir reward will be proportionately less (for rabbinic parallels, cf. Str-B 1:249-50; 4:1138-43). It is highly im probable that Paul, the “least” o f the apostles, is being alluded to (contra Manson, Sayings, 25, 124; Betz, Essays, 21-22, 49). O n “kingdom of heaven,” see Comment on 3:2. 20 Again, as in v 18, the form ulaic λ έ γ ω γ ά ρ ν μ ΐ ν , “I say to you,” stresses the great im portance of the words that follow. This verse points to the essence of the m atter and provides a clarification of the m eaning of v 18, as well as a confirm a­ tion of our interpretation of the pericope. The δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η , “righteousness,” in view m ust exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees ( π λ ε ΐ ο ν , “m o re,” provides em ­ phasis when added to π ε ρ ι σ σ ε ύ σ η , “abound”; cf. BDF §246). But it is clear, especially from what follows in the serm on, that despite the language used this is not to be understood quantitatively (contra Luz)—that is, that the righteousness Jesus speaks of does n o t com e through a greater preoccupation with the m inutiae of the law that outdoes even the Pharisees! T he ethical teaching presented by Jesus in the Gospel can hardly be said to do that. Instead, Jesus expects, as the antitheses to follow show, a new and higher kind of righteousness that rests upon the presence of the eschatological kingdom he brings and that finds its definition and content in his definitive and authoritative exposition of the law. Thus Jesus clearly calls his disciples to a way of righteousness, but it is a new way that rests upon the true m eaning of the Torah now delivered by the Messiah. To follow that teaching is to follow the path that leads to perfection (5:48). T he larger context of the verse (e.g., the grace of the beatitudes) forbids us to conclude that entrance into the kingdom depends, in a cause-effect relationship, upon personal m oral attainm ents. The verse is addressed, it must be rem em bered, to those who are the recipients of the kingdom . Entrance into the kingdom is G od’s gift; b u t to belong to the kingdom m eans to follow Jesus’ teaching. H ence, the kingdom and the righteousness of the kingdom go together; they cannot be separated. And it follows that without this righteousness there can be no entrance into the kingdom (cf. 6:33). δικαιοσύνη is a word of special significance in the Gospel (see Comment on 3:15). T he γρ α μ μ α τείς, “scribes,” were the professional scholars o f the law who spent m uch of their time in detailed study of its m inutiae. T he Pharisees were the sect who at­ tem pted to fulfill the requirem ents of the Torah th rough an elaborate oral tradition that was m eant to explicate its dem ands. T he scribes and Pharisees are m en tio n ed to­ gether several times in Matthew (cf. 12:38; 15:1; 23:2, 13-15). See discussion of 16:5-12.

Explanation T he ethical teaching of Jesus the Messiah, the one who in his person brings the fulfillm ent that indicates the kingdom ’s presence, is nothing other than the


Matthew 5:21-48

true m eaning of the Torah. As the Messiah, Jesus has come to bring both the law and the prophets to their intended fulfillment. Jesus’ view of the law as valid until the end of time means that the fulfillment he brings is in true continuity with the past, a fulfillment toward which the law and prophets pointed. G od’s purposes have a unity; yet a new stage in his purposes has been reached. Jesus alone and not the Pharisees can interpret the Torah finally and authoritatively. This is the explanation of the radical-sounding teaching of Jesus that cuts through the casuistry and mystifi­ cation of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus’ com m itm ent to the whole law is no less serious than theirs, but he alone is in a position to penetrate to the intended m ean­ ing of the Torah. In this connection, it is absolutely im portant to note that the understanding of the Torah and the attainm ent of the righteousness of the law are thus vitally linked with the presence of the kingdom. W here the kingdom has come, there exists the possibility of the realization of the righteousness of the law. Thus Jesus’ language about the “jo t and tittle” and the “least of these com ­ m a n d m e n ts” is ju stified only in co n n ectio n with his final an d authoritative exposition of the m eaning of the law. If he is what the law and the prophets point to, th en his exposition of the law is absolutely true, and it is as though his teach­ ing satisfies every m inute aspect of the law that so w orried the Pharisees. Thus, Jesus is using the language of the Pharisees in these verses. And the language is justified in one sense because Jesus as the infallible ex pounder of the tru th of the Torah has indeed o utdone the Pharisees. T he depth and tru th of his und erstan d ­ ing o f the law is such that it com prehends the totality—and thus in effect the m inutest aspects— of the Torah. Only an in terpretation of the present pericope such as this is com patible with the bearing o f Jesus toward the law thro u g h o u t the Gospel. These words do no t contradict what is said elsewhere in the Gospel n o r do they involve a m isunder­ standing o f the m inistry of Jesus. A lthough they unm istakably reflect the idiom o f the Pharisees, and to that extent may be m isleading if taken literally, they make a valid p o in t concerning Jesus and his attitude toward the law. T he words may n o t have been adequately understood at their first hearing, but in retrospect, given the whole sweep of events recorded in the Gospels, their m eaning would have becom e clear to the early C hurch. T he evangelist is of course delighted to seize these sayings and incorporate them into this discourse on the righteousness of the kingdom . His Jewish-Christian readers needed to know—especially in the light o f repeated counter-claims— that the p attern for righteousness taught by Jesus reflects the true m eaning of the Torah, and thus that the Torah in its en­ tirety is preserved in and through the ethical teaching of the C hurch.

The Surpassing of the Old: The Six Antitheses (5:21-48) General Bibliography B a rto n , G . A . “T he M eaning of the ‘Royal Law,’ Matt. 5:21-48.” JBL 37 (1918) 54-65. B roer, I. “Die Antithesen u nd der Evangelist M atthaus.” B Z 19 (1975) 50-63. D esca m p s, A .



“Essai d ’interpretation de Mt. 5,17 -4 8 .” In SE 1 [= TU 73] (1959) 156-73. D ietzfelb in g er, C. Die Antithesen der Bergpredigt. Theologische Existenz heute 186. Munich: Kaiser, 1975.------------ . “Die A ntithesen der B ergpredigt im Verstandnis des M atthaus.” ZNW 70 (1979) 1-15. G u elich , R . A . “T he A ntitheses of Matthew v. 21-28: Traditional a n d /o r R edactional?” N TS 22 (1976) 444-57. H a sler, V. “Das Herzstiick der Bergpredigt: Zum Verstandnis der A ntithesen in Matth. 5, 21-48.” T Z 15 (1959) 90-106. L ev iso n , J . R . “A B etter Righteous­ ness: T he Character and Purpose of Matthew 5.21-48.” Studia Biblica et Theological2 (1982) 1 7 1 -9 4 .------------ . “Responsible Initiative in Matthew 5:21-48.” ExpTim 98 (1987) 231-34. L o h se, E . “Ich aber sage eu ch .” In Der R u f Jesu und die Antwort der Gemeinde. FS J. Jerem ias, ed. E. Lohse et al. Gottingen: V andenhoeck & R uprecht, 1970. 189-203. P ercy, E. “Die F o rderungen Jesu u n d das Gesetz (Die A ntithesen der Bergpredigt: Mt. 5, 2 1 -4 8 ).” In Die BotschaftJesu. Lund: G leerup, 1953. 123-64. S ch m ah l, G . “Die A ntithesen der B ergpredigt.” TT Z 83 (1974) 284-97. S treck er, G . “Die A ntithesen d er B ergpredigt (Mt 5.21-48 p ar.).” Z N W 69 (1978) 36-72. S u g g s, M . J . “The A ntitheses as Redactional P roducts.” In Essays on the Love Commandment, ed. R. H. Fuller. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1978. 93-107. W rege, Η . T. Die Uberlieferungsgeschichte der Bergpredigt. WUNT 9. Tubingen: Mohr, 1968.

Introduction By m eans of six bold antitheses representing the teaching of Jesus, Matthew now contrasts Jesus’ exposition of the true and ultim ate m eaning of the Torah with the m ore com m on, rabbinic understandings of the com m andm ents. In this way the incom parable ethical dem ands of the kingdom are set forth, and in this way examples are provided showing how the righteousness of the Pharisees is to be exceeded (v 19). T he antitheses are thus at the very h ea rt of the serm on (Hasler). Having assured his readers that the radical-sounding teaching of Jesus involves no an n u lm ent of the law bu t represents the goal and fulfillm ent of its in ten d ed m eaning, the evangelist now proceeds to record some examples of this authoritative and definitive teaching. T he antitheses, which consist basically of the m aterial introduced directly by the repeated twofold form ula (“you have heard . . . b u t I say to you”), are accom panied in each instance by illustration, applica­ tion, or clarification of some kind (the first antithesis includes the m ost such m aterial, the third the least). In this way the radical significance of the antithesis and the extent to which it involves a departure from com m on understandings of the law are dramatically clarified. The form ή κ ο ύ σ α τ ε otl έ ρ ρ έ θ η , “you have heard that it was said” (vv 21, 27, 33, 38, 43; v 31 has the abbreviated form έ ρ ρ έ θ η , “it was said”), prior to the setting forth o f a tru er interpretation of the law, was a device used by the rabbis (see Daube, New Testament, 55). A lthough by no m eans unparalleled in rabbinic Judaism (cf. Lohse, 196-97), the second half of the com parison used by Jesus, έ γ ώ δ έ λ έ γ ω ύ μ ΐ ν , “b u t I say to you” (in all six antitheses: vv 22, 28, 32, 34, 39, and 44), involves an authority that is alien to the spirit of the rabbis—especially, of course, where the new interpretation seems to stand in tension with the direct statem ent of Scripture. T he rabbis, who never would pit their views against Scripture, preferred to support differing interpretations by appealing to other earlier representatives of the rabbinic tradition. Jesus’ rem arkable use of the “bu t I say to you” form ula is to be explained by his identity as the messianic bringer of the kingdom (Hengel points o u t th at the elem ent “to you,” which gives each antithesis the tonality of a kerygmatic statem ent, is lacking in the rabbinic parallels [TRu 52 (1987) 376]). It is the M essiah’s interpretation of the Torah that is finally authoritative.


Matthew 5:21-48

In this connection it is im portant to note, however, that the “antithesis,” the “b u t I say to you” elem ent, opposes not so m uch the law itself bu t a shallow and inadequate understanding of what the com m andm ent entails. It should be selfevident that although Matthew stresses the suprem e authority of Jesus, he does n o t regard the antitheses as contradicting the strong statem ent of 5:17-19 about Jesus’ faithfulness to the law. Thus although Jesus goes against a strict interpreta­ tion of the letter o f the law in the third, fourth, and fifth antitheses—i.e., in disallowing divorce, oath-taking, and ju st retaliation, all of which find their place in the OT (see below)—it is also the case that he at the same time penetrates to the d eep er spirit of the law in a quite rem arkable way. W hat tension may exist between Jesus’ teaching and the law here, as elsewhere in the Gospel, is to be u n derstood n o t as the violation of the law b u t as the eschatological fulfillm ent of the law b ro u g h t about by the authoritative teaching of the Messiah. This does n o t m ean that the contrasting, antithetical elem ent should be m inim ized (as does Levison [Studia Biblica et Theologica 12 [1982] 176], who would translate the sec­ ond elem ent “and I say to you,” thus avoiding the contrastive “but I say to you”). Despite his affirm ation of the continuity between Jesus and the law, Matthew at the same time stresses the authority of Jesus as the eschatological Messiah who in bringing the law to a new, definitive interpretation can also transcend it. Messi­ anic transcending of the law is no t understood as involving a violation of it. All com m entary on this m aterial in Matthew that attem pts to avoid this necessary dialectic is less than fair to the text and thus inadequate. T he first two of the antitheses involve com m andm ents concerning m urder and adultery, drawn from the ten com m andm ents of Exod 20:1-17 (cf. D eut 5:6-21). Jesus deepens these com m andm ents by internalizing them , i.e., by em phasizing the underlying thoughts, which themselves condem n a person. The final four antitheses involve a similarly high ethical idealism; again, they are descriptive of the righteousness of the kingdom . The fourth and fifth antitheses, concerning oaths and the lex talionis (“an eye for an eye,” etc.), involve direct com m andm ents in the OT; the third and sixth, those concerning divorce and hatred of enem ies, involve, on the oth er hand, im plications drawn from the Torah m ore than direct com m ands. T he antitheses thus move from the weightiest items, those contained in the ten com m andm ents, to o ther com m andm ents in the Torah and finally to an app aren t im plication of the Torah. They constitute what am ounts to a repre­ sentative sam pling of what we may call kingdom ethics. It is no accident that the final antithesis concerns the love com m andm ent (Lev 19:18), leading even to the love of enem ies, and that this is followed im mediately by the reference to the perfection entailed by the presence of the kingdom that rounds out this section o f the serm on. T he love com m andm ent is the quintessential aspect of the new righteousness proclaim ed by Jesus (see esp. Stuhlm acher, ZTK 79 [1982] 287-88; cf. H engel, T R u 52 [1987] 394). Since antitheses 3, 5, and 6 contain m aterial paralleled in Luke (see below), although n o t in antithesis form , Matthew is here usually thought to be d ep en ­ d en t on Q, the m aterial of which he reshaped in the form of the antitheses. Antitheses 1, 2, and 4, on the other hand, are usually regarded as from M atthew’s special source and often as going back to Jesus m ore or less in their present form. Based on this hypothesis, Matthew form ed antitheses 3, 5, and 6 (thus Strecker, ZAW69 [1978] 47, following Bultm ann) according to the p attern of antitheses 1,



2, and 4 (so too, Guelich, Sermon; Davies-Allison; and Luz). T here are, of course, ex cep tio n s to this analysis, ra n g in g on th e o n e h a n d from th a t o f W rege ( Uberlieferungsgeschichte, 57-94) a n d Jerem ias ( Theology 1:251-53), who argue that Matthew in h erited all six antitheses from the tradition, to that of Suggs (“A ntith­ eses”) and Broer (B Z 19 [1975] 56, 62-3; cf. G undry), who contend that Matthew is responsible for the form ulation of all six antitheses in keeping with his inten­ tion of stressing the authority of Jesus. It is, of course, no t at all impossible that the evangelist m odeled some of the m aterial at his disposal into the shape of antitheses according to the p attern of those he received from the tradition. Such conclusions are, however, necessarily speculative. It seems far less likely that Mat­ thew himself is responsible altogether for the creation of the form of the antitheses. In all likelihood the form goes back to Jesus. Given M atthew’s conservative stance toward the tradition, it may well be that all the antitheses in some form may be traced back to Jesus.

On Murder

(5:21 -26)

Bibliography Caird, G. B. “E xpounding the Parables: I. T he D efendant (Matthew 5.25f; Luke 12.58f.).” ExpTim 77 (1965) 36-39. Dalman, G. Jesus-Jeshua: Studies in the Gospels. New York: Ktav, 1971. G uelich, R. A. “M atthew 5, 22: Its M eaning and Integrity.” Z N W 64 (1973) 39-52. Kohler, K. “Zu Mt 5, 22.” ZNW 19 (1920) 91-95. M oule, C. F. D. “‘T he Angry W ord’: Mt 5, 21f.”ExpTim 81 (1969) 10-13. Trilling, W. “Die neue u n d wahre ‘G erechtigkeit’ (Mt 5, 2022).” In Christusverkundigungin den synoptischenEvangelien. Munich: Kosel, 1969. 86-107.

Translation 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of early times: You shall not murder, and whoever murders shall be guilty in the judgment. 22But I say to you that everyone who is filled with wrath against his brother or sistera,b shall be guilty in the judgment. And whoever says to his brother or sister, ‘R aka, ’c shall be liable to the sanhedrin. And who­ ever says,d Tool, ’shall be liable to fiery Gehenna. 23If, therefore, you bear your gift to the altar, and then remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go and first be reconciled to that person, and then go and offer your gift. 25Be well disposed to your adversary, and do so quickly, while you are still with that one on the road, lest your adversary hand you over to the judge, and the judgee to the servant,f and you be thrown into prison. 26I say to you, emphatically, you will never get out from there, until you have paid the last quarter-penny.” Notes a “O r sister” added to translation. b Many MSS (K2 D L W Θ f1,13 TR it sy co) add ebcrj, “w ithout reason,” here, in an obvious attem pt to soften the teaching of the passage. P 67K * B lack the word.


Matthew 5:21-26

c For the spelling ρ α κ ά , S*DW have ρ α χ ά , which is perhaps an attem pt to reflect the fact that the word is Semitic. d Some MSS (L Θ f 1,13 sys,c bo) insert τ ω ά δ β λ φ ω α υ τ ό ν , “to his b ro th e r (and sister),” in im itation of the previous sentence. e Many MSS ( [D] L W Θ TR lat syc,p,h) add σ ε π α ρ α δ ω , “h a n d you over,” perhaps in im itation o f the preceding clause (cf. too Luke 12:58). f sys om its κ α ί ό κ ρ ι τ ή ς τ ω υ π η ρ έ τ η , “and the ju d g e to the servant,” perhaps through hom oioteleuton (cf. - τ η e n ding o f previous clause).

Form/Structure/Setting A. T he first o f the antitheses addresses a basic com m andm ent, the m eaning o f which would hardly have seem ed debatable. This antithesis, like the one that follows, involves one of the ten com m andm ents of Exod 20:1-17 (cf. D eut 5:6— 21). T he horizon o f what is addressed by the com m andm ent n o t to m urder is b ro ad en ed to include even the harboring of anger against another. H ere, as else­ where in the antitheses, Jesus’ interpretation deepens the com m andm ent, m aking the dem and greater than it was usually understood to be. B. The antithesis p ro p er (vv 21-22) is w ithout parallel in the Gospels and is thus from M atthew’s own source rath er than from Mark or Q. T he first illustra­ tion (vv 23-24) finds a parallel, m ore in content than in wording, in Mark 11:25, where the context concerns praying and receiving o n e ’s requests (cf. Matt 21:22). A ccording to Mark, Jesus speaks of the necessity of forgiving “if you have any­ thing against som eone” in order to receive the forgiveness of the Father in heaven (this p o in t is also m ade in Matt 6:14). Obviously, for Jesus reconciliation and for­ giveness are closely related. Moreover, the m otif of the forgiveness of trespasses is related also to the second illustration in ou r pericope (vv 25-26), which finds a close parallel in Luke 12:58-59. T he latter passage refers to being ε ν rrj ό δ ω , “on the ro ad ,” μ ε τ ά τ ο ν ά ν τ ι δ ί κ ο υ σ ο υ , “with your adversary,” and to δ κ ρ ι τ ή ς , “the ju d g e ,” and to being cast into “p rison” ( ε ι ς φ υ λ α κ ή ν ) . But there are also some intriguing differences: Luke refers to a “m agistrate” (α ρ χ ώ ν ) , using the verb “to be reconciled” { ά π η λ λ ά χ θ α μ cf. the related δ ι α λ λ ά γ η θ ί of M att 5:24) and a differ­ en t word for “servant” ( π ρ ά κ τ ω ρ , or “official”). T he final saying of the Lukan passage agrees nearly verbatim with v 26 except for the lack of the α μ ή ν form ula and the use o f λ ε π τ ό ν , a small copper coin, w orth even less than M atthew ’s κ ο δ ρ ά ν τ η ς . We have here what m ust be described as Q m aterial, but perhaps stem ­ m ing from different Greek translations or different oral traditions. T he content o f this illustration (vv 25-26), however, makes m uch b etter sense in the Lukan context, which seems to concern eschatological judgm ent, than M atthew’s, which concerns reconciliation and forgiveness. M atthew thus appears to have com posed the p resen t pericope using the vari­ ous m a te ria ls av ailable to him : his ow n, p ro b a b ly o ra l, so u rc e (cf. th e sym m etrical form ) for vv 21-22; traditional m aterial bearin g som e re la tio n ­ ship to M ark 11:25, albeit som ew hat rem ote, for vv 23-24; an d som e version o f Q for vv 25-26. In the last instance, M atthew uses m aterial th a t may well have h ad its p rim ary application in a co n tex t co n c ern in g ju d g m e n t but, with its reconciliation them e, has som e relevance to the first antithesis. Jerem ias cor­ rectly points o u t th at the outlook, language, an d parallelism are all distinctly P alestinian ( T D N T 6:976).



C. T he present pericope consists of three parts: (1) the antithesis p ro p er (vv 21-22), which, however, also includes some clarifying m aterial (v 22b, c); (2) a specific illustration involving δ άδελφός σου , “your b ro th e r” (vv 23-24); and (3) a specific illustration involving τω άντίδίκω σου , “your adversary” (vv 25-26). The illustrations clarify the radical nature of the antithesis and the extent to which it involves a dep artu re from the com m on understanding of the law. T he two illus­ trations involve a shift from the second person plural (in the antithesis proper) to the second person singular (through to the end of v 26). T he last section gives the appearance o f having been adapted for the present application. Thus, the saying with which the pericope ends (v 26), introduced m oreover by the form ula o f em phasis (“I say to you”), has little to do with the point of the original antith­ esis. T he last illustration including the final w arning is, as we have seen, found in Luke 12:58-59 in an entirely different context involving eschatological judgm ent— a context in which the illustration is m uch m ore com fortable (see Comment below). T he first section o f the pericope is carefully structured around the fourfold ένοχος εσται, “he is liable (or subject) to.” The last two occurrences (v 22b, c) are par­ ticularly symmetrical in structure, involving the parallel “Raka” and “Fool,” on the one hand, and “sanhedrin” and “the G ehenna of fire,” on the other. Comment 21 τοΐς ά ρχαίοις , “to those of early tim es,” which occurs also in the fourth antithesis (v 33), is probably m eant to refer to the original recipients of the Mo­ saic law (thus the majority of com m entators). A lthough this phrase does not occur with the o th er four antitheses, it is probably presupposed, as the consistent use of έρρέθη, “it was said” (sc. “God said,” divine passive), confirms. This appropriately includes n o t only those com m andm ents that are drawn verbatim from the OT (such as here and in vv 27, 38) b u t also those that involve interpretation or infer­ ence going beyond the letter of the OT, particularly the sixth antithesis (vv 43-47). This interpretation and inferential understanding of the law is thus also regarded as ancient tradition. It is no t differentiated from the actual content of the law itself. T he form ulaic ήκούσατε, “you have h ea rd ,” occurs in five of the six antith­ eses; it is lacking (but assumed) only in the third (v 31). T he repeated form ula m eans “you have received as tradition” (cf. Str-B 1:253). T he com m andm ent ού φονεύσεις, “you shall not m urder,” is drawn verbatim (LXX) from the catalogue of ten com m andm ents as found in both Exodus (20:15) and Deuteronom y (5:18). Matthew again cites it in 19:18. The words that follow, however, are not a part of the original com m andm ent but reflect other statements in the Mosaic law (see below). ένοχος εσταί rfj κρίσει , “shall be liable to the ju d g m e n t,” occurs identically in v 22. But two fu rth er occurrences of ένοχος εσται (“shall be liable to ”) in v 22 are linked with “the san h ed rin ” and “the G ehenna of fire.” It is difficult to solve the exegetical puzzle regarding w hether the four references are essentially synony­ m ous or the last two are m eant to involve higher penalties (as Str-B argue, 1:276), and w hether we move through three different courts, the local, the sanhedrin, and the divine. Jerem ias, however, is probably correct when he argues that the passage simply contains “three expressions for the death penalty in a kind of cre­ scendo” (T D N T 6:975). This, however, is a rhetorical device and the differences have no literal significance (just as the offense of anger is essentially the same in


Matthew 5:21-26

the three instances). H ere in both occurrences rfj κ ρ ί σ ε ί may m ean initially the ju d g m en t o f the religious authorities, in this case of the local sanhedrins (com­ posed o f twenty-three m em bers; cf. m. Sanh. 1:4) found in larger cities, which handled m u rd er cases. T he penalty for m urder was death (cf. Lev 24:17; Exod 21:12; Num 35:16-17). The σ υ ν έ δ ρ ω ν , “sanhedrin” (cf. v 22), was the highest court in Jerusalem (com posed of seventy-one m em bers). T he eschatological reference to “the G ehenna o f fire” in the fourth sentence (v 22) is undoubtedly climactic. And since the ju d g m en t of the local and m ain sanhedrins would have been an­ ticipations o f the final judgm ent, we are probably justified in hearing an echo of this in the first two references to “ju d g m e n t.” This is especially true if, as we have argued, v 22b, c are illustrative of 22a. The point in all four cases is that anger, as the ro o t o f m urder, deserves in principle the same penalty. T he use of this lan­ guage of the courts points by deliberate irony to the impossibility of understanding this m aterial casuistically (thus Guelich, Sermon, following Zahn). 22 The first part of this verse, introduced by the form ula ε γ ώ δ ε λ έ γ ω ν μ ΐ ν , “but I [emphatic by initial position] say to you [plural],” is the key statem ent of the pericope. The form ula points to the unparalleled authority o f Jesus. According to Jesus, anger alone—what may perhaps be described as m urdering your brother in your heart (cf. 1John 3:15)—is a violation of God’s law and puts a person in danger of judgm ent. The radical character of Jesus’ teaching apparently allows for no exception (despite the insertion of είκτ), “without reason,” in some MSS [see Note b]). (On the meaning of the three έ ν ο χ ο ς έ σ τ α ι [“shall be liable to”] clauses, see the discussion of the preceding verse.) For Jesus the inner attitude is thus of supreme importance. (Cf. the teaching of Jesus in 15:19, where a catalogue of sins is said to have its begin­ ning “from the heart.”) And even as that inner attitude expresses itself in apparently trivial acts of unkindness, such as referring to o n e’s brother as a “Fool,” one shows that, according to God’s standard of righteousness, one has begun down the wrong path and is already worthy of condemnation (cf. 12:34, where “the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart”) . The reference to “brother” here may seem to limit this com m and to the community of faith. But since in the last antithesis Jesus breaks through such group loyalty by teaching love, even of o n e’s enemies (v 44), this point should not be pressed here (cf. v 16). The ethical injunction against anger is di­ rected to those who receive the kingdom—but in their relations with all other hum an beings. The question concerning the illustrative material of v 22b, c is whether the strictly parallel forms are synonymous. Are ρ α κ ά , “Raka,” and μ ω ρ έ , ‘Fool,” equivalents? ρ α κ ά , “Raka,” an Aramaic word (KjP'H, reqa*) transliterated directly into Greek letters, occurs frequently as an insult in the rabbinic literature (see Str-B 1:278-89). According to Jerem ias (TD NT 6:974), the retention of ρ α κ ά in a Greek docum ent points to a Syrian provenance for the Gospel, since only there were Greeks found in an oriental m ilieu where the word would be understandable. T he word m eans som ething like “blockhead” or “idiot,” b u t in that culture conveying a m uch m ore objectionable insult than in m odern Western society. Name calling was a m uch m ore serious affair in biblical times, because of the im portance attached to nam es (cf. Elisha, 2 Kgs 2:23-24; for the rabbinic period, cf. b. Qidd. 28a), than in our day when nam es, like labels, can be readily exchanged (see H. B ietenhard, TDNT 5:25354). O n the high im portance of sham ing an o th er publicly, see m. 'Abot 3:12. μ ω ρ έ , “Fool,” could also be a transliteration of the Aramaic word Κ Ί Ί Ε , mora ', o r the Hebrew word Γ Π Ί Ο , moreh, “rebel” (or even “heretic”). O n the other hand,



and more probably, it could derive from the Greek μ ω ρ ό ς (m eaning “foolishness”) , and thus m ean simply “Fool.” This too in that culture was m uch m ore insulting than it seems to our ears (cf. Pss 14:1; 53:1; Proverbs, passim). The words ρ α κ ά and μ ω ρ έ are thus roughly equivalent, with the latter involving no escalation of offense (contra Lambrecht, Sermon; cf. Kohler, who argued the second was the Greek translation of the form er). O n the gravity of insulting an o th er person, cf. 2 Enoch 44:2-3. τ ή υ γ έ ε υ υ α υ τ ο ν 7τ υ ρ ό ς , “the G ehenna of fire.” Matthew refers to G ehenna seven times, m ore than twice as often as any other evangelist (cf. in the context, vv 29, 30). T he expression “G ehenna of fire” is used only by Matthew and occurs once again in 18:9. T he nam e G ehenna is from the Aramaic words 03Π ’J, ge hinnam, for the “valley of H in n o m ” (cf. Josh 15:8; 18:16), a despised place to the southwest of Jerusalem where at one time hum an sacrifices were offered to the god Molech (cf. 2 Kgs 23:10; Je r 7:31) and where in later times the city’s refuse was burned. T he constant b u rn ing there m ade the valley a particularly suitable m etaphor for eternal p unishm ent (cf. 4 Ezra 7:36; Sib. Or. 1.103; 2.292; Str-B 4.2:1029-1118). 23-24 In this section and to the end of the pericope, the pronouns shift to the second person singular. This may be accounted for by the illustrative nature of the m aterial and its character as personal application. This first illustration involves the offering (the verb π ρ ο σ φ έ ρ β ι υ is regularly so used) of a gift ( δ ώ ρ ο υ ) , a sacrifice at the altar ( θ υ σ ι α σ τ ή ρ ι ο υ ) , i.e., in the tem ple. So im portant is the issue o f anger toward a m em ber of the com m unity and so u rg en t is the need for rec­ onciliation before o n e ’s offering to God can be acceptable that one is to in terru p t the act, “leave the gift there before the altar,” and im mediately seek reconcilia­ tion. (For parallel instances of the grave seriousness attached to anger, see 2 Enoch 44:2-3 and IQS 6:24-7:14.) In our context, the statem ent “your brother has some­ thing against you” m ust be taken to imply some degree of anger in the person offering the sacrifice. (We would expect “you have som ething against your bro th er,” as in Mark 11:25.) Perhaps we are to understand a reciprocal resent­ m ent. The key here is the imperative β ι α λ λ ά γ η θ ι , “be reconciled.” This is the only occurrence of the verb δ ι α λ λ ά σ σ ε σ θ α ι in the NT. W hen reconciliation has been m ade, “th e n ” ( τ ό τ ε ) the gift may be offered (and, the im plication is, then God will accept it; cf. Mark 11:25). In Judaism , reconciliation was required before an acceptable sacrifice (Sir 34:23; m. Yoma 8:9; cf. Str-B 1:287-88). The them e of reconciliation, u n d er somewhat different circumstances, again appears in vv 2526. A similar point, b u t in starker clarity, is m ade in 6:12, 14-15. 25-26 T he second illustration of the m ain statem ent in v 22a is added here apparently because of the reconciliation them e (cf. the preceding illustration), although the utilitarian conclusion (v 26) seems to com plicate rath er than clarify the m ain point of the pericope. T he second person singular continues, as in the preceding two verses, in contrast to the plural of v 22. ε ύ υ ο ε ΐ υ , which occurs only here in the NT, m eans to “make friends with.” T he ά υ τ ί δ ι κ ο ς , “adversary,” is some kind of o p p o n en t (to whom m oney is owed; cf. v 26) who is apparently in a posi­ tion to take legal action, bu t no fu rth er specific inform ation is given, έ υ τ\η ό δ ω , “on the ro a d ,” is also n o t specific bu t makes obvious the em phasis on the urgency o f a reconciliation. W ithout the latter, the legal process is set in m otion, wherein the ju d g e passes sentence and hands the person over to the officer, who in turn casts the person into prison (the background here seems to be non-Jewish since the Jews did n o t im prison for d e b t). T he point of v 20, em phasized with the ά μ ή υ


Matthew 5:27-30

λ έ γ ω σ ο ί , “I say to you,” form ula, is that full punishm ent will be exacted once the sentence has been passed, κ ο δ ρ ά ν τ η ν , “quarter-penny,” is from a Latin word (quadrans), found also in the rabbinic literature. From Mark 12:42 we know that one κ ο δ ρ ά ν τ η ς equals two λ ε π τ ά (thus the Lukan parallel with its single λ ε π τ ο ί ' refers to an eighth of a penny; see Luke 12:59). Probably the illustration of these two verses provides some practical wisdom that the evangelist deem s appropriate to his argum ent against anger. It is a mistake to allegorize the details and to iden­ tify the adversary or the ju d g e with God. At the same time, however, since G od’s ju d g m en t is in view in vv 21-22, it is impossible to avoid at least the suggestion of the same in the present passage (cf. 18:34-35; cf. too the context of the passage in Luke 12:57-59). In this illustration, as in the preceding one, the n eed to over­ com e the effects of anger requires a certain urgency. Explanation In his exegesis of the truest m eaning of the Mosaic com m andm ent—and pre­ sentation o f the level of righteousness required by the kingdom —-Jesus goes far beyond the letter o f the text (where some may have been inclined to sto p ). By his explication of “thou shalt n o t m urder,” Jesus penetrates to the spirit of the com ­ m andm ent. Since the spring of a person’s conduct is the heart, or inner person, the transform ing power of the kingdom must be especially experienced there. Anger and insults spoken from anger are evil and corrupting, and they therefore call forth G od’s ju d g m ent, ju st as the act of m urder itself does. Accordingly, the wor­ ship and service of God cannot be p erform ed as long as anger infects the soul. Thus, the recipient of the grace of the kingdom is one who initiates and seeks reconciliation, both with m em bers o f the com m unity o f faith and with adversar­ ies (cf. 5:9). T he underlying and key message of these astonishingly authoritative words is that a person is held accountable for his or h er angry thoughts, not merely for external acts of violence against others. H ere, as in the beatitudes, the truly revolutionary character of the kingdom and its ethics makes itself felt. It is a mistake to treat these stipulations casuistically and thus to fall into a new and harsh nomism. While they are m eant to be taken seriously, calling attention to the relation between the root of a tree and its fruit (to use other Matthean m etaphors), they, like the antitheses that follow, function m ore as exhortations to a life that per­ fectly reflects the reality of the kingdom. This teaching is not necessarily incompatible with the display of righteous anger by Jesus in Mark 3:5 (cf. Eph 4:26) or his calling the Pharisees “Fools” in 23:17 (where Matthew uses the same word as here).

On Adultery


Bibliography Basser, H. W. “T he M eaning of ‘S htu th ,’ Gen. R. 11 in R eference to M atthew 5.29-30 and 18.8-9.” N TS 31 (1985) 148-51. Haacker, K. “D er Rechtssatz Jesu zum T hem a E heb ru ch (Mt 5,28).” B Z n.s. 21 (1977) 113-16. Plessis, P. J. du. “T he Ethics of M arriage according

Form /Structure/Setting


to M att 5:27-32.” Neot 1 (1967) 16-27. Stauffer, E. Die Botschaft Jesu damals und heute. Bern: Francke, 1959. 82-85. T ran slation

27 “You have heard that it was said,a ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after herb has in his heart already committed adultery with her. 29But if your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and cast it from you. For it is betterfor you that one of your members perish than that your whole body be thrownc into Gehenna. 30And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and cast it from you. For it is better for you that one of your members perish than that your whole body departd into Gehenna.” e Notes a Many MSS ( L Δ Θ / 13 33 lat syc,h**) insert τ ο ΐ ς ά ρ χ α ί ο ι ς , “to those of o ld ,” according to the pat­ tern of vv 21 and 33. b P 67 a n d K * o m i t ( χ ύ τ η ν , “ ( a f t e r ) h e r . ” 1 D it sysc (m ae) bo have ά π έ λ θ η , “d e p a rt,” for β λ η θ τ } , “be cast,” probably by the influence o f the parallel in Mark 9:43. Cf. v 30. See next note. d T he majority of MSS ( [ L ] W Θ / 13 T R vgms syp h sa) have β λ η θ ή , “be throw n,” for ά π έ λ θ η , “d e p art.” e D vg ms sys b o ms om it v 30 in its entirety, perhaps by hom oioteleuton with v 29.

Form/Structure/Setting A. T he second antithesis quotes again one of the ten com m andm ents. In both lists (Exod 20:13; D eut 5:17) this com m andm ent concerning adultery precedes that concerning m urder. The fact that the evangelist (or Jesus) has reversed the o rd er indicates— as do the rem aining antitheses — that the present section of the serm on is no attem pt to present a systematic or thorough exegesis of the com ­ m andm ents. W hat we encounter instead is a sam pling of the way in which Jesus’ interpretation cuts through to the inner m eaning of the law. B. Almost the same m aterial as in w 29-30 is found in 18:8-9 (cf. Mark 9:4348). T he first elem ents (“If your . . . causes you to stum ble”) are in verbatim agreem ent except that in 18:8-9, where the h and is referred to first, the word δ ε ξ ι ό ς (“rig h t”) is om itted in both instances, and the word ττ ο ύ ς (“foot”) is added to the reference to the hand. Although the second elem ents (“it is well for you”) of 18:8 and 18:9 are w orded a little differently, the thought is practically identi­ cal: “it is well for you to en ter into life with one eye [m aim ed or lame] than to have two eyes [two hands or two feet] and to be cast into the G ehenna of fire [eternal fire ].” T he parallelism of the passage in 18:8-9 is thus nearly as strong as in the present pericope. The context there, as in the Markan parallel (Mark 9:4248), concerns n o t sexual morality but the causing to stum ble of “one of the little ones who believe in m e.” This leads in tu rn to the m ore general com m ents on various possible stum bling blocks to oneself (“you”). It seems probable th at vv 29-30 of the present pericope and the parallel in 18:8-9 (and Mark 9:42-48) represent variant transmissions of the same original teaching of Jesus. It is no t im probable that Jesus spoke the same or nearly the same words on different occasions in different contexts. But here the evangelist


Matthew 5:27-30

seems to have applied and perhaps adapted this m aterial (which contains no ref­ erence to sexual sins and is easily separable from the preceding verses) to the discussion concerning adultery. The impressive structure suggests the strong pos­ sibility th at the m aterial was han d ed on orally in this form and presented itself in this way to the evangelist. A nother oral form of the same m aterial is probably reflected in 18:8-9, which, however, is borrow ed directly from Mark 9:43-48. C. T he structure of this antithesis is similar to the preceding one. Again we have (1) at the beginning (vv 27-28) the basic contrast between the prohibition of the external deed and Jesus’ em phasis on the thoughts of the in n er person (“in his h e a rt,” v 28). This is followed by (2) m aterial that illustrates the gravity of the offending thoughts. Vv 29 and 30 are exactly parallel in structure and nearly verbatim (especially in the second elem ent of each verse [“For it is b etter . . .”]; only one word differs at the end of v 30). Comment 27-28 The formulaic introduction (see above) is nearly identical with its form in v 21, lacking only the τ ό ί ς ά ρ χ α ί ο ι ς , “to the ancients.” The com m andm ent ov μ ο ι χ ε ύ σ ε ι ς , “you shall no t com m it adultery,” is in verbatim agreem ent with its occurrence in Exod 20:14 and D eut 5:18. (It is found again in Matt 19:18.) With no fu rth er addition (such as reference to the penalty of death; D eut 22:22; Lev 20:10), Jesus gives his interpretation of the com m andm ent in light of the perfec­ tion o f the kingdom . O n the “b u t I say to you” form ula, see above. T he sin of adultery, like o th er sins, finds its root in a p erso n ’s in n er thoughts. Thus, to look deliberately at a woman lustfully, i.e., desiring or im agining a sexual relationship with her, is to com m it adultery in o n e ’s h eart and thus to violate the deepest in tention o f the law as now revealed by Jesus. The idea of sinning in the h eart through o n e ’s desires (for a rabbinic parallel, cf. b. Yoma 29a; b. Hal. 1) is already contained in the ten com m andm ents, where one is forbidden to covet, am ong o th er things, the wife of a neighbor (Exod 20:17; D eut 5:21). A lthough in the OT and Jewish contexts lusting after the wife of an o th er m an was forbidden, in the present passage γ υ ν α ί κ α is probably to be understood m ore broadly to m ean any “w om an” and n ot simply the wife of an o th er (pace Luz; Guelich, Sermon; if a m ore restrictive understanding were in view, one m ight expect the no u n to be m odified, e.g., τ ο ν π λ η σ ί ο ν [σ ο υ ], “your n eig h b o r’s”). T he argum ent that in the clause π ρ ο ς τ ο ε π ι θ υ μ η σ α ι α ύ τ ή ν , “with the purpose of lusting after her,” θ ύ τ η ν , “h er,” is the subject rath er than the object of the infinitive, thus “with the pur­ pose o f getting h er to lust” (H aacker), goes against both M atthean usage and the norm al sense o f the m an lusting after the woman. T he im portance of the eyes in lusting is vividly caught in the phrase o f 2 Pet 2:14: “eyes full of adultery” (cf. 1 J o h n 2:16; Sir 9:8; for rabbinic statem ents paralleling v 28, cf. Str-B 1:298-301). T he key verb μ ο ι χ ε ύ ε ι ν , “com m it adultery,” is found again in the next antithesis, v 32 (and in 19:9), in connection with the divorcing of o n e ’s wife. 29-30 T he use of ό β λ έ π ω ν (“the one who looks”) in the preceding verse prob­ ably suggested to the evangelist the appropriateness o f adding here the saying of Jesus concerning the eye as a cause of stum bling. And because in the tradition th at saying was linked with one concerning the hand, exactly parallel in struc­ ture, it too was included by the evangelist. The specification of the “right [ δ ε ξ ι ό ς ]



eye” and “right h a n d ” is probably m eant to indicate that which is preferred or m ore skilled and, therefore, the m ost valuable (the left eye can lust as well as the right c a n ). T he right eye is to be plucked out (e£eAe), the right h an d to be cut off (iΕ κ κ ο ψ ο ν ), if they are the cause of stumbling. The reason given in both cases is the same (and verbatim ): it is better for one m em ber of the body to perish than for the whole to suffer dam nation. For “G ehenna,” see Comment on v 22. The slight alteration of word order and the use of the verb ά π έ λ θ η , “depart to ,” for β λ η θ η , “be cast,” in the second sentence are only stylistic variations and are thus n o t significant. T he point of these adm onitions is clear w ithout pressing for a literal understanding of the words. Because of the im portance of obeying G od’s standard of righteousness, radical action should be taken to avoid the cause of the tem ptation. The discipleship of the kingdom sometimes requires drastic meas­ ures. T he literal plucking out of an eye or cutting off of a hand, however, will not at all necessarily rid one of the problem . The culprit lies elsewhere, in the heart, the in n er person. This is the language of hyperbole (contra Gundry) used to make a significant point. Explanation Jesus again deepens the OT com m andm ent by interpreting it to include what occurs “in the h ea rt,” prior to and as the foundation of the external act. Thus, again, he shifts the attention from the external act to the inner thought. There, in the in n er person, lie the real problem and the initial guilt. To lust after some­ one sexually is to n u rtu re a burning desire for that person in o n e ’s heart. Such lust has a consum ing effect. W here lust exists, the discipleship of the kingdom requires dram atic and determ ined action to rid oneself of the cause. W ithout pressing the literal m eaning of the words in vv 29-30, we may conclude that it is b etter to suffer m inor losses willingly than to suffer the ultim ate loss unwillingly. T he discipleship o f the kingdom is a serious m atter that requires true, i.e., u n re­ served, absolute, com m itm ent. Disciples are called to a standard of conduct that includes even the realm of their thinking.

On Divorce

(5:31 -32)

Bibliography B altensw eiler, H . Die Ehe im Neuen Testament. Zurich: Zwingli, 1967. -------------. “Die Ehebruchsklauseln bei M atthaus.” TZ 15 (1959) 340-56. Bauer, J. B. “B em erkungen zu den m atthaischen U nzuchtklauseln (Mt 5,32; 19,9).” In Begegnung mit dem Wort. FS H. Zim m erm ann, ed. J. Zmijewski et al. BBB 53. Bonn: H anstein, 1980. 23-33. Bockm uehl, M. “M atthew 5.32; 19.9 in the Light of Pre-Rabbinic H alakhah.” N TS 35 (1989) 291-95. Catchpole, D. R. “T he Synoptic Divorce M aterial as a Traditio-Historical P roblem .” BJRL 57 (1974) 92-127. Down, M. J. “T he Sayings of Jesus about M arriage and Divorce.” ExpTim 95 (1984) 332-34. Dupont, J. Manage et divorce dans l'Evangile. Bruges: Desclee de Brouwer, 1959. Fitzmyer, J. “T he M atthean Divorce-Texts and Some New Palestinian Evidence.” In


Matthew 5:31-32

To Advance the Gospel. New York: Crossroad, 1981. 79-111. Geldard, M. “Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce: T houghts on the M eaning of porneia in Mt 5:32 and 19:9.” Churchman 92 (1978) 134-43. G reeven, H . “Ehe nach dem N euen T estam en t.” N TS 15 (1968-69) 365-88. Harrington, W. “Jesus’ A ttitude towards Divorce.” IT Q 37 (1970) 199-209. H olzm eister, U. “Die Streitfrage ü ber die E hescheidungstexte bei Mt 5,32; 19,19.” Bib 26 (1945) 133-46. Isaksson, A. Marriage and Ministry in the New Temple. ASNU. Lund: G leerup, 1965. Jensen, J. “Does porneia Mean Fornication? A Critique of Bruce M alina.” NovT 20 (1978) 161-84. Kilgallen, J. J. “To W hat Are the M atthean Exception Texts (5.32 an d 19.9) an Excep­ tion?” B ib6l (1980) 102-5. Lovestam, E. “Divorce and R em arriage in the New T estam ent.” The Jewish Law Annual 11 (1981) 47-65. Lohfink, G. “Jesus u n d die E hescheidung: Zur G a ttu n g u n d S p ra c h in te n tio n von M t 5 ,3 2 .” In Biblische Randbemerkungen. FS R. Schnackenburg, ed. H. Merklein et al. 2nd ed. Wurzburg: Echter, 1974. 207-17. Malina, B. “Does Porneia M ean Fornication?” NovT 14 (1972) 10-17. M oingt, J. “Le divorce ‘p o u r m otif d ’im pudicite’ (Mt 5,32; 19,9).” RSR 56 (1968) 337-84. M ueller, J. R. “T he Tem ple Scroll and the Gospel Divorce Texts.” R evQ 10 (1980) 247-56. O ’Rourke, J. J. “A N ote on an E xception.” HeyJ 5 (1964) 299-302. Reicke, B. “Ehe, Eherecht, Ehescheidung: IV. Neues T estam ent.” TRE 9:318-25. Sabourin, L. “T he Divorce Clauses (Mt 5:32; 19:9).” BTB 2 (1972) 80-86. Sigal, P. The Halakah of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Matthew. Lanham , MD: University Press of America, 1986. 83-118. Smith, D. T. “T he M atthean Ex­ ception Clauses in the Light of M atthew’s Theology an d Com m unity.” Studia Biblica et Theologica 17 (1989) 55-82. Stein, R. H. “Is It H arm ful for a Man to Divorce His Wife?” JETS 22 (1979) 115-21. Stock, A. “M atthean Divorce Texts.” BTB8 (1978) 24-33. Vawter, B. “Divorce and the New Testam ent.” CBQ39 (1977) 5 2 8 -4 8 .------------ . “T he Divorce Clauses in Mt 5.32 and 19.9.” CBQ 16 (1954) 155-67. Wenham, G. J. “M atthew an d Divorce: An O ld C rux Revisited.” JSN T 22 (1984) 98-100. -------------. “May Divorced Christians Re­ m arry?” Churchman 95 (1981) 150-61. W itherington, B. “Matt. 5.32 an d 19.9— Exception or Exceptional Situation?” ATS 31 (1985) 571-76.

Translation 31 “And it was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. ’ 32But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the grounds of sexual infidelity,a causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman com­ mits adultery. ” b Notes a T he m eaning o f the word π ο ρ ν β ί α (porneia), translated here “sexual infidelity,” is difficult. See Comment. b d ita,b,d,k om its καί δς έάν άπολβλυμένην γαμήστ), μ οιχά τα ι, “and whoever m arries a divorced wom an com m its adultery,” perhaps regarding the words as superfluous in light o f the preceding sen­ tence ( TCGNT, 14). B and perhaps sa have o . ..γα μ ή σ α ς ϊο τ ος έ ά ν ...γαμήση, which does n o t affect the m eaning b u t brings about syntactical parallelism with the participle in the first clause o f the verse.

Form/Structure/Setting A. This antithesis is related to the preceding antithesis by its reference to adultery (in the use of the verb μ ο ι χ β ύ ε ί ΐ ή . It may indeed have suggested itself to the evan­ gelist if, as is likely, he is responsible for the coupling, because of the relationship between divorce and adultery. This antithesis, however, is unlike the first two since it involves acts rath er than thoughts—as indeed do all the rem aining antitheses.



B. This antithesis must be read together with 19:3-12 (cf. Mark 10:2-12), where the Pharisees precipitate a discussion of the specific question of divorce and Moses’ allowance o f it. T he present pericope indeed contains nothing that is n o t found in 19:3-12. Moreover, 19:7 corresponds to v 31, and v 32 is in nearly verbatim agreem ent with 19:9. This suggests the likelihood that the evangelist has con­ structed the present antithesis using the material he borrow ed from Mark 10:2-12 and used in chap. 19. T he similarity between Luke 16:18 and v 32 is n o t sufficient to argue that the latter should be regarded as derived from Q. (More likely Luke 16:18 is derived from Mark 10:11.) C. T he structure of the present passage is somewhat sim pler than that of the preceding antitheses, because it concerns action rath er than in n er thoughts, and thus no practical illustration or application is added as in the preceding antith­ eses. This antithesis, moreover, has the shortest of opening formulas: only έ ρ ρ έ θ η δ έ (“it was spoken”) rem ains of the full form ula found in v 21, although the full form ula is also to be understood here. The present antithesis lacks the strong parallelism in form that characterizes the earlier antitheses. This adds to the con­ clusion that, rather than deriving this antithesis from oral tradition as in the earlier antitheses, the evangelist has constructed the antithesis from the m aterial he uses in 19:7 and 9. D. It seems probable that in the antithesis before us Matthew has added the exception clause (napeκ τ ό ς λ ό γ ο υ π ο ρ ν ε ί α ς , “except for sexual infidelity”) of v 32 (and th at o f 19:9), unless it had already been added in the tradition he depends u pon (as Luz argues). T here are three reasons that it is extrem ely unlikely that the exception clauses go back to Jesus himself: (1) elsewhere, including in Mat­ thew, the ethics o f the kingdom are set forth in absolute term s (cf. the absolute prohibition o f divorce in the parallel passage, Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18; cf. 1 Cor 7:11); (2) the clause is an accom m odation to the com m on understanding of D eut 24:1, which probably reflects the practice of M atthew’s com munity; and (3) the addition o f the exception clause nullifies the antithesis and in the case of the parallel in 19:3-12 weakens the logic of the passage, where Jesus appears no dif­ ferent from the Pharisees of the Sham m aite persuasion. Comment 31-32 In 19:6, when Jesus makes a strong statem ent against divorce, the Phari­ sees refer to the com m andm ent of Moses in D eut 24:1 about giving the wife who is being divorced a “writ” thereto (ά π ο σ τ ά σ ι ο ν , a technical term referring to a legal d ocum ent o f certification, in this case stipulating a relinquishing of rights) before sending h er out of the house (divorce was exclusively the hu sb an d ’s pre­ rogative; contrast Mark 10:23). This is the Mosaic com m andm ent referred to here u n d er the words “it was said.” It is clear that D eut 24:1 allows divorce; Jesus ad­ dresses th at problem in 19:8. H ere, in his antithetical interpretation of the law, he disallows divorce on the ground that it causes adultery, first on the part of the divorced woman and secondly on the p art of any m an who m arries her. The lat­ ter idea, o f a man com m itting adultery by m arrying a divorced woman, seems to have been an innovation in that era. T he theological prem ise for these views is n o t presented here, as it is in 19:4-6. The bald antithesis here (as in the opposi­ tion to the Pharisees in 19:3-12) is that, whereas Moses allowed divorce, Jesus


Matthew 5:31-32

disallows it (cf. too Mark 10:9; 1 Cor 7:10). For the introductory form ula ε γ ώ δ έ λ έ γ ω ν μ ΐ ν , “b u t I say to you,” see Comment on v 22. At this point, however, Matthew has added an exception clause, π α ρ ε κ τ ό ς λ ό γ ο ν π ο ρ ν ε ί α ς ' (“except for a m atter of porneia”), the equivalent of which is found also in 19:9 ( μ ή ε π ί π ο ρ ν ε ί α , “except for porneia”) . These exception clauses are unique to Matthew. (For a statem ent of the claim that the clauses are the evangelist’s addi­ tions, see above Form/Structure/Setting §D.) Some have tried to deny that the clauses in question involve any exception. Against H olzm eister’s view that the clauses are inclusive is the fact that the π α ρ ε κ τ ό ς of 5:32 cannot so be understood and that the μ ή o f 19:9 m ust be altered to μ η δ ( έ ) to m ean “n o t even.” T he argum ent of Vawter in favor of the preteritive view, i.e., that the phrase m eans “passing over,” could work for 19:9 but is m uch less natural for the m eaning of π α ρ ε κ τ ό ς in 5:32. T he m eaning o f the exception clauses hinges, o f course, on the m eaning o f the w ord porneia. T he word regularly refers to sexual sins, such as fornication an d adultery (cf. Acts 15:20, 29), and is taken in this way in the present instance by many scholars (e.g., Allen; Schweizer; G rundm ann; G undry; Carson; Luz; Davies-Allison; Strecker, Ser­ mon; France; Gnilka; H arrington; M orris). If M atthew’s add ed reference to porneia here m eans either sexual sins before m arriage or extram arital intercourse, then, as we have seen, v 32 presents no antithesis to v 31, or to D eut 24:1, which lies b eh in d it. It am ounts instead only to an affirm ation of “w hat was said”—an d is thus in effect a siding with the Pharisaic school of Shammai, which in terp reted D eut 24:1 to refer only to sexual sins (cf. m. Git. 9:10), against the school o f Hillel, which u n d ersto o d the allowance o f di­ vorce m uch m ore broadly, indeed for the m ost trivial o f reasons (see Str-B 1:313-15). T he debate am ong the Pharisees concerned the m eaning of the phrase ΊΙΠ ΓΓΗΙ?, cerwat dabar, lit. “nakedness of a th in g ,” i.e., “some uncleanness” (LXX, ά σ χ η μ ο ν π ρ ά γ μ α , “sham eful th in g ”) in D eut 24:1. T he Sham m aites regarded it as referring to the discov­ ery of sexual sins (w hether occurring before m arriage or a fte r); the Hillelites stressed the earlier words of D eut 24:1, “finds no favor in his eyes” (cf. 24:3, where the second husband “hates h e r” [which could, however, m ean sexually; cf. T D N T 6:591, n. 75] and gives h er a writ o f divorce). A second m ajor interpretation of porneia has been gaining g ro u n d in the last dec­ ade or m ore, especially am ong Rom an Catholic scholars (e.g., Baltensweiler; Fitzmyer; Lam brecht; G aechter; Mueller; Stock; Jensen; Sabourin [in his com m entary, b u t n o t in his article]; Meier; so too Bonnard; Guelich, Sermon; Fornberg; W ith erin g to n ). In this view porneia refers no t to sexual im m orality bu t rath er to the specific problem o f inces­ tuous m arriage, i.e., m arriage within the forbidden degrees stipulated in Lev 18:6-18. In 1 Cor 5:1 the word may be so used, although “sexual im m orality” may be the co n n o ­ tation (cf. Acts 15:29, w here, however, the m eaning is also debatable). This in terp reta­ tion has m ade its way into the translation of the NJB: “except for the case o f an illicit m arriage” (so too, 19:9). In this way the passage makes good sense, and problem s asso­ ciated with the alternate interpretation are avoided. A ccording to this view, M atthew ’s Jewish-Christian readers, apprehensive about the influx o f large num bers o f G entiles into the church, would have considered it im portant that those who had m arried within the forbidden degrees of kinship, allowed by pagan law, be divorced since they had unknowingly violated the law revealed by God. For a n um ber of reasons, the form er view is to be p referred (see esp. Lovestam; Sigal, Halakah, 83-118; cf. Bockm uehl). Particularly telling is the p o in t m ade by Sigal that an illicit m arriage would n o t have been recognized as a tru e m arriage and thus would not have required a divorce. F urther w orth noting is the fact that the word porneia is n o t used in the LXX of Lev 17-18. Most importantly, would Matthew have inserted ethical m aterial that had no direct relevance to his Jewish-Christian readers, and could



they have read that m aterial w ithout thinking of its relevance to their own lives (with D eut 24:1 in m ind)? W hat evidence, in fact, do we have th at M atthew’s com m unity was specifically concerned with the lives of gentile converts to Christianity? As for the objection that Matthew would have used μ ο ι χ ε ί α rather than π ο ρ ν ε ί α had he been thinking of adultery, it is well known that the latter term is a broad one that can also be used to refer to adultery (cf. Sir 23:23; see F. Hauck and S. Schulz, TDNT 6:592).

Although M atthew’s exception clause reflects such concerns, Jesus him self did n o t engage in the intram ural debate of the Pharisees. The radical character of the righteousness of the kingdom dem ands a re tu rn to the standards of the Gar­ d en o f Eden. T he attitude o f Jesus in 19:6 (cf. M ark 10:11, which lacks the exception clause) is absolute; it is indeed so stern that the disciples (who were hardly of a Hillelite persuasion on the subject) w onder who can tolerate such a high standard (19:10-11). H ere is the antithesis to D eut 24:1. T he husband who divorces his wife causes h er to com m it adultery because in the culture o f that day, unlike ours, a single woman could hardly survive on h er own, except through prostitution. She was therefore b o und to take another hus­ band and so be made into an adulteress. And the m an who m arried such a divorced woman him self com m itted adultery in so doing, because he has m arried the wife o f an o th er m an. This viewpoint presupposes the p erm a n en t character of the m arriage bond. For Jesus, not even divorce can change that fact. Explanation T he Mosaic law allowed divorce, m aking provision for the divorced woman by the certificate o f divorce. Later in the Gospel, Jesus will com m ent on the reason for this legislation (19:3-12). In the present passage Jesus introduces the new and shocking idea that even properly divorced people who m arry a second time may be th ought of as com m itting adultery. T he OT, allowing divorce, does not regard those who rem arry as com m itting adultery. This new and dram atic way of speaking is directly related to the absolute prohibition of divorce by Jesus. Mar­ riage was m ean t to establish a p erm a n en t relationship between a m an and a woman, and divorce should therefore no t be considered an option for the dis­ ciples of the kingdom . As will appear in 19:3-12, the original ideal for m an and woman was one o f p erm an en t m arriage. T he fulfillm ent brought by the present existence of the kingdom dem ands a retu rn of the disciples to that original stan­ dard. Divorce is therefore to be shunned. T he ethics of the kingdom do no t balk at the idealism o f such a standard (cf. 5:48). T he p oint of speaking of rem arriage as involving “adultery” is simply to em ­ phasize the wrongness of divorce. T he conclusion is drawn by some interpreters that while divorce may be allowable for the Christian, on the basis of this passage rem arriage is prohibited because it involves adultery. A divorce w ithout the possi­ bility of rem arriage is, however, in the context of this discussion really only a separation and n o t a divorce. Moses allowed divorce and rem arriage—it m ust be noted, w ithout designating the rem arried as adulterers—because of the hardness of the hearts of the people. If, as we shall argue in the explanation of the parallel passage in chap. 19, followers of Jesus, recipients of the kingdom , are still no t in this new era rid o f their hard hearts, divorce and rem arriage will continue to occur am ong them, just as it did am ong the people of God in the OT (see further

Matthew 5:33-37


Comment on 19:3-12). M atthew’s own insertion of the exception clauses, modify­ ing the absolute teaching of Jesus, is ju st such an admission in the church of his day. Still, however, it is worth adding that conceding the hard realities of our continuing fallenness and the reality of forgiveness for those who fail m ust not allow us to weaken our com m itm ent to continue to strive after the ideal.

On Oaths


Bibliography Bauernfeind, O. “Der Eid in der Sicht des N euen Testaments.” In Eid, Gewissen, Treuepflicht, ed. H. Bethke. Frankfurt: Stimme, 1965. 79-112. Dautzenberg, G. “Ist das Schwurverbot Mt 5,33-37; Jak 5,12 ein Beispiel fur die Torakritik Jesu?” BZ n.s. 25 (1981) 47-66. Ito, A. “Matthew’s U nderstanding of the Law with Special Reference to the Fourth Antithesis.” Diss., Oxford, 19 8 9 .------------ . “The Q uestion of the Authenticity of the Ban on Swearing (Mat­ thew 5.33-37) .”JS N T 43 (1991) 5-13. Kutsch, E. “Eure Rede aber sei j a ja, nein, n ein .” E vT 20 (1960) 206-18. Minear, P. S. Commands of Christ. E dinburgh: St. Andrew, 1972. 30-46. ------------ . “Yes or No: The D em and for Honesty in the Early C hurch.” NovT 13 (1971) 1-13. Stahlin, G. “Zum G ebrauch von Beteuerungsform eln im N euen Testam ent.” NovT 5 (1962) 115-43.

Translation 33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of early times,a ‘You shall not swearfalsely,b but you shall fulfill your oaths as to the Lord.’ 34But I say to you, do not take an oath at all, not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 35nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet, nor with reference to Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great king; 36nor should you swear by your own head, because you are unable to make one hair white or black. 37But let your word be such that a yes is a yes and a no is a no.c But the rest of these practices are from the evil one. ” Notes a τοΐς άρχαίοίς, “to those o f early tim es,” is om itted by k sys in o rd e r to bring m ore agreem ent with the form ula introducing the o th er antitheses (only the first o f which has τόίς άρχαίοίς'). b T he verb ούκ έπίορκήσα,ς could be translated “you shall n o t break an o a th ” (see EDNT 2:31). Cf. R E B ; N J B ; N IV .

c Lit. “Let your w ord be yes, yes, no, no \yal mi, ov oil·].” L adds καί, “a n d ,” betw een the yeses and noes; Θ refers to “the yes, yes an d the no, n o ” [ to m i m i καί to ov ov] , as to som ething well known.

F o rm /S tru c tu re/S e ttin g

A. T he fourth antithesis involves again, as in the preceding antithesis, a de­ nial o f what was allowed in the Mosaic legislation. But whereas in the preceding antithesis we have a contradiction of Moses, here the contradiction is only at the level o f the letter o f the text, n o t its spirit. T hat is, Jesus pursues the same goal as



does the law: integrity of word. But Jesus insists on the latter altogether outside of the context o f oath taking, in keeping with the high ethics of the new reality of the presence of the kingdom . B. This m aterial on oath taking, like the related m aterial in 23:16-22, finds no parallels in any of the o th er Gospels. Its stylized form suggests that the evan­ gelist has probably taken the m aterial from oral tradition. It is difficult to know what relationship, if any, exists between the m aterial in the third woe against the Pharisees in 23:16-22 and the present passage. T here Jesus criticizes the Phari­ sees for subtle and unw arranted distinctions in oath taking. The focus is on the tem ple and the altar. In the final verse (23:22), however, which falls outside the basic structure of the passage, Jesus says, “whoever swears by heaven swears by the th ro n e of God and by the one sitting upon it.” This bears a close relationship to v 34 in the present passage, from which indeed it may have been borrowed. The m ain difference, of course, is that in Matt 23 Jesus does not prohibit oath taking as he does here. Probably the strong view against oath taking here is the direct result of the clear abuse of the practice that Jesus encountered (cf. 23:16-22). Possibly the evangelist has added the m aterial of vv 34b-36 from a different con­ text where it was conceivably m ore p ertin en t than here. C. T he form o f the passage follows in a general way the pattern of the earlier antitheses: (1) the received view (v 33); (2) Jesus’ new perspective (v 34a); (3) the grounds for th at perspective (vv 34b-36); and (4) the fundam ental principle (v 37). T he introductory form ula in v 33 is in the full form that is found else­ where only in the first antithesis (v 21). But now Jesus expresses his perspective in term s o f a prohibition (so too the fifth antithesis [v 39]; the sixth consists of a positive com m and [v 44]). Most striking is the form of the antithetical m aterial o f vv 34-36, where four μ ή τ ε phrases occur, each with a o n clause giving the ground for the avoidance of that particular oath. This repetitious form makes the m aterial ideal for m em orization. Only the end of v 36 breaks the p attern somewhat by the different syntax of the otl clause. V 37 provides both a positive statem ent about integrity of word and a sum m ary statem ent about the evil na­ ture of oath taking. Comment 33 After the full introductory form ula (cf. v 21), the evangelist presents not a quotation from the OT, as in the first two antitheses, but a crystallization of the OT teaching on the subject (cf. Lev 19:12; Num 30:2; D eut 23:21-23; cf. Zech 8:17). T he OT clearly emphasizes that oaths have a binding character. T he verb έ π ω ρ κ ε ΐ ν , “swear falsely,” can also m ean “break an o ath ” (cf. Did. 2:3). The m ore clearly prom issory oath is in view in the sentence: “you shall fulfill your oaths as u n to the L ord.” Exod 20:7 may also lie b ehind these imperatives. 34-36 With his authoritative “But I say to you” (see Comment on v 22), Jesus denies altogether the need for oaths, μ ή ό μ ό σ α ί δ λ ω ς , “do not swear at all.” In the explanation that follows, i.e., particularly in the o n (“because”) clauses, it seems to be assum ed that oath taking is in practice m ore often a m eans of avoiding what is prom ised than of perform ing it (cf. the polem ic specifically against the Pharisees in 23:16-22). (For examples of rabbinic casuistry in the m atter of oaths, cf. m. Ned. 1:3; m. Seb. 4:13. See the continuing im portance of oaths in rabbinic


Matthew 5 :3 3 - 3 7

Judaism as shown in Str-B 1:321-28.) Thus, one should not swear by heaven, for it is the th ro n e of God. T hat is, the oath is of a binding character, and to swear by heaven— or anything else one m ight care to m ention —is m uch m ore significant than it may initially sound. Each of the four “because” clauses finally evokes God himself: heaven is his throne and earth is his footstool (these are biblical m eta­ phors; cf. Isa 66:1; Pss 11:4; 99:5; Lam 2:1); Jerusalem is the city of the great King (cf. Ps 48:2, and “the city of our G od” in 48:1); and finally even o n e ’s own head, or the hairs thereof, is outside of o n e ’s control (but subject to G od’s control, as the text implies; cf. the same point in 10:30). Each of these exam ples of objects sworn by can be paralleled in the rabbinic literature (see Str-B 1:332-34). All oath taking implicates God, is in effect to swear in his nam e, and thus all oath taking is to be u nderstood as possessing an absolute character. But whereas this m ight well have served the point Jesus w anted to make, i.e., the necessity of an absolute integrity (as stressed for exam ple in Sir 23:7-11), he goes fu rth er to the quite shocking initial statem ent that oath taking is altogether unnecessary, and since it serves no purpose, it should be avoided. T herein lies the real antithesis. Josephus (J.W 2.8.6 §135), describing the Essenes, writes: “Any word of theirs has m ore force than an oath; swearing they avoid, regarding it as worse than perjury, for they say that one who is not believed w ithout an appeal to God stands condem ned already.” Philo (Prob. 84) also notes of the Essenes that they show their love of God am ong o th er ways “by abstinence from oaths, by veracity.” Criticism of oaths is found elsewhere in Philo (see esp. Decal. 84; o th er references in Luz). 37 T he strong affirmative statem ent that alone makes sense of Jesus’ rep u ­ diation of oath taking is the imperative that o n e ’s word—w hether a yes or a no—be sufficient. “Let your word be ν α ι ν α ι , οι) ov [lit. ‘yes, yes, no, n o ’] ” should not be regarded as an oath or asseveration form ula (in b. Seb. 36a “yes” and “n o ” can be regarded as an oath, or each said twice; cf. 2 Enoch 49:1-2) bu t as a fully sincere yes or no. T he absolute reliability of o n e ’s word renders an oath superfluous. And indeed, because in the contem porary situation oaths so often suggested no t com m itm ent b u t untruthfulness by the creation of loopholes, Jesus strongly con­ dem ns anything beyond the simple, genuine yes or no as being έ κ τ ο ν π ο ν η ρ ο ύ , “from the evil o n e,” the one associated preem inently with deception (cf. Jo h n 8:44). In the ethics of the kingdom , there is no need for the taking of oaths. For an exam ple o f how this teaching was used in early Christian parenesis, see Jas 5:12, which depends on the same logia of Jesus (cf. 2 Cor 1:17-18). Matthew re­ fers to “the evil o n e,” i.e., Satan or the Devil (cf. 6:13; 13:19, 38), m ore than does any o th er evangelist or any o th er NT book except 1 John. Explanation A lthough in the OT the practice of oath taking was encouraged, or at least allowed, as a m eans of strengthening o n e ’s personal resolution to do som ething, as it evolved it apparently often becam e a way by which some persons avoided responsibility. Jesus affirms the binding character of oaths and implicitly denies the subtle distinctions that some used to invalidate their oaths (cf. Matt 23:l b 22). Yet at the same time, he lifts the entire m atter to a new level by denying the necessity of oaths altogether. T he ethics to which Jesus calls his disciples are those o f the kingdom and its perfection. Here a person’s word can be relied upon without



qualification and w ithout need of the fu rth er guarantee an oath m ight afford. Oaths are thereby ren d ered superfluous. With the dawn of the new era comes a wholly new standard of righteousness, one in which a yes is really a yes and a no is really a no. It is a mistake, however, to take a biblicist approach to this passage th at would disallow Christians from taking an oath, say in a court of justice. The issue is nothing less than and nothing m ore than truthfulness.

On Retaliation


Bibliography Clavier, H. “Matthieu 5,39 et la non-resistance.”RHPR37 (1957) 44-57. Currie, S. “Matthew 5,39f.—Resistance or Protest?” H T R 57 (1964) 140-45. Daube, D. “Matthew v.38f.”J T S 45 (1944) 177-87. Donelson, L. R. “‘Do Not Resist Evil’ and the Question of Biblical Authority.” H B T 10 (1988) 33-46. Fiebig, P. “άγγαρεύω .” ZAW18 (1917-18) 64-72. Horsley, R. A. “Ethics and Exegesis: ‘Love Your Enemies’ and the Doctrine of Non-Violence.” JAAR 54 (1986) 3-31. Lambrecht, J. “The Sayings of Jesus on Nonviolence.” L S 12 (1987) 291-305. Luhrmann, D. “Liebet eure Feinde (Lk 6,27-36; Mt 5,39-48).” ZTK 69 (1972) 412-38. Neugebauer, F. “Die dargebotene Wange und Jesu Gebot der Feindesliebe: Erwagungen zu Lk 6,27-36/Mt 5,38-48.” TLZ110 (1985) 865-76. Rausch, J. “The Principle of Nonresistance and Love of Enemy in Mt 5,38-48.” CBQ 28 (1966) 31-41. Sahlin, H. “Ett svart stalle i Bergspredikan (Mt 5:39-42).” SEA 51-52 (1986-87) 214-18.---------- . “Traditionskritische Bemerkungen zu zwei Evangelienperikopen.” ST 33 (1979) 69-84. Sauer, J. “Traditionsgeschichtliche Erwagungen zu den synoptischen und paulinischen Aussagen uber Feindesliebe und Wiedervergeltungsverzicht.” ZN W 76 (1985) 1-28. Sch ottroff, L. “Gewaltverzicht und Feindesliebe in der urchristlichen Jesustradition (Mt 5,38-48; Lk 6,2736).” In Jesus Christus in Histone und Theologie. FS H. Conzelmann, ed. G. Strecker. Tubingen: Mohr, 1975. 197-221. Tannehill, R. C. “The ‘Focal Instance’ as a Form of New Testament Speech: A Study of Matthew 5,39b-42.”JR 50 (1970) 372-85. Theissen, G. “Gewaltverzicht und Feindesliebe (Mt 5,38-48; Lk 6, 27-38) und deren sozialgeschichtlichen Hintergrund.” In Studien zur Soziologie des Urchnstentums. WUNT 19. Tubingen: Mohr, 1979. 160-97. Wink, W. “Beyond Just War and Pacifism: Jesus’ Nonviolent Way.” RevExp 89 (1992) 197-214.

Translation 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘A n eyefor an eye anda a tooth for a tooth. ’39But I say to you, do not resist evil.b But whenever anyone insults you by slapping your right cheek, turn your other cheek to that persons. 40And to anyone who takes you to court to get your garment, give that person even your coat. 41And whenever some soldier compels you in public service to go one mile, go with him two. 42And give to anyone who asks anything of you; and do not turn away anyone who wants to borrow from you. ” Notes a D f 13 it m ae om it κ α ί , “a n d .” b τ ω π ο κ η ρ ω , “evil,” could be ren d ere d as “the evil o n e ” (cf. 6:13). c Lit. “h im ” (α ύ τ ω ), as also in v 40.


Matthew 5 : 3 8 -4 2

Form/Structure/Setting A. The fifth antithesis contrasts two patterns of conduct. The first is based on the strict justice o f the OT code; the second is based on a totally new set of priorities w herein the disciples sacrifice their own rights and make themselves available to the needs and dem ands of others. The behavior called for in this antithesis brings us close to the next and final antithesis with its com m and to love o n e ’s enem ies. B. Parallel m aterial in the Lukan serm on, 6:29-30, where Jesus teaches love for o n e ’s enem ies (cf. the sixth antithesis), seems to represent essentially the same co n ten t b u t in rath er different words, reflecting quite possibly a variant oral tra­ dition (rather than the com m on source, Q). In addition to the different wording, Luke 6:29 transposes “g arm en t” ( χ ί τ ώ ι ή and “cloak” (ί μ ά τ ί ο ν ) so that one who is asked for his cloak should also give his garm ent (and not vice versa, as in M atthew). Luke appears to have in m ind robbery that occurs on a road; hence the cloak is taken first. Matthew, on the o th er hand, envisages a court scene or lawsuit where the in n er g arm ent is initially dem anded. (M atthew’s order appears to have been a problem to the au thor of the Didache, however, who, although quoting the tra­ dition underlying Matthew, transposes the two words [1:4]; cf. Justin, Apol. 1.16.1.) C. In form , the pericope again gives us the threefold p attern of the preceding antitheses: (1) the OT teaching, in this case through verbatim citation (v 38); (2) the antithetical perspective offered by Jesus (v 39a); and (3) illustration of the p o in t (vv 3 9 b -4 2 ). T he last verse of the pericope (v 42), although somewhat simi­ lar in form to v 40, seems to broaden the application beyond the initial statem ent n o t to resist evil. H ere we seem to move to a general spirit of charity to anyone who asks or who wishes to borrow, not simply behavior toward those who have treated one unjustly or in an evil m anner. Again we en co u n ter strong parallelism of form , especially between v 39b and 41, b u t also to a lesser degree between v 40 and 42a. If the latter parallelism were a little stronger, an a b a b pattern would be clear, bu t as the text stands we have only a suggestion o f this. Nevertheless, the passage again shows sufficient paral­ lelism to make it probable that the evangelist here draws again upon oral tradition. Comment 38 T he introductory form ula, as in the second and sixth antitheses, lacks only the reference to “the ancients” (τ ό ί ς ά ρ χ α ί ο ί ς ). The m aterial cited is again drawn verbatim (as in the first two antitheses), except for the κ α ί , “an d ,” from the OT (LXX), where it occurs identically in Exod 21:24; Lev 24:20; and D eut 19:21. In these passages, it should be noted, the lex talionis is presented m ore as a way of limiting the degree of personal vengeance that one may take upon an o th er than as a positive teaching about what a person m ust or should do. By the tim e of Jesus, m onetary recom pense was apparently often substituted for the literal ap­ plication o f lex talionis. 39 T he com m and of Jesus, again introduced with the authoritative “bu t I say to you,” is shocking in its contrast to the principle of justice defended by the OT texts. Jesus says simply μ ή ά ν τ ί σ τ ή ν α ί τ ω π ο ν η ρ ω , “do not resist evil” at all, i.e., as we learn from the context, do no t ren d er evil for evil. T he articular τ ω π ο ν η ρ ω here clearly does n o t m ean “the evil o n e,” i.e., Satan (as in v 37; cf. 6:13). If an



evil person were in view, one would expect an anarthrous noun. It is m uch m ore likely that the evangelist has in m ind “the evil d eed .” This is interpreted first in term s o f nonretaliation, as in the first illustration, then in term s of com pliance with unreasonable requests (vv 40-41), and finally in term s of simple charity (v 42). T he first illustration refers to som eone striking “the right [ δ ε ξ ι ά ν ] cheek.” This is apparently m ore than merely a physical slap of the cheek (for this imag­ ery see Lam 3:30). The specifying of the right cheek (which is lacking in the parallel in Luke 6:29) may m ean a blow with the back of the han d (assuming the striker is rig h th an d ed), and thus make the personal insult even m ore serious (cf. m. B. Qam. 8:6). σ τ ρ έ ψ ο ν α ύ τ ω κ α ί τ η ν ά λ λ η ν , “turn to that person the other cheek,” m eans to avoid retaliation (a perspective already found in Prov 20:22; 24:29; at Q um ran, cf. 1QS 10:18-19) and instead to p u t oneself intentionally in a condi­ tion o f continuing vulnerability. Jesus, of course, supremely m odeled this attitude in the passion narrative (cf. 26:67-68; 27:30; 1 Pet 2:23). For the place of similar teaching in early Christian parenesis, see Rom 12:19, 21; 2 Cor 11:20; and 1 Thess 5:15, where since vengeance is the L ord’s (cf. D eut 32:35), one should no t ren ­ d er evil for evil. 40-41 T he second illustration refers to legal action (KpL&pvm, “to be ju d g ed ,” i.e., in a court), the result of which could be the loss of o n e ’s χ ι τ ώ ν (“tunic” or “in n er g arm en t”) . Jesus teaches no t only that one should give up what one is sued for b u t th at one should also voluntarily give up o n e ’s ί μ ά τ ι ο ν (the m ore essential “o uter g arm en t,” i.e., robe or cloak) as well. Cf. 1 Cor 6:7 for P aul’s similar attitude. Along the same lines, in the third illustration, when one is pressed into service by the m ilitary authorities to assist in bearing a load (this is the m ean­ ing o f the semi-technical term ά γ γ α ρ ε ύ ε ι ν ; cf. its use in 27:32), one should not simply go the required mile but an extra one too. Thus, these unjustifiable re­ quests should be com plied with—indeed, the response should considerably exceed the requests. Again the perspective of the kingdom of God is alien to the per­ spective of the world. 42 This verse takes fu rth er the line of thought in the preceding verses by teaching a charitable response to all who may ask for som ething or who may ask to borrow. In these illustrations, it is no longer a m atter of response to m istreat­ m ent, or even to forced conduct, b u t to straightforw ard requests. Again, OT p reced en t can be found (cf. D eut 15:7-8). T he only other passage in the NT where the verb δ α ν ί ζ ε ι ν (“to borrow, le n d ”) occurs is in Luke 6:34-35 (material that finds no parallel in M atthew), where the point is em phasized that one should lend to those from whom one does no t expect to receive repaym ent. And this teaching occurs in connection with the com m and to “love your enem ies,” which is the form of Matthew’s next antithesis. Q uite probably, then, the present verse teaches n o t simply to give and lend b u t to do so even to o n e ’s enem ies, to those from whom one has no hope of repaym ent. This interpretation is consistent with both preceding and following contexts in Matthew. Explanation Jesus again expounds the ethics of the kingdom . W hat he presents is ethics directed m ore to conduct at the personal, rather than the societal, level. These di­ rectives are for the recipients of the kingdom , n o t for governm ental legislation.


Matthew 5 : 4 3 -4 8

R ather than dem anding strict justice, or allowing for retaliation of any kind, the disciple of the kingdom defers to others. T he disciple does no t insist on personal rights. F urtherm ore, the true disciple does m ore than is expected. He or she is free from society’s low standards of expectation, being subject only to the will of the Father. T he conduct of the disciple is filled with surprise for those who expe­ rience it. This elem ent of surprise relates closely to and reflects the grace that is central to the gospel. It is the unworthy who have experienced the good things of the kingdom ; and as they have experienced the surprise of unexpected grace, so they act in a similar m anner toward the undeserving am ong them (cf. Luke 6:3435). Jesus him self provides the suprem e exam ple of the fulfillm ent of this ethic (cf. passion narratives and 1 Pet 2:23), and the disciples are called to follow in his path. Kingdom ethics dem ands n o t m echanical com pliance to rules bu t a lifestyle governed by the free grace of God.

On Loving One’s Enemies


Bibliography Bauer, W. “Das Gebot der Feindesliebe und die alten Christen.” In Aufsatze und kleine Schriften. Tubingen: Mohr, 1967. 235-52. Borchert, G. L. “Matthew 5:48—Perfection and the Sermon.”RevExp89 (1992) 265-69. D ible, A. Die goldeneRegel. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962. Dupont, J. “L’appel a imiter Dieu en Matthieu 5,48 et Luc 6,36.” RivB

14 (1966) 137-58.---------- . “‘Soyez parfaits’ (Mt5,48), ‘soyez misericordieux’ (Lc 6,36).” In Sacra Pagina. Vol. 2. BETL 12-13. Gembloux: Duculot, 1959. 150-62. H uber, W. “Feindschaft und Feindesliebe.” ZEE 26 (1982) 128-58. Linton, O. “St. Matthew 5,43.” ST 18 (1964) 66-79. Piper, J. “Love Your Enemies”: Jesus’ Love Command in the Synoptic Gospels and the Early Christian Paraenesis. SNTSMS 38. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1979. R euter, R. “Liebet eure Feinde.” ZEE 26 (1982) 159-87. Schnackenburg, R. “Die Vollkommenheit des Christen nach den Evangelien.” GL 32 (1959) 420-33. Seitz, O. J. F. “Love Your Enemies.” N TS 16 (1969-70) 39-54. Strecker, G. “Compliance—Love of One’s Enemy—The Golden R’ule.”AusBR 29 (1981) 38-46. Yarnold, E. “Teleios in St. Matthew’s Gospel.” In SE 4 [= TU 102] (1968) 269-73. See also Bibliography on 5:38-42. Translation 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, love your enemiesa and pray for those who persecute you, 45in order that you may be children of your heavenly Father, because he makes his sun rise upon both evil and good people and he makes it rain upon both the just and the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have ? D on’t even the tax collectors do the same thing?b 47And if you greet only the members of your community,c what rewardable thing have you done? Do not even the Gentilesd do the same thing?e,f 48 You, therefore, be perfect asg your heavenly h Father is perfect.”

Form /Structure/Setting


Notes a T he majority of MSS (D L W Θ f 13 TR lat sy(p)h) insert the following with occasional slight m odi­ fications: ε ύ λ ο γ ε ΐ τ ε τ ο ύ ς ' κ α τ α ρ ω μ έ υ ο υ ς υ μ ά ς , κ α λ ώ ς π ο ι ε ί τ ε τ ο ΐ ς μ ι σ ο υ σ ί ν υ μ ά ς , “bless those who curse you, do well to those who hate you,” and after the verb “pray fo r” the words έ π ή ρ ε ο ζ ό ν τ ω ν υ μ ά ς κ α ί , “those who abuse you.” This m aterial is quite obviously borrow ed from the Lukan parallel to the “love your enem ies” passage in Luke 6:27-28. Favoring the shorter text are N B am ong others. See TC G N T, 14. b D Z sys,c have ο ύ τ ω ς , “thus.” Cf. N o te e. cά δ ε λ φ ο ύ ς υ μ ώ ν , lit. “your b ro th ers.” T he m ajority o f later MSS (L W Θ TR syh) have φ ί λ ο υ ς υ μ ώ ν , “your friends.” 1424 has ά σ π α ζ ο μ έ ν ο υ ς υ μ ά ς , “those who greet you,” on the m odel of v 46a. d T he m ajority of later MSS (L W Θ f13 TR syp) have τ ε λ ώ ν α ί , “tax collectors,” as in v 46c. e K L Δ Θ TR syc,h have ο ύ τ ω ς , “thus.” Cf. N ote b. f Two witnesses (k sys) om it v 47 in its entirety through hom oioteleuton. s A majority o f later MSS (D K W A Θ TR) have for ώ ς the slightly m ore em phatic ώ σ π ε ρ , “ju st as.” h Some MSS ( [D*] K Δ Θ it) read ε ν τ ο ΐ ς ο ύ ρ α ν ο ΐ ς , “in heaven” (cf. v 45).

Form/Structure/Setting A. This final antithesis is climactic in its em phasis on loving o n e ’s enem ies and in its concluding call to the perfection of the Father. T he practice of love is the m ost fundam ental elem ent of the Christian ethic (cf. 22:37-40). H ere the call to love is extended even to o n e ’s enem ies. T here is thus a sum m arizing as­ pect to this antithesis that includes all the ethical teaching of the preceding antitheses. B. Luke, in the Serm on on the Plain, has m aterial parallel to the present pas­ sage b u t in quite d ifferent o rd er and wording. T herefore, it is unlikely that Matthew and Luke are d ep e n d en t upon the same source (Q); m ore likely they are d ep en d en t upon different traditions that contain m aterial probably stemming originally from Jesus himself. Thus, Luke contains the com m and to “love your enem ies” in verbatim agreem ent with Matthew (Luke 6:27-28) but includes other expressions o f the same thought that are lacking in Matthew. Luke further in­ cludes the call to “pray for those who abuse you,” b u t he uses different vocabulary. Luke lacks any equivalent to v 45 (but cf. κ α ί ε σ ε σ θ ε viol ύ φ ί σ τ ο υ , “and you will be children [lit. ‘sons’] of the H ighest”; Luke 6:35). T he closest parallel in Luke is to w 46-47 (Luke 6:32-33). T here Luke uses slightly different wording, in par­ ticular substituting (for his gentile readers) ol ά μ α ρ τ ω λ ο ί , “the sinners,” for M atthew’s ol τ ε λ ώ ν α ί , “the tax collectors,” and again for ol ε θ ν ι κ ο ί , “the Gentiles,” and having ά γ α θ ο π ο ί ή τ ε , “do good to,” for M atthew’s ά σ π ά σ η σ θ ε , “g reet.” Luke has a third example pertaining to lending money (Luke 6:34) that is not found in Matthew. Finally, the concluding statem ent in Matt 5:48 is paralleled in Luke 6:36, where, however, Luke has “be m erciful [ ο ί κ τ ί ρ μ ω ν ] as your Father is m erciful.” C. T he structure of this antithesis follows that of the earlier antitheses in the inclusion o f illustrative m aterial, here in two exactly parallel statem ents (vv 4647). But, unlike the earlier antitheses, the an tith etical teaching o f Jesus is supported by a statem ent of both the goal and grounds (in two parallel state­ ments) of acting in accordance with Jesus’ teaching (v 45). Further, the concluding challenge (v 48), in addition to rounding off the present pericope, also serves as the conclusion to this portion of the serm on (i.e., the antitheses). T he structure is as follows: (1) the received view (v 43); (2) Jesus’ correction (vv 44-45a); (3) two supporting statem ents (v 45b-c); (4) two illustrative parallels (vv 46-47); and


M a t t h e w 5 : 4 3 -4 8

(5) a concluding exhortation (v 48). The parallelism in Matt 5:46-47, bu t also in vv 44 and 45, points to the strong probability that Matthew uses oral tradition in the present pericope. A lthough this oral tradition overlaps to a degree with that used by Luke, the two Gospels have probably used in d ep en d en t oral traditions th at developed from a com m on source. Comment 43 O n the form ula “you have heard that it was said,” see Comment on v 21. T he first elem ent o f the OT tradition, ά γ α π η σ ε ι ς τ ο ν π λ η σ ί ο ν σ ο υ , “you shall love your neighbor,” is drawn verbatim from Lev 19:18 (this passage is quoted again, m ore fully, in 22:39). The words “as yourself’ ( ώ ς σ ε α υ τ ό ν ) are probably om itted here in o rd er to form a m ore exact parallel with the second m em ber, μ ι σ ή σ ε ι ς τ ο ν ε χ θ ρ ό ν σ ο υ , “you shall hate your enem y.” T he latter, though n o t taught in the OT, is an inference that was com m only drawn, for exam ple, from such passages as Pss 139:21-22; 26:5; or D eut 7:2; 30:7. O n the basis of such passages, the Q um ranites explicitly taught hatred of those regarded as enem ies (1QS 1:4, 10-11 ; 9:21-26). Clearly, n eith er Jesus’ listeners n o r M atthew’s readers would have been surprised by the added words, since the traditional interpretation had be­ com e regularly associated with the text. T he “n eig h b o r” m eant fellow Jew; the “enem y” m eant Gentile. 44-45 T he antithesis, on the o th er hand, m ust have startled those who first heard it. Again, with the characteristic and em phatic ε γ ώ δ ε λ έ γ ω ύ μ ΐ ν , “bu t I say to you,” Jesus com m ands α γ α π ά τ ε τ ο ύ ς ε χ θ ρ ο ύ ς ύ μ ώ ν , “love your enem ies,” and π ρ ο σ ε ύ χ ε σ θ ε ύ π έ ρ τ ω ν δ ι ω κ ό ν τ ω ν υ μ ά ς , “pray for those who persecute you” (cf. 5:10-12). This is revolutionary in its newness, having no exact parallel in the Jew­ ish tradition. (Perhaps the OT comes closest to this in its attitude toward the alien [ Ί2 , gar] , as expressed in Lev 19:34, bu t o ther passages may also be m en­ tioned: e.g., Exod 23:4-5; Prov 25:21; cf. Str-B 1:369-70; for Hellenistic parallels, cf. Piper.) But such an attitude of love toward all, even o n e ’s enem ies, is of cru­ cial im portance to the very identity of the disciple; thus Jesus stresses that such an unrestricted love m ust be m anifested ό π ω ς , “in ord er th at,” you may be υ ί ο ΐ τ ο υ π α τ ρ ό ς ύ μ ώ ν , “children [lit. ‘sons’] of your F ath er” (cf. 5:9). To participate in the kingdom relates the disciple to the Father in a unique way, and that unique relationship involves doing his will. This is also the point of v 48. T he children of the kingdom are called to reflect the character of their heavenly Father (cf. Eph 5:1), who has b ro u g ht to them the kingdom . T he early C hurch picks up the em ­ phasis of this teaching in such passages as Rom 12:14; 1 Cor 4:12; 1 Pet 3:9. O ne im p o rtan t foundation for the unheard-of com m and to love o n e ’s enem ies is the very fact th at God gives his good gifts of sunshine and rain both to good and to bad. T he different words for “goo d ” (ά γ α θ ο ύ ς , “good,” and δ ι κ α ί ο υ ς , ‘ju s t”) and “b a d ” (π ο ν η ρ ο ύ ς , “evil,” and ά δ ι κ ο υ ς , “unjust”) represent stylistic variation, as does the chiastic o rd er o f the nouns. T he “b a d ” are, from the context, analogous to the “enem ies” of God. To love o n e ’s enem ies is, then, to treat them as God treats those who have rebelled against him. Thus the children, the disciples, should im itate their heavenly Father. 46-47 T he illustrative rhetorical questions make the point that nothing won­ derful has been accom plished when one returns good for good. This is bu t the



standard o f the world, which even “tax collectors” ( τ ε λ ώ ν α ι ) and “G entiles” ( ε θ ν ι κ ο ί ) are able to fulfill. (O n “tax collector,” see Comment on 9:9.) It is thus no achievem ent to love those who love you (the words ά γ α π ή σ η τ ε and ά γ α π ώ ν τ α ς reflect the initial verb ά γ α π ή σ ε ι ς , “you shall love” [v 43], as well as the com m and o f v 44). T he ethical standard of the kingdom calls the disciples to a m uch m ore radical love that includes even o n e ’s enem ies— the unrighteous and the evil.

Matthew also links tax collectors and Gentiles in 18:17 (“tax collectors” is linked with “sinners,” άμαρτωλοί, in 9:10, 11; 11:19; in 21:31-32 the word is twice linked with πόρναι, “harlots”). This negative use of εθνικοί, “Gentiles,” is found elsewhere in Matthew (e.g., 6:7; 18:17) and reflects the Jewish orientation of the evangelist’s community. ά σ π ά σ η σ θ ε , “salute,” “greet,” in parallelism with “love,” m eans som ething like “wish peace and blessing u p o n ” or “show favor tow ard” (the only o ther use of the word in Matthew occurs in 10:12). μ ι σ θ ό ν , “rew ard,” is far m ore im portant in Matthew than in any o ther Gospel (cf. esp. 5:12; 6:1-16; and 10:41-42), again reflecting the evangelist’s Jewish framework. 48 This verse confirm s the argum ent of v 45 and properly forms the conclu­ sion of the pericope. T he disciples ( υ μ ε ί ς , “you,” is em phatic) are to be “p erfect” ( τ έ λ ε ι ο ς )— th at is, they are to be like their Father in loving their enemies. This view is supported by the context as well as by the Lukan parallel (Luke 6:36), which employs the word ο ί κ τ ί ρ μ ω ν , “m erciful” or “com passionate,” in place of M atthew’s τ έ λ ε ι ο ς . T here is a sense, however, in which this verse also serves as the logical conclusion to all the preceding antitheses. T he righteousness of the kingdom , which altogether exceeds that of the Pharisees, involves a call to be like the Father. τ έ λ ε ι ο ς is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word D^DFl (tamim), used often in the OT to refer to perfection in the sense of ethical uprightness (e.g., Gen 6:9; 17:1; 2 Sam 22:24-27; frequently in the Psalms and in the Q um ran scrolls) and animals w ithout blem ish (esp. Leviticus, Num bers, and Ezekiel). The word can also have the connotation of com pleteness (e.g., Lev 23:15, 30; Josh 10:13). τ έ λ ε ι ο ς here may have the connotation of “w hole” or “total” (thus Delling, T D N T 8:74) , as it does elsewhere (cf. 19:21; and Col 4:12; Jas 1:4), bu t it should be em phasized that in the sphere of ethics this entails perfection. This call does no t differ from that in the OT: “Be holy for I, the LORD God, am holy” (Lev 19:2; cf. 1 Pet 1:16). T he LXX even uses the same word ( τ έ λ ε ι ο ς , translating □ ’’□FI) at one point (Deut 18:13): “Be perfect before the LORD your G od.” The perfection here is the fulfill­ m en t of the Mosaic law (pace Guelich, Sermon), bu t now according to its definitive in terpretation by the Messiah who brings the kingdom . Love for God and o n e ’s neighbor (and particularly, love of o n e ’s enem ies) will be described by Matthew as the com m andm ents upon which thus all the law and the prophets depend (22:40). For Matthew, to be τ έ λ ε ι ο ς m eans to fulfill the law through the manifes­ tation of an unrestricted love (including even enem ies) that is the reflection of G od’s love. This unrestricted love preem inently em bodies ethical perfection. This perfection, and nothing less, is that to which Jesus calls his disciples. As the king­ dom Jesus brings is “of heaven” (see on 3:2), so also the Father in Matthew is ο ύ ρ ά ν ι ο ς , “heavenly,” i.e., transcendent. This way of referring to God as b π α τ ή ρ b ο υ ρ ά ν ι ο ς is unique to Matthew in the NT (see 6:14, 26, 32; 15:13; 18:35; 23:9) and again reflects M atthew’sJewish milieu. The expression beautifully com bines G od’s


M a t t h e w 6 : 1 -4

divine transcendence (“heavenly”) with his im m anence in love and grace, which can only be described adequately in the intim ate term “Father.” Explanation T he final, climactic antithesis turns to the great love com m andm ent of the OT. Jesus, in terpreting the law in the light of the dawning kingdom , extends the application o f that com m andm ent so as to include even o n e ’s enem ies. T he love he describes, of course, is no t an em otion (pace Carson) but volitional acts for the benefit and well-being of others, even those we may dislike. In this love that knows no boundaries, the disciples are to reflect the generosity of God, who sends blessing upon both the righteous and the unrighteous and who has brought the kingdom to the unworthy. T hrough the com ing of the kingdom , the disciples are thus called to be “p erfect” as their Father is perfect. T he righteousness of the kingdom can be satisfied by n o thing less. And as the disciples live out this righteousness, they confirm their identity as “children of the heavenly Father.” This is an ethic that will startle those who experience it; it is an ethic that will inevitably shine like light in a dark place and cause the Father to be glorified (v 16). It should be added th at the perfection in view here is a goal toward which disciples are called to strive, but not one they will fully achieve in this life. The Christian will thus always have occasion to pray for the forgiveness of sins, as Jesus taught his disciples to pray (6:12). T he call to perfection is quite like the Pauline call for Christians to be what they are in Christ. H ere it is a m atter of being children of the Father.

Outward vs. Inward Righteousness Almsgiving


(6:1 -4 )


“AJewish-Christian Cultic Didache in Matt. 6:1-18: Reflections and Questions on the Historical Jesus.” In Essays on the Sermon on the Mount. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985. 55-69. Buchler, A. “St Matthew VI 1-6 and Other Allied Passages.”JT S 10 (1909) 266-70. D ietzfelbinger, C. “Die Frommigkeitsregeln von Mt 6:1-18 als Zeugnisse fruhchristlicher Geschichte.” ZN W 75 (1984) 184-200. G eorge, A. “La justice a faire dans le secret (Matthieu 6,1-6 et 16-18).” Bib 40 (1959) 509-98. Gerhardsson, B. “Geistiger Opferdienst nach Matth 6,1-6.16-21.” In Neues Testament und Geschichte. FS O. Cullmann, ed. H. Baltensweiler and B. Reicke. Zurich: Theologischer, 1972. 69-77. Klostermann, E. “Zum Verstandnis von Mt 6,2.” ZNW 47 (1956) 280-81. McEleney, N. J. “Does the Trumpet Sound or Resound? An Interpretation of Matthew 6,2.” ZNW 76 (1985) 43-46. Minear, P. S. “Keep It Secret.” In Commands of Christ. 47-68. N agel, W. “Gerechtigkeit—oder Almosen? (Mt 6,1).” VC 15 (1961) 141-45. Oakley, I. J. W. “‘Hypocrisy’ in Matthew.” IBS 7 (1985) 11838. Schweizer, E. “Derjude im Verborgenen ..., dessen Lob nichtvon Menschen, sondern von Gott kommt.” In Matthaus und seine Gemeinde. 86-97. Betz, H. D.

Form /Stru cture/Setting


Translation 1“Be careful not to practice your pietya before others in order to be seen by them. Other­ wise you have no reward with your heavenly Father. 2When you give alms, therefore, do not blow a trumpet to attract attention,b as do the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be glorified by others. Trulyc I say to you, they are having their reward at that moment. 3But as for you, when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your almsgiving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, willd reward you.”e Notes

aδ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ν , lit. “righteousness.” T he majority o f (late) MSS (L W Z Θ f 13 TR syp,h m ae) have ε λ ε η μ ο σ ύ ν η ν , “almsgiving,” perhaps by the influence o f v 2. K1 syc bo have δ ό σ ί ν , “giving.” bέ μ π ρ ο σ θ ε ν σ ο υ , lit. “before you.” c N* an d a few o th er late MSS insert a second ά μ ή ν , “truly.” d D W f l TR syp’h add α ύ τ ό ς before the verb, producing a slightly em phatic “h e .” e A m ajority o f late MSS (L W Θ TR it sys,ph) add ε ν τ ω φ α ν ε ρ ω , “in the o p e n ,” as a counterbalance to ε ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω , “in secret.” As M etzger points out, however, the superiority o f the F ath er’s reward to h um an approval is im portant, n o t its public or nonpublic character (T C G N T , 15). Cf. N o te e on v 6. Form/Structure/Setting A. We now com e to a new section of the serm on (6:1-18) devoted to three im portant exercises of the religious life (H. D. Betz refers to the passage as “a Jewish-Christian cultic Didache”): almsgiving (vv 2-4), prayer (vv 5-6), and fasting (vv 16-18). These practices do no t themselves com e u n d er criticism, no r are they regulated, b u t rath er the motivation underlying them is scrutinized. T he entire section is introduced by the general principle enunciated in v 1, a kelal sentence, i.e., a form introducing the them es of the following section. The form al parallel­ ism of the sections indicates that these three sections constitute one entity in the serm on despite the lengthy parenthetical section containing the L ord’s Prayer (vv 7-15). B. These three m ain sections (vv 2-4, 5-6, 16-18) are w ithout Synoptic paral­ lels and, as their stylized form suggests, probably were derived as a unit from the special oral tradition available to the evangelist. Into the second m em ber of this unit, however, the evangelist has inserted o ther traditional m aterial having to do with prayer, including the L ord’s Prayer (vv 7-15). Only here do we encounter parallel Synoptic material. T he traditional Jewish linking of the three items— almsgiving, prayer, and fasting—is found (but in reverse order) in POxy 654.5 (cf. Gos. Thom. 6). C. T he parallelism of the three sections is readily apparent from the verbatim recurrence of the words ά μ ή ν λ έ γ ω ν μ ΐ ν ά π έ χ ο υ σ ι ν τ ο ν μ ι σ θ ό ν α ύ τ ώ ν , “truly I say to you, they have their rew ard” (vv 2, 5, and 16), as well as the repetition of the concluding form ula, τ ω π α τ ρ ί σ ο υ τ ω έ ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω , “to your Father who is secret” (vv 6 and 18, b ut the latter has the synonym κ ρ υ φ α ί ω for κ ρ ύ π τ ω ; v 4 has only the last three words έ ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω , “in secret,” which are applied to the giving of alms rath er than to the Father), followed by the sentence in verbatim agreem ent (ex­ cept again for the use of κ ρ υ φ α ί ω in v 18): κ α ί δ π α τ ή ρ σ ο υ δ β λ έ π ω ν έ ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω


Matthew 6 : 1 -4

ά π ο δ ώ σ ε ι σ ο ι , “and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (vv 4, 6, 18). In addition to these verbatim parallels, there is considerable similarity in the struc­ ture o f the three passages. Each (i.e., vv 2-4; 5-6; 16-18) contains the following, with only slight variations: (1) an introductory ό τ α ν with the subjunctive, “w hen­ ever you . . . ” (singular in v 2; plural in vv 5 and 16), followed by a negative im perative, “do n o t” (form ed using successively the subjunctive, future indica­ tive, and imperative m oods), a ώ ς clause “as (or like) the hypocrites,” and a ό π ω ς , “so th at,” clause that describes the in ten t of the hypocrites; (2) the “they have their reward” saying in the present tense, addressed to a plural “you”; (3) a strongly adversative clause beginning with the words σ ύ δ έ , “bu t you” (always in the singu­ lar), in which the p ro p er way to act is described, followed by a ό π ω ς , “so th at,” clause (but lacking in v 6) em phasizing “in secret”; and (4) the concluding say­ ing, introduced by the ά μ ή ν λ έ γ ω ύ μ ΐ ν form ula (“truly I say to you”): “your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (singular). For wordplay in a possible Aramaic tradition underlying the passage, see M. Black (Aramaic, 176-78). As an outline of the present pericope the following may be suggested: (1) a general w arning about doing righteous deeds to be seen by others (v 1); (2) the specific exam ple o f almsgiving (v 2); and (3) the p ro p er perform ance o f almsgiving: “in secret” (vv 3-4). Comment 1 T he opening verse stands alm ost as a rubric over the entire passage of w 1-18. The warning (π ρ ο σ έ χ ε τ ε , “beware,” “be careful”) here adm onishes the read­ ers to avoid perform ing their righteousness in ord er to be seen by others. T he expression “to do righteousness” (δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ν . . . π ο ι ε ί v) is H ebraic (e.g., Gen 18:19; Ps 106:3; Isa 56:1) and is found also in the NT in 1 J o h n 2:29; 3:7, 10; and Rev 22:11. T he word δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η here is to be understood in the broad sense of “righteousness” (cf. 5:20), of which three basic aspects of Jewish piety (cf. Tob 12:8-10)— almsgiving, prayer, and fasting—are specific exam ples (on “righteous­ ness,” see Comment on 3:15). Again, as in the antitheses (5:21-48), the suprem e im portance of motive or in n er thought emerges. A lthough δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η can also m ean “almsgiving” and thus some have tried to associate this verse with w 2-4, the form al analysis (see above, Form/Structure/Setting §C) shows that v 1, rath er than being a part o f the section that follows, is better understood as an introduc­ tion to all three sections (vv 2-4; 5-6; 16-18). T he deeds may be thought of as the C hristian’s self-offering in “spiritual service” and may correspond to the de­ m and of the Shem a (D eut 6:4-5) to love God with all your h eart (prayer), soul (fasting), and m ight (almsgiving), with the order changed to move from the easier to the h ard er (thus G erhardsson). T he phrase έ μ π ρ ο σ θ ε ν τ ω ν ά ν θ ρ ώ π ω ν , “before o th ers,” is intensified by the following π ρ ο ς τ ο θ ε α θ ή ν α ι α ύ τ ο ΐ ς , “to be seen by them .” This is an emphasis found in all three following sections: cf. ό π ω ς δ ο ξ α σ θ ω σ ι ν υ π ό τ ώ ν ά ν θ ρ ώ π ω ν , “so that they m ight be glorified by o th ers” (v 2); ό π ω ς φ α ν ώ σ ι ν τ ο ι ς ά ν θ ρ ώ π ο ι ς , “so that they m ight be seen by o th ers” (in verbatim agreem ent in vv 5 and 16; cf. the corresponding negative ό π ω ς μ ή φ α ν ή ς τ ο ι ς ά ν θ ρ ώ π ο ι ς , “so that you may n o t be seen by others,” in v 18). Those who do their righteous deeds in o rd er to be observed by others are described as “hypocrites” ( ν π ο κ ρ ι τ α ί ) in each of the three following sections (vv 2, 5, and 16). Matthew alm ost certainly



has in m ind the Pharisees, who are repeatedly described as “hypocrites” in chap. 23 and of whom it is also said (23:5) that “they do all their works” π ρ ο ς τ ό θ ε α θ ή ν α ι τ ο ΐ ς ά ν θ ρ ώ π ο ι ς , “to be seen by o thers”—alm ost exactly the same language as in the present passage. If the disciples perform acts of righteousness “to be seen by o thers,”Jesus says to them , μ ι σ θ ό ν ο ύ κ ε χ ε τ ε π α ρ ά τ ώ π α τ ρ ί υ μ ώ ν τ ω ε ν τ ο ϊ ς ο ύ ρ α ν ο ι ς , “you do no t have a reward with your Father who is in heaven.” This anticipates the consider­ able stress on reward in the three following sections, in each of which Jesus says concerning those who display their piety “they have their rew ard” (vv 2, 5, and 16), and o f those who practice their piety in secret that “your Father will reward you” (vv 4, 6, and 18). For the expression “your Father in heaven,” see 5:16. O n μ ι σ θ ό ς , which occurs m ore often in Matthew than any o ther Gospel, see 5:12. 2 H ere, “whenever you give alm s” (ό τ α ν . . . π ο ι ή ς ε λ ε η μ ο σ ύ ν η ν ) is in the sec­ ond person singular, unlike in the second and third sections where the “whenever” clause is addressed to the second person plural (vv 5 and 16). The words π ο ι ε ΐ ν ε λ ε η μ ο σ ύ ν η ν (also in v 3) m ean literally “to do an act of mercy,” b u t by the intertestam ental period they had becom e a technical expression for almsgiving (cf. Tob 1:3, 16; 4:7-8; Sir 7:10; in the NT, see Acts 9:36; 10:2; 24:17). Perform ing deeds of mercy, or doing kindness, was one of the pillars of Judaism (m. ' Abot 1:2). It is difficult to know w hether the reference to blowing a trum pet is intended literally or metaphorically.

Luz denies rather strongly that a trumpet was actually blown at the giving of a major gift, taking the words as a metaphor of irony (so too, Gnilka; Gundry; Guelich, Sermon; France; Davies-Allison are somewhat less confident in their denial). It is still possible—despite the lack of solid evidence—that a trumpet was blown to draw at­ tention to very large gifts (thus Schlatter; Bonnard; Hill), in order perhaps to en­ courage others to do similarly; on the other hand, perhaps the association was made because trumpets were blown at fasts (see Buchler), at a time when large gifts were given to avert disaster (see G. Friedrich, TDNT 7:87-88). Or perhaps the sound is that of coins being thrown into the six trumpet-shaped money chests placed in the temple specifically for the collection of alms (the “Shofar-chests” of m. Seqal. 2:1; see Danby’s note [The Mishnah ] on that text) in order to attract the attention of others (so McEleney). The point, in any case, is clear: the hypocrites did all they could to draw attention to their generosity. T he sense in which these persons are ύ π ο κ ρ ι τ α ί , “hypocrites,” is that their real motivation in their apparently pious conduct is self-glorification ( ό π ω ς δ ο ξ α σ θ ώ σ ι ν υ π ό τ ω ν ά ν θ ρ ώ π ω ν , “so that they m ight be glorified by others”) ε ν τ α ΐ ς σ υ ν α γ ω γ α ΐ ς κ α ι ε ν τ α ΐ ς ρ ύ μ α ι ς , “in the synagogues and in the streets,” i.e., in the places of worship and in public (cf. the similar phrase in v 5).

The word υποκριτής in Hellenistic Greek commonly meant “actor,” i.e., one who performs in front of others, pretending to be something he or she is not. In the NT it is used consistently in a negative sense. Matthew captures the duplicity inherent in hy­ pocrisy when he juxtaposes the word with the quotation of Isa 29:13, “this people hon­ ors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (15:8). In addition to the three references in this section of Matthew (vv 2, 5, 16), the word occurs in 7:5; 15:7; 22:18; and 24:51. Note especially too the six occurrences in chap. 23, directed against the Pharisees, 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29. See U. Wilckens, T D N T 8:559-71.


M a t t h e w 6 : 1 -4

T he response of Jesus to this self-glorifying activity is introduced with the for­ m ula of emphasis: ά μ ή ν λ έ γ ω ύ μ ΐ ν , “truly I say to you [plural] ” (cf. vv 5 and 16). This form ula, which previously occurred in 5:18 and 26, is found some thirty-two times in Matthew, m ore than twice as often as in any o th er Gospel. The use of the present tense in ά ι τ έ χ ο υ σ ι ν τ ο υ μ ι σ θ ο ί ' α ύ τ ώ υ , “they are having their rew ard,” im­ plies that this tem porary praise from others is all the reward they will receive, in deliberate contrast to the statem ent at the end of each of the three sections that prom ises a future, eschatological reward (vv 4, 6, 18). In the rabbinic doctrine concerning rewards, almsgiving is prom ised a high retu rn (see Str-B 4:552-53). Jesus’ rem ark that those who give alms for the praise of others already have their reward m ust have had a shocking effect on his hearers. 3 -4 In the strong adversative sentence, Jesus says to the disciples (“when you [here and in all three applications in the singular] give alm s”) that almsgiving m ust n o t be an act done to draw the attention and adm iration of others (for Jewish parallels, cf. Str-B 1:391-92). Far from almsgivers calling attention to their act, they should do so unself-c onsciously, with the left h an d taking no heed of what the right h an d does (cf. Gos. Thom. 62). The speculation that the left hand stands for o n e ’s best friend, as in a contem porary Arabic proverb (G ru n d m an n ), is hardly convincing; the same m ust be said for G undry’s suggestion that giving with one and n o t two hands indicates unobtrusive giving. Jesus emphasizes, “so that” ( ό π ω ς ) , the disciple’s almsgiving must be έ ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω , “in secret.” This is the point of the pericope and of all three sections. Righteous deeds are to be done in secret, beyond the attention of any onlookers. These deeds will n o t escape the attention of God (cf. 1 Sam 16:7): “your Father who sees in secret [ ό π α τ ή ρ σ ο υ ό β λ έ π ω υ έ ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω ] will reward [ ά π ο δ ώ σ ε ι ] you.” Schweizer (“Der J u d e ”) finds a direct connection between this teaching and P aul’s reference in Rom 2:28-29 to being a Jew έ υ τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω , “in secret.” T he reward m otif is m ore im p o rtant in Matthew than in any o th er Gospel (see Comment on 5:12). O n ά π ο δ ι δ ό ν α ι , the verb underlying “to rew ard” in this verse (and vv 6, 18), see especially 16:27 and 20:8. Explanation T he serm on has been concerned thus far with the defining o f true righteous­ ness by a correct understanding of the law. Now specific deeds of piety com e into the picture of tru e righteousness. T he practice of righteous deeds—here specifi­ cally almsgiving—in o rd er to capture the attention and adm iration o f others cancels the possibility of any reward from God. T he only reward such deeds re­ ceive is in the m om entary applause of the onlookers. “They were n o t giving, but buying. They wanted the praise of m en, they paid for it” (Davies-Allison, 1:582). T rue deeds o f righteousness, by contrast, are done “in secret” where only God, “who sees in secret,” knows of them . The deeds of righteousness p erform ed by the Christian will o f course be seen by others. A ccording to 5:16, followers of Jesus should let their light shine “before others [precisely the language of our p eric o p e], so that they may see your good works.” A lthough this may seem at first to be a contradiction, 5:16 goes on to say “that they m ight glorify your Father who is in heaven,” which is in bold contrast to the desire of the hypocrites that “they m ight be glorified by o th ers” (v 2). Only deeds done for G od’s glory will



receive an eschatological reward. This stress is in keeping with the em phasis on the in n er obedience to G od’s com m andm ents, which we encountered in chap. 5. God is co ncerned with the heart, with the motivation behind a p erso n ’s deeds, as m uch as with the external deeds themselves. T he application of the passage is clear and timeless in its bearing upon Christians.

Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer The Setting of Prayer




See Bibliography for 6:1-4. Translation 5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to praya positioning themselves conspicuouslyb in the synagogues and on the corners of the main roads so that they will be observed by others. Truly I say to you, they are having their reward at that moment.c 6But as for you,d when you pray, go into your closet, shut the door, so that you pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. ”e Notes a T he W estern tradition (D it) inserts σ τ η ν α ι , “to stand,” after the verb φ ί λ ο υ σ ι ν , “love,” and alters the infinitive π ρ ο σ ε ύ χ ε σ θ α ί , “to pray,” to the participle π ρ ο σ ε υ χ ό μ ε ν ο ι , “praying,” coordinate with έ σ τ ώ τ ε ς , “standing.” T he resulting construction avoids the statem ent “love to pray.” b “Positioning themselves conspicuously” is a paraphrase o f ε σ τ ώ τ ε ς , “standing,” drawing out the sense o f the participle from the context. c sys inadvertently omits the entirety o f v 5, probably as the result o f the similar beginning o f w 5 and 6 (hom oioarcton). d “But as for you” reflects the em phatic σ ύ δ ε , lit. “b u t y o u ” e Many MSS (L W Θ f 13TR it syp,h) add ε ν τ ω φ ά ν ε ρ ω , “in the o p e n .” See N ote e on v 4.

Form/Structure/Setting See the corresponding section to the preceding pericope. Syntactically the one m ajor difference between this and the preceding pericope is found in the otl, “because,” clause in v 5 (which, however, finds a counterpart in the γ ά ρ , “for,” clause in the third section, v 16). Comment 5 Again Jesus tells the disciples to avoid being like the hypocrites (cf. vv 2 and 16) who do their utm ost to attract attention to themselves when they pray.


M a t t h e w 6 : 5 -6

They “love” to position themselves where they can be m ost noticed as they pray. { φ ι λ ε ΐ ν is used again of Pharisees in 23:6 [cf. Luke 11:43], where it is said they love the places of h o n o r at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues.) T he per­ fect participle, έ σ τ ώ τ ε ς , has the nuance of having taken a position and continuing to stand in it, and this implies the enjoym ent of public attention. Standing was the com m on position for prayer. Again, as in v 2, places of worship, “the syna­ gogues,” and public places, “the corners of the m ain roads,” are in view. The phrase έ ν τ α ϊ ς γ ω ν ί α ι ς τ ω ν π λ α τ ε ι ώ ν refers literally to “the corners of the wide (streets)” and in the NT occurs only here. (M atthew’s earlier word ρ ύ μ α ί is com ­ bined with 7τ λ α τ ε ΐ α ι in Luke 14:21.) T he usual ό π ω ς or purpose clause (cf. vv 2 and 16) follows, indicating here (and in v 16) “so that they will be observed” (cf. “so th at they will be glorified by o th ers” in v 2). Again, Jesus indicates that in this way they receive their only reward (cf. the same logion in verbatim agreem ent in vv 2 and 16). See Comment on v 2. 6 σ ύ , “you” (singular), in the strong adversative sentence is em phatic: “but when you pray . . . ” (cf. the same form ula in v 17). τ ό τ α μ ε ΐ ο ν refers to an inner room o f a house (cf. Matt 24:26, the only o th er M atthean occurrence), som e­ times secret or hidden (cf. Luke 12:3, “private room ,” RSV; “b ehind closed doors,” NRSV) and often used as a storeroom (cf. Luke 12:24). It would be a room that allowed privacy; the reference to shutting the door adds em phasis to this aspect. T he LXX o f Isa 26:20 refers to entering τ ά τ α μ ί ε ί α , “the closets,” and shutting the door, b u t this is to escape the wrath of the Lord. More relevant as OT back­ g ro u n d is th e re feren ce to Elisha sh u ttin g the d o o r u p o n G ehazi an d the Shunam m ite woman to pray (2 Kgs 4:33), b u t in this case the privacy is also for the m iracle o f raising the dead. T he goal of the com m and to the disciple is to pray to the Father in secret. H ere (and in v 18) one expects έ ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω after τ ω π α τ ρ ί σ ο υ to refer to the activity of praying (and fasting in v 18). T he slightly awkward reference to τ ω π α τ ρ ί σ ο υ τ ω έ ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω , “to your Father who is in secret,” may initially have been caused by the words of the next sentence, 6 β λ έ π ω ν έ ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω , “who sees in secret.” T he m ain points are nevertheless quite clear: the activity in question is to be done in secret before the God who sees in secret because he is everywhere (i.e., in secret as well as in public). T he final words έ ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω could conceivably go with ά π ο δ ώ σ ε ί σ ο ί , i.e., “he will reward you in secret,” b u t it is m ore natural to take the words with b β λ έ π ω ν , “who sees in se­ cret.” This key statem ent is found virtually verbatim at the close of each of the three sections (cf. vv 4 and 18). See Comment on v 4. Explanation T he com m ents of the preceding Explanation apply equally well here since the same p o in t is being m ade about praying as was m ade about almsgiving. Prayer (even if offered in the context of public worship or a prayer gathering) is to be directed to God in secret and n o t to be m ade a public spectacle to display the “righteousness” of the one who prays. A true reward for prayer will com e only when prayer is God oriented, genuine, and n o t for display—only when prayer is directed to God and no t to others.


On the Right Way to Pray: “The Lord’s Prayer”



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Eschatological Prayer.” TS 22 (1961) 175-208 (reprinted in idem, New Testament Essays, 275-320). Buchan, W. M. “Research on the Lord’s Prayer.” ExpTim 100 (1989) 336-39. Bussby, F. “A Note on ρακά (Matthew v 22) and βατταλογέω (Matthew v 7) in the Light of Qumran.” ExpTim 76 (1964-65) 26. Carmignac, J. Recherches sur le ‘Notre Pere.’ Paris: Letourzey & Ane, 1969. Dalman, G. Die Worte Jesu. 2nd ed. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1930. 283365. D elling, G. “Βατταλογέω .” TDNT 1:597-98. Dewailly, L.-M. “‘Donne-nous notre pain’: quel pain? Notes sur la quatrieme demande du Pater.” R S P T 64 (1980) 561-88. Evans, C. F. The Lord’s Prayer. London: SPCK, 1963. Finkel, A. “The Prayer of Jesus in Matthew.” In Standing before God. FS J. M. Oesterreicher, ed. A. Finkel and L. Frizzell. New York: Ktav, 1981. 131-69. Gerhardsson, B. “The Matthaean Version of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9b13): Some Observations.” In The New Testament Age. FS B. Reicke, ed. W. C. Weinrich. Ma­ con, GA: Mercer University, 1984. 1:207-20. Goulder, M. D. “The Composition of the Lord’s Prayer.”JTS n.s. 14 (1963) 32-45. Harner, P. Understanding the Lord’s Prayer. Phila­ delphia: Fortress, 1975. Hemer, C. “έπ ίο ύ σ ω ς.” JSNT 22 (1984) 81-94. H iggins, A. J. B. “Lead Us Not into Temptation.” ExpTim 58 (1946-47) 250. H ill, D. “Our Daily Bread’ (Matt 6.11) in the History of Exegesis.” IBSb (1983) 2-11. Hultgren, A. J. “The Bread Peti­ tion of the Lord’s Prayer.” In Christ and His Communities. FS R. H. Fuller, ed. A. J. Hultgren and B. Hall. ATR Supplementary Series 11. Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement Publica­ tions, 1990. 41-54. Jerem ias, J. The Lord’s Prayer. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1964.---------- . The Prayers of Jesus. SBT 2.6. London: SCM, 1967 (includes a revised version of The L ord’s Prayer [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1964]). Kistemaker, S. J. “Lord’s Prayer in the First Cen­ tury.”JETS 21 (1978) 323-28. L ightfoot, J. B. On a Fresh Revision of the English NT. Lon­ don: Macmillan, 1872. 195-242. Lohmeyer, E. Our Father: An Introduction to the L ord’s Prayer. New York: Harper 8c Row, 1966. Manson, T. W. “The Lord’s Prayer.” BJR1) 38 (195556) 99-113, 436-48. M einertz, M. “Das Vaterunser.” TRev 45 (1949) 1-6. Metzger, B. M. “How Many Times Does ‘EPIOUSIOS’ Occur outside the Lord’s Prayer?” ExpTim 69 (1957) 52-54. M oule, C. E D. “\ . . As we forgive . . .’: A Note on the Distinction be­ tween Deserts and Capacity in the Understanding of Forgiveness.” In Essays in Nerv Tes­ tament Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1982. 278-86. ---------- . “An Unresolved Problem in the Temptation Clause in the Lord’s Prayer.” R T R 33 (1974) 65-76. Orchard, B. “The Meaning of ton epiousion (Mt 6:11/Lk 11:3).” BTB (1973) 27482. Petuchowski, J. J., and Brocke, M. The Lord’s Prayer andJewish Liturgy. New York: Seabury, 1978. Schurmann, H . Praying with Christ: The “Our Father”for Today. New York: Herder Sc Herder, 1964. Schwarz, G. “Matthaus VI 9-13; Lukas XI 2-4.” NTS 15 (1968-69) 233-47. Scott, E. F. The Lord’s Prayer: Its Character, Purpose, and Interpretation. Toronto: Saunders, 1962. Swetnam, J. “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” Bib 52 (1971) 556-63. Sykes, Μ . H. “And Do Not Bring Us to the Test.” ExpTim 73 (1962) 189-90. T hom pson, G. Η . P. “Thy Will Be Done in Earth, as It Is in Heaven (Mt 6,11): A Suggested Reinterpretation.” ExpTim 70 (1958-59) 379-81. Tilborg, S. van. “A Form-Criticism of the Lord’s Prayer.” No v T I A (1972) 94-105. Trudinger, P. “The O ur Father’ in Matthew as Apocalyptic Eschatology.” D R 107 (1989) 49-54. V o g tle, A. “Der eschatologische Bezug der Wir-Bitten des Vaterunsers.” In Jesus und Paulus. FS W. G. Kummel, ed. E. E. Ellis and E. Grasser.


Matthew 6 :7 -1 5

Gottingen: Vandenhoeck 8c Ruprecht, 1975. 344-62. Yamauchi, E. M. “The ‘Daily Bread’ Motif in Antiquity.” WTJ 28 (1966) 145-56. For full bibliography on the Lord’s Prayer, see M. Dorneich, ed., Vater-Unser Bibliographic— The Lord’s Prayer, a Bibliography, Veroffentlichungen der Stiftung Oratio Dominica (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1982). Translation 7 “And when you pray, do not babble as do the Gentiles,afor they think that they will be heard merely because of the abundance of their words. 8Do not be like them in this regard,bfor your Fatherc knows the things you need before you ask him.d 9Therefore you are to pray in this manner: e Our Father in heaven Set apart your holy name. 10 Bring your eschatological kingdom. Cause your will to befulfilled on earth a s f it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the eschatologicale bread that will be ours in the future. 12 And forgive us our offenses h as we ourselves also have forgiven1those who offend us. 13 And do not bring us into testing, but deliver us from the Evil One.j,k 14 Forl if you forgive other people’s sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.m 15 But if you do not forgive others,n neither will your Father forgive your sins. Notes a B 1424 syc m ae substitute ύ π ο κ ρ ι τ α ί , “hypocrites,” for “G entiles,” in o rd e r to avoid the offense for gentile readers (cf. too “hypocrites” in v 5). b “In this re g ard ” added to com plete sense. c a1B sa m ae read ό θ ε ό ς δ π α τ ή ρ υ μ ώ ν , “God your Father,” a Pauline idiom , which is foreign to M atthew (cf. T C G N T, 15). A few later MSS read ό π α τ ή ρ υ μ ώ ν δ ο υ ρ ά ν ι ο ς , “your heavenly F a th er” (cf. vv 9, 14). d D has ά ν ο ϊ ξ α ι τ ό σ τ ό μ α , “open your m o u th .” e T he following translation o f the well-known prayer is deliberately paraphrastic and interpretive. For explanation and support, see C om m ent section. f D* b o mss and a few o th er witnesses om it ώ ς , “as,” resulting in “cause your will to be fulfilled in heaven and on e a rth .” g T he difficult word έ π ι ο ύ σ ι ο ν is ren d ere d differently in the versions: it has cottidianum , “daily”; vg has supersubstantialem , “supersubstantial”; sy4 has (the equivalent of, as in the rem aining variants) perpetuum , “p e rp etu al”; sy(p)h necessarium, “necessary”; sa venientem , “fu tu re ”; and m ae bo crastinum , “tom orrow ’s.” h D has the singular τ ή ν ο φ ε ι λ ή ν , “d e b t,” or “guilt.” O rigen has τ ά π α ρ α π τ ώ μ α τ α , “transgressions.” 1T he m ajority o f later MSS (K1D (L) W Δ Θ f 13 TR and possibly sy4 and co) have the present tense ( ά φ ί ο μ ε ν or ά φ ί ε μ ε ν ) , “forgive” (cf. Luke 11:4). Supporting the aorist tense ά φ ή κ α μ ε ν , “have forgiven,” see ^ * Β Ζ f1 vgst syp,h. See TC G N T, 16. j τ ο υ π ο ν η ρ ο ύ may also be translated “evil.” k A variety o f later endings have been added to the prayer in the MS tradition ( w ith o u t such addi­ tions are K B D Z f 1lat m ae b o pt). Codex 1424 (n in th /te n th century) actually includes a note explic­ itly indicating that “the ‘because yours is the kingdom ’ to ‘a m e n ’ is n o t found in some copies.” These additions, m ade obviously for liturgical purposes, are probably based on 1 C hr 29:11-13. A few late MSS (157 225 418 1253) add a trinitarian closing to the original prayer: ό τ ι σ ο υ έ σ τ ι ν ή β α σ ι λ ε ί α τ ο ύ π α τ ρ ό ς κ α ι τ ο υ υ ι ο ύ κ α ί τ ο υ α γ ί ο υ π ν ε ύ μ α τ ο ς ε ι ς τ ο ύ ς α ι ώ ν α ς · ά μ ή ν , “because yours is the kingdom of the Father and o f the Son and o f the Holy Spirit forever, A m en” (cf. 28:19). A few MSS add simply α μ ή ν , “a m e n ” (17 vgcl). T he best-known addition is δ τ ι σ ο υ έ σ τ ι ν ή β α σ ι λ ε ί α κ α ί ή δ ύ ν α μ ι ς κ α ί ή δ ό ξ α

Form / Structure/Setting


ε ι ς τ ο υ ς α ι ώ ν α ς [+ τ ω ν α ι ώ ν ω ν , 2148 k sams] ' ά μ ή ν , “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever (and ever). A m en” (with slight variations: L W Θ 0233/ 13 TR sy sa b o pt; D id. 8:2). I D* L sams om it γ ά ρ , “for,” thereby detaching som ewhat the logion of vv 14-15 from the prayer itself. m Some MSS (L f l lat co) add the specific τ ά π α ρ α π τ ώ μ α τ α υ μ ώ ν , “your sins,” perhaps by the influ­ ence o f the e n d o f v 15 (cf. Mark 11:26). II T he majority o f MSS (B L W Θ f 13 TR syc,h sa b o pt) insert τ ά π α ρ α π τ ώ μ α τ α α υ τ ώ ν , “their sins,” perhaps in im itation o f v 14a. See TCGNT, 17.

Form/Structure/Setting A. The evangelist has here inserted further traditional material stemming from Jesus on the subject of prayer, thereby breaking the sm ooth sequence of the three parallel sections on the practice of righteousness (vv 2-4; 5-6; 16-18). This en­ tire pericope would hardly be missed if it were om itted from the present context. Vv 9-15 in particular do not fit well their present context. B. Vv 9-13 present “The L ord’s Prayer” in a m ore developed form than is found in the parallel in Luke 11:1-4. M atthew’s form contains seven petitions following the opening vocative (which in Luke is the simple “F ather”) com pared to L uke’s five (Luke lacks M atthew’s third petition about the will of God being accom plished on earth as in heaven and M atthew’s seventh petition, “deliver us from the Evil O n e ”) . The first two petitions are in verbatim agreem ent. M atthew’s fourth petition is in close agreem ent with the Lukan form except only for L uke’s p resent im perative for M atthew’s aorist and Luke’s τ ο κ α θ ’η μ έ ρ α ν , “for each day,” for M atthew’s simple σ ή μ ε ρ ο ν , “today.” M atthew’s fifth petition is basically the same as in Luke except for his use of τ ά ό φ ε ι λ ή μ α τ α η μ ώ ν , “our debts,” where Luke has τ ά ς ά μ α ρ τ ί α ς η μ ώ ν , “our sins.” M atthew’s sixth petition is in verbatim agreem ent with L uke’s fifth. Because this prayer is such an im portant piece of liturgical tradition, it is u n ­ necessary to argue for com m on dependence upon Q to explain the com m on m aterial. Quite probably the prayer was h anded down in slightly differing ver­ sions in churches o f different geographical regions. Thus Matthew and Luke may well have received it independently from different sources (thus H arner), de­ spite both the agreem ents and disagreem ents. Jerem ias is almost certainly correct in his conclusion that Luke preserves an earlier form of the prayer (expansions are m ore likely than omissions), whereas Matthew’s language at a num ber of points is the m ore original (e.g., ό φ ε ί λ ή μ α τ α , “debts,” for Luke’s ά μ α ρ τ ί α ς , “sins”; σ ή μ ε ρ ο ν , “today,” for L uke’s τ ο κ α θ ’ η μ έ ρ α ν , “the daily”). L uke’s setting for the prayer dif­ fers from M atthew’s. Luke presents the prayer in response to a specific request from one of the disciples, who asks to be taught to pray as Jo h n (the Baptist) taught his disciples to pray. The prayer is also found in the early Christian docu­ m ent the Didache (8:2) in nearly verbatim agreem ent with the M atthean version (probably d ep endent on Matthew) and set forth in contrast to the im proper prayer of “the hypocrites.” Immediately after the prayer the Didache adds: “Pray thus three times a day” (8:3). Vv 14-15 form a logion that the evangelist appends to the prayer because of its close association to the content of the fifth petition. T he fact that it interrupts the flow o f the larger passage (vv 1-18) suggests that the evangelist regarded its co ntent as of great im portance, not only for the offering of acceptable prayer but


Matthew 6:7-15

perhaps for its practical relevance for certain tensions with his Jewish-Christian com m unity (cf. 5:23-24). This logion consists of two parallel parts, the second of which restates the first in negative form . No parallel to this m aterial is found in the o th er Gospels (Mark 11:26 in the TR is the result o f the influence of Matthew u pon early copyists). Matt 18:35 contains the same tho u g h t as w 14-15 but is probably an in d ep en d en t logion belonging to the parable that it concludes. C. This pericope is itself divided into three parts: (1) the nature o f true prayer, w 7-8; (2) a m odel prayer (“The L o rd ’s Prayer”), vv 9-13 (see outline below); and (3) an appen d ed statem ent about the im portance o f forgiving others, w 1415. Vv 7-8 resem ble to a certain extent the p attern of the three m ain sections (cf. Form/Structure/Setting §C on 6:1-4): the equivalent of the ό τ α ν clause in the tem ­ p o ral p articip le π ρ ο σ ε υ χ ό μ ε ν ο ι , “w hen you pray”; a negative im perative; a com parative clause using ώ σ π ε ρ , “as,” bu t with oi ε θ ν ι κ ο ί , “the G entiles,” for “the hypocrites”; a clause describing the cause of the unacceptable behavior (cf. v 5); the reason for behaving differently; and finally, positive advice about the correct perform ance of the deed in question. This form of the m aterial is probably the result o f the evangelist’s work (cf. his use of ε θ ν ι κ ο ί in v 7; cf. 5:47; 18:17; Did. 8:2 preserves what is probably the original ύ π ο κ ρ ι τ α ί ) and the influence o f the three m ain sections o f the larger passage. But he has only partially adapted the m ate­ rial and has n o t m ade it conform entirely to the passages on either side. M aterial closely related to v 8 is found in Q (Matt 6:32; Luke 12:30), bu t the similarity is probably due to a similar point being m ade independently rath er than Q being the source of, or d ep en d en t upon, the present passage. T he prayer itself in Matthew begins with (1) a typically M atthean form ula as the invocation: “our Father in heaven” (v 9b). This is followed by (2) three peti­ tions quite parallel in form , all of which end in σ ο υ , “your” (hence often called “you petitions”) and employ divine passives, thus referring to the agency of God in the fulfillment of the petition (vv 9c-10). T he third of these is slightly expanded by the prepositional phrase, “on earth as in heaven.” (The argum ent that the third petition is a later creation based on Jesus’ G ethsem ene prayer [26:36] — thus Schweizer [cf. van Tilborg]—can be no m ore than speculation.) These brief petitions are in tu rn followed by (3) two lengthier petitions that also reveal some parallelism (vv 11-12). (4) M atthew’s final two petitions, although adversative, are again parallel in structure (v 13). The last four petitions involve so-called we petitions. The traditional ending o f the L ord’s Prayer is, o f course, no t found in the earliest MSS o f the NT. See Note k above. D. This entire passage (vv 7-15), although it in terru p ts the three sections on the practice of righteousness—being added to the second of these—and although it is obviously shaped to some extent by the evangelist, has good claim as tradi­ tional m aterial stem m ing ultimately from Jesus. As to the petitions in the L o rd ’s Prayer, it is arguable, though it m ust rem ain uncertain, that M atthew’s third peti­ tion is n o t original b u t had probably been m odeled upon the first two before the evangelist’s writing. It is clearly in harm ony with the teaching of Jesus. T he sixth and seventh petitions appear to be an insertion between w 12 and 14-15. But because the sixth is paralleled in Luke, it is to be regarded as tradition. T he sev­ en th petition is possibly an early elaboration of the sixth b u t could go back to Jesus him self since such parallelism is consistent with what seems to have been his teaching style.



Comment 7-8 These verses are relevant to the ε θ ν ι κ ο ί , “Gentiles,” m uch m ore than to the “hypocrites,” who are the bad exam ples in the three m ajor illustrations. In view is the attem pt to m anipulate God through repetitive, perhaps even magical, phrases, as the verb β α τ τ α λ ο γ ε ΐ ν , “babble,” and the noun π ο λ υ λ ο γ ί α , “m uch speak­ ing,” suggest, β α τ τ α λ ο γ ε ΐ ν , an onom atopoeic word, is probably derived from the cognate n o u n m eaning “stam m erer” or “stutterer.” The verb here, however, re­ fers n o t to a speech im pedim ent bu t to the repetition of m eaningless syllables. π ο λ υ λ ο γ ί α seems to have in m ind vain repetition and lengthiness. They “think” ( δ ο κ ο ϋ σ ι ν ) they will be heard by m eans of their devices, b u t in this they are mis­ taken. T he disciples are to avoid this kind of “praying” bu t are to realize that what they need is already known to God. Prayer does n o t inform God about their needs. T he stress on econom y of words in prayer is already found in the OT (cf. Eccl 5:1 [MT]; Isa 1:15; Sir 7:14). V 8 presupposes that God will grant them what they need. T he serm on emphasizes again in 6:32 (cf. Luke 12:30) that God knows the needs o f his people. T here, as here, the favorite M atthean phrase “your heav­ enly F ath er” is used. 9 ο ύ τ ω ς ο ΰ ν π ρ ο σ ε ύ χ ε σ θ ε ύ μ ε ΐ ς , “therefore you are to pray in this m anner.” ύ μ ε ΐ ς makes “you” em phatic and distinguishes the prayer of the disciples from th at of others. Matthew sets forth the short prayer as a m odel to be followed; Luke (“when you pray, say”), on the o ther hand, seems to suggest the repetition o f the actual words of this prayer (as was already done in the early C hurch). Ac­ cording to the Didache (8:3), the prayer is to be said three times a day following the regular Jewish pattern. Set liturgical prayers were already a com m on thing in the contem porary Jewish milieu (on the Jewish background of this prayer, see Abraham s). T he L ord’s Prayer, in its eschatological orientation, is similar in a nu m b er of ways to the Q addish prayer of the synagogue. This is true no t only of the spirit of the entire prayer but especially of the content of the first three petitions. Cf. especially the opening of the Qaddish: Exalted and hallowed be His great Name in the world which He created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and in your days, and in the lifetime of the whole household of Israel, speedily and at a near time. And say, Amen. (from Petuchowski and Brocke, The Lord’s Prayer and Jewish Liturgy, 37) In a similar way other petitions in the L ord’s Prayer find parallels in various Jew­ ish prayers. Invocation, π ά τ ε ρ η μ ώ ν ο ε ν τ ο ΐ ς ο ύ ρ α ν ο ΐ ς , “our Father in heaven [i.e., who tran­ scends all that is on earth] .’’Juxtaposed in this address are the contrasting phrases, “Father,” pointing to the intim ate relationship between God and his children, and “in heaven,” pointing to his transcendent nature. Underlying the simple π ά τ η ρ (as in Luke) in the probable Aramaic original, is the word .(' abba), a term of aN special affection and intimacy used by children in addressing their earthly fathers.


Matthew 6:7-15

Jesus’ use o f >abba is unique (Jeremias; Luz; Davies-Allison regard it as only “char­ acteristic” and “distinctive,” 602). T he phrase “Father in heaven” is one o f the evangelist’s favorites (see on 5:48). The address provides the basis o f the possibil­ ity o f such a prayer: as Father, God is concerned for the needs of his children; as the O ne in heaven, he is all-powerful. First Petition, ά γ ι α σ θ ή τ ω to ό ν ο μ ά σ ο υ , “set apart your holy nam e.” This is an appeal to God to act in vindication of his nam e. T he relationship between nam e and person is m uch closer in H ebraic thought than for us today (see Comment on 5:22). T he nam e of God is virtually indistinguishable from the person of God (cf., for exam ple, Mal 1:6; Isa 29:23; Ezek 36:23; Jo h n 12:28; 17:6). Thus God is called upon to vindicate himself. In a Jewish context, this petition refers to God acting in fulfillm ent of the prom ises to Israel, and thus to the silencing of the taunts o f h er enemies. In short, G od’s nam e will only be properly h o n o red when he brings his kingdom and accomplishes his will on earth (cf. the Q addish). Thus, the first three petitions of the prayer are closely linked, referring essentially to the same salvation-historical reality. T he similar form of these three petitions, em ­ ploying the divine passive and the aorist tenses in each case, also points to this conclusion. G erhardsson refers to the three petitions as “one prayer in a threepart parallelismus membrorum” (“Matthaean Version,” 210). There are at the same time ethical im plications for the disciples in this petition (see Comment on next verse). 10 Second Petition, έ λ θ έ τ ω ή β α σ ί λ ε ι α σ ο υ , “bring your eschatological kingdom .” This refers to the eschatological rule of God (cf. H arner) expected and longed for by the Jewish people (cf. the central petition of the Qaddish, above v 9). It involves the consum m ation of G od’s purposes in history, the fulfillm ent of the prophetic pictures of future bliss (cf. Acts 1:6). T he gospel is itself, above all, the an n o u n cem en t that G od’s prom ised rule has now begun in and through the work of Jesus the Messiah (see 3:2; 4:17, 23), so the disciples are thus encouraged to pray that what has begun in the m inistry of Jesus, what they have now begun to participate in, may be experienced in all fullness (cf. the prayer Marana tha, “our L ord co m e,” in 1 C or 16:22; cf. Rev 22:20). T he tension betw een a realized eschatology and future eschatology comes to expression in the mystery o f the kingdom elaborated in the parables of chap. 13. Third Petition, γ ε ν η θ ή τ ω τ ο θ έ λ η μ ά σ ο υ ώ ς έ ν ο ύ ρ α ν ω κ α ί έ π ϊ γ η ς , “cause your will to be fulfilled on earth as it is in heaven.” This petition is essentially synony­ m ous with the preceding petition (cf. its omission in Luke 11:2). T he accom ­ plishm ent o f G od’s will on earth obviously m eans the overturning of the present evil o rd er and thus a regeneration of the earth as we know it. G od’s will is done in the realm of his sovereign transcendence; let that sovereignty now be expressed upon the earth (cf. 1 Macc 3:60). Alternatively, the ώ ς . . . κ α ί may be understood as a petition for the will of God to be done both in heaven and on earth (cf. T hom pson, 380). All of reality m ust finally com e u n d er his rule. T he first three petitions, although appealing in the first instance to the activity of God in history (all are in the aorist tense), are n o t w ithout ethical im plications for the disciples who are thus taught to pray. T he very form of the third person im peratives (tr. “let . . .”), rath er than the second person imperative, may point to the involvement of those who pray (thus G erhardsson). T he disciples, after all, already participate in the reign of God brought by Jesus and are therefore rep re­ sentatives of that reign in the present. A lthough they cannot bring that kingdom



into existence by their own efforts, yet they are to reflect the good news of its inauguration in and through Jesus. They are to m anifest the reality of the pres­ ence of the kingdom (cf. 5:13-16). T here is thus a sense in which the first three petitions of the prayer are also a prayer th at the disciples will be faithful to their calling, that they will do their part (in obedience), no t to bring the kingdom but to m anifest its prophetic presence through Jesus and the Spirit. (Cf. Luz, who says of the third petition: “an alternative between divine action and hum an action would be a false alternative” [1:380]; cf. Davies-Allison.) Realized eschatology is in continuity with the future eschatology it foreshadows. 11 Fourth Petition. With the shift to the first person pronouns (“us”; “o u r”) beginning in this petition, it is difficult to decide w hether the eschatological perspective of the first three petitions is left behind or is at least significantly modified (thus V ogtle). Some insist that the petitions rem ain consistently eschatological in perspective (e.g., Jerem ias; Brown, “Pater N oster”; Davies-Allison). The issue is raised sharply by the question of the m eaning of the fourth petition. The position taken here is that the “we petitions” are prim arily eschatological but include present aspects that may be understood as anticipating the end time. (Indeed, even the first three petitions have relevance to the actions of those who pray [see Brown, “Pater Noster,” 292, n. 53; 300, n. 79].) τ ο ν ά ρ τ ο ν η μ ώ ν τ ο ν emoujLov δός ή μ ΐ ν σ ή μ ε ρ ο ν , “give to us today the eschatological bread that will be ours in the fu tu re.” In this petition, with the use of the first person plural pronoun, the prayer turns to the more specific needs of the disciples. Petitions of cosmic scope thus give way to the m eeting of personal needs with the form er as the basis of the latter. T he m uch-debated interpretation of this passage depends on the difficult question of the m eaning of the adjective έ ι π ο ύ σ ι ο ν . The following main proposals have been suggested. (1) έπωύσων = επί την ονσαν [from έπείναι] ημέραν, “for the present day.” In this interpretation, the petition is for the provision of the disciples’ daily needs for food. But this interpretation makes the petition unnecessarily redundant: “Give us our bread for the present day today.” Why are bothέπωύσίον and σήμερονin the same sentence? (The question is even more diffi­ cult for Luke 11:3 with its τ ό καθ’ημέραν, “for each day,” and the present δίδου, “keep giving.” Luke, however, seems to have understood έπιούσίον in a non-eschatological way, despite the degree of redundancy involved.) (2) έπίούσιον = (a) επί plus ούσία, “for existence.” The meaning in this case is clear enough: “give us today the bread necessary for our existence.” That is, give us today only the bread we need to survive. But again, the reason for the prayer is less than clear. Most important, the reason for the (on this view) redundant σήμερον, “today”—which is, moreover, in an emphatic position at the end of the sentence—is hardly apparent, (b) The combination of έπί and ούσία,interpreted as supersubstantialis(as in the Vulgate; thus, lit., “the bread above the substance”), enabled many in the early Church (e.g.,Jerome) to see the petition as a reference to the Eucharist. But this interpretation imports later concepts into the passage and does not fit the context well. (3) έπιούσίον = ή έπίονσα [from έπιέναί] ημέρα, for “the following day,” or “the coming day.” Here what is in view is either tomorrow’s ration of food and, in this case, the petition is “give us tomorrow’s ration of food today,” or today’s ration of bread prayed for the night before or early the same morning (thus Hemer, who shows that Matthew’s word can be related to the meaning of the commonly used substantive ή έπιονσα < έπιέναί). In this case the petition would amount to: “Give us bread for the day that is beginning.” Asking for tomorrow’s bread today, taken in the ordinary sense, stands in some tension with the exhortation not to


Matthew 6:7-15

be anxious about tomorrow (6:34, with reference to what there will be to eat!). To pray for bread for the day that is beginning makes good sense in itself, but on this view the emphatic σ ή μ ε ρ ο ν , “today,” again seems both unnecessary and difficult to explain. (4) έ π ω ύ σ ί ο ν is derived from έ π ί έ ν α ί , “to come.” Bread for “the coming day” could be inter­ preted as bread for tomorrow (or the future), i.e., the equivalent of the preceding op­ tion (and, according to Luz, etymologically the most probable; cf. Hultgren, who ac­ cepts this etymology but proposes that the adjective modifies “bread” rather than “day”—hence τ ο ν έ ι η ο ύ σ ι ο ν ά ρ τ ο ν , the meaning of which he paraphrases “our bread which comes upon us from you”). As some have argued who accept this view (esp. Jeremias; so too Brown, “Pater Noster”), the coming day in view could well be the day of the eschatological banquet (see on 8:11). Brown (“Pater Noster,” 306) also sees an allusion to the (messianic) miracle of manna on “the morrow” (Exod 16:4). The peti­ tion thus reflects an imminent eschatological expectation (cf. Harner, 84). Such an interpretation is in keeping with the content of the first three petitions, but what is more important, it is the only one to give an adequate understanding of the emphatic σ ή μ ε ρ ο ν , “today,” at the climactic end of the sentence. The disciples should pray for the experience of the eschatological blessing today, of the bread that brings the time of the eschaton, the messianic banquet. T he prayer thus asks for the present realization of the blessing of the eschaton. T he prayer is nevertheless a prayer for bread. And there is a sense in which the bread (by synecdoche, “fo o d ”) we partake o f daily is an anticipation of the eschat­ ological banquet. This fourth petition, in moving from the cosmic to the particular, does n o t leave b eh in d eschatological concerns. O n the contrary, it looks for eschatological benefits in the present, and in this sense it is perhaps the m ost significant type of petition that the disciples can pray. At the same time, however, the fulfillm ent o f present needs—even in so ordinary a thing as bread—is for the disciples anticipatory of the eschatological fulfillm ent of needs. 12 Fifth Petition, κ α ι ά φ ε ς ή μ ΐ ν τ ά ό φ ε ί λ ή μ α τ α η μ ώ ν , ώ ς κ α ί η μ ε ί ς ά φ ή κ α μ ε ν τ ό ί ς ό φ ε ι λ έ τ α ι ς η μ ώ ν , “and forgive us our offenses as we ourselves forgive those who offend us.” T he exegesis of this verse is facilitated by the app en d ed em pha­ ses in vv 14—15. Thus, ό φ ε ί λ ή μ α τ α , “shortcom ings” (lit., “d ebts”), finds its parallel in π α ρ α π τ ώ μ α τ α , “sins” or “transgressions.” This is also clear from the Lukan par­ allel to the present verse (Luke 11:4), which uses the word ά μ α ρ τ ί α ί , “sins.” H ere probably Luke has avoided the m ore archaic ό φ ε ί λ ή μ α τ α , which may not have been as easily u nderstood by his gentile readers (but he has kept the root in the participial form at the end of v 4). T he concept o f sin as a “d e b t” owed to God has an Aramaic background (in the rabbinic literature, Κ 3 Ϊ Π , h o b a is ', sin con­ strued as a debt), ά φ ή κ α μ ε ν is in the aorist tense, conveying the sense of having already forgiven others in the past and thus to a degree anticipating the point of vv 14—15. O n the other hand, ά φ ή κ α μ ε ν could be a Greek rendering of the Ara­ maic perfectum praesens and thus be translated with a present tense, “as we forgive” (Jeremias; Hill). It seems probable here that our being forgiven at the future ju d g m en t is in view (cf. the future tenses of vv 14—15 referring to G od’s forgive­ ness), so that again the petition is eschatological in reference. And yet again here a present aspect is also im plicit since divine forgiveness is also experienced in the present in advance of eschatological forgiveness (cf. Davies-Allison). T he great im portance placed upon forgiveness by Jesus is also to be seen later in the Gospel in 18:21-22 and especially in the following parable concerning the unforgiving servant (18:23-35). T he connection that is presupposed between our forgiving



o f others and G od’s forgiving of us ( ώ ^ κ α ί η μ ε ί ς , “as also we,” where the “we” is em phatic) is m ade m ore explicit in vv 14-15 (see Comment). τ ό ί ς ό φ ε ι λ έ τ α ι ς η μ ώ ν is literally “o u r debtors,” a cognate noun to ό φ ε ι λ ή μ α τ α . 13 Sixth Petition, κ α ί μ η ε ι σ ε ν έ γ κ η ς η μ ά ς ε ι ς π ε ι ρ α σ μ ό ν , “and do n o t bring us into testing.” π ε ι ρ α σ μ ό ς , depending on the context, can be translated “tem pta­ tio n ” or “testing.” H ere the latter is to be preferred because God does n o t lead into tem ptation (cf. Jas 1:13); he does, however, allow his people to be tested. “To be tem p ted ” is to be enticed to sin; “to be tested” is to be brought into diffi­ cult circum stances that try o n e ’s faithfulness. T he two are similar, since sin can result in either case; yet they are also to be differentiated, since the form er has a negative purpose, the latter a positive one. The petition in this instance concerns severe testing (see Sykes, who notes Sir 2:1; 33:1) that could eventuate in apos­ tasy. A gain th e q u estio n arises c o n c e rn in g w h e th e r th e testin g in view is eschatological, i.e., in connection with the com ing of the eschaton (thus Jeremias, Brow n), or w hether it refers to the testing of everyday life (thus L uz), or perhaps both (Davies-Allison). Favoring the eschatological understanding are the aorist tenses of this and the next petition and the tenor of the whole prayer. Against it is the fact that π ε ι ρ α σ μ ό ν lacks the definite article (cf. Rev 3:10). Perhaps again the future is prim arily in view, bu t the petition is expressed in such a way as to leave open application to “ordinary” testing in the present age. Such testing again antici­ pates the great final test. The disciple thus prays not to be led into such a situation, i.e., n o t to be led into a testing in which his or h er faith will n o t be able to survive. This interpretation is allowable because of the next petition, which is connected with the p resen t petition and which im plies that some testing is inevitable and therefore asks for preservation in it. (In this Jerem ias is correct [Prayers, 104-5].) It was in d eed a com m on expectation that a tim e of severe testing w ould neces­ sarily p reced e the daw ning o f the m essianic age. This m uch testing could not be avoided. T he disciple thus prays to be kept from testing that, anticipating the eschatological testing, will bring a genuine crisis of faith (cf. 2 Pet 2:9). Seventh Petition, ά λ λ ά ρ ν σ α ι η μ ά ς ά π ό τ ο ν π ο ν η ρ ο ύ , “bu t deliver us from the Evil O n e .” This petition is connected to the preceding by the adversative “b u t”; i.e., it is assum ed that some testing is inevitable. Thus, when testing comes, the dis­ ciple prays for deliverance (for the prom ise of deliverance, see Sir 33:1 and 2 Pet 2:9). τ ο ύ π ο ν η ρ ο ύ (lit. “the evil”) here may be either masculine or neuter. The defin ite article can be used in re ferrin g e ith e r to evil (so H a rn er) or to the Evil O ne, and the context provides little help in deciding which is intended at this point. If, however, one interprets the testing o f the preceding petition to be eschatological in nature, one will naturally favor the latter view. T he same am biguity may be seen in the similar references in 2 Thess 3:3 a n d John 17:15. In at least th ree places in M atthew the articular π ο ν η ρ ό ς probably refers to the Evil O ne or Satan (5:37; 13:19, 38; cf. 1 Jo h n 5:18), bu t in one instance it seems certainly to refer to evil rath er than the Devil (5:39; elsewhere in the NT, Chris­ tians are to resist the Devil, e.g., Jas 4:7; 1 P et 5:9). T he difference betw een Satan and evil is small in the present petition: to pray to be free from one is to pray to be free from the other. But the m ore vivid, personal in terp retatio n may be slightly p re ferab le h ere; Satan desires to use any severe testing o f the C hristian to his advantage. The sixth and seventh petitions together may be para­ phrased in the following words: Do n o t lead us into a testing of our faith that is


Matthew 6:7-15

beyond our endurance, bu t when testing does come, deliver us from the Evil O ne and his purposes. 14-15 This app ended statem ent, n o t a p art of the prayer itself, emphasizes the p o in t o f the fifth petition, in which hum an involvem ent is m ost evident (Luz, 1:389). Since it is apparently of great im portance to the evangelist and interrupts the flow o f 6:1-18, it may p oint to the existence of tensions in his community. It is n o t found in Luke; however, Mark 11:25 is a close parallel (11:26 is no t in the best m anuscripts b u t has apparently been inserted by later copyists from the pas­ sage before u s). V 15 simply repeats v 14 in negative form, showing how im portant the p o in t is considered to be. T he basic symmetry of the parallelism is broken by the chiasm, w herein according to v 14 π α ρ α π τ ώ μ α τ α is the object of the protasis while in v 15 it is object of the apodosis, thus creating an effect of emphasis. These verses need n o t be taken to m ean that the forgiveness we enjoy from God stands in a causal relation to our forgiveness of others, or that G od’s forgiveness of us is the result o f o u r forgiveness of others (see the useful discussion in H arner, 100106; cf. M oule, ‘“As we forgive”’). It is clear from these verses th at a d irect connection exists between G od’s forgiveness and our forgiveness. But it is a given that G od’s forgiveness is always prior (cf. 18:23-35). These verses are a forceful way o f m aking the significant point that it is unthinkable—impossible— that we can enjoy G od’s forgiveness w ithout in tu rn extending our forgiveness toward others. Paul makes use of this logion in Col 3:13. Explanation Prayer is straightforward and simple for those who have experienced the grace o f the kingdom in Christ. In prayer the disciple does n o t try to coerce or m a­ nipulate God. T here are no magical words or form ulae, n o r does an abundance o f words count with God. Short, direct, and sincere prayers are adequate. Prayer, fu rth erm o re, is n o t m ade to inform God of our needs and desires. Nevertheless, the Christian should pray. And when Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, he follows the p attern o f the synagogue prayers of his day. T he L ord’s Prayer thus centers on the large issues of G od’s redemptive program rather than on m ore m undane mat­ ters. T he disciples are to pray above all for the realization of G od’s eschatological program on earth. Most of the petitions in the prayer are dom inated by this concern for the en d time. Yet, at the same time, the petitions have im plications for the present. T he first three petitions at least imply the present im portance of discipleship in the words “on earth as in heaven.” The fourth petition, for daily bread, also has to do with present sustenance o f the disciples as a sign of im m inent eschatological blessing. But the present dim ension of the L o rd ’s Prayer is seen most clearly and most forcefully in the fifth petition (and the added words of vv 1415), with its reference to our forgiveness of others in the m anner of G od’s forgiveness of us. T he closing petitions reflect a confidence in the sovereign love of God that will preserve us in the testing of our faith now and in time of tribulation. T he one who prays the L ord’s Prayer prays thus from a perspective of one who is involved in the great redem ptive dram a that is beginning to unfold in the Gos­ pel narrative itself. The m easure of eschatological fulfillm ent already realized focuses o n e ’s thoughts and desires upon the consum m ation of G od’s purposes as well as upo n the consciousness and im portance of present discipleship.



15 3


Bibliography “Fasting.” DJG 233-34. G erh ard sson , B . “Geistiger Opferdienst nach Matth 6,1-6. 16-21.” In Neues Testament und Geschichte. FS O. Cullmann, ed. H. Baltensweiler and B. Reicke. Zurich/Tubingen: Theologischer/Mohr, 1972. 69-77. G eo rg e, A. “Lajustice a faire dans le secret (Mat. 6,1-6. 16-18).” Bib40 (1959) 590-98. O ’H ara, J . “The Christian Fasting (Mt. 6.16-18).” SCR 19 (1967) 3-18, 82-95. Str-B . “Vom altjudisches Fasten.” 4:77-114.

B anks, R .

Translation 16 “And whenever you fast, do not look sullen as the hypocrites do. For they distort their faces so that they will be seen by others to be fasting. I tell you surely, they are receiving their reward at that moment.17By contrast, whenever you are fasting, anoint your head and wash your face, 18so that it is not obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret.a And your Father who sees in secreta will re­ ward you.”b Notes a In the older MSS (K B D cf l), κ ρ υ φ α ί ω , “in secret,” is found twice in this verse, against the previ­ ous occurrences of the synonymous κ ρ ύ π τ ω in the parallel sentences in w 4 and 6. Later MSS, includin g f13 L W Θ , harm onize by substituting κ ρ ύ π τ ω . b A few MSS ( Δ 0233 1241 it) add the words έ υ τ ω φ α ν β ρ ω , “in the o p e n ,” as a contrast to the unseen “rew ard” received by the hypocrites. For the same antithetic parallelism with έ ν τ ω κ ρ ύ π τ ω , see the similar textual variants of vv 4 and 6.

F o rm /S tru c tu re/S e ttin g

See Form/Structure/Setting for 6:1-4. Structurally this pericope is very similar to the form of the first two contrasts concerning the practice of piety (vv 2-4; 5-6). V 17 is chiastic in structure: σ ο υ τ η ν κ β φ α λ ή υ follows its verb, while τ ο π ρ ο σ ώ π ο υ σ ο υ precedes its verb. T he final sentence th at concludes each of the three contrasts (vv 4, 6) is here found verba­ tim except for the variant κ ρ υ φ α ί ω for κ ρ ύ π τ ω , which could stem from a slightly different oral tradition of the material. Comment 16 Again here, as in the preceding two exam ples of piety, “the hypocrites” (cf. v 2) are characterized by their desire “to be seen by o th ers” (cf. 23:5). In this instance they desire to make it plain to all that they are engaging in the righteous activity o f fasting and that they are thus holy m en. Accordingly, they go out of their way to make themselves conspicuous when they fast. In view here is the vol­ untary practice of private fasting (cf. Luke 18:12; Did. 8:1) and not the prescribed fasting associated with the great festivals of the Day o f A tonem ent and New Year. This is the only place in the NT where fasting is actually taught. In the only other


Matthew 6:16-18

m ajor reference to fasting in the Gospels, fasting is regarded as tem porarily inap­ propriate (see Matt 9:14-15). The reference in the Pharisee’s prayer (Luke 18:12) is m ore negative than positive in its impact. In Luke-Acts, however, we generally see m ore positive references (Luke 2:37; Acts 13:2-3; 14:23, where we have the com m on link o f prayer with fasting). No NT epistle encourages its readers to fast. It is at least clear that the fasting of a disciple, who has already in some m ea­ sure experienced the joy of fulfillment, m ust be quite different from the fasting o f a Jew who grieves over the ap parent failure of God to act on behalf of his people. (See below on 9:14.) Elsewhere in the NT the word σ κ υ θ ρ ω π ο ί , “sullen,” “gloomy,” occurs only in Luke 24:17; it occurs only infrequently in the LXX (e.g., Gen 40:7), where it refers to a sad countenance. T he verb ά φ α υ ί ζ ο υ σ ι υ literally m eans “to make invisible” (cf. Jas 4:14), bu t here in reference to the face, it m ust m ean to make unrecognizable. This refers not simply to the gloom iness of the facial expression b u t probably to a face m ade dirty with ashes (cf. “sackcloth and ashes”) and a generally disheveled appearance. A wordplay exists in ά φ α ν ί ζ ο υ σ ί ν and φ α ν ώ σ ι ν : they hide their faces in o rder to be seen. Again, as in the previous two exam ples of ostentatious piety (see vv 2, 4), the present tense of ά π έ χ ο υ σ ι υ , “they are having,” is em phatic and ironic. They are at that m om ent receiving the only reward they will get. 17-18 σ ύ δ έ is em phatic, as also in vv 3 and 6. ά λ β ί φ β ι υ is strictly used in ordi­ nary references to anointing, in contrast with the religious anointing for special office, for which χ ρ ί β ί υ is reserved. In view here is a special instance of groom ing (cf. 2 Sam 12:20; Eccl 9:8) and personal enjoym ent, a sign of happiness that was forbidden on fast days. Jesus thus exhorts even an extra m easure of care to o n e ’s appearance, so that it could n o t give the slightest hin t that one was fasting. O n e ’s fasting, on the contrary, is to be known only to the Father, τ ω έ υ τ ω κ ρ υ φ α ί ω , “who is in secret.” H ere, as in the preceding instances, the Father, who exists “in secret” and thus cannot be seen, is b β λ έ π ω υ έ υ τ ω κ ρ υ φ α ί ω , the one who “sees” everything done “in secret.” Only this kind of conduct will receive a true reward. For OT background concerning fasting that is pleasing to God, cf. Isa 58:3-12, which may to some extent serve as the background to the teaching of Jesus. Explanation In the first century, fasting apparently provided an exceptional opportunity for im pressing others with the extent of o n e ’s piety. H ere, as in the previous two species of piety, the activity was carefully designed so as to inflate personal pride (cf. Luke 18:12). Jesus tolerates no such conduct. O ur righteousness is a m atter o f service to God and is to be directed to him. True righteousness is, in the last analysis, seen in secret. Only this kind of righteousness will be truly rew arded in any lasting way.


Dependence upon God



Serving God Rather Than Wealth


Bibliography A lliso n , D. C . “T he Eye Is the Lam p of the Body (Matthew 6:22-23=Luke 11:34-36).” NTS 33 (1987) 61-83. A m stu tz, J . ΑΠΛΟΤΗΣ: Eine begriffsgeschichtliche Studie zum judischchristlichen Griechisch. Bonn: H anstein, 1968. 96-103. B etz, H . D. “Matt. 6:22-23 and An­ cient G reek Theories of Vision.” In Essayson theSermon on theMount. 71-87. C adbury, H . J . “T he Single Eye.” HTR 47 (1954) 69-74. E d lu n d , C. “Das Auge d er Einfalt.” ASNU 19 (1952) 51-122. F en sh am , F. C . “T he Good and Evil Eye in the Serm on on the M ount.” Neot1(1967) 51-58. F ra n ce, R . T. “God and M am m on.” EvQ5l (1979) 3-21. G ro en ew a ld , E. P. “God and M am m on.” Neot 1 (1967) 59-66. H e n g e l, M . Propertyand RichesintheEarly Church. L ondon: SCM, 1974. H o n ey m a n , A . M . “T he Etymology o f M am m on.” Archivum Linguisticum 4.1 (1952) 60-65. K och , K. “D er Schatz im H im m el.” In Leben angesichtsdes Todes, ed. B. Lohse and Η. P. Schmidt. T ubingen: Mohr, 1968. 47-60. P e sc h , W. “Zur Exegese von Mt 6, 19-21 u n d Lk 12,33-34.” Bib 41 (1960) 356-78. R ie se n fe ld , H . “Vom

Schatzensam m eln u n d Sorge— ein T hem a urchristlichen Paranese: Zu Mt vi 19-34.” In NeotestamenticaetPatristica.FS O. Cullm ann, ed. W. C. van Unnik. Leiden: Brill, 1962. 4758. R o b e r ts, R . L . “An Evil Eye (Matthew 6:23).” ResQ 7 (1963) 143-47. R uger, Η . P. “Μαμωνάς.” ZNW 64 (1973) 127-31. S a fra i, S ., and F lu sser, D. “T he Slave of Two Mas­ ters.” Immanuel 6 (1976) 30-33. S jo b erg , E . “Das Licht in dir: Zur D eutung von Matth. 6,22f Par.” ST 5 (1952) 89-105. T h ien em a n n , T. “A C om m ent on an In terp retatio n by Prof. C adbury.” Gordon Review 1 (1955) 9-22.

Translation 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures in this worlda where they are subject to the ravage of such things asb moth and corrosion and where thieves canc break in and steal. 20But store up your treasures in heaven where moth and corrosion do not destroy and where thieves cannotd break in or steal. 21For wherever youre treasure is, there too will be yourf heart. 22 “The eye enables a person to see light.g I f therefore your eye is generous, h your whole person1will befu ll o fj light. 23But if your eye is covetous,k your whole personl will befu ll o f m darkness. I f therefore the very organ that should bring you light is the source of darkness in you,n how great is your ° darkness. 24 “It is impossible for anyone p to be the slave of two masters. For a person will either neglectq one master and preferr the other, or will pay attention to the one and will disre­ gard the other. You cannot be a slave to God and to money at the same time.”s Notes a em τηςγης,lit. “on the e a rth .” b “Such things as” added to translation. c “C an” added to translation.


Matthew 6:19-24

d Lit. “do n o t.” e T he m ajority o f MSS have the pi. υ μ ώ ν here in o rd e r to make the n u m b er o f the second person p ro n o u n agree with the pi. of vv 19-20, as well as with the parallel in Luke 12:34. T he h a rd er reading σ ο υ (sing.) is found in N B lat co and a few o th er witnesses. f H ere too the pi. is found in some MSS. See preceding Note. gb λ ύ χ ν ο ς τ ο ύ σ ώ μ α τ ό ς έ σ τ ι ν ό ο φ θ α λ μ ό ς , lit. “the eye is the light of the body.” hά π λ ο ϋ ς , lit. “single.” 1σ ώ μ α , lit. “body.” j “Full o f ’ added to translation. k π ο ν η ρ ό ς , lit. “evil.” l σ ώ μ α , lit. “body.” m “Full of” added to translation. n This is a paraphrase for e l ο ύ ν τ ο φ ώ ς τ ό έ ν σ ο ί σ κ ό τ ο ς έ σ τ ί ν , translated literally: “If therefore the light that is in you is darkness.” o “Your” added to translation. p L 1241 insert ο ί κ έ τ η ς , “slave,” probably thro u g h the influence o f the parallel in Luke 16:13. q μ ι σ ή σ ε ι , lit. “will h a te .” r ά γ α π ή σ β ι , lit. “will love.” s “At the same tim e” added to translation to com plete the sense o f the statem ent.

Form/Structure/Setting A. In a new section of the serm on, the evangelist now presents three short pericopes that contrast the pursuit of the wealth of this world with the single-hearted desire o f the disciple to do the will of the Father, w herein alone lies true wealth. These pericopes are in line with and extend the em phasis of the serm on on right­ eousness and discipleship. B. Each o f these three pericopae finds a parallel in Luke: the first (vv 19-21) only a partial one (Luke 12:33-34); the third (v 24) a verbatim one, except for Luke’s added ο ί κ έ τ η ς 1(Luke 16:13); the second (vv 22-23) is closely paralleled in Luke 11:34-36. T he distribution of the com m on m aterial in Luke implies that, as elsewhere in the serm on, Matthew has collected these sayings together in pro­ ducing the first m ajor discourse. T he first pericope with its skillfully constructed parallelism, ideal for m em orization, was probably drawn from an oral tradition in d ep e n d en t of L uke’s source, but overlapping it to a considerable extent in the last sentence, “where your treasure is there also will be your h e a rt” (Luke 12:34). In the second pericope, where Luke argues very closely with Matthew, we per­ haps should suppose com m on dependence on Q, although here too dependence u p o n similar oral tradition, given the m nem onic parallelism, is also a possibility. In the third pericope we probably have m utual dependence on Q, with Matthew om itting the unnecessary ο ί κ έ τ η ς . But even the Q m aterial shows the marks of oral transmission in the studied parallelism. C. T he three related, but independent, pericopes are: (1) the storing up of treasures, vv 19-21; (2) the uncovetous eye, vv 22-23; and (3) the impossibility of serving two masters, v 24. Each of the pericopes reflects a wisdom genre and is set forth in striking parallelism of form. The first and longest contains the m ost striking symmetry. Thus v 20 is a verbatim repetition of v 19 except for the initial μ η , the contrasting έ ν ο ύ ρ α ν ω for έ π ί τ ή ς γ η ς , the necessary negatives before the nouns σ ή ς and β ρ ώ σ ι ς , and the verbs δ ί ο ρ ύ σ σ ο ν σ ι π and κ λ έ π τ ο υ σ ί ν . V 21, con­ taining the punch line, is itself exactly parallel in form except for the change of tense in the second verb and the substitution of έ κ ε ΐ for ο π ο ύ . W ithin the second



pericope we also encounter exactly symmetrical parallelism. After the opening sentence (v 22a) and before the concluding sentence (v 23b) are two verbatim conditional sentences except for the contrasting pairs of rhym ing predicate nominatives: φ ω τ ε ι ν ό ν / σ κ ο τ ε ι ν ό ν and ά π λ ο υ ς / π ο ν η ρ ό ς . In the third pericope (v 24), there is a degree of parallelism between the opening and closing sentences, b u t between these is a symmetrical “either . . . o r” contrast, involving two paral­ lel elem ents with contrasting verbs (all in the future tense) and the alternation o f “the one . . . the other.” A chiastic p attern is also evident: a, a' = serving two masters; b, b’ = disregarding the one; c, c’ = preferring the one. D. Each of these pericopes finds a parallel in the Gospel of Thomas (respec­ tively logia 76, 24, and 47). If the Gospel of Thomas is not dep en d en t on the synoptic Gospels, then we have fu rth er evidence of the widespread influence of these pas­ sages in oral tradition. Comment 19-20 T he clause δ π ο υ σ ή ς κ α ί β ρ ώ σ ι ς ά φ α ν ί ζ ε ι , “where m oth and rust con­ sum e,” expresses the tru th th at treasures stored up on the earth are at best insecure. They are subject to the destruction caused by nature in a variety of forms, o f which m oth and decay are only two examples, ά φ α ν ί ζ ε ι ν is a strong word in this context, connoting ruin or destruction. T he m oth (σ ή ς ) was a well-known destroyer in the ancient world and, hence, frequently came to be used as a sym­ bol of destruction (cf. Isa 50:9; 51:8; and esp. Job 4:19, “those who dwell in houses o f clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before the m o th ”) . The m eaning of β ρ ώ σ ι ς is m uch m ore difficult to ascertain. T he literal m eaning of the word is “eating,” and the linking with m oth has inclined some to understand here some o th er living organism such as a locust or a worm (cf. Gos. Thom. 76; “w orm ” is parallel to “m o th ” in Isa 51:8; cf. NJB’s translation here in Matthew: “w oodworm ”), β ρ ώ σ ι ς is used in Mai 3:11, apparently to refer to the devouring locust. In classical Greek, however, the word was used for “decay” of teeth (BAGD, 148). In two OT passages (Job 13:28; Hos 5:12), furtherm ore, the m oth is paral­ lel to “ro t” or “dry-rot.” The same parallel is found in Jas 5:2, which is undoubtedly d ep e n d en t on the Jesus tradition here recorded in the Serm on on the M ount (“Your riches have rotted and your garm ents are m oth-eaten” [ σ η τ ό β ρ ω τ α , a com ­ bination o f M atthew’s two words]). The next verse in Jam es, to be sure, does go on to talk about rust. But since Greek has a specific word for rust (ι ό ς ), used in Jas 5:3, it seems better to translate β ρ ώ σ ι ς here m ore broadly as “ro t,” “decay,” or “co rrosion” (contra Luz, who opts for an insect such as “the death-watch b eetle” that would eat w ooden storage boxes). T he statem ent δ π ο υ κ λ έ π τ α ι δ ι ο ρ ύ σ σ ο υ σ ί ν κ α ί κ λ έ π τ ο υ σ ι ν , “where thieves break in and steal,” refers to the other constant danger to earthly treasures. Burglary was no t uncom m on in the ancient world. It was n o t difficult for thieves to burrow their way through the m ud-brick walls of the typical Palestinian house (cf. Job 24:16). Treasures in the ancient world were often buried u n d er house floors, as archeologists have repeatedly discovered. H ence the verb δ ω ρ ύ σ σ ε ι ν , “dig through,” may be used here quite literally. Earthly wealth is thus always precarious and may easily be lost. T he disciples are exhorted instead to “treasure up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” θ η σ α υ ρ ί ζ ε τ ε δ ε ύ μ ΐ ν θ η σ α υ ρ ο ύ ς ε ν ο ύ ρ α ν ω . T he concept of treasures in


Matthew 6:19-24

heaven as good works stored up before God is a com m on one in Jewish tradition (see Tob 4:9; 4 Ezra 6:5; Sir 29:10-13; Pss. Sol. 9:5; for rabbinic references cf. m. Pe'a 1:1; fu rth er references in Str-B 1:430). T he folly of the person who looks for security by storing up treasures in this world is illustrated in the parable in Luke 12:16-21, which is prefaced by the saying “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds o f greed; for o n e ’s life does no t consist in the abundance of posses­ sions.” “Treasure in heaven” is prom ised by Jesus to the rich m an if he gives away his wealth to the p o or (Matt 19:21; cf. 1 Tim 6:18-19). 21 W here a p erson’s treasures are, έ κ ε ΐ έ σ τ α ί κ α ί η κ α ρ δ ί α σ ο υ , “there also will be your h ea rt.” This is the m ain point of these verses (vv 19-21). T he m ain and central organ of the body is a well-known m etaphor for the center of a person’s in n er being (J. Behm, TDNT 3:605-14) and thus the center of a p erso n ’s atten­ tion and com m itm ent. With this com pare the earlier uses of κ α ρ δ ί α in the serm on (5:8, 28). Truly, the one who piles up treasures on earth will have his or h er at­ tention and com m itm ent necessarily tu rn ed to earthly m atters rath er than to the will o f the Father in heaven (cf. Luke 12:21). 22-23 T hese difficult verses can only be u n d ersto o d correctly by n o tin g the context in which they stand, i.e., the pericopes on eith er side, both of which refer to co ncern with wealth. T he ά π λ ο υ ς eye and the π ο ν η ρ ό ς eye are n o t to be u n d ersto o d physically as a healthy and a diseased eye (contra Guelich, Sermon). T he eye is re ferred to m etaphorically in this passage. T he π ο ν η ρ ό ς eye is the “evil eye” o f N ear E astern cultures— an eye th at enviously covets w hat belongs to another, a greedy or avaricious eye (see G. H arder, TDNT 6:555-56). For the Jewish use of the expression in this sense, see m. ^Abot 2:12, 15; 5:16, 22 (= Danby, 2:9, 11; 5:13, 19). O th e r references to an evil eye in this sense are fo u n d in M att 20:15 and Mark 7:22 (cf. Sir 14:8—10; Tob 4:7). T he ά π λ ο υ ς eye, given the symmetrical structure of the passage, is probably the opposite of the evil eye, namely, a generous eye, as in the cognate adverb ά π λ ώ ς , “generously,” in Jas 1:5 (cf. Rom 12:8; 2 Cor 8:2; 9:11, 13)—an eye that is no t attached to wealth but is ready to p art with it. It is easier to u n d erstan d ά π λ ο υ ς as a synonym for the ex­ p ected ά γ α θ ό ς , “g o o d ,” in the ethical sense argued above, than to un d erstan d π ο ν η ρ ό ς in th e physiological sense o f “u n u su a l” (as does G uelich, Sermon, following Sjoberg). O n the o th er hand, ά π λ ο υ ς can also m ean “single” (BAGD, 86a) in the sense o f devotion to one purpose, a m eaning consonant with the p o in t m ade by the following verse (v 24). Cf. too “singleness [ά π λ ό τ η ς ] of h e a rt” in Eph 6:5. T he statem ent ό λ ύ χ ν ο ς τ ο υ σ ώ μ α τ ό ς έ σ τ ί ν ό ο φ θ α λ μ ό ς , “the eye is the light of the body,” expresses the com m on affirm ation of the im portance of the eye in the Hellenistic world (cf. Philo, Opif. 5, 17). W hat seems to be m eant is that the eye is what makes sight possible. W hen ancient writers said that the eye itself contained fire or light (Allison, “Eye”; for background, cf. Prov 15:30; Sir 23:19), it is doubt­ ful th at they m eant this literally or m eant to imply anything about their theory of sight (contra A llison). It is only a way of speaking about the phen o m en o n of sight (so too references to the dim m ing or darkening of the eyes as in, e.g., Gen 27:1; 48:10; Lam 5:17). In v 23b ε ί ο ύ ν τ ο φ ω ς τ ο ε ν σ ο ί σ κ ό τ ο ς έ σ τ ί ν , τ ο σ κ ό τ ο ς π ό σ ο ν , “if the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness,” could easily follow this statem ent in v 22a directly. H ere it is a mistake to take “light” literally (as DaviesAllison do). In all probability “light” is an exam ple of simple metonymy for the



eye itself. It seems highly im probable that the evangelist here deliberately op­ poses the Platonic-Stoic anthropology concerning the lumen internum (as Betz co n ten d s). W hat interests the evangelist is the eye/lig h t m etaphor as a vehicle for his argum ent concerning the disciple and m aterial wealth. The point is that the eye is what brings light to the body; if instead the eye itself becom es only a source of darkness, how great o n e ’s personal darkness is. T he nature of the eye problem is specified in the two conditional sentences contained in vv 22b-23a. M etaphorically speaking, a generous eye or the single eye of discipleship is the source o f light; an evil, covetous eye is the source of darkness. 24 T he situation of a slave having two masters, though unusual, was actually possible, as for exam ple when a slave was owned by two brothers. (The Talm ud contains discussion of cases where such a slave gained half his freedom but re­ m ained a “half-slave.” See Str-B 1:433 for references; see too Acts 16:16,19.) The point here, however, is that a slave with two masters can do justice to neither. Truly to serve a m aster dem ands total and undivided com m itm ent. This is why serving two masters is impossible. T he literal translation of ή γ ά ρ τ ο ν ε ν α μ ι σ ή σ ε ι κ α ί τ ο ν ε τ ε ρ ο ν ά γ α π ή σ ε ί , “for he will hate the one and love the other,” is m isleading since this Jewish idiom of loving and hating intends to express a m atter of absolute versus partial com m it­ m ent. In view is the degree of com m itm ent of the slave to his duty (thus rightly G undry), as can also be seen from the clause that follows. This use of “h a te ” is clear from a passage such as Luke 14:26, where Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does n o t hate his own father and m other and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” This does n o t refer to h atred as we understand the word but is only an em phatic way of referring to the absolute com m itm ent required in discipleship. “H ate” thus equals “love less th an ,” as can be clearly seen from the parallel in Matt 10:37. This idiom is found already in the OT (com pare Gen 29:31, 33 with 29:30; in D eut 21:15 the NRSV’s “disliked” is lit. “h ate d ”). T he next pair o f verbs, ά ν θ έ ξ ε τ α ι and κ α τ α φ ρ ο ν ή σ ε ι , should be understood similarly, κ α τ α φ ρ ο ν ε ί v need not be taken as “despise” bu t can have the m ore mild sense of “disregard” (see BAGD, 420); ά ν τ έ χ ε ι ν in a similar way may be un d er­ stood as simply “pay attention to ” (see BAGD, 73). The point of this verse is that by nature slavery requires absolute loyalty and com m itm ent and, therefore, an exclusive com m itm ent to a single master. In a similar way discipleship requires undivided and absolute com m itm ent. The potential for divided loyalty expressed in the present passage is emphasized in the concluding sentence: O ne cannot serve both God and money. (For a sen­ sible exam ination of the practical issues here, see France, “God and M am m on.”) T he word μ α μ ω ν ά ς , “m am m on,” is translated from the Aramaic noun ] ! □□, mamon (em phatic state, fcCiQQ, mamona*), m eaning “w ealth” (in the broad sense of the word) or, m ore basically, “property,” and is here personified and regarded as a potential master. In addition to its occurrence in the Lukan parallel (16:13), the word is fo u n d elsew here in the NT only in Luke 16:9 and 11 w here both times it is m odified by the ά δ ι κ ί α stem (“unrighteous”). T he word also occurs in 2 Clem. 6:1 (in d ependence upon Matthew) as well as in m. Sank. 1:1; b. ' Abot 2:7, where Hillel is rep o rted as saying “the m ore possessions, the m ore care.” (See C. Brown, NIDNTT 2:836-38.)


Matthew 6:25-34

Explanation T he issue in view in these passages is no t wealth primarily, but an absolute and unqualified discipleship. Wealth, it happens, is only the m ost conspicuous ex­ am ple o f th at which can distract from tru e discipleship. Only the rarest of individuals can possess m uch of this w orld’s wealth w ithout becom ing enslaved to it and w ithout letting it cut the nerve of true discipleship. For this reason, the NT contains a very strong polem ic against wealth (e.g., 1 Tim 6:6-10; H eb 13:5). Most im portant is where o n e’s heart lies, i.e., what controls o n e’s interests, energy, and com m itm ent. There is no absolute requirem ent here for poverty. But the individual disciple m ust be sensitive to that p oint at which wealth and possessions are n o t com patible with authentic discipleship. Jesus asks for uncom prom ising com m itm ent to G od’s will and purposes. This is what it m eans to store up trea­ sures in heaven. T he person who stores up treasures on earth “is not rich toward G od” (Luke 12:21) and is in the end “a fool.” T he person who is distracted from unqualified discipleship because o f a covetous eye exists in a deep darkness and is to be pitied. T he nature of discipleship is such that it allows no such divided loyalties. If one chooses to follow Jesus, the com m itm ent and service entailed are absolute. It is impossible to be a partially com m itted or part-time disciple; it is impos­ sible to serve two masters, whether one of them be wealth or anything else, when the o th er m aster is m eant to be God. This view of the rigorously single-m inded nature o f discipleship is in keeping with the view o f discipleship elsewhere in the Gospel (e.g., 10:34-39; 16:24-26).

The Disciple and Anxiety

(6:25— 34)

Bibliography G la sso n T. F. “C arding u n d Spinning: Oxyrhynchus Papyrus No. 655.”JTS 13 (1962) 33132. K atz P. “ΠΩΣ A ΥΞΑΝΟΥΣΙΝ.”JTS 5 (1954) 207-9. O lsth o o r n , M . F. TheJewish Back­

groundand theSynopticSettingofMt 6,25-33andLk 12,22-31. SBF 10. Jerusalem : Franciscan Press, 1975. P o w e ll, J . E . “T hose ‘Lilies of the F ield’ A gain.” JTS 33 (1982) 490-92. R ie se n fe ld , H . “Vom Schatzensam m eln u n d Sorge— ein T hem a urchristlicher Paranese:

Zu Mt 6.19-34.” In Neotestamentica etPatristica. FS O. Cullm ann, ed. W. C. van Unnik. Leiden: Brill, 1962. 47-58. S c h o ttr o ff, L ., and S teg em a n n , W. Jesusand theHope ofthePoor. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1986. Schw arz, G . “προσθεΐναι έπί την ηλικίαν αύτοϋ πήχυν eva.”ZNW 71 (1980) 244-47.

Translation 25 “With this in view, then, I say to you: Do not befilled with anxiety about your life, concerning, for example,a what you will eat [or drink],b or how you will clothe your body. Is not life more significant than nourishment and the body more significant than cloth­ ing? 26Consider well the birds of the sky: they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather cropsc into a storehouse, yet your heavenly Father provides them with food. Are you not worth

Form / Stru cture/Setting


much more than they ? 27Besides, who of you, by being anxious about it, can add to his or her life even one hour?d 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Learn a lessone from how theflowers of thefield grow: they neither labor nor toil? 29but I tell you not even Solomon in all his splendor could match such clothing! 30Now since God clothes the grass of the field like this— grass which is alive one day, but on the next is used as fuel for the oven— will he not much more clothe you, you who have so little faith ?31 Therefore do not befu ll of anxiety, saying: What are we to eat? or What are we to drink? or What are we to wear? 32For the Gentiles are the ones who earnestly seek after preciselyg allh these things. But your heavenly Father is well aware that you need all of these things. 33So keep seeking above all else the kingdom [of God] 1and the righteousness he demands, and all of these things will also be yours. 34Do not then be filled with anxiety about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have its own share of anxiety. For each day has its own quite sufficient supply of evil. ” Notes a “For exam ple” added to translation. b T he words ή τ ί π ί η τ ε , “or what you d rin k ,” are lacking in, am ong o th er witnesses, Kf 1vg syc samss and many church fathers. They may have been inserted by influence of v 31. O n the o th er hand, they may have been om itted by hom oioteleuton (cf. φ ά γ η τ ε ) or possibly by influence of Luke 12:22. The Gr. text thus has the words in brackets. See T C G N T , 17. c “C rops” added to translation, supplying the object for the verb. d ε π ί τ η ν η λ ι κ ί α ν α υ τ ό ν π ή χ υ ν ε ν α can alternately be translated “one cubit to his (or her) stature.” See Comment. e “A lesson” added to translation. f W hen read u n d e r ultraviolet light, K reveals a third verb (but first in actual o rd e r), ο ύ ξ α ί ν ο ν σ ι ν , “they do no t card ” (i.e., disentangle and collect fibers o f wool before sp in n in g ). This isolated reading is an addition apparently designed to provide a third negated verb to correspond to the three verbs used in reference to the birds in v 26. See BAGD, 547 ( β α ί ν ε ι ν ) , and T. F. Glasson. s “Precisely” here reflects the em phatic position of π ά ν τ α at the beginning of the sentence. But see next Note. h N N Δ Θ f 13 lat syc have the word ord er τ α ϋ τ α γ ά ρ π ά ν τ α (as in Luke 12:30), in which case π ά ν τ α modifies the following τ ά έ θ ν η - , hence, “all the Gentiles seek these things.” But the MS evidence is overwhelm ingly in favor of π ά ν τ α γ ά ρ τ α ϋ τ α , “all these things.” 1T he critical text has τ ο ν θ ε ό ν in brackets. T he words are lacking in two m ajor witnesses (K and B) and can be explained as a natural scribal addition. O n the o th er hand, Matthew only rarely uses β α σ ι λ ε ί α w ithout m odifiers, and these instances are easy to regard as exceptions (e.g., 8:12; 24:7). T hus the words were possibly om itted accidentally. T he α ύ τ ο ν following δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ν also is easier with the presence o f the expressed an teced en t θ ε ό ν , β α σ ι λ ε ί α is m odified by the simple α ύ τ ο ν (“his kingdom ”) in the parallel in Luke 12:31. See T C G N T , 18-19.

Form/Structure/Setting A. The discourse now turns naturally from the negative references concerning wealth to the impropriety of anxiety in the true disciple. If the disciples are not to be preoccupied with treasures on earth, if they are not to compromise the singlemind­ edness of their com m itm ent, it would seem worth asking how their basic needs are to be met. Jesus teaches them n o t to be anxious about their daily needs but to trust their heavenly Father. Again the teaching of Jesus centers on the im portance of getting priorities right (v 33). T he reference to ordinary needs, and specifically to food, makes it possible to relate this pericope to the fourth petition of the L o rd ’s Prayer. See discussion above (Introduction to the Serm on on the M ount).


Matthew 6:25-34

B. This passage, except for the last verse (v 34), is paralleled fairly closely in Luke 12:22-31. A part from very m inor differences, the following may be noted: Matthew prefers the probably original rhetorical questions in vv 25 and 30, whereas Luke recasts the material into indicative statements (12:23, 28); Matthew has added the reference to “what you d rin k ” (although some MSS lack this); L uke’s ques­ tion in 12:26, “If then you are n o t able to do as small a thing as th at [add a cubit to o n e ’s life-span], why are you anxious about the rest?” is lacking in Matthew, in which the question at this point refers to what follows (“Why are you anxious about clothing?”) rath er than to what precedes; for L uke’s κ ό ρ α κ α ς , “ravens,” M atthew has the m ore inclusive π ε τ ε ι ν ό , “b ird s” (v 26); Luke has ό θ ε ό ς for M atthew’s characteristic ό π α τ ή ρ υ μ ώ ν ό ο υ ρ ά ν ι ο ς , “your heavenly F ath er” (cf. v 32, where Luke has simply “your Father,” 12:30); M atthew alone has the sum m a­ rizing μ ή ο ύ ν μ ε ρ ι μ ν ή σ η τ ε λ έ γ ο ν τ ε ς , “Do n o t therefore be anxious, saying” (v 31); Luke has τ ο ν κ ό σ μ ο υ , “of the w orld” (12:30) modifying “the G entiles,” words no t found in Matt 6:32; only Matthew uses ά π ά ν τ ω ν and π ά ν τ α , “all,” to modify “these things” in vv 32 and 33; finally, in v 33 only Matthew has π ρ ώ τ ο ν , “first,” modify­ ing “seek” and the words κ α ί τ η ν δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ν α ύ τ ο ϋ , “and his righteousness.” In many o f these changes, especially the last, we can see M atthew’s redactional activ­ ity, reflecting his special interests an d characteristic term inology. It may be, however, th at at points Matthew reflects a m ore primitive form , e.g., in the strong parallelism, which is n o t so apparent in Luke, and in the rhetorical questions. W ithout question, this passage in Matthew and Luke derives ultim ately from the same source, th at is, Q. But a n u m ber of the m any smaller differences appear to be ju st what m ight occur through the influence of particular separate, though similar, oral traditions. C. This lengthy passage finds its unity in the com m on subject m atter and par­ ticularly in the verb μ ε ρ ι μ ν ά ν (“be anxious”) , which occurs six times in these verses (the only o th er occurrence in Matthew is in 10:19). Also to be noted are the repeated im perative verbs in this pericope (vv 25, 26, 28, 31, 33, 34). Except for v 27, which broadens the teaching (as does v 34), vv 25-31 concern the two basic needs of (1) n o urishm ent and (2) clothing. (1) In an introductory way, v 25 ex­ horts the hearers n o t to be anxious for 1 or 2 and then rhetorically asks w hether life is n o t m ore than 1 and the body m ore than 2. Both the exhortations and the questions are in strikingly parallel forms. (2) V 26 then focuses on 1, while (3) vv 28-30 focus on 2. Considerable parallelism of form is found here too, especially between v 26 and v 28, where τ ά κ ρ ί ν α τ ο υ ά γ ρ ο ϋ , “the flowers of the field,” paral­ lels τ ά π ε τ ε ι ν ό τ ο ύ ο ύ ρ α ν ο ϋ , “the birds of the sky,” and where three verbs occur in both verses (even though the first in v 28 is no t negated). T he rhetorical ques­ tion at the end of v 26 finds its parallel in the expanded rhetorical question o f v 30. V 29 alone breaks the parallelism with its illustration from Solom on. (4) V 31 again in a sum m arizing way com bines 1 and 2 in an exhortation that form s an inclusio with v 25. (5) Vv 32-33 draw the conclusion that im pinges on discipleship by contrasting the favorable situation of the disciples when com pared to the Gentiles. (6) V 34 broadens the discussion even m ore by referring to anxiety con­ cerning the future, again in parallel form and with a concluding proverb. For the possible chiastic structure of w 25-33 (a: v 25; b: v 26; c: w 27-29, [c']; b': v 30; c': vv 31-33), see O lsthoorn, who regards the outer sayings as of determ inative im portance for the evangelist.



D. T he brilliant use of parabolic im agery in illustrating the m ain points of this passage conform s with Jesus’ use of parables elsewhere in the Gospel tradi­ tion and thus lends confidence to the conclusion that these are words of the historical Jesus. But the context too, with its stress on dependence upon God and the priority of the kingdom , is consonant with what has h itherto been encoun­ tered in the Gospel. T he parallel to our passage in Justin, Apol. 1.15.14-16, is certainly, and th at in POxy 655 possibly, d ep e n d en t on Matthew. Comment 25 Δ ι ά τ ο ύ τ ο , lit. “on account of this,” refers at least to v 24, bu t probably to the whole preceding section, vv 19-24. If o n e ’s allegiance to God is to be abso­ lute, then what about o n e ’s m aterial needs? The λ έ γ ω ύ μ ϊ ν , “I say to you,” echoes the authority of Jesus found, for exam ple, in the antitheses of 5:21-48. μ ή μ ε ρ ι μ ν ά τ ε , “do n o t be anxious,” is em phatic in this context, μ ε ρ ι μ ν ά ν here m eans “to be anxious” in the sense of being fearful. T he cognate noun μ έ ρ ι μ ν α occurs in 1 Macc 6:10 and Sir 42:9, where it is associated with sleeplessness. In Sir 30:24 the n o u n occurs in this sentence: ‘Jealousy and anger shorten life, and anxiety brings on old age too soon.” (In Matt 13:22 the noun has the m ore neu­ tral sense of “cares.”) The verb, which occurs m ore here than anywhere else in the NT (three imperatives in this passage [vv 25, 31, 54]), is used also in the LXX to m ean “to be anxious” (= NRSV’s “disturb” in 2 Sam 7:10; 1 Chr 17:9). In the present passage, the m eaning is defined by the vitally im portant items in view. To be anxious for such things as our passage enum erates is to be anxious about sur­ vival itself. This is thus a paralyzing anxiety that can only enervate discipleship. Tfj ψ ν χ τ \ is lit. “for your soul” (dative of advantage), bu t ψ υ χ ή is regularly used for life in the NT (cf. J o h n 12:25; see BAGD, 893-34). Food and drink are essential to life; thus the questions, which are only loosely connected syntactically, define the anxiety by showing how it is expressed. Similarly, anxiety about τ ω σ ώ μ α τ ι , “the body” (dative of advantage), is reflected in the question about clothing. These items, sustenance and clothing, are only exam ples of the anxiety about this life that can h in d er a p erso n ’s undistracted and absolute discipleship. T hrough his rhetorical question, Jesus makes the statem ent that existence (the life, the body) is m ore than food and clothing, as necessary as they may be. If God is the source of the form er (the greater), will he not also provide the latter (the lesser)? Accordingly, a life dom inated by concern for such m atters is misdi­ rected and will of necessity lack full com m itm ent to what is really im portant. The teaching of Jesus in this passage is reflected in NT parenesis, esp. in Phil 4:6 and 1 Pet 5:7. T he absurdity of being anxious is illustrated beautifully in the following verses (see Form/Structure/Setting %C). 26 τ ά π ε τ ε ι ν ά τ ο υ ο ύ ρ α ν ο ν , “the birds of the sky” (Luke: “the ravens”; cf. Job 38:41), is probably a broadening by the evangelist (possibly by the influence of a passage such as Jo b 12:7, bu t cf. Matt 8:20; 13:32). T hat God provides food for the birds was apparently a com m on Jewish thought (see Pss. Sol. 5:9-10, where fish too are m entioned; cf. Pss 104:14; 147:9). The three parallel verbs σ π ε ί ρ ο υ σ ι ν , Θ ε ρ ί ζ ο υ σ ι ν , and σ ν ν ά γ ο υ σ ι ν , “sow,” “reap ,” and “gather,” point to hum an preoc­ cupation with financial security (cf. Luke 12:16-21). Luz points out that these types of labor are traditionally those of men, in contrast to those of women m entioned


Matthew 6:25-34

in v 28. T he birds, by contrast, are carefree, and God supplies their needs. The evangelist uses his favorite and distinctive title for God, 6 π α τ ή ρ υ μ ώ ν δ ο ύ ρ ά ν ι ο ς , “your heavenly Father,” which occurs again in v 32 (see on 5:48). T he rhetorical question here, ο ύ χ υ μ ε ί ς μ ά λ λ ο ν δ ι α φ έ ρ ε τ ε α υ τ ώ ν , “Are you no t worth m uch m ore than they?” becom es an assertion in 10:31, in a context that similarly stresses G od’s sovereign care even for sparrows: “Fear not, therefore; you are o f m ore value than many sparrow s” (cf. 12:12). T he μ ά λ λ ο ν heightens the com parison (BDF §246). If disciples are worth m ore than birds, then they may be assured of G od’s providential care for their needs ju st as certainly as the birds d ep en d u pon God for theirs (for a similar argum ent, cf. m. Qidd. 4:14). They need n o t be distracted from their discipleship by an inordinate attention to their ongoing need of physical sustenance. For a similar statem ent about distrac­ tion from study o f the Torah by concern with food, drink, and clothing, see Mek. Exod. 16:14. 27 From the im m ediate context it is clear that μ ε ρ ι μ ν ώ ν is to be understood as an instrum ental participle (or less probably conditional), hence, “by being anxious.” T he key difficulty of this verse concerns the m eaning of η λ ι κ ί α ν (is it “length o f life” or “physical statu re”?) and π ή χ υ ν (“cu b it” or som ething like “h o u r”?), η λ ι κ ί α ν in classical Greek m eans prim arily “age,” but then also in a re­ lated way “height,” as a sign of age. In the papyri, LXX, and Philo, the predom inant m eaning is again “age.” (S ee J. Schneider, TDNT 2:941-43.) In o th er NT occur­ rences, the word m eans “stature” (Luke 2:52; 19:3; b u t in Eph 4:13 it is used m etaphorically for “m aturity”), bu t also “age” (John 9:21, 23; H eb 11:11). Those who argue in favor of “stature” here d epend on the ordinary use of π ή χ υ ν , “cu­ b it,” as a spatial m easure, namely, the length of the forearm to the tip of the m iddle finger (approx, eighteen inches). It is com m only used this way in the LXX and twice in the NT (John 21:8; Rev 21:17). It is a mistake, however, to conclude from this that η λ ι κ ί α should here be taken to m ean stature (with DaviesAllison; contra Luz). The addition of a cubit, or eighteen inches, to o n e ’s stature does n o t make good sense, especially given the Lukan words that follow this ques­ tion: “If you cannot do the least [ε λ ά χ ι σ τ ο υ ] of these things, why are you anxious about the others?” (Luke 12:26). In the context, it makes the best sense to take η λ ι κ ί α as length of life and then to take π ή χ υ ς as a fraction of time. T he H ebraic use o f a spatial m easure for a portion of time can be seen in Ps 39:5 (“thou hast m ade my days a few han d b read th s”) ; “cubit” only seldom refers to time, bu t there is at least one such referen ce ex tan t in the sixth ce n tu ry B.C. G reek w riter M im nerm us (see BAGD, 657). Therefore, the rhetorical question elicits the an­ swer th at by being anxious one cannot extend o n e ’s life even by a small am ount o f time. Behind this view lies the H ebraic concept of the sovereignty of God in life and death, including the p redeterm ined h o u r of o n e ’s death. 28-30 These three verses address the m atter of clothing by an o th er exam ple from the natural world created by God. The opening question of v 28, n o t found in the Lukan parallel, focuses attention on the foolishness of anxiety for cloth­ ing. T he parallelism in form with v 26 is striking, if nevertheless incom plete. Thus there are three parallel verbs in v 28 (as in v 26), although the first, α ύ ξ ά ν ο υ σ ι ν , “they grow,” is preceded by π ώ ς , “how,” rath er than the negative. It is n o t necessary for us to be able to identify what, if any, specific flower τ ά κ ρ ί ν α refers to. τ ο υ ά γ ρ ο ϋ , “the field,” has a generalizing effect, and in any case



many beautiful flowers were to be seen in the Galilean fields (see BAGD, 451). ο ύ δ έ ν ή θ ο υ σ ι ν , “n o r do they spin,” m eans they do n o t do the labor of drawing out some fiber and twisting it together to make thread—labor necessary for the mak­ ing of clothes (the labor of women; contrast v 26). T he beginning λ έ γ ω δ έ ύ μ ΐ ν , “but I tell you,” recalls the form ula at the begin­ ning of v 25 (see Comment th e re ). Σ ο λ ο μ ώ ν έ ν π ά σ η τ η δ ό ξ η α ύ τ ο ϋ , “Solom on in all his glory,” could n ot match the splendor of the wild flowers. The glory of Solomon with all of his wealth had of course becom e proverbial because of such OT pas­ sages as 1 Kgs 3:13; 10:14-27 (= 2 Chr 9:13-28). In v 30 el plus the indicative constitute a true-to-fact condition that may appropriately be translated “since.” W hereas in vv 28-29 the flowers are regarded as “clothed” by God, in v 30 τ ο ν χ ό ρ τ ο ν , “the grass,” is said to be clothed, viz., with the beauty of the flowers. This slight shift is, however, of no consequence. It is m ade presumably because of the reference to fuel cast into the oven. This em phasizes both the short life (cf. “today . . . tom orrow ”) and the little worth of what is so beautifully clothed. T he “flower of the field” and grass are linked together in precisely this connec­ tion in Ps 103:15-16 and Isa 40:6-8 (cf. Jas 1:10-11). Grass was then, as even today in the Middle East, com m on fuel for ovens. The conclusion to be drawn is readily apparent: since God so wonderfully “clothes” what is so transitory and worthless, how m uch m ore true it m ust be that God will provide clothing for the disciples, quite apart from any anxiety on their part. And those to whom such a rem ark m ust be addressed, i.e., those prone to anxiety, m ust be characterized as ο λ ι γ ό π ι σ τ ο ι , lit. “little faiths,” a favorite word of Matthew (see also 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20; elsewhere in the NT only in the parallel to our passage, Luke 12:28; for rabbinic parallels to the expression “those of little faith,” cf. Str-B 1:438-39; in the NT, the word is applied only to the disciples in reference to their failure to trust God com pletely). 31 This verse is a sum m arizing recapitulation of the passage (vv 25-30) that tersely repeats the imperative (but now in the aorist tense) and the three ques­ tions of v 25, b u t using the synonym 7τ ε ρ ι β α λ ώ μ ε θ α , “w ear” (as in v 29), instead of έ ν δ ύ ε ι ν . T he participle λ έ γ ο ν τ ε ς , “saying,” and the first person plural verbs make the syntax sm oother than that of v 25. 32-33 τ ά έ θ ν η , “the Gentiles,” here is a negative word, referring to those out­ side the family of faith, i.e., the pagans (cf. v 7 for the same use of the w ord). The pagans are taken up with the pursuit of these m undane needs. But the disciples can be free of such concerns because their “heavenly F ather” (see Comment on v 26 for this expression) knows that all these things are legitimate needs that m ust be met. This same point is m ade in very similar language earlier in the serm on (6:8; cf. 7:11). τ ο ύ τ ω ν ά π ά ν τ ω ν , “all these things,” in 32b m atches the preceding π ά ν τ α τ α ϋ τ α . T he disciple is to be concerned with one thing, to have one prior­ ity, namely, the kingdom of God, and all (note the third use of τ α ϋ τ α π ά ν τ α , “all these things,” in these two verses) the other things will be supplied. V 33 concisely states the climactic point of the entire pericope. The kingdom , and the kingdom alone, is to be the sole priority of the disciple and that toward which the disciple devotes his or h er energy, ζ η τ ε ί τ ε , “seek,” here does not nec­ essarily m ean to look for som ething n o t yet present and, given the context of the Gospel, certainly cannot m ean one should seek to bring in the kingdom . This imperative means rather that one should make the kingdom the center of o n e’s


Matthew 6:25-34

existence and thus experience the rule of God fully in o n e ’s heart, hence the present tense, “keep seeking.” To pursue the kingdom in this way is also to seek τ η ν δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ν α υ τ ο ύ , “his [viz., G od’s] righteousness,” i.e., true righteousness or that which is truly the will of God as it is defined by the teaching of Jesus (so too O lsthoorn, 84). Participation in the kingdom, as Matthew has already inform ed us (see 5:20), necessitates righteousness of a qualitatively new kind. T he gift of the kingdom and the dem and of this new righteousness are inseparable. Thus gift, and n o t merely dem and, is im plied in this text (thus rightly, Guelich, Sermon; Reum ann, Righteousness; contra Davies-Allison). κ α ί τ η ν δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ν α ύ τ ο ύ , “and his righteousness,” is thus practically epexegetical of the preceding phrase (cf. Rom 14:17). T he em phatic π ρ ώ τ ο ν , “first” or “above all,” m eans to make the king­ d o m a n d rig h te o u sn e ss o n e ’s cle ar p rio rity in life. T h e passive voice o f π ρ ο σ τ ε θ ή σ ε τ α ι , “will be ad d ed ,” is, with v 32 in m ind, a divine passive (it is God who will add these things), τ α ϋ τ α π ά ν τ α , “all these things,” indicates the fullness o f G od’s provision (cf. v 32 and see especially 7:7-11). See Comment on 3:15 for discussion o f “righteousness” in Matthew. For num erous parallel references in the rabbinic literature referring to the suprem e and prior im portance of study­ ing Torah, see Str-B 1:439-40. In the wisdom tradition, cf. Wis 7:11; Ps 37:3-4, 25. 34 In these final words against being anxious, Jesus broadens the exhorta­ tion to include anything that m ight make people fearful of tomorrow. As the present is fully u n d er G od’s control, so also is the future. Anxious worry is out of place for the disciple, w hether with respect to today or tomorrow. T he universal application o f this saying of Jesus is reflected in the teachings of the early C hurch in Phil 4:6 and 1 Pet 5:7, which probably d ep en d upon the logia of the present passage. ή γά ρ α ν ριο ν μ ε ρ ιμ ν ή σ ε ι έ α ν τ ή ς *, “to m o rro w will b e a n x io u s fo r its e lf,” is p r o b ­ ably to be understood as m eaning what the following statem ent asserts directly. T h at is, since each day has its own share of trouble and anxiety, let tom orrow (and all future days), so to speak, worry about itself. T he disciple should live in the present, n o t in the future (nor for that m atter, the past either). ά ρ κ ε τ ό ν τ η ή μ ε ρ α ή κ α κ ί α α ύ τ ή ς , lit. “sufficient to the day is its evil.” By its position, the first word is em phatic. T he predicate adjective ά ρ κ ε τ ό ν is neuter singular because the subject is an abstract class (BDF §131). T he saying has a proverbial ring to it. It is placed here to show the stupidity of being anxious about tom orrow or the future. It provides no w arrant for being anxious even about the p resent day. Each day contains its share of evil, bu t G od’s faithfulness can be counted u p o n on a daily basis. No exact parallels to these logia have been found (but cf. Prov 27:1; and for the similar rabbinic perspective, cf. b. Sanh. 100b; b. Ber. 9 a ). For a similar idea in early Christian parenesis probably d ep e n d en t on the Jesus tradition reflected in this passage, cf. Jas 4:13-15. Explanation This passage, like the preceding one, stresses the im portance of undistracted, absolute discipleship. T he key to avoiding anxiety is to make the kingdom o n e ’s priority (v 33). T he disciples have a “heavenly F ather” who knows of their ongo­ ing needs and who will supply them . If he takes care of his creation, he will surely take care o f those who participate in his kingdom . T he passage does no t m ean,



however, that food, drink, clothing, and o ther such necessities will com e to the disciple automatically w ithout work or foresight. It addresses only the problem of anxiety about these things. The answer to this anxiety and all such debilitating anxiety is to be found in an absolute allegiance to the kingdom and the right­ eousness that is the natural expression of that kingdom . Thus it is n o t simply G od’s sovereign care that can be trusted b u t m ore im portantly his special fatherly love and grace, which are the basis of the kingdom . T he teaching of Jesus on this subject probably had in m ind the itinerant ministry of the disciples who first widely proclaim ed the kingdom of God. To them , it would have had special relevance. And with some m odification it has ongoing relevance to the established C hurch. For Christians of every age, anxiety is incom patible with a lifestyle focused on G od’s kingdom . Indeed, anxiety and worry need n o t govern the disciple who has known the grace of the kingdom .

Various Teachings and the Golden Rule

On NotJudging Others

( 7:1




Bibliography B retsch er, P. M . “Log in Your Own Eye (Matt. 7 :1-5).” C T M 43 (1972) 645-86. C ouroyer, B . ‘“De la m esure d o n t vous m esurez il vous sera m esure.’” RB 77 (1970) 366-70. D errett, J . D . M . “Christ and R eproof (Matthew 7 .1 -5 /L u k e 6.37-42).” NTS 34 (1988) 271-81. H e d ley , P. L. “‘The Mote and the Beam ’ and ‘The Gates o f H ades.’” ExpTim 39 (1927-28) 427-28. H en d ry , G . S. ‘Judge Not: A Critical Test of Faith.” TToday 40 (1983) 113-29. K ing, G . B . “A F urther N ote on the M ote and the Beam (Matt VII.3-5; Luke VI.4 1 -4 2 ).”

H TR 26 (1933) 7 3 - 7 6 .------------ . “T he Mote and the Beam .” H TR 17 (1924) 393-404. R ü ger, Η . P. “‘Mit welchem Mass ihr messt, wird euch gem essen w erden.’” ZNW 60 (1969) 174-82. W ebster, C . A . “T he Mote and the Beam (Lk vi. 41, 42 = M att vii. 3 -5 ).” ExpTim 39

(1928) 91-92.

Translation 1“Do not judge unfairly,a lest you be judged in a similar way.h 2For by the kind of judgment with which you judge others, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure to others, it will also be measuredc to you. 3Why do you see so welld the speck in the eye of your brother or sister,e but fa il to regard the log in your own eye? 4Or how will youf say to your brother or sister:g ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye, ’while behold there is a log in your own eye! 5Hypocrite! First take out the logfrom your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to take the speck out of your brother’s or sister’s h eye. ”


Matthew 7:1-5

Notes a “U nfairly” added to translation. b “In a similar way” added to translation. c For μ ε τ ρ η θ ή σ ε τ α ί , some MSS ( Θ f 13 it vgcl) read ά ν τ ι μ ε τ ρ η θ ή σ ε τ α ι , “it shall be m easured to you in re tu rn ,” probably by the influence o f the Lukan parallel (Luke 6:38). d “So well” added to translation. e τ ο υ ά δ ε λ φ ο ϋ σ ο υ , lit. “your b ro th er.” f Some MSS (K* Θ lat m ae) have the p resent tense λ έ γ ε ι ς - for the future β ρ ε ι ς , a natural scribal alteration. g τ ω ά δ ε λ φ ω σ ο υ , lit. “your b ro th er.” h τ ο υ ά δ ε λ φ ο ϋ σ ο υ , lit. “your b ro th e r’s.”

Form/Structure/Setting A. The sermon turns to the im portance of avoiding a judgm ental attitude to­ ward others. We encounter a relatively abrupt break with the preceding material as this new subject is addressed. Nevertheless, earlier material in the serm on may be regarded as related generally to the present passage (viz., 5:7, 9, 22, 44; 6:14-15). Possibly this pericope corresponds to the fifth petition (6:12) of the L ord’s Prayer (thus, e.g., Bornkam m , N T S 24 [1978]), which concerns forgiving and being for­ given (see discussion of structure in the Introduction to the Serm on on the M ount). B. T he fact that vv 3-5 shift from the second person singular to the plural points very probably to the evangelist’s com bination of logia derived from differ­ en t strata of oral tradition. To be sure, the same shift is found in the Lukan parallel (Luke 6:41-42), b u t there the sayings are preceded by o th er m aterial that softens the transition. Some of the m aterial of this passage can be said to derive from Q: e.g., v 1 = Luke 6:37; v 2b = Luke 6:38c; and especially vv 3-5, which, apart from word order, are closely paralleled in Luke 6:41-42. M atthew appears to have d ro p p ed the inappropriate vocative ά δ ε λ φ έ , “bro ther,” at the beginning of the statem ent in v 4 (cf. Luke 6:42). V 2a, however, is altogether lacking in Luke and probably derives directly from oral tradition. The only verse o f the passage found in Mark (4:24) is 2b, where M ark’s μ ε τ ρ η θ ή σ ε τ α ί agrees with Matthew, against L uke’s ά ν τ ι μ ε τ ρ η θ ή σ ε τ α ι , and where Mark alone adds κ α ί π ρ ο σ τ ε θ ή σ ε τ α ι ύ μ ΐ ν , “and it shall be added to you.” C. O nce again we encounter extensive use of parallelism. Each of the first three verses contains its own parallelism, and vv 4-5 also contain some parallel­ ism. V 1 is tersely parallel with μ ή . . . ι ν α μ ή and serves as the basic proposition o f the passage. T he two halves of v 2 are exactly parallel, both beginning with ε ν ω , except for the insertion of the final ύ μ ΐ ν with the preceding verb. T he sayings o f this verse seem to have becom e a stan d ard p a rt o f the oral, m em orized catechetical tradition of the early Church, as the successive words κ ρ ί μ α τ ι , κ ρ ί ν ε τ ε , κ ρ ι θ ή σ ε σ θ ε and μ ε τ ρ ώ , μ ε τ ρ ε ΐ τ ε , μ ε τ ρ η θ ή σ ε τ α ί show. T he logia of v 2 are found in 1 Clem. 13:2 and Polycarp, Phil 2:3, but in both cases oral tradition is reflected rath er than d ependence on Matthew (see Hagner, Use, 135-51). T he two halves o f v 3 are chiastically constructed (a b b a ; verb, noun, noun, verb) and are closely, though n o t exactly, parallel. This enhances the contrast being set forth. Vv 4-5 are again chiastic in structure (speck, log, log, speck) with some parallelism in the log sayings and m ore in the speck sayings. A partial parallel to vv 3-5 is found in Gos. Thom. 26b.



Comment 1-2 T he com m and μ ή κ ρ ί ν ε τ ε , lit. “do n o t ju d g e ,” should n o t be taken as a prohibition of all judging or discerning of right and wrong, since elsewhere in M atthew’s record o f the teaching of Jesus—indeed, already in v 6— the m aking o f such judgm ents by disciples is presupposed (see 7:15-20; 10:11-15; 16:6, 12; 18:17-18). F urtherm ore, v 2a assumes the m aking of fair or charitable judgm ents and does n o t entail the avoidance of judgm ents altogether. T he m eaning here, accordingly, is that unfair or uncharitable judgm ents should be avoided. A note of humility is suggested too by the im m ediate context (vv 3-5): one should not ju d g e others m ore harshly or by a different standard than one judges oneself. Similarly, the w arning ϊ ν α μ ή κ ρ ί θ ή τ ε , “lest you be ju d g e d ,” does no t imply that one can avoid ju d g m en t by God at the eschatological ju d g m en t (this ju d g m en t is presupposed in the following words) bu t merely that the way in which one judges others will be the way one is ju d g ed by God at the eschatological ju d g m en t (for a parallel principle, see 6:14-15; 18:32-35). The viewpoint expressed in these verses finds strong Jewish parallels in Sir 18:20 and m. >Abot 1:6; 2:5; m. Sota 1:7. See Str-B 1:441-42, 444-46. Paul seems clearly d ep e n d en t on these sayings of Jesus when he writes in Rom 2:1 (NRSV), “T herefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you ju d g e others; for in passing ju d g m en t on an o th er you condem n your­ self, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things” (cf. 14:4; 1 Cor 4:5; and 5:12, reflecting a tension similar to that of the present passage). See too Jas 4:11-12 and 5:9 for dependence on these logia of Jesus. κ ρ ί θ ή σ ε σ θ ε is a divine passive: God is the acting subject who will judge. Judg­ m en t is G od’s prerogative alone. The form al parallelism between v 2a and v 2b leads naturally to the conclusion that the latter constitutes a synonymous paral­ lelism in the m anner of the Psalms. The “m easuring” then has to do with charitable judging. If there is a wider connotation here, it is n o t as clear as it is in both Mark 4:24 (with the added π ρ ο σ τ ε θ ή σ ε τ α ί , “it will be ad d e d ”) and Luke 6:38 (in a con­ text explicitly referring to giving). W ith v 2b, cf. m. Sota 1:7. 3-5 κ ό ρ φ ο ς refers to a small speck of anything (perhaps here “sawdust,” given the m eaning o f δ ο κ ό ς ) that may get in a p erso n ’s eye; here it is used m etaphori­ cally to indicate some slight or insignificant shortcom ing. The repeated reference in these verses to “your b ro th e r” indicates that it is primarily the Christian com­ m unity that is in view, δ ο κ ό ς , “log,” is an intentionally ludicrous exaggeration in its contrast to the speck of sawdust. W hat is a tiny flaw in an o th er is seen so clearly by a censorious person, while ironically what is an outrageously huge failure in the latter is conveniently overlooked altogether. It is the self-righteous, censori­ ous person who is particularly eager to correct the faults of others. The logic of v 4 is clear: with a log in o n e ’s own eye (κ α ί ι δ ο ύ , “and b eh o ld ,” makes the point an em phatic one), it is impossible to see well enough to take out the speck in the eye o f another. T he hyperbolic speck and log contrast is found also in b. cArak. 16b Bar.; b. B. Bat. 15b (see Str-B 1:446). Also to be kept in m ind in this analogy, however, is the familiarity of Jesus with the ca rp en te r’s shop (cf. Matt 13:55, “the carp en ter’s son”; Mark 6:3, “the carpenter”) . The vocative address ν π ο κ ρ ί τ ά , “hypo­ crite,” at the beginning of v 5 indicates that some form of deception is involved (w hether only of self or deliberately of others). For “hypocrite,” see Comment on 6:2. T he solution indicated by v 5 indicates the responsibility that is prior: o n e ’s


Matthew 7:6

own faults are to be rem edied first. T hen, and only then, may one tu rn to help with the shortcom ings of another, διαβλέψεις in v 5, “see clearly,” intensifies the β λέπ εις, “see,” o f v 3. B ehind the exhortation of v 5 is the obvious im plication that an awareness of o n e ’s own faults (it is assum ed that all have such) will make m ore charitable o n e ’s ju d g m en t of others. Thus in this way we are rem inded of vv 1-2. T here is no need to conclude from this passage that one is n o t to ju d g e at all (contra Hill; Schweizer; Guelich, Sermon; Davies-Allison understand Jesus to have m eant no ju d g ing at all, b u t n o t the evangelist [673-74]). Explanation This passage concerns relationships in the com m unity of faith and may be regarded as one expression of the ethic of love that is the sum m ary of the law and the prophets (see 7:12; 22:39-40). A lthough the disciples cannot avoid m ak­ ing jud gm ents (cf. 18:15-18), their judgm ents are to be m ade charitably and no t censoriously. Ju d g m en t of faults is to begin with oneself, and one is to be as scru­ pulous in this self-judgment as one is generous and tolerant in this ju d g m en t of others. For the same standard of ju d g m en t that we apply to others will in tu rn be applied to us. T he hypocrite ignores the significant failures in his or h er own life while becom ing preoccupied with the slighter failures of others. Such a person violates the love com m andm ent.

Discernment in Proclaiming the Gospel


Bibliography “Matthew 7:6—A New Interpretation.” WTJ49 (1987) 371-86. J erem ia s, J. “Matthaus 7,6a.” In Abba. 83-87. L ip s, H . v o n . “Schweine futtert man, Hunde nicht—ein Versuch, das Ratsel von Matthaus 7:6 zu losen.” ZNW 79 (1988) 165-86. L lew ely n , S. “Mt 7:6a: Mistranslation or Interpretation?” NovT 31 (1989) 97-103. M axw ell-S tu art, P. G . “Do not give what is holy to the dogs (Mt 7.6)T ExpTim90 (1979) 341. P e r le s, F. “Zur Erklarung von Mt 7:6.” ZNW 25 (1926) 163-64. P erry , A . M . “Pearls before Swine.” ExpTim 46 (193435) 381-82. Schw arz, G . “Matthaus vii 6a: Emendation und Rückübersetzung.” NovT 14 (1972) 18-25. B en n e tt, T. J .

Translation 6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs and do not set your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them downa with their hoofs and then turn to slash you with their teeth. ”b Notes a T he critical text, following B C L N W Θ f 13 33, prints the future indicative καταπατησουσίν, which is gramm atically allowable following μήποτεin contexts o f fearing (see T urner, 3:99). K f l and the majority text have the subjunctive καταπατήσωσίν,probably by influence from the o th er subjunc­ tive verbs in the verse.



b “Slash with their te e th ” is an interpretive paraphrase o f the verb ρ ή ξ ω σ ί ν , “tear in pieces” (see BAGD, 735).

Form/Structure/Setting A. This verse appears to be a detached in d ep en d en t logion apparently u n re­ lated to the preceding (pace Guelich, Sermon; Davies-Allison) or following context, inserted here for no special reason bu t only as an o th er saying of Jesus. It has the character of a proverb, which may have had a range of application. A lthough it is very obscure as it presently stands in Matthew, when Jesus first uttered these words he quite probably m ade clear what he m eant by them . T hat explanatory m aterial has n o t com e down to us. B. This verse is from M atthew’s special source and is n o t found in any other canonical Gospel. The first half of the verse is found in the “Gospel according to Basilides” as reported by Epiphanius (Pan. haer. 24.5.2). It is also found, slightly modi­ fied and incom plete, in the Gos. Thom. 93. T he first clause of the verse is found in the Didache (9:5), where “the holy th in g ” is understood to be the Eucharist. All of these instances are probably to be explained through dependence on Matthew. C. T he structure of the logion is balanced, with the two halves of the verse each having parallel clauses. The first two clauses constitute a synthetic parallel­ ism and make essentially the same point. The second two parallel clauses describe the results of the foolhardy action described in the first half of the verse. Possibly this second half of the verse forms a chiasm with the first half of the verse. T hat is, the first verb ( κ α τ α π α τ ή σ ο υ σ ι ν ) obviously refers to the second elem ent of the first half (the pigs), while the second verb ( ρ ή ξ ω σ ί ν ) may refer to the first ele­ m en t o f the first half (the dogs), thus giving an a b b a pattern. Comment 6 T he key question of this difficult verse concerns, of course, the m eaning of the m etaphorical term s in the first half of the verse. To whom do these words refer, these words that are am ong the m ost derogatory in the Jewish vocabulary— the dogs and the swine? And what is depicted by “the holy thing” and “the pearls”? Some (e.g., with variations: Perles, Jerem ias, Schwarz) have speculated that to ά γ ω ν is a mistranslation of the underlying Aramaic word “the rin g ” (ΚΕΠ|?, qedasa', the same consonants as for the word “holy”) and that the logion alludes to Prov 11:22, which refers to “a gold ring in a pig’s snout.” Little is gained from this, however, in understanding the intended m eaning. By the time of the Didache (early second century?), the saying was applied to the exclusive access of believers to the eucharist. T he “dogs” and “swine” in this instance were the unbelievers. It is unclear, however, why witnessing or participating in the Eucharist would cause unbelievers to tu rn upon believers. It is also im probable that esoteric teachings are in view (contra Davies-Allison), since Matthew never hints at such things else­ where. More likely, “what is holy” and “pearls” (cf. 13:45-46) refer to the gospel o f the kingdom . Since for the Jews “swine” are unclean animals and the term “dogs” was often used for “G entiles” (cf. 15:26), it is possible that this logion pro­ hibits the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles (thus reinforcing the teaching of 10:5 and 15:24; cf. Manson, Sayings, 174). In the Torah, the “outsider” was not


Matthew 7:7-11

allowed to eat the food of the offerings because they were “holy” (Exod 29:33; Lev 22:10). Still, Matthew believes the gospel will go to the Gentiles. And while Jews, for whom the gospel was clearly a stum bling block (1 Cor 1:23), m ight be expected to react violently to the proclam ation of the gospel (as, for exam ple, repeatedly in Acts), it is uncertain that Gentiles, for whom the gospel was only a kind o f foolishness, would react this way. It seems best no t to limit this verse u n ­ necessarily b u t to regard it as applicable to both Gentiles and Jews, i.e., to all who are unreceptive. (Cf. the similar attitude, clearly pertaining to Jews, in 10:11-14.) T he im agery of tram pling down in the sense of spurning and profaning what is holy is found also in H eb 10:29, where, however, it refers to apostate Christians. It is unlikely that our passage specifically has apostates in view (contra Guelich, Sermon) or that it corresponds to the final petitions of the L ord’s Prayer. Insofar as apostates becom e and continue to be unreceptive o f the gospel, however, they could well be included in the application of this proverb. Explanation T he mission to proclaim the gospel o f the kingdom is an u rg en t one, and at least by the en d of Matthew it is a universal one (28:19; cf. 24:14). In this mission everything depends on the receptivity of those who hear the message. A lthough it cannot be known in advance what the response will be, when the disciples en ­ co u n te r resistance or hostility they are n o t to persist, b u t as em phasized in 10:13-14, they are to proceed on their way in o rder to reach others with the mes­ sage. T he issue here thus focuses on the lack of receptivity rath er than on any intrinsic unworthiness of any individuals or group.

The Answering Father

( 7:7—11)


Orientierung anJesus. FSJ. Schmid, ed. P. Hoffmann et al. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1973. 17-36.

Brox, N . “Suchen und Finden: Zur Nachgeschichte von Mt 7,7b, Lk 11,9b.” In

Goldsm ith, D. “Ask, and it will be given . . .’: Toward Writing the History of a Logion.” NTS35 (1989) 254-65. Greeven, H. Wer unter euch . ..?’” WD3 (1952) 86^-101. Kraeling, C. H. “Seek and You Will Find.” In Early Christian Origins. FS H. R. Willoughby, ed. A. Wikgren. Chicago: Quadrangle, 1961. 24-34. Piper, R. A. “Matthew 7,7-11 par. Lk 11,9-

13: Evidence of Design and Argument in the Collection of Jesus’ Sayings.” In Logia: Les ParolesdeJesus— TheSayingsofJesus.FSJ. Coppens, ed. J. Delobel. BETL 59. Leuven: Leuven University, 1982. 411-18. Theunissen, Μ . “ Ό αϊτώνλαμβάνει: Der Gebetsglaube Jesu und die Zeitlichkeit des Christlichen.” In Jesus: Ort derErfahrung Gottes, ed. B. Casper. 2nd ed. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1976. 13-68. Translation 7 “Ask* and it will be given to you; seek and you will fin d what you want;b knock and the door will be openedfor you. 8For everyone askingc receives; the one seekingfinds; and for

Form / Stru cture/Setti ng


the one knocking the door will be opened. 9There is no one among you who when a son or daughter asks for bread will give a stone, is there ? 10And there is no one who will give a snake to the child who asks for a fish, is there? 11 Well, then, if even you who are sinful know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more is it true that your heav­ enly Father will give good things to those who ask him?” Notes a T he three imperatives in this verse are in the p resent tense and could also be translated “keep asking,” etc. b “W hat you w ant” added to translation, supplying a direct object for the verb. c T he three participles are in the present tense and could also be translated “who keeps asking,” etc.

Form/Structure/Setting A. This is an o th er self-contained u n it having no real connection with the m a­ terial that precedes or follows it. In Luke, this pericope occurs together with other passages on prayer, viz., after the L ord’s Prayer and the parable of the im portu­ n ate frien d (Luke 11:1-8). B ornkam m (NTS 24 [1978] 419-32, followed by Guelich, Sermon) relates this pericope also to the L ord’s Prayer in Matthew (cf. 6:8-9, 11). B. This pericope is found also in Luke 11:9-13. Except for L uke’s introduc­ tory “and I say to you,” vv 7-8 are in verbatim agreem ent with Luke 11:9-10. The questions o f vv 9-10 are also represented in Luke 11:11-12, except that the fish / snake question comes first in Luke and is followed by an egg/scorpion question rath er than the b re a d /sto n e question found in Matthew. The explanation of this difference can now only be speculative. If Matthew and Luke are using the same form of Q, the b re ad /sto n e question could have been added by Matthew (cf. the same contrast in 4:3), bread being a staple food, and the egg/scorpion question om itted because o f difficulty in seeing a connection between these last two items. O n the o th er hand, the two forms could represent two in d ep en d en t oral tradi­ tions (tracing back perhaps to the same original logion). A part from m inor differences, v 11 agrees verbatim with Luke 11:13, with the single im portant dif­ ference of M atthew’s ά γ α θ ά , “good things,” for L uke’s π ν ε ύ μ α ά γ ι ο ν , “Holy Spirit.” Probably Luke wants here to make m ore of a contrast between what God gives and what hum ans give, and so he avoids repeating ά γ α θ ά , heightening it and making it m ore specific by substituting “Holy Spirit.” This explanation is supported by Luke’s obvious interest in the Holy Spirit in his second volume (cf. esp. Acts 2:1-4). C. T he passage readily divides into two m ajor sections: (1) three exhortations and com plem entary assertions of G od’s faithfulness, w 7-8; (2) two examples of hum an faithfulness, followed by an a minori ad maius argum ent concerning the faithfulness of God to those who call upon him, vv 9-11. Both sections involve considerable parallelism. Each of the three im peratives in v 7 is immediately fol­ lowed by the result expressed in the future tense; v 8 reflects the same sequence of verbs (except for λ α μ β ά ν ε ι , “receives,” which actively expresses the m eaning of the passive δ ο θ ή σ ε τ α ι , “shall be given”). F urtherm ore, the rhetorical questions in vv 9 and 10 are almost exactly parallel in form. V 11 ends with a reference to the giving of what is asked for and thus forms an inclusio with the beginning of v 7.


Matthew 7:7-11

Comment 7-8 The three imperatives in v 7 and three participles in v 8 refer to the same activity. No object is specified. O ne is n o t told what to request, what to seek, or that for which one knocks. T he invitation is apparently as broad as the ques­ tions o f vv 9-10 imply and the object thus as general as the ά γ α θ ά , “good things,” o f v 11. These “good things” can be thought of as the eschatological blessings th at accom pany the presence of the kingdom (cf. L uke’s “Holy Spirit”), so that the work o f the disciples in proclaim ing the kingdom is prim arily in view, or alter­ natively the m ore ordinary and ongoing needs of the disciples (cf. 6:32-33). Less likely is the suggestion (e.g., Carson) that the qualities of character and life de­ m anded by the serm on (i.e., righteousness, humility, purity, love) are intended. In the present passage we do n o t have the seemingly unlim ited “whatsoever you ask,” including even the m iraculous, found in 21:22 (cf. 18:19; Jo h n 14:13-14; 15:7). T he passage does not emphasize the “good things” themselves but the faith­ fulness o f God as the provider o f his p e o p le ’s needs. Thus the passive verbs δ ο θ ή σ ε τ α ι , “it will be given,” and ά ν ο ι γ ή σ ε τ α ι , “it will be o p en e d ,” are so-called divine passives: God is the one who will give (cf. v 11) and open the door. T he three im peratives o f v 7 as well as the three participles of v 8 are all in the present tense, conveying the idea of a continual asking, seeking, and knocking. This im­ plied notion of persistence in asking is found in the teaching of Jesus (Luke 18:1-8; 11:5-8; b o th passages lacking in Matthew) and is m ade explicit in the early C h u rch ’s transmission of this logion: “Let the one who seeks n o t cease until he finds” (Clem ent, Strom.; cf. POxy 654.1; Gos. Thom. 2). The π α ς , “every­ o n e ,” o f v 8 m eans, o f course, everyone participating in (viz., receiving) the kingdom reality b ro ught by Jesus. W hereas in v 7 the prom ises are all in the fu­ ture tense, v 8 contains two present tenses, λ α μ β ά ν ε ι , “receives,” and ε υ ρ ί σ κ ε ι , “finds,” which em phasize the reality of the prom ises for the present. It is interest­ ing to note that the prom ises here are n o t conditional as in 21:22, “if you have faith ” (cf. Mark 11:24). T he faithfulness of God in answering prayer has a rich OT (cf. Je r 29:13; Prov 8:17 for strikingly parallel language) and rabbinic back­ gro u n d (references in M ontefiore, Rabbinic Teaching, 146-49). Nevertheless, the statem ents of the present passage have a unique quality about them when consid­ ered in the total context of Jesus’ teaching and his announcem ent of the kingdom. 9-10 T he rhetorical questions together with the negative constructions be­ ginning with μ ή am ount to affirmations. W hen a child asks for bread or a fish, no p aren t would respond with a stone or a snake. T he requests here involve food (as also in L uke’s “egg”), and this enables us to conclude that the requests in this passage are n o t requests for the m iraculous (usually explicitly conditioned by the necessity o f faith, as in 21:22) but requests for the necessities of life (cf. 6:25-34). R ound stones look like loaves of bread; a snake can resem ble a fish (and some scorpions can apparently be egg-like in shape). T he p oint is no t in these specific items, however, b u t in the faithful provision m ade by hum an parents. 11 It must be conceded that hum an parents give δ ό μ α τ α ά γ α θ ά , “good gifts,” to their children. They know how to do this even though (δ ν τ ε ς , taken as a concessive participle; Robertson, Grammar, 1129) they are π ο ν η ρ ο ί , “sinful.” This word, which occurs far m ore often (twenty-six times) in Matthew than in any o th er NT writ­ ing, presupposes the m oral degradation of all m em bers of the hum an family,



especially when com pared, as here, with the righteousness and goodness of the Father who is in heaven (this last phrase alone suggests the same contrast). The άγαθά, “good things,” that God gives correspond to the δόματα άγαθά, “good gifts,” given by hum an parents. Instead of preserving the parallelism by having the Fa­ th er give τοίς τέκνοίς, “to his children,” he has the Father give τόίς airovaLU αυτόν, “to those who ask him ,” thus form ing an inclusio, rem inding the reader of the initial imperative “Ask.” Similarly, the δώσει, “will give,” echoes the δοθήσεταί of v 7. Explanation Jesus here invites his disciples to rely upon the faithfulness of their heavenly Father. T he threefold invitation and prom ise of v 7, em phasized in v 8, have as their m ain point that the disciples may confidently trust God. Much m ore than parents, who reliably provide their children with what they need, will their heav­ enly Father provide the disciples with that for which they ask. The unlim ited scope of the passage n eed no t entail the expectation that every request will be answered positively; it points rather to the basic principle of G od’s com prehensive and faith­ ful care of the disciple. The “good things” cover certainly the ongoing needs of the disciples (cf. 6:25-33, where even the form of the argum ent is the same), but in the larger context of the Gospel, they suggest also the blessings of the king­ dom. This passage focuses on the answering, providing Father. It is he who provides the m aterial blessings of the present age as well as the transcendent blessings connected with the com ing kingdom of God.

The Golden Rule


Bibliography Bartsch, H.-W. “Traditionsgeschichtliches zur ‘goldenen Regel’ und zum Aposteldekret.” ZAW75 (1984) 128-32. Borgen, P. “The Golden Rule, with Emphasis on Its Usage in the Gospels.” In Paul Preaches Circumcision and Pleases Men. 99-114. D ihle, A. Die goldene Regel. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck 8c Ruprecht, 1962. King, G. B. “The ‘Negative’ Golden Rule.” JR 8 (1928) 268-79. Metzger, B. M. “The Designation ‘The Golden Rule.’”ExpTim 69 (1958)

304. Translation 12 “Thereforea everything you would like others to do to you, you yourselves do to them. For this is the essence o fb the law and the prophets. ” Notes a K* L sypbomss omit ovu, “therefore.” b “The essence of’ added to translation.


Matthew 7:12

Form/Structure/Setting A. This separate logion is probably added here by the evangelist because of the reference in the preceding pericope to the giving and receiving of good things. But the connection is n o t that clear, and this may explain the omission of ο ΰ ν in some MSS. This logion functions as the sum m arizing and climactic dem and of the m ain body o f the serm on. It is followed by a collection of concluding warn­ ings (7:13-27). B. T he first sentence is Q m aterial paralleled in Luke (6:31, where it is in­ serted into the Q passage found also in Matt 5:38-48). M atthew’s form of the logion is m ore em phatic than Luke’s: Matthew adds π ά ν τ α . . . ό σ α , lit. “every­ thing . . . whatsoever,” as well as the m ore forceful ό ν τ ω ς κ α ι υ μ ε ί ς , “thus also y o u ” Only Matthew has this sum m arizing of the “law and the p ro p h ets” (cf. 22:40, again unique to M atthew ). C. T he golden rule is widely known in different cultures and religions (see Dihle, 8-12, 80-109). At least in its negative form it is known in pre-Christian Jewish sources. Hillel sum m arized the law to a proselyte in these words: “W hat is hateful to yourself, do to no other: that is the whole law and the rest is com m en­ tary” (b. Sabb. 31a). It is found also in Tob 4:15 (cf. Sir 31:15), Ep. A rist. 207-8 (with the positive also indicated), and the Jerusalem Targum of Lev 19:18. The negative form is found also in Christian sources: Did. 1:2, in the W estern text (D and a few o th er witnesses); Acts 15:20, 28; POxy 654.5; and the Coptic Gos. Thom. 6. T he negative and positive forms are two ways of saying the same thing, but although the form er is original and may be m ore fundam ental, the latter is the superior form (contra Luz, Davies-Allison) and “the fuller expression of practical m orality” (Abrahams, Studies 1:22). T he positive form m ust include the negative form b u t n o t vice versa. Comment 12 T he golden rule is properly regarded as an exegesis of the great positive com m andm ent o f Lev 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is probably tru e also of the negative form in its various occurrences in Jewish tradi­ tion (in addition to the references listed above, cf. Sir 31:15, where the Hebrew text has in the second half of the verse “and keep in m ind your own dislikes”). That the golden rule as u ttered by Jesus is derived from Lev 19:18 is clear from Matt 22:3540. T here, in the only o ther “sum m ary” of the law in the gospel tradition, Jesus quotes D eut 6:5 and Lev 19:18 as the two com m andm ents upon which “the whole law and the p ro p h ets” depend. To “love your neighbor as yourself’ is the equiva­ lent o f doing to others what you would have them do to you, and thus the latter can also be described as the essence of “the law and the p ro p h e ts” (cf. Rom 13:810; Gal 5:14). With this reference to the law and the prophets, the evangelist brings the m ain p art of the serm on to a close in the same way he began it in 5:17. T he em phatic π ά ν τ α δ σ α , lit. “everything whatsoever,” and the present tense o f ν μ ε ΐ ς π ο ι ε ί τ ε α ύ τ ο ΐ ς , lit. “you be doing to th em ,” presents a high challenge to the Christian in his or h er relations to others, involving both unlim ited scope and faithful persistence. Moreover, the statem ent that such activity constitutes the fulfillm ent of the law and the prophets is n o t less astonishing because rabbinic



contem poraries (e.g., Hillel) were saying the same thing concerning the nega­ tive form ulation o f the golden rule. Explanation It is from this saying and that of 22:37-40 that love becam e the dom inant and sum m arizing them e of the Christian ethic. To act in this m anner, in constant deeds of love, is to bring to expression that to which the law and the prophets pointed. T hat is, a world where only good is done to others involves by definition eschatological fulfillment, a retu rn to the paradise of the G arden of Eden. To do good to others is to m irror the activity o f the Father (7:11), which of course finds its suprem e m anifestation in the eschatological fulfillm ent brought by the Son. If the ethics o f the kingdom of God anticipate the com ing future in the present, then this is especially true of the ethic of the golden rule, which is the distillation of kingdom ethics. If this teaching of Jesus were to be lived out in the world, the whole system of evil would be dramatically shaken. Even if it were to be m ani­ fested seriously in the C hurch, its im pact would be incalculable. In this sublime com m and, so simple and yet so deep, we encounter a challenge central to the purposes o f God and therefore one that is also eschatological in tone. No other teaching is so readily identified with Jesus; no o ther teaching is so central to the righteousness of the kingdom and the practice of discipleship.



The Two Ways


Bibliography B erg m a n , J . “Zum Zwei-Wege-Motiv: Religionsgeschichtliche u n d exegetische Bemerkungen.” SEA 41 (1976) 27-56. D en a u x , A . “D er Spruch von den zwei Wegen im R ahm en

des Epilogs der Bergpredigt. ” In Logia:LesParolesdeJesus— TheSayingsofJesus.FSJ. Coppens, ed. J. Delobel. BETL 59. Leuven: Leuven University, 1982. 305-35. D errett, J . D . M . “The Merits of the N arrow G ate.” JSAT15 (1982) 20-29. M a ttill, A . J . “T he Way o f T ribulation.” JBL 98 (1979) 531-46. M ich a elis, W. "δδός” TDNT 5:70-75. R o rd o rf, W. “Un chapitre d ’ethiquejudeo-chretienne: les deux voies.” RSR60 (1972) 109-28. Schw arz, G . “M atthaus vii 13a: Ein A larm ruf angesichts hochster G efahr.” NovT 12 (1970) 229-32. S u g g s, M . J. “T he Christian Two Ways T radition.” In StudiesintheNew TestamentandEarly ChristianLit­ erature.FS A. W ikgren, ed. D. E. Aune. NovTSup 33. Leiden: Brill, 1972. 60-74.

Translation 13 “Go in through the narrow gate, fora the gateh is wide and the path that leads to fin a l ruin is broad, and there are many who go that way.c l4B utd howe narrow the gatef is and confined the path that leads to life, and there are few who fin d it. ”


M a t t h e w 7 :1 3 -1 4

Notes a A few relatively un im p o rtan t MSS (118* a b h 1 q vgmss) have tl, “how,” in im itation o f the begin­ ning o f v 14. b T he words ή π ύ λ η , “the gate,” are lacking in K* 1646 ita,b,c,h,k and m any patristic citations of this verse, perhaps because o f the unusual use o f π λ α τ ε ί α , “w ide,” which usually applies to roads, as a m odifier o f π ύ λ η , “gate.” T he MS evidence supporting the reading is very great. c Sl ’α ύ τ η ς , lit. “through it” (i.e., the wider gate). d B (but n o t consistently) sa add δ έ , “b u t,” to give expression to the strong contrast betw een v 13 and v 14. e K* B* have otl, “because,” m atching the otl o f v 13. A lthough the om icron could inadvertently have dropped out, producing the exclamatory tl, “how,” it is m ore likely that the tl is a Semitism (cf. Ps 139:17) not understood by some copyist who proceeded to add the om icron making otl. See TCGNT, 19. f T he words ή π ύ λ η , “the gate,” are om itted by som e cursives and som e patristic witnesses (cf. Note a ). This om ission probably occurred because o f the familiarity o f the two-ways m etaphor, which is the focus o f the passage, and the unfam iliarity o f the two-gates m etaphor.

Form/Structure/Setting A. These verses stand as a kind of climactic adm onition, with the very dem and­ ing ethical teaching of the serm on in view, and n o t least the challenging golden rule o f the preceding verse. We are at a m ajor turning point in the serm on; no m ore ethical teaching is given. W hat follows are warnings and a concluding par­ able, all involving, as in the present passage, the use of strong contrasts. B. Luke 13:24 parallels our passage, bu t m ore in thought than in actual word­ ing. In answer to the question, “Will only a few be saved?”Jesus in Luke exhorts: “Strive to en ter through the narrow door [Θ ύ ρ α ς ], for I tell you m any will seek to en ter and will n o t be able to.” T he Lukan logion refers only to one door, n o t two, and n o t at all to the paths or ways. It may well be that here we see two in d ep en ­ dent, though similar, logia passed down by oral tradition. C. These verses again reveal a striking antithetical parallelism in their structure: an opening imperative or apodictic clause (“enter through the narrow gate”) is fol­ lowed by a otl that provides the ground for the imperative. This is expressed by exactly parallel descriptions of the two gates and ways (v 13b and v 14). T he word o rd er is exactly parallel in the contrasting predicate adjectives and in the adjecti­ val phrase ή ά π ά γ ο ν σ α , “which leads to ,” modifying ή ο δ ό ς , “the way,” in each instance. T he final clause of the two parts finds a slight variation in the substitu­ tion o f ε ύ ρ ί σ κ ο ν τ ε ς α . ύ τ ή ν , “find it,” for ε ι σ ε ρ χ ό μ ε ν ο ι S l ’ α υ τ ή ς , “en ter it,” bu t otherwise the structure is parallel. D. The m etaphor of “the two ways” is com m on in Jewish, Hellenistic, and early Christian writings. The basic choice between two opposite ways with opposite ends is found in the OT (Deut 30:15,19; Jer 21:8; Ps 1:6), in the intertestamental literature (4Ezra 7:6-14), atQ um ran (IQS 3:20-21), in the rabbinic literature (e.g., m. 'Abot 2:1213; Sipre 86a; b. Ber. 28b), and in the Apostolic Fathers (Did. 1-6; Bam. 18-20). See Str-B 1:460-64 for further references. It is also not uncom m on to describe the path of the wicked as easy (e.g., Sir 21:10) and that of the righteous as difficult (e.g., Ps 34:19). Comment 13-14 T he m etaphor of a gate, w hether as the entrance to eschatological blessing, as in the heavenly Jerusalem , or as the entrance to the place of judgm ent,



as in hell, is n o t uncom m on in Jewish literature (e.g., 4 Ezra 7:6-9; Pesiq. R. 179b; and b. Sukk. 32b; b. cErub. 19a). T he sequence of gate and way is n o t significant; one does n o t en ter the gate to get upon the way or at the end of the way enter the gate (contra Luz). The two m etaphors refer together to the same thing (thus rightly, Ridderbos; Guelich, Sermon; Gundry; Davies-Allison; cf. W. Michaelis, TDNT 5:70-75), namely, the rigors of the discipleship to which Jesus calls his people. π λ α τ ε ί α ή π ύ λ η κ α ί ε ύ ρ ύ χ ω ρ ο ς ή ο δ ό ς , “the gate is wide and the path is bro ad .” Although the m etaphors here are spatial, they imply an easiness and com fort for those who go this way. T here are no significant dem ands to be met, no discipline to acquire, in o rd er to go through this gate and down this path, ε ι ς τ η ν ά π ώ λ ε ι α ν , “to d estru ctio n ,” refers, as elsewhere in the NT, to the final ru in b ro u g h t by eschatological ju dgm ent. The counterpart in v 14 is ζ ω ή ν , “life.” Surprisingly, in Matthew this is the only occurrence of the word ά π ώ λ ε ι α with this m eaning, de­ spite M atthew’s frequent reference to final, apocalyptic judgm ent. τ ί σ τ ε ν ή ή π ύ λ η κ α ί τ ε θ λ ι μ μ έ ν η ή ο δ ό ς , “how narrow the gate is and confined the path.” Again the spatial terminology is metaphorical, pointing to the genuine difficulty of this way (cf. a related m etaphor in 19:24). Given the context of the preceding ethical teaching of the serm on, the radical character of discipleship is in view. Because o f the word τ ε θ λ ι μ μ έ ν η (a cognate of θ λ ι φ ι ς , “tribulation”), the reality of persecution (5:10-12; cf. 10:16-23) may also be in view (cf. Acts 14:22, “through m any tribulations we m ust en ter the kingdom of G od”) . ε ι ς τ η ν ζ ω ή ν , “to life,” refers here to eternal life (cf. 19:16-17; elsewhere in Matthew only in 18:8-9; 19:29; and 25:46), language that is equivalent to entering the eschatological kingdom o f God and is the exact opposite of the ultim ate ruin referred to in the preceding verse. ο λ ί γ ο ι ε ί σ ί ν oi ε ύ ρ ί σ κ ο ν τ ε ς α ύ τ ή ν , “there are few who find it,” is primarily de­ scriptive of the situation confronted by Jesus and his disciples during his ministry (so too, 22:14). A lthough the “few” is clearly hyperbolic, it rem ains true that the majority of the people (π ο λ λ ο ί , v 13) do no t receive Jesus’ message (cf. 11:20—24; 12:41-42); they go down the broad path to destruction. Those who do follow Jesus and his sum m ons to the righteousness of the kingdom are comparatively few ( ο λ ί γ ο ι ) . T hat those who follow Jesus are a m inority and that their path is a dem anding one should com e as no surprise, n o r should it be discouraging. For from an o th er perspective it may be said that “the harvest is plentiful” so that many m ore laborers are needed (9:37-38). T he kingdom ’s beginnings may be small, b u t the prom ise for the future is great (cf. 13:31-33). T he deliberate choice of oi ε ύ ρ ί σ κ ο ν τ ε ς , “who find,” to replace the oi ε ι σ ε ρ χ ό μ ε ν ο ι , “who go in ,” of the paral­ lel in v 13, has the effect of pointing to the privilege of the disciples. T here is an echo of joy and fulfillm ent in the reference to the finding of this path to life. Again the call to righteousness occurs in the context of the reality of grace. Explanation Jesus here invites his disciples to travel upon the way he has outlined in the high ethical teaching of the preceding material. T he narrow gate and the con­ fined path of the disciples are quite the opposite of the broad path and wide gate chosen by the masses. T he ends of the two ways are also radically opposite, as was already well known from this frequently used m etaphor. But the way taught by


Matthew 7 : 15-20

Jesus, u pon which the disciples are invited to travel, is inestimably superior de­ spite the various dem ands it puts upo n its travelers. If it is a rigorous way, it is unmistakably also a way of grace. T he disciples are not to worry that they are the minority, the few over against the many. It is no t the point o f the passage to specu­ late over the n um ber who are saved or lost. T he concern is the challenge afforded by discipleship. But the disciples are n o t to worry that their path involves the rigors o f discipleship as well as the experience of suffering, sacrifice, and perse­ cution. For they, by the grace of God, have found the way to life; they are the privileged.

The False and the Genuine


Warning concerning False Prophets

( 7:15-20)

B ib lio g ra p h y B o ch er, O . “Wolfe in Schafspelzen: Zum religionsgeschichtlichen H in te rg ru n d von Mt 7,15.” TZ24 (1968) 405-26. C o th en et, E . “Les prophetes chretiennes dans l’Evangile selon saint M atthieu.” In Evangile selon Matthieu, ed. M. Didier. 281—308. D a n ie l, C. ‘“Faux

p ro p h ete s’: Surnom des Esseniens dans le serm on sur la m o n tag n e.” RevQ 7 (1969) 4 5 79. H ill, D . “False P rophets and Charismatics: S tructure an d In terp retatio n in M atthew 7,15-23.” Bib57 (1976) 327-48. K ram er, M . “H ü tet euch vor den falschen P ro p h e ten .” Bib 57 (1976) 349-77. L eg a sse, S . “Les faux prophetes: M atthieu 7, 15-20.” EF18 (1968) 20518. M inear, P. S . “False Prophecy and Hypocrisy in the Gospel of M atthew.” In Neues Testa­ ment und Kirche. FS R. Schnackenburg, ed. J. Gnilka. Freiburg im Breisgau: H erder, 1974. 76-93. S ch w eizer E. “M atthaus 7.14-23.” In Gemeinde. 126-31.

Translation 15 “Beware* of the false prophets, those who come to you looking likeh sheep while within they are predatory wolves. 16You can recognize them by their deeds.c Oned does not pick grapes from thorn bushes, does one ? Or figs from thistles? 17Thus every good tree produces good fruit, but a decayedc tree produces bad fruit. 18A good tree is not able to produce1 bad fruit, nor can a decayedg tree produce^ good fruit. 19Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be1 cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Clearly, then, you can recognize the false prophetsj by their deeds. ”k Notes a C L W Θ f 1,3TR samss bo include Se, “b u t,” c o n n ec tin g this pe ric o p e m ore closely with the last verse o f the p re ce d in g p erico p e, p erh ap s by way o f contrast. It is lacking in the earliest wit­ nesses, however.

Form / Stru d u re /Setting


b ε ν έ ν δ ύ μ α σ ι π ρ ο β ά τ ω ν , lit. “in sh eep ’s clothing.” cκ α ρ π ώ ν , lit. “fruit (pl.),” a m etaphor for “deeds.” d Lit. “they” (im personal). can m ean simply “b a d ,” b u t in reference to trees, “decayed” is the com m on m eaning. BAGD, 742. f B T ert O r read έ ν ε γ κ ε ΐ ν , “bear,” for 7τ ο ί ε ΐ ν , “p ro d u c e.” See N ote h. g See N o te c. h 8* T ert O r (but the latter n o t consistently) read έ ν ε γ κ ε ΐ ν , “bear,” for π ο ι ε ΐ ν , “p ro d u c e.” In this case and in N ote f the variants probably represent an attem pt to bring in some stylistic variation in place o f the m onotonous use o f π ο ι ε ΐ ν . See T C G N T , 20. i έ κ κ ό π τ ε τ α ί , lit. “is cut dow n.” j This p ro n o u n α υ τ ώ ν (lit. “th e m ”) refers back to the false prophets o f v 15. k Lit. “fru it.” See N o te c.

eσ α π ρ ό ν

Form/Structure/Setting A. This distinctive warning about false prophets is somewhat surprising at this ju n ctu re in the serm on. Its placem ent here by the evangelist indicates, as the context and especially the following pericope show, that his interest is m ore in the im portance o f good deeds than in the false prophets as such. This pericope is the first of three concluding warnings with which the serm on ends (cf. vv 2123, 24-27). These warnings focus attention on the seriousness of the serm on’s call to the righteousness of the kingdom (cf. 5:20). The connection between the present pericope and the im mediately preceding verse is hardly direct, despite the δ έ of the TR (see Note b). T he relation to the pericope that follows is clear, however. Matt 12:33 parallels the present passage in its reference to good and bad trees and fruit and, m ore particularly, in the words “the tree is known by its fru it.” This is n o t exactly the same as the statem ent in vv 16a and 20a, however, where the pronouns in context refer to the false prophets rath er than to trees. T he same th o ught underlies these passages, and its special application to the false prophets was m ade either by Jesus or m ore probably by the evangelist. B. O ur passage finds a parallel in Luke 6:43-44 (which continues in v 45, par­ alleling Matt 12:35). Luke 6:43 states the tre e /fru it relationship negatively and thus is m ore like v 18 than v 17. Luke 6:44 parallels v 16. Again, however, Matthew’s form of the logion in v 16a is directed to the false prophets (for the logion ap­ plied to trees, cf. 12:33c). In this verse, L uke’s order, “figs are no t gathered from thorns, n o r are grapes picked from a bram ble b ush,” differs from M atthew’s, as does the vocabulary to some extent. Luke and Matthew here probably depend on Q, with M atthew m aking slight adjustm ents of the logion in its application to false prophets. C. T he pericope may be outlined as follows: (1) the warning concerning false prophets (v 15); (2) how they are to be recognized (v 16); (3) the basic principle th at good comes from good and bad from bad, stated (a) positively (v 17) and (b) negatively (v 18); (4) the reality of ju d g m en t (v 19); and (5) repetition of how false prophets will be recognized (v 20; cf. v 16). After the introductory warning of v 15, this passage reveals a carefully designed structure, including chiasm. Thus a, v 16a, corresponds verbatim to a ', v 20, as an inclusio; b, v 16b, corresponds to b', v 19 (this is the weakest part of the chiasm, although both elem ents refer to unfruitfulness); and c, v 17, corresponds exactly


Matthew 7:15-20

to c', v 18, which restates the thought negatively in term s of impossibility. Symme­ try and parallelism are also to be found within certain elem ents of the larger structure. This is especially true of vv 17 and 18. V 17 contains two exactly paral­ lel lines except for the very slight alteration in line 2, where the adjective σ α π ρ ό ν , “decayed,” precedes the noun δ έ ν δ ρ ο ν , “tree .” T he two lines of v 18 are exactly parallel except for the omission of the verb δ ύ ν α τ α ί , “is able,” in the second line. T he parallelism o f this passage probably derives from the form the m aterial took in oral tradition, b u t the chiastic structure here probably derives from the evan­ gelist himself, as does the jo in in g of this m aterial to v 15. This passage is quoted in abbreviated form in Justin, Dial. 35. 3 and Apol. 1.16.12-13. D. O ne o f the m ost disputed problem s in Matthew is the identity o f the false prophets m entioned in v 15. From the αύτούς, “th em ,” of v 16, it is clear that vv 16-20 also refer to the false prophets. But are they also referred to in vv 13-14 a n d /o r 21-23? D epending on how this question is answered and how this group is identified, one may th en relate o th er passages in M atthew to the present one. Some proposals can quickly be dismissed as im probable, for exam ple, that the false prophets were gnostics (Bacon, Studies, 348), Essenes (D aniel), or Zealots (Schlatter, C o th en e t). A n u m b er o f scholars u n d erstan d the false prophets prim arily in light of the charism atic activity referred to in v 22. Thus for Kasemann (New Testament Questions, 82-107) they are post-Easter Palestinian e n th u ­ siasts. Guelich (Sermon) argues for the unlikely conclusion that the false pro p h ets were Jewish Christians who were over-zealous for the law (so too G undry) and opposed to the gentile mission. T he majority opinion is that these false p rophets were H ellenistic libertinists, i.e., antinom ians within the C hurch, and even m ore specifically Paulinists or ultra-Paulinists according to some (e.g., J. Weiss [Earliest Christianity (NY: H arp er & Row, 1959) 2:753]; H .J. H oltzm ann [Lehrbuch der neutestamentlichen Theologie (Freiburg: H erder, 1911) 1:508]; H.-J. Schoeps [Theologie und Geschichte des Judenchristentums (Tubingen: Mohr, 1949) 120, 127]; G. Barth [in G. Bornkam m , Tradition, 159-64]; H. D. Betz [Essays, 155-56]). This view also assumes th at the false pro p h ets are those re­ ferred to in vv 21-23 and places m uch em phasis on the άνομίαν, “lawlessness,” referred to in v 23. T he passage in 24:11-12, which refers both to false p ro p h ets an d άνομία, is taken to confirm this hypothesis, and 5:17-20 is then u n d ersto o d to apply directly to the same group. D. Hill [Bib 57 (1976)], however, has argued strongly against this view, contending that vv 15-20 and 21-23 refer to two different groups: the fo rm er to the Pharisees (with Lagrange) and the latter to charism atic Christians whose righteousness is insufficient. In n e ith e r case, according to Hill, does the passage refer to strict antinom ianism . (Earlier, in his NCB com m entary, Hill had linked v 15 with vv 21-23 an d concluded that the “false p ro p h ets” were Christian prophets.) T he designation “false p ro p h ets” need n o t be taken in a narrow, technical sense as referring to a particular group. It is impossible to know w hat specific group, if any, the evangelist had in m ind (cf. Aune, Prophecy, 222-24). T he term can be applied generically to all who fulfill the description in 7:15-20, who bring forth “bad fru it,” w hether Pharisees (thus H ill), charism atic enthusiasts, libertinists, or even hypocrites in the C hurch (M inear). Possibly the w arning is general and has no specific group in m ind (Strecker, Sermon). Matthew has in m ind, however, som ething far m ore grievous than the itinerant false prophets who are identified in the Didache (11:5-6) as those who stay m ore than two days and ask for money. Didache, indeed, knows th at the real issue is behavior (11:8, in probable allusion to M atthew). In 7:21-23, however, one specific m anifestation of such false prophets does com e into focus, namely, charism atic en th u ­ siasts within the com m unity who by M atthew ’s standard show no evidence of the good fruit of righteousness. It is perhaps this particular group that brings an urgency to the



evangelist’s warning. Confirm ation that these enthusiasts of 7:21-23 can be considered “false p ro p h ets” may be found in 24:24, where false prophets are associated with “great signs and w onders,” even though that verse is a prophecy of the future (cf. 24:11-12, w here false prophets are also guilty of άνομία, as in 7:23).

Comment 15 τ ω ν ψ ε υ δ ο π ρ ο φ η τ ώ ν , “the false prophets,” is probably best understood gen­ erally rath er than specifically (cf. above Form/Structure/Setting §D ). Defined from the im m ediate context, “false p ro p h ets” are persons who appear on the surface to be som ething they are not. It is of the essence of false prophets that they pre­ tend to have and proclaim the truth while their lives evidence that they themselves do n o t follow the truth. According to the prophecy of 24:11, 24, “false pro p h ets” will arise and lead many astray before the end time, ε ν έ ν δ ύ μ α σ ι π ρ ο β ά τ ω ν , “in sheeps’ clothing,” m eans appearing to be pro p er m em bers of the people of God. Sheep is a com m on OT m etaphor for the people of God (cf. Ps 78:52; 100:3); in Matthew it is com m only applied to the C hurch (cf. 10:16; 25:33; 26:31). Probably here this proverbial m etaphor indicates that those concerned are Christians, al­ though it is also possible to understand it in a broader sense of “those who present themselves as holding to the tru th ” (and thus, as Hill, “the Pharisees”). ε σ ω θ ε ν δ ε ε ί σ ι ν λ ύ κ ο ι α ρ π α γ έ ς , “bu t inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” De­ spite their outward appearance and profession, these persons are in fact the mortal enemies of those who belong to the flock. As the wolf, known for its ferocity (hence “ravenous”), is the natural enem y o f the sheep (cf. Isa 11:6; 65:25; Sir 13:17; Jo h n 10:12), so these deceivers are natural enem ies of the tru th and the true people of God. (Cf. the similar m etaphor in Acts 20:29; Ign. Phil. 2:1-2; Did. 16:3.) The disciples m ust therefore be wary of these false prophets. Following their way will lead only to the destruction of the flock. 16 ά π ό τ ω ν κ α ρ π ώ ν α υ τ ώ ν , “by their deeds,” is em phatic by its position at the beginning of the sentence. Thus α υ τ ώ ν , “their,” indicates that this logion, which was originally probably m ore general, is here applied specifically to the false proph­ ets. In this and the following verses are the evangelist’s definition and critique of the false prophets. The fundam ental concern of Matthew is with the conduct of the false prophets. Fruit (κ α ρ π ό ς ) is, of course, a natural and com m on m etaphor for righteous deeds (cf. 3:8, 10; 21:43; Gal 5:22; Jo h n 15:2-8). The future tense of the verb έ π ι γ ι ν ώ σ ε σ θ ε , “you will know” (as also in v 20), does not refer to the time of the final ju d g m en t (contra Guelich, Sermon) bu t is a timeless or gnom ic future referring to M atthew’s readers then and there (cf. the present tense of the verb in 12:33). O f what point is the warning of v 15 if the “false pro p h ets” will only be recognized at the final judgm ent? In the allusion to this verse in the Shep­ h erd o f H erm as (M and. 6.2.4), the word έ ρ γ ω ν , “works,” replaces κ α ρ π ώ ν , “fru it.” ά π ό ά κ α ν θ ώ ν σ τ α φ υ λ ά ς ή ά π ό τ ρ ι β ό λ ω ν σ ύ κ α , “grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles,” reflects in a rhetorical question the tru th of the declarative state­ m ent o f v 17. Good fruit comes only from good trees (cf. Isa 5:2, 4; Sir 27:6); righteous deeds com e only from those who follow the teaching of Jesus. 17-18 T he parallelism of these verses (see above Form/Structure/Setting §C ), involves a repetition and clear emphasis. V 18 refers ( ο ύ δ ύ ν α τ α ι ) to the impossi­ bility o f the situation being otherwise than it is. δ έ ν δ ρ ο ν ά γ α θ ό ν , “good tree,” in


Matthew 7:21-23

the context of the serm on and the Gospel, represents the disciples of Jesus, the people o f the kingdom , and the κ α ρ π ο ύ ς κ α λ ο ύ ς , “good fru it,” the righteousness ex pounded in the teaching of Jesus, σ α π ρ ό ν δ έ ν δ ρ ο ν κ α ρ π ο ύ ς π ο ν η ρ ο ύ ς , “decayed tree, bad fru it,” refers, on the o th er hand, to those (false prophets) who only give the appearance of belonging to the tru th and whose true character is re­ vealed in their unrighteous deeds. T he word π ο ν η ρ ο ύ ς here m eans literally “b a d ” or “spoiled” fruit (Jer 24:8), but it also connotes badness in an ethical sense (cf., for exam ple, 5:45; 7:11; 12:34-34, 39). T he word σ α π ρ ό ν , here “decayed,” is also used ethically in the NT (Eph 4:29, where NRSV translates “evil”). V 18 stresses that it is contrary to nature for a good tree to produce bad fruit and a bad tree to produce good fru it (cf. Jas 3:12). This proverbial m etaphor applied to righteous and unrighteous deeds underlines the absolute essentiality of righteousness for those who follow Jesus, as well as its impossibility for those who do not. 19-20 έ κ κ ό π τ ε τ α ί κ α ί ε ι ς π υ ρ β ά λ λ ε τ α ι , “is cut down and cast into the fire,” is the com m on m etaphorical language of eschatological ju d g m en t already encoun­ tered in Matt 3:10, 12 (cf. 13:40, 42, 50; 18:8-9; 25:41; Luke 13:6-9; Jo h n 15:6). T he lack o f righteousness will m ean condem nation at the end. The present tense of έ κ κ ό π τ ε τ α ί is either futuristic or gnom ic (like the present tenses of vv 17-18), and the passive implies God as the acting subject, ά ρ α γ ε , “th erefo re,” introduces a strong inferential conclusion. V 20 serves as a kind of inclusio (cf. the chiastic structure no ted in Form/Structure/Setting §C), the verbatim co u n terp art of v 16a. T he pro n o u n s α ύ τ ώ ν and α ύ τ ο ύ ς , w ithout an im m ediate antecedent, refer (as do those of v 16a) to the false prophets of v 15. Explanation As the serm on draws closer to its conclusion, we are presented with a stern warning against hypocrites and hypocrisy (although neither of these words is used). Some people p reten d to be and appear to be som ething they really are not. These false prophets, as they are here called, can un d erm in e the true flock if they are followed. T he ultim ate test of tru th is in what these people do, no t what they say. For what they do inescapably betrays their character and points to the ju d g m en t th at awaits them . This passage thus points very vividly to the absolute im portance of tru e righteousness—indeed its inevitability for the followers of Jesus and its impossibility for those who propose another way. T he ultim ate test of the tru th is in deeds, n o t claims or pretensions. T he C hurch m ust be ever vigilant against appearances and em pty words and press the criterion of good works in discern­ ing the true from the false.

The Insufficiency of the Charismata

( 7:21 -23)

Bibliography B etz, H . D. “An Episode in the Last Ju d g m e n t (Matt. 7:21-23).” In Essays on the Sermon on the Mount. 125-57. F lu sser, D. “Two Anti-Jewish M ontages in M atthew.” Immanuel 5 (1975)

Form /Stru cture/Setti ng


37-45. Mees, M. “Ausserkanonische Parallelstellen zu den Gerichtsw orten Mt 7,21-23; Lk 6,46; 13,26-28 u n d ihre B edeutung fur die F orm ung der Jesusw orte.” VChr 10 (1973) 79102. Schneider, G. “Christusbekenntnis u n d christliches H andeln: Lk 6,46 u n d Mt 7,21 im Kontext der Evangelien.” In DieKirchedesAnfangs. FS H. Schurm ann, ed. R. Schnackenburg et al. F reiburg/B asel/V ienna: H erder, 1978. 9-24. See also the

Bibliographyfor 7:15-20.

Translation 21 “Not everyone who acknowledges me with the wordsa Ford, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, hut only the one who actually does the will of my heavenlyb Father.c 22There will be many who will say to me on the day of judgment, Lord, Lord, in your name did we not prophesy,d and in your name did we not cast out demons,e and in your name did we not perform many miracles?' 23And then I will declare to them plainly: ‘I have never acknowledged you. Depart from me youf doers of iniquity. Notes a b λ έ γ ω ν μ ο ί , lit. “says to m e.” b τ ο υ ε ν τ ο ι ^ ο ύ ρ α ν ο ϊ ς , lit. “who is in the heavens.” T he TR omits the definite article, b u t this involves no change in m eaning. c C2 W Θ 33 1241 and som e o th er witnesses add the words α ύ τ ο ς [ο υ τ ο ς C2 33] ε ί σ ε λ ε ύ σ ε τ α ι e is τ η ν β α σ ι λ ε ί α ν τ ώ ν ο ύ ρ α ν ώ ν , “he [or ‘this o n e ’] will en ter the kingdom of heaven,” described by Metzger as “a clear exam ple o f a typical supplem entary gloss.” TCGNT, 20. d sycJu O r (but n o t consistently) add as the first claim ο ν τ ω ό ν ό μ α τ ί σ ο υ έ φ ύ γ ο μ ε v κ α ί έ π ί ο μ ε ν κ α ί , “in your nam e did we n o t eat and d rin k ,” drawn obviously from Luke 13:26. e T he first han d of K adds the word π ο λ λ ά , “many.” f L 0 / lsand others add π ά ν τ ε ς , “all,” agreeing with the LXX (Ps 6:9a) and Luke 13:27.

F o rm /S tru c tu re/S e ttin g

A. We com e now to an exam ple of a specific group of people who could be described as one kind of false prophets—people who were able to make claims of an impressive kind bu t whose lives did n o t bear the fruit of righteousness. Thus, this pericope represents a striking illustration of the lesson given in vv 15-20. It provides a very serious warning at the end of the serm on, ju st prior to the final parable concerning the eschatological judgm ent. B. T he Lukan parallels to this pericope are similar in substance bu t no t very close in wording. V 21 finds its parallel in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, L o rd ,’ and do n ot do the things I say?” (cf. Matthew: “the will of my Father in heaven”), which in Luke also directly precedes the final parable of the serm on, concerning the house built upon rock. T he Lukan parallels to vv 22-23, however, are found in an o th er context, i.e., Luke 13:25-27. T here we encounter a parable concerning an οικοδεσπότης , the m aster of a house, who says to those who knock (addressed in the second person, “you,” and who address him as κύριε, “L ord,” bu t n o t the repeated “Lord, L o rd ” o f M att 7:22), “I do n ot know where you com e from .” They appeal in tu rn n o t to various charismatic deeds they had p erform ed but rath er to the fact that they had eaten and d ru n k in his pres­ ence and that he had taught in their streets. His reply is again “I do n o t know where


Matthew 7:21-23

you com e from ,” and then, as at the end of the M atthean pericope, Ps 6:9a is quoted. H ere L uke’s initial verb ά π ό σ τη τε agrees exactly with the LXX, against M atthew ’s α π ο χ ω ρ ε ίτ ε (b o th verbs m e a n in g “d e p a r t”), as do es π ά ν τ ε ς ( “a ll” w orkers o f unrighteousness), which is lacking in M atthew ’s citation. But in the rem ain d er of the quotation M atthew’s οί εργαζόμενοί τη ν άνομίαν, “workers o f iniquity,” agrees exactly with the LXX against L uke’s έργάται άδικίας, “workers of unrighteousness.” It is diffi­ cult to know the relationship between the m aterial as represented in Matthew and Luke. T he differences are probably too great to think of b oth passages as deriving from a com m on Q (although M atthew may have inserted vv 22-23 into Q as it is seen in Luke 6:46-49), yet that they ultimately trace back to a com m on source is difficult to deny. This could be an instance (esp. given the parabolic form o f the Lukan version) in which Jesus said similar, but slightly different, things on separate occasions an d both m ade their way independently into the Gospels.

F u rth er partial parallels to the present m aterial are to be seen in M att 25:102, where in the parable of the wise m aidens when the door is shut (as also in L uke’s parable) the foolish m aidens, with the repeated κ ύ ρ ι ε , κ ύ ρ ι ε (“Lord, L ord”) say ά ν ο ι ζ ο ν ή μ ΐ ν , “open for us” (again as in Luke 13:25), and this is in turn fol­ lowed by the words ο ύ κ ο ί δ α υ μ ά ς (“I do no t know you”) . C. T here are some parallelisms in the structure of the passage, even if they are n o t as notable as others in the serm on. In v 21 δ λ έ γ ω ν , “the one who says,” stands in contrast to ό π ο ι ω ν , “the one who does”; the form ula κ ύ ρ ι ε , κ ύ ρ ι ε in v 21 is repeated in v 22; the plural “the heavens” occurs at the end of both m ain clauses in v 21; the future έ ρ ο ϋ σ ί ν μ ο ι , “they will say to m e,” in v 22 is m atched by the future ο μ ο λ ο γ ή σ ω α ύ τ ο ι ς , “I will say to th em ,” of v 23; the three m ain verbs of v 22 linked by κ α ί , “an d ,” are all in the aorist tense; note also the significant thricerepeated phrase τ ω σ ω ό ν ό μ α τ ι , “in your n am e.” T he passage consists of: (1) the general assertion of the im portance of deeds and n o t simply words, v 21, followed by a specific illustration, consisting of (2) the claim of the enthusiasts, v 22, and (3) the L ord’s response, in the form of a ju d g m en t and the citation of Ps 6:9a, v 23. D. This passage is cited in 2 Clem. 4:1-2, where, however, for M atthew’s “enter into the kingdom of heaven” 2 Clem, reads σ ω θ ή σ ε τ α ι , “will be saved,” and for M atthew’s “the will of my Father in heaven,” τ η ν δ ι κ α ι ο σ ύ ν η ν , “righteousness.” In the same context, 2 Clem. 4:5 also contains the Ps 6:9 citation. Justin contains a m ore exact quotation of v 21 (Apol. 1.16.9). Apol. 1.16.11 quotes the Lukan ver­ sion of this material, i.e., Luke 13:26 (but with the repeated κ ύ ρ ι ε ) , while Dial. 76.5 contains a conflation of Matthew and Luke, including reference to p ro p h ­ esying and casting out dem ons. Comment 21 In the clause ε ί σ ε λ ε ύ σ ε τ α ι ε ι ς τ η ν β α σ ι λ ε ί α ν τ ω ν ο ύ ρ α ν ώ ν , “will en ter into the kingdom of heaven,” the future tense of the verb points to eschatological salvation at the last ju d g m en t (see too the future tense of the verb at the begin­ ning o f v 22 and especially the phrase ε ν ε κ ε ί ν η τ ή ή μ ε ρ α , “in that day”). For the phrase “kingdom o f heaven,” see Comment on 3:2. In the final reckoning, words by themselves will n o t be sufficient—not even the im portant words κ ύ ρ ι ε , κ ύ ρ ι ε , “Lord, L ord.” T he repeated form ula “Lord, L ord ” here and in v 22 occurs only



once again in the NT (except for the parallel to this verse in Luke 6:46, where the present tense “why do you call m e” is used), namely, in 25:11, where it is also used in connection with eschatological ju d g m en t. M atthew ’s com m unity can hardly have failed to think here of the prim ary Christian confession, that Jesus is L ord (cf. Rom 10:9; Phil 2:11; 1 Cor 12:3), and of the futility of em pty profession (cf. the em phasis on “doing” what is righteous in Rom 2:13; Jas 1:22, 25; 2:14; 1 Jo h n 2:17). M atthew’s constant stress on righteousness in the serm on (as else­ where) has already been noted (see 5:16, 20, 48; 7:12, 20). In the contrastive clause ά λ λ ’ b π ο ι ω ν τ ό θ έ λ η μ α τ ο υ π α τ ρ ό ς μ ο υ τ ο ν έ ν τ ο ι ς ο ύ ρ α ν ο ϊ ς , “b u t the one who does the will of my Father in heaven,” we retu rn to the m ain b u rd en of the serm on. W hat finally m atters is obedience to God, and here at the end of the serm on the focus is upon the will of God as it has been spelled out in the preceding lengthy sum m ary of the teaching of Jesus. In the Gospel, o th er explicit references to doing the will of the Father are 12:50 and 21:31 (cf. 6:10; 26:42). Mere lip service ( λ έ γ ω ν , “saying”) to the lordship of Jesus is o f no consequence. W hat is im portant is “d oing” ( π ο ι ω ν ) the F ather’s will. For the expression τ ο ν π α τ ρ ό ς . . . τ ο ν έ ν τ ο ι ς ο ύ ρ α ν ο ϊ ς , see Comment on 5:16. 22 έ ν έ κ ε ί ν η τ η η μ έ ρ α , “on that day” (i.e., the day of the Lord), is com m on language for the final ju d g m en t (cf. Amos 8:9; 9:11; Isa 2:20; Zeph 1:10, 14; Zech 14:4; 2 Thess 1:10; 2 Tim 4:8). T he double κ ύ ρ ι ε , κ ύ ρ ι ε , “Lord, L ord,” is repeated from v 21. Now, however, the words are backed up with an appeal to an im pres­ sive array of deeds accom plished, as the thrice-repeated τ ω σ ω ό ν ό μ α τ ι , “in your n am e,” which m oreover stands emphatically before each verb, stresses—in the nam e (and hence, the power) of Jesus. The deeds cited are recognizably the same as those perfo rm ed by Jesus and the twelve and were known in the post-resurrec­ tion C hurch o f M atthew’s day. With the π ο λ λ ο ί , “many,” referred to here, cf. the “m any” referred to in 24:11, also in an eschatological context. έ π ρ ο φ η τ ε ύ σ α μ ε ν , “prophesy,” here m eans n o t simply no r even primarily pre­ dicting the future, although that can be included (cf. Acts 11:27-28; 21:10-11), b u t also proclam ation of tru th in the broadest sense and even the possession of power. In Matthew, both Jo h n the Baptist (11:9; 21:26) a n d Jesus (14:5; 21:11, 46, and a self-designation in 13:57) are described as prophets. In the sending out of the twelve (10:5-15), although the o ther two items of our passage (exorcisms and deeds o f power) are m entioned, there is no explicit com m and to “p ro p h ­ esy.” T heir proclam ation of the gospel, the tru th of God (10:7), however, could be understood as prophesying (cf. 10:41; 23:34; and the im plication in 5:12). This may well be the connotation of “p ro p h ets” in Eph 2:20 and 3:5 (cf. Rev 19:10). In the early C hurch, prophecy was an im portant gift: a universal Christian gift (con­ nected with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:17-18) and a special gift, according to Rom 12:6 and 1 Cor 12:10, b u t with wide availability (1 Cor 14:1, 5, 31; see esp. Aune, Prophecy; Hill, New Testament Prophecy). In the context of the present passage, the claim to have prophesied would appear to be understood in the m ore spectacu­ lar sense o f prediction or oracular utterance. Q uite probably the reference to prophesying here deliberately echoes the w arning concerning false prophets in v 15. Clearly these charismatic enthusiasts are also false prophets, i.e., workers of iniquity (v 23). T he casting o ut of dem ons ( δ α ι μ ό ν ι α έ ξ ε β ά λ ο μ ε ν ) is familiar enough from the ministry of Jesus (cf. 4:24; 8:16, 31; 9:33-34; 12:24-29; 17:18) and that of the twelve


Matthew 7:21-23

(10:1, 8; implicitly 17:19); it was also known in the early C hurch (e.g., Acts 5:16; 16:18; 19:12). For Jewish background, see excursus in Str-B 4.1:501-35. δ υ ν ά μ ε ι ς , “mighty deeds,” although a general term , probably in this context is to be u nderstood prim arily as m iraculous healings. Again, these are com m on in the m inistry o f Jesus (e.g., 4:24; 8:3, 13; 9:6, 22; 11:4-5), are a p art of the commis­ sioning o f the twelve (cf. 10:1, 8), and are experienced in the early C hurch (Acts 3:6; 5:15-16; 9:34; 14:10; 19:11-12; cf. δ υ ν ά μ ε ι ς , the same word used here, in 1 Cor 12:10; Gal 3:5). Hill is correct, then, in characterizing the activities of these persons as “a con­ tinuation of that of Jesus h im se lf... in fulfillm ent of the apostolic com m issioning” and as “in no way abnorm al in the life of the early c h u rch ” (Bib 57 [1976] 340). These persons are thus not criticized for their charism atic activities but for their depen d en ce upo n them as a substitute for the righteousness taught by Jesus. We may conclude that charismatic activities, done apart from this righteousness, have no self-contained im portance and are in themselves insufficient for entry into the kingdom o f heaven. 23 τ ό τ ε , “th en ,” refers to the time of “that day” (v 22), the day of eschatological jud g m en t. In response to the claims m ade in the preceding verse, Jesus himself, in the role o f eschatological Judge, will respond with the words ο ύ δ έ π ο τ ε ε γ ν ω ν υ μ ά ς , lit. “I never have known you.” T heir failure to do the will of the Father (v 21) shows that they have never in fact participated in the kingdom of God (cf. J o h n 10:14; 1 Cor 8:3). At the same time, from a Semitic perspective, Jesus as sovereign Lord and Judge “knows,” not merely in the sense of possession of knowl­ edge b u t in the sense of election (cf. Je r 1:5; Amos 3:2). B ehind the free and responsible deeds o f hum an beings lies always the sovereign will of God (cf. 11:27; 13:11). These have shown by their conduct that they have no t been chosen by Jesus (cf. J o h n 13:18; 15:16). A similar statem ent containing the words “I do not know you” is found in 25:12 (cf. 26:74). T he quotation from Ps 6:9a is used to portray the lot o f the wicked in the final ju d g m en t (cf. the statem ent in 25:41). T he LXX’s ά ν ο μ ί α ν , lit. “lawlessness,” is a particularly ap p ro p riate w ord for M atthew’s view o f sin as the violation of the will of the Father (cf. 13:41). DaviesA llison are rig h t in th e ir c o m m e n t th a t m u ch M atth ea n sch o larsh ip has overem phasized this word in the argum ent that the evangelist mainly opposes a Christian (Paulinizing) antinom ianism . Explanation Perhaps no passage in the NT expresses m ore concisely and m ore sharply that the essence o f discipleship, and hence of participation in the kingdom , is found n o t in words, n o r in religiosity, n o r even in the perform ance o f spectacular deeds in the nam e of Jesus, but only in the m anifestation of true righteousness— i.e., the doing o f the will of the Father as now in terp reted through the teaching of Jesus. R elationship with Jesus is thus impossible apart from doing the will of God. For M atthew all is narrow ed down to this one necessity. N either good, im portant words (“Lord, L ord”) nor good, random deeds of mercy (e.g., casting out demons) can substitute for the full picture of righteousness the evangelist has given in the serm on. Religion can never take the place of actual obedience to the teach­ ing o f Jesus. Matthew will re tu rn to this uncom prom ising view in chap. 25, again

Form /Structure/Setting


in connection with the com ing day of judgm ent. At the same time, the larger framework o f grace should n o t be forgotten, n o r the reality of forgiveness avail­ able to the disciples (cf. 6:12). T he seriousness o f the ethical dem and upon the disciples does n o t cancel out the priority or significance of grace m anifested in Jesus and the kingdom .

The Parable of the Two Builders

(7:24-2 7)

Bibliography Pesch, R., and Kratz, R. “Auf Fels oder auf Sand gebaut?” In Soliestman synoptisch:Anleitung und Kommentarzum Studien dersynoptischenEvangelien.Vol. 5. Frankfurt am Main: Knecht, 1978. 25-37.

Translation 24 “Everyone, therefore, who hears thesea words of mine and does them, will be likeh the wise person who built a c house on a foundation of rock.d25 When the rain fell and the nvers overflowed,e and when the gales blew and these together assailedf that house, it did not fall, because it was founded upon rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like thefoolish person who built a g house on the sand. 27When the rain fell and the rivers overflowed,h and when the gales blewi and together assailedj that house, it collapsed, and the damagek was great.” l Notes a B* 1424 m ae b o ms om it τούτους·, “these,” sm oothing o u t the roughness o f the Gr. text, with the resultant reading “my w ords.” b C L W TR have ομοιώσω αύτόν, “I will liken him to,” perhaps by influence o f the active verb in the parallel passage o f Luke 6:47. T C G N T opts for the passive because o f “the quality and diversity” of the MS evidence in favor o f it. c αυτού την οίκίαν, “his h ouse,” going with the preceding άνδρΐ φρονίμω, “a wise m an .” d επί την πέτραν, lit. “on the rock.” e ήλθον, lit. “cam e.” f W reads προσέκρουσαν, “struck against”; Θ Σ have προσέρρηξαν, “shattered,” probably by the in­ fluence o f the parallel in Luke 6:48; 33 and 1424 have προσέκοφαν, “b eat against.” See N ote j. g See N ote c. h See N ote e. 1 K* and 33 inadvertently om it έπνευσαν oi άνεμοί καί, “the winds blew a n d ,” by hom oioteleuton. j T he m ajority o f Gr. MSS have a slightly d iffere n t Gr. verb h ere {προσέκοφαν) th an in v 25 (προσέπεσαν), b u t with the same m eaning. k ή 7ττώσις, lit. “the fall.” 1 A n u m b er o f MSS ( Θ f 1333 1241 m ae) add the intensifying σφοδρά, “exceedingly.”

Form/Structure/Setting A. Matthew brings his impressive collection of the teaching of Jesus to an en d with this simple, yet very powerful, concluding parable. This parable of


M a t t h e w 7:24-27

eschatological ju d g m en t sets before the readers a choice between two opposite outcomes (cf. Lev 26; Deut 28; 30:15-20). It repeats and strengthens the immedi­ ately preceding warnings and thus effectively rounds out the entire “serm on” by its emphasis on the ultimate im portance of obeying the ethical teaching of Jesus. The parable is in rabbinic idiom (cf. the similar story in ' AbotR . Nat. 24). It ends, as do all o f M atthew’s five m ajor discourses, with reference to eschatological reckoning. B. L uke’s Serm on on the Plain ends with the same parable (6:47-49), bu t the agreem ent with Matthew is m ore in substance than in wording. L uke’s briefer version, which lacks the near-perfect symmetry of M atthew’s, seems to be a free reform ulation o f M atthew’s m ore primitive version. While according to M atthew’s version the storm is described somewhat generally in terms of rain, swollen rivers, and strong winds, Luke refers only, and m ore specifically, to a flooding river as the destroying agent that strikes the house. In Luke, furtherm ore, the one who does the words o f Jesus is likened to one who no t only built a house on the rock b u t who literally “dug, and deepened, and laid a fo u n d atio n ” (6:48), this being quite possibly an accom m odation to the custom of building Hellenistic houses with basements. Luke accordingly lacks the reference to sand in the second ex­ am ple— a person simply builds “upon the ground, w ithout fo u n d atio n ” (6:49). L uke’s version o f the parable also lacks the “wise—foolish” contrast; this contrast may well be related to the general favoring of symmetry in M atthew’s version. C. T he parable in Matthew is alm ost exactly symmetrical in the parallelism of the two parts: (1) the wise p erso n ’s house, built on rock, vv 24-25; (2) the foolish p erso n ’s house, built on sand, w 26-27. T he only slight differences are the lack o f ό σ τ ι ς and the replacem ent of the indicative with participles at the beginning o f th e seco n d p art, slightly d iffe re n t verbs for “b ea t u p o n ” ( π ρ ο σ β π β σ α ν / π ρ ο σ έ κ ο ψ α ν ) , and o f course the concluding lines of each section, (a) providing the reason the house did not fall, and (b) recounting the seriousness of the dam ­ age of the house that did fall. Otherwise the two parts of the parable are exactly parallel and well-suited for m em orization and oral transmission. Each part thus consists o f a parallel description of (a) how the house was built, (b) how the storm raged against it, and (c) the effect. Comment 24 Π α ς . . . ό σ τ ι ς , lit. “everyone . . . whoever,” gives the beginning of this parable of warning an echo of invitation. The reader is in effect invited to be like the wise man, to do and not simply to hear. The determinative words are clearly π ο ι ε ί α υ τ ο ύ ς , “does th em ” (cf. the negative “does not do them ” in v 26). The emphasis upon hear­ ing and doing is found elsewhere in the NT in reference to the word/will of God (Luke 8:21; cf. Matt 12:50; Jas 1:22-25). The word φ ρ ό ν ι μ ο ς , “wise,” is a favorite of Matthew (seven occurrences, all in parables or figurative passages; in the other Gos­ pels, only two occurrences in Luke). It refers to the prudent, wise, or discerning person, the person who not only knows the truth but acts upon it (cf. 25:45). The φ ρ ό ν ι μ ο ς person is contrasted with the μ ω ρ ό ς , “foolish,” person, not only here but also especially in the parable of the wise and foolish maidens in 25:1-13 (cf. 1 Cor 4:10 for the same contrast). It is clear that for Matthew the wise person is the obedient one. The focus of the parable is upon the teaching of Jesus: μ ο υ τ ο ύ ς λ ό γ ο υ ς τ ο ύ τ ο υ ς , “these my words,” with emphasis on “my,” placed first. The standard of orthopraxy,



of righteousness, is the words of Jesus, not those of the Torah, τ η ν π έ τ ρ α ν , “the rock,” here connotes a solid foundation, as it also does in 16:18, but apart from that similarity there is no connection between the two passages, and here no specific rock is meant. 25 M atthew describes typical storms in the hot, dry climate of the N ear East­ ern lands: blasting winds and torrential rains that produce sudden rivers where form erly there were dry wadis (ή λ θ ο ν oi π ο τ α μ ο ί , lit. “the rivers cam e,” i.e., with resultant flooding). It is no t unusual in the OT for eschatological ju d g m en t to be portrayed with this sort of im agery (cf. esp. Ezek 13:10-15, which has some simi­ larities to the present passage; see also Isa 28:17). All three nouns—rain, rivers, and winds— are to be taken as the subject of the verb π ρ ο σ έ π ε σ α ν , “beat u p o n ” (as also in v 27, with the verb π ρ ο σ έ κ ο φ α ν , “beat against”), κ α ί ο ύ κ έ π ε σ ε ν , “and it did n o t fall,” m eans that the wise person by having built upon rock, i.e., by obedi­ ence to the words of Jesus, was not brought to ruin in the eschatological judgm ent. 26-27 ά ν δ ρ ί μ ω ρ ω , “a foolish person.” μ ω ρ ό ς is again M atthean vocabulary (six occurrences; none in the o th er Gospels). In addition to the occurrences in 25:2-8, where it is the opposite of φ ρ ό ν ι μ ο ς , “wise,” Matthew links the word with τ υ φ λ ο ί , “b lin d ” (23:17), where it thus points to lack of discernm ent { μ ω ρ ό ς is con­ trasted with σ ο φ ό ς , “wise,” in 1 Cor 3:18). The foolishness of this person in the parable lies in hearing but μ ή π ο ι ω ν , “not doing,” the words of Jesus, ά μ μ ο ν , “sand,” has no o th er significance in the passage than the m ere fact of its unsuitability as a foundation, κ α ι έ π ε σ ε ν , “and it fell,” refers to disaster, again metaphorically, the full effect of eschatological judgm ent. This last point receives great emphasis with the deliberate breaking of the symmetrical parallelism of the passage in the brief, om inous concluding words: κ α ί ή ν ή π τ ώ σ ι ς α ύ τ ή ς μ ε γ ά λ η , “and its fall was great,” the last word receiving an additional emphasis. This conclusion is analogous to that o f v 23. Explanation T he Serm on on the M ount comes to an end with exhortations in the form of warnings. A lengthy discourse containing the ethical teaching of Jesus has been presented, a description of righteousness explicitly said to be the fulfillm ent of— the exposition o f the true m eaning of—the law and the prophets. This teaching is to be taken with all seriousness: the words of Jesus are no t only to be heard but done. Everything depends on faithfulness to what Jesus has taught. This point is m ade climactically in the polarities of the concluding parable: wisdom or foolish­ ness, m anifested by doing or no t doing the words of Jesus, resulting in n o t falling or in falling in the storm of eschatological wrath. It is easy to make this discourse, with its uncom prom ising concluding adm onitions, into a new nomism, i.e., the pursuit of righteousness through the obeying of com m andm ents (those of Jesus replacing those o f Moses). But this conclusion, as plausible as it seems at first glance, makes the mistake of ignoring the larger context, not only of the serm on itself, with the opening, kerygmatic beatitudes, b u t also and m ore im portantly of the whole Gospel within which this discourse takes its place. T here the announce­ m ent of the good news of the dawning kingdom has priority. This means above all a new era with a new experience of the grace of God. Any nomism, or law-centeredness, m ust take account of this new era. Nevertheless, the teaching of Jesus is to be taken in all seriousness, as even Paul would have insisted. And the Serm on on


M a t t h e w 7:28-29

the M ount stands within the canon o f the C hurch as a p ro p e r antidote to a Paulinism that (unlike Paul himself) cham pions a gospel of cheap grace. The gospel o f the NT has room for the stern ethic of Jesus, w ithout ceasing to be gospel. T he Serm on on the M ount represents an em phasis n o t simply for Jewish Christians, who may have some lingering interest in satisfying the strictures of Moses, b u t also for all Christians, who cannot claim that nam e w ithout interest in the righteousness o f the kingdom .

The Astonishment of the Crowds


Bibliography Lohfink, G. “Wem gilt die Bergpredigt? Eine redaktionskritische Untersuchung von Mt

4,23-5,2 und 7,28f.” TQ 163 (1963) 264-84. Translation 28It happened that when Jesus finished speaking these words, the crowdsa were aston­ ished at his teaching. 29For he was teaching them as one having authority himself,b and not as theirc professional Torah scholars.d Notes

aA number of MSS (A Θ fl vgms) insert πάντες, “all.” b “Himself”is added in the translation because of the contrast with the scribes. c C* L TR omit αυτών, “their,” against the better MSS. d oi γραμματείς', lit. “the scribes,” i.e., those who were professional scholars of the Torah. Some MSS (e.g., C* W 33 lat sy) add καί oi Φαρισαίοι, “and the Pharisees,” probably because of the influ­ ence of this common Matthean combination elsewhere. Form/Structure/Setting A. M atthew points only briefly, bu t effectively, to the popular response to the serm on (and in effect to the ethical teaching of Jesus in his m inistry generally). This b rief passage serves thus as a rounding out of the first m ajor presentation of the teaching o f Jesus by a reference to its effect, before Matthew turns to the series o f miraculous deeds that follow in the next two chapters. These verses to­ g eth e r with 8:1 co rresp o n d to 4:25-5:1 as an inclusio (cf. in b o th passages ή κ ο λ ο ύ θ η σ α ν α ύ τ ω ό χ λ ο ι π ο λ λ ο ί , “large crowds followed h im ”; ά ν έ β η ε ι ς τ ο ό ρ ο ς / κ α τ α β ά ν τ ο ς δ έ α ύ τ ο υ α π ό τ ο ν ό ρ ο υ ς , “he went up to the m o u n tain ”/ “when he came down from the m o u n tain ”; and of course the reference to Jesus beginning to teach and finishing his words. B. Except for the special concluding formula, “when Jesus had finished speaking these w ords,” these verses are in nearly verbatim agreem ent with Mark 1:22. In­ deed, all three Synoptics have this reference to Jesus’ hearers being “astonished”



( έ ξ β π λ ή σ σ ο ν τ ο ) “at his teaching” ( έ π ί rfj δ ι δ α χ ή α ύ τ ο ϋ ) , because of his “author­ ity” { έ ξ ο υ σ ί α ) . In Mark and Luke (4:32), this statem ent comes early and is no t connected with any specific portion of teaching as in Matthew (although in Luke it does com e after the serm on in the synagogue at N azareth). Matthew (begin­ ning with έ ξ β π λ ή σ σ ο ν τ ό ) agrees exactly with Mark except for the addition of the words ol δ χ λ ol, “the crowds,” and α ύ τ ώ ν , “th eir” (scribes). C. A key structural elem ent is found (1) in the formula, κ α ι έ γ έ ν β τ ο ore έ τ έ λ β σ β ν δ Ι η σ ο ύ ς τ ο ύ ς λ ό γ ο υ ς τ ο ύ τ ο υ ς , “And it h appened that when Jesus finished speak­ ing these words,” which in m oderately variant form concludes each of M atthew’s five teaching discourses (see Introduction). Two fu rth er elem ents of this pericope are (2) the impact on the hearers (v 28b) and (3) the reason for the impact (v 29). Comment 28 Although the concluding form ula at the beginning of this verse occurs at the end of each of the m ajor teaching discourses in Matthew, only here is it fol­ low ed with a re fe re n c e to th e im p act o f th e te a c h in g u p o n th e h ea rers. έ ξ β π λ ή σ σ ο ν τ ο is a strong verb m eaning “to be am azed or overw helm ed,” with the im perfect tense suggesting an ongoing effect. Matthew uses the same verb else­ where only with reference to the im pact of Jesus’ teaching: generally in 13:54 and m aking reference to specific elem ents of his teaching in 19:25 (the difficulty of the rich entering the kingdom ) and 22:33 (teaching about the resurrection). T he last reference is a particularly close parallel to the present passage, with ref­ erence to the crowds, the astonishm ent, and Jesus’ δ ι δ α χ ή , “teaching” (a word used only once fu rth er in the Gospel in reference to the teaching of the Phari­ sees and Sadducees, 16:12). ό χ λ ο ι , “crowds,” needlessly has caused trouble for some com m entators, since at the beginning of the serm on Jesus seems to escape the crowds in o rd er to teach “his disciples” specifically and privately (though this latter point is n o t asserted in the tex t). As far as the story line in Matthew goes, nothing excludes the possibility that the crowds nevertheless followed Jesus and his disciples up the m ountain and thus becam e a secondary audience. This does n o t deny, however, that Matthew here adjoins to the serm on a piece of tradition that refers generally to the widespread astonishm ent of the crowds wherever Jesus taught. Matthew finds this record of the response to Jesus’ teaching particularly suitable for the preceding discourse. 29 T he periphrastic construction ή ν δ ι δ ά σ κ ω ν , “he was teaching,” draws at­ tention to the repeated teaching that so astonished the listeners. The consistent elem ent in this teaching that caused the astonishm ent was the έ ξ ο υ σ ί α , “author­ ity,” it presupposed. Unlike ο ι γ ρ α μ μ α τ ε ί ς α υ τ ώ ν , “their scribes,” who taught not with a sense o f their own authority but in heavy dependence upon the traditions of earlier teachers and somewhat diffidently, Jesus set forth his teaching with unique conviction and authority (cf. “But I say to you”: 5:22, 28, 32, 39, 44; “these my w ords”: 7:24, 26). N or does his teaching consist mainly of the exegesis of the text of Torah; it is preem inently his own words that are authoritative. This unique έ ξ ο υ σ ί α is, as the reader of Matthew knows, the result of the true identity of Jesus. It em erges repeatedly in Matthew (as in the other Synoptics) in relation to Jesus’ deeds (9:6, 8; 21:33), is given in turn to the disciples (10:1), and given by implica­ tion to the Church of every age (28:18), where the risen Lord commissions his


M a t t h e w 7:28-29

disciples to make disciples of all nations. M atthew’s addition of “th e ir” (α ύ τ ώ ν ) to “scribes” indicates a distance between the Jewish Christians o f M atthew’s com m u­ nity and the rabbinic authorities of the synagogue. It thus has an unm istakable polem ical tone reflecting the growing hostility between the synagogue and the church. Explanation T he teaching o f the Serm on on the M ount was radical both in content and in the unique authority that undergirded its forthright, confident delivery. Matthew will n o t miss the opportunity here at the end of a m asterful distillation of the teaching o f Jesus to call his readers’ attention to the suprem e authority of this Teacher. Jesus is n o t one am ong o th er rabbinic teachers; his authority centers n o t on the tradition of the Fathers, n o r even on the Torah, but somehow, myste­ riously an d rem arkably, it centers in him self. As the final an d authoritative exposition o f the m eaning of the righteousness of the Torah, this teaching has an incom parable authority that can be accounted for by only one fact: the unique person o f Jesus, the one teacher, the one master, the Christ (23:8-10). Only such personal authority can support the radical and surprising teaching and its exclu­ sive claims (cf. Jo h n 7:46). This authority is in fact inseparable from the newness of the gospel and the presence of the A gent of that gospel.

The Authoritative Deeds of the Messiah


General Bibliography Burger, C. “Jesu Taten nach M atthaus 8 u n d 9.” Z T K 70 (1973) 272-87. Gatzweiler, K.

“Les recits de miracles dans L’Evangile selon saint M atthieu.” In L ’E vangile selon Matthieu, ed. M. Didier. BETL 29. Gembloux: Duculot, 1972. 209-20. Gerhardsson, B. The Mighty Acts o f Jesus according to Matthew. Lund: G leerup, 1979. Hawkins, J. C. “T he A rrangem ent of Materials in St. M atthew viii-ix.” E xp T im 12 (1900-1901) 471-74; 13 (1901-2) 20-25. Heil, J. P. “Significant Aspects of the H ealing Miracles in Matthew.” C B Q 41 (1979) 27487. Held, H. J. “Matthew as In terp rete r of the Miracle Stories.” In Tradition and Interpreta­ tion in Matthew, G. Bornkam m , G. Barth, and H. J. H eld. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963. 165-299. Hull, J. M. Hellenistic M agic and the Synoptic Tradition. SBT 2.28. London: SCM, 1974. 116-41. Kingsbury, J. D. O b serv atio n s on the ‘Miracle C hapters’ of M atthew 8 -9 .” C BQ 40 (1978) 559-73. Legasse, S. “Les Miracles de Jesus selon M atthieu.” In Les M iracles de Jesu s selon le Nouveau Testament, ed. X. Leon-Dufour. Paris: Seuil, 1977. 227-49. Loos, H. van der. The Miracles o f Jesus. NovTSup 9. Leiden: Brill, 1965. Luz, U. “Die W undergeschichten von Mt 8 -9 .” In Tradition and Interpretation in the New Testament. FS E. E. Ellis, ed. G. F. H aw thorne and O. Betz. G rand R ap id s/T ü bingen: E erdm ans/M ohr, 1987. 14965. Theissen, G. The M iracle Stones o f the Early Christian Tradition. E dinb u rg h /P h ilad elp h ia: T. & T. C lark/Fortress, 1983. Thompson, W. G. “Reflections on the Com position of Mt 8,1-9,34.” C B Q 33 (1971) 365-88.

Introduction to Chapters 8-9 Chaps. 8-9 constitute a m ajor section of the Gospel, focusing on the m iracu­ lous deeds o f the Messiah. The section ends with a sum m arizing statem ent (9:35) that refers to both the teaching and the acts of healing perform ed by Jesus and functions as an inclusio with the similar summary in 4:23-25. In between the fram e­ work o f these two sum m aries the evangelist has presented two m ajor blocks of m aterial, the first concerning the teaching of Jesus (the Serm on on the M ount, chaps. 5-7) and the present section concerning mainly the deeds of Jesus (but also some w ords), who is thus presented as the Messiah of both word and deed (Schniewind, 36, 103). Clearly the evangelist intends this m aterial as a presenta­ tion o f a representative collection of Jesus’ m iraculous deeds in preparation for the answer to the Baptist’s question in 11:3-5. T he organization of the m aterial contained in these chapters is no t altogether clear. Ten miracles of Jesus are n arrated (Klosterm ann draws an analogy with the ten wonders referred to in m. ' Abot 5:5, 8). Nine of the miracles are healings and one is a so-called nature m iracle (the stilling of the storm in 8:23-27). DaviesAllison divide the miracles into three groups of three (8:1-22; 8:23-9:17; 9:18-38; each ending with various words of Jesus), arguing that the two miracles of 9:1826 are part of one indivisible unit. T he chapters have also been subdivided either into th ree sections (thus H eld, T hom pson) with them atic em phases: 8:1-17 (Christology); 8:18-9:17 (discipleship); and 9:18-34 (faith); or four sections (thus Burger, Kingsbury): 8:1-17 (Christology); 8:18-34 (discipleship); 9:1-17 (sepa­ ration from Israel); and 9:18-34 (faith). This them atic approach is only of limited


M a t t h e w 8 :1 -4

usefulness, however, since the material is really of a mixed character (Gerhardsson) and the various them es are intertw ined (Luz). A key aspect of these chapters is the way in which Jesus confronts various groups who accept or reject him. Im portant m arkers of the division are found in such places as the reference to the faith of the centurion in contrast to Israel (8:10), the am azem ent o f the disciples (8:27), the response of the crowds to the healing o f the paralytic (9:8), the criticism of the scribes and Pharisees (9:3, 11), and esp. 9:33-34, where the crowds respond appropriately in w onder at the deeds of Jesus b u t the Pharisees attribute them to an alliance with “the ru ler of dem ons.” It is clear that this section of Matthew focuses on m atters such as Christology, discipleship, and faith as it narrates the mighty deeds of Jesus. In these narratives we en co u n ter the story of the founding of the C hurch (thus Burger, followed by Luz). T he stories told here, therefore, have a fundam entally im portant signifi­ cance for M atthew’s community, no t as m ere history (of the separation of the Jewish church from Israel) bu t for the present experience of that church. The stories o f these chapters thus have a transparency (Luz) or a paradigm atic func­ tion (Kingsbury) that makes them directly applicable to the life and discipleship o f M atthew’s community.

The Healing of a Leper

(8:1 -4 )

Bibliography Elliott, J. K. “T he H ealing of the L eper in the Synoptic Parallels.” T Z 34 (1978) 175-76. Kingsbury, J. D. “Retelling the O ld , O ld Story’: T he Miracle o f the Cleansing o f the L eper as an A pproach to the Theology of Matthew.” C u rT M 4 (1977) 342-49. Pesch, R. “Die

m atthaische Fassung d er E rzahlung Mt 8 ,2 -4 .” In Jesu ureigene Taten? E in Beitrag zu r Wunderfrage. Freiburg: H erder, 1970. 87-98.

Translation 1When he had come down from the mountain, largea crowds followed him. 2And look, a leper came to him and knelt down beforeh him, saying: “Lord,c if you want to, you are able to cure me. ”3A nd Jesus d extended his hand and touched him, saying: “I do want to. Be whole. ”And he was immediately cleansed of his leprosy. 4And Jesus said to him: “Be careful not to tell anyone of this. But go and show yourself to the p riest and bring as an offering the gift commanded by Moses, as a witness to the people. ”e Notes a πολλοί, lit. “many.” b προσεκύνβί here can also be translated “worshiped.” c κύρί€ can also be translated “sir,” but this seems to be too weak in the context.

Form / Stru cture/Setting

dAlthough not in the best MSS, “Jesus” is added for clarity (ό TR lat sy samsmae). eα ύ τ ο ΐ ς , lit. “to them.” See Comment.

197 Ιησούς

does occur here in C2L WΘ

Form/Structure/Setting A. Matthew moves im mediately from the serm on and its effect to the first spe­ cific healing narrative of the Gospel, the first of ten specific miracles in chaps. 8-9 (a sum m ary of the miracles perform ed by Jesus had been given earlier in 4:23-25). It is no accident that the first specific instance of a healing concerns a Jew rath er than a Gentile (as in the next pericope). Jesus’ priority in his ministry is the mission to Israel (cf. 10:5-6; 15:24). T he story is brief and direct, bu t at the same time a powerful narrative. No specific setting or location of the miracle is given. We are abruptly m oved into a collection of stories concerning some par­ ticularly impressive miracles perform ed by Jesus. B. In this triple tradition passage (Matt 8 :l-4 //M a rk l:4 0 -4 5 //L u k e 5:12-16), Matthew, like Luke, depends upon and abbreviates M ark’s somewhat longer ac­ count. M atthew (like Luke) omits M ark’s σ π λ α γ χ ν ι σ θ ε ί ς , “being moved with com passion” (Mark 1:41), perhaps shying away from hum an em otion in Jesus. Similarly, Matthew (and Luke) omits έ μ β ρ ι μ η σ ά μ ε ν ο ς α ύ τ ω , “very sternly warn­ ing h im ” (Mark 1:43), for perhaps a similar reason. Matthew further omits M ark’s note that the offering in view was π ε ρ ί τ ο ν κ α θ α ρ ι σ μ ο ύ σ ο υ , “for your purification” (Mark 1:44), probably to em phasize that it was Jesus who had cleansed the leper; the priests could only certify the cleansing. Finally, Matthew omits the Markan sequel to the healing, which tells how as a result of the m an ’s failure to keep silence about his cure, Jesus was no longer able to be seen in public because of the throngs clam oring to be healed (Mark 1:45). Matthew has no interest in re­ cording this exam ple of disobedience to the com m and of Jesus. Solidly fixed in the triple Synoptic tradition are the words έ ά ν θ έ λ η ς , δ ύ ν α σ α ί μ ε κ α θ α ρ ί σ α ι , “if you want to, you are able to cure m e”; the account of Jesus extending his hand and touching the leper; his response, θ έ λ ω , κ α θ α ρ ί σ θ η τ ί , “I do want to. Be w hole”; and his adm onition to keep quiet about the cleansing and the offering of the gift com m anded by Moses ε ι ς μ α ρ τ ύ ρ ι ο ν α ύ τ ο ΐ ς , “as a witness to the p eople.” C. A part from the transitional v 1, the passage can be divided into three main parts: (1) the appeal of the leper, v 2; (2) the response of Jesus and the cleansing, v 3; and (3) the subsequent commands (four imperatives) concerning silence and the visit to the priest, v 4. An interesting parallelism is to be found in the first two parts representing the approach of the m an and the response of Jesus: corresponding to π ρ ο σ ε λ θ ώ ν , “came to him ,” is έ κ τ ε ί ν α ς τ η ν χ ε ΐ pa, “extended his h a n d ”; corre­ sponding to π ρ ο σ ε κ ύ ν ε ι , “knelt dow n,” is ή ψ α τ ο α ύ τ ο ύ , “touched h im ”; this is followed by the participle λ έ γ ω ν in each instance and then the suggestive correspon­ dence between the words of the leper (v 2) κ ύ ρ ι ε , ε ά ν θ έ λ η ς , δ ύ ν α σ α ί μ ε κ α θ α ρ ί σ α ι , “Lord, if you want to, you are able to cure m e,” and the responding words of Jesus (v 3) θ έ λ ω , κ α θ α ρ ί σ θ η τ ί , “I do want to. Be w hole.” This rath er brief healing pericope thus can be seen to lack the first and last elements of the full form of such pericopes: i.e., no attention is given to the leper’s condition (perhaps this needed no elabora­ tion in that age), and no reaction of any observers is reported. (The full form can readily be seen in the healing of the demon-possessed men in 8:28-34.) See Theissen for analysis o f the various motifs in miracle stories (Miracle Stones, 72-80).


M a t t h e w 8 :1 -4

Comment 1 Jesus’ popularity because of his amazing teaching is und erlin ed by the ref­ erence to the ό χ λ ο ι π ο λ λ ο ί , “large crowds” (i.e., those also referred to in 4:25), that followed him “when he had come down from the m ountain” (these last words being possibly an allusion to Moses’ descent from the m ountain in Exod 34:29). Although it is m ore often the case than n o t that α κ ο λ ο υ θ ε ί v in Matthew m eans following in the sense of discipleship (see on 4:20), probably only a fraction of the nameless crowds that followed Jesus (for the linking of the words in Matthew, see Comment on 4:25) were followers in the sense of discipleship. T he majority followed m ore out of curiosity than belief. 2 M atthew’s ι δ ο ύ , “look,” is his flag word for som ething exceptional about to hap p en (see Comment on 1:20). For π ρ ο σ ε λ θ ώ ν , “came to ,” see Comment on 5:1. W hen the leper prostrates (π ρ ο σ ε κ ύ ν ε ι , “knelt down before”) him self before Jesus, this is obviously a great act of respect and hom age, bu t the translation “w orship” seems too strong for that particular m om ent. (G rundm ann regards Jesus as rep­ resenting here a new cultic center taking the place of the tem ple. Davies-Allison, referring to the verbs “came to ” and “knelt down before,” say of this view that it “could well be co rrect.”) O n the o ther hand, “Sir” as a translation of κ ύ ρ ι ε hardly seems adequate (so too Luz; Davies-Allison). κ ύ ρ ι ε , “L ord,” introduced by Mat­ thew (and Luke, probably by influence of oral tradition), is a confession of faith in Jesus as G od’s messianic agent bu t n o t necessarily belief in Jesus’ deity. (O f course, M atthew’s readers understand Jesus as one rightly worshiped as m anifest­ ing the very presence of God.) T he lep e r’s statem ent indicates that he had com e to the conclusion, probably from having seen or heard of Jesus’ o th er miracles, th at Jesus could cure him of his leprosy (according to 11:5, the curing of leprosy could be expected from the Messiah). Thus the question was simply w hether he w anted to do it, ε ά ν θ έ λ η ς , “if you want to.” 3 No disease was m ore dreaded in the ancient world than “leprosy.” W hether or n o t the disease o f this m an was actually the leprosy we know as H an sen ’s dis­ ease or some o th er skin disease, the social and psychological effects were no less devastating. (O n the question of the relation between the leprosy of the Bible and th at o f today, see van der Loos, Miracles, 464-68.) In addition to the h o rro r o f the effects of the disease itself and its incurable nature (cf. 2 Kgs 5:7: N aam an was cured by God; cf. Luke 4:27), the sufferer experienced banishm ent from so­ ciety. T he person who contracted the disease was considered as good as dead (cf. N um 12:12; b. Ned. 64b). These living dead were also thought to be u n d er G od’s ju d g m en t (cf. 2 C hr 26:20). As cerem onially unclean and as contagious persons, they were required to keep themselves separate from society and to announce their approach with the words “Unclean, unclean!” (Lev 14:45-46; cf. Luke 17:12), as the leper no do u bt did in the present instance. These w retched untouchables were trapped in a hopeless misery. T he fact that they would have been avoided by others at all cost for fear of contagion makes the action of Jesus in reaching o ut and touching the leper all the m ore astonishing, as the Greek underlines with έ κ τ ε ί ν α ς τ η ν χ ε ι ρ α , “extended his h a n d .” A lthough Jesus could have cured the leper with ju st a word, he touched the leper, ή φ α τ ο α ύ τ ο ύ —touching the u n ­ clean violates the law (cf. Lev 5:3)—and responded θ έ λ ω , κ α θ α ρ ι σ θ η τ ι , “I do want to. Be w hole.” At the m ere com m and, ε ύ θ έ ω ς , “im m ediately,” the lep er was



“cleansed” of his leprosy. The threefold repetition of the catchword “make clean,” in vv 2-3 (translated here as “cu re,” “be w hole,” and “cleansed”) is a M atthean literary device (cf. Pesch, Jesu ureigene Taten? 94-95). Because of the concerns reflected in the next verse, no attention is given to the astonishm ent of the m an him self or of those who may have witnessed the miracle. The astounding charac­ ter o f the miracle was self-evident in that particular historical context. 4 T he com m and δ ρ α μ η δ ε ν ί ε ϊ π ρ ς , “be careful not to tell anyone,” is the first instance o f the “messianic secret” m otif in Matthew (it is found again in the heal­ ing of the blind m en in 9:30, in 12:16 in a general reference, in 16:20 explicitly regarding Jesus’ messianic identity, and in 17:9 regarding the transfiguration). As in Mark, where this m otif is m ore frequent, this em phasis arises n o t from an attem pt to explain the non-messianic character of the tradition received by the evangelists (as W rede, The Messianic Secret, would have it) but is to be understood as historically authentic: Jesus desires simply to avoid inflam ing popular, but mis­ taken, messianic expectations that looked for an im m ediate national-political deliverance. It is clear, however, that Matthew is less interested in the messianic secret m otif than is Mark. In the present instance, the rep o rt of the curing of a leper would perhaps have caused the crowds to think of an eschatological prophet (cf. 2 Kgs 5:8). T he charge to silence seems strange if the healing was witnessed by the great crowds of v 1. Matthew, however, does no t say the crowds witnessed this event, and he records no reaction of the crowd. V 1 is a transitional verse rath er than a setting for the event, which only relatively few may have seen. The problem is clearly caused by M atthew’s insertion of this pericope at this point (cf. v 10). T he com m and σ ε α υ τ ό ν δ ε ΐ ξ ο ν τ ω ί ε ρ ε ϊ , “show yourself to the priest,” and the following π ρ ο σ έ ν ε γ κ ο ν t o δ ώ ρ ο ν ο π ρ ο σ έ τ α ξ ε ν Μ ω ν σ ή ς , “bring as an offering the gift com m anded by Moses,” correspond to requirem ents for the cleansing o f a leper according to Lev 13-14 (exam ination and offering, the latter described in great detail in Lev 14:1-32). Provision for cleansing is made there (“the law for lep­ rosy”; Lev 14:57) b ec au se virtually any skin e ru p tio n , a n d n o t m e re ly clin ic al le p ro sy (H ansen’s bacillus), could be classified as a leprosy, and, of course, other skin diseases could clear up. The same com m and to cleansed lepers to show themselves to the priests is found in Luke 17:14 (see too Papyrus Eger ton 2, frag, lr, which, however, is almost certainly d ep e n d en t on our passage). Jesus is thus shown to be faithful to the stipulations of the Torah in spite of an infraction o f the com m and no t to touch. The final words of our pericope, ε ι ς μ α ρ τ ύ ρ ι ο ν α ύ τ ο ϊ ς , lit. “for a witness to th em ,” have been interpreted in several ways d epending on the m eaning of μ α ρ τ ύ ρ ί ο ν and α ύ τ ο ϊ ς . T hat is, the cleansed leper is to do these things (1) as a witness to the priests or the people (about Jesus’ faithfulness to Torah com m andm ents)— thus the majority o f com ­ m entators; (2) as a witness perhaps against the priests or people (that Jesus was indeed the Messiah)— thus France; H. Strathm ann, TDNT 4:503; van d er Loos; or (3) to re­ ceive a testimony concerning his cleanness for “th em ,” i.e., the people (thus RSV: “for a p ro o f to the p eo p le”; even better, NEB: “that will certify the cu re”; thus Schniewind; K losterm ann; Luz, bu t also a witness to the priests). But since n eith er of the first two options receives support from anything in the im m ediate context, and thus b oth sur­ vive only by appeal to m aterial some distance away, they are n o t convincing. T he plural p ro n o u n αύτοϊς, “th em ,” is awkward if it is m eant to refer to the priests, since then its antecedent (ίερεϊ, “priest”) is singular. The phrase seems particularly cryptic for making


M a t t h e w 8 :5 -1 3

either o f these rather substantial points. Moreover, since the phrase is drawn from Mark, it need n o t be taken as reflecting M atthew’s special interest in Jesu s’ faithfulness to the law. T he second option, furtherm ore, conflicts with the com m and to be silent about the healing. T he third option, however, makes perfectly good sense. T he m an was to go to the priests and make the offering n o t because o f the n eed to be faithful to the stipulations of Lev 13-14, no r because he yet need ed cleansing, b u t for the pragm atic reason of being able to gain entree into society, as fully clean and restored. As Theissen points out, he had to “outwardly conform to the Jewish custom which is really superflu­ ous for him .” T he story fits “the context of a Jewish Christianity which respects Tem ple, sacrifices and Law but, as a result of its new faith, is no longer inwardly b o u n d by these authorities. T he conflict which has been overlaid with this loyalty can em erge at any tim e” (M iracle Stones, 146).

Explanation T he unique authority of Jesus, ju st previously heard in his exceptional words, is now to be seen in a series of exceptional deeds. The first of them is recounted briefly and directly. T here is a sense in which leprosy is an archetypal fruit of the original fall of humanity. It leaves its victims in a m ost pitiable state: ostracized, helpless, hopeless, despairing. The cursed leper, like fallen humanity, has no op­ tions until he encounters the messianic king who will make all things new. His simple confidence in the ability of Jesus to cure his disease is impressive. If only he wills to do it! But this precisely is the work of the Messiah: to restore the cre­ ated o rd er from its bondage to decay: “I do want to do it! ” T he very presence of Jesus represents G od’s “Yes!” to the request of this poor m an and to all who suf­ fer. As Jesus reached out to the leper, God in Jesus has reached out to all victims o f sin. T he leper was cured im mediately by only a word from Jesus. This same Jesus cures his people, the C hurch, from a whole host of maladies stem m ing from the fall, both spiritual and physical. Indeed it is the ultim ate purpose of Jesus, as p art o f the future eschatological consum m ation, to heal every malady w ithout exception.

The Curing of the Centurion’s Son


Bibliography Allison, D. C. “W ho Will Come from East and West? O bservations on M att 8.11 -1 2 /L u k e 13.28-29.” IBS 11 (1989) 158-70. Cadoux, C.J. “S. Matthew viii. 9 .” E xp T im 32 (1920-21) 474. France, R. T. “Exegesis in Practice: Two Sam ples.” In New Testament Interpretation , ed. I. H. Marshall. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1977. 253-64. Frost, Μ. “I also am a m an u n d er authority.” E xp T im 45 (1934) 477-78. Grimm, W. “Zum H in te rg ru n d von Mt 8.11f./L k 13.28L” B Z 16 (1972) 255-56. Hooke, S. H. “Jesus and the C enturion: Matthew viii. 5 -1 0 .” E xp T im 69 (1957) 79-80. Martin, R. R “T he Pericope of the H ealing o f the ‘C e n tu rio n ’s’

S erv ant/S on (Matt 8:5-13 par. Luke 7:1-10): Some Exegetical N otes.” In Unity and D iver­ sity in New Testament Theology. FS G. E. Ladd, ed. R. A. Guelich. G rand Rapids: Eerdm ans, 1978. 14-22. Pilch, J. J. “Biblical Leprosy and Body Symbolism.” B T B 11 (1981) 108-13.



Schnider, E, and Stenger, W. “Der H auptm ann von K apharnaum — die H eilung des Sohnes des K oniglichen.” In Johannes und die Synoptiker. Munich: Kosel, 1971. 54-88. Schwank, B. “D ort wird H eulen u nd Z ahneknirschen sein.” B Z 16 (1972) 121-22. Sparks, H . F. D. “The C en turion’s pais.” J T S 42 (1941) 179-80. Wegner, U. Der Hauptm ann von Kafarnaum . WUNT 2.14. Tubingen: Mohr, 1985. Zeller, D. “Das Logion Mt 8,1 If, Lk 13,28f u n d das Motiv d er ‘Volkerw allfahrt.’” B Z \b (1971) 222-37; 16 (1972) 84-93. Zuntz, G. “T he ‘C en tu rio n ’ of

C apernaum and His Authority (Matt. viii. 5 -1 3 ).” JTS 46 (1945) 183-90.

Translation 5When he came into Capernaum,a a centurionb came to him, urgently imploring him 6and saying: “Lord,c my sond lies crippled in bed at home sufferin g terribly.”7And Jesuse said to him: “I will come and heal him.”t 8The centurion answered:g “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only speak a word, and my sonh,i will be healed. 9For I too am a man with authority,j having under me soldiers. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. ” 10When Jesus heard this, he marveled at the man,k and said to those who werefollowing him: “I tell you truly, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.l 11I tell you that many will comefrom the east and the west and will recline at table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the kingdom's own childrenm will be thrownn into ‘the outer darkness, ’ where there will be weeping and the grinding of teeth. ”13And Jesus said to the centurion: “Go, it ° will be to you as you have believed. ”And [his]p son was healed in that very hour.q Notes

aThe MSS k and (sys) have μ ε τ ά δ ε τ α ϋ τ α , “after these things,” in place of this opening clause. bsys,hmgClhomEus describe the man asahigher officer, χ ι λ ι ά ρ χ η ς , a “chiliarch,” i.e., commander of a thousand soldiers (= military tribune). So too in w 8 and 13. c K* k sysc om it κύριε, “L ord.”

d 7τ α ΐ ς can be translated either “servant” or “son.” See Comm ent. e Although CL W Θ f1,13TR lat sy c ,p’h samae bom sshave b Ι η σ ο ύ ς , “Jesus,” it is lacking in the earlier MSS. It is added in the translation for clarity. f Since there was no punctuation in the earliest papyri MSS, it is possible to understand this as a question: “Shall I come and heal him?” See Comment. gά π ο κ ρ ι θ ε ί ς . . . ε φ η , lit. “answered and said.” hA few MSS (f l k sa bo) lack the words b π α ΐ ς μ ο υ , “my son”; thus, “he will be healed.” See too N ote d above. i b π α ΐ ς μ ο υ , “my son (servant),” is omitted by fl k samae bomss, probably by simple abbreviation, j ύ π ο ε ξ ο υ σ ί α ν , lit. “under authority” (see C om m ent), τ α σ σ ό μ ε ν ο ς is added by KB it vg, resulting in “being put under authority,” but the word is almost certainly derived from the parallel in Luke 7:8. See T C G N T , 20. k “At the man” is added in the translation, supplying the object assumed by the Gr. verb. 1The reading of KCL Θ f13TR lat syhboms, ο υ δ έ ε ν τ ω Ι σ ρ α ή λ τ ο σ α ύ τ η ν π ί σ τ ι ν ε υ ρ ο ν , “I have not found such faith in Israel,” is again derived from the Lukan parallel (Luke 7:9). m ol δε υ ι ο ί τ ή ς β α σ ι λ ε ί α ς , lit. “the sons of the kingdom,” is a technical expression for the cov­ enant people of God. nK* itksyr arm have έ ξ ε λ ε ύ σ ο ν τ α ι , “will go out,” substituted perhaps to parallel the ή ξ ο υ σ ι ν , “will come,” of v 11 or to soften έ κ β λ η θ ή σ ο ν τ α ι , “will be cast out.” ° CL Θ f1,13TR lat syhbomsinsert κ α ι , “even,” before this clause, with the resultant meaning “even asyou have believed.” Pα υ τ ο ύ , “his,” is in brackets in the critical text because of the disagreement of the textual witnesses. The word is in any event unnecessary since the articular b π α ΐ ς can here be translated “his child.”


M a t t h e w 8 :5 -1 3

qSome MSS (W700 1424) have εν τη ημέρα εκείνη, “on that day”; others (C N Δ Θ) have άπό της “from that hour.” But the best MSS favor εν τη ώρα εκείνη, “in that hour.” Some MSS (e.g., N*2CΘ f 1syh) have afurther concluding sentence, καί ύποστρέψας ό εκατόνταρχος εις τον οίκον αύτον εν αύτη τη ώρα εΰρεν τον παΐδα υγιαίνοντα, “and when the centurion returned to his house in that hour, he found the servant well” (cf. Luke 7:10). ώρας εκείνης,

Form/Structure/Setting A. If the first m iraculous deed recorded in this section was perform ed for an outcast, the same may be said (from a Jewish perspective) of this second miracle, perfo rm ed for a gentile centurion. T he healing of the leper was by direct touch; now we com e to an exam ple of a healing at a distance through a word of Jesus. But m ost importantly, this healing pericope becom es also a vehicle for teaching, in particular for the first direct statem ent of the salvation-historical rejection of the Jews (intim ated earlier in 3:9). T he story is thus prim arily a m iracle narrative b ut is transform ed by Matthew into a pronouncem ent story, where the m ain point becom es the teaching of vv 10-12 (cf. Schulz, Q 243). The geographical notice that this m iracle occurred in C apernaum (found also in Luke) is drawn from Q. C apernaum rem ains the site for the next two episodes until 8:23, when Jesus and his disciples d ep art by boat to re tu rn to C apernaum in 9:1. B. Since the passage is parenthetical in Luke 7:1-10, which occurs im m edi­ ately after Luke’s Serm on on the Plain and is not found in Mark (the only miracle story in Matthew n o t found in M ark), we may assume the source was Q (or some­ thing like Q, which contained at least this m uch narrative material; cf. Schulz). T here are nevertheless some very interesting differences between Matthew and Luke, and although there is some verbatim agreem ent, the w ording can differ considerably. In Luke it is clearly the centurion’s δ ο ύ λ ο ς \ “slave” (7:2, 3, 10; but π α ΐ ς is used in 7:7), who is not merely suffering but ή μ ε λ λ ε ν τ ε λ ε υ τ ά ν , “about to die.” The m ost striking difference, however, is that in Luke the centurion never has any direct contact or conversation with Jesus. R ather than com ing directly to Jesus him self (as in Matthew), the centurion sends “elders of the Jews” on his behalf, who present his credentials as a God-fearer ( ά ξ ι ο ς , “w orthy”) who loves the Jews and had built a synagogue for them (7:3-5). Matthew does n o t m ention that the centurion was a friend of the Jews, thus sharpening the grace toward a Gentile as a Gentile. Even in the second part of the Lukan version (7:6-8), the words of the cen tu rio n ’s humility and his authority over others, in very close verbal agreem ent with Matthew, are delivered by φ ί λ ο ι , “friends,” and n o t by the centurion himself. Matthew thus appears to have abbreviated Q considerably to emphasize the faith of the centurion and the direct contact and acceptance of the Gentile byJesus. Matthew’s purpose is clearly seen when he inserts vv 11-12 into the pericope, Q m aterial found in an o th er context in Luke (13:28-29, bu t transposed in Matthew). The effect of this insertion is to turn the story into a judgm ent oracle against unbelieving Israel (already h in ted at in v 10b, found also in Luke 7:9b). Indeed, it would appear that v 10b prom pted Matthew to insert w 11-12. Finally Luke 7:10, which is quite different from Matthew, lacks Matthew’s ε ν τ η ώ ρ α ε κ ε ί ν η , “in that hour,” prob­ ably added by Matthew to stress the immediacy of the rem ote healing (cf. 8:3c). C. T he presence of a similar story in Jo h n 4:46b-54, the second Jo h an n in e “sign,” raises the question of its relation to the Q pericope represented by Mat­ thew and Luke.



J o h n ’s story, too, is set in C apernaum , but it concerns a βασιλικός, “royal official,” whose υιός\ here clearly “son,” was sick (a fever is m entioned in 4:52), in d eed ήμελλεν γάρ άποθνήσκειν, “about to d ie” (John 4:47, 49; cf. Luke 7:2). This official, in contrast to the one in the Synoptic story, begs Jesus to “com e dow n” to heal his son. F urther­ m ore, in the Jo h a n n in e story it is by Jesus’ own initiative th at the son is healed at a distance. T he conclusion of the Jo h a n n in e pericope makes m uch of the fact th at the official discovers that it was “in that very h o u r” (as in Matthew) that his son was healed. T he stories are too similar to deny they are variant accounts tracing back to the same original. In in d ep en d en t transmission they have acquired certain differences to be sure, b ut the com m on elem ents are striking. An im portan t official requests help for some­ one in his house. M atthew’s consistent use of παίς, with its possible nuance o f “so n ” as well as “servant,” can well stand as the m iddle term between L uke’s δούλος, “slave,” and J o h n ’s υιός, “son.” T hat παις was the fundam ental term in the tradition is indeed indi­ cated by its occurrence in Luke 7:9 as well as in Jo h n 4:51 (cf. also τό παιδιού μον, “my little child” [John 4:49]). W hen Luke thus took Q ’s παίς as a δούλος, “slave,” in itself a legitim ate rendering, he rem oved the in h e re n t ambiguity o f παΐς from the tradition (cf. Zuntz). T he closeness to death is shared by the Lukan and Jo h a n n in e accounts. T he έλθών ο ϊ Luke 7:3 (ASV, “asking him to com e”), although in some tension with the later dem urral (Luke 7:6), is in accord with the Jo h a n n in e account and the request of the official for Jesus to come. Both in M atthew a